This weekend Key and I travelled down to Grants Pass to make our 13th attempt at our NW3 title.

We headed south on Friday, and by the time we made the 4-hour drive plus a few birding stops, that was our entire day.

Saturday morning we headed out to the NW3 trial. For those of you who haven’t memorized all the details I’ve shared over the years about canine nosework, here’s a quick recap along with some photos by CreekWalker Photography of my own favorite practitioner of the sport.

“K9 Nose Work was developed in 2006 by Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot and Jill Marie O’Brien to bring the concept of detection-dog style training to dog lovers and their companion dogs.  An enthusiastic community was soon created and the desire to have fun competitions in this new activity grew. The NACSW was founded to ensure the highest standard of excellence and structure for these competitors in this new sport.”

Basically, the dogs are trained to find a scent (think essential oils) and the job of the handler is to correctly read their dog’s clues about when the dog has found the scent.

Key and I started nosework in 2017, about a year after I first adopted him, when it became obvious he loved being trained. In 2018 he passed his initial odor trials, after which he could compete in a series of more advanced trials. We got our NW1 at the first trial and also received the Harry award, which is a big deal  It took about a year and three trials for us to get our NW2 title. And it has taken three years and 13 trials for us to get our NW3 title. It is NOT uncommon for handlers (not dogs) to struggle to put together all the pieces at this level. Between the death of my mother and COVID, it’s been a challenging few years. Still, watching myself make stupid moves over and over again while at the same time watching Key get better and better has been discouraging.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been taking occasional classes with Terri Spaeth-Merrick (Sniffketeers K9 Scent Detection) in addition to my regular classes at Best Friends Obedience & Agility School. Sometimes it is important to have someone new to say, basically, the same old stuff. Specifically, Terri has been working with me (not the dog) on leash handling and watching his cues.


Well, finally… I am delighted to announce (drum roll)… Key got his (at least) 8th NW3 title and I got my first, bringing us to a total of one title ribbon.