Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
NW1, NW2, L1I, L1E, L1C, RATI, RATN, RATO, RATS, L1V, L2C, L2I, L2E, RATM,
R-FE/N, PKD-TL, PKD-N, ADPL1, ADPL2, TD, UWP, ADPL3, NTD, TKN, L2V and ADPL4...
26 and counting...


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nosework (1/3) and...

We had another really good class last night.  Gimme was fabulous as usual.  Class often begins with a discussion and the evening's topic was how the more experienced dogs are reacting to only having one hide to find when they begin at Level 1 for Element trials.  Even with the preponderance of NW2 and NW3 dogs entering Element trials at the lower level, the success rate is still only at about 50%.

Many of the really experienced dogs seem confused or disbelieving when presented with a simple hide or only one hide.  I can see it being an issue for Gimme, since she really loves a challenge to begin with.  Dorothy's discussion point was: as we progress we seldom set up simple or single and straight-forward hides.  Possibly because we want to get the most bang for the time we have available for training.  There are a number of reasons to set up NW1 hides, the primary being a) its good motivation for the dogs and b) there is value in revisiting the basics.  And then, so the dogs aren't confused when they start at Level 1 for Element trials.

So we started with a simple single hide and Gimme did fine with it.  Though I could see she just didn't believe how easy it was and kept trying to find it when she'd had her nose so close to source.

Then we did three more searches...  The setup for each was very similar - 3 in the big room and 1 in the bathroom.  Between each search, they were moved slightly.  There were 7 skateboards in the room, along with two rolling clothes racks and a folding plastic baby gate/barrier.  The hide nearest the room entrance was a baby gate about six feet away, which presented an interesting challenge because of how the air moved through it - it was rotated to change the search.  The hide in the bathroom was on the middle or lower shelf.   There was a hide about 6 feet from the bathroom door on a shelving unit which was at floor level, moved to just under the first shelf or to the back.  And, the last hide was under a skateboard which was moved about ten feet to change the hide location.

More important than the moving though, was the things Dorothy did to change the conditions of the search.  The dogs searched off leash and our task was to watch them and see how changing the conditions affected them.

The first search was straight-forward.  Gimme found them pretty fast and was nicely focused.  I was happy with how nice she did, since we haven't had class or practiced since April 7th.  We also haven't done any work on her paw indicator and it was nicely moderate - of course, there wasn't a box in sight.  Gimme enjoyed playing with the skateboard - she learned how to play with one at home.

For the second search, Dorothy turned on the overhead fans which obviously changes how the air moved in the room.  It did take Gimme a little longer.  She got into the the vicinity of the hides just as fast, but it took her longer to source them.  The one on the shelving unit outside the bathroom proved the most challenging.

For the third search Dorothy opened the big garage style door at the end of the room and left the fans running.  There was an expen stretched across the door.  Gimme did well again, though it took her even longer to find source for the hide on the shelving unit and she false indicated a couple of times.  In her defense, it really had no time to cook, so the changing conditions had no time to produce a stable odor plume and thus, was more challenging than we would normally face.  The most interesting thing about the third search was how opening the door caused all of the dogs to suddenly pay attention to an area of the room (at the far end from the open door) which they had previously ignored. 

Otherwise we have been mostly walking, trying to get caught up from how behind we got during my hospital stay and recovery.  I was hoping to get well ahead before I have surgery, but it is not going to be the case.  My surgery has been scheduled for Friday, May 9th.  I vacillate between anxiety about the surgery and the pain I expect (thank God they'll give me good drugs to manage it) and anticipation, knowing its essential if I want to get back to normal.  Pain is one thing if its leading somewhere, but this continuing pain is a huge drain.  I know Gimme will be happy to see me get back to normal.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Barn Hunt Videos

We started Easter morning with a dove release.  I had never seen one before, so it was really moving.  


Here is our first attempt at Senior...

