Our first search was a three vehicle search. It was pretty standard stuff with no real breeze to speak of, one white van and two really large white industrial trucks (with tool cabinets and overhead booms). One of the challenging aspects was the landscape strip between the two industrial trucks. Everyone was really worried about getting their dogs to go over the landscaping without peeing, but I didn't see it as a big deal.
Gimme started at the start line, bypassing the van and going to the nearer truck. She went up the far side, passed the hide on the front tire, but then snapped back to it. From there she sniffed along the side of the truck and across the back. Without pausing she then went down the other side of the other industrial truck and very quickly found the second hide on a rear tire. As Gimme moved across the landscaping a second time, she started to sniff, but without a word I just proceeded across and she came with me. Dogs pee there all the time (including her), so I didn't want to spend time there and I knew it was a vehicle search so there was unlikely to be something there for her. From there she went to the purple dot at the rear tire and sniffed and scratched at something. Since she didn't ever look at me, I knew it was not odor and encouraged her to move along (turns out there was a treat stuck under the back edge of the tire from a prior class). She moved along the side and switched over to the van, then came along the back and quickly up the far side to nail the third hide. She did a very nice job.
Dorothy complimented the way I handled the landscaping distraction and the treat distraction. She specifically commented on how I quickly moved across the landscaping paying no attention, so Gimme was encouraged, but not pressured, to move along. She asked how I knew it wasn't a hide under the rear tire and I said it was because Gimme never looked at me, which is what she does when she knows its not something I'm going to help her with (like food distractions in containers).
Our other search was to play "running bunny" on a storage pod. We used the near side and both ends (but not the back side, where there was a lot of tripping hazards and little light). "Running bunny" is when the instructor keeps moving hides as the dogs find them. This ended up being about ten hides. Mostly they were low hides, then one medium height hide at the far end and finally a high hide in the middle of the long side (about 4' up). The purple dots represent where the spectators were standing near the landscaping, which has a concrete curb.
Gimme did a great job with the hides and found all the low hides without any difficulty. She even found the medium height hide on the end (about 3' up). However, the high hide on the long side presented a significant challenge for her. It was really cool to see her switch gears and get really serious about this one - even Dorothy noticed her change of attitude. This hide was doing some odd things and it seemed like the scent wasn't falling straight down, so if the dogs were moving along close to the side of the Pod, then they didn't catch it. Gimme finally started looping out from the side further and further. Her last loop was to go out and make all the spectators move out of her way as she moved along next to, but not sniffing the landscaping curb. From there she went almost straight to this hide.
To me (and Dorothy agreed) it was like she moved out of the scent so she could find the edge and then follow it in to the hide. Gimme was very proud of herself for solving this challenge and got a LOT of peanut butter from me. Dorothy said some dogs use the technique of moving out of scent so they could go back in, though most don't. I remember how often I was criticized by my prior instructor for letting Gimme work an odor challenge by "leaving the search area". My answer then was to say she was the one with the nose, so I was inclined to let her work it however she saw fit, especially since she always moved back in on her own without any encouragement from me, so I knew she was working it. Then I went to a seminar where the presenter talked about just this thing - saying to watch for it and respect it if we saw it in our own dog. It was good to be validated then, its great to have an instructor now who understands and respects a dog's individual techniques. I do find Dorothy is more knowledgeable than most.
This next weekend I am registered for a two-day non-working seminar with Amy Herot (one of the NACSW founders). I didn't realize it was a non-working seminar when I registered and probably wouldn't have signed up if I had. Still, I've heard good things about her, so hopefully I will learn a lot without working Gimme. The topics are: Saturday, Interiors With Confidence and Sunday, The Elite Experience.
Five weeks later we have a one-day two-trial barn hunt and two weeks latera two-day tracking seminar on Foundation Tracking Skills with Sil Sanders. I have signed up to work two more tracking seminars during the summer and will be auditing another in September at a level we aren't ready for. I'm sure I'll find a lot of other fun stuff for us to do this summer...