Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Sunday, May 27, 2018

New Barn Hunt Title

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.
It was a really great weekend and I'm looking forward to our next trial. Tomorrow night I'll be on line checking out all the different sports we do and seeing which trials we can fit into our schedule.

Nosework (1/32)

The searches for this class were high-low hide challenges. So every search had two hides, one high and one low.
Interior 1 video - She really skidded when she caught the drift off the ladder, but it still took her a bit to find the hide there. This was a nice solid search. I love that she's so confident and has no issues with putting her feet up on things.
Exterior 1 video - The search area was the sidewalk and 5 feet on either side. Gimme did a nice job finding the high hide. Then she was right on the low hide. I think the time she spent on the boards was because of scent drifting from the low hide.
Exterior 2 video - This turned out to be a very tough search. While the wall didn't feel hot, the dogs all had a hard time finding the high hide on the door. Perhaps the warmth and the channels on the front of the building caused odor to go straight up. The sun went down enough so it wasn't shining on the front of the building for the last team and their search was much easier/faster than the rest of us. The search area was the sidewalk from the first open bay door to the end of the building. Gimme goes out to the truck several times, but it doesn't seem to help. She sources the hide under the plywood almost the moment her nose gets close to it. When she goes back to the low hide the third time, I do pay her for it, even though I normally wouldn't. I thought she'd been searching a long time (nearly 5 minutes) and I wanted to reward her persistence. She does find the hide on the door. I have always loved her willingness to keep working until she solves a challenge.
Vehicle 1 video - This was a nice basic search and I was glad for a simple search after the building search before it. My comment about "can't see it" was because there was just a big clump of mud on the blade... and I couldn't figure out where or how the hide was hidden.
She did great.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

AKC Trial, Three New Titles

This trial was held at a nice site in a rural area outside Sequim.  The only drawback was really tight parking, but they made what little there was work well - managing to give a bit of extra space to the reactive dogs.  I took videos with my new little camera. They aren't as good as I'd hoped. I see I have to get the camera pointing down more than when she's farther out in front of me for tracking. I'll also have to work on keeping my chest aimed at her. I don't think these will ever be particularly good, since she moves so fast. Sadly the battery died on Sunday, so no videos for those searches. 
After the handler briefing and walk through I was sitting in the car waiting-waiting-waiting (we were 40th) and heard someone discussing their interior search. This is strictly verboten and I tried not to pay attention, but words had already entered my head and you just can't un-hear something. I was determined to rely on Gimme, just as she always expects. Gimme is the "boss of me" and we don't expect it to ever change, just sayin...
Container search video - Gimme did a really nice job. I saw her stutter as she passed the fourth box on the left row. I was determined to keep her moving the first time around, so she doesn't get into box crushing. The second time around she passed the hide like it wasn't there, but then when I swung her back to where she had stuttered before, she alerted and we were done in just 15.03 seconds. The judge gave us a Q ribbon and when asked, said she didn't fault Gimme's pawing. I thought she should have. This completes Gimme's Novice Container (SCN) title.
Interior search video - There was a narrow aisle down one side of a garage-like building. Gimme went straight to the far end of the search and started working her way back toward the start. She stopped almost right away at the generator, detailed, then alerted. Gimme finished this search in 10.77 seconds, getting a Fourth Place. This completes Gimme's Novice Interior (SIN) title.
Thank God I didn't pay attention to the chatter I'd heard, since now I know the person was talking about a false alert. She'd said "passed them, then came back and alerted on the pile of boxes." So my word to the wise is: pay no attention to what you hear - it could be a false alert, it could be practice from days before. TRUST YOUR DOG - Always.
Things moved verrrry slow in the afternoon for exterior and buried. I guess buried takes a lot longer. Then to really throw a wrench in things, a dog found a wasp nest in the exterior search area. So they had to actually move the search area, set a hide, run the dog-in-white and then give another walk through. The first 14 teams, who had already run, got a chance to run again, after all the other searches.
Exterior search video - About 10 dogs before us it started to rain, but then the sun came out right before we ran. Gimme did a great job in the exterior, finishing in 11.18 seconds for Second Place and earning new title #44, the Novice Exterior (SEN). Yay Gimme!
Buried search video - She false alerted on the box right next to the hide. I think she was catching a bit of drifting scent and just thought it could be right. We need to actually train this so she has some experience from which to make judgment calls. It will be a couple of months before our next AKC scentwork trial, so we have time to get plastic shoeboxes and some dirt together to do it. I probably should have trained before this trial, but the weeks before and after Mother's Day are insanely busy, with long days, so there isn't much left of me when I get home. I don't think it's fair to her to ask her to learn when I'm not all there.
In the judges' debrief they talked a lot about buried hides. While I certainly understand not using treated soils in your training and trials, I think they are going too far by insisting that dirt from your yard (even if you've never treated it) is potentially harmful. Canids have been smelling dirt for millennia and I think if it was going to harm them, it would have happened by now. However a good point was to make sure you train with a variety of soils and coverings, since they are all very different to the dog and you don't know what you'll get at a trial. We also followed on Sunday with a discussion about how the hides are prepared - biggest thing is cooking the hide overnight before setting it out.  Also, while there is only one q-tip in the tin/plastic container, it does have 2 drops of oil on it.
Of course, Gimme had fun, which is what counts. Certainly two placements and three new titles in one day is not a bad haul... I'm also happy to note that I'm starting to see Gimme's stutter-steps in real time (as opposed to in the videos). If I weren't blogging about it, I'm not sure I'd realize this milestone was here.
SUNDAY morning
On Saturday we finished all the titles Gimme was able to get this weekend and they only have novice interior and exterior searches on Sunday, so no move up or chance of getting a leg toward buried (she has one and needs two more). Since I'd already paid for the searches and the hotel, I decided to stay and play. Gimme enjoys the easy searches and I might learn things.
Speaking of easy searches - I found it amusing listening to the novices-to-the-sport talking to each other after the walk through, discussing all the huge challenges in the search area.  I remember doing the same thing early in our career.  I don't expect Gimme to have any difficulty with these searches, though I admit curiosity to see what she thinks of the pile of empty boxes against the wall in the morning interior.

