Gimme got her L1I title...She is very likely the first Dalmatian in the world to get a nosework element title, and specifically a Level 1 Interior element title. We'll know for sure when they upgrade the 'breed titles' module on the NACSW website.
Today we got up before dawn cracked to drive to La Center, WA... for our first ever Element Specialty Trial (EST). This titling option only became available April 1, 2014. We were the 6th team on the list, had finished our first two searches by 10:15... and had finished all searches by 11:45. I "undressed" the car from its heat reflecting accessories and waited briefly to see how a friend did before heading home. It was only a 90 minute drive so we were home by 1:35 p.m.
- Search one... a taped off open area in the student lounge with one and a half minutes. Gimme got this really quickly, under the edge of a chair.
- Search two... a largish room with lots of stuff and two minutes. Gimme spent a fair amount of time sniffing something on the counter and I very nearly said "show me". But, I remembered a recent discussion with instructor Dorothy about how Gimme dutifully indicates whatever she's sniffing if she's not in odor when I say "show me". So instead, I said "are you searching or shopping?" Gimme made a "hmph" sound, gave me a disgusted look and left the distraction to search. We got into the last thirty seconds and I re-cued "wherezit", then Gimme went right to source under the edge of a table and indicated. A special Thank You shout-out to our most excellent instructor, Dorothy Turley.
After this search, when we went outside, Gimme stopped to poop within a few feet of the door. So I was impressed she chose to search even though she had an urgent need distracting her. She often doesn’t poop in early morning and needs longer walking to get to it. I had walked her, but we ran out of time, so she never pooped.
BTW the “hmph” noise is the same one she made during a container search many months ago when I accused her of lying to me (she was false alerting on a food distraction, but not giving me all four parts of her indication, so I knew it wasn't the real thing). Then I got the same disgusted look and a round of applause, as she moved on. She never fails to entertain any spectators.
- Search three… a medium size room with one and a half minutes. Gimme did well, getting it quickly. The odor was under a foot pad for a dictation machine.
- Search four… a tiny room with one minute. Gimme found the odor under the edge of a cabinet.
When I called Kathy to tell her about the new title, she commented about how many titles Gimme has gotten this year. She's right. This is her fifth title this year (RATI, RATN, RATO, NW2 and now L1I) and her sixth title overall (including NW1 last year). She's on a roll - I hope Barn Hunt Senior (RATS) is next.
Here's Gimme resting with her new title ribbon..
We'd originally gotten into containers for yesterday morning and interiors this morning. When I read the rules about element trials, I learned level 1 containers is all boxes, with 3 to 5 searches. Knowing Gimme does okay with a lot of boxes the first time, but gets more and more charged up with each opportunity, until she goes straight to box trashing, I decided to pass on it and give someone else a chance. We'll do it another time, but I wanted to try one I was sure I could get without added hotel expense.
The rules for titling in an element trial are different than a regular trial. If you get all the searches on the trial day, you win your title. The other option is to get a leg with a score of 75% or better. Then it takes two legs to get the title. I figure at level 1 we'll likely get interiors, vehicles and exteriors in one trial each. Containers are equally likely to take multiple tries. It'll be different when we get to upper levels since it won't be a huge field of cardboard boxes.
Besides the titling requirements, there are other differences for element trials. First, you don't get a walk through - all you get is a chance to look while getting ready to release your dog to search. Second, the amount of time allocated to the search is less than you would have gotten for the same search at this level in a regular trial. These are designed to present added difficulty. You could get additional challenge because of unusual search conditions, like containers on a grassy field.
One advantage to EST is each element is designed to be a separate half-day trial. So you could trial in the morning and volunteer in the afternoon, or come home after your trial, like we did. I thought of volunteering, but since I got less than 3 hours sleep last night, I was glad I hadn't. Came home to a quick lunch and then crashed on the couch for several hours. BTW this is an excellent titling option for those dogs (or their people) who don't have stamina for a whole day on site, as long as they have stamina for up to five searches.
The trials can be a mixture of different elements and different levels for an element. Such as Level 2 Containers in the morning, and Level 1 Containers in the afternoon. You do learn right away whether you are successful at a particular search, so you know immediately if you titled. You do not get a score sheet returned to you - so no judges comments. And there is no awards ceremony. You just pick up your ribbon and go. There are no placement ribbons, though placements will show up on the NACSW website after the event. I don't know yet if the website will show individual search placements or overall placements or both. I'll be checking the trial results to see if I have additional bragging rights for placements...