Today Elly is 4 years old! We don’t do major hoopla for birthdays around here, but we did manage to get in a few of her favorite activities and she even got a new toy.
In the morning we went for a walk to her favorite park. I allowed a little off leash time outside the dog park and she got extra time to check out each gopher hole inside the dog park since no one else was around.
When we got back from the park I decided to take her to a couple pet stores to pick out a new toy and maybe a treat. It’s also a great place to work on her socialization skills with people and dogs. She also got several treats from employees. She is even brave enough now to go behind the counter and ask for treats!
We looked at several toys but she seemed quite intrigued by the funny noise one particular toy made. I also got her a small beef trachea for her treat.
After the pet stores a nap in the sun was in order.
She also spent time sleeping in the sun in the side yard while I was pruning the apple tree. Every now and then she would come to the back yard and check on my progress… she was not at all helpful with pruning.
After my nap (pruning is hard!) and her dinner it was time for her birthday treat and toy. She ate the trachea so fast I didn’t get any pictures. But I did get this video of her playing with her new hedgie.
Next up was her normal food toy- she usually gets one every night as part of her core and balance exercises. But for her birthday she got some extra special treats. I always put a few treats in that won’t come out on their own so she has to bring me the bottle after she gets all the easier ones out. I had just broken up the last couple treats and given the bottle back to her when I shot this video.
It’s funny how she has learned to take the bottle to her bed when she gets tired. She chases it around the room for awhile but usually ends up in her bed at the end.
Speaking of tired, after the trachea, hedgie and bottle it was time for another nap, she is after all 45% pug!
While I was typing up this post she snuggled down in her bed in my craft room…to wait until we go to bed!
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?
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!
Here are two photos from the Exterior search we did. There were two hides to find in this element.
Here are two photos from the Vehicle search, there were 4 vehicles and only one hide.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 usually feed Elly her breakfast in a mushroom shaped food dispensing toy. I put it on the easiest setting to start but within a few days she was emptying it in a few minutes and I had to make it harder. That slowed her down to about 10 minutes per meal but again she mastered it and was emptying it in record time. So now I have it set at the hardest level, she still usually empties it in less than 10 minutes. She rolls it around the living room, sometimes picking it up, running with it and then letting it go. She burns a little energy and works on her balance too!
This past Sunday though she took a different tact. Usually after I give her the toy she will run off with it and I can hear her rolling it around the living room. On Sunday she took off with it but then it was quiet. Quiet generally means that it is stuck under a chair or stool and she waits for me to come get it for her. I went in to see where it was stuck on Sunday morning and found her sitting in her bed with her toy.
She spent almost 15 minutes eating her breakfast without leaving the bed. It took so long that a the beginning of the video (I recorded her whole breakfast) the entire bed was in the sunshine coming though the window, by the end of the video the left part of the bed was shaded.
Sometimes a girl just needs breakfast in bed on a lazy Sunday!
(be sure to turn up the volume so you can hear her crunching)