It was another hot, unpredictable morning in July. A thunderstorm was to appear around 9 am.
       However, two mallards were taken out of the freezer around 6:30 am and training gear for the
               morning was "rounded up" in the garage. All the collars were recharged last night.
         Today's plan mostly revolved around what Gunny needed. He is running AKC Junior hunt
         tests both days at Wisconsin Amateur RC in Horicon, WI.  Gunny is well into transition, but
          I have kept him from competition for a much longer time than my previous three dogs.  He
          will probably end up "getting there" sooner. Daisy is working toward running a Seasoned
        HRC test (along with Gunny) in two weeks. She has her AKC Senior and the plan is for both
        to progress together for their HRC Finished titles.  Taffey is ten and retired from competition.
                          She and Kooly are keeping in shape for the upcoming hunting season.

           Some of Gunny's needs were to be addressed by running two land singles requiring him
          to break through a wall of cover. Later, two water singles would expose him to low, almost
            sinking, soggy mallards in very thick duck weed.  Close by is a small pond with just the
                                                           right factors for Gunny's session.

        The predicted thunderstorm slid by to the north of us and wingers were in place by 9:00 am.
        There was no breeze and the temperature was already near 80
with lots of humidity.......but
         the cloud cover made it tolerable. The first setup was "down the wall" of cover (similar to a
         "down the shore"). Daisy ran it through a corner of the pond. Water made the marks much
        more difficult. Gunny moved up to eliminate the water factor and decrease distance.  The arc
        of each mark could pass behind a few small maple trees. Therefore, it was necessary to pick
                           the best spot for the line so as to minimize this factor (but not totally).
   (left click to view thumbnails)
                                    "water to the wall"
            "longest single"
        "inlet terrain"

                                                                                "Gunny's singles"
                     Taffey, Kooly & Daisy are finished for today.....short morning....high humidity plus
                                                         everyone had a good workout yesterday.

                        The second part of the session was designed for Gunny to learn about low or
                          sinking ducks in "green slop" near the shore.  By now the two, old mallards
                         picked from the freezer were totally unthawed and very soggy. He needed to 
                            figure it out. On each mark, Gunny was close (but no cigar). He swam by.
                          Up on land he went, but soon realized that's not where they fell. Gunny is a
                                thinker and was soon back in the water with a purpose....looking and
                                staying close to where he was sure they fell......it paid off.....good dog.
 Today's session had a winner.

                                                                          (left click to view thumbnails)
           "duck weed one"
    "reverse of one"
    "duck weed two"
          "winger #2"
    "reverse of two"

                                                                               Training Notes

                 Daisy ran the first single very well, squared "the wall"...but knew where the mallard
                 fell, on the second mark she was lost after smelling the scent from the short winger,
                  big hunt....with handling complicated by the tall weeds, she finally stumbled on the
                   mark, debated about running it again, decided not to, she knew where it was (an
                   old fall), but only realized it after hunting a bit some more, not a good mark for her,
                    water, too tight, winger scent, "wall" plus the arc behind a maple "fried her mind"
came out next.. The line was moved. The short mark had him busting right
                      through the wall........nice retrieve.......and the arc was behind a small maple. The
                     second single had him square the wall, but recover to make the retrieve. The key
                                                               dog for today did well....so far.

                    Taffey went next. She marked the short single with no issues.  The long one gave
                   her a few indecisions, but she figured it out. She is ten years old and has seen just
                                                                              about everything.

                     Kooly was next. He is my best marking dog.....usually. So I figured this would be
                   a good time to challenge him......ran it as a double.  Long first and he watched it go
                    down. Short was next and he was focused. After a good look.......he fired into the
                     water. When he came out, Kooly split the difference between the two marks and
                      started running around out in the short grass....as if to say, "Man, I am screwed
                        up.......and I don't care"........note even thinking about entering the weed barrier.
                      It's hot. The humidity is getting to me. Kooly is having fun or just flipped into his
                      latent "quirk mode".......and running loose. So, tweet.......tweet......here Kooly. I
                              put him up. Kooly seemed perplexed (or not)......that's just too bad.

Gunny went to the "wall" and had two, short semi-cold blind retrieves.
                                                                             After Thoughts

                         In retrospect, the marks would have been fairer if the stations had stickmen.

                        Another aspect of writing this page was to list the "things" required to "make
                         a day". Equipment, travel, setup, dealing with each dog's specific needs, the
                        amount of time available, weather, places to train & decisions "in the moment"
                         significantly impact  the progress of a dog. At times it becomes necessary to
                        answer the question.....Is balance being maintained? Sometimes, I seem to get
                           wrapped up in the mechanics of "making the day" rather than focusing on
                                                                    what is actually going on.

                                 Organizing thoughts (in retrospect) is healthy........."down the road".

                           Slighting even one area of skill development can greatly inhibit another. Is
                          it any wonder, that three years with a different trainer could result in a very
                        different dog?
In three years, how much more "growth" might a dog achieve
                                      if improvements were part of a proactive training philosophy?

                                    Which of the above were the most critical.........over the long haul?
                         For me, goals have to be 1) meeting the needs of each dog,  2) improving on
                         "decisions in the moment" and 3) seeking balance.  Interestingly these are
                        never static and perspectives can be elusive. Writing is a tool that may clarify. 

                                          This was only one day......and it was far from perfect. 

                              My wife has a favorite phrase that I like. "I am peddling as fast as I can."
                                                               Now.... if only I had the perfect map.

                                                                        update: August 16, 2010
                           Gunny passed both AKC Junior Hunts put on by the Wisconsin Amateur
                                   RC in Horicon, WI. This gave him four straight passes for his JH
                                 title. Two weeks later, he passed his first HRC Seasoned test in the
                            Kankakee HRC hunt test near Hebron, IN.  Daisy passed Seasoned, too. 

 update: August 22nd
 Gunny & Daisy ran HRC Seasoned both days at the WISILL/Badger State
                          HRC hunts this weekend. With both earning two Seasoned passes, Gunny
                                                  and Daisy have their Hunting Retriever titles (HR).
                                                                  It's time for hunting season.

                                                         The Kwick Four Training Journal (Link)
                        updated 01/12/14