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MW2016Mar: Sue and Blackie (Heinz 57, CA)

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    • #5868
      Susanne Howarth
      Participant

        Blackie and I will be sharing the videos from our searches at the recent NW2 trial in Newberg, OR. This was Blackie’s third attempt at her NW2 and the second one in the pouring rain!!! (That’s a real accomplishment for a dog from Southern California! Of course the two trials in question were in Michigan and Oregon, respectively…) Anyhow, we knew from our very first “Alert” that we weren’t going to title — heard the dreaded “No,” which was a bigger bummer than it should have been. (I’ll say more about that later — perhaps in the general forum, so all can comment.) Blackie has her next shot at NW2 coming up next month, here in Southern California, thank heavens! So we’re hoping to hone our skills during the next 4 weeks and have success at long last!

      • #5869
        Susanne Howarth
        Participant

          I’m going to start by sharing our Container search, which was the final one of the trial. It’s one of our successes, and I’m fairly pleased with it, because Blackie overcame some bad habits that have plagued us at previous trials. Note that there are actually two views of the search, which I have combined into one video — we sure did get value from the Oregon videographer!

          Odor is in the black suitcase at the back of the third column. The spiky looking pink bag that was at the front of that third column held a distractor. (I forget what it was — perhaps a toy?) I would have guessed that the distractor was in the pink spotted bag with black handle that was in the second row of the first column: Blackie did a head snap to come back and check it out, but never alerted on it — she simply displayed a certain non-odor interest.

          You’ll see that Blackie gives me an alert at the 31 second mark (1:23 in the second half), but I move away, and she comes off the odor — temporarily. I didn’t trust her initially, because she has a history — especially with Containers — of running in and definitively pounding on absolutely any box, without necessarily ever sniffing the containers. Happily, after doing one more circle around, Blackie returned to the black bag, and the second time I called it. And I remembered to call Finish — so a success all around!

          FYI, the judge commented that I did a nice job of using my long line, and it felt pretty good as I was doing it. Although, as I review the video, I see that it was dragging on the floor from time to time, so still some skill building possible in that realm. At least I did USE most of the line that was available to me!

        • #5877
          Kimberly Buchanan
          Keymaster

            Nice “poker face” on your ring crew! LOL! Good to have two views, I think we see better with the second view.

            A couple of things that I’d like to talk about and you’ll have to refresh my memory if we’ve discussed this before;

            On your first pass, Blackie has a NICE head-snap back to the pink bag (:51) but other than a slight pause you keep your steady pace forward for the most part and then Blackie moves on. Is there a reason you kept walking and didn’t respond to her cue? In this case it was a distractor and she never showed you the same response as if it were odor. But curious, if it had been odor what would you have expected to see and how would you have responded? Would you have potentially “pushed” her off with your body pressure?

            BTW, your pace is GOOD when she is working and checking the containers.

            The second things is regarding your movement and position and Blackie’s body language at the big black bag (which happened to have odor). The first time she approached it she got distracted (1:03), had a shake-off, was looking at you and skipped it altogether. Your position remained WITHIN the container grouping which may have contributed to her skipping it. What you could have done is continued forward outside of the containers and made sure she was on task before continuing forward. When you go back to the opposite end (at the start) you also don’t go outside of the containers but you give her more line and she does appear to investigate those pretty well.

            I have mixed feelings about the first time Blackie alerts on the black bag (1:23). Knowing her history I don’t think you were wrong to move slightly which pulled her off of the container. That’s a very hard balance, believing the dog vs testing the dog. With her, I don’t think this was wrong and she left with you. BUT, the look on her face was “Welll… ok…. I’ll check these bags but really it’s back there…” and she quickly went back to the bag. Love that you KNEW at that point, since she didn’t do anything but sniff (more thoroughly) when you called the alert. ๐Ÿ˜€

            Any other thoughts?

            Good work overall! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Kimberly Buchanan
            Joyride K9 Dog Training

          • #5889
            Susanne Howarth
            Participant

              Thanks Kim! Very helpful comments! As you know, containers have been a challenge for Blackie and me, so I was delighted to succeed at all — but I think I’m hearing some things I can do better next time.

              First, regarding the head snap and checking out the spotted pink bag, I remember thinking at the time, “It’s just a distractor.” I can’t exactly put into words what I saw, but I noted to myself that I should remember that bag to see what kind of distractor it was during the debrief. In the final analysis, I don’t think it had anything in it — I was kind of surprised by that in the debrief! As for keeping moving, my intent was to continue at a somewhat slow pace, on the assumption that if it really was odor, she’d either “stick” or take me back there — she did neither.

