On 10/12 Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for tracking. While I've had other tracking planned since then, none of them have worked out and we ended up skipping our scheduled tracking this week.
We repeated the three straight tracks we'd done two weeks earlier - 50, 75 and 100 yards. This time Gimme seemed very distracted, probably by her "condition". On all three tracks I had to help her get started and then, while she didn't do her best, she did pretty good. Her overall performance while she is in season is usually good, but there can be 1 or 2 days where she seems distracted. I'm sure they are always there, but I may not notice if they don't coincide with something else in our schedule.
On Saturday I'd planned tracking practice at Medline, but I also wanted to go to Eatonville for barn hunt practice. I'd decided to spend the night in Beaverton so I wouldn't have to leave home at the crack of dawn for the nosework trial. My plan was to get everything packed and ready so I could head south straight from practice. It took longer to pack so there was no time to squeeze in a tracking practice.
I do want to get in a few practices with the Eatonville Rat Rangers before the Thanksgiving weekend trials - to work on issues we discovered at this last trial. This was our first practice to work on paw indication. I also planned to stay in the ring for a time after she found all the rats each time, to clarify she's not supposed to false alert just to please me.
First session, 1 rat - Gimme did a nice job and found the only rat in 21 seconds. While I wanted to walk away, because the tube was low and behind a bale, I knew I wouldn't be able to see if she pawed, so I "nonchalantly" stood nearby, trying to look like I didn't care very much. She left and cruised around the ring. Gimme offered the tunnel and then quickly did it again. I didn't know there was a third entrance. Then she went back to the rat and pawed quickly. I didn't have any ring crew, so I just set the rat on the bales outside the ring and then forgot about it. When I told Gimme to "find me 'nother one", she'd trot around looking and barking. A couple of times she went over by the gate and barked - which I finally realized was the best access she had to be near where I'd set the rat tube, so she was basically telling me "this is the only one." Clever girl.
Second session, 2 rats - Gimme finds and alerts on the first rat in 15 seconds! After the party, she did the tunnel. I used to be able to use her willingness to tunnel as a gauge for whether there were a more rats, but I've made such a big deal about tunnels, now she'll do them more readily and sometimes offers them. It took awhile to find the second rat, but then she'd only bark and bark and bark at it. So we left it and made another walk around the ring. When we got back to it, she alerted quickly. After removing the last rat, we stayed in the ring for 2:15 and I encouraged her to check several tubes, even persisting on one, but there were no false alerts. During this time Gimme offered 2 more tunnels and went to the gate 3 times.
Third session, 3 rats - Twenty seconds to the first rat, fast paw alert. Then a climb and an offered tunnel. She barked persistently at a tube on top of the big pile, but no alert and finally left it. Gimme went on to find another rat and paw alerted after 13 seconds of barking. It took her a bit to get back to the rat and then paw alert (about a minute total). We played with the tube, scooting it around on the floor. We stayed in the ring another 3 minutes. Gimme gave me 8 more tunnels and searched everywhere.
I'm very happy with this practice. Gimme was getting better and better about the pawing alert AND despite staying in the ring a long time after finding the last rat and encouraging her to check tubes, she never false alerted. Very clear progress.