note: early afternoon the flu "hit".........not good (had a flu vaccine a week ago) of the potential side-effects is "flu like symptoms" (unlucky me)
Dec 4-6 has been miserable....but Tuesday morning brought signs of "it is over" - lost two good days of goose hunting with "ice out" imminent and it will be difficult to get near the pond (sled?)
            note: This was not a fun way to loose six pounds.
            note: scouted pond - no geese flying on the 6th....first snow for many?
            note: goose hunting on the pond is finished.....unless we have an unusual January thaw
Dec 7 time to move hunting into the next phase - winter upland introduction (Chukars & pheasants)

            note: still feeling effects of the flu.....scouted pond for geese at 10:40 geese
                      and zero ice......which in a way was good. However, with 24°F with wind chill of 14°F it
                      won't be long. In the past, most "iced out" conditions have been during the last two  
                      weeks of December. It was much earlier this year.
Dec 8 at 9 am there is a wind chill of 0°F......not going anywhere. Thorson Pond is iced over and
nearby Legend Lake is three-fourths covered. There are at least 300 geese on the ice or swimming keeping it open......which did not work (iced over the next morning).
            note: once in a while (not often) an early January thaw opens things up for a day (or two)
Dec 9-10 will continue time off from outdoor training with a snow storm coming this weekend
Dec 11 snow let up some this morning - removed 5" from drive (snow blower) and shoveled walk, then the snow began (again) by 8 pm there will be at least another 5"......airing yard is "deep"
             note: morning will be 15° colder.....clear drive tonight
             note: Finding "stuff" in 10 inches of fluffy snow in the airing yard is impossible with three
                       dogs at a time. Solution ? take them out one at a time.
             note: This could turn into a really boring, "cabin fever" type winter......rather quickly.
             note: second wave of snow resulted in another driveway, snow blower "job" at 8 pm plus
                       shoveling the walk, entrance (again)
             note: quickly discovered that the regular training sessions with Pounce plus a rigorous,
                       daily exercise in the swimming pool has made this "extra" physical work relatively
                       simple. Being 76 years old does not have to be a handicap.                        
Dec 12 Hibernation time ?.....scouted the RockCut State Park DTA for training. Pounce trained there quite a bit last winter. They did not cut the weeds all summer (again). The weed and grass growth with the present snow fall on top was over the top of my knee high boots.......not good right now. 
Once this "mats down" it will be better. However, another big snow storm is on the way. 
              note: winter training plan "adjustment".....1) pass on the "upland stuff" for now,  2) sign up
                        for a couple of AKC indoor, advanced OB classes and 3) work on her responsiveness 
                        OB skill set in the heated, indoor pool training area (around the tiled deck)  

today's goose hunt photos

Copyright © kwickLabsii. All rights reserved

link to YouTube video

link to YouTube Video

Dec 14 seven days - very cold (six days with below zero nights) with more snow
                  note: Pounce will be doing indoor OB...."organize" hunting gear in heated storage area
                  note: no swimming.....keep pool covered because of window humidity/frosting issues
                  note: cold day with too much snow to train....2 pm....16°F with a wind chill of -2°F
Pounce did her first winter, indoor OB session beginning with an "on lead" run through of all 
heeling/sitting skills (both sides).....reviewed hand signals for sit, heel and down plus did a review of the "whoa" concept.......then did an "off lead" addition reviewed backward heeling on both sides plus "from" the front sit position......she was composed and confident.                 

