This past weekend we went to Red Deer to participate in the Little Nose that Knows SDDA scent trial. Mother Nature did her very best to make the weather conditions as miserable as possible. Despite that, Spirit got her much needed Excellent Exterior search component to finally earn her Championship. It has been a real struggle and I’m so proud of her. Not only did she get her beautiful ribbon, but a bunch of swag as well
Many thanks to our host Kris and the all the wonderful volunteers.
We spent St. Patty’s Day at our first C-WAGS scent trial. Anneli and everyone at See Spot Run were so welcoming and friendly.
Brodie and I did one Level 1 and two Level 2 trials and we qualified in all 3. It wasn’t very pretty. He was so distracted by the environment (doggy day care) that it was a constant struggle to get him focused and sniffing.
We were very grateful to win a Judges award for qualifying in all 3 runs at our first trial. We got this pot of “gold” as our prize.
Thanks to our Judges, volunteers and See Spot Run for making our introduction to C-WAGS so positive.
So proud of both of my “kids” for doing so well this weekend. They spent 3 nights and 4 days cooped up in a kennel in the car or a small hotel room. When we got home last night they burst into the house, running and jumping all over each other so happy to be home and free to move. This is the first time we have done 3 days at a scent trial. By noon on Sunday I had run out of steam and had no energy left. I’m afraid I was the weak link again.
Brodie was great in containers. We received a perfect score….which I don’t think I have ever gotten from Judge Jean-Marc and we got 2nd place. I love trialing under him because he always challenges and tests the teams and I learn so much to help us improve as we move forward. We started out great in our Interior search. Brodie found the hide in the first room and I was ready to call finish and then second guessed myself and decided to check one more area again. Brodie pawed at the rug and I quickly called alert just as my head was saying “NOOOOOOO” that wasn’t his normal alert behaviour. We NQ’d. We still had Exteriors to do. Since we no longer had a chance to title, I decided to try running Brodie without going for an extra pee break to see if I could successfully interrupt his marking behaviour. Exteriors are particularly challenging for an intact male that is obsessed with marking. This search area was even more challenging because there was so much pee-mail already there. He found the one hide and as we were just finishing up the last few feet of the search area, he marked. It was so fast that I didn’t even have a chance to yell NO. A very valuable experiment. I am really going to have to work on teaching him the difference between peeing on a walk and not peeing when wearing his search collar. I’ve got my work cut out for me that’s for sure.
Spirit had a great container run and finished in 3rd place. Unfortunately we NQ’d in interiors because she alerted too far away from the source. It was a tough call because of the drafts and the pooling of odour. Most dogs indicated in the exact same place as Spirit did. Even the judges expressed some regret about the hide placement but once they had NQ’d the first team they had to be consistent and NQ everyone else. If we had approached the hide from the opposite direction, she would have alerted at the source first before encountering the pooled odour. We had the same problem in Exteriors, she alerted at the top of the post and not the base. Ironically, one of the articles in the exterior search area was the same shoe from previous day that so many dogs false alerted on, and ironically Spirit hit on it again. There is something about that shoe that fooled so many teams. Very odd.
Tilly photo bomb
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!!
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”.
This fall I made myself a promise that if we were lucky enough to earn our Sporting Detection Master Champion title, I would book a photo session with an amazing local photographer Bev Holoboff Photography Brodie proved to be a bit of a challenge. He wasn’t comfortable posing on top of the table so he was just panting like crazy. Nearly every picture she took, either his tongue was hanging out or his ears were back and he looked nervous. We decided we would try getting some actions shots by throwing a bunch of his scent detection ribbons in the air. Not sure that Brodie found it as funny as we did.
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.