Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Sunday, October 20, 2019

UKC nosework trial, 4 New Titles

This trial was less than 1:00 drive from home at Emerald Downs. We've been there for trials twice before. Gimme already has her Superior Interior (SI) title and just needed one leg each for container, vehicle and exterior titles. If she got all three, she would also get her Superior Nosework title. So there was a possibility of 4 titles.
Right before our morning container search, Gimme stepped on a blackberry vine and started limping. It kind of came and went. She was fine walking up to the staging area, but the longer she was on her feet the worse it got.
Container search - 3:00 to search and 2 hides. Gimme was pretty distracted by her owie, but managed to pull it off, completing her Superior Container (SC) title. She even got second place with a time of 1:05. The first place dog found both hides in 14 seconds! I would love to see them work.

The judge asked to talk to me and I explained what happened. She let the Q stand, but said if Gimme was still limping in the afternoon she wouldn't be allowed to search in vehicles. Certainly reasonable... Another competitor gave me some arnica and I did energy work on her paw. Then we just had to wait. Fortunately by the time of her next search, her paw was mostly back to normal. I could see her gait was a little "off", but she wasn't limping.
Vehicle search video - 3:30 to search and 2 hides. Gimme did a nice job, finding the first hide behind the front license plate of the black vehicle (far left). From there she went here and there, but wasn't finding the second one. I realized she had gotten to the far side of the silver vehicle (far right), but hadn't searched it. You can see in the video as she goes there, I'm actually between her and the hide. I asked her to humor me and search there again. When we get in there the second time I was still between her and the hide, but she catches the drift of it and snaps back to indicate. This completed her Superior Vehicle (SV) title. She got second place with a time of 1:30.
We came back on Sunday afternoon for our last search.
Exterior search - The search area was in one of the horse barns and we had 4:30 to find 2 hides. We had a long aisle with 4 of the 5 stalls along side it (tan), the open sided attached shed (brown) and the horse washing station (grey). This seemed larger than 1500 sqft., but I could be wrong. In any case the time to search it was generous. There was a bit of fresh poop as an added attraction. 
Gimme was immediately drawn into the shed area, but was ready to leave it after only searching the far half of it. I asked her to check the near end and we were rewarded by finding our first hide (see red arrow). 
Gimme was not interested in the stalls, only looking at them as she went by. We went out into the washing area and she wasn't interested in any of it. I asked her to check the pipe/faucet (blue dot), which she did but was uninterested in it. We went back into the main aisle and I got her into second stall (from the start line) and only got a perfunctory sniff. I asked her to go into the third stall and she was quite interested in a large hole (nose level, large black half-circle in the diagram) in the wall, but didn't try to make anything of it. 
As we left the stall I was trying to take her to the fourth stall, but she became interested in the wall between the aisle and the washing area. She began with the far end, sniffing it, started to go to the far side, but quickly came back. As she got to the other half she began strong detailing and finally indicated up under the top edge for our second hide. (see red arrow in second picture)
Three of the four dogs to NQ indicated low on the wall, so her precision was a great boon. This completed her Superior Exterior (SE) title. She got another second place with a time of 1:56.
These three searches mean we have all four elements at the Superior level, so Gimme earned her Superior Nosework (SN) title. One weekend, four new titles. This brings Gimme's total title count to 70. YAY GIMME!!!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Urban Tracking (151)

On Thursday, October 17th, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for urban tracking.

I laid the same track as last time for Cricket, but in reverse. She did well with it, except this one area where a bunch of cars parked around the track, but not on it. Ordinarily I don't think it would be an issue, but there was a pretty strong and variable-direction breeze. So I think the presence of the cars combined with the changing direction of the breeze did strange stuff with the scent. Unfortunately Cricket doesn't have a strong search-pattern, so Nadine couldn't do a search pattern to help her find it. With a search pattern she could have taken her back to the last place where she knew they were on track. However, Nadine later told me she didn't really know where it was.

The track she laid for Gimme was not terribly complicated, but the breeze made it more challenging than it would otherwise have been. The temperature was around 50º. It was very wet from all the recent rain, so the scent tended to hug the ground. Our track was 45 minutes old.

