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Thursday, December 28, 2017

RFE Practice (59)

Tomorrow is our next RFE practice - this report is for the one two weeks ago. So you can see how far behind I am. I'm done making Christmas presents, so should be able to keep up to date now.

My main goal for the day was to video our segment for our part in the current MDSA collaboration. We only needed 13 seconds, so it went fast and I was happy with the results. I still think I use my hands too much in a luring manner, but other people say my motions fit in with my "dancing", so I'm being too critical of myself. Here's Our MDSA video.

The collaboration, to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree is done. You can see the whole thing - our part is the fourth segment.  I saw a couple of things I want to teach Gimme. They actually did two songs this time, so others danced to Two Step 'Round the Christmas Tree  You'll need to use the password "paws" to access either of these videos. These videos are a collaboration of people and dogs of all skill levels.
Backward weaves video - I talked before about my idea to make a crooked channel of wire guides and then use a platform to give Gimme something to back to. I think this might be a possibility, especially after Gimme realized there was no reward for trying to "bacon" onto the guides. It helped when I stabilized them with 2x2 weaves. Since I'm done making Christmas presents I can reclaim my living room and set this up to practice - it'll take up almost all the available floor space.

"Can" work video - Remember she's been getting on and then going across it and then backing on, so my goal was to focus on mounting front feet first and then sticking it. I was using tossed treats to set her up for a front approach. I'm also trying to work on the position of her rear feet. She brings them too far forward (as if she expects to sit) making it hard to spin. I'm sure she hasn't outgrown it, since she was doing it last year and hasn't grown since then. I may need to use a larger prop to practice on. I should probably use a lower treat delivery, so she doesn't have her head so high, which leads to lowering her rump. I may very well end up using this prop for her "pivot" (CCW) and then use a larger prop for the spin. I find it interesting Gimme is so willing to "tivo" (clockwise pivot) on this prop, when we've barely done work on the behavior.

Dog-inside pivot video - I started out reinforcing being still on the brick - still trying to get Gimme to wait for cues instead of assuming what I should want. After a minute reinforcing stillness, then we are able to practice the dog-inside pivot. I'm going to have to make a brick from thin plywood and one of just sandpaper (which I can easily cut down to fade the brick if needed).

"Izzy" & "otto" video - "Otto" used to be the favorite of the back around behaviors, but it has deteriorated seriously with our efforts to learn backward weaves. We are still working on getting it back. Once she does it, then she can do it again. But the next time I ask for it in another session, we start over reminding her what I want. My plan is to use the guides and retrain it from the beginning.

"Away" video - Gimme doesn't act like she understands what I want here, though she's done it on cue before. I want to use our special bowl to give her something to focus on, so then we can get some duration I can reward. I was trying to use the tossed treats for the same purpose, but it seemed to make her more erratic. I also did some work with having her "wait" on the platform so I could move around her and name the different positions. Sometimes she needs a bit of reminder on what "wait" means. Clearly I need to put some money in the "wait" bank, since it used to be one of her strongest behaviors. I was having her back into "under" to see if it'd work, and it will. So will leave the idea for the time being, until we get the "away" solid.

Center-front pivot video - We just did this because we hadn't practiced it in awhile. Gimme does it nicely in both directions.

"Scoot" video - When I have her "down" in front of me, she immediately starts "scoot", so this is another area where I need to work with Gimme on waiting for the cue. I also want to have her go a bit further - so may try using one of the carpet squares as a target for her to go to.

It'll be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow, since Gimme is in her false pregnancy.  Cross your fingers...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Nosework (1/29 & 2/29)

This first class is from December 5th...  I forgot to take my camera so there are no videos.  We had three container searches.

Container 1 search - there were three areas, with blind hides, plus I had to call clear or finish.  Gimme found one hide in the first area and then wanted to move on, so I called "finish" and was right.  She found two hides in the second area, but wasn't eager to move on and yet wasn't really searching, so I called "finish" and was right.  Gimme wasn't really interested in the third area, so I called "clear" and was right.  This has been one of my biggest challenges, so it was nice to get it all right.

Container 2 search - all in one area, with the same hides and a couple added hides.  Gimme found all the hides really fast and was having a great time.  She didn't really need me for this search.  I did notice she was getting more excited, which she often does with repeat container searches.

Container 3 search - the containers were moved again and some were moved outside the regular pattern, so it was like a mix of containers and interior .  Although this was another container search, she didn't go over the top.  I think when containers are set up in some way other than a big field of boxes, then Gimme does better.  This might explain why she doesn't get over the top when we do an element trial on containers.

Second class is December 19th...  with the co-instructor. 

Container 1 video - we had containers in two straight lines, with 6 hides.  We were supposed to go along the boxes, then reverse course and do the lines again.  Gimme missed one the first time around and found them all the second time.  She thought eleven hides in 1:24 was a lot of fun.

Container 2 videothe containers were set in one line and we were instructed to stop/pause at every container going down the line, then reverse course and repeat coming back to the beginning  Since the containers were only 3 feet apart, this meant keeping Gimme on a very short leash.  The instructor wanted us to purposely handle in a way that would frustrate the dogs.  For the two slower beginner dogs, this worked okay and they did a better job, actually checking each box.  For the two fast dogs, Gimme and Moxie, it had the opposite affect - they got frustrated, not understanding these new idiot-rules.  Gimme got so frustrated she snarked my finger once, something she never does.  By the time Gimme and I were done, she was both frustrated and confused - so she resorted to indicating every box in hopes she'd make me happy.  I see on video her indications on odor were more vigorous, which wasn't obvious in real time.  There was nothing here I want to add to our repertoire.

Well, gotta git.  While I've been typing this, Gimme has been trying to get my attention.  She's dumped at least half of her new toys on my keyboard, one at a time.  She's pretty certain she's being neglected.

BTW I came home from work today to discover she'd slept on top of her cozy cave bed.  Apparently she thinks it's pretty comfy, but still doesn't understand about getting inside, even though I lured her into it before I left this morning.  She was out of it moments later.  So tonight I did a free-shaping session, teaching her to get into the bed.  I'm hoping this will somehow lead to her getting into it on her own at some point.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Christmas is
Love come down to earth,
a Gift of infinite worth.

