Yay! Here is our last NW3 run – since we’ve titled 3 times at NW3, we earned our NW3 Elite title, and now move into the Elite level trials. Same game, but with very different rules and strategy. Just when you master one thing, the bar gets raised!
I had a lot of fun at this trial… students/friends Andy and Sarah and I hung out together in the parking lot, and it was a nice relaxing day. The flow was a little different, and kept us moving… it felt like one or all of us were off doing a search at any given time. And even though this NW3 trial had more on the line than any I’ve done before (I need to title to become Elite! and I don’t want to put so much pressure on it, that I miss, and miss, and miss, and who knows when I’ll even get into another NW3 trial?), I was able to keep it light, trust my dog, and not agonize over our searches once I called Finish. I did have a question mark or two, but felt good about our searches. The last 2 NW3 trials were FUN – both in the parking lot AND in the search area, and that is not something I’ve been able to say before. I have to give credit to Carol Noriega, who was volunteering at the 2nd NW3 trial I did w/ Quattro back in March. She passed me in the parking lot, and asked how my day was going. My response was “I hate NW3!” I realized then that something was wrong – why am I doing something I supposedly hate? What must my dog think when I say that? When I saw the results, we had done really well! You just don’t know it that day. Then, the next NW3 trial, my first title, I saw that video of Quattro and I leaving the Vehicle search, the last search of the day, and I was practically hauling him out – he was trailing behind me and I’m not even focused on him!
This trial, I’m proud to say, we stay connected as we leave the Exterior search, and even though the camera stops in the Container search with my back to him, you can see his nose going back to the hot box. I reward him there and on the other hot container as we leave, and he prances back to the car with me. I still want to do a better job of calling Finish, collecting my dog, and THEN looking up at the volunteer who is escorting us out, but at least this was an improvement. **Update – I did get videos of the Vehicle search. Man, was I convinced there was a hide on the big white SUV! I just really didn’t want to miss one, and he looks like he almost alerts. But I brought him back too many times – what was I doing, trying to get him to false alert? Luckily, the 4th time I bring him by, he pulls back to the first hide and I call Finish. Also happy to report that I did not drop the leash as I was rewarding, although you’ll see 2 close calls where my foot almost gets hung up in it, and we almost drag the rock in the leash. Overall, it was a very good day!