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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...

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