NW3 trial, Take 2

So, our second time doing the drive to NJ, our second attempt at NW3 with Quattro.  Here’s what my experience was.

This trial was at a pet supply warehouse.  It was an interesting flow, something I’ve never had before, but it made sense due to the trial site.  We did:

Exteriors, back to the car

Interiors – Room 1 and Room 2, back to the car

Vehicles – back to the car

Lunch break, then everyone did Room 3 and went straight to Containers, to finish.  It went quickly, and we were done around 3p!

Exteriors

Breezy, cool and overcast.  The search area was on pavement (thank goodness, after our last trial on grass where he peed!) most of the area was under a large overhang.  This really caused the wind to push against the building and swirl between building, ground and overhang.  There were some pallets, boards, a sawhorse, and 2 columns holding the overhang up (those had me mildly worried about marking!)  He was in odor, and working hard… on the pallets, the boards, the columns… each place he stopped to sniff, I thought, he’s about to alert… but no, he’d move on, chasing odor.  We got out from under the overhang, and he DID alert on some pallets.  I sort of looked around, and called Finish.  I **should** have followed my normal plan, of getting back to cover the start line, since he tends to blow past the start… and sure enough, I came to find out that there was a hide at the start, on a pallet leaning against the building.  He had grazed past it on one side, but did not hit the whole thing.  The odor was blowing all along the wall, and circulating and landing on all the other objects in the search area that he had spent time on. Sergio said he was heading back to the pallet on the building when I called Finish 😦  I guess I was overcompensating for keeping him searching for TOO long last time.

Interiors

Rm 1

A break room, tables, chairs, a kitchen set up.  He was a little flat going in, but did find a hide on a chair.  We had to do ALL our Interior searches on leash, due to the openness of the areas/rooms.  The chairs were shaped like an S if you looked at them from the side, they did not have back legs, so the leash was easily hung up under all the chairs!  Then he squeezed between wall and chairs, and I had to drop and quickly pick up the leash, because there was no way I could follow him without rearranging the furniture.  He also wedged himself between a wall and the refrigerator… he was back there for a few seconds, and I though he was eating something.  He came out with dust bunnies on his whiskers, and I had a moment of, maybe that was his alert?  And he left, because I didn’t call it?  So I brought him back, but he showed no interest, so I called Finish w/ only one find.

Rm 2

A broom closet – long and narrow, with a utility sink just outside of the closet.  I figured I’d stay at the start and let him go into the closet, it was that narrow w/ LOTs of stuff, and I would have, except a piece of roast beef treat stuck to the leash, and dropped about 4ft into the search area!  So I had to go forward to pick up the treat (I was not faulted for dropping a treat)  He alerted on a mop bucket, spent a little time by the sink and jumped high at one point to a coat rack / bar, but I called Finish w/ only one find.  Later, another competitor said her dog did the same – jumped up climbing the walls, and she noticed the walls did not go all the way to the ceiling.  So odor from the break room was probably spilling over to the entrance of the closet area.

Vehicles

Only 3 vehicles, and like last month, we had a stiff wind at our back at the start line.  Except this time, there was not a parking lot of cars behind the search area cars (that had Quattro trying to search the entire parking lot last time, since odor blew all over the other cars)  I release him, and he takes off in a sprint, between the cars and the building.  It flashes through my mind, we better be running for a reason right now… He got to the end of building and sniffed some pallets, turned, and went directly to the last vehicle in the line, and alerted.  We made our way back around the other two cars, and he worked them nicely.  He paused to detail one of the vehicles, but it was very slow detailing, and I got the impression he as trying to find something that was not there, so I called Finish.  Again, only one find.

Rm 3

A large open junk / storage room / area.  It only had 2 real walls, the rest was piles of stuff, and a closet or standing shelves.  Very congested with stuff all over the floor, but no door, hence we had to do it on leash.  The Container search was just around the corner.  This search felt good – Quattro found 2 hides, and was very smooth and purposeful.  There was a time he stuck his nose in some boxes that had tissue paper in them, and I was afraid he was finding food, but he moved on and covered the area nicely.  I felt good about that Finish call.

Containers

Only 9, suitcases and duffles, but they were surrounded by big boxes, and other warehouse-y things, so they were almost hard to see!  Another search that felt good, he moved from bag to bag (unlike the last trial, where he zigzagged all over).  He found 2 hides, and I felt good about that Finish call.

My only questions were the refrigerator, and the start area of Exterior.  Sure enough, when they posted the search areas, I saw I had missed a hide near the start line of the Exterior 😦

I felt good about Containers, so when they were calling out the placement ribbons, I thought… maybe? But no, they did not call my name.  Interiors felt ok, especially that last room, so maybe?  But no placement for that.  Then they called out Vehicles – and lo and behold, for the first time ever, in all the trials I’ve done, we came in 3rd place!  Wow, I guess our sprint off the start line was good for something other than a pulled hamstring (kidding)  So, we did get to come home with a ribbon, after all.  Not THE ribbon, but it was a fun surprise.

I passed a friend who was volunteering, and she asked how my day was going.  I said “I hate NW3!” because I realized how much doubt I have when I leave a search area, and how much I miss the instant knowledge of yes, you found them all, or oops, you missed one.  NW1 and NW2 are, in that regard, much more comfortable.  You know you need to keep your dog searching, or you know you’ve found all there is to find, and everyone says nice job, and smiles as you leave.  The “Ok” or “Thank you” and straight faces  are unnerving to me.  It makes me think of dogs whose owners are not very demonstrative in their praise, or who rarely praise their dogs.  I think some people are just like that, not very outgoing or excitable, or they assume their dogs should know the behavior, and their performance does not warrant a lot of praise.  Well, I feel really sorry for those dogs!  Because I know what it feels like – I did a great job or I did a so-so job or I missed a hide, and the response is all the same.  Think about how that would be for dogs – they would never know if they did something right, wrong or adequate.  Why would they keep trying, and keep going with enthusiasm?  So, I decided I have to have my own cheering section in my head when I leave a search, and have to make sure Quattro hears it, too.  If I’m unsure and feeling like we missed something when I enter a new search, that transfers down the leash, and since every search was on leash at this trial, I’m sure that he felt it.  And obviously, what I feel walking off the search area has no correlation to our performance – we did great!  We came in 4th in Interiors and 5th in Containers, along with our 3rd in Vehicles 🙂

I just have to remember that and tell Quattro and I that as I walk back to the car after each search – we did great!

My sisters’ caption for this picture?  Quattro says, “I went all the way to NJ, and all I got was this stinkin’ green ribbon”.

I’ll take it!

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