We are almost in April when the various canine activities start in earnest. Last Friday Fizz and I did a Scentwork UK Level 1 trial. I started doing scent training with Kiki early last year. He was totally blind (not breed related), it was something he could do and really enjoyed it. We did a trial in November and he was second, unfortunately a few days later he did seem very well. An initial veterinary examination did not find anything, but he deteriorated quickly, and in spite of the vets trying everything nothing helped. A Biopsy was taken which showed that he had a very aggressive form of stomach cancer for which there was no treatment, so a week before Christmas, just 4 weeks from his first visit to the vet, he was put to sleep. I was devastated he was only 7 yrs old and had coped so well with being blind.
Fizz (Ch/Bel Ch Tonylynn’s Charles LafitteAW(P)R2EX) had been doing scent training for a few weeks; I had taken him along because I was doing it with Kiki. I went back to training with him after Christmas but was really not sure he liked it, and not sure whether I wanted to do it anyway. Kiki was so easy to read but I was finding Fizz very difficult, it was so different from anything else he had done. Agility, Rally & Obreedience in these either Debbie or I tell him what to do, in scent he has to tell me when he has found the scent, and he is only looking for a scented (cloves) piece of cloth, no bigger than a thumb nail. I am sure you will have seen dogs on the TV searching for things, and either keeping their nose on it or sitting by it, well that is the idea. Fizz does neither, he gives me a very slight look and if I don’t notice it and tell him to go on searching, he barks at me and shows me something else he thinks I might like, in other words he does not suffer fools. In a level 1 trial there are 4 searches:- 2 outside, a car, and an exterior in which are things you might find in a garden like hosepipes, garden chairs etc(10-15items).Then two indoor searches, boxes and luggage(10-15 items) and table and chairs(8 chairs). There is a search area, the entrance is marked with two cones, once the dog passes through these your time starts, you are allowed 3 minutes. When you think the dog has found the scent, you have ‘to call it’ by telling the judge. If the dog finds the scent 20 points are awarded, plus up to 5points handling marks, so the top marks are 100.The top 4 places in the trial are then decided on time, anyone getting all 4 searches also has a clean sweep rosette. You can qualify if you find three searches. We started with the exterior search which Fizz found in .47secs and I had 5 handling marks, there was no doubt when he had found it. Next was the car, he has always really liked doing this, why I don’t know. It is only hidden on the outside and no higher than the smallest dog, and as we had two Jack Russells in the trial, I knew it would be low down either behind the bumper or behind a wheel nut, he did this in 10secs.Next we moved indoors for the boxes and luggage. For inside searches he likes to be off the lead, he will not search if he is on the lead. He knew what he was meant to do, and looked into each box or smelt each bag, the trouble was he would look at me after he had smelt each item, he seemed to stay longer with one bag and I so nearly called it but for some reason didn’t. I moved on and so did he and showed interest in another item, so I called that, it was wrong, he was right the first time. I was given 5 handling marks not sure why, but the judge did say his indication was so subtle. Next came the table and chairs which has been our nemesis, so I was really not looking forward to this search but thought I must trust him. He did it correctly in 18secs and I had 5 handling marks, so I was thrilled that we had qualified, and I think by the end of the day I had learnt to read him better. I learnt after the trial finished that many of the dogs had found the box and bag search difficult, in fact only 4 or 5 had found it and had clean sweeps, so much so that the trial organiser and judge put white dogs over the search area again. A white dog does not refer to the colour; it is a very experienced scent dog that is run over each search area to make sure there is no contamination anywhere, before the competition starts, of course no contamination was found. Apparently, the baggage boxes are always the most difficult. Scent is a very interesting subject and how it can move. Probably with the boxes etc being on the floor, every time the door opened to let a dog in and out the scent moved just slightly. The activity is becoming very popular, I think because all you need for training is a hall not a large area or field, and you can practice at home indoors or in the garden. I have to thank Lynda Bowers & Lynn Church of Best Paw Forward DTC for all their training, help and encouraging me not to give up. I knew Fizz had enjoyed it when after the last search, he did not want to leave the search area, he wanted to do it again, something he does when he has done an agility round.
I finish with an apology to Brenda and Tony Bethell, as in last week’s notes when referring to the results from St Patrick’s Day International Ch show in Dublin, I said that their Ir Ch Zodiac’s Featuring at Taevas of Minforst) won the RCACIB when in fact he won the CACIB, so only needs one more to become an International Ch.
Margaret Deuchar firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in Margaret’s Breed Notes are hers and hers alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Norwegian Buhund Club of the UK