What a week

Wow, what a week. I’ll start with a low point, the euthanasia of our beloved Isabelle (Izzie).  After a week and a half of just not feeling well, she ruptured a tumor on her spleen (that we did not know she had) and had massive internal bleeding.  I was so not prepared for that!  Our beautiful, sweet, gentle dog, loved by all.  Oh, I miss her!


From the lowest of the low of dog news, to the highest point in Nose Work news…

2 Mainers decided to travel to Stanhope, NJ, for a NW3 trial on Friday.  They were also both entered in the Kingston, NH NW3 trial on Saturday, so virtually a double header of back to back NW3 trials!

While Beth and Isaac had an off day on Friday, Andy and Koda were one of 4 teams (of 28) to title!  After several near-misses at a NW3 title, it all came together for a smooth, made-it-look easy day.  They missed 3rd place by ONE SECOND!  and came in 9th (Vehicles) 10th (Exterior) and 5th in Containers – top ten in 3 out of 4 Elements, awesome job!

Going into Saturday, Beth and Isaac wiped the slate clean and left any baggage from Friday behind.  They titled, came in 6th overall, 10th place in Interiors, and earned a NW3-Exterior title.  Awesome Job!

Mike and Logan also had a stellar day, earning their 2nd NW3 title in as many tries.  It’s not often that people earn back to back NW3 titles, so very nice job.  This was also after a few near-misses at previous NW3 trials, so great job.  They also came in 7th overall.

Andy and Koda were hoping to have a repeat of Friday, but it was not to be. They did earn a NW3-Container title, which is nice retribution after a string of challenges in this element, as well as coming in 7th in Containers and 8th in Exteriors.  Being in the top ten always feels good!


Andy NW3, NW3-C on Friday, Mike NW3x2, Beth NW3, NW3-E on Saturday

Then Sunday, another NW3 trial.  I pushed down (most) tears and decided to volunteer.  After getting hugs and condolences and sharing some tears from everyone who knew about Izzie, I was the Judges Steward for Rm 1. Sarah and Barbara, recent NW2 title achievers, came to volunteer and cheer on fellow students, Linda and Ella, Holly and BoomBoom, Janis and Billie Sue and Sarah and Roxie.  Andy the die-hard also came to pay it back and volunteer, and one of Holly’s students, recent ORT holder Christina, came to observe in the afternoon.

The Interiors consisted of 2 separate buildings.  The first building was a pottery studio, and had one hide.  I was able to peak in the window and watch the dogs search.  It’s always interesting to watch people’s handling, and how the different breeds, sized, aged dogs work the same hide.  Roxie was one of the fastest dog to the hide, she alerted in 10 seconds.  Some dogs had to do a few laps before they began working the odor (the hide was on the handle of an upside down garbage barrel).  As always, the challenge w/ NW3 isn’t so much the hide placement, it’s the mental challenge.  Did my dog REALLY search that wall?  He scanned the counter top – should I send him back there?  Did he really get into that little corner, how do I get him in there to search it?  Some peolple were very quick to call finish, some sent their dogs around and around before calling finish at or after the 30 second warning, and most were somewhere in between, calling finish at an average of 1:20.

The judge then moved to the second building, where she had another crew of timer, videographer and judges steward.  So I did not get to see the other 2 rooms (a kitchen / living area, and then a bunk room) but it made the Interior searches go much faster.

Sarah got her favorite job as score runner, Andy was timer (I think) and Barbara worked the parking lot for a bit, and then I’m not sure after that.  They all got to see the Exterior and Vehicle searches, and their feedback was “get out!  if you hear the 30 second warning, call Finish!”  It’s so clear when you know where the hides are, how many there are, and you are not attached to a leash!  But, I’m glad they got to see some good searches along with some painful searches.  You learn so much from volunteering!

Linda and Ella did a nice job – Ella was very clear in her final response and Linda was quick to call Alert.  I think they could have spent a lot less time in there, but that is par for the course for your first time doing an NW3 trial!  Being brave enough to call Finish after only finding one hide!  They had a miss in the next room, and a miss in Containers.  I was also the Judges Steward for Containers, and got to see everyone’s last element of the day. Linda and Ella worked really well – Ella was very definitive in her final responses, Linda called a quick Alert.  Ella did her happy dance / spin after each hide, which made me smile!  After finding 2 hides, and covering every bag, they did another lap, and maybe another.  Ella looked up from a container w/ her questioning look “this isn’t odor, why are we still here?”  She was not decisive in that look, there was no tail wagging, pawing, pushing, just a look.  Linda happened to be squared off to Ella, at the end of the leash facing her (the other hides were in the corners, and Linda was behind Ella)  After a few seconds of the face off, Linda called a tentative Alert … No 😦  I’ve been there, and as it’s coming out of your mouth, you know it doesn’t feel right, but you can’t stop it.  A good learning experience!  But they walked out gracefully with lots to ponder.

