A dog’s sense of smell can be 100 times better than ours. A special chamber in its nose gives it the ability to collect air and odors which stay there when he exhales. A dog can also remember smells long after being exposed to the original odor. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Nose Work has become a popular sport.
In Nose Work trials, dogs search for the tiniest end of a Q-tip that has been dipped into an odor – in this case, birch oil. This can be hidden inside a box that looks like a dozen other boxes. Or it can be hidden inside in a room, or outside in a cluttered yard, or on a vehicle. Wherever it is, it is invisible to the human handler and up to the dog to find it and alert the handler within 3 minutes.
Penelope and I (her human handler and the weaker partner) began classes in Nose Work several years ago. It seemed like it would be fun. I had no desire to go into competition. If Penelope did, she never mentioned it.
However, members of our class entered tests. They passed and qualified for trials. And, by now, we were getting pretty good at this game, so we did too.
About a month ago, Penelope and I entered two UKC container searches in Andover, New Jersey. We came in fourth.
We also entered an exterior search where we were led to a sealed off area behind a building with tall grass and lots of chairs. After posing for the camera (Penelope likes cameras) she raced to one of the chairs and alerted by sitting down in front of it. She was right. The tiniest bit of Q-tip dipped in birch was under the chair. Now only did she find it, she found it faster than the other dogs and got a blue first place ribbon.
A few weeks later we tried our luck at the NW1s, sponsored by the National Association of Canine Scent Work in Pomona, New York. This was a full day with 45 dogs entered in trials in four elements. All four elements had to be passed in order to ribbon. One failure meant that everything had to be done over at another trial. There’s no credit for things done right.
First there was a vehicle search. Penelope breezed by the first vehicle, totally ignoring it. Heart beating loudly, I followed her another vehicle where she glued her nose on to the license plate. Alert. Yes – the odor was behind it.
Next there was a container search. Penelope took her time marching around three rows of boxes. When she was sure, she pawed at one of them. Alert. She had found the correct box.
For our third test we were taken into a room with chairs, a desk, and other office items. I let Penelope off her leash. She flew around the room, stopped at one of the chairs and sat in front of it. Alert. Well out of sight, a Q-tip was hidden beneath the seat.
Finally there was an exterior search. By now I was getting nervous. Did we pass 3 elements only to fail the last one? Penelope cased the area. We had 3 minutes so we didn’t rush. In less than a minute she ignored the field except for one item. She sniffed at it longer and sat. Alert. Yes.
We passed all four elements and the NW 1 trial. And Penelope got a ribbon.
Actually she got a lot of ribbons, counting the UKC trials.
But more important to Penelope was that she got a lot of cheese. Plus, a lot of hugs, belly rubs, and a BK kiddie meal when she got home.
Afterthought: This video will make you feel good all day long.