Evening training group at the Harrison Road DTA - Pounce ran a wide triple with a middle, short "wiper' (right longest was the memory, left, then middle "go") with hidden wingers (behind pine trees). After the triple were two blinds. A "wide swing" at line was challenging and the wiper did its job. Short middle (wiper) was picked up quickly.  Pounce had a brief hunt on the far right mark and a larger one on the far left. Both blinds were done well.
            note: things to work on 1) more experience with triples, 2) continue the focus on
                      "cheaty stuff" (water) and 3) tighten up "things" at the line (
slow down).
            note: target date for first Master test....the middle of July- 9 weeks of
practice
            note: regular flyers starting Monday the 14th (next week)
May 11 The extended "rainy" forecast for the next two days did not look good. However,
there appeared to be a window around noon at the Bong Rec Area DTA. We arrived on time and it was sprinkling. It was not warm 43°F....with the wind out of the southeast. The choice to train on the "Bluff" was rather obvious. Two setups similar to last night's group session were run. They were different triples with the middle, short marks as the "wiper go" birds. The "presentation at the line" was noticeably slowed down. After each triple, there were two cold blinds.  Most of all, I was reminded of how much I hate training in a cold rain. Actually, it was more of a persistent drizzle. Pounce did not seem to care and got in some excellent, slow practice "reps". 
             note: ordered chemicals and sprayer for the Thorson Pond "duckweed" treatment
May 12 with rain beginning in the early afternoon...Pounce trained in the morning at the Thorson DTA "Grassy" Area. The setup was an improved version of a line drill idea from April 18th (see April journal link below). With three Dogtra remotes, Pounce practiced the "look" (head movement and butt on the ground not moving) as cued by an AKC fake gun on a wide, three bumper setup. The cues ("out there") for each retrieve were the sounds from three Dogtra electronics. With no "bird in the air" this reduced the distraction level so as to isolate/focus/practice the mechanics of body positioning and the "look" for each of three retrieves. It is basically providing an incremental phase before the more exciting and final expectation of mallards in the air. The rationale..."It is inefficient to initially practice challenging, advanced multiple skills in combination at full speed in the beginning."
                   note: There is no Hillmann video dealing with an AKC gun distraction at the
                              line. Therefore, a sequence that fits that philosophy was designed......
                               ....."teach, practice and incrementally introduce distractions." 
                   note: This setup was run three times "left to right" and twice "right to left".
                              Pounce was "put up" between each "go". Another layer of training was 
                              the "van to the holding blind to the line" routine was practiced five times.
                   note: This "drill" will be a regular "yard work" warm-up for several weeks
                              (once to the right and then to the left).
May 13 Mother's Day......Pounce had the day off.
May 14 Rain was forecast until around noon. Four mallards were thawed out and the plan was to train at the W-Property. Arriving at noon, it was apparent that rainfall was heavy. Therefore, the decision to keep the van on the gravel made for a lot of walking to move all the equipment into the field - four remote wingers........each with a holding blind plus electronics and mallards. Also, there was a holding blind at the line.

However, first up was a session of the "Gun Drill" described above. This time there were four Dogtra remotes on stakes were fanned out (mallards at each one in calf high cover).  The ducks could not be seen (just the short orange stakes with remotes). The first run was "one at a time". The second was run as a "schooled quad".

Next up was a "schooled quad" with remote wingers and mallards. The four singles were picked up with no issues. Then they were thrown as a "quad" with the retrieves done as described on the photo/diagram.  Pounce needed some handling on the short, "inside" mark to the right (good line...just ran by it). Lastly, a blind was run "past the old fall" of the longest mark on the left (#4). Pounce was not nearly as tired as I was when we finished. 
              note: After a quick inventory, the #2 Dogtra electronics was missing. Walking
                        behind the van, it was almost totally submerged in a puddle of muddy water. 
                       Tapping the "horn" opening on a white, paper towel produced several drops
                       of water. When home it was opened and moisture was obvious, but not in 
                       a large amount. After "ricing" overnight, it is dry and working.   

