Catty and I have been very busy! We competed in our first UKC Nose Work trial in March and then our second one in April. As usual Catty was awesome and we earned our Novice title. In order to title in UKC you have to pass all four elements twice - not an easy feat.
In early May, Catty and I competed in our first element Nose Work trial through the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) . What is an element trial you ask? If you compete in the sport of Nose Work there are 4 search elements: vehicles, exteriors, containers and interiors. You can compete in a full trial that has all four elements or you can compete in a specialty element trial - so just one element but, multiple search sites in that element.
The element trial Catty and I were competing in was containers. This was a level 1 search (there are 3 levels - they get progressively more difficult) so, all boxes. There were four different search sites and to receive a title you had to pass all four sites. To pass a site the dog must locate the box that contains the odor (birch in this case) AND you as the handler must call alert when you think the dog has done this correctly. If you are wrong then you don't title.
Despite being involved in Nose Work for a while, I still get anxious. Not as bad as before but, it's just the excitement and anticipation that gets me stirred up. Catty is a pretty solid searcher so, I just need to trust her and myself and everything will be just fine.
I give Catty tons of credit for putting up with me as her handler and this post is what I think must be going through her mind when we compete. If you've ever met Catty, you know this is what she'd be saying if she could speak!
"Ok mom, you know I will find this odor in no time flat so calm down"
"Not to it yet but, I have a good idea which box it is - just give me a second"
"Oh yeah this is it - notice I'm showing lots of interest in this box & I'm not moving"
"Alert mom - this is my alert so call it!"
"Oh come on mom, times a wasting - isn't this an obvious indication that this is it!"
Who's giving who the peep talk?
"Let's do this!"
"Mom, just calm down and let me work the site - there's a lot of boxes here"
"I've caught odor so now, to work it - just stay out of my way mom"
"Over here... come on mom"
"Odor is moving a good amount since we are outside & there's wind - please mom, just be patient as I bracket back to the source of the odor."
"Oh yeah I've got it"
"Ok mom, make sure you are paying attention to my body language and get ready..."
"Again, notice my interest level and that I'm not moving"
"This is it - call alert!"
"What part of call alert are you not getting?!"
And I did finally call alert and of course we passed all four searches! As Catty's hander I do need to call alert quicker and that's my homework. I'm not really that slow but, slow enough that Catty lets me know to hurry it up!
Many thanks to the volunteer photographer at the trial - Kristy Strunks. She captured some great photos and was kind enough to let me use all of these pictures for this post.
Great work Catty and we earned our Container 1 title!
We have a couple more trials in the coming months. I know we are both very excited to have fun while we play a game that we both love together!