So Spirit did a thing today. I’m so incredibly proud of her for passing her CKC Urban Tracking Dog test (UTD) today at almost 7 years old. It wasn’t pretty and she struggled for a very long time at her second corner but ultimately we made it to the magical leather glove at the end. Thank you to our amazing Judge Donna Brinkworth, our track layer and friend extraordinaire Susan Dueck, my training partner Leslie and our coach/trainer Mary Ann. And of course thank you Coreen and Steve of Tailspin Bernese for sharing this big, shiny, goofy black girl with me.
Tag Archives: Bernese Mountain Dog
Took the dogs out early this morning for some tracking. Brodie did a 300 metre field track. The crop was taller than him and filled with dew and seed heads. The yellow seeds turned Brodie into a “ golden” Golden Retriever instead of a cream coloured one. Both he and I have thousands of little seeds in every crack and crevice of our bodies and my clothes. My pants were so wet from the heavy dew that they were weighted down and moving towards my ankles as I ran through the field trying to keep up with Brodie 😂😆
Thank goodness we have a high powered dog blow dryer to get these seeds off.
Spirit ran a 700 metre urban track that was aged for 75 minutes. Unfortunately for the second time this week, just before we started to run the track, huge industrial lawn mowers went right over our track and articles. After a few expletives, I decided we would try and run the track anyway. She struggled for the first 200 metres weaving widely back and forth but eventually we made it to an area that hadn’t been mowed and she got back on track. So proud of her for handling this very tough puzzle and making it to end successfully.
I can’t believe that it was 6 years ago today that Spirit joined our family. She had such a fearful and stressful drive home with us that I thought we had broken her. She shivered, drooled and sat frozen with fear the whole way home. She even refused food (for those that know Spirit, food is the most important thing in the world to her). I took her straight into the backyard and once I put her on the ground she quickly recovered her composure and inhaled any and all food offered to her. I knew we had a fearful puppy but it was comforting to see that she also recovered quickly. She has grown into a big, shiny beautiful black girl.
We did our first ever blind track today and I am still flying high hours later. It was 283M and had 2 articles. It felt so weird not knowing where the track went and trying to trust and read Spirit’s body language. There was a cross wind that confused her in a couple of places but she was able to work out the puzzle. So darn proud of her ❤️🐶❤️.
It’s official, Spirit received her SDDA Games Champion title in the mail. Back in December, she was the first Bernese Mountain Dog to earn this title and she is still the only one. So proud of what she has accomplished.
We spent the last 3 days attending Barn Hunt and C-WAGS trials. So proud of both my kids. Between the two of them they earned 3 new titles and 10 Q’s
Brodie got his Barn Hunt Instinct and Novice titles as well as his C-WAGS Level 2 Scent Detective Ace title (RATI RATN CW-SDA). He also got his first Q in Barn Hunt Open and 40 points towards his Barn Hunt Crazy 8’s title. He earned a Q in C-WAGS Scent Ranger Level 1, Scent Detective and Scent Investigator
Spirit is too big for the Barn Hunt tunnels but she Q’d in all 3 of her C-WAGS runs today
The dogs and I also signed up for our 2nd Iron Paws. I have a couple of injuries that will prevent us from doing much kick sledding so I signed us up for the recreational canicross category instead. The Resolution run also counted towards our runs for the 1st week of Iron Paws…..bonus!!
We spent today at See Spot Run participating in our last C-WAGS trial for 2019. Brodie earned two Level 2 Q’s. Spirit whipped his butt by not only earning two Level 2’s but also her first Level 4 Q. Thanks to Judges Deb, Christina and Robbi.
Spirit has had a great sniffing week. First she earned her SDDA Games Champion title on Sunday and today we got her C-WAGS Scent Investigator (Level 3) title in the mail.
