Susanne Howarth

    Yes it sure was a standoff!!! Of epic proportions 😛

    Yesterday morning, after our Agility class, we ran several iterations of lesson 4’s different level searches, beginning with the ground level hides. (Because our agility class is at an LA City park, we had lots of options for ground level and/or higher hides.) In the following video, I’ve included two ground level searches, the first running until :59 and the second carrying on thereafter. You’ll hear sounds from the other Agility and/or Obedience classes at various point on the video. Blackie is mostly used to these things, so they really didn’t affect her at all – it’s normal background noise since we practice after agility almost every Thursday.

    For our first search, I set the hides approximately 10’ apart, along a line of ring fencing that had been set up for a rally class. (No one was in the rally ring at the time.) Each hide was at the base of one of the stakes for the fencing, although in the video it’s hard to see the fencing itself.

    As we walked along the fence, I LOVED seeing the body snaps that Blackie did as she passed each of the first three hides. She’d be walking along, and all of a sudden, she’d spin back and hit the hide two seconds later. Interestingly enough to me, at the end of the line of fencing, rather than doing this same body snap for hide #4, she enters the ring at :30, checks the storage shed, ranges around, and finally notices the fourth hide at ~:53. I’m not sure what was different at that end of the fencing, such that she didn’t immediately notice the final hide.

    For our second search, I place the four hides on white “plates” in the ground, each about 10’-15’ apart. These plates cover sprinklers and other “stuff,” and are in kind of a semi-circle about 150’ (or more) away from our initial search area. The wind was blowing more or less left to right across the screen.

    Within the first 6 seconds, Blackie finds the first hide and alerts. I then walked more or less across the semi-circle formed by the plates, and at 1:21, Blackie – who is walking at my side – notices the second hide and RACES to it, alerting at 1:27. From there she goes outside the semi-circle on the far side (i.e., upwind), but nonetheless notices the third hide at ~1:47 and – again – races to it, alerting at 1:57. Interestingly enough, here, once again, she struggles with the fourth hide.

    Unfortunately, that hide is just barely on screen in the video, so you don’t see her ranging far out to the right to find the edge of the scent cone. She spent almost a full minute out beyond that hide, finally returning to view and alerting at ~2:47. In hindsight (and without video evidence) I’m not entirely sure she was searching all that time – some of it, yes, but not all of it.

    The final 50 seconds or so are yet another distraction. One of my friends, who was in the Obedience class that was going on nearby, walks through our search area with her 3-month old puppy – who notices one of the hides! They quickly leave the area, and Blackie, who had been asked to continue searching, even though all hides had been found, mostly ignores them, eventually returning to hide #1 and being paid. Good girl Blackie!