I edited out all the time it took me to get her undressed and started.  This bum hand really slows me down.  I also need to make some modifications to her harness.  She finds the first rat in 25 seconds (times are factored from 8 seconds into the video, when I actually released her).  I have found it goes faster if I pick up the rat tube and hand it over to the rat wrangler, than if I let them pick it up and have to restrain her (its against the rules to molest the rat wrangler).  If they pick it up, she follows them to the edge of the ring.  If I pick it up, she goes back to hunting as soon as I turn it over - which is when I think she knows I'm not going to open the tube and give her the prize.  The clock continues ticking so time spent getting her off the rat and hunting again is an important factor.

At 1:07 she starts the tunnel.  You can't really see her backing out, but there's no missing the hoot of laughter from the judge.  2:15 seconds in she finds the second rat - apparently there was some intriguing smell in the corner near the rat tube and a number of dogs got caught up in it.  At about 2:45 into the run, she passes her nose right over the 4th rat, but I was far away and not really supporting her.  Since I wasn't paying much attention to the small piles, she didn't either.  She got her third rat at 2:52 seconds.  You'll note she starts checking out the rafters just before they called time.  Still it was a very nice run.

Here is our second Senior class run...

Just like in nosework, its an important skill to keep track of where your dog has been as well as what they show interest in and then leave - particularly with Gimme.  She enjoys the hunting more than the finding, so often finds something only to leave it - saving it for later so she can continue hunting.  These times factor in 6 seconds for the time on the video when we actually started.

Gimme found her first rat in 32 seconds and had the second rat 1:25 seconds into the run.  The second rat find is a significant improvement over the day before.  She finds the third rat at 2:15 seconds into the run - again a big improvement.  Then about 3:21 she goes into the tunnel for a second time and doesn't come out until I call her - wasting 15 seconds.  She found the fourth rat at 4:11, forty one seconds over time.  Factoring in the 15 seconds in the tunnel, she still would have been 25 seconds over.

I plan to study this run and get a friend of mine who is working on her RATCH to look it over and tell me what I could do better.  Still - I'm very happy with Gimme's efforts - she certainly doesn't lack enthusiasm.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gimme RATO

We had a good weekend.  Gimme did fabulously in her first class at Open level Saturday morning.  I was able to restrain myself and waited to call "Rat!" until she was sticking to it.  We finished her RATO with a nice 3rd Place ribbon.

There was a funny moment as she stood on her back legs atop the tallest pile of straw bales and sniffed toward the rafters.  They'll never put rat tubes up there, but she doesn't know, so she may think there could be inaccessible rat tubes, just like there are inaccessible hides in nosework.  She wasted so much time looking, I'm sure we would've gotten a higher placement.  Also this was a very small barn and the rafters were much lower than she has seen before, so it could explain why she thought they were in play.  Its also entirely possible wild rats had been up there, so there could have been rat smell drifting down.  Gimme also checked the rafters in each of her senior runs, for less time each run.

In the afternoon we had our first stab at Senior... which is a large jump.  For the instinct test, you have 1 minute to select the right rat - there is no hunting, since the tubes are in plain sight (the dog can also climb and tunnel, but its not required).   At the novice level, we get 1½ minutes to climb, tunnel and find one rat.  At the open level, we get 2½ minutes to climb, tunnel (tunnel has one turn) and find two rats.  At the senior level, we get 3½ minutes to climb, tunnel and find four rats.  So essentially we only get one minute to find two more rats and in a much larger space - requires efficiency.

I made a tactical blunder in selecting our wait area for our afternoon run.  I picked a spot where we had dogs passing us on both sides, and unfortunately once there I was blocked and couldn't leave AND I didn't have enough treats.  It was a big challenge for Gimme.  Then when we were called in we ended up almost face-to-face with another dog.  I just made a 180ยบ turn, left the barn, walked around the blind area and then waited until I saw the person/dog leave, before re-entering the barn.  Despite this, once we got in the ring, Gimme was all business.  There was only one brief moment when she caught sight of a dog passing by the edge of our ring and went over to have a look, by which time all she saw was its heiney going out the door.

We found three of the four rats in her first Senior run.  The tunnel at this level has two turns and so far I've only seen it in a "c" shape.  I was a little concerned she might not do this tunnel since it was very long and would be so much darker in there.  I need not have worried.  She did it just fine, though she did add the creative twist of turning around and backing out.  The judge laughed so much - I said we should get "style points". 

