It's been cold this week. Last Saturday we went tracking and I kept Laev's fleece coat on her, as temperatures were cold enough to induce frostbite in only a couple minutes of exposure. She tracked well, but was reluctant to down on the articles -- who could blame her? It was snow and sheet ice beneath her. I asked her verbally to down, and she did, and I rewarded with a handful of hot dog bits. I'll pay big for extenuating circumstances.
Laev did deign to eat a few pieces of hot dog on the track, but again she skipped most of them. I'm not quite sure how to get her to pause at the start for a deeper take of scent without physical restraint, which makes her frantic. Sheesh.
But really, it's been cold. Monday night Alena and I drove to training and found that we were the only ones to make it, as the cold had deterred the others. We pulled our helper out of his warm living room and went to the training barn.
Laev was excited and ready to go, breath crystalizing in the sub-zero air. (That's sub-zero Fahrenheit, not Celsius.) I released her and she flew toward the helper. She skidded but stopped herself in time and executed a very pretty hold and bark.
When he gave her the bite, I could tell he wasn't quite happy with it. So he did some typical helper work, swinging the sleeve, raising and moving the dog, spinning so that she had to tighten her grip to stay on. Laev flew through the air as he pirouetted, still fighting, but he was never quite satisfied with the bite. "She's not holding hard," he said. "Come take her."
I outed Laev from the sleeve and set her up for the next rep. We'd have to alter something to get the bite corrected.... And then he said, "Wait a minute. I think the sleeve's frozen."
"The sleeve's frozen." He tapped it with the whip, and then beat it hard. His expression turned to shock. "Feel this!"
The sleeve was like granite. Apparently the dog saliva left from the last session was enough moisture for it to freeze hard and solid. It was completely impenetrable. Laev had been biting steel.
...And she'd held on, my brain registered later. She held on during the fight and the spinning, even though her teeth couldn't penetrate and had no purchase.
The sleeve was held in front of a burning kerosene heater for a few minutes while Laev waited impatiently. When we tried again, her bite seemed better. ;-)