Class Tuesday was very different. The building was "divided" into three areas, but we had the whole thing as one interior search for our first search. The entry area is about 10x10. Then the door opens into the front part of the training room, about 15x20, separated from the back part with expens. The back part is about 25x40 and includes a tiny bathroom. The entry and front part of the training area were pretty much just like they always look. The back part of the training area was just full of stuff. They'd set up two canopies, with Christmas ornaments and little packages hanging from them, and then there were other boxes, wrapped boxes, containers of ornaments and various other items with a Christmas theme strewn everywhere. There were an unknown number of hides and we were allotted 7 minutes for our first search.
Gimme was third to search. She found one hide in the entry on the gumball machine and then left to enter the front of the training room. There she found the same hide the other dogs found on the back side of the fan and then was able to locate an inaccessible hide under a shelf (4' from the fan hide). From there she went into the back part of the room and quickly snagged the hide on the thermostat. She's been wanting a hide to be there for a very long time (high up doncha know). Then she went to the area next to the little refrigerator they keep odor in and really investigated it at length, but never committed (it was an inaccessible hide). She left it at one point to get the hide in the bathroom. Then she dithered around under the leftmost canopy, but never indicated. I knew where some hides were from watching other dogs, but wanted her to find them on her own. We finally ran out of time.
We found out there were 3 hides in the entry room, 3 hides in the front of the training area, 1 hide in the bathroom and 7 hides in the back part of the training area. So Gimme got 5 out of 14. This is the first time Gimme wasn't the star of the class.
This search area was set up like an elite search, so there are going to be areas of overwhelming quantities of odor. I haven't read the rules about elite searches, so I don't really know what the parameters/rules are. I think 3 hides in a 10x10 room is a LOT. But then found out, 5 of the 7 hides in the back of the training room were under one canopy! Basically, there was so much odor Gimme didn't know how to sort it out into all the individual source locations. She's never seen anything like this before. The dog who did the best is an older female Jack Russell. She found 7 of 14 hides on her first search.
We were then given the choice of searching the front area (6 hides) or the back area (7 hides), with 6 minutes to work it. We all chose the back area, except the Jack Russell's owner who wanted to work the front area, which was where her dog had been weakest. She got 5 of 6 her second time around - she's talented, determined and methodical (very un-JR of her).
For her second search Gimme had the back area of 7 hides (bathroom was closed off). She got the thermostat hide and then went over to solve the inaccessible hide by the odor storage refrigerator. From there she went to the canopy and got one of those hides. There were 5 boxes, with odor in each. The center box was at about 3 feet high. Two boxes at opposing corners were at 2 feet high (nose level) and the other two opposing corners were at 1 foot. Gimme got one of the nose level hides and then just kept going back and forth and around and around. At times she'd put her nose right next to a hide or bump it and just not catch it. I thought for sure she'd get the other nose level hide and the highest one, but not. So she only got 3 of 7 hides - which is dismal for her.
So I've been thinking about how to give her more opportunities to do this kind of search. I need an area where I can let the hides really cook (stay in place for a long time), which leaves out anywhere I would normally practice. It occurs to me I can use my parents' big garage (for the motorhome) and could even do a similar set up using the basement. I might even be able to do the same thing in the woodshed - its a 12x12 building which is open on one side.
I can set up a search series where I keep adding hides to a relatively small area. My usual day to spend time at Mom's is on Thursday and at least once a
month, on Sunday too. So, on weeks where I'm going to be back on
Sunday, I can leave my hides so they have a couple of days to cook. This should give us some really good training to help Gimme understand how to deal with this much odor.
Gimme really tried and while I was a tiny bit disappointed to not be the star of class like we usually are, I was still pleased with her efforts. She never quit working and never showed any frustration. It'll be interesting to see how the training goes. And knowing Gimme it will be a lot of fun...