In November 2007, Lindsay Ridgeway developed a series of performance tests as a method of training Lumi and Laddie, his two Golden Retrievers, for field sports. This is the journal of their progress through that series and beyond. Contact: LDRidgeway at gmail dot com.
On an overcast day with temps in the 50s and intermittent showers, Charlie's group had eight dogs today. Laddie and I were there, but Lumi is staying with my daughter Brookie the Cookie this week.
SERIES A. Pinch blinds
Charlie called the blinds in Series A "pinch blinds", because they require the dog to run on a line that takes the dog very close to a gunner.
For this setup, Charlie put out a stickman at 30 yards, and to begin, the dog was sent to pick up a dummy three feet in front of the stickman. Since dogs do not usually find articles near gunners, and are generally not encouraged to go near them, some of the dogs actually had trouble with this simple retrieve, though Laddie did not.
Next, the dog ran a 150-yard land blind that took the dog just a few feet to the right of the stickman, then just skimming an inlet of the property's largest pond, then diagonally up the pond's long embankment, then thru one of several keyholes formed by a small grove of trees, then across a long strip of grass running parallel to the dirt road that circles the pond, then across the road at a bend, and finally to a pile of ODs placed in front of an LP. One or two of the dogs ran this blind from the original stickman, but Charlie encouraged most of the handlers, including me, to move up close to the stickman before sending the dog.
After the land blind, the dog ran a 190-yard shoreline water blind 15° to the left. This blind took the dog a few feet to the left of the stickman, then across a 30-yard inlet, then across a peninsula, then along the shoreline more than 100 yards to a pile of ODs placed in front of an LP. Again, one or two dogs ran this blind from the original SL, the others from closer to the stickman.
I felt Laddie ran both of these blinds reasonably well. Like most of the dogs, he veered slightly right and skirted the inlet on the first blind, but then ran the rest of it with just one WSC, taking an accurate cast and lining the remainder of the blind. He required a few WSCs to keep him in the water on the long shoreline swim of the second blind, but he remained responsive and ended up swimming a good line.
SERIES B. Three water singles
Although this set-up could have been run as a triple, Charlie suggested to me, when I inquired on the radio, that it would be best for Laddie's preparation for running in Qualifying Stakes if we ran it as three singles. It turned out that every dog ran it that way.
All marks were WDs thrown by a gunner in a white jacket and with a gunshot. None of the gunners retired.
The first mark was in the center, thrown left to right on an angle back up the shore at 180 yards. The second mark was on the left, thrown right to left across a channel at 80 yards. The third mark was on the right, thrown right to left on an angle back over a road and in front of a mound at 230 yards.
Laddie watched the throws for all of these marks from the SL, which was atop a mound. Some of the handlers moved up for one or more of the marks.
The line to the first mark in the center was across the end point of a ditch filled with swim-depth water and lined with high reeds, then thru a line of trees and underbrush, then across a dirt road, then thru a stick pond, then between two points (the ends of two small islands), then across big water, then approaching a shoreline at a sharp angle, then a short way up onto the grass. Like some of the other dogs, Laddie tried to run around the ditch on the left the first time I sent him. I called him back and sent him again, and the second time he ran an excellent mark, requiring no handling to run a good line despite all the factors such as the steep embankments, the underwater debris and high cover in the ditch, the barrier of the trees and underbrush, the stickpond, the suction of the islands, and the diagonal shoreline swim as the dog approached the far shore.
The short second mark to the left was thrown near a sharp bend in a channel. I decided to leave Laddie at the mound and walk up so that I could send him on a different line than the one from the mound. After walking up, I called Laddie to me before sending him, so that he would swim most of the way to the mark along the channel's shoreline, rather than swimming the short distance across the channel and coming up at the point of land where the channel bent, which was the direct line to the fall if the dog ran from the mound. I was the only handler to do this. I guess the other handlers weren't worried, as I was, that having the dog run the bank on that retrieve might run counter to the dog's primary guidelines ("stay in the water") for such a picture. If he'd run from the mound, Laddie would have actually had to veer offline on the right to stay in the water.
