Friday, October 20, 2017

We are the Champions

Last weekend, Barley and I competed in our second C-WAGS scent trial. In June, she'd earned the first two legs towards her level one title. We'd thought about traveling a little farther from home to work on the last two legs, but summer got away from us before that happened.

Then we heard that the location we'd competed in before was hosting another trial. I sent in our registration form as soon as the registration opened and had grand plans to spend time training even more than we had before.

Before we knew it, though, it was the week before the trial and I couldn't remember the last time we'd trained. Over the summer, I'd left our boxes set up in the library so we could go in and train easily any time we had a few minutes. But that door doesn't latch, so Soth can open it on his own and with his recent health issues, he's been peeing on any box that's sitting on the floor. While training Barley to detect the scent of cat urine would be very helpful in cleaning my carpets, it isn't very productive for competing in a scent trial. Every time we trained, we'd have to pick up the boxes and put them somewhere Soth-proof, which meant training wasn't the quick activity it had been.

We did manage to do a lot of this. 

The week before the trial, we got in several training sessions and Barley was finding the scents in just under a minute. In C-WAGS Level 1, you have two minutes to correctly identify the scent, so that was encouraging.

On the morning of the trial, we got up early, ate breakfast, and left the house by 7:00 a.m. When I turned on the car, my tire pressure light was on and I was sure the day was going to be a disaster. We detoured to the gas station to refill my tire and then got on the road about 15 minutes later than planned.

Luckily, we still got there with over 30 minutes to spare before the briefing from the judges and we were one of the first teams to arrive. Since we'd done this before, I was less anxious and had our game plan for setting up. Bar stayed in the car while I went in to check in and set up our crate. Sine I knew the set up of lining up for our turn, I got a prime spot near the back door so we could sneak out the back, walk around the building for a pre-sniffing potty break, and then pop in the front door right next to the entrance to the course. We had plenty of space from all of the other dogs, so we stayed nice and relaxed the whole morning.

Last time, it took about 45 minutes before our turn came up and it took about an hour to get through all of the teams in the first round. This time, our turn was up in about 20 minutes and the whole round was done in about 35 minutes. The dogs were flying through the course!

In Barley's first round, she earned her third leg towards her title with a time of 0:23:19. We had one fault (and you get one) because I alerted too soon. Barley wasn't showing much interest in most of the boxes we went by, so when she actually sniffed one for more than millisecond, I jumped the gun and alerted even though she looked at me and she doesn't look at me when she knows she's got it. We were close to the box that did have the scent, though, so it didn't take long after our false alert before we found the scent. (And they had someone who was on the course just to take video for us if we wanted, so of course, I handed over my phone and got some videos!)


In the second round, we took a little longer. I tried not to get overly excited when Barley showed interest in something. She sniffed the first couple boxes, but she wasn't letting me know she was certain, so we walked around more of the course and she showed no interest in any of those boxes. Barley is excellent  at identifying the general area of a scent, so I knew we needed to go back to the area we'd started in. She was more interested in one of the boxes, so I alerted again--and it was another false alert, but we got it on our next try and earned our final leg of our title in 0:57:09.


During the awards ceremony, we got a ribbon for each of our qualifying rounds and we got a fancy ribbon for our Level 1 Title. We weren't the fastest teams--one team in round two found the scent in under 6 seconds!!! But Barley had more fun this time and was so much more focused. Last time, she was distracted and a little anxious. Even though we had two qualifying rounds in June, we weren't as connected and we were given the 30-second warning in round 1 and were just a few seconds away from it in round 2.


Going into this trial, I had almost made up my mind that we were going to do this trial and then end our competition days. Barley hadn't really seemed like she had fun in June. She'd worked for me, she'd been successful, but she didn't seem like she really wanted to be doing this. This time, though, Barley loved it. She was so excited when we pulled into the parking lot (and she's only been to this location once--for the first trial). When we walked around the parking lot before getting in the crate, she pranced. After her first round, she grabbed her leash and gave it a playful shake as soon as we got outside. She was calm in her crate and sat nicely beside me while we talked to other competitors outside.

We got to see a couple teams we'd seen in June and we celebrated their successes this time! It was such a friendly, encouraging environment and I never worried about Barley reacting because everyone was so good at keeping their distance from other dogs. We'll probably stick to this venue, but I think we will move on to Level 2 and see what happens when the course gets a little more difficult.


We celebrated our success with a hike at a park we don't get to often enough and Barley was just beaming the whole walk.




We're looking forward to upping the challenge in our training to meet the level 2 requirements. We aren't sure when there will be another trial near us, but we're going to be ready for it when it comes!

15 comments:

  1. Congratulations. Mom learned in her very first ORT not to be in a rush to call alert. We are in it for the fun and the titles, not the speed. Speed will come the more you work with your dog and know how to read her. Sniff on my friends!

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    1. I don't worry about the time at all as long as we don't run out of it :) There's really no benefit in C-WAGS for getting the fastest time. I felt a little bad about rushing things with my first alert in round 1, but the second one I called it on the box that was literally right next to the correct one and there was a breeze since the screen doors were open, so that was a tricky one :)

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  3. SO proud of you for knowing that the real prize was Barley having fun! And so wonderful that she did!!! You both rock!

    Cheers,
    Chris from Boise

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    1. Thank you! We had so much fun this time around. I don't think either one of us handles new situations very gracefully, so having an idea of what to expect definitely helped this time around :)

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  4. Congratulations and sounds like the competition is just beginning rather than ending. Sound advise to have fun and go steady, accuracy usually wins the day!
    Toodle pip
    ERin

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    1. Thank you! If it wasn't fun for Barley, we definitely wouldn't keep doing it, but as long as she's having fun, we'll see what happens :)

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  5. Congrats! It is so great to hear Barley enjoys it so much! You can see the pride in her face! You have inspired me to stop thinking about training Nala and actually do it! Can't wait to hear how the next trial goes!

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    1. It really is fun! Even when we're not competing, it's a fun activity that Barley really loves (I need to actually train her baby sister, too, because I think Rye's little hound nose would love it even more!). I can't wait to hear how Nala's training goes!

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  6. Congratulations on Barley's qualification! She definitely looks happy :) And thank you for linking up to the Showcase!

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    1. Thank you! She definitely seemed happy this time around :)

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  7. Congratulations to both of you! I'm so glad you had fun, and you both look so happy!!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Thank you! We were both very happy!

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  8. This makes me SO happy. It shows that hard work and persistence pays off. You should be proud! Of both you and Barley!! You've come a long way.

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    1. Thank you! I really need to get Rye started with this since her little hound nose is always working anyway.

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