Sun 30 Oct 2022, Finmere

Levels 6 & 2: Judges - L6 Karen Denton, L2 Kathy Killick

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

Start: L6 – 9am & L2 – 1.30pm
Entry Fees: £30 per dog.
Contact: Heather Donnelly

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

Many thanks to Heather for inviting me to judge and to Yaz for experienced and efficient scribing. Heather runs ‘top of the range’ trials and it was a pleasure to judge for her at Finmere knowing that I would be well supported and looked after as a judge through the inevitable bumps and glitches that tend to crop up in dog sports. The first being a truly torrential downpour as we were deciding on the order of the searches. I’ve worked outdoors in all weathers in Competitive Obedience and know that it’s possible to work in a downpour with a highly trained dog. However although some of these dogs and handlers could possibly have ploughed on through such conditions, I was reluctant to put this to the test. We decided to start with an indoor search and hope conditions improved. As we were preparing to do so the sky began to turn blue, the rain eased, and we reverted to our original plan, starting with the Vehicle and Wall search. This was followed by Table/Chairs and Perimeter, Exterior, and Boxes and Luggage.
The work overall was of a very high standard. I was hard pressed to make any ‘handling’ deductions at all. Given that this is a level for relatively inexperienced teams, I decided to mark minor ‘borderline’ errors only if they recurred, and I was pleased to see most teams relaxing as the afternoon progressed with happy faces and wagging tails at the end. All qualified, well done and best of luck for the future.
One of the rewards of judging dog sports for me is witnessing different teams, each with a mix of dog breed, personality, and all the other factors that contribute to a unique working relationship. I hoped that each team could relax and let their relationship work at its best within the different challenges that faced them. Over the course of the afternoon I witnessed some very impressive team work, and the results speak for themselves. Well done to everyone who participated. The bugbear of the trial was the Vehicle/Wall search in which some dogs indicated on the fan 2 feet to the left of the hide which was in a crack in the wall. Others did not go to source on the vehicle, indicating on the door to the left of the hide, which was tucked under a flap in the wheel arch or on the wheel itself. I decided not to get my tape measure out at this stage of the trial and penalise in later searches if this fault recurred, which it didn’t. Each of the following searches took its share of ‘casualties’, most of which involved a dog indicating on a wrong item for a reason known only to itself. There was no consistent pattern to the false indications.
Congratulations to the Fab Four at the top of the scoreboard who were separated by time only, having all achieved 100 points. You were a pleasure to work with and I wish you every success in the future. Well done to everyone involved in the trial.
Kathy Killick

Judge’s report L6

The clocks changing from daylight saving gave everyone an extra hour to get themselves to this L6 trial and organised for an 8.45 judge’s briefing.

The weather held and we were able to crack on in the usual pattern of Interior 1, Exterior and Interior 2. I’d decided to place two of the three odours in each area so Interior 1 had Truffle and Gun oil, the Exterior had Truffle and Clove and Interior 2 had Gun oil and Clove. Each area had four hides and was checked by the white dog before the scents were hidden and no residual was found.

Interior 1 which was the main hall, the kitchen and the foyer, proved to be the most problematic although every dog found the truffle oil in the doorstop in the foyer. Only four dog teams found a scent hidden in the doorframe of the kitchen, instead concentrating on the oven and cupboards. The blue child’s car in the middle of the room proved tricky for many, mainly because handlers didn’t take their dogs all the way round even though they saw interest there from the dog. Again only four dogs were successful here. Four seemed to be the constant as only four dogs were able to detect the scent on the dado rail between the heater and another child’s toy. The reason here was that the dogs’ interest was taken with the item so, even though the dog was in the odour pool, handlers didn’t take their dog’s head up and so they missed it. Well done to Peter & Coco, the only team to get all four and their bonus here.

After Interior 1 we went to the Exterior which included the area from the main hall door round the building to the garage. The handlers were feeling the pressure after the first search but they managed their nerves well and most teams got at least three out of the four hides here.

Interior 2 was the busy store cupboard which contains many items including banks of chairs, filing cupboards, loads of kids’ toys and other paraphernalia. It looks daunting but, with method, can be easily searched. Most dog teams were successful here securing the much needed points to qualify.

My observations from the morning were that several handlers over searched some areas and under searched others. Some handlers forgot that they were part of the team and let their dogs do all the work and didn’t help them when they needed it. When the dogs picked up odour, some were not helped to investigate it further so they missed it. In some cases there seemed to be no method and handlers were forgetting where they’d covered or not been. That said, it’s very easy when you know where the scents are hidden and not easy when you don’t! I’ve been there and made exactly the same mistakes but more is learnt from our errors than our successes.

I was impressed with Kate’s sympathetic handling of Rafiki and Vanessa’s line handling with Lola. Alison’s Ellie and Alison’s Lola both worked beautifully independently and came a well deserved 1st and 2nd. Well done to all the competitors who entered this trial even if you weren’t successful on this occasion.

Thank you to Heather for inviting me to judge and to Yaz for scribing for me. I really enjoyed the morning.

Karen Denton

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