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2014 AWPGA National Specialty in Maine

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Old Business

Before I get into the gathering in Maine, I failed to mention in my last post that I gave the National Association for Gun Rights permission to use an old photo in a Facebook meme a week or two back.  I took this pic at least 4 years ago when we were still guiding hunts at Pheasant Haven preserve in Elk City, Nebraska.  You can see Charles and old Sue, who has since retired, in the middle.  I do not recall who was in this group of hunters.  Funny what people dig up on my website.  It drummed up 71k likes and 40k shares.

AmericanHunters

 

The Accidental Tourist: How I fell in love with Maine even though I didn’t plan on it.

People from Maine are so friendly that they talk to one another on the plane.  I guess nobody told them the “no talking on the plane” rule.  Please, read a book, listen to music, sleep.  But you aren’t supposed to make a new friend with the person sitting next to you.  Unless you are from Maine.  So I was somewhat agitated getting off of the plane, and thought that a swim would solve that.  It is easier for me to list the beach areas in the US that I haven’t been to, rather than listing the ones that I have.  I haven’t been to the Atlantic side of South Florida, the Pacific Northwest, or Hawaii.  So I have pretty high beach expectations.  I ended up at Crescent Beach State Park just outside of Port Elizabeth, Maine, since it was ranked as the best beach in Maine online.  The first problem that I encountered with this swim was the rocks, lots of rocks.  Not just nice round stones, but like cut your feet up and make you cry rocks.  I thought that once I got to where it was deep enough for me to swim, it wouldn’t be a problem.  But as the water got about mid-thigh and I had to commit to it, I just couldn’t do it.  I’ve swam in stock ponds cleaner than that water.  So the attempted swim was a fail.

View from Crescent Beach State Park in Port Elizabeth, Maine

View from Crescent Beach State Park in Port Elizabeth, Maine

Maine selfie: "What the heck is up with all of these rocks?"

Maine selfie: “What the heck is up with all of these rocks?”

I learned to appreciate just looking at the water, and the boats, and the lighthouses.  I next visited Portland Head Light, the only lighthouse that I made it to the whole trip.  Once again, scenic and unique.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light

View from the Portland Head Lamp

View from the Portland Head Light

That was pretty much the extent of my touring on Monday, as it was a 2 hr. drive to Rockland where most of us were staying.  I found out Tuesday night after the hunt test that the people of Rockland or who stay in Rockland are really fun.  To quote Stephen King, “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days in polite society are numbered.”  If you see me, feel free to ask me about it.  But I’m going to take the 5th on Tuesday night in Rockland.  I will say that no mortal sins were committed or laws broken.

Rockland Harbor Tuesday morning

Rockland Harbor Tuesday morning

I was able to catch a break from the dog action on Wednesday and just happened to stumble across Camden Harbor.  Another scenic area full of good food.

Camden Harbor

Camden Harbor

Camden Harbor

Camden Harbor Close-up

Camden

Camden

That was the extent of my touring, but it was nice that we had a good location for when there was down time.  I know that some of my friends went to Acadia National Park, or went whale watching, but my schedule was fairly limited to dog activities.

Thank you Amy Caswell

A huge thank you to Amy Caswell for organizing all of the events throughout the week.  She always did it tirelessly and with a smile on her face.  Not only did she organize all of the events, but she also participated in the Korthals Cup and the National Specialty Show.  Wowsa!!

Amy Caswell and Bijou in the Korthals Cup

Amy Caswell and Bijou in the Korthals Cup

Amy and Bijou in the Best of Breed ring at the National Specialty Show

Amy and Bijou in the Best of Breed ring at the National Specialty Show

Korthals Cup

Charles keeps asking me the qualifications to enter the Korthals Cup, but I can’t seem to find them online.  It is a certain level of NAVHDA UT prize or AKC Hunt Test title.  I am also not clear on exactly which test they are modeling the Korthals Cup after, either the NAVHDA UT or Invitational tests.  I was able to make it to the water test Tuesday morning. (Note: on any of these slide shows, you can click the first thumbnail for full screen to arrow through).

AKC Hunt Test

Following the Korthals Cup, we moved to the Lincoln Hawes Farm for the AKC Hunt Test.  There were entries at the Master Hunter, Senior Hunter, and Junior Hunter levels.  I served as parking lot attendant and part-time bird planter.  The Hawes were very gracious hosts and even put on an unscheduled lunch at the last minute with cheeseburgers from their very own burger.  Lincoln hauled folks around in his gator, even though he wasn’t asked to do so.  I do not have results on who all received passes, but congratulations to those who did!

Welcome Breakfast and Annual Meeting

The welcome breakfast was held at the Country Inn in Rockport, Maine and consisted of eggs benedict, french toast, sausage links, fruit, pastries, coffee, and mimosas.  The annual meeting went smoothly; I ended up making official my volunteering to take over as editor of the Griffonnier magazine.  It is going to be a huge challenge and major learning experience.  Charles and I are also going to work with the new field events director to establish a griffon club to host AKC Field Trials, as the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is the only one of the AKC recognized pointing breeds which does not have a field trial club.

Educational Seminars: Grooming, Health and Genetics, Show Handling, and Show Judges Education

Following a mid-day break, we took back up in the afternoon at the Union, Maine Fairgrounds for our first three educational seminars: Grooming, Health and Genetics, and Show Handling.  I videotaped Claudette Blackburn of the Association Quebecois Du Griffon d’Arret A Poil Dur (the Quebec Griffon Club) grooming a full dog, as their style of grooming is a bit different than ours.  I hope to have that all mixed down in the next couple of weeks for YouTube.

 

The Health and Genetics seminar was led by Laurie Cooke DVM.  We discussed new issues that are showing up in the breed and what we are hearing about most commonly.  I am very strict in my health criteria for my breeding animals, so knock on wood, we’ve been problem-free up to this point and plan on keeping it that way.

Laurie Cooke, DVM, on left, leading the health and genetics seminar

Laurie Cooke, DVM, on left, leading the health and genetics seminar

Burrell Handling put on our show handling seminar, what great teachers they are!  There was never dead air and there were always demonstrations to show the ideal.  Once the lecture and demonstrations were completed, she gave those with dogs in the ring the following day the opportunity to practice.

 

We broke camp at the Fairgounds around 6 PM and headed back to the Trade Winds in Rockland, Maine for our show judges’ education presentation.  We talked about the French working standard and the AKC conformation standard in great depth.