Gimme started out well, with a number of diversions into the landscaping islands for potty breaks. She did a bit of pulling out to the right before we got to the road. I think she was still figuring out the breeze, which at this point was blowing from left to right. When we got to the road she pulled me across and into the grass. From there she went into the parking lot on the other side, where the breeze now came from our right. Gimme went up the wrong side of the islands to start, so when we got adjacent to the article, she had to really work to find it. This now put her on the correct side of the islands, so she did the rest of the serpentine nicely. It only took her a moment to decide to turn left out into the open.

At this point the breeze was coming right into her face from the parking lot behind the theatre. Gimme was going fast with her nose right down on the track and did a really impressive full speed snap-back to the article within a foot of passing it. It was a wooden popsicle stick!  She did well with the next turn. The area of the next article proved challenging.  The breeze had been changing direction from time to time, but based on her behavior, it seemed to be swirling. She found the article and we got past this area.

Finding the last article (in the grass just past the tree) proved very challenging. The breeze was now coming from our right - from where I'd laid the track Cricket and Nadine had run just 20 minutes earlier (lime green line). So the breeze was bringing in much fresher Nadine smell. Gimme did finally sort it out and find the last glove - for which she got a LOT of cheese.

It was an interesting change, since we haven't had much breeze all summer. So, while the wetness made it easier, the breeze brought a new challenge. Fortunately Gimme loves a good challenge.

Monday, October 14, 2019

RFE practice (103)

This is our last time at Pawsabilities for practice. I have one more appointment there with Dr. Powell, Gimme's chiropractor. Not sure how we'll connect up with him from then on. I'm going to see if I can get him connected up with Dorothy to possibly do a booth at nosework trials. Don't know if it'll be lucrative for him, but it's worth a try.

I started with our usual warm-up routine. Originally I did it six times and now am down to three. I suspect we'll have to go back to six for our first practice at the new location next week. On the other hand, we won't have a noisy-squeaky puppy class going on just over the divider, so we won't have to recapture her focus partway through class. BTW I have started using the sniff cue "explore" during our walks, so it'll be clear to her what it means.

"Center" with pivot video - We haven't done much of this, so you see Gimme doesn't actually do "center" the first couple of times. She moves out of heel, but then turns it into "around". This was the third repetition on the warm-up, so I don't think she really had her listening-ears engaged yet.

"Center" 2 video - What we did earlier didn't seem to stick in her mind, so I broke it down further. Clearly we need to do some more work with this - just the part about getting into position.

"Center" 3 video - Here we did some more. Getting her to stick with me and not turn it into "otto" is a challenge. It occurs to me watching this, I used to change direction of the pivot whenever she got out of position. I need to try it again.

The rest of our session was spent getting video clips for another skills entry at the Intermediate/Advanced level. Out of what I did I got 5 clips - 4 solid ones and 1 that would pass, but could be improved. It's the Cross in Front Alternating and I'
m certain I can get a better version. Gimme was momentarily distracted by the puppy class - it's a subtle pause, but I'd rather redo it than risk losing points.

Since I'm so aware of the hand bumps after losing 3 points on our novice skills test, I see Gimme bumps my hands a LOT. I really haven't been aware of it, so it's somewhat of a surprise to see how often it happens. The easy solution is to have my hands out of sniffing range, but I have to think of how I want to do it. I know Julie does everything with the hand nearest the dog on her hip, but I don't like how it looks. I'm going to ask on the MDSA list for suggestions. If I don't get anything I like I may do the hand on hip just to get through this, but I won't like it.

On the way home we stopped at Freedom for Gimme's manicure. She's really okay with Janice doing it. So, after this week (no nosework class), I'm going switch to doing nails between nosework classes. We go to the first class and Janice comes to the second class. There's 15 minute break between classes, so as long as I have her peanut butter GoToobs ready ahead, it should be easy to squeeze it in.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Barn Hunt trial and New Title

Last weekend we went to Ridgefield for two days of barn hunting. I drove home each day - cheaper to make the drive than staying in a hotel and much nicer to sleep in my own bed, though tiring to drive.


Crazy8 (1) - We started the day on fire. Gimme did the climb and tunnel and found 6 rats, for her personal best of 80 points. She was having a great time - as was I.

Master (1) - Gimme got 4 out of 5 rats. I called clear too soon. She actually found the 5th rat right when she came in the ring, but it was a drive-by. I noticed it, but didn't place importance on the hesitation. I should have taken her back to the spot for another check of it.