Interior search - This was an interesting triangular shape search area delineated in the corner of a very large training room. We had the option to run off leash and we did (only one other person was brave enough). Gimme was briefly interested in the pile of empty boxes. She spent a lot of time detailing all over the two desks and chairs, but ignored the fan in the corner. To the right of the desk on the side wall was a vacuum, tool box and another vacuum. Gimme checked these, then went out of the search area, returning immediately when I called her. She paid no attention to the egg-shaped exercise ball in the opposite acute corner and left the search area here too, but returned instantly. She finally found the hide in the vacuum hose, but not until she was in it's corner and sniffing her way back toward the main area. I sure didn't expect her to spend so long on this search, but it seems the dogs really needed to hit the hide from the one direction and be sniffing low when they got there. I also think, since she hadn't caught odor yet, she just kept checking and checking the chair/desk combos.  She really expected to find something there and so wasted a lot of time there. I mostly let her decide how to search, but this is one time I probably should have moved her on. It took Gimme 1:35.81 to find this hide.

Exterior search - Gimme was exceptionally fast on this search. She briefly sniffed at the stairs/tub contraption, but the moment she got on the far side, she was drawn to the tea cart. The cart had a grated surface and the hide was under a plant coaster turned upside down. Gimme finished this search in 10.60 seconds for Second Place. The dog in first place was only .43 seconds faster!

SUNDAY afternoon

Interior search - This was a tiny search area and I suspected we were about due for a threshold hide. Normally I would have let her rush in and stood right at the threshold, which tends to draw her back there if she doesn't catch odor elsewhere.  This was an on leash search, so I had to go with her for the rush. I hung back to keep from crowding her, so she'd feel she could come back toward the threshold if she didn't find anything, which she did. She alerted on the trunk right inside the door. Her nose passed over the latch, but kept moving toward the corner as her paw came up to indicate. When I called "alert" her nose was actually on the corner and the judge said the dreaded "where". I quickly reasoned there was no place for an accessible hide on the corner, but there was on the latch, so I pointed to the latch. (hides must be accessible in novice) Gimme finished this search in 10.91 seconds for Second Place and the first place dog was again less than half a second faster.

Exterior search - During the walk-through I noticed some small pieces of black pipe sticking up from the ground around the tree and larger segments of heavy black plastic embedded in the ground around the stump (left side). I thought these might be good possibilities for hide placement and it turns out I was right. We were the last search, so I was ready to interrupt any pee-pee tendencies. Being a novice search I thought it likely a dog might have done so. Gimme entered the search area and headed straight for the back corner, where one dog had in fact peed, sniffed briefly and then came toward and sniffed around the stump. From there she went directly to the tree and quickly scratched some needles away from a covered pipe end, and alerted.

These were all fun searches and Gimme thoroughly enjoyed herself.  She Q'd in 7 of 8 searches, got one Fourth Place and three Second Place ribbons, and three New Titles.  Gimme thoroughly enjoyed her McDonald's cheeseburger, though she's certain it could be improved with some peanut butter.

I did notice some of the best search times were among the Novice A group, often a bit faster than the Novice B competitors.  I wonder if they trained there under one of the judges.  I want to look into what she teaches, perhaps we can catch a workshop sometime.