Ep. 19: Trials...What Takes So Long?!

Jul 3, 2019

Competitors will oftentimes become flummoxed when their trials are going on longer than they had initially expected, the question being, "WHAT ON EARTH IS TAKING SO LONG?!"

In this podcast episode, we cover some of the reasons why a Scent Work trial may be taking longer than you expected. Additionally, we underline the need for everyone to recognize how difficult it is to put on a trial, that everyone involved is doing there best and how everyone needs to take a deep breath before we jump all over one another.


  • Dianna L. Santos


Welcome to the All About Scent Work Podcast. This is where we talk about all things Scent Work. That can include training tips, a behind the scenes look at what your instructor or trial official may be going through and much more. In this podcast episode, we wanted to talk about something that we see a lot at trials and that's where competitors will say, "What is taking so long?" So, I wanted to talk about why it is that your trial may be taking a little bit longer than you would have liked.

Before we start diving into the podcast episode itself, let me just do a very quick introduction on myself. My name is Dianna Santos. I am the owner and lead instructor for Scent Work University, Dog Sport University, and Family Dog University. These are online dog training platforms that are designed to provide high quality instruction to as many people as possible. We're quite fortunate to have a client base that is worldwide.

For Scent Work University in particular, we focus on all things Scent Work. We provide online courses, seminars, webinars, as well as blog posts and podcasts of what you're listening to today. For our courses, we actually split these up between skills and sport courses. So we can help you if you've never done scent work before, if you're trying to solidify some skills or if you're getting ready for trial. Since you know a little bit more about me, let's dive into the podcast.

So, what I wanted to talk about today was this issue that competitors will have, where they're at a Scent Work trial and they are stressing, because it's taking too long. What I was hoping to do was to give a little bit of a peek behind the curtain to let competitors who may otherwise not know what's going on in the backend and why it is that trials go on as long as they do. While also trying to get everyone to take a step back and to realize that, for the most part, everyone who's involved with the trial, whether it be a trial official, trial staff member, trial host, trial volunteer, and as well as the competitors, everyone's just trying to have a good time. No one's trying to make anyone else miserable on purpose.

So, I'm hoping that by talking about this, I can help people who maybe have never worked for a trial to have a better understanding of what goes on. But also, even for those who have worked for trials, to help remind them that competitors may simply not know what's going on in the backend, and that all of us just need to try and take a deep breath, to understand that no one's trying to make anyone else miserable on purpose.

So the first thing I wanted to point out with this topic is for anyone who is involved with putting on a trial. By that I mean, the trial host, the trial staff, the trial officials, the volunteers. I think it's important for all of us to remember that the competitors are going to be stressed, and that doesn't excuse bad behavior. That's not what I'm saying. But I think if all of us could remember that one simple fact, it can make our lives a little bit easier, because when you start hearing things like, "Oh, why aren't we done yet?" Well, there could be a reason why.

So, one of the things that I would notice when I was working at a trial, and my role was primarily in Score Room, is let's say we had check in at 7:30. By 8:30 you would start hearing the, "Why aren't we done yet? What is taking so long? What's happening?" It's like, "Really? We just got here." So I could feel the hairs in the back of my neck start going up like, "Come on, man, I'm doing my best." There's only so much you can do in Score Room, but still.

But then I had to take a deep breath to remember, you know what? Those people probably had to travel to get here, and they maybe had to fight traffic. Maybe they got lost, maybe they had car trouble. Maybe they're just stressing, because it is going to be their turn to run soon, and just not knowing exactly when you have to go can be really stressful. Maybe they're just stressing about running period. Maybe they are just in need of one cue in order to get some goal, whether it be a title or something else. Maybe they're just nervous.

Maybe they don't feel well, maybe the dog doesn't feel well. I mean, there's all these different things. But what I had to remind myself was that they are not out there stressing to make my life miserable. It's not as though they got up that morning and said, "You know what? That Santos lady, I want to make her as miserable as possible. I'm going to complain at every instance that I can, only to make her life miserable." No one's doing that.

So that helped me not get quite so defensive when I would start hearing those kinds of things. It's just understanding that there is a lot of stress that goes along with being a competitor. That's not to say that putting on a trial isn't filled with stress as well, it is. Trials are just these pressure cookers of stress and angst. It's actually pretty amazing that anyone gets out of there without requiring significant ice cream eatage or wine drinking, or whatever thing that you do to make yourself feel better.

