Dazzle, a six-and-a-half year-old cattle dog adopted from the Oakdale Animal Shelter, sniffed her way to first place and a NW3 title at a NACSW (National Association of Canine Scent Work) K9 Nose Work competition in Pacific Palisades earlier this month. Dazzle competed with 29 other dogs of various breeds from Border Collies to Pomeranians and several mixed breeds. She had the fastest combined time of all the dogs entered in the trial as well as finding all the hides in four different searches.
Oakdale resident Betsie Corwin adopted Dazzle in 2011 when the dog was six months old.
“When I first met the dog at the shelter she didn’t even know how to walk on a leash, and wasn’t house trained,” said Corwin. “But I knew right away she was very smart and eager to learn. I had no idea she would be such a rock star in not only Nose Work, but agility and other dog sports too.”
Nose Work competitions for pet dogs of any breed mimic the searches similar to those professional search dogs used by law enforcement or the military to find drugs or explosives. During the searches the dog must find a hidden Q Tip with a drop of scented oil, and indicate to the handler where the hide is located. At the NW3 level the handler does not know the location of the hides, or how many hides are in each search.
Corwin’s first dog to learn the sniffing game and earn titles in Nose Work competition was Snickers. Corwin started classes with Snickers, a 15-pound Miniature Schnauzer, from Modesto dog trainer Donna Soderstrom of Good Dog Training at 12 years old.
“He loved the sniffing game and it’s a great low-impact sport for older dogs,” stated Corwin. “It was natural for Dazzle to follow in Snickers’ paw prints.”
NACSW was founded by three Southern California dog trainers to give everyday dog owners the chance to let their dogs use their most salient sense: smell. K9 Nose Work is the latest training activity that develops your dog’s natural scenting abilities through fun and games. The sport leverages every dog’s amazing sense of smell and their love of performing a task. Geared for dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages, K9 Nose Work has found enthusiastic participants seeking a lower impact canine activity that offers great rewards for both handlers and their dogs. By utilizing basic search dog skills, the sport builds confidence, burns off mental and physical energy, and reinforces the bond between dog and owner. All levels of performance reap these benefits and are welcome.