View of Rockland Harbor from the 5th floor of the Trade Winds

View of Rockland Harbor from the 5th floor of the Trade Winds

Discussing the PowerPoint

Discussing the PowerPoint

AWPGA National Specialty Dog Show

I am not a good show handler, but have grown an appreciation and understanding of dog shows.  At least enough to know what is going on most of the time.  At this point, I only kept track of who won Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex.  Many others have their catalogs marked for the dogs that they were watching.  We will have to wait for the AKC results to be posted for the full listing.  These are just candid shots from the ring in no particular order or organization.  Feel free to use on your individual kennel website if you are pictured.

Congratulations to Elaine Hunsicker for GCH Fireside’s Spontaneous Combustion JH “Buster” winning Best of Breed and to Kristi Rogney for GCH Whiskeytown Brandywyn SH for winning Best of Opposite Sex.

Annual Banquet

My final event for the week was the annual banquet.  It is the usual banquet setup: silent auction, feasting, and live auction.

I sat at the high roller table with the Whiskeytown gang and we bid stuff way up, often battling one another for items.  I ended up with a new teacher bag with a pointing griff and a stacked griff on the side of it, handmade by Nancy Coffeen.  I am also going to take the 5th on how much the winning bid was.  Charles hasn’t even asked and I haven’t even offered to say:)  But it will be put to good use.

Hog Wild in Iowa 2015

You don’t have to be a show dog person to enjoy the AWPGA National Specialty week.  I hope that when we go “Hog Wild in Iowa” next year, more of the owner/hunters will consider joining us!  It will be held the week of September 5, 2015 in Des Moines, more details to follow.

Surprise Pupdate

Karl and Deb recognized me in Chicago O’Hare on my way home, so I got an updated photo for Eli, who is our Fire’s brother.  He has locked up solid on turkeys and loves to jump into the stock pond.  Karl and Deb were on their way home from a vacation in Croatia, so they had been doing the air travel thing for about 24 hours.

Karl and Deb in O'Hare

Karl and Deb in O’Hare

Eli in the stock tank

Eli in the stock tank

In closing (finally already, I know)

I wasn’t even planning on going to Maine until around the 1st of July.  Like, what could there be in Maine that I haven’t already seen or done?  The world never ceases to amaze me with all of its beautiful sights to see and people to love.  I am so glad that I went and had such a fabulous time.  In the words of Shakespeare as Robin Goodfellow “Puck” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Fire with her lobsta:)

Fire with her lobsta:)

Field Trial Placement and on to Maine

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Should you need to contact us over the next week, I ask that you e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net.  My mom will be doing live-in nanny duties while I’m away and I don’t want to burden her with taking dog messages.  Any AWPGA members needing to contact me in Maine during the week, call or text (402) 830-4667.

AKC Field Trial

Today we ran Bluestem’s Prairie Fire “Fire” in her first formal dog event.  She participated in the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Nebraska’s Fall Field Trial in the Amateur Walking Puppy and Amateur Walking Derby stakes at the Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds near Raymond, Nebraska.  These grounds are famous and I noticed a new sign hanging in the lodge as I was getting breakfast this morning.  It is notes made this spring by Delmar Smith.

Comments from Delmar Smith about Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds, April 2014

Comments from Delmar Smith about Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds, April 2014

We met Delmar in Kansas City at Pheasant Fest a few years back and he is definitely a sage of the sport.

Sunrise over Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds

Sunrise over Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds

Horse barn and clubhouse of Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds

Horse barn and clubhouse of Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds

IMG_4523

A standard setup at Branched Oak

It was entirely English Pointers and German Shorthaired Pointers, but we had fun and Fire had a great experience.  Of course she was shown up with range in the field because of her young age (6 1/2 months) and the close-working nature of the breed, but due to the fact that there were only 4 dogs entered in the Amateur Walking Derby, we did walk away with a ribbon.  Although it was a “gimme” (which none of BB’s field trial placements were), it was still cool to represent griffons and be the only 6 month old griff ever to have placed in an AKC Field Trial.

Walking to the line

Walking to the line

At the line

At the line

Starting in the field

Starting in the field

Escapee

Escapee

Running Fire

Running Fire

Charles and Fire with their 4th place ribbon in the Amateur Walking Derby

Charles and Fire with their 4th place ribbon in the Amateur Walking Derby

We also had visitors from Matt and Carter, who live around Lincoln and will be getting a Sam/BB pup next year.

Matt and Carter saying hi to Fire.

Matt and Carter saying hi to Fire.

Fire and Carter

Fire and Carter

I really hate to cut this short, as there’s more to say, but I am still not packed for the AWPGA National Specialty Dog Show, Hunt Tests and Annual Meeting this week in Maine, and I have a 6 AM flight to catch in the morning.  I’m taking all of my equipment with me, so maybe there will be a blog post part 2 if I get the time this week, but I will probably be busy seeing all of my long lost dog friends.  If I don’t get to it, I’ll catch up with y’all next weekend.

Federacion Canofila Mexicana: Pointer Griffon de Pelo Duro

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2015 Reservation Update

For those of you puppy shopping, we only breed spring litters since we hunt during the fall and winter.  I currently have 9 reservations with deposits for the two litters that we are planning for Spring 2015.  Please call (402) 682-9802 or e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net with any questions.

FCM Bluestem Freyja

I received an e-mail from Charbel in Mexico City that six month-old  Bluestem Freyja, sister to our pup Fire out of Sam and BB, is now officially the first registered Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in Mexico!  Viva Griffon!  I find the name that they use quite interesting, as it literally translates into “Pointer Griffon of Hard Hair”.  Here is the official pedigree from FCM, and thank you so much to Charbel for sending me a copy!

Federacion Canofila Mexicana Pedigree of Pointer Griffon de Pelo Duro, Bluestem Freyja

Federacion Canofila Mexicana Pedigree of Pointer Griffon de Pelo Duro, Bluestem Freyja

It is pretty cool that in 3 generations it goes from France (Cyr, the sire of BB), Canada (BB was born), US (where Freyja was born), and now to Mexico.  I know that she has a good life down there, and I can’t wait to get some pics of her chasing some of their crazy quail.

Fire Training Day Epic Fail

Our poor raggedy chukar have been sitting in the holding pen for too long.  It isn’t a flight pen and most of them are big males and have pecked one another over quite a bit.  But we decided that Fire absolutely had to get out.  So yesterday morning, off we went to the dog training wildlife management area south of town with three chukars.

It has been raining so much that the grass was wet, and the birds were wet.  But Charles planted them anyway.  At that point, we hadn’t had Fire out working birds or even for a multi-hour walk for about a month.  The first thing that she did was take off like a bat out of hell right down the scent of Charles’s boots, with no care in the world for the whistle.  We finally found her about 150 yards away, up and over the hill with the last bird that he had planted in her mouth.