May 6 Sunday - day off from training
May 7
Monday high of 70 degrees - decided to train at the W-Property in Wisconsin. The "east section" was empty with a few FT trainers running blinds toward the west using the recently re-designed water area. Got the "OK" for what I was going to do off to the east (not going to impact their training). The setup was four remote wingers with mallards. Pounce ran four singles and then ran again (reversing the order) from another line fifty yards to the west. This was not a flip-flop setup (same AOFs, but altered "views" from a different line in the second set).  Marking was fast and accurate.

             note: The "other" yard work began this morning......mowed the lawn.

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May 22 mid-morning...Pounce trained at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA. With no recent mowing the lush, grassy cover was almost knee high (and full of little, irritating knats). The plan was to the "delayed quad" by "schooling" it first before running the full setup. Each of the four marks were thrown as singles first ("schooling"). 

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May 2 trained at the Gallagher FT property with pro trainer Corey Zandonai (long day)...Pounce ran a triple and two blinds plus some much needed "clarification" work in the swim-by pond (the issue of cheating). Marking/line expectations were good......water blinds.....not so good.

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After picking-up the setup, a Rock River "dunk" for Daisy and Pounce was definitely a cool way to end a "warm" session. 

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"Pouncintensity" - the first 3+ years

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May 1 second spring day in the 70's         Pounce ran a new, "7 Point Blind" at the Gallagher FT
property in the morning......plus one more (ten blinds total). This went well! Then "did" a late afternoon/evening group training session at the Harrison Road DTA......a "full plate" for Pounce.

May 24 The five weekdays' of training are now "complicated" in the morning because Lylah is out of school for the summer. With her autism, any training attempted with Pounce during the morning will need to be "modified" because Lylah will be with me. Adjusting for her autism will prove to be an additional challenge and it may be good for her. Since my wife must take care of her invalid mother (every morning, several miles away), the next three months will be "interesting". Keeping things simple will be the focus. Training nearby "at sunrise" may be a partial solution and her summer school session of three weeks will provide some relief. It is a bit after noon and 84°F...headed for some water training. The water setup was on Thorson Pond (five minutes away). The focus was on angle entry/exits and responsive handling. The wind was out of the south and tended to push her toward the shoreline which meant she had to "deal with that factor" to avoid being "pushed" to the shoreline while being "pulled" at the same time (both factors were additive. (Both factors had the same influence). Staying in the water on the return was "aided" by the wind. She swam five lines. When finished, a parallel to the shore "line" was done really well. This was a brief, fun session on a day that was getting warm very quickly.  Once home, I did my "yard-work" (mowed front yard). Pounce will not be attending the evening group training session...too hot!

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    The "setup" was in an area on the north side of the W-Property - Madison Retriever Club.

May 18 day off for Pounce.....no training - bird freezer unloaded, defrosted and cleaned plus the kitchen refrigerator has had the blower fan/compressor duct cleaned, air filter replaced, was totally defrosted and finally plugged back in......not exactly a day off.

          note: in the "bottom" of the bird freezer, I "unearthed" a dozen pheasants from a tower
                    shoot that was several years ago
May19 Saturday - day off for the trainer.....except the lawn HAD TO BE MOWED!!!
May 20 Sunday...rained in the morning with afternoon "temps" in the 50's...needed to exercise Daisy and Pounce a bit - set up four blinds for Pounce at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA where mowing has been at a standstill....grass is knee high and of value for training. After Pounce ran the blinds, Daisy walked with me to remove the blind stakes and fetch a few fun bumpers (for a little exercise). After the blind work, Pounce did a pin-point marking drill in another "high grass" area. (It is a very large park.)  Four holding blinds were set out in the same pattern that will be used in the "soon to be taught" delay quad presentation. Ten singles were thrown using the "stand alone/send back" mode. Pounce was very accurate and fast the entire session. As usual, she was looking for more when we finished.

