Plainfield, IL was our road trip destination the last weekend in January. Mom, me, a six and a half hour drive, and some nose work. We had high hopes coming off a great trial in December, but with the first search those hopes were dashed. It turned out to be a bad weekend for most competitors with only two of sixty dogs earning a title. One of the two titles was a friend of ours, which was the only real bright spot.
The Candlelight Suites
We decided to stay at a Candlelight Suites for the first time ever. It was actually a really nice, dog friendly place! The room was spic and span, and had everything we needed for a night. The front desk staff was super friendly, and even remembered my name. They said “hi” to me every time I cruised through the lobby. We will definitely stay at one again if it is an option.
The Trial Location
The next morning we had a half hour drive to Plainfield, IL, where the trial was being held at a school. It was January, so it was a bit chilly, but not too bad. It was really windy, though, and that made it feel colder than it was. We got really lucky with the weather for traveling, and the trial itself.
As I said, we had high hopes of doing well, but when Mom went on the walkthrough to see the search areas, she got a bit nervous. You see, I’m a very good sniffer, but I am slow, and cannot be rushed. I cover every inch of the search space with my sniffing machine, and then go back and locate the odor very precisely. This kind of detailed work takes time, and at the NW3 level, time is short. There were four vehicles with a three minute search time, the interior rooms were big and full of stuff with only two and a half minutes for the first two. Remember at the NW3 level, the number of hides to find is also unknown. Mom remained positive and said to me, “We got this, right, Emma?”
My Vehicle Search
My number was in the middle, so I was the fifth dog of thirty to do vehicles as my first search. I was off to a great start. A fast or faster dog, like Bailie, would go right to that first hide as it was super windy, blowing odor at me. For me, I needed to find the edge, and track back to the actual hide on the license plate. Yahoo!
There could be one or two more hides out there, so we needed to keep moving. I wasn’t really working much except for the passenger side of the van but I didn’t seem to want to commit to anything. Mom
forced dragged me around the other three vehicles. She really felt there was odor on the van, but I wouldn’t say where. Mom called finish, and we, of course, missed the one in the front driver wheel well of the van. In Mom’s brain, she was certain we left a hide which meant no title. Such a nice start with the first hide, but then things went downhill.
My Exterior Search
My best search of the day was my exterior search. You can see how I have no sense of urgency once again. I’m enjoying wandering and sniffing. Even when I catch the odor on the table, I take my time to get to it. This search was amazing, as I started to run and hop at the end. I have never done that during a search before! Clearly I was having fun, and I was telling Mom we are done searching this area.
Our Revised Strategy Going Forward
The conclusion from this trial is that Mom cannot keep doing this with me the way it is. She feels we are locked in a rut with a downward spiral. Bailie is now at the NW3 level, and searches very differently from me, and Madison is a sniffing speed machine chomping at the bit to get into some beginner trials at the NW1 level.
- Going forward, only Bailie will enter any NW3 trials that come up out of town. She has her first one in Wisconsin next month. We can always rethink things in a few months depending on how this strategy works.
- Because I am slow and thorough, Mom will try to find venues with smaller room spaces for interior searches. I do well in busy small rooms, but run out of time in busy large rooms.
- If Bailie and I both get into local trials, she will choose which one of us gets to compete by the venue.
- The plan is, by trialing with Bailie, Mom will get a fresh perspective, hopefully some success, and be pulled out of this rut we are in.
- Madison will also be competing at the NW1 level when she can get a trial spot. NW1 is so easy compared to NW3, it is a relief and morale booster for Mom.
- Both my sisters are fast and don’t waste time like I do. Mom knows I love the sport, so I will continue to compete, but for now, my sisters may have more opportunities.
- Mom is very sad because she wants me to earn at least one NW3 title but it is not happening. The long drive home, she talked to me about all kinds of nose work things, and I’m okay with the plan. Sometimes a break of some kind is helpful in rekindling the spark we need to get that title.
The main thing is I had a blast! For me the two days of mommy and me time, the road trip, and the trial were a lot of fun. Mom is the one who has the problem with not getting a title. Thankfully, my sisters may be able to step up, and do some great things this year to help Mom and I work better together in the future.