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July 29 It was cloudy and cool early this morning. Therefore, we were at the Harrison Road DTA at sunrise. The plan was to do more HRC Finished line practice plus introduce a way to prepare for honoring. The group training situations have not been productive in working on honoring.  Today's session was to be an experiment. Pounce has been practicing triples with shooting at the line quite a bit. An adjustment to the two triples we have been running was to add a third. However, instead of picking the third up, a "no bird" cue was quietly applied. After a brief pause, Pounce was then heeled off the line and taken back to the van......"Good dog!" was her reward and it went way better than I thought it might. The what to do with the three marks in the field was turned into a productive exercise/training session for Gigi (my pup). The cover was deep enough to hide the three Dokkens and she was brought out  to hunt them up. This quickly turned into a fun exercise session for her and a win, win, win morning for all three of us. Pounce was only a bit perplexed by not picking up the third triple (much better than I expected) and will be ready for the honoring phase when testing......regular practice is cool.   
July 30 It was another cool morning. Pounce and Gigi trained at the Harrison Road DTA again.
The setup was designed to deal with the cool breeze and keep the working line in the shade. Three wingers were placed for another HRC triples line practice. The first triple was right/left and middle. The second setup was to use the three wingers as individual, HRC walkups. The third setup was another triple with left/right middle. The last setup was to run the triple as a honoring drill (steady - no retrieves). The training cue words for each mark (of the triple) is a quiet "No Bird/Watch" (on each mark). When at a test this will be reduced to simply "watch"
because that is all she will be allowed to do. Usage of two words with the same meaning in a single sentence is coined as "Tautology". Literal definition says that..quote;Tautology is where two near-synonyms are placed consecutively or very close together for effect.

After Pounce's honoring setup, Gig was brought out to pickup the three Dokkens left in the field just as she did yesterday.`However, in today's setup the van was situated so that she could see the line (especially the far right mark). Once again, the initial conversation was "find the bird". Immediately she took off in a straight line to the area of the fall on the far right side (where three previous Dokken marks fell).  She was definitely paying attention.

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Today the "routine" for dealing with Gigi's mouth issue began by taking advantage of the fact that Gigi's on and off lead OB is very good. It should be as her OB is practiced 24/7.  Therefore, a new addition to all the routines was using the concept of "bumper in mouth" during OB situations. Almost immediately, Gigi seemed relaxed with the addition of a bumper. For example, the early morning airing routine begins with putting a lead on just outside of the upstairs, bedroom night crate. The bumper is "taken" by her on a sit/fetch and we walk out the door at heel, down the tri-level staircase, through the rec-room, sit and hold by the first patio door, open and move to the airing yard, exit door where she sits to deliver the bumper. This is somewhat repeated on the return to her living room crate (bumper in mouth). Repeating this (bumper in mouth routine) several times per day is now a regular, conditioned response. Gigi is suddenly much more relaxed and comfortable with a bumper in her mouth (me too).

               note: The approach of "bumper in mouth" training is not a new idea. It is referenced many
                          times in handling.

July 13 could not put off the yard work anymore......hot day.....picked up several dead tree branches,
mowed lawn and whacked weeds.....Both dogs had the day off. However, Gigi did her new, in house

practice of routinely using the "bumper in mouth" when applicable. 
July 14  Sunday - day off for all 

July 15 trained early at Bong on the technical pond - Pounce ran an HRC line, "schooled" triple first using remote wingers with mallards. The three wingers were reloaded and Pounce did three HRC walk-ups. The wingers were reloaded for the third time to do an HRC triple plus three blinds (Dokkens). When all the equipment had been put back in the van, Pounce ran two, short, five bumper lining drills down a shoreline working on cheating. When leaving, no one was using the Gravel Pond . Therefore, Pounce worked on a new point blind (running three different lines). Then Gigi came out to run four water singles. Pounce and I were "well done" after a challenging morning (for Gigi.....not so much). This afternoon it is 88°F and feels like 92°F. Both dogs are sound asleep.....air-conditioning plus being tired is magical. 

