Pongo spent this past weekend fully immersed in Nose Work.
On Saturday he took his Birch Odor Recognition Test (ORT), which is a test he must pass in order to compete in any Nose Work trial. The ORT is a basic box drill where there are 12 boxes lined up in two rows of 6. The dog is on-leash and walks up and down the rows sniffing for the Birch scent that is hidden in one of the boxes. Pongo is a pro at this drill and we have practiced it many times both in class and at home; nonetheless, I was still very nervous when we entered the training facility to take our test. As soon as we entered, Pongo knew what he was there to do and targeted the hide within 24 seconds. I gave a huge sigh of relief because that was all he needed to do to pass his Birch ORT. Steve came in with us to video his success but unbeknownst (well, known to us but forgotten-I know, I should have read the rules again the night before the ORT) we were not allowed to videotape or photograph the ORT. Steve immediately erased the video but it was not clear if that faux pas had disqualified us from the ORT. We had to wait a good 45 minutes while the entirety of our group finished the ORT before learning that Pongo had in fact passed! Never, ever again will we go into a competition without first reviewing the rules–lesson learned!
Since I don’t have any footage of his ORT, here’s a picture of what a box drill looks like and his scorebook with the most glorious letter: P.
Then Sunday, we spent 4 hours in an Advanced Nose Work seminar with Jean Richardson, who is a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) from Oregon; she is also the one who officiated our Odor Recognition Test on Saturday. We were able to run our dogs for three different types of scenarios and hides: 3 low hides, 3 high hides, and a paint can drill. The guest instructor used both Birch and Anise for her hides. Anise is one of the three target odors that dogs can search for. What surprised us the most, and really made us proud was Pongo has never smelled nor searched for Anise before and the two rounds that had Anise in them, he found it as his very first find. We now know we can move on to Anise and can hopefully do the Anise ORT in the Spring. Pongo loves Nose Work. It’s his job. What we love about Nose Work is that he has fun while doing it and is completely tuckered out afterwards.