On the second bird, we got a point out of her that Charles was able to walk in on, but it barely flew and was almost an Arky shot (looks like I need to add Arky Shot to Urban Dictionary.  It is when a person shoots a bird on the ground or in a tree, which is extremely unsportsmanlike when not totally illegal).  But he wanted to make sure that he fired the shotgun and the bird was dead when she got ahold of it.  I think that the shotgun blast scared me more than it did the dog, so it looks like we’ve got the pup’s shotgun conditioning finalized.

Charles walking in on Fire's point

Charles walking in on Fire’s point

Fire showing off her prey drive on the flush

Fire showing off her prey drive on the flush

Charles going for the near-Arky

Charles going for the near-Arky

She retrieved that bird, but I was still too stunned from the blast to get a photo of it.  We got a decent point on the last bird, but it didn’t fly but about 6 inches off of the ground, right into Fire’s mouth.  Aw hell.  Although it makes for a funny story, and everyone who trains dogs has these days, it was still a big thumbs down.

Everybody Run

Remember that awesome song from Sesame Street in the 1970s?  Well, here it is:

Yet I digress.  This morning, we finally got everyone out for a run.  And it was fun.

The three dogs and Charles.

Sam, Fire, BB, and Charles.

Fire in the flowers

Fire in the flowers

Go Sam go

Go Sam go

BB on the move

BB on the move

Three dogs in the grass

Three dogs in the grass: Sam, Fire, BB

Here comes BB

Here comes BB

Happy Sam

Happy Sam

The people

The people

Upcoming trialing and hunting

This weekend, we will be running Fire in the Amateur Walking Derby and the Walking Puppy Stakes at the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Nebraska’s Fall Trial at Branched Oak Lake Trial Grounds.  I’ll be sure to get something up about that at the end of next weekend before I get on the plane for Maine.  I’m hoping that the stakes prior to the Derby are large, because if it falls on Friday, I will have to handle.  It would be my first time.  I thought we’d be running again the following weekend, but once I went to fill out the premium for the Lincoln club, I realized that there are no walking stakes.  So we’ll have the first weekend of September off from dog activities and just plan on sitting for some doves on Monday the 1st.

AromatherapyP

Pointing Dog Journal: Nebraska Sandhills Prairie Chicken Mention

This month’s PDJ Pass Along E-mail Blast was about the Greater Prairie Chicken and my very own Nebraska Sandhills.  The following is the full text from the e-mail and I hope that I am re-printing it with permission.  Full credit goes to Pointing Dog Journal and the author listed below:

prairie grouse logo

Prairie Chickens
in the Nebraska Sandhills
by Greg Septon, STCP

Founded in 1961 to save the greater prairie-chicken (GPC) in Wisconsin, the Society of Tympanuchus Cupido Pinnatus, Ltd. (STCP) is working today to better understand the dynamics that maintain the nation’s largest viable population of GPC in the Nebraska Sandhills – the last best place to study the species in their natural grassland environment.

The goal in the Sandhills is to document productivity, habitat use, and movements of GPC and provide an understanding of how this is interwoven with human activities in the region. If GPC are to prosper as a species we need to better understand their needs and work to determine a scenario where compatible land uses will provide a secure future for them as well as humans so that both may coexist.

Our proactive approach at studying the dynamics of this large population now means that we can likely prevent the GPC from following in the wake of the lesser prairie-chicken – which is now listed as threatened, and the greater sage grouse, which may also be listed next year. If similar proactive research had been undertaken 20 years ago with these species, they might not be facing the uncertain futures they face today.

Gaining a thorough understanding of the life history of Nebraska’s large GPC population will also help provide a future for the isolated, remnant GPC populations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa. For it is from the large populations that these states will need to translocate birds from to restore genetic health and increase numbers to maintain their “museum” or “zoo” populations as they are often referred to. Without a stable source population where birds can be drawn from for periodic translocations, these small, isolated populations will eventually fade away one by one.

For a more comprehensive history of STCP and an account of our research efforts including work with the endangered Attwater’s prairie-chicken, please visit our website at: www.prairiegrouse.org.

Until next weekend

I need to go and get the kids ready for school tomorrow.  It is very much unlike me to do a Sunday night post, but I desperately need to save my writing time in the morning for my paid writing gig.  Oh, I also wanted to give a special shout out to the late night internet lurkers on my blog.  I am also one of those people who gets up almost every night for 15 minutes or so between midnight and 4 AM and gets online.  I know it is neurotic and a bad habit, but I always check my stats and see there are folks out there reading my blog at that time.  I also see that there are people reading my archived posts from several years back.  How embarrassing, it is a real cesspool in places.  But that is just part of keeping an online diary.  I’m glad that you enjoy it.

 

Back to School

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Today, for the first time in 13 years, I don’t have a child in daycare, preschool, or at home with me.  The youngest is off to kindergarten and as much as I’ve looked forward to this day for so bloody long, it still hurts a little.  But I’ll be back to substitute teaching English at the high school the day after tomorrow, so that will be exciting.  And there’s always the dogs.

It has rained every day since we’ve been back from vacation, so they haven’t gotten a good long run in for awhile.  It shows; they are a bit rammy on their walks out back.  Yesterday, Sam finally met the new intact male pitbull that moved recently in a few properties over.  I was very nervous, but the pit is probably several years younger and 3-4 inches shorter than Sam, so nobody was questioning who was dominate (thank God).

American Hunter: Gun Dogs and the WPGCA

If you are a member of the NRA, you have a number of options as to which magazine you receive in the mail.  We get American Hunter.  I typically never even pick it up, but Charles always reads it.  This month’s Gun Dog article was about versatile dogs, titled, “One Dog to Rule Them All” by Ron Spooner.  Why write a letter to the editor that nobody will read, when I can just go on to my blog and rant about it?  Here’s what got me in his write-up about the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, “Best current bloodlines spring from dogs brought out of Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Iron Curtain.”  Grrr…he’s not even talking about purebred griffs.  The WPGCA’s ad campaign is at work again.

First, let me backtrack for those of you who are not up to speed on this topic.  The original breed club is the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America (WPGCA), but in the mid-1980s the breeding committee opted to do a full cross on to the Cesky Fousek, the Czechoslovakian equivalent of the Korthals Griffon.  This was not an infusion authorized by the American Kennel Club.  In the event of extreme genetic depression there is a way to have an infusion of a similiar breed authorized by the AKC, but the WPGCA decided not to follow this course of action and left the AKC.  A handful of breeders in the US chose to stay with the AKC and formed the AWPGA, the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association, of which I am a member.

