Monday, March 18, 2013

Allow me to introduce...

Queen Vom Nobelos NW1 "Reyna"


The trial was awesome! If you feel like a long read here is our overall experience. If you just want the quick version scroll to the bottom for times/results.

Newberry Nose Work 1 Trial breakdown...

 We made the long drive to Jacksonville Florida on Friday. We stayed with a good friend Lisa Mallory who was trialing her doberman Kelly on Saturday too and we spent Friday evening just playing with the dogs and trying to relax. That night I realized I had left my score book 7 hours away in Carrollton, GA. Crap. This was not starting well. It turns out I worried for nothing, apparently you don't have to have our membership card or scorebook with you to trial at all, but I spent that evening and the whole way there the next morning stressing about it for nothing. I wish they would make it more well known that you don't Have to have it.

The next morning Lisa and I headed to the trial site with both dogs. It was two hours away and we made it just in time to check in, find out I had worried for nothing about the scorebook, and get settled into our little "camp" site before the walk through. The site was amazing, plenty of shaded parking, huge potty area, plenty of room for everybody.

Then the walk through started. Our group did the walk brought in reverse order of what we would run. Thanks to this blog post  I had a plan in my head for how I would work each area .

There were three vehicles parked at angles facing the main building. I noted that the wind was blowing away from the start line and hoped that wouldn't cause too much trouble. I was thankful we had done a good bit of work in the wind.

This time the wind was blowing toward the start line...awesome. But there was a closed shed with a wooden ramp leading up to it as part of the search area. I crossed my fingers and hoped that if the hide was up there that all of our work on decks, stages, and sheds, wold help her push past that. This was also where I started to get nervous. The area wasn't too big, but it had asphalt, gravel, wooden decking, grass, concrete, vertical surfaces, and a bit of clutter. It was a lot to take in.

Now this was a breath of fresh air. It was like they had copied the gym set up that we practice in. Even the chairs and tables were the same style. Reyna would be totally comfortable in here.

Another nervous one. So. Many. Boxes!  And they were in the shape of a clover. That would make it easy to miss one. I was really going to have to stick with a pattern or risk missing a box.

After the walk though they started running dogs. Each dog would run container and exterior one right after the other and then be done until lunch. Then after lunch we would all run interior and vehicle back to back. I like that much better than the idea of container, break, exterior, break etc.

I was almost dead last. There were 27 dogs running counting an exhibition dog, and I was 25. That made me VERY glad I followed the NKJD blog post and practiced long aging on hides. Reyna does better when the odor has been out for a while actually.

During the down time before our first search I tried to simulate our training environment so about every 45 minutes I would get Reyna out, play a little, run the practice boxes, and then put her away again. The rhythm really helped both of us settle in before the actual searches. I tried to keep Reyna out of the sun, but the on deck locations were pop up tents and Reyna was a bit nervous about the high winds flapping the tents. Turns out she had good reason because one blew over, luckily nobody was there. Other than those short little bursts I tried to just relax in our lawn chairs and enjoy the shade and chat with folks nearby about anything except the specific hides. This was difficult when Lisa came back successful, because I really wanted to ask her how it was, but all we could do is celebrate that her first two hides where over and wait for mine.

I formed my plan for the first two sections, Container I was going to walk Reyna clockwise through the pattern to make sure we didn't miss a box. Exterior I was going to give Reyna 1 minute to do whatever, and then after 1 minute I would do a perimeter walk and then a zig zag to see if we cold pick up odor. I would use the same strategy for the interior and vehicles except that because of the wind on the vehicles, if she hadn't alerted in one minute I would restart her from the opposite side facing the wind.

When it was our turn on deck we paced and played and paced some more

We walked in and Reyna was focused on the boxes. I held her about two feet behind the start line to make sure she didn't cross early. I gave her the cue and we started. She was NOT interested in checking every box. I had to insist she check a couple. We may have wasted time but I would rather waste time checking empty boxes than miss the right one. I shouldn't have worried because about halfway around she got very focused and started pulling faster until she skidded to a stop and did her very clear chin target and paw touch for the box. I called alert and got the YES! We had passed our first NW1 element and actually got a Pronounced!
Time: 38.05 seconds. Place: 10th

Reyna caught odor on the way to the start line thanks to the wind, I held her for a second more to focus myself and remind myself of the plan. She shot off the start line and went straight for the wooden ramp. My heart sank a bit and I just crossed my fingers that if it was there she would work through it. She hopped off the side of the ramp though and started detailing the ground. She gave a double nose tap and froze on the seam where the ramp meets the concrete. I called it and waited that painful millisecond before we got a YES! We whooped it up and practically ran back to the car. We were halfway there so now I just needed to try and relax until after lunch.
Time: 21.81 seconds Place: 10th

During lunch we all celebrated and lamented and got to talk about the searches since the whole group was done. Lisa and Kelly did awesome on the containers. They got it in 12 seconds and the exterior in 29! If I wasn't nervous before (which I was) now I was really nervous! We only had two more to go.