              Regarding never venturing outside the containers, good idea! I didn’t consciously think about the fact that I wasn’t going “out of bounds” at all, I’ll have to remember that technique… I think I’ve heard suggestions that one walk pretty consistently on the outside of the containers while the dog searches within bounds??? More guidance on this topic?

              I’m glad you concur with my decision NOT to trust her first alert! The judge wrote a comment questioning me for not having accepted it, but as we both know, judges see dogs once or twice and don’t know their history. I was also very pleased (1) that although she left the odor, she quickly circled back, even though I hadn’t turned in that direction and (2) she didn’t offer a sit for her second alert.

            • #5899
              Kimberly Buchanan
              Keymaster

                Going beyond the row of boxes is something we do with the ORT’s then we seem to forget that part. ๐Ÿ˜‰

                Some people choose to be on the outside of the containers, some do not, but what you need to consider is whether a dog really investigated a particular bag and if not, why? In this case it was because Blackie wasn’t focused when she was in the vicinity. If there was a wind blowing in a particular direction, wouldn’t the dog need to check from the down-wind side? Just be sure the dog is really investigating, not just a cursory pass.

                And no, I wouldn’t have believed her first sit, again, knowing her history. BUT I would be careful about “assuming” something is a distractor. You were correct in this case but you still want to practice “listening” to Blackie and let her tell you what’s there. Good that you already trusted it wasn’t odor. ๐Ÿ˜€

                Kimberly Buchanan
                Joyride K9 Dog Training

              • #5901
                Susanne Howarth
                Participant

                  Thanks! Funny, I don’t remember ever practicing that skill pre-ORT — but of course, up until our first NW1 trial, I wasn’t necessarily getting consistent ongoing class work.

                  I don’t think I “assumed” the bag was a distractor — more like what I observed in Blackie told me that it wasn’t odor and we didn’t need to worry about it.

                  I think I’ll perhaps set up some containers to work today, to try some of these ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

                • #5905
                  Kimberly Buchanan
                  Keymaster

                    Great! Let us know how it goes! ๐Ÿ™‚

                    Kimberly Buchanan
                    Joyride K9 Dog Training

                  • #5906
                    Susanne Howarth
                    Participant

                      For our next video, I guess I’ll use our other successful search from the Newberg trial. I find it to be kind of interesting, even though we correctly called both hides. There are two perspectives on this video as well, which makes overall video time a bit long ๐Ÿ™ I promise that our third video will be shorter — only one view provided for the Vehicle search.

                      This search area was actually quite small, all things considered, but with a LOT going on: two big dumpsters, a small set of steps, some plywood boards on the ground, dirt and sidewalk — and RAIN. Behind the left hand dumpster, the search area was coned off at about the midpoint, and in front and to the left of it, the search area ended at the curb (i.e., the back wheels of that dumpster). There were two hides: one on the small steps at the back, near the start line; and one on the front left wheel of the left dumpster.

                      The start line was LONG: the yellow cones all along the right side mark the start line, and we were told we could start anywhere along that line of cones. So Blackie and I used our 10 seconds at the start line to cruise along the start line (far enough away at the front edge that you don’t see us until we cross the line at the back), allowing her to choose when and where we would cross. (I actually trimmed ~18 seconds from the start of the video, which would be the time that we were walking parallel to the start line.) That strategy proved to work well: she went pretty directly to the first hide and we called it at ~:14 . Then, we do a bit of crittering, and finally work her around to the far side of the left dumpster.

                      One interesting part to me is that she starts out by suggesting that the hide is up high on that side, and I’m not entirely sure how I recognized that she was still working and probably hadn’t committed to it, even though she does look back at me (~1:20) but continues searching and we ultimately called it at ~2:00.

                      Blackie is usually VERY fast in her exterior searches, and I’m guessing that the discomfort of the rain is what slowed her down — her tail certainly wasn’t wagging like it usually does! But she did a good job of working in spite of the conditions. (Note that neither of us had on our rain jackets — just a sweater/jacket for warmth. The rain had stopped temporarily when we headed towards the search, but it started up again before as we started.)

                    • #5910
                      Kimberly Buchanan
                      Keymaster

                        Great observations of Blackie and really nice teamwork!

                        I like your strategy on the start line. I think that had to have been very helpful to shave off some time. Blackie was very definitive on the steps. You “listened” to her w/o selling her on the location. She chose to tell you. ๐Ÿ™‚

                        The second hide was obviously more difficult. It seems simple enough but even the “simple” hides can have unexpected complications.