The AWPGA up to this point has remained fairly silent in hunting circles.  Whenever you go to the Pheasants Forever National Convention “Pheasant Fest”, the cross-breeders are in the bird dog parade attempting to represent the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (except the year that they were here in Omaha).  In all of the hunting magazines, the WPGCA has ads.  The funny thing is that the WPGCA needs AKC griffs to balance out their breeding program, but nobody will sell to them.

Although the demand for AKC griffs is at an all-time high, I wish that there were more of an understanding within the sporting dog community as to the difference between the two groups and the campaign of total misinformation that the WPGCA is putting out.

Charles and I have discussed the fact that there needs to be a head-to-head competition between the two groups, with judges from outside the breed.  Where we could take the segments NAVHDA UT or VC test and combine it with the AKC walking field trial.  It could all be very sportsmanlike, it doesn’t have to be a throw down.

AWPGA Logo

Fall is Coming

In case you hadn’t noticed, fall will be here soon.  The dog cult of Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds will be re-assembling in 10 days for the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Nebraska’s Fall Field Trial.  We’ll go ahead and run Fire in the Amateur Walking Puppy and Amateur Walking Derby stakes.  The following weekend, we’ll do the same thing at the same place with the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Lincoln.  Those trials fall on each end of my work week trip to Maine, August 25-29 for AWPGA National Specialty, so it will be a very doggy week.

Speaking of the people who hang around Branched Oak, I’d like to give a shout out to Kahne Packer, and his folks Dana and Chad.  Kahne is bud of my kids at dog events and was featured in the Best in Show photograph for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Nebraskaland Magazine Photo Contest for 2014.

Kahne Packer and his German Shorthaired Pointer anxiously wait to set food afield at a youth mentor pheasant hunt at Cub Creek Hunting in Beatrice.  Photo by Kaleb White

Kahne Packer and his German Shorthaired Pointer anxiously wait to set foot afield at a youth mentor pheasant hunt at Cub Creek Hunting in Beatrice. Photo by Kaleb White

Sharptailed Grouse and Statewide Early Teal

We will skip opening day of sharptailed grouse on September 1 and instead head out there on Friday the 5th to chase them, with statewide Nebraska early teal opening on Saturday the 6th.  If you go out for early teal on the 6th, make sure you take the time to properly identify what you are shooting.  This season is under evaluation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and if we harvest too many non-teal ducks, we will lose the season.  TEAL ONLY.  Please download the NGPC Waterfowl Guide to your phone or tablet prior to going out into the field for further guidance: http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/hunting/guides/waterfowl/waterfowl.asp

 The battle of the over/unders: the SKB Model 505 vs. the Browning Citori Lightning

We have a way of winning big ticket items at Pheasants Forever banquets.  Charles and Conrad both have Nebraska Lifetime Hunting and Fishing licenses.  I won the 12 ga. Browning Citori Lightning O/U four or five years ago.  I used to shoot a 20 ga. SKB 505, but I don’t get a chance to shoot skeet that often, so I needed the extra reach of a 12 ga. to put more birds in the bag.  Plus, it took me several years of hunting to work up the upper body strength to carry a shotgun all day and not end up with a black shoulder from bad form.  Charles would have taken the Citori, but it is just too long for him.

An array of Browning Citoris, from pafoa.org

An array of Browning Citoris, from pafoa.org

I have fought with that damn shotgun since the day I won it.  It has driven me to tears.  Both the Browning and the SKB have the safety on the top of the grip of the stock, just behind the receiver.  With the SKB it is a simple thumb push forward to take the safety off.  On the Browning Citori Lightning the safety and the O/U switch are one in the same, where you push the same switch side to side to choose barrels, then forward to take off the safety.  If the O/U switch is not properly engaged, the safety will not turn off.  And it is just enough to send me into a complete hissy fit and makes me lose my focus on the shot.  So good riddance, Browning Citori Lightning O/U 12 ga., into the safe to be a loaner gun.  Or maybe one of the boys will have more patience for it than I.

Unfortunately, SKB shotguns are not currently in production.  About three years ago, the family who owned the SKB factory in Japan decided that they no longer wanted to carry on operating it once the family patriarch passed on.  So, SKB USA, which is headquartered right here in Omaha, Nebraska, is building a new plant in Turkey to continue to manufacture these functional tools.  Sure, it is cool to look at a Kreighoff, but what happens when I fall into the swamp (again)?  But luckily around Christmas time, we found a 505 12 ga. in mint condition here at Guns Unlimited (aka SKB USA headquarters), so I am super excited to get her out in the field and shoot some stuff.  Oops, I mean harvest the sacred game.

SKB Model 505 12 ga. field grade

SKB Model 505 12 ga. field grade.  Photo from skb.com

 Vacation selfies

Looking back on my vaca post, I realize that I edited myself out of the photos.  Here I am, “Hi!!”

Great Sand Dunes National Park kicked my arse.  Photo by Charles.

Great Sand Dunes National Park kicked my arse. Photo by Charles.

Charles and I at the Grand Canyon.  Photo by our 10 year-old son, Conrad.

Charles and I at the Grand Canyon. Photo by our 10 year-old son, Conrad.

Pupdates

We received Ben’s OFA certification back and it was Good.  He is a 3 1/2 year old male out of Sam and Sue that we’ll be breeding on to our co-owned female, Velma.  I can check that off of the list.

Ben's OFA certificate

Ben’s OFA certificate

Ernie up in North Dakota has been working with his 5 month-old pup, Duncan, and the Central Dakota NAVHDA chapter towards the Natural Ability test.  Duncan is from our 2014 “H” litter of Sam and Mae.  He said, “Duncan is doing great, he has more natural ability than any other dog I have ever seen at this age.  He is picking up on the obedience training very quickly.  The guys at NAVHDA are sure he could do his NA test now, but I will wait until spring.  Hope you have a great hunting season.”

He also sent along a video of their training:

As it says in the credits, thank you to Ernie for the great video, and to the Central Dakota NAVHDA chapter for the training opportunities!

Duncan on a fishing trip, waiting for hunting season.

Duncan on a fishing trip, waiting for hunting season.

Also working with the Central Dakota NAVHDA chapter is TracHer, with Susan and Tom.  TracHer is from our 2012 “C” litter of Sam and Mae.  They sent along a GoPro headmount video of working with her on steadiness.  I appreciate them sharing a video of a work in progress, as training steadiness is challenging.  If you are sensitive to motion, you might want to start the video at 1:15 or so.  I also film with a GoPro and know that getting anything of quality is lucky, so thank you again Susan and Tom for putting in the effort to share this.  

