Yesterday David and Siren competed in the first Midwest area Nosework trial. I am so proud to say they earned their NW1title. Rinnie is David's dog and has been since almost from birth. He fell in love with our little curly girl and has been doing a wonderful job with her. They have worked hard to earn first her UWP and then her UWPCH (weight pull Championship) and now NW1. He says tracking and lure coursing are next, and hopefully NW2 as well.
Nosework for those not familiar is scent work where the dogs learn to recognize a certain scent, in this case Birch. The training and search work is done very much like what bomb or drug dogs are taught. The dogs learn to search an area for the specific scent and to point it out to the handler in some way. Our judges at the trial yesterday in fact were all working or retired police officers-all dog handlers, one is a bomb dog handler.
At a trial there are 4 areas each dog is required to search. There were 48 dogs trialing, divided into 2 groups of 24 Each group was assigned to work 2 areas before lunch and then the other 2 after lunch. The trial was held at a older unused fairgrounds, so the buildings were the typical large metal fair type buildings. David was dog 2 in group 2, so his first search for the day was containers. There were about 24 identical white boxes on the floor of the first building. For containers the dogs have 2.5 minutes to find the right one, the other 3 have 3 minutes time. Rin found hers in 41 seconds. Not a bad time, but certainly not the fastest. Siren tends to search all the boxes or space and then go back tot he one with the scent after she has checked everything. Her first find. Then they immediately moved to the next building which was the vehicle search. It was rainy yesterday morning, so it was nice that the 3 vehicles were inside the building. 2 cars and a van. David and Siren left the start line and started on the cars, Rin checked each of the first 2 cars with no real hesitation or indication of scent, although at one point she wanted to go toward the back of the building-not sure if the scent was pooling back there or if she just thought she saw something. She moved on over to the van where she started at the nose and moved along until suddenly she indicated. There was no hesitation here at all. Nicely done in about 1.15. This was her longest search time, but she was clean and accurate to the point where the judge clearly knew she had found the scent. The judges have to know the dog is right, and if they are uncertain that the dog is finding the actual spot they will ask the handlers where the scent is and they have to be able to say. Apparently several dogs had the general location right, only to find out they were just a bit off where when asked they gave a wrong hide spot. Siren had her nose right on the scents spot so it was clear. Then we were done until after lunch.
After lunch David and Siren were up for the exterior and interior searches. The exterior search was a large area that looked like it had been a small stage built out of large blocks of patio stone or retaining wall bricks. Because this is a fairgrounds not in use, there was a lot of vegitation on and around this structure. David was really nervous about this one, since Siren sometimes forgets she is working when outside, and eliminating in area is a fail. the area was marked off with cones and the hide was somewhere in this space. Siren entered the areas and seemed to lead him right to the back of the space. She worked her way along the base of this stage area to about midway point where she turned around and went back, There was a large light pole right by the obstacles, she searched her way around the pole causing David to have to do some fancy leash work so not to be tangled, but she clearly pawed and nosed the base of the pole and indicated she had the hide. And she did! What a relief-under a minute and she nailed it. From there we went across the street, to an old abandonded food shack. This was only search I could not watch since it was off leash inside a closed building. Her search took only 30 seconds inside and according to David she went in went by the hide ran a quick search around the room and came back to alert on the spot just about 3 feet inside the door. All I know is David came out in tears with a big grin! Rin was the first dog of the day to be successful in all 4.
Just got an note from Davids trainer Jane, apparently they are the first NW1 team in Minnesota!