Merry Christmas
For Christmas Gimme got 25 toys in a cozy cave bed.  I started collecting them two months ago.  She has so many it gets harder and harder to find unique toys.  It turns out my idea of 25 unique toys included three skunk toys, so I might be failing on the uniqueness front.  A store clerk told me I  am spoiling her - which is a very rude thing to say.  Gimme and I are both certain she deserves all these toys.
The next really hard thing is sneaking the toys in the house.  Gimme ignores everything I bring in, but she always knows when it's something for her, and then she's all over the bag.  I forgot a package of beef jerky in my work bag and she paid no attention to it even though it was easily accessible all weekend.  So, to get them in the house, I bring them in the back porch and leave them there.  Then I put Gimme outside through the front door and while she's out I bring them in, quickly clip the tags and then put them in my hide away drawer.  It's really not a hiding place as you might think of it, since she knows there is stuff in there for her and she checks the edges of the drawer quite thoroughly with her nose.  I'm sure she knows exactly how many toys I've added.  Fortunately she can't get the drawer open.
So last night when I got up around 2:00 a.m. for my usual potty break, I removed the toys from the drawer and transferred them to the office where I'd put the cozy cave bed and then closed the door.  Of course, when I went back to bed after my trip to the bathroom, I found Gimme sitting upright in the bed looking at me suspiciously.  She also pointedly looked over at the drawer a couple of times.  I so have to find another place to hide things. 
In the morning when she was outside, I stuffed the toys in the bed and met her in the living room as she came in.  We went back to bed - where she made a production of sniffing my hands.  I was beginning to suspect she knew I was up to something.  When I got up to start the day an hour later, I set up the video camera.  Then moved the cozy cave package to the couch and called to Gimme, letting her know Santa had come.
She rushed in and immediately checked out her package - pulling out a toy.  My plan had been to video her discoveries and fun, but it's a very long video.  She played with the first toy for twenty minutes, excitedly squeaking it and batting it around.  Then she suddenly stopped, got an expectant look on her face, leaped up and checked her package for more toys.  She pulled them out one-by-one and played with each for awhile before going to get another one.
I thought about editing it down to just show her getting each toy out.  Then I saw there was almost 2 hours of video I'd have to review and quickly decided you'd have to take my word for it.  Gimme was very cute and had a blast.  She didn't even mind discovering there were three skunks, though I noticed later, they ended up side-by-side on the floor.  Of course, like any kid, when the party was over she plopped her poor pitiful self across the top of the cozy cave, looking depressed. 
What's a poor girl to do?  All those toys and not a thing fit to play with...
Then we went to Mom's to fix her lunch and the like.  When we got home 4½  hours later Gimme ran in and excitedly stuck her head in the cozy cave, checking-checking-checking.  After finding nothing, she went to the bedroom and slumped herself on the bed, looking dejected.  I think she was hoping it had given birth to some new toys. 
BTW she is completely unimpressed with the bed as a possible place to sleep.  I'm hoping she will discover it's value when I go to work and am not here to hold the edge of the covers up for her.  I'll let you know...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

RFE practice (58)

This practice session was on November 30th and it's now the 10th of December, so you can see I am really far behind on blogging again.  I'm busy making Christmas gifts and they need to be mailed to the recipients, so I'm under a time crunch to get them done.  Naturally they are taking five times as long to do as I expected.  The facility was particularly noisy with a lot more screeching dogs than usual, which is distracting for Gimme.  Hopefully this next time will be quieter, since we'll be taping for an MDSA video. 

"Can" & "spin" video - J'Anna thought maybe the reason Gimme is reluctant to "spin" now has to do with her foot position on the can. She noticed Gimme often has her back feet right in the middle of the can, leaving her less room to move her feet when I ask for a spin. So I was then wondering if this could be caused by how she mounts the can. Most of the time when she does "bacon", it's followed by "sit", so it stands to reason she might bring her back feet more up under her out of habit. Video does seem to support this idea. You can see at 2:30 how far forward her back feet are. I plan to encourage her to approach the can front feet first and see if we can get the spin again. I'll need to go back to the basics of get-on-stand-stay. I'm thinking if I always make her mount it coming from either "heel" or "side", then she'll turn toward me, practicing half a spin, but I'll have to be quick to interrupt any variations. Case in point being her new tendency to walk on with her front feet and continue until only the back feet are on, then back the front feet on again. Clearly I should never have encouraged "bacon" onto this prop. 

Pivoting-turn dog-inside video - The idea is to use our "brick" as a foot target, so we can make a pivoting turn with Gimme's front feet as the pivot point. Since I originally taught her to pivot around me, this is a challenge. Using Kathy Weaver's approach, I'm hoping to create the behavior with stylized footwork on my part. I think we might need to go back to basics so Gimme can "brick" without immediately starting an independent "pivot". I need to put some money in the get-on-be-still bank account. Once I convince her we aren't doing an independent "pivot", she does beautifully. I can also see I need to feed lower so she stops standing half crouched in her rear.

Backward weaves (no video) - We continue to struggle with this. I have tried so many things. Sometimes they work a couple of times and then stop working. I believe Gimme is brilliant, so I'm sure she just doesn't understand what the heck I want from her. I think the very specific way RFE wants it done adds to the challenge. It seems counter-intuitive to me. I'm not at all happy with any of the options I've tried and certainly don't like the negative affect on other behaviors. I know she's trying very hard and we are both frustrated. Obviously this is not where I want to be with my bold and bodacious girl.

I have an idea to create a channel of guides with a double bend in it, mimicking the s-curve movement, so I can get her completely comfortable with the move, with me out of the equation. I'll put a platform in it and have her start on the platform, take one step forward, then back onto the platform. I'll do this incrementally until she's taking many steps forward through the two bends - then backing down the channel to the platform. When she is doing this boldly, then I'll change my orientation until I'm in "heel" (or "side") when she's forward in the channel. Over time I'll move until she's backing through my legs using the channel and platform. I just think I need to take this soooo much slower than I've been doing. It's an advanced behavior, so we have plenty of time. If we never get it, so be it. I'd rather take a zero on the behavior than to have my sweet girl be so frustrated. It's not fun for either of us. 

"Pivot" video - Gimme does a great job on her counter-clockwise "pivot". I did see her step on the brick with front feet, walk forward until her back feet are on, then back again until front feet are on - just as I was seeing in her "can". It seems her favorite backing behaviors are contaminating other behaviors across the board, so we need to go back to basics here as well. She can do "tivo" (clockwise pivot), but only if my hand is over her head. I want to play with free-shaping this to get my hand out of the picture. I think the basics work has to come first. 

Sidepass into dog video - I discovered Gimme watches both of my feet, not just the one closest to her. So if I can remember to stop with my feet apart and then close the foot farthest toward the near foot, she starts stepping away right away. I think this is a feasible cue - all I have to do is remember my part. It's not as smooth when she's in "side", because I've pinched her toe when she's on my right so she tends to swing out, just to be safe. I'm still clicking if she swings from my right, but feeding in proper position. She needs to know her feet are safe there too and it's gonna take time. For now my feet are obviously far apart, but I'm sure I'll be able to stop with them closer as we refine this signal. I love-love-love figuring out what cue works for her. 

Backing in heel video - This is still a work in progress. Gimme does best with a foot target (carpet square or platform) or a channel (wall or guide for barrier). Otherwise she tends to swing her butt from side to side. I've been watching these videos and trying to figure out why one is better than another, even though all other factors are the same. Between the first and second time, the first is noticeably better, but I can't tell why. There has to be a reason, I just can't see it yet.

"Izzy" & "otto" video - These two behaviors have deteriorated and I blame it on trying to teach backward weaves. It takes me just a couple of tries to refresh them when we first work on them. Then when I want to practice them during the next session, "otto" seemed to fall apart badly. I didn't realize it, but it's clear on the video - I was cuing "izzy" when she was in "otto" position. Poor Gimme. It must be so frustrating for her to be unable to communicate why she can't do something I keep asking for over and over. She really deserves better. 

"Scoot" & "grape" video - I love Gimme's "scoot" (crawl backwards). So when I try to change her to another behavior cuing "grape" (rollover) and she gives me a "scoot", chances are pretty good I'll click and treat for it. She's really good at sucking me into her game especially when she's doing something this cute. I'd like to have more distance and am thinking of trying a foot target to back to, like we do with other backing behaviors. You have to admit, this trick is way beyond cute.

"Around" & "under" video - Right as we started it one of the daycare dogs squealed like it was being killed. Gimme was startled and stopped. Then as I got her positioned to try it again, there was some major barking. It's a lot of distraction, so I helped her succeed and paid very well. Fortunately we got a few quiet moments, so she was able to do it without help. I wish there were a better option for training, but this is what we have and we have to make do with whatever is happening when we're there.

"Away" & "under" video - Gimme doesn't really know "away" yet, so mixing it with "under", followed by "heel" was totally unfair. I was just trying to see what it was going to take to get one of the advanced behaviors. Actually I think it'll be pretty easy. I just need to teach the individual parts and then put them together.

Gimme is amazingly tolerant of my shenanigans, especially as I try to figure out how to teach something neither of us has done before. I try to look stuff up on the internet, but often can't find what I'm looking for. Case in point, the backward weaves. I found several examples, but they are all done with different footwork, so it requires a completely different training sequence.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nosework (6/28)

We did pretty much the same exercise as the week before, hides in puzzles, though the "entrances" were changed.

Interior 1 video - Some of the apparent weirdness in the video is when Dorothy is trying to move hides, so we visit the same puzzles again in the same search. By changing it, this search becomes an endurance exercise, though 5+ minutes is hardly endurance by Gimme's standards. She quickly scans the whole area and then goes right to work. Dorothy recognizes this as a valid strategy, the other instructor doesn't. Gimme gets thrown off in the second puzzle when she notices my hand moving toward the treat bag while she was checking out lingering odor - though she quickly goes back to work and finds source. In the bathroom puzzle, the hide is on the lower door hinge and Gimme is the only one to have sourced it from in front of the door, every other dog went behind the door. She does a nice job with the other searches. Interestingly after getting caught up in lingering odor on the red cart and then going to the ladder, she was the fastest dog to find source on the red cart. It was a very nice search. 

Interior 2 (no video) - Dorothy moved all the hides from the puzzles to the perimeter of the room.  After the first search the dogs expected to find the hides in the puzzles, so when they came in for the second search it was very different from what they expected.  All the other handlers kept their dogs on leash so they could manage their work and I noticed the dogs wanted to go to the puzzles, which was both a distraction and frustrating. I chose to avoid possible frustration, so I turned Gimme loose to search off leash.  I think I got better results. Yes, she did check out the puzzles, but only briefly. Then on her own she scanned around the perimeter finding all five hides in sequence. She was a minute or more faster than the other dogs. I'm sure Dorothy doubted my wisdom at the beginning, but then complimented how well it worked for Gimme. Unfortunately, while Dorothy did a great job watching us through the viewfinder, she forgot to push the record button. It was really a lovely search - too bad we don't have a video.

Gimme did a nice job, as always.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Barn Hunt & Weight Pull Weekend

I entered the annual 3-day Thanksgiving barn hunt and weight pull trial. In the past they've held two barn hunt trials each day and this time there was only one. Gimme came into the trial needing 5 Masters legs, 280 Crazy-8 points and 50 weight pull points. I'll talk about barn hunt and weight pull separately.


Friday - We started with Crazy-8, where Gimme got 50 points, using good paw indications. In Masters she found one rat out of 2. She gave me a false alert after a long time in the ring without finding the second rat. I think she just said it was there to please me. We worked on this at our last practice, but clearly need to work on it more.  The rat she missed was deep between two bales, so something we'll set up at a practice.

Saturday - In Crazy-8 Gimme again got 50 points. Her paw indications disappeared in favor of barking at the rat tubes. I did respond to them because her nose was mere inches from the tube. All I want is a clear indication so I know exactly which tube she means. In Masters she found 3 rats of 5. She kept going to gate so I called "clear" and was wrong. I think she wants to get out to where the peanut butter is. It occurs to me we've never worked through PB as a distraction. When we go to practice, we don't wait in a blind so I don't take it with me. I'll have to set this up as an intentional distraction.

Sunday - Gimme was a little tired this day, so she only got 40 points in Crazy-8. In Masters she found 2 rats of 4 and then we ran out of time. She missed a rat in the distance challenge and another in the corner. The way the distance challenge was set up, there was a row of bales for her to trot along, with some bales beside the fence on one side and the big pile on the other side. She checked along the big pile, but never really got her nose into the ground level spaces between the bales. It's an honest mistake since we never hit any distance challenge before this trial. The other rat she missed was in a corner past the distance challenge, but the bales she walked on sort of channeled her away from the corner. Both mistakes are just something which needs to be set up to add to her experience base.

Even though we didn't get any Master Q's, at least she was indicating honestly and clearly. There are some things we can work on so we get back in those Q's. She earned 140 points in Crazy-8, so we only need 140 points to complete her title - probably 3 runs would do it.


Gimme did a great job in weight pull, making a nice improvement in the amount of weight she wanted to pull. Since we started working toward a UWPCH, she's been consistently pulling enough weight to get us 10 points every run. As I've said before, unless we got to higher points, I really didn't see us going beyond the weight pull championship.

Friday - Gimme did a solid job and earned her usual 10 points. I did think she acted a little weird about stuff behind her for no discernible reason.

Saturday - Because of her sensitive behavior the day before, I used some known cues while I was hooking her up. I walked her through the cart's trace lines and then cued her to "wait". I also kept the leash on so I could hold the leash while I hooked her up, instead of having my hand awkwardly in her collar. UKC rules require handlers to have physical contact while hooking up and once you let go, you can't touch them again until after you complete the pull. After she was hooked up I encouraged Gimme to step forward with our "step" cue from parkour, it's one step at a time. My plan was to encourage her to pull just a little higher percentage than she's done before. She usually struggles a bit with a 10-point pull. This time she did it easily, probably because she's using better form. Anyway, since her times were clearly under 10 seconds, I asked for more and she got all the way to a 15-point pull. She would have pulled more because she is just ready, but I wanted to end on fun success. Angie complimented me for stopping earlier than needed.

This picture is Gimme playing with her new personal-best toy reward. Everyone knows I have a penchant for spoiling her with toys; Gimme says it's not "spoiling" cuz she deserves it. She is usually very careful to remove the stitches on a seam and then takes out any excess stuffing (she prefers a realistically dead floppiness in her toys). This time she made a little hole in the middle, folded it over so the stuffing protruded and started modifying it.