Matt up in South Dakota has been out with Josie, Duncan’s sister.  He called me up and said that she’s gaining her independence in her puppy adolescence, but they are getting her reined back in by having her drag a check cord.  She had a bit of random nervous barking early on, but they resolved it quickly with a no-bark collar.  Matt guides upland and waterfowl near Vermillion when he isn’t doing his day job, and I learned something interesting from him about hunting waterfowl along the Missouri River.  They do not use any type of collar on the dog up there, for fear of having dogs snag on the numerous logs and branches in the water.  We have yet to try and take on the Mighty Mo here, it is a big deep channel, but that is a smart tip.

Josie sitting

Josie sitting

Josie in the field

Josie in the field

Josie with a bumper in the yard

Josie with a bumper in the yard

TracHer’s brother, Chester, out in New York was caught on camera by his trainer, Steve Anker.  Charles hangs out on the versatiledogs.com forum and showed me this.  I loved it so much that I had to snag it.  Chester is working on his NAVHDA Utility Test with the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter, and is pictured with his owner, Sal.

Sal and Chester up to serious training business.  Photo by Steve Anker.

Sal and Chester up to serious training business. Photo by Steve Anker.

Okay, not a pupdate, but still a silly griffon photo from my pack.  My brother Ron had Mae out on Main Street in Valentine, Nebraska while the bar folk were about.  I didn’t ask the details, but he titled this one “Mae Meets the Party Girls”.

Mae giving love to the party girls

Mae giving love to the party girls

Time for me to get on with the day.  Party on, Mae.

Get Your Handle On

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Author’s note: The stuff from the NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic has been floating around in my brain for a little over a month now.  Thank you to Dan Dorfschmidt of Roughrider Griffons in North Dakota and my puppy owners, Matt Heard in South Dakota, and Susan Davy in North Dakota for calling me up and having quality discussion about the program.  It all came together totally by chance and this article never would have never happened without them.  

Do you flip through Versatile Hunting Dog and just look at the pictures?  Or are you a breeder who goes straight to the scores in the back?  What about just getting the magazine, putting the sticker on your truck, and never going to a training day?  Show up at a test as an owner with someone else handling, and have absolutely no idea what is going on?  The Handler’s Clinic is designed to educate trainers, handlers, and aspiring apprentice judges, but any serious versatile dog owners and most especially breeders need to attend.

My husband, Charles, has been hunting with versatile dogs most of his life and I took it up about 15 years ago when I grew tired of being left behind every weekend for five months out of the year.  Our interest in NAVHDA grew out of our increasing seriousness in breeding Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, with other breeders encouraging us to test.  We dabbled in NAVHDA off and on for a few years, then in May of 2012 Charles handled his first dog in Natural Ability for a Prize I.  In 2013 he took 2 dogs through the Utility Preparatory Test, then Utility Tested and prized both of those dogs, with only 12 Wirehaired Pointing Griffons UT prized breed-wide for the entire year.  Ours were both Prize III dogs, but we really took the hard way to get there.  We had probably gone to 1 or 2 training days over the span of 2 years, and did everything from trying to understand the segments of the test to the actual training on our own.  We had never even watched a Utility Preparatory Test or Utility Test when Charles handled in the UPT.

Save yourself all of that aggravation and go to a Handler’s Clinic first.

Charles and I attended the Heartland Chapter clinic in Thurman, Iowa in late June of this year, led by Jason Wade of Maine.  Two other Great Plains chapters also recently held clinics: the Midwest Tri-State in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was led by John Kohnke of the Pacific Northwest chapter and the first clinic ever for Central Dakota in Bismarck, North Dakota was done by Tracy Harmeyer of Wisconsin.  I just by chance had a couple of my puppy owners and a fellow griffon breeder call me up and talk to me about their experiences at those clinics, and it helped me to get a better picture of the program overall.

It is a 2-day program, starting with 3-4 hours of class time to cover the Aims, Programs, Test Rules booklet.  Each judge has their own style as to how they work the classroom portion: some have visual aids and handouts, others just use the book and the scorecards, but overall it is pretty informal and open-ended.  The participant questions drive the content just as much as the judge’s presentation.  You learn about the segments of the test, the skills evaluated at each segment, what the skills look like at each testing level, the breakdown of the scorecard, and the weighting of the individual item scores towards the final score.  A couple of the questions discussed were, “What exactly is a point?” and, “What is the difference between cooperation and obedience?”.  Also covered is assessment of the physical attributes, temperament, and gun-shyness.

“Our clinic leader, Tracy Harmeyer, was very interactive, she had a laminated scorecard up on the wall and went through all 19 categories thoroughly.  The only time she had the participants open the book was to look at the steadiness diagram,” said Dan Dorfschmidt, Director of Training for the Central Dakota chapter.

Matt Heard, a first-time handler and new member of the Midwest Tri-State chapter spoke of clinic leader John Kohnke’s approach, “He comes from a hunting background rather than just a tester.  He gave examples of things that he had seen, discussed scenarios, and taught us some handler’s tricks.”

Following the classroom portion on the morning of the first day, the majority of work is in the field.  Volunteer dogs and handlers of varying experience levels work through the segments of each test for the participants to score.  The afternoon of the first day two Natural Ability dogs run, and the second day a Utility Preparatory Test and a Utility Test dog run.  Jason and our host, Judge Tracey Nelson, broke us up into teams of 4.  We scored the dogs individually on real scorecards that were generously donated by Purina, compiled a group score in the field, then went over it as a whole group back at the lodge.  We debated what we saw in the field and how we scored it, then received feedback from the judges, who also included Chuck Casanova from our chapter.  Jason then wrote up our final scores on a giant laminated scorecard so that we could all see what we had come up with and tabulate the final score.

Thanks to Pam Robinson and her Small Munsterlanders for doing both of the NA and the UPT tests and Darin Tolzin and his German Shorthaired Pointer, Tyra, for doing the UT for the Heartland Chapter clinic.

Susan Davy and her 2 1/2 year old griffon, TracHer, volunteered to be the UT handler and dog at the Central Dakota chapter clinic.  She commented that, “If a new handler like me or an old handler with a newer dog gets the offer to be the demo dog for one of those clinics, especially for UT, I think it was of way more value to me than had I signed up for the class.  It put me and TracHer under the gun right there and so much more became clear.”

The Handler’s Clinic is a valuable learning experience for everyone involved.  If you have not already, take advantage of one near you!

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

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Administrative Announcements

Before I get into the meaty part of this blog post, I need to get some administrative announcements out of the way. I have to admit that I went completely AWOL while on vacation for the last 2 weeks. I have not yet opened my e-mail and the voicemail is full. Please give me until Wednesday to get caught up (I know I even stopped mid-conversation with some folks on the e-mail, shame on me and sorry).

