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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

RFE practice (77)

This is from two weeks ago. Still trying to get caught up, but so much going on. Finally got my van back yesterday and I have a ton of work to do to get it all put back together and organized the way I like it. Of course, I'm trying to do a deep cleaning while I'm at it. There is a little problem with the door sensor. The doors are closed and secured, the van just doesn't think they are, so there's a light on the dash. The annoying thing is not getting a honk when I lock it from the fob. If I'm close I can hear the doors lock, but not from a distance. I'll be taking it back in for them to check it next Thursday - combining it with Winchester class at the range.

Gimme has gotten a bad habit of taking a little walkabout when I take her leash off. Tomorrow when she does it (I assume she will since she has the last couple of times), then I'll calmly walk up and put the leash back on her for a minute or two. I'm sure she'll get the message, though I may have to do this a time or two. She's not being naughty and would come when I call her, I just don't think she needs to be checking things out. We've been there a couple hundred times.

Doodling for MDSA routine video - We are doing another collaboration to two Aretha Franklin songs. I started with a bit of doodling to see what we could get done in the time allotted. I see I need to set up corner markers and work further back so it's more like watching us on a whole stage instead of following us with the camera.

Center-front pivot video - Gimme does a really nice job going clockwise, which is her harder direction to pivot. When she goes counter-clockwise, she gets going faster than me and tries to turn it into an "otto". She's certain every behavior in her repertoire can be improved by turning it into "otto". I have her slow down by doing just one-eighth of a turn at a time, rewarding each and reinforcing "center" position.

Backing in heel video - On the left side her first inclination is to back around me and on the right side her tendency is to swing her heiney out. I need to practice this more with a barrier AND need to get rid of the shoulder turn in her direction. I won't be able to have the shoulder turned in a video event, so may as well eliminate it now.

Sidepass away video - Gimme does a nice job on both of these. She's getting better all the time.

Sidepass in center video - Gimme does a really good job on this too.

Sidepass into dog video - Gimme doesn't give me much room to slide into. Which is really a good thing, because it means our work to tighten up her heeling is paying off. It just makes it hard to move into her, when I really don't want to risk stepping on her feeties. She takes it very personally.

We didn't do as much this time. From time to time I like to do a lighter session with her.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Nosework (2/33)

I am really behind in blogging again; I've just had a lot going on. This class was on September 11th, two weeks ago. For these searches we were playing Running Bunny (hide gets moved during search). Also Dorothy was giving us handling changes. I was also working Gimme's indication training. Sometimes she does really good, other times she persistently paws the box. I couldn't figure out what the difference was for her. Generally speaking I've found her indications get more aggressive with each subsequent search in a class, so will be interested to see they are this time.

Container 1 search video - Overall I thought she did well. She got into a bit of going fast and not indicating or maybe not searching, but then settled down and went back to work. I noticed on the second to the last hide, she was most persistent about pawing and it was a time when the box got flipped over.

In hindsight I'm wondering - when she tried to go back to the box she'd passed and I kept going, maybe she thought I was telling her the hide was no good, so then she ignored it.

Container 2 search video - Again, good searching. Sometimes good on the indications, sometimes too vigorous. It almost looks like the deeper bow gets better nose touches.

Container 3 search video - This time they got to search off leash. The indications for the third search were the best of all. This would seem to be just the opposite of what I normally saw in repeated container searches. Of course this one was off leash, which we'd never see in a trial.

I went through these videos a second time, making a list of details.  Such as, the deepness of her bow, whether I bent over or kneeled, whether the box moved, etc.  I still don't detect any pattern, though overall I did notice improvement.

We are entered for two UKC nosework trials in October, so we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Urban Tracking (105, 106 & 107)

On Thursday, September 6th, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema. It was a cool 60º. It had rained the day before, so we had some residual dampness. This track was only 25 minutes old. It started with an island serpentine, then turned left and then left again toward our cars.

Gimme did a good job, but she waffled a bit with the island serpentine. She was in season, so the islands were an attractive draw so she could leave calling cards. She says her calling cards are flower-scented; probably Snapdragons. Once she turned out into the open, then she worked better, solid and steady to the end.

On Friday, September 14th, we met at Game Farm Park. Nadine wanted to focus on inclines. The temp was a slightly warmer 62º and slightly breezy. It had rained for three days straight, so the grass/ground was very wet, but it had just been mowed and was really short. The track was aged 30 minutes. The pink-dotted lines show her deviations from the actual track.

The track started in the open, then went through the edge of the play area. Gimme tended to stay up by the rocks on the sidewalk, but then smelled the article and went into the beauty bark for it. There was a slight turn out of the play area toward the tree line and the next turn up toward the rocks on the "hill". Gimme had no problem getting to the rocks, but wasn't sure about actually moving into Stonehenge. She's been in there before doing parkour, so I think it was just an odd scent picture. She went in and then out on the other side, through another gap (not the one Nadine went through).

