I taught Scarlet how to search when she was young. Domestic dogs have great noses but in pet homes we never really give them reason to learn and practice, it has no value or interest. However, dogs love to search. It is a super fun dog game, ever play hide n seek with your dog? Scarlet is 4 now. We have not really done anything competitive in Nosework since she passed her ORTs at 6 months old. Over the years she has been given a lot of freedom and ranch life. Apparently she has taken advantage and been out perfecting her scent skills all alone unbeknownst to me.
The other evening I was taking my dogs out for a run before the sun went down. We were out by a creek area with old tall grass that was bent over like piles of hay all along the creek on both sides. She veered off the trail and I kept going until I realized she was not with us. I made a u-turn and headed back up the other side of the creek and there she was. She was searching fairly frantically oblivious to anything around her. She was bracketing and doing other things familiar to us Nose Work people. I knew she was on to something and tried to call her off but she is very odor obedient. I was hoping she would give up and keeping following the ATV but she had other plans in mind.
Finally without a pause she thrust her head into a pile of
grass and pulled out a nest. I saw a
flash of a small grey furry mammal become aware of danger and try to run off but
without any adieu she tipped her head and grabbed it and with 3 chomps it was gone.
This was no accident. This was no lucky guess. This was cold hard calculating scent-work at its finest. This was real life food chain in action.
I felt so bad because you are supposed to be safe in your home (even tiny things) and it
is not like Scarlet is starving. As upsetting as it was it was also a marvel of experienced
nose-work and I was so surprised how good she is. Many dogs would have not noticed the scent of an animal in the air. Another percentage of dogs would have noticed and mentally paused but not known what to do about it. There are others who may have stopped and tried to follow a scent but it is easier said than done without experience. To do what Scarlet did was nothing short of amazing experience.