Well, after recapping the success of Dighton, and NW1 titles from Janis/Catcher, Kathy/Buddy and Barbara/Midnight, it was time to get back to work. Please read the NW2 post from this same evening, and check out the videos of the NW2 dogs working pretty much the same hides.
For NW1, I removed the hide that had been on the tractor, and moved the inaccessible wheel spring hide that had been on my back left tire, and put the hide on the break of my back left tire. So it was accessible once the dogs stuck their snouts in the hubcap opening at about 2 o’clock. The dogs worked it VERY quickly – I didn’t even have time to unlock my phone and hit record when Midnight was just about at it! I don’t know why I missed Cecils run on this – I remember he wanted to head to the grass, but we got him back on task, and I remember him doing a nice alert once he forgot about the grass. There had been a hide on that wheel for almost 2 hours by this point, and the breeze was blowing slightly toward the start line, so the dogs were really drawn to my car in short order.
The Exterior portion of the evening was fun. The hides were in a V shape, there were 9 hides radiating out from the start box. There was a snow shovel at the top of one part of the V, and a rubbermaid bucket at the top of the other side of the V. These I put in for visual markers for all of us humans – we could see easily where the search area ended. I was also hoping that if a dog did race out to check out the “thing”, that odor from the hide in front of it would pool on it, and the dog would pick up a cloud of odor and work it to source. Being a Daycare area, there were lots of competing smells, plus all the fresh dog & human footprints, dog saliva, and crumb smells all over the place from the previous class.
I didn’t mind if the dogs “double-dipped” – got rewarded multiple times for finding the same hide. I’d rather build value in odor over distractions, than insist that they keep searching. When you think of all the options your dog has in an area like this, it’s pretty impressive that they stay right in the target odor zone / search area. Cecil had a nice jaunt around, but I’m really happy he found a few hides, and loosened up and had some fun, too. Unfortunately, it got dark during the last few runs, and the camera made it look a lot darker than it was live. Reo and Buddy’s searches are pretty impossible to see on film, although I’ve included them anyway. I commented on the video that the dogs looked drunk, staggering from one side of the V to the other. The wind was blowing slightly from left to right of the screen, pushing the odor from the left side hides into the middle of the V. The hides on the right were converging with the hides on the left, and the dogs were trying to figure out which way to go – which squirrel do I chase? In NW1, there is only one hide out at a time, but I think it’s a good way to help dogs figure out how to follow moving odor to source. Because odor from the only hide can be moving, pooling – from one vehicle to another, from the ground to a building, from a cabinet to a stool, etc. And the dogs need to understand that weak odor is not source, and to follow that weak odor back to source.
For our newly crowned NW2 dogs, they will need to be able to work out that there are multiple hides, to track one down then go back and track the other down. So that is why we saw the weaving back and forth from the dogs – the odor was blowing and mixing, converging in one big cloud in the middle of the V. Imagine how difficult that would have been to work on leash! It would have been difficult to stay out of the dogs way, and adding more motion from the human in there would have swirled the odor even more.
What a gorgeous night, weather-wise, no bugs, and a beautiful sunset! I think the dogs had a blast searching unimpeded in that big open space, getting lots of rewards for target odor along the way! To me, this exercise looks most like dogs doing what comes naturally… yes, the box searches are clear, the vehicle searches are cool, but this looks most dog-like. It’s nice to break out every once in a while!
Here’s the video: