Mykey “prays” with owner Jane Eskuri before his turn at Surrey Animal Resource Centre’s Scent-Topia event on April 14. (Photo: Krysten Downton)

Sniffing out the competition at Surrey ‘Scent-Topia’ event

Surrey Animal Resource Centre hosts their first-ever ‘nose work’ competition

Kyrsten Downton, Surrey Now-Leader contributor

Forecasted rain didn’t deter participants at the first-ever “Scent-Topia” scavenger hunt in Surrey.

As luck would have it, the rain stayed away for owners and their four-legged friends, who went all around Surrey tracking smells for the “nose work” competition that aimed to mix skill and fun together.

The Surrey Animal Resource Centre (SARC)-hosted event on April 14 was a year in the making and doubles as a fundraiser for the shelter.

“(Nose work) is a really great tool to have at the shelter because any dog can play,” Shelley Joaquin, manager of SARC, told the Now-Leader.

It’s a sport for dogs that involves using their scent detection skills and is considered to be a great confidence builder for the animals.

“Every dog has a nose,” Joaquin added. “Every dog can sniff out stuff. It allows dogs who are in a stressful environment to get a release from that.”

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(Shelley Joaquin and her pup pose for a photo outside Shannon Hall during Scent-Topia on April 14. Photo: Krysten Downton)

Joaquin said Scent-Topia was a one-of-a-kind event because most nose work sporting events only use one location. To make the event more fun and engaging, the staff at SARC decided to use multiple locations to adapt the event into an “amazing race” style.

Jane Eskuri and her border collie Mykey, who have been training in nose-work for about two years, participated in the April 14 event.

As a professional dog trainer herself, Eskuri spoke about the benefits of the sport.

“I recommend it to people all the time because it really does build confidence,” said Eskuri. “It is a fun sport because the dog is never wrong and is very friendly to get into. Both the trainer and the dog are rewarded.

“For me, this is just for fun,” she added. “I think they have a done a really great job. I love the kissing booth and the selfie stations. It’s been really fun and Mykey likes it.”

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(Jane Eskuri and her dog Mykey practice their nose-work skills on the containers. Photo: Krysten Downton)

Michael Vaincourt and his two year old German Shepard Kaya were also contenders. 

“It’s good practice for us,” said Vaincourt, noting the duo has only been in nose-work training for about three months. “It’s our first time doing (a nose work competition) and it’s good for the cause. I hope it is a stepping stone to bigger and more intense competitions.”

The event took place at three different locations in Surrey and each location had a different challenge or element of nose work. Some of the scent searches involved containers and vehicles. The same three odours were used throughout each location for every task.

Along with the actual tasks, there were many fun activities participants were encouraged to take part in. At each location, there were selfie stations for owners and their dogs to snap photographs together. There was also a kissing booth, a raffle and a red carpet at the end of the day for participants to walk through at the end of the event.

Ribbons and prizes were given out to the winners for the best scores, selfie photos, and most money raised for the event.

All told, 37 people and 40 dogs took part.

In all, the event raised $4,401, which will go toward the Surrey shelter.

Joaquin said she hopes Scent-Topia will become an annual event and grow in future years.

“So far, everyone seems to be having fun,” she said at the Saturday event. “We will definitely be looking for feedback from everybody to make sure that each year we can make improvements and make it bigger and better.”

Joaquin also hopes the Scent-Topia event will help educate the public about the shelter.

“We really want to be engaged with our community and promote activities that provide enrichment for dogs in homes and in shelters,” she said.

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(Shelley Joaquin and her pup with participants and organizers of the event. Photo: Krysten Downton)

The Surrey Animal Resource Centre, which opened it’s doors in 2013 and is operated by the City of Surrey, cares for numerous stray and shelter animals. It also provides many educational and promotional programs to help inform owners, children and adults about proper care for animals.

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