BIBLE HILL, N.S. – Target loves tracking down scents, and Barb Deg loves seeing him do it.
When Deg retired her Irish setter, Target, from field work she knew he needed to get involved in another activity; sporting detection is proving ideal.
“His nose and mind works well and he already understood scents so I thought he’d enjoy it,” said Deg. “It’s open to all breeds and mixes. It’s a fun activity all dogs can do, even those who are blind, deaf or have other disabilities.”
Deg, who lives in Cole Harbour, is one of just a few sporting detection trainers. She said she’s seen dogs from the age of six months to 15 years take part. Once dogs are ready, they can compete in judged trials and earn titles.
“It’s a relatively new sport, but some of the trials in Ontario, B.C. and the U.S. were filled in about half an hour,” said Deg. “It mentally challenges dogs and the people really learn to read the dog’s body language.”
Sporting detection (sometimes called nose work or scent detection) mimics what is done by working dogs who search for drugs and explosives, but in the sport the animals are taught to locate essential oil scents. They do container searches, room searches, exterior and vehicle searches. As they progress through the levels the searches become more difficult, with distraction scents being added.
Deg has two Irish setters and a mixed-breed she adopted through a rescue group taking part in sporting detection.
“Any dog can do this,” she said. “I have everything from a Papillon to a cane corso in the classes, and there’s a Papillon who has a master championship.”
The first sporting detection trial in the Truro area will be held at Little Moe’s K9 Academy, in Bible Hill, April 7-8. People interested in learning more about the activity can arrange to watch the outdoor searching, or to watch a class (which Deg teaches at Little Moe’s, as well as other locations around the province).