The third mark to the right was again across the ditch in front of the mound, then thru the line of trees and underbrush, then across the dirt road, then across the stickpond, then over a small island, then back into water and high reeds, then up onto wetland and high cover, then across a small inlet of running-depth water (field trainers call this "running water", as opposed to "swimming water"), then over a large field, then diagonally across a dirt road, and finally to a section of low cover in front of a mound, with woods behind that.
Laddie ran Series B as the second dog. The first dog had diverted around the small inlet of running water on this third mark, so when Laddie reached the same point, I blew WS and cast him straight back with a spin to the left, sending him over the inlet rather than letting him skirt it. Aside from that, he nailed the mark, not hunting short or otherwise getting diverted as several of the other dogs did on that mark.
Despite my using a whistle at one point or another on all three marks, I felt Laddie did an excellent job on this series. In a training situation like this, my mentors have suggested that it's better to handle Laddie and have him run the correct line, rather than just let him go to "see what he does".
As always, Laddie ran with great enthusiasm. However, his returns on all the marks were easily the worst of any of the dogs. On every one, he stalled at least somewhat before entering water on the returns, and in one or two cases, he put down the dummy to mark and then explore before responding to my recall cue, picking the dummy back up, and resuming his return.
Charlie discussed Laddie's work with me later, and at one point in the conversation, I commented on Laddie's dismal returns. Charlie's only comment on that subject was, "We don't judge the returns." Since Charlie is a Field Trial judge, and in fact was one of the judges at last year's National Open, I felt a bit less concerned about Laddie's returns after that comment. In fact, I'd say the greatest concern might be if Laddie's returns deteriorated even further, especially in event conditions, to the point that he wouldn't complete the delivery at all within a reasonable amount of time.
Rolling Ridge is a new development about ten minutes from home. We've trained there often before over the years, taking advantage of the rolling hills, large hillsides, an abandoned homestead with old trees, outbuildings, etc., and an irregular-shaped ditch that's usually dry. Today, I discovered another feature, a sediment pond that in the past did not seem suitable for training — too shallow, too muddy — but now seems to have normal pond water and swim depth in places. Its not a technical pond — no peninsulas — but the edges seem well suited to shoreline de-cheating.
Since Lumi has her SH now, and I'm only running her for her own entertainment, I decided not to swim her till her allergies start to calm down. I don't know that they have anything to do with the water, but I'd rather keep variables to a minimum.
SERIES A. Double land blind with poison bird (Laddie)
Series A started with a 130-yard blind (OD) to the left. Next, I used a Bumper Boy to "throw" a PB mark on the right, left to right at 60 yards. While the PB remained in place, I ran Laddie on a 290-yard blind (OD) down the middle. After Laddie returned with that blind, I sent him to pick up the PB.
The line to the 130-yard blind passed a hedgerow on the left, then an outbuilding on the right, and crossed a variety of low ridges and shallow depressions along the way. The blind ended on a mound. The line to the 60-yard mark was diagonally up a steep, grassy slope, then over the ridge and part way down the other side. The line to the 290-yard crossed many terrain changes, including a muddy section, and passed many trees, stakes, and other diversions. The greatest diversion turned out to be the fact that a swale veered off to the right and then uphill, creating suction for Laddie to try to follow that route rather than continuing diagonally down the slope he was on, heading into an area with several small trees and visually less open, when he reached that diversion.
SERIES B. Land blind with poison bird (Lumi)
Series B, for Lumi, was made up of the outer retrieves from Series A. First I launched the Bumper Boy. Then, while the training dummy remained fallen, I ran Lumi on the 130-yard blind. Finally, I sent her to pick up the dummy from the Bumper Boy.
