Wed 29 Dec 2021, Hethe

Levels 4 & 6: Judges - L4 Nikki Johnson, L6 Justine Steele

Hethe Village Hall, Hardwick Road, Hethe, OX27 8EY

Start: 9am
Entry Fees: £28 per dog.
Contact: Heather Donnelly

Trial Manager and Judges Reports

Level 4 Judge – Nikki Johnson

Thanks to Heather for inviting me to judge the level 4 at Heath, Yaz for scribing and Emma for her support. Also thanks to Jus for running Chumley as a white dog and supporting competitors in the morning.

Onto the trial! Level 4 always seems to be a handler’s bogie level due to the distraction scents and many cannot wait to qualify to move onto level 5! However, we have to remember how much scent our dogs are ignoring all the time and therefore if we can nail this level we should be setting ourselves up for success in the future. For this trial, we were using coffee and vanilla as the distractions scents.

Area 1 – Boxes and luggage.
Clove was placed on the luggage at the far end of the hall.
Gun oil was placed on the piece of luggage nearest the start line.
Vanilla was placed in a box on the left-hand side of the hall.
Coffee was placed in another box on the right-hand side of the hall.

Area 2 – External Items
Gun oil was placed on the scooter right at the start.
Clove was on the paddle at the far end.
Vanilla was placed in a small zipped up bag.
Coffee was placed in the hoover part.

Area 3 – Table and Chairs
Gun oil was located on the second chair on the left-hand side of the tables.
Clove was stuck into the plastic play frame.
Coffee was placed under the handle on Henry hoover.
Vanilla was stuck into the handles of the mop bucket.

Area 4 – Vehicle, Items and Fence
Clove was placed in the cycling helmet around the perimeter.
Gun oil was placed on the left-hand side of the vehicle on the bottom of the passenger door.

The weather on Wednesday was quite miserable and seemed to cause some teams difficulties, especially in the external area, with not one team finding both scents. The other area that threw up a couple of issues was the vehicle, items and fence search with many of the pups finding the environment rather distracting! It was particularly impressive to see some teams that hadn’t qualified and continuing to use the trial as a training session and remaining positive about what they needed to go away and work on. My general observations were that handlers can lose a bit of confidence, especially if the pup has indicated on a distraction scent and the only real solution to this is practice. The other observations were the weather and the environment and all I can suggest is to train in as many different places as you can regardless of the weather.

A big congratulations to all those that qualified and a big shout out to the x4 that were placed, Nikki and Theo 1st place, Lena and Angel 2nd place, Ruth and Mint 3rd place and Joe and Rio 4th place. As usual, it’s a pleasure to judge and watch some great teams, I always learn a lot from judging and thanks for having me. Happy New Year to everyone and best of luck with your future trials.

Level 6 Judge-Justine Steele

With Christmas gone and New Year just around the corner was very happy to spend a day at Heth involved with Scentwork Uk again. Ushering out the morning competitors my mind was already considering where the hides for the L6 would be. Having run Chumley around all the areas and deciding the time to be allowed, Scent was put out at the relative times during the afternoon.
Battling the incoming darkness was always going to be a challenge and my apologies to competitors as I really should have done the small exterior area first of all leaving the large interior last where the area could be lit. However we just about completed in time and I stood with torch aloft for the final run of the day!!

Search 1 – Main Hall
4x hides
1. *Middle of fire exit on floor (Gun Oil)
2. 18 inches off the floor in crack in the wall aprox 3 foot from Hide 1. (Truffle)
3. Underneath drawer on “play table“(Gun Oil)
4. Skirting board in corner of bar and wall (Clove)

Search 2 – Exterior Rear Wall & Alcove
4x hides
1. *Start of alcove 2 inches off floor (Truffle)
2. End of alcove 4 inches off floor (Gun Oil)
3. Towards the corner of first panel and stone wall 3 inches off floor (Gun Oil)
4. On back of drainpipe 18 inches off the floor (Clove)

Search 3 – Storage & Toilet Hall area
4x hides
1. On bottom of fire extinguisher cover (Clove)
2. *Far side of heater (switched off) just off floor (Clove)
3. Far side of second stack of chairs, 12 inches off floor (Truffle)
4. *Behind barbecue in wall slat approximately 3ft off floor (Gun Oil)

As always the aim was not to catch Teams out but find a balance between providing challenging tests & a positive maybe(!) fun experience. I hope I achieved this despite only 3 teams qualifying.
Therefore a huge congratulations to first timers at this level, Sue & Tiva for not only qualifying but collecting the ‘red one’ today. I hope your drive home was with a smile on your face, you deserved it.
Also very deserved was Emma with Smartie, claiming 2nd spot, who were lovely to watch in their searching style, Smartie a busy bee that was typically ‘spaniel happy’ in her job!
The final qualification and placing for the day went to Richard and the very able Ziggy who had an afternoon of ups and downs but definitely shone through in the end. Particularly in the exterior search being only one of two dogs to find them all in this area. Peanut & Laura being that other team.
Generally speaking then, it seems that it was not a particular scent that caught Teams out but rather the placing of said Scent. Of course, very low, deeper or in reasonably close situ to another Scent will always be a challenge and that proved to be the case today. (Have marked with asterisk* these scents above.)
A big thank you to Heather for the opportunity to judge, Nikki and Yaz for scribing and of course all you teams for yet again giving me an opportunity to have fun and learn too.
… and best of luck with your sniffing endeavours in 2022

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