The control subject

While we had Molly out with us for Ozzy’s training yesterday, we decided to do a bit of an experiment. After we’d finished Ozzy’s searches, Ozzy and I wandered off to hide in a pre-agreed area and Natalie unleashed Molly to come and look for us. Would she find us? Would she find us before it got dark? Would an untrained but energetic and highly enthusiastic Labrador be able to do what Ozzy (with all of her three months of training so far) does seemingly without a second thought? Or would it all go terribly wrong?

Tl;dr: She found me, but it was perhaps more luck than judgement.

Molly clearly knew what she was supposed to do, i.e. find me. But she equally clearly had no real idea how to go about doing it. So she did what any highly energetic but woefully underprepared Labrador would do. She ran back and forth in every perceivable permutation of distance and direction until she happen to stumble across me and Ozzy, crouched beneath the overhanging branches of a large yew tree.

It was fun – but, to be honest, a little disconcerting – to watch Molly race around like an idiot, tongue and ears akimbo, patently having the time of her life. But I was also somewhat relieved that the last three months that I (and various others) have spent training Ozzy have not been entirely wasted, as her performance against our unwitting control subject (Molly) was almost beyond comparison.

Our little test has also served to highlight the difference between our two dogs. Obviously, one’s orange and the other’s black. And Molly’s broad and muscular, while Ozzy’s lithe and athletic. But Molly’s also rather gung-ho, approaching everything she does ‘guns blazing’, as it were. Ozzy, on the other hand, comes across as cool and calculating, seeming to weigh up her options carefully before making her move. A stealthy Navy Seal to Molly’s main battle tank.

What they share, though, is a love of being outside. A love of being with us. And a love, though I’m sure they’d never admit it, of being with each other. All the time Molly was ‘searching’ for us (and I use the term very loosely), Ozzy was watching Molly intently, straining at her lead, keen to get in on the action. Or, more likely, keen to get in there and show Molly how it should be done. How enthusiasm and drive are important, but it’s training that allow them to be harnessed effectively.

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