We now have one and a half trials under our belts. She's currently entered in 2 more full USDAA weekends between now and Nationals, and unless something really falls apart this weekend or I rethink it, I'll enter her in a 3rd one as well (since Tika and I are definitely competing).
It seems to me that her stress level went down from her Labor Day trial to this past Saturday, and she was definitely more focused on me before and after running this past Sunday than on Saturday. So I think the experience is very good for both of us.
I'll take Boost and Jake with me to Scottsdale no matter what; I just don't think they'll get enough attention while I'm gone and I think they'd be weirded out by me taking one dog and leaving the others for a full week.
However, at Nationals, you've got limited space to play with the dogs off-leash, and Boost usually gets a lot of running and playing in each day. There's the hotel room, which isn't much space, and there are some grassy areas in which you could actually do a little frisbee (if it's set up like last year), but you have to share those spaces with the other 500 dogs (or more) also in attendance.
There are limited opportunities to enter dogs into competition, however. You have to have qualified for Steeplechase, Grand Prix, and Team, and since we just started competing, there was no way that we had a chance to qualify (actually could have tried at Bay Team Labor Day and last weekend--last chances for this year--but I didn't want to put that kind of pressure on her or myself). There are only 2 classes at the nationals for which you don't have to qualify--but they get around having everyone in the universe enter their dogs by putting a minimum entry fee of $45 per dog and then charging only $10 or so for each of those two classes, so I couldn't even enter her in those.
Our only chance would be to be on a team because USDAA allows two dogs who have qualified to enter with one unqualified dog. But who on earth would want to pay those entry fees and have a babydog as a partner who's (at this time) had only one and a half trials of experience?! I figured no one, so I didn't even ask and just resigned myself to not running the babydog.
Then another Bay Teamer sent this email to our mailing list:
I am looking for a 16 or 22" jumping dog for a baby dog team for Scottsdale (of course the dog doesn't have to be a baby dog). This would be a team that is just going for fun and experience and will most likely NOT be competitive (this year).
If you know of anyone (qualified or not) who would like to join a "Boys Just Want to Have Fun" kind of team, please contact me.
Soooo yes, I have to tell Nancy (our instructor) that on the spur of the moment I accepted an invitation for a baby dog who isn't taking the competition seriously and wants to use it as a chance for experience only... I'd rather do that than try to keep her mentally & physically stimulated for 4 days in that relatively limited space, and that was the only way I could do it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Anyway, I've now sent in my entry and committed to this team, so I hope we don't discover some gosh-awful training issue for which I really want to pull her from competition, which happened with me and Tika a couple of times our first year.