Get out of your comfort zone, learn how to do something you never thought possible

This past weekend Roxie the Doxie and I traveled to Joliet, Illinois to compete in a Nose Work competition, level 1.  Nose work is a sport where the dog is trained to locate the source of a specific odor: birch, anise, and clove.  The very tiny amount, super tiny, is put on a Q-tip and placed in a small container and hidden.  The dog has to find the container and “alert” the handler.  They have to search in four different elements: exteriors,  interiors,  in containers, and on vehicles.  No easy task!

For vehicles, there are three cars and the scent is hidden on only one of them. In the container search, there are 12 white boxes and the scent is in only one of those boxes. For the interior search, the scent is hidden somewhere in a room, which might have chairs, tables, trash cans and other items.   The exterior section takes place outdoors and the scent is hidden in a designated area outside.  When the source of the odor is found, Roxie will become animated while sniffing the area, then will look at me as if to say, “Mom, it’s right here!”

Roxie has participated in events and competitions many times. Today her keen sense of smell not only earned her NW1 title, but she was awarded The Harry Award by the National Association of Canine Scent Work. Harry was a rescue dog who was initially very shy but went on to be quite a special dog. Harry was slated to compete in the NACSW Inaugural Fun Nose Work Competition in 2008, when he became ill and sadly did not recover. The Harry Award is given to the “most outstanding rescue dog that demonstrates extraordinary ability and spirit in nose work at the NW1 level”.

So, what does this have to do with adoption? Well, when I adopted Roxie I dipped my toe into the world of dog sports by taking an obedience class taught by a very excellent dog trainer.  We then moved on to compete in Barn Hunt events, Earth Dog events and now Nose Work. These things were new to me and completely out of my comfort zone, I had never handled dogs other than having them as pets. Both Roxie and I learned together, one day at a time and one trial at a time. We took risks, asked a lot of questions, made mistakes (I did, not Roxie, of course) and kept going even when it was easier to call it quits.

Are you thinking of doing something out of your comfort zone? Adoption, fostering, mentoring, new career, choosing a college, maybe getting a new dog? I encourage you with all my heart to push out of what’s normal for you. I did and it sparked a wonderful book about adoption for kids.  Stretch yourself, move out of your rut, your comfort level, take a risk. You never know where you might end up or what amazing things you might do…


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