Janis and Billie Sue also did a nice job in Rm 1.  Billie Sue was super quick and definitive in her alert.  Janis had her do a few laps around the room, and I had a moment of nerves when Billie jumped up to sniff a counter that a few dogs had falsed on.  But she left it quickly, and Janis called Finish.  She got several compliments from the timer and videographer I was working with, about what a great worker she was and what a nice job they did as a team.  They were blown away when I said Billie Sue was 10!  Billie Sue and Janis also had a very nice Container search.  This had been the bane of their NW2 trial experiences of late, and they did a great job.  Very smooth and decisive when at source.  I was holding my breath as Billie Sue skimmed past the red bag (hide #2)  Most dogs had to pass that bag twice to pick up odor.  There was another glancing blow by by Billie Sue, and then finally she got deeper on the bag and got it.  Phew!  Nice job knowing when she had covered an entire bag, vs just skimmed it.  I saw 2 – 3 people miss that container, because the dogs just skimmed the edge of the bag, and didn’t pick up odor.  The handlers called Finish, feeling they had covered every bag 😦  Say yay to Janis and Billie Sue!

Holly and BoomBoom did a great job covering the Interior room that I saw, BoomBoom did a nice alert, and Holly did a nice job ensuring BB hit all the corners.  I had another hold my breath moment when BB had a small head snap on that same counter others had falsed on, but he too, moved on.  He wasn’t as peppy as we’ve seen him lately in class – see, the good practice we had Thursday night didn’t help – we should have had a bad practice, to have a great trial!  I feel like I’ve done that a lot to people, set up super challenging hides right before a trial, which I never mean to do.  Thursday night BB was a super star!  So fast and animated!  But it was cold and raw on Sunday – great weather for a fluffy dog, not so great for the short haired dogs who ran.  So, something to think about for the future, how to keep your dog comfortable in various temperatures, to keep them searching optimally.  Containers went well, too, although again, BoomBoom was not as frisky and definitive as we saw him in class on Thursday night.  I was worried about the pink bag in the middle, that got a few dogs, but Holly read his questioning look and did not call it.  Phew!

Sarah and Roxie were the first to do Rm 1, so other than the dog in white, had a clean search area to work in.  Roxie found source in 10 seconds, did a few laps, went under some counters, pushed by the videographer and timer to cover a corner (unprompted by Sarah) and Sarah called Finish.  There were several compliments by the timer and videographer for this search, too, great handling, great dog, fun team to watch.  Containers – Sarah had not heard “no” all day, so she was, as far as she knew, still in it for a title.  I could read it on her face on the approach to Containers… “Rox is usually really strong at Containers, we should get this… we better get this… ”  Well, they did great.  They flowed through the search area really nicely, Roxie gave her very clear poke-freeze-poke-freeze-bow-down alerts on the containers, showed some mild interest in a few other containers, and that was it.  A NW3 title, and since it was their 3rd NW3 title, a NW3 Elite title!  It turns out, they were 3rd overall (out of 28 teams) and 3rd in Exteriors.  What a great day!

I am so glad I went, and so glad I was able to see such great searches.  As always, I leave with ideas for classes, and I’m sure competitors and volunteers alike leave with lots of things to mull over and relive.  It was so nice to have a “local” trial, NHs first.  I was so looking forward to being there with Izzie on Saturday.  We’d had some great practice sessions with Beth & company at the church, and one really good one at home the day before she died.  I’m so happy 4 people did what I have not been able to do, and that is to bring NW3 titles home from the weekend.  It makes me sad that it’ll be a while before I get back into a NW3  trial.  I’ll miss all the friends I’ve made from PA to NY to MD to NH, MA and ME, although, many are now on their 2nd and 3rd NW dogs, so maybe we’ll all be trialing together before I know it, with the next generation of NW dogs.  I’m hoping Travis and Eliot and Quattro and I get to do our first NW1 trial together, whenever and wherever that ends up being!

Congratulations to not just the titled holders, but those brave enough to throw their hat (leash?) in the ring and cross that start line.  NW3 is not for the faint of heart, as Doc likes to say, so I applaud everyone who tries – and tries, and tries again – to show everyone what they already know.  That their dog is the best sniffer dog around, as a matter of fact, their dog is the best dog around, period.  I am thankful for all the dogs in my life, for the lessons they’ve taught me, the laughter they’ve brought me, and the joy they bring us all.  Happy Thanksgiving


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