I just love this big goofy girl. She does not do scent work for the love of the game, she does it because she loves engaging with me and seeing me get so excited when she finds the hide and, well lets be honest here….she has an intense love affair with food. We’ve had more than our fair share of struggles along the way. I used to say that if we could just make it to our championship I would be thrilled. Then it was maybe a Master Champion title was actually possible. With each milestone we reached she showed me she could do it and that I underestimated her. Then came Games. Once again, I sold her short. At best I thought we had a chance of getting our Aerial title but that was it. Yesterday we earned our Games Championship. In so many ways this title means more to me than when her younger “brother’ Brodie became the first dog to earn a SD-GCH. For him it was relatively easy and somewhat expected that he would, at least at some point, get the title. For Spirit this is a real achievement….she actually got 3 Speed Q’s…if you’ve ever watched her search, speedy is not an adjective you would use to describe her style 😉. Moral of the story…..dream big and trust your dog 💜💜💜
She is the first Bernese Mountain Dog to get this title and only the 6th dog of any breed to earn it. If you think about it, that is pretty amazing for a breed that is not associated with scent work. She is now officially known as:
Tailspin’s Winter’s Spirit RI SDIN, SDDA: SD-MACH SD-GCH, C-WAGS: CW-SI
We spent the day at See-Spot-Run participating in their Pre-Halloween Howler scent detection trial. Both dogs were on their game qualifying in 7 out of 7 runs and we had a great time.
Spirit got two Level 2 and one Level 3 Q which earned her a Level 3 Scent Investigator title (CW-SI).
Brodie also earned two Level 2 and one Level 3 Q. He ran his first Level 4 search and qualified. So proud of both of them. We are so lucky to be able to participate in scent detection under three different organizations with different scents and rules (C-WAGS, SDDA and CKC)
I am so glad that we were able to combine our family visits with the Sporting Detection Dogs Association’s inaugural National Challenge Cup. We had a blast meeting so many wonderful people,talking dogs and sniffing.
The festivities started on Friday with a lovely wedding. Esteemed Judge Doug Teeft and his fiancé Cathy tied the knot. Their cake was appropriately topped with German Shepherds.
The Games trial came next. Originally I had signed Brodie up for all 4 games but since that time he has earned all 4 titles. I substituted Spirit in the Speed component since she needs two more Speed Q’s to get her title and championship. Since we had already paid, Brodie ran in the remaining 3 games for the heck of it. Spirit nailed Speed and Brodie Q’d in Aerial and Distance (18 seconds WTG).
Then came the Team component. We didn’t have a pre-arranged partner so Stacy Barnett and I partnered up. She wanted to split the areas up and not call a hide until the other dog came in and confirmed it. Since we already have our title I was happy to follow her plan. Unfortunately that ate up a lot of time. We had successfully called 3, Brodie had sourced the 4th hide but Brava couldn’t confirm it so we timed out. Oh so close. In NACSW they don’t have to be as exact as SDDA when they call their hides. Brava was able to say there is something somewhere around here but I had to bring Brodie in to pinpoint the exact location before I was able to call each of the hides. Although we didn’t Q (only one team did) it was an honour and pleasure to search with such a well known and respected participant, Judge and international nose work instructor.
The Nationals started Saturday morning with each team doing 4 searches (exterior containers, interior and 2 interior/exterior combos). In 3 of the 4 searches we found all the hides for full points plus bonus points. We only found two of the 4 hides in the last interior/exterior combo but since we found the two hardest hides we still earned decent points. Our two afternoon searches weren’t quite as successful. We nailed the exterior search but NQ’d on the vehicle search which cost us a maximum of 30 points. At the end of the first day we had 182 points which put us in 9th place overall
Saturday night was the banquet. We shared a table with Jane book and several of her students and had a wonderful evening. There was a very interesting speaker with 40+ years experience training dogs and handlers all over the world. He talked about how scent behaves and how he approaches a search.
Sunday morning we had 3 searches. They upped the ante by reducing our search time to only 2 minutes each. My amazing boy nailed all 3. Watching him work just made my heart sing. How lucky am I that I get to play sports and share my life with this smart, athletic, goofy and handsome boy. I could have gone home at that point completely happy with our performance.
All of a sudden people where hugging and congratulating me and I didn’t know what was happening until I actually saw the official results. Much to my utter shock, we ended up placing 4th overall. Holy cow….completely unexpected.
The top 12 teams got to participate in the finals. The dogs ran in reverse order of score so we were the 9th team to search. There were 2 search areas, 3 hides in each and only 2 minutes per search. We all started fresh with zero points.
I listened to lots of clapping and cheers for the previous competitors. By the time it was our turn my mouth was dry, my palms and forehead were sweaty and my stomach was doing flip flops. We were way out of our league competing against scent work teachers, judges and some of the best in our sport. When I walked up to the vehicle search and saw the crowd of spectators my hands started shaking. Scent detection is usually a solo sport with just you, your dog, the timer and Judge.
Our first search was not stellar. We missed the first hide right at the front corner of the trailer, found the second inside the bed of the trailer and then moved on to the second vehicle. Brodie picked up the odour and worked it back to source but we timed out just as I called alert.
