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Archive for December, 2018

The two dogs took Russ and me pheasant hunting today at the Payette River Wildlife Management Area. It’s the last day of the season, and they thought we might get lucky.

Well, we were lucky. We had a lovely walk along the river on a spectacular winter day. No birds, though. Unless you count the picked-clean pheasant carcass that Tooey retrieved. (Which I was foolish enough to not photograph before returning it to the wild.)

But we all had a good time. Here are some photos.


This last photo was taken at the same spot that the photo of Carlin was taken just a few days ago. (When Russ and Carlin had an equally lovely walk and just as many birds.)

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Carlin in the snow along the Payette River, Idaho, December 2018 — photo by Russ Dodd

Carlin is not a natural model like Cooper was. He doesn’t settle himself in front of a camera every time someone pulls one out, like Cooper did.

But Carlin isn’t shy, either. If a camera appears, he doesn’t hide.

He pretty much ignores the camera. And that means that there are quite a few pictures of Carlin, looking like his effortlessly handsome self.

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When hiking through the foothills and countryside with our dogs, Tooey has always been vigilant and ready to run down cottontail rabbits or black-tailed jackrabbits. By definition, upland game includes not only a variety of birds, but also includes rabbits and hares. And Tooey has read the manual. She knows what to do when she sees a rabbit. But steady to flush is not in her vocabulary, so a full speed pursuit is in order until she runs it down or it eludes her.

The only thing that separates our property from our neighbor’s sheep farm is a chainlink fence. Tooey is mostly oblivious to the ewes, but is perfectly willing to go head-to-head with a ram if he stands his ground (they often butt heads at the fence).

So when Tooey barks at the fence, we know it’s not at the sheep. Her steady barking this morning got my attention. All the sheep were in the next pasture, and it first looked like her focus was on an empty pen. But then it turned out to be a visiting rabbit taking advantage of the spare hay in the sheep pen.

Such frustration! A rabbit that can’t be chased. It won’t run, and there’s a fence in the way. Darn it! No bunny pie for Christmas.

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Buried is hard. Or at least, it seems to me that most dogs that try AKC Scent Work have a harder time with Buried than with Containers, Exteriors, or Interiors.

That has been true for Carlin, too. And now it gets harder.

Buried Novice and Buried Advanced has dogs searching for odor in boxes of dirt. Buried Excellent has three hides buried 6 inches deep in the actual ground. It’s a big leap — the dog has no familiar objects that he knows to search. I imagine that it just looks like nothing, or maybe it looks like Exteriors, where the dog searches above ground for hidden odor.

For Buried Excellent, the dog has to learn to search for odor underground. I’m hoping Carlin will be ready for Buried Excellent at my local Boise trials in March, so it’s time to get going with training. And today I finally got it together to bury some hides in the ground for Carlin.

Today, the three swabs are scented with Birch, Anise, or Clove — all odors Carlin is familiar with. I’ve placed each swab inside a plastic tube that has a lid with a hole in them. I’ve buried the tubes about 1/2 inch below the surface of the ground in the grass.

As you can see by the video, Carlin is indeed confused about what kind of search this is. I am using a different cue (“search dirt”) rather than my usual one (“find it”). But seeing no containers of dirt, I think he’s assuming this must be an Exterior search. But finally, he catches a whiff of odor at ground level.

He eventually found all three hides, but I helped him quite a lot: by restraining him so he wouldn’t leave the search area, by calling him over to where the hides were located, and by standing next to them.

Eventually, I won’t help him at all, and then that’s the case, then I’ll bury the hides deeper.

 

 

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Ch Stanegate Second Thoughts CD RN JH JHU RATN CGC WD WDX “Tooey”

My sweet Tooey Honey is 10 years old. She’s thicker in the middle (like me), moves a bit slower (like me), loves a wide variety of food (like me), and enjoys her walks (also like me). She also loves chasing the squirrels (I’ll leave that to her) and playing with Carlin, sometimes (I’m right with her there).

Every morning when the lights go on, she hops on the bed and gives me a lick on the nose. I hope I keep getting those licks for many more years to come.

