Friday, June 20, 2014

The Nose Knows

I love getting mail. Not the bills and junk mail, of course, but little notes or care packages or my weekly New Yorker. It's just exciting to see something fun in my mailbox. It makes it worth sticking my hand through the spiderwebs that appear on the mailbox no matter how often I sweep them off.

This mailbox is probably older than me. It's creepy. I wouldn't be surprised if it was haunted.
This week, though, all the mail has been for Barley!

On Monday, she got her BarkBox. I had heard the mail man out on our front porch before we went for a walk, but I figured there was probably nothing exciting, so I didn't even think to look at the mail before we went off for our walk.

But Barley did.

She put the breaks on and wouldn't budge off the porch. That's when I noticed her BarkBox tucked in the corner. I stuck it inside and she reluctantly went on our walk.

After grabbing a quick sip of water when we got home, Barley was pawing at her box. She knew the mail was for her, so I cut the tape and let her figure out how to get in.



Once she'd wiggled her nose into the box, she let me get a look inside, too. There were the usual yummy treats--my guess is the banana and beef liver treats were the ones that let her know this box was hers. The real surprise, though, was this:

A monkey butt?!?! 
She's not entirely sure this is a toy a lady should play with.
I guess part of the reason I got Barley a BarkBox subscription was so that she would get treats and toys I couldn't find in our stores and could have a little variety--and this is certainly not something I ever would have brought home for her! (Although, I might have sent one to my brother had I come across them in the store.)

On Wednesday, Barley got more mail. Usually, she's not super interested when I open packages (probably because they're usually boxes of books--and she does not like books). This time, she was intrigued.

What's in there, Mom? Is it for me?
Can't you open it any faster?
I'm not sure what it is, but it has to be for me!
Once I got Barley out of my lap, I pulled open our scent kit! After weeks of waiting, it is finally here and we can do some official practice to start getting ready for an Odor Recognition Test (ORT). We don't have a date on the books yet, but we're excited that we can start practicing with odors now (instead of our makeshift cotton ball with ground cloves on it!). 

We've done a little practice since it came in. We started a little bit easy and paired the odor with a treat since she's only used the real odors in class. Since we were excited to get started, we didn't waste time getting boxes out of the spare room and I just hid the scent around the living room: on the coffee table, on stacks of books, on the DVD shelf. Barley did great, so after a few searches I quit pairing the scent with a treat and she had no problems.

Today, we broke out the boxes and she did great! I'm the one that has a harder time, though, because her alert is so subtle. I think I've mentioned that before. Basically, she bulldozes into the boxes--if the scent isn't there, she usually shoves the box away and then looks up; if the scent is there, she shoves the box around, but keeps her nose and eyes down. Since it's just me and Bar, sometimes it's hard to know if she's actually alerting me or if I am just jumping in and rewarding her as soon as her nose touches the box since I know where it is. I try to give her a few seconds and watch to see if she'll lift her head, but it's not easy!

We're looking forward to my sister visiting next month so that she can hide the odor for us and we can get a better idea of whether I'm actually reading Bar's alert or not. (If we're going to help her meet her goal of running in 5 states other than her own, she can help us with noseworks--that's what sister's are for, right?) We'll also get a little help from Barley's grandma when we visit my parents again later this summer. Hopefully I've been reading her alert right and not just jumping to conclusions!

Soth has been doing a little noseworks of his own this week.



After spending several seconds sniffing Barley's toes, he took a swat at them and rolled away. His nose might be telling me it's time for his sister to get a bath. 

In addition to keeping Barley's nose and brain working, we're making progress on our walking goal for the year. The website for Garmin is down right now, so I can't upload the data from our morning walk or let you know how we're doing on our journey towards 500 miles by the end of the month--but we have met or surpassed our daily goal every day since last Friday's post and I know we've passed the 450 mark, so it's looking good for us!


We're linking up with SlimDoggy, Peggy's Pet Place, and To Dog With Love for FitDog Friday and can't wait to read about how everyone else has been staying fit this week!