As of right now, I have seven reservations for the two planned litters for 2015: 4 female, 2 male, 1 no gender preference. So if you are looking to make a reservation for next year, that gives you an idea of where we are at.

BB is just coming out of her summer heat, so it looks like she should come in again to breed with Sam January/February, for whelping March/April, and puppy homegoing May/June.

Into the Wilderness

I am not good at getting to church, but I made it up to church last night (random, yes, but I promise that this thread is going to tie back into hunting, so hang with me).  When I go, it’s to St. John’s Catholic Church on the Creighton University campus, where I did my undergraduate studies.  The Jesuits are amazing men of God and intellect, and always seem to know what to say when I need to hear it.  Last night, Fr. Roc O’Conner S.J. was at the pulpit and he is absolutely one of my favorites; not only does he know liturgy and scholarship, but is also a talented singer and songwriter.  In the homily he said, “Wilderness is a place for teaching and learning about God.  Do not worry about what there is to eat or drink, for God provides.”

After traveling 4000 miles through the western US over the previous 2 weeks and with hunting season just around the corner, that just floored me.  Charles and I have this bad habit of underpreparedness.  Like we’ll see game from the truck and be like, “oh, we’ll just chase that group over there, it is just over that hill, we won’t be gone for long” and not bring water.  Then 2 hours later we’re staggering back to the truck dying of thirst.

So towards the end of our trip we were hiking up to Liberty Pass (elev 10,450 ft.) at Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains Wilderness just east of Elko, Nevada.  Well, we hadn’t planned on going to the pass, we were just going to the lake that was a couple of miles up the mountain.  But once we got there, the pass looked so close and we decided that we were there and were going to march the kids to the top.  Well, about a half-mile from the top, little 5 year-old Caleb tripped and fell into the rocks and scraped his arm up good.  We assessed our water supply and decided that he was going to have to suck it up because we didn’t have enough water to rinse it off, plus make it the rest of the way up the mountain and back down.  Additionally, the elevation was kicking his poor little butt and he was complaining of being hungry.  We were making very little progress with his endless protests, when down the mountain came these two 70ish year-old ladies.  They could see that Caleb was having a rough go and stopped to render aid.  They had enough water to rinse his scrape and gave him a bag of trail mix to eat.  I swear that they were angels and we never would have made it without them.  So a big thank you to the two ladies that helped us on July 30.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into the barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they?  Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 25-26

So as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming hunting season, let us remind ourselves that what we seek in the wilderness is a gift from God, and to respect and appreciate all that he provides for us on the land and in the air.

And so if you didn’t make it to church today, you got the Word according to Charity.  And thus ends my sermon.

Liberty Pass at Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains Wilderness, Nevada

Liberty Pass at Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains Wilderness, Nevada

Serious Conditioning

After the trip, I feel like I’m coming into the season in better shape than I have in the last few.  If you’ve been here for awhile, you know that this is a bad habit of mine since I’m somewhat of a professional glutton when I’m not wearing one of my many hats.  But we got some major hiking in over the last couple of weeks and although I would love to start a food and travel blog, that would involve too much work, so you get to hear about it.

Our first hiking stop, and absolutely my worst showing, was at Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is about 25 miles north of Alamosa, Colorado.  It is the least crowded National Park that I’ve ever been to (I’m also a bit of an NP junky).  As I am a native of the Nebraska Sandhills, I figured that I needed to go and see the tallest open sand dunes in North America.  It is a very tall dune range about 15 miles long that sits up next to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (which also look very cool and rugged, but we didn’t have time to tackle them).

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

We arrived late morning, probably around 10:30 AM and it was already starting to warm up.  There was no hiking barefoot as the sand was 100+ degrees in places and true to our bad habit of not being properly prepared, we were all in hiking sandals that filled up with sand every step.  And the sand was loose so that your foot would sink in, and of course being the largest member of the expedition party I had a hell of a time.  The kids and Charles were at the top of the dune yelling at me to finish.  Next time we will be starting out at 6 AM with proper footgear and not such a rigorous agenda (we had to make it to Durango that evening).

Mom finally made it up the dune to get a pic.

Mom finally made it up the dune to get a pic.

(Notice that Charles is carrying my camera, that’s how bad it was.)

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

We were extremely lucky to get tickets to tour Cliff Palace, the largest of the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, which is about 35 miles west of Durango, Colorado.  It wasn’t a long hike, but it had some very steep stair and ladder climbing involved and our group had a Dutch lady who had to drop out from almost fainting on the first staircase.

Charles spots Caleb on one of the ladders at Cliff Palace

Charles spots Caleb on one of the ladders at Cliff Palace

After leaving Mesa Verde, our next stop was Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which is on the Arizona/Utah border about 25 miles north of Kayenta, Arizona.  This absolutely one of my favorite places on earth.

Sunrise over Monument Valley

Sunrise over Monument Valley

(Photography aside: DO NOT look through your camera when taking pictures of the sun.  It will fry your eyeballs.  I hid behind the blackout curtain of the hotel room and stuck my hand out of the sliding glass door to take this photo.)

Clint Westwood of Monument Valley Safari in front of ancient petroglyphs

Clint Westwood, Navajo Nation Guide for Monument Valley Safari in front of ancient petroglyphs

Going back to my thoughts on people who somehow know what to say when you need to hear it, I am always in awe of what I learn from the First Nations people across the country.  The summer that we got married, Charles and I lived on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, home of the Sicangu Lakota; he worked on a ranch and I wrote for the Sicangu Sun-Times, so we have a strong background in native culture and ceremony.  As most of the visitors to Monument Valley are from Europe and Asia, we received a warm welcome and there was a lot of sharing going on between us and the Navajo.  Everyone we met had relatives either currently living in our part of Indian Country, or had moved up here and had gone back.  The plains tribes’ basketball teams also travel down there for all-native tournaments.  It was a bit strange to be so far from our house, yet feel at home.

The farthest point into the valley on the Wildcat Trail

The farthest point into the valley on the Wildcat Trail

Poor Caleb gets pushed to his limits on our hikes, this photo was taken at mile 3 of our 4 mile hike into Monument Valley.  My formerly brown sandals are still red from the sand.  We really love the land and people of this place and talk of maybe living a year out there once we’re retired (a long time from now).

One last random vacation picture.  I have done the South Rim drive through overlook tour of the Grand Canyon twice now and have to say that I will never do it again.  Take the time to go to the North Rim, raft the river, or do a pack mule trip if you want to see the Grand Canyon.  It is just one of those places that is wedged between other places that I really want to see, so I’ve never taken the time to do it properly.

