Sat 22 Aug 2020, Great Rollright

Level 8: Judge - Heather Donnelly

Hand House, Great Rollright, Chipping Norton, OX7 5RE

Start: 10-12noon and 2-4pm
Entry Fees: £30 per dog.
Contact: Karen Denton

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

Heather Donnelly

My thank you to Karen Denton for asking me to judge and Hazel Williamson for running the trial and scribing for me all day.
I set what I hoped was quite a psychological test that challenged the handler more than the dog. At this level all the dogs are really good otherwise they wouldn’t be working at this level and so with this in mind I decided I would challenge the competitors mentally.
Interior search one was a large training room and I included the toilet and I hid 5 scented articles in this area and gave the competitors just 3.5 minutes. I hid 3 of the hides quite close together on the right of the room knowing that most handlers, being right handed would probably go the other way. This put pressure on the teams as this resulted in dogs’ searching for quite a while before they would find anything. Also I arranged 7 cones in two rows in the middle of the room and hid two scented articles on 2 of the cones. One of the hides was partially visual and this was deliberate as I wanted the competitors to think it was the decoy. Several dogs did alert on this cone and several handlers, not believing their dog, didn’t call it. However after Karen’s dog Zelda did do a nice freeze on this cone Karen decided not to call it but changed her mind when Karen spotted a further ‘exposed’ article in the toilet which Zelda ignored. This was a very clever move on Karen’s part and resulted in Karen being the only one who qualified and therefore winning this very tough L8. Well done.
Interior Search two was the tool room which was the size of 2 generous joined garages. The room was filled with tools and gardening equipment as well as a small tractor making this an extremely cluttered area to search. I hid 12 articles in this area as I was looking for detailed handling from the competitors unlike the freer handling style that most handlers adopted during Interior Search 1. I allocated 3.45 minutes to allow the competitor to be through but all the competitors, after finding just 5 or 6 hides decided to call the ‘All Clear’. This meant that as many as 6 or even 7 hides hadn’t been found which put tremendous pressure on the 3rd and final search.
The 3rd and final search was the exterior and this was set similar to a level 5/6 search. Most competitors did a good job and out of 7 hides most competitors found either 5 or 6.
I hope everyone enjoyed this rather challenging test and everyone took their result in good spirits. Level 8 is tough with the best dogs and their handlers trying to beat the test so well done to all those for giving the test a good crack.

It was a very windy day for the Level 8 trial but, at least, the rain held off.

Many thanks to Heather Donnelly for judging and setting a thoughtful and thought provoking test. It was a great challenge.

Many thanks also to Hazell for scribing, her organisational skills and allowing her venue to be used for the trial.

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