Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shakespeare's Nose

I realized I'd forgotten to mention something in my last post....

I was talking with Alena today, and we think that my previous supposition -- that perhaps Shakespeare really had suffered some loss to his sense of smell in his head injury -- might be valid. Alena has always said that Shakespeare got much ruder around food after the accident, pushing his nose closer to something a human was holding or sniffing at counters more often. "Did it knock the manners out of you?" she would demand of him. That would make sense if he used to sniff and identify a tidbit from a distance and now had to get closer. And Shakespeare does get excited about tracking -- he's eager to start -- but he definitely worries and frets on the track, and he "falls off" the track much more easily than Laev. He will check a corner several times before settling on the right direction.

So, I don't know if there's a test to measure scent ability, and it's probably not worth testing, anyway. I don't know where scent-processing sits in the brain, but Alena points out that even if it wasn't at the site of impact, there could have been damage with a ricochet effect, just as in human head injuries.

I could be totally wrong on this, of course. It's just guessing re observation. But it wouldn't be impossible, I guess. If it is true, I'd feel pretty bad; I volunteered Shakespeare to do a track instead of an obedience routine because I thought it would be easier on him than repeated jumping and climbing for retrieves. It's a good thing that the stress he displays while working out the track doesn't seem to affect his willingness to start; he's always happy to go to the scent pad.

(Though Shakespeare is semi-retired -- he does only Rally and CDSP obedience at present -- we needed another dog to make minimum entries in our club trial, due to other teams pulling.)

It's clear that, no matter what else, he does have some sense of smell and enjoys working, even if it harder for him. He likes finding articles and anticipates the treats for that. :)

The weather forecast has definitely improved; no more freezing rain! Instead, they are predicting a mostly cloudy day without precipitation, which is much better. There's supposed to be a lot of wind, though, with a wind chill of about 11 in the morning and working up to lower 20s by afternoon. Brr! That wind across open Indiana plain is going to make the long down pretty brutal.... Severe weather warnings have been issued regarding windstorms on Sunday. At least we aren't competing in that!

Laura's Final Thought
What I know, and what I want to get on record before tomorrow, at least for myself: I know that Laev is capable of doing each and every thing I'm going to ask from her tomorrow. We may or may not get all of it; the wind is certainly going to make some parts harder, and sometimes she -- or I -- can have an off day. But I do know that she knows each exercise and each part of it. We hope to get it all together on the same day while the judge is watching. :)

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