This past weekend I was in an element specialty trial, Level 1. Mickey has already gotten his first Nose Work level 3 (NW3) title, so this should have been an easy test. All one hide, quick and easy.
I did two elements, the first was interiors and the second was containers. In interiors, we did 4 rooms. One hide each. I was a little concerned since it had been a month since Mickey and I had any decent practice. As I walked into the first room, the change in light concerned me and I a bit tense wondering if I was going to see well enough to call the alert. I let Mickey search the room off leash. The first two rooms we had option of on or off leash. The first search was in a larger room, I let Mickey go and he searched the area, then fixated on a chair. He dawdled and I didn't call it, because it just didn't seem right. But when he dawdled, I started to look at him more intensely to see if he was going to call it. He stuck his head a certain way and I figured that was it, called it and it was a "NO!".
First of the day and a "NO!" Mickey and I haven't practice for a month and we were certainly out of sync. When I have been practicing with him consistently, I usually can tell if he is dawdling. He also didn't give the gush of air I hear in his nose when he found it. Whew, was I out of practice in reading my dog!
The biggest issue for me is, getting the very first odor wrong, it has in the past broken my spirit. I was crushed and had to work on my psyche to not let it get to me to ruin the rest of the element. You could tell my body slumped slightly and I spun around to figure out where to leave the area, since I know once we get that "NO!" it is all over. Fortunately, the judge, Chris Busch told me which chair it was on and wanted me to leave on a good note for both Mickey and I. This did a world of good. I was so crushed that finding the odor changed my spirit, and it enabled me to be happy with Mickey he found the odor. it worked. The following three we got the odor correctly.
Of course after this element I was thinking, how on earth can an NW3 dog blow it? Others who have gotten their NW3 title have also "blown it." But it was so hard to shake. I do believe learning how to deal with the disappointment and work through it is what makes a strong team. But, what is even excellent is I was able to come back the last three searches and get a leg towards the title. And even better, when I did the element for the containers, we got them all and succeeded. In my two NW3 trials I didn't title, when I "lost my title" I went down hill. But this time I didn't. This tells me all the sport psychology training I have been working on is helping. This also means I will be psychologically stronger during difficult times. I am learning well how to focus.
Between the two elements I went back to my chair and slumped. I had to mentally work through not getting the title on an EASY element. A fellow practice partner just happened to arrived and gave me a cute little NW3 clip. It really brought my spirits up, reminding me that we have achieved that level and Mickey and I are a good team. That I'm not letting all the chaos and crap in my life getting me and I am over coming incredible challenges that I really am rising above. This friend really reminded me that we are ok, and we had a silly little opps. We were out of sync, not practicing for about a month. but nailed the rest of the day. Yee ha what a come back, and how many people can say they did that? Not many.