Sorry for this blurry picture.  We had literally just gotten out of bed and Charles pulled the curtain back on our room at the Yavapai Lodge of Grand Canyon Village and this was who was there to greet us.

Bull Elk outside of our window

Bull Elk outside of our window

Since I’m on the topic of big game, this is a banner year for antelope in Wyoming.  We saw many does with twins, lots of large, healthy bucks, and probably over 100 antelope total along I-80.  I wish that I had taken the time to photograph, but was just really road weary at that point and didn’t.

Visiting the Sierras and Quail

Our final destination was up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary and the family reunion on my mom’s side.  My grandparents came from ranch families in the Nebraska Sandhills, but left after WWII and my grandfather was an electrician in the budding San Fernando Valley.  So yes, my mom and aunts are some of the original “Valley Girls”.

Okay, so when they retired, they moved right outside of the gates of Yosemite National Park to a town called Oakhurst.  Similar to Valentine, Nebraska where my fraternal clan lives, all of my maternal clan is in Oakhurst.  It really stabbed me in the heart when the first greeting we got from a relative was, “Welcome Home”.  I tear up just thinking about it, as we had been away for far too long.

So whenever we have a reunion, my immediate family has a tradition that we go up to Yosemite with my Uncle Jim, who we are very close to.  He is a stage tech in Spokane, Washington and just all around cool dude.  I would call him an ex-hippy, except that I think he is probably still a hippy.  But I love him and we have fun together.

The usual suspects, plus Uncle Jim

The usual suspects, plus Uncle Jim

Our first stop was the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, because if you get there too late, they close the parking lot and you have to take a shuttle in (which we have never done, we just skip it if it is full).  What we thought was going to be a nice hike looking at trees took a bird scouting turn, when we stumbled upon a male Mountain Quail tending to his 6-8 chicks.  I did not have my telephoto lens on and had left my camera pack in the van, so we are actually this close to them.

 

First spotted by Charles on the trail

First spotted by Charles on the trail

Feeling pressure, they moved into the trees

Feeling pressure, they moved into the trees

Male Mountain Quail with one of his 6-8 chicks

Male Mountain Quail with two of his 6-8 chicks

Just beautiful

Just beautiful

Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoia

My grandmother apologized for our trip to Yosemite being a “disaster”, but really it was quite cool to see the Mountain Quail and a new side to the park that I hadn’t seen before (this would probably be my 5th or 6th visit).  The normally green valley was dry and brown, smoke filled the air, and the waterfalls were non-existent.  Both the El Portal and the French fires had started the day before, and we saw fire from Hwy 41.

Yosemite burning

Yosemite burning

Yosemite Valley in the smoke.  Normally, Half Dome is visible on the right.

Yosemite Valley in the smoke. Normally, Half Dome is visible on the right.

Last news I received is that they are still battling these fires.  Pray for rain and for the safety of the firefighters out there.

But back to birds.  Not only did we have our Mountain Quail sighting, but right on Rd 426 going up the mountain out of Oakhurst, we saw loads of California Quail action.  They are the ones that look like the Partridge Family, with the blob on the end of their head plumage.  I was always too busy scurrying between family events to slow down for them and the one time that Charles was driving and we slowed down to look, my camera bag was back in the hotel.  Argh.  So I snagged this photo from the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy website.

Male and female California Quail

Male and female California Quail (photo from sanelijo.org)

According to my relatives, their coveys can number in the hundreds and really prefer the shrubby areas of the lower Sierras.  My cousin-in-law Ryan, who grew up there, says that he used to hunt them with success as a kid using his Red Ryder BB gun.  The bag limit on Mountain and California Quail is 10 per day per hunter, which tells you how abundant they are and how few people actually hunt them.  So a combo Christmas with the family and quail hunting trip is definitely in the works within the next 2-3 years.

Battle Mountain Chukar Tournament

Billboard for the Battle Mountain Chukar Tournament

Billboard for the Battle Mountain Chukar Tournament

We were making time through chukar country, so the only chukar that we saw on the trip was for the Battle Mountain, Nevada Chukar Tournament.  So, now I have a new item on my bucket list http://battlemountaintourism.com/chukar-tournament/.  But once again, beating my tired old drum, I would have to get into much better shape.

Chukar country is intimidating

Chukar country is intimidating

The Ruby Mountains of Nevada and the Himalayan Snowcock

Back in the 1960’s the Nevada Department of Wildlife stocked the Ruby Mountains just east of Elko, Nevada with Himalayan Snowcock, which is essentially a giant chukar native to Pakistan and Nepal.  Our fellow upland crazy Brian Koch of ultimateupland.com took a crack at them a couple of years ago, so we had to see what it was all about.  Check out Brian’s adventure at http://www.ultimateuplandlodge.com/magazine/read/climbing-for-the-birds_136.html

Himalayan Snowcock in Nepal (photo from summitpost.org)

Himalayan Snowcock in Nepal (photo from summitpost.org)

The Himalayan Snowcock is to North American upland hunters what the Dall Sheep is to North American big game hunters.  The badass trophy.  You have to be super tough, at peak fitness, and acclimated to altitude.  Not to mention a crack shot, because you are going to get less than a handful of chances, if any.  Our climb into Liberty Pass just got us into the elevation that we would start seeing them (which we never did, as it is a well traveled trail and a 5 year-old, 10 year-old and 13 year-old don’t hike this hard without some loud wailing involved).

But at 5.2 million acres and rugged high elevation, the Ruby Mountains were gorgeous and impressive.  They call it the Yosemite of Nevada, as it was carved by glaciers similarly.  When we get trained up for the Rubies, this is a situation where we would want a guide.  We just don’t have the time a resources to do the scouting needed to locate them on our own.  So if anyone knows of any good guides for Himalayan Snowcock, let me know.  Actually, in looking for a photo online I found Nevada High Desert Outfitters who specializes in guiding for the bird, so if anyone has any feedback on them let me know.

The view up the trail to Liberty Pass from the End of the Road parking lot at Lamoille Canyon.

The view up the trail to Liberty Pass from the End of the Road parking lot at Lamoille Canyon.

Just above Lamoille Lake

Just above Lamoille Lake

Stopping for a break.  Snow on the ground still in late July.

Stopping for a break at the treeline. Snow on the ground still in late July.

The view of the back side of Liberty Pass.  Extremely daunting.

The view of the back side of Liberty Pass. Extremely daunting.