Thank goodness we had a couple of minutes to wait before we started the exterior search. I was able to sit down, stroke Brodie’s sweet soft forehead and practice some deep breathing to try and relax. I told myself to calm down and forget about who else is searching and how many people are watching and judging us. Just focus on my boy and enjoy ourselves. It worked. We nailed all 3 hides. So proud of Brodie. He is the heart and soul of this team.
We ended up finishing in 7th place, way exceeding any of my dreams. We got a lovely ribbon and a bag of swag.
I wish I could have had a do-over on the first search but that’s how it goes. Valuable lesson learned. Forget about everything else and most importantly trust your dog!!!!
Games night at the Manitoba Scent Detection Trial is over. Thanks to our awesome Teams partner Michelle and Neuman, Brodie and I got our 3rd Q and earned our Teams Title. I think that makes us the very first to get all 4 Games Titles 🏅🏅🏅🏅.
Spirit earned her Distance Title giving her her 2nd games title. She completely surprised me by earning a Q in Speed. Anyone who has seen her search knows that speed is not her forte….slow and steady is her mantra. We called the last hide with just a millisecond to spare.
Thank you to all the volunteers, hosts Michelle & Diane and our Judge John-Marc Dugas.
We spent the day at See Spot Run participating in a C-WAGS scent trial. We had a great day sniffing and hanging out with great people. Brodie was entered in three rounds, one Level 2 and two Level 3, and he qualified in all of them. He earned his Level 3 Scent Investigator (CW-SI) title.
Spirit ran in two Level 3 rounds and qualified in both.
Yesterday we got up bright and early to drive to Calgary to participate in the Shiba Inu Club of Canada’s Scent Detection trial at the beautiful Spruce Meadows. It’s a good thing that Spirit went first because the temperature soared to 30C later in the day. She found the hide in 10.61 seconds earning her Scent Detection Instinct Title (SDIN). By the time the Novice teams started it was unbearably hot outside. We started with containers and Brodie had it sourced from the start line so we finished in 8.19 seconds. By the time we ran the exterior searches, the search area was in full sun. Thank goodness he found it in 33.54 seconds. We finished with the interior search inside the barn. Brodie found the environment very “smelly-licious” and wasn’t as focused as he should have been. He found the hide in 33.54 seconds. Only 6 teams passed all 3 searches to earn their Scent Detection Novice Title (SDN) and thank goodness we were one of them. The majority of the teams failed on the hot exterior search. It is very difficult for dogs to scent when they are panting so hard. At the trial 2 weeks ago 20 teams passed the Novice test so the heat really appears to have been a factor at this trial.
Big thank you to the Shiba Inu Club of Canada, the volunteers and Judge Kelley Ladouceur for a great trial.
It was a great first day at the trial. Both dogs did so well. Brodie went first in Elite. We started with exteriors…darn cold and windy exterior search. The area was also full of dog pee, it was an incredible challenge to keep Brodie from responding to the pee-mail. We managed to qualify and finished 2nd. Containers went really well and we finished in 2nd place again. Then came the dreaded interior search. Brodie narrowed in on the scent quickly but his silly partner jumped the gun and called the alert too quickly. If I had just waited 1/2 a second I would have been able to give the judge the exact location when I heard the dreaded “where?” Instead I was off by a couple of inches. There is so much added pressure when you have passed the first two and know that you need the 3rd component to title. Hopefully tomorrow I will remember to stop and take a breath before calling alert.
Spirit ran in Excellent. We started with the container search which she passed and finished 2nd overall. Then came our interior search. We had 3 rooms to search, two of which where bathrooms. She was very uncomfortable going into the stalls in the men’s bathroom. By the time we got to the ladies bathroom she was shaking and dropping to the ground in fear as we approached the first stall. I did my best to comfort and encourage her. This is the first time she has shown any fear in a bathroom. Thankfully we made it through all three rooms and finished 1st overall. Now the pressure was on. If we passed the exterior search she would not only earned her excellent title but her Championship as well. Alas it was not to be. She alerted on a shoe and we heard the heartbreaking “no'”. We later learned that the first 4 dogs all falsely alerted on the same shoe. We still have tomorrow to hopefully pass the exterior component and earn the titles.
