Clover and I attended our first NW2 trial in late March 2022. Thanks to our early successes in dog nose work, we had high hopes of also getting this new NW title on the first try. Unfortunately, I screwed up one of the first two searches of the day (mainly because the trauma from the dog attack in November affected my heart, leaving me feeling unwell). But we rallied throughout the rest of the day – with Clover scoring 4 of the 5 seeks and 7 of the 8 skins, so still an incredible achievement for us. Watch our research videos and other details of how the day went and what I learned from our failures and our successes. We finished 18th overall that day (out of about 45 dogs).
However, we are not trying to be fast. I’m really just looking for confident/clear/happy NW searches from Clover.
Luck of the draw in NW competitions
We seem to have a habit of being randomly selected as the number one team or being first in the second part of the list when split in two to make the search day go faster and have more than one search going on at a time.
So there we were again as the number one team, which to be honest is fine. It’s nice to just go ahead and get rid of the initial nervousness.
However, on this test day, this meant that 2 of the searches were performed back-to-back. We went straight from a tough container search (which many teams DID NOT get) into the next room to conduct the first interior search of the day.
Due to the trauma-related heart problems, I suffered from a VERY fast heart rate that made it difficult to breathe. Despite my best efforts, I had no luck getting my heart rate down throughout the day and I didn’t ground myself enough emotionally between the two searches and I rushed the interior search call. All my fault. Clover was amazing.
So let’s check out this container quest that honestly felt like it had taken FOREVER and like I’d used ALL my patience. (ha ha) I didn’t realize at the time how close we were to the time limit and we didn’t get a time warning, which is probably fine. It probably wouldn’t have helped.
I now see that Clover was glancing at one of the hotboxes and even shaking next to it, which may be a sign that she is in a large scent area, but she kept moving, so I didn’t call it right away.
You’ll also see me point to one of the distraction boxes because she’s looking at me, which may be part of her smell alert, but she’ll check the box again when I point to it and move on, so I did NOT call it. Yay for me!!!
NW Container Search, NW2 Trial
- 2 hides
- 2 food distractions
- 2 1/2 minute time limit
At this level you have to say “finish” to stop the clock, which I’m not used to yet, so my finish calls were slow or needed reminders.
NW interior search #1
Again we literally went from container room to room to conduct our first interior search of the day. The NW2 level requires 5 successful searches in a single day, which means you double at least one type of search environment. In this case, the certifying officer chose to conduct two separate interior searches.
This one was a threshold hideout, meaning it was VERY close to the starting line on the single chair. I might have known that, because you’ll hear me comment that Clover’s nose was already “bouncing” before we started. So in the future maybe I should instruct her to really check the threshold area when I see her nose moving like that OR be VERY sure she checks the area again later.
We definitely need to do more training threshold searches. We’ve made a lot of them, but haven’t for a while.
I see now that she checked the right chair but kept moving. I don’t remember registering at the time, but honestly I could hardly breathe because of what was happening to my heart, so the fact that I’m even upright is kind of a miracle.
I think what happened was that the warm window (and maybe the airflow) pushed the cone of scent, as it’s called, although it looks more like a billowing cloud, towards the window.
I misread the tip of her head under the table and rushed the call. Had I waited and seen her move on, Clover would probably have looped across the room and worked his way back to the chair.
100% my fault.
- 1 hide
- 2 1/2 minute time limit
** If any of you have any rituals that you use between successive quests to reset/ground yourself, I’d love to hear about them. I really need to come up with something that works for me. (Hoping the heart problem gets resolved before we compete again.)
After getting our very first no in the competition, I was a bit upset. So much so that I missed our exit from the facility and ended up interfering with dogs coming out to search. bad me I think I need a ritual for that too.
Clover had no idea anything strange had happened, but she had trouble exiting the building because one stairway had a large window landing. She is afraid of heights and had great difficulty turning down from the landing to another stairway. Poor baby. I definitely need a plan if our escape route is a problem for them.
BUT I went back to the car and wrote down all the positive things that happened and really used all my mental abilities to collect my heart and mind for the remaining days of the quest.
I found out later that we were one of only 2 teams who did NOT get that inside search which is shameful but what are you going to do? I messed up.
Despite all the tips and tricks my 2 trauma therapists taught me, I was never able to get my heart rate down, so it was a real challenge to have my heart rate that high and then have competitive nerves to boot. At some point I will write about the attack and the lasting effects it has on me.
NW outside search, NW2 attempt
The day felt pretty quick, so next came the only outer quest for the day. Clover did a BIG job, working the large space methodically, with the warm temperatures and wind affecting the movement of the scent. I really appreciated her apparent COB behavior change indicating she follows scent. That simply means how she really clings to the picnic table.
The judge had to remind me to say FINISH.
- 1 hide
- 2 1/2 minute time limit
The judge wrote, “Very nice working K-9. Great Job” on our evaluation form!
NW Second Interior Search, NW2 Trial
I was most worried about this search in a large indoor space after seeing this virtual walk-thrus online before the NW competition, but I don’t need to worry. Klee did it!
The airflow must have carried smells to the stage as Clover rushes up there. It took me a while to realize that my posture was keeping her up on stage which was out of game for the quest, but as soon as I moved to allow her to move away from the stage she quickly got all 3 skins.
Notice how I joke about my lucky socks at the end. St. Patrick’s Day is a huge blessing for me when I find Team Clover gear including a 4-leaf clover hat, a 4-leaf clover sweatshirt that says “Lucky” and a 4-leaf clover -Socks with the inscription “Lucky”. Clover’s legal name is Rocky Mountain Lucky Charm!!
- 3 hides
- 3 minute time limit
The judge wrote “Outstanding Work Team Clover” on our score sheet!!
NW vehicle search, NW2 trial
I could have probably called this vehicle search for about 50 seconds, but after making an inside call earlier in the day I waited and Clover ended up ignoring the blue car and then went to work on all 3 cars. So I let her, and I didn’t call it until I felt more confident, especially in the wind.
My online NW teacher teaches a really great way to structure vehicle searches. I haven’t done it since I first taught Clover to search vehicles, but I’ll repeat this pattern process and see if I can get her to search a little more methodically again.
But honestly, she did a great job. She worked the room in the wind and I didn’t call it until I was pretty sure she was pretty sure she found it.
That’s how things played out for the day, with NW search throughput rates and so on.
Next attempt at NW2?
I don’t see any opportunities for relatively local NW2 trials any time soon, so we’ll just keep training on our own, with the help of online classes and the like, and hoping to get another chance at the NW2 title sometime in the future to earn .