As a final marking practice before our trial tomorrow, yesterday afternoon I picked up three assistants and went to a field to run Laddie on a land triple followed by a land blind.
Temps were in the 80s, so I gave Laddie water and a few minutes to rest in his crate between the two setups, but I felt it was too hot for any more land work after that.
The first series was a round-the-horn triple with the marks all thrown into high cover and the center gun as the shortest and retried, a retired indent configuration well known to confuse dogs at times, though for reasons I don't quite understand.
After the three marks were down, I used a side throw to give the center gunner a chance to retire and the others a chance to sit down. Although the other guns were not fully retired, the high cover and rolling terrain put them out of Laddie's sight during much of his runs to the marks. In fact, the go-bird gunner was out of Laddie's sight as soon as he sat down.
Given the setup, I felt Laddie's performance was reasonable. After picking up the side-throw, he nailed the go-bird, needed a short hunt on the indent retired center mark, and overran the long mark a short distance before spinning back around to it.
While he was resting in his crate, I set up a 180y blind (as I've mentioned in other posts, the distances I record are usually estimates). The line required Laddie first to detour around a small tree and then a second small tree. Next came a diagonal decent down a steep slope with a diagonal ditch crossing at the bottom. Crossing a couple of walking paths, passing a trash can, and running past some more trees, the line then went thru a keyhole made by two trees, then diagonally across a paved road. The final stretch was a section of lawn, with the bumper in front of a row of large shrubs.
Laddie had no difficulty with getting around the early obstacles and then back on line, and needed only a few whistles to maintain a narrow corridor that took him thru the keyhole. I would have expected the rest to be easy, but that's the whole reason I need to remember not to take the red zone for granted. Laddie went off line by squaring the road crossing, I believe because he wanted to get to the shade of the shrubs and trees on the other side, and then refused the first cast I used to try to get him back on line, instead going the opposite direction into the cooler, wooded area. But he stopped immediately when I whistled again, and completed the blind without further difficulty.
I hope to run Laddie on one more tune-up drill today, with emphasis on tight whistle sits, before we make our seven-hour drive north, though once again we'll be working with temps in the 80s and threatening thunderstorms. I feel so fortunate that Laddie maintains his enthusiasm, and continues to hone his skills, even under such difficult conditions.