By Paul Loboschefsky
When Christine Wilson saw the picture of Betsy she knew she had to adopt the dog. Intelligent and driven, Betsy had been selected by SDF as a search dog candidate in 2011 from the Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary in Elverta, CA. Unfortunately, Betsy also had an independent streak to match her strengths, and lacked the consistent focus necessary for disaster search. Because of SDF’s Lifetime Care commitment and Christine’s desire to open her home to a great dog, Betsy will never see the inside of a shelter again.
Betsy grew bored in the agility classes Christine took her to, but then in 2013 Christine found K9 scent work, or Nose Work as the sport is called. It is a competition where a dog searches out distinct scents amidst a number of obstacles within a changing environment. Titles can be earned at four levels—NW1 through NW3, and NW Elite—each with a different number of scent targets, obstacles, and judging factors. Additional awards come for course completion speed.
Christine began to see what her raven-haired handful could do, and it was amazing. Betsy plowed through her NW1 and NW2 titles in under eighteen months, winning the second-fastest overall time among other speed accolades. The NW3 title—a significant increase in difficulty over the previous two levels—came just over a year later.
Betsy’s talented nose and perpetual energy finally had a release valve. With just a few hours of Nose Work practice each week, she satisfied her search drive. Her behavior improved. Christine would turn her loose to search out specific socks from drawers at friends’ houses amongst jokes the dog would be making them dinner next. But the real success came on a much deeper level than everyday behavior and parlor tricks. Through K9 scent work, Christine and Betsy tuned into each other’s moods and thoughts. They became a team.
“It’s a partnership,” Christine says proudly. The partners are now poised to compete for their Nose Work Elite Title, a precursor to the National Invitational competition. Christine is thrilled with Betsy’s accomplishments, but maintains the greatest victory was cementing her bond with this special dog. “She’s on my side, 24/7,” Christine affirms. “It’s a really special relationship.” Christine and Betsy are the perfect match. It just took a little extra (nose) work to get them there!