Aug 15  Sunday - low eighties and a day off for Pounce...Gigi will do three sessions of OB focusing on the skill set required in her AKC class. She has not been doing any field training for the last month and is scheduled to be spade in a few weeks. The change of pace with the OB class and solving her persistent intestinal issues were necessary and not easy. The constant anxiety seemed to impact everything she did......different dog the last week or so.......for the better. She is sleeping soundly every night (now).    

Aug 16 Monday - day off for all, trailer jack issues.....not finished....... Gigi's explosive diarrhea is back again
Aug 17 Tuesday - several things to do today....1st up was discuss the new plan for Gigi's digestive issues and 

an appointment with my VET was setup for Thursday...2nd was two-fold...scout three water training areas for water levels and last was to buy a new jack for the UTV trailer. After purchasing the jack, we drove to the W-Property. The water was lower than usual, but still open and made for a challenging setup of a new point blind. Pounce was very good on all four lines. After a short drive to the Gallagher Property, the water there was low, but very doable (also). Therefore, Pounce ran three different lines to an unmarked set of three Dokkens. The last two were not easy lines with a great deal of "cheaty" shorelines to deal with. Those went well and Pounce did not seem to have any problems. It was a very good trip north and not bad for someone

that just turned 81 years old.....today. 

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Aug 13 Friday - trained at sunrise...setup basic HRC triple with a blind plus a walk-up....I used the UTV and that
made setting up easier. Since I have a special permit to use it, I usually drive my UTV around the edges (less impact on the cover). First up for Pounce was an HRC Walk-up. That went well and we spent extra time practicing "the walk". When that was completed, the triple and blind setup was next. The long memory bird was "shot" and the middle winger did not fire. Therefore, the session turned into a "no bird" practice. The UTV made quick work out of getting the session back on track. Pounce watched the triple go down following the swing of the gun. The "go bird" was lined. The middle mark had a small hunt and the memory required a handle (or two). The blind was done well (good initial line). She was responsive  to whistles and casts. The temperature was still in the low seventies when we left. Pounce will be seeing longer singles over the next few days. The modified Winchester 1300 pump gun fits well and is smooth.

Aug 6 Friday - warm & humid.....I searched for an excuse to not train today (one surfaced).
Aug 7 Saturday - trained early & arrived just after sunrise...Four Lakes DTA....Pounce did two short, simple HRC line doubles (wide swings right to left & reversed next)...using the same line and holding blind. Each double had a different blind ("across the road"). Pounce did  two HRC Walk-ups....right after each double (for a total of four). Gigi will continue to work on her AKC OB class skills. Too warm to train Pounce  this afternoon.
                         note: The extended walking during walk-ups is designed to produce a conditioned response.

                                   Short walks consisting of brief moments do not established solid heeling behaviors. 
                         note: Left turns are magical......right turns "feed the beast".

Gigi did an indoor OB session...practicing off lead work (very good...with no distractions)
Aug 14 - Saturday up early with temps in the middle 50'....gas was low stopped on the way to the Four Lakes

DTA. The fog was thick, but burned off quickly. Gigi and Pounce were aired after the UTV was backed out of the trailer. The HRC line setup for Pounce was a schooled triple with a walk- (three singles first and then the triple). While setting up, training and then taking every thing back "down", the possibilities of making a day of training move more quickly and efficiently became a priority. There are two things that can be done easily. First of all, my I-Phone will not longer be in my pocket. Taking photos is a distraction, involves time and when taken require quite a bit of time developing and putting in my Website. The second issue is to make setting up and taking down simpler. Therefore, the three main wingers will be kept on the UTV in the trailer. They are protected by carpet "sleeves" well fastened to the back of the UTV. This will also having easier access to the three full size Gunners Up wingers.

This morning's session with Pounce included using three very large, black and white foam bumpers. The rationale was that seeing the marks would be easier against the dark background. The problem was the bumpers are fairly new and do not have the scent like that of a Dokken or real duck. Pounce depends quite
a bit on two skills 1) running a good line and 2) finding the scent...even if she is off-line somewhat. The next
sessions, instead of Dokkens (which have a strong, distinct smell)...there will be real ducks.
                        note: The changes are 1) no camera, 2) more efficient equipment arrangements and 3) ducks. 