But our dogs actually help us get through this and actually have fun, which is good. So I just wanted to put that at the outset, and the very beginning, was that if you have been involved with trials before, as a staff member, as a volunteer, as a host, and you start hearing these things, you start going, "Ah." Just remember that the vast majority of competitors are very, very nervous and they're very stressed. Again, I'm not excusing bad behavior at all. But I think that's an important thing for us to keep in mind, so that we don't immediately start going to the absolute worst possible scenario of what this person is doing, where they're just here to to ruin everything. That's probably not the case. So just something to keep in mind.

But using our example of you have check in at 7:30, you have your briefing at 8:00, and by 8:30 people are like, "What's happening?" So one of the reasons I've noticed, personally, why that can happen, is the usage of volunteers. Meaning that you have a big group of people, anywhere between two to five to 10 to 12, people who have been very kind to volunteer their time to ensure that the trial actually run well. But here's the catch. If the organization permits your volunteers to actually run their dogs at that very same trial, that means they have to run their dogs at that very same trial. They need to run their dogs first, so that they could get into their positions to actually volunteer.

So when I've worked in Score Room, one of the things that I would notice when people start really stressing out, as far as the competitors, as far as time was concerned that early in the morning, is that they didn't understand that part. It's not to say that there's something bad against them, it just hadn't been really explained to them that we need to run the volunteer dogs first. But then they say, "Well, why is it taking so long?" We just have to really talk about logistics, we have to talk about time, you have to talk about how long these things take.

So if you have even just eight volunteers and they're running in five elements, that's just math. Just think about how much time each individual search is going to take, multiply that by five, and then multiply that by eight. That's how long this is going to take. Sometimes it can take a half hour, 45 minutes, an hour, to just get your volunteers done. For our competitors who aren't aware of that piece, where they're really anxious to get in, they're anxious to do their first search, that period of time can be really stressful.

But I think it's important for us to understand that there's a reason why it's done. You want your volunteers to be in place, so that when you do run with your dog, everything is running nice and smoothly. For trials that don't have that number of volunteers, that don't have volunteers at all, it's a mess. You want to ensure that you have volunteers, otherwise it's just simply not going to work. There are way too many moving pieces, you need to have people on the ground.

Now something to point out, that depending on the organization, either volunteers are not permitted to run their dog. So this is basically a moot point, where the volunteers are just there to volunteer, so there is no delay. Once the briefing is done, then competitors start running. For other organizations, the volunteers are permitted to run before the briefing, which means that the person who sets the hides, sets the hides in all the search areas, they run a dog in white to make sure all those searches actually work, which is a good thing. Then they can run the volunteers before the briefing is even done.

The other option, is some organizations don't allow that at all, where they need to ensure that everyone is available for the briefing and the volunteers have to run after the briefing. So it's that last part that can be really dicey for competitors if they don't understand the way that this works, they may just not be familiar with it. They are now trying to figure out, "Why is it that I'm not running with my dog?"

Again, it's nothing against the competitor, it's nothing against the trial host or the officials or the volunteers or the staff, it's just the way that it is. So I think we have to keep all this stuff in mind when we may be competing with our dogs saying, "Okay, well, I don't think that these people are trying to make my life impossible. I don't think they're trying to draw the day any longer than it used to be, they're just trying to ensure that the volunteers can be in place."

Now some of you might be saying, "Okay, well, that middle option sounded pretty good. Where the volunteers can run before the briefing, because that way I don't have to wait as a competitor." That's true. On paper it looks great, it does work in practice. The only thing to consider is that that requires all the actual people working at the trial to get there even sooner, because now they have to get there sooner, set up sooner and everything else, so that you don't have to try to do your briefing even earlier.

So there's always a balance, there's always a give and take. What we have to remember is that everyone working at a trial is a human being, and a lot of these trials are run over the weekend. So if you're asking all of these people to get there an hour and a half, two hours earlier, so maybe they're getting there at 5:00 in the morning, 5:30 in the morning, and you're asking them to work until maybe even 6:00 at night, that's a really long day. Then they get to do it all over again the next day.