                        You can hear the wind blowing so I have no doubt that the wheel hide was blowing under the dumpster to the curb, up the side of the dumpster to the opening above it, etc. You had a great observation that Blackie was still working out the problem when she looked at you. It’s that distinction of recognizing “The LOOK” with “The look.” She didn’t intensely sniff any one part but did a cursory sniff all over and was saying, “Hey, there’s odor here somewhere what do you want me to do?” You recognized that and didn’t let her leave, tho’ her inclination was to go with you at (3:28). You supported her by going back and she nailed it on the wheel.

                        I’m sure the wet, the rain, the wind (we can hear it) affected all parts of the search but the two of you held it together. Nice work!

                        Kimberly Buchanan
                        Joyride K9 Dog Training

                      • #5917
                        Susanne Howarth
                        Participant

                          Thanks. And yes, I like your observation of the look of “It’s around here somewhere…” and I might add, “Can you tell me where? No? OK. I’ll figure it out.”

                          Yes, the environmental conditions made this VERY difficult — us SoCal girls aren’t used to cold rainy weather! Plus, this was the day that I was dealing with serious disappointment in myself and us as a team. This would have been our second search of the day, and as I’ve commented elsewhere, I spent most of the day beating on myself. So doubly good that Blackie overcame THAT added stress!

                        • #5918
                          Susanne Howarth
                          Participant

                            OK… seems this week is going FAST, but since we’ve got a busy weekend, I think I’ll take advantage of the speed to post our third and final (right?) Movie Week video. This is our Vehicle search from the Newberg trial, this time with only 1 perspective. There was one hide, on the driver’s side rear wheel well of the silver pickup, down low so as to be accessible. We went directly from the Exterior search to Vehicles.

                            Probably my biggest learning from this search was that if the judge is standing in a position where he cannot possibly see your dog, it is highly unlikely that the dog is at the hide!!! Judge and videographer were in more or less the same position, and you’ll notice it’s hard to see Blackie when I call alert ๐Ÿ™

                            I allowed Blackie — as I usually do — to set our initial direction, which led us along the back end of all three vehicles. Interesting that she took no notice of odor as we passed the back of the pickup. Then, I tried to keep her close to the pickup as we went to the front, and was planning to finish the 4th side of that vehicle by coming between the two, but Blackie showed interest in checking the middle car instead, so I listened to her preference. We checked all 4 sides of that vehicle, and when she went up on the front passenger side, I inferred it was a decision — perhaps just blowing odor? I forget where the wind was at that time.

                            You’ll see the judge step in towards the end to direct us to the area for the actual hide — and you’ll see Blackie work it out nicely, once it was too late!!!

                            Should I have insisted that she detail the driver’s side of the silver vehicle instead of deviating to do the middle car? And/or, when going between those two vehicles, should I at least have insisted on getting both sides of that middle passageway? I’m thinking — in the spirit of efficient searching — that might have been the better choice? I intended to return to check that side of the pickup, but then decided she had alerted and the rest is history…

                          • #5942
                            Kimberly Buchanan
                            Keymaster

                              I’m sure this was a disappointing search for you. It was rainy and gloomy and you got the dreaded “no.” So sorry!

                              What to learn from this? Should you have insisted on a pattern for Blackie, rather than letting her go where she wanted to go? That really is the $64,000 question and my answer is the same as it is for Containers, it might help you but it isn’t for all dogs. You could experiment to see if it might help to efficiently cover a search area but it might prevent her from going someplace if odor calls.

                              Based on Blackie’s interest in the adjacent vehicle, I’m guessing the wind was blowing across and away from you when you covered the back end of the vehicles as you began your search. I like that you two went along to the end and had the possibility of finding odor quickly. Unfortunately the wind wasn’t in your favor so it was unlikely she would catch odor even just a foot away since the wind was (likely) carrying it in the opposite direction. There appeared to be a collection point at the front passenger side of the adjacent vehicle and maybe Blackie just wanted out of the rain! It can be so hard to know. One thing to work on with vehicles are those points of collection where the dog finds what is (so far) the strongest source of odor and tells you about it. Are they saying odor is near? Or are they committing to source?