We, or should in say I earned one more title…..”most dramatic”. When I got over the disappointment of Brodie missing his elite title because of my mistake, I blurted out “yeah that means we don’t have to search the urinals”. Turns out the joke was on me. In Spirit’s trial, not only did she have to search the men’s bathroom but also the women’s. The judge even put a hide on top of one of the urinals. No face smooches for her until I can scrub her muzzle. YUK!!
Just for a little winter fun and motivation, I have signed up for the 2019 Iron Paws Stage Race. It is a 6 week virtual sled dog race. The whole idea is to get you and your dogs out and active and meeting up with local like minded people. It also includes some fun challenges that you must do each week.
For our first week we have been challenged to create a magazine cover featuring our team. This is what I came up with:
We accumulate points by participating in races, going on group training runs and participating in regional events. As long as we do at least one run per week we should earn a medal at the end of the 6 week program. The real reward is the time spent and memories made with your dogs.
Sometimes it can be hard to keep motivated during a cold Alberta winter so I am hoping this virtual race and meeting up with other Kicksled/canicross/skijor/bikejor teams will keep us going out and about.
To start our New Year off on the right foot and accumulate our first points, the dogs and I did the Running Room 5km Resolution run as a canicross team.
We received two new official titles in the mail today. Brodie got his SD-MACH (Sporting Detection Master Champion) and Spirit got her silver level SD-E (Sporting Detection Excellent Title). They sure love this sniffing game. So proud of my “kids”.
When we finished our last trial in October I thought that would be the end of our 2018 season but I was wrong. When I saw the premium for the K9 Scentinels trial in Surrey BC, I just knew we had to enter. The best dog teams in our sport were going to be there and we would have the opportunity to trial along side them and learn so much. Traveling through the mountains at this time of year can be very treacherous but we were lucky and had great weather both ways. It is very rare to be able to see the top of Mount Robson…it is usually hidden in the clouds.
Brodie only needed one more Q in Excellent Interiors so I entered him both Saturday and Sunday hoping that he would pass one of them and earn his Master Championship. I also entered him in Elite for both days but we didn’t get a spot on either day. We ended up first on the waiting list for Saturday and 3rd on Sunday. Spirit has been “off” on scent work lately so I did not enter her at all. A few days before the trial we got the great news that someone has cancelled on Saturday so Brodie would get a chance to do an Elite run.
For Excellent Interiors you have 15 minutes to search 3 rooms. One will have 1 hide, one will have 2 hides and the other will be clear. You cannot leave a room until you call it clear or finished. As luck would have it, Brodie passed his Excellent run in 2 minutes and 40 seconds and earned his Master Championship on Saturday. K9 Scentinels made a video of each dog’s run and shared it with us after the trial (thank you!).
Since Brodie didn’t need his run on Sunday, K9 Scentinels allowed me to substitute Spirit in for him and switch it to Exteriors. I was so proud of Spirit. She worked her little heart out (slow and steady) and not only got high in trial but she earned her Excellent Title. Here’s Spirit’s video It was early Sunday morning, -2C and the whole search area was on a steep frosty covered hill (concrete and grass). There were 3 hides.
We ended up getting the opportunity to run Elite on both days. Elite is so much harder than all the previous levels combined. There are an unknown number of hides, you have to deal with converging and pooling odour and it is a real head game for the handler. Unfortunately not a single team qualified in Elite either day. I was so hoping to see history made and witness the first team ever to earn their Elite Championship or Grand Master Championship. There are two teams that just need one more elite title to reach both of these milestones.
On the weekend we participated in the Cowichan Valley K9 Noseworks scent trial on Vancouver Island. Brodie had a great day on Saturday, He qualified in both Excellent Amateur Interiors (2nd place) and Containers. With those 2 qualifiers he earned his Excellent title.
Spirit struggled a bit but she qualified in Advanced Working containers with a 2nd place. We were really thrilled to learn that we were chosen as the Judge’s favourite team.
Sunday was complete opposite of Saturday. Spirit qualified in all 3 components and earned another Advanced Working Title. She also got a first place in containers and once again we were chosen as the Judge’s favourite team (different Judge).
Brodie didn’t qualify in any of his runs. Our exterior search was particularly interesting. He was so focused on whatever scents were in the environment that he completely ignored me for the entire 5 minutes before we timed out and were disqualified. The Judge and her assistants were in tears from laughing so hard watching me trying to get Brodie to engage with me. I had a good giggle when I was given my score sheets and saw the Judge’s comments……
Thank you to CWV9 for hosting a wonderful. A big thank you to Judges Jane Book and Kathy Hansen and all the wonderful volunteers.
