Today, Iona and I went to a AKC Excellent trial at a school in Altadena CA.  This was the first trial held by the San Gabriel Foothills Scent Work Club, and they did a phenomenal job.  I had three students in the large group of novice dogs which ran in the morning and they all performed really well!  It is so rewarding to turn on other teams to this sport!

Our first search was Handler Discrimination.  We had done a bunch of warm up searches at this point and Iona was really revved up.  While she picked up odor immediately it  took her a while to source this one.  It is interesting because you can see her bracketing this like she would an inaccessible.  However she does eventually find source.  Usually when she finds the cotton ball in trials, she grabs it with her mouth, spits it on the ground and alerts on it.  When I called alert, I could see her straining to nibble at (what I assumed) was an edge of my cotton ball deep in that tire.  What a cool search area! 

Next, we waited a little then ran Interior.  At this level, you have three hides but two rooms.  You have to clear the first room first and it can have either one or two hides in it.  This is actually a pretty neat way to work up to unknown number of hide searches.  Iona busted into this search with a lot of energy and did a lap around the search area.  I find that it is best to just let her get this out of her system, and I would rather her be a bit too aroused than lethargic.  You can see that I do let her out of bounds a few times here.  She often picks up odor out of bounds and it is just so much easier to let her keep moving (in a small room like this), than try to finagle her back to the search area.  You can’t see the second hide here, but it was a pretty deep inaccessible in a cabinet, and she showed some nice bracketing before settling into her alert. 

The second room was a long vestibule with cubbies and then a bathroom.  There was no room for videotaping.  Iona cleared the vestibule, then alerted on a Q-tip on the floor by a shelf in the bathroom.  I actually didn’t see the q-tip so waited a second and then she moved her position to where the hide had originally been.  I guess a dog before had knocked the q-tip out.

Next up was buried hides.  We haven’t been seriously training for this, so I did not expect much, but figured it was worth a shot.  She ran into the search area and checked the distractor a few times and eventually caught odor on the ground.  I called alert and got a “no”.  I talked with the judge afterwards and he told me to expect changes to this class in March.  My understanding was that he was implying that I should wait on training Iona in buried hides. 

After a break, we ran Exteriors.  She caught odor from the start line and delicately sourced the first hide.  I knew that she knew where it was, but I wanted to give her the time that she needed to source it accurately.  You can see that swinging wide here works well for us again.  It is always funny when she busts out of the search area and takes the judges and the photographers by surprise.  This happens a lot.  The second hide was in the base of the umbrella and the last hide was buried in the planter. 

Our last search of the day is containers.  Watch at 0:20 where she decides to start searching the rest of the room.  This is actually happens frequently when she is searching in a big room like this.  She ALWAYS just wants to search the entire room.  So overall, she could have been a bit more focused, but I am super proud of her searches.  She eared a 1st on her interior search, and second on her HD and Exterior searches.  Now on to Masters!

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