Thursday, October 6, 2016

Molly RATN!

Molly and I entered her very first Barn Hunt trial today and yesterday!   

In Barn Hunt Association, you are required to start at the Novice level.   There is also an optional class called "Instinct", where there are three tubes in a "cradle" (a holder.) and your dog will need to identify which tube contains the rat in order for a Pass.   One tube contains rat bedding, one tube contains nothing, and one contains the rat.   I chose not to enter Molly in the Instinct test, she seems to enjoy looking through the bales.

But we started at Novice.   In Novice class your dog needs to find one "rat tube" and also needs to go through the straw bale tunnel ("tunnel") and jump on top of a straw bale ("climb").   There are two other tubes hidden in the ring as well, one has rat bedding inside and one has nothing inside.  You have 2 minutes to do this.

I entered Molly in both trials yesterday and both trials today - I took the rest of the week off of work, a little dog sport "staycation" (we will do agility this weekend!)

Every class is organized according to "blinds" - there are five dogs in a blind.   Each blind has to be assembled behind a large tarp or wall so that the group cannot see where the tubes are being placed.  So within the Novice class there were eight "blinds" - and at the end of each blind the tubes were rearranged in the ring and a new group of dogs were gathered behind the blind.  Molly was in the 5th blind and she was the fourth dog in the run order of that blind.

Our first Novice run was honestly a bit of a blur for me.   Molly did her tunnel and climb in no time, and she did cough and choke on a bit of treat but swallowed it back down.   And had to check all over the ground that nothing came out.    That ate up time.   And we switched to her liquid roll treat for the next run!   She found the rat with 10 seconds to spare, yikes!

Our second run she was a little bit faster but found the rat with 15 seconds to spare!   She is doing really well working the ring area and checking any places that I ask her to, with her tail wagging. 

So, day one Molly got her first two Novice legs.   Off to a great start!

Also, I got this cool event t-shirt and won two candles in the worker raffle! 

Today we returned and Molly found the rat at around 1 minute, so this time nearly a minute to spare.   Yay!   This meant that Molly earned three legs, and her Novice Barn Hunt title (RATN.)  Here is a video of her title run!

This girl is so amazing - I feel like most anything I want to try, she is game for.   She has done agility, rally obedience, lure coursing, dock diving and now barn hunt.   She is so motivated and so willing, she is really a special partner.  (And by the way, her K9Nosework training is going great too!)  Lots of exciting things on the Molly horizon.

There was quite a long break after this.   Since Molly earned her title I moved her up to Open - in practice she has worked up to three rats in the ring at a time, so I did not feel that I would be over facing her by asking her to find two rats.    (In Open, your dog needs to find two rat tubes, and there are two bedding tubes and one blank tube in the ring)   

Unfortunately, somebody in the distance chose just about the same time the Open class started to target shoot.   A lot.   Molly is extremely gun shy and even though the shots were far off in the distance, she heard it.   When I went to get Molly from the car for her run, she was not resting.   She was sitting up and panting and shuddering.  By that time the shots had stopped, so I took her for a little walk and played ball with her.   She was interested in her ball but couldn't lock onto it like she normally does.   She was still willing to eat food.   We went to the blind to wait our turn, and she was still eating.   Then, because life is a little bit unfair sometimes....two dogs before our turn, the gun shots started again.   Molly was still willing to eat but she wouldn't engage with me, was just busy staring in the direction of the shots and keeping an eye on them.    

In the ring she worked, she did the tunnel and climb...and she sniffed several different tubes.   I kept asking her to re-check the tubes and was looking for her to do her pawing indication.    When she finally did it, it was on a blank tube.   The judge told me that Molly had found the tubes, but I did not call them.   But if Molly sniffs a tube and moves on, in our last three Novice runs that meant that it was not the rat tube.   And I trust that.    I really feel that she was not herself because of the gun shots and so was not remembering how valuable that her pawing was to me.    Even when we took her to the rat tube and showed it to her she gave one half hearted paw and was sort of panting and "meh".    She was just too worried to really do things her normal way.

So, that was a little bit of a bummer for me to end two wonderful days with!   It is a shame the gunshot thing happened, I was excited and a little intimidated to try the Open level with Molly.  I really think she would have indicated on the rat tubes if it was not for her being fearful of the shots.  We will return to practice, my goal is to work a stronger indication and to micromanage Molly less.   With the time pressure on it's hard to step back and let your dog do their own search, you want them to just check all potential hiding spots and help them out.   

This sport is a lot more involved than I initially realized!   And that's what makes me interested in it...  There is a team work element, a training element...and I love that.   In fact, this is what I am coming to understand about all scent sports.  This is an interesting and exciting new world for me (both BH and Nosework) and I am willing to explore it.

It is also worth a mention that at my first official Barn Hunt event, how well the rats were treated.   One competitor even joked that the rats have their own union.  The tubes are very thick with adequate ventilation.   I noticed that the rats were only allowed out in the ring for part of a class, and they were switched out.   So, even for a class that was not an hour long, the rats were not kept "working" for the entire class.   There were bit totes all clearly labelled as well as cages for the rats to be in when they were not in their tubes.    I noticed the rats in these cages eating and grooming themselves, not sick or depressed looking.   If you think the common eye cannot see a rat that is mistreated, just go to many pet stores and you will see rodents that are depressed or miserable.   These rats looked anything but that.   At the place where I take Molly to practice, the rats are very very well cared for - it was good to see the same treatment at an official event.

No comments:

Post a Comment