Lots of nose work lessons were learned last weekend on the farm in Iowa! Bailie, Mom, and I went to Olin, Iowa to the Double Shoe Ranch for some fun nose work trials, but what we left with was just one title, and a car full of lessons learned!
We traveled down with a couple of our nose work friends which was a lot of fun. Trials are always fun, but even more fun with friends! The Microtel was the dog friendly hotel we all booked, but after checking in, we understood the nature of the name! The hotel was simple, clean, and super comfy beds, but it was “micro”! Once Mom put up the kennels, the room was full. Her luggage was in the small hall to the bathroom. Lesson learned…only book a room at this chain if you won’t be spending much time in your room. It didn’t even have a chair or a desk, so Mom had to use her laptop on the bed.
Saturday morning it was off to the farm where carloads of unsuspecting participants were about to be thrust into nose work lessons and challenges they had never dreamed of! Looking back we have renamed the event an “Extreme Nose Work Trial”. It was not only cold, there were sustained winds of around 50 mph the entire day. The car was rocking as we sat in it waiting for our turns. So what nose work lessons did we learn?
- If the trial is being held on a farm, never assume it is NOT a working farm! Heavens, we had horses on the side of the parking lot! Take your dog to a farm before you sign up for such a trial. Take them to a farm several times!
- Practice in wind! If you see those TV weather people almost falling over while reporting in a hurricane, look for those conditions in your area and practice some exterior searches. Yes, you may actually have to search in those conditions…Bailie did!
- Find large machinery. Find dirty large machinery. Search it. Search it so your dog ignores the fun smells and finds the odor! Remember we visited the John Deere store a couple times? Many dogs were afraid of the large daunting tractors or were distracted by the nice smelling dirt and mud. Bailie and I both had no issues with the large, dirty vehicles because we have practiced on them a lot.
- Search on different surfaces, dirt, mud, gravel, pavement. Teach your dog not to pee on these surfaces while searching.
- Take your containers to all kinds of different indoor spaces to practice searches. Make sure no matter where the containers are, they are the most important thing for your dog to search.
- If you travel, try to keep your dog on their schedule. Make sure they get some good rest as sitting in the car all day is taxing for us.
- Work on stamina with your dog. One day of trialing is hard on a person and a dog. Sniffing is hard work for dogs! If you want to travel and trial for two whole days, make sure your dogs are up to the challenge.
How did we go wrong?
- Our schedule was off. We got in late, had dinner super late. Went to bed late.
- We didn’t sleep well, so we started the day tired.
- Mom didn’t realize the toll traveling takes on her and on us dogs. We have done two days of trials near home with no problem, but on the road it is a whole different can of worms. Bailie and I were spent from sitting in the car day in and day out, not to mention adding the stress of the searches in a complicated environment.
What were the positives?
- On the second day, Bailie did get her level one vehicle title L1V! She searched like a trooper through the horse dirt, machinery, and wind in all four of her searches. We are so proud of her! It is her first nose work title. Coincidentally, my first nose work title was also the L1V last May! She is following in my paw prints.
- Mom and Bailie have finally reached a point where they work well together. Mom has learned how Bailie likes to work and how to make it fun.
- All our training in odd and weird places and environments allowed Bailie to really work through all the tough obstacles of the farm.
- We learned Bailie is a trooper and when the element appeared to be impossible to Mom, Bailie was there to sniff out the odor. Sadly, she ran out of steam in her last search and didn’t get her NW1 title. She got the three searches most of the dogs failed, but couldn’t muster up the drive for the last, easy container search. Only 33% of entrants actually titled. The exterior search was the most difficult with a 49% pass rate, which Bailie was proudly part of!
Overall, despite missing out on the NW1 Title, and me pretty much blowing three of my four searches because I had had it with sitting in the car for two days, we had an awesome weekend! Our friends did great and got their NW1 titles and their L1V Titles. The tractor in the photo was the last vehicle Bailie had to search for her L1V Title. Even though there were failures, the nose work lessons learned far outweigh any missing titles! We had a great time, but not sure we would do it again…well maybe??? Failure usually motivates us to sit back, rethink, and go at it again with even more determination! We don’t like to be defeated!
We will be getting videos and photos of Bailie’s searches and will post some of those in another week or two.