From there she moved left to get back on track. The track turned and followed the edge of cement path before turning left onto the raised path. She worked the first part in the grass and then made the turn, but stayed down beside the raised path for 30 feet (see picture - turn lower right of map).

She picked up Nadine's gentle turn off the path and dragged me behind the clump of trees and along a line of trees. Nadine had angled back toward the raised path to pass between two pairs of horseshoe pits. Gimme did check the nearest set of horseshoe pits, but then decided she'd rather follow the scent by the line of trees (15' away). This didn't keep her from veering in to get the article right after the pits. The next turn (left) proved to be a challenge. Gimme spent several minutes sorting it out, using her whole line forward, behind me and a large arc to the left, before deciding to make the turn. That large gray swath in the upper right corner of the track picture is a river about 50 yards downhill from where we were. There was a large path coming up from the river, so it surely affected the scent picture. Once she decided on the turn, she dragged me confidently to the final glove (see picture - final article under tree).

The next day, September 15th, I went to Medline and discovered they'd finally finished the last gate. Several months ago, after they fenced the property and gated the other entrances, I talked to the security guard and he said I could continue training there until they finish the last gate. I knew it was going to happen I just hoped it would take longer. I was driving toward town thinking about where to go, when I decided to use this spot just a few blocks away.

The dark gray rectangle is a paved area and the white is the gas station building. I parked at a turn-off from the road, starting the track nearby. The ground here is a mixed sand/pebble/rock surface; it's called glacial drift. Much of it has short sparse grass, but some places it's longer. The temperature was 58º and the track was aged 38 minutes. We'd had some rain a few days before.

To start we were in the sparse grass on sandy soil. Gimme quickly got up to and across the road. We continued on more sandy soil with even less vegetation. Gimme picked up the open left turn and crossed the blacktop and paved road easily. The vegetation on the other side of the road was taller, so she was inclined to run through it, but got slowed down by an article, another open left turn and a second article. Alongside the road was a line of landscaping. We turned left before it and Gimme thought the mixture of sand and sawdust was an interesting surface. She wasn't entirely sure about it until she got to the article. Our next turn was into the longer grass to find another article. This was followed by a right turn into sandy soil with no vegetation. Gimme went left and right before deciding to cross the road and drag me across more of the same to the final article.

Gimme did a really nice job here. I will keep the site in mind and go back there sometime. There isn't much room for a long track, though I could park in a different spot and get more length. Even as a short track, it makes a good opportunity to try out a different surface.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

New Barn Hunt Title

Sunday --

Crazy 8 (1) - Gimme did well again. There was a bit more extraneous barking and I had to remind her twice to do more than stand in the middle of the ring yelling, "There's rats here!" She got three rats for 50 points, bringing us up to 880 total, so we are still on track to get another title this weekend.

Masters (1) - Gimme found a rat tube, then a tunnel, another rat, a tunnel, a tunnel again, and then found another rat. Then she started her walk-n-bark routine, so I called it and was correct. We had 3 rats. She ended with just under a minute to spare for Fourth Place. This is our first Q toward a RATCHX.

Crazy 8 (2) - Gimme was fired up to run Crazy 8, she is really getting into this class. She picked up another 60 points. We needed just 60 more for the next title, which I was sure would be doable during Monday's two runs.

I took this picture of Gimme resting in the back of the van between classes. Her special place is 40x40 inches and yet she lays with her face all smushed up against the front for affect. I think the message is about showing how put-upon she is.

Masters (2) - In order to move things along quickly, they had us "pre-blind" in another part of the attached building near the other 2 dogs in the blind before us, which means they didn't have to completely reset the ring just for us. Gimme did a great job finding all 5 rats. I am getting to where I have a sense of when there are 5 rats. For one thing her energy level is higher and she starts finding rats much faster. She finished with 2 minutes to spare (a full minute faster than for 3 rats) and got Second place. This is her second leg toward a RATCHX.

Gimme had a great day, qualifying in all four runs. It's a "quadfecta"! Yay Gimme...

Monday --

Crazy 8 (1) - Gimme was raring to go, she thinks this whole waiting thing is unacceptable. She found a rat right away, then climb, volunteered a tunnel and another two rats. Then she indicated another rat and the judge asked me where and I pointed under the leaner bale where Gimme had pawed and the judge said "no". We got to continue searching and she found another rat just in time. The judge explained to me about the false alert. Gimme alerted under the leaner and the rat tube was actually against the base bale on the far side.

