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Puppy diary, volume 5. Poppy's first nose test
by, 12-06-2014 at 10:25 (1979 Views)
Last night I went over to see Wayne Davies who had kindly agreed to save some skins and feet for me from his two most recent bucks.
Taking advantage of my wife's absence on a work event, I emptied the bottom drawer of my freezer immediately when I got home and filled it with a skin and 8 feet. I left the other skin in my cellar to thaw overnight and this morning christened my EKA Swingblade (kindly and unexpectedly gifted to me by "wildboar") to remove some excess meat/fat (my freezer is small, so every little helps!) and cut the skin in to smaller pieces. Job done, I bundled 3 of the 4 pieces in cling film "sausages" to go back in the freezer.
Poppy was sleeping at this point, but knowing she wouldn't be long I made a brew and waited for her to wake up and come looking for me. Sure enough she was up and about in no time, so I took her outside for "weewees!" and then brought her back in to amuse herself. I grabbed the skin offcut I'd left out and took it in to the garden leaving the pup inside.
I tied the skin to a cord (actually, it was a rubbish freebie lead from the vet), dumped it on the floor and dragged it through the garden to a place out of sight of the start. Against advice, and due to the small size of my garden I put in a couple of direction changes and then left a handful of food on the skin. I gave it 5 minutes and brought the pup outside.
I got her to come to me at the start and her nose was straight to the ground. "Find it, find it!" I urged her on. For moment she just sniffed around that spot (I'd left the skin there a second or two) so I kept urging her on. She started off the wrong way, but I let her keep sniffing and kept laying on the encouragement, she only got a few feet and then backtracked, hesitated a second on the start point, and then "click!" she was on the scent, head down, tail wagging she followed it the few meters to where I'd made a tiny direction change. I held my breath, but I shouldn't have bothered, she stayed on the line like her little nose was glued down. "Find it, find it! Go on! Find it!"
Next test: down a couple of steps on to the lawn and then a 90 degree turn. She hesitated a fraction of a second on the top step, then bounded down and had a quick sniff around on the bend of the trail as if she was just confirming where the best smell was. "Find it, find it, find it!" My neighbors are in their garden, and must think I'm a loon.
Poppy picks up the scent and in seconds she's found the skin. I showered on the praise, but she wasn't sure what to make of it at first. She even went on point (sort of) for a while and seemed oblivious to the food I'd left there. With a bit of encouragement she was soon sniffing round the skin and then she had a good old lick.
Good girl. This is where it got funny! She obviously decided this was the best thing ever, and grabbed the skin to leg it in to a corner and start trying to eat it. My "bring it, then!" which works on toys, socks and anything else she happens to be munching fell on deaf ears, and I'd left the (so far never failed) whistle inside, so I resolved myself to a wrestling match. The little git growled like a tiger the whole time, but persistence won the day and eventually I got it back. Maybe I should have left her to it, I don't know. I didn't scold her or act unhappy though. I just didn't really want her to eat it or get the idea she could keep whatever she found.
Anyway, needless to say I'm pleased as punch with her for.getting her nose down and following the trail. Not exactly a test, but it's proved she at least has the instinct and isn't just randomly sniffing around.
Here she is, seconds before grabbing it and bolting