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Q Litter Three Weeks Old

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All of these pups are spoken for, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if interested in future litters (Spring 2022).

After hitting us with seven inches of snow yesterday, Mother Nature is going to give us a break with snow-melting temperatures for the foreseeable future!  The puppies are really upping their output, so it was time to get them into the garage with woodchips.  I was struggling with indoor bedding, as Fire would dig at any blankets that I would put underneath the whelping box and I was afraid that a pup would get wrapped into it and get hurt or die.  So we settled on a layer of cardboard on the bottom with brown builder’s paper on top.  Okay absorbancy and needed frequent changing.  But it was totally safe so that was the most important thing to me.  Wood chips just make a huge mess in the house, but are the best thing if they are in a space that they can mess up.  They are old enough to regulate their body temperature now and I’ll have a warming lamp and heater on them for a couple of more weeks.

Here is this week’s video, taken today: Q Litter Three Weeks

And the moment that we’ve all been waiting for, individual pictures and names!  I do not call the puppies these names, they are just silly names that I give them to identify their pictures.  They generally get called “puppy” or “puppies”.

Also because of the perspective, angle, lighting, etc. it is tough to really tell too much about them at this point.  We’ll have a better idea after 5 weeks.

Males

Quartz

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Quartz face, three weeks

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Quartz back, three weeks

Quentin

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Quentin face, three weeks

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Quentin back, three weeks

Quince

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Quince face, three weeks

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Quince back, three weeks

Quetzal

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Quetzal face, three weeks

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Quetzal back, three weeks

Qbert

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Qbert face, three weeks

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Qbert back, three weeks

Females

Queen

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Queen face, three weeks

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Queen back, three weeks

Quest

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Quest face, three weeks

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Quest back, three weeks

Qiana

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Qiana face, three weeks

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Qiana back, three weeks

Quarry

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Quarry face, three weeks

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Quarry back, three weeks

Okay, that is all nine puppies.  Between moving their living quarters, giving them their first mush meal and getting these photos taken I worked up a sweat today with dogs.  Here was what I fed the puppies, some Science Diet puppy food mixed with dog milk replacer.

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We’ll do this everyday until they get the hang of it.  Then we’ll get rid of the milk in a week or so, then after awhile we’ll add kibble, then the soft food goes away once they can handle the kibble.

Everyone enjoy the warm up and hope that you were all spared any power outage related horrors (we were all fine).  Until next week.

Q Litter Two Weeks Old

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Fire and the Q Litter at Two Weeks Old

With all of the snow clearing and bitter cold I am running behind on responding to new interest emails.  At this point I don’t know when I’ll be caught up, since we have another cold day off from school tomorrow and I have to keep up with the boys as well as the puppies.  All of the puppies have homes at this time, so if you do email it should be for interest in future litters.  Our email is bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

Today it is so bitter cold that we are subject to rolling blackouts, so I’m going to keep this short.  The puppies are growing.  They are starting to push themselves up on their legs and their eyes are opening.  Next week we will definitely be ready for individual pictures and names.  We’ve passed the critical two week mark and I can see that these guys and gals are all going to make it to long, happy lives.  It is also time to start them on mush soon to take some of the feeding pressure off of mom.

Here is the video that I took earlier today: Q Litter at Two Weeks Video

And of course a photo montage:

I am going to do my part to conserve energy (the power company even called us with a message asking us to do so) and sign off for now.  The weather is supposed to break on Saturday and we will be looking forward to more normal temperatures.  It will be -25 without wind chill tomorrow morning.  May the Lord keep us safe and warm in these trying times.

Q Litter One Week Old

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Fire and the “Q” Litter at One Week Old

At this time the litter is entirely spoken for so any new interest should be considered for next year’s litters.  Reach out to us at bluestemkennels@gmail.com.  Aside from emails and phone calls from the new puppy owners, I am using my blog entries as my primary method of communication with the general public for the time being.  I am hoping to be caught up on new interest emails by the end of this week.

Snow on top of snow on top of snow and subzero temperatures have been making life difficult in Bellevue, Nebraska lately.  We shovel, and it snows, we shovel again, and it snows again.  The last little skiff of snow is just sitting there unshoveled as we stare at it disgusted, knowing that it won’t get warm enough for it to melt and that we need to shovel again.

I know that I only have a couple of more weeks of Fire cleaning up after the puppies before I am going to be shoveling lots of poop.  The setup might have to be in the basement if it doesn’t get warm enough.  Right now the puppies are in the kitchen.  I decided that the Step 2 sandbox was getting too small and moved the big whelping box in the house with a blanket underneath.  I will need to change the blanket every day so that it doesn’t get stinky.

The puppies are starting to get loud sometimes at night.  Hopefully the bigger quarters will prevent some of that but it might just be like having a baby for awhile where I have to get up with them in the middle of the night.  I’m not working outside of the house a whole lot these days, just a couple of afternoons a week probably until they go home.

You can see their little legs starting to work a lot in the video:  Q Litter One Month Old

Here is the montage of photos that I took today.  You can click on the individual images to make them larger.  The lighting in the pictures makes their dark liver coloring look black.  They are not black!  And in the video you see a bare patch on Fire’s back.  She does not have any disease.  This is where I went to grab her hide to stand her up during whelping and a big patch of fur let go into my hand.  It is not uncommon for females to get weird bald patches right after birth, so she is fine.  But anyway, here are the pics.