Crazy8 (2) - Gimme did the climb and tunnel and found 3 rats for 50 points. We only needed 20 points to complete her Crazy8 Gold title. Yay for us!

Unfortunately the scribe failed to record our tunnel, so in addition to not getting the 10 points from the tunnel, we lost another 20 points for the fault. Thus the record reflects we only got 20 points. Enough to still complete the title, but not what I know we earned. I didn't notice this in time to have the judge correct it, so it stands. I am choosing not to be upset since there have been other gifts in trial judging. There was one time a scribe erred and we got an extra 20 points. Another time a judge got confused and basically told me where a rat tube was - so with just seconds to spare we got another rat for 10 points. So it's a wash now.

Master (2) - I don't know why, but Gimme false alerted right away. She'd just left the start box and barely started searching. It occurs to me I need to go back to the walk-away test for every alert. That is where I walk sideways away from her when she alerts, to see if she's serious about it. If she's serious, she'll stick it or she may briefly leave it, but then go back to it. If she's just testing to see if I'll fall for a tube, she'll leave it and not go back.


Crazy8 (3) - Gimme was slower and less focused, so in addition to the climb and tunnel, she only found 2 rats, for 40 points.

Master (3) - Gimme did a nice job and found 3 rats pretty quickly. She was still searching and not giving up, but also not finding anything. There was one hard-to-get-to spot I knew she hadn't been to. I tried to guide her to it, but she wasn't able to understand what I wanted. Finally she came over the top of the pile from another direction and then with just a tiny bit of encouragement she got right to the tube I wanted her to check. She did a lovely indication, despite having to almost stand on her head to do it. It was a very nice Q - number 7. We just need three more.

Crazy8 (4) - I'm not sure what was going on with her. She did the climb and tunnel and found two rats, but then false alerted. Then we ran out of time. So we ended the run with just 20 points.

Master (4) - Gimme found 4 out of 5 nicely and then false alerted. The actual 5th rat was directly across the ring. Judge Dan said she found the 5th rat early in her search, but I was not in a position to see it, so she left it to find me and then didn't go back. Sometimes if I don't call "rat" to her find she won't go back, as if she thinks maybe this rat is not good enough. Because this was the last search of the weekend and coming from sharing the blind with a dog and his peanut butter Kong (see below), I think Gimme was both tired and frustrated, so she just alerted on a litter tube to see if I'd fall for it, which I did. If I'd done the walk-away test, she probably would have left it and we might have found that fifth rat for another Q.

We've been to this site before. The barn hunt club shares it with an agility club. Last time we weren't very successful because Gimme was so distracted by all the agility noise. This time she didn't seem to notice the noise.

The blinds were hard for us. They were 10 x 20 canopies, open on just one side. The masters blind was open on the long side, so it didn't seem as restrictive; however, the crazy8 blind was only open on the short side. While Gimme mostly handled it well, I do think it was very tiring for her. This would at least partially explain her performance drop off on the second day.

The only times she didn't handle it well were both masters blinds. In one there was a reactive Chow that kept targeting and then barking at other dogs in the blind. Fortunately none of them ever responded to his bad behavior. He never targeted Gimme, so I think he just needs training, but it was still stressful. The second time we were in a blind with him, he was worse. Afterwards I instructed the gate steward to not put us in the blind with him again.

Unfortunately this meant our last blind of the weekend was in with the nice lady with the Irish Terriers. Apparently she liked my peanut butter GoToob idea for Gimme, so she is now bringing a Kong filled with peanut butter to entertain her own dog. This just about blew Gimme's mind. She was absolutely certain she needed to get over there and chase that beast away from her peanut butter! I wasn't having any luck convincing her there were other peanut butter sources in the world besides our private stash. Fortunately everyone was very nice and we rearranged the seating to put the two of them at opposite corners of the blind. Then I was able to get her attention and help her calm down.

One thing I've started is a review of all my blog posts about our barn hunt trials. I'm making a list of all the lessons-learned since the beginning. I think it would be helpful to put the most important ones on a 3x5 card, so I can remind myself before each class of the most successful strategies. I want to write it up like an affirmation. When I do my part Gimme is more successful, so this is my plan to up my game.

So, we ended the weekend with a new CZ8G title and 60 points toward Gimme's next Crazy8 title, the Platinum level. Just 440 points to go. We picked up one Masters B leg, so we need just 3 more to get the RATCHX. Once we have that I will stop competing in Masters and just focus on Crazy8.