For anyone who hasn't worked at a trial, it is mentally and physically exhausting. It takes everything out of you, whether or not you're official, a trial host, a trial chairperson, trial secretary, trial staff member of some other sort, a volunteer coordinator or a volunteer. It's really, really, really tiring. So, when you're pushing everything up and basically you still have to work the same amount of time, you're adding hours on and it's more draining. I know for myself, I do not like mornings. I am not a morning person in the least. So if you push up the time I have to get there, I am not overly happy about it.

So we have to think about those things. Everything is give and take, nothing is perfect. There is no, "You do it this way and everyone will be fantastic." That's just not the way that it works. But the volunteer piece is one of the reasons why your trial may be going a little bit longer than you had anticipated, just because they need to get those people in their places.

So what's another reason why a trial may be going a little bit longer than you had anticipated? This is where I can speak from experience and it's called Score Room. I worked in Score Room, this is the only staff position that I've had at trials. So I do want to point out, I should've said this in the beginning, but this is the only real way that I can look at this with some authority, because I've done Score Room for a number of trials with a couple of different organizations.

But I haven't been a trial chairperson, I haven't been a trial secretary, I haven't been a volunteer coordinator. I haven't had those staff positions. I have been an official, both the hide setter and a judge. But I think it's important for all of us to try to have as many different positions as possible, so we can have as many accurate perspectives as possible. But that being said, Score Room can absolutely add on some time to the trial and it's not done on purpose. I can tell you from experience, the last thing I want to do is to keep you at a trial longer than you have to be there as a competitor.

But there's just the realities of the way the Score Room works. So depending, again on the organization, you may have a variety of different tools available to you for Score Room. Some of those tools are pretty good, some of those tools are pretty terrible and they don't work really well, or it could just be that technologist just decides it's not going to work that day, and that's really super stressful. You then have to think on your feet in order to figure that out, in order to get people some kind of result by using their paper score sheets.

Then I would stay up if that did happen, it's happened to me I think two or three times, where the whole system just broke. So I did everything by paper and then I stayed up all night long, quite literally, that's not an exaggeration. Literally a 24 hour day, to get all those scores done, so I could hand them to the people the next day or I can email them out. So people who are working in Score Room are not dillydallying. They're not just sitting there going, "Oh, well, I'll get to it when I get to it."

When I would do Score Room, as soon as I ran my dog, if I was allowed for that organization to run him, I was one of the first volunteers to run him, and then he went inside of his crate and neither of us moved from that point onward. I wouldn't even take him potty, he was very good. I didn't go for potty, I didn't go for lunch, I never left. I never left my desk. I did data entry and scoring as fast as I could, while also ensuring I wasn't making mistakes. But that's the delicate balance, the faster you go, the more likely it is you're going to make a mistake.

I'm going to guess that the majority of people who do Score Room are trying to walk that fine line of getting it done as quickly as possible without screwing it up. Because there's nothing worse than handing in results and they're not right. I've done that before, because I'm a human being, I've made mistakes. It gets people really upset, because if you finish a search with your dog and you know that you qualify, but you're not on the qualified sheet, you're not going to be happy about that. I completely understand that.

But that's the thing that we're trying to always battle with in Score Room is, "I need to get this done, I need to get this done." But I also got to be checking that I'm not making a mistake. Again, some programs are easier than others, some score sheets are easier to read than others. Then there's just chaos. You might have competitors coming in and things may be changing, as far as pulling a dog or adding a dog or adding a run or changing a run, or whatever the case may be. There may be that the judge submitted a score sheet that had an error in it or may have been incomplete, so then you have to go check with the judge. So there's always the stuff coming and going, coming and going. It's really crazy.

Score Room is a very special, crazy place. So if you ever want to really appreciate just how nuts a Scent Work trial can really be on the backend, volunteer to work in Score Room, because it's special. Particularly with some of these trials, where there's just so many searches being done with all the different levels at the exact same time. It's amazing. It really is incredible that any of it gets done in any sort of way that makes any sense.

But why is it that Score Room may add some time to your trial? Well, the big thing that I want people to understand is that Score Room can only score the things that they have. Meaning, I cannot close out a particular class, for instance, at a particular level, in order to give an overall score until everyone is running that class. So there have been situations where I've been at trials and I'm ready to do it, but I can't, because those searches aren't done yet.