The only time that Ruth and Obi get a chance to see the puppies is when Fire is outside.  Otherwise she will growl and snap at them to get back!  A mother’s instinct is to protect her young when they are this small.  Once they are up and moving around, Fire will allow the other dogs to have play time with them.

Once their eyes are open I will take individual pictures, identify their genders and give them their silly “Q” names.

Charles is signing Obi and Ruth up for an AKC Walking Field Trial in Missouri at the end of the month to get primed up for the big show in Illinois in March.  Speaking of which, I had better sign off and get those premiums in the mail to the Heart of America German Shorthaired Pointer Club.

Stay safe and warm in these Arctic times.  Until next week.

Welcome Q Litter!

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Q Litter at 5 days old

I’m sorry that it has taken so long to post the official announcement of the arrival of the “Q” Litter!  At this time, I have all of the puppies confirmed reserved with a plan for the new owners to pick up.  I have one reservation backing them up in the event that someone can’t take a pup, otherwise they will carry over to next year’s litters.  I apologize if I have not responded to your email inquiry regarding puppies over the last week and a half, it has been crazy.  I have set aside time next week to get caught up.  At this point, it would be a very rare instance that I would have more than one person back out.  I am maintaining a list in the event of that situation, but most likely this litter is on the books and any new interest should be for next year’s litters.  If you have emailed recently and just haven’t gotten a response, hang tight.  My email address is the best way to contact me: bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

The story of the puppies arrival is this.  I went to lifeguard rescue practice on Saturday afternoon thinking that the puppies would arrive on Sunday.  So when I got home, I decided to take Fire out for a hike to get everything moving.  We walked over to the nature preserve that borders our house and the Missouri River.  It was a nice mile roundtrip hike in deep snow.

Fire Mo Valley

Fire looking down on the Missouri River

I thought it was going to happen that night with all of the panting and whining going on.  But it hadn’t happened by the end of Dr. Who on Iowa PBS (which gets over around 1 AM), so it was time for bed.  I got up and prepared the whelping area in the garage.  We took walks in the yard about once an hour all morning.  There was definite sign right around noon (I’ll spare the gross details), so I put her out in the area, made lunch and called my mom.  When I went out there next two puppies had arrived already.  They came in twos for the next six hours.  One of the round of two were two stillborns, which even after ten years of doing this is sad and unsettling.  But it happens with almost every litter, so you brush yourself off and keep going.  We ended up with a very nice litter of nine puppies: five males and four females.

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Fire and the newborns in the whelping box

I think that the most important thing that I do during whelping is keeping the female walking outside every two hours.  Even if I have to pick her up and put a leash on her to get her moving, it is really important to keep the labor moving to avoid c-sections.  The puppies are fine to be left for a few minutes as newborns.  Now that we are a handful of days into their lives, mom likes her breaks out of the puppy box.

Fire is doing a good job of keeping hydrated and fed, which is an important part of all of this.  Her mom BB was always skin and bones at this phase of the process, but Fire eats and drinks good so that she doesn’t look emaciated.  The nice thing about nine puppies is that it is just the right amount to feed all-natural with no bottle feeding.  Anything more than that is too much and needs to be supplemented.  I am very lucky that my females have always been good milk producers and so the puppies are pooping like they should be.

So right now my main thing is taking care of mom and looking in the box when there are big squeakers.  They are starting to have a little primitive bark and it is getting louder, so I know when something is amiss (usually just on the wrong end of the box).  They are right in the kitchen where I am most of the time anyway, so not too far away at this point.

Q Litter Fire

Fire and the newborns in the kitchen

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The Q Litter as newborns

We got their tails docked and dew claws removed at Heartland Pet Hospital in Bellevue with no issues and all of the puppies were inspected by the new lady veterinarian (she has a Dutch last name that I’ve already forgotten!).  She said that they looked great and did well.  Many breeders do their own tails and claws, but I just like having the vet do it and it gives the newborn puppies that first inspection.

Q litter at the vet

Q pups at the vet

I did get a video yesterday.  The SD card from my camcorder got misplaced and I need a new card, so it is just a phone video.  I don’t know on my phone how to do all of the titles and credits like I normally do, so it is pretty basic.  Click the link to go over to YouTube and watch it: Q Litter 5 Days Old Video

Here is a montage of a few more pictures that I’ve taken here over the last couple of days:

The boy in the pictures is our soon to be twelve-year-old son (our youngest) Caleb.  He does not know life before puppies.  We’ve always had puppies since he was a baby and he just loves them.  (Yeah, about that shirt.  I had it in the laundry slated for the donations bag, but it is his favorite and he pulled it out to wear it again even though it is too small.  Boys.)

In other news: Charles wrapped up the hunting season a week early and he didn’t get any photos from his last hunt.  The weather was rough and the roads were terrible.  There were gobs of hunters out where he was at.  A six hour round trip for one rooster, but hey, they had fun.

AWPGA Griffon-Only AKC Walking Field Trial

This is the next item of excitement on our list.  The AWPGA will finally be sponsoring a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon ONLY AKC Walking Field Trial on March 20-21 at the Moraine View State Recreation Area north of LeRoy, Illinois.  Charles, Obi and Ruth will be there along with some of our other AWPGA friends and their dogs from our area.  This has been years in the making and I thank Thomas and Kristen Mathis for finally getting it off of the ground.  I will post the premium once we get ours turned in!  For all of the rules, Google “AKC Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Pointing Breeds”, it is a weird PDF link that doesn’t transpose well.

