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In the world of Nose Work (the NACSW world):

The judges may ‘Pronounce’ handler/dog teams demonstrating exceptional technique and/or teamwork at each NW1, NW2, NW3, Elite, and Summit League trials. This is not part of the title, but rather an acknowledgement of exceptional teamwork on that particular trial day.

 

We earned our NW2 Title in October, guess what else we got?

NW2 Trial Ribbon and Pronounced Ribbon

The designation of Pronounced is hard to earn at a trial, each of the four element searches have to designated as Pronounced independently.  In addition, at this NW2 Trial only 8 of 38 dogs earned their Titles.

I’m so proud of how far Elly and I have come- Elly gaining confidence and amazing NW skills, me… just keeping up with her!

When we go to class or compete at Trials she is so confident and focused, she really loves playing ‘the game’.  Look at her body language in the photo below- she can’t wait to get going!

Heading to the start line

 

Here are two photos from the Exterior search we did.  There were two hides to find in this element.

First hide in Exteriors

 

Second hide in Exteriors

 

Here are two photos from the Vehicle search, there were 4 vehicles and only one hide.

Searching for source in Vehicles

It’s here!

I like the last picture because of her reflection in the car… my truck is rarely clean enough to see a reflection!

 

We didn’t get any pictures from the Interior searches or from the Containers search.

 

We did get video from Exteriors, Vehicles, Containers and one of the two Interior searches.  It’s rare to get Interior search videos- the spaces used are often not big enough for a person to shoot videos.  The one we got was done with a remote GoPro set up.

I buy the videos whenever they are available.  They are one of the best learning tools available.  It’s not always pretty watching the searches, but I learn so much about how Elly acts and reacts to the environment and to what I am doing.

There are good things in each video, and definitely things in each for us to work to improve our skills.

VEHICLES: 4 cars, 1 hide.  The hide was behind the tire she focuses on, considered inaccessible- she can’t get right to it.   I could have called ‘alert’ much sooner since she was close enough, but I LOVE watching her work and try to get right to the source.

 

INTERIORS: there were two rooms with one hide each, we only got video of one room.  As you can see when she finds the hide, we went past it a couple times.  This would be considered a ‘threshold’ hide- that is near the doorway.  We train so that she should find a threshold hide on the way into the room, so we need more work there.

 

EXTERIORS: two hides in an outdoor courtyard.  She found the first one right off- I would  consider that a threshold hide, so that was a good find for her.  She wandered a bit after she found the first one, but that is sometimes how she picks up the odors.  Near the end but before she finds the second hide you will see that she changes direction because I step into her path.  That’s bad on my part and something I have been working on.  As it turns out she went toward the hide, but in a past trial I redirected her like that and pushed her away from a hide.

 

CONTAINERS: 3 hides in 18 containers with 3 distractions.   At level 2 and up distractors can be used in containers- it can be food, toys or other things placed in the containers.  This is to demonstrate that your dog can disregard ‘distractions’ and find and alert on the correct odor.  The first white box closest to the door had a toy in it, Elly never looked at that box.  In the second orange box (from the door) there were corn chips.  She never really went to that box, but sniffed around that end of the search area.  The row of plastic boxes closest to the camera had a bagel- you can tell the box when Elly get to it.  She sniffs, but doesn’t alert me.  I knew she was interested in the smell, but I knew she was not on odor.  Ideally in a container search you would go up one row and down the next, checking each container.  Elly tends to be quite random, I’m not sure if she is chasing odor or just wandering around.  We get to the right conclusion but we could be much more efficient.  This is something we are working on quite a bit right now.

 

We are doing really well especially considering Elly was afraid of boxes less than 2 years ago and would not enter a room with strangers inside.  But there is so much more to learn!  As long as Elly still likes it and keeps making progress with her issues we will keep playing the game.

Elly has been a Tripawd for more than three years, August 5th, and as of October 17 part of our little pack for 3 years.

