Monday got started with some ORT discussion and congratulations… Bella and Cathy passed their Birch and Clove ORTs, and Stella and Nancy passed their Birch ORT in York over the weekend. Yay! Welcome Bella and Stella to the start of your NACSW careers! I was the judge and Gail McCarthy was the Certifying Official (meaning, she made the odor boxes and set the patterns) A big shout out to all my volunteers who kept the registration and parking lot organized, helped set up the boxes and measured out so we could fit almost 6 runs with no overlap, and to those who timed, judge’s stewarded, and got your squats in aligning boxes. Luckily, we didn’t have many box smashers!
Cathy looked much more relaxed with Bella than when she worked Phil over a year ago. Bella came in with confidence, and especially on her last run, clove, really seemed engaged and out there hunting. She was very quick to make a decision, barely giving Cathy time to think, “wait, wasn’t this where the anise box was? she’s telling me this is it, so… Alert?” Yes. Nice job ignoring your human thinking and listening to your dog! Nancy and Stella had a great run, although everyone in the room was holding their breath and hoping for the best. It could have gone either way… Stella did one lap around the boxes sort of getting her bearings, going through the motion of sniffing boxes, but I didn’t think she was engaged in hunting. Nancy did a beautiful job letting the leash feed out. As Stella came up for a second pass, she kicked into hunting mode and got down to business. She bypassed the hot box, but paused to sniff the adjacent box. Probably some pooling odor, and then she happened to find a crumb on the floor next to the blank box. The human brain might think, “oh, if there is a treat there, that is probably the hot box” but Nancy let Stella work. Stella began air scenting the ring gates and chasing odor on the ring gates. Nancy could see she was working out the odor problem, and stood watching her work… only thing was, she was standing in between Stella and the hot box! That is why we were all holding our breath… it would have been easy for Stella to assume the box w/ pooling odor was good enough, she could have nosed it and looked at Nancy, who may have called alert. But no – good little Corgi, she followed her nose away from the ring gates, around Nancy (sort of pushed by her) and went to the hot box and nudged it pretty strongly. “Alert?” Yes! We all let out a collective sigh of relief! That desire to get to source despite what the handler is doing will go a long way as you move up the ranks in trials. That is great to have it in a green dog!
Ok, on to class. I wanted to work on expanding their search area and build some searching endurance. We had been working in small rooms all winter, some fairly blank / bare, and I wanted to borrow from the exercise I worked w/ my NW2/3 class from last week. I did the reverse for the NW1 dogs. I set a hide fairly close to the start, then the next pass was deeper in the search area, and the last was at the far end of the room. How resilient and persistent would they be? Pretty, it turns out!
NW1 Class Saco 5/22/17
They all came in with confidence and focus. There was very little dog odor sniffing, very little dubbing around. They were all business for the most part, and figured out to work wider and wider when the hides moved deeper and deeper in the search area. The snow blower hide was probably the most challenging. It was in the far corner, there was some distraction odor in on the wall/floor next to it, and I think the odor wasn’t traveling as far as the other hides had been. When the hides were in the paper towel tube, curtain rods, step stool, block of wood and baby gate, the odor was very available. It was able to rise and move and run along the floor, until it hit a post or object. The dogs had a relatively easy time of chasing it then following it to source. The snowblower hide was elevated, nestled between knobs and levers, and next to one major dog distraction spot. The dogs had to get pretty close to the hide to pick it up, and then they had to ignore the dog smell and work it out. I thought it was a fun class for them – and you all! I have never seen Phil work so fast and enthusiastically! And Cecil is looking better and better each week. Mary is trying some new things w/ Sam, and I think it was helping keep him on task. Bella had one hide that stumped her, but she persevered, and Stella was a steady worker. Fun to watch!
NW2/NW3 Class 5/22/17
This week it was Billie Sue, Catcher and Ella. Here is the video:
We started with a known blank room, and then moved to a big room with 2 hides. The hide on the snowblower had been there from the first class, and the paper towel tube hide was up on a high counter. Definitely more dog smells here, and lots of lingering odor from my earlier class. But, I think both are good to work through… even at NW3, dogs eliminate in the search area, and odor that is sitting for a long time will pool up and mimic lingering odor. Dogs need to know to go to source, and tune out the distracting smells.
We did a run in the large room again, blind w/ assistance, and this had an inaccessible hide. I think the dogs worked that one nicely. It’s a little difficult to call Finish on a room that has had odor moved around it as much as this did, but I still think you could tell when the dogs had covered the whole area and did not come up with anything solid.
Next we did some blind w/ assistance rooms. A blind room followed by a hide in the bathroom. I liked how when Janis heard :30, she was forced to really think about where Billie Sue had not been, and hustle to get her there. Billie Sue spent her time circling the room, checking almost every corner, but not staying in any one area. In the bathroom, she honed in on the dryer and laundry baskets right off the bat, and spent some time bracketing them before getting to source.
Ella had a different blank room, and once she had done a few circuits, she alerted on the door knob… I had closed the door as Janis and Billie Sue left it, and I’m sure my hands have small amounts of odor on them. Once in the bathroom, Ella worked like Billie Sue – narrowed it down right away.
For Catcher, I had left the bathroom door open, so he barely spent time in his clear room before bee-lining to the dryer.
Update: Ironically, Janis worked Billie Sue on leash for the first room… and at our NW3 trial in CT this weekend, we had to work 2 small rooms ON LEASH! Good foresight for practicing an Interior search on leash!
And, several times Monday night, I offered that Janis skip the blank rooms for Catcher, since he is going for his NW2 and will not have to worry about blank rooms. Well, that too was probably good practice, seeing as he earned his NW2 title this weekend, and now needs to begin working on NW3 type problems!
What a good couple weekends we have had, ORTs, NW3 and NW2 successes, along with a couple near misses. There are always things to work on and improve on, no matter what level you are at or what successes you’ve had. It’s the evolution of communication and understanding that really makes NW fun. Keep an open mind, and listen with your eyes… our dogs have a lot to teach us.