Signing off for now, but will be back next week for another update.  Stay warm and don’t hurt yourself in this snow and ice.

 

2021 Puppies on the way

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We have a litter due to be whelped the first week of February between Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I and Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II.  I currently have ten reservations with deposit and a backup contact list in the event that anyone decides not to take a pup this year.  Should you wish to be included on this contact list, please email bluestemkennels@gmail.com.  Our pups are placed in hunting homes only and need to be picked up at our residence at eight weeks of age, air cargo is no longer available.

I took Fire down to Hillcrest Animal Clinic in rural Lincoln, Nebraska a couple of weeks ago to have an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy.  They saw 12-15 embryos in there!  Whether they all turn into viable puppies is a mystery, it is not unusual to have a couple of stillborns or one or two that are born alive who fail to thrive in the first week or so.  But it was fun to find out two weeks earlier than usual that she was indeed pregnant and it is something that I plan on continuing in the future.

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Fire getting her ultrasound

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View of the pups

There is no mistaking now that Fire is pregnant!

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Fire eating at six weeks along

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Fire flopped out with a full belly

Late Season Hunting

Charles has been staying busy in the field while I’m trying to finish healing a torn up right foot from a year ago.  My goal for 2021 is to swim 100 miles (I’m on mile 5), so I’m hoping that by grouse season in September I’ll be ready to rock and roll again.  I don’t walk with a limp and really only start to have pain when I get up in the 10,000 step range, but that is a normal day in the bird field.  My oldest son is at the end of his high school career and the beginning of his life in the work force, so I stay plenty busy keeping him and his younger brother (who starts middle school in the fall) on track.  I figure that as long as I stay in shape that I have the rest of my life to bird hunt, but only have a few more years with kids in the house.

The neighbor Sam and Charles headed over to close out Iowa’s hunting season with some success.  Compared to southeastern Nebraska, which hasn’t had a decent pheasant population since the nineties, it is a paradise!  I’m going to have to think about getting an Iowa license in the future.  We think that it is just the difference in terrain and agricultural practices.  Southeast Nebraska is flat enough that you can farm it fenceline to fenceline with no scrubby borders like pheasants need.  Iowa has more hills and draws, so you either have terraces that have the lip on the end that you can’t hit with a tractor, or just naturally occuring draws and creeks with the thick cover.

Obi Elsa Iowa

Obi our Griff and the neighbor’s DD Elsa with an Iowa quarry

Last Friday, Charles and friends braved the blizzard in Eastern Nebraska to head out to the southcentral part of the state to see if there were any birds left from the last time.  There were plenty of cars in the ditch and going off into the ditch between Omaha and York, but things were clear sailing by the time that they got past there.

It was a long Saturday hunt walking nine miles for the people and far more for the dogs, but with plenty of success.  Obi is getting lots of good practice running down and retrieving poorly hit birds that are still alive.  No offense against the shooters, it is just that the pheasant is a tough bird and can take some pellets.  The dogs really have to work some thick tumbleweed cover and it is very dry out that way (a town almost burned down from a prairie fire last week and had to be evacuated at 4:30 AM).  I am really proud of their hard work on these wild birds in wild country.

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Obi, Ruth and the southcentral Nebraska birds

This old bird caught Charles’s eye and I thought that it looked like Gonzo from The Muppet Show.

The neighbor is trying to get his DD certified in fur, so we’ve been trying to live trap a raccoon, but ended up with an oppossum instead.  He was happy to play dead while Obi fetched him (the oppossum was not injured and lived to see another day).

Obi Possum

Obi and his oppossum

So I’m now on puppy watch and we’ll see if Charles takes these last couple of weekends of Nebraska bird season off (ha) or not.

It is easiest for me to keep my Facebook page up-to-date, so keep an eye on that for when the puppies start to arrive!  I’m expecting them sometime between January 30th and February 5th, but the Good Lord and Mother Nature will let me know when it is time.  Keep us in your good thoughts for a safe delivery.

The End of 2020!

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Breeding Announcement

My reservation list for this litter is currently full, but if you wish to be on the backup contact list in the event of someone dropping out or us having more puppies than reservations, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

We had four ties between AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II and Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I between Wednesday, December 2nd and Saturday, December 5th.  When Fire and I went back to see Chief on Sunday, December 6th neither he or Fire showed any interest in continuing, so we assume that step one was completed.  I am hoping that she retained the pregnancy, but after last year (two ties and zero puppies) I am not taking any chances.  Fire and Chief had two litters previous to last year, so we know that it is possible, but for whatever reason the pregnancy didn’t come to fruition last year.  So Fire and I are heading down to rural Lincoln on Monday to Hillcrest Veterinary Clinic to have an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy.  I am pretty old fashioned, so this is my first time having a female ultrasounded to confirm pregnancy at 30 days.  I am excited to see how the process works and hope that we get the results that we are anxiously anticipating!  If things are going as planned, puppies will be whelped at the beginning of February and go home at the beginning of April.

God Must Need Griffonniers

2020 was the worst year for losing breeders of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.  I just got the news yesterday that Rob Garity of Pennsylvania, founder of Flatbrook Sporting Dogs (now operated by Dick Byrne) passed.  I had never met him, but really feel the urgency of continuing with our work when we’re losing so many good people.