While I was taking drugs for a migraine, Gimme helped herself to the toy from a bag with a bunch of other stuff. She always knows when she's getting a new toy and never pays attention to a bag that doesn't have something in it for her - she also doesn't see any point in waiting for a toy when it's clearly hers. Who else would it be for?

Sunday - Gimme again pulled enough weight for 15 points, even going 80 pounds past what she needed. I wanted to be sure we beat the big Swiss Mtn. Dog for Most Weight Pulled per Body Pound. He'd beat us by two-tenths of a percent (or less) on Friday and Saturday. Turns out he pooped out on Sunday and we beat him by over 5 percent. We've competed against him 5 times and have beaten him 3 of those times. He's a big dummy, so Gimme likes beating him. None of the other dogs in our division have really been any competition.

You can see her pull times go over ten seconds for the last two pulls on Sunday; I think she was just a little tired. The rule of thumb is as long as their pull time is below ten seconds, then the dog can readily pull more weight. Physically Gimme can likely pull the UKC maximum-allowed, but she doesn't believe she can. It'll come. I want to be careful in our progression. I see too many dogs who are "broken" and don't believe they can pull even really low weights, so they just quit. Angie says it most often comes from handlers who pushed their dog too far and/or too soon. 

Interestingly, Gimme pulled off to her right for every pull this weekend.  It's actually inefficient, but she consistently did it in every pull.  The first time she did this was when she pulled on rails (in September).  I think the first time probably coincided with a hard pull where it broke free for her, so now she is superstitious and thinks this is easier.

Gimme ended the weight pull part of her weekend with 40 points (ten to go to get her weight pull CH), earning first place in her class and Most Weight Pulled per Body Pound Veteran in her division, all three days. On Sunday she earned Most Weight Pulled per Body Pound for her division.

Here's a picture of Gimme with all her new ribbons. Two of the big rosettes are for the two other times she earned Most Weight Pulled per Body Pound (September).  Sadly they don't have a special ribbon for Most Weight Pulled per Body Pound Veteran.  Of course she cares more about toys and peanut butter than ribbons.  Just sayin...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Urban Tracking (62 & 63)

On Saturday the 18th, Gimme and I went back to Medline to recreate the exercise from the time before, without all the unnecessary length. This time the track was 320 yards. The conditions were cool and damp with minimal breeze. Track was aged 35 minutes.

I have to say, Gimme was amazing on this track. Once she warmed up to it (just after the first turn), she just motored along with her nose down. She barely noticed the landscaping strips. The green truck arrived after I laid the track and was slightly overlapping our track. Gimme wasn't bothered by it.

She was more distracted by the woman who approached us and didn't get my hints about staying back (red dashed line). She really wanted to meet "the Dalmatian" and I told her she could, but not until she finished working. She followed just a few feet behind me, but then couldn't wait until we were done, since she was arriving for work. At first Gimme was really distracted and wanted to go meet this new fan, but with some encouragement was able to refocus and continue nicely. This was very hard distraction for my little social butterfly.

The gray triangle next to the third turn was a glass door. I know doors can affect scent so I made note of it, but there was no sign Gimme was affected. From there to the end was easy peasy. The article next to the landscaping strip was laid on its edge against the far curb and Gimme was going so fast I worried she'd miss it, but she turned on a thin dime to pounce on it and demand payment. This was a really lovely track and I was sooooooo pleased.


Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema the morning of Thanksgiving, Thursday the 23rd. Since the parking lot of the adjacent shopping center was almost completely empty and traffic was non-existent, we moved over there to lay our tracks. It was a new place as far as the dogs were concerned and it was nice to have ample space.

Oddly it was much trashier than the cinema parking lot. People are such pigs, clearly cleaning out their cars and just dumping their trash in the lot.

Our task was three straight tracks, 75, 100 and 150 yards. The conditions were cool and damp with almost no breeze. We staggered the time and even started Cricket's track early. She seemed to struggle with focus and so Gimme's track was older than it was supposed to be - coming in at 40 minutes.

Gimme again did a great job, just motoring along with her nose down. She was distracted briefly by a dirty diaper, but then got right back to work. From nosework we know dogs are often more distracted by novel smells than by yummy smells. Certainly the diaper was novel, as well as gross.

It's been interesting to watch this progression with Gimme. When the whether first turned wet, I really thought she'd find tracking on pavement easier. Instead she acted like she didn't know what to do and couldn't find her track. At the time it didn't occur to me that the track might smell very different, so I blamed it on a "lack of focus". After these two tracks, where she did such a stellar job, I realize she just had to figure out what to do about this different scent. Last winter we were just starting urban tracking after she got her TD in November and we were still doing field tracking about half the time to keep Cricket's skills tuned up in case she got in a trial. Thus, Gimme didn't have a lot of hard surface experience/skill, so I probably didn't notice any difference.

I am so very happy with the progress she's making. Oh how I love my smarty pants.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Nosework (5/28)

The challenges for this class were puzzles the dog needed to solve to to get into where the odor was. There were three puzzles and the way in was changed between searches. Gimme thought this was huge fun.

Interior 1 search, no video - There was a search in the foyer, one hide. Gimme found the hide very quickly, but I didn't believe her. The hide was in the weather stripping under the door and I thought she was just smelling odor from the other room. So I wasn't responding to her indication, no matter how vigorous it got. I think I would have believed her if it had been the door to the office. Trust your dog!

Interior 2 search video - The co-instructor was taking our videos and while she said she was ready, the beginning of Gimme's first puzzle was cut off, so you don't get to see her figuring out how to get in. You can see she had no problem working without me right there. On the second puzzle by the time Gimme got into it, she was frustrated, so it took her a bit to settle down and source the hide. There were two hides out of puzzles on the carts. I don't know what the deal was with the bathroom - she seems to not like this bathroom lately. It has never been a problem before.

Interior 3 search video - I was mistaken about the hide on the cart, I thought it was under the center of the top. It was supposed to be inaccessible and as you can see, Gimme clearly accessed it, getting her whole head under the cart. With all her parkour work, I'm betting I could have given her a "below" cue to go under the ladder into the first puzzle, but she quickly found her own way in. On the second puzzle, the fencing kept me back from the table so Gimme had to bounce up to see I was there. When she goes in the bathroom, she starts in then stops to look back and make sure I'm going to be there. As our friend Janet said, "This girl doesn't work for nothing." All the dogs found the opening for the bathroom puzzle while approaching from the right side.

These were long searches and Gimme really enjoyed them. She had a nice long snooze after we got home.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

RFE Practice (57)

We have entered the World Wide competition at intermediate level, so I'm concentrating on coursework and intermediate behaviors (and the elusive paw lift from novice).

"Pivot" video - We started with a quick warm-up on her brick, just to get her mind into working. There was a lot of distraction in the background, so I wanted to take advantage of this favorite well-known behavior.

