Well we made the trek it was very interesting to say the least starting in -27 C temps with snow and ice covered roads driving into the mountains with switch backs, ravines steep descents and little or no cell coverage for the first 700kms (430miles). The you can notice a temperature shift as you notice you are coming down out of the mountains and the roads are getting bare all the trees around you are becoming less and less full of snow until you are at the bottom of a valley with bare fields and flowing rivers. I did have one more mountain pass to go over and back down into the Okanagan Valley which was where the trainer lived. The total trip one way was 1173kms or just over 733 miles, 14 hrs due to bad roads and having to stop at a walmart because I forgot my suite case LOL.
Day one we went thru the daily morning routine the trainer did with airing, running and feeding the dogs (11 dogs) 8 of them all black labs the other three he was watching for a friend. Of the 8 labs I think that 5 of them had earned some title of a sort in field trials all very very good dogs, all doing quads.
After all the dogs were loaded on the truck he went thru her OB and then moved on to her FF to show me where she was at. Remember she was at the point of (make me do it) pick it off the ground. The session lasted a bit longer and he said that he was a bit harder on her than normal but we had a break thru she started doing a walking fetch buy the end of the session. We were both very pleased because she showed us that she understood what she was told to do and could comply if she wanted too. I now understood what Rick meant by her being a (make me do it dog).
We headed out the field to do some training with the "big" dogs and man they were amazing he had (from left to right) a cold blind to the left 120 yards, two marks in the middle 150 yards and 180 yards and a second cold blind to the right 200+ yards. We only took 6 dogs including my Gauge and his Reggie who are both 10 months and very much the level except Reggie is pretty much FF. Out of the 6 dogs 4 of them all ran the test and did the marks of course the two younger dogs did not.
Reggie came out and worked on an 80 yard mark, 100 yard mark and tried for a 150 yard mark thru light cover but we had to move him up past the cover he is very inattentive and buggy looking all around and kept missing the mark. Rick asked if I wanted to run Gauge but warned me that she had never seen the launchers, picked up one of the bumpers from it and he had not done any field work in two months....I was a bit worried that she would not pick up and hold the bumpers but I had to see where she was at. We brought her out teased and played with a machine bumper and she was excited so we did the 80 yard mark, as soon as she bent down I gave her the "here" and called her in not giving her time to think about not picking up the mark and sure as hell she came in with it heeled and dropped it, I told her to fetch it up and had to ear pinch to get her to comply. Second 100 yard mark same thing but no ear pinch on the fetch it up and the 150 yard mark she held it but I sat her in front of me instead of a heel. Seemed like with too many commands the heel, sit, hold she would drop. A more simple sit hold as it is one the same when she has a bumper, or bird in her mouth was better. I was very please and Rick did comment that he did not think she would have done it and commented on her ability to pay attention and mark.
Day two brought more FF which was worse at first, if you have never seen FF on your dog and you are a soft person and plan to do it yourself better think twice. As an avoidance to the ear pinch pressure the dog will cry, yelp, roll and bare down for more pressure until it finally say it is easier to just pick up the damn bumper. However in anticipation of this pressure the dog will start to yelp even when you are not touching them, a huge learning point for me. But this time she was now doing the walking fetch again with both bumpers and birds.
We took Gauge and Reggie out again this time to a different location and we did a 100 yard bumper up the side of a hill, a 120 yard pigeon and a 150 yard duck all were spot on and held at the end delivered to hand (again I did not demand a heel just a sit hold) We moved locations and did a 80 yard bumper in light cover, a 100 yard pigeon in more cover and finally a 120 yard mallard in even more cover. All of these last six retrieves were done in 3 to 6 inches of snow as well. We did have a drop on the mallard at the end but I am not sure if it was a reposition drop or a real drop, I was commanding heel, sit, hold to remind her and a quick fetch it up did the trick. On this day I was feeling great I seen what she really could do and I also seen the difference between her and another dog that was thought to be farther along than her...again she got lots of praise from the trainer for her marking ability.
Sorry for the long post but this is the first time in 3 months I had anything to report, we are going to clean up her FF, walking fetch then move to stick fetch and then start some pile work in my shop in the evenings since it is -27C and over a foot of snow. We are going to take is slow and easy and since she is back with me and has always wanted to please me I think that we are going to have more success, once she knows that if she is asked and must comply and even my owner is going to put pressure on me then I think she will come around a lot faster. I have some pics of the Highway Thru Hell...yes it is a TV show too that I traveled and will get them up later. http://www.discovery.ca/Showpage.aspx?sid=45238