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July 1 Thursday....worked in the yard (OB and HRC line simulations). Field training is being scaled back for Gigi with no more tests for her this year. However, Pounce will continue to train for HRC Finished tests. The reasons are two-fold. I do not have enough time with family issues of 1) a 12 year old autistic, non-verbal autistic granddaughter and 2) 101 year old mother-in-law with late dementia. Both have become a very demanding priority. 
                    note: granddaughter is getting better....mother-in-law is becoming a huge issue   
                    note: My wife and I will be 79 and 81 in August.

July 2 Friday...Gigi practiced her daily AKC OB class skills (indoors & yard). Toward evening we spent a few hours training in the Thorson Pond DTA grassy area. Three wingers were setup so as to first run a set of three HRC walk-ups (Pounce and then Gigi). The same wingers were then reloaded for Pounce and Gigi to each run a triple setup. Pounce ran a blind with her triple. A primer loaded shotgun was used for each retrieve. The main focus was on the proper interactions of the dog with handler.  Both are becoming much easier to run......more focused and responsive. The primary premise is precise practice. 
    note: The rationale for focusing on HRC (recently) was based on the premise that the action at the line
              in HRC hunt tests requires a different kind of focus than that of an AKC hunt test. Years ago, the
              HRC line action was described as a parallel to the expression "jump down, spin around and pick
              a bale of cotton"
. In short, it is much busier and distracting (compared to the line in AKC hunt
              tests. To some extent the handler is put into a position where more responsibility is placed on
              the dog and the handler. That "attention" is divided into what is going on "out there" vs. what the
              handler/dog team is required to do at the line. In a Finished HRC test the honoring dog has a
              gunner shooting "there" also. Multi-tasking in HRC is a more complex set of responses at the
              line for both the dog and handler (as compared to AKC. It is often said that HRC tests are easier.
              Well, they are easier....out there (less distance some times), but not at the line. The last two
              years became more complicated for training/testing. Pounce and Gigi were focused on training
              for AKC tests and COVID resulted in no testing. In the past, I always began with HRC and then
              did AKC. To some extent (for the reasons listed above), I think training for HRC forces a trainer to
              work at being a more responsive handler. Gigi and Pounce need that.

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note: Gigi's whistle sits have improved (a lot).......regular, precise practice 
          produces better conditioned responses.

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July 9  Friday - cool for July...but did not having any time to train until about 6 pm. Pounce ran an HRC line
triple with a blind. It was clean and fast. Gigi was up next and the plan was to run three HRC line singles. The beginning of her session did not go well (antsy) and no mark was presented. Focus and control were out of balance (not enough). The solution was to increase responsiveness.....but how? A Kwick adjustment (pun intended) was made. Gigi went back to her crate and we came back out with idea of adding an "extra step" - the "bumper in mouth" routine - sit, hold, watch, listen to beeps/quacks from Dogtra electronics, gun fire (primer load), follow arc of the mark, hand over the "held in mouth" bumper........then a retrieve  This resulted in a fresh start with no noise or movement and a focused, more responsive Gigi. She was holding while sitting, watching and waiting for the release. Multi-tasking is an incremental process. At times, finesse is more effective than a hammer. However, nothing becomes a conditioned response until there is precise practice. 
July 10 Saturday...rain..no training....Pounce had the day off and Gigi will work on her OB class skills.
July 11 Sunday - nice most of the day, but other family issues got in the way of training....Gigi did do some OB in the house and then radar suggested some training in the afternoon. Pounce ran an HRC triple and then Gigi did three singles (like yesterday). It sprinkled some, but not enough to quit. Gigi did another session of OB in the evening.  Looking at the next three months, the idea of running tests is beginning to need a good answer for why.  According to the entry rules, Pounce can be scratched anytime before Aug 20th. The biggest problem is both arms and my shoulder are not able to mount and shoot either of my present two pump shotguns properly. An alternative would be to buy a lighter, smaller youth 12 gauge gun and hope the judges would approve it. That is too many "ifs" for me right now. 
July 12 Monday - after a quick trip to the Vet this morning, Gigi was given a prescription to deal with her recent minor diarrhea issues and had another fecal exam. Vet suggested not a big deal after already having a negative test a few weeks ago. Gigi did her first AKC Intermediate OB class this evening. The large building with four rings had a huge number dogs entered in different classes...it was very noisy. Gigi's class had only eight dogs and none were vocal. At first, Gigi was just like I expected - high on adrenaline and very excited. As the class progressed, she became much more tractable and responsive. She began to learn how to deal with her emotions. Five more weekly sessions will make a huge difference. I had to laugh a bit (inside) because early on there were several instances of Gigi not sitting very long after the command. The instructor came over and told me that I should say "Sit/Stay" that would make her understand better what was required. A clumsy conversation soon ended with "whatever works". The class moved swiftly through several skills and very noticeable improvements were made by Gigi. 