23 comments:

  1. Are you training Barley yourself for nosework? We went to two trial classes and Mr. N enjoyed it. Our second class, there was a very shy Sheltie and she did not want to play the game. Her owner had brought chicken nuggets to "hide" and she was not interested. Mr. N was like me! me! I can find those! Let me at them!
    Mr. N has a subtle alert too. Drives me crazy.

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    1. We took two 5-week sessions at our training center, but until I can teach Soth to hide the scents for us, when we practice at home we're on our own :) Our trainer had to take the summer off of teaching to take care of some health issues, but she said she'd put together some practice ORT for us if a few of our classmates all wanted to get together and come in every now and then. Barley would be all over those chicken nuggets! Every now and then, some of our classmates wouldn't get all of their treats and Barley was more than willing to be the clean up crew.

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  2. A monkey butt? What's up with that? I guess a toy is a toy. Excited for you on the odor kit - what fun that is going to be. Good luck - can't wait to hear your reports.

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    1. It was a very strange choice of toys! But my sister's dog got one, too, so at least we aren't alone!

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  3. LOL, that monkey butt toy is too funny. We love BarkBox! Can't wait to hear more about Barley's nosework :)

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    1. We love BarkBox, too! It's a nice change of pace from the usual treats we get on our regular treat shopping trips :)

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  4. Yay! That's great about your walking goal. We love surprises in the mailbox too! Good luck with the ORT. It is kind of hard to practice when you're doing the hiding! That'll be a good test when your sister can help. Happy weekend!
    DIane and Rocco

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    1. Thanks for the good luck wishes! One nice thing about practicing on our own is that we also get to practice Barley's stays since I put her in a different room and have her wait until it's hidden somewhere. We're definitely looking forward to getting some help from Aunt L, though!

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  5. The nose work stuff sounds like a lot of fun. It will be great to have your sister hide the scents for you. It is so easy for us humans to have subtle "tells" that will influence the success rate

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    1. Noseworks is so much fun! We hope Barley's Aunt L is just as excited about it as we are ;)

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  6. I can't wait to see Bar in action! The dogs in our class were hilarious when they were finding things, and I'm pretty sure Bar won't let me down in the laughs department :-) Maddux loves that monkey butt, so I guess it's a win for Bark Box ha!

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    1. Unfortunately, I think you've missed most of her goofy phase. Now that she knows she isn't supposed to climb into the boxes, she's pretty serious and gets right to work. But it's still fun to watch her.

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  7. I think my dogs get more packages in the mail than I do! We got that monkey butt toy in our BarkBox too...it's definitely not something I would have bought myself but I'm sure the dogs are going to love it (I set it aside for now because they just got a bunch of other new toys).
    Between your walking and the nose work, you and Barley must be quite busy!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. It's taken Barley a few days to warm up to the monkey butt, but she carried it around all weekend! I hope your dogs love it, too!

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  8. I'm still stuck on the monkey butt toy! LOLOL

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    1. It is hard to not laugh when you look at it! Such a ridiculous toy :)

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  9. I love getting mail too, it's always a lot of fun to open up packages. :) I'm glad to hear that your nose work is progressing nicely, hope you keep improving!

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    1. Thanks! She keeps finding things more quickly when we practice outside, so it's starting to get really fun!

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  10. Lovely post, hope you don't mind if Cat flap cavalier tags along :-) x

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  11. I LOVE nose work, although we haven't taken classes for quite a while. Mom used those techniques recently to alleviate my boredom while she was unable to get me out.

    What a funny monkey! I bet it had some good squeeks!! :D

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    1. That's why we started noseworks, too, but it was because it was too cold to go out of the house and one of us might not have survived the winter if we didn't find something we could do inside. It's a great boredom squasher!

      The monkey definitely has good squeaks and there is crinkly material in it, too!

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  12. Good luck with you nose work. I look forward to hearing your progress. :)

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