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Sunday December 2nd found Carlin and me at the second day of the Upper Snake River Valley Dog Training Club‘s (USRVDTC) December scent work trials. Because Carlin had passed his third Interiors Advanced search the day before, we moved up to Interiors Excellent.

Our first attempt at Interiors Excellent was an NQ, but that was almost totally on me. Excellent Interiors has two search areas. In this trial, the first search area was the same room as the previous day’s Interiors Advanced search. The second area was an adjacent space, with no physical dividers between them.

In the first search area, Carlin found his first hide, on the underside of a table, right away. He searched the room a bit, but then he ran over to a pile of lunch boxes, and insisted, pawing and pushing one of the lunch boxes, that this was a hide. So I called it. But what I didn’t pay enough attention to was the fact that these lunch boxes had a tennis ball perched on top of them. This tennis ball was one of the three distractions placed around the search areas, and at this level, hides aren’t placed in the same place as a distraction. I should have seen the tennis ball for what it was, and had him search elsewhere. But with my incorrect call, we NQd our first Interiors Excellent search. This is what we call a “learning experience”.

Fortunately, the judge kindly allowed us to complete the search in the first search area even though we’d NQd. Carlin searched hard for the entire three-minute time limit. Since he didn’t find anything else, I could have concluded that there simply wasn’t a second hide in the first search area, but it turned out that there was. Finally the judge showed me where it was. It was on a door in a corner adjacent to the second search area. At one point, Carlin had gone into that corner, but then quickly left it, trying to go into the second search area. I pulled him out of the second search area, but then inadvertently blocked him from searching that corner again. So that was on me.

The judge kindly let us search the second area, too. Since there had been two hides in the first search area, I knew there was only one hide in the second. And it took Carlin about 10 seconds to find it, in a metal cookie tin under one of the tables.

So, on to the first Handler Discrimination Novice search of the day. If Carlin qualified (Qd) in this search, he’d have the Scent Work Handler Discrimination Novice (SHDN) title. And boy, did he! He nailed the box with my sock in 6:72 seconds. But he also nailed the box, and scattered other boxes everywhere, which got him a fault. His time improved from the previous afternoon. In fact, his time was the fastest of all the dogs, but that fault knocked him down to a 2nd place. But still, it’s a Q and a new title, so I was very happy.

By the time the afternoon trial came around, Carlin and I were both pretty amped. Sunday’s Trial 2 was my last chance to pass an Interiors Excellent search this weekend. I really wanted that pass. So I thought I might watch the Interiors Advanced dogs and see where they had trouble. Maybe I’d learn something. And boy, did I.

None of the Interior Advanced dogs passed. They all failed to find a hide set under the upper rolled edge of a metal folding chair. Partly I think it was airflow–the room had two drafty doors, which were closed during the search, and a big window. But partly it was because handlers got in between their dogs and the chair, and partly it was that handlers didn’t alter their paths around the chairs to help their dogs search from multiple vantage points.

So, I decided I would try to avoid those mistakes in our Excellent search.

Sunday’s Trial 2 Interiors Excellent search used the same two search areas as the Trial 1 search, but the hides were in different places. He found a hide in a cookie tin on top of one of the tables reasonably fast. But then we had to keep searching to see if the first search area had a second hide or not. We searched every table. We searched both doors. We searched all over every chair. And lo and behold, there was a hide tucked into the rolled metal edge of one of the folding chairs.

So that was two hides in the first search area. That meant that there was only one hide in the second search area. It took him about 20 seconds to locate that hide folded into the clothes of a half-size Santa Claus doll seated in a wooden rocking chair. He was a little vague about where exactly in the clothing the hide was, so I had to ask him to “Show me”. So he stuck his nose deep under the butt of the Santa Claus doll and then sat. I called it, and we were right. Carlin’s first Interiors Excellent, completed in 2 minutes, 21:07 seconds. Of the two dogs entered, Carlin was the only one to pass, so we got a 1st place.