It's not necessarily anyone's fault, it's just maybe that search is slow. Maybe everyone is taking the full two and a half minutes in order to finish that search. But again, if you have 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 dogs running it, that's going to take a really long time. So I may be sitting there waiting to close out a particular part of a trial, but I can't until everyone is done actually running it.

For the people who are running it last, you wouldn't want to gyp those people, because they very well may do well. What happens if the 70th dog found the hide in five seconds? Now they not only would've gotten first place in that class, but maybe they would've gotten high in trial overall. If I just said, "Okay, just forget it, we'll just close it out anyway." Of course that would never work. But that's the part that people don't quite understand, is they think that Score Room is holding things up, when in reality a lot of times Score Room is waiting for stuff to come into them.

But even so, let's use that example, where I'm waiting to close out a class. Let's say there's another 15 dogs that have to run. I can't finish scoring until I have those 15 score sheets. I am a very fast typer, I'm pretty good at data entry, I can get things done pretty quickly. But even if it takes me only a minute to review the score sheet and then to enter it, that's going to take me 15 minutes just to enter in those scores. I want to also double check to make sure I didn't make any mistakes, and then I have to calculate all of the placements that come out of that. That's going to be another least five to 10 minutes.

So just for those dogs, as soon as they even have those score sheets, we're talking at least a half an hour. That's the part that people don't quite understand. I've had the experience myself. I went to a trial and we were done with all of our searches, I believe at 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. I was just a competitor, I wasn't working, and this organization had a debriefing at the end of the day, as well as their awards ceremony. That didn't happen till close to 5:00. I was just sitting there waiting that whole time, understanding that all these other people had to run their dogs, and then the Score Room had to tabulate all of those results.

It's not as though the trial hosts or the staff or the volunteers want you to be there longer than you need to be. They want to ensure that you leave happy, and one of the ways of you leaving happy is making sure that you're not there too long. But again, one of the biggest complaints that I've heard over the years is, "Oh, it just takes forever for the scores." Just understand that from someone who's been in Score Room a number of times, particularly when things break and everything else, everyone that I've worked with, whether it be other volunteers or other people who've done Score Room Lead, they're trying their very best and they want to get you those results. But they also want to make sure those results are right, because otherwise it can cause a lot of issues if those results are incorrect.

So if you're ever interested in actually seeing what it's like, I would definitely suggest that you volunteer to volunteer within a Score Room. For myself personally, I always like to have at least one person helping me, and it took me a while, I'm not very good at accepting help. I'm not very good in that department, but I realized early on, I really do need help. So I would like to have at least one person there to double check what I was entering. So the actual written report to make sure it made sense, and then also organizing all the actual score sheets, so they were in placement order.

So even if the whole program broke, which, again, happened to me I think a total of two or three times over the period of time that I was doing Score Room. That even if that were to happen, even if the whole system just went [inaudible 00:20:04], we would still be able to use the paper results in order to say, "Okay, this person got first place, this person got second place, these people queued. We will get an actual written report to you, either tomorrow or we'll email it to you once we can get everything's working again."

So I would strongly urge anyone who hasn't volunteered for a trial yet, definitely see if you can volunteer in Score Room, because I think it'll give you a better appreciation of just how many moving pieces are at a trial, how crazy Score Room can actually be. Again, depending on the venue, it may be crazier than others. Also, just that people are trying their best. No one wants you to be at a trial any longer than you have to be.

So the third reason why it is that your trial may be going a little bit longer than you would have liked, is there could be things coming up in the backend that no one planned for in any way, shape or form, but they have significantly caused issues. Now everyone who's working for the trial, trial staff, trial host, trial officials, trial volunteers, all of them have to try to figure out how to fix it.

So let me give you an actual example that happened at a trial. I was working in Score Room, I was getting everything all ready to go. They were just starting the briefing, and the professional photographer that was brought in to take pictures came running in and said, "Where is the hide setter?" I said, "Oh, they're about to start the briefing." "There's an emergency in one of the search areas." I was like, "How can there be an emergency in one of the search areas?"

Well, a water main had broken in the middle of a search area. I'm not talking like the sprinklers are on, I'm talking the water main for this giant facility. So water everywhere, it's not safe, you can't have dogs obviously searching in there. They have to contact the property owner, they got to turn the water off. You turn the water off, it means there's no bathrooms. It was a mess. But that meant that you had to add on time to do all those things, in order to contact the property owner, in order to move the search area, in order to set it up again, run another dog on white, make sure it's going to work, make sure that the flow is still going to work with everything that was already set. This was a weekend trial, so ensuring that the next day wasn't going to be ruined, depending on what it is you were doing with this.