SERIES C. Land blind (Laddie)
Series C was a 310-yard blind (OD) diagonally across a trench, diagonally over a steep, low rise, and amongst trees and yard debris. The blind was planted beside the wall of a small out-building.
SERIES D. Shoreline de-cheating (Laddie)
Series D was a series of about ten retrieves along various curved edges of the pond, requiring him to enter the water at a very sharp angle, swim straight along the edge as it curved slightly away from him and then toward him again, and arrive 40-50 yards later at an OD planted at water's edge on the other side of the swim.
Laddie had the most difficulty with one particular stretch where he had to swim thru a 5-yard keyhole formed by the shoreline on the right and a cylindrical metal pond-management device on the left. We practiced the most on this stretch, but Laddie never did get fluent at swimming thru the keyhole. I plan to return there and work with him on it more until he is fluent with it.
Today I planned to use our working Bumper Boy again, but I realized while setting up the course that I had left the receiver on all night, and the battery had drained.
Fortunately, a guy named Greg, whose son was playing baseball at the nearby field, had stopped to watch Lumi and Laddie work. It turns out Greg is an experienced trainer who has taken several dogs thru Senior level. When I realized I needed a thrower to replace my launcher, he was kind enough to step in.
We only ran one series, but Laddie had an extra retrieve, so I'll describe it as two series.
SERIES A. Interrupted single with blind (Lumi)
For Lumi's version of the series, Greg threw a WD right to left, angling back, with the fall at 90 yards. When the dummy was down, I ran Lumi on a 110-yard blind (OD), on an angle 30° to the left of the line to the mark. Then I sent Lumi for the the mark. I'm not sure whether this is called an interrupted single, or a poison-bird single.
The line to the mark was thru calf-high grass across uneven ground, and the fall was in front of diagonal row of trees with virtually no distinguishing features. The line to the blind was thru the same field, then thru a keyhole formed by a break in the line of trees, with two large trees on either side of the keyhole, and across two terrain changes, first into tangled underbrush, then onto mowed lawn. The blind was planted at the foot of a third large tree 20 yards back from the keyhole.
Lumi ran a nice, tight blind, showing suction toward the mark (poison bird) but readily accepting WSCs. She seemed confused by the first terrain change, but once she recognized that it was not a barrier, she was fine. She then took an unusually long time to bring the dummy back, typically cautious around the uneven footing and high cover.
After running the blind, Lumi ran a remarkable mark, arriving at the treeline within just a few feet of the dummy buried in the grass. Considering the time she took on the blind, and the featureless field and wooded backdrop for the mark, it's difficult to understand how she was able to remember both distance and line so accurately, but she did.
SERIES B. Interrupted single with double blind (Laddie)
For Laddie's version of the series, first he ran the same two retrieves that Lumi had. Then he ran a 340-yard blind (OD) 45° to the right of the line to the mark, that is, on a line just to the right of Greg as gunner.
The line to the 340-yard blind converged diagonally on the treeline. It ran 220 yards thru the same field, then thru the legs of a huge steel-framed electrical tower, and finally across a wide strip of marshy terrain with standing water and mud. The blind was planted at the foot of one of the guide wires for a telephone pole closer to the woods. Diversions included a flattened cardboard box, and a large piece of white cloth, along the way.
Laddie watched the mark thrown, then ran an excellent blind to the left of that fall, handling to the 110-yard blind with a single WSC as he veered slightly left approaching the keyhole. Next, he took a good line to the mark, but unlike Lumi on that mark, Laddie pulled up and hunted short for a few seconds before getting back on line and racing to the mark.
For the 340-yard mark, Laddie took another good line for nearly 200 yards, then veered left as he approached the tower. But he responded readily and accurately on one or two WSCs. Once he had gotten back on line and was running under the tower, he lined the blind the rest of the way.
