Susanne Howarth

Well, for our final video, I’m going to use our NW3 Vehicle search, even though the video doesn’t catch the part of the search on which I’d most like to receive feedback – i.e., the false alert that finished our search!

The search area itself was interesting and rather challenging! We were at a citrus farm, and the vehicles – one white car and two small Kubota farm trucks – were parked in the lemon grove, between two rows of trees. You’ll see at one point that I walked into a branch and scared poor Biscuit when I jumped back from the branch 🙂 There were two hides: one on the back of the Kubota closest to the camera and the other on the front of the other Kubota (i.e., also facing the camera); none on the white car. We had three minutes for the search. Breeze, if any, was moderate, but it was starting to get hot. This was our second search of the day.

As we entered the search area, Biscuit made a beeline past the white car, then crossed in between the car and the middle Kubota. We don’t see any action for the next several seconds, as we’re both on the far side, hidden by the vehicles, but she checks the far side of the middle vehicle, crosses between it and the front Kubota, goes to the berm on the right side of the video, and has a lovely change of behavior at :24 – snapping back around to check the driver’s side – and even jumping up into the middle vehicle at ~:29.

Jumping into the vehicle concerned me: I was afraid it might be a fault, and no one had thought to pose that question during the walk through. So one piece of learning for me is to ask about this if I ever encounter vehicles like this where the dog can readily jump up on an exterior running board or into a golf cart. Do NACSW rules consider that area as fair game for a hide? Or – like the interior of a car – would it be considered off limits for an actual hide? Or is that a question to pose to the CO before the search?

Because of my concern with a fault, I called her out of the Kubota, and she continued on around, showing a bit of interest in the front of the white car, but eventually circling it and returning instead to the middle Kubota. Then we have more “dead space” on the video, until she reappears at 1:39 and very quickly gives me a multi-head turn alert, like “I really found it! It’s here – for sure! Pay me!”

From there, she led me almost directly to the back of the front Kubota (i.e., foreground of the video) and alerted again at 2:07, even sitting down to say, “No. I want to be paid right here!”

From there, having previously noticed her interest in the white car, I figured it would be wise to check its front end once more. As a result, we falsed at 2:39.

With 20/20 hind sight, I’m pretty sure that was simply drifting odor from the other two vehicles. I wish we had an angle where you could see this alert! My recollection is that she alerted, but perhaps with a bit less certainty than on the other two? Perhaps I “sold” her on this one – as I feel I did on the Container search, by taking her back to a place with drifting odor that she’d already checked and (in her mind) ruled out in favor of the two Kubota hides. Again, I think I maybe need to consider where my shoulders and feet are pointing: I’m sure I was looking at her as she searched the front bumper, and therefore had shoulders and feet pointed in that direction, which would possibly reinforce a soft alert, along the lines of “There’s some kind of odor here, Mom, and if you think it might be a hide, well, I’ll agree with you.”

I also suspect that having heard the 30 second warning a few seconds earlier, I decided too quickly, and made the call, rather than triple-checking and then calling “finish.”