July 12 Gigi had the day off from training. A vet appointment at 8:40 am had Gigi getting her Lepto and Lyme disease shots plus a fecal sample from Pounce was checked. It is convenient that the W Property DTA is only fifteen minutes away. Therefore, after a short trip, Pounce was running a new point blind with five Dokkens. No one else was training. My granddaughter had no summer school today (Friday), so she came along for the ride. It was a busy day that included the trainer's eye exam in the afternoon.
          

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July 31 another almost perfect training weather morning...Pounce did an HRC triple with two blinds in another location at the Harrison Road DTA. After Pounce's session, two of the wingers were reloaded with 2" inch white bumpers. Gigi did a good job with both and her returns to the line are revealing steady improvement. We were home shortly after noon and it was nap time. At 3 pm, the van was on the road again and headed for a training afternoon with pro Corey Zandonnai. The last Wednesday of each month on the Madison Retriever Club's W property Corey does a great job of setting up training situations for everyone that attends. The basic setup was three winger mallard stations and two blinds. Using two holding blinds many dogs ran starting about 3:30 pm until after 7 pm. No one else ran an HRC line (with a gun). However, the "stuff' required for Pounce to do an HRC line was placed near the line and quickly inserted for her run. The first thing was an HRC walkup with a short winger mallard off to the left followed by a short blind. Next up was an HRC mallard double (one water the other land). The go bird mark mark in the double required negotiating a very cheaty line and Pounce did this about as well she has ever done.....straight down a shoreline 5-6 yards out and came back in the water (almost as perfect as her line out). The long blind had

a long, water angle cheating factor in it (good again). The honor was up on a 24" hunting stand.

July 9 The plan was to train with an HRC group at Bong, but that did not happen. After a quick trip north to the Madison Retriever Club's W-Property, Pounce did three "poison bird" blinds off of three remote winger singles. Gigi did a fun puppy explore run while I picked up the wingers.  After the van was loaded, Gigi did several "steady at the line" water retrieves which included her first "in and out" single.  She is very good in the water...fast, strong and likes it.  The day's original plan was to attend the Thursday night training group. That did not pan out.




Gigi's first winger singles

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HRC land                  HRC water

July 27 Another warm day plus I had a shoulder issue flared up. Therefore, no training (a day
off for everyone). However, Gigi continued her regular "bumper in mouth" conditioning.

July 28 Sunday - upper 80's for a high...trained at sunrise (70°F) in the Harrison Road DTA
Pounce ran eight Dokken blinds and I practiced with my Beecher Mirage Beecher B4.5X25 Binoculars. They have proven to be an effective way for me to see just where the blind(s) are located. Using four orange and four black electric fence stakes (for contrast), I could not see them without the binoculars (black was worse than orange). Once located, larger features in the terrain can be used to keep track of the exact location. That was the plan and it worked beautifully. Instead of being insecure about the exact line, I was immediately more confident. Basically, the difference was huge and her (our) blinds were much more accurate. After Pounce ran her blinds and the blind stakes were retrieved, Gigi was given a long, free run with some work on here and sit.  note: We were home at 7:30 am.

         note: Using just my right eye, the above entry cannot be read. I can see print but can't  
                   make out the letters.  At 100 yards and using only my right eye, I cannot see Pounce
                   (nothing). The Beecher
Binoculars provide a huge difference. If I had known before.
                   a Beecher monocular would have provided the same results and saved about $175.   


