Iti was going to be a “dancing dog!”
She was going to dance in the main ring at Crufts.
She had been in 5 Heelwork to Music competitions and had been placed in the top 4 each time, but I wasn't happy. Iti just wasn't enjoying herself. She was doing it for me, not for herself, there was no enthusiasm. So I pulled out of competitions.
My other Jack Russell, Freyja, was not into the dancing malarkey at all, so I began looking for something for Freyja to do.
I saw a Mantrailing introduction course advertised on social media, and taking place in the Forest of Dean, so I booked Freyja on it.
There was a spot left so I asked if I could book Iti on the course too. Luckily Lisa said yes, so Iti got her first taste of Mantrailing.
Iti has always found it difficult to figure out how to cope with strange situations, and Mantrailing was no different, and if she didn't know what to do, she'd come back to me for help!
Slowly she learned to cope.
Trail 1 – Loose dogs appearing after the trail layer had set off..... Iti waited patiently and did a faultless trail.
Trail 2 – a contaminated article..... not normally an issue because one of the other people was present at the trail start, so the dogs had been able to eliminate them straight away. This time both people were away from the start, so Iti, rightly, indicated beautifully on the first person. No reward and a wrong person indication, and Iti would normally have gone to pieces - not this time. She got up, carried on and found the correct person!
As if that wasn't enough.......
Trail 3 - Just as she was about to make a right turn, a man put a screaming baby in a backpack down right on her trail and in a place where she couldn't get past! Iti took herself away from the baby and sniffed a blade of grass until the man had sorted baby and had gone, and then she picked up the trail again and carried on as though nothing had happened I was over the moon with her. Her confidence had improved so much!
The final confirmation that her confidence had grown so much, came the weekend before New Year.
A friends rescued Jack Russell (who'd been in his new home less than 24 hours) slipped his harness and disappeared! I offered the girls help if needed, even though they'd never trailed an animal before, and 3 days after he went, we were asked to help. We went to the place he was last seen and I decided to ask Iti to trail first. She found the scent and set off with drive and focus, the scent trail was over 24 hours old! After a mile or so she wanted to go up the side of a very steep hill with bracken and scrub for very thick ground cover. Her body language said plainly the trail goes up there, but I’m not going through that!!
Our next stop was where the car had been parked when the dog had run off. The owner wanted to know if the dog had tried to return to the car. Iti worked the entire area, which amounted to about 10 no scent indications.
Not many weeks previously either event would have really upset her and caused her to give up. But she had enough confidence to cope with not finding her quarry!
It is wonderful to watch her working out a new problem by herself with confidence!
And to think, Iti only got into Mantrailing because someone pulled out of the introductory course!
Written by Steph Randall (Iti´s owner)