Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nosework Trials in Jacksonville!

Two years of hard work came to fruition earlier this month. K-9 Obedience Club of Jacksonville held their very first NACSW sanctioned nosework trial. Since Jedi and I bombed the ORT back in January (grrr) we weren't able to compete. So I volunteered to work the trial instead -- and boy did I learn a lot! For example:

You need a large group of people to run a trial. We had:
  • Judges
  • A certifying official
  • Timekeepers
  • Videographers
  • Parking lot attendants
  • Check-in desk attendants
  • A scorekeeper
  • Score runners
  • Gatekeepers
  • Hot box people (only they can touch boxes with the odor)
  • Cold box people (they clean off/reposition odor-free containers)
  • Hosting club representatives
  • . . . and more.
I'm sure I've missed somebody. I was overwhelmed by how many people were behind the scenes that weekend.

I also learned that you need lots of space to run a trial. Things to consider:
  • You need places to hide the four elements -- interior, exterior, containers and vehicles.
  • Each element needs a pre-staging area.
  • There has to be separate entry and exit routes for each area so competitors don't run into each other (and to keep the traffic flowing).
  • Competitors need a place to park.
  • NACSW requires a separate area for reactive dogs to hang out.
  • Dogs need a designated potty area.
  • PEOPLE need a place to potty.
  • Volunteers need a place to gather, eat, keep their stuff and receive instructions.
  • The scorekeeper needs a secluded area to tally numbers.
  • Competitors need an area to receive instructions and hold awards ceremony.
As an added challenge, the location should be easy to get to and have affordable lodging nearby for out-of-town competitors. That's a lot to ask. Our club was fortunate to find an ophthalmic equipment and supply company willing to rent us their property for the weekend. I have no idea who found it or how much it cost. Lucky for us, it turned out to be a really nice location.

I picked up a lot of miscellaneous stuff that weekend. I should have written it down. What I remember most is:
  • No matter how hard you train, sometimes things "just happen." I saw experienced dog/handler teams make some very sad mistakes.
  • Nerves get to everybody -- even dogs.
  • Three minutes is a long time, so breathe!
  • DON'T BLOCK YOUR DOG! I watched handers come into the search area and position themselves in a way that prevented their dogs from finding the odor.
  • Keep eyes on your dog. I saw some handlers miss signals from their dogs. Some even pulled their dogs off the odor to search somewhere else!
Competing is nerve-wracking. My heart ached for everybody who didn't pass. I'm not going to sit here at nit-pick the mistakes of others. But I will take everything I saw others do -- both good and bad -- and try to use it to help Jedi and me.

NACSW is weird about pictures. No cameras were allowed except for the official videographer. Competitors can purchase a picture later if they want. To that I say "BOO!" It's bad enough that NACSW charges an annual member fee to compete on top of the $90+ entry fee, plus any travel expenses . . .

On a happier note, I had several friends compete. Three of them earned their NW1 title and took an unofficial picture afterwards. I'm going to share it, NACSW be damned. (Who knew I was such a rebel?!)


Great photo, hunh? The dog lying down is Semi. He and Jedi took the ORT in West Palm together. (Semi passed; Jedi did not.) The dog in the middle is Jedi's brother, Dozer. The dog on the far right is Aksel. He lives with Ayko, who takes classes with Jedi on Thursdays. And the women on either side are trainers who worked very hard to make this trial happen. They deserve cookies and belly rubs for sure!

So, yea for my friends. I was thrilled to be able to watch them pass. Hopefully Jedi and I will have one of those ribbons soon. I will definitely let you know! -- K