In the latest copy of the “Guidelines for Obedience Judges” there is a statement that judges of TDX tests are to be sent detailed maps of the area to be used with obstacles, changes of cover, etc indicated. In addition, a copy of this map is to be forwarded to the AKC along with the paper work for the test. If you do not have an artist in the club with a good feel for the scale of the area, what do you do?
Having been faced with this very problem we looked for a solution. There are a variety of sources of good maps available. The soil Conservation Service (SCS) has aerial photos of every square inch of the United States. If you have a college near by, check to see if they have a map room. They may also have these same maps. They are available from SCS as Xerox copies of originals (at a charge). You first find the county of interest. You will be presented with a large mosaic of smaller photos, each of which has a number in one corner. Once you find the photo, which covers the area, in question, you will get an 8 x 10 copy, which you can then xerox. This copy will have a scale of 1:20,000 (1 inch = 225 yds). These can be enlarged by a copy machine to a scale of 1 inch = 225 yds. We then go to the fields and walk the area indicating on the copy fences, roads, heavy and light wooded areas, creeks, etc. The copy we send to the AKC has each track marked on it.
Another alternative approach is to check with realtors who deal with farmland or surveyors. In many cases they will have aerial photos with a scale of about 1:4800 (1 inch = 133 yds). The copy you get will be blue and will fade if not protected from bright light. The detail is much better and copies are of good quality. For some one who knows the areas well, tracks can be plotted on these before the test and much of the work the day of plotting is already done. In many cases all that is needed is to walk the track to be sure there are no surprises and to check that you measured correctly on the photo.
A third alternative is with the county commissioners or county tax office. The maps in these offices are generally topographical which appear as a lot of curved lines and concentric circles. These are elevation lines. These are a bit harder to read since they do not indicate woods or pasture land, only the elevation of the land.
Regardless of which is used, the boundaries of the test area should be indicated along with the scale. These are not meant to take the place of having someone who has a good knowledge of the fields the day of plotting, nor are they meant to take the place of getting out in the field to plot the track. They are an aid to both judges and tracklayers. We have found these very useful in new fields for TD as well as TDX because they can give an excellent idea of the space available and if it is sufficient.
©1987 W. Herbert Morrison, III