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"In common dog-training parlance, frequent repetition of specific training techniques is called 'drilling.' ... We drill [dogs] to bring out their natural instincts, and we drill them to teach them to perform tasks beyond their natural instincts. Over the years, dog trainers have developed better and better techniques...However, the one constant through the entire history of dog training is, and always will be, drilling." - James Spencer

Many drills build upon earlier, simpler drills. And, in the book, they are presented in the right order. When necessary, each drill has a diagram to explain the drill, and in some cases a photograph. You may find it useful to work through the Marked Retrieve book first, as a good foundation for Blind Retrieves.

The one thought that I had when going through the book was how nice it would be to have this in a spiral bound, hard-glossy booklet - with each drill on its own page and with its own diagram. Not that I'm going to take the book into the field; the training vest is too heavy already. It's good to be as methodical in your own training program as Spencer is in his writing.

  • Why Drill?
  • An Overview of the Blind Retrieve
  • Lining Concepts
  • Lining Drills for Land
  • Lining Drills for Water
  • Stopping Drills
  • Casting Concepts
  • Casting Drills
  • Combination Drills
  • "Suction" Drills
  • Transition Drills
  • Equipment
  • The Electronic Collar

Back to my Jenna. I mentioned that she had forgotten the wonderful work she had done in the water in the summer of 2002. What a joy to have her "hup" in the middle of the pond and take a "back" or "over"! Now, all she wants to do is hunt. Interestingly, some of the drills I use to train are now frowned upon. Maybe that's a clue as to their long-term usefulness.

Or maybe I'm just getting too old. Spencer says of Wolter's Mowed Path Pattern Blind, that it has some "historical significance". I'm quite the dinosaur. Likewise for the Classical Sight Blind which "trainers have abandoned". It was with great joy that I read Spencer's words, "as far as I know, no one still uses the classical sight blind". Mr. Spencer, meet Mr. Fawcett.

So with Spencer's book in hand, and a host of new drills, I think that Jenna and I will get into these blind retrieves with new enthusiasm after the spring trialing season. Actually, I have implemented a few new tricks already - and the results have been good. This book has been a positive addition to my collection and it is one that I will pull off the shelf many times in our quest to master the elusive water blind.

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