The NW3 Pendulum

This sums up NW3 for Jinxx and I:

You don’t know how many hides there are… there can’t be just one?  Keep dog searching when there is only one hide… produce False Alert

You false alerted in the last trial on nothing, so this trial your goal is to get in and get out… but you miss a hide

You missed a hide in the last trial, so you bring your dog to an area they’ve already searched – just to be sure – hear the 30 second warning and panic that you missed something… produce False Alert

You over-searched (again) in the last trail, so this time when you hear the 30 second warning you call Finish before you find something that’s not there… and miss a hide

And so the pendulum continues to swing, between continuing to search when your dog is done (and producing a False Alert) and leaving a search area without covering the entire area (and missing a hide)  One of these days we will go to a trial and the pendulum will stop – we won’t find any “extra hides” and we won’t miss JUST ONE hide.

Columbia, NJ Camp Warren 10/17/14

This trial site was a bit like the Fishkill NY trial site (without the lake) a bit like Ashby (without the bridge and river)  Nice grassy parking lot, level ground, slightly shabby cabins (perfect for dogs!) and beautiful rural location.  The drive getting to the trial site was very bucolic – rolling fields with horses and sheep, farms, white fences, foliage, just gorgeous.  Definitely changed my opinion of NJ!

It was another fun day sitting in the grassy parking lot chatting with fellow NW3 competitors, talking about past trials (and our tribulations) and upcoming Element trials, and who is in what day at the 3 day NW3 event in Foxboro, what crate and car set up works best, etc.  The judges were Doc and Sergio, always a comedic duo, and Certifying Official was Wendy Kreibal (she did the Ashby and Lake George trials).

A first for me (although I guess you do enough trials and you’re bound to hit every spot in the run order) Jinxx and I were dog #1!

Interiors were first, Doc was the judge.  This is where we have had the most trouble in NW3 – reading the clear room was a problem in our first NW3 trial, then not over directing her in the small camp rooms, and not keeping her in the small rooms too long and false alerting on a mattress (did that in 2 different trials).

We had 2 minutes for each of the 3 rooms.

Rm 1 – Really this was 2 contiguous rooms, sort of like 2 walk in closets linked together.  Lots of junk – 4 car tires, boat bumpers, rolled up foam pads, a bureau, just lots of junk piled in there.  Jinxx didn’t really sniff much of anything, moved around, sniffed the bureau, but didn’t really spend time on anything.  I called Finish in :48 seconds

Rm 2 – L shaped, 2 bunk beds separated by a night stand on your left, then on the right was a kitchen w/ refrigerator, cupboards, stove, and closet w/ baseboard heater.  Jinxx showed mild interest near the closet/heater, then went to the cupboard and alerted.  There was a small beam/partition that blocked the view of her nose, I almost called alert, but wasn’t in a good position to see exactly where (although neither was Doc – he had to scuttle around to see, also) She went back and sniffed around the cupboard door and alerted again – Alert? Yes.  She turned out of there and went to the baseboard heater – sniffed and stopped w/ a slight nose poke – Alert? Yes.  I turned and now needed to get her between the bunk beds… she sort of checked the ends of them (remember the videographer, judges steward, and Doc were all in there, and Wendy, the Certifying Official also came in to watch – so it was tight quarters)  I walked between the bunks, she came with me and I backed out – nothing, so I called Finish.  That was all in 1:15.

Rm 3 – this room you entered from a door at the foot of one of the bunk beds from Rm 2.  The door to Rm 3 was opposite the exterior door we had come in from.  Rm 3 was TINY – 2 bunks separated by a night stand, a closet, and a metal chair under a window.  Reminded me of Oceanwood!  Jinxx was in odor at the door – but was sniffing the door frame and almost looking like she wanted to go back to Rm 2!  @@#$$ – did we miss a hide in Rm 2 on one of those bunks?  She went into Rm 3 and searched the mattress – heavy sniffing along the mattress, up and down, back and forth… came around to the foot of the bunk, when up and down the bunk legs/support, up and down, then back to the mattress.  All I’m thinking is I WILL NOT FALSE ALERT ON A MATTRESS, I WILL NOT FALSE ALERT ON A MATTRESS.  I knew she was in odor, but not necessarily on that bunk – she would have found it by now (right?).  There was that chair under the window (facing the door as we came in) and I tried a few times to get her over there.  This room was so small that Doc stood in the open doorway (open to Rm 2)  I’m still wondering if she’s picking up odor from a hide in Rm 2 that we missed, but I get her to the chair and lo and behold – bracketing… Alert (this with confidence) Yes. Finish.  Thank you.  That was 1:30.