                        note: one last time......a bunch of photos

Aug 9 Monday - a lot of rain last night & this morning - it was much needed. Gigi practiced her AKC OB class skills...with a very much better focus (and calmness). In the last class, there was a small  glimmer that she might put it all together. In this evening's session, she did well enough to easily pass the Canine Good Citizen Test (big change). Two weeks ago, that appeared to be rather unlikely.  Her constant anxiety issues appear to be related to an inability to focus and/or relax. Therefore, solving the diet/feeding issues (when, what and how much) made a correction. Gigi has another week to practice and get use to her new persona. ....me too. 
                 note: The next three days will be in the 90's. Pounce and I will need to train at sunrise.
The alarm went off at 5 am. After a five minute conversation (with myself), it was time to move. We were loaded and on the road in thirty minutes. The "temp" was 72°F and it was cloudy with no fog.....perfect. At a little after 6 am, Pounce was running a long set of six "stand alone/send back" singles. The next session was kind of a "catch your breath" session. Pounce did four HRC walk-ups with primer loads (practice). We were down by the technical pond which recently was almost dry. The large amount of rain yesterday landed on the large tract of land to the
north that has a slight slope which tends to "feed the pond" (to the south). There was enough water to train in! Pounce ran three singles in the "stand alone/send back" mode. We were back home by 8 am and it was still 72F. 

Aug 8 Sunday - hot...Pounce did late yard work on walk-ups...Gigi did an extended OB session in the enclosed  pool area (on the deck, cooler and indoors). Gigi has somewhat suddenly become a pleasant dog to work with. Her diarrhea issues have been like a plague. However, an aggressive, two pronged approach is making progress. Gigi's anxiety issues have been significantly reduced. Using proven medications, planning exercise carefully and switching to a dog food designed to deal with skin/stomach issues appears to be very promising (for now). The ProPlan Sensitive Stomach Skin Salmon & Oat Meal seems to be the key (fed in the proper amounts). PlusIt makes a difference when the digestive system vs. exercise functions are properly spaced. The right food, fed correctly has become a game changing approach. (check the following link)

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With my camo Ducks Unlimited Winchester 1300 converted into a smaller pump shotgun, it becomes the ideal gun (for me) in HRC tests. My Benelli M1 Super 90 has become too much of a gun. My Tristar 12 gauge Youth automatic has almost the same dimensions as the "modified" Winchester.

Aug 28-31 Pounce passed an HRC Finished Test on Saturday the 28th....The test sight was on private property since the judges determined that the Stick Pond at Bong was not safe. The Saturday test went well in that Pounce was very good in the field.....line issues were sketchy. Then on Sunday the test was down in the stick pond and we failed the test. I did not recognize the impact of a heavily scented point and Pounce's mark landed way up in the deep grass of the point. The wind was unpredictable and some of the dogs ended up with splashing marks in full view less than 25 yards away. There were a couple of other issues (mostly heat and age related) that came into play. It is time to pull the plug on any more testing this year. Fortunately, there was some time left to scratch from two tests later this month. Thorson Pond is totally choked with weed cover and the plan is to "whack" weeds around the shoreline and put the goose blind up. WE are not going to do the early Illinois goose season. The best thing to do is simply wait until the corn is picked and "do" the regular season. Gigi's intestinal problems have improve quite a bit and getting her spade is high on the list. May just wait until after the regular goose season is over. Pounce has developed a small, ugly, black tumor growing on her neck and is scheduled for surgery in two weeks. I should have been using way more close and conflicting marks and blinds in training. Many years ago, when first attending HRC club training sessions, they always looked just like a test....not easy "stuff", but familiar, conditioned response, line action are a critical component of passing tests.....close marks, a lot of shooting and blinds with factors. Distance is not a issue......dog working (or not) with the "hunter" and gun is. With my poor eyesight, being close is a huge advantage compared to AKC tests.

 Aug 18 Wednesday - day off for Pounce...high in the middle 80's...Gigi skipped this evening's meal (fasting for IBD tests...blood test required). As one might expect, there is always some second guessing when you do not know for sure what is going on. The two times Gigi was aired today, she had perfectly normal stools. Since the VET office is fairly close to the W-Property DTA, Pounce will be doing some HRC setups. When we finish, it will be time to pick up Gigi (high in the middle 80's). With Gigi's appointment at 11 am, I can sleep in. The setup was three remote winger mallards. It was in the low 80's with a slight breeze and high humidity. The setup did not take long. However, things went downhill quickly. The middle winger did not fire. Therefore, it was a quick trip out to fix "whatever". The electronics were OK. However, after a second try, it became rather obvious the wiring had failed on the long winger. This the second time, I have had to re-wire one of my Gunner's Up wingers. 
Needless to say, the heat began to wear on me and heat stroke hints were clear. I took my time picking all the "stuff" up, guzzled a lot of water and made it back to the main gate to lock up. Once in the van, it was not so bad. The air-conditioner was on full blast all the way home. One nice, fresh mallard got lost in the shuffle. As far as Pounce, today was to expose her to some warm weather training. She responded well...Me? I did not. 

