Second time to Guise for a SAR workshop with Ann Jo at ‘Dog Adventure’ in The Morvan National Park. This year there were more people and dogs, a mix of Netherlands and UK based handlers – UK both from Berkshire SAR Dogs! Breeds GSD. Malinois, Cairn Terrier, Collie and Lab. Ann Jo’s Kelpies and Willow the Spaniel came out to give master classes from time to time.
The week covered hasty, area and man trailing training as relevant to the handler teams. After an initial assessment of progress for Ella and me from last year, we embarked on a personalised mix of motivation and search training. We trained in forests, managed woodland, agricultural land and small and large villages that gave plenty of opportunities for working in fresh environments. We used at least two different venues a day (either side of lunch which was back at base, although the picnic lunch on Thursday in a clearing in the forest was huge and delicious). We used many venues that were new from last year. Ella was able to work a sports field and changing rooms as well as a play ground. It was something to watch her working out where the misper was in the play ground. Suddenly she realised the misper was ‘above you’ as opposed to ‘behind you’ – lying down on the top of a climbing frame and I’ll swear she jumped when she looked up! However, I think she got me back later when she head butted me and knocked me out, we were having a boisterous reward play at the misper when her head connected with mine and the next thing I remember was rolling down the slope. Ella didn’t notice. I guess that proves that Lab’s skulls are pretty solid! Unfortunately the video was switched off too early so sadly there is no entry for ‘You’ve been framed’ or the golden poop scoop.
We had the opportunity to do a 2km hasty, it was hot and there were hordes of black flies but she found on 2 separate mispers at generous 25ms off the track before it ended with a find on two mispers sitting by a 4×4, (Zab had the deck chair out) so that’s mispers hidden in plain view touched on! On Friday Ella had the opportunity to work a scent across a river, something she did impressively well. Standing in a river as your dog alerts on you is a damp experience!
The weather ranged from sun with 30 degrees on the first day to rain and 3 degrees the next day, so we experienced all four seasons whilst there, but generally it was dry and warm enough to be comfortable working. We got on really well as a group of people and dogs and listening to others talking about their experiences was handy. I took Destiny (my non working dog) as well; she had plenty to do watching the days, barking occasional coarse comments from the side lines and enjoying the general walks and swims at the end of the sessions.
The man trailing dogs worked both in the villages, water side and rural areas and they had a great time too. Maybe I’ll get another dog to join them?
Full feedback was given post exercise and in depth with video at the evening debriefs before the excellent dinner to round the day off. Accommodation was very clean and comfortable as before. Good value for money.
The locals when encountered were bemused by the mad Anglais but friendly. Local vet excellent.
Once again a very enjoyable course that was a holiday as well. I hope to be able to go back next year, especially as I worked out a route that avoids Paris!
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