July 7 up early to beat the heat...Pounce ran an HRC line mallard triple with a blind. The middle, last mark down was intended to be an "eraser". The marks were picked up cleanly. The blind was not that good. We simply need to run more blinds......practice. Gigi was then brought out for the "test". The question about her aggressive mouth needed to be answered. It was.....and we are in for a long challenge (not pretty). To check and provide more perspective, we went to the pond. A mallard was thrown and she did fine with the retrieve in the water.....and very steady. Her prey drive is totally wiping out any desire to complete a retrieve. Soooo, the "game" to excite and cap is not powerful enough to deal with her prey drive. Rip and shred is a very well conditioned response (now).....not too bad with a bumper, more so with a Dokken and off the chart with a real duck. It is a training issue and secondly, the "not too bad with a bumper" must  become "perfect with a bumper" before even thinking about ducks. Since, Gigi is not running any competitions until next year this provides about nine months to focus on one thing....taming the beast.

           note: Pounce's marking is very good...except when training at the Harrison Road  DTA.
                     We have trained there very often the last two years and there are not any new setups

                     that are new. The grass will vary in length but the terrain is the same. Many times I
                     have seen her take a very good initial line and then simply swerve off in another
                     direction for no reason. There are too many well known blinds and old falls.

July 24 Wednesday....wonderful, cool morning....Trained close (5 minutes away) in the Thorson Pond DTA. The setup was an HRC line triple with Dokkens (close) and shooting at the line (two land and one water). The setup was designed around having the running line in a shady spot and having two marks launched from behind the line (startle factor with more excitement). After the first triple, Gigi did the marks singles with 2 inch white bumpers. Pounce's second triple was done reversing the order. This made for a easier morning which is good when you are old.

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note: brings blind "closer"...a 200 yard blind looks like 45 yards. 

Next up was to take the short drive up to Hook Lake where the Madison Retriever Club's clubhouse is located. The plan was for Gigi to deal with the heavy weed growth in Hook Lake (mission accomplished). Pounce did the same thing in July when she was a year old.

July 19, 20 Friday/Saturday.....not cool early and highs in the upper 90's...two days off for everyone
Gigi's intestinal issue has been taken care with the rice and cottage cheese diet. Tomorrow she will be back to her regular diet of Eagle Pack Large Breed dog food. The in house bumper in mouth routine when Gigi is on the move has been going well. The primary goal is less anxiety.       
July 21 Sunday...high 82°F and cloudy Much cooler weather this week. Potentially, there are four group training sessions (two Tuesday and two Thursday).
                note: There are three more weeks until Pounce's HRC Finished tests begin. The last HRC

                          Finished tests I ran were in 2002. It has been a long time.   
Pounce trained at the Four Lakes DTA doing more practice at the HRC line routine running two triples with a diversion. It was cloudy with a good breeze. Gigi did two remote winger singles with a bumper and worked on her up close sit and deliver issues (progress is happening).

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July 22 The plan was to train at the the Gallagher Property DTA (Madison Retriever Club). There was a large group training in the small technical pond. With the wind out of the northeast, it was perfect for Pounce to run a new, six bumper point blind to the south west (up on top of the huge mound) in the big pond. The focus was on not cheating and carrying the line. Pounce was sharp and this went really well.

July 5 Pounce and Gigi trained early at Four Lakes DTA (no rain!!!). Up at 4:30 am with a cool
temperature of 68°F and some fog (not much). We arrived at sunrise and the fog was not going
to have an impact on our training. Pounce's session was geared toward HRC action at the line with a close, wide double followed by a diversion. The remote wingers were loaded with primers and mallard Dokkens. There was about a 150° swing of the gun with primers loads and duck calling at the line (plus from the wingers). The double with diversion was repeated three times with the direction of the gun swing reversed each time. Also, our van to the holding blind to the line was practiced three times. After Pounce's session, the setup was packed back in the van. Then it was Gigi's turn. We did an extended practice of our "Hillmann Game" using a seven foot lead. Her repetitive practice sessions continue to show steady improvement in our engagement (much better eye contact and more rewarding for Gigi). Gigi's behavior around the house (daily structure) is becoming more of a well established routine. Finally, she is a bit more at ease....me too. The little puppy tag no longer fits (seven months old and already taller than Pounce). 