In the previous OB classes my retrieves had attended, the pinch collar was used. Gigi wore a choke chain. The basic difference between the two is determined by what deliver/controls the correction. With a pinch collar, the dog decides what it can stand and if a skill is done properly a dog will not allow it to get tight (avoiding any discomfort). With a choke chain a handler can send two messages to the dog. One sharp tug says "No...Not that!" (a correction) or slight tug/tap can mean "Good....that's right!" (re-inforcing the correct behavior).  Finesse is a skill. ...Who is in charge?"          note: When used correctly they both work.
July 13 Tuesday - high of 83°F - Gigi and Pounce - seven spoke graph casting drill....then both will do a set of inline singles at Riverside Park DTA....Gigi will review her OB class skill sets 

July 14 Wednesday....blood tests and doctor's appointment tied up most of the day plus a good long rain. Gigi fasted for almost a day and then began the rice and cottage cheese diet......so far looks good. 
July 15 Thursday - Pounce will train HRC skills and Gigi will continue "processing" rice and cottage cheese

                 note: The new 12 gauge, pump shotgun will arriving soon...better fit and more shoulder friendly
                            for the HRC line action. The gun transfer regulations will delay pickup until Monday. 
July 16 Friday - rain most of the day - easy day for all 
July 17 Saturday - decent weather - the only training was an OB session with Gigi. It is about five weeks until Pounce's HRC tests. She will begin going to the Thursday evening group training sessions next week. Gigi is on R&R from field training until her rice and cottage cheese diet  is completed. I mowed most of the lawn.  ,.  Spent most of the day "cleaning up" my computer. A hacker found  a subtle way to get "in" and it took awhile to "clean things up". Both dogs slept....a lot. I was able to mow most of the lawn....later. Gigi's cottage cheese and rice diet seems to be correcting "things" and she appears to be much more relaxed.     
July 18 Sunday - pleasant day...both dogs - Helter/Skelter drill in the front yard...exercise/practice  Gigi will
do some OB practice and Pounce will have one more day off. Then the training push will pick up some momentum preparing for her HRC Finished tests at the end of August. 
Both dogs will do the Helter/Skelter drill in the front yard.....exercise/practice 
July 19 Monday - Gigi worked on the AKC OB class skill sets and began meds (Metronidazole) because her intestinal issues are not going away. She is now on a rice and cottage cheese diet. Day off for everyone.
July 20 Tuesday - spent most of the day installing new Internet modems and dealing with protocol issues. In addition, the order for a youth 12 gauge pump gun ended up with a mix-up in the order and an automatic was delivered. The purpose of the smaller shotgun was to make HRC training and testing easier so as to deal with shoulder issues and short arms. In the evening,, the value of Gigi's OB class began to surface. The first fifteen minutes were difficult...adrenalin issues were obvious. After about twenty minutes, things changed drastically and it was almost like having a different dog. A fast tempo warm[-up before field training may provide a solution. Before her next class, I intended  to stop near an area where I can throw some marks or do a fast pace retrieving drill and then see what impact that has on the start of her OB class. Did not do that.  

July 21 Wednesday - some rain mid-day, Gigi will practice her OB and Pounce will do a fast paced lining drill 
July 22 Thursday - an attempt to get back on track (HRC setups) with Pounce will begin....maybe....too hot
July 23 Friday - Gigi did OB...high 89°F. day was spent working on getting a 12 gauge pump shotgun ready for HRC practice, rearranging training equipment in the van, mowing lawn and thinking about redesigning the dogs' airing yard morning removed several metal fence posts (removing fenced in island). 
               note: the next several days will be HOT
July 24 Saturday - high of 90°F - full house....daughter is visiting and I turned around just as she was about to feed a second grape to Gigi. She (my daughter) jumped when I shouted at her rather loudly "No!"
​               note: dogs with raisin or grape toxicosis develop vomiting and/or diarrhea within 6–12 hours
                         of ingestion of grapes or raisins (one grape....64 pound dog that is dealing with a loose 
                         bowel issue will not be enough to cause severe poisoning (not helping present issues)  

