Well, the results have finally been posted, and while we know we didn’t title, there are some things to feel better about when you see the overall results.
Out of 26 dogs,
There were only *2* NW3 titles, one was Elite.
There were multiple NW3-titled dogs who false alerted and/or missed hides, sometimes more than once. While this isn’t good news, it at least makes me feel a little better! Just because you have a NW3 title or 2 under your collar, doesn’t mean NW3 is a given.
11 dogs passed Vehicles, 9 false alerted without finding a hide, and the rest found the only hide THEN false alerted.
Only 6 dogs passed Interiors.
7 dogs false alerted before they found a hide in Containers.
Exterior had the highest pass rate, with 18 of 26 teams passing.
So, it was an equal opportunity trial… we all had an equal opportunity to pass, yet there were equally distributed problem areas to trip us up.
In Vehicles, there were 4 cars and you were given 2:30. There was only ONE hide. Wind was blowing from the car with the hide to a vehicle parked perpendicularly to the hot car. MANY dogs false alerted on that perpendicular vehicle, the trailer hitch or rear bumper. Was it that we have such a high success rate of finding odor on trailer hitches that helped convince dog and handler there was a hide there? Is it that that vehicle had odor in it or on it at some point in the recent past? Was it truly just odor from the hot car trapping and pooling that had the dogs convinced enough to alert? Jinxx and I got lucky, in a way. She went to the wheel well of the hot car, sniffed briefly and turned to look at me. It was not a very convincing, excited alert, so I thought it was pooling odor (it was pretty breezy) I tried to keep her working, but she went back to the tire, sniffed like crazy then moved to the front bumper, back to the tire, and FINALLY made her decision (for the second time) about 40 seconds after she first indicated. I called Alert, knowing we had just wasted about half of our precious time because I was too spooked to call Alert the first time. We worked around that perpendicular vehicle, and she showed interest under the rear bumper / trailer hitch area – we got the 30 second warning, and we hadn’t even reached the fourth vehicle! So I called Finish… lucky for us there was only the one hide!
Exteriors – again, only one hide. Jinxx went pretty much right to it, I called it, and when we continued searching, things were not very smooth. She didn’t really want to go where I wanted her to check (along the building) and she insisted on trying to search a trailer/vehicle that was parked outside the search area. She showed a little interest in a retaining wall, but then left it to go towards Neil, the judge. He backed up, she followed. I got her away from Neil, and she started barking at me. We got the :30 warning, and I knew we didn’t do a stellar job on the retaining wall, and we missed an area to the right of the hide. I called Finish – and lucky for us, there was only the one hide!
Interiors. Hmmm… our disconnect continued here. The first room had an area behind the teachers desk taped off – out of bounds. Jinxx entered the room, and went directly behind the teacher desk. She’s losing her hearing, and sometimes I don’t know how much she hears, and how much she ignores. Wasted some time there, but did find a hide on a desk (I think) Room 2 had a larger area taped off – sure enough, she disappeared and was gone for several seconds right off the bat. Got her back in the search area, and she moved around the room, got a hide on a high desk that came out from the wall, then moved to a desk 3 rows away from me and alerted. Short of tossing her her treat, I had to go out and around to reward her, then try to keep her sniffing. Felt like there were rows we didn’t cover, and we didn’t really get the start area, but called Finish. Room 3 was a locker room. Yet again, she chose to go into the shower stalls that were X’ed over (out of bounds) She then disappeared behind a row of lockers that was out of bounds… more time wasted. She showed MILD interest around a bench, but moved on… I wanted her to search the lockers a little better, but she started barking. I got her into a bathroom that WAS in play, and she showed she was in odor, detailed, then alerted. I called Finish. In the end, we missed a threshold hide in Rm 1 (where she went directly behind the teachers desk, not really working the start area) and we missed the bench hide. At least I recognized that she recognized something, I just couldn’t get her back there. We were kind of working in our own worlds so far that day.