Chuck Speiss was half of ChuKar Kennels in Michigan along with his wife, Karen.  They never missed a national specialty, here he is pictured in 2014 in Maine.  He handled in the field and Karen in the show ring.  He was very generous with the AWPGA (American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association) in that every year he made a metal Griff yard art sculpture.  We’ll miss him.

Chuck Speiss

Chuck Speiss, far right, chatting with the Terrys

We also lost the best groomer in the breed, Claudette Blackburn, who was half of Elevage Des Battures in Quebec, Canada.  She handled in the ring and Dominic Brisson handled in the field.  I’m sure that Dominic will miss her expertise in his kennel and we’ll all miss her knowledge and passion for the breed.  Her male Bayou made the cover of NAVHDA’s Versatile Hunting Dog magazine for his influence on Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.  I was lucky enough to meet her and learn from her at the grooming seminar at the 2014 Maine Specialty.  See you at the big Griff party in the great beyond, Claudette.

Claudette Blackburn

Claudette Blackburn showing Ron Granai how to groom the head

Life Goes On

I promised to post pictures of Chief since he moved in with Kyle in November 2018.  He is the father of Ruth and so we didn’t want to have any father-daughter accident litters.  (I am still flabberghasted at the handful of “oops” litters I’ve had from one tie and then no puppies from two intentional ties last year.  But I guess it was my turn of having bad luck breeding after ten years of nothing but good.)

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Fire, BB and Chief, North Dakota 2015

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BB, Chief, and Fire, again North Dakota 2015

Chief 2016

Chief in Downtown Omaha, Summer 2016

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Chief, BB and Fire hanging at the lake, Summer 2016

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Chief and Fire, North Dakota 2017

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Chief going home with Kyle, November 2018

Chief is also immortalized in my entryway over my leash hanger in a painting by my cousin Sierra Furtwangler, check out her Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/UnFckedFabricOmetry

Chief Entryway

Psychedelic Chief Retrieves a Pheasant by Sierra Furtwangler

End of 2020 Hunting Update

Charles keeps busy in the field while I mainly stay home finishing up unpacking from our move (yes, it was two years ago but we are still unpacking) and overseeing the tile project in the kitchen, bathroom and bar (about 400 square feet overall).  We started the tile project the day after Thanksgiving and we have to be done by the beginning of February in the event that we have puppies!

He headed up the Sandhills at the beginning of November for deer season, stopping for a brief hunt with Obi, Fire and Ruth in Northeast Nebraska.  He only hunted one small area but got into both quail and pheasant successfully!

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Northeast Nebraska mixed bag in November

He also got a nice muley buck in the Sandhills on opening day on public land.  It was the busiest he had seen the area in years with Nebraska being one of the few states without massive COVID restrictions.  License plates were spotted from all over the nation and trucks were everywhere, so the pressure was on to drop something as soon as possible because there might not be anything left in the area on day two.

Sandhills Muley 2020

Charles’s 2020 Nebraska Sandhills Mule Deer

The weekend after Thanksgiving Charles took our youngest son Caleb and our youngest dog Obi on a European tower shoot.  It was a great opportunity for Obi to get into lots of retrieves and Caleb to get some more dog handling experience.  The pheasants that were shot on this trip by Charles and his friends were turned into fried pheasant fingers for our New Year’s Eve celebration.

Tower Shoot

Eleven-and-a-half year old Caleb and one year-old Obi

Then at the beginning of December while I was getting Fire bred, Charles met up with a gang in south central Nebraska to chase some pheasants and quail on some private land.  He said that it was very thick cover with lots of birds hiding out in little draws and creekbeds.  Obi let a lot of the older dogs do a lot of the work, but he kept up, worked cover and had some good moments.  Ruth was a workhorse.

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The bird gang with Ruth and Obi

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Bird haul from the last day in south central Nebraska with Obi and Ruth

He’s also been getting out with the dogs and our neighbor who has private access in Iowa.  Iowa is visible from our house, so it is not that far away to get into some good spots.  Sam has a nice little Deutsch Drahthaar, a breed that the genetics of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon contributed to.

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Charles with Ruth (in the dark), Sam with Elsa the Deutsch Drahthaar

Home Life

Griffons don’t just get it done in the field, when properly exercised they are relaxed in the home and fun company.

The dogs and Charity Upchurch

Charity with Fire, Ruth and Obi

Obi Ruth and Fire

Obi, Ruth and Fire

Fire and Ruth

Fire and Ruth

Pupdates

I have a couple of hunting pupdates.  Here’s Bluestem TracHer SH, NA III having fun up in North Dakota with Susan and a rooster retrieve.  She’s from our 2012 “C” Litter between Sam and Mae:

Bluestem TracHer 2020

Bluestem TracHer SH, NA III

Here’s Han from our surprise K litter between BB and Chief in 2016.  Picking up a pintail duck water retrieve in Missouri for Mark.

Han K Litter

Bluestem Han

We love to hear from our puppy owners, keep sharing the photos!

From our family to yours, best wishes for a 2021 filled with adventures and good health.  We hope that you all had a quiet and healthy holiday season full of good cheer.  We’ll keep you posted to new developments in the coming weeks.  Praying for puppies!