The outside job for today was to pull about twelve metal fence posts. After checking the Internet, a quick way to do so revealed that I had all the components required...an 8' "2X4", a couple of cement blocks and a tow strap (easy).
However, it is too hot......and we will be working on this early in the morning. 
July 25 Sunday..too hot to train (in the 90's)..morning removed seven metal fence posts. The last several months Gigi has demonstrated quite a few symptoms of having intestinal issues She was examined by my VET after loosing a lot of hair. On a regular basis she would cough up a bile like fluid in the morning. A few weeks ago, she was given some meds (Panacur). The results were no changes. She'd sit and breath heavily before finally falling asleep in the evening. The latest medical treatment is Metronidazole. She was still having a "blast" of diarrhea in the evening. ​I read more dealing with issues similar to those with Gigi and apparently metronidazole is not as effective when there is food in the stomach (especially with cottage cheese). So I began giving it to her when there was less chance of any food still in her stomach. The change was dramatic. Suddenly, she is more relaxed with no more panting (for no reason), sleeping through the night and no more loose stools. note: late afternoon.....I let Gigi out of the front door in the yard for a moment. Next thing I know she is chewing vigorously on something. I got a hold of her collar and quickly "fished" are fresh peach
pit out of her mouth. Dang! I go into the house and ASK WHO....my daughter (grape feeder) admitted that she

threw it out into the yard.
                 note: if your dog swallows a peach pit whole, it could cause choking or an internal blockage
                           resulting in death. Second, if your dog eats enough peach pits quickly—or over a long
                           period of time—the toxic amygdalin (source of cyanide) in the pit could kill your dog.
                           There are two types of peach pit poisoning....acute and chronic 

July 26 - Monday this evening Gigi was much better in her OB class...focused on paying attention to me and noticed she was more relaxed
July 27-8 Tuesday/Wednesday - Gigi had a good two days....less anxiety and no loose stools...again giving the Metronidazole on an empty stomach. The modification of my Winchester pump gun is now complete. The plan was to make it shorter and somewhat like my new youth model 12 gauge automatic. I purchased (via EBAY) a new 24" camo turkey barrel that matches my Ducks Unlimited camo 12 gauge Winchester Model 1300. The recoil pad was removed to install a thin "butt" plate. There were no used ones available, but someone was making them for an easy purchase.....again on EBay. The barrel arrived today...very cool!!! Too hot to train!
July 29 Thursday - high in the low 80's...Gigi's diet routine is showing great results. She has transitioned (very slowly) back to real dog food (a small amount in the morning with the rest in the evening...Pounce, too). 
July 30 Friday - high in the 70's, Pounce did a three blind HRC line practice (gun)...."shoot" three blinds then run each one (triple "looks....twice") ...Gigi ran three HRC blinds just like Pounce and worked on her AKC OB skills later in the day. Both dogs are now on a little food in the morning with the rest (most) near evening.

July 7  Wednesday - high in the 70's with scattered showers.....Gigi worked on her OB class expectations
(heeling, sit, down and stand with distractions)....Pounce had the day off.
July 8 Thursday - high in the low 70's - good day to train...however, other "stuff" had to be dealt with. My three Gunner's Up "Originals" had been stored in the garage since late, last summer. Upon closer inspection, the spear-gun, rubber bands were cracked and a couple "crumbled" when stretched. Today they were replaced and the new bands were sprayed with a UV protectant. Now there are six Dogtra remote equipped wingers. Pounce and Gigi's HRC setups will be more inclusive (triples, diversions plus walk-ups and blinds). With all this "stuff" to place out in the training fields, my UTV and enclosed trailer are going to be be busy. However, today will be simply an OB exercise session with for Gigi.

