Nov 1 Friday - day off for everyone
Nov 2 Saturday - The plan was a long, walk-in goose hunt with Pounce on Thorson Pond. About 100 yards from the water, we went over a slight rise in the corn field to see and hear about twenty geese. They came in way earlier than before. A quick about face and we headed back to the van. They will be there again. Gigi trained indoors. Today, she began running a two bumper back pile. A first the bumpers were in line and separated. She wanted both at the same time. However, it was soon became obvious that retrieving them one at a time was the expectation. The growl issue was clear on each snatch off the floor. However, the complexity and shear volume of rapid retrieves seemed to reduce the significance of that prey drive behavior. There are several actions taking place....the release, the run, making a choice (one bumper), a retrieve, the return to heel, sit and deliver followed by an immediate reward ("good") and refocusing on another bumper. There were a lot of good things happening which tended to reduce the magnitude and length of that growl......more to think about.
Nov 3 Sunday....day off both dogs (can't hunt this morning)......maybe three more days to hunt geese before the freeze out......With all the snow melted, a gas leaf blower was used to remove leaves from the backyard and dogs' airing yard.
Nov 4 Monday......duh!! I forgot the clock changed today and planned on being an hour earlier.....geese came in at the same time as yesterday and so......did....I! Duh!!! The good news is they will be back in the morning AND I will be much earlier. Gigi did another session of pile work this morning. Noticeable progress is being made. By slowing down the routine, saying less with better timing and separating the two by at least five yards, each transition is more obvious. Steadiness is excellent plus firing on "Back!' is rapid and precise. Her physical animation is steadily becoming more focused. It is difficult to be skillful when attempting to do something too fast at first. So simplifying "stuff" is paramount. Close up is easier (no full head of steam and more physical influence from me). Going slower allows more time for her to think. Plus working indoors provides focused confinement with fewer distractions. When we finished, Gigi was beginning to focus on what she need to do in order to retrieve the next bumper.
Nov 5 Tuesday....was almost setup at sunrise and seven geese wanted in. This is not normal.....they were sent away with a few arm waves and the rest of the decoys were literally tossed down. Then we waited. Two or three bunches were semi-interested, but decided not today. Then a small group of three dropped in and a double was soon being retrieved by Pounce. Several small flocks circled, but decided not to test the water. Finally, a group of five provided the last goose for our limit (Illinois is three). Pounce does really well with her behavior in the blind and obviously has no problems with big geese.
Nov 6 The weather forecast is not good....snow early in the morning...then ice soon....... Did a quick sneak in and put a camo tarp over the blind and hauled out (on a sled) half the decoys. I was gassed.
In the afternoon, Gigi did a session of heeling OB incorporating the sit whistle (indoor, heated area). Afterwards, she did more pile work with two well spaced bumpers and a placeboard. It was much smoother. Then another bumper was added to the mix (on a line 45° from the two bumper line).
Nov 7 The pond was almost frozen over. Pounce had another day off. Gigi trained indoors beginning with some OB and whistle sits. Then we did a continuation of yesterday's beginning pile work. The "easy" cue was introduced for closer retrieves. Her (our) responsiveness has improved dramatically in the last few days. With the increase in individual skills required in the pile work sequence, Gigi's prey drive issue has been greatly reduced. She is not growling when picking up the bumpers because of immediate commands to do something else. Responding to "back", "here" and "place" plus anticipating the verbal rewards of "good" greatly reduces the significance of "growling" and "shaking" a bumper
(which receives zero rewards......from me).
In between the fetching action, Gigi is given well spaced breaks where a sitting "fetch" and "hold" command sequence is practiced and rewarded. When we are training, there is a great deal of eye contact which has enhanced our responsiveness. "The Beast" is beginning to transform into an enthusiastic, responsive retriever.....and looking for more of the right kind of actions.
Nov 8 Friday.....I could not resist checking the goose pond for ice early in the morning. No open water even by the inlet stream. The forecast is very cold with little snow. Therefore, in few days I will be able to drive right up behind the blind, disassemble it and transport everything back to the garage where it will be stored until next year. In the afternoon, Gigi continued her training by practicing pile concepts. Each session is noticeably better. Gigi is beginning to think about what she needs to do...with me....in order to get what she likes to do. Today, her remote whistle sits on the move were almost automatic. Now that the beast has become a bit more focused, progress suggests she will be a "kwick" study.
Nov 9 Saturday - trained Gigi indoors in the evening.....continued practicing on lead OB plus the skill sets for pile work (steady improvement). Pounce is taking a few days off.
Nov 10 Sunday....It will be colder this evening with about four inches of blowing snow by tomorrow morning which means dismantling the goose blind is delayed. Gigi's pile work has progressed to the precises practice phase.....much sooner than was expected. Harnessing her prey drive is often like dashing along a very narrow path (a bit on the edge at times). Getting a better handle on it (no pun intended) is happening because she likes the game and rewards. Pounce is in hibernation mode.
note: finished removing all the leaves from our yard.....snow tonight
Nov 11 Monday....early morning....4+" of snow was removed from the driveway and getting Lylah off to school was not an issue. Gigi did did two indoor training sessions (OB with pile work...(both times) and Pounce had another day off. I hate winter!!!
note: The county must be counting pennies......very little salt on the roads...not good.
Nov 12 Tuesday - repeated yesterday....Gigi's two sessions went well. However, bumpers close together will require a more gradual presentation......too exciting.
Nov 13 more cold weather
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Pounce's Thorson Pond Goose Hunt
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