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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Monday, June 24, 2019

Nosework class (3/38)

The weather was milder than it has been, so the instructors set up four vehicle searches. Gimme was on fire and I wasn't half-bad myself.

Vehicle 1 video - Gimme was really fast and direct. I have to say she is getting better and better about giving me "the look" for an alert. It's great when I see it, but if I miss her look, then she goes to something more assertive.

Vehicle 2 video - Gimme is very efficient finding all three hides here. Note how she gives me "the look" and then starts moving toward me. I think she appreciates it when I am being more efficient about reward delivery.

Vehicle 3 video - Bim bada boom. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Vehicle 4 video - We were given the option to search off leash, but I chose not to. These were tight quarters and I didn't want to risk Gimme getting too far from me, causing me to miss a call resulting in her pawing a vehicle. I had a little pebble stuck in the tread of my shoe and it made an odd noise, distracting her right off of sourcing a hide. Fortunately she is persistent and goes right back to the hide. It was very tight spacing and almost forced me to be still, though I moved when I had the opportunity. It made it hard to video as well. I was very proud of her when I missed the second alert look - she just went to do it again and there was no sign of the paw coming up. Yay for Gimme.

I want to go back and look at some of our other recent vehicle searches to see if this has been developing all along, or if it is just now coming together. I do think this is the first class where all of Gimme's indications were "the look". This has been a long time coming and it's exciting. If it is more likely with vehicles, then it would stand to reason, at least partly it's because I am faster to call alert to prevent damage to vehicles. Since she is now more consistent with it, clearly I need to work on getting her to make "the look" into "the stare" and to transition this to other elements. Yay, yay, YAY for Gimme...

Saturday, June 22, 2019

RFE practice (95)

For some reason Gimme had a very difficult time getting into a working mindset. She just couldn't pay attention and I had to go get her and lead her back to work, by the collar, a couple of times. Then during the second session she was all for it. She is basically out of her false pregnancy, so I don't think it's the cause. The only idea I have is she could be tired from the weekend, three trial days. I haven't seen it before, but it's possible.

Freeshaping backward weaves video - She did better last time we did this. This time she seemed a bit antsy about it. She was getting it toward the end, but I think we've lost a little ground.

"Spin" for SkillsVid video - I've decided to revisit doing videos to put together an entry for a Skills title. Before I tried to video too many at once and her performance degraded. She was still doing them, but I wasn't getting the kind of precision I know she is capable of. I need scores of 8 or better (out of 10) to qualify for a Skills title. This time I just worked on these two spins and her work was much nicer. Only the last two of these are eligible to be used since I had treats in my pocket for the others.

"Turn" for SkillsVid video - I don't know what was going on here... it was like she'd forgotten what "turn" means. It came back, but it was weird. She really wanted to do "izzy" instead (the string of 3 was impressive, just not what I wanted). A couple of times she turns her head right to look way far out to where her special bowl was sitting. After she started to self-release herself to the special bowl, I decided having it on the same side as she was working was too much of a distraction and when I moved it, she did do better. One thing I don't like is the way she steps forward before starting her turn compared to the tight way she spins on the other side.

Since Gimme started the prior session without focus, I decided this time to start her on leash - as a reminder. When she is focused on working with me, then I took the leash off.

"Pivot" video - I'm amazed she did this at all, since I was using the wrong cue. Dumb me. Gimme deserves better. I do notice when she's already on the brick and I give the wrong cue, she does "pivot" anyway. But when I send her to the brick with the wrong cue, then she is much less certain and starts giving me a fishtail of both directions. "Pivot" is CCW and "tivo" is CW.

"Bucket" video - This is coming along so well. The real test of her understanding is she knows to get on the prop when she hears the cue. I'm almost ready to try it with other props. I just need to find props which are sturdy enough to hold up. She is a bit distracted by some squeaking going on in the puppy class, but manages to work through it.

Platform work for "away" video - It occurs to me watching this, she might do better about keeping both rear feet on the platform if I was just a little further to the side. Toward the end I am using the target stick to turn her "away". She's still turning too far, but at least is now self-correcting. She even turns a couple of times to the target stick without having to follow it like a lure - HUGE! I think we're gonna get this...

It's nice having her brain coming back. I'm so spoiled to have my smarty girl and when she's distracted by pseudo Mommy issues, I think we are both frustrated.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Nosework trials, day 3

Day 3 - NACSW @ Steilacoom We were hoping to get our L3I (level 3, interior element) title; at the least I wanted a leg.

Interior Search 1 - This search was in a classroom with the teacher's desk out of play. We were told 0-3 hides with 2:30 allowed. Gimme found two hides solidly. One was under the edge of desk and the other inside a little stack of chairs. After those she ran around and never showed interest anywhere else, so I called "finish". The judge said the third hide was under a chair near the door. Gimme was near there once, but not real close.

