Team Orange competed in their first Summit Trial in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Kiski School last weekend. Summit is the highest level in NACSW nose work and Mom and I were really excited to get to play. There are very few trials, so it is not always easy to get a spot.

The Kiski School is a very old, all boys school. We were able to stay in a dorm room from Friday night to Monday morning. It was nice to be at the trial site without having to drive every morning. There was no cell reception, so Mom had to walk a few blocks if she needed to make any calls which was kind of a drag. Otherwise, it was not bad.

Summit is very different from the other levels. First of all, it is a two day trial, the others are all a half day, or one day. The search areas are often very big or complex. Hide placements can be real tricky. The certifying official can do pretty much anything which means making games out of searches. Only the top five dogs out of the twenty eight will get a title, so you really have to be good.

Day one was so exciting. Mom and I started off with the wrestling room search. It was a bigger area, everything in it was in play. We had four minutes to find an unknown number of hides. Below is a video of this search.

In the end, there were four hides and I did find them all and we got a pronounced in this search. My favorite part of the video is me sticking my head through the bench to get my treats!

Day one was awesome! We only missed one hide all day, finding fourteen of the fifteen. We were at the top of the pack because a lot of teams didn’t find several hides and many also got “no’s” which means you lose a half of a hide for each one. The searches were super fun and we got a couple pronounced as well (that means exceptional team work).

After the trial ended the first day, we got lots of comments from people that saw us work saying how fun and amazing we were to watch, and one of the judges said we were her favorite team to watch all day. We felt really good and thought we had a shot at earning a title. I was exhausted and crashed on our bed in the dorm right after dinner. I worked really hard.

Enter Sunday which was a whole new day and the opposite of Saturday. Mom messed up first, calling a hide she knew she shouldn’t call and got a “no”.  She did call the right spot, but then we had to move on to another room. The first search was a no go back which means if you leave a room, you can’t go back. In the second room I found a hide right away, but then I got scared in the corner because there was a creepy smell and we ran out of time so I missed another hide.

In our second search I missed one of the four hides, but the three I found were beautiful. We watched our videos and could see that.

The third search of the day was horrible. It was a huge student center. I was all over the map and found four hides, but the fourth one was under a ping pong table. Mom came around the corner just as the Q-Tips were falling on the floor. I had opened the vessel and the odor fell out. That has never happened to us and it pretty much sent Mom into a panic and our search was pretty much done.

Games can be helpful and in the last search of the day there were two hides, one was a bonus. Of course, I didn’t find the bonus. We missed six hides on Sunday, very depressing really. It was not our day at all.

We came home with nothing to show for our efforts but we now know a lot more about what Summit is like. Team Orange had a lot of fun searching and we will keep working and hope to do a lot better the next time. The first Summit Trial was a learning experience and something Mom and I can share together forever.

I am good enough to place at these trials, we just need some further training and then look out! Many dogs will never get to play at the Summit level, so we are thankful we get to do it.