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November 9, 2023

In September 2023, Clover attended her fifth NW2 competition. We did not earn a title that day, again. The challenge of nosework, unlike other dog sports, is that the first couple of titles require perfection all in a single day. You don't get the build toward titles until later. For NW1, it's 4 searches (with 1 hide each) in a single day. Clover did that on her first try. And, she *nearly did it on her first try at NW2. But, here we find ourselves, without that elusive 5 perfect searches in a single day ... yet ... because the searches are harder and can feature multiple hides. Here's how things went. Don't miss the video of us searching at the bottom of the page!

nw2 results illustration mind map

NW2 Container Search

As if often the case, the event ran 2 searches at the same time by splitting the list of dogs in half or so. Almost every time, we're either literally team #1 or somewhere in mid-list that also makes us the first on the line when they split the list. So, as team #15, we were the first to search containers. In a way, that's kind of ideal because it means Clover won't have to contend with any smells from other dogs. When I volunteered at an event in 2022, I saw how once 1 dog false alerted, often several other dogs did as well in quick succession. 

My mantra for the day was Prepared | Patient | Positive, and whooo did I need patience for the container search. Clover kind of went all over and took her time finding the first hot box before false alerting on a distraction box (with nuts in it, which we've trained to ignore). So, I knew right away that we would NOT earn a NW2 that day, which was disappointing. 

Still, these nice comments from the judge helped. I love seeing someone who doesn't know my mantra for the day using a mantra word in a description of our teamwork. The judge wrote, "Lovely patience. Great first alert call. Paper crinkling got her attention. Great search!"

nw2 container search judges comment sheet

NW2 Vehicle Search

If you watch the video of Mr. Stix's NW1 vehicle search, you'll see how I realized I was standing TOO close to him and that my location was keeping him stuck in a spot. Once I moved back, he got back to work and found the hide. Unfortunately, I made the same mistake with Clover, didn't realize it in the moment, and called a false alert. She was IN odor, but not at the source, but my closeness to her kept her from continuing to follow the odor to the front of the 3rd car. 

Still, it was great to see her really kind of haul butt past the first car and to the front of the second car, where I made my mistake. Clover absolutely KNOWS HER JOB. The failures are 100% mine. Gah!

NW2 Interior Search

Honestly, blowing 2 searches in a row dented my confidence, but Clover seems to enjoy interior searches, so we rallied for the first of two interior searches that day, and Clover nailed it. She did so well that the judge gave us a "pronounced" on our score sheet, which is a way of saying we exceptionally well as a team. The judge wrote, "Great job reading Clover and making that call!"

NW2 interior search score sheet

NW2 Exterior Search

I felt excited about the 3-hide exterior search in a large space (after lunch) because Clover excels at those and even earned a first place and pronounced at a prior NW2 event. Alas, I got sidetracked by bunny smells that had built up in a stack of pallets. We even train with pallets at home because of how they trap odor, and I had a good idea where the first hide might be, but I rushed the call when Clover tipped her head, which often means she is at the odor source, and blew it. 

NW2 Interior Search

The final search of the day included a hallway, a conference room, and an office. I'll say now that the judge was VERY generous about approving my alert call. It was an inaccessible hide, and I knew Clover found it, but I wasn't exactly sure where it was, but since I called ALERT when Clover's nose was in the right place, we got it. 

Yet, honestly, my fav moment of the entire day was how Clover cleared the blank conference room and let me know absolutely the the hide was NOT on there. We practice blank searches so that I know the difference of how she looks with and without any odor. 

Again, this search required patience, so it was a nice way to end a tough day. The judge wrote, "She just took a minute to figure out how to tell you about the hide."

nw2 interior search score sheet and judge's notes

NW2 Search Videos

Thanks to my personal development coach, I understand how our brains process successes and failures. For that reason, I do watch our failed searches only a couple of times to see what I can learn, then from there, I only watch video of our successes. I watch our highlights a lot, especially before another NW2 event. I want to remember and feel those successes and teach my brain that's where my focus needs to be. 

Nonetheless, I compiled a single video of all of our NW2 searches from that day. You're welcome to watch what went well and what didn't. Happy to know if you see anything I might have missed that could help us next time. 

There are not any NW2 events anywhere close to us for the rest of the year, so we'll be focusing on training and looking for our next NW2 trial sometime in 2024. I did not have the time / energy to do the homework from our recent online NW class in Oct-Nov, so I'll be going back through those lectures and training set-ups on my own over the winter, more like self study. 

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

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