Shawn and i woke up and realized we hadn’t set our clocks to Atlantic time (Sao Paulo is in the Atlantic time zone, one hour later than EST) so we were a tad late getting to the seminar. However, once we arrived, we were introduced to the ranking Lt. representing the Brazilian Military who welcomed us to Brazail and to the seminar. They actually have a protocol to turn “command” over the instructors, and so we did.
The facility that is hosting the seminar is a large agility center and boarding kennel, and from the street you woud never know how nice a place it was…..there was a full agility field, covered, and lined with astro-turf, and surrounding that pavillion were some training fields. There were swimming pools for the dogs, classroom area, grooming, boarding kennels, and plenty of parking. The owners were also very gracious and hospitable. The agility class was running in the morning when we got there, and I have to say they looked very competitive, and the training looked very tight.
Back to our gig…Seminar attendees wanted to learn how we train narcotics/explosives dogs at TK9 – so we spent the better part of the morning in classroom instruction, with a translator and a white board. We also had some attendees from Argentina so the English was translated into Portuguese, then Portuguese into Spanish…..but surprisingly it all went very well. The attendees all took detailed notes, and asked a number of questions at every hour break. There was a wide variety of experience among the attendees, as some were experienced trainers and some were new handlers.
Once the classroom was finished, we began working the dogs, and we tested a number of the dogs for detection, and the quality of the dogs was generally good. As is usual, they do too much obedience, and supress some of the dogs too much, so we explained how to build the dogs without taking the intensity out with too much obedience and making the dogs too “polite.”
Lunch was had at a Cantina in Sao Paulo, buffet style, and we got to try a few new foods. Overall, the food has been delicious. And the hospitality has been tremendous. Both of our hosts Luiz Gabriel and Roberto Bautista, have seen to our needs and have been very gracious.
After lunch, we then ran a test of the more experienced trained dogs on 2 odors with distractor odors in the search area (they requested this, which I was happy to see). Here we saw many of the training issues that began with the young dogs. The handlers were not familiar with off leash searching at all(we tested in an agility ring so it was fenced off), and so they tired the dogs out in the large area with too much presentation and a lack of systematic search patterning. Many of the dogs did not have a strong alert, so the handlers talked the dogs into a number of alerts with Portuguese versions of “is it there?” and “what’s that?” – one day a dog in a seminar is going to answer the handler with “Hell if I know, but it seems like you want me to alert right here, so here goes!”
We then showed them how to do independent search work, and the dogs all improved – the one lab danced around like an imbicile because he probably never had so much freedom – but he quickly came to his senses and performed well. It was hard for the handlers to not be involved, but standing back I think they could see their dogs’ potential to search more efficiently and search independently.
Shawn then took one of the trained dogs and showed how to handle the dog, and flow in the pattern without stressing the dog or getting in his way, and the malinois performed nicely, and it seemed this helped them understand the handling aspect – The handler manages the search, and the dog does the search.
The day was finished with some work with green dogs, doing some basic drive building as the dogs were of medium intensity. All the dogs seemed to improve, and the participants had a lot of questions about how to proceed. We wrapped in the classroom with a quick summary, and some more questions.
In Brazil, Breakfast is at a normal hour, lunch also at about noon, however, dinner is customarily eaten at 10 or 11pm! By 9:30 pm our host Luiz Gabriel and his wife and daughter picked us up to take us to a big restaurant … we arrived to one of the largest restaurants I have ever seen…..and the wait at 10:15 at night was estimated to be one and a half hours….we had a drink and decided to go elsewhere to a deli-style restaurant and has some Brasilian Pizza and Cheese-steaks….we had a chance to talk with Luiz Gabriel over dinner and discussed the seminar and how to proceed with the next two days.
On the way home we were informed that we would have a tour of the Military base, Federal Police Training K9 Center and we were going to be interviewed by Brazilian Television on wednesday……So far we are having a great time. I have never had to teach with a translator, and at times it was frustrating, not being able to say things exactly as i would to a US audience, but it has been an education in choosing my words carefully and being brief (not a strong point of mine) but complete in my teaching. At the end of the day i was exhausted, and Shawn was ready to get to the bitework where he will be more directly involved as the teaching helper for the attendees.