Elly flies up and down the stairs and has since she first came here.  It was a concern when I was considering adopting her since Tri-Pug Maggie, also a small rear amp, had trouble going up stairs and I now live in a house with lots of stairs. Elly has learned to wait at the top or bottom of the stairs for me to cue her to follow me, it saves some wear and tear when I am coming right back. Sometimes when she isn’t sure what we are doing she stops in the middle and waits : )

 

Our first fall together was rough for a skittish dog…the leaves falling off trees and blowing down the road scared her.  We often had to stop and let those little evil doers pass.  Three years later we still  have to stop for leaves but now it’s because she thinks they might be turkey feathers!

 

I live with my father and Elly didn’t get off to a good start with him, in fact it seemed like she might not be able to stay.  She barked at him EVERY MORNING for three weeks!  She even nipped him once- I think because he tried to pick her up.  She finally got used to him being here, although was leery of him for quite awhile.  One of Dad’s jobs is to feed the dogs and she wouldn’t go downstairs (without me) for breakfast for a year.  Now they are best buds!

Elly and Obie with Dad, and TriPug Maggie in a sweatshirt cameo!

 

In addition to being skittish Elly was quick to bolt when scared, you couldn’t blame her after being hit by a car and re-homed several times.  I couldn’t imagine ever letting her off leash unless in a fully enclosed park.  Now (after tons of classes and hours of training) she has earned a little off leash time. I only let her off at certain parks and only when there are no other dogs around.

 

Elly isn’t the same dog that first hopped into my life, we have grown together in so many ways.  I had hoped to do therapy work with her when I got her but her fear issues makes that impossible (for now anyway).  I discovered Nose Work as an alternative and it has done wonders for her confidence.  She is braver and more comfortable in her world,  we have become quite a team.

 

I finally got the professional photos from our first Nose Work Trial back in May.  This was the one down in Rancho Cucamonga where Elly earned her Level 1 Containers Title.

When we practice NW or go to Trials we have a routine. When we get to the start line I ask Elly ‘ready to play the game?’.  Most of the time we make eye contact, sometimes she surveys the search area, the I say ‘FIND IT’ and off she goes!

 

Ready to Play the Game?

 

We have pictures from 3 of the 4 searches, the fourth search was actually in a bathroom which was too small a space for a photographer.

Our first two searches were in hallways, in one the ‘hide’ was on a kids shopping cart, and the other was on a small easel.  Most of the pictures I kept were Elly with her nose on or near the hide and then her telling me she found the odor by standing still and looking at me.

On the ‘hide’

It’s here!

 

 

What’s this?

 

I found it!

 

Our third search was in a lobby area.  There really wasn’t much in the search area so it was pretty easy for her to locate.

Snack time!

 

Can’t wait for our next Trial!

For one thing this is my first post in over a year!  But this is about Elly and a weekend full of firsts for her.

 

We went to a Nose Work Trial in Southern California on the first weekend in May which was our longest road trip so far, over 6 hours in the truck each way.  Elly has never slept in the truck, she is usually sitting near the center consul so she can touch my arm, it has been this way since I adopted her 2.5 years ago.  But on this trip she did finally take a little nap of about 3o minutes on the way home, probably out of sheer exhaustion!

 

Finally sleeping in the truck.

 

We stayed two nights at a hotel, the first night she was a little growly when she heard people in the hallway or outside the window but she got used to it pretty quickly.  One funny thing happened in the hallway- we were walking past someone who was knocking on a door and Elly started barking. In Elly’s world no knock goes unanswered!

 

She seems pretty relaxed in a new environment.

 

I also built a road case that we could pack our stuff in and would also function as stairs so Elly could get up and down from the bed by herself (like our stairs at home).  I didn’t get it finished until the day before we left so we didn’t get to practice.  She was hesitant at first but got comfortable with it pretty quick although I had to watch her to keep her from jumping off the bed instead of using her stairs.

 

The road box that turns into stairs.

