Last weekend we attended the very first AKC Scent Work Competition, which was held in conjunction with the Eukanuba Performance Games at Roberts Centre in Wilmington, Ohio.  This is a fabulous dog show venue, with an attached hotel and restaurant along with brand new RV hookups, which were a pleasant surprise when we checked in.  This facility would be a terrific venue for a national specialty, as many events could easily be held on site.

The Performance Games, which were held for the first time, included Scent Work, Agility, FAST CAT lure coursing, dock diving, disc dog, and barn hunt.  Each activity also had a “try it” option if you wanted to introduce your dog to it to see if the sport seemed like a good fit.  We took advantage of this opportunity to let Spice and Silk try the FAST CAT, which both of them would like to do again sometime soon.

I was excited to learn that Maya had made the draw for the Scent Work trial, but also a but nervous.  We’ve been training scent work for about 3 years now, but because of the extreme difficulty in getting into NACSW trials, had only competed twice.  Maya just turned 11 and while she still makes frequent therapy dog visits, she was been mainly retired from competition for quite a while, so I also worried about her having the endurance for 5 searches daily on 4 consecutive days.  As it turns out, we were fairly well prepared and had a good success rate, qualifying on 15 out of 20 searches and earning titles in exterior, containers, and handler discrimination.  Maya’s experience in other sports and good physical condition allowed her to take the long days and chaotic environment in stride.  In fact she had her only placement of the weekend in the large Novice B class (44 dogs), with a 3.61 second container run on Sunday afternoon.  If anything, she got faster and more confident with each search.

I did find a few areas to work on/ consider.  I had only ever trained buried hides outdoors and with sand.  Mulch was used in the containers, which worked ok, but 2 of the buried searches were held indoors and Maya struggled with those.  She did well on the 2 outdoor buried searches, so I think I need to drag the buried hide containers into the house for a while and hope we don’t make too much mess.  Interiors were also a challenge for her.  We had 2 NQs were she was close to the hide and clearly in odor, but not close enough.  The odor concentration in AKC is very high compared to NACSW and I’ll admit to sometimes not refreshing my odor kit often enough- guess this was a motivation to be more careful about this.  Handler discrimination went really well for us, despite boxes that sealed pretty tightly.  This was exciting, since this was a brand new skill that Maya recently learned.  Exteriors went well for Maya all four days, but there were many peeing incidents in the grassy search areas.  One of the days we ran last on this element and all I could smell in the search area was Nature’s Miracle so I was glad that Maya could sort through that to find the birch.  This made me wonder what it will be like to trial my intact boys.  I don’t think they would pee first, but getting them to not over-mark will be tough.

As I hoped, it seems like AKC Scent Work will bring more trial opportunities.  Maya and I are looking forward to testing her skills in Advanced at Wine Country and Juno is entered in Novice a few weeks later.  Here are links to my head mount Go Pro videos from all of Maya’s searches this weekend:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

In addition to Scent Work, the hounds had a great time running agility on Saturday and Sunday. It was a lot of fun attending an event with so many opportunities to compete in different events and to see the great dogs of so many different breeds competing.  It was fun t be among the first dogs to title in AKC Scent Work.  With her “new letters”, Maya is now GCH CH TDCH Gebeba Clancy Poetic Justice VCD1 RAE OA MXP AXJ MJP T2BP TKP PCMH SEN SCN SHDN NW1 L1C RHX2 CGCA