First, an little epilepsy update. This past week we saw a recurrence of the S-monster. Gio had another seizure on Tuesday evening, nearly 2 months to the day since his last seizure. It was a grand mal, but short in duration and he recovered fairly quickly. Even though the seizures have lately been coming in clusters, this was a singleton with no more since then. So maybe my new routine of double dosing him on phenobarb after the first seizure is paying off! He went to the vet on Friday for his routine bloodwork consisting of a chemistry panel, CBC and phenobarbital level check. I don't anticipate anything to be wrong, just a regular check that we do every 4 months or so. We'll get the results back early next week.
Anyways, on to happier news! Down but never out, Gio and I went tracking this afternoon. He is doing really REALLY well on his corners. He was having trouble with them for a while, lacking confidence in deciding which way to go, and then getting frustrated and giving up. We got some tips a couple of months back at a tracking seminar we attended here in town, and they have really been paying off! By rubbing a little bit of food on the sole of my shoes at each corner and then dropping a couple of treats about 5 steps after the corner, it is enough motivation for him to keep trying. I could really see the difference in how he was working today. He would cast out at each corner to figure out which way to turn, and his confidence when he found the correct direction was tangible! I really like that he is willing to cast around when he is less than 100% certain, but quickly runs back to the correct track once he has made up his mind. He's a very thorough worker, that is for sure!
Here are the two tracks we worked today.
I have a horrible sense of distance, so I have no clue how long each track was. Each track had 3 corners and the straight portions were between 30 and 50 steps, "steps" being normal brisk walking steps of a 5'5" person. We aren't really working on aging the tracks yet, just getting his confidence up and increasing the distance. So the tracks were only about 5 minutes old. Gio clearly wants to keep going at the end of the track, often continuing to follow my return path after the final food drop, so I will increase the distance substantially next time. Then work on aging.
Again, these tracks were both laid in a busy park, between two baseball diamonds that are shared play fields for two near by elementary schools. I really like using public fields like this, one because the grass is kept at a really nice length, and two because there is so much "background" scent that it really helps Gio learn to pick out one scent and follow it while ignoring the rest. I'm hoping this will come in handy down the line if we ever get around to trialing. The TD test is done in rural areas without much background contamination (other than wildlife tracks), but the urban tests are all done in public areas like this. I haven't yet laid a track over any other ground covering but grass, but I think next time we go out I will try crossing over the paths in the park to see how he handles brief bits of concrete or gravel.
Here is a video of Gio's second track. Sorry for the "Blair Witch" style, but it's a little hard to keep the camera steady while trotting after a dog on a mission, slapping mosquitos, and trying to pick up all those darned stakes!