On the way home, we stopped at the Thorson Pond Grassy Area DTA (five minutes from our house) where Pounce did another HRC line practice similar to yesterday's.  It remained cool with a good breeze plus our HRC line was in the shade. After each of Pounce's triples, Gigi did two remote winger singles with white bumpers. It was a full day for everyone. Pounce and Gigi woke up for a short time to be fed.
July 23 Trained in the morning with a group at Bong in Wisconsin. Since we are running HRC tests in a few weeks, I was looking forward to some HRC line action with two gunners and honoring. It was not set

up for that. We ran a double with two white bumpers and two blinds (not well). When the group was finished, Pounce ran six, physically challenging, "stand alone/send back" singles with a Dokken in the Stick Pond. Then a brief stop at one of the run way ponds east of the technical pond. Gigi did five short water retrieves. The plan for the day was to include training with a group in the evening. I was "out of gas'' plus Lylah would have to come along. My wife is teaching an evening Vacation Bible School class.

July 25 Thursday.....need to do HRC line work with ducks. With several plumbing issues in the house, the morning was for repairs and that ruled out attending the morning group training. Lylah and I scouted the RockCut State Park DTA and discovered it has not been mowed recently. Therefore, to prepare for high cover at Pounce's upcoming HRC that is where we will  train in the afternoon tomorrow . Both dogs are "sawing wood" this afternoon. The Thursday evening group session would require taking Lylah (not a good idea).
        note: Four mallards will be thawed out tonight and we will train very early Friday morning.
                 Next week will be The Big Push. We will have time to do Tuesday/Thursday evening
                 group sessions and maybe the morning sessions as well. Plus there will be a large
                 group training session with pro Corey Zandonai on Wednesday.
July 26 Friday at RockCut State Park DTA, Pounce worked two HRC line, reversed triples with a blind. The line was in the shade of a small tree (ideal for a cool practice). The right and left mallard marks were thrown before the short wiper mallard in the middle. There were different mallard blinds in each. The focus was precise practice. After Pounce's two doubles, Gigi was given two white bumper, remote winger singles. These were her first marks in high cover and she had no issues in finding them. However, the warm temperature had her mouthing/dropping the slimy, saliva drenched bumpers. This was not ideal for an anxious pup with mouth issues. 

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July 10  Got up early to train at the Four Lakes DTA. No one was there. Therefore, the first setup
was to use three remote wingers for a schooled triple with an HRC line. After running the initial set of three singles, Pounce ran a full triple plus a water blind. One winger was moved to the pond area and the two near the pond (from the land triple) were rearrange for an HRC water triple with the line being in the SHADE (got warm fast). Before Pounce ran the triple, Gigi came out and ran four, hand thrown water singles. The high grassy shoreline was not a problem. After Pounce did the water triple (HRC gunfire at the line), the wingers were moved a bit to provide Gigi with her first three remote winger singles. Again, the tall grass at the edge of the pond was not a big deal for her. She was "all over" these marks (good job! When we finished, the heat was turning into an issue (for me). Took breaks while picking "stuff" up (sat in the shade plus drank water). 
              note: The plan to place the water setup line in the shade was a huge "winner". 

July 7 Sunday - decided to not do sunrise training with Pounce...Gigi did do her regular practice working on the up close Hillmann skill set. Progress is steady and slow, eye contact and the 

"OK, What's next look?" is not very intense.    note: need to reload some shotgun primer shells
July 8 Pounce ran two HRC line triples with blinds by using the "Flip-Flop" strategy (move the line). The 2nd line was planned so as to be in the shade. The first triple's memory proved to be a challenge. The second winger did not fire. Therefore, I put the gun in the rack and walked out to make an adjustment. After coming back to the line and completing the triple, Pounce had no problems. Between the triples, Gigi did a few water retrieves (bumpers first, then a Dokken).

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July 6 Saturday - early morning session at the Four Lakes DTA  Pounce worked on her HRC

line expectations (more practice). The setup was again three wingers with a wide gun swing, Today, it was three triples and the van to the line routine was repeated three times. The order of the triples was different each time. The two original Gunners Up wingers toss Dokkens a long way. After Pounce's sessions, Gigi did a repeat session of her Hillmann's short game (practice.)

               note: home before 8 am, riding lawn mower was repaired...lawn was almost too tall.