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May 17 With a change in plans, Pounce was taken to the Madison Retriever Club Hook Lake DTA with the focus on "flyers". First was a double using a Gunners Up remote winger and a remote Zinger Uplander for the flyer. The remote winger threw a long splashing Dokken. The flyer was shot from the line....close, exciting and with a big splash in the water plus a follow-up sluice shot. That went as planned and Pounce was steady. The second double (with a flyer thrown in a different arc) was shot closer and sluiced. The memory was a long mallard (shot in the first double) thrown down the shoreline out into the water. This setup had  a blind behind the winger station. Again no issues and went off as planned. On the way home we were driving past the Gallagher FT property. No one was there and plenty of time left before needing to get home. Pounce ran the first three "legs" of a challenging, water point blind that was designed last fall. She has run only the first "leg" a few times. Today, she did the second and third....really well. The third was her first "across two points" blind. The drive home went by fast. This was not an easy day. After arriving home there was just enough time to mow the lawn. Then there was just enough time to supervise Lylah's (our granddaughter) swimming session. Then there was just enough time to make it to the Thursday evening group training. Then when arriving home, the refrigerator was not working...had to clean out the filter and begin a defrosting process.
I need a day off.

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running from the shade was "necessary"

May 25 Friday....day off....Pounce's days off this month were the 6th, 17th and 18th and she trained the other twenty- three days. The next five days will be very warm. During this "heat wave", she will be only doing brief, early morning sessions plus a couple of days off.
May 26 Saturday hot....93°F (cool early).....Pounce will do an early morning session of working around holding blinds. The recent running of an unusual concept "out of the blue" was not very fair or efficient. This training/teaching provides some exposure to the actions of running lines to or past holding blinds.....a variation in the "Organized Chaos" marking drill. It is the "Focus Drill". 

May 5 It is Saturday morning after yesterday's longer than usual day in the field (plus the normal work around the house and yard). Getting old is often more obvious when first waking. However, once all plans for the day are reviewed, aches and pain tend to become pushed out of the picture. There is too much good stuff to do and no time for bemoaning the obvious. Lots to do...starting off with killing the hordes of tiny ants that have invaded the kitchen. "Honey do" list is first.        Around noon, Pounce visited Thorson Pond for another round of "disciplined casting". "Round" means fun, precise, repetitious practice working towards establishing reliable conditioned responses......"The Hillmann mantra". 
                     note: With not a lot of time available, the pond is only a five minute drive. Yesterday, the indoor swimming pool (closed down for the winter) was prepared for another eight months of swimming....every day. This morning, the temperature was finally up to 84°F and the chemicals have completed their work. Jacuzzi water therapy and swimming are absolutely wonderful for my "old knees" and our autistic granddaughter.  

May 10 Thursday around 11 am, Pounce ran a four bumper lining drill "down the shore" on
the north shore of Thorson Pond and then another "up the" on the south side. Several geese were not particularly thrilled about our training interruption. Pounce went about her work without paying any attention to them. This was another good session of working on becoming more "watery" and less "cheaty".....very good.  

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Due to fact that it was warming up rather quickly, only three holding blinds were used. However, four "Faux Shrubs" were planted in front of the setup to "clutter things up a bit". The grass in the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA has not been mowed and is now almost knee high. When the four blinds past the holding blinds were completed, the three right in front were run. After a brief break, three "angle backs" and an "angled in" singles were thrown from the holding blinds (in the "stand alone/send back" mode). 
                             note: Pounce is not the only one that needs to focus when running this drill. 

May 9 Wednesday....Pounce trained at Bong Rec Area. Rain was falling on the way there, However, it was supposed to fade away around 11:20 am. The wind was out of the south west. The setup was to run three singles "down the shore" which "schooled" a "down the shore" triple. The "Gravel Pond" is gradually recovering from the "clearing" that was done mistakenly a few years ago. When the marking presentation was completed, Pounce ran two cold blinds south of the "triple work". The session went by quickly and the "little over an hour long" drive home has us there by 2:30 pm.  