                   note: on lead, using slight Hillmann "tugs" (properly timed for re-enforcement), soft 
                             voice and hand signals within an "upbeat/fun" atmosphere (and not wearing an
                             e-collar because she won't be during the upcoming OB classes)
                   note: Consistent, correct and precise repetitions while practicing (a lot) produces the
                             desired automatic reflexes of solid OB. This foundation is the "framework" for
                             The five factors of a skilled retriever - "birdiness", retrieving, responsiveness,
                             focus and control
by Julie Knutson 
                   note: Pounce's OB class begins Jan 11th and will extend well into February.
                   note: Training setups (when possible) will focus on line manners, short marks and a
                             balance between the HRC and AKC line expectations. The plan is to earn two
                             more AKC Senior passes (title, early spring), move on to HRC tests (Finished)
                             into the fall before waterfowl season with AKC Master testing next year.
Dec 15 bitter cold today with negative wind chills....Pounce repeated yesterday's indoor workout
                   note: There is a disadvantage to training indoors and alone.........fewer distractions. To
                             compensate for this (two/three times a week), Daisy will be training at the same
                             time (with Pounce). Daisy is 12 years old, could use a bit more attention and
                             needs the activity. While Pounce needs work in situations that will require more
                             focus. She will learn how to "not be the center of attention" and calmly watch.
                   note: Pounce's UKC application form for single registration ready to mail in
Dec 16 prepared for more snow.....Pounce had a "slacker day" 
Dec 17 Saturday - winter storm forecast is 3-8 inches of snow by Sunday afternoon...with below zero temps & dangerous wind chills (20-30 below)
                   note: removed another 3+ inches of snow from the drive and shoveled the steps/walk
                             again (this is "getting old" very quickly)
                   note: With not much going on, the mind takes odd paths. For example, the snow blower
                             being used now seems to fit well with my age. Being 76 years old is not all that
                             bad because I am in good health (physically fit). The "machine" was purchased
                             from "inlaws" in 1991 and at that time it was about six years old. Living in
                             northern Illinois means it has been "used" regularly. Other than one tune-up
                             several years ago, a couple of spark plugs plus very infrequent oil changes, one
                             might surmise it has been treated rather badly. Stored in a shed in the off season,
                             this winter was no different than all the ones before. Put gas in the tank, choke
                             once and an easy pull on the starter cord (once or twice) fires it up (every time).
                             It is about 31 years old......not sure what that is in dog years.
At 11:30 pm the snow finally stopped. "Aired" all three dogs. And Kooly could not make it back to the door. His hind end completely gave out and was mired down. Kind of dragged him back to the house and knew he was not finished with airing. After shoveling out a good sized area, Kooly was taken out on a leash. He moved OK  and was soon ready to go back in. His hind legs are loosing a great deal of mobility, paws are knuckling over (mostly the left one) and becoming progressively worse. The Predisone and Gabapentin obviously are not going to cure him. He can still make it up the stairs as long as he is wearing a leash (for support and a sense of security). When is going to be difficult to decide, but waiting too long will not be fair.
Dec18 finished driveway around 9 am removing another 4" of snow. The temperature is 0°F with a wind chill of -16°F. That is as "warm" as it will be for the next 24+ hours 
                   note: so far we have had 20+ inches of snow this December    
late afternoon Pounce did an extended "workout" in another "upbeat" responsiveness exercise in the heated, indoor training area.......heeling on and off lead both sides, remote sits, working on the proper return to heel positions with retrieves, worked (a lot) on "in one spot" doing 45° pivots
clockwise and counter-clockwise to heel ("nose and toes"). Did whistle sits off motion on short retrieves plus extended remote sits and downs out of sight. In addition, she can now maintain an extended "whoa" stance for several minutes. Practiced on lead heeling backwards (beside me on both sides) plus doing so from a front sit position. Finished by throwing a few "excitement/fun"
bumpers out into the deep snow from the patio door.
                   note: All commands were regularly re-enforced with very low level e-collar "stims" as
                             per the Hillmann approach.
Dec 19 Pounce did her morning, indoor training session all off lead with no e-collar
                   note: later, around 11 am the temperature was 4°F with a wind chill of -12°F and 10+
                             inches of snow on the ground....Kooly is having a great deal of difficulty "airing"
Dec 20 The forecast is mild weather for the next 15 days with some rain. Hopefully, the rain will melt some of the snow and not leave a lot of ice. Pounce trained this morning with Daisy (indoor area). The session was kept very simple by taking turns....."sit and watch".....when not working. 
Dec 21 mailed in Pounce's HRC off from any training
Dec 22 Pounce and Daisy repeated a training session similar to the "together intro" of Dec 20th