It wasn't fun. But I have to say, for the people who are hosting this trial as well as the officials, they all realized what was happening, they didn't panic. They went straight to work and they were also transparent with the competitors, letting them know that this happened out of their control. It wasn't anyone's fault, these things happen. They're making the best of it and they will run the dogs as soon as they possibly can. I think it probably added on total maybe an hour and a half to the overall day, maybe a little bit more. But I have to say all the competitors at that trial were extraordinarily understanding, particularly with the bathroom issue. Because then I think only one set of bathrooms were working, so they had to alternate who could go in. It was a thing, it was quite the event.

But being transparent really does help. I know for myself personally, as long as I know what's going on, I'm pretty easy going, but I want to have that information. So for anyone who is putting on a trial or is a trial staff member, if you do have something come up, it doesn't mean that you have to tell your competitors everything. I am strongly of the opinion that the backend could be on fire, not literally, but just chaos, and as long as the front end, those people, the competitors, are having fun and they're chill and everything's great, then to me that's a success. The people who were paying the entry fees should have as great of a time as possible. It's probably going to be a little chaotic on the backend. You want to try and separate those as much as you can.

That being said, if there's something like this that comes up that's just completely out of everyone's control, now you have to move an entire search area, and if you explain to competitors, "We're doing all of this to A, ensure that you're safe, and B, to ensure that you and your dogs still have a good trialing experience. We're not just doing this a Willy-nilly, we're doing it for your benefit." People are a lot more understanding and they're not looking at the clock quite so much.

Will there be some people who are just like, "No, I had things I had to do," and they'll leave and they'll be upset? Sure. You can't do anything about that. But just trying to make that balance of not telling competitors everything under the sun, there's no need, but also providing the transparency and the reasoning behind why you may be doing something and why something may not be working out as well as you would have hoped, that can really help a great deal.

So the other reason why trials may be taking a little bit longer than you would have liked, is when trial hosts are trying to offer way too many searches in way too many levels on a single day. This is a personal opinion of mine, that there needs to be a little bit of balance. I understand the allure for a competitor to say, "I can go to this event. This weekend trial is going to be back-to-back trials each day, and there's going to be seven elements in each trial, and I can get 10 titles this weekend." I'm exaggerating, but the general gist. I want to get the most bang for my buck.

I understand that point of view. Having been both an official and working in Score Room, and just seeing trial sites where you're trying to get all this to work, that's where you start getting into trouble. Because things like flow really start to suffer, because you have too many things going on. There's too many dogs and people going every which way, so you can't get a really nice flow going, where there aren't dogs doubling back on each other or there's not confusion as to where they need to go, or what happens if I didn't enter into this or this class? But I entered into one all the way over there. How do I get there?

When you're doing too many things, it just amplifies the likelihood that things aren't going to be going well. Also understanding that Scent Work trials are notorious for having things go wrong, at least in my experience. Again, this isn't just things I've worked on, this is also trials I've gone to as a competitor that I wasn't affiliated in any way, shape or form, I just entered. There's just so many moving pieces, and everyone is at the mercy of Mother Nature and they're at the mercy of the way the odor works.

So, the more things you add in, as far as elements and things to search, the higher the likelihood things are not going to be going very well. So just think of it from the perspective of someone setting the hides. If I'm hired as a hide setter and I'm asked to do four searches for three different levels, okay, that's fine. Particularly third nested, so we're going to be doing the lower level first and the level above that, and then so on and so forth. We're going to be adding hides to the space, that's not so bad. There's still lots of things to consider, you have to run a dog on white after each, yada, yada. But it's not quite so bad.

But now let's say that you want me to do four searches, in three different levels, all at the same time, and I'm the only judge doing all of that, and they're all running simultaneously. That's insane, that's crazy. You obviously would need to bring in other officials, because I can't clone myself into that many different spots. But even just if you were the person responsible for the hides and there were actual other people doing the judging, saying the yes or the no, that means that in that situation you have 16 potential hide or search areas that you need to oversee as the hide setter, to determine if things are still working.

