Tag Archives: Nosework

Spirit Got Mail

SpiritSDDA_SD-GCH.jpgIt’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.

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Busy Dog House Weekend

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

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C-WAGS Christmas

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.

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C-WAGS Mail

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.

SpiritCWAGS-CW-SI

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More Elite Titles

BrodieElite2-3Ribbons

Brodie and I had an incredible weekend at the Canine Coaching SDDA trial held at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Big thanks to Samantha Freschette and all her wonderful volunteers for putting on another amazing trial and to Judge Richard Hatchman.

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On Saturday there were 9 or 10 teams doing elite searches.  That is the biggest Elite group we have ever trialed with (normally it is 5 or 6 teams maximum).  We ran last so we had lots of time to wait and worry….ok I worried and stressed, Brodie didn’t care. It was so exciting to see each team come out from their searches all excited because they had passed.  An incredible 6 teams passed all 3 components to earn an Elite title.  For two teams it was their elusive first title.  One amazing team (Al and Kerri) reached the ultimate pinnacle in SDDA and earned both their Sporting Detection Elite Champion and Sporting Detection Grand Master Champion.  We earned our 2nd elite title, but more importantly we got our first gold score.  We also got a first place in containers, 3rd place in interiors and a 3rd place overall.

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On Sunday there were 6 elite teams competing and this time we searched first. Only one team titled on Sunday…..and it was us and it was another gold!  Since we were the only team to title, we got first place overall and we were the only team to pass the exterior search so we got first in exteriors.  I am still in shock.  We now have 3 elites, under 2 different judges and the elusive 2 gold scores.  We need two more elite titles to earn our Sporting Detection Elite Champion and Sporting Detection Grand Master Champion.

BrodieTiredElite

Two days of sniffing is exhausting

 

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Another Games Champion

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

 

Photo courtesy of Ryan-Ann King

Photo courtesy of Ryan-Ann King

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Halloween C-WAGS Style

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)

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SDDA Nationals

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!!!!

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Busy Trial Weekend

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Photo Credit:  Bev Holoboff

On Friday night we braved pouring rain, thunder and lightning so that Brodie could participate in a CKC Chase Ability run. We didn’t get home until almost 10pm and didn’t get to sleep until closer to midnight by the time we had unloaded and reloaded the dogs.

Our alarm went off at 3:15am so that we could drive to Calgary for Spirit to compete in the first CKC Scent Detection trial in Alberta. Her first two runs were perfect. On our third run we heard the dreaded “I’m sorry”. She has a bad habit of alerting at the fringe of odour rather than following it back to source. Too bad, we headed back to Edmonton with 2 qualifying ribbons but no Novice title.

Sunday morning we were up at 6am for a 45 minute drive east of the city to attend the final day of the ALCA speed demons trial. Brodie ran 2 Sprinters and 1 CAP. He managed to get two new personal bests on his Sprinters. He is the fastest male Golden Retriever in Canada running 42.33 km/hr. There is one female Golden who is faster than him at 42.5 km/hr…..so close!!!

At the end of his last Sprinters run he slid through a muddy slough and came out looking like this

Brodie qualified in all 4 of his runs this weekend.

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Another CWAGS Title

Today we spent another great day at See Spot Run competing in Brodie’s 3rd and Spirit’s 2nd C-WAGS trial. Brodie did two Level 2 and two Level 3 runs and Q’d in all 4.

Spirit did two Level 2 runs which gave her her 3rd and 4th Q to earn her Level 2 Scent Detective Title CW-SD.

Thank you to Anneli of See Spot Run and Judges: Robbi Bitner and Dana Gallagher.

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Our 2nd Champion

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.

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C-WAGS

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.

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Great Trial Weekend

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.

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Day 1 of Canine Coaching Trial

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!!

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We got SDDA mail

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”.
BrodieSDDA-SD-MACH
SpiritSDDA-SD-E

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MACH Photoshoot

pic-27This 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.

 

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One more sniff for 2018

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!).

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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.

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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.

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Cowichan Valley K9 Noseworks Trial

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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……

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Thank you to CWV9 for hosting a wonderful.  A big thank you to Judges Jane Book and Kathy Hansen and all the wonderful volunteers.

 

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Another Scent Title for Spirit

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.

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