Sun 23 Oct 2022, Solihull

Levels 1 & 3: Judges - L1 Kate Wilkes, L3 Julie Bytheway

Solihull Lodge Community Centre, Grafton Road, B90 1NJ

Start: L1 9.30am, L3 1.30pm
Entry Fees: £30 per dog.
Contact: Mandy Rigby

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

I would like to say a big thank you to Mandy for asking me to judge at her Level 3 trial, and I would also like to say a very big thank you to Joyce for scribing and to Jo for organising all competitors and keeping things running smoothly.
After a depressing forecast of heavy rain and thunder for the afternoon of the trial, the weather was really kind to us and the promised weather never arrived. There were a few showers – nothing too bad – and the sun even made an appearance to cheer everyone up.
10 teams entered the trial and there were a mix of teams that had competed in a Level 3 trial before but there were also some less experienced competitors.
We started with everyone’s favourite – the boxes and luggage search. One scent was placed on a black laptop bag, which was positioned towards the top right of the search area, and the other was placed on a box to the top left of the area. This search challenged many and only 4 teams managed to locate both scents accurately. Searching was good but there were quite a few false alerts on this one, on an assortment of different bags and cases. Well done to Kelly and Data and Kate and Skye for calm, relaxed handling and also to Ceris who knows her dog well, recognizing the difference between Alfie’s interest and his indication. We then moved on to the exterior search and there was more of an air of confidence with this one. The scents were placed on a green lap tray to the top left of the search area and the other was on a black speaker type object that was just off centre to the right of the area. There was some really good, thorough searching and most teams found both of these scents correctly, despite some interest from many dogs on an article next to the scented one, where a breeze was blowing the scent across. One or two dogs were interested in the environment around the search area but handlers did well to keep them on focus, especially as a cat kept walking past the fence – luckily the dogs didn’t notice, as they were too busy searching.
After a short break we went back inside to work on tables, chairs and perimeter. We decided to challenge the teams a little by putting one scent on the inner of the middle table leg on the left and we placed the other on an upturned box right at the very end of the perimeter area. Most teams found both scents but when searching the table and chairs, many handlers walked repeatedly around the chairs on the outside – remember to encourage your dogs to investigate the tables too. There was some beautiful handling by Judith, Wesley, Kate and Rachael on this one – their dogs knew what they were doing and their handlers let them
get on with it, guiding their dogs to come in from different directions to try to locate the scent. Wesley and Judith made it look so easy; their dogs found both scents in 77 and 81 seconds respectively. I was also fascinated watching Data search – talk about perseverance! She knew that scent was there somewhere and she would not give up until she found it, there was an audible sigh of relief from Kelly(and me) when she finally indicated.
We finished the trial with the wall search, the front wall of the hall being used for this exercise. The scents were put on the underside a brick, almost at floor level just a little way in from the start cones and further along on the right edge of a white roller door. There was a grass verge to the side of the search area and there was also leaf matter and acorns at the base of the wall in places. Most teams were successful with this search, with Judith and Jazz and Rachael and Jemima finding the scents quite quickly. Some dogs would benefit from more practice with scenting at different levels as many repeatedly searched at nose level until handlers eventually tasked them lower. A special mention to Wesley and December on this one – Wesley showed really patient handling as December was showing lots of interest in the environment and took time to indicate. Well done to Ceris and Alfie on this one too – he thought the acorns on the floor were great fun but Ceris managed to refocus him and get him back on task.
I really enjoyed judging today and I would like to say a huge well done to all handlers and their beautiful dogs, but a particularly big well done to – 1st Place – Kate and Skye – a great team, really calm and steady handling from Kate who is an experienced handler but has a new challenge in that Skye has now become deaf through old age. It’s a bit of a learning curve for you but you handled her beautifully!
2nd Place – Judith and Jazz – I loved watching this team work together, Judith tells Jazz exactly what she wants and he doesn’t disappoint – beautiful searching and indications, well done.
3rd Place –Kelly and Data – If ever a team deserved to be placed, it is these two. Kelly handled her dog calmly and Data knows the job and won’t give up until that scent is found. Beautiful to watch!
4th Place – Ceris and Alfie – Great handling and knowing your dog well got you this placing today. You were patient and knew when to let him get on with it and when he needed to reset as he was going off task. Great result for your first level 3 trial!