 

 

It was pretty warm down there, 90 degrees on Trial day, so I took the cooling vest I got for quad Pug boy Obie.  When you are at a Nose Work Trial your dog has to wait in the car or in a crate next to the car between turns. Elly had never worn it, she doesn’t get as hot as Obie does and I usually wouldn’t have her out for long periods of time when it was 90 degrees.  She wore the vest like she had worn it forever!  Between the cooling vest and a battery operated fan she was very comfortable and not even panting most of the time. BTW- I make what I call our fort in the bed of my truck.  There is an awning over the lumber rack with aluminet shade tarp over the top and covering the sides, this is where we wait together for our turn.  The two pictures below were taken in the fort- I forgot to get a picture from the outside.

 

Staying cool in the heat.

 

Oh- and then there was her first Nose Work Title! She was perfect in four interior searches and earned her Nose Work 1 Interior Title in an Element Specialty Trial.

Our first ribbon!

 

 

I am so proud of how far Elly has come, she is far braver and more confident than when we first met.  When we stared nose work over a year ago she wouldn’t put her head into a box or walk under a chair.  If anyone in the room moved or made a sound she would stop searching. She wouldn’t let anyone approach us without hiding behind me.  She also has severe separation anxiety which makes leaving her in the truck between her search turns in class or at a trial problematic. With the help of our trainer we have made great progress with the sep anx.  At first she would flip out when I simply opened the driver’s side door.  We started there and have made incremental but steady progress.  At the Trial I had to go to a pre-brief which took  20 minutes so Elly was alone in the truck all that time.  She was pretty ramped up when I came back but settled down quickly.  Before the Trial the maximum amount of time I had left her in the truck was 15 minutes.  The fact that she recovered from the 20 minutes and was able to do her searches with success gives me confidence that we will continue to progress as we go forward with Nose Work Trials and life in general.

 

 

 

 

I was skeptical when the rescue group told me that Elly was a Puggle, she is really small for a Puggle and doesn’t look like any Puggle that I have ever seen. It wasn’t the breed that attracted me to her anyway, it was this face:

Picture from PetFinder

I do see the Pug in her and she does spend a lot of time tracking and sniffing like a Beagle.  Her doggie friend Sophie is a Puggle and when they are together they act a lot alike.

Elly and Sophie at the Dog Park

I was hoping that knowing her breed(s) might help me sort out her behavior issues: she is skittish and very slow to trust, she is afraid of loud noises and many things that move, she has a weird form of separation anxiety, just to name a few. On the other hand she spends most of her time on walks with her nose on the ground.  She would chase cats if I let her and she has chased squirrels out of the back yard.  She recently discovered that creatures live in the holes in the park and she started digging.

There is something in there!

I hope the breed info from her DNA will help me understand her better.

Without further ado here are Elly’s breed results from Embark:

44.5% Pug

24.5% Chihuahua

9.0% Shih Tzu

8.9% Maltese

7.6% Pomeranian

5.5% Brussels Griffon

I’ve had years of experience with pugs but I don’t know anything about the other breeds.  I did some reading and I do see some Chihuahua traits in her.  I think her coat type is from the Chi as well as her inclination to shake when she is really scared.  The thing that doesn’t match in my mind is that all of the listed breeds are known to be outgoing and confident… certainly not Elly!

Elly also spends most of her time with her nose on the ground tracking, a trait that the majority of the identified breeds don’t seem to have. Of the listed breeds the only dog that has a history of tracking or chasing is the Brussels Griffon- they originated as rat killers in Belgium.

There are some other interesting results from Embark such as their estimated weight of 8 pounds for Elly’s weight (she is healthy at 15 pounds)  and her ‘Wolfiness’ score of 5.4% which is exceptionally high (forum post on Wolfiness score). She also tested clear on most of the genetic disease markers.  Her coloring also fascinates me, its called piebald with black ticking, which could of come from a couple of the identified breeds.  Embark does not test for the piebald gene yet, according to them she should be solid black. But these topics are for another post.

 

Stalking like a wolf?

Back to the blog title…of course I called it Life with a Tri-Puggle when I started the blog since Maggie’s blog is Life with a Tri Pug, but Elly is clearly not a Puggle.  Dogs that are pug/chihuahua mixes are called Chugs, but she is not a Chug either since she has several other breeds swirled in her DNA. Her highest percentage is Pug so I kept the Tri-Pug and added the only other thing that makes sense…MUTT!

 

 

 

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