                   note: heeling/sitting off lead, one on each side (and switching sides).....taking turns
                             retrieving plus more retrieves while "side by side" from a remote position
Dec 23 repeated Pounce/Daisy "Combo" indoor training about 2 inches of snow
                  note: Pounce is doing a very good job at "sticking to her job"...focusing and avoiding
                            the distractions of Daisy's work....both are off lead and wearing e-collars
Dec 24 Pounce and Daisy did another indoor session of training together....both very focused
Dec 25 day off...Christmas.....warm in the forties with rain.....still a lot of snow on the ground 
Dec 26 took today off.........nearing the point of letting Kooly go (almost called my Vet today)
                  note: fairly certain when this thaw is over...he will not be able to stand or walk on any
                            "crusty" ice cover (including the shoveled/cleared area in the airing yard) 
Dec 27, 28 turned cold again and crusty, rut covered ice was the norm........not good for a healthy dog and very difficult for Kooly....used the "whoa rope" setup as a "sling" for his "back end" and
I needed to wear the YAKTRAX on my boots (neither of us would have been able to walk safely)

       The following is a YouTube Video of Thorson Pond
  (often referred to as the Square Pond Dog Training Area)

Dec 29 cold and "icy".......Pounce trained indoors working on fun OB
Dec 30 This morning the final decision was let Kooly cross the "Rainbow Bridge".

Dec 2 cold, windy and damp - no training today......did scout for geese......twice
                       note: The "freeze-up" with ice is near.......and bringing in northern geese.
Dec 3 setup by 7:15 am...slight northwest wind, same "look" as the Dec 1st 8:15 am about ten geese set their wings right in front of the blind. One shot produced a "Scotch Double". Pounce was all over these and definitely is "hooked" on geese. Two quick retrieves and a rapid loading of decoys/gear had us "Out of Dodge" on  the short drive home. A hot shower was the finishing touch to another excellent adventure of goose hunting on Thorson Pond.
                       note: again Pounce had one "good grip" and another "not so pretty"  (see photos)
So far preventing "goose education" is working well as the geese continue to "show up" in smaller groups. The following photos of Thorson Pond (Dec. 2009 & 11) are examples of the opposite issue. Flocks this size just can't/shouldn't be pressured/hunted until they begin to split up (a lot).

YAKTRAX "ice walkers"

Dec 4 first snowfall of the season most of the day (2-4+ inches)...goose patterns will change and won't be able to "drive in" to unload gear. Use either the small ice fishing sled or the larger Beavertail "Predator" layout blind/sled. More geese on the pond yesterday afternoon (after the morning hunt). Quite a few are not educated, but nothing moving in this weather.

south side  2011

Dec 31 day off

                  note: found a "how to link" for making grass mats (for next season's boat blind
                         project)........have a good source of tall grass and the time

Dec 13 very cold this week (single digits) with another heavy snow storm Friday/Saturday
                 note: 9:30 am.....cold......7°F feels like -4°F.....begin Pounce's fun, indoor OB sessions
                 note: Pounce is signed up for a Jan. 11th (morning) Advanced/CGCA Obedience Class
                 note: Rock Solid Boat Products "hardware" for the new boat blind has arrived...started
                           working on the design for a lower profile, "dugout" style blind which may be easily
                           removed for hunts where transporting the "Migrator" (piggyback) is the choice.
                           (removed "tie downs", rotate, loosen two "heavy duty" gunnel clamps and it's off) 

"Goose Down"  (Nov. 22nd)

right click on icon for larger photo

north side 2011

                normal "whoa" rope
        rear support for Kooly's issue

Two More!

"out the front door (at noon)"

right click on icon for larger photo

click on "mirror" icon
   (for larger photo)

Dec 1 Thursday (scouted for geese yesterday).....need to be setup by no later than 7:15 am.......dress warm
                    note: ready for geese by 7:30 am with setup similar to the November 22 hunt (six more decoys)
The first small flock of eight flew straight in from the east (west wind) and were in a glide path when one was dropped (half way to Pounce's 2nd Illinois limit). Twenty minutes later about a dozen came in the exact same way......noisy, too. One did not leave and we were finished. Scurried to pick up and home by 8:35 am. Pounce now has her second "Illinois Limit". She is totally into the hunting routine, but still not very consistent at getting a "solid, balanced goose grip" for land coming out of water (one excellent and the other "awkward").
                    note: Before the last hunt (Nov. 22), it had been a year since wearing the neoprene vest and she
                              was very "squirrely". This morning she "struck a whoa pose" and never moved. "Easy!"