What happens if a dog happened to urinate directly on your hide? That means you have to move that hide. What if they defecated on it? Of course you have to move the hide. Why was it they vomited on it? Of course you have to move it. These types of things. What happens if a water main broke in one of your search areas? The more things you're offering on a single day of trial, the likelihood of things going badly, in my opinion, goes up exponentially. Now, does that mean that people who put on these massive gigantic events are wrong? No, maybe they have a really great system that I'm not aware of. It's perfectly possible. I haven't even entered into one of those kinds of trials, because it seems too crazy to me.

But if you are entered into something that's offering a lot of different things, all in the same day, and the staff doesn't seem to be on a one-to-one ratio, meaning there's one judge, one hide setter per search, and so they're having to do multiple, particularly if they have to do more than four. Then it's just going to take more time, because that one person has to walk with you, the competitor, to the other search area, so they can actually officiate you.

Then on top of all of this, ideally your search area is not going to be right on top of each other, because you don't want odor flowing from searching area A to search area B, and so on and so forth. So then you have to also add in the amount of time, that not only you competitor has to take to go from search A to search B to search C, but there's only one official who's doing these three searches. They have to walk with you from search A to search B to search C, and then walk all the way back before they can see the next competitor. I hope that we can see how that could be really problematic.

Those could be reasons why your trials may be taking a little bit longer, is that there just may not be enough officials. There may be too many things being offered, and the balance of trying to provide what competitors want, as far as the most number of searches within a given day, within a given event, within a given weekend, so they can potentially earn as many cues as possible. It's basically a bell curve. There is a maximum number that you could possibly do in order to still be efficient and effective to ensure that your searches are still safe and you're still meeting all the criteria of the organization, and so on and so forth.

Once you get more than that, you're literally on the downside of that curve, it's all going to go downhill from there. So that could be a reason why your trials are taking a little bit longer, there's just too much going on. Or if you don't have enough officials and you have one official trying to officiate multiple searches and those searches are also a distance away from each other, that adds on time.

That's the other thing that we have to think about, as far as people who are looking at trial sites, is I'm definitely of the opinion that you don't want search areas right on top of each other. But they don't need to be three miles away from each other either, because then you're expecting, even if you have officials for every single search area, but that means that your competitors have to walk two, three miles to get to their next search area, and that slows everything down.

So again, trying to put on a Scent Work trial is really hard. It's difficult to do, particularly if you've never done it before, and there's so many things to think about, there's so many things to consider. You will get better over time, practice makes perfect. If anyone who hasn't hosted a trial yet is interested in doing so, definitely reach out to someone in your area who has, see if you can pair up and maybe get a mentor who be willing to work with you. Maybe you can host your first trial and co-host it with somebody else who's done it for a little bit. Because there's no need to really recreate the wheel, there's no need to really suffer with some of these common issues, if you could just avoid those at the outset.

But those are some of the big reasons why trials may be taking a little bit longer. The underlying theme is that none of it's done on purpose. So it's not as though it's incompetence or malice or these people are being negligent or anything like that, that's not true. A lot of it's out of their control, and as long as they are communicating, to you the competitor, what's going on and they're providing you information, then just try to take a nice deep breath and just go with the flow.

As far as, in my opinion, what a reasonable amount of time to expect to be at a Scent Work trial. How long do I think a Scent Work trial should take, in my opinion? Personally for myself, if check-in is at 7:30 or 8:00, I'm going to expect to be there until at least 4:30, maybe 5:00. Particularly if there's a debriefing at the end and an award ceremony. There are some organizations where they will split it up by level, so maybe they will run all novice dogs first, for instance, and then they'll provide the awards for that. So if you only entered a novice, then you can leave.

There are other organizations that don't do that. So it all depends on the organization, it depends on the host. But for me, if I'm entering to a Scent Work trial, I'm basically sectioning off that amount of time in my calendar. Then there are people that go, "Well, I had things I wanted to do this afternoon." Well, maybe you shouldn't plan those if you're also doing a Scent Work trial. Again, that's just a personal opinion. There are others who vehemently disagree, which is fine.

Have I been to trials that are a lot faster than that? Yeah. I mean, there are some trial hosts at [inaudible 00:33:46] that are absolutely amazing. They're incredibly efficient and we have been in the car, packed up and on the highway by 1:00, 1:30. That's lots of different searches, lots of different levels. I actually was working in Score Room, it was crazy that we were done so fast. But I don't want people to think that that is A, the norm and B, that that's what they should expect every single time.