1st run through video - The first station is a free choice and I want to do Gimme's "scoot". She was doing it at our last practice, but this time I have to really work with her to get it. Of course she offers a "grape" (roll over). I love her "grape", but once I pay for it, it gets thrown at me anywhere. She loves men/boys, so I lose her to a crowd in the middle of resolving this. When she did it, I should have thrown the treat to her in place. Next was backing in "heel" - we're seeing a little improvement there. Right 270 goes as well as one could expect with her very loose heeling. Gimme was losing focus and starting to forge when I gave her the "spin" cue, so it was more of an oval turn. The next exercise is a backwards-thru-3x. It's a weird exercise, which has never looked good to me no matter who is doing it. We hadn't practiced it in awhile, so it wasn't smooth at first. The simultaneous 180 was loose and was supposed to be a dog-inside-180-pivot. For the next free choice, Gimme knew she was going to get on the stool - she just forgot to wait for me to tell her to do so. I'll bring in my own more-stable prop next time, so it doesn't move as she is trying to "bacon" onto it. Her free choice "pivot" was nice. At the next turn I actually cued her to go "thru" when it was left-turn-circle-trx; the cue should have been "around". The next station was a thru-trx to the other side, which she did very nicely. The thru-trx at the next corner proved very challenging because of all the distracting stuff in the corner. Using "grape" for the next free choice was not a good idea and would bite me later. Gimme had been doing "izzy" so well and lately it's been deteriorating. I think I tried to do it in too many strange places before she was really ready for it. She did do it beautifully with a little refresher. Next was a simultaneous 180. She did a lovely "take-a" bow. I must, Must, MUST remember to continue past the last sign... it's points off if I forget on a video submission. When I did try the dog-inside-180-pivot I still did it wrong. We need to practice it on the brick. Gimme is likely to pivot around me instead of holding her front feet in place because of how I taught it to her first.

2nd run through video - Because Gimme's heeling was so loose during the first run through, I wanted to do another run, leaving out most of the behaviors and focusing on the heeling. Gimme's heeling is really nice when she can just move and go. It's the stopping and starting which throws her off - it's not fun for her. Here when I left out the behaviors and just did the turns and side changes, she did well and seemed to enjoy it. I broke out of the moving heeling stuff to deal with the distraction in the far corner, where she misses the "thru". It took several tries to get her focused and working well through it.

"Scoot" training video - My preference is for her to "scoot" away from me directly in front and in this session she was angling strongly to the right. I chose to reward it anyway, since she was moving a nice distance with a prompt response.

3rd run through video - I again walked the course focusing on heeling. This time I added stops at each station and clicked/treated each stop and sometimes when we were moving. It went well and she stayed attentive throughout.

4th run through video - Here I added behaviors back into the course. Gimme did better on her "scoot". Backing in heel was still weak. It's been a challenge for us, so unless it's magically perfect on entry video day, we'll add a foot target for her to back to for the first run throughs and then take it out for the final one. The 270 turn was better. She still forged at the beginning of the spin - I may have to rethink my position on the fancy footwork for heeling. I've never needed it before, but I've never had a go-go-go dog before. At the very least I have to use "halt" to let her know we're stopping. Since we won't be doing standard obedience we haven't done much with change of pace, maybe I should. The backward-thru-3x went well. I really have to work on the right-180-pivot. Her free-choice behaviors were okay, but need polish. Her circle on the circle-trx was too wide. We again had distraction in the corner. the free choice paw-to-knee went well. This time only 2 tries for the "izzy". The last two stations were good. Overall better than the first run through, but still needs a lot of work.

Distracting corner videoDuring the set up getting there, I see she was also distracted at the corner before, but I didn't work it. It takes a few tries to get her focus, but then she does it flawlessly twice.

Sidepass into dog video - Gimme does this better moving left than right. Also I can just shuffle my feet moving left, whereas I have to step across moving right. I'm also shifting my shoulder forward to make sure I'm not giving her any back-behind-me body cue. The shoulder cue is really subtle, but Gimme always notices it. Once she is more consistent in both directions, then I'll add the cue "move". I think once the verbal cue is on the behavior, then it will progress even more. It was going well until I stepped on her foot. There was one brilliant moment where I had her go into "side" using "behind" and I was sidestepping when she got there and she really did nice sidepass beside me - sadly, J'Anna forgot to keep the camera on us. A really nice one was when I started with my feet apart and as I closed my feet together (toward her) Gimme started the sidepass. I didn't notice it at the time, but see it on video. I want to try it again, as I could easily stop at a sidepass station with my feet separated.

Paw lift video - I thought "high" (right paw lift) was on more of a verbal than it seemed to be here. Once I got her started from in front it went well. I think starting in front and then gradually pivoting into "side" works well. For a long time I was going to use the cues "high" and "five", but decided they were too similar. Then went to "high" and "fiverrrr", but the words' beginnings are still too similar and I forget the "rrr" too often. So now I've decided to make it "high" and "low". There's an issue with her bringing up the right paw at the same time and a bit lower than the left paw, so need to work that out. I should jackpot when she keeps the right paw planted while the left comes up.

5th run through video - She forgot how to heel since the last run through. I tried something a little different on "scoot", but it didn't seem to help. She's still doing the fishtail backing in heel.  I wish I had someone with good timing to click it when she steps straight. We'll get through the entry video by using a foot target. The spin was nicer when I cued a "halt" first. Her backward-thru-3x was nice this time. I just have to put time into the dog-inside-pivot using the brick - we started on it once and it was going nicely. Some things were okay, but most were not as good as the 4th run through. Honestly her brain was just used up.

Next practice I plan to do a heeling walk through to tune up her heeling. Then I'll work the individual behaviors separate from the course. Then work the corners separately before I put it all together. We've got to start using her "bowl" too, to get the food off me for the entry video day.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Title #30

Well we did it - we just got word that our submission for ADPL1(2GC) met the requirements, so Gimme is awarded the title. This is her 30th title.

I got it ready while we were waiting on results from the previous title. This was our first submission on the Grand Champion track, which has different requirements at each level than regular. So, I wanted to get it in with plenty of time to spare in case I had to re-video something. Catching a time when it's not raining, it's daylight, and I'm not working or otherwise unavailable, gets challenging this time of year.

This site was a challenge. I got almost everything taped and then realized the thing I'd planned to jump-clean wasn't going to work. So you'll see I found a piece of branch which had fallen from a tree, propped it against the playground equipment to make a jump. Gimme thought I was nuts, but fortunately she'll do anything if the pay is right. I used a piece of the same branch to weave through the tennis net to hold the bottom up so Gimme could go "below" it. I want to teach her to push under on her own for another title. The jump-assisted had to be redone because I dropped the leash and the rules say she can't use an EF higher than her elbow if she's off leash. So we went back to do it with me threading a longer leash through the opening.

