Yesterday Gimme got her first paying job, where she got pay from someone besides me.
Deidre lost the big diamond from her 30 year old engagement/wedding ring. She knows when it fell out, within a 15 minute time frame and where/what she was doing at the time. Naturally she lost it either in the dirt inside the horse arena or in the grass in parking. She has insurance, but really wants HER diamond, not a replacement. So we decided to see if Gimme could find it. Afterall, Gimme did find some sunglasses in a large area 3 weeks after they were lost. I used pretty much the same process to get Gimme to hunt for things with Deidre's smell on them.
First we had Deidre walk in some grass and drop four gloves about 15 feet apart. This is like tracking and was easy peasy for Gimme. She got paid with peanut butter when she found each glove. The second time around Deidre walked in the same grassy area, but threw the gloves one at a time out to either side of where she walked. Find gloves, but not tracking. This too was easy for Gimme. We gave Gimme a break after this while we prepared the next task.
We tied short lengths of string through four small grey-brown beads (slightly larger than ¼ inch diameter). The string was just so we'd be able to see the beads ourselves. Deidre walked down the center of a gravel road and tossed the beads to either side into the very short grass.
First I walked Gimme up and down to see if she'd find them on her own, but she didn't. I wasn't expecting her to, since this IS a very hard task, given how small the items are and since they don't hold scent like big cloth gloves do. I had to help Gimme find the first one, pointing right at it and cuing her to "check-it". For the second one, I swept my hand in a general area cuing "check-it". After this, Gimme found the other two on her own. One thing which was very interesting was how her demeanor changed when she got a whiff of Deidre's beads - she became very intense, laser focused on finding them. It was very cool to see. She really seemed to like this challenge.
We gave her another break and some Go Dog water. I was telling Deidre how hard it is to get Gimme to drink enough water. Turns out one of her sponsors (dock diving) is Go Dog, so she brought some out for Gimme to try. Gimme thought it was weird and it took her a bit to decide to taste it. She started by just sticking her tongue in it and then considered the taste. As odd as she clearly thought it was, Gimme seemed irresistibly drawn to it and kept going back to it until it was all gone. So I've ordered some to keep in the van for when we are traveling. This will be a LOT easier and less trouble than what I've been doing.
Our next step was to have Deidre walk along and toss a bead into each of two tall patches of grass. Gimme was able to find these and so we decided to go for it.
First I had Gimme search the aisleway in the barn. She spent a long time at it, having a good time, sniffing here and there, but didn't show any change of behavior. So we went into the arena, which is where we practice barn hunt. Gimme was very distracted by the presence of obvious barn hunt rings, bales of straw, empty tubes, etc. So rather than fight it, I walked her over and let her check it all out so she'd know there were no rats and we were here for something else.
Then we searched a 12x 25 foot area where Deidre had been standing after she first noticed her ring was "scratching". Gimme was very interested in the area right at the wall. Deidre said this is where the wild rats come down and one of her terriers is always digging there. I let Gimme check out the area and when she was satisfied there was no rats there either, then I encouraged her to search the rest of the area. The only place she showed any strong interest was right under the table. I didn't note a strong change of behavior, so it may only be she was checking the area because it would be a likely nosework hiding place.
I let Deidre know so she could give it special attention. She plans to dig out 3 inches of dirt from this area and sift through it by hand. I've calculated this is 75 cubic feet of dirt! She is certainly determined...
We went outside to the parking area where she'd been talking just before she found the stone was missing. This is really short grass/weeds, mostly kept down by the vehicles driving on it. Its a 12x15 foot space. Gimme searched this and there was one spot where she showed the intensity I'd seen earlier and I marked it for Deidre to give special attention to. It was an oval shape about 2x3 feet. Gimme never did indicate, but she really checked it out.
Throughout the actual searching, when we were pretty much done with an area, I dropped one of Deidre's beads for Gimme to find. Not including the training beforehand, Gimme worked for about half an hour. So I wanted to be sure she was finding something here and there, to reward her effort.
While we didn't actually find the diamond, I think we narrowed the search a bit. I'm most interested to hear what comes of the spot in parking where Gimme showed the most interest. We'll only know if Gimme was right if Deidre actually finds the diamond. Because the diamond is so small (relatively) and because the place where it was lost is so big and challenging, it might not be found and we'd never know she was right. Naturally I will let you know if its found.
Deidre gave Gimme a 3½ pound package of frozen organic chicken drumsticks. Gimme was very excited by her "paycheck". Some things never change.