Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camera Woes and Training

Oh, Camera...
All of you have been very nice to not mention my many blurry photos. While my camera can catch a good shot in specific situations, really, it doesn't work well. The autofocus stopped functioning awhile ago. I thought I had lost the capacity to use a point and shoot camera, or hold a camera still. Many weeks later, I know for sure that it's not me.

In a nutshell, I'm hopeful that the manufacturer or dealer of my camera is finally going to do something and either fix or replace it. (Not holding my breath, but still hopeful.) So I haven't had a camera for the last few days. I may not have new pictures to post for awhile, or until I retrieve my faulty camera, should things come to a standstill.

On the Training Front
Yep, we've gone to two more nose work classes. Sunday was graduation day for Kona's level two class. I'm happy to report that Kona passed with flying colors. OK, there isn't really a way to fail, but she wasn't "invited" to repeat the class, which happens quite often with Kona. (Started with puppy kindergarten.)

Kona's class did an exterior search for the first time on Sunday. Exterior searches work the same as an interior search, but the dogs face additional distractions with the sounds and smells that happen outdoors.

Kona did well. She had trouble with a couple men who were working across the street, but she was able to find the odor on every search. I'm noticing that Kona appears very ADD when I ask her to search in an environment that makes her anxious. She'll engage her nose, disengage to orient to something in the area, reengage, pick up the odor, disengage and forget what she was doing, catch the odor to reengage, then (ah-ha!) she finds it. I can see how someone without experience reading dogs could interpret her as being spazzy or hyperactive, when she's simply nervous.

Today's nose class went on a field trip to a park. Parks can be terrible for Kona because they often involve shouting coming from different directions. I decided to take the risk and see how she'd do. I could always bail.

Luckily, this park was tiny. It was bowl shaped and backed up to an old school that now houses a daycare center. Kona instantly became a freight train. Although that's a sign of stress, her anxiety seemed to mix with excitement. She approached one woman, who she just met this weekend, and licked her face!

On her first round of searches, Kona was able to work through only two of the three hides. A few minutes before her second round, the daycare let the kids out into the adjacent playground. Kona couldn't focus through the kid shrieking, and didn't make any of her next searches. Despite not being able to focus to work, she didn't have a problem taking chicken. She also didn't panic. She didn't want to be there, but she didn't react like it was a life or death situation.

I'd say she had two successful classes. It sounds like a field trip will happen at least once in each series of classes to come. In the big picture of scent work, it's important for the dogs to learn how to work in different environments. For Kona, the support of people and dogs she knows just may help her cope with new places. But, we'll always play it by ear.


The Thundering Herd said...

In our case, out of focus pictures are strictly the responsibility of our hu-dad and can not be blamed on the camera. Just saying.

Sara said...

Wow, you have made A LOT of progress. A day care of shreiking kids has got to be one of the biggest tests. Kona taking chicken the whole time is absolutely wonderful. Plus she went up to a woman and licked her face? WHAT? That is amazing!

Keep up the great work. This class seems so perfect for you, because it does expose Kona to different environments, but keeps her busy, and gives her something else to focus on.

Parks are very tough for us too. In fact, they are probably the hardest place for me to bring Oreo. Especially parks with playgrounds. We'll keep trying.

Barb said...

Hope you get that camera back soon - I'd have withdrawal without mine! I'm in CA - nice and warm here in Sacramento!