The day ended with a bonus Handler Discrimination Novice pass. Of the 4 dogs to pass, Carlin got another second place. Again, he had the best time at 11:40 seconds, but he also once again scattered boxes. So, he got a fault and a 2nd place. I am so glad we don’t have to do a Handler Discrimination search in boxes again. (The next level searches in interior spaces for a cotton ball or swab loaded with the handler’s scent.)

All in all, it was a great weekend. The club ran the trial well, workers and the judge were very efficient in the set up, and the searches themselves were challenging and fun.

2nd in HDN; HDN title; Q and 1st in SIE; Q and 2nd in HDN

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I wrote a post earlier about Carlin’s earning his Scent Work Advanced (SWA) title. Dogs get that title when they have completed Advanced titles in all 4 elements: Containers, Exteriors, Interiors, and Buried. After the Idaho Capital City Kennel Club (ICCKC) scent work trials in early November, I was certain that Carlin had earned the Scent Work Advanced (SWA) title. I thought he had Advanced titles in all four elements, including the Scent Work Interiors Advanced (SIA) title. So I entered him in the Interiors Excellent searches offered at the Upper Snake River Valley Dog Training Club’s (USRVDTC) scent work trials this past weekend. (A dog has to have earned the Advanced title in an element before running an Excellent search in that element.)

But last Thursday, just two days before the USRVDTC trials, I was looking at the AKC website to see if they’d recorded Carlin’s titles from the ICCKC trials yet. They hadn’t (and still haven’t), but I could see that they had Carlin down for only two qualifying Interiors Advanced searches. (A dog needs three qualifying runs (Qs) to get the SIA title.)

I looked at my spreadsheet of Qs again, and saw that I’d marked him down as having three. But before contacting the AKC, I wanted to double check. So I looked at all the results emails sent by the various trial secretaries, and sure enough, he’d earned only two Qs. My spreadsheet was wrong, which meant my entry in the USRVDTC trials was mistaken, which meant I had to hope that the USRVDTC trial secretary would agree to fix it, and move us back down from Excellent to Advanced.

Thankfully, the wonderfully patient secretary said she could indeed fix it.

So on the first trial on Saturday, December 1, Carlin and I ran Interiors Advanced. And failed (NQd)! Heavy sigh. He found one hidden odor on the leg of a metal chair. But then, after he searched and searched, I thought he’d found odor in a tree planter. He kept going back to it. He stretched up on his hind legs as high as he could so he could sniff the leaves and branches. So I called it. But I was wrong. It was on the rung of a chair in that same corner.

But all was not lost in that first trial. We also ran his first Handler Discrimination Novice search, where he has to identify which of the 10 identical cardboard boxes holds my (very dirty, very stinky) cotton sock. We’ve been working on this pretty consistently (and I’ve been wearing those socks everywhere). Carlin found it in 19:56 seconds, for a 1st place. And he did a nice, neat job of it.

In the second trial on Saturday, Carlin Qd in Interiors Advanced. He found one hide on the metal table leg and the second inside a hanging Christmas stocking, both in 31:06 seconds with no faults. That earned us a 1st place. This was his third pass in Interiors Advanced, so with this pass, Carlin really did earn the SIA title, enabling him to move up to the Interiors Excellent search in the next day’s trials. It also, this time for real, earned him the overall Scent Work Advanced title.

His second Handler Discrimination Novice search was not so elegant as his first. He found the box pretty quickly. But he also did a bit of box-scattering. Not exactly the behavior the judge is looking for–a nice quick sit next to the correct box would have been sufficient. So Carlin earned a Q, but he also earned two faults (his very first faults ever in Scent Work) for disrupting the search area. Those faults pushed him to 2nd place, even though he did the search in only 18:38 seconds. (The dog that got first place took longer, but had no faults.)

Even so, it was a great day. We achieved one of my goals, which was to really get the overall Scent Work Advanced title. And we got 2/3 of the Handler Discrimination title. So I was happy that Carlin did so well at something he loves to do.

1st in HDN; 1st in SIA; 2nd in HDN; element title SIA; overall title SWA

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