We drove to Red Deer today to participate in a Sporting Detection Dog Association (SDDA) trial. Spirit was entered in the Advanced Working Dog category. I have been introducing Brodie to scent detection, and since he was coming along for the ride, I thought I would enter him in the Started category so that he could get some experience being at a trial. Dogs have to be at least 6 months old to trial so we were lucky that Brodie hit that milestone last week, just in time to participate. It was a bit of a hectic morning because they decided to run the Started and Advanced at the same time. Brodie was 10th to run in the Started Division and Spirit was 8th in Advanced.
Brodie had his Container and Interior Searches first. Just before they called us, Brodie yelped and lunged towards his backend as a wasp bit him. Poor little guy. He kept walking in a circle trying to reach the spot, obviously very upset. The Judges offered to let us take a break and come back later but I decided to just go ahead since this was only a learning experience for him. To my complete shock and amazement it took him only 8 seconds (3 minute time limit) to find the correct container and we got a score of 29/30 (we lost 1 point for having an inconsistent search sequence). The Judges were as shocked as I was. We had a minute to gather our composure and he started the interior component. Again, he found the hide in only 37 seconds (5 minute time limit) with a score of 39/40 (again we lost 1 point for having an inconsistent search sequence). I had to run back to the car, drop off Brodie and grab Spirit for her first run so I didn’t have any time to really digest what had just happened.
Spirit did Containers first. She found the first hide quickly and I got all excited, rewarded her and walked away. The Judges just stood there staring at me. After about a minute of awkward silence they said, did you forget that there is a second hide??? Dummy me, having just completed the Started search that has only has one hide, I completely forgot that Advanced has two hides and a distractor. We got back to searching and Spirit indicated on another container and when I called it the Judge told me she was wrong. Dang it. I messed my girl up. Interesting note, there were 30 dogs in the Advanced category and only 4 found the 2 hides the rest false alerted like Spirit. Makes you wonder if there was some contamination in the search area. Spirit immediately moved on to her Interior search. She found both hides in 1 minute and 7 seconds and we scored a perfect 80/80.
Once again, I ran back to the car, did another quick dog switcharoo and raced backed to do Brodie’s exterior search. Unfortunately we were late and missed our turn so we had to wait and run last. The exterior search was comprised of 3 tractors. The hide was hidden underneath the middle tractor. It took my amazing little boy only 1 minute to find it (5 minute time limit with another amazing score of 29/30 (I lost 1 point for my handling hindering my dog). One of the Judges was the founder of the Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta (SARDAA). She was so impressed by him. She told me I have an amazing, young working dog. What a wonderful compliment from a very knowledgeable and experienced handler. I thought Brodie was just going to have a fun play day practicing searching and he ended up get his Started title. Because we got all 3 components at the same trial, we also get an SP designation (special). And the news only gets better, we actually finished 3rd overall and got a big basket of SWAG. Last but not least, because we got an overall score of 97/100, our title will be at the gold level. WOW!!!!! Big thank you to Judge Jane Book and shadow Judge Mary-Ann Warren.
We had a long wait before Spirit got to do her exterior search. By then it was very hot and sunny, not good for a big, hairy black dog. She really struggled. Dogs can’t scent when they are panting heavily. We used the whole 5 minutes and she didn’t find the hide. Even when the Judge told us where it was, it took two passes for her to find it and alert on it. No worries. I’m still very proud of my girl. Thank you to Judge Doug Theeft.
Each dog got a ginormous knuckle bone when we got home.