After picking up the dummy, Laddie did not come directly back. First he ran over to check out the large piece of white cloth, then he spotted a flock of birds (Canada geese, I think) in the opposite direction and ran after them, ignoring my CIW. Within seconds he had disappeared behind a hill on the right. But a few seconds later, he appeared back in view, still carrying his dummy, and ran the rest of the way back.
Characteristically, Laddie ran all three retrieves at full speed in both directions. He really turned on the afterburners when he spotted the geese.
As a final tune-up before Lumi's and Laddie's first Senior Hunt Test of the year, we ran the following series:
SERIES A. Poorman double with blind (Laddie, then Lumi)
The first mark (duck) was on the left, thrown left to right at 70 yards. The second mark (duck) was on the right, thrown from across the water right to left at 30 yards. After the dog picked up both marks, the dog ran a 40-yard water blind (OD) down the center.
Both marks were thrown with duck call and gun shot by the handler (me), while the dog waited at the SL. After I had thrown both marks, I returned to the SL to run the dog. That's what I mean by "poorman" marks.
The line to the go-bird, the second bird thrown, was down a short, steep embankment and diagonally across a stream. The bird was at water's edge on the far shore. The line to the memory-bird, the first bird thrown, was down a short, steep embankment, diagonally across an inlet, and approaching the far shore on a sharp angle, with the bird in high cover a few feet from water's edge. The line to the blind was across the inlet to a marshy point with the bird in high cover on a tiny island next to the point.
Both dogs showed confidence and enthusiasm, making the series look easy.
Today we drove to Gaby's place to work, but trained alone.
Lumi ran two blinds, first a water blind, later a land blind, both with ducks.
Lumi's water blind
The 70-yard water blind was thru an S-turn in Gaby's technical pond, and was designed so that it did not invite running the bank on the return.
Lumi often has difficulty with S-turns, trying repeatedly to go to one point or the other rather than swimming the big water along the centerline without touching land. That happened again today, but she remained responsive to whistles and casts. Though she didn't carry the casts very far, she managed to complete the outrun without touching either point.
I decided to try not whistling when Lumi reached the bird, and was most pleased that, unprompted, she picked it up and got right back in the water. I then blew CIW and fired a couple of pistol shots. Lumi swam straight back without veering toward either point.
Whistling when Lumi was already on her way of course made no sense as a cue. I used it because virtually any interaction with a dog seems to function as reinforcement, even a cue for a behavior the dog is already performing. I've found that pistol shots also function as reinforcement for both my dogs, interesting in Lumi's case considering that three years ago she was terribly gun shy. That of course was before she had learned association between gunfire and her favorite thing in the world, ducks!
The fact that Lumi was willing to enter big water on her return, even with the outside temp in the low 50s, gives me some encouragement that she'll be OK for her water returns when she runs in her next Senior Hunt Test a week from today. If she sees an opportunity to run the bank on her returns, I'm sure she will and I have no problem with that. But today, not seeing such an opportunity, she didn't maroon and try to eat the duck, but instead got right back into the water, without even the need for a whistle or call from me.
Lumi's land blind
The line to the 110-yard land blind crossed a series of dry ditches and a dirt road, all on a diagonal. Lumi lined it.
My goals with Laddie are significantly different than those with Lumi. Laddie, too, is entered in the Senior test next Saturday, and the following day will also run in a GRCA WC and WCX. For all of those tests, Laddie needs relatively short work, and for the water, it's most likely he'll need the ability to swim past one or more points. But in addition, I hope to run Laddie in Qualifying Stakes later this year, and for that sort of competition, he'll need the additional skill of being able to cross a point, a skill he has much less practice with. In addition, the marks and blinds for Qs will be much longer, and Laddie will need the ability to take difficult water entries from distance, and to handle at longer distances than he'll need for Hunt Tests and the WC/X.
With all of those considerations in mind, I ran Laddie on four water blinds and one land blind.