So, I didn’t feel great back a the car.  No “NOs” (which in NW3 is a GOOD thing) but I was still wondering if there was a hide on that bunk in Rm 3 or if I missed one in Rm 2. Time will tell.

Containers next.  We have had a lot of success in Containers – passing, placing – but have also false alerted on pooling odor.  This was in a small room (SO different from the Lake George trial under that huge pavilion) – only 13 containers!  Sergio was the judge.  He asks if I’m ready as I walk in – I say, “I think so.”  What a lame answer!  It should always be, “YES – Let’s do this!”  So, I think I was feeling insecure to start – Not a good place to be.  First bag off the start line is a vinyl-y suitcase, VERY similar to the brown and tan ones I have that we practice on.  She sniffs the top corner and starts to lie down… I’m walking in behind her at an angle to her right – she looks over her left shoulder for me – that was an alert! but I keep moving and she moved off it.  She moves around, shows mild interest in a white box, shows interest in a flowered bag, searches the bleachers along one side of the containers, then the wall near the door we came in, near that first bag… she gets back to that first suitcase and nose pokes. Alert? Yes.  I bring her back to the floral bag… nose poke / bite it, push it around, bite it, get the straps wrapped around her paws – she did something similar to a hot bag in Lake George, but not quite the same so I keep moving, and she comes off it.  Finnnnissssh.  Thank you.  Back at the car, I’m not sure if the floral bag was hot and we missed it, or if I successfully avoided a False Alert.  Time will tell.

Vehicles.  We had 3:30. Another element we normally pass, BUT in Lake George, this was the element I found 2 hides, was about to call Finish, heard the 30 sec warning and panicked… kept her searching and called Alert when she sniffed (not alerted) a license plate… and was WRONG.  So, we did not walk across the start line with much confidence or enthusiasm.  Sergio was the judge.  4 vehicles, parked in a square.  An SUV next to a minivan, behind them a trailer (very similar to the one at it’s a dogs’ world) and a golf cart.  She started towards the mini van and did the far side of it, then came back around the front… went up between the SUV and minivan, showed interest in the trailer post that was on the ground, worked it up to the wheel and bracketed the wheel and fender – nose poke under the fender – Alert? Yes.  Keep moving – around the golf cart – nothing. Back in the middle of the 4, she looks confused – not sure which way to go – wind is blowing / swirling, she can’t make up her mind, so I bring her to the SUV… we get to the trailer hitch on that, Alert? Yes.  Back to the middle, I want to do the side of the minivan, but she works the side of the SUV.  I sort of turn to the mini van, and she hangs out in the middle again, we get the :30 second warning, so I’m determined not to make a dumb false alert, I call Finnnnisssshh at 3::04. Thank you.  I don’t feel great about that search, either.  Time will tell.

Back a the car, people are asking – how’s it going so far?  In NW3, you pretty much can say, Nope, I’m out (meaning you False Alerted and know you won’t get a title) or “No ‘NOs’ ” meaning, you could still be in it, so long as you found everything.  There were only a handful of us who had not heard No.  Lots of False Alerts in Interior and Containers.  People started congratulating me! for not hearing NO, but I still didn’t feel super confident.