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May 28 middle 90's for the high.....not going anywhere......day off for Pounce....did not eat
May 29 high of 90°F......another day off for Pounce unless we train really early....summer "schedule" is impacted by two "issues" 1) Lylah is not in school (except for four weeks of summer school in July) 2) she has to be with me between 8 am until 12 pm. Other training alternatives are up at sunrise or water in the afternoon heat. The summer is not going to be simple. Then there are the testing weekends........at the very least five. Training mornings are probable on Saturday and Sunday.

Up at 5PM and left to train at the Riverside Parks DTA. I did not know the gates are closed at night. Soooo....time was of the essence and Kelly Meyer baseball and soccer fields were near. The gate was open and the flip-flop triples setup was soon in place. With the short grass, putting out the "Faux
Shrubs" was rather obvious. With the "white" soccer goals quite visible, the setup was "busy". The idea that short grass is easy was soon labeled with "it depends." Almost any "new look" has a learning curve.  We made the deadline of being home before 8 PM. At 2 pm it is 90°F (just as the forecast projected). This has been more like August. 

May 8 Pounce trained in the morning at the Thorson Pond DTA. Since the evening group
session was to include diversions, a land setup was designed with two sets of mallard singles each with a diversion bird thrown on the way back. Using an HRC line with a shot gun (using primer only shells) and an Avery Ultra-Low dog hide, the two sets on land went well. After moving the wingers to the shoreline, two more sets of mallard singles each with a diversion mallard (all in the water) were done again with an HRC line format (plus hide). Pounce marked "from the hide" and remained there until called to heel for the initial retrieves. All four "sets" were easy/fun for Pounce and has done this many times. Today was simply review/practice.

Pounce went to the Tuesday, late afternoon/evening training group session - ran three mallard singles from completely hidden wingers with all marks being angle backs....then two blinds
                  note: the marks were not easy for Pounce....one blind was easy, the other was not
May 23 trained at the W Property with pro trainer Corry Zandonai  The setup was a flyer double
with two blinds. Once again, the focus on Pounce was at the line and this focus is showing
good progress. She "stepped on" both marks and ran the water blind really well. The blind in front of the flyer station holding blind (after the flyer) resulted in a bit of a "ping-ponging" However, that did not have any impact on the memory. The water blind was very good.

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May 15 around noon Pounce did the "gun drill" in the Thorson Pond DTA grassy area (very similar to the setup done yesterday at the W-Property except with two Dokkens and two bumpers). Then we moved to the pond and Pounce ran a solid session of disciplined casting. Both workouts provided a series of very precise "reps". After picking up the equipment, the five minute drive home got us there in time for Lylah's (our Granddaughter) afternoon swimming and exercise session. When that was completed, Pounce and I headed for the Four Lakes DTA for a group training session. Pounce ran a triple with a blind and honor (busy day and it went well). The group training session effort by Pounce revealed that a great deal of progress has been made. The "corner has been turned" and two more months of practice should make her first Master test very doable.
May 16 Wednesday....was going to train at the Harrison Road DTA in the morning, but a group was already there. Being in a "time crunch"....drove back to the Riverside Park DTA and ran two longer KRD's (single with concept blinds....behind the gun, under the arc, through the old fall and wide of the fall). The first KRD blinds were at about 125 yards toward the east and the second  around 155 yards to the north. All blinds had the "across the gravel road" concept. The "total" was two singles and eight concept blinds......excellent precise, practice. Pounce trained at the the Sand Ponds DTA in the late afternoon around 5:30 pm. The southwest pond has doubled in size. Pounce swam five different angles to the new point blind. Two blinds were dropped on the opposite side so as to run them as reverse blinds (after walking back around the shoreline). 

Attaining the status of a fully trained Labrador Retriever is somewhat analogous to a young child on a very long trip in an automobile. Are we there.....yet?  Are we.......there........yet? How much longer is it going to take? Are we there.....yet??????...etc." We are getting closer." You said that a long time ago!"