All in all it was a successful weekend

Friday, October 11, 2019

Urban Tracking (150) & Field (58)

When I arrived at Auburn Cinema on October 3rd, Nadine had already set a nice article circle.  I had her lay a simple track for Gimme; I wanted the return leg to be "in front of the cars" along the strip.  When it was Gimme's turn, we ran the article circle and then her track.

Nadine's article circles aren't anything like the ones Sil Sanders has us do.  They are really more of a very simple tracking exercise with a lot of articles.  I usually have Nadine put an article on every leg for Gimme's tracks, but these have 2-3 times as many.  I'm always happy to do them, whatever form they take, since I can heavily reinforce every time Gimme shows me an article - keeping her article love STRONG.  They are very motivating.

There were two articles Nadine's girls had missed and Gimme found both of them.  She almost passed by one of them, but before I had to help her, she caught the scent and turned back to it.  She got even more reinforcement for that one.

I wanted Nadine to be right up next to the bumpers of most of the cars on the return leg.  I like to set up distracting or otherwise challenging things for Gimme to solve.  Having to be really close to a car or even having a car come and park on her track is a good challenge, since it could happen in a trial.

Since I wasn't clear enough about what I wanted, Nadine tracked well into the landscaping or on the sidewalk between the cars and the road.  It was still a challenge since there's a fair amount of traffic on the road, which could move the scent in different ways, as well as present a distraction as we were tracking.  Gimme didn't seem to find this difficult.  I think  coming right off the article circle helped, since she was mentally warmed up to tracking.

Yesterday, October 10th, we met at Flaming Geyser.  I laid tracks for her girls while she laid one for Gimme.  It was aged 1:55 and it was sunny and bright, but not particularly warm, around 60º.  This was a pretty straightforward track, nothing Gimme hasn't seen before.  She did turn off the track into the field at the bend right before the forth article.  Since I didn't go with her, after a couple of tries to convince me she came back and resumed tracking.  She pulled really hard and had this been a test, I wouldn't have doubted her.

We figure there were loose dogs playing there, since Nadine saw people walking dogs along the path where our track connected after the third article, and she thought some were off leash.  So we'll have to practice this distraction many more times...

Gimme is such a good tracker, she makes it all fun.

Nadine and I have revised our tracking plan.  We are trying to get in more field tracking, since she wants to get Sugar ready for a TD test.  Since I'm no longer teaching at Pawsabilities, we can track in the afternoon.  Nadine takes classes on Thursday at 5p.m. at Argus, which is really close to Flaming Geyser, so tracking there in the afternoon saves her from making that drive twice.  The first Thursday of the month, we'll be tracking at Auburn Cinema in the morning, so I can head home mid-afternoon and have plenty of time to get to my MCSA class.  And of course, flexibility is always in order as things come up.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

RallyFrEe Novice Skills title

When we got home from tracking, I had an email saying Gimme had passed her Novice RallyFrEe Skills title (R-FE/NS) with a nice score of 141 (out of 150). This is title number 65, just saying...

Gimme got eleven 10 point scores (out of 15). One of those was the Bow I worried so much about. The behaviors she got 10 points on were: Sit Stand, Down Stand, Prop Weave, Front Cross: Handler, Circle Around Counter-Clockwise, Clockwise Spin, Counter-Clockwise Spin, Thru to Left Heel, Thru to Right Heel, Figure-8 Thru 2x and Bow.

She lost 6 points on her 270 Left and 270 Right - which was totally my fault because I knew better and could have made a bigger circle.  If you watch the sample videos on the RFE website, for the dog on the outside (how we did it), they are making the circle diameter about 1.5 to 3 feet. I absolutely made the 270 into a pivot. In the sample videos, for dog on the inside, they are making the diameter about 5-6' for dogs Gimme's size.

From the RFE website - sample video:  270 Left   For some reason it won't let me copy the link for 270 Right, but if you watch the 270 Left, it's right above it on the playlist.

The other 3 points she lost were for "sniffing" my hand. On the Front Cross: Dog it was really obvious and we lost 2 points. For the Circle Around Clockwise the sniff was quicker so we only lost 1 point. I either need to train her better, or I could hold my hand higher so she can't sniff it. I laughed about the judge calling it a "sniff"... I know Gimme and would call it a reminder bump. I.E. an "I am here and you owe me treats" bump.