Interior Search 2 - This search was in a classroom with half of the room out of play. We were told 1-3 hides with 2:00 allowed. Gimme found a hide quickly then scanned around and settled on a table with a bunch of chairs around it. She finally gave me "the look" and I called alert. The judge said it was under a little chair behind me. So this is a false alert.  In hindsight, because of the tight spacing, I was between Gimme and the actual hide location.  So when she alerted, she was likely responding to the strongest scent available - an honest mistake.

Interior Search 3 - This room was a kitchen with 1-3 hides and 2:00 allowed. Gimme found a hide under the chair at the desk. Then she went around and around before settling on a stack of folding "wet floor" signs. She didn't show interest in anything else, so after we heard "thirty seconds", we made another quick trip around the area, then I called "finish" and was correct.

Interior Search 4 - The last search was in a storage room with 0-2 hides and 1:30 allowed. Gimme found one hide in the handle of the industrial size wet vacuum and then showed no real interest beyond quick scanning at anything else. I asked her "anything else" and she headed to the door, so I called "finish" and was correct.

The parking lot experts don't know if missing a hide in one search is effectively the same as a false alert in another search - though most have strongly held opinions. Truthfully most competitors have no idea how the scoring works - even those with a lot more experience than me. Here's what I learned about how element trial scoring works:
  • To get the element title you must correctly make 100% of the total calls and not exceed 3 faults; to get a leg you need 75% of calls - not exceeding 3 faults.
  • There is one "alert" call per hide and one "finish" call per search area (for those levels where a "finish" call is required.
  • If you miss hides or have a false alert, then you don't get credit for the finish call.
  • If you have a false alert you will be assessed 2 faults. So regardless of your percentage of calls, if you get two false alerts you cannot get a leg.
What I found out for this trial: there were 8 hides and 4 finish calls to be made.. To get a leg I needed 9 correct calls to make the 75% cut-off. In our case we got 6 of 8 hides, but only got credit for 2 finish calls. This left us with 8 correct calls out of 12 and 66.667%, so no leg. Bummer.

I'm wondering if I need to have Gimme on leash for interiors more often. It slows her down and may encourage more methodical searching. Both searches where we erred, she was off leash. She was on leash for the searches where we were successful.  Of course she prefers searching off leash, so I may let her start searches on leash and then put her back on about halfway through the search.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Nosework Trials - day 1 & 2

We had 2 days of AKC trialing and at the last minute got into the NACSW element trial on the third day.

Day 1 - AKC @ Argus Their trial management was different than anything I'd seen before, kinda first-come-first-serve, so it seemed chaotic. If Gimme Q'd in Novice buried both days, she'd get the novice buried title and the novice level scentwork title.

Advanced Containers - We had 2 hides and 2:00 to find them (on leash). Gimme did a great job she was fast and sure. A little bit heavy with the paws, but she didn't get a fault for it. She had a time of 24.25 seconds and got 1st place.

Advanced Interior - Here too we had 2 hides and 2:00 to find them (on leash). Gimme was really interested in leaving the search area to go down a narrow hallway (where the blue arrow points). It took her a little bit to find a hide under the footrest. Then she kept going around scanning, tried to go down the hallway twice more until we ran out of time. The judge showed me the other hide at the edge of the fireplace screen closest to the hallway (hidden behind people legs in the picture).

The door was open at the end of the hallway, so I think the airflow was pulling odor down the hallway. The door we came in was open between searches (allowing this air movement) and then closed during each search. Gimme wanted to follow the scent plume down the hallway and then she likely would have followed it to the hide, but I didn't support her (inhibited by the narrow hallway?). Bad me...

Novice Buried - This was novice, so only 1 hide and a generous 2:00 to find them (on leash). Gimme ran to the end of the search area and peed. The last wait station before the search was on gravel and the wait there was 5 minutes. Gimme tends to need a stress pee after any significant waiting (especially at a trial) and the search area was her first opportunity to get on grass after the wait on gravel. This ended any change of getting the novice buried and novice scentwork titles this weekend. We needed 2 buried Q's and only had the two tries. <pout>

Advanced Exterior - Again, 2 hides and 2:00 (on leash). At first Gimme wouldn't leave heel position to search, since I reflexively spoke sharply to her when she peed. I encouraged her to search and after a bit she did.  It may also be because I'd walked her right into the scent plume of the first hide and perhaps her odor obedience overcame her concern about my sharp words.  She was a little distracted by a toy, but left it quickly. She found the first hide under the edge of some trim on the building and then found another under a flower container. She finished the search in 1:29.47, earning 2nd place.