The analysis of Pounce's group training session was a bit different than the usual. There were "unique" choices. The initial "idea" was to run a double where the go bird was planted before coming to the line. This was to be treated as if "I did not see the mark!" (the dog) even though there was a shot. You could "opt out" of this by simply having the hidden gunner (behind a pine tree) throw a duck. A few did that. One or two wanted to "win the training session" and ran it as a blind by releasing with "back" and handling immediately. My decision to "go with the the flow" was based on "I would prefer to see what would happen in a training session....first." 1) Will she go as sent....even though she saw nothing? She fired fast......that question was answered. In a test the "not seeing it" is very much less likely.....but it does happen. 2) The second answer was "supplied" when she fogged out, kept going and began a wild hunt. A quick whistle in a hunt test would be the obvious solution (If I "have" a handle). The memory was not a problem. Then, the second "trick" presentation was a cold blind placed directly in front of a large holding blind. No problem. ..with a good initial line and a couple of quick whistles BEFORE heading past the blind. The second part of the setup was a single with a blind down a very narrow corridor of pine trees...no problem with that, either. The session was fun and interesting for a "change of pace". However, once was enough. The highlight of the session occurred as Pounce was waiting for her turn at the line. There was no holding blind and people/dogs were walking back and forth nearby.  The ATV left to re-bird and  the honor was "in place" and visible. During this longer that usual pause, the trainer who was running the line walked over and commented. "She sure looks relaxed and calm."        Nine months of working on this issue is beginning to reveal progress. 

May 30 rain and cooler, the Madison Retriever Club has a training day for members at 3:30 PM. It will
be run by pro trainer Corey Zandonai (Wobbly Retrievers). We did not train this morning and the rain is suppose to "let up" at about the right time. Pounce is almost ready to run her first AKC Master test and large training groups (like this) are a huge plus. The long range weather forecast is for cooler weather.
The toll road on the way up (north into Wisconsin came to a standstill just before Edgerton,  WI. Luckily, we did not miss the "get off" and took the back roads. It was not a huge group (probably because of the weather), but the Stoughton DTA "gnats" were in full bloom. The setup was a basic triple (wide left to right) with two blinds. To be brief, the performance wasn't very pretty. Neither of us did much to make it work. Her marking and memory has been a consistent strong point. Not today.....I was a bit sloppy on lining her up.....plus she was a bit distressed by the heat.......did not run the short second blind. Later when it cooled of she had another go at......better, but "no cigar". my thoughts on the drive home were
mostly on this was not normal......but that was not very convincing.
May 31 Up early (5 pm because it was cool) and had to be home by 8 am. Setup three wingers to run three poison bird singles. The marks were mallards and the blinds were pheasants. The first two poison singles went well and she was "amped" with the pheasants. On the third single, she blew right by the AOF and a quick whistle brought her back to reality. The next step in this session was to run the singles as a schooled triple (with no blinds). The order was reversed to make the last single (1st set) the memory. What she remembered was "I ran this mark long the first time." She has been out of heat for a few weeks. However, she is still "herding" Daisy (my thirteen year old spayed female) and continues to follow her around while aggressively "marking" every spot where Daisy "pees" .Last spring when she went into heat, I scratched her from a test. When she went out of heat, the next twp tests had her "wilder than a March hare". Based on this, when to run her first Master test is not perfectly clear.

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Gallagher DTA - review one line and "worked" two new blind lines

May 3 Pounce trained late morning at the Thorson Pond DTA.Today she was introduced to "disciplined casting" in water ........"go as sent with bumper in mouth". This included swimming to wherever she was cast - to the shore and away, exits and entries, leaving a bumper and then casting to another, swimming long casts parallel to the shoreline plus long "overs" (from one side of the pond to the other) and always with a bumper in her mouth.

