Sun 04 Jun 2023, Finmere, MK18 4AT

Levels L2, L6: Judges - L2 Sue Kirkham & L6 Lynn Bell

Finmere Village Hall, Water Stratford Road, Finmere, Bucks MK18 4AT

Start: L2- 9am, L6 – 1pm
Entry Fees: £30 per dog.
Contact: Heather Donnelly
– Tel: 01869 349190

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

I have to do the thankyous first and that is to Heather for managing trial so it ran smoothly and to Yaz for being an excellent scribe. With all the worries about contamination in venues, we did searches with 2 White Dogs. The first checked each search area before any odours and the second searched with the odours in place to ensure they were able to be found and to give a realistic search time for every area.

From a general perspective, I think many handlers struggled with their dogs during this trial. The dogs seemed to have 2 gears – the ‘woohoo it’s scentwork mode, or the I’m just chillin! Whether this was the hot weather, or as someone suggested the strawberry full moon, or even the handler tension telegraphing down the line – the result was some of the handlers were wrong footed.

I wanted to set up a series of searches that would be interesting and with varying levels of difficulty. Level 6 is a stepping stone to Level 7 and should be designed to ease people towards it.

Interior Search 1. I set up an early find under the DVD player, to help get the dogs and handlers into the search mode. Most dogs found it and it was great to see so many dogs pick up the odour and take their handlers to it. The chairs and the doorway were not scented up and several handlers were obsessed with them and even though their dogs were not showing any interest forced dogs to give wrong alerts. We’ve all been there – time is running out and we start to second think the judge. Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are not. Those who did better at this search did a steady, methodical coverage of the area. Making sure they remembered areas where their dogs had missed a check. Not forgetting corners. The hide under the table proved the biggest stumbling block. The dogs being more obsessed with the chairs not lifting up their heads. Chairs being one of the early learned search items do seem to draw the dogs.

Exterior Search
As with all the searches – there were 4 in each location and each search was given 4 minutes. Outside can always be challenging. So many environmental aspects and the gentle breeze was blowing into the area as well to swirl the odours. The early search was found by most dogs. Then large part of the wall was not checked as there was a desire to get to the door and doormat. Many searched every ‘inch’ of the door. Again, it wasn’t a location for an odour. But the wall was. Those that found this odour made sure their dogs did a systematic search. The hide on the garage door frame proved to be one of the easiest to find. Whilst the log seemed to be the biggest challenge. Many dogs checked it, but ignored it. For those that did alert, handlers mentioned that they train with trees etc.

Interior Search 2
Sadly, several handlers didn’t do this as I think their dogs had struggled through the other search areas and the heat and trying to keep dogs cool was worrying. However, the successes in this search were achieved by focussing dogs and not missing out part of the search area. This time the chairs were used for a hide. Under a chair leg. Watching dogs pass the chair leg and then stop as they had picked up the odour and then go straight to source was lovely to watch. Equally, the hide on the heater saw the dogs use their skill to find the exact spot. The key was for handlers to let their dogs do the work. The kitchen cupboard hide proved a little challenging, but the door hinge was an easy one for those dogs allowed near it.

To conclude, yes many of the dogs were not performing in their usual way. which I know can really mess with a handler. All the plans go out of the window. However, many handlers seemed not to have faith in their dogs’ abilities. From my perspective, every dog and handler had moments when I thought – that was a great search. However, in scentwork, we can only guide as the dog has to take the lead. As one trainer said to me about any dog related activity – have faith in your dog, understand your dog and smile – then both you and your dog will enjoy the day.

Thank you Heather for asking me to judge Level 2. Also thank you to Yaz for being such an efficient scribe.
Tables/Chairs and Perimeter
The scent was placed on the chair on the right hand side and on a dustbin lid on the left hand side of the hall. Eli had a fast time of 19 seconds. Quin was very enthusiastic in his searching and a quick time 25 seconds. Sara had calm handling of Merlin.

Vehicle and Wall
One vehicle and wall was used. The scent was on the passenger side front wheel arch. The scent on the wall was in a hole next to the door frame. Many dogs became odour aware by the window-sill and worked along to go to source. Well done for waiting it out! It was lovely to watch.

Bag, Boxes and Container
One scent was on a box near the back and the bag was at the front left side. Winnie had such independent searching and was so focused. Flora covered the area well and has such a subtle indication.

One scent was placed on a flowerpot in the middle of the items. The second on a hoover head at the back right side. Winnie was quick 31 seconds. Jimmy was methodical in his searching covering the area well.

It was a pleasure to watch you work your dogs and hope my feedback was helpful.

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