Sun 28 May 2023, Finmere, MK18 4AT

Levels L1 & L7: Judges - L1 TBA & L7 Karen Denton

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

Start: L1 – 9am & L7 – 1pm
Entry Fees: £30 per dog.
Contact: Heather Donnelly
– Tel: 01869 349190

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

Hazell Williamson

Level 1 28th May 2023

Thank you to Heather for the invitation to Judge at this well organised trial and to Yaz who always does an excellent job of scribing.

Level one is a mixed bunch as can be expected from complete newbies to trials to “old timers” with new dogs. 13 teams took place and there were some lovely constructive searches. However my criticisms first…main observation amongst today’s competitors was that it would be helpful if you read the rules before entering!! We had things like not knowing the 6 inch rule on the vehicle search and being taken aback when
this was pointed out, to feeding in the search area! Like anything in competition if we fail to prepare we prepare to fail. The tables and chairs and boxes and luggage searches were the worst for wrong alerts and I think this was mainly brought about by being too quick to jump in when the dog was just in odour but had not settled at source resulting in alerting on the chair or item “next door”. I know from experience that
nerves can play a big part in this. I was particularly impressed by two of our youngest dogs in the completion who showed great potential for the future.

Congratulations to Beverley Watson-Turner and Murph taking all the top awards today, 1st place, clean sweep and excellence.
Sophie and Skylar and Debbie and Bucky also gaining full marks to come 2nd and 3rd and one of our youngest dogs Mica with Lyn to take 4th place.

You all seemed happy and enjoyed the day with your dogs which is what it all about!

Level 7 judge’s report 28 May 2023

I was greeted with 10 smiley competitors for this Level 7 trial at Finmere.

Interior 1
The first search area was the bottom half of the hall, the committee room and the store room. I placed 4 hides. One (truffle) was on the wall under the dado in line with the start cone. The second was on the corner of the table in the committee room (gun oil) and there were two in the store room – one on a stack of chairs to the left (clove) and one on the ladder (truffle) next to the filing cabinet. The decoy was a piece of sock on a black bag amongst some boxes. The time allowed was a generous five and a half minutes – enough time for the handlers to cover the area and task into a busy store room without having to race around.

Not one of the handlers tasked their dog on the wall right at the start (or the end depending on which way round they went) but, seeing the heater, the dogs were drawn to it and completely missed the first 18 inches of the wall. Nobody brought their dog back to this section of the wall during the whole time. Watch out for earlies folks – judges know they’ll be missed!

All 10 teams found the hide on the corner of the table in the committee room. 6 dogs indicated the stack of chairs and 4 dogs got the ladder. One dog indicated the decoy and several others gave false indications in random places feeling the handler’s expectation to find something.

There were 3 hides and the time allowed was three and a half minutes. This included the side corner of the hall round to the corner of the garage. This was quite a short perimeter search with 1 hide (gun oil) being in the grill in front of the garage. 4 dogs got this. The decoy (Velcro) was on a wheelie bin. The other two hides were both on the vehicle and both were clove. One was in a slit in the dog cage and the other on the wide open driver’s door. 7 dogs got the hide on the cage but only Paula with Bonnie Jazz tasked her dog to the wide open door. Most handlers concentrated on the inside of the vehicle and neglected the door itself.

Interior 2
Top half of the hall and the kitchen.
The teams knew the time allowed (4.5 minutes) and the number of hides which was 5 in this search. Going from left to right they were situated in the left hand corner of the hall under the dado (gun oil) and 4 dogs got this, on a jacket hanging on a chair ( clove) – 9 dogs got this one, just inside the kitchen door in a crack in the wall (clove) – all 10 teams got this, on the lip of the lower oven (truffle) – 3 dogs got this, under the foot of the pedal bin (gun oil) and all 10 teams found this one. The decoy was Velcro and placed under the coat stand in the middle of the hall. On the floor in front of the corner dado rail hide was a wash bowl which I knew would attract the dogs’ attention away from the hide which, indeed, it did and several handlers didn’t encourage their dog’s head up where they would have discovered the source of the odour. By this time the weather was cooler which was nicer although one or two of the handlers and dogs looked a bit jaded and this may have contributed to several dogs indicating the decoy.

I set what I considered to be a fair but challenging test. Over all I felt that some handlers missed subtle cues from their dogs when they were in odour and some could see their dogs were in odour but didn’t back them up instead moving them away from it. Also there was a fair bit of over searching of some areas and under searching of others. However, I’ve been guilty of this myself so it’s an observation not a criticism.

Unfortunately no one qualified on this occasion but there were some very near misses.

Lisa’s McGee only just missed it by one find. He got better and better as the day progressed and they were the only team to find all 5 hides in the last search. If only he’d been less gobby in the first search area, he’d have smashed it!

Rowan put in a good shift for Kathy whose encouraging handling gives her confidence. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy her searching today and had a waggy tail throughout. They also just missed it by one find.

Heather’s Rudi did well but this partnership were tiring by the end of the day and missed searching two key areas both of which contained a hide.

Most of the competitors missed qualifying by only 2 finds and their smiles had disappeared by the time they left but I was just as disappointed as they were as I’ve been there myself on more than one occasion but, at least, it makes success all the sweeter the next time.

I’d like to thank Heather for inviting me to judge and thanks to my very able scribe, Yaz. I always enjoy their company.

Karen Denton

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