We're now in the second level program and prior to this, Loki did fairly well in his first level of search. On the final day of his Level 1 training at the clinic training field he got the second fastest time in all the novice search dogs and he showed to be very methodical and confident. But that was the training field he's familiar with and naturally he's confident in familiar places with familiar equimpment.
As we progressed to new areas in "cold searching" where the person is already hiding in an area the dog's never been to and there's new equipment, Loki has run into a little trouble. He alerts to the target very quickly, but he freaks and runs when he finds the person. The issue with him is not the person itself, because Loki's friendly with strangers, but the context. Finding a person, for example in a garbage can or a dog crate is, well, freaking weird and not something a dog, let alone a person usually experiences. So he gets very nervous and backs away from his target.
On Loki's second search out, one of his favorite people, Christi is hiding for him:
"Oh my dog! I think I found a human she may be holding a treat hostage!"
My trainer Lance instructs me not to go into the target as Loki is still unsure and stressed about going inside. He wants him to work it out for himself rather than me coddling him. So I watch and hope he goes inside.
"Um, mom, I think Christi's here and she's definitely got something delicious. What should I do? I'm so confused. Is it polite to enter without being invited in?"
He sticks his nose half way in and Christi rewards with lots of chicken treats and praise.
"Oh my dog, thank you so much for not keeping those chicken treats hostage! Its such a tragedy to see them kidnapped and hidden!"
Then I'm allowed to go give him praise.
"Mom, I totally rescued that chicken Christi kidnapped!"
On our second search, a new person is hiding in the dog crate far down the field to the left of the photo. I'm instructed to release him in the middle of the field:
"This sure is a neat place mom, but I need more time to scope it out."
It looks like I'm yelling at Loki here, but what I'm actually trying to do is excite drive in him when I give him his command.
"Get your cry-baby butt out there and find the person or no dinner for you!"
Smart boy first goes to and checks the tent he found a person in last:
"Gee I wonder if there's a chicken hostage holder in here?'
He runs around looking nilly willy and tries to cheat next:
"Am I getting warmer? Give a guy a break and help me out here."
I'm not allowed to help him, but he catches air scent to the person in the crate pretty quickly:
"What the? There's a HUMAN in that thing? No way!"
He goes to the crate to confirm what his nose tells him but as soon as he sees the person he cracks up:
"Holy CRAP! There's a freaking HUMAN in this dog crate? I'm so out of here!"
The trainer has the target person call Loki's name happily and alas he gets over it (sorry about the blur):
"Wait a minute, that person in there knows my name! Must be ok to go see who it is!"
"Mom, get a hold of this werido in a dog crate. Are we in whacka-doo land?"
On our last search we're instructed to use the leash and release the dog from the leash when we believe he has alerted. We're supposed to walk a sqaure within 50 feet around the recycling container and to keep closing in on the container until we think our dog alerts. Our trainer will tell us if we read our dogs correctly and released on time.
This time, Christi is hiding in a recycling container. Man, I hope she gets paid some big bucks to hide in there! Yuck!
I go out with Loki. Notice I'm not heeling him. There's no obedience in Search training. We just let the dogs do their job.
"Hey mom, this is kind of fun. I love rescuing chicken treats!"
"Whatever Retardo. Just don't make me look bad."
Loki alerts really fast, we didn't even turn the first corner and he caught Christi's scent. It looks like I'm holding him back, but I"m trying to release his clasp on his leash to let him go.
"Cheeses Mom! Let me go! I smell a human who may be holding chicken treats hostage! I must go save them NOW!"
Loki quickly ran to the container but again bolted from it, but within a few seconds, he turned around and went back to it deciding it was probably a good idea to check out the human hiding in the trash can. Maybe she had some chicken.
"Mom, why is Christi staying in that can? Does she live there now?'
I'm not sure Loki will ever make a great SAR dog but it sure is fun training him. If he can just get over himself and gain some confidence, he would be very good because he seems to alert really quickly. In the end, Lance tells me I read him correctly.
Well, at least we got that going for us, which is nice. (That line is for Dennis the Vizsla.)