October 2020 Hunting Recap

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For those of you looking for puppies, we are planning one litter in the Spring of 2021 between Chief and Fire.  I consider the reservation list full, but we may get a surpise with more puppies than reservations.  Feel free to shoot me an email at bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on the backup contact list.

In Memoriam

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon world recently lost two special breeders, Jan Resler of Potowotomi Kennel in Wisconsin and Philippe Roca of Des Vignes Rouges Kennel in Kentucky.

Jan was a strong woman with an intense passion for the breed.  She bred, trained, showed and hunted Griffs and excelled at all of it.  She and her dog Amstel won Best of Breed at the 2013 National Specialty and I captured this shot of her celebrating by drinking some wine from the trophy!  I thought that photo really represented her fun-loving spirit.  We shared many good times all over the country at Griffon events.  She is missed by many.

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Jan Resler celebrating Best of Breed

Philippe was our American breed ambassador to France and cannot be replaced.  When I was editor of the breed club magazine, he called me at least twice a month to talk about Griffons.  We worked intensely on a few of his articles together that really captured some important breed history from Europe.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to help clarify his vast knowledge of the breed.  A native of France, he felt most at home on his sheep farm in Kentucky.  He told me many tales of how he incorporated dog training into everyday farm life.  I promise that I will learn French when my kids graduate, Philippe.

A side note to this photo by Barbara Young, is that the dog in the photo is Owen des Dunes du Captelat, our foundation female Sue’s grandfather and also in our new male Obi’s pedigree.

Philippe and Owen

Philippe Roca and Owen by Barbara Young

October Hunting Sandhills and North Dakota

October was a whirlwind of activity with Charles on the road hunting and I’m back in the classroom substitute teaching middle school.  Not two weeks before the district asked me to come back, I told another substitute that I’d probably never go back into education!  But here I am and it’s keeping me active.  But it does keep me distracted from hunting and blogging.  Luckily, Charles can’t seem to stay out of the field so the dogs get plenty of action.

The COVID is even impacting hunting, one of Charles’s hunting buddies ended up in quarantine due to his daughter testing positive and missed out on the trip to North Dakota, so it just seems to be more and more pervasive.

Before Charles made it up to North Dakota, he stopped by the Nebraska Sandhills for a few days of hunting.  The entire trip was warm, but the dogs held up throughout.  In the beginning, he only had one or two at a time out of the box to keep their competitive energy in check.  This photo is from the first morning on October 7, with our friend Ryan joining him on sharptailed grouse.

October 7 AM

Obi and Ruth with Charles and Ryan’s sharptails

Later on that afternoon, they took Ruth out again for some duck jump shooting.  The toughest thing about jump shooting ducks is keeping the dog on “heel” so that they aren’t running and swimming ahead and busting up ducks out of range.  It was good to see our usual creek produce yet again.

October 7 PM

Ruth and some jump hunted Sandhills ducks

The second day of Sandhills hunting, Obi was the star with Charles’s first limit of snipe in his hunting career.  This is impressive to me since I have shot at probably 100 snipe in my hunting life thus far and I’ve never hit a single one of them.  Snipe hunting really tunes in the dog’s pointing and retrieving skills because they are such a small bird to scent to both point and locate to retrieve.

Snipe Limit Obi Oct 8

Obi with Charles’s first snipe limit on October 8

The day of October 9th was spent driving from Nebraska to North Dakota and getting set up in the house with the other guys.  I don’t know their names and they never make an appearance in any of the photos, so I apologize that they sort of get left out of the whole story.  They are a part of the harvesting though, so not all of the North Dakota birds were taken by Charles, but the dogs did get to do all of the pointing and retrieving which is what is important to me.

NoDak Day 1 Oct 10

Ruth, Obi and Fire with the mixed bag from October 10th in North Dakota

NoDak Landscape

North Dakota landscape photo by Charles Upchurch

By the time Sunday, October 11th rolled around, the dogs were worn down enough to have all three running at once.  All of the crops were harvested in that area of NoDak, so it made for some fun cattail hunting.  It is hard work for the dogs busting through dried cattails, but at least you know where the birds are hiding out.

NoDak mixed bag Oct 11

The October 11th game bag

You can also tell that Charles is starting to get a little tired because he isn’t posing the dogs for photos for a couple of days!  He said that the dogs would be tired and sore at night, but when the tailgate dropped the next morning that they were ready to go to work again.

NoDak mixed back Oct 12

October 12th NoDak game bag with dogs boxed

Photo short a rooster Oct 13

Fire, Obi and Ruth with the final day’s mixed bag in North Dakota, October 13

It wasn’t the best year he’s ever had in North Dakota, but it wasn’t like the last time that he and I went up there in 2017 either.  2017 we hardly got into anything and some days we got skunked.  At least this year there was game in the bag every day.  I really appreciate the other gents who were there to help put birds in my dogs’ mouths.

Back Home

The weekend after Charles and the dogs returned from their big trip, he and Ruth hit a local swamp and got two teal and a snipe.

Ruth Oct 19

Ruth with two teal and a snipe in southeast Nebraska

Most exciting of all is Caleb’s first roosters at the Nebraska Youth Pheasant Hunting opener the weekend before Halloween!  Charles said that there were gobs of roosters flushing everywhere and Caleb was just blasting and they were falling down.  There are miracles in hunting, I’ve seen it.  And Obi just really loves Caleb, so this photos is just perfect.  They also had one taken by Nebraska Game and Parks, so keep an eye out in Nebraskaland and you might see him.

