after "working the drill", Pounce went through an "upbeat", in drive, off lead OB session - she's really getting into it now.....excited and precise...it hasn't been easy...but "staying the course" with Hillmann's
philosophy and approach is paying off

Dec 5
afternoon trained at the RockCut State Park DTA - Pounce ran 8 "stand alone/ send back" singles
             note: the nine inch snowfall a week ago knocked the tall cover down some.....just right
             note: used 3" black & white, soft DT bumpers and Pounce "pointed out" they were not as
                       exciting the mallards two days ago........going out to retrieve was fast, but send backs
                        did not have the fire..........Kooly ran five singles and Daisy did the four shortest           

Map data ©2015 Google

    AOF marking drill    Retention Pond "land area"

Dec 2 snow & mud - day off......December & January plan is to "average" five days a week training
Dec 3 trained at the Square Pond DTA in the corn field - Pounce did 3-peat blinds with mallards and

then a set of three "stand alone/send backs" in the opposite direction for the second setup
               note: by design, the marks were challenging to get to and easy to find
               note: "the design" was to have Pounce ignore the hard, stiff corn stalks and not square the
                         rows since "ignoring" is  more likely on marks rather than blinds
               note: the "regular" exposure to the corn stalks and quite varied amounts of snow on the ground
                         has presented an ideal conditioning process...she is adjusting rapidly and today was a
                         very exciting time for her...relaxed, confident, fast and accurate...both of us are having fun
               note: awhile back Pounce was taught the "come in drill", this became a very useful skill/tool to
                         rein in her penchant to go into a "willie-nilly" hunt mode when running blinds - it simply
                         re-focuses her into more willingly seeking input and then taking better casts
               note: temperature in the upper 30's, heavy cloud cover with a stiff breeze
Kooly and Daisy ran some "send back" singles in tandem in the "grassy" area and Daisy continues
to do well after her recent health issue (not pushing her at all) 

Dec 22 cloudy, 38 degrees with a 10 mph wind out of the SE, trained at Rockton Road DTA a Stickmen
Marking drill to begin regular work on marking concepts.....marks were 100-175 yards in length and
Pounce "fogged" all......ran the session in the "stand/alone send/back" mode.......with the high volume noise issued from a four lane highway to the west Pounce's well developed, visible arm cast release expectation work super......Wow! that was fun......but she didn't give me much time for photos

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Dec 9 all three dogs went along on the ride to duck camp to place a 2016 license sticker on the camper and "fetch" the pump action shotgun for Pounce's HRC training (left behind on last trip)
                          note: temperature in the 50's.....parked hunt camp trailer for winter too soon

Dec 10 Pounce & Daisy had the morning off and Kooly went on a goose hunt.......very warm for December with a stiff breeze out of the south. Yesterday's scouting indicated there was no hurry to setup and Kooly's first goose of the day came around 9 pm. Should have had two....but the one was plenty...cause it was
BANDED! About an hour later, Kooly had his Illinois limit of two. However, Kooly had to work for this one. He was almost there when the goose came back to life with just a broken wing. Kooly wrestled him into a mass of cattails and lost his grip. Back in the water, the big goose was faster and widening the gap when it ended.......... abruptly
                          note: Kooly's old body has been "around the block" more a few times and he is going on
                                   16 years older than my 75 (in dog years), but there is still a hot fire in the furnace.

Dec 4  beautiful day to train - Pounce did some yard work for an easy day change of pace-setup, her 1st
HRC marking off the gun drill which builds on the "push/pull" skills, used the cap gun for her first "go"
and focused specifically on making the barrel not unlike the "hand over head" expectation when running blinds.......initially just becoming aware.....no confusion, again a "quick study", will repeat with the next session using a real gun and eventually to primer shotgun loads with real ducks out of multiple wingers

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December 3rd - 17 months old

examples of a "whoa rope"  (Daisy & Taffey)
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          Pounce's Winter Focus - preparing to run HRC Finished Tests in 2016 (plus an AKC OB class)

Pounce's HRC training "preps" to date 1} already seen ducks from wingers, 2) shooting primer loads from the line, 3) steady from a hide and at the line, 4) has an excellent memory (no issues with moderate distance winger triples), 5) has actual hunting experience retrieving ducks and geese and 6) is well into transition (running cold blinds)