July 3 Saturday - today's high - 89°F....early morning and mid-afternoon Gigi worked on AKC OB class expectations..The specific focus was on sequencing the command actions of "sit", "down" and "stand".
Working through a six week class schedule with at least ten other dogs will provide extensive distraction proofing and strengthen her focus, control and responsiveness (in theory).       There are three "big
box" stores within a few miles which allow shoppers to walk the aisles with a dog on a leash. We will be visiting them on a regular basis. Retriever training never ends.
        note: For the last several years, I have been using a three dog Tritronics Uplander E-collar
                  with Pounce and Gigi. It continues to work, but the idea that it might not (suddenly) or
                  loosing one of the collars would take a period of time to replace. Therefore, I purchased
                  a new two dog Dogtra 1902S. After reading the manual and charging everything, it is
                  ready to use. However, how to use it is a bit more complex than what I am use to doing.
                  More is not always better...until it is. Obviously, there will be no e-collar in her OB class.
                  The choices of collars are flat, choke or pinch. In the past, a pinch collar was used. The

                  main function of a pinch collar is that the dog "in charge" of the corrections. When heeling
                  with a loose lead, the dog will soon realize that keeping it loose is more comfortable. After

                  awhile, staying in the correct position becomes a conditioned response. In comparison,
                  when doing retriever training, all corrections come from the trainer. Therefore, to maintain
                  continuity, this class with Gigi will be done with a choke chain. She will not be in charge.
        note: For two years, I have been struggling with bad shoulders. Docs' suggested replacements
                  and that just was not going to fit in with training and hunting. After shooting "lefty" in the
                  last fall waterfowl season, the right shoulder is better and the left is a bit worse. In about eight
                  weeks, Pounce will be running two HRC Finished tests.
Handling a shotgun at the line and
                  shooting three times is going to be a test for me. Therefore, we began "training" today. I
                  have a large box of primer loaded, 12 gauge shells (blanks). In addition, I do not have to shoot
                  real shells to practice. There's just a trigger pull, a click and the shucking action. With an indoor
                  pool room, I can do this often (every day) with Pounce or Gigi at heel. In addition, there is a nice
                  angle between two piles of bumpers on the deck to retrieve. All three of us can practice. I have
                  two 12 gauge pump shotguns. One is a "Ducks Unlimited" stamped "camo" plastic Remington
                  and the other is a nice wood grain, smooth sliding, old Winchester. Any gun that shows up at
                  the line in a test will not be an issue. After today's session (that seemed fairly easy with very
                  little discomfort), DAILY practice sessions will have our (Pounce's and mine) HRC line work
                  solidly conditioned. Gigi was today's test dog (and she liked it).  
        note: The indoor pool room practice sessions will be in addition to the regular field training setups. 
July 5, Monday - with a high of 93°F...trained early (up at sunrise)...Gigi ran a lining and handling drill in the grassy area just east of Thorson Pond. She has not done this for awhile and it took a few "lines" to shake out the cobwebs. With the sun just coming up, the best place to run some singles was at the Riverside Park DTA. The park opens at 6:30 am and we arrived just as the local police unlocked the gate. Driving around to the north-east side, a session of "stand alone/send back" singles was setup. The concept was
"across the road" singles. Gigi had already run one setup and I decided to limit her to four singles. The 12 volt Endless Breeze fans were going full speed. The setup was mostly in the shade and the singles went quickly. When we finished training it was in the low 70's at noon it is 86°F and heating up rapidly. 

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Tomorrow at 6:30 pm is Gigi's first session in the AKC OB class and we will be practicing quite a bit indoors. Also, there will be the daily routine of practicing the HRC gun routine at the line....every day. With my old shoulders it is necessary to avoid looking old. Yesterday was the first day of practicing. It was not as bad as I expected. The conditioned responses I have from hunting with a 12 gauge Benelli M1 are not an advantage. The best thing is primer loaded blanks do not "kick" like 12 gauge, three inch magnum loads. 
July 6 Tuesday - high of 91°F....up later than yesterday. However, there was enough time to squeeze in a split-casting drill in the Thorson Pond DTA grassy area. When Pounce and Gigi finished it was a cool 73°F and the dogs and I were back home to the comfort of air-conditioning. Gigi's OB class was thought to be the 6th...info now reveals it is not until the 12th. Pounce is entered in two August HRC Finished tests.  If we do not get any rain (present conditions continue), there will NOT be much water to run a test. AND if there is any, I am not sure I want her in what remains in eight weeks. Things may improve (or not).

July 31 Saturday - high of 79°F - trained toward evening. Gigi & Pounce ran several six bumper lining drills picking up the farthest first...then reversing the order (closets first, etc.) Both caught on quickly to the "switch" and had plenty of exercise.