I was able to find someone to video both of our Senior runs and it turned out to be very informative.  Since I got to watch it immediately after we ran, I saw right away what I could do to improve - I had really been ignoring all the small piles of straw bales, and only sending her to search the big pile which basically covered the whole of the long wall.  The one rat she didn't find was behind me next to a small pile. 

On Sunday morning we had our second Senior run.  I remembered the small piles and we found all the rats.  Unfortunately we were slightly over time.  The judge knew we were over time, but she could see Gimme was working the fourth rat, so she didn't say anything, not wanting to interrupt what would soon be a successful find.  I really liked the consideration, since we were able to end with success, even if it wasn't a leg.  The only time Gimme wasted was going in the tunnel a second time... and staying in there.  I had to call her to get her to come out.  She doesn't yet realize rat tubes will never be in the tunnels.

I was able to talk to the judge shortly after our first Senior run and she said it was really common for people who were new to the sport to ignore anything behind them.  So interesting to hear, since I had noticed several times while watching novice and open how handlers would ignore a whole section of the ring and yes, it was always right behind them.

Gimme and I had a blast and the judge, as well as several other competitors, had so many nice things to say about her.  Given how little experience she and I have at this sport, I was and am very pleased with how she is doing.  Gimme loves this so much and I'd like to go all the way and get a championship.  I understand judges get to run their dogs for free, so I may consider getting a judgeship so we can continue playing this game for a long time.

I will have two videos to show you, but first I have to find my camera.  I'm sure its hiding in the car, which looks like a bomb went off in there.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend is'a Comin'

Gimme and I are going to a barn hunt trial this weekend, three trials total.  We'll do two on Saturday and then one Sunday morning.  With luck we'll come home with her RATO title (she needs one leg) and legs toward her RATS (senior).  She's never had a problem, the question is whether I can competently do my part.

Cross your fingers and any other body parts you can spare...

Doc said my finger looks good and someone will be calling to schedule my surgery.  Not something I'm looking forward to, but I am looking forward to being pain free.

I'll get back with you Sunday night about how the weekend went.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Agility (1/3)

I apologize for being so quiet, but my hand continues to give me problems.  Typing seems to make it swell up more than anything and I'm not one for hunt-n-peck.  I'll be seeing Doc Weaver tomorrow, moved up from my scheduled Monday appointment, because of the swelling.  He says we may have to do the surgery much sooner than I was campaigning for.

Agility class was super.  Gimme was focused and fast and back to her usual style.  Probably because overall I was feeling better.  We had a few challenging spots and were able to work through them nicely.  She really is the smartest dog I've ever worked with.  Early last year I taught her send to a tunnel opening that was turned away from her and it took her a few tries then, but she figured it out quickly.  We haven't seen that exercise since then, but it was in tonight's course and she aced it as if we'd just trained it recently.  She rarely forgets anything.

Between her runs, everyone was complimenting her and talking about how smart she is.  They really like watching her learn things because she puzzles through it and then when she gets it, she's so obvious; like, "ohhhh, why didn't you just say so..."  Then she's cocky about it.  Everyone loves her attitude, and of course, how cute and pretty she is.

I have some video's from William, but just can't bear the thought of how much swelling would result from me sitting here editing them.  So you'll all just have to wait.

Meanwhile Gimme and I have been walking every day, trying to get caught up.  I'd hoped to make up all I got behind and be ahead before surgery, but if they move it up, I may not be able to do so.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Agility (6/2)

Gimme was a good girl as usual.  I could really tell she was bothered by my hesitancy as I had part of my mind on awareness of what things might "hurt".  There were a couple things which just shouldn't have been hard for her.  I took my time to work through it and rewarded copiously when she got it right. Interesting to me was to see just how affected she is by how I am.  While my little speed demon was never slow tonight, she was certainly also never her little speed demon self.

