Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nosework Hiatus

Just at the beginning of this month, Perri started to get weird about Nosework.  Perri has been loving her Nosework training, so I signed her up for a practice Nosework 1 trial in October to motivate myself to help Perri progress on all of the elements to get her ready for it (Interiors, Exteriors, Containers, Vehicles.)  But just right at the beginning of the month, her outdoor and vehicle work was becoming completely flat, if not catatonic.  I kept trying to simplify things, return to basics.   I would give her days or even a whole week "off" of working outdoors, or set simple box hides outdoors that she has proven more than capable of searching in the past.   At one point I actually took our foundation plastic boxes out to the back yard, hid a tin loaded with birch inside of one and asked her to search.   I watched in sad fascination as she circled around the four containers, sniffing a circle on the grass and widening it.   She was actively avoiding those boxes.   I have no idea what happened.  I finally gently interrupted her and tapped on a cold box and she snapped out of it, and indicated quickly on the hot box.   It was not any challenge for her to show me the hot box, but for some reason she was extremely stressed out by being asked to do it.

The stress has been bleeding into our interior and container work.   She was working very nicely towards her Anise and Clove ORTs (which I had signed her up for on September 10th.)   Now her indications are weak, and she is holding her stays while I set up searches.   When I set up hides in my house, I ask Perri to stay in a room away from the search area while I do so.   She has always been so excited to get searching that I turn around and find her staring at me, not where I left her.   I just love to see her acting pushy about something, and so she is "allowed" to break those stays.  But lately, she remains staying while I switch boxes around or hide a tin.   Meh.  And her indications aren't the strong nose touches or shoves and even pawings that they were, but a lackluster holding her nose about an inch above the hide.  

So, what is it?  Is it the pressure of the ORTs I had planned, or the mock trial?  Is it Perri being...Perri?  Like the agility chute, just suddenly, for no reason I may ever understand...deciding that this is Too Overwhelming right now?   I feel so sad and frustrated.  

Yesterday Perri made it absolutely clear to me she needed a break.   I set up a simple ORT-style Anise box hide in my side yard.   The day prior, Perri had been successful with the exact same set up.   But yesterday she searched every box three times and then squatted and peed right in the search area.   She only does this when she is extremely overwhelmed.

I cancelled the ORTs.   I cancelled the mock trial.   I needed to get the pressure off, I needed to do right by Perri.   The host of the mock trial was very kind and we have been e-mailing back and forth and she did tell me to consider that a health issue could be to blame.  Now, that is something.   Perri's ulcer/gastroenteritis was about a week before the Nosework weirdness started.   I specifically waited a week after Perri seemed to be feeling better to begin training again - though she was still finishing the antibiotics.   So, I have to wonder...  

This is life with Perri.   I have cancelled all forward movement in Nosework at this time.   We will take a week, possibly two weeks off.   And then I will try again - because I know that Perri enjoys Nosework...she is just going through a rough patch right now.   This has been deeply upsetting for me, because I started out doing this sport just for Perri.   Because my funny, strange little girl loved it.   And now I'm starting to enjoy it too.   I have tried to simplify everything to the point where she is only being asked to do foundation work, and even that is too much for her right now.   So, a break.   Time heals.  Nosework will be waiting for us whenever Perri is ready to return.

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