Laddie's water blinds
All of Laddie's water blinds were run from distances of 30-90 yards from the shoreline, making his water entries more difficult, since the greater distance made a run around the pond more inviting. In some cases Laddie required handling to stop him from running the bank. For the last one, he had so much difficulty taking good casts at 110 yards from the water entry that I finally called him to me, walked him closer to the pond, and ran him without difficulty from there.
The first and fourth water blinds where thru S-turns on two different axises of Gaby's pond. Laddie swam the first one, which was the same one Lumi had swum but with the SL set much further back, without any need for handling. He did require handling on the fourth one but remained responsive and did not touch either point. These were intended primarily as practice for Laddie's Senior test next Saturday.
The second and third water blinds required Laddie to touch a point, and one of them also included a difficult angle entry that strongly invited running the bank, especially because the SL was set considerable distance from the water. Laddie was able to run both of these water blinds successfully also, though touching the point seemed to confuse him somewhat. I guess that's because we've practiced staying off the point so much. These water blinds required more handling than I would prefer, but I think the need for handling on this picture will diminish as Laddie gains more experience with it, and gradually learns that the rule is to maintain a straight line, sometimes taking him over a point and sometimes taking him past it.
As with Lumi, I experimented with not cueing a recall when Laddie picked up his birds, and as with Lumi, Laddie picked up every bird and immediately returned. When the return showed no obvious opportunity to run the bank, he trotted straight into the water. When an opportunity to run the bank was clearly visible, he did that. I decided not to fight him on it, though I'm afraid that decision could work against his marking on water marks in the future. For now, Laddie developing a strong return behavior on water retrieves is a higher priority to me, and I was especially pleased to see that his return was strong enough today that he did not require a whistle or call. As with Lumi, I blew CIW and fired a pistol as reinforcement once he had fully committed to the water on his returns, both on the first and last retrieves.
Laddie's land blind
The bird for Laddie's 180-yard land blind was in the same place as Lumi's, but Laddie's SL was further back.
Today we trained with Gaby and her dogs at her dairy farm. Gaby is a wonderful training partner, and today that included the generosity of providing live pheasants for us to practice steadiness, and kids to act as bird boys for our land series.
SERIES A. Land double with flyer, plus land blind (Lumi, Laddie)
For Series A, the first mark was on the right, a duck thrown left to right at 70 yards with the thrower standing at the edge of the woods and throwing into calf-high cover. The second mark was on the left, a flyer pheasant hen thrown right to left at 45 yards from a holding blind. After both birds were picked up, the dog ran a 90-yard blind to the left of the left mark, with the line to the blind passing close to the fenced corner of a horse field and with the blind planted in calf-high cover under the canopy of the treeline.
Our intent was that each dog would run the series, then honor the next dog. The sequence turned out to be:
Lumi at the line with one of Gaby's dogs honoring. Lumi tried to break on the flyer but was unable to because I was holding her tab. I walked her gently but silently back to the van, had her get in, and left her there while I took Laddie from his crate and walked him back thru the barn to the setup. I believe that this was quite disappointing to Lumi, because she had shown enormous excitement at the opportunity to run the series. Hopefully she associated her loss of that opportunity with the fact that she tried to break.
One of Gaby's dogs ran the series while I was trading dogs.
Laddie ran the series without attempting to break. He nailed both marks, then lined the blind, all with his usual over-the-top enthusiasm.
Laddie honored Gaby's dog, again without attempting to break, but did try to run to a bird behind the SL when released from the honor. That's something we need to work on.
I again traded dogs, and this time Lumi was steady at the line. She had no difficulty with either mark, though her line on the memory bird wasn't quite as good as normal for her. She handled adequately for a Senior test on the blind.
Lumi honored Gaby's dog running the series yet again. As with Laddie, she did not attempt to break, but she did try to break into a run to get to a bird behind the SL when I called "Here" after the honor.
