If you are going to compete in NACSW trials, then it means you and your dog are going to invest a lot of time and effort in training and preparing for your first trial. It is important to remember that many other people will invest just as much time and effort to bring you the best possible competition experience. These people are trial hosts, certifying officials, volunteer coordinators, volunteers, judges, fellow competitors, and many others. Success at trial is something we cannot always control, but we can always be respectful and and positive, and that will guarantee an enjoyable experience for everyone.
Here is some helpful information about the many people you will interact with at trial:
Trial Host - the host is the person or organization that finds the location, brings together the volunteers and volunteer coordinator, and works with the NACSW to ensure the trial meets organizational standards. The host wants every dog and handler team to have fun.
Certifying Official - the Certifying Official (CO) is an NACSW representative who sets the hides for the day and makes sure the trial goes according to NACSW standards. CO’s do many different jobs during a trial day - they wear many hats.
Volunteer Coordinator - assigns jobs to volunteers and keeps them working efficiently and effectively all trial long. Without this person, trials would not be smooth flowing and helpful to all participants.
Volunteers - these are people who love the game of K9 Nose Work, love supporting fellow competitors, and just want to have a part in making trial day fun. They get assignments on the fly and float around wherever they are needed throughout the day - all with smiles on their faces! Thank your volunteers for giving their time so you and your dog can have fun.
Judges - evaluate and score each team's performance in the searches. Judges are usually trained detection professionals with years of experience handling detection K9’s. These judges always want to see teams succeed and have a lot of respect for the work that both dog and handler have put in to become trial ready. Judges work closely with the CO’s to make sure that search criteria for each element is clear and judging is fair. Rarely does a team ever fail to find the hide(s) in a search because of a judge's call. More often, a myriad factors such as wind, temperature change, distracting smells, noises, sights, novel environment, etc., are to blame for a team not successfully completing a search.
Fellow Competitors - everyone at an NACSW Trial can succeed and earn a title, so there is a lot of support among competitors for everyone to do well. Many competitors in the K9 Nose Work community love the fact that every trial is unique and can play to the strengths or weaknesses of a dog, making trial performances a mix of skill and luck, and meaning any given day can be your dog's day to shine.
While we all want to have success and a title on trial day, the sport is about so much more than awards and ribbons - it is about sharing a special bond with our dogs. Keep a positive and respectful attitude towards every person involved in making trial day happen, and you're sure to have a good time. In the event you are unhappy about your trial experience, let us know by contacting us.