Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Our first Nosework trial

May 24, 2013.  After taking classes for a very long time, many hours of practice and mock trialing, we finally entered our first Nosework trial.  Nosework is a newer sport that's becoming more popular across the country.  It originated on the West coast and is based on detection work where dogs are trained to find a particular odor.  The first level odor is birch and dogs are required to find the odor in 4 different elements: Exterior, Interior, Container and Vehicle. 

On this trial date is was rainy, windy and cold; not the greatest conditions to do these searches.  The group I was in started with Exteriors.  I felt this was our weakest element and I wasn't sure if it was horrible to do first or good to get it done and over with.  Since I had never even been to a trial I was pretty nervous but the motto of this sport is 'trust your dog' and it really was all up to Sawyer. 

The trial was held at a Boy Scout camp and the Exterior search was in a wooded area by a lake with a fire pit.  While waiting our turn Sawyer was pretty excited, shaking and whining.  This is not normal Sawyer behavior and I was worried he thought we were going hunting (his favorite sport).  Once we got into the search area he did his thing and worked the entire area.  He clearly indicated to me where the odor was but I always asked him to confirm and show me again.  I was more concerned about being right than how fast we called our alert.  My biggest fear was to call the alert, have the judge ask me where it was and to fail because we were two inches off the mark.  I called 'Alert', the judge said 'Yes' and I was able to breathe again.  For each of the elements I was never asked where the odor was.  I guess Sawyer's indication was pretty solid and clear that he knew exactly where it was. 

One down, three to go.  The trial involves a lot of waiting as the groups run through each element.  The next up for us was containers.  That went fairly quickly as Sawyer found the right box with the birch odor.   Two down, two to go.  More waiting, a lunch break and then it was off to vehicles.   Luckily the three trucks were parked under a large pavilion so we didn't have to do that element in the rain.  With the wet weather the odor tends to drop so I was very careful to be sure Sawyer was positive with his indication.  I was relieved to get another pass.  Now we only had one element to go, Interiors.  This last one was in a small room so I did it off lead.  Sawyer worked his magic and passed the last element!  You have to pass all 4 for a title, one failure and none of the elements would count.

Sawyer now has his NW1 title!  Only 8 of the 38 teams competing today passed so we're thrilled to be in that minority.  Next up is Daisy's turn for her NW1 and then onto NW2 for both of them. 

The end of a very long day but I have to pose for a picture with our new title rosette.
Sawyer says enough pictures Mom, I want to get out of this rain and go home to celebrate!

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