This morning I was awake at 4am to get ready to drive to Red Deer to compete at the Little Nose That Knows/Canine Coaching SDDA trial. The trial was held at the Sunnybrook Farm Museum. We are so lucky that businesses like Sunnybrook support SDDA and allow us to hold trials there. Both Brodie and Spirit competed today. Running two dogs at the same trial can be a little hectic but I was very lucky because their searches didn’t overlap today. This was Spirit’s first trial in almost a year. We had to cancel several trials earlier this year because she was having trouble with her eyes. I was a little nervous since we had been away from the sport for so long but she was a wonderful. She qualified in all 3 components and got her advanced working stream title. She came in first in interiors with a perfect score of 80/80, second in containers with a 57/60 and got a 50/60 for her exterior search . The icing on the cake was finishing first place overall in the advanced working stream. So proud of my girl. With an overall score of 187/200 she earned a Silver title.
Not wanting to be outdone by his big sister, Brodie had a smokin’ day at the trial too. He Q’d in both excellent containers and exteriors. He would have got his title with SP designation but his Mom got too excited and called the alert too quickly on the last interior room search. If I had waited 2 seconds longer I would have been able to tell the judge exactly where the hide was instead of being off by a few inches. For only 18 months old he just rocked it. It was a tough trial and no one earned their excellent title. We were thrilled to find out that we placed 2nd in containers and first in exteriors and we were the only team that qualified in exteriors.
Thank you to all the amazing volunteers, Judges Paul Dyer and Ryan-Ann King Smith and to Little Nose that Knows and Canine Coaching for hosting another great trial.
We made another trip to Red Deer today to compete in a scent trial hosted by the Little Nose That Knows. Brodie had a great day in his advanced trial coming in 2nd in interiors and vehicles and finished first overall. He got lots of ribbons and swag. Thank you to Judges Ryan-Ann King-Smith and MaryAnn Warren and to Kristina Sveinson and Samantha Freschette for all their hard work organizing the trial.
Spirit and Brodie had a nice off leash run and swim today. Unfortunately that also meant they both had to have a bath because they were filthy and smelled like “swamp thing”.
We spent this weekend at the Battle River Canine Association rally obedience trial in Camrose. I signed Spirit up just to give her some experience in the trial environment. She can get anxious and reactive around other dogs so I wanted her first trial to be somewhere relatively close to home giving us the opportunity to just take her home if she was overwhelmed. She amazed me. There were only minor signs of stress and I was able to quickly focus and redirect her. Not only did she successfully complete her trial each day with a qualifying score, she earned her Novice title with scores of 92, 96 and 95. On Friday she also got a ribbon for Second in Class. She is now officially known as Tailspin’s Winter’s Spirit RN . Not bad considering we just finished our introductory rally course a couple of weeks ago. Yahoooooooooo Thank you to Judges Karen Brearley, Margaret Chandler, Marie-Johanne Cloutier.
This is a typical morning in our house…although usually Tilly is also snuggling somewhere in the mix. I have over 150 lbs. of hairy children draped across my body. Good thing they are comfortable…..who cares if I am.
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.
We received our official Advanced Title in the mail today. I didn’t realize it but we received a gold level title which means we scored 96% or better in each of the disciplines. Her started titled was a bronze so I guess it means that we are improving as a team….yeah us!!!
We were up bright and early this morning to drive to Red Deer to participate in Nosey Pawtner’s Sporting Detection Dog Association trial. We had a slow start but a great finish with lots of swag.
Spirit got a second place on the interior search component, 2nd place overall and she got her Advanced title today. So proud of my big girl. So now we have to move from the amateur steam and start competing in the working/professional scenting dog stream.
Throughout the photo shoot she had her eye on the cookie and couldn’t wait for permission to gobble it down.
Next week we are going to take a carting clinic and we needed a cart for the class. We are very lucky that Spirit’s breeders Coreen and Steve Johnson from Tailspin Bernese Mountain Dogs generously offered to lend us one of theirs. We went to their acreage on Sunday to fit Spirit with her harness and cart.
Since we have been doing kick sledding I was worried that Spirit would want to take off running with the cart rather than walking in a nice heel beside me. She was a little spooked by the metal supports running along side her body but I think she did ok.
Of course it was freezing cold and windy for us two legged folks but the dogs didn’t mind. Here is a quick video of her first reaction to being attached to the cart and then her first experience pulling.