The walk up to the training site is very steep and therefore very demanding. I need to add that Ochsengarten is at about 1,500 meters. By the time we got to the site, we were pretty close to the tree line. I discovered that the rock fall happened a LONG time ago and is vast, steep, demanding and quite treacherous.
They had a big concern re the thunderstorms because of the very real danger of lightning strikes. Right on cue the front rolled in and so did the thunder. Where we camped for the day is a small, dark wooden hut with very small windows and we all squashed into it. This was a major test for some of our dogs and one could immediately see how the different breeds responded.
There are 4 Malinois in the group and three of them have a lot of nervous energy, two especially so. Then there is my German Shepherd Dog and the rest are predominately Golden Retrievers, three Labradors and one Border Collie. The Labs and Goldens almost pig-piled in a corner and didn’t say boo.
Whilst everyone was conscious of the stress the dogs were potentially under, there was not much sympathy either. The attitude was that these are already, or are in training to be, operational dogs and on deployment personal space is even tighter so the dogs had better get used to it and behave.
Once the thunderstorm had rolled on, it kept raining and this restricted where we could train as the boulders are covered in thick lichen, moss and small alpine shrubs. When wet, the boulders become very slippery. They checked out a hole that they have used in previous years as an alert hole and so each dog did an alert there. They had to make their way across these boulders to the figurant (victim) and alert whilst balancing on some rocks. This exercise generally went well. A couple of dogs looked at the rocks closely before moving on, Jochen being one of them. But then, he has never seen anything like this before.
After lunch they set up another search up a narrow valley with the wind going uphill. The figurant was placed at the top end squashed into a crevice. In order to get to the figurant, the dogs had to get above them to get his scent. Handlers had to stick to the ridge and move uphill fairly quickly to draw their dogs up and beyond the figurant.
I sent Jochen down into the valley and he systematically worked his way up towards the figurant, wasting no time at all. As he made is way onto a big boulder, he caught the scent and weaved his nose in the air trying to locate the source. He then worked his way to the figurant and did a very good alert. This was his first work in Europe and I was very pleased with him.
The other dogs also did really well. The two young Malinois needed some help as they had wasted an enormous amount of energy barking constantly when their handlers were not with them. But these two young dogs also finished the day well at the level of training they are at.
We all trooped down the mountain in single file late in the afternoon in beautiful sunshine. Jochen was a pain because he wanted to catch up with the dogs in front so he was on a short lead in serious obedience mode. I had no desire to fall down the mountain and break my leg to add to my tooth woes.
The tooth started to pound half way through the morning and so one of the people rang the hotel re a dentist. None were available and so I have to go to the dental clinic tomorrow in Innsbruck.
A woman gave me two tablets that are both pain killers and anti-infection. I took one straight away and half an hour later I was back in the land of the living. I have just taken the second one for the night so that I can sleep. Why didn’t this tooth rumble whilst I was still in Australia? But that would be too easy.
Initially I would have had to leave at 6.30 am to get there by various buses and a train but a couple very kindly and bravely said they would lend me their car so that I could drive myself there. As they have a dog box in the back, I will be able to take Jochen with me. I reminded them that I am used to driving on the other side of the road.
I hope I can be back by lunchtime and at least spend a half-day training. There was to be and equipe exercise and Jochen and I were to be one of the teams. As I have to go to the dental clinic, Andreas has very kindly postponed that exercise to Saturday morning.