She wanted to know how I would change that. I explained that I wanted a chance to simply walk over the rubble sites with Jochen without any pressure to perform, just going for a leisurely stroll, and added that Jochen didn't need that but I did. Wonderful woman that she is, she understood that as well and as we were there early I had the chance to do exactly that. Seeing the way Jochen moved over and into the various sites helped me feel so much better.
This is another military site now not used much. I counted about five sites and it is a mini version of Les Epeisses. It does not have the purpose collapsed sites that Epeisses has. What it however also has is an extensive tunnel system and basements. In fact I completely lost myself in one of them and emerged in another part altogether. That was interesting.
I was very much included in all the work including building and preparing sites and being figurant for the first three dogs. This helped me a lot as I am used to contributing. This meant that my whole thinking and demeanour was such that Jochen 'recognised' me again. In addition, I also started to speak to him in English again (I tend to use a mixture of both languages but since being here I have fallen straight into my mother tongue and English has fallen by the wayside.) and this also helped my partner to find the right sign posts again.
All in all we did three searches over the day and it was great to see Jochen back to his old self working with confidence, agility, detaching really well and just simply getting on with the job as he usually does. It did my heart good to see him look so happy.
In fact, on that last search, he was so keen to get started that he dragged me up the hill to the start. In one search I was told that two people might be missing. We were taken to a site that was on the other side of the three main buildings used to practise putting out fires in buildings. I did not even know that these other two sites existed. There was one very small one with the usual basements only accessible by a very steep concrete slide with not much room between it and the ceiling. The other site at just a small distance away, was larger.
Jochen found the person in the larger site fairly quickly, managing to get down to him through the tunnels and did a lovely alert. Even though I had sent Jochen to the small site first as according to the briefing and the wind conditions this was the obvious choice, Jochen's quick find in the larger of the two meant that he had not really searched the smaller one.
In sending him back there, he fairly quickly showed interest at a particular point but did not alert. I reported this to Heidi and she asked me to send him down if I could. Well, he was certainly keen to go down but then found the steep and slippery descent (the concrete was wet from the rain) difficult. So I went down to help him and my just being there spurred him on. He found a jacket which he briefly sniffed but took no further notice of.
I then had to really push him from below so that he could get back up that slope to the top again. It made my heart sing to see how hard he worked to get up there and with just a little encouragement from below and Heidi from above he made it. I then had to do my best to follow suit. This work is not for the faint-hearted.
The final search was for one person starting at the top with the wind behind us. He worked methodically and covered the sites well. After checking out the second last one I said that I thought that was done but that the one above had not been fully covered. Irene agreed and so I turned quickly towards that one. Jochen seemed to come from no-where and launched himself to jump over a waist-high wall. I grabbed him around his body just in time. If he had jumped he would have dropped at least four - five meters down onto concrete. He is prone to doing things like that. This was a close call I can do without.
We spoke about this later and how this is another perfect example of how our energy, body language and thoughts influence our dog's behaviour before we even realise what we are doing.
This was a great group of people who were super to work with. I had regained my confidence and it did me so much good to see Jochen looking both happy and contented. I felt better within myself because I had reclaimed my personal power and took control of my thoughts, emotions and handling. We humans are always a work in progress - a fascinating journey. Our dogs come along for the ride and we would do well to remember how much we influence our dog's behaviour in so many subtle ways without ever realising it. Before we categorise our dogs as dumb, or hyper or 'naughty' (what a concept) or uncooperative or whatever other negative we often saddle them with, we should always look at ourselves first.