We went to Bellingham on Friday, August 26th and here are some pictures I took of Gimme with the "baby". The first one I call, "Like Mother, like Daughter." Clearly she is still very much into her false pregnancy.
As handler you must learn to recognize your dog's change-of-behavior, which will happen when the dog recognizes the scent has changed. Early on in our tracking endeavors I spent a lot of time watching for Gimme's head to come up as her change-of-behavior. It seemed like we were both always over-running the corners. At one of the last seminars of last year I finally realized Gimme's change-of-behavior is actually to curl to one side or the other (not a head-up). The common change-of-behavior indications are: head-up, curl to either side, stop and/or detailing. I could have gotten much further as a handler if I'd learned this earlier.
When searching and your dog is circling you, make your pivot about 30-45º ahead of your dog. Be sure to pivot in 90º increments as this will make it easier for you to stay oriented in the field. If you just keep turning ahead of your dog, you may lose the line you were on before the search began.
We had a distraction exercise which proved quite interesting. Sil set up flags, and there were 6 handlers with dogs and 6 tracklayers. The tracklayers laid the track (solid line) and then on the way back to the start contaminated its sister track (dashed line). There was a start article, articles mid-leg and an end article. All six tracks were run simultaneously. Each track had color-coded start, corner and end flag. The dogs were never close to each other.
I don't think she noticed pink track dog, but she surely saw the 4 dogs working on the orange, green, red and black tracks. She was just stuck for a bit and didn't know what to do. I had to help her get refocused and then she was able to finish her track. I know they weren't too close for her to handle, I think she was just surprised by seeing them.
In hindsight, I think I should have cued her "whazzat" (Control Unleashed, Look-at-That game). Now I'm thinking this might be a good exercise to plan at some point, where Nadine and I set up a well marked track and while Gimme and I are working it, Nadine with one of her crew will appear at a predetermined place to be a dog distraction. Plus I will have to get it in my head to remember "whazzat" for those times when we have naturally occurring dog distractions at Flaming Geyser.
In the afternoon I did the break-out tracklaying exercise with Patty. Some of us met at a separate park and laid tracks. We placed small markers on our corners (I used some of my golf tees) as we drew our diagram. Some people don't draw, preferring to write a discription of what their sight markers are. Then we gathered and talked for awhile, before being sent out to find our corner markers. This is the third time I've done this exercise and I'm happy to say as I finished my count, I was within a foot of each corner marker and the end marker. I remember the first time I only found the start marker, which was really disappointing. Last time I found them all, but they were bigger markers than my little golf tees.
From there I went to watch some of the other showcase tracks. Each dog gets two showcase tracks, along with the other exercises. Gimme's showcase tracks were on Sunday and Monday. You'll hear all about those in subsequent blogs.