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.