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Aug 4 Sunday - juggling schedules (as usual) my wife is teaching Sunday school. Lylah our autistic granddaughter is home, so I am "sitting". Around noon, there is a small window for training. A thirty minute drive to the Harrison Road DTA has Pounce running six "stand alone/send back" singles which do not take very long. Gigi does four hand thrown, 2" white bumper, steady singles from my side (improving}. There is very little equipment to load back in the van and we were back home in thirty minutes. The sun is bright and hot which means mowing the lawn will be put off until the sun is low on the horizon.

 blind #1                    blind #2                        blind #3

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"the final segment of Pounce's return on the last point blind"

(blinds in the second point blind}

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Aug 22 busy day...first thing early was to "whack" more weeds along the east shoreline of Thorson Pond. Gigi did the regular bumper in mouth OB session afterwards at home. Then it was back the pond later for Gigi's first two dogs at the line session. After a few retrieves by Pounce, Gigi began to take turns retrieving a 3" white bumper.

                                                                    The Story
One dog (Gigi the pup) was going to be introduced to training that will progress lo throwing marks for two dogs at a time in the session (one retrieves and the other waits for their turn). It will eventually be referred to as "two dog, leap-frog, walking singles". Pounce is five years old and knows the routine. Gigi is only is nine months old (and does not). Both are conditioned to go on their name for marks and "back" when on blinds. Gigi is not ready to run blinds (yet), but she does run to a mini-pile on the "back" command.

The tall, shoreline grass along the eastern side of the pond was recently "whacked" to make it more accessible. The first bumper was thrown and both were steady. I said "Pounce" and they both went. "Gigi" is the black one and simply did what I said (drum roll)...she "pounced". In anticipation of just that. I had a plan in place....she was staked out on a short tether. After she
discovered the reality of a tether correction, I moved to her side and she ran a few more short retrieves alternating with Pounce.

Aug 10, 11 HRC Finished tests - Mississippi Valley HRC.....Long Grove, Iowa.....the weather Saturday was outstanding.....not nearly as HOTas expected. The result was a sign. I am getting too old to do
this anymore. Sunday was a scratch. Pounce and I were simply not up to the task.....not sure why. Pounce's training seemed to be improving.....obviously my handling of the situations at the line have not. Went to the second series and realized when Pounce took off on the go mark into lunging water ......it was all over. This has happened before (looses it in the sounds and excitement ). We will be taking a brief break to see how this shakes out (scratched the two Finished tests at Key City HRC).
Aug 12 spent the day mostly pouting....The conclusion was I need more practice at the line in real tests. It makes little sense to run Finished until more practice is in place. Pounce needs to become more comfortable at the line in real, test like situations. Therefore, we will be running some more Seasoned Tests to get seasoned.

Aug 13 Pounce did nothing.....really well. Gigi moved on with her work at completing retrieves. The individual mechanics have been practiced quite a bit.  It was time to put them all together. There have been some hints (the lights went on) that bringing a retrieve back results in another retrieve. The plan today was to throw several, short doubles (two white bumpers on land first) at the Roscoe Retention Pond DTA. This progressed rather quickly. Returning was much better defined when exciting water (we can meet at the bank). After several short doubles, Gigi realized that bringing one back must be done before swimming for the other (just as on land). The basic premise was another retrieve (double) will positively impact her possessive prey drive (reducing it). Each time hold, here and heel became more willing and coordinated because she was thinking about what was next.....and not "This is mine!" After leaving the Retention Pond DTA, a quick drive to check out the Riverside Park DTA revealed the gravel road bordering the Rock River was finally open. The spring floods changed the shoreline quite a bit. Several small sand bars on the west side were now huge. Geese were loafing and not happy when Gigi infringed on their territory. After several retrieves, we move on to a place call "Momentum Hill". This is the location I always intro my pups on pile work. Downhill creates an additional influence on "flying" to a pile. After three quickly retrieved bumpers with no shopping, we were finished.....for the day.

Aug 3 Saturday - seven days until Pounce's first HRC Finished test and it has been seventeen years since I've run one. With only a two hour training window in the morning, we trained at the Harrison Road DTA. The HRC setup was three remote wingers with mallards. Pounce first did three long walkups. The wingers were reloaded and she ran a triple. The HRC line was in the shade and in full view for Gigi (in the van). After Pounce did her work, Gigi came out to run all 

three winger marks as singles with 2" white bumpers. Her retrieves to the line continue to improve with with the wild and crazy "stuff" decreasing (a lot). 

