We are home after a very fun visit with family/dog show weekend. It was Zoey's first long trial weekend and she was awesome, even though we did not get any legs (qualifying scores).
Normally when I show a Novice dog I run the dog in a "safe" way in order to qualify and get a title but I know Zoey is something special and I have decided to do things a little differently with her. First, I will only "Q" with her if the run is clean; this is a requirement for Excellent and so I have decided to work at this now in the "easier" level. And so I am not fixing mistakes as allowed in Novice -- I am giving us one chance at obstacles (except weaves, which are not scored in Novice -- they just have to be completed in three tries) and that is all.
The second thing I am doing differently is that I am handling the course as I would if she were in Excellent -- I am not "babysitting" or taking the easy route. This means I am asking a lot more of both of us but I hope it will also mean that we will be more ready for Excellent when we finally get there.
All this is to say that Zoey would have gotten legs this weekend if not for my experiment with her. I am aware that not everyone "gets" why I would do this -- even the judge came over to me and asked if I knew we could make a second attempt at obstacles :) But I have experience moving quickly through Novice and just stalling in Open and Excellent because all the skills were not there -- so I think I will just stall in Novice instead...
That said, here is a video of Zoey's last run of the weekend -- she knocked over a jump (the entire jump!) but still a very lovely run with good skills demonstrated:
The weekend really belonged to Montana Mac! He qualified on both Saturday and Sunday, earning his first working title! Here are those two runs with a bonus at the end -- Zoey and Mac at the special, scenic private Idaho dog park :)
If you watch Zoey's run first and then watch Mac's second run, you will see what I mean when I talk about "safe" handling as they are the same course but my handling is different. I handled Mac safely to get a Q and I handled Zoey expecting more skill (i.e., less safely :).
I would love to hear/read your impressions of the dogs' runs! I hope your weekend was excellent and that your week will be even better :)