Gimme and I have been very busy lately. I have to catch up a lot of miles for the Dalmatian Distance Log program before the end of the year, so we've been walking as much as we can. Plus its my job to cater to all the Empress' needs and whims - those belly rubs can take up a lot of time. Gimme prefers to train 6 times a day and anything less than 3 times a day is completely inadequate.
I'm still working on projects to finish the decorating for the bathroom remodel project. I had a huge scare last week. I was cleaning in the bathroom, happened to lean ever so lightly against the tub and felt it give way. I turned around to see one corner of the tub dipped down several inches. I looked and saw what appeared to be the leg broken off. I was heartsick as I called my remodel guy, who lives just up the street. He came right over and fortunately it was just a case of the leg working its way loose and coming off. Thank heaven I wasn't in the tub at the time. Ted said the nuts should probably be tightened regularly, so I'm going to get him to show me how, will get the right tool to keep in the bathroom, and will put it on my calendar for a monthly reminder.
I've also been busy trying to get caught up with other end of year stuff. And as much as I can and the weather allows, I'm trying to get the yard ready for winter. Ideally I'd like to weedeater the yard as short as possible - otherwise it'll get away from me come spring.
Today I shirked tummy duty to spend half the day volunteering at an NW3 trial just 8 minutes from home. They were a tad behind when I arrived, so I got to watch a lot of runs in exteriors and containers. Then I got officially trained for my volunteer duty as timer for vehicles. One of the things I really love is to watch how the dogs approach each search. The way they puzzle through a challenge really tells me so much about what the scent is doing. Handlers still tend to make the same mistakes, which are:
Not-trusting-the-dog is the number one issue and it takes a couple different forms:
Form 1 – Not believing the dog when they say something. I realize we on the sidelines have an advantage, but seriously, when a dog spends 1¼ minutes without moving more than two feet - there just might be odor there. And when a dog come back to the same place 6 times and indicates no less than twelve times, it really is time to believe what they are saying.
Form 2 – Many handlers not only don’t believe the dog, they drag them away to search elsewhere. If they don’t do so physically, they do so with their own motion and intention. Most of the time these dogs don’t return to where they know the hide is. After all, they weren’t believed the first 2 or 3 times, so why should they?
Form 3 – Some handlers believe they personally know where the odor is and they repeatedly take the dog to this spot. Then the handler starts hovering and paying a lot of attention to the spot. These people should get a job in sales, because it doesn’t take long and they “sell the dog” and get the indication they expected.
I am really good at this, especially lately in barn hunt, and you all know I’ve had to eradicate “show me” from my vocabulary. It occurs to me we didn’t have a problem with “show me” until we started using peanut butter as a reward for nosework and barn hunt. With such powerful motivation, Gimme is willing to tell me anything she thinks I want to hear.The other big handling error is getting between dogs and where they are searching. Granted, the handlers don't know where the hide is, so it can be a challenge in some searches. Of course if the dog is encouraged early in training to lead the way and the handler lets them, it pretty much becomes a non-issue. In vehicles - I can guarantee you source is going to be somewhere ON THE VEHICLE. There is just no reason why you should be between your dog and the vehicle (except if you want to block the dog from a hide they've already found). The same is true of container searches - source is going to be IN A CONTAINER.
I know you are wondering why I titled this blog post Caterpillar Chronicles, and "no" its not because of how slow I walk. Today as I was timing for vehicles, I saw one dog who clearly knew where the hide was and was detailing for source. She was really homing in on it, when she suddenly leaps away and then completely avoided the area, moving wide around it. Only after the team left did I learn there was a large fuzzy caterpillar traveling through the search area. It had come out from under the next vehicle and "rushed" into the path of the standard poodle, who was not having anything to do with such a scary creature.
We all watched the caterpillar through two more searches. Then the judge went out to "rescue" it and placed it in an empty coffee cup for safe-keeping. Finally someone showed up with a small nosework jar, complete with holes in the lid. During the awards ceremony, the story was shared and the caterpillar was presented to the poodle's owner.
Dogs will be dogs, doncha know. Though, to be certain, this close to Halloween I'm sure this dog thought it made good sense to avoid spooky black and orange things. Just sayin...