               Step # 1 "back track a bit" - winger singles with winger primer plus duck calling at the line (and from
                            the winger in the field) plus aiming, tracking with empty gun at the line but "fake shucking"
                            after each mark (when smooth - progress to step #2)
                                         note: make sure Pounce is in "drive"- very excited and yet responsive
                       #2 repeat number one with real primer loads
                       #3 depends on progress 
                       #4 should easily be be ready for once a week, early spring group HRC training
Dec 11 day off for all
Dec 12 trained at RockCut State Park DTA - warm, cloudy with light fog....unusual......setup three remote wingers (Gunner's Up) with duck call and primer reports using 3" black & white DT bumpers
              note: purpose - start of HRC training, used normal gun motions at the line with primer reports in
                        the field, dog hide as "holding blind", rubber mat and bucket at the line
              note: Pounce was first "jazzed up", with her bumper routine and "sat" at the line "in drive", 
                        she was steady at the line on all three singles which were preceded by the Dogtra beeper
                        and duck calling.....flew to each AOF, marked well in the cover and came back just as fast
              note: repeated the first two singles firing the gun at the line (primer blanks) 
              note: did a short OB drill afterwards to see where her mind was at......that went well, too
              note: very good start
Kooly and Daisy ran the singles with "stand alone/send backs".....Pounce's marking was better & faster


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note: spring Google Map screenshot

Dec 23 had a small window in the rain this afternoon - trained at the Square Pond DTA in the south "grassy" area, Pounce was introduced to the Poison Bird Blind quite awhile ago when developing the KRD (Key Relationship Drill) and decided to review this with a more specific drill...."copied" one from Carol Cassity's "Building A Retriever - Drills & More"....used six orange bumpers (pile for the blinds), gunner/stickman "half-way" and another stickman at the line plus a rubber mat, throwing three different angled singles away from the "line to the pile" - lights went on very quickly and she responded nicely into a responsive sit on the third single (when deciding momentarily to break off the line to the blind), took the correct cast....then she repeated the third single with an "I get it!" answer
                    note: lined pile at the beginning and then after to finish
                    note: doing it "solo" required "mulling over" each step (think before doing), it was a bonus
                              to have her make one mistake and then have both of us deal with it correctly
                    note: there is a rather extensive list of skills that must be in place to make this go well, she is
                              making the work appear to be a lot easier than it is....I'm just along for the ride
                    note: decided to make a photo diagram with the order identified and when doing so, getting
                              the sequence labeled correctly was not as simple as expected                   

Dec 20 decided to "desert" the Bear's game in the first quarter....Pounce, Daisy and Kooly needed exercise,  a quick drive to the Rockton Road DTA,, Pounce & Daisy did six, long "walking, leap-frog, stand alone" singles (good cover & windy conditions)....Pounce was very steady, Kooly then came out for a "solo" run 
                          note: Dremel day for all three
Dec 21 -
afternoon - trained at RockCut State Park DTA - Pounce ran 9 short "stand alone/send back"
singles with an orange bumper and primer pistol working on an AOF, pinpoint marking drill from Hillmann's
early Land Fundamentals - all singles in a planned sequence on the same side of the station....in cover
                          note: Pounce demonstrated the same slow run back to the line similar to a training session
                                    the other day and decided "seeing the line" from out in cover was maybe not clear
                                    and/or confusing....therefore, decided to totally "amp up" her excitement level with a
                                    few "silly, wild antics" and she was soon going full out back to the line.....lesson????
                                    confusion is better solved  with excitement and "show me"....rather than pressure
                          note: drove to the Retention Pond DTA to check out the very large, cleared area on the
                                    south side and it is a choice section of land for long marking setups and will up 
                                    my exercise program (long walk in, especially carrying a winger, or two....may modify
                                    my Migrator dolly)

Map data ©2015 Google

Dec 31 forecast is a high of 21°F = day off for Daisy & Kooly, Pounce worked in the pool area on her upbeat, in "drive", OB fun "stuff" and focusing on "whoa" getting ready for our Jan AKC OB class
                             note: beginning to wonder if any consistent structure for Pounce's training will be
                                       possible during January and February (not going to do parking lots)

Dec 17 Pounce trained in the afternoon at Roscoe Riverside Park DTA - ran Hillmann's "Star Drill" working on lining and mostly handling in the field - worked four of the five points and had a ton of zip the entire drill, displayed a big improvement in the "loopy sit issue" - started in drive and finished that way.....picked up and went to her old, first KRD area.....retrieved the single after running a poison bird blind, then a blind tight behind the gunner followed by the blind wide, behind the gunner.......no issues and clearly in "fun" drive
                           note: ran this "stand alone/walk back to the line'', easy to do with excellent memory
                           note: on the way back to the van, Pounce was given her first intro of "sit to flush", again 
                                     a quick study because of high responsiveness, welcomes eagerly new "stuff"
                                     because she is always in it for the game.......easy to teach and with many, many
                                     re-enforced, correct reps....it will become all she knows
                           note: cloudy, temperature in the low 30's, breezy with wind chill in low 20's and standing                                            water with skimmed ice in a few low areas...the Rock River is almost out of its banks
Dec 18 temperature in the low 20's, wind 15 mph, cloudy with light snow, great day to be indoors - trained in the indoor, heated swimming pool addition - late night after the Bulls 4 overtimes loss. did a brief intro to
teaching the "whoa" position using a thick rope (see photos from years ago).....within a few minutes Pounce was assuming the "whoa" stance (stationary) during a heeling session.......move "sit" tug re-enforce on the flat collar on her neck, move off on heel "whoa" and tug up on the rope in back......slick, easy and fun with zero issues....the first few times the dog will attempt to default to a sit, but the "whoa rope" keeps them
standing and re-enforces the command...a well timed "good" establishes "happy thoughts" about the short,