                              When Blackie crosses from the silver pick-up to the Scion around (:30) you were very focused on watching where she was checking. That is your job and you were doing it nicely. One thing that might have helped as you moved between the vehicles to detail the Scion is if you continued to let her lead and be slightly in front of you. It appears that you are ever so slightly using body pressure to keep her detailing the black vehicle and your body position may have been just in the wrong place at the wrong time. If odor was blowing across from the back driver’s side wheel to the front passenger side wheel between the vehicles you were in the location to block that path so Blackie couldn’t catch it when she was detailing the black vehicle to work it back to source on the Silver truck. Sure, the other option may have been to detail that side of the silver truck but Blackie is detailing the black vehicle so nicely I’d hate to interrupt that process.

                              When Blackie comes all the way around the Scion, back to where it looks there may be pooling odor you are a bit close to her (1:04). It’s hard to see from the camera angle if she gives you a definite alert or if she’s looking at you like “there’s odor here somewhere!” similar to when there is a lot of odor blowing around but she’s not locating source. The other thing to note is that she already covered that section and hadn’t indicate odor there when she was drawn over the first time. Of course, it could have been an inaccessible hide that took her a bit to make a decision about, etc….

                              I think you did the best you could in the circumstances, tough environment to search! So glad we’re doing Vehicles in the Sniff of the Month Club next quarter!! ๐Ÿ™‚

                              Kimberly Buchanan
                              Joyride K9 Dog Training

                            • #5946
                              Susanne Howarth
                              Participant

                                Interesting observation regarding your guess as to what the wind was doing. I honestly do not recall. However, as I watched the video again just now, I noticed that you can see the raindrops going down at a bit of an angle — from left to right — suggesting that might have been the wind direction. Alternatively, what I perceive as a right-left direction may have been angled forward in relation to the vehicle. Still, I don’t think it was a strong breeze by any means, and who knows what it might have been earlier in the day — i.e., your theory that odor was pooling on or near the Scion’s right front tire is probably valid. Clearly Blackie had a reason to go over there!

                                From my thoughts at the time, she first exhibited odor-interest at the front of the Scion the first time we came through. As we circled behind the pickup and up the pickup’s passenger side, she was working, but clearly not in odor. However, as we hit the pickup’s front driver’s side wheel, she gives a mini-head snap at the pickup wheel, and then definitively crosses in front of me to get to the Scion. That’s why, when we came back around and she again indicated interest at that point (and a little before), I called it. I think she may also have shown interest in the front bumper (which can’t be seen in the video), so my in-the-moment analysis was that she was bracketing an inaccessible hide somewhere in that wheel well.

                                Interesting observation about me being a little in front of her. Somewhere in my overall training, I thought that was the somewhat desirable location in which to position myself, so as to keep body pressure on her to detail whichever of the vehicles we were searching. Is that not the case? Or — more likely — is it yet another of those “fine lines” — in other words, do I want to use that “slightly ahead of her” body pressure if she’s not yet keyed into the idea that we are searching vehicles, and to ensure she doesn’t skip a corner, but once she’s clearly working, let her be in front and directing us — as long as she continues to detail the vehicle? Or am I completely off base on all of this?!?!?

                                Yes, this entire day was challenging for both of us. But I’m definitely buoyed by how well we did the following day and how well Blackie has been working since then! Thanks for the feedback ๐Ÿ™‚

                              • #5950
                                Kimberly Buchanan
                                Keymaster

                                  You were SPOT ON with how you applied the body pressure to keep Blackie on the vehicle! It just happened that your position *may* have blocked the odor from the silver truck. So it’s a bit of a quandary as to what is the right move. So my point is that you didn’t do anything wrong. It just was circumstance, like turning left instead of right. ๐Ÿ™‚ You could potentially back away slightly and let her choose which one to detail, working in front of you between them. That may or may not have made a difference.

                                  I did notice the rain drops left to right but if the wind was blowing out in the open that way it’s possible there was a different air movement between the vehicles, either because of the channel (tho’ it was nice and wide), wind gusting or maybe a bouncing of the wind as it hit the vehicle. We’ll never know, but based on Blackie’s body language that’s how it appeared.

                                  Kimberly Buchanan
                                  Joyride K9 Dog Training

                                • #5963
                                  Susanne Howarth
                                  Participant

                                    Thanks. So — as usual — it’s a delicate balance, and the real bottom line is that I need to continue to work with my dog and observe her so as to recognize most clearly when she’s in odor, when she’s working on a problem, and when she’s truly solved the problem. Par for the course!!!

                                  • #5969
                                    Kimberly Buchanan
                                    Keymaster

                                      Exactly! ๐Ÿ™‚

                                      Kimberly Buchanan
                                      Joyride K9 Dog Training

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