I am experiencing some new pain in my finger.  Its a sharp pain which runs from my hand right up the middle of the finger, on the inside.  It comes and goes.  I think its caused by the way I'm always trying to hold my finger out of the way while working and doing things.  Being unnatural and repetitive, I suspect a slight strain.  The acetaminophen wasn't controlling this pain, so I decided in the evening to use the hard stuff.  I took it 40 minutes ago and its already much better.

I'm also going unwrapped for most of the evening, so my hand/finger can move more naturally and will ice it.  Tomorrow I'm going to experiment with wrapping it in different way, so it doesn't restrict the movement of the first knuckle; thus allowing the hand/finger to move more naturally.

On a side note, we are working on a new trick.  I'm teaching her to play "roll-ly ball", a game that Frances invented.  Its hard for Gimme because its requires her to only use her nose - which is of course, always a challenge.  I've also come up with a cool idea for a small wooden chest I've had for ages.  It's going to take some fabricating to make it work for what I have in mind, but will lead to yet another cute trick.

Well, the woozy headed affect is starting to be really apparent, so I better get off this 'puter.  In mere minutes Gimme and I expect to be cuddled together on the couch, sharing a bowl of ice cream.  She's so polite, I just can't resist her charms. 

Nosework (5/2 & 6/2)

I honestly don't remember that much from class last week.  I know we did some interiors and as I recall, Gimme did fine.  That was when my hand was really starting to bother me.  Right after class I went to one of my accounts that was supposed to be a store installation.  I was there several hours, but they cancelled the installation.  At the time I was feeling pretty crappy and didn't realize that the infection in my hand was ravaging all of me.  And of course, whatever I might have remembered flew totally out of my head during the ensuing week, emergency room and hospitalization experiences. 

This week, the theme was all Easter stuff.  We started with about 40 plastic Easter eggs on a long strip of grass and into the landscaping, beside the building.  There were 4 hides and Gimme did a reasonable job of finding them, hampered as she was by Miss Clumsy Hand.  All the dogs blew by the egg at the threshold, including Gimme.  Some seemed to have a hard time believing there could be odor in the eggs. 

Our second search was in a small area with a dozen Easter baskets and an egg in each one.  There were two hides.  Gimme aced this.

The third search was a lot of containers.  Lots of egg cartons, berry baskets and other boxes, with three hides.  Gimme did nicely... she was moderate in her first and third indications, but just had to trash that darn berry basket.

For the fourth search we did the same containers, with two hides set kind of close together for a converging odor challenge.  They let me have a break and we did this search off leash.  There was no sign that Gimme thought this was a challenge. 

My finger continues to improve, though slowly.  It still looks terrible to me, as if someone used a blowtorch on it - yuck.  And it still hurts a lot - though the clear sign of improvement is that I can now manage the pain without the hard drugs.  That means Gimme and I are getting out and about more (we went for a much needed walk on the fort) and I'm back to work. 

Tonight we are going to agility class.  I'm not sure what I'll be able to do, since anything that gets my circulation churned up really makes my finger throb.  I may just pick a couple short sequences that I can work on perfecting with Gimme without having to move around too much myself.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Where Am I?

just a quick note to let you know why i've been so quiet.

on wednesday i went to emergency with an infected, swollen finger.  i thought they'd give me antibiotics and send me home.  instead they ran tests galore, took lots of pictures and x-rays and brought down an orthopedist.  within hours they sliced-n-diced and took copious samples.  then i was admitted so they could use stronger intravenous antibiotics. susan picked up gimme from my car and took her to ursula's for boarding.

i got out friday morning and went to get gimme on the way home.  i'd hoped she would be okay being picked up by a friend and staying at a familiar place.  instead she was very stressed; whining, crying, and pacing the floor the whole 2 days and nights.  she slept for 12 hours straight when we got home.  she is still tired and sleeping a lot.

i have a follow up appt with the chief of ortho tomorrow morning.  my finger is much better in many ways, but looks 'weird' to me.  on the off chance they may want to do something and keep me there, i've scheduled an appt to drop gimme off on the way to my appointment.  i think it will be less stressful that way.  if she doesn't need to stay then it will just be daycare for the day.

cross your healthy fingers for me...