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  • suzjennifer62

Never Have I Ever

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

“Never Have I Ever” is a game that ironically never have I ever played. The get to know you party game is a drinking game in which players take turns to announce things they have never done. Other players who have done the things respond by taking a drink. I am not sure who is supposed to be the winner, the one who gets drunk or the one who stays sober? Seems like it’s a party so you’d wanna have a drink, however if you are a bold and fun person who does a lot of things you will be punished with an incredible hangover the next day. This leads me to Winnie, (not the smoothest segue, I admit).

Practically every day I spend with Winnie gives me the opportunity to do something never have I ever done before. From the way Winnie came into my life to our most recent activities with Scent Work and everything in between, each new thing an entry on a list of things I am doing for the first time. The past week has seen to the list a record number of additions.

On Wednesday Winnie and I participated for the first time in a level NW2 Nose Work Trial in Loomis. The NACSW trial was held at the Blue Goose Event Center,

a dynamic location with good environmental stimulation and a welcoming atmosphere. Put on by Sierra Sniffing Dog Club, the searches were challenging and tested Winnie’s skill and my nerves. The staging area was a parking lot 20’ from an active railroad track and over the course of the day I counted three trains, two long slow freight trains and one fast Amtrak passenger train all of which were loud and scary to a Puggle but that didn’t stop her nose or focus from working. After 4 fun searches, we went home satisfied with positive advancements in skill and communication and a new title plus we had a really good time together and I can’t emphasize that part enough.

Two days after the NACSW trial we headed off for a weekend at an AKC Scent Work Trial in Atascadero. Hosted by the Southern California Portuguese Water Dog Club, a group of folks I hadn’t yet met at any trials, and held at a private training facility we’d never been to in the hills south of town. The environment couldn’t have been more opposite of the NACSW trial with peaceful relaxing hills and countryside to welcome us and the searches were just as challenging and fun. And for the first time Winnie and I together got to experience redemption.

On day one, Winnie was on fire in the first three searches and it felt so good but on the last search, Buried, we hiccuped. Winnie hit on the container next to the one containing the odor vessel (not the first time that has happened). D’ohhhh! Not even giving it a second thought, Winnie and I left the trial that evening with two individual blue ribbons for Exterior and Containers, finding a total of hides in 36 seconds and 15 seconds respectively, and a red ribbon in Interior for two hides in 33 seconds.

With the tangerine sun sitting low on the hills to the West, we found a great walk on the foot path along the shores of Atascadero Lake. The odiferous collection of lakeside smells tickled my nose, Winnie’s olfactory system defined the aroma down to each distinct origin: ducks, grasses, frogs, algae, etc. After our walk we grabbed Mexican take out from Marina's Cocina on the way to the hotel. Tomorrow would be another day for sniffing but tonight Winnie slept like a, well, like a dog.

The second day of the trial dawned cool with high clouds and we headed over to be again with a supportive group of people we met for the first time that weekend and now considered friends. The Exterior search was the first element followed by the Buried. Winnie worked the Exterior area honestly with the challenging breeze and interesting distractive odors that naturally occur. Winnie puzzled it out and successfully signaled when she found the hides. On to the Buried where Winnie blew the search away. Twenty one seconds! to find two odor vessels buried under 4 or 6 inches of sand (I can never remember the specs from one level to the next). Smiling from ear to ear, celebrating with Winnie, her time held as the fastest and Winnie earned the blue ribbon in Buried.

Winnie and I returned safely from a weekend’s journey to Atascadero in which I can't even list all the things we did for the first time. I have come to the conclusion that the true winner of the game “Never Have I Ever” is not the folks who play the game stay sober but the ones who get fall down drunk because they are the ones who are out there living!

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