From the top, it looked like this. The gray background square is the first layer of bales, which Gimme was standing on. The tan rectangles are the second layers of bales and the burlap-textured rectangle is the leaner. Gimme indicated under the leaner (blue arrow) and the rat tube (red) was on the far side. Close, but not close enough. Obviously I'd prefer she had called it acceptable, but I understand the distinction and it would have looked pretty foolish trying to remove an invisible tube.

Masters (1) - Q again. 5 of 5 rats and Gimme did a really good job. It really suits her to have a blind all to herself. I think she was getting a little tired, but there was no doubt she'd be ready to do it some more. Go girl!

Crazy 8 (2) - Gimme ran around like a little maniac finding rats. She also did another extra tunnel. She earned 60 points new title CZ8S.

Masters (2) - Gimme was very solid here, finding 4 of 4 rats with two extra tunnels. She had a great time.

We ended the weekend with two new titles: RATCH and CZ8S (53 total titles now). Gimme picked up four MasterB Q's (needs ten total) toward a RATCHX. I wasn't planning to go beyond a RATCH, but she's doing so well, it seems silly to stop. Gimme Q'd 11 out of 12 runs, and the last 10 Q's were in-a-row.

We got some really nice compliments from the judge and Janet. Janet runs these trials and always has nice sized blinds. She's been there for our whole barn hunt career and all it's ups and downs. Another person who has been there for the whole journey is Jeanette. She always works as gate steward and/or volunteer coordinator, so we know her well. She told me that Gimme and I could easily be voted Most Improved Team. So sweet.

I know Gimme and I have an unusual ring pattern, but it really works. She runs around barking and settles on a general area. I tell her either, "stop yelling at me", "I know there are rats here" or "you can't just bark in the middle", then "I need more information". Then she gets closer and barks toward a more limited area, to which I say, "can you be more specific". This usually results in her getting her face right next to the tube to bark at it, often pawing the tube. I point at it and say, "is this the rat", so she yells louder and paws more vigorously - then I call it. We are getting to the point where she is starting to skip some of these steps, which I've been expecting.

In theory you aren't supposed to talk to dogs in sentences when you are training or performing. I do with Gimme more than any other dog I've known and she certainly seems to understand what it all means.

Here are two pictures of Gimme with all her loot. You can see two new toys on the ground (on the right) and her new beaver toy on the bale next to her. All the ribbons are for me.


Friday, September 7, 2018

New Barn Hunt Champion

I entered Gimme in 12 classes for a 3-day trial, equally split between Crazy8 and Masters. My main goal was to get a Masters Q, which would finish her barn hunt championship. Naturally she came in season the day before the trial started. This works out well for us, since she is in a blind of 1-2 dogs, which means much less waiting around and no real stress from the presence of other dogs. The dog who blinding with her is small and owner-carried, so Gimme doesn't count her as a dog. On the other hand, she is more distractible when she's in her special condition. Another advantage is that I can remove her harness when we are up next, so it makes it faster and smoother to get in the ring and start quickly. By the end of the weekend I dispensed with the harness altogether.

Saturday --

Crazy 8 (1) - Indeed she started out distracted, but once she got the first rat, then she was really into it. She did climb, tunnel and found 5 rats for 70 points. This is her personal best and brings her Crazy 8 point total to 780. She is already more than halfway to the next level title.

Masters (1) video - Gimme did a good job here, getting 3 out of 4 rats. The course had a large distance challenge and she went into it twice. The second time I was looking in from a different angle and I saw her vigorously scratching at a spot near a bale, but what she was scratching at was obscured from where I was. Ordinarily I move a little away to test her commitment, but I didn't feel like I could do that when she was already so far away. I called alert and was wrong. As she was coming toward me she found the rat tube close to where I was, in a spot she hadn't been yet. I suspect the scratching was probably just her checking a pee spot from a rat tube location for a prior blind. My bad. Note to self: As she was scratching, I only saw shavings flying, no straw.

The comment about her panties refers to her little hop as she came out of the tunnel. Each time, all weekend, she'd hop her butt up as she exited the tunnel, rubbing her panties against the edge cover. Most times the edge cover (gray pipe insulation) came off and ended up away from the tunnel. She never got the panties off, but she did manage to slip the waistband down a bit - which I'd pull up again each time she found a rat (the time when I'm allowed to touch her while we're in the ring). BTW for this class she never did do the tunnel, which is odd for her.

Crazy 8 (2) - Gimme came in raring to go and I hoped she'd have another stellar effort. Unfortunately some rude, stupid, inconsiderate handler walked her dog too close to the ring and then stood there letting the little booger pee on a nearby post (less than 6', rules require them to keep 10' away). I told her to move along, but by then Gimme was distracted and it took her a bit to refocus on finding rats. We still came away with 50 points, but it could have been more. This brings us to 830, so it's possible Gimme could finish another title this weekend. We'll see.

