Today we only ran one series, consisting of a double blind followed by four singles all thrown by the same thrower, who used a 4-wheeler to move from position to position. We had a lot of dogs that single series pretty much killed the morning.
- Laddie had excellent lines on every retrieve. For example, he ran over the mound both times on a perfect line in both directions, one of the best if not the best on that particular aspect of the series.
- He handled reasonably well, not slipping any whistles. However, sometimes his responses on WSs are too slow, letting him get too far out of the corridor to the blind. That's something we need to work on, but I didn't take up people's time for a WO in that situation, and his performance was still pretty good, I thought.
- Though he had a good line on the first mark, he hunted short for a few seconds before recovering and racing further out to pick up the bird without help. I asked Charlie (the group leader and in this case also the lone gunner) whether that was because of the depression and the road crossing, and he smiled and said, "That's why we practice that."
- On the second mark, Laddie ran thru the standing water on a perfect line in both directions with no need to handle.
- On the second and third marks, Laddie dropped the bird on the return, 20 yards from the SL, and actually seemed to lose interest in the retrieve. He responded well to me calling "fetch" and resumed his normal over-the-top level of motivation for the next retrieve. I was of course distressed by the behavior and asked Charlie about it later. He said that it was because Laddie was tired and was catching his breath. He knew that if he brought the bird straight back, he'd be sent right out again. By that time he'd run hundreds of yards non-stop. Charlie said Laddie's apparently not used to running so many long marks, especially in heat -- quite true -- and recommended a steady diet of long marks in the days to come as the remedy.
- On the last mark, Laddie ran a gorgeous line straight toward the invisible fall, swerving around the trees with perfect grace. All the dogs had to execute that maneuver -- none cut thru the woods -- but none performed it any better than Laddie had, and several had difficulty finding the bird.
- Unfortunately, after Laddie picked up the bird, he headed for the pond. As soon as I saw him disappear behind the ridge of the embankment, I rushed out and called "No, here". As I made the long sprint to the pond, I saw Laddie emerge after a few seconds, carrying the bird and running to meet me. I walked him back to the original fall, left him there in a sit with the bird at his feet as I walked 100 yards back toward the SL, turned and blew a CIW. He came perfectly, no hint of another detour to the pond. When he reached me, I broke into a run toward the SL and we ran together some distance further. Then I had him sit again, walked alone toward the SL again, turned and called him again, and as he came running I yelled, turned, and ran away from him, inviting a chase back to the SL, where we arrived about the same time. When Charlie and I talked later, Charlie said that the dip in the pond was part of the same issue as the earlier dropped birds, and that Laddie was cooling himself off as well as taking a breather from so many long runs. Charlie felt that the same prescription -- plenty of long marks -- would remedy the pool diversion as well. I hope he's right.