The final bugaboo was getting the tree weaves. Doing it with six trees made us soooooo small at the other end I thought we'd be too hard to see. So we did it again with four trees, but when I reviewed it at home, saw a car had come too close at the very end (the trees are in a landscaping strip right next to the road - in a residential area).  While I trust Gimme to "come" when I call her, I didn't want to show it publicly.  So again we went and this time got it, on the 9th try. Who knew there'd be so much more traffic at 2:00 p.m. At least I could be happy at all the wonderful recall practice Gimme got.

You can see the video at: Lakepointe Park parkour video.

Naturally I had to reward Gimme's efforts with a steak-cake and a new toy.  The cake was decorated with 30 peanut butter chips.

Gimme thinks posing with her cake and toy are overrated and she should be allowed to immediately get down to the business of enjoying them.

For a few minutes, as I was cutting the tags off the toy, I thought the steak-cake might be ignored.  The cake only lasted a few seconds.  I think Gimme knew the delay would be minimal.  She's sleeping with Mr. Frog as we speak... 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Nosework (4/28)

Gimme was quite put out about the sweater - she doesn't think it suits her. I had to get a size larger than would have been correct because they didn't have her size. She decided she liked it better after everyone made a fuss before the first search. Of course it didn't keep her from taking it off the next day.

Exterior 1 video - Our first search was outside around a bunch of construction stuff. The video isn't good in some places, but it's enough to give you an idea of how she handled this search. Gimme was the only dog to go down the right side and I think it contributed to how fast she found the first two hides. Other dogs got close to the second hide, then moved around to the other side before coming back to source it. She had passed the threshold hide on the way into the search area, finding it quickly at the end.

These two interior searches were about working thresholds. I didn't think they were effective for Gimme, since we have worked out our own style on thresholds where I let her burst into the area and then ease her back toward the threshold. If it's off leash, I let her go and hang around the threshold, which draws her back. I've had judges compliment our approach. I thought Gimme found this exercise frustrating, as did I a little bit.

Interior 1 video - Set up using four thresholds: the door to the foyer, door to training room, door to bathroom, and door going out the back. Gimme did the best on the door to the foyer, probably because it was a small area and she's not used to bursting in there. Other than jerking my arm off as she expected to burst into the training room, she actually did pretty good on this hide too. The hide in the bathroom took forever - I never would have stuck there in a trial. The hide going out the back door went really fast.

Interior 2 video - Same general layout, but each hide was moved a bit. The last hide was moved inside the back door. Gimme would have walked the first hide, had the leash not brought her back - even so she had it in 30 seconds. She was very fast on the second hide. She was much faster on the bathroom and caught the last hide quickly as well. Gimme shaved 40 seconds off this series of searches.

These were nice searches after having a week off. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Carla's Toys

Here is Gimme inspecting my new toys.  She thought they were surely for her.

Gimme is unimpressed with the whole idea that I think *I* should get to have three toys of my own, when she only has a few hundred for herself.

Aren't they just the cutest things.  I am unreasonably happy with my find.  I want 20 more... so I could have a whole community of them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Urban Tracking (59, 60 & 61)

On Friday, Nov. 3rd we met with Nadine at Game Farm Park.

Based on the book we were scheduled to set up a zig-zag track with intentional contamination. So we each laid track for the other, meeting in the middle on the west side of the park, and then we each followed the paved path back to the cars, going through the track the other laid, thus laying our own contamination.

The conditions were cool and wet (my shoes were soaked quickly), slight breeze, and aged 30 minutes. There was a loose dog on part of our track (green circle) as well as two walkers with a dog. Black line is the track, blue squares are articles and red dashed line along the gray paved path is my contamination, which was also the route the walkers/dog went.

As we ran the track, Nadine followed, walking her old dog Skookum about 15 yards behind us. I would have had her back off or stop following altogether, but it wasn't necessary. Gimme was a bit distracted in the beginning, but then decided to ignore Skookum.

Gimme did a great job crossing the path and my contamination, with no real sign she was having trouble sorting it out. This is really nice, since she follows my track most Saturdays, so it's a nice sign she stayed committed to the track even though she crossed my familiar smell. She did have a little problem with the second corner, where the loose dog was playing, but finally worked it out. Overall she did a nice job.

On Thursday, Nov. 9th, we met with Nadine at Auburn Cinema.

We are doing the parking lot sessions twice, since tracking on pavement is harder for our dogs, plus it works well with our schedule. We like to do the cinema on Thursdays when the parking lot sweeper isn't there (and doesn't vacuum up our articles).  We repeated the session from two weeks earlier, switching sides of the parking lot. It was three straight tracks of 75, 100 and 125 yards. The conditions were wet and cool, with an easy breeze.

Gimme did very nicely on the 75 and 100 yard tracks; she was right on the track almost the whole time. For the last track, she started out well, then got distracted by parking lot trash (which is really everywhere there). Nadine had to make a 30-degree bend in the track because a man was there with a big truck working on the electrical panel. So instead of a straight track, it bent to the left for 20 yards and then bent right to follow the curb for 5 yards to the final glove. When Gimme got to this puzzle, it seemed to get her attention and she focused and did beautifully for the last 25 yards.

On Saturday, Nov. 11th, Gimme and I went to Medline.

I wanted to give her a different challenge, so I planned to take her track up to the building and along the front of it. The track turned out much longer than I realized, 542 yards. She can do long tracks, but I think it was really unnecessary given the challenges. The conditions were good, cool and wet and the track was 30 minutes old.

The dashed line is a covered picnic area. I know from our seminars with Sil Sanders how much covered areas affect the behavior of scent. The circles are picnic tables. The orange table had three women sitting at it when we ran the track. They got up and walked closer to us before turning to go in the door (just as we came up to the second table).

Overall Gimme did well. She was a little unfocused on the first and second legs. She did fine crossing the landscaping and made the turn nicely on the sidewalk next to the building. The presence of the women was distracting and when they moved it was even more so.  Once they were in the building, Gimme was able to get back to work. She seemed to lose focus on the last two legs, but, as always, was happy to find her articles.

I'd like to do this again. I think I can do a better job setting articles closer to the challenges, so they make more effective reward points. I'd also want to make this a shorter track. The last three legs were 207 yards which added nothing.

Gimme is progressing nicely on this urban stuff.  It was really slow going at first, but there has been a LOT of progress this summer.  I love how she is so easily motivated and always up for whatever thing I want to do. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Titles #28 and 29

I was so busy through much of the summer and didn't spend much time doing dog-stuff. So Gimme and me have been on mad dash to make my goal before we close out 2017. We're almost there.

This weekend we learned we completed the requirements for parkour titles ADPL5 and ADPCH. This required us to qualify on three level five submissions.

Homann Park video - This was easy to video, but I made a mistake and misunderstood the rules. I knew at level 5 we had to have two advanced behaviors, but I had missed the requirement for them to be two different advanced behaviors. So I had to go back to video another advanced behavior and then resubmit. 

Lake Lois Park video - This was a good site, but I kept going back to change things. I review all the individual clips on the camera before I leave, but invariably see something else once I get it home on a larger screen. There was some question on a jump I had Gimme do. Since I let go of the leash it had to be below her elbow. I hadn't understood this particular nuance of the rules, so was lucky to be just within the rules.

