The rest of the day was costly.....The front end of the training van "gave up the ghost". With 
more than 200,000 hard miles, the front end failed in several places and "everything" needed
to be replaced. I was advised to have it towed in, but didn't buy that. Made it and a lot of "new
stuff" was to be installed Friday.....estimate $1650......the entire front end.
Sept 25 this morning the dentist tells me I need a tooth extracted and a bridge installed. The estimate was way over double what the van will cost. Picked up the van at 4 pm and took
Pounce for a quick training session working on her marking skills - sure felt better after getting out and doing something for a distraction. Pounce did well and her energy was contagious........another good reason to be training.

       Don't sweat the small stuff.......and I need to remember "It's all small stuff".

Sept 26 trained late in the afternoon...repeated the marking skills drill in another area with
the same cover.....adjusted for wind direction and sunset
            note: big improvements in her approach to marking - starting to think more about
                      the AOF instead of just running full tilt....speed with purpose & well within the 
                      80/20 target zone
             note: next weekend is the Iowa opener
             note: Daisy will be going on Saturday morning and Pounce will be going out on
                       Sunday morning......Kooly will be going each afternoon if there is no limit
                       taken in the morning hunts or scouting
Sept 27 just before dusk ran another marking skills drill - more improvement (different area)
Sept 28 morning session - Roscoe Retention Pond......did a re-visit of Hillmann's "power cast"
and then did a session of the marking skill drill angling across a gravel road
             note: this was an excellent effort
Sept 29 day off - too many things to take care of before hunting season begins
Sept 30 another day off - worked on duck hunting gear & boat wiring (not going very well)
Oct 1 con't wiring session on both boats' running lights (arrgghh!) & packing for "duck camp" - Iowa "Opener"

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skill Sept 19 - up early, wanted to repeat yesterday's marking skill drill in a different area (same field) and only had a small window of time ("orders" were to be back by 7:30 am) home at 7:15  after training in a heavy mist......Pounce was in "zoooom" mode
               note: excellent session and right in the 80/20 "bracket"
Sept 20 trained late afternoon at Rockton Road DTA - Pounce ran two Y-Drills with orange
bumpers (different location than September 17th)
Sept 21 repeated the "marking skill drill" in a different section of the field (see Sept 18 journal)
               note: beginning to see more "thinking" about the AOF with checking down
Sept 22 day off with a trip to the Vet, Rabies with the full set of immunization updates, a fecal exam, heartworm test and complete physical.....weight = 45.3 pounds
Sept 23 day off after shots & seemed a bit "under the weather"
Sept 24 more like herself this morning - trained doing the marking drill & she was sharp, brought out the older dogs for exercise and comparison & their marking skills were quite a contrast.....not flying as fast and more about efficiently pinning each mark
               note: perspective is often very informative, Pounce is improving.....but needs more
                         balance between her genetic drive and developing's getting there
after the brief marking drill, Pounce was taken to Thorson Pond for her first retrieve of a full sized goose......the bird freezer had a nine pound goose from years ago when Daisy "DID" her

intro to goose retrieving. This goose was dropped at the end of an older 100 yard pattern blind
(which she has not run for quite some time)........surprise! after bringing it back...she was sent
to retrieve it from across the pond.......getting into and out of the water was "interesting" and
she found out moving it in the water was "simpler", another five pounds of muscle (when she matures) plus a bit more experience will make retrieving big geese much easier
               note: she wanted more

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Sept 18 trained in a new area five minutes from the house (just got permission this morning)
                note: needed a place to work on Hillmann's marking skill drills with Pounce, she
                          is very focused and steady at the line, been stretched to over 225 yards and
                          marks well, but looking for more precision and fewer hunts in the AOF
                note: the BIG  property is rolling terrain used for grain and now has knee high thin
                          weed cover plus the skinny, thinned out wheat stems, this combination makes  
                          seeing an orange bumper difficult to see.....until right on top of it, then easy
                note: Pounce's focus on the AOFs  was intense, observed a noticeable improvement
                          in her "approach" as the session proceeded....she was "amped" (having fun!)