Caleb Youth Hunt Obi

Eleven year old Caleb with his first two pheasants.  Obi on retrieve and kiss.

In Closing

Write about one trip and get ready for Charles to go on another soon.  Deer hunting is just around the corner and he is taking the dogs to hit some fields on the way.

We got Obi’s Penn HIP results back and the doctor said that they are the best sporting dog hips that he’s ever seen.  Greyhounds have the best hips all-breed and the vet said that is where Obi’s are.  Just off of the charts.  I am working with a new scanner and will get those ready for my next post.  But great news.

The weather is finally cooling off and I’m thinking about getting out for some roosters and quail myself after rifle deer season ends.  It also sounds like I’m getting roped in to handling Obi with Caleb at a European tower shoot at the end of November.

We’ll see what all of this brings.  After Thanksgiving we are having our kitchen and main level bathroom floor torn up to replace the dying pergo with porcelain tile, so that will be an event.  At the same time we’ll be tearing down a gazebo in the backyard that will be replaced with a dog kennel set-up.

Oh speaking of dog kennels, one last thing.  My worst nightmare happened to someone else. Desbattures Benelli Bro, NA II UT II was stolen from his kennel at the Wild West Lodge in Grenville, South Dakota.  Owned by Coppershot Griffons Cliff Koele but used as a guide dog by the John Andersen of the lodge.  Bred by Dominic Brisson and Claudette Blackburn of Quebec, Canada.  He is very special breeding stock for Griffons in the Great Plains of the US and he needs to come back!  Reward offered, please contact Wild West Lodge or Cliff Koele on Facebook with any leads.  Look at other people’s trucks while hunting, like if they have a mess of mutts and this guy.  Or if you use any guides in the Dakotas.  He could be anywhere at this point.

Desbattures Benelli Bro

STOLEN: Desbattures Benelli Bro

 

 

Hunting Season Opener 2020

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Like everything in 2020, our opening weekend was a little different than normal.  Many of our “go-to” spots are still flooded out, but luckily the bounty of the Sandhills still provided.

Opening day we split into two parties, with Fire and I taking one dune ridge and Charles, our buddy Ryan, Ruth and Obi went on the ridge to the south of me.  It’s funny the difference that one valley makes.  Fire and I hiked for five miles and saw absolutely nothing, while Charles and Ryan saw about 14 sharpies and Charles limited out by noon.  Which was good because the high temperature got up to 105 that day, a record for a September day in Nebraska.  Obi was having a great first outing as he got all of the retrieves that day.

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Charles and Obi headed back to the truck

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Obi and Ruth with Charles and a limit of sharptailed grouse opening day

Day two we decided to all three hunt the same ridge with all three dogs.  Charles and Ryan stayed up high and I worked the mid-level hills closer to the valley.  We had planned on crossing the valley once we got to the fence, but they had seen a group of birds get up that I did not, so I met up with them at the top of the ridge and we headed back the way we came.  I saw a group of about ten of them get up and go around a dune, so I hoped that we’d be into birds soon.

It wasn’t too much longer until Fire went on a super-stylish point down in a little bowl.  It was one of those where their body is posed in one direction and their head is cocked to the right as if to say “The birds are right here!”.  With scenting conditions so difficult in the Sandhills, I’ve only had this happen one other time in twenty years of hunting.  So I ran down in front of Fire and sure enough, a group of five got up right in my face.  Due to the direction of the wind, with them taking off right into it, they shot straight up into the air and I shot right underneath of them.  One peeled off and flew back towards Ryan and he took it down.

Ryan is a traveling geology technician, so he hadn’t been out with us hunting in five our six years while he’s been on the road.  It was great to have him on the bird board again.  We continued our push and I sort of meandered toward the lower hills like I normally do.  Up at the top of the ridge the guys got up another small group and Ryan took another bird out of it.  Fire was hanging around with me, so we hiked up to where the guys were to try to help them find the bird since they seemed to be struggling to locate it.  It took us a good five minutes, but Fire put her nose to the ground and went about 40 yards to the south and came back with the runner.

I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis in my right foot for about nine months, since we chased roosters in January outside of South Sioux City.  Where I used to be able to do 8 miles of dune stomping in a day, I’m down to about 5.  The guys used to be up in the 10-11 mile per day range and now they’re at a little over 8.  We’re all between the ages of 45 and 50 now.  Ryan made the dreaded statement that, “Someday we’re not going to be able to do this anymore!”.  I’m hoping that isn’t for another 25 years or so, but I guess we just don’t know.  The oldest grouse hunters that I’ve seen have been in their mid to late 70s, but that was 10+ years ago.  We’re the old hunters of our part of the world now.

With that being said, I bailed out of the last three mile push of the day all three days.  So when the guys went out on day two and Ryan brought back his third bird for the limit, it was a great feeling just to be there.  I don’t have a good idea of how many sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens I’ve taken out of those hills, but I’ve done it.  And it hope to do it again, but it just wasn’t this trip.

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Ryan and Fire with a limit of sharpies

Day three was at least a bit cooler.  At least the outside temperatures.  Let me just say that if you buy the Kindred Creamery Ghost Pepper Colby Jack Cheese, which is the hottest pepper cheese that I’ve ever eaten in my life, wait to eat it until you get home.  Don’t eat it during the hunt or you will regret it.

