This Saturday, Iona ran in her first detective class!  Ill tell you how she did later.  First, I want to highlight some of my students that trialled this weekend in San Luis Obispo. On Saturday, Fernie and Ingrid participated in their first AKC trial had great success.  A first and three second placements!  This team is just amazing!

On Sunday Mikki and Aria earned High in Trial advanced! Aria is 12.5 years young and had cancer in 2018 with resulting surgery to remove the tumor then chemo after that. When she was on chemo meds, her nose did not work so well, but now that she is off them, she has been on a tear! It has been super rewarding to train with this team and watch them take their skills to trials! I think this is their third HIT this year!

While they were in San Luis, Iona and I were down in Moorpark trialling with Valley Hills Obedience Club at Rancho Susanna Community Center.  I like this location a lot as it is clean and there are huge playing fields nearby for Iona to sniff.  However yesterday, there was a soccer tournament happening and there were hundred and hundreds of kids, adults, and soccer balls all over.  Iona did well considering the distractors. 

Her first search was Exterior Masters, and she nailed it, earning her Exterior Title!  There were three out of a possible four hides.  One was nose height on a blank looking wall, the other was about 3 feet up on a lock on a container, and the last about 4 feet up in the hinge of a dumpster. She placed first for this search and she might have been the only dog to place.  

Next she ran her Excellent Buried search and she got all three!  The training on water boxes payed off.  She actually hit the water box easier than the sand box!  See my last few blog posts if you are interested in how I trained her for this class. 

Then she ran Containers.  She hit two correctly but then falsed on the last hide.  I think that the bag was in a wet spot and odor was pooling in the bag.  I should have waited a bit longer.  

Next, I volunteered for a few hours and helped keep soccer balls out of the search areas.  

Finally we ran our first Detective Class after lunch.  It was pretty intimidating.  The search area consisted of a very large room and a medium sized patio.  There were 5-10 hides and we were given 13 minutes.  My strategy was to split the two areas and work them separately.  I planned on letting Iona lead first and then sweep up the areas that she missed afterwards and it worked pretty well.  Overall, I stuck to the plan, I timed myself well, kept track of the areas we covered, and also counted the hides we found accurately. 

After our search we got a nice map of the search area.  Here is the interior search.

The first room was really large.  The rectangles are tables and the circles are chairs.  We entered from door by the orange arrow and left through the blue arrow.  Iona rushed through the room and bounced around for a while and I began to question my strategy of letting her have the wheel.  However, she quickly found a converging odor puzzle in the back corner (anise/cypress).  This was tricky and the judge said that it tripped up several teams.  There was a somewhat elevated hide under a table and then another somewhat elevated/inaccessible hide on top of a stack of flat tables.  There were large stacks of chairs and odor was sticking to them.  Looking at this map, it seems that there used to be four hides.  Interestingly, I thought that Iona caught odor over near where there used to a birch hide. (pay no attention to the clove hide at the top of the map, it is from the exterior map which was on the same page). 

The patio had a few picnic tables, a large planter with a tree and some trash cans.  The perimeter of the patio was made of large metal pipes with a hedge on the other side.  On the patio, the hides came fast and furious.  We first caught a hide under a picnic table (Birch), then a clove along the perimeter.  Iona was showing behavior which made me think that there was an inaccessible elevated hide up in the planter.  I had her jump up and she sourced it quickly.  Next, she found a hide in a downspout and then a crack hide.  As we checked the perimeter on the way back, she caught another hide and actually had to leave the search area and go into the bushes to source it.  Finally, we made one last pass through the large room and after I pushed her into all the deep corners and had her recheck every chair and table, she looked at me with eyes that said, “There is nothing here”.  Our time was 7 min and 23 seconds and we placed first.

It is always thrilling to search with Iona, particularly with well designed elite/detective searches.   It is so awesome to train for tough puzzles (converging/ elevated/inaccessibles/crack hides/large blank areas) and then see Iona rock them in a trial!

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