I apologize for not keeping up. Monday was my first occupational therapy appointment and they’ve put a contraption on my finger which makes typing an exercise in total frustration. Since this all started in early April, I’ve been finding it takes twice as long to do anything. Now with the finger contraption, its almost 3 times as long. Very annoying. I just hope it works and the three weeks I have to wear this thing accomplishes what its supposed to.
I forgot to take the camera for Monday night’s nosework class, so nothing for you to see. Too bad, since Gimme did a fabulous job. The first search was an exterior, with 1 to 4 hides. Gimme was focused and clearly still hunting, so I had no problem knowing there were still hides to be found. She was the fastest of the two dogs that got all four hides the first time, but just barely. Gusto isn’t as fast moving as Gimme, but he’s very precise.
The second search was on a Caterpillar backhoe, with 1 to 3 hides. Gimme found the first 2 very fast. On the second one, there was a point where she was half under the backhoe and in a close spot behind a tire… and I’m thinking to myself, “I don’t see Rachel crawling under there to set a hide, I bet its on the other side”, when Rachel says, “what is she telling you?” I took Gimme around the other side and she got right to work searching in a tight spot behind the tire for the source. It took her a little bit, but she was determined to find the exact source and didn’t indicate until she had it. I walked her around the backhoe one more time and she didn’t show any interest, so I called “finish”. I was right.
Our third search was on 4 white vans and Gimme did a nice job, but I really blew it. I lost track of where we’d been and where she had indicated already. Gimme found two quickly. I did walk her around one van and she was clearly not interested, but I got turned around and didn’t take her to the far side of the vehicle where the third hide was. It is nice that she is so clear about when there is no odor. Some dogs will go ahead and search where you take them, just to be obedient and cooperative. Not Gimme, she lets me know by her whole demeanor that she can’t think of any good reason why we’re walking around this thing… She was a good girl on this search – me not so much.
Tonight was agility class. Our first turn was just awful. Gimme hardly seemed to know I was there. I was as patient as I could be and tried some Give Me A Break (GMAB, from Control Unleashed), but it wasn’t that effective. She would come and check in and as I’d move to get into position to begin she’d just spin off. In her defense, she is in a false pregnancy and I’ve often noticed that several weeks in she has a tough time focusing. Toward the end of our turn, she started to work with me, but nowhere near what she is capable of.
One thing which cropped up - she totally forgot how to do the tire jump. This has happened before and its always the tire. At first I couldn’t understand what it is about the tire jump, but on the way home it dawned on me. The tire is the last obstacle she learned, plus we don’t see it every week. (remember the saying, “last in – first out.”) I’m thinking I need to get my tire jump fixed so she can do some tire practices at home.
She did so poorly, I briefly considered going home. Then I decided we should train through it – the benefit of positive-reward training is that at the least, I know I’m not adding stress. I decided to put a chair in the center of the ring, so my GMAB would look more like what she is used to. So I took the chair out there as we walked to the start line and then never needed it. The first run through was nice… a couple of bobbles, but good solid sequences. I stopped to reward every few obstacles.
The second run through, she was brilliant and so focused that I just kept going with her. She looked like she was ready to enter Excellent right now. She was fabulous and when we finished the 20th obstacle, I just held the treat bag down so she could stick her head in and gobble a bunch of treats. I wanted to make it memorable for her and the “gobble” is one of her favorite jackpots. Blynn said I still had time left, but I decided to end on that purely and fabulously positive note.
I don’t know what happened between the first and second turns, but I love having my girlfriend back…