Sometimes in the sport of Scent Work (Nosework), we go to a trial and it’s not perfect. Perhaps the trial lasts a few hours longer than expected. What is your response? What do you DO?

I’m an AKC Contractor. As a part of my responsibilities I act as an AKC Representative (I “rep” trials) for AKC Scent Work trials. I see everything when I’m on site with this role… And I do mean everything!! It’s a great job. I see judges working together to set the best hides possible. I see volunteers stepping in to do WHATEVER IS NEEDED. I see hosts open for suggestions and ready to do anything at all in order to make the trial experience positive. I don’t always see competitors though asking “what can I do to help”. Sometimes I do… but most often I don’t.


Lake Tahoe – The site of the latest trial I’ve attended

Yesterday was a long day, but a good day.  I’ve not remembered though, this level of teamwork in a long time.  Everyone was working as a collaborative effort to make a wonderful trial for the competitors.  Our challenges?  A large (albeit beautiful) trial site…  which required substantive modifications for line of sight and flow.  I’m so unbelievably proud of the judges, volunteers and the host.  They demonstrated ingenuity, grit, and dedication.  I would be proud to work along side any of them in the future.  A special shout out to to the judges…  I’m not mentioning them but name but they know who they are!

Then I walked out to the parking lot.

I expressed that we were making changes to help move the trial along more efficiently.  Some of the competitors had ideas (although we already had a plan in place).  Some were supportive. Several were not.

Volunteering is the answer – Be the solution, don’t suggest a solution

Although the suggestions that were given by the competitors weren’t feasible, I appreciated them.  I was a little taken aback though but the reaction when I suggested that people volunteer when they can.  In an AKC Scent Work trial you can volunteer for the classes or levels in which you are not competing.  In fact…  you can actually volunteer for your classes..  you just have to run first!

The answer to most of these challenges is to step in and be a part of the solution. This is true, even if you help out with the parking lot or staging areas.  Volunteers can be hard to get. People want to compete. I get that…  I really do.  My point is that instead of complaining, help out.  Lend a hand.  You WILL be appreciated.  AND…  you have the potential to really learn.  Judges are very willing to explain air flow, intention for the hides and anything you might be interested in as a volunteer.  It’s a great gig!

Even if you don’t volunteer, Be Patient!

There are times when you truly CAN’T volunteer.  That’s really ok.  Perhaps you are like me when I trial… running 4 dogs and entered in every single class.  It happens!  Or maybe you have an anxious dog that you can’t leave in order to volunteer.  It’s understandable!  You won’t be judged.

But try not to complain.

Remember that the volunteers are…  VOLUNTEERS! Our hide steward yesterday drove 8 hours to help out.  We worked her HARD!  I’m very proud of her grit and her desire to jump in to help wherever needed.  Remember that people like her care about the sport and they care about your experience!

But try not to complain.

What I CAN tell you is that no one is sitting idle and we care about your experience.  We care about YOU.

So when you compete, remember that folks are out there trying to make things great for you.