Well, here we are at the end of the first week of the New Year, and with the Oxford-Astra Zeneca the second vaccine being approved, I think we all hoped that by the anniversary of the pandemic being declared in March 20, things would be beginning to improve. However, with this new variant spreading so fast the light at the end of the tunnel still seems to be a long way off. So, the wait for Canine activities to start again continues. I have been lucky in that our scent trainer has continued all the time with Zoom lessons every week, so while it is not the same as having face to face lessons it comes a close second, we are given homework to do with the dogs then if we want, we can send videos in for the trainer to see how we are getting on. Scent is great as it needs very little equipment, 6/8pieces of material 2cmx2cm(hides),10/12dried cloves in a glass jar, then wait a couple of days and the pieces of material are ready to be hidden for the dog to find. It can therefore be done in the house and garden or just the house if you do not have a garden or if the weather is bad. If any of you are interested (not necessarily with a Buhund) pm me and I tell you how you can contact the trainer as she does beginner classes as well as advanced ones, and although there is a cost involved it is minimal.
Here in London, like most of the country we are in Tier 4, so obviously apart from going to work I do not go anywhere. Before we went into Tier 4, Debbie with Magic (Cavronscourt Magic Jade) her PSD and Time (Rikarlo Gable JW) and I headed off to Canvey Island, for a (Covid Safe) UK Scentwork Level 1 trial. Time only needed two points to gain his excellent award. For this the dog must gain 20 points in Levels 1-4 and 30 points in Levels 5-8. Once the required points have been gained the dog can continue at that level but only as NFC, so usually the dog is moved into the next level. Points are gained by the dog being placed 1-4, also if the dog finds all the hides (4 for level 1) but is not placed, he can be awarded a clean sweep rosette and 2 points, an extra 2 points are also awarded if the dog finds all the hides and the handler has full handling mark,5 for each search. In three Level 1 Trials, Time had been placed 2nd and 4th and had a clean sweep, leaving him just needing another 2points which he gained at this trial having another clean sweep. It was a good day, or should I say ‘hour’ as being Covid safe there were only 5 dogs in each section, with each dog working individually with just the judge and scribe watching from a distance, so the searches were done very quickly (a maximum of three minutes is allowed for each search), with awards being sent out later when the scores were added up from all the sections. Debbie and Magic did very well to win the Trial, having found the four hides in the fastest time and with Debbie having full handling marks.
I started doing scent with Kiki (Trelowen Ancorya) as he was blind (nothing breed related but from an infection that also affects humans). Scent was something he could do, and he loved it, his indication was very good, he would stop and look at me seeming to know exactly where I was. He was second in his first and only trial just being beaten on time by a few seconds. Very sadly a few days later he went off his food which turned out to be caused by an extremely aggressive stomach cancer for which there was no cure, he was only 7yrs.
Having become interested in scent training and with Fizz (Ch/Bel Ch Tonylynn’s Charles Lafitte (AWP)RL2EX just having gained his Platinum Agility Warrant (only the Diamond Warrant being higher), we decided it was time to retire him from Agility. I thought it was therefore a good time to start him on scent training, a good activity for both of us with our maturing years! although he enjoyed the lessons and the treats, I think Agility will always remain as his first love, he thought it was invented just for him. Fizz’s indication was never that good, except for the car searches, which for some reason he loved doing and always indicated well. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it is harder. In all the canine activities that Fizz has taken part in either Debbie or I told him what to do, either with verbal commands or by him following our hands, but for scent the roles were reversed, he had to tell me when he had found the scent. To start I had to keep my hands by my side, until he learned not to follow them, he did learn that but try as I might to teach him, his indication was never that good, he worked better off the lead having been used to doing that in agility. Often in training you do not know where the hide is, and obviously not in competition, Fizz would fleeting stand still and perhaps look at the hide, but if I did not notice what he was doing quickly enough he would move on and often bark in frustration, as all he really wanted was the treat he was going to get at the end of the search! being very food orientated. Having missed a year of competition Fizz is now retired from Canine Activities, just enjoying his walks, sleeping and eating not necessarily in that order! He will be 14yrs in May.
In 2019 I started scent training with Time, he took to it immediately and not being that keen on food he would search for the sake of the search, not for the treat which has made big difference. I could have moved Time up to Level 2 after his first Level 1 Trial where he was second, however reading the dog’s indication as I said earlier is so important. The ideal is for the dog to indicate by keeping his nose on the hide until the handler releases him. I moved Fizz up to level 2 after he qualified at his first Level 1 Trial but regretted it, as it is much harder with 8 searches, and with Fizz’s indication not being good it was far more difficult, he did qualify at Level 2 but only just.
I decided early on to keep Time in Level 1 and work on his indication. Lockdown in March gave me the opportunity to do this (the only good thing about lockdown). Time’s indication is now very good although not perfect, and of course searching in the house and garden where are no outside influences is much easier. In the last two trials he was 5th, he just needed to search quicker to be placed, he tends to check everything before homing in where hide really is, but that is fine I would rather he was certain. I am looking forward to doing some Level 2 Trials when it safe to do so later this year.
A number of you may have seen the announcement from the BVA saying ‘In response to the government announcement of Tier 4 restrictions in London, CHS hip and elbow scoring is suspended until further notice. Previously provided scoring dates will change. We regret we are unable to provide an estimate of turnaround times. Thank you for your patience.’ I gather patience is wearing very thin with many sending their X rays to Australia, where the turn round is somewhere between 24 and 48hrs.The system is based on but not exactly the same as ours and the scores seem to be coming back lower. The other thing is that the results will not go on the KC Health Test Finder. I understand that the BVA is looking for a way that they can safely start again, which hopefully with modern technology will soon be possible. The problem at the moment seems to be that the two assessors have the x rays on the screen with someone else taking notes, making social distancing impossible, and obviously nobody should ever be put at risk. The Assured Breeders Scheme as do most clubs have a code of ethics, which say a dog must be health tested before being mated to make sure only healthy dogs are bred from, that is why x rays are being sent abroad, as people cannot wait for the BVA results. People are also resigning from the ABS as they cannot fulfil the requirements of the scheme saying that the health results should be registered with the KC. We have several litters planned for this year, some with young dogs/bitches who have had their hips scored but have been waiting months for their results, so far this has not been a problem, so hopefully things will be sorted soon. All this is of course another result of this terrible pandemic.
Stay safe everyone.
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.