This weekend we were up in Bow/Bellingham for two days of a basic tracking seminar with Sil Sanders. He really is the best. He has a great eye and intuitive sense of individual dogs. He has a way of making you feel safe and appreciated, even while really taking you to task about handling or training issues. Its a talent I envy. I always come away just KNOWING he adores Gimme, doncha know. He's a treasure and if you get a chance to attend one of his seminars - its in the don't-miss category. I spent the weekend with a raging ear infection in my good ear, so its a wonder I learned anything.
Really this seminar was too basic for us, but I was sure it was a good opportunity for Sil to clean up bad handling habits I'd picked up since last year. He didn't disappoint me in that respect. He also identified a training issue for Gimme, which I think has been going on for awhile, but was exaggerated by the infamous "Bow winds".
I realized a possible explanation for the saw-tooth affect I often see on Gimme's first leg of our field tracks. Sil was talking about how some herding breeds seem to get out to the edge of the scent cone and then sort of chase the scent back to the track. It occurred to me when Gimme does her sawtooth, she may be finding the edge of the scent cone, much as I've seen her do in nosework with vehicles and containers. After watching her track this weekend Sil said he saw her doing a lot of casting back and forth over the track, which I think may be because of the stronger winds.
Gimme did her first track in the afternoon. We had five legs, with two extra articles and 440 yards, aged roughly 30 minutes. I had someone video and she got it broken into four separate clips, so you will be a blue spacer page between the clips. I apologize for the video quality - it seems she did the video zoomed in because she couldn't keep up, so it sometimes has a weird look to it. Day 1 Track video
On both the first and last legs, you will see a "corner that might go straight".
Sometimes dogs momentarily lose the track for some reason and we
see a change of behavior and then they search for it. As handlers we
don't know when we see the change of behavior if its for an actual corner or a "corner that might go straight", but we still want to work it the same.
One thing I see right away on this track is that I am still in the habit of stepping out with her before she's pulled the line out to 20'. I used to do this to support her and I don't think she really needs this, so its a habit I need to break. At the one corner where you hear someone say "Wow, look at that.", Gimme was right and totally taking the corner without over-shooting it, but I didn't believe her. I basically made her do the "find the track" circle around me until she lined out on it again. This is when she started pouring on the speed - she's really beautiful when she's hunkered down in her harness hauling ass (hers and mine). Gimme pulls me along and makes it happen. When Sil called out to me to "climb up the line", it broke both mine and Gimme's concentration and she had to look for the track again. What you miss in the second spacer was where Sil told me we were well past the track. When this clip starts, you are seeing the spot where Gimme drags me from where we were telling her the track was, to the article that was on the actual track, which she'd been on. Good dog! Sil later told me he'd considered laying the turn one place, but then went on, but got it confused when we were running (guess who didn't make a map). After this find, Gimme did an excellent job through to the end of the track.
Our next track was a basic contamination track on a school sports field. We ended up added to the first group to fill in the end slot. This put us next to the fence for the cow pasture. The cows saw us moving around kinda close to the fence and came trotting over - musta been close to dinner time. You know how Gimme loves cows, so while we waited she lay with her tummy pressed into the soft grass admiring her personal audience. You know how she also loves an audience.
This diagram shows a straight one-leg track with an article in the middle and the end, and the diagonal line is intentional contamination of someone walking across our track. The double-line at the top is the fence where the cows were watching.
While Gimme noted the contamination, she didn't even slow down for it. However, right before she got to the first article, she noticed the cows were trotting along the fence following her movements and she paused, looking at them like, "what the..." After the first article she really dove into her harness dragging me to the end article. Since she was moving faster, so were the cows. Gimme briefly turned her head to see them, but continued on down the track without missing a beat.
Our track was twice as long as the others and two people got to see Gimme tracking with her bovine Paparazzi. How I wish I had this on video... I told Sil about what happened and he assured me he doesn't charge extra for these special experiences.
BTW I entered an NW3 trial and came back from the weekend to an email saying we are on the wait-list for the trial. We are number 55, so I think I can safely plan something else for the weekend, eh...