Sunday, February 22, 2015

Finally not afraid, now I can really learn......

     Today was a rather exciting workshop again. I started Nose Work 4 years ago, and it is fun going to an instructor that keeps you learning new things.

       Our lesson was inside where there were several chairs, a few carts, hand truck, a few boxes etc. The Instructor would place about 5 hides, then go behind us, pick up the old hides and add new ones. When Mickey first started searching, you could see by his search patterns that a lot of odor has pooled in certain areas and there was residual odor from hides being placed previously. Mickey worked hard and sourced about 9 different hides.

     The could cover was thick and during our session it did rain outside. That made the inside darker than normal. It was hard for me to see. The instructor would tell me to pay quickly. I didn't even have time to register that Mickey found the odor, when the instructor said "PAY!" But this exercise was to pay fast and help with sourcing. As the exercise continued, the instructor allowed me to say "alert!" and she would say yes. She had the hides so people could see them, but I couldn't see them. I probably only saw about 2 or 3 of the hides out of the whole exercise. I think my instructor is finally realizing the significance of my vision loss.

         As I was watching other dogs, it was hard for me to see since the room was dark. It brought back memories of when I first started Nose Work, where observations were difficult for me. I kept my struggles to myself since I didn't want any of the key people in this sport to discourage me in the beginning because I couldn't see well enough. I got that when I was in Law Enforcement and many people convinced management that I was too disabled to be a handler. I didn't want this to happen again, so I kept my mouth shut. Even in my instructor's training, I couldn't see the dogs well enough to learn. Again, my fear of "then you probably can't do this" surfaced. I kept quiet. But I worked through it. Four years later, I have titled once in NW3 and I'm going to continue. I have done a superb job of compensating, I'm not going to stop now. Since I have proven myself, I'm not so afraid to be honest about my vision loss.

 At the end of this first exercise, Mickey was a bit exhausted and was getting a bit frustrated. The Instructor saw this and we concluded with about 9 hides. This exercise enabled me to not reward Mickey when there was residual or pooling odor. More discrimination exercises the better. Mickey is learning better how to source odor. Mickey worked about 6 1/2 minutes. Yes, I need to condition Mickey better.

During the Element Specialty for interiors last weekend, pooling odor is what messed us up. Mickey dawdled on the chair with pooling odor. I got anxious, and I called it. We hadn't worked for over a month and went into that first room cold.

        Then the next search for today's workshop was containers. The Instructor took folding chairs and made a very small area with about 12 containers.  It was rather tight. When I started, after a few seconds I started getting a bit claustrophobic, wondering how I was going to dance with Mickey and not trample over the boxes. I froze in a tense fashion. Kim noted later that Mickey was getting a bit frantic. Usually when I freeze with a slight panic of what to do, Mickey will get a bit frantic. Having no depth perception, and the fluorescence lighting makes it really difficult to assess my area appropriately. Especially when I know the clock is going. We had 3 minutes, but Mickey did the hides in less than 2 minutes. We actually h ad plenty of time for me to gather myself, visually assess the area and dance with the right steps. I was fortunate that Mickey found both hides and if we were trialing, we would have passed this element.

           Both of these exercises gave me excellent feedback of, 1. I need to condition Mickey more and 2. I need to do more containers in tight areas.

           Always something new to learn and practice. 

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