We went to the spot that we call “Lone Tree”, but the pasture with the lone tree and the grouse flock that we normally hunt had cows in it.  If there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the years is that the grouse don’t hang out with the cows.  So we tried a new dunefield.  And sure enough right when we got into it, a group of about ten got up at about 150 yards and sailed away.  We walked for another hour looking for them, but never saw them again.  The guys hit one more spot and Charles took a single with Ruth on retrieve.  It was the end of the trip and everyone was done posing for photos.

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Charles with some worn out dogs and a single.

Someone made a post on one of the Facebook bird hunting forums that three guys and three dogs had been in the Sandhills for three days and hadn’t seen a thing, so I feel lucky that we didn’t get skunked.  I hope that we get out chukar hunting in Nevada someday because I’d like to see how it compares to the difficulty of hunting sharpies in the Sandhills.  If it wasn’t for my bum foot, which is only impacting me at long distances, I’m really in the best shape cardivascularly that I’ve been in 10 years now that I work as a lifeguard part-time and swim a mile once or twice a week, then walk once or twice a week too.  The orthopedist said that it will take time to resolve, so I just need to be patient and keep training.

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“I’m getting skunked in the Sandhills”

Introduction to Iowa

There is a big swath of public swamp right on the other side of the Missouri River from where we live, so Charles decided to pick up an Iowa license and took Ruth over there a couple of days ago after work.  They managed to stir up a blue-winged teal and a dove.

Hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Teal

Ruth in the back of the truck with an Iowa teal in her mouth

Hunt Test Pupdates

Congratulations to Brent Haefner and Bluestem Madeline the Huntress, NA III can now add a UT III to the end of her name.  They passed the very difficult NAVHDA Utility Test at the Minnesota Chapter Test recently with 174 points.  Brent said that the hardest part of the training was for the duck search, where the dog has to stay out in the pond for ten minutes swimming and searching for a duck.  Maddy is from our 2017 “M” Litter between Chief and Fire.

Brent and Maddy Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Bluestem Madeline the Huntress, NA III UT III and Brent

At the IllIowa Chapter test, Derek Gilsdorf and Bluestem Captain Augustus Mccraer “Gus” got it done in the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test, earning a Prize I 110 points.  Here’s Gus with his recent haul of teal down in Kansas.  He was from our surprise 2019 “P” litter between Zoro and Ruth.

Bluestem Gus Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Gus got the ducks

I love to hear news of our past puppies, but it is tough to stay in touch with 150 people (that’s why I have a blog).  Feel free to share your pup with us at bluestemkennels@gmail.com and I’ll be sure to share it with everyone here.

The Griffon that started it all…

Good old Sue is still out on the prairies of South Dakota doing her retirement thing at almost 17 years old.  She is the great-grandmother of our current female Ruth and the first Wirehaired Pointing Griffon that we ever owned.  It makes me happy to see her spending time with the family; her current mama Debbie is from Texas originally and moved to South Dakota to be a nurse on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation.

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Stan and old Sue

Up next

The hunt tests all have waiting lists these days, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be running Ruth here in a couple of weeks in AKC Senior Hunter like we had planned.  Charles will be back in the Sandhills for duck season in a few weeks and is headed up to North Dakota with our pal Aaron too.  I’m going to stay home with the kids and wait for Nebraska pheasant season to open on Halloween.

Obi went to the vet today to get his PennHIP x-rays.  He weighs 54 lbs and Dr. Arndt of Harvey Oaks Animal Hospital said that his hips look “terrific”.  That is such great news, so it seems like the stars are finally aligning for us to have a quality outside stud after seven years of trying.

We’ll check back in after Charles returns from North Dakota and see if he gets any interesting photographs.  And hopefully some birds and great outdoor experiences too.  Best wishes to everyone out there chasing their bird dogs around the wilds.

 

Obi’s Natural Ability Test

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I am planning a repeat breeding between Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I and Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II in the winter for spring 2021 puppies.  My reservation list is robust, but if you would like to be on the backup list in case there are more puppies than I have reservations, feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

We really could not have asked for a better day at the Heartland Chapter NAVHDA Test on August 8th.  The predicted heat held off until we were finished and not only did we have the best results we could ask for, we had a surprise visitor.  Mack is a four month old puppy from “Chief” Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II who had some litters with Coppershot Griffons in Iowa this year.  He really looks like a baby Chief!  Here he is on the left pictured with Obi on the right.

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Chief’s puppy Mack, left, and Obi on the right

A person really doesn’t know how well they scored until they get to the reading of the scores at the end of the day.  We started in the field and were about half way through the ten dogs, so there was lots of scent to throw things off.  We got in enough times pointing the birds to make the grade though.

The bird and dog photos are tough to catch, but I did manage to get one.  You can see the chukar flying off in the top right corner of the photo and Obi on point down in the bottom left.

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Obi stays steady as the chukar flies away

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Charles walks in on another intense point from Obi

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Obi on point

I was a bird planter during the field portion.

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The second portion of the test was the track.  It was difficult for me to see what was happening from my vantage point, but Obi must have tracked the bird successfully since he came back to Charles with a rooster in his mouth.

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Charles struggles to control Obi’s excitement as he jumps for joy over his rooster

We finished the day with the water retrieve.  Obi did fantastic on his two bumper swims.