easy and zero pressure process
                            note: eventually Pounce will be "placed" in a remote position and be able to execute four 
                                      alternating commands in a random order (off lead while in drive) "here", "sit", "down"
                                      or "whoa", the rationale is to have a fun, skill exercise which elevates responsiveness
                                      followed by an "exciting game"
                            note: using Hillmann's teaching philosophy and re-enfocing approach made this a much
                                      simpler, first session "do" than in the past  (more efficient and effective trainer/pup
                                      interactions)

Dec 19 another cold, windy day - late evening....Pounce did a brief OB session focusing on "whoa" and
again found it almost unreal with how quickly she "understands" new things, to a certain extent it has to be  the Hillmann process - show how in drive, apply a well timed, familiar re-enforcing technique, let the dog know it did "whatever" correctly with praise and maintain the "game like format" with a fun reward in drive
                           
note: this second session had Pounce walking at heel and at varying intervals responding 
                                      quickly and correctly to "sit", "down" or "whoa"several times

    middle east blind               Pounce                middle west blind
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Daisy and Kooly needed some exercise (not a day off). Therefore, a quick, late afternoon trip to the Square Pond DTA was in order.  Pounce ran a short, triple memory check set. Walked out, threw three marks (with no stickmen) and went back to line to run Pounce. She locked on each AOF with no hesitations.

Kooly and Daisy ran four singles in tandem ("stand alone/send backs"). Pounce finished up with a quick run of Hillmann's seven bumper lining drill. 

Dec 25-29 five days off for all......scouted for geese.....here one day & "gone" the next....with rain, snow, 
sleet and wind on the 28th, December was excellent nearly to the end & now a bitter, cold start in January
Dec 30 snow (good amount) and the driveway is finally clear....today is 10 degrees better than tomorrow.
Pounce trained at the RockCut State Park DTA and ran both (2 sets - of 3-peat blinds east & west side),
then Kooly and Daisy ran five singles each, Pounce "insisted" she was not finished so we "did" two short "doubles in the snow" with white bumpers - she was "all over" those (right on top of each AOF)

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Dec 24 trained late morning at Rockcut State Park DTA, sunny, about 40 degrees several dogs in the area
that were running loose........went out and decided where to place a set of three walkout blinds, marked with orange ribbons and moved back to the line for a quick view approval and photos, by then the dogs had "dispersed" out into the long paths in the woods to the east........Pounce was brought out and we soon had each blind planted. After walking back west to the line, two Irish Setters came flying out of the woods about 100 yards away...soon followed by their owner. Put Pounce on a leash until they were "packed" into a car.

On blind number one Pounce was on both sides of line, sat quickly with each whistle (five) and did not need to follow her out......good start . No other dogs...yet. On blind number two, she takes a good line and  when "exploding" off the line begins to "suck" to the first blind. Couple of whistles and that "issue" was resolved. Then on the next handle almost appeared that she spotted the orange ribbon......it was too good. 

Blind number three had her off on a perfect line, then she began a slight fade to the left  (could have been the wind or suction from the other blinds). The terrain in this area has a ditch that gradually becomes deeper to the right. I thought there would be no visual problems from the line in this setup. WRONG! Just as she needed a cast, the whistle was a split second too late and she disappeared.

After waiting a few seconds, she should have re-appeared.  Nope! She's sitting....out of sight. Soooo??!!
Pounce has done a few sessions of Dennis Voight's "Come In Drill". A special aspect of this work causes a dog to be  more responsive (especially when casting). Three short "here tweets" and Pounce suddenly pops back up over the rise, sits and says, "OK! What do you want me to do?" Two casts, we are finished. 

Got back to to van without any dogs bothering us. That was fun.....for both of us.

This will become a 3-Peat "setup" and more distance is possible back to the west.