The judges comments were very nice. Do watch our Novice Skills Test video.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Nosework class (5/40)

We had a lengthy discussion about Saturday's trial experience. First I talked about messing up Gimme's first interior search by waiting too long to call finish. Dorothy says that Gimme is hard to read, because she's so persistent and willing to keep hunting for a long time. So she thinks calling finish if she isn't actively detailing when the timer gives the 30-second warning is a good strategy. She pointed out this strategy is for me, not Gimme.

We also talked a lot about the awful container search experience. She agrees with me about it being a visual issue, not slick floors. Apparently there is some study info that shows most dogs are bothered by disturbing visuals and comparatively few are bothered by slick floors. We talked about doggles and she didn't know if they'd be allowed. Certainly not by AKC, may be allowed by NACSW and/or UKC.

I also talked about another idea I had for a handling technique. I was thinking I could walk backward in front of Gimme, so she'd see me and I'd be blocking her from looking out at a big expanse of shiny floor. Then I could give her a "check it" cue for each container. I think it might work, couldn't hurt. I do think I should do it few times in class so I'd be comfortable and Gimme wouldn't be thrown off by my weird behavior. Dorothy said they (instructors) normally discourage handlers from continually "presenting" each search item; teams where the handler does so are historically less successful. She also said my idea might work and agrees I should try it in class, but not to switch to it all the time. I reminded her who we are talking about - it's unlikely Gimme would go along with it very often, eh...

This class had a series of interior searches to demonstrate the difference in how the dogs search based on how many hides there are.

Interior 1 video - For this first search there were no hides, so we could observe how they search a large blank space. Gimme starts out busy, a little less so than usual and after about a minute she slows down and starts searching more intently on the chairs. She's used to getting a whiff of scent early in the search and when she doesn't find it, she looks harder.

Interior 2 video - This time there is one hide. Gimme catches the area right away, going only a few feet past it, then has the hide in 30 seconds. Nicely done...

Interior 3 video - This time there are two hides. She does a fabulous job with the hide near the threshold, nailing it in 20 seconds. She has the second hide at 43 seconds (despite what Dorothy said). I let her search a bit longer before stopping. Good job.

Interior 4 video - And now there are three. You'll notice how busy Gimme seems, right away. The first hide takes 35 seconds to source. Then under 25 seconds to the second hide. From there she goes right to the last hide in 12 seconds. Interesting how she gets faster with each hide.

Dorothy asks "why are you waiting for the thirty second call?" I have no answer, it's me, all me...

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

NW3 Trial

The site is a nice elementary school in Carson, WA. It was supposed to be a 2:30 drive, but turned into 3:00 with construction. I got a good parking spot. There was a bit of a challenge because the school was double-booked between a million soccer people and us. So flexibility was the game of the day.

Exterior - 2:30, 1-3 hides:
From the start line in the doorway, Gimme turned right to a chair in the corner. She detailed and quickly alerted. From there we checked the whole area, some things twice.  I was just sure there had to be a hide in the table and chairs.  While she was interested in different spots, she never detailed anything so I called Finish with 14 seconds to spare.

The one thing I hate about NW3 is not-knowing if you passed a search until the end of the day. Based on Gimme's behavior, I was reasonably certain we got exteriors.

Vehicles - 2:30, 1-3 hides:
This search was supposed to run right after exterior, but it had to be moved because the soccer people kept parking in the middle of the search area. Trying to keep them out would be a full time job, so they moved the vehicles into a courtyard with gates. This is basically what it looked like.

Gimme went up the left (outside the blue car) in her usual dash. She went around the back of the red car then turned at the back bumper and went up to alert on the front license plate. From there we went around the blue car on the outside, crossed over between them to go around the gray car. When we got back to the middle she showed a bit of interest in the pink-dotted area of the blue car. She didn't settle down on anything and was really willing to move on. We went around it a couple of times and she was giving me "hopeful alerts". Those are the ones where she is hoping to con me out of a cookie even though there's nothing there. I didn't want to talk her into an alert where there wasn't anything, so I called "finish" on a wing and a prayer, hoping I was right. We ended with 11 seconds to spare and the judge gave us "pronounced". In hindsight, there was obviously scent from the hide on the front bumper of teh red car drifting onto the front of the blue car.

