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 180º 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.