Hazy, 86°, SW wind at 11 mph. Training with Nate again. With Master test coming up on Friday, today was mostly tune-up for that. My plan was to come up with something difficult, see what problems Laddie had, and use that info to plan work for rest of week. It didn't work. Laddie made mincemeat of both today's series
SERIES A. Interrupted land triple
First mark was on the right, a white bumper thrown by Nate RTL at 180y. Second mark was on the left, thrown by a Bumper Boy RTL at 80y. The third mark was on a line slightly to the left of the line to the second mark, thrown by a BB RTL at 30y. After the three marks were thrown but before any retrieves, I ran Laddie on a 170y blind on a line midway between the first and second marks. When Laddie returned with the blind, I sent him to the three marks in reverse order thrown. Nate retired behind a tree while Laddie was running the short mark on the left
The terrain on this field is hilly with uneven footing. in addition, each of the four retrieves had individual challenges:
- The blind was run after Laddie had seen three marks, and included an extremely tight keyhole near the end. Running a blind when marks are waiting to be picked can erode control, but Laddie did great.
- The short mark was thrown into high cover halfway up a steep slope, but its real challenge was to act as a diversion for the blind, to challenge Laddie's steadiness, and to act as a wiper-bird for the second mark. Laddie nailed it.
- The line to the second mark was up a steep hill, over a crest, and into a field of thick cover. The line was slightly to the right of the line to the first mark picked up. The BB was visible from the start line, but the fall was in high cover. Perhaps the most difficult part was that as Laddie was running up the slope, he could see only the crest of the hill above him. Laddie took a great line and absolutely nailed it.
- The long mark was fairly long, it was retired, and it was across a valley. Perhaps most difficult, it was a "bridge": Nate stood on one side of the wide ditch to throw to the other side, and Laddie needed to cross that ditch thru thick, high cover despite the picture of Nate in his memory being on the near side of the ditch. The configuration did not fool Laddie. He ran a beeline to the fall.
SERIES B. Land blind with bulldog
For the second series, I decided to try something Laddie and I have never practiced before, as far as I can remember: a "bulldog" thrown while Laddie was running a blind. A bulldog, as I understand it, is an article thrown while the dog is running another retrieve. In the past, we've practiced bulldogs thrown while Laddie was returning from a mark. A blind combined with a bulldog was new to us, but Alice mentioned it as a Master test possibility in recent correspondence, so I thought we'd give Laddie, and me, a chance to get a little experience with it. In Series B, I just wanted to show Laddie the concept. Then in Series C, we'd do it with a more difficult blind.
With Laddie in the crate and unable to see the set-up, I positioned Nate behind an old shed on the left and 30y from the start line. I then ran Laddie on an easy 40y blind toward the right and halfway up an embankment. As soon as Laddie had taken a few steps, Nate blew the duck-call fired a shot, and threw a white bumper LTR toward Laddie, so that it fell about 20y from Laddie. Laddie turned to look, took a couple of steps toward the bumper, them froze. I blew a sit-whistle, which I should have done sooner, then cast him up the hill to the blind, a cast he took without hesitation and with his usual exuberance. When he returned with the blind, I sent him to pick up the bulldog Nate had thrown.
TODAY'S LESSON. I don't know whether Laddie really needed this practice, but I'm glad I didn't wait for a test to try it out. After seeing what happened, I realized that if we ever get one of these, I need to get myself ready to blow the whistle as soon as required, and not wait till Rocket Dog darts toward the diversion to think about getting my whistle ready.
SERIES C. Water blind with bulldog
Now we were ready to try a more realistic series. Again with Laddie in the crate and unable to watch, I set Nate up behind a holding blind at the top of the embankment on the right of the pond. I then ran Laddie on a water blind with a land segment, an angle entry, and the wind blowing straight into our faces. Laddie made a great entry, and after he had swum a short distance, Nate blew the duck-call, fired the pistol, and threw a white bumper down the embankment toward Laddie. It was supposed to splash but landed on the grass at water's edge. Laddie barely took notice of it.
A short time later, near the end of the blind and 80y from the start line, Laddie had to take handling thru a 3' wide keyhole, consisting of an aluminum pumping unit on the left, and a patch of reeds on the right, with the shoreline just the other side of the reeds. Laddie zigzagged a couple of times, trying to avoid swimming so close to the aluminum pump-housing, but he stayed in control and soon took a "back" cast thru the keyhole, to shore, and up the embankment to the blind. He also did a nice job of getting back in the water and swimming back, detouring around the pump on the water side.
As frosting on the cake, he then took a thin slice of water with a very sharp angle entry, rather than running the bank, when I sent him to pick up the bulldog
Laddie did a nice job today, IMO.