Last Thursday was supposed to be a field tracking day, but with all the rain we'd been having, the rivers were waaaaay too high and we thought it might not be wise to be out in a field so close to a river nearly over its banks. This picture pretty well sums up how incredibly wet its been.
When we got there, the weather was passably tolerable. It was raining lightly, a bit cold and everything was really wet. We rationalized how the wet conditions would be ideal for the dogs in tracking.
We started with an article exercise on the longest sidewalk. Nadine took about 30 urban articles and laid them out along the sidewalk, about ten feet apart. The idea was to click/treat for any interest in the articles. Nadine said two of her three were clicker savvy - if so, I didn't see any indication. When we clicked, they just never looked up for their treats, so we switched to a word marker and it was a little better. Gimme did well, but then she'll do anything for a click and a treat.
The biggest problem we had was the wind. By this time it was really picking up - a good steady wind with gusts. I have no sense of what the MPH is with wind, but there were times I had to lean into it because it was pushing me back. It was flapping my rain poncho in a major way. In any case, it was blowing our little urban articles around. Some disappeared entirely, while others were just blown far enough to no longer be on the sidewalk. We collected them up as this happened.
Our schedule was to do two tracks of island hopping, 80 and 100 yards. By the time we finished with the article work, it was starting to get really nasty, so we modified the assignment. We did one really long island hopping track of over 100 yards for each dog.
Gimme went second and her track was likely close to 150 yards. I'd told Nadine I didn't want to put down any food drops between the islands because of my concern about Gimme getting too "visual" in the urban tracking. It was too easy for her to run to the next drop when she could see the white string cheese against the dark pavement. Nadine said okay, then laid treats anyway, but using her pork treats, which blended into the blacktop.
Gimme did a marvelous job. Without anything visual to rely on she just got right to work figuring it out for herself. Most of the pork treats were left for the crows because Gimme blew past them so quick. She loves to solve problems and "go", so I didn't bring her back to the treats. She lost the track twice. She had problems with one corner and then another time on a straight away across the open space (as Sil calls it "a corner which might go straight"). Both times I was able to see her behavior change when she lost the track, unlike the prior time when she just pulled along like nothing was amiss. I just held my ground and let her sort it out and she did, very well. She really is a very talented girl and loves a good challenge.
We still had two dogs to do and the rain was coming down in sheets. Nadine suggested we call it a day, but by this time my bottom half was already soaked to the bone, so to me, another half hour was of no consequence. Of course I didn't expect a sudden drop in temperature. One minute it was okay and the next the temps dropped and then the sheets of rain contained a lot of ice crystals.
There's a certain amount of insanity to playing the game in this kind of weather. Meanwhile I'm looking for a good rain suit. I figure if I'm better prepared, I'll never need it.
Gimme and I are trying to squeeze in walking whenever we can. We are 18-3/4 miles away from our yearly goal of 500 miles. I don't mind walking in a drizzly rain, but don't want to go out in a downpour. I don't want Gimme getting that wet either, so its been challenging.
Needless to say, Gimme is BORED and says she never gets to do anything fun. It didn't help for work to run so late yesterday, so we didn't go to barn hunt practice. Of course, part of the reason it ran so late is because the weather was decent, so I took Gimme for a 5 mile walk in the morning, thus getting a late start at work. Gimme says its a flimsy excuse.
Now I must go, its time for nosework class...