Last search – Exteriors.  Doc was the judge.  This area was interesting.  There was a pavilion w/ about 9 wood picnic tables, but there was blue tape marking the boundary – we only had to search 3 of the tables. The pavilion also had built-in wood benches along the sides, so we had part of the benches to search, too.  Then outside the pavilion was a cement area with a ramp up to a building.  The side of the ramp had a wood railing.  The top of the ramp was a flat area with an AC condenser unit against the building, and I think a chair or other junk.  We also had the area below the ramp, which was grassy, wet leaves, roots, a giant tree, the edge of the ramp w/ the railing, then a built-in bbq grill against the wall of the building.  Oh, and a metal folding chair against the ramp, under the wood railing.  We had 3:30.  Jinxx headed for the pavilion, detailed the middle picnic table, stuck her nose under the tabletop, double nose touched it – Alert? Yes.  We move along to the next table, bench, then turn to face up the ramp… she picks up odor on the railing, above that metal chair.  She works the rails, the bottom rail, sticks her nose through a few rails towards the chair, works the rails… so I’m thinking it could be BELOW the ramp, maybe on the chair?  But if it’s on the chair back, she could get it thru the railing, so I let her work it some more. Finally, I suggest we “come around!” – she knows this from Agility – and I’m at the end of our 12ft leash and the ramp and railing still extends a bit behind me… she is still working the top of the chair back thru the railing (remember, we are elevated on this ramp so she only has access to the top 4 inches of the metal chair)  I finally apply enough pressure that she comes down the ramp and we get around the railing, go over some roots and leaves to get to the chair.  She goes behind the chair between it and the ramp, and there is a drainage pipe coming out of the ramp – she sniffs in there, and is on her belly – looking like she is in critter mode, then comes to the front of the chair, details it, nose pokes twice under it – Alert? Yes.  Phew!  We move to the building and the bbq – nothing.  We circle back and move to the front of the big tree, right back near the start line – nothing – Finish.  Thank you.  Time will tell, but I feel the best about this search as far as not missing anything. Although I wish we had worked out the chair hide quicker, we finished in 2:36.

Back at the cars, there are only a handful of people “still in it”, but I don’t feel great.  I’m hopeful, but, I’m questioning our Interiors (maybe there was something in the first room I  thought was clear, maybe there was a 3rd hide in Rm 2, maybe that Container was a hide?)  It turns out… drumroll… we missed a hide on the tan minivan!!!!!!  It was an inaccessible deep under the front tire.  Did I actually get her to that corner of the minivan?  I know I tried to get her to work down the side of it, and she was over on the red SUV (probably picking up converging odor from the trailer, trailer hitch AND minivan hides)  I don’t know, but I wanted to cry.  Literally.  So close, again.

7 people titled.  Turns out, the flowered bag I almost called it on was the killer in Containers, and the bunk bed and mattress Jinxx worked so hard at in Rm 3 also got a lot of people.  Doc theorized that the hide on the chair under the window had sun hitting it, causing odor to rise, hit the ceiling, pull towards the door when it opened, then drop down the bunk supports at the doorway.  So Yay me – I DID read that correctly that she was in odor, but not near source.  And Yay me – I did read interest in the floral bag, but because I brought her back to it, I gave it too much importance, hence the biting behavior, but the good thing is I knew that was not what she does at source odor.  BUT -I should have trusted her at the first bag when she alerted in 3 seconds, and SHE should have stayed with it, not walked off with me.  And Yay me – I read the lack of interest in the clear room, and in the area between the bunks in Rm 2.  BUT – I also read her confusion between the 4 vehicles, and should have taken a more proactive role in being sure she searched the front and sides of each of the 4 vehicles that bordered the center. The only one I really didn’t have her work, was the front and side of the minivan that made up the center of the square, where she may have picked up the odor from the missed hide.

Since this was the 3rd NW3 Interior we passed, we got our NW3-Interiors title.  So, we have titled in each element (passed each element 3 times) but never put all 4 together on the same day to get our NW3 title.  We also placed 3rd in Interiors – so that is a nice accomplishment, considering that has been our trickiest element.  Overall results are not posted yet, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we ended up faring overall.  In hindsight, I feel good about our Interiors (doesn’t it make a difference when you know the answer?) and good about our Exteriors.

We are in another NJ trial right after Thanksgiving, and then the Foxboro trial in December.  Jinxx turns 13 in March, and the next NW3 trials probably won’t be until April, so her career is winding down (sniff sniff!)  It would be nice to get NW3 Elite (pass 3 NW3s).  Time will tell.

Let’s hope the pendulum stops… right in the middle… no more “extra hides” and no more “missed one”… let’s hope it stops on “found all there was to find in the time allotted”.

Time will tell.

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