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HRC land                  HRC water


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. The tall grass at the edge of the pond was not a big deal for her. She was "all over" these marks.....really good job! When we were finished, the heat was turning into an issue (for me). Took breaks while picking "stuff" up and sat in the shade plus drank some 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 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. Gigi was not going to run any competitions until next year which 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

                     we can run. 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 point blinds and old falls.

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 mowed the waist high cover.

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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 Pounced 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 is magical. 

July 16 Pounce's first time training witha 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 have 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 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 the sudden diarrhea issue that Gigi had. 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 continuous high heat issues recently, the small, shallow, weed choked ponds will NOT be used for training. 

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.
          

July 19 Friday.....not cool early and a high of 98°F....day off for everyone

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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 bigger than Pounce). 

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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