We started with a vehicle search, with the option of searching blind. My back was hurting from work (too much bending and lifting lately), so I elected to search knowing where the two hides were. Gimme did a fine job. The vehicles were set in a "T". One hide was in the nearest tire from the startline (vehicle at the top of the T) and the other was near the license plate at the end t-boning onto the top vehicle. It was very interesting to watch how Gimme went back and forth three times, over an 8 foot area right across from the hide and then suddenly turned 90º and went very directly to it - taking less than two seconds from turn to indication.
Our second search was a container search, three lines of little brick shaped boxes. Gimme was pretty direct about finding it and her indication wasn't too forceful, though there was certainly nothing bashful about it. She was also very good about checking some containers when I asked her to "check it" because she hadn't been there.
Then our third and fourth searches were together. They took up the containers and set an inaccessible hide on the back of one of the lowest shelves with some big paint buckets in front of it. It hadn't been there more than a few minutes and was deep and low with no air flow, so there wasn't a lot of scent for the dogs to work with. This search was off-leash and once the dog told us where it was, then we moved the buckets so they could get right to source to be rewarded. Gimme had the same challenge as the others, but once she caught the drift of scent, then I thought she was more persistent than the others.
From there we went into the fourth search which was a big mess of a search area. Four tables were pushed together to create a space between them. There were chairs around all the tables and at the corners. There were also brooms and mops and a mop bucket on wheels. The hide was under the seat of a stool in the center of this big mess. The idea was to let the dog do everything they were willing to do to get to source and then help them if needed. The only dog who needed help was a large German Shepherd.
I wasn't positive Gimme would push in there. There was a time I would have been sure, but she's not quite as pushy ever since we did the inaccessible hides seminar, where she learned she doesn't always have to push in. So I was pleased to see her examine all her options, then crawl under a corner chair and step over a table leg, then contort herself to weave amongst all the junk to get to source. She was paid well. If you decide to do a search like this, make sure you stack/position stuff in such a way it won't fall on the dog or near them - you sure don't want them to have a scary experience.
There is one thing we did, which I've since thought we shouldn't have done. On the third search Gimme found a toy on one of the shelves. The co-instructor had me just try to wait her out to see if she'd leave it on her own. She hasn't played with a toy like this before and she has seen other toys in the search area. I think she might not have if the scent had been stronger. After a bit, I called her to me and cued her to give me the toy. Then after she found odor, I rewarded her first with peanut butter and then with the toy. Then I had her give it to me again and when she found odor for the fourth search, she got peanut butter at source and then I tossed the toy for her when she came out. Since she got peanut butter on the toy, I let her keep it (still have to pay for it) and carry it to the car.
I'm afraid I may have set a precedent which may not bode well for trials when there could be any number of toy-like items in a search area. She becomes much more interested in toys right after her false pregnancy ends and likes to steal them if she can (she's carried several kids' toys to the car when we visit my Mom's). I wouldn't want her to think she could shop for toys at a trial (or any search). So, I'm going to carry one of her Skinneez toys (I can hang it over the belt for our treat bag) and if she does pick up another toy, I'll ask for it, then when she finds odor she can be rewarded with her own toys. The Skinneez are her long term favorites. I think this is a better plan with cleaner training options.
We do not have RallyFrEe class tomorrow, so am meeting Nadine at a state park near my Mom's for tracking. I dabbled in tracking when Gimme was young and she was quite good. But then we hit the limit of my understanding and there didn't seem to be any more detailed information for the method, so I didn't go any further with it. Nadine has been tracking with her Dalmatian for awhile, so we'll try to meet a couple of times a month. There are two other people in the regional Dalmatian club who track... so we'll be inviting them and may at times have as many as four of us with tracking Dalmatians.
I'm looking forward to it. Gimme of course is looking forward to any sport where she gets to tell me what to do.