Some of you may know that about 1 ½ years ago I started to suspect that my dog Eibe was having trouble with her nose every time she had to take a course of antibiotics. The problem seemed to be getting worse and worse. She would recover but it took longer each time. By this past season opener it became very detrimental to her tracking and was preventing her from finding deer I absolutely knew we should. I eventually found an experienced sports medicine veterinarian and have been working with him since October 2013.
I set this exercise up to help determine the current condition of her nose. I used tracking shoes only because the problem she was having was focused on her ability to smell hoof print scent. Blood scent gave her a little trouble but hoof print scent was nearly impossible for her to detect and differentiate between different deer. A previous similar track I ran a couple of weeks ago before the snow got too deep indicated that her nose was recovered. I really don’t have a lot of experience to say how easy or difficult an artificial track laid in snow tire tracks is so I set this exercise up in such a way that my artificial trail would be mixed in with tons of natural deer tracks forcing Eibe to have to differentiate between the two. Differentiation of hoof print scent was next to impossible for her at the height of her condition last fall. I will run this track at 24 hours and see what happens and report in the comments.
I set up misdirection exercises in the snow by laying the line in the right hand tire track and then at the intersection just stepping into the left hand track and going straight instead of bearing to the right. The dog will naturally bear to the right taking the path of least resistance. How quickly and easily Eibe makes that turn will tell me a lot about the condition of her nose.
Approaching a deer feeding area.
Right in the middle of the deer feeding area I made a 90 degree left hand turn. This is a difficult situation for any dog but when Eibe’s nose was normal she worked this type of problem out many times both in training and natural tracking. In MD and NJ where I track deer are legally shot over bait.
Following the tracking shoe line through this will tell me a lot about how well her nose can differentiate scent.
Results of the exercise will be posted in comments.