Decatur Park video - This was a nice site with great props (environmental features), but it's right in the middle of a housing area and kids are coming and going a lot of the time. It had a nice set of trails attached, so Gimme and I got to take a nice relaxing walk in the middle of one session, waiting for some kids to leave.

The rules don't let us use playgrounds when children are using them. I typically plan what I'm going to do and then take video in whatever order works for the day. Often I have to wait for kids to leave or I have to come back another time.

While I was waiting for the results on ADPL5/CH I've already taken video for the next submission. It'll be my first for the Grand Champion track, so I hope I have it right. I'll be preparing it tonight. I want to get it submitted right away so I have time between rainstorms to get over there and redo a video if I have to change something.

I'm also scouting the area for the right features to use for the International Dog Parkour Association's new titling program - specialty titles. I want to do the Walk-On, Four-On and Below specialties. There is another, Tic-Tac, but we haven't trained the behavior well enough and I'd be concerned about the physical stress unless it was well trained. I haven't actually looked at the requirements, so I may reconsider at some point.

Gimme loves parkour and I love anything Gimme loves.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

RFE practice (56)

When we arrived they had a crew taking down Halloween decorations in the same room we were using. J'Anna's dog couldn't have handled it, but I used it as an opportunity to reinforce working through distraction. I waited too long to use "whazzat", but when I remembered it was so much clearer for Gimme.

Backward weaves video - The way I was working this last time didn't work this week. My idea to use a hand touch and using the guides to channel her were both a bust. I ended up switching to a back-up target and working on getting her backing through my legs and then switching it up so she was backing the first part of the weave. It was hard to keep it straight in my head, but once I got it, then she did better. Initially I was trying to back into position for her, but it worked better when I walked around her and stepped over. I think she was confused by the time we've spent working on backing at heel or side, so when I walked across the front the "wait" was clearer.

Backing in heel video - I use the guides to create a barrier so we can work without the fishtail affect. She seemed inclined to curl behind me in "side" position, which is odd since it's her less comfortable turning direction. I think it may be a holdover from all the work we did on "izzy". When I broke it down to shorter distances she seemed to get it.

"Fanny" video - I set up parallel guides so I could be sure Gimme was aligned when I was rewarding her, since she's had a tendency to be off to one side or the other. The first thing I had to do was encourage Gimme to come into the channel. I don't think she was worried by it, just confused. Once she realized the treats would come in there, she was all about going in with me. At home I can set up a line of platforms to encourage her to stay in position.

Sidepass into dog video - She tries different responses to the hand signal, such as up-"touch", "kisses", spins (as if she thinks I'm luring a spin) and even takes it as a new cue for "otto". I think this generally means she's confused and is just trying different things to see what will make me happy. I think coming up with a distinct hand signal would be a fast solution. I was going to use "slip" for a verbal cue, but "move" has a more distinct sound. I like the hand cue I was using (I'd have both hands out with a bit of a sashay to it) and I think I need to do a few clicks her for standing beside me without popping up. I will probably get penalized for the hand cue, but I'm willing to take the hit for now.

Interestingly, in practice I found the high hand signal unnecessary. What I've been doing is using the near-hand as needed, to remind her where she needs to be. I just drop the hand in front of where she needs to be and she's drawn back into position. I've only done it during the one practice though, so it's too soon to know if it's the answer.

Distance behaviors video - I did learn we can't use her brick or any other target for the distance behavior, so I'm working on other options. The requirement is for Gimme to back up four steps and then perform an independent behavior (not sit or down). So here I'm working on her doing independent behaviors behind a barrier. She actually does "spin" and "turn" behind the kitchen gate, but this is the first time I've asked her to do it anywhere else. I can see my timing is off; it should be verbal cue then hand signal and I am mushing them together. It doesn't help that I then get confused and use the wrong verbal. Poor Gimme, it's a wonder she ever gets her cues right. For the second session we work on down behind the barrier, with no directional discrimination. This is when she offers me "scoot", a behavior we haven't worked on in a verrrrry long time.

"Mark" video - I was focusing on rewarding duration of the head-down. I'm training this using backchaining, since it is a sequence. We get to 4½ seconds on the last one. When Gimme doesn't know what is expected, she starts offering behaviors and we'd been stuck at 3 seconds for awhile, so this was nice improvement. I do have to say it's a good thing I don't need her tail to be still. Just sayin...

Finding positions video - When she's done a lot of brain work, I like to do our finding positions game. She gets to chase a thrown treat when she finds the correct position, which burns off any built up stress or frustration. Sometimes I throw in some "thru" to make it more interesting.

"Grape" & "scoot" video - Since Gimme was offering me "scoot" (backwards crawl) in our second distance session, I decided to let her end with it. Of course, she then gives me "grape" instead. But we get "scoot" afterward. It really is a cute behavior and I should work on it for free choice. We are due for another one.

We covered a lot of ground in these sessions. Some of what we are working on isn't needed until we get to advanced. Between now and our entry into the World Wide RFE video event I'll be focusing on intermediate behaviors.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Nosework (3/28)

In honor of Halloween we did totally blind searches, meaning in total darkness (as we've done for the last two years at this time). Handlers and dogs wore little glow stick necklaces, so you could see where they were. There were also glow sticks on the floor and near the hides, so you could get a small sense of what was going on. Obviously no videos.

Interior 1 - Four hides in the dark. Gimme moved around at very close to her normal speed. There was no sign of the dark being a hindrance. Of course, the superior night vision of animals is well known and given how she searched it certainly seems true.

Interior 2 - The 4 hides were all moved, but Gimme still found them quickly. This was much easier for her than it was for me - I walked into a couple chairs.

Interior 3 - One odor-bomb hide, placed under a table, inside a couple of ex-pens, with some chairs and other obstacles. There were three ways in, but they weren't obvious even when the lights were on. Gimme very quickly found the scent and sniffed all the way around the puzzle. Then she left the it, taking a quick tour of the room, scanning for an easier hide. After the 20 second room scan she came back to the puzzle and quickly found her way in to the hide. One curious thing - all the dogs went in whatever way they found and then exited one of the other ways. Not one of them retraced their route to get out of the puzzle.

It was clear they weren't hampered by the darkness.

Since then I've submitted our level 5 parkour entries to All Dogs Parkour. I should get the results soon (last time I submitted it only took five days). When it comes Gimme will have titles #28 and #29. Meanwhile I've already taped the behaviors for our level 1 entries toward her parkour Grand Championship. This will be our 30th title, my goal for this year. We'll need ten more entries to get the GC.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

UKC Nosework match

Again, blogging out of order, but by now you know I can't resist bragging about my brilliant girl. I learned of this UKC nosework match just over a week ago and was able to get into it. I haven't read their rules, but couldn't pass up the chance to try it. Rather than giving Gimme more chances to show us how well she remembers where the last hide was, I entered her in both containers and interiors at both levels, novice and advanced, instead of entering for reruns.