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Aug 1 Thursday - morning off for dogs...did pool maintenance......Pounce went to the Thursday evening training group at the Harrison Road DTA. She ran two mallard doubles shooting at the line HRC plus a blind and an honor. We were focused and relaxed in the holding blind and probably the best training session she's had this year. Yesterday was good also and the the increased practice sessions have begun to have a noticeable impact on her performance. Basically, the greater work load has kept her energy level at a more manageable level. Pounce's edge is not over the top......as much. Therefore, she is more focused and control is enhanced. The better balance in these two factors has made her more responsive. Gigi was aired off lead twice and away from the action.  

Hook Lake Bog - Grass Lake Wildlife and Natural Area

Aug 18 rain early (not much).....afternoon...Pounce and Gigi did their first tandem water retrieves in the Rock River (one dog is swimming out while the other is bringing one back)...Gigi did quite well for the first time. After the getting wet together exercise, it was a short drive to the other side of the park

and the momentum hill area (refer to the August 13th journal entry and photo). Gigi did an extended  session of her close OB skills - heeling, holding, sitting and delivering. Her high prey drive to shake and sometimes growl with a two inch white bumper in her mouth remains a challenging Issue. We have succeeded in identifying square one (close and personal but not much beyond Baltic Avenue). Now becomes the slow process of strengthening the proper behaviors and getting to Boardwalk. 
Aug 19, 20  the last two days of Lylah's summer break from school.....Weekdays are now available for training. Gigi did another extended, solid session of sit, hold and heel focusing on a quiet mouth and no head shaking. This is not going to be a quick fix. Hillmann's "excite and sit" conditioned response has been compartmentalized and combined with the whistle sit using other rewards (no retrieves).          note: this is not etched in stone......just trying to do what Gigi needs to get her prey drive,

             retrieving issues into a more normal/balanced behavior - responsive and under control
Aug 21 Wednesday - It is back to regular school for Lylah which frees up five weekdays for training.        note: On July 31st, the monthly training day put on by pro trainer Corey Zandonai was held at
             the Madison Retriever Club's W Property. The setup was designed with flexibility in
             mind. It was handler's choice. Pounce ran the set as an HRC "Walk-up" with a blind, a
             double with a blind and then honored for the next dog. Photos of all the dogs running
             that day were taken by Tracy Zandonai. The next day I noticed a reference to "photos".
             Scanning them, I came upon the one with Pounce and I at the line and the following one
             sure did look like Pounce (and it was). I purchased both photos thru her SmugMug link.

Aug 8 Thursday - slept late in the morning...went to Thursday late afternoon group training day and evidently it was cancelled? went home and cleaned out van for the weekend hunt tests

Aug 9 Friday - early training ?...body said no.....later decided the only way to train was to take Lylah
Traveling light, we were at the Harrison Road DTA about 10 am. The plan was to run Pounce on seven,
"walking/stand alone/walking" singles with Lylah tagging along. She did find and seemed to enjoy the session. One never knows exactly what will happen with an autistic child. I took a few hurried I-Phone photos. When Pounce's session was completed, Lylah watched from the van as Gigi ran four long
retrieves of a tossed, 2" inch white bumper. Today was the first day the light went on for Gigi. Her body language and response indicated, "Hey! I suddenly just realized that if I bring a bumper right back to

you.....you'll throw it again for me!"

Aug 14 cool morning...another day off for Pounce...Gigi did some front yard work on a two bumper pile drill, practicing the mechanics (off lead)...walk out placing bumpers with Gig steady at the line, sent on "back" (steady), return to heel, hold and deliver. This was intended to combine several different skills and she kind of put it together off lead. Progress in this one lesson was very good, but it is not perfect. Given the above, daily yard sessions will provide the necessary practice to established a desired set of conditions responses. This morning's session went well and a reference (not perfect) was established. Gigi will be practicing hold (with bumper in mouth) when heeling and sitting (alternating sides) and practicing the delivery of a held bumper from a remote, front sit on a six foot lead (regularly in various places for distraction proofing).  
Aug 15 Thursday.....Gigi continued practicing hold (with bumper in mouth) when heeling and sitting (alternating sides) and delivering the held bumper from a front sit.....on a short lead. Fetching off the ground will be simplified (to fetching from a held bumper a few feet from where she is on a sit) until it is smooth, responsive and under control.....no bumpers will be tossed.
Aug 16 Friday did yesterday's routine and the beast remains very animated and aggressive. However, there is a hint of a responsiveness because she cannot physically gyrate as much (verb - to revolve around a point or axis: to oscillate with or as if with a circular or spiral motion).
Aug 17 cool morning, but slept late....out at 8:45 am to "whack" tall (chest high), shoreline weeds on the east end of Thorson Pond. There are three reasons for this weed work...1) the land owner allows me access to use the pond, 2) I will be able to see the dogs when training and 3) early goose season is in two weeks. Gigi and Pounce had the day off from training....mostly because I was "gassed" from the weed job (had to sit down in a chair to cool down). It is a good thing there was shade and a breeze. From now on the weed whacking time will be limited to one tank of gas (instead of two). Today was my 79th birthday and the hints to slow down are becoming more and more obvious.
               note: The pond is approximately 40X90 yards.......180 yards left to weed whack.

