Little Madison passed her birch and anise ORT on Saturday! She did an awesome job and was super proud of herself as she should be! To celebrate, she got a kneecap to chew on, and Mom got a double marshmallow Oreo fudge Concrete Mixer. When any of us pass or title, there is a celebration which includes treats for dogs and the human!
Back in August, Madison took her first stab at an ORT, doing birch, anise, and clove. It was the first time she “competed” at nose work and it did not go well. She did get clove, which is useless without birch and anise. Mom and Madison both learned a lot and were determined to get the missing two odors this time around. Thinking it over, there are five reasons Madison did so well Saturday.
1. Exposure to new environments
Since day one with our family, Madison has been taken all over creation, and she has done some nose work in different locations as well. At the first ORT, it was evident to Mom that Madison was more interested in people and the new place than she was in nose work. In the past two months, Madison had been practicing nose work in all kinds of new places, even places with dog and human distractions. She still gets distracted, but she also knows she needs to do her job.
The last ORT was two months ago which is like a full year in dog years. Madison is still 100% puppy, but she has matured a bit, and going into heat last month nudged up her maturity level a few big notches! She still wants to check out the new place and meet all the people, but she is able to do it faster and get back to work. From the look on Madison’s face, I think she knows she did well! What a proud, smiling face!
Another lesson learned at the first ORT was that Madison didn’t really have a clear alert and she did not stay on odor. She found the boxes with odor but moved on right away. After the ORT, they had a few weeks off from class and really worked hard, a few short lessons every day to learn to stay on odor. Mom tried an online class for some assistance as well as getting tips from various instructors. Nose work camp was also very helpful getting opinions and help from instructors we don’t normally train with. Within a few weeks time, Madison learned to stay at the odor when she finds it, and she has now started to give Mom “the look” as well. Practice does help to make perfect.
In August, Madison and Mom were not on the same team. Mom was panicked because Madison wasn’t searching, and Madison just wanted to play. They have worked on the team aspect and seem to be learning to work much better together. In nose work, the dog has the nose, but the human needs to be able to read the dog and know how to help them if they struggle to find the odor. Patience is a big factor and with a young social dog like Madison, allowing her a short time to check out the environment and people really helps her to get back to work with focus.
5. Mental management
Mom’s mental management has not been the best of late. Between Bailie not performing well, and Madison bombing her first attempt at nose work, it has been tough for Mom to be positive. Yesterday, Mom went into both tests ready to work with and trust Madison. One thing stuck in her mind all day and it was what one of the camp instructors, Phil said several times. Phil is a law enforcement guy with detection dogs. He said when you get to the search area, size it up and then think to yourself, “Is this all you’ve got? You couldn’t come up with anything better? We can do this!” It’s so true! All they have for the test is twelve boxes in two rows with one holding odor. Of course, team Madison can do that! Mom took the mental management seminar in 2016, but now I think she has the thing that works for her in her mind at the start line for trials for all of us.
No matter how Mom and Madison got their last two odors on Saturday, the main thing is Madison is done with ORT’s and can now start entering level 1 trials when she wants to! We are excited to see where her nose takes her!