I learned tonight our nosework class will be discontinued because a few students have dropped out and Dorothy can't justify keeping it open for just the three of us (one of whom gets the class free for helping instruct another class). For the time being I'll be switching to a Tuesday night class, same time. I have some concerns it might be too much for Gimme, since we'll be doing tracking on Tuesday mornings. The other drawback is the interference with my Tuesday night quilting meeting with my friend Linda. We are going to try just having me come over later and simply missing dinner, but time will tell. This is kinda frustrating, since I just went through changes with my RallyFrEe class. Gimme and I have so many activities, its not like we can just switch things around readily.
Class started with a vehicle search of two white vans. We were told generally where the hides were (2), on the driver's side rear quadrant. Our job as handlers was to watch our dog's searching style and based on what we see, determine if each hide was accessible or inaccessible. Gimme went to the first vehicle and quickly settled on the spot where the odor was. Since she made no further effort - I called it inaccessible. On the second vehicle, she at first went right by it and then ended up checking the rear bumper and all down the far side of the first vehicle. Because of this, I was further convinced the first hide had been inaccessible. When Gimme got back near the second vehicle rear quadrant, she quickly localized at the tire, pushing her head in front of the tire, between it and the wheel well. Because this seemed to satisfy her, I called it accessible.
Turns out I was exactly wrong on both counts. Gimme so often makes inaccessible hides accessible, so I've been a little vague about them. Further, because she has figured out on her own, if she smells scent all down one side of a vehicle and can't get to source, she moves to the other side on her own. Apparently most dogs don't figure this out and so their handlers have to watch for it and move the dog to the other side. Gimme goes to the other side, dragging me behind her, so I haven't had to observe her in the same way other handlers often do. Being blessed with a naturally brilliant dog, in some ways, lets me be lazier than other handlers.
Our second search was a repeat of the treat tossing game of last week. Gimme enjoyed it thoroughly and thinks its quite simply one of the best things she's ever taught us. They had dressed up the area with a lot more stuff and the other dogs were distracted by checking it out, but not Gimme. She didn't bother with stuff which wasn't part of the search.
Our third search was in the front part of the room and there were two hides. Again, inaccessible or accessible. Gimme was quite distracted by the smells coming from the other side of the room (beyond the expens). There is always the smell of odor over there, since they store it in a mini-refrigerator and all the dogs seemed more distracted by sort of smelling it than when they are searching in the area and know where its coming from. They've all learned the refrigerator will never pay.
One hide was in the center of a 3x6 folding table - one of the ones which folds in half, kind of like a clam-shell. Apparently all the dogs indicated in exactly the same spot, at the top of the hinge. Since it was leaning against the garage door and it was cold outside, we theorized the coldness of the door was sucking the odor more on the hinge end than the other end. Gimme seemed so certain and settled on a spot to indicate so quickly, I was sure it was accessible. The other hide was on the bottom edge where another 2x5 table was leaning against the wall. I called this one accessible too.
Because all the dogs indicated the same spot on the clam-shell folding table and were all so quick and certain, without showing any indication of it being inaccessible, they decided to modify the search and run it again. The hide on the other table was removed and they laid the folding table flat on the ground, a bit further from the garage doors. The goal was to see how this would affect where the dogs indicated. No matter what direction they approached it from, all the dogs now indicated at the hand indents on the end, where you would grab the table halves to open the clam-shell. All the dogs checked out the spot on the hinge where they'd indicated before, but didn't accept it and each settled on the other end. It was an interesting experiment.
I have to say one of the other students went to great lengths to try to convince me tonight how her dog is like the male version of Gimme. Not! Yes he's fast moving and lively (think of the word "flibbertigibbet" from Sound of Music), but he's nowhere near as talented or brilliant as Gimme. Of course, to be polite, I agreed with her. Then I apologized to Gimme all the way to the car. Just sayin'...
We have tracking early tomorrow morning.