Back in November of 2019, Iona and I competed in the Turner Trials. This is a three day trial that Penny Scott-Fox puts on and Jeff McMahon judges. It is just spectacular. The searches and search areas are incredibly difficult and super fun. This year, Iona was on fire! She got first place in the entire trial! Here are some of our more memorable searches. These are narrated.
Last weekend I had a great time judging for the Santa Maria Kennel Club! This was their first trail and they did a great job. Thanks is due to all the competitors, SMKC, and my fellow judge Betty Scattini. Overall, the teams did a great job. Here are a few take aways from each class that I judged.
Novice Interior: This was a small corner of a large storage room. Teams that let their dogs move out of the search area caught the hide quickly.
Novice Containers: This search is always 2 rows of boxes. Easy to practice in a variety of locations.
Advanced Interior: check out this picture of the search area! It is not every day that you get a vehicle in your interior search! Hides were under the hitch of the trailer and in the overturned hand cart.
Advanced Containers: Make sure to practice getting your dog to the corner box and also make sure that they have work with fabric containers (backpacks).
Novice Buried: This is just like Novice containers, there is not any variability in the set up, only the location.
Novice Exterior: I set this search area on the side of a building which was pretty barren, no chair etc. The hide was under a step which was in front of a closed door. This was set up so that the dogs were down wind of the hide. Most all dogs caught odor and worked it back to source. Tall dogs had a hard time sourcing under the step.
Advanced Buried: As the wind kicked up in the afternoon, this search became difficult. Odor from the first hot box pooled in all the other boxes and many dogs false alerted. The is an easy set up to practice when you have consistent wind.
Advanced Exterior: This search area was all grass with a few trees, a water spigot, and some random items. The scent cones were big and there was a threshold hide blowing odor right at the start line. However 4 dogs ended up peeing in the search area. If the dogs could work through urine they did fine. If not, they struggled.
Hope this is helpful.
On May 11 and 12, competed in two trials down in the Altadena. She got her 5th and 6th detective Qs and a leg in Master’s Interior and Buried. She ran extremely well and I was able to get videos of some of her runs from Stephanie Reed (Play Paws Record).
I narrated the searches to describe some of the more interesting hides and concepts.
Take a look!
First Place AKC Detective Search!
On 3.19.21, Iona and I ran two back to back detective searches at the Gerrish Swim Club in Pasadena. She missed an elevated hide during the first trial, however nailed her second search. Check out the video below where I narrate my strategies throughout the search. Iona loves this type of searching: Big spaces and big scent cones. This was such a special search and I am so happy to have this video to remember it.
Pasadena Detective Trial
Last Friday, Iona and I competed in a detective trial! She worked really well and we got one Q! This was the first trial that the South Coast Vizsla Club put on and it was really well organized and it was easy to maintain COVID precautions. Here is the video for our first search. As you can see the search area was quite large, but the hides were all fair. The altar area was out of bounds.
And here is our second search of the day. Iona was searching really nicely, but ended up false alerting in a damp cool corner that was collecting pooling odor. Interestingly, most all the dogs that ran this search alerted there. In retrospect, I should have been a bit more methodical when I returned to the exterior portion however I was very pleased with our performance and teamwork on this search. She really did a great job on the interior.
Narrated Detective Search
I hope the video was helpful. I am not going to re-hash what I talked about in the narration, however I would like to take a look at how long it took Iona to find each hide.
She found the hides in (23,14,18,6,55,13, and 23 seconds). This averages out to 22 seconds a hide! Way quicker than I would have estimated. So if she has not found a hide in a minute or two, then there is a good chance that she has found them all.
Check out this video from our last trial. This was Iona’s Master Interior run. I am so happy that Play Paws Record was able to capture these runs on video. The video shows both Iona and I working in unison throughout. For me, that feeling is the reason why I love this sport.