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Obi bringing back the bumper

Last but not least was the evaluation of the attributes.  Everything looked great and he even has perfect teeth.

Senior Judge Chuck Casanova evaluates Obi’s teeth while Judges Bridget Nelson and David Hahn look on.

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Chuck Casanova looks at Obi’s teeth

We couldn’t be more proud.  Next up is Obi’s hip scan and getting some more age and wild bird hunting under his belt.

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Other than working towards the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test, we went out to the Sandhills for a coronacation around the 4th of July.  I got a couple of good shots of the dogs from that.

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Looks like Ruth is going to start making some attempts at AKC Senior Hunter at the end of September.  But of course right now we are looking forward to the beginning of hunting season Labor Day weekend.  We’ll get to chase sharptailed grouse, prairie chicken, dove, snipe and teal out in the Sandhills.

Let’s hope that this weather cools down and that we all have great success in the field in our tests and hunting.  Good luck to everyone out there working their dogs!

Gun Dogs Don’t Quarantine

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Homeschool is finally over and things are starting to open back up in the Omaha area.  The dogs and kids kept us plenty busy during the time that I’ve been away from the blog.  One of my cousins is a vegan cooking blogger (I know, it seems odd) and she was recently writing about how she has stopped apologizing for taking time away from her blog and not posting for a long time.  Writing and blogging takes time and energy, so when stuff is hitting the fan it goes to the back burner.  We are all healthy here and have just been staying home as much as possible.

A couple of brief shoutouts.  My “A” litter turned ten years old at the end of April.  I keep in touch with Whiskey out in Nevada and Winston in Colorado and they are both in good health.  Their mama Sue is sixteen years old and still hanging around a farmyard in rural central South Dakota.  Their sire Sam was killed in an ATV accident at his retirement home in Kentucky several years ago.

Congratulations to Bluestem Winchester “Chester” and owner Sal in New York on his NAVHDA Utility Prize I and being our first pup to qualify for NAVHDA Invitational.  He is from our “C” litter between Sam and Mae.  Mae recently passed at the age of fourteen at my brother’s house in Valentine, Nebraska.

Training

Luckily dog training is a pretty remote practice, so Charles has been able to continue to work with Ruth on whatever her next hunt testing steps may be.  Either AKC Senior Hunter or NAVHDA Utility Test.

He has also been doing obedience training around the house with the dogs.  This is a big help to me since I am still trying to get my youngest boy through online hunter’s safety and the older one through online driver’s education.

I don’t have photos from all of the training that he has been doing, but here are some field shots.  Obi is signed up to do his NAVHDA Natural Ability Test in August and seems ready to go.

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Obi on the run at six months

I feel so blessed that we got out to Wyoming in January to pick up Obi before all of this COVID-19 business got crazy.

Here’s Ruth and Charles working on backing or honoring with a dog dummy.  Backing or honoring is where there is a dog already on point (symbolized by the dummy) and the other dog has to come in and point behind the dog who is already pointing.  Some dogs naturally back but most need to be trained so that they don’t go past the dog who is already pointing and “steal the point”.

When Ruth does the process correctly, Charles launches the pigeon from the trap and shoots the bird, then she is allowed to retrieve it.

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Backing dummy on left, Charles center, Ruth on the right

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Charles shoots the bird

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Ruth brings back the retrieve of the pigeon

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Charles walking in on the bird while Ruth is pointing

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Ruth with another retrieve

Allie

Ruth’s sister Allie came up from Oklahoma in March where her original home wasn’t able to care for her any longer.  We worked with her for a couple of months to evaluate where she was with socialization and training.  We determined that she should be spayed and placed in an active companion home.  Although she has a great nose and point, her retrieve needed full force fetch training and she is too tall to be a breeding female.  I really didn’t want to have someone travel to come and pick her up, even though I know that I could have found a home quickly if I had put it on the internet.  By a stroke of luck, when I went to have her bloodwork done for her spay, I found out that one of my vets was looking for a dog to trail run with her.  So Allie is now home with Dr. Tucker.

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Allie on left and Ruth, right after Allie’s arrival

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From front to back, Allie, Obi, Ruth and Fire

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Two sisters: Allie and Ruth

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Allie after a full spring grooming

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Allie with Dr. Tucker, under the portrait of great-grandfather Sam

Having four dogs living in the house full time was not an ideal situation and is actually outside of the city ordinances of where I live had Obi been over 18 months old.  But luckily it was all resolved before we were in conflict with the law.  I really want to be here for my pups, but I cannot guarantee that I will always be in a position where I have the time or space to take one back.  But I will always help them find a new home if need be.

Other news

Charles got his first turkey.  He will be our fourth of July feast.

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Charles and a nice tom turkey

That is pretty much all of the news for now unless you want to hear about my battle with plantar fasciitis and how I’m having to re-tool all of my hunting footwear and pants.  I don’t think that is blog-worthy just yet, maybe when I get it all figured out and am successful back in the field.

Speaking of the field, countdown to about three months left before season.  I’ve been out of commission for the most part with health issues for two seasons now, so I’m itching to get back after it.

I’ll also sit down another day and write about our breeding plans for next year.  It would help if we had them all finalized too.

But good luck to everyone out there training and getting ready for summer and fall tests.  This plague really put the brakes on so many people’s testing schedules and our National Specialty has been cancelled this year.

Stay safe and healthy.

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