Sun 15th Oct 2017, Finmere

Levels 4 & 5 Judge: Chris Gregory
Level 4

1st Nicola – Acer – 99.75
2nd Nikki – Elli – 98.75
3rd Sue – Halle – 97.25
4th Becky – Flossie – 89.5
5th Geof – Bug – 88.25
6th Laura – Ollie – 79.75
7th Liz – Archie – 76.25

Level 5

1st Carolyn – Millie – 109.25
2nd Nigel – Breezer – 108.5
3rd Ann – Maisie – 108.5
4th Nicky – Rags – 99.25
5th Karen – Zsa Zsa – 98.5

Our Judge for the Finmere L4 & 5 trial was Chris Gregory and again I decided to split the two levels with the L4’s in the morning and L5 in the afternoon which certainly seems popular as it means less hanging around for everyone.

We started with the L4 and Leslie Mack (scribe ) and myself set up the first L4 search the tables/chairs and the perimeter search. Chris decided to hide one of the scents low down near the exit door and the other on a video stand and the distraction scents under 2 chairs and under some staging. First up was Laura & Ollie (American Bulldog) showing how it should be done finding both the scented articles in under 80 seconds.

We promptly moved to the vehicle search as the 3 vehicles were parked on the playing field to add to the ‘distractions’ and I wanted to get the test finished before we were visited by the villagers and possibly their dogs!. As a precaution I did fence off the area using orange webbing but as we had a light shower fortunately the villagers and their dogs stayed home!

The ‘Container Search’ then followed and amazingly most teams found both the scented articles this being,  for some reason, the search which can cause the most false alerts. Whilst the ‘Container Search’ was under way I set up the items that both Chris & Leslie had brought along for the Exterior search. Again most of the teams gave it a fair go although there were a few false alerts for some reason on the reel of extension wire.

Now that all four searches had finished,  Chris & Leslie knuckled down totalling and double checking the scores to find that out of 9 runners we had 7 qualifiers with only 2 marks separating the top 3, so well done everyone.

So after a quick break Chris & Leslie pressed on with sorting out the first ‘interior search’ for the Level 5’s. There were 3 scented articles hidden in the first search and 3 teams found all 3 whilst the others found two so everyone was looking good going into the next search the ‘exterior search’. The exterior search proved to be abit more difficult and even the ‘white dog’ (my dog) missed the article hidden around the bin area. No team manage to find all 5 articles so it was all down to the last search the second interior search which included the kitchen area where previously people had been making toasted sandwiches and eating cake. Some teams worked this area really well and found all 4 within time gaining valuable ‘bonus’ marks.

So out of the 8 runners we had 5 qualifiers and well done to the delighted winner Carolyn and Mily who had forgotten they had entered the trial until I sent them the ‘running orders’ a few days before.

Again a big thank you to our judge Chris and scribe Leslie who worked so tirelessly throughout the long day.

Thank you to Heather for the invitation to judge and for organising the day. Thanks to Lesley Mack for scribing and helping to set the hides and to the competitors for what proved to be quite a long day

My first observation is, please read the rules. Unfortunately there were a few handlers in Level 4 who hadn’t done that and as a result were at a disadvantage in Tables and Chairs. For Level 5 handlers it was the “no items should be touched or moved….” clause that may have handicapped how they approached one of the hides. It goes on to say, “unless the judge gives permission”. In the Exterior element there was a hide on one of 4 wheelie bins.  It was accessible but some of the dogs may have been helped if the bins had been moved. I didn’t set this hide to particularly test how the handlers dealt with a congested area but it certainly did so, as most handlers treated the area as one search object rather than 4 individual ones.

The standard of work in Level 4 was generally high, some enthusiastic dogs with skilful handlers and nice indications. As the scores show it was a close run thing.  Nicola and Acer finished on top and were very worthy winners.  Acer works beautifully but I was very taken with Nicola’s handling skills. She has obviously trained Acer to a high standard, came out with a clear game plan and stuck with it.  Lovely indication.

There’s no two ways about it, Level 5 is demanding, there are more articles to find and the searches are bigger.  Mental and physical stamina are required and it was noticeable that a number of the dogs, and probably handlers too, were flagging as the day wore on. Some motivational search games and I’m sure you’ll be able to lift them and repair any dents to their confidence.

My winner again was standout but in a different way to Nicola and Acer. Carolyn and Mily are so well matched, they quietly go about their business, nothing flashy just 100% efficiency. Mily doesn’t have the tidiest of indications but Carolyn recognises it and responds quickly. One of the few to conquer the bins! Very well done.

All the qualifiers should feel pleased with their efforts and proud of their dogs. Good luck for your future trials.

A/F = Alert Find H = Handling T = Time (seconds)
Level 4 Tables & Chairs Exterior Search Vehicle Search Boxes & Luggage Totals
Name of Handler & Dog A/F H T A/F H T A/F H T A/F H T Marks Time
1st Nicola – Acer 20 4.75 112 20 5 75 20 5 46 20 5 75 99.75 308
2nd Nikki – Elli 20 4.25 117 20 5 69 20 5 81 20 4.5 75 98.75 342
3rd Sue – Halle 20 5 95 20 5 89 20 2.75 177 20 4.5 99 97.25 460
4th Becky – Flossie 20 4.5 268 20 5 111 10 5 197 20 5 68 89.5 644
5th Geof – Bug 20 5 46 20 4.5 215 10 4.25 300 20 4.5 105 88.25 666
6th Laura – Ollie 20 5 79 10 5 72 20 5 105 10 4.75 54 79.75 310
7th Liz – Archie 10 2 300 20 5 73 10 5 69 20 4.25 244 76.25 686