Tue 10 Jan 2023, Wichenford

Level 3: Judge - Fiona Somerville

Wichenford Memorial Hall, Venn Lane, Wichenford, Worcestershire WR6 6YF,

Start: 10.00am
Entry Fees: £30 per dog.
Contact: Bridget Francis pauline@paulinewhittaker.co.uk

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

Fiona Somerville

Thanks to Pauline Whittaker for asking me to judge a L3 at Wichenford Village Hall. The signs were not good when I woke up to torrential rain and localised flooding so first congratulations must be to everyone arriving on time in good spirits. The weather then (unexpectedly) improved and we didn’t get drenched. Thank you also for the great (new) scribe Paul…its a steep learning curve for you; to Mary for organising swift movement into and out of the search area, your help is always appreciated! Also thanks to white dog Maddy although Sage felt left out 😉

We started off with Tables Chairs, exterior items and perimeter of room. The odours were located on the left perimeter of the search area near the beginning and behind a kitchen cutlery holder and on the middle table leg of a traditionally laid out table and chairs. This was obviously more challenging than most people imagined, it is a big jump up going from searching specific items to an area and most of the errors in not finding the odour were down to handlers not tasking their dog appropriately (lots of wafting hands or just letting dogs search themselves). The other issue that was clear especially on the table was the dogs not working to source, the handlers knew the dog was in odour but called to early. Huge congratulations to Becky & Shadow as the only partnership that found both hides.

We then moved outside for a wall search – L-shape with two doors, lots of drain pipes and handrails. The hides were place one metre in from the start in a crack and at the far end in the corner. This was much more successful although there was an element of handler trying to guess where the hides were (spending long time round drains etc and discounting parts of the wall), plus also a lot of handlers trying to look for hides. Trust your dog! In a number of cases the dogs indicated on a hide at least once before you called it as you were moving them on. It was lovely to see Kate & Sky (who is deaf) find one of the hides when she was not expecting it at all, because she had her head down and was sniffing. Think about how you search an area, you don’t have to start by the cones and need to make it successful for your dog – also if your dog is environmental look at what suits them best.

Back inside to Boxes & Bags. In the interval I had heard discussions that all the hides will be early so check those first…hence we did not do this and had two hides in two bags both located in the middle of the room. Saw some lovely coverage of all the items, the indications were probably not as strong as pawing (be careful!). Elizabeth & Ceri worked this really nicely, she found the odours pretty quickly but worked the problem to get right to source.

Final search, exterior items and this was the most successful. Both hides were at the back of the search on a freezer basket with two freezer blocks in it to the left and to the right a Karcher piece of pipe. This was lovely to see the problem solving how best to indicate (and it looked different for big and small dogs). Virginia & Murphy were so quick we hardly blinked; but was nice to see Helen & Marcus change their reward structure with great success. Don’t forget if things don’t work you can try something different.

On that point we had two handlers/dogs that felt thinks were not going right and changed to training rounds/NFC – good for you to think how you could make it successful for your dog. As long as you both have fun they dont know whether its a competition or not!

General feedback:
– Have a set up so your dog knows what to expect and you have some control
– Task you dog specifically to a point and recover the beginning if they have a tendancy to skip areas
– Practice indication on unusual objects (and work on a non-intrusive indication)
– look for the positives, you often learn most when you are least successful.

Overall, was lovely to see progression in dogs I have judged before and see some lovely people and dogs really enjoying their day out.

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