The following piece was written by one of my students after her first Nose Work trial with her little toy Schnauzer Becca:
The night before the trial I heard Becca barking from a distance. What was she barking about? Finally discovered she had gotten herself locked in Mom’s old bedroom. Was this an omen? Nah. But I loaded myself up with all the good luck charms I could find. We made it to Enumclaw in under an hour with no problem until I discovered we had left the brand new metallic car cover at home. You know what they say, “If a little something goes wrong, that’s a good sign.”
We were #5 in group B in the running order. Everyone got together before we started and walked the 4 events: indoor was a small room in the school with tables stacked on top of each other and 2 sets of office furniture. Two desks and 2 chairs, rubber waste baskets. Outside the building there were 3-4 vehicles (can’t remember exactly). The containers were in an X pattern ( you were expecting them to be patterned like an ORT? Not here), and finally the outside search was in a tiny courtyard with a walkway and some grass on either side. Nothing that we haven’t seen before except for all of the wait stations that you moved systematically through before the event. Later after the walk through, at the briefing the judges and officials answered questions and were told that if the judge asked you were the hide was you had to be exact as if you had to retrieve it yourself. Close only counted in horseshoes. This freaked me out a little. I believe the man’s name was Bob and he was a former policeman who trained and worked with German Shepherds. He supposedly wrote the book on nose work.
When #4 was flipped over on the stand, Becca and I approached the test odor boxes. She wanted nothing to do with them. Very odd. We finally started on the trail of wait stations. Our first event was the inside room with the office stuff. We walked in the room she took 2 whiffs at the chair and desk next to the entry and turned around and wanted out. I tried to move her through the run, but she stuck close to me and sat down 3 times. I was working my way back to the chair when the 3 min time was called. If you put a gun to my head and asked me if the 30 sec warning had been called I would have said no. Otherwise, I would have made a beeline for the chair again. Zero faults but we ran over the time limit. Zero points. The judge said she had no odor obedience. She is a pleas-or and was unsure in the new environment. He said she went right to the odor, touched it and wanted to go. He told me not to get frustrated and when I reward her go over the top. I wonder how our other dog, Jake , will take this since he is on a diet.
Next we went thru the waiting stations to get to the vehicles. Becca caught the scent (yes, you go girl) and began sniffing the running board and the corner of the front fender. I called the alert in 38 sec and 57 hundredths of a sec. The scent was on the exact spot except on the other side of the vehicle. The judge said she knew her odor she caught scent of it quickly but it was on the other side of the car. More experience with gusting wind will help and good trust in the dog’s odor recognition. I couldn’t believe it. We had never missed on vehicles before. Zero points and 2 faults.
Back to the car to wait for all 48 dogs to finish before lunch break. A nice volunteer named Terri, from Oregon, came over and loaned us her metallic cover and a small battery operated fan for the dash board. The match started back up around 1:30pm. I walked Becca over early. There was a young oriental girl sitting there with a pencil and a book busily scribbling something. ( Maybe she was Japanese and went to this school) I asked her if she wanted to give Becca a treat and she was very excited. No problem with Becca here. Then the girl handed me the cutest drawing that she had done of Becca. I should have had her sign it. You never no, Picasso may have started this way.
Everyone wondered what kind of dog Becca was and said how adorable she was. Now we started the maze of hall, stairs and wait stations. Our first event here was the white container boxes. We went in and she was working until she saw an exit door and she wanted to leave again. I told her no, we still had work to do. She finally caught the odor and sniffed one box on 3 sides. I called the alert and held my breath. Yes! She had gotten it right in 1 min 17 sec and 77 hundredths of a second. Thank you God. The judge told me always positive comments towards the dog. They never let us down, we let them down. Becca has lots of potential. No faults and 25 pts. We went outside where she was given a chance to pee and have water and she refused both. Now back thru the maze inside the school and to the waiting areas. When we got to the final door before entering the final event, the outside hide, we were introduced like we were at a royal event. “Presenting Pamela and Becca.” Again Becca wanted to leave the event area but I brought her back and was trying to work her. I stepped into the grass and her nose made a beeline to sniff the grass. Oh, no. She’s tracking to mark and I tried to pull her away as she squatted and peed in front on the judge. The judge said she was sorry. Peeing is an immediate disqualification. Yes she had potty breaks all day long and before each event. On our trek back to the car she peed 3 more times. Everyone kept asking if we were having fun. Yeah, I love working my dog in 86 degree weather, trying not to drop a treat (another disqualification), climbing hill and dale and stairs and mazes without being very successful. Well, I guess since Becca and I have only been working on this since March. I guess we can feel really good about getting one hide. Also a lot of the other contestants had handled dogs in other sports. So this was our maiden voyage for the two of us.
Carla and I chatted and compared results. Between us we had one perfect dog. The events Becca missed Gimme got and Gimme blew the containers Fringing, (smelling the odor one box off). We couldn’t decide to call this new wonder dog Becme or Gimca. Finally at 3:30pm the trial was over. Now the long wait for the debriefing. I lost $1.00 to Carla as we bet on when it would start. It took over an hour. When it began they were giving individual times for placement. In one event third place was 6 sec. Six seconds for third. Holy banana oil , Batman. The fast time in one event was 2 seconds. I can’t walk thru the door in 2 seconds and the all around best time was a little over 1 min. Darn those border terriers. They also awarded the Harry Award to a rescue named Apollo. He also took a gold ribbon in all around and got several other awards. We honor Harry because he was a rescue who was going to compete and was bitten by a snake and died 3 days prior to the first event. But as the judge pointed out he might have competed and peed in the outdoor search. LOL. Everyone who passed got a ribbon plus there were the placement awards. Finally it was over and we couldn’t wait to get out of there. We got Terri’s stuff back to her and left. I was trying to program the GPS with Becca asleep on my lap and Charles asked if we turned on 400St SE. Not wanting to break my record for the day I said no. This led to a detour around the river and through Geyser Park. We got home at 6:37pm to be met with the silver car cover where we left it in the kitchen, two dogs, and absolute exhaustion.
Pamela and Becca