Kiyo and Toka have been on a roll this fall. These are our successes for the past two weekends. (For those who can’t wait, links to nose work search videos @ end of blog!)
First, Toka earned his Altered Breed Conformation title, by placing with two reserve best in shows and (to my complete delight and amazement) Best in Show. What a thrill!
An added benefit: I got to spend the weekend hanging out with my Dog BFF Lynne, who was working her shepherds in conformation and rally.
Here are Lynne & I with some of our dogs’ bling. Her girl Nikka had just won altered breed best in show, and Toka had been put up for reserve.
(Lynne, by the way, was an incredible trooper that weekend. She showed both dogs in both venues on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Monday she went in to the hospital for knee replacement surgery. )
Of the Akitas I’ve had, Toka is the most like the breed standard in terms of character. He simply loves people he’s known since he was a puppy. He turns into a wiggling, bouncy, joyous greeting machine. With people he does not know, his approach is summed up by this: You May Not Touch Me.
Yet in 5 trials, he allowed 5 different strangers to evaluate him which included checking his teeth. He did not like it, but he tolerated it. Goooood boy, Your Redness. I’m as proud of that fact as I am of the title and bling he earned.
He handled the hustle and bustle of the shows with aplomb, waiting calmly in his crate in between classes. He also earned his “SPOT” dog title, the UKC equivalent of the Canine Good Citizen.
Fast forward to yesterday. Kiyo and I had a girl’s weekend, and drove to Maryland for a National Association for Canine Scent Work (NACSW) Nose Work Level 2 (NW2) trial. It was a lovely sunny day, though a brisk wind kept the temperatures perfect for an Akita.
In the morning, Kiyo passed the interior element. Two hides in the first of 2 bunk rooms, one hide in the second. In the first room, one hide was a ‘threshold’ — the hide was just to the left of the door on the corner of one of the bunks. The second hide in that room was a bit more problematic. It took her a while to figure out that it had been placed in a small cabinet at the foot of one of the bunks. Once she found it, she indicated clearly: “It’s HERE!” by gently biting the corner of the unit.
The second room was easy for her. As she entered the room, I could see her thinking ‘Hmmmm, it’s here, it’s here…. here, getting closer, maybe here? Nope. Right here!’ in a microwave.
We were done shortly after 11 a.m.
We then waited. And waited.
After that, we waited.
There was some confusion and organizational problems with the trial, so half the group finished containers, vehicles and interiors in the morning, and the other group only got through interiors. Yes, that was our group.
5 plus hours later, we got called into the container search. 8 suitcases, 2 hides. Kiyo searched with confidence and found both hides without issue.
Straight on to vehicles. 3 cars, 2 hides. It took her a bit of time to find the first hide, but once she did, she indicated it, and then moved on to find the second one. She crawled right under the SUV to reach it!
Five minutes later we were called up for exteriors. By this time, late afternoon shadows were long, and the temperature had dropped significantly. Kiyo crossed the start line, went directly to the spool in which the hide had been placed (and had been aging since 8 a.m.!), checked both sides to make sure she was right & told me ‘Yup! Here it is!’
In short, Kiyo searched 3 elements and successfully located a total of 5 hides in or on very different objects in approximately 20 minutes. And this level of quality after a long, boring and trying day of waiting.
As I called my final “finished,” I started to cry. I was – and still am – overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for how hard and how willingly Kiyo works for me. I could not ask for a better friend and partner.
I checked our score sheets. I’m thrilled by the ‘pronounced’ designation for teamwork on both containers and vehicles.
Here are the judges’ comments:
Interiors: “Great teamwork! Good job!”
Containers: “Wow! Accurate & easy to read dog”
Vehicles: “What a sniffer! Completed with great accuracy. Great job!”
Exteriors: “Dog has excellent change of behavior when on odor. Nice praise of dog!”
Nine out of 38 teams qualified yesterday.