This is what the small, Four Lakes DTA Technical Pond looked like last summer
 vs.  today. We are in the worst drought since the pond was dug in 2009.
                                                  (link to first year below)
                 
        https://www.rrstar.com/article/20090930/News/309309825

Aug 1 Sunday high 76°F - Gigi did some OB work continuing to work on the skills set required in her AKC OB class. Around noon, Pounce had her under-coat undergo the first step in stripping dead/loose hair with a Fulminator (dead hair remover). It took me longer to find the tool than doing this first session. With bad shoulders, it will take a few more days to get the job completed. Less dead hair means cooler dog on hot days (in theory).  Also, AFTER GETTING the dog wet (with preferably cool water), have them conditioned to shop blower (just air) to speed up evaporation and cooling at the same time. Dry and cool is an easy do. 

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Aug 2 Monday high 75°F - train in the afternoon...Pounce - HRC line training....three in-line, remote winger singles and three walk-ups...Gigi practiced her AKC OB class skill set....and she attended her 4th AKC class at 6 PM. The class answered a lot of questions. Gigi's continuing health issues are not helping. She is on the Vet's surgery calendar to be spade soon. Not having had a single sign of being in heat for over two years, having a large amount of sudden hair loss and the ongoing diarrhea which began again today is troubling (to say the least). Pounce trained in the afternoon and that went very well. The setup was three remote wingers in a line. They were loaded with Dokkens and Pounce did three HRC walk-ups that went well. The three wingers were reloaded and the plan was three inline singles. After the fact, I should have realized the dark, tree background would make the marks difficult to see...for me, but evidently not for Pounce. The shortest was launched first and Pounce stepped right on that one. The next one was launched and I did not see it. After shooting the HRC line gun, I glanced down at Pounce and she was focused and ready to "fire"....So I sent her. Straight as arrow, she took off on a line that indicated that the longest winger had launched the mark (not the middle). She stepped right on it....much to my surprise. Therefore, after assuming the middle one was the last Dogtra remote on the list. I pushed the button, saw nothing and again Pounce was amped to go. So I sent her and sure enough, Pounce stepped on the last Dokken (the one in the middle).         Duh trainer picked up everything...then went down to see how low the water was in the technical pond. It was a shock! It's never been this low (except when it was dug}.      
         note: Right as I left the house (we are in an isolated area with a lot of houses), a neighbor's yard                                a few hundred yards away and loaded with tall, mature trees had a rather large number
                   of geese walking around in a well manicured yard with no water anywhere nearby.

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Aug  10Tuesday - low 70's early morning...very, very warm soon....decided to not train today. At 1 PM (now), the "feels like" temperature is 106°F.  
Aug 11 Wednesday - not sure of what to do with today (a lot of rain yesterday).....left early, cool with cloud cover, arrived at sunrise (no fog)...Trained at the Four Lakes DTA..Pounce and Gigi had a good run to stretch first. Then Pounce ran a longish point blind to the north. She was fast and very responsive (just what we needed). When finished, Pounce did three HRC walk-ups really well. The focus was on extended, correct heeling. This morning's sessions went by quickly and we were on our way home at 7 am. Gigi will do two OB sessions per day this week.

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Aug 12 Thursday - low 90's & very humid...day off for Pounce...Gigi will practice AKC class OB (two sessions)
Both were excellent (what a great improvement). She's been doing just OK in the class atmosphere. However, in today's first session, she was off lead. At the very beginning, there was a noticeable improvement. HHmmmm,

off lead better suggest the lead and choker collar may have negative conditioned responses. After, several minutes the choker and lead were placed back on her. She was good to go....now. It was like "I get it now the

lead and choker do not come into play if I simply heel." Suddenly, I have a responsive dog at heel. Her remote
three minute sit and down (two skills) were easily completed. The last skill was to sit in front of me and not do anything when picking up each front paw and brushing her a bit. I am fairly certain that her anxiety from the gastric issues (now cleared up) contributed to her performance issues. She is certainly different suddenly..
         note: Today, I began practicing my HRC shotgun routine - "shooting" triples using previously fired                                      primer shells (one session per day for the next two weeks). "Kwick" shoulders need exercise.