A big well done to Sara and Billie too who got their level 3 excellence today too!
I hope to see you all again at trials in the near future and good luck to you all on the next steps on your Scent Work journey.
Happy scenting! Julie

After a pretty horrendous drive down the M42 to Solihull in torrential rain and getting soaked through whilst just taking the white dog for a wee – it wasn’t looking like it was going to be a very good day for our competitors. However, I promised everyone the rain would stop at 1030 for the vehicle searches and it did. It rained whilst we went back inside and then stopped again for the exterior items – thank you to the weather god and fairies.

We did start inside – with table and chairs with the scent on the side of a chair on the left-hand side of the table. We saw a mix of on and off lead working. All of the competitor’s found the correct chair without too much bother and most indicated on the first pass with just a couple checking the remaining chairs before re-enforcing their indication. Olga Foster and Ted were the quickest to complete this exercise in 11.68s with Katherine and Dexter close behind in 17.12s. Mandy Peplow held her nerve waiting for Saxon to give her the indication she needed before calling this one, well-read Mandy you obviously know your dog well.

Vehicle Search – the rain had just stopped and the tarmac around the car was wet but no puddles. There was also very little wind. the scent was hidden on a wheel nut on the passenger side front wheel. Emma Rogers and Oswald had no trouble locating this one in a very respectable 10.13s and Oswald’s speed on the remaining searches gained this team 1st place on the day and a well-deserved Excellence. Michelle Craddock and Odin made a late appearance but were unflustered and after nipping back inside to do their Tables and Chairs also completed the vehicle search in an impressive 16.06s – lovely to see a Bulldog working, and you can definitely hear his nose going. Claire Loxley with Theon (nervous dog) were completely unfazed with the environment and, despite a cat walking by and dogs barking on the adjacent green, remained focused finding the scent in the 3rd quickest time for this exercise.

Most dogs indicated on the correct wheel and within 6 inches, but many were not quite on source – indicating above the wheel nut through a large hole in the wheel trim. The wet weather may have been contributing to dispersal of the clove scent but a little more work on indicating on source was suggested in order to avoid missing out on the 6inch rule in the future. In contrast Lynsey Roderick with Suki and Karen Durrant with Freddie were right on source – well done. All teams were successful on the vehicle with just one fouling accident which meant we had to move the car slightly – but were able to retain the same parking angle and approximate location to keep the test conditions the same for all remaining competitors.

Next was the Boxes and Luggage – thirteen objects including various sized cardboard boxes and bags including small suitcases and flat PC bags. The scent was hidden on a suitcase handle which was on top of the bag. Lynsey and Suki smashed this one in 33s and was my ‘best search of the day’, not just for speed but for quality of searching each bag on the way and the strength of Suki’s indication, and the confidence Lynsey had in Suki – great teamwork which earned them 2nd Place overall. Stanley England-Kerr and Loki were also outstanding in this search with a lovely indication from Loki that Stanley was able to test by walking around the bag before calling. Indications as strong as this will stand this team in good stead for the next levels and with 100 points today, they just missed a place on time. Three dogs missed this one indicating on three different boxes and bags.

Final search was the exterior. The scent was place on a grey and green kneeler/gardeners’ seat on its side and with scent hidden in a small hole on the base of one of the legs (about 6inches above floor level). The three items were given as the kneeler, a plastic toolbox and a red watering can. This was a challenging L1 search but all of our competitors took it in their stride, and all called the correct item. There was some lovely methodical searching from Odin and Dexter checking all of the objects before indicating. Debra Ravenall with Maggie had one of the best indications of the day with Maggie going right to source. Many of the dogs were not on source (or within 6inches) with this one. They did call the correct item and so were successful but were encouraged to work on getting their dogs onto source in training.

The linework was excellent today – you all obviously have a good trainer and there was some great teamwork with handlers waiting for the indication they needed to call a find. As I said on the day you all deserved your Qualifiers today and would not be out of place at the higher levels already. Work on your indications and getting your dog’s nose on source.

Thank you for asking me to judge many and thank you to Julie Bytheway for scribing. It was fun and I learned a lot.

The line work throughout the day was excellent with no tight leads and few tangles – these L1 handlers would not be out of place in higher levels.

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