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Dec 6 Sunday - day off
Dec 7  late afternoon trained at RockCut Stste Park DTA - setup was three cold blinds in the far
west end....ran Kooly first because the black blind stakes were difficult to see (looking into the sunset and quite a bit of tall weed stems plus brush) - next dog out I know better about the exact position of the blinds for Pounce's run, followed her out (after each handle) and she was in high drive.....fast,  but each blind was kind of "hacky", then again much better than what I expected, Kooly and Daisy are experienced and Pounce wasn't that far off from what they did.........Pounce came back out after Daisy's session and worked four walking singles in the scrub brush area.....she was again "on fire", steady until released and right on each mark (orange bumpers)
            note: it was a fist pumping, "smiley face" training day
            note: with a day off between training.....Pounce was quite a bit "fresher"

Dec 1 mid afternoon - couldn't train at the hay field - entrance too muddy......so we trained at the Square Pond DTA. Pounce first ran the "ELSD" next to the long barn wall using nine orange bumpers (refer to November journal)...had a break in the action when Kooly and Daisy did a little work....next up, Pounce ran three blinds in the corn field across erosion strips with a stiff cross breeze out of the west...the corn stalks were impacting her momentum some as she zig-zagged and often squared the rows not looking beyond what was right in front of her....however, much better than yesterday......therefore, we did three walking singles (mallards, too) through the stalks, sat like a statue at the remote line with an intense focus until released (delayed), she ripped" through the head high stalks taking a straight line to each AOF....perspective?? more marks...fewer blinds in the corn field for awhile    
                         note: Daisy's "work" was the first real exercise since her pancreatitis attack (two very short
                                   puppy like fun bumpers)

             goose blind                  looking out                 Kooly's hide               early morning                  bight sun

                Kooly's "bling"          water wrestling             cattail fight                   the escape                  Kooly's limit

Dec 13 Sunday rainy day with a small window around noon - Kooly and Daisy had a day off, Pounce ran a two tiered wagon wheel - three inch white bumpers at ten paces and eight orange bumpers at twenty
                         note: ran the white from a left side heel returning (tossing) bumpers to their original
                                   positions. then did the far eight orange the same way.....repeated the full setup off
                                   a right side heeling position (in the Square Pond STA grassy area)
                         note: Pounce fogged every bumper & never once had to be called back to resend - "on fire",
                                   very fast with butt tucked and focused the entire session)...looking for the additional
                                   "reward game" when finished
Dec 14  Monday and another rainy day with a late afternoon break - Pounce ran five (longer than usual) walking singles in rolling cover with shrubs (here and there) -  steady, fast and right to the AOFs on four with a "blow by" on one....which she recovered quickly from....on her own......these were her most challenging marks to date (cover, terrain and wind)......no real problems

                          note: trained at RockCut State Park DTA
                          note: Daisy & Kooly did four short "stand alone/send back" singles in tandem (exercise)

                          note: heavy overcast - used 3" black & white DT Bumper plus a duck call 

            60 day agenda - compartmentalize with a focus on balance (create "Planning Page") 
                          strengthen "van to the line" routine          
                          establish HRC expectations
                          develop marking skills (hunt test vs. field trial distances)
                          develop transition skills - growth & maintenance
                          Jan/Feb weekly AKC OB class
                           introduce upland hunting (steady to flush & shot)
 
Dec 15
mid-afternoon cold and windy at RockCut State Park DTA - did the three blinds (3-peat setup from Dec 7th) and it was very obvious that she still had the "pictures" of where each one was.....too easy now ....decided to do two long, walking singles out to the southeast and then back toward the van - steady and could just barely see her sitting and waiting (steady).....with the wind blowing, the arm cast release worked well and she "fogged" both....another "smiley face" session
                         note: challenging cover
Dec16 setup three remote wingers in Rockcut State Park DTA & did the "van to the line routine" (with 3 holding blinds) and ending up in the ultra low dog hide FOR EACH of the three singles......remotes gave
duck call and beeper plus primer report on launch, shotgun from line with an additional primer report,

maximum excitement was necessary = Pounce has been conditioned to respond well in drive
                          note: at least three minutes are spent in each blind working on facing it or looking out, exit
                                    is done heeling backwards and all movement toward the line must be on a loose lead,
                                    once to the line, Pounce is sent to the hide where she remains until called back to the
                                    line to sit at heel, gun is then loaded and the process of launching marks is begun, 
                                    Pounce is not sent until the last hull is shucked and the gun is placed in the stand    

                          note: did each mark from the van and back (three times with a brief break after each), then
                                    Pounce had a longer break as Kooly and Daisy came out to run four "stand
                                    alone/send/back" singles
after Pounce had a rest - the "van to the line" routine was repeated as wingers #1 and #3 were fired
off as a very wide, "schooled" double - Pounce was steady and responded well to the changes

                          note: the marks were not all that long, but the cover was challenging......then again this
                                    session was more about other skills
                          note: she did today's work extremely well for the first time, nothing new is difficult if it is
                                    planned to be seamless and
kept in drive
                          note: the cold, wind and work seemed much easier to deal with when things go as planned