Day 2 - AKC @ Argus Since I was used to the first-come-first-serve it wasn't as challenging. Plus I told them I could volunteer after we searched, so we were bumped to the front of the line. All the volunteers were bumped to the beginning, but I think Sue put me first because she knew with my experience she could send me anywhere.

Advanced Containers - There were 2 hides and we were allowed 2:00 (on leash). Gimme did a great job she was fast and sure. Again a bit heavy with the paws, but no fault assessed. She had a time of 30.35 seconds and got 2nd place. The first place dog was exactly 10 seconds faster.

Advanced Interior - We had 2 hides and 3:00 (on or off leash). This was the only search of the weekend where she could be off-leash, so I let her go for it. She ran around a lot, scanning everything and not really settling anywhere. Then she went back to places she'd been and alerted first one, then two. The first hide was on a little shelf in the kitchenette and the other was under a cart edge under a table-desk in the main room (behind people legs). The judge asked me if she always went around to find each hide before telling me where they were. I told her it'd been an issue all along and we've worked on it with some progress, but not resolved. Her time was 1:39.87, she was 6th in the running. Sorry this picture is probably hard to decipher.

Novice Buried - 2 hides, 2:00 and on leash. Gimme was really fast, running around to check the six containers and then went back to the one she liked and indicated by turning it over. I thought the rolled bits of black plastic fencing on the top would discourage pawing and they did, but hitting it hard enough from the side to turn it over was not an improvement. Since we got a fault we were at the end of the running. Without the fault her FAST 9.44 seconds would have been 2nd place.

I was suspicious of the judge's largess giving us only a regular fault, since I'd just read the rules the night before, so I checked them. We shouldn't have gotten a Q for this, since it was a "significant disruption" of the search area and should have been an non-qualifying-fault. But the judge's decision stands, it's a gift and I'll take it. There is a saying: "The judge giveth and the judge taketh away."  There have been calls I thought were unfair, so this gift makes up for it a little bit.

Advanced Exterior - We had 2 hides and 3:00 (on leash). Gimme wasted a lot of time playing with a toy in the search area and I encouraged her repeatedly to leave it. She found the first hide under an upturned bucket - then went back to the toy. I got her to leave it again and she then went to find the hide under the chair, then immediately back to the toy once she got her treats. She's pretty certain if a toy is available she should get to have it for finding hides. Her time was 56.07 seconds, she was 6th in the running; she probably would have gotten 3rd or 4th place if they didn't count the time playing with the toy. This is why I encourage Dorothy to leave the toys on the floor during class - Gimme needs to learn to work through it and she is much better than she was, but we have a way's to go.

It wasn't our best weekend, but coming away with 6 qualifying runs (out of 8) isn't anything to sneeze at either. There will be lots of title possibilities at our next AKC trial (we need one Q each for novice buried, advanced containers and advanced exteriors to get 4 titles).

Friday, June 14, 2019

Nosework class (2/38)

Several people were getting ready for trials this weekend, so class consisted of one search per element.

Vehicle search video - You can see Gimme is pretty much uninterested in the white vehicle. In fact she's not really interested in the black van either - until we start toward the back end and she gets in odor.

Interior search video - Gimme was quick to find the hide. I let her persist with the one box because she really would put her head deep in a box for an inaccessible hide. Remember the falling boxes search, where she shoved into a pile of boxes to get to the hide and there were boxes falling on her head? I don't see the difference in her behavior here with her head deep in a box of stuff and the falling boxes hide. I really was thinking about calling "finish" when the instructor called "time". As easy as it is for me to talk, you'd think it wouldn't be so hard for me to say one little word.

Container search video - Gimme goes into searches so fast she often overruns her nose to start with (just like she overruns almost every corner in tracking). She'd gone by the hide before but didn't notice it until I encouraged her to "slow down a little bit".

Exterior search video - The breeze is blowing from behind us at the start line and Gimme was going fast when she first passed the shovel, so she didn't catch odor until we were coming back the other way. She caught odor on the bucket easily. I wasted time bringing her back up the middle because I wanted her to check the two drains. She wasn't interested in them, so I could have called "finish" 30 seconds sooner. I've noticed before that I subconsciously wait to get to wherever I'm walking before I call it.

I really waste a lot of time in searches making sure she checks everything before I call finish. I need to learn to read her, "there's nothing here" demeanor. I can see it in video, but not as much in real time. Of course there is a fine line between there not being anything else and whether or not she's gotten into odor.

We also have trials this weekend. Friday and Saturday we are entered in the AKC trial at Argus. Gimme still needs two legs in novice buried element, which we've been training. She's in advanced for containers, interior and exterior. Then on Sunday we got into the NACSW level 3 interiors element trial. 

Wish us luck for all.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Private Lesson w/Sil Sanders

On Saturday, June 8th, Gimme and I drove 2½ hours up to Birch Bay, just north of Bellingham. We went up to do a private lesson with Sil Sanders. I won the lesson at a seminar with him and was sure I'd gone past the expiration, but Sil said there wasn't one.

