And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. Luke 1:46-47, 49 (NIV)
Cory passed her beginner scent class last week. We started the class seven weeks ago. She began by hunting for food treats in boxes and under articles like tennis balls or plastic containers. The next week, we added a q-tip soaked in birch oil to the food treat. Then, we removed the treat and only gave it after she found the birch scent and sat beside it. In all, it only took her three weeks to learn to find the birch scent. The rest of the time, we reinforced the sit upon finding it. I hid containers with birch scent around the house, under pillows and blankets, above her head and on the floor. Without fail, she found it every time and sat waiting expectantly for her treat. As time progressed, the scent grew fainter and fainter until I could not even smell it. She could though and never missed a hiding spot no matter how tricky I thought I was. Scent work requires her to search independently from me. At school, I do not know where the scent is hidden so could not help her if I wanted to. It also requires me to watch her carefully for the signal that she has found the scent. It is up to me to alert the judge who is watching the clock because it is a timed test. Only after the judge reveals that she chose the right box do we know if she is correct. Her test at the end of class was to find the scent hidden in one out of twenty boxes. While some of the dogs in the class worked quickly scattering boxes out of their way or diving into a box to find the scent, Cory works meticulously. She smells each box before coming back to the one with the scent. The teacher said she sees a slight difference in her body language when she locates the smell, but she still checks every box. I like that about her, and it fits in with her solemn attitude about work. She is focused and works carefully and correctly no matter what I am teaching her. She can be a clown and a loud mouth like her owner, but when she is working, she is all business. I was so happy when she passed her test and amazed at how quickly she mastered this level. We will start advanced work in January. As I was thinking about Cory’s ability to find the scent no matter how faint it grew, I thought about how we force so many extra things into the Christmas season. Decorations, gifts, food, event; many things that we feel we must have to make it an extra special holiday. They are so piled on we can’t see Jesus. We get busy and focused on the stuff that we forget the reason for season. Is the scent of Christmas so strong on you that you remind people around you of the real meaning of Christmas?