Well, I need to wrap this business up.  My suitcases are still sitting in the living room, but everyone is home (dogs included) and we’re all safe and sound.  I knew that you had missed me, so I thought that I had better get something out.  I’ll be back later in the week with the normal dog news and pupdates.  Until then, keep searching for adventure.

(Oh and I have to give credit to Maya Angelou for the title.)

Introducing Ben, etc.

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Introducing Ben

We will be using Ben as the sire on the litter planned with Velma (De Jac’s Zip-Ah-Dee-Doo-Dah) for 2015.  Ben is from our 2011 “B” Litter between Sam and Sue.  We had him here as an overnight guest last week in order to get his hips X-rayed, which is really just a formality as there is no sign of anything wrong.  It is just one of those things that you are supposed to do before breeding a dog.

Ben has a wonderful temperament: he only barked once or twice out in the kennel even though it wasn’t home and he let me mess with him up on the grooming table without putting up a fight.  He is strictly a wild bird hunter of quail, sharptailed grouse, and pheasant here in Nebraska.  He lives on a farm outside of Lincoln with Nate and his family.  We plan on taking our next stud puppy out of the Velma and Ben litter, they really compliment each other well in their conformation.

Ben on point last fall.

Ben on point last fall on a hen pheasant.

Ben au natural, before any grooming

Ben au natural, before any grooming

Ben after being brushed, before trim

Ben after being brushed, before trim

Ben after a full trim and bath

Ben after a full trim and bath

Ben with Nate ready to head home

Ben with Nate ready to head home

I was really blown away by Ben’s head furnishings, neither of his parents have anything near that long.  I would put his eyebrows and beard at around 4 in. long.  His face really makes me think of the West Coast show griffs.  His body coat is more of the hunter lines liver coat, but it isn’t flat like some, it does have a curl to it like Sam’s.  Then the chest and the legs have lots of gray fringe on them.  He also isn’t too big, 64 lbs. and probably 23 in. at the shoulder, so really the perfect size and right in breed standard.  We hope to get out this fall and do some hunting with him too, so I’ll have more pictures of him then.

Retiree Update

Mae is doing really well with my brother Ron, and his Siberian Husky Whisper.  Whisper used to escape and run away all of the time, but that has changed now that he has an old lady.  Mae was fixed before I moved her, so there will be no griff/husky cross puppies (although it was much talked about in jest beforehand).  They sit around the yard all day, then play fight in the house at night.

Mae and Whisper doing what they do best.

Mae and Whisper doing what they do best.

Stan shared a cute picture of old Sue running with Savannah down the driveway, she seems to be very happy playing with the kids.  Trey is 12 this year and passed his hunter’s safety, so game birds in Mellette County, South Dakota be warned.

Sue and Savannah on a jog.

Sue and Savannah on a jog.

Fire Training Update

Last weekend, Charles took our 5-month old puppy, Fire, out to Skyline Sportsmen’s Club in Thurman, Iowa for training with the Heartland NAVHDA Chapter.  She did her first exercise with live shotgun fire and did just fine.  She also retrieved bumpers from the water.  The veterans of the chapter said that she is ready for her Natural Ability test, so we will go ahead and move that up to October of this year.  We were talking about doing it in the spring, but will go ahead and move it up and do the UPT test in Spring of 2015.  That way we can get her through the Utility Test prior to her coming into breeding age, probably Fall of 2015.

Pupdate

Cliff in Oklahoma sent over a great update on Bluestem Belle, from our “C” litter of 2012 between Sam and Mae.  That would make her a littermate to Chester in New York and TracHer in North Dakota who we get frequent updates from.  Here’s what Cliff had to say:

Belle has been just almost the perfect pet.  She is so personable and most always very obedient.  I will take partial credit on the obedient attribute.  We had her spayed prior to her coming into heat the second time, so about 16 months ago.  After going through one cycle of wearing doggie diapers and having to be careful what dogs we hunted around that first fall, I didn’t want to go through that again!  She is an inside-outside pet.  Inside when we are home, but outside if we are going to be gone more than a couple hours.  We got our yard fenced shortly after bringing her home, so she has about half an acre to be in. 
 
I continue to be amazed on how smart she is.  She can open doors (we have door handles instead of door knobs), know toy names, and last week she fetched my socks and shoes to put on so we could go on a walk!  When we go to our public walking area, I usually don’t have her on a leash unless we are about to walk past another dog or geese.  She always wants to get in my truck to go someplace.  There is a pub in Stillwater that allows pets on leash.   Attached is a picture of her in front of a menu board.
 
She does great hunting, super nose and follows commands: verbal, whistle & hand directions.  One of our most fun days out last season was the Jan 31st in north-central Kansas.  We woke up to new and continuing snow.  Belle loved hunting in that cold and snow.  Attached are a couple pictures of her that day.  She was caked in snow and had a vast number of icicles in her beard.

 I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

Belle at Finnegan's Pub

Belle at Finnegan’s Pub

Belle in the Kansas snow

Belle in the Kansas snow

Belle on point

Belle on point

Thanks so much to Cliff for that update, I am pleased with how all of  these pups have turned out and it really bolsters my spirit to hear from my owners.  Infinite gratitude.

General Blog Ramblings

It is hard to believe that I’m fast approaching 300,000 lifetime hits on a totally homemade blog about an obscure breed of hunting dogs written by a gal who considers herself half redneck and half intellectual.  I suppose I could sell ads on my YouTube videos and convert this over to a site where I could put ads on it, but it is a passionate hobby and am fearful of taking myself too seriously.  But when I am able to see folks from all over the world reading it, like daily hits from Brazil during the World Cup (probably some Dutch and German griffon enthusiasts), it makes me feel pretty self-conscious and aware that I’m representing my breed and my sport internationally.  I need to do a better job of being a professional about it and not so flippant.  I appreciate you, my readers, for making me feel appreciated and tolerating my sometimes lazy and goofy posts.

I will be taking a sojourn until after the first of August for some family-related travel and hopefully getting a post done for Lion Country Supply and an article ready about the handler’s clinic for NAVHDA’s magazine Versatile Hunting Dog.

I have also finally committed to going to Maine at the end of August for AWPGA National Specialty and the Korthals Cup.  I am looking forward to seeing some good friends and meeting some of the East Coast US and Quebec griffonniers that I’ve only encountered online.  If you’d like to join us, registration is open until August 1st http://www.awpganationalspecialty.com/.

Enjoy the end of summer and stay cool.  Griffs love kiddie pools, so bust one out if you haven’t already.

One last thing: I finally updated the gallery on the About Us/Contact page to include the last two years of our adventures, so be sure to check that out.  The button is in the brown top navigation bar.

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