SERIES B. Water single (Lumi, Laddie)
Series B was a 60-yard single with a pheasant thrown right to left. The line to the fall had diagonal entries and exits to the water and a 50-yard swim.
Lumi required several calls to complete the pick-up and return. Gaby, from her vantage point as thrower, felt that Lumi was having some difficulty dealing with the pheasant's feathers getting in Lumi's mouth as she tried to pick up the bird.
Laddie seemed to have had the same issue, but he had less trouble dealing with it and returned on a single CIW.
For today's blinds, I used the unusual (for us) set-up of three blinds at almost identical distances. Lumi's blinds were in the same locations as Laddie's: in front of a tree, under the dripline of another tree, and in an open area on a berm. To get the extra distance, I moved the SL further back for Laddie's series. All blinds were ODs.
SERIES A. Triple land blind (Lumi only)
Series A for Lumi was made up of three blinds at 110-90-100 yards. Angles between the lines to the blinds were 45°. Lumi ran her blinds left to right.
SERIES B. Triple land blind (Laddie only)
Series B for Laddie was made up of three blinds at 260-240-220 yards. Angles between the lines to the blinds were 30°. Laddie ran his blinds left/right/center, longest first and shortest last.
Laddie ran the first blind with two excellent casts, an angle-back-left and an angle-back-right. He lined the second blind. Then he popped and had other problems on the third blind (the center one under the dripline). I don't know why he had so much trouble on it. It's possible that he was physically uncomfortable after hundreds of yards of all-out running (Laddie's only speed) in 80° weather.
All today's work was with WDs. In addition to the blinds, the dogs also swam out for several open water retrieves, one of the games that Lumi and I played here for years before we got into field work.
SERIES A. Water blind (Laddie only)
Series A was an 80-yard retrieve across the neck of an inlet. The primary challenge was a pair of fishermen, with bobbing floats that looked a bit like dog toys, 15 yards from the line to the blind.
SERIES B. Water blind (Laddie, Lumi)
Series B was 140-yard shoreline retrieve. Lumi was unable to make the difficult water entry, which required leaping over underwater boulders and debris near water's edge, so for Lumi's blind, we moved a few yards down the shoreline to allow her to wade into the water, making her blind somewhat shorter than the one Laddie would swim. In addition, Laddie swam all the way out and all the way back, whereas Lumi swam out but then ran the bank for her return.
SERIES C. Water blind (Laddie)
Series C was a 190-yard water blind. From the SL, Laddie ran diagonally down a steep hill, thru an opening in a hedgerow, and diagonally down a steep embankment. He leapt into the water, swam 120 yards to the opposite shore to pick up the WD, and made the return trip to complete the retrieve.
These blinds had minimal factors, and were primarily to help Laddie's conditioning. The blind on the left was 320 yards. The blind on the right was 570 yards.
Oaks Area 3
SERIES B. Keyhole land blind (Lumi only)
This was a 100-yard blind across a low crest, a depression, thru a break in a hedgerow, and up a hillside.
SERIES C. Keyhole land blind (Laddie only)
This was a 100-yard blind over a different crest from the one in Series B, and thru a diagonal keyhole formed by the end of a hedgerow and a tree. At the same time Laddie was running thru the keyhole, he was running across a boggy area with standing water.
Today the dogs and I traveled to Mt. Ararat Farms, the dairy farm owned by our friend Gaby, to train with her and her dogs.
Gaby ran each of her Chessies on part of our work together, and ran Buster, her yellow Lab, on the long triple with Laddie at the end. I won't try to describe her dogs' work, just Lumi and Laddie.
SERIES A. Double blind (Laddie only)
We arrived while Gaby was getting birds, so I took the opportunity to follow Charlie's advice from last week and get some long work in for Laddie. While he and Lumi waited in the van, I planted two ODs at distances of 200 and 310 yards, then got Laddie out and had him run them as blinds. He needed little handling and handled well, staying in a narrow corridor, but mostly it was for conditioning.
