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Blind Nose Work Dog Shows Scent Games are for Tripawds Too

Blind animals and Tripawds prove that limits are just something we impose on ourselves (and on others). Low impact nose work games are one way that physically challenged Tripawds like Novak demonstrate this remarkable tenacity. Today we’d like to introduce a “special needs” nose work champ, Mr. B. He’s not a Tripawd but he’s a blind nose work dog who doesn’t know the meaning of “handicapped.” He’ll inspire you to get your Tripawd into nose work too!

Meet Mr. B the Blind Nose Work Champion

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Mr. B at work in a scent detection trial.

Earlier this year we had the joy of watching Mr. B at work. He’s a blind nose work dog from Southern California who blew us away with his ability to compete with sighted dogs in a canine nose work trial. Curious about how he became such a well-decorated canine nose work champ, we asked his mom, Laurie McDonald about how she helped Mr. B turn into amazing dog he is today. Here’s what she said:

How old is Mr. B? When did he find his way to you?

Mr. B is 4 years old. I met him through a friend who is the director of The Rescue Train – a dog and cat rescue in LA. The director learned of Mr. B through another rescue, Brave Dog Rescue who was fostering him. She knew I had experience with Australian Cattle Dogs. I started going to the foster home and walking him as a volunteer, fell in love and he joined our family.

Blind nose work dog
Laurie and Mr. B.

Why is he vision impaired?

Mr. B has retinal atrophy. Its a progressive condition. He was evidently born with it. His first owner found him as a puppy abandoned in a park and he was already blind. He is 100% blind and doesn’t see any light or shadows.

How would you describe his personality? Does his vision loss have any effect on his daily life?

Blind nose work dog
He’s fiercely loyal and a good watch dog too!

Mr. B’s personality is 100% cattle dog. He is fiercely loyal, a good watch dog, and is aware of everything around him. In the house, he is at our heels with nose pressed to our calves. This is typical cattle dog behavior. He is quick to learn, stubborn and opinionated. All traits we love. In addition, he is unusually affectionate and cuddly compared to other cattle dogs we have had.

He needs work, he loves food, so nosework is an ideal sport for him. Most of the time we are not aware he can’t see. In nosework you search 4 elements – autos, containers, interior and exterior. I’m not sure the elements matter to Mr. B! Sometimes when he hits an odor cone (the cloud of odor that travels) he will alert – often in mid air. He of course doesn’t know the odor needs to be on something.

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“nosework is an ideal sport for him.”

As far as how his daily life is impacted, he uses a lot of energy probably taking in and processing his environment, so needs extra sleep and naps. We also give him the support he needs in new places by guiding him on leash and reassuring him. That said, he is highly adaptive and really learns quickly.

What made you want to try nosework with him? How did he do in those early days? And how is he doing now?

I had the pleasure of working my border collie Bug (who we lost last year) in nosework. She had some issues that a vet behaviorist thought would benefit from nosework. When Mr. B came into our life I knew this could be his work. Mr. B earned his NW1 title, and at that trial was given the Harry Award for outstanding rescue dog and was pronounced by the judges. This was quite an honor. We just competed in our first NW2 trial on Saturday. Although we didn’t title, he was amazing and did an awesome job. Most important, he loves sniffing and searching.

Blind nose work dog

If Mr. B could speak English, what would he say to us humans?

Mr. B would say hey guys, don’t feel sorry for me! I’m cattle dog strong!

All images by Marcella Winslow,

Recommended Reading

To learn more about nose work and scent detection games for Tripawds, see:

Relieve Tripawd Boredom with Scent Games and Canine Nosework

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8 thoughts on “Blind Nose Work Dog Shows Scent Games are for Tripawds Too”

  1. I do nosework with my tripawd Gromit, an 11 year old airedale/pointer. We started when he had his spare leg, but 6 weeks after a front leg amputation do to osteosarcoma, we eased back in to it with a level 1 exterior trial. Although we didn’t title (we did earn a Q) in one of the searches Gromit came in 4th out of 50 dogs! I was so proud of him and look forward to returning to doing what he loves!

  2. I did Nosework with my black Labrador, Emmett, who was my competitive obedience dog, until he suddenly lost his right hind leg due to osteosarcoma. He had his AKC Utility Dog title and was working on higher titles when this happened. He loved doing things with me and Nosework was something he could do without too much stress on his remaining hind leg. He loved it as did his 13 year old sister Poppy. We were ready to enter a match when another horrible disease took him very quickly–it was immune mediated hemolytic anemia. It is a wonderful sport for ALL dogs even reactive ones who cannot be around other dogs. He beat osteosarcoma having survived two years until IMHA took him. He will always be missed and impressed a lot of people by his bravery.

    • Jacqui, it’s nice to hear from you, thank you so much for taking time to let everyone know about Emmett. He was such an amazing dog and we know that somewhere in doggy heaven he’s still sniffing around and showing the angels how much fun nosework is. {{{hugs}}}

  3. This is a great story! I also compete in nosework with my tripawd, Phoenix, who is a 4 year old German Shepherd. We found the sport because I needed something low impact to do with her. She absolutely loves it! She has her nosework 1 and level 1 exterior titles. She was also presented the Harry Award during her nosework one trial for outstanding rescue dog. It’s amazing what these dogs can do!

  4. This is just avput the sweeeetest story I’ve ever read!! Soooo glad this very, very special Mr. B found such a loving home! For a dog ro ve avle ro use thst fantastic nose of theirs in such a meaningful way has to be sooo rewarding for them!”For a dog like Mr B to be able to do that takes the mesning of “nose work” to a whole ‘nother level!! 🙂 🙂

    Thank you for the privilege of getting to know the remarkable Mr B and his remarkable human! Such a heartwarming story!

    Lots of hugs!

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

    • Sally, it’s so neat to watch dogs do this at a trial, whether they’re sighted or not. I hope you get the chance some day. Thanks for reading.


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