This blog is in response to the False Alert literature rebuttal by SWGDOG:
“The membership of the Scientific Working Group on Dog and Orthogonal detector Guidelines (SWGDOG), www.swgdog.org, is writing to comment on the article entitled “Handler beliefs affect scent detection dog outcomes” authored by L. Lit, J.B. Schweitzer and A.M. Oberbauer. SWGDOG is a recognized group of 55 subject matter experts from local, state, federal, and international agencies including scientists, law enforcement, and practitioners. Over the last seven years, SWGDOG, has developed and published 34 consensus based best practice guidelines for detector dog teams as well as resources to assist the community including recommended research methodologies.”
My previous blog on the affect of relationship and False Alerts is in part referencing the study published by L. Lit, J.B. Schweitzer and A.M. Oberbauer. I would like to clarify my opinion based on both the literature AND the rebuttal…
In the opinion of Scentsabilities Nosework…. Well, I agree!
“In particular, the conclusion of this study cannot be extended to working detector dog teams.”
In fact, in my blog my statement states specifically:
“A dog’s natural independence could actually be measured according to how much they care. And…. the more your dog cares, the more those social cues are going to be an important part of the search. And… keep in mind that the sport of canine scent detection is mostly a pet dog sport.”
In my experience, I’ve worked with 100’s of dogs between on-line education, in person education and teaching seminars. I’ve also reviewed 1000’s of videos of searches. This spans all breeds, breed types and genetic makeup.
Of my own four dogs, three are pet bred. That doesn’t mean that they are lesser bred. My Standard Poodle was the conformation pick of his litter! My 8 year old Lab recently competed, successfully, at the 2017 NACSW National Invitational which is arguably the pinnacle of SPORT detection events. He held his own against 45 other dogs from across the US and came out winning one of the searches and placing second in another. He is STILL what I consider pet bred, even though he is the top of his sport. My third dog is a Miniature American Shepherd with confidence issues, no doubt pet bred. My fourth dog, an 8 month old puppy named Brava, is NOT what I consider to be “pet bred” although she IS my pet. She’s from an esteemed kennel in Maine who specializes in breeding Labradors for the Professional Sector. Her litter includes (in training): 4 USAR FEMA dogs, 2 bomb dogs, 1 cadaver dog, 1 bed bug dog, 1 working retriever and my girl, future Sport Detection Superstar. Her mother and her handler are out there saving lives (she’s an active FEMA dog and her handler/owner is a first responder…. God bless them both!). Her sire’s mother was deployed to the Philippines at one time as a part of FEMA service. I can tell you unequivocally that Brava is different than my other 3 in terms of her natural independence and drive (independence and drive aren’t often a breeding criteria for the average sport dog…. Drive yes, however in sports, independence is often replaced with “biddability”). My point is that I have tremendous respect for her breeding and for professional handlers who are working with dogs bred like her. Thank you to her breeder. You guys ROCK! And you save lives…. As an aside I feel humbled to have been allowed to have one of the “P-Dog” puppies from this litter (Perfect x Proxy).
(The picture above is Brava, at 6 months old, entering her first AKC Scent Work competition. On two legs! She won that search even though competing against NACSW Elite dogs including a Nationals dog.)
Future Life Savers (some are future FEMA dogs, at least one will sniff out bombs). God protect them and their handlers:
Given independence, drive and superior training, I can see why SWGDOG took rebuttal to the article written by L. Lit, J.B. Schweitzer and A.M. Oberbauer.
We have to keep in mind when we are reading literature and applying it to our “sport” that both sport dogs and pet dogs (probably in excess of 99.9% of the dogs competing in scent work) are not similar in working traits to the professional K9 detection dog. We like to think that our sport dogs are the same…. They simply are not. In all honesty that’s probably for the best! Even though as sport homes we don’t provide the average “pet home” experience, we still have different requirements of our dogs. What we don’t require is the hard driving, independence that comes with these working K9s. That’s not to say that the working K9s aren’t loved. But do you really need (or want) a dog who can easily scale a 3 story ladder (Proxy)…. For fun? Sure Proxy’s daughter, Brava, cuddles… (I love her deeply) but only AFTER I get her off of the dining room table! Working K9’s can be loved family members of course but their ability to transcend the study published by L. Lit, J.B. Schweitzer and A.M. Oberbauer is noted and according to Scentsabilities Nosework, agreed to.
When reading literature in support of our sport, it’s essential to consider our dogs for what and who they are!
At the same time, NEVER see your “pet bred” dog as lesser! They truly care about what we think. They are biddable. They can be highly driven! They are wonderful.
(The above picture is Judd’s win shot from the First Annual Eukanuba Performance Games and Inaugual AKC Scent Work trial. Pet Bred Rescue Dog!)