Sun 29th Apr 2018, Finmere

L1 & 6 Judge: Rob Harris
Level 1

1st Janet Wykes & Jess – 99
2nd Lynda Stangle & Max – 99
3rd Rachael & Logan – 98.5
4th Felicity Ashford & Danni Darko – 98.5
5th Jill Harper & Coco Jamba – 97.5
6th Grahame Godby& Skeena – 78.75
7th Katrina Landrey & Nigel – 78
8th Annette Sawyer & Gypsy – 77.5

Level 6

1st Chris Gregory & Dilli – 127
2nd Susan Benson & Lyla – 107.5
3rd Nicky Downes & Rags – 107.25
4th Ann Ferrens & Maisie – 97.5
5th Nigel Wilkes & Breezer – 97.5
6th Karen Denton & Barley – 97.25

It was ‘yet’ another cold and wet April day for the Finmere trial and because of this Rob Harris our judge decided to start with the vehicle search enabling us to get ahead in case the weather took a turn for the worse.

Lesley Mack, volunteered to scribe for Rob which she did for both the L1 and L6’s. A big thank you to both Rob & Lesley as it is quite tiring judging and scribing all day long especially the outside searches when the weather is cold.

Rob started with the L1 searches first and quickly put all the nervous L1 competitors at ease in his usual positive and enthusiastic way and I know  a lot of competitors really appreciated his very positive feedback.

We had 8 runners in L1 with two competitors coming all the way from Blackpool which proved to be successful as both teams qualified, gaining ‘clean sweeps’ and a fourth place to boot. Well done. As with all ‘Scentwork UK’ trials there were a few surprises with some teams missing the odd ‘Find’ and others pulling out all the stops and qualifying for the first time. Nobody should be disheartened with their result as there is always that bit of lucky needed on the day and if you didn’t pass it just goes to show that L1 isn’t easy.

The L6 competitors duly arrived and were eager to attack the test that Rob was going to set for them. It is common knowledge that Rob looks for a superior nosework dog backed by a competent handler to pass a L6 trial so I knew he would put out some challenging ‘Finds’.

The first search was ‘Interior 1’ and most teams achieved 3 or 4 out of the 5 ‘Finds’. Then for the ‘Exterior Search’ which was rather interesting as Rob strategically placed some search items in certain areas which some handlers just completely ignored. Although some teams did rather well with the ‘Exterior search’ missing the odd ‘Find’ put pressure on other teams to find ‘all’ 3 scented articles in the final ‘Interior 2’ search. As I find it unbearable to watch, I kept busy by clearing up the outside search areas and just approached competitors as they exited the village hall door to either let out a cheer or give them a hug!

So a after a challenging L6 trial out of 11 runners we had 7 qualifiers. So well done to those that qualified and I will leave it to Rob to comment on individuals performances.       

Thank you to Heather Donnelly for inviting me to judge both a level 1 and level 6 trial. A huge thank you also needs to go to my fantastic scribe for the day Leslie Mack.

I started the day setting off early so that I could arrive at Finmere within good time. On arrival Heather was beginning to set the outside search area for the level 1 so I thought that I would lend a hand and catch up with all the exciting developments in Scentwork UK. This also gave me some time to check out the indoor and outdoor areas that I wanted to use for the Level 6 later in the afternoon

As the trial location is a popular area at the weekends for families and dog walkers from the village and due to the inclement weather I decided to start with the vehicle search before the car park and adjoining field became too busy. Unfortunately a lot of the dogs and handlers struggled with the odour distractions of a novel location. With a few guiding words of encouragement most teams settled into the search and detected the scent located on the left rear lower wheel arch. We then moved inside to warmer climates searching the tables and chairs. I set this search up in an L-shape so that the handlers would have a choice of direction to search, with the ability to locate the scent within good time as long as the handlers allowed the dog to work. We were then back outside to brave the dreary weather with the outdoor exterior search. Most teams decided to have the choice of knowing that the odour was in one of 3 articles out of 12. I hid the scent where it would have plenty of airflow; I really wanted all teams to have great success in this exercise for both the team confidence and a positive learning experience for dogs that could have become distracted by the new location again. I’m glad to report that all had great fun with this search and our eventual winner of the trial found and indicated the odour in an incredible 7 seconds. Our final search was boxes and luggage. I used the maximum number of permitted articles in the rules and as I welcomed each competitor to the final exercise there were a few gasps at the search laid out in front. I reassured each handler that they would be fine and to be confident when sending their dog. Again, another sterling effort by the winning team of Janet Wykes and Jess locating the scent in 10 seconds. What I loved about this partnership was the confidence from the handler in reading her dogs indication. For other teams I am sure that as time progresses this will also become the case. I want to especially mention two dogs in this trial, Grahame Godby and Skeena, it was a pleasure to see you work the areas in a systematic way allowing the dog the freedom to search and Rachael and Logan, a three legged Rottweiler. Not only does this show the Scentwork Uk training and trials really are accessible to all dogs but the enthusiasm displayed by both Logan and Rachael when they found the scent was very endearing. A very well deserved 3rd place.

