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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Monday, July 15, 2013

Trial Results

We didn't title, through no fault of Gimme's.  She was amazing, focused and determined.  I just discovered she was 17th overall, out of 33.  That' doesn't sound like much, but you have to know the context.  She was assessed full time from the element we missed and even with that was 32 seconds faster than the #1 dog for the trial.  Had we gotten that element within time, she would have been 7th for the trial (out of 33) - including her fault.  Without a fault (see discussion below) she would have been first.

Vehicle Element - The wind outside was pretty strong, but that wasn't the issue.  The problem was that it came in strong enough and was chanelled so that it bounced off the nearby building, trailer and a/c unit, to come back at the vehicles from another angle.  I let Gimme lead me through to the far end, so we'd turn and face the wind.  She came up the left side of the grey trailer and along that side of the blue truck.  She spent a lot of time along that side of the truck and just as I was thinking to move her to the other side, she led me there on her own.  She checked briefly between the trucks before hustling to the other side of the red truck and zeroing in on odor (see the tiny black arrow).  Given how my time sense is so skewed, that probably only took a minute.

Then she continued down the right side of the yellow van ending up detailing all over the back end of the grey trailer.  The third time she put her paws up in the same spot on the trailer's bumper I was thinking to myself, "I wonder if she's trying to tell me something", when I heard my voice say "alert". We call that a "blurt alert". 

She had more than a minute left and, as the judge said, she would have found it like she found the first one, if I'd let her do her job.  The judge's written comments were "Darn wind!  Love the energy & teamwork.  Keep moving in wind like this to get Gimme to source or she will stop in pooling odor.  Overall very good  :)"  While the wind came from behind us at the start line, it was being chanelled by other buildings (brown) and a big trailer (light grey), then hitting another building (brown, across bottom) and then spiraling back toward the start line before hitting a huge air conditioning unit.

In the past they've let us walk through the area more, so we can do the wet finger test and know what the heck the wind is doing.  This is the first time I've been to a trial where they wouldn't let you walk around in the search area (without touching) and figure out what you have to work with. 

Interior Element - Our second search was the interior.  Two rooms with one hide in the first and two in the second.  Gimme found that first hide in 6.15 seconds!  If you blinked, you missed it.  The first hide in the second room I'm sure she found even faster, with an impressive full speed snap back.  The second hide seemed to me to take a long time, but she had that by 40.52 seconds.  If you had asked me, I would have said we spent 1:30 in that room.  So to say the least, I was floored when they called her name for 1st place in Interiors.  The second place dog took a full 15 seconds more than she did.  

Container Element - Gimme did a great job at this.  I was thrilled with her performance and only saw her focus on one container that didn't end up having distraction in it.  Her indications were nice, more moderate than in the past.  Still the judge assessed a fault for too much pawing.  Her comments were, "Too much scratching as an alert.  Good drive.  Needs to settle more in search.  Good waiting dog out on distracter and not calling it!"  I'm not sure what she was talking about waiting her out, because Gimme never did a sniff-stick-paw any of the wrong containers.  Perhaps she thought the sniffing was an indicator, keeping in mind that she knew where everything was.  Remember, sniff-stick-paw-look is her final indicator in containers.  There were at least 35 containers - more than I'd ever seen before and Gimme checked every one, some more than once and still found the two correct ones in 1:30.44...  I don't understand what she was saying that Gimme needs to "settle more in search". 

The Certifying official filled in to judge this class because the real judge had to leave to catch a flight.  She went on-and-on-and-on-AND-ON during the briefing about pawing.  Basically she will assess a fault if the dog puts their paw on a container and even draws it back toward themselves.  Joyce harangues me all the time about Gimme's pawing, but until she can come up with a reward-based solution her instructions to punish Gimme will continue to fall on deaf ears.  That is something I'm completely unwilling to do.  I value Gimme's enthusiasm and persistence and I won't risk dampening that.  I'm willing to live with the occasional fault for excessive pawing if it comes to that, because she's never excessive in the other classes.  Plus I have other behaviors that involve pawing and I don't want to risk bleed over to them, even if I were willing to use punishment in the first place.

Exterior Element - Our last search was a HUGE exterior area, with those same swirling winds.  Because the area was safely enclosed, we had the rare option to search off leash.  I didn't, because I didn't want to risk Gimme peeing.  I need not have worried.  She was so fast that for awhile they thought she was #1, but I think they had forgotten about the Malinois from the other group (about 90 minutes earlier).  Gimme found both hides in 1:00.08 and even took it upon herself to access the inaccessible hide.  It may have been inaccessible to some dogs, but not to my girl.  

The videographer was sitting on the ground with her back to a portable and Gimme leaped right over her on her way to find the second hide... meaning that the judge had to hustle to keep from getting caught up in our line.  She did another impressive full speed snap back to get the second hide.  She was moving so fast that I was very thankful to have all 25 feet of line, since I was only able to hold on by wrapping the last few inches around my hand.  If Gimme had ever turned into the wind, between her speed and the wind speed, I think I might have gone up in the air like a kite.I totally love her enthusiasm.  Obviously I will have to get in shape before I get serious about tracking or I'll never keep up.

BTW my strategy of bringing enough stuff and our odor kit to set up a search area off site seems to be working.  Gimme was much better on her first searches than she was on prior trials, classes or our usual practices.


Ximena said...

I think the best way to avoid excessive pawing is to c/t when she's reaching to paw, before she actually paws. If you really want the pawing. Obviously you'd need to practice on known hides, not blinds, in the beginning so you can know for sure whether or not to c/t. But that's the only way I know of to achieve the no-excessive pawing without punishment and without introducing a new chain entirely.

Congrats on your 1st place in Interior! That's awesome! 6 seconds is insane! Way to go. :D

A to Z Dals said...

What I thought to do was to use the clicker and build her indication chain from the start. I'd just hold an odor tin in my fist and cue the pieces, until I was ready to put a cue to it.

It would be made of the same behaviors she has already in the chain, but I'd want to get it on cue. Sniff = nose "touch"... the stick will come on its own... "paw" is already on cue and just waiting for duration will get me the look.

The reason for getting it on cue, is so I can cue it over and over again with subtle changes in the conditions until I can get the behavior to a box or other items on the floor (which I think is part of the picture that makes her be excessive). I want to isolate it from the search component, so I can get many repetitions in a short amount of time.

Thanks for the kudos... Actually her find in the exterior at the prior NW2 trial was even faster - 5.19 seconds. We were beat out of 1st place by a dog that did it in 4.09 seconds. That hide was 20 feet away - this one was 6 feet away. So, by comparison this one was slow based on feet per second.