More At-Home Training – Blind with “Assistance” **VIDEO** 3/22/20

22/1So Sunday we had another beautiful day.  Since ski areas are closed do to COVID-19, there was no surf, and my husband did not want to go on a group mountain bike ride, he was stuck home w/ me and the dogs.  He generously offered to plant some hides, AND video us!  Some of these are sort of humorous… me getting tangled in the leash, me getting jerked around by Coach, me getting tangled in a wild rose and then apple trees… but, again, the dogs had a blast.  And, I guess my husband does listen when I go on about dogs… he placed very fair hides, timed us, gave us a : 30 warning, and overall was very helpful.

The first search area I chose was the woodpile.  Based on my last search outdoors, with Coach running ginormous circles on the front lawn, I wanted to do some close-together hides.  A common challenge in Elite trials, is the “can’t go back”. Meaning, you may have 9 Vehicles or 4 rooms to search, and once you search one, you can’t go back.  So I decided to work the woodpile in 3 sections (defined by the trees holding up the stacks), w/ a “can’t go back” rule.  Craig told me he had placed 3 hides in each section, and I had asked for a high low or low high combination of hides.

Well, when Quattro ran it, the breeze was at our back, blowing into the woodpile. So the odor was all coming out the backside on the first segment.   Overall, this was an ok search for us… he was a little hard to keep working one section at a time without running to the end.  This was expected, and why I chose to work it this way. I know I tend to work on things I / we are strong at, rather than the things we struggle with.   So I’m glad I forced us to work it this way.  He definitely got stronger each section we did, although he still wanted to take off down the face of the woodpiles.

Coach, on the other hand, wow… he was crazy!  He took what he’d done in the search earlier in the week (running in giant circles chasing odor) and tried to apply it here… but he was on a 10ft leash, with me trying to contain him to the segments of the woodpile one section at a time.  If we weren’t practicing social distancing, I would go get a chiropractic adjustment!  Painful as this was, I think I need to do more like this, and really make him work in a more methodical manner.

Here are the woodpile searches:

Next, Craig chose the area – my flower beds! I normally wouldn’t have placed hides here, with my peonies just starting to poke up, but oh well.  Unknown #.  Quattro does well, but for some reason I don’t call an Alert, and he doesn’t stick with it, so that was not good. Coach, is again, crazy!  At least the area was enclosed enough that he wasn’t racing around, other than to knock off hides.  It helped knowing where they were, esp for the hide Quattro and I missed. But for as fast as Coach was on the first hides, the one Quattro missed could easily have been missed by Coach, if I didn’t know where it was.

And amazingly, Craig offered to set ANOTHER round of hides! This is where things start to fall apart… we circle the telephone pole, get the leash tangled up (hog tying Quattro, getting it looped around my foot a la our PSD trial), I get tangled in the wild rose growing up the telephone pole, then get whacked by the apple tree branches, some of the tins get knocked down… but overall, he was pretty direct and clear.  And the hides were fun.  Doing elevated hides in a slight breeze is a good challenge, for both handler and dog.  Not knowing where they were when I ran Quattro, I let him work out away from the hides to the edge of the scent cone. If I had known where they all were, I may have shortened his range and kept him closer to where the hides were.  Its a fine line between limiting the search area, and allowing them to work the odor to its edges.  Its also easy to think, You’re not working odor way out there! But then if you watch with an open mind, you see them turn and go right to source, from “way out there”.  Note how Quattro checks a drive way marker, then goes straight to the hide in a tree.

Here are the last searches we did on Sunday:

Overall, I am happy with how we did. I was a little rough on the leash, and could have let it out more gently when the dogs wanted to take off (ie, the woodpile, and then past the telephone pole to the neighbors lawn).  It was nice to be outside, and it was nice to have someone else set hides!

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