The hides were set and judged by Steve DeTata and the trial was put on by the Scent Work Club of the San Gabriel Foothills. SWCSGF always puts on great trials, and I love running Iona in Steve’s searches. His hide placement is really well thought out. The searches are always fair yet challenging. In the masters interior search, you have three rooms with 0-3 hides in each. The time limit for these rooms was 2 min each. You only advance to the next room when you correctly call alert and finish in each room.
My strategy for these searches was to watch the clock closely and worry more about clearing the rooms correctly than getting a first place ribbon. You will see me start my watch at every search and check the time frequently. Iona has several different ways of telling me that a room is clear and I watch for these as the time starts to run out.
Iona was already in odor at the startline and I had to push her through the cones a bit to ensure that she did not step over them.
At 0:52, you see a huge COB as she finds the edge of the scent cone and works her way back to source.
The head twist at 0:57 is so easy to read and is a good reason why it is so important to train your dogs to get all the way to source, particularly when the hide is under objects.
At 1:01, you see me let her swing wide. She might need to go outside of the search area to catch odor. I also find that it is so much better for our flow just to let her leave the search area and come back on her own (particularly in a room this small).
At 1:20, you can see that she has found the second hide. She brackets it several times until I call it at 1:32. She never actually gives a nose press, but I feel comfortable calling this inaccessible. Her behavior has told me clearly that it is in the cabinet.
At 1:40, you can see her pick up the scent cone from the original hide and then rule it out.
I do a bit of directed searching before calling finish.
Again, you see me muscle her through the start line a bit.
There is a bunch of odor in each of these small rooms and Iona loves to chase odor around, so it takes her a few laps to figure out its directionality.
By 2:41, she knows which direction it is coming from and is working her way to source.
Watch me take a step back at 2:45 and again at 2:52. This gives her the space to source without feeling pressured.
For the rest of this room, you will see Iona pop up a few times as she searches for a new hide. This is a pretty good indication for her that the room has no more hides.
She runs into a big odor cone at 3:52 and it pulls her towards this stack of chairs. I am pretty sure that it is in these chairs, but it is really important to let her take the time to properly source the hide. Also, line management is key here, the last thing I want to do is tangle these chairs and have them fall on her. As I move around her, it is like we are playing doubles tennis. She is busy volleying while I adjust my position behind her. I am sure that this hide was meant to be an inaccessible, however she was able to pinpoint the exact location. The time that I would gain from rushing a call here is not worth it to me. Her odor obedience is worth more to me than a faster time and she maintains that by working to the highest concentration of odor for every hide. So I let her do that if possible on each and every hide.
The last two hides are no brainers and it is easy to call finish because each room can have a maximum of 3!
It is important to know how long it takes your dog to find a hide. Here is how long it took Iona to find her hides:
7 sec, 30 sec, 31 sec, 22 sec, 12 sec, and 5 sec. The average time is 18 seconds! Much quicker than I would have guessed. This is good information. If she goes for a minute without finding a hide in a small room like this, it means that there probably are no more hides to be found!
Due to unexpected circumstances, I have a bit more time to practice with Iona… The good news is that scent work is easy to practice while keeping 6 feet away from anyone and exercising is considered essential! Going with a theme, here we are working on distance. This is great to practice inside your house or the backyard. Just stand in once place and send your dog in! you can always rush in to reward them on source, or call them back to you like I did in the video.
Oh, also Iona is teaching April to fetch. This video is hilarious.
Full Court Press
Here is the second game in the #doggiedecathlon. Full Court Press. You start and end in the middle of a basketball court and send your dog around each hoop (alternating) three times. I am sure that agility competitor with a dry court and a fresh dog can beat our time. Also, please check out the first game (Snorkeling for Cheese), it was harder than I anticipated, so far Iona is the only dog that has even completed the challenge!
Snorkeling for Cheese
So I have this great idea. I want to put on a #doggiedecathlon. The games will be short and fun and encourage teamwork. Here is one that I came up with: Snorkeling for Cheese! Please try it and tell me what you think.
You will need a container with 3 in of water and 5 cubes of cheese. Fastest dog wins!
Check out Iona’s run!