2019 Marks the Fifth Anniversary of Sporting Detection Trials in Western Canada!
I had been watching the K9Nosework grow in the states since 2006 and eagerly anticipated its breakthrough into Canada. After attending different dog sporting events around the province and conversing with other competitors I realized I was not alone. I found the SDDA online in 2013 and started dreaming.
I knew hosting a brand new type of Dog sport Trial would be a big job. Even though I didn’t have enough of my own students to fill a trial, I felt like there were enough people interested across Alberta to fill a Trial. I got in touch with another dog trainer from southern Alberta so we could tag team the event. We decided to meet in the middle and host a joint Trial in Red Deer. We found a venue and started planning in the fall of 2013.
Then I received the news that my hosting partner was moving out of province and would be pulling out of the partnership, and I received news our chosen venue was sold and the new owners were not keen on having a dog trial. After my initial disappointment I decided to forge ahead with the Trial on my own. I scrambled to find a new venue. I reached out to the local trainers in Red Deer who must have thought I was crazy because they had nothing to offer. Then I found a new venue that was literally in the process of construction. A state of the art boarding kennel just outside of Red Deer and they were keen to have us. I was nervous because at the time of contact the building was not yet completed but I was promised it would be finished by the date of the event.
Charged with excitement I continued forging ahead. In those early days I had nothing but the earliest version of the rule book, a set of Nose work classes, my Tracking experience and experience hosting CARO Rally-O Trials. I put together entry forms and the word went out. I took a leap of faith. The event filled with 27 competing teams from across three provinces and a waitlist.
I flew in judge Theresa Lewin from Ontario, who graciously agreed to this five-day marathon, two days being travel from Ontario. She brought with her experience as a professional detection handler and SDDA competitor and taught a much needed one day prep seminar on Friday before the trial. While we were at the seminar on Friday the venue was putting in flooring. The flooring was finished by the time the seminar finished and Theresa and I arrived at the venue to prep for the trial!
Saturday we began our marathon two day Started Level Trial. Our days were long days. Handlers could run a second dog, there were three shadow judges and it was the first trial in western Canada! It wasn’t easy hosting a trial three hours away from my local. I didn’t have my source of non-competing volunteers to draw upon so competitors had to step up which they did and they were so amazing!
Complete new sets of containers were need for the second day and rooms could not be reused for fears of residue odor for the second dog’s run. What I didn’t count on was that I was not able to reuse any of the containers. I had to scramble to purchase new Rubbermaid containers Saturday night and drill holes in them. I was however thankful for the diligent control of odor because the fail rate was high and it could not be blamed on anything except that this was the first trial in western Canada and many were not prepared for the challenges of the sport. Despite the challenges the comradery was amazing and the opportunity for competitors to hang out in the venue lobby was fantastic! The feedback that shadow judge and federally certified narcotics handler Jonathan Phaneuf gave to those wanting his feedback on their search after the trial was so helpful. JP brought with him not only his professional experience as a dog handler but also K9 Nose work Trial experience that he, Sherri Luzzi, and April Hames brought from the states and their experience developing K9 Scentinels Detection Training Club in B.C., was so appreciated.
I am still amazed and thankful to all those competitors who made the first Trial event in Western Canada a success and continued to grow the sport, look at where we are now!
Below are the stats from the saturday event, this was before the days of the fancy Trial Workbook we have today!