As you can tell by my voice on the first part of this video, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be doing an outside search in the rain and wind! I sort of forced myself to do it, out of obligation… I knew it would be good for us, and the last search we had done was inside around the house, so we were due to go outside.
And you know, it was actually fun! Yes, I was freezing and my hands were numb when I came inside, but it made for two very tired dogs, and made the wood stove feel that much better – who doesn’t like sitting in front of the wood stove with two sleepy dogs on a rainy Friday afternoon?
My plan had been to do water hides. Meaning, a hide (or two) submerged in water. We started with a simpler hide on the patio, to see if they were working and not just bombing out the back door, and to warm them up.
The first water hide, was partially submerged, and I thought it would be a good way to start. It worked really well for Quattro, who ran these first, but by the time I ran Coach, 15 mins later, the hide had become submerged in the flood! So Coach worked it completely differently than Quattro did.
The next water hide was far enough away that I didn’t see that there was a converging hide problem. I purposely only put two hides out there, figuring they would be challenging enough, why add to the complexity by adding in additional hides? The second water hide was probably about 2-3” under water, right above a “choke”, where the water picks up speed and flows thru a narrow spot, before it spreads out and heads toward the field.
A couple things about water and odor.
- We use essential oils for our hides, so when they are submerged, the oil particles will rise to the surface.
- Any odor molecules in the air will cling to a wet surface. Think about how your dog smells when he gets wet, weeks after he’s been sprayed by a skunk. When tracking, people like to run their dogs on a track in the morning dew, vs across a sidewalk on a hot dry day. Lots more odor in dew for the dogs to pick up, vs on a hot dry sidewalk.
Knowing these basics, I quickly realized there were some challenges specific to the day.
- rain – ranging from drizzle to full on rain
- wind – blowing up the slight hill, from left to right in the videos, towards the fence
- current – the water was running down hill, from right to left in the videos, toward the field
So basically, the wind was blowing in one direction, the current was flowing in the opposite direction. As the oil molecules rose to the top of the water, they were being carried down towards the field, yet at the same time, as they rose to the surface, the wind was carrying the molecules uphill into / onto the trees and fence. How confusing!
In hindsight, I should have tried to find a puddle, where there was NOT moving water, just the surface would have been pushed in the wind. If I had dropped the tins in a shallower section of water, that would have helped. And, if I had smooshed some cheese or dabbed a swipe of peanut butter on the tins to pair them, that might have been helpful. As it was, I’ve learned I would NOT set this up for my students! For one thing, no one would want to stand around in the rain that long, and I think it would be frustrating. I would take what I learned and apply it and do a slower, more basic introduction to working a water hide (note, this is NOT what an AKC water hide is!)
My dogs have a long history of searching and a lot of mileage in the bank, so they really didn’t ever quit or give up. It was still a LONG search for each of them and WAY more challenging than I’d thought it was going to be. They searched for 12 and 11 minutes for those two stinking hides! That is persistence. You’ll see in the video that I sped sections up, so you still get the idea of where they tracked the odor, but don’t have to sit thru it all. It was amazing how much they thought the odor was UP. Which I suppose odor was up, just not source. When you think of the cadaver dogs working the Saco river (or wherever) from a boat, it’s pretty amazing stuff.
You don’t have to be this committed to do an outside search! Just placing one hide out in a fairly simple location in the rain, will help you and your dog. You’ll quickly realize if your dog hates water, you hate water, or, if you see your dog enjoying playing in the rain, you might get into it, too.
Happy viewing! (It’s about 28mins long)