Susanne Howarth

    Another element to the difficulty of not knowing the number of hides arises due to the movement of odor. Yesterday, in one of the interior searches (for which I was a timer, NOT a competitor!), the hide was on a movable cart, next to a desk. The desk had two of those big fitness balls beneath it, and a rolling desk chair behind it, with the back of the chair to the wall. Several dogs found the hide on the cart and the handlers correctly alerted at that location. However, the dog moved on to sniff their way around the desk — sniffing the fitness balls, the opposite side of the desk, and around to the chair, looking as if they might be finding another close converging hide. The handlers who allowed their dogs to work all the way around the desk, behind the chair, and back to the cart figured out that it was just pooling odor from the hide on the cart. However, we had several handlers who decided that there must be something on the far side of the desk, and called a false alert. One of those falses was a mastiff, who couldn’t fit between chair and wall. When he stopped and looked back at his handler at that point, the handler took the look to be an alert, as opposed to an indication of “I can’t quite get through this tight spot — can you help me out?”

    It did intrigue me to watch how quickly the dogs found all of the hides. In the two rooms that had hides yesterday, most dogs had found both hides within 20-40 seconds, but the owners then kept them searching for as much as 2-1/2 minutes more! (One team had my heart in my throat — making me not only call the thirty second alert for both rooms, but being within 1 or 2 seconds of timing out on both!!!)

    I KNOW that Blackie — in particular — works very quickly. So I think I’m going to have to experiment with trusting my dog — as Stephanie says — and accept that she will find whatever is there very quickly!