July 1 Monday......Pounce's HRC Finished tests begin August 10th - six weeks for the "prep". Gigi will continue incrementally developing her Hillmann game. The weather this year has been bizarre. Lately, it his has been mostly hot and humid (with a lot of rain). This evening Gigi will train indoors. (The heat index is in the 90's)

July 2 the plan was to train early - too hot & humid...at 5 pm it was worse - 89°F feels like 96°F...If this continues, the four HRC hunt test entries in August will turn into scratches.
July 3 rain early - 86°F feels like 92°F. Not able to train in the morning. Next week that will change as
Lylah will have five weeks of summer school. 
July 4 cool morning, up early (sunrise) 70°F......Pounce ran six "stand alone/send back" mallard singles with a primer pistol plus a blind. This provided marking practice, teamwork and exercise. After Pounce, Gigi did an extended session of working on our up close Hillmann game. This will be the primary focus for us this month. Her OB around the house, airing and going on training sessions is excellent. Each day provides more practice at strengthening Gig's conditioned responses. The theme is "This is what I do because it is all I know how to do." Recently I have noticed that when channeling Gigi's high drive and excitement (during the game), I am becoming more calm and patient in the moment. She (we) needed that. Our Hillmann game will be the focus for the rest of July.       
       note: Drove by the Four Lakes DTA and the county has finally mowed the waist high cover.

July 16 Pounce's first time training with a new, mostly HRC group began at Bong around 8 am. A unique weather feature of this area is the influence of Lake Michigan. A large, counterclockwise cold front pulled cooler temperatures and cloud cover over the training area and it was very pleasant all morning. The setup was on the same pond we trained in yesterday. This morning, Pounce ran four singles. Two were "not like" yesterday's. Gigi was bought out on a lead and simply sat and watch a dog run the setup. The day proved to be very productive in terms of useful information.  The first was  excellent advice/input on how to finesse and deal with Gigi's aggressive retrieving issues. The second was how to maximize Pounce's skills at the line in an HRC test. Most of this was about positioning, timing and finessing the gun/handler/dog actions. We've been practicing to be precise. The gun was not used at the line today. Pounce's feet did not move. Next up is no foot movement with the gun.
July 17  Wednesday - The next four days the highs are 92°F, 97°F, 99°F and 98°F. Pounce did a sunrise HRC line/gun practice with three wingers and Dokkens (Four Lakes DTA). We did two land triples, left, right, middle and then a right, left, middle (with diversions). There was definitely a difference between what we were doing before vs. practicing exactly what should be done (based on yesterday's well explained advice). I was more focused which seemed to make Pounce not so anxious. I've recognized this as our weakest area (the line/gun action), but struggled with modifications. Now I have a much better sense of how to manage it. After Pounce's work, Gigi was given four retrieves from the pond. The bank is now flush with tall weeds which provide a "slow down" barrier when Gigi attempts to exit. Plus the tall grass makes her hold tight to the bumper. Once thru the grass, I am in a position to "aid" in the delivery. She is wearing a rope which helps. too. The first three retrieves were all water. The last was an "in and out (land) and water back" which she did really well. We were home before 8 am. This  morning's skyline was interesting. When we arrived, the sun was just rising in the east as the moon was going down in the west.      note: four more weeks until Pounce's first HRC Finished test

July 18 rain in the morning and a hot 90°F afterwards. As soon as the rain stopped, it was cloudy and cool with a good breeze. A ten minute drive led to a six bumper lining drill with Pounce. Gigi's brief
session of water retrieves from the Four Lakes pond may have contributed to her sudden diarrhea issue. We skipped last night/morning meals (fasting) and fed rice/cottage cheese this afternoon plus visited the airing yard often. So far....no more issues in her crate. With the unrelenting high heat issues recently, the small, shallow, weed choked ponds will NOT be used for training. 

note: singles 1,2,6 required that Pounce swim to, then crawl up and over a large, floating tree.