Masters RATCH win video - Gimme did a great job. She found two rats, then she found the rat in the distance challenge. I couldn't see what she was alerting on, so I started to move to the end of the challenge area to see what I could see. Gimme started to come with me, then turned and went back to bark some more, so I called it. She was right. I have to say I wasn't sure where it was she was alerting to, but quickly figured it out. After removing the rat, Gimme came out with me and after a little bit found another. Then did the tunnel on her own. She searched around a bit and not finding anything did another tunnel. She got around to the back of the big pile where she'd shown interest before and didn't come away when I delayed following her (not wanting to sell her on something that wasn't there). When I got there she was persistent in that spot and I called "rat-finished" on the fifth rat. The judge commented how nice it was to have a dog like Gimme for the last run of the day, since she cleared the course, saving the ring crew time.

Gimme is now a barn hunt champion, having gotten her 10th Q in Masters. I was so proud of her. We were the very last dog in the trial today because of her special condition, so there were very few people there. There were a couple friends and ring crew. The ribbon for her RATCH is huge. I may have to move things to display it at home. So I got a huge ribbon and a chocolate milkshake to celebrate our accomplishment. I stopped at Safeway to get Gimme a new toy. She has most of the toys they sell. Of the ones she didn't have, I couldn't make up my mind which to get - so I bought all three. This made her happy for a short while. Like most kids, she quickly lost interest and says "I don't have a thing to play with..."

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Urban Tracking (104) & MDSA

On Thursday, August 30th, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for tracking. The conditions were cool and breezy. It was a fairly simple track. What became a challenge was the times the track crossed over main driveways, so I had to interrupt Gimme's
work to let cars go by (pink dotted line). It's good practice to have her tracking disrupted and then having to get back to work, but it does make for disjointed and inefficient tracking.

MDSA trick video - This month's MDSA seminar was about tricks. I'm continuing to work on Gimme's backward weaves. For the seminar finale, we each got to submit a 20-30 second video of our dog doing tricks in a sequence; starting and ending on a platform of some sort. I started Gimme on her red, white and blue tub. I used the nearby tree for an "out" around (parkour), then a 180º center front pivot, "scoot", into "heel", "spin" into "otto", finishing with "bacon" to back-on the tub. Gimme was well focused and it didn't take very many tries to get her to do the sequence. Some of those were for me to figure out my handling.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Nosework (1/33)

We started class with an interesting exercise. There were five hides along the row of plate glass holders. We were to go up the row and reward any hide the dog went to. If they passed a hide and didn't whip back quickly on their own, then we were to keep going. At the end we were to turn around and come back.

Gimme really isn't ready to apply her new indication in a search, but I wanted to see what she'd do. I accepted whatever she gave me as her first indication, then paused in place to see if she'd give me repeat nose touches - she did. There was also a bit of paw lifts/touches, but no aggressive scratches. I tried to time rewards when the paw wasn't part of the action, but I wasn't always successful. At one point she gets a little crazy for the food and we have to work through it - obviously something we have to train in our sessions. Often I was rewarding her for simply pointing her nose back toward the hide, approximating the final picture. You can't really see what she's doing for an indication because the person on the camera doesn't move, so we are pretty distant for most of the search. Still I was pleased with her efforts.

Exterior 1 video - She does a nice snap back on the first hide. Goes around the orange rack to pee in the grass and misses the hide there. I really should have taken her off the search, but I didn't - chalk it up to my migraine and back pain. She gets the other three hides nicely. We make a full break at the end before coming back. She gets all five hides on the way back.

Note: She has since come in season, which accounts for her marking during this search. Doesn't excuse it, just explains why.

Exterior 2 video - The instructor moves the hides a little bit for the second round, but keeps them on the same racks. Gimme gets the first one, misses the one on the orange rack and the one after, then found the last two easily. She got all five on the way back, indicating nicely for every one.

I notice I keep turning her around to get myself into position to reward her with my right hand. It's a habit I really have to break - it's just inefficient training to essentially pull her away from the hide before going back to it for a reward. I just have to get in the mindset to transfer the treats to the other hand - it's not like she's going to race off out of control when I have treats in my hand, so I don't need a firm grip on the line as I'm changing hands. I probably need to practice working the line with my right hand; I do it in tracking.

Exterior 3 video - There are three hides along this sidewalk. Gimme does a great job finding all of them. Her indications were really solid too. By this time my back was hurting a lot from her pulling, so I was especially clumsy with rewarding her and line handling.

Gimme enjoyed this class. Twenty-three hides and 3-5 treats for each of them; not a bad haul for the spotty girl.