Sat 29 Jan 2022, Wichenford

Levels 1 & 2: Judges - L1 Kate Wilkes, L2 Julie Bytheway

Wichenford Memorial Hall, Venn Lane, Wichenford, Worcestershire WR6 6YF,

Start: L1 9.30, L2 1pm
Entry Fees: £28 per dog.
Contact: Pauline Whittaker

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

Level 1
Thank you to Pauline for asking me to judge and the booking the warm dry sunny January weather. This was my first time judging and a big thank you to Bridget, who was my super scribe for the day, for being so very friendly and efficient.
This is a lovely venue and we started with tables and chairs. Nerves took over for a couple of the handlers who called early on an adjacent chair before the dog properly located the scent. Great teamwork from everyone with very different styles of working and indications ranging from a freeze to a casual glance back which were picked up well by their handlers. 7 teams successfully completed this find with full handler marks for everyone.
The exterior search was hampered by the wind which was swirling around the search area. After some discussion about the direction of the wind the odour was hidden inside an upside-down wicker hanging basket, but we need not have worried as all teams successfully completed the search. There were some very quick searches from Alison Williamson and Ellie – 4 seconds – giving Bridget barely enough time to stop and start the stopwatch. Carol Phillips and Hex completed the search in 8 seconds and Irene Crow and Poppy, a sprightly 12-year-old Labrador, completed the search in 14 seconds. I was very impressed with all of the handler’s long line work (where worked on lead) with not a tight lead amongst them.
There were a couple of examples where knowing that the odour was on one of three articles paid off as the dogs we’re picking up wind-blown scent on an adjacent article, and spending a lot of time investigating, before pinning the odour down to the upside down hanging basket. Both handlers commented that they would have called on the wrong article had they not been given the one of three choice.
The boxes and luggage were arranged in three straight lines with the odour placed in the middle line. Anna Berry, handling Woody, a very bouncy Labrador, had no problem finding the odour within 13 seconds. This was another lovely example of a handler recognising their dogs indication, which was a definite nudge of the box, which she called immediately. Great teamwork from this pair all through this trial which paid off as they were our eventual winners at the end of the day.
The odour for the vehicle search was hidden on the inside of the casing over the wheel nuts, with a little gap for dog noses to investigate. Great tip from Pauline for this spot which worked brilliantly and all teams managed to find the odour despite the windy conditions.
There were so many highlights of the day that it is difficult to pick a team out for mention – just lovely to see so many different breeds and ages of dogs working with handlers who were on their first trial and those that where a lot more experienced and used to working at higher levels. Handling experience shone through with a confident Alison Williamson working her young dog Ellie and once the nerves had settled some lovely handling of a very bouncy Bailey by Charlotte Jauncey.
Success all around as all teams Qualified at the end of the trial. Well done to you all.
Places –
1st Anna Berry and Woody
2nd Carol Phillips and Hex
3rd Wesley Evans and December
4th Kelly Evans and Data

It was almost spring weather for a late January trial, even though very windy. I was happy to help Pauline out of a bind and judge for her when her original judge had to drop out a day before the trial.

I was lucky to have the lovely Bridget assigned as my scribe and after a welcome from Pauline and a quick briefing from me, we started early and with tables and chairs. Nearly everyone found both hides, with some dogs inspecting the hall (and especially the floor) and unfortunately Janet (and Sully) called 2 wrong alerts in the very first search – nerves taking over, which was a shame as after the exterior items, Sully started working really well and delivered a smashing wall search.
Our second search was exterior items on the side of the village hall – where the windy conditions created an eddy and made it really hard for the dogs to concentrate on the items. Despite the difficult condition, nearly all found both items again – with the hide in the carrying case proving hard and in some cases (like Rachel and Esme) seeming to take nearly the full 5 minutes (or so it felt for Rachel and me).
We then moved back in the hall to boxes and luggage, which turned out to be a hard search for a lot of dogs – a mis of both items being found but a lot of wrong alerts or dogs showing an interest in other items of luggage/boxes. Unfortunately, (Vicky and) Dexter had 2 wrong alerts on different boxes, which meant they didn’t qualify this time.
For the wall search, we used the back of the village hall and nearly all dogs searched beautifully, with (Ceris and)Alfie going for a stroll (but finding both items eventually) and Rebecca (and Pixie) calling the only wrong alert.

I saw some lovely handling on the day and some very smiley handlers – especially Hayley (and Seb), who proceeded to winning the trial. It is most certainly right that nerves travel down the lead and positive handler attitude make such a difference!

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