Different dogs, different challenges is exactly what Mom got when team purple entered their first NW3 trial last month. I’ve been competing at the NW3 level for almost two years. Mom and I are a well oiled machine, but our machine has not had the success we would like. Bailie is now breathing some fresh air into our nose work competitions.
You may remember back in January, I had a disaster of a trial and it was decided that Bailie would try a couple trials to see if Mom could break out of the downward spiral we have been in. The trial didn’t go as planned at all, but Mom was happy with the results for their first time out. Different dogs, different challenges means working with multiple dogs is a big challenge for a handler, and Mom has three of us.
Bailie and I work very differently. I have a serious work ethic, Bailie not as much, but she is getting better. Bailie enjoys minimal effort, and will occasionally lie to try to get paid. I don’t lie, and my work is so thorough, it hinders our team because it takes me way to long. When Mom saw the search areas at the trial in Salem, she was very thankful I was not her dog that day. The container and exterior searches were fine, but the interiors were full of stuff, and time was short. She almost died when she saw five vehicles in a circle for the vehicle search! She has never seen five vehicles in a search, let alone with 2 1/2 minutes to search.
Bailie and I are both rock solid on containers and exteriors but pretty poor at interiors and vehicles at trials. The first search of the day for team purple was containers. Bailie was rocking it, but then two containers before they were done searching, she lied. She flat out alerted on a nothing, not even a distractor. Great job, Bails! Mom was totally caught off guard by that “no”.
Next up was exteriors, immediately following the “no” call. Mom was not really mentally ready to search again. It was very windy, lots of swirling air, and they ran out of time. Things were going almost worse than they do for me at trials these days.
The interior spaces were chock full of stuff, and time was limited. Remember in an NW3 trial there are 0-3 hides in each of the three search areas. Because of the size, we pasted photos together to try to create the actual rooms.
First up was the teachers lounge. The challenge here was the vending machines and a/c unit on the right wall causing air to be sucked in and spit out. Search time was 2 1/2 minutes. Bailie got stuck in the area with the couches but Mom moved her on, and she found one hide in the back of the room on a shelf. She went back to the couch area again, but couldn’t find anything, so they called finish with Mom thinking they missed one.
A library normally is complicated, but this library search was super tough. Look at all the junk sitting around, all the shelves with books, chairs tables, and more! This search was 3 1/2 minutes. Bailie found two hides easily, but got stuck in an area again where she couldn’t pinpoint the actual hide. Mom moved her away, and they came back later. Upon return, Bailie found it, and Mom called finish. It was the first three hide search Mom had ever done. It’s nice because you know you found them all. Team purple was elated!
The final interior search looked simple enough, but once again, Bailie was hung up on air currents. She managed to find the hide about the time Mom gave up, with three seconds left of the 2 1/2 minute search time.
At the end of the day, you find out how many hides were in each search, and Mom was so proud to find out Bailie found them all! They passed the interior element which was a wonderful surprise!
The last search was vehicles. Mom has a fear of vehicle searches. For one thing, I’m way too slow. Bailie is faster, but she often misses hides on vehicles. We have taken some private lessons, and tried to practice more to build up Mom’s confidence. The plan was to go to the right around the outside of the circle, and then go left around the inside of the circle, all in 2 1/2 minutes.
As you can see in the video, the plan never actually was used because Bailie wanted to go left at the start. She was giving odd alert behaviors to mom on the first hide on the van, so Mom waited for a very long time to call it. After seeing the video, Mom realized the odor from the second hide was catching on the front van bumper, which is what Bailie was trying to understand. They cruised around the vehicles to the other side where Bailie had air scented the second hide while working the first one. Once again, she was not giving a good strong alert, but running out of time Mom called it. Amazingly, they passed the vehicle element!
What did team purple learn? Bailie is really becoming a good working dog. In the past six months she has started to mature. The fear of vehicles has diminished after that scary five car search! Bailie can do a room packed with junk in a short amount of time. Easy searches are what needs work. How embarrassing to be one of only five out of thirty five teams to not pass exteriors! Overall, Bailie found nine of the ten hides, plus the imaginary hide! We will see how this weekend goes. Both Bailie and Madison have trials at Afton Alps. I’m hoping teams purple and pink have a great time and do well.