The entire 30X90 yard pond was utilized.  Nothing was predictable except following directions. Every time she tried to make her own choice it was interrupted by a "No...that's not right." and a correcting cast with persistence. Periodically, excitement bumpers "up on land" maintained an excited, excellent Hillmann attitude. She never quit and seemed more focused on what she was asked to do as the session continued. She began to focus on "OK, what's next?" rather than simply seeking the land for a mentally imprinted shortcut habit. About half-way through the session, she began to look for direction as in "OK, what do you want me to do now?" This was NOT a brief session and her sensitive tendencies never did surface (no  pun intended). The "WE" in this session replaced the "ME".
            note: This is not part of Hillmann's program and a bit "outside of the box".  She is
                      three years old (not a young pup) and a clear message was needed to alter
                      the unacceptable conditioned response "I see shorelines as quicker." The
                      "bumper in mouth" distraction altered the "picture" to make "Where do you

                      want me to go?" more likely.  With practice and repetitions, this will make a
                      difference when I "ask" for a change in direction or need the "Go straight"
                      expectation. And with Pounce, I am assuming maintenance will be a given.
            note: We did not go to the Thursday evening training group (thunderstorms).
May 4 The plan was to train at the Bong Recreation Area in the DTA. Left late morning and ran into rain on the way. There was no rain where we trained. As luck would have it, the  Gravel Pond was available. With wind out of the west, a triple with two blinds was soon setup. Pounce was good with this challenging "down the shore" triple. The discipline casting work done yesterday  "carried over" and was understood from that one lesson. She has always been a quick study when "explanations" are properly presented.  With the middle mallard (where she came across the peninsula), Pounce was "asked to" do a complicated series of discipline casts over, back and around the tip of the peninsula so as to end up back on line for the repeat return on the same line she came across the first time. It was a" loop in the middle" of a retrieve (no "questions asked", "I can do this".)

After picking up equipment, the next setup was three challenging blinds in the "Stick Pond". The three mallards were used to "spice things up a bit".  In one day, Pounce's "cheat

penchant" was noticeably altered and replaced with lining rather than cheating. Being a quick study seems to point out that I need to do a better job of explaining and teaching (rather than simply expecting things to always be easy). With plenty of time left in the afternoon, a quick stop at the rectangular pond just west of the technical pond had Pounce practicing more "disciplined casting" (bumper in mouth). We worked that pond east (with the wind) and west (into the wind) plus some crossing patterns....close to the shore and some down the middle. There were periodic exits with Hillmann excitement tosses and Pounce remained willingly engaged. It was a very productive day in the field and water.   

May 21 rain in the morning with "window" in the afternoon and "temps" in the 50's.Trained close
at the Kelly Martin Park DTA (actually, a section off to the east of a baseball diamond). Pounce did a "12 Bumper Lining/Handling Drill" with eight orange bumpers and four Dokkens. With each "go" her momentum increased and finished "on fire"...sharp, effective "reps/practice",

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The "plus one more point blind" was run from the west to the same mound as #1. After running/retrieving the first of three mallards placeed on the far mound, it was tossed down in front of the van rather than carrying it to the next two blinds. Ponce was unusually animated when lining her up for the second blind line. It quickly became obvious that she remembered and wanted to go back and pickup the mallard I dropped in front of the van. A simple "no here" and she quickly adjusted. For brief moment before running the third there was a "quick" body language of "Can I go get that one now?".....answer, "No!" After, delivering the lined, third, longer blind she lined up looking directly back toward the van. OK, It was a fun, bonus reward for having such a persistent memory.

May 27 at 1 pm it is HOT.....94°F feels like 95° Pounce trained earlier (this morning) and we finished at about 8 AM,,,,,it was humid and warm then. Pounce had the "cooling dunk" in the Rock River right after finishing a repeat of yesterday's session in a different location. The van air conditioner and Endless Breeze fan for Pounce were going "full blast" on the way home. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse. The only solution is to go earlier or not at all. At my age this is becoming a serious issue. This session went well with Pounce.  She is showing more willingness to work with blinds in front of a holding blind. They are still not a "gimme". 

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