So just want to wrap up this episode with just a little idea. Again, it's a personal opinion and people can take it however they wish. But for me personally as a competitor, solely as a competitor, if I'm out playing with my dog at a Scent Work trial, personally, I would rather a trial host take an hour, maybe even two, maybe even three. More time to ensure that they are providing me with a safe, fair and effective trialing experience. Something that was following the rules, the searches were set up properly, everything was done well and effectively and people were being nice. I would prefer that all of that happened, and if that meant I needed to be there at that site with my dog for an hour or two, maybe even three more. For me personally, I'm okay with that. If I needed to leave, then I can leave.

There are other people who are completely against that notion, and that's fine. Everyone's entitled to their opinion. But I know for myself, if having a trial host spend an hour or two to ensure that everything was done as well as it could be done, if that's all it took, I'm okay giving them that hour and two, because that's another hour or two hours that I just get to hang out with my dog. For other people when they're going to Scent Work trials, it's a social event. You're there with your friends, you can just kind of hang out and socialize and have a good time. It doesn't have to be this mad rush.

So, I think it's important for us to understand why Scent Work trials may be taking a little bit longer. I think it's important for competitors who may have never seen the backend of a trial to hear about what may be going on in the backend of a trial. But I think it's also important for all of us to just take a step back and to realize that no one is trying to make anyone else's life miserable.

Anyone who's putting on a trial, whether it be an official, whether it be a host, whether it be a staff member or a volunteer, everyone wants all of the competitors and all the dogs to have a good time, because that means that the atmosphere reflects that. It means that the trial is a good time. As soon as someone is not having a good time, it brings everything down a whole bunch of notches. For the amount of time and effort and mental exhaustion and physical exhaustion that all those people working on the backend are trying to endure. If everyone on the front end is miserable and grumpy and unhappy, it really just takes everything out of you. It takes the wind right out of your sails.

But you can be mentally exhausted, your feet hurt, your back hurt, you're just like, "Ugh, why do I do this?" But then you see that one competitor who is crying as they're hugging their dog, even though they didn't queue, because they were so brave because they went inside that interior room. Then your little heart goes a putter-putter, and you say, "This is why I do it."

I think those are the things that all of us can kind of remember and just take a step back and say, "You know what? As a trial staff member, I can always do better in trying to take a deep breath and realizing that competitors are going to be stressed and they're going to be nervous. Not to excuse bad behavior, but maybe just take a deep breath and don't take things personally." As a competitor, I have to recognize that everyone working at a trial is trying their best to provide a good experience for me and my dog.

Again, that's not excusing people who are unorganized or people who don't follow the rules or people who don't know what they're doing, people who don't care. I'm not excusing any of that, but the vast majority people who are involved in putting on trials, they do care. They do know the rules, they're trying very, very hard, and they want you to have a good time. So if things aren't going 100% the way that you would like them to go, maybe ask to see if they want some help. Maybe they need another volunteer, or maybe they just would like to know any feedback that you have that's good.

It's nice when you're working at a trial to hear from someone that they liked something, because a lot of times people who work at trials only hear from people who are upset. Again, it's super demoralizing and it's really hard work to put on a Scent Work trial. So as a competitor, that's something that I try to do, is I go out of my way to thank the officials, to thank the trial host, to thank the trial chairperson, the trial secretary. If I can see them, I thank the Score Room person, because I know how painful that can be. Then I'll try to post something on social media too.

Social media should not just be griping, in my opinion. We can use social media to applaud people who've done a really good job. A really good job could be just salvaging a really bad situation, like a water main breaking in the middle of a search area. If you're able to come back from that, then you know what? I'm going to pat you on the back for that, because you didn't curl up in a fetal position and just say, "You know what? Forget it." You actually dealt with that situation as best as you could.

So I hope this podcast episode at least gave you all something to think about and have some better ideas why trial may be taking a little bit longer than you would have liked. Also just giving some ideas for everyone, whether you are a competitor or a trial staff member. Just ways that we can maybe approach this a little bit differently, so that we ensure that we're all coming at this from a good perspective and that we're treating each other kindly.

Thank you so much. Happy training and we look forward to seeing you soon.

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