At almost 3p.m., we still hadn't done interiors or containers. We were about 25 minutes out from interiors (it'd been running 8 minutes per dog since 10a.m.) and they'd just started containers.  They got a late start waiting for competitors to get through construction.  I got a lot of practice on patience. Fortunately Gimme and I like our own company...

These were really busy search areas, so all you get for a picture is a long panoramic strip of combined stills.  I took them in a counter-clockwise sweep, which starts at the right end of the strip.  You'll have to use your imagination.  It was challenging with all the chairs upended on the tables, it would be soooo easy to hit one and send a bunch crashing to the floor.

Interior 1 - 2:30, 0-3 hides:

Gimme dashed around the room and quickly found a hide under the edge of a chair. I belabored far too long and called "finish" just as the timer called "time", exactly 0.42 over time. Gimme did a great job. It is really hard for me to call finish, especially when there is only one hide - if you note my times in all our 1 hide searches, I wait right up to the end, but did better with 2 hide searches.

Interior 2 - 2:30, 0-3 hides:
There were two hides. The first was in a red clothes hamper at the right end of the room; Gimme got to it quickly. Then she searched around and found an inaccessible hide inside the white cabinet at the far end of the room. I even managed to call "alert" before she pawed the door. She did a little more searching and then went to the door, so I called "finish". We had 24 seconds to spare. See what I mean about doing better with a two hide search?

Interior 3 - 2:30, 0-3 hides:
I decided if she'd found a hide and wasn't actively detailing when I got the "30 seconds" warning - then I would call finish. Gimme found the only hide really quickly, on the wheel of a rolling podium. Then we scanned the room. When the timer called the warning, I called "finish" with 28 seconds to spare. Yay for me. It's always "Yay" for Gimme.

Containers - 2:30, 1-3 hides:
Gimme got to the start line easily, looked out at the search area and froze. She saw all the reflections and didn't know what to do. We had one other time when she was concerned about a gym floor and the reflection, but then she was able to search. This time she couldn't get past it. The lights were verrrrry bright and the floor was the shiniest I've ever seen. Plus the floor was a rather dark wood, which would tend to recede visually. I think she just couldn't tell where the floor was. This picture doesn't do justice to the visual impact, but if you look you can see how the reflections seem to float above the wood.

I encouraged her to walk with me and she did, but was slow and uncertain. I pointed at boxes, saying "check it" and she would lower her nose to them, but I never heard her breathe in. She wasn't searching. I called "finish" (with 1 second to spare) when it became apparent she couldn't work in this environment. I didn't even notice whether the timer gave a 30 second warning. The judge gave me a nice comment for how I worked with Gimme.

Some people think it's the slick floor (as did the judge), but I know better. When we had the experience before, they routed people through the gym to save time going from vehicles to exterior. The lights were off and all we had to see by was the light from both open doors. Gimme went through the area with no issue, so clearly she wasn't bothered by slickness. Yet later, when it was set up for the container search and all the lights were on, she froze. It wasn't as shiny/reflective as it was at Carson, so she was able to work through it.

I asked the certifying official if we could go into the gym for some training after the trial was done and she said we could. The lights are motion-sensor activated, so when we first went in the room only 2 lights came on and Gimme was fine. As we moved around, more and more lights came on and she got more and more concerned. So I'm certain I'm right in my assessment - it's a visual issue. I tend to think it's related to brain changes from her seizures, but maybe not. I gave her treats for moving around, but she only loosened up and moved naturally when I gave her all my treats, rapid fire, so we were able to end on a good note.

Overall I thought it was a good trial. This is the first time we've gotten through a trial with no faults. I learned a lot, but I'd still rather be dumber and more successful...

Monday, October 7, 2019

Nosework class (4/40)

We had two somewhat complicated searches.

Exterior search video - Gimme races up the left side to the first hide, indicating in 15 seconds. The second hide was a little harder and while Dorothy is talking to me about it, I slackened the leash (unintentionally), which was all Gimme needed to go to the other side and alert. Then I let her be the boss-of-me, so she checked out the back area briefly, then went up the wall. We think the hide on the wall was drifting onto the truck. Gimme briefly checks the truck on the far side, came up between the wall and the truck, checked the truck a bit more, then finds the hide on the wall.