SERIES B. Land double with blind and honor (Lumi, then Laddie)
For Series B, the first throw was on the left, a duck thrown left to right into calf-high cover at 90 yards. The second throw was on the right, a clip-wing hen pheasant flyer thrown right to left at 30 yards. The flyer was thrown with the accompaniment of a live shotgun blast aimed away from the bird, so that all the flyers were alive and active during the retrieve, simulating "cripples" (wounded birds). After the dog picked up both marks, the dog ran a 100-yard blind to an OD at an angle of more than 180° from the first mark. Then the dog honored the next dog, standing slightly closer to the flyer than the running dog.
This series was intended purely as a breaking test, and every dog tried to break at the line, honoring, or both. Lumi and Laddie both had their collars and tabs on, and mostly I remembered to hold the tabs so that the dogs couldn't break. But unaccountably, I neglected to hold Lumi's tab when her pheasant was throw. She broke, ignoring my attempt to control the break with "Here".
My original thought was that if either or both of my dogs could run this series without breaking, I'd enter them in a Senior Hunt Test that closes in a few days, and if either or both tried to break, I wouldn't enter that dog. On that basis, the decision would be that neither dog is ready for the Senior yet. However, a flyer at 30 yards, with the honoring dog even closer, is far more difficult than the dogs are likely to encounter in a test, so I still haven't decided for sure.
SERIES C. Land double with honor (Lumi, then Laddie)
For Series C, we left the gunners where they were but moved the SL to the other side of the setup and further from the guns.
Now the first mark was on the right, again a duck this time thrown left to right (rather than converging as in Series B) at 100 yards, again into calf-high cover. The second mark was again a clip-wing hen pheasant flyer with a live shotgun blast aimed away from the bird, this time at 70 yards.
Neither Lumi nor Laddie attempted to break either running or from the line. The only problem they had was that when released from the honor, they both tried to break into a run to the dead birds lying on the ground near the holding blind. That's something we need to fix, though so far it's never cost us a ribbon.
SERIES D. Qualifying-style triple (Laddie only)
Since I'm concerned about Lumi's soundness, I let her run around some more today, but no more retrieving. I believe that Series D would have been too difficult for her in any case. Gaby did run Buster, her two-year-old yellow Lab, on Series D with Laddie.
I described it in the title as "Qualifyings-style". Because we had few factors, I believe it was too easy for a real Qualifying Stake, but at comparable distances or even longer.
For Series D, the first mark was in the center, a WD thrown right to left at 300 yards. The second mark was on the left, a WD thrown right to left at 320 yards. The third mark was on the right, a WD thrown right to left at 170 yards.
For Series D, the SL was nearly at the top of a long slope up from the property's technical pond. For the go-bird, the 170-yard mark on the right, the dog was expected to run downhill to the edge of the pond, swim past a point on the left, and pick up the WD on the far bank of that section of the pond. For the second retrieve, the 320-yard mark on the left, the dog was expected to run downhill, skirt the pond on the dog's right, and run back uphill and thru the corner of a cornfield to the fall. For the last retrieve (the first throw), the dog was expected to run downhill and out to the end of a peninsula, enter the water and swim the long axis of the pond between points on either side, exit the water and run uphill to the first WD that had been thrown.
Notes on Laddie's performance
Despite the suction of the peninsula on the left of the first water entry, Laddie made the correct entry and swam straight to the first fall on the right.
Laddie also nailed the second mark on the left.
For the third mark, the long mark down the center, unfortunately I don't remember whether Laddie required handling on the way out or not. However, I do remember that he cheated on the return and ignored my cues when I tried to stop it. Since Charlie advised me a week ago not to allow Laddie to cheat on returns in training (it's OK in tests), I put Laddie and his dummy back on the far side of the pond, walked around to the other side, and called him to me so that he would again swim the long axis for his return.
At that point, we were out of time and had to head for home.