British Columbia

Northwestern B.C. dogs sniff out hidden Easter eggs — but not the chocolate kind

Hana Niemi, a dog trainer in Terrace, B.C., hosted an egg hunt for dogs that have been trained to sniff out specific scents.

The eggs were filled with specific scents the dogs were trained to find

Canine scent detection competitors Hannah (left) and Cedar were finalists in an Easter contest hosted by Terrace, B.C. dog trainer Hana Niemi on Friday, April 15, 2022. (Hana Neimi)

Foil-wrapped eggs will be hunted and gobbled this weekend as kids search for the spoils hidden by the Easter bunny. 

And in northwestern B.C., some lucky dogs got to do the same. 

Hana Niemi, a dog trainer in Terrace, hosted an egg hunt for dogs that have been trained to sniff out specific scents — in this case, essential oil. 

It's called a "scent detection trial." Dogs in the province compete in this types of events throughout the year, says Niemi, but nothing like it was available in the northwestern city. 

"I wanted to give people that have been training with me the opportunity to trial without having to drive to Quesnel or Prince George, which are the closest places that offer the trials," Niemi told Daybreak North guest host Matt Allen.

Dogs, she says, tend to want a job to do. It doesn't have to be sniffing out narcotics at the border, it can be something as simple as hunting for a plastic egg filled with familiar scents. 

Talon, a one-year-old German shepherd cross, won first place in a scent detection contest hosted by Terrace, B.C. dog trainer Hana Niemi on Friday, April 15, 2022. (Hana Neimi)

On Friday evening, she set up three egg hunts: one indoors with eggs easily spotted on chairs, but the dogs had to identify which one contained the scent they've been trained to sniff out; another in the training yard with eggs hidden throughout; and a third in the front of her training shop with eggs hidden among vehicles. 

"All of the dogs that I have trained how to do it have picked it up to some degree," Niemi said. But she said this was the first time these particular dogs sniffed competitively.

Eloise, an Afghan hound, competes in a scent detection 'Easter egg' competition hosted by Terrace, B.C. dog trainer Hana Niemi on Friday, April 15, 2022. (Hana Neimi)

Seven dogs competed in Friday's event, with the first prize going to the fastest searcher, Talon, a one-year-old German shepherd. Second place went to a six-year-old golden retriever named Hannah. 

"I just love to see owners and their dogs doing things together," Niemi said. "As a trainer, my job is to help owners do stuff with their dogs and help their dogs live their best lives."

The event helped raise $210 in donations toward the Canadian non-profit organization, Oasis Animal Rescue and Emergency Services, which is dedicated to placing rescued pets with families. 

With files from Daybreak North

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