Today I drove to Graham in snow coming down like crazy. It was too warm to stick, so didn't have to worry about the road being icy, but at times it was hard to see. The site was nice, but brrrrrrr it was cold.

Novice Containers - It was twelve boxes with one hide (birch) and 3 minutes allotted for search time, which seems like a lot of time. Gimme had the hide in 17.75 seconds for 3rd place. 1st place dog had it in 7.21 and 2nd place had it in 10 seconds. I saw Gimme tip her nose toward the odor box on the way by, but she continued to the end of the row, then indicated on her way back down the row. Maybe I should have showed her the chicken nugget I had for her.

Novice Interiors - A tiny search area marked with tape, 1 hide (birch) and 3 minutes allotted search time. While Gimme dawdled for a couple seconds checking out a cone, she still had the hide in 22.1 seconds for first place. The second place dog was just short of a minute.

Novice Overall - Gimme took High in Match with 39.85 seconds overall time.

Advanced Containers - Twelve boxes, one hide (anise) and 3 minutes allotted search time. Gimme went up and down the row three times, but still had it in 23.5 seconds and came away with 2nd place.

Advanced Interiors - Larger search area, one hide (anise) and 4 minutes allotted search time. This was our first chance to go off leash. Gimme did a quick scan of the whole area, only leaving it briefly, then came back and quickly nailed the inaccessible hide. Her time was 33.03 seconds and she got 1st place. The judge for interiors said Gimme was the only dog to find it blind (other than the "white dog"). She said another handler, who ran two dogs, found it with her second dog, but she knew where the hide was and so tended to hang near the hide. The judge thought Gimme was awesome and I had to agree.

Advanced Overall - Gimme took High in Match again with 56.53 seconds overall time.

I know it was only a match, but clearly Gimme is ready to play in UKC nosework. This group is holding a trial next year, probably in May. There is another trial nearby the weekend after Thanksgiving, but that is the weekend when we'll be playing barn hunt and weight pull.

We drove home in even stronger snow most of the way. It started petering out as we got close to home, turning to rain. As luck would have it, it became a light drizzle as we approached Lacey. I drove by Lake Lois Park in hopes we could re-video one of our parkour behaviors. The drizzle stopped and we were able to get it done. Just as we were getting back in the van, the rain came back.

Now with the heat turned up and a hot soak behind me, I am feeling thawed and normal again. And Gimme may just get some steak I have thawing as we speak... just sayin'...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Last year Gimme dressed up as a well-known literary character.  Despite our best efforts to include lots of clues, no one guessed who she was.  This made us sad. 

So this year she dressed as a very familiar musician.  Can you guess who she's impersonating???

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Urban Tracking (57 & 58)

On the 26th, we met with Nadine at Auburn Cinema for tracking practice. Our tracks were the same as they'd been before, only longer: 75, 100 and 125 yards. I had her place extra articles in place of some of the food drops the exercise called for (we are following Sil's new book, section U2). The weather was cool, with a light breeze. 

After our last session where Gimme needed so much help to get started on each of her tracks, I wasn't sure what to expect this time. Gimme was in season and sometimes she has an off day (or two) and sometimes not. Maybe she always has those off days, but it depends on what we are doing whether it's a noticeable factor. In any case, this time she was awesome. It was definitely a case of her driving the train and me holding on. She was in-charge and really focused. So great to see.

This Sunday, the 29th, I took her out to Medline for a session. I set a track of 359 yards, cool with a very light breeze, but only aged 15 minutes. My goal was to see how she would do leaving a track actually on the bark of the landscape islands.

We started on pavement, then went up on an island, making a 45 degree turn. Gimme had no difficulty with this, though she interestingly chose to track on the downhill side of the island, whereas the actual track was on the high edge of this little slope. Still she was only 5 feet from the track, so this was just fine. There was a gap in this long island for a driveway. Gimme was all over the place to figure out where her track went. It took her a bit, but once she decided it crossed the pavement, she just motored along. Her next challenge was a 90 degree turn off the island and across the parking lot. She overshot the turn, but then came back and sorted it out, spending much less time deciding to take the plunge this time. She really kept her nose down nicely as she crossed the next island and went straight across the pavement to the third island and another right turn down the length of it. This time she was exactly on the track. She noticed the next turn (her head comes up a bit), but still overshot it and had to come back to find it. She barely hesitated to go back on the pavement. When we got to the next island, I'd laid the track next to the curb. She initially went onto the island, but within a dozen feet was down at the curb where the track was.

She did such a nice job with this track. It's clear she has come a long way in her tracking on pavement skills. She found all the articles very easily. One of them was a 1x2 inch piece of thin rubber. She has huge motivation to find articles, since they are her reward points - a fact, which hasn't escaped her notice. It took me ten minutes to lay the track and she ran it in 11 minutes. I couldn't be happier with how she handled it. I didn't expect her to do this well.

Now we'll try something of similar complexity with more age. I think she'd have done fine with 30 minutes, but we got a late start and I didn't have the time. Besides, it's always good to have a really easy track now and then. This track wasn't "easy", but the short age nudged it significantly closer to easy.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Nosework (2/28)

We only had two searches, but they were very long and involved. Basically we were playing "running bunny" within an interior search. We'd done it once before on vehicles, Gimme loved it and went so fast the instructor could barely keep up. "Running bunny" is a game where the hide is moved right after the dog finds it and moves on.

I was really surprised by Gimme's searching in this class. I expected her to just really get into it and find a lot of hides as she had with the vehicle version of "running bunny", but this time it was quite different. Dorothy thinks it's because she had these expectations which were getting in the way of what she was doing.

The other factor which likely made it harder - she was the third dog to play the game, so the hides had been moved all over the place multiple times and thus there was scent everywhere. It clearly made for a very "messy" search area.

Search 1 video - Gimme only found 7 hides, whereas August found 13. In normal searches, the scent pools and moves and the dogs can read it and based on strength and direction, it leads them to source. When you have all this scent around and no clear pattern of strength and direction, it's hard to find source. Basically, it's just a matter of happening upon it. August searched first and the area wasn't filled with messy scent evidence, leading nowhere. Also August moves slower and is very methodical, so he was likely finding more hides because he wasn't outrunning his nose when he happened to get close to one. Gimme is used to scent making sense, so it made it harder for her in this situation. I'm not suggesting she wasn't having fun - she clearly was. She enjoys searching in and of itself, so a 6¼ minute search is fun for her.

Search 2 video - This time we started the search in the foyer, which you won't see on video, because Dorothy wanted to have the option to move a hide (the red cart) in there, to see if the dogs were inhibited about returning to there. Clearly Gimme wasn't inhibited since she went in there without me and without a hide being moved in there. Gimme was the only one of the dogs to use the steps of the ladder to access the high hide. Just what I'd expect from my smarty pants. She found 9 hides and searched happily for 8¼ minutes.

This was interesting, certainly not what I expected. She sure had fun with these extra long searches.