Next we had two "related" vehicle searches with 4 minutes. Once we left the first area, we weren't allowed to go back to it.

Vehicle search video - Gimme goes down the line of trucks, checks the far side of the last one, then doubles back to find the hide in the wheel well of the rear tire of the other side. She checks the other vehicles, but seems to be waffling and never detailed, so we moved on to the other area. She quickly starts detailing the machinery and when we get to the other side she alerts. As we get to the far end of the machinery I called finished. Dorothy asked me why we didn't check the van. I said she hadn't shown any interest in the van as we approached that part of the search area. Likewise, I brought Gimme up between the machinery and the van and she had no interest in the van, which confirmed that she didn't think there was anything there. Maybe I called finish early, but I didn't want to run over time and my instinct was proven correct.

I have an NW3 trial this weekend. It's in Carson, WA, a 2:30 hour drive. Prayers are welcome and needed. Then we have class the next week, followed by a two-week break.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

RFE practice (102)

J'Anna and I met on September 24th to practice and make videos for the next level of RFE Skills tests. We've both submitted our Novice level entries and are confidently working to prepare entries for Intermediate/Advanced. There must be the novice bow, at least 3 advanced level behaviors and then up to 11 intermediate behaviors (for a total of 15 behaviors).

Warm-up video - I started the session with our new warm-up routine. This takes about the same amount of time as our prior warm-up routine, but I like the way she is actually working for the opportunity to "explore" check out the space. Gimme is getting better at it. Note how quickly and enthusiastically she turns her attention to me when the bit of "explore" is done. The center pivot wasn't very good, but we hadn't done it in awhile and she was giving me her full attention. I was pushing her too far into the corner before turning - my bad for not making the challenge easier so she could be successful and learn from it.

"Take a" bow video - I wasn't entirely happy with the bow I submitted for the novice skills test. Thus, I'm working on getting a better bow, on verbal cue (without any body movement from me) and longer duration. I think we make some pretty good improvement here. She gets rewarded with toy play for the best efforts (edited out because it takes so long). On one of these, she was doing the bow and for some dumb reason, I meant to say "wait" but "down" came out of my mouth and she dutifully complied. Good dog, stupid handler. So then she keeps going down and we have to work through it. Also, I see we did so many in a row and Gimme starts to believe "halt" is just another cue for "take-a". I'll have to be sure to break the unintended pattern before I lose "halt".

"Behind" circle handler 3x video - We barely get started when Gimme becomes distracted by the puppy class and some squeaks she hears, so we have to break off briefly to work the issue. To her credit, she sticks with me. She starts getting really wide, so I add some thrown treats to tighten her up. I had to give up on this, because she just couldn't work with the distraction.

"Around" circle handler 3x video - I decided to try the other direction and a different behavior, since she would start and end with me between her and the distracting puppy class. She did a little better with this, but was still distracted. She even gets briefly distracted while we are in the middle of tugging.

I did take her closer to the puppy class and played some eye contact game. It wasn't as helpful as it has been in the past, but I did see some improvement. She's getting close to her false pregnancy, so it may be a factor. Note: It's been 8 days since this session and the false pregnancy hasn't gotten serious yet. I'm thinking the Adaptil and ground turkey for her summer-anxiety may be relieving some false pregnancy symptoms and maybe it (the f.p.) is only evident in more stressful situations. Then again, her season came a month early and she's over 9yo, so who knows what is going on.

Various 360 & 180 pivots video - We do several different variations on the pivot theme. I thought given the distraction level, behaviors to keep her moving with me might be a better choice. It's especially hard for her to work given the squeaky puppy factor.

She did pretty good all things considered. Knowing we should be getting into false pregnancy territory, I wasn't expecting this much.

I have since learned Pawsabilities is closing their doors after 33 years. I'll miss teaching Parkour, just because I like teaching. I wasn't making very much money from it, so nothing to miss there. J'Anna and I have one more practice there and then will be moving elsewhere. We are going to try the WinStar facility. It's smaller and costs a little more (especially for me, since I didn't have to pay at Pawsabilities because I was an instructor). On a positive note, we'll have the whole place to ourselves - no squeaky puppies one ring over. Since I won't be teaching on Thursday afternoons, Nadine and I will be able to schedule some of our tracking in the afternoons. It's a bit stressful making changes, but I believe all things work out in the end...