Arriving home from my most recent RV outing yesterday evening, sunburnt to a crisp, I looked back on my four days spent in Anchorage, Alaska, mostly with pleasure. With a couple of notable exceptions, but I’ll save them for another blog post.
Note to self; purchase better sunscreen. The stuff I brought with me on this trip was obviously not up to the task of protecting me from our intense, laser-focused Alaskan sunshine once it finally decides to grace us with its full summer brilliance. 🌞
On the bright side; with my recovering but still sore feet seriously well protected by the deep-cushioned heels and proper arch support of brand new Hoka One One running/walking sports shoes from REI, I found myself able to actually enjoy the first two full days of the 4-day K9 Nose Work Trial. Baxter & Rhonda were both entered in the NW3 level and had a blast.
Saturday’s trial started out beautiful but pretty chilly (you may notice Ronni wearing her light sweater in the morning Exterior search photos), but the sun came out later in the day.
Ronni had a fun trial day for her first attempt at the challenging NW3 level. At this level, there are an unknown number of hides (between 0-3) in each of six searches throughout the day, and yes, there is the possibility that one of the searches might even be empty, with no odor/hide at all.
Ronni hunted enthusiastically all day, literally pulling me into search after search.
She did find and correctly alerted on every single hide! Interiors, Exteriors, Containers & Vehicles!
Unfortunately for me, she also “optimistically” alerted on several non-hide objects, putting us out of the running for a title. This was likely because, not knowing how many hides were out there, I kept her hunting too long. 🤷♀️ Ronni is young yet and we’re still working on our communication skills. She really likes to hunt!
By Sunday, it was full-fledged summer, warm and sunny, which is Baxter’s favorite trial conditions.
He did an awesome job all day in his NW3 trial, passing in 3 out of 4 elements. Baxter and I have been a team for many years, so knowing when he’s found all the hides is less an issue than with Ronni. He’s a pretty clear communicator.
We hit a snag in Containers with a missed call on my part (Baxter found the hide but I didn’t believe him so didn’t call alert) in one search, and had an optimistic false alert (we like to call it the “but it’s the last box” syndrome) in the 2nd Container search.
So no title, but it was sure great to see Baxter working again with his old self-assurance and jaunty aplomb. Absolutely made my day. ❤️❤️
On Monday, I was volunteer videographer for the NW2 Trial, which had the added bonus of allowing me to watch all the NW2 dogs compete. Folks who don’t donate a day to volunteering at a trial have no idea how fun and educational it is.
By Tuesday, my feet were pretty much telling me to sit down and stay down, and I honestly tried! I wasn’t terribly successful, but I did try.
A lot of my nose work students were competing at the NW1 level this day and I wanted to be there to root for them. The NACSW is finally once again allowing limited spectators in at least the outdoor Elements, so I carried my little camp chair and followed many of “my teams” from Exteriors to Vehicles in the afternoon, sitting when it was possible.
This long weekend was happily spent playing with dogs and catching up with old friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic hit.
Of my students; one earned her 2nd NW3 title on Saturday (the ONLY title earned that day!!), another earned her 2nd NW3 title on Sunday. Both were awesome performances!
Monday saw a couple of my students come within a hair’s breath of titling – so close!
Tuesday’s NW1 competition had a LOT of my students represented, with a bunch of NW1 titles collected at the end of the day. Of those who didn’t title (hey, you have to pass all four Elements without a single missed alert – it’s not easy or everyone would pass), there was still wonderful teamwork and lots of success in individual searches – it won’t be long for any of them. ❤️
The whole weekend was beautiful. We periodically had eagles floating overhead, magpies noisily supervising the parking lot, Canada geese flying low overhead and occasionally stopping in to watch the action from the sidelines.
We even had a yearling moose trot right through our Exterior search on Saturday! Everyone was able to move safely out of the way and he continued merrily on his way with no harm done. Only in Alaska, eh?
Several of us overnighted in our RVs all weekend in the [then] quiet, peaceful parking lot. I was parked near a grassy area along a line of trees and enjoyed listening to bird song well into the night.
All in all, it was more than worth the sunburn. Where did I put the Aloe?