The trial this last weekend didn't go well. We had five runs, no Q's and our runs weren't very good. She found 1 of 5, 2 of 4, 2 of 3, 1 of 3, and 1 of 3. After the first run the judge said Gimme found all 5 tubes in the first minute, but just didn't tell me about them. Each time we entered the ring, she did her clingy, "I need reassurance" thing. I had Tonya talk to her Saturday evening to see if we could figure it out. Gimme said she wasn't herself, and didn't know how to tell me where the rats were, and wasn't even sure she was supposed to tell me.
Clearly she's showed me the rats before without communication difficulty and knows she is supposed to tell me, so there was obviously something going on to confuse her. What I figured out and have since seen clear evidence of, is, she's started a false pregnancy. I thought we weren't having one because the date I estimated had come and gone. But it was only an estimate and likely I was off because of how short and mild her season was. Knowing now what I was seeing, the first signs of false pregnancy were on Wednesday evening, with more Thursday in class. Also its milder, which may have been more confusing, since she didn't have obvious baby-feelings and just felt weird.
I had it in my head she'd done better at barn hunt for prior false pregnancies, so I have checked the prior entries for notes about how she did during those times. One where she did well was close to the end of her false pregnancy. Another where she did well was in the middle of her false pregnancy. And yet, one week later on the same false pregnancy, she couldn't focus at all. However, for this particular trial, we had the distraction and worry about her sister Grace being at emergency. Also the blind size was very small/restricted and her second runs were a very short while after the first, with no time to decompress between them. So, its hard to know how much these things affected both of us.
She is clearly having a false pregnancy now, though its much milder. I've since checked and adjusted her support package. I'm thinking in the future when there are barn hunt trials I'd like to attend which might fall in the FP zone, I may wait until much closer to the trial and opt for day-of entries if she seems up to it. The fees are higher, but certainly not as costly as entering with a dog who is so unfocused. Today Gimme did well with tracking this morning and then nosework class tonight. I think it makes a difference to go out and do something and then return home. Also I see she is less guardy about outside noises. Time will tell.
I got to watch Katherine and Bronco (Dalmatian) for their first tries in Masters on Sunday. They came away with their first leg on the second try, which is almost unheard of. He's very fast and they had five tubes, so when he got the fifth one, she knew to get him in the tunnel (he cooperated, which is rare for the boy) and then she called "finished", with over a minute to spare. Way to go!
Because it was a regional, they had arranged for some speakers/classes. Only four people showed up for the free Trial Etiquette talk, so it was more of a roundtable between us and the instructor. She was knowledgeable and it was informative. I attended a Rules Review (not free) with the founder and another judge. This was not what I was expecting, being just a Q&A. Though it was nice to learn there are plans for "X" classes, which may start next year. This means a dog can be entered in lower level B-classes and every ten legs would earn an X. So novice RATN would become RATNX and subsequently RATNX2, etc. This could be a good option for us when she's not as focused as needed for Masters, but might still do well enough in Novice or Open.
The second day there was another seminar I paid for with Sil Sanders, who is well-known for his books on tracking. He talked about the movement of scent (which I've read a lot about) and then applied it to barn hunt. He was very informative and had some very interesting video of work he's done with a smoke pen and a miniature course. Finally an explanation for what Gimme did a few times in this one trial we went to. On both afternoon runs she stood on her back legs atop the tallest
pile of straw bales and sniffed toward the rafters. I thought maybe she was looking for inaccessible rat tubes, just like inaccessible hides in
nosework. Instead, Sil was able to show us instances of scent going straight up from the straw, so she was probably chasing odor. I know which trial it was, so I'll go back and watch the videos to see what happened next. After the talk and videos, we went to another ring on site and he had a smoke generator and was able to demonstrate how scent moves when the tube is placed in certain ways.
So, now its time to go snuggle on the couch with my darling...