For the second half I pottied Reyna and played a little bit and then gave her a bowl of kibble and some water. I knew she didn't eat much for breakfast and I wanted to make sure she could make it through the day. She wolfed down her kibble and drank a good bit of water and then settled back into her crate. I decided I didn't want to follow the morning pattern of getting her out repeatedly for fear of wearing her out. She was resting really well in her crate so I just put a frozen blanket over the top of the crate to help keep her cool and let her nap. I was very glad to see her relaxing even when dogs and people walked up to chat. I had been worried that she would wear herself out getting excited every time somebody came by.

I really tried to stay relaxed and not think about the fact that when this was all over it was 20 hours of driving and two vacation days from work and it would really be a bummer to miss the last hide. Lisa went first again and was gone for what seamed like forever. She came around the corner with a thumbs up....she had her title!!! I am glad she went first because she warned me there was a long wait between the two searches and suggested I take some water for Reyna which I did and was very thankful for!

There were three holding stations before we got to the interior so I tried to keep a healthy balance of engaging Reyna and then letting her just wander on her line and sniff fence poles etc. When we finally got called in the threshold was at the doorway. I held her back to let her get her bearing and then sent her on. Honestly I was sure it would probably be on the tables or chairs, but Reyna went straight into the middle of the room, between the tables, turned back and hit the far left perimeter and followed it around to the right until we hit a little alcove with a dustpan. She detailed the area for a second and then hit and stuck on the inside of the dustpan. Alert.....YES!!! We were only one away from a title and we received a Pronounced on this hide as well!
Time: 32.84 seconds Place: 12th

There was a long wait before the vehicle and I was glad I had water, I was glad Reyna had a cued relax, and honestly she was so calm, happy and focused during the wait period that all nerves about the vehicle vanished. I felt calm, and connected. She shot off the start line and I started my internal timer. Just the fact that I felt present and relaxed into to count off seconds in my head while maintaining focused on Reyna told me we were in a good place as a team. In a stroke of luck she ran past the vehicles towards the building and I stopped her. She turned to face me and was looking right into the wind. She immediately caught odor and went halfway back towards the start line in between two cars. As she got halfway down the vehicles she whipped back to the right and started detailing the front wheel well and tire. She stuck her nose into one hole in the hub cap, I gave her harness a little tug to see if she would back up or lean forward. She backed up a step and slammed her nose into the next hole over. I called alert and they said "where?". Holding my breath I pointed to the second hole and got a YES!!!!! We threw a party!!!! Reyna almost took my hand off snatching the ball she was so excited. The judge said he like her head snap into odor. I don't remember if I said thank you or just nodded, but this time we ran all the way back to the car. There were cheers and hugs and laughter. We had our NW1 Title and we received a third Pronounced for this search.
Time: 21.90 seconds Place: 4th

Not only was I absolutely thrilled to have the title, I was very pleased with her consistency. We didn't place on any of the elements but she was extremely consistent. We got a lot of great comments from the judges about her drive, attitude, my ability to read her, and our teamwork.

AND....are you ready for this???? Even though we didn't place on a single element her consistency paid off with a FIRST PLACE OVERALL TIME!!!!!

Ahhhhhh!!!!!!! WE WON THE TRIAL!!!!!! I cannot believe that! Our total time for the trial was 1:54.60, averaging less than 30 seconds a hide....Way to go my formerly reactive crazy baby! She also got several comments about her focused and happy attitude. I am so proud of her and us as a team. We have come so far to get here and have so many people to thank for their help, guidance and inspiration.

Thank you all!!!!


  1. OMGGGGG!! CONGRATULATIONS! This is amazing news. I never would've thought it possible to get 1st place overall with what are apparently "slow" times (fairly similar to Elli's search times, actually - within 15-30s average).

    I am so happy for you two. That 20hr drive home must've been the best ever. :))

    1. thanks!! You just never know, sometimes consistency beats out speed! I sort of assumed we wouldn't be in the running, but it was a pleasant surprise! Good luck on yours in April, keep me posted on ow its going!