Monday was a very exciting day for me and Mom as we were entered in our first nose work trial. Not only was it our first one, it was the first ever nose work trial to be held in Minnesota! If you have read my other nose work posts, you would know I planned on competing perhaps early next year as they say a dog needs to work with an instructor and odor for at least a year before going to a trial. Well, my nose has been really great lately, and my instructor said I could give the trial a shot if I wanted to even though I have only been working with odor for six months. Mom and I jumped at the chance.
It was two days of nose work 1 trials with a total of 61 dogs, 31 on Sunday, 30 on Monday. On Sunday, Mom volunteered which helped her get a feel for what the competition would be like. On Monday we were up. The trial was held at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena, so we had no idea what kind of search areas may be set up. This was only a nose work 1 trial meaning there were four searches: interior, exterior, containers, and vehicles. The only odor was birch, and each search had only one hide. In order to get an NW1 title a dog needs to pass all four searches.
We arrived just after 9am and checked in. They had us divided into two groups and I was the first dog in the second group. The program was divided into morning and afternoon sessions, each with two searches in succession. In the meantime, when other dogs were “up”, we had to stay in our car. Nose work is a sport for all dogs and a team sport between dog and handler. No contact with other dogs is allowed.
A nose work trial is also a very secretive sport as we are all searching for a hide. There are 30 of us searching for the same hide in the same place, one at a time. It is key that no competitor sees where the hides are located and that no one discusses the locations after their turn. For this reason, no photos or videos are allowed. I could take a couple shots like the one above from the parking lot, but that was it. When your number is called you get out and go potty. Potty in a search area is an automatic fail. After potty, most dogs make a run or two through the practice boxes to get us thinking nose work. When called again, you move to the first staging area, then you are called again and moved to a second area before being taken to the first search area. I was so excited to get to work each of my turns, I could hardly stand still. Nose work is so much fun!
We were at the nose work trial for just over six hours and I spent the majority of the time in my car, but that was fine with me. At times I got bored, but then Mom would hang out with me and we would talk and snuggle. The competition uses a lot of brain power on the part of the dog, so we need to mostly rest up between our runs. I think Mom may have been more tired out than I was as she seemed a bit nervous for some reason. Mom and I work closely paw in hand…I find the hide and let her know, and she calls alert when she believes I have signaled I found it.
So, how did I do? Mom was over the moon in the morning. I found the first two hides in the interior and exterior searches. I was so pumped up I was running and jumping all the way back to the car. In the afternoon my group was first, so I was the first dog up. Containers were first and I nailed it. All I needed was the vehicle hide and I had my NW1 title. Sadly, it was not to be. Pressure was on, I was a bit distracted, and it was real windy. I also sometime signal when I find some odor pooled in an area rather than going for the stronger scent at the actual hide. I signaled Mom twice at the tail light, so she called alert, but the hide was actually about 18 inches away on the trailer hitch. We were still totally proud to have passed three of the four searches after only doing nose work for such a short time. Of the 61 dogs on the two days of competition, 31 got their NW1 titles, so I feel pretty good about my performance as a newbie.
It was a great experience and Mom knows a lot about what we need to work on to do better next time. The only big bummer is we don’t know when the next trial will be. We figure it will be at least spring before we can try again, but we have our goals. Next week Bailie and I are back in nose work class, and we will continue to hone our skills. Mom and I had a fabulous and fun day together and that is the most important thing. A huge thank you to Active Dog Sports Training for a wonderful experience!
Don’t forget to enter my birthday giveaway where you can win treats from Merrick Pet Care, a SnapLeash, a dogIDs collar, or a Silver Paw Pet Tag!
I’m co hosting the FitDog Friday Blog Hop with SlimDoggy, and To Dog With Love! Please join us on Fridays to share your fitness stories with others, find new ways to have fun, and new fitness ideas too! Tell your friends to stop by as well – fit dogs are healthier, happier dogs!