A piece of delicious cake and a cup of tea and it was on to the level 6 trial. With a quick welcome and short brief to the competitors and I was off to set the 1st of 3 searches, inside area 1.

This comprised of a reception foyer, disabled access toilet, female toilet, half of the hall with a few chairs dotted around to break up the barren area and the kitchen (less the biscuits and cake of course!). There were 5 scents hidden throughout, 3 of the 5 finds were set so that the dogs were able to find and indicate independent of the handler. Two were set to test the handlers’ memory of areas searched and observation of their dogs minute body language changes indicating they had located scent but needed help. I was very happy how this search ran and settled the teams in for the rest of the day.

Exterior search was up next. I’ve got to say that it was great to see how focused both sides of the teams were whilst working outside. We had a number of vehicles moving in the car park and children playing in the park which could have proved distracting.  As already mentioned in the trial managers’ report, I set a few articles away from the main body of the search which went unnoticed for a few teams. Unfortunately for some, one of these articles did hold a scent.

Next up was a welcome return to the warmth of indoors for interior search 2 (3rd and final search of the day). This area included the second half of the hall and the committee room. 3 scents to go, 1 located in a wall socket in the main hall, 1 in the wall socket on your right as you entered the committee room and the last located in 1 of 6 chairs around the committee table. Each team approached this search in a different way, some heading straight to the committee room while others electing to search the hall first. As it happens there was no preferred route that would gain an advantage as the scent locations were balanced for time. Surprisingly this search was one that challenged a number of teams as the large table and chairs weren’t searched efficiently. Most dogs found the odour from the chair but it was pooling along the back wall due to the committee room door still being open. For a number of the teams a lot of time was lost due to repeated searches of the perimeter of this room

Unfortunately we had a number of false indications throughout the trial from different teams. On most occasions it seemed that the handler talked their dog into an indication possibly due to working under time pressure to locate the scents. Something to practice for the future!

Overall I had an amazing line up of teams to judge, I hope that all the competitors enjoyed the trial and took some lessons learned away with them so they can adapt their training for continued development.

At this point I would like to single out our winning team of Christine Gregory and Dilli, an awesome dog to watch with a great search ethic and incredible sniffing rate. What most impressed me with this team was how seamlessly they worked. A confident dog which understood the task of searching and a handler that gave her dog room to work without containing the area, only stepping in when the dog requested it or to detail a space that was skipped. I look forward watching Christine and Dilli at future trials.

A/F = Alert Find H = Handling T = Time (seconds)
  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
1 Janet Wykes – Jess 20 4.5 43 20 5 7 20 4.5 53 20 5 10 99 113
2 Lynda Stangle – Max 20 4.5 49 20 5 10 20 4.5 58 20 5 36 99 153
3 Rachael – Logan 20 5 19 20 5 16 20 4 149 20 4.5 36 98.5 220
4 Felicity Ashford – Danni Darko 20 4.5 32 20 5 27 20 4.5 114 20 4.5 56 98.5 229
5 Jill Harper – Coco Jamba 20 4 106 20 5 30 20 3.5 180 20 5 46 97.5 362
6 Grahame Godby – Skeena 20 4.75 34 20 5 13 20 4.5 74 0 4.5 65 78.75 186
7 Katrina Landrey – Nigel 20 4.5 15 20 5 46 20 4.5 89 0 4 63 78 213
8 Annette Sawyer – Gypsy 0 4 124 20 5 21 20 4 25 20 4.5 135 77.5 305