Gimme and I went to Longview for two days of barn hunt. I entered both Crazy8 and Masters. We needed 140 points to complete her Crazy8 Bronze (lowest level) and 5 masters legs to complete her Barn Hunt Champion. I thought we might have a shot at the Crazy8 title, but even getting all four Masters legs we'd be short of a title.
Saturday Crazy8 a.m. - Gimme did a lovely job, finding 4 rats for 60 points. It's her personal best in this class. This gives her a total of 420 points, needing 80 more to finish the title. With this great score, I knew we had a solid shot at finishing the title.
Saturday Masters a.m. - Gimme was doing well at this and found three rats and then false alerted. There were four rats. I think sometimes she indicates on a tube even though she knows there isn't a rat there, just to make me happy and/or because we are still in the ring and she doesn't know what else to do. I decided I needed to get back to walking away when she starts to alert, to see if she sticks it before I call "rat".
Saturday Crazy8 p.m. - Gimme again did a great job, getting 4 rats for 60 points. Doubling up on her personal best is super. This gave her a total of 480 points, needing just 20 more to finish the title. I was certain we'd title on Sunday, since she could basically walk in the ring, do a climb and tunnel and be done. Of course we wouldn't, but we could.
Saturday Masters p.m. - I was thinking Gimme's false alert in the morning could have been frustration. I think she didn't smell the fourth rat because she didn't get in the right spot and then just alerted to make me happy. I decided for the afternoon that I needed to be firm about walking a bit past to test her stick-to-it for rat tubes. So when we were in Masters, she found the three rats, then the random barking went up and I got the sense she was telling me off. "You don't want me to tell you if there isn't a rat and we are STILL here. Just sayin..." So with great trepidation I called "clear" and was right. Yayyyyy...
Sunday Crazy8 a.m. - Barn Hunt trial, new Crazy8 Bronze title video - I was lucky to get someone to videotape our titling run. Here you get to see our start routine. Gimme always starts with her feet on my shoulders as I undo latches on her harness. The judges typically say, "You may release your dog when ready." One of them now says, "You may begin when Gimme releases you." ☺ Gimme did a solid job, getting her climb, tunnel and three rat tubes for 50 points. This earned us a Crazy8 Bronze and we already have 30 points toward a Crazy8 Silver.
Sunday Masters a.m. - I went in with the same plan in place and Gimme did a good job, finding 4 rats. I again saw the random barking; so after having her quickly check the corners and such I called "clear". I was right and this became Masters leg number 7 with 2nd Place.
Sunday Crazy8 p.m. - Since it was the end of the weekend and getting pretty hot out, I didn't expect Gimme to do as well. Actually she was on fire finding rats and found 5 of them. Unfortunately I let the time run out before we got our tunnel, so it was only 40 points (climb-10, plus rats-50, minus no-tunnel-20 = 40). This brings us to 70 points toward the next level Crazy8 title. I was pleased to see her enthusiastically running around finding rats. In fact, she really wanted to keep hunting and resisted coming to me for her collar and so we could leave the ring.
Sunday Masters p.m. - This run didn't go as well. Gimme found one rat early. Then she did her climb and tunnel. There was a delay and then she alerted on another tube, but it was a false alert. I did not work the plan of walking a bit past to test her stick-to-it, so this NQ is on me. There was one more rat, but it was in a spot she hadn't gotten close enough to.
I am really happy with this weekend. This is the first weekend where I stopped giving her peanut butter in her Kong right when she returned to the car. She still got the PB-Kong, but I waited an hour so there was no connection to leaving the ring equaling peanut butter in the car. I think this helped her focus more on hunting. Even though our last Crazy8 hunt was the lowest score, it was her highest number of rats found in 2 minutes, compared to having 4½ minutes in Masters, where the highest number of rats is also 5.
I think Gimme and I had a communication break through. I'm starting to read her better and with the walk-a-bit-past-test I have a better way to gauge whether she's serious about a tube or just placating me. Plus I noticed when I ask her to check a spot and there's no rat there, she tends to give a single bark as she turns away. I see it as saying "Nope" after checking a spot. I'm also seeing her random barking as a commentary. "there's no rat here.... over here, no rat... by this pile, still no rats... no rats, we should go..."
Adding to the communication, Gimme has learned to answer when I say, "Can you be more specific?" or "I need more information". She often gets a bit ahead of me and starts barking. When I catch up, she's standing barking generally toward a space that could have several tube hiding places. Now when I ask the question, she jumps up and barks more directly at the tube she means and paws at it. How cool is that?
And last, but certainly not least, she did really nicely in the blinds. We can be there up to 20 minutes for Crazy8 and 35 minutes for Masters. This is a long time for her to be in close quarters with strange dogs. I'd noticed at the nosework trials this month how calm she was about the other dogs, more than I would have expected. And now she is doing better in barn hunt. I used to always try to get the first run of a blind, because it's less exposure. This time I was able to volunteer to be last in a blind. It does mean we are there longer, but at least there are dogs only in one direction. I think she is more comfortable knowing where they all are.