Type your paragraph here.

Aug 23 spent the morning getting the Four Rivers Migrator ready to sell......day off from training
two interested buyers - one will pick it up Sunday morning......more room in the garage now that both boats are gone.....Gigi did a brief session of fetch, hold, heel and deliver with a 2" bumper.
This has been an every day thing for about a month. Gigi's yesterday session with Pounce revealed a different appearance to the retrieving picture.
Aug 24 mid-morning went to Thorson Pond and completely whacked all the tall grass/weeds along the east shoreline (half finished). The van was moved to the north side and the site where the goose blind is always placed was cleared. A few hours later in the afternoon, Gigi was taken to the blind site and worked on her retrieving. Throwing wide doubles has become a clear process for her. When this began, a hint of "If I bring this back to you I will have another retrieve" began to imerge.. Enhancing her actions with praise and another retrieve had pushed aside her prey drive desires to savage a bumper. This rather sudden transformation provided a huge rush (for me). When finished with water we moved to the wide, shallow ditch that feeds the pond. There the grass has grown almost chest high. Adding to that, Gigi has a great deal of drive to find bumpers. She .just does not give up.....it is fun. The first one was twenty yards and only 3-4 yards in. She was very steady (count to ten), fired and got it immediately, came back to heel, sat and physically said, "I want another one!" She did about 8-9 with the same fire and each time the retrieve was to hand. There was no head shaking or thrashing the bumper on the ground and I was getting eye contact.......finally.  This is a significant day. 

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Aug 5 Monday...Pounce will  HRC training session with mallards....had to be back home by 8 am....made it.
Left at sunrise and trained at the Harrison Road DTA. The fog looked "iffy" on the way. However, the DTA was clear. Three, wide remote wingers with mallards formed an HRC line triple (right, left, middle). Pounce has improved quite a bit with the steady practice over the last two months. After Pounce was finished, the three wingers were loaded with 2" white bumpers and Gigi ran three, very well marked singles. When we finished, it was 68°F (sunny. no wind and very pleasant). 
Aug 6 Tuesday - Pounce did the sunrise routine again training at the Four Lakes DTA. With heavy cloud cover and the upper 60's it was very pleasant. Pounce did the HRC line practice. Three mallards were thrown by remote wingers with shooting at the line. The wingers were reloaded and Pounce did three HRC walk-ups. Two wingers were reloaded and Gigi retrieved remote winger singles with 2" white bumpers.  We were home before 8 o'clock. Tuesday late afternoon was group training at the Harrison Road DTA. Pounce ran a short HRC line double with two blinds and did very well. She is definitely ready for HRC Finished. 

Gigi was taken on lead for a good bit of OB exposure to the crowd around the line.

Aug 7 Wednesday - afternoon, mid 80's, slight breeze (WSW 7-10 mph). Pounce and Gigi trained at Bong DTA in Wisconsin (one hour drive).  Pounce ran two difficult water point blinds (three lines each with Dokkens). The first set was in the Gravel Pond. After Pounce did her blinds, Gigi ran four, 2" white bumper singles (got wet, had fun and wanted more). Next up was Pounce running another point blind in the Stick Pond (three lines again). Pounce's water skills are fun to watch as she was sharp. After Pounce was finished, the waist high cover north of the stick pond gave Gigi no problem in picking up four, hand thrown singles (as far as I could toss them). Both dogs had an excellent afternoon which made the trip more than worthwhile.

Aug 2 Friday - trained mid- afternoon...Lylah is no longer in summer school (fewer training time slots). With about a 2-3 hour window, Pounce did a set of seven "stand alone/send back" singles
in the Harrison Road DTA. Using an old, used (and inexpensive) single shot 12 gauge shotgun, Pounce had a marking practice session. The gun worked perfectly and adds to the excitement of the Dokken presentations. It does not take long to run seven singles in this format. After Pounce's session, Gigi was given a good run (blowing off some of her big puppy steam) and then did four, hand thrown singles with a steady standard. Her return to the line/hand skills are improving.

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