Last but not least, Containers. 8 flat black computer cases, one black backpack. She went in, paused at one, I stayed behind her, and she moved on. She sniffed, nudged, and shoved a bag – Alert – yes – wasted some time continuing to push it around before moving on. The next 7 bags she pushed for the sake of pushing – she didn’t really stop to sniff them like she does when it’s a hot bag. Finish. We got our first Pronounced on this element in a LONG time, so that felt good 🙂
As far as results, we came in a respectable 7th place in Containers (the element that finally felt like teamwork) Vehicles was 6th, which is just funny since we really only searched 2 vehicles before running out of time, Exterior was 11th, and OVERALL we came in 5th place!! I would have REALLY liked to have titled, but in the end, I’m happy with our placement and showing, seeing how everyone else fared. You can see how luck really can play into a title, and how all the stars need to align. Considering Vehicles was our best placement and worst search, I have to laugh.
Other points of interest:
Andy & Koda, in their first NW3 trial, only missed ONE hide. They false alerted in Exteriors before finding the hide. They came in 4th in Vehicles, and 5th place for Interiors. 11th overall, it was a very good NW3 showing!
I was happy to see fellow Mainers Kathy and Bo do really well – they missed their title by ONE hide and came in 4th overall!
Sarah and Roxie got their NW3-Exteriors element title.
Several people cut it close in Exteriors – it’s so hard to believe that such a big area can have only one hide. Sarah and Roxie did it again – finishing with 3 seconds to spare (Holly and BoomBoom called Finish with 6 seconds to spare) And one of the 2 teams to title called Finish with ONE second to spare. Can you imagine if she timed out, and missed her title by one second?? I decided that unless I see my dog really showing interest in an area, we are just too slow to cover a whole new section / car when we get the :30 warning, so I may as well call Finish. Everyone is different, and every situation is different, but I really don’t want to time out – especially if I was already right!
For me, it was another fun time hanging in the parking lot with my friends, and since Jinxx and I were second to last, and Holly and BoomBoom were the very last team to run, it felt like we had plenty of time to catch up! It was perfect weather – cool enough for the dogs, but not cold for the handlers. Wish we had titled and not missed those 2 stinkin’ hides, since it would have been nice to bookend Jinxx’s NW career with Neil as our judge (he judged our very first trial together, and now our very last) Jinxx has taught me a lot, about NW basics like detailing, being “in odor”, sourcing, final response, false alerting, false alerting to please me, when to trust, when to question, motivation, perseverance, persistence, patience, when to change our training, when to take a break, how to adapt to when she’s feeling under the weather, and how to adapt to her search style as she’s aged. It hasn’t all been pretty, and there are many moments I’d like to apologize to her or take back, but for every No we heard, I’ve left with a lesson to pass on to my students. We’ve felt the calm that comes with trusting your dog as you glide through the search area, knowing when to move on and ignore her interest in something that doesn’t look like target odor interest, and being confident in calling Alert. And we’ve felt the pain of a False Alert – the blurt alert, the ok-so-you-must-want-me-to-find-SOMETHING-how-’bout-this alert, and the heartache of missing ONE hide. We’ve placed in almost every element, and we’ve also bombed every element at one time or another. We’ve traveled to towns I’ve never even heard of, spent more time in NY and NJ than I ever thought I would, and met many interesting, fun, kind people and their beautiful dogs. She’s been a great partner and teacher; I will continue to pass on the lessons (moments of brilliance and ugly mistakes) we’ve learned together over the years of doing NW. Thank you Jinxx, enjoy your retirement, you deserve it!
Next up: Cornwall-on-Hudson with Izzie, the location of Jinxx’s NW1 title, and a NW2 trial Jinxx and I did where no one titled – yet we came in 3rd place overall 🙂 So I’m hoping the success of the past carries forward.
Huntington opens tomorrow… and there will be more trials beyond that. Can you say addiction?