Aug 3,4 Tuesday - day off and Wednesday - hump day...turned into "slacker" day
Aug 5 Thursday - wife's birthday - 79 years old....She's a keeper!..Gigi will continue to work on her OB class skills (two sessions left). Her diarrhea issues have not been demonstrated for three straight days.          Pounce trained at the Four Lakes DTA. The first session was five "Stand Alone/Send Back" singles and she was "right on" each mark....sharp. A remote winger then was used for Pounce to work on her HRC "walk-up" skills. WE walked a lot and the winger electronics were "actively loud". The approach used to deal with her forging was to continually make a series of left turns.......never saying a word. Soon after she "got wise to the fact" that it was easier to stay "on my knee" in anticipation of sudden left turns. Doing so properly allowed for several rewarding retrieves. Quiet, subtle and clear repetitions are cool.  

Aug 20 Friday - sunny, hot...heat index low 90's...after yesterday's brush with heat stroke.....indoors and cool
Aug 21 Saturday - trained at sunrise at the Four Lakes DTA....cool, cloudy, no fog and a slight breeze. The setups were two HRC line triples for Pounce. We were back home at about 8 am. The modified (shortened stock and a 24" barrel) Winchester Pump shotgun fits well. There are no shoulder issues at an HRC line.
                         note: one more week until Pounce's HRC Finished tests begin
Aug 22 Sunday - trained at sunrise again, no fog and in the 60's...cooler day high in the low 80s. Pounce and Gigi ran off a bit of steam while I set up three remote wingers to practice HRC walk-ups. With an HRC gun they are realistic and easy to run. Since there is only one shot, a light, 12 gauge single shot is easy to carry and makes a simple presentation. Pounce practices heeling and the sit on flush skill set. She is off lead and wearing no e-collar and the path taken meanders some while and speed varies. Precise heeling is practiced. Once the first set of three is run, Pounce was back in the van while I reloaded for the second session of three more walk-ups. Productive training sessions are measured in the following terms - precise practice with many repetitions and significant distractions.
Aug 23 Monday - trained early with high in the low 90's......set up an HRC triple and three walk-ups. It was warming up quickly and time was lost when the memory winger did not fire. That was corrected and the session continued. After Pounce did a poor job of marking the memory, it was run again. By then it was warm and it got to me before I realized. The "stuff" was loaded and I had to sit with the air-conditioning going full blast until the dizzy, queasy feelings subsided. Driving home provided a bit of time to recover (some). Sat in the cool living room all afternoon and went to bed early.
Aug 24 Tuesday - did as little as possible and it was HOT outside (heat index in the 90's) with rain expected in the morning.......which means I had an excuse to not train and needed a day off. 

Aug 25 Wednesday - woke up at 6 am and decided to check the radar.....no rain. Soo....with no excuse to not train, Pounce and Gigi were quickly hustled into the van. In a few minutes, we were driving by the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA. Training there saved about an hour of driving time. Pounce was soon running a split casting drill in the cool shade of  a tall treeline. Gigi had a free-run while the drill was being setup. When finished, it was only about ten minutes back to the Thorson Pond DTA where Pounce ran four HRC walk-ups with primer loads. Then it was a five minute drive back home (temperature just climbing into the 70's).
Aug 26 Thursday - this week training was done early to avoid heat issues......mostly mine. This morning it was a short drive to the Thorson Pond DTA and Pounce did four HRC Walk-Ups (with extended walking at heel before each launch/retrieve). Pounce and Gigi ran a easy (known) 125 yard blind.....just for fun. With the heat at tests in a couple of days, it has become obvious that I needed to be more pro-active. Therefore, several extra precautions are being planned. The silver-foil, reflecting blankets to cover the van are ready. There will be plenty of cold water in a large ice chest plus frozen milk cartoons to place in each dog box. A larger, plastic, mortar mixing tray will hold water and ice (for "standing in"& cool dogs' feet). In addition, the shop blower will aid in supply high speed air to enhance cooling off a hot dog. The car's air-conditioning will be used only if we are driving around. I will spend very little checking on tests and running/watching only Pounce. She is dog number nine both days which means running sooner rather than later.
                note: For the last ten plus days, Gigi began a different feeding routine. So as to avoid digestive
                          conflicts, Pounce is now on the same schedule. The rationale is Gigi was not doing well in
                          terms of digestion. The symptoms fit a broad category of IBD (intestinal bowel disorders)
                          There is a new blood test for this issue...results are slow in arriving. Ten days ago Gigi (then
                          Pounce) began getting fed AFTER cooling down from their morning training sessions and
                          then again at 5:30 pm in the late afternoon. Gigi's training has been reduced to running off
                          some steam (for a short time....she is on a vacation). The justifications are described in the
                          the following scientific link. In simple terms, exercise will be done with an essentially EMPTY
                          digestive system (stomach and large/small intestines). The energy stored from that digestion
                          will be immediately available for muscular activity.