Sun 03 Apr 2022, Elton

Level 7: Judge - Christine Gregory

Highgate Hall, Overend, Elton, Peterborough. PE8 6RU

Start: 0930
Entry Fees: £30 per dog.
Contact: Nikki Johnson

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

Many thanks to Nikki Johnson for the invitation to judge and her excellent organisation. Corinne Duncan scribed and did a great job of keeping me straight and collecting the extra information that I asked for.

Each level adds a new degree of difficulty but L7 has 3 extra challenges. Unknown number of hides and unknown time allocation. This, together with the expectation that the hides will be difficult, means that the third criteria, calling the area clear, maybe isn’t uppermost in the competitors mind. I wanted to see if I could influence this a little with easier hides and a generous time allowance. I did have visions of a mass dead heat but I banked on the fact that at this level dogs don’t find all the hides and, importantly, we handlers know that they don’t which makes calling an area clear a tricky decision. Also for many this just isn’t a priority. I hoped that my calculations were correct and we wouldn’t have to rely on the clock to decide the placings.

All areas were “white dogged” before and after scent placement. There were 4 hides in each area. For the Interior searches I divided the hall into two, a storage/committee room was included for the first search and a kitchen for the second. Both of these rooms were blank. The Exterior was a fairly typical village hall perimeter.

Interior 1, 5mins. All hides were in the hall, all teams bar one, started here and so gained early success. The blank room provided a ridiculous number of potential hiding places and was given a really thorough going over by all the teams. Only Suzanne and Luther found all 4, which they did at 1min 37sec, it was the very last second when Suzanne called clear, phew!

Exterior, 5mins By approximately half time 5 of the 7 had found all hides. There’s only so many times that you can go up and down a perimeter and 4 handlers called clear.

Interior 2, 4mins 30sec. The handlers had a choice, kitchen first, hall first. With just one exception all started in the kitchen. This was agony to watch, I can’t tell you the relief I felt when the handlers decided to move on to the hall. 4 teams found all 4 with Suzanne finding all hides at 2min 36sec. and calling at 2min 54sec.

At the end of the day 5 of the 8 teams qualified (Sue and Tiva ran NFC but they would have qualified too). Well done to you all!

1st Suzanne and Luther, a dog made for scent work, fast, accurate and attentive. Whichever way you cut it they were the winners. All hides found, all areas called clear. A performance for the record books. Fabulous teamwork and those “clear” calls made my heart sing.

2nd Jo and Ehren, with her ranging stride these village hall searches look too small for Ehren, but she knows what she’s looking for and responds well to Jo’s handling. Called Exterior clear at 2min 43sec.

3rd Karen and Barley, lovely teamwork. Barley can be a sensitive soul but she worked with a lot of motivation today, only missing one hide in Interior 1.

4th Wendy and Chilli, Chilli’s decision to to go into the blank room first in Interior 1 wan’t to their advantage. I was very pleased to see them bounce back and find all the remaining hides and call Exterior clear in 2min 56sec.

5th Justine and Chumley, at this level dogs need to be firing on all cylinders so Justine has extra pressure in time management and negotiating the search area. Found all the Exterior hides in 2min 40sec, called it clear at 4min 3sec.

Many thanks to all the competitors and best of luck for the future.

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