My hope was for him to see Gimme's new tendency to do a walkabout when she can't find the track. I don't know why she does it and thought he'd be likely to see something I was missing. She also does it if she can find the track and I obtusely refuse to believe her. Envision her getting in a huff and saying, "Well fine! I'll do it your stupid way, but there's no track over here."

The parameters were TD-ish length (it ended up being 595 yards) and one-hour-ish age, no food on the track, but an article on every leg. It was also supposed to be a blind track, but the cover was so deep, I could see the track part of the time. Of course Gimme was going so fast I didn't have a lot of time to look for a path in the grass. It was warm, low 70's with a light breeze.

My first mistake involved the start. Sil pointed me to go to the start flag at a 45-degree angle. I let Gimme use much of her line to investigate and pee before the start, so she arced out and our approach to the start was more of a 90-degree angle. Gimme had no difficulty with this, but Sil said I should be sure we approach the flag as directed by the judge.

Gimme quickly found the first article (and all articles for that matter). She then proceeded to overrun the first corner quite a bit. We worked a search pattern in both directions. At one point Gimme started to go off at an angle and I queried her, "Is that the good track?" and she curled off it. Yay for her... We worked our way back toward where she'd been solid on the track and she found the next leg. She was quickly rewarded by another article.

She also overran the second corner, but not as much this time. We again had to employ a search pattern to get her back to the track. And again right after she found the next leg she was rewarded with another article. This leg took Gimme right into a little patch of woods. She spent a bit of time snooping off to one side and I let her use most of the line, keeping myself out of the woods. Then she pulled harder and took me down the dirt path through the woods and out the other side.

She made the next turn pretty quickly and had a moment where she sniffed to the left, but then continued down the leg. Later Sil told me, when he laid the track there was a mom and baby deer bedded down to the right of where the track went through. When they saw him, they moved off, crossing our track (red line). Gimme got past this so well and was rewarded with another article.

When Gimme got to the fourth corner, she made it so fast, I really didn't believe her. Her head was up a bit, as it tends to be when she is off on a walkabout.  In this case her head was probably up because the cover was so tall it didn't need to be down to follow the track.  I queried her and she wasn't as decisive in her response - possibly because she sensed my Doubting Thomasina. In fact she dithered around a bit to the left. I came perilously close to bringing her back to search for the corner. Thank God I didn't. Gimme was right and soon showed me the final glove.

This is kind of a milestone for us. It was pretty clear that I doubted her last corner, but she didn't let me throw her off. I came really close to bringing her back, but at some level she must've been giving me enough so could follow her. I hope it's enough so she feels more confident to be more insistent in the future. Sil said we did a solid job and could be ready for a TDX test before long.

My plan is to get up there later this summer and do a TDU lesson with him. I'd like him to evaluate where we are in our skills. Sometimes I feel really confident and other times not so much. There are fall/winter TDU tests coming up, so I want to see whether he thinks we should enter. If not, we wait until next year, since I want to get our tests done away from pollen season.

This was very exciting...

Monday, June 10, 2019

Nosework class (1/38)

Exterior 1 videoI didn't really "start" Gimme. We were coming from across the street and she seemed to be on a mission, so I let her go for it. She found the first hide in 13 seconds. Only one dog found the near hide first, but she came from a different direction than everyone else. Gimme wasn't as direct for the second hide, but there was no dawdling either.

For the interior hides 1 through 3, we were to predict how long it would take our dogs to solve the search. Here are our results.
area 1 0:45 0:09.22
area 2 1:15 1:21.56
area 3 1:45 0.51.22

Interior 1 (no video) - The hide was in the handle where it attached to the dust mop. Gimme was dang fast and I was waaaaay off in my prediction.

Interior 2 videoGimme goes right to the hide as she comes in, but doesn't stick, continuing instead to scan the area. She quickly starts checking high surfaces, since the hide was just high enough to fall on those surfaces and either it was curling over the edges OR she was going with expectations.

Interior 3 video - If you wonder why I waited so long to call it when she was all over the stack of chairs - I was waiting for her to tell me this was it. If you watch her with this in mind, she never does give me "the look" to say this is as close as I can get. In fact she never did give me the look until after I said, "alert".

Interior 4 video - All three hides are moved into the same room. Gimme is nicely efficient and gets them all in under a minute.

When Gimme was younger I had to be careful about how much we did on nosework class days, so she was fresh enough to perform well. It's nice to see how much she's matured. Even with RFE practice in the morning and her Lenny-baby concerns, she is still able to do well in class.

Gimme is starting to wean Lenny-baby, just in time for two days of AKC nosework trialing this Friday and Saturday. Wish us luck.