This was a fun day. Not without it’s challenges, but very fun. I feel like it finally all came together, mistakes I’d made in the past finally stayed in the past; I only took the lessons from those mistakes with me.
Vehicles were first. Where in the past with Jinxx and Izzie, I would get frustrated that they weren’t doing a “vehicle” search, nose pressed to the vehicles, circling each one… in this trail, I brought with me the knowledge that my dog knows odor, he knows his job is to find source, and he will be clear and obvious when he hits it. While these vehicles were in a line surrounded by wet grass, bushes and trees (prime pee spots!) I did let Quattro wander away from the vehicles a bit. The 3rd time I pull him back to the vehicles, I realize the breeze is in my face, meaning, any source odor was blowing from the vehicles up the hill into the shrubs and trees. I also took stock of where I was in the search – did I miss a vehicle? Was there a side of the vehicle I needed to cover? In the past, I had missed 2 NW3 titles w/ Jinxx because we simply didn’t cover one whole side of a vehicle – where another hide was. This time, I took a calculated risk, and decided there would not be a hide on the side or front of the Jeep, since we’d already found one on the back bumper. I called Finish, and didn’t feel like we missed anything.
Interiors was next – no video, but I felt good about those, too. Two very small rooms that had to be done on leash, and a larger room that we could do on or off leash. The first room was pretty crowded – a wicker settee, plastic adirondack chairs, garbage barrels with walking sticks in them, a shop vac, fireplace, trunk, tv, band saw… you name it! He quickly went to work and sourced a hide on the shop vac. I decided we could spend more than a speed pass on the other side of the room, and turned so he followed me to the other side of the room. He gave me a quick glance as he passed me, and I almost called Finish there. He RARELY looks at me when he’s hunting (he will when at source, but not while hunting), but that one glance is not reliable enough for me to call Finish on. He got behind the adirondack chair, and the leash got a bit tangled. I had meant to bring Izzie’s old long line, that I now use for Coach, which is 10ft instead of Quattro’s 12ft, but forgot. So after dragging the plastic chair into the room w/ the leash, I decided to call Finish and get out of there before we rearranged the room. Room 2 was just a cot, bureau and book case. Everyone stayed outside the room, including me. He alerted to the bureau and I went inside to pay him. I turned so he covered the cot and grazed over the bookcase, and called Finish, all in :19 seconds. Another lesson learned from Jinxx. I had talked her into a false alert in 2 different trials on a cot mattress, because I couldn’t believe she found them all (she had). I really didn’t think we missed anything there, it was so small. Room 3, the Infirmary, had 4 cots, 2 on each side of the room, a tv on a tv stand, and a bureau. He ran to the left when he went in, and wedged himself between the headboard and wall, backed up and froze. His eyes were looking at me over the headboard, and I called Alert. He went to the other side of the room, worked a cot along the bed frame, stopped halfway down and froze, eyes on me. Another Alert, we did a quick pass by the TV stand and bureau, but what else was there? I felt pretty good about that, too.
Containers followed directly by Exteriors.
Lots of bags, no white boxes or paint cans, and 2 wicker baskets. I had a couple wicker baskets I’ve used in the past year for sniff thrus and the Sniffin’ Socials, so although it had been a while, he has had exposure to them. Funny how people in the walk through were all “Wicker! I’ve never seen wicker used in a Container search!” I really want to wear earplugs sometimes! Anyway, he went right to work, and worked nicely along the rows. This now feels more like Jinxx and I in Containers, quick, confident, clear. I was thinking I’d be calling Alert to the first wicker basket he came to, when he pulled off it, ate something off the floor, and moved on. Thinking about Nancy & Stella’s ORT, where a treat had rolled next to a BLANK box, I waited to see what he would do. He gave a quick sniff to the next wicker basket, then doubled back to the first and froze. Alert, yes. There was one bag in the middle he hadn’t covered, and in trying to get him there, he discovered the pile of bags I assume were going to be used the following day at NW2. He got to the middle bag, and spent a little time investigating it (I will not blurt Alert – lesson learned from Izzie), and moved on. Finish! Found out later, that a lot of dogs falsed on that middle bag… odor from the 2 hot bags was collecting on it. The spectators were probably holding their breath as he paused at it, watching me purposefully bring him to a dangerous bag! As we left the room, we went outside on a deck overlooking the Exterior search area. I had to let the judge and volunteers out and get down ahead of us, and while we were on the deck, I took something I learned from the last trial. The last trial, in the last frame of the last video from the last search, I am ahead of Quattro, arm stretched behind me, hauling him away. It was such a sad image! So this trial, I really tried to engage him immediately after the searches ended. On the deck, I talked to him, and asked if he thought we missed anything. He shook his head (one of his tricks) and one of the volunteers saw it, and thought it was the cutest thing. So we were in good spirits heading down the stairs.
Although, he was a little TOO focused on me at the start line, so I used our “Ready, reeeeeaadeeee?” to get him to focus forward. Well, he did, and he saw the lake. I also use that when I am about to throw an object into the lake at my parents house for him. So, we charge across the search area downhill. I stop him, and turn him around. This was a blank search area – meaning, not much in it – only a flag pole, some boats, half of which were out of bounds, some trees on the boundary, some timber ties that were used as steps, and a stump. We make our way around the edge of the search area, and he stops to smell what I assumed was dog pee. I pull him off, and I feel like he’s still sniffing chipmunk and dog and who knows what. Did I tell you a bear was spotted that morning walking through the camp? Did I also tell you we were dog #25 out of 28? So definitely lots of animal smells. He finally hit on the flag pole for an Alert, showed some good interest in the boats, but more interest out of bounds around them. I thought I should check the timbers in the ground, just in case… but nothing. That was the only search w/ a :30 warning, and we got out before he had time to think about joining the, come to find out, other 4 dogs who had peed in the Exterior. Another lesson learned from a missed title day.
So definitely some challenges out there, and definitely not the prettiest of searches. We got 2nd place in Interiors, and were consistently in the top 10 in the other searches. That was good enough for 1st place overall! Which really surprised me when they called my name! But, I really didn’t feel like we’d missed anything, and I also didn’t feel like I over-searched anything. It felt just right, and so does that blue ribbon!