I am not letting barriers getting in the way of my practices. I cannot drive, and throughout the day, I get different intensities of fogginess in my field of vision. I was able to walk to a morning practice, Santee Trolley Square, about a mile from my house. Mickey and I walked there with only a bowl for water and odors kit to set hides. I met up with two others and we each set two search areas, which was a total of 6 areas for us to work our dogs.
The first two were near the bus stop. Hides were either two or three in the area. An interesting discovery was, Mickey targeted on two areas where there were a piece of gum. I'm wondering if the gum has either birch, anise or clove mixed in their formula. I could tell Mickey was getting a bit frustrated me not treating him and he kept hitting on both pieces of gum. When Mickey doesn't get rewarded for an odor, he starts doing a lot of fringing and false alerts. And it was hard to get him back on track in the search area. I just don't know what was in that gum, and I should do a little research to find if there is a gum that has one of the or all of the three odors in it. I do know Virgil's Root Beer has all three in it, birch anise and clove. When I open the jar of my birch odor, that smell always takes me back as a kid when I use to eat the candy cigarettes. But Mickey did decent on his other search that it was a confidence builder.
The next hide was bicycle lockers. This turned to be both difficult for Mickey and myself because there were 4 set of lockers and they all looked the same. Odor was drifting over to the other side which trapped Mickey and I in an area. There were 4 hides in this area. Interesting challenge.
The hides I set, was one in a turned off water fall, fountain. It had a long bed, that the water would go over a metal flap in a gravel pit. I put the odor underneath the flap where the water flowed over. All dogs had a difficult challenge on this one because the odor kept sinking and pooling into the gravel. A good puzzle to work. The other odor was around the corner, wedged between the wall and the decor pillar. Tight corner. Good practice.
The other I put two odors in line with each other on a bench with a tree in the middle. The odor kept going up the tree, which was what the dog's showed, and I did a ground hide. Good practice for all.
Then the afternoon, I went to a practice Sniff 'n Go. Four rooms. I took Mickey and Divine. Mickey had a bit of a challenge, but I had a hard time seeing in the rooms. The glare was so intense, it was a white out for me. Mickey knows when I struggle and he turns into a concerned for mom and not really caring to look for odor. So it was a challenge since Mickey was so distracted. This is a good lesson for me. I like having Mickey off leash, and he is better off leash, but when I do not see well, the best thing to do is put him on leash. I have talked about this with my instructor, Kim, and just went into old habit to have him off leash. The conversation i had with John confirmed i need to keep Mickey on leash when I can't see, but if I see fine, have him off leash. My goal is to try to be as calm and laid back as possible. Very difficult when I can't see and I have a white out or a black out. This will be my challenge for my next trial.
Divine was on fire! She did fantastic in the rooms. I kept her on leash because she gets a bit too excited and yee ha runs around with excitement. The leash really does help her keep focus. So for her trial, I will keep her on leash.
I had a great learning experience. And my main thing is to try to stay calm when I can't see. At the trial I will spend the day in my chair getting into a Zen mode and remembering I need to make this fun for Mickey. Even if I can't see, there is no reason why I need to get tense since it doesn't pay for me to get tense if I see or don't see. It messes up Mickey. He is so sensitive. But we will give our best shot for the trial. Have fun, and if you can learn and have fun, you have accomplished a lot.
With the mile walk to the first practice, practice, mile back and the four interior rooms for each dog, I could really feel it hard on my body the next day. But, just another barrier to get through, I'm going to succeed all the way!