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Sept 16 - day off
Sept 17 - mid-morning.....trained at the Winnebago County DTA and ran two Y-Drills in
calf-high+ cover, 15-20 mph cross wind out of the south and warm/dry conditions
                note: used remote line with stickman, wore white coat, threw 3" orange bumper
                          and shot a primer pistol
                 note: singles progression was angle back, flat and angle in
                 note: Pounce worked from a remote line with "send backs" and was totally steady
                 note: excellent lines, "over ran" a few with the wind, dry conditions, good cover
                           plus orange bumper being a challenging start to a few weeks of marking
                           skill development..........before the Iowa early duck opener October 3rd 

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Sept 15 Pounce trained early at Roscoe Riverside Park DTA - did a repeat of the "Come In" Drill with bumpers placed differently than last time (see August 13th journal entry)
                 note: Pounce performed well and "kept at it" with a great deal of energy......
                           wanting more when finished
drove to the Roscoe Retention Pond DTA and did a repeat of the "big water" 3-peat blinds
                  note: each time we do these.....she shows improvement (which is to be expected)
                  note: Pounce swims well, but because it slows her down (can't "zoom") the 
                            process is too slow for her mind is just a case of getting more
                            comfortable and there has been steady increase in "go" with each water
                            setup.....the double entry/exit mark from the other day had her really fired
                            up and she flew through the's not always going to be "big" water, 
                            however, the vast water horizon of the retention pond provides a different
                            "look" when moving back into "smaller"'s no longer that big of a
                            deal.....behavior and emotions are often all about perceptions

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Sept 10- day off for Pounce as Daisy went on a morning teal hunt, back by ten o'clock to move trailer to the duck hunting season "slot"....just before a huge thunderstorm moved in
              note: one goose and a green wing teal

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Sept 12-13 two days off and a well deserved rest (for all of us)
Sept 14 begin a series of water setups with a theme of "multiple entry/exits" singles....need to do this before water becomes too cold and the Iowa Early Opener Duck Season October 3rd 
                note: this week the weather forecast is wonderful - no rain with ideal "temps"
                note: balance with simple land marking setups, cold blind work in 3-peats and
                         simulated hunting setups..........with real ducks every day
drove to Gallagher's (club field trial property) and a large group was training in the northwest corner. Checking with them first, they didn't mind if I trained in the northeast pond. Pounce got wet with an excitement bumper in the water then worked a multiple entry/exit water setup. I had planned to teach it in "three steps", but opted to skip the second.....she did a few very well several weeks ago at the W property.......this setup used two wingers, but Pounce did "stand alone/send back" mode......being "out there" was by design 1) she's steady and 2) wingers "can't help" ( I didn't want to handle from the line and I don't throw a duck as well as the wingers, she
was just terrific....nailing both marks and flying through the old fall into the second entry for the longer mallard
                  note: afterwards, she ran a short, "cheaty" mallard water blind
picked up the setup, drove to the southeast corner and ran two cold blinds from the mound, they were 167 and 172 yards....very pleased with her work on both....."fogged" off the line on each send, stopped quickly on each whistle and carried each cast well for her experience level 
                  note: runs blinds as fast as marks..........zoooooom

​Sept 11 - Pounce went on her very first hunt........rode out in the dark, watched the decoys being set up (used three MOJO's, a few mallard shells and sleepers plus several Texas rigged teal decoys), a dog hide (hidden and to stay in unless asked otherwise), no teal except for a "wad" of about fifty in the distance just flying for the fun of it, no shooting, the mud boat was stashed north up the shoreline.....afterwards,the "pickup" and ride back to issues other than consuming too many tender willow shoots, it was a fun and productive morning for both of us.....We were ready!.......except no willing teal....on the other hand, this "spot" provides "cool photos" called the "obligatory barge shots".....especially on slow days
               note: by early afternoon, packed and ready for return to "base camp" (HOME)

Sept 7 - day off from training....mow lawn, blind on boat  and pack "stuff"
Sept 8 - late evening, head for duck camp (Mississippi River) for Early Teal season hunting
​Sept 9  mid-morning, after Daisy's scouting trip, Pounce re-visited Toad Island                                             note: last summer when Pounce was about 14 weeks old, she took her first
                              boat ride 
at "duck camp" and ended up exploring on Toad Island

the plan was to re-visit a familiar place to complete her gun conditioning "process" with real shotgun replies at close range. It is Illinois Early Teal Season which means live ammo is legal........except we were shooting at bumpers......threw some singles first, did a few doubles and finally ran a two singles each with a cold blind

                     note: Pounce was steady and retrieved with a ton of speed and  excitement
                              in lunging water 
tends to escalate excitement levels....she wanted more,
                              but mission accomplished....
after loading up, we boated up the main
                              channel of the Mississippi River to Cook Island where there is another
                              massive American lotus bed and lunging mud....Pounce did four long
                              singles with a blind out into the tall gun time.....focusing
​                              on the single with a blind routine........whistle sits were excellent because
                              mud inhibits "loopy sits" and Pounce was taking every cast....which was
                              cool to see......there was no other way to "retrieve' the orange bumper as I
​                              would get "stuck" in the deep mud......but not Pounce

