I discovered last night and this morning I've broken Gimme - poor munchkin. We've been training a clockwise back-around me and though we haven't really done much, its been enough to strain a muscle behind her right shoulder. She turns right more readily than left, so I think in addition to using this muscle to push back and to the left in an unusual way, she's pushing against a bit of body stiffness. Fortunately I was able to get her to see Tonya right away today and she worked on her quite a bit with massage, body work and energy work.
Now I'm massaging her whenever I can. Then we'll be doing some cookie stretches to increase her flexibility to the left. I'm not going to train the back-around for a few weeks. In the meantime I'll be training "Tivo" (clockwise forehand pivot) and 360º Center Front (clockwise direction). I'm hoping this will strengthen the muscle more gradually before we return to training back-around.
Tonight nosework class started with an exterior search of a very long narrow area. We were supposed to try to verbalize what we were seeing. As much as I talk you'd think this would come easy to me, but not so. For the life of me when I was supposed to be talking I couldn't. And yet Dorothy says when I'm searching and not thinking about talking, everything I say to Gimme is right. So perhaps the answer is to talk "to Gimme" about what she's doing - perhaps it wouldn't feel so much like trying to divide my attention. Anyway, there were three hides and Gimme did a good job of finding them all. She ran the show and clearly knew what she was doing.
Then we went inside for container searches. There was 20 boxes and six pieces of luggage with a handful of other containers. We only knew there were no more than 4 hides. Gimme found the two box hides very quickly and never really paid much attention to the luggage, so I called finished. There were two more hides in luggage. They had me search again right away and pay her for even a passing sniff at the luggage. I did and Gimme was happy to get paid.
There was a bit of discussion and the co-instructor said there is obviously something broken in Gimme's foundation on containers. I do mostly luggage for containers, but haven't done many practices on my own in the last 9 months. I said I wondered if its because we so seldom have the odor in luggage. Both instructors think I am wrong so it could have nothing to do with it.
Then the co-instructor concluded Gimme is bored with peanut butter. Seriously??? Her reasoning was because she likes ice cream, but would get bored with it if she got it all the time. I think there is a big difference between "liking" something and being addicted to it. Do you know any crack cocaine addict who would say, "no I've really had too much crack lately, I'd really just prefer a beer." Not. I have referred to peanut butter as Gimme-crack before - she'll never get enough of it.
So for our next search of the same containers, which was off leash, they gave me some roast chicken and I was supposed to simultaneously present chicken and peanut butter for each find and let Gimme choose which she wanted. What happened? She went for the peanut butter every time. She was happy to eat the chicken, but only after the peanut butter was taken away. I rest my case.
For the third container search (off leash) they swapped the locations of the box and luggage hides. This time Gimme ignored the boxes and kept returning to the luggage until I kept lingering near the boxes. Basically I think we made such a big fuss over the luggage finds, she thought I now have a preference for them.
I was still certain I was right about the box-luggage-containers hides, so I reviewed my blog since I started taking classes with Dorothy. Fortunately I use the label feature and keep really detailed records, so it was easy to single in on the entries where we'd done container searches. In 13 months: she has found odor in 38 boxes, 32 other containers, and twice in luggage. These numbers for other containers are skewed quite a bit because one night the only containers they had were plastic water bottles, where she found odor in them 24 times. So if we throw out the water bottle numbers, its 38 boxes, 8 containers and 2 pieces of luggage. The relative percentages are 79% boxes, 17% other containers and only 4% in luggage.
Now granted, she should find odor no matter where it is. But given how much harder luggage is to source odor because of how its trapped in deep recesses and absorbed by cloth, it makes sense she would go for the easy ones. Also, we had two level one element trials for containers and they were all boxes. The element trials had 4 searches each with one box hide, so we can add 8 more box hides into the numbers during this time frame. Factor in the element trials and she's now found 82% of her hides in boxes and under 4% in luggage. And don't forget, she has a much longer history of finding odor in boxes, because its all you train early on. I think it stands to reason she doesn't think luggage pays very often. Why didn't the other dogs get this message? I assume its because they aren't as smart as Gimme is...
I take it as a clear lesson of what can happen when you get in a training rut. I'm sure they don't put odor in luggage as often because it takes so much time to air out luggage to make sure the odor is gone before you can use it as a blank bag. Whereas boxes and most other containers are going to be simpler to air out, as well as easier to store in large numbers. I guess I need to get out and do some practices and for sure I'll be bringing my luggage collection along.
And Gimme just says, "whatever, so long as there is peanut butter..."