Susanne Howarth

    For our “high-level” search, we went down the hill to St. Matthew’s School, and used an outdoor courtyard between two buildings. All four hides for this search are 4’ off the ground. Two are on the left, are just beneath the red fire boxes (in the foreground and back just before the stairs). The other two are on the left side of the area: one on the column to the left of the double doors and the other on the column further back, between the windows and the cement column. All three odors were in play – one each of two odors and, two of the third.

    The interesting thing that I didn’t consider when choosing the locations for my hides was that the wind was blowing towards the back of search area and clearly was carrying up the stairs. I had explicitly – in my mind – defined the stairs as “out of bounds,” but available for searching. It’s also obvious from Blackie’s search pattern that the breeze was swirling around back there – there is nothing in the alcove to the right where she disappears, nor are there any hides in the area on the left, past the back column hide, but she has to check both of those areas due to the odor traveling there.

    Although I let Blackie climb the stairs at the start, at the top of the first flight, I restricted her ability to go any further. At about :39, after coming back down, she comes around to the left and clearly follows the odor back around the recycling bins and column to source. I waited to pay her until she solidly commits at :45, but probably could have paid earlier – she goes up to it at :42, and is obviously working on it at :39.

    From there, at 1:04, she catches odor drifting and pooling on the pink canvas backpack that is sitting beside the building and works very quickly to a decision at 1:08 on the left front column.

    She then continued in her counter-clockwise circle: around the front steps (my chosen start line) and across to the foreground fire box on the right (1:23). Finally, she takes one more trip up the stairs – this time, I used a bit of leash pressure to keep her from getting all the way to the top. From about 1:39 on, I love seeing the way she follows the odor down the staircase, going up at several places to see if the source is there, above her head, and finally finding it at 2:02, after one last comparison with the hide across the courtyard.