                        note: today has to be one the most rewarding and exciting training days for
                              both of us...she's ready to hunt - excellent OB, knows the rules of a dog
                              hide and boat, gun conditioned, steady to wing & shot, marking multiples
​                              and running cold blinds  - 15 months old 
late in the afternoon, Pounce and Kooly took a boat ride to a large beach on the main channel, l mostly wanted to give Kooly "his day" on this trip.......Kooly is almost 14 years old and slowing down, but Pounce goaded him into romping around like a young pup

Sept 1 - opening day of Illinois Early Goose Season - Thorson Pond....too warm....will wait a few days to see what happens with the "river geese" because they will be looking for a quieter place to settle in 
             note: plan to train with wingers and mallards in the early morning
Sept 2 drove to Winnebago County DTA to run a land 3-peat with mallards.....Pounce did well on the initial the plan was to solidify her lining and casting........just as I was getting set to run the blinds, a car drove down the lane adjacent to the field we were training in........Pounce was lining the first blind (almost) and then proceeded to "lose it".......after several whistle sits and wrong casts, it soon became apparent that right behind me and headed west were two Brittany Spaniels (with lots of white and a great deal of motion)..........not a good session........"picked up the pieces" and went to run a new 3-peat set of water blinds on which Pounce decided squaring the land exiting at least fifty yards out was the thing to do......this was not a good session either......two days off and Britanny Spaniels are to be avoided in the future 

Sept 3-5 can't put off sealing the driveway any longer and it is too unseasonably hot to think much about training except early in the power washing and crack sealing were finished Friday and Saturday is coating day

Sept 4 cool in the morning, therefore, we confronted Pounce's water issues.......mostly think several factors are in control 1) Pounce is very smart and pretty much knows what she is going to do, 2) she does not know exactly where the blinds are, 3) her instincts say the closer land is best, 4) she does not know what a team player is.......yet, 5) water is cool if there are ducks involved, 6) big water is not cool.......the land is too far away, 7) being sensitive is OK to a point, but it is not an excuse and 8) desensitization is a doable process if done correctly given the above, WE went back to the big water 3-peat blinds and began to "shuck the issues".....Pounce initially required a lot of whistles "en route" 1) the first blind was a struggle, but we got there, 2) the second was made difficult because she wanted to go back to the first, 3) the last was the longest and most difficult.......but her "attitude" started to change in that she began to suggest "Maybe, I'll be at bit more receptive." She started taking better casts. The "drifting" toward previous blinds decreased. The "good" praise (shouted because she is a long way was off) produced more speed and maintained the correct direction. It was a long swim and for the very first time, Pounce took a straight line back to me. Big water tends to decrease her penchant to seek land all the time because there is none nearby. And when it was time to get back in the water it was an easy question to answer. Around the lake or across? She was "different" on the way back. Eye contact was on me....not some adjacent shoreline.  
                  note: Water is a bit like a foreign language to Pounce. The best way to approach
                           it seems to be "total immersion". afterward, all three - dogs Kooly, Daisy
                           and Pounce were given a few "far as I can throw out into the swift current"
                           bumpers in the Rock River...surprisingly, Pounce was faster out and back

Sept 5 day off, too hot and driveway sealing is also opening day of Illinois Early Teal Season and this is the second year in a row of staying home for the opener at the Mississippi River Duck Camp.....forecast too hot and plan to wait until about Wednesday when some "cooler temps" and north winds show up....hopefully, along with a few teal
                 note: driveway finally patched and sealed....took six hours to seal with no                                     breaks....getting too old do do this "stuff"
Sept 6  one more HOT day.....great for the driveway, not so good for training.....out at sunrise and the "temp" was in the low 70's with high humidity, setup quickly at Roscoe Riverside Park DTA and ran Carol Cassity's Double Rengade Casting drill........Pounce has already run  the "Single" Renegade and the "Double" is much more difficult (challenging to pivot around and past the wide angle pile to the tight angle back) arm position begins to "mean something" - teaching mode is interesting at first because 
it is necessary to interpret her initial reactions...often need to identify piles, line a few, work closer & teach
                 note: it is a challenge for a pup to take the casts "past" another VISIBLE pile with
                           the expectation of "go as sent" 
                 note: the bumper piles are on a slight rise which makes them much more visible
                           than doing this drill on level ground 
                 note: first time is never easy......but toward the end, Pounce was beginning to
                           see the relationship between arm angles and the expectation
                 note: piles in this casting drill tend NOT to create the same "picture" as single
​                          bumpers in a "wagon wheel casting drill"

Pounce - fifteen months old