Karen Irby

Except for class where we do a lot of containers, Lola and I mostly do exterior searches. I do not have a lot of access to different vehicles or interiors to use. Also, although I have a practice group that meets every other Sunday (we do time each other), week day practice is alone- so no blind hides and often they’re rarely aged more than 10 minutes (we usually practice in the mornings before I have to commute to work). I do about 90% accessible hides, and about half of the time I’ll pair with food.

In setting hides, I’ve found it’s VERY easy to inadvertently create converging odor, but it’s more difficult to find the right location and variables for pooling odor. With each hide I put out, I try to have a goal for the search, and although many times it doesn’t work out quite like I expected, I do think I learn something from every run. I will say that some of the very best lessons I’ve learned have been at trials when I’ve royally screwed up. I will say that my dog has never had a problem searching for odor, it’s always been her handler’s fault we didn’t title.

Some lessons learned during trials- the dog is the one with the nose; yes, hides can be set within a few feet of each other; three minutes is an eternity but 30 seconds go by in a flash; don’t call finish while your dog is still working; sometimes you come upon a search that you and your dog just aren’t ready for; patience is the cure all for blurt-alerts; another dog’s slobber can be the most powerful distractor of all; and, as long as my dog had fun a title doesn’t matter.