Home

Hunting Season and Breeding Plan Update

Leave a comment

Hunting Season Update

Charles has been having a great fall hunting with the dogs. It is tough to get motivated to blog about hunting when someone else is doing it and you have to sit out. I’m still working through some health issues that I need to get cleared in order to return to the field, but I’m hoping that I can take in a few late season outings after the first of the year.

He made it out to the Nebraska Sandhills for duck opener in October, where Chief and Fire saw lots of action.

Fire duck 2018

Fire with a limit of ducks

Chief duck 2018

Chief with a nice haul of ducks

Ruth was able to get some quail under her belt with Charles and Matt down here in southeast Nebraska.

Ruth quail 2018

Ruth is not being photogenic with the quail taken with Matt and Charles

He and the dogs had a great time with some landowner friends out in the south central part of Nebraska chasing wild pheasants. For whatever reason, the dogs didn’t end up in the photo, but our dogs were the ones retrieving these birds with Charles handling. The dogs must not have been too annoying because they were all invited back for next season.

Charles Neb Pheas 2018

Goodbye, North Dakota. You may have noticed that there was no pheasant hunting trip to North Dakota this year after almost a decade of getting up there every year. Between the droughts up there and habitat loss due to changes in farming practices, it just doesn’t make sense for us to buy the extra licenses and make the trip up there anymore. Nebraska has made a recovery to a point that although it might not be at levels seen in the 1990’s for pheasant in our area, there are some great quail numbers here and the pheasants are just a bit west.

Breeding Plans Update

We’ve decided to sell our little house and acre here on the far west end of the wooded neighborhood near Fontenelle Forest and are moving to 3/4 of an acre and a big house on the southeast corner of the wilderness area. Our new backyard borders directly with the 2000 acre Fontenelle Forest refuge property, so we’ll be able to take a hike whenever we like. The new yard is not zoned agricultural like our current property (where we can have as many dogs as we want), so we will need to keep within the city limit of having three adult dogs.

Due to the move and having our oldest daughter graduate in May, we will not be having any planned litters in Spring 2019.

I believe that I have notified everyone who has e-mailed previously in order for folks to have time to get on other breeders’ lists. If I overlooked your e-mail, I apologize. And one never knows, accidents can and have happened before. But I’ve had one or two litters every year since 2010, even an accidental litter a couple of years ago during the year that I planned to take off, so we need a break with the other events going on in our lives. I would like to use the time to go back and survey our current puppy owners, get a good final count on the number of puppies that I’ve had, make sure that all of my litter documentation is in compliance with the AKC and NAVHDA, and maybe even assemble a new gallery of past puppy photos. Our hunting photo gallery has a bunch of photos, but is a mess, so I’d like to clean that up too. And I’d like to get a new video camera to do a new grooming video. So much to do, so little time.

Training Plans

Up this spring, we have Stonyridge Zoro going for his NAVHDA Natural Ability Test. He’s had some wild bird exposure earlier in the season and did well, but I want to get him out on some roosters and quail once I’m back in the field. It seems like forever to warm up enough in order to work on the water retrieve and we’re a long ways off from that right now. I should get some training pictures of him now that he is full grown. He is the sleeker type of Griff with the shorter, flat coat that is ticked, with short fur on the top of the head and ears, but with a beard and eyebrows. He is right around 50 lbs and well muscled. I really like that he is not too tall or heavy, which is what we struggle with in males of the breed out here.

Since Fire will be off from having a litter, we are going to work with her on getting ready for the NAVHDA Utility Test. It is hard to believe that she will be five in February, which is the perfect age for a Griffon to train for the test. They are pretty slow to mature, so all of the old-timers have told me to wait until this age to UT. She is a great natural hunter. This will be our third owner trained/handled NAVHDA UT dog.

Ruth is right in the middle. She’s done her NAVHDA Natural Ability Test. Like her mother, Fire, she got the maximum score of 112 and a Prize I. She needs so much work with middle level field work such as a staunch “whoa” in any and all situations, backing/not stealing another dog’s point, being polite when another dog retrieves/not trying to steal the bird, heel, basically everything that makes a dog a joy to work with in the hunting field and not training as you hunt wild birds.

Training as you hunt wild birds, although it gets the job done and is effective, can really ruin what could be a nice hunt. Not doing yard work and not working with planted birds in field training scenarios in the off-season just leads to screw ups by the dog and handler in the wild bird field and fewer birds in the bag. As much as I love the Nebraska Sandhills, I have spent countless hours trudging up and down dunes for another sharptailed grouse. Been there, done that. LOTS. If we want to branch out in our quarry, doing high altitude hunts such as white ptarmigan and Himalayan snowcock, foothills birds like the California quail, chukar, or dusky grouse, woodland hunts for woodcock and ruffed grouse, the desert quail species in the Southwest US…so on and so on. Those are once-in-a-lifetime trips. On a sage grouse or Himalayan Snowcock, you might only get one chance at a shot. It’s one thing if you miss because you’re a crappy shot (that’s me). But bad dog work makes it awful. As our friend and trainer Leo “Black Shockey” Boman says “train, don’t complain”.

And speaking of training, it isn’t just the dogs who need work. Those mountain hunts require some serious stamina, so it’s time for the humans to hit the trails or the pool or whatever it takes to get in shape to get ready.

Chief moves on

Due to the upcoming move, we have sold Chief as a started stud dog on contract. He was sold to a previous puppy owner who was looking for another dog here in town. We still have rights to breed with him should we choose to do so in the future. I am not sure if Kyle is interested in having him as an active stud to service females, but it is something for him to consider. If you are interested in using him as a stud on your female and live near Omaha, let me know and I can pass your contact information on to Kyle.

Chief and Kyle

Chief and Kyle head for his new home

What’s going on in the breed?

The AWPGA had their president step down and there are some new regional representatives, as well as new people working on their magazine the Griffonnier, they have some regional specialty shows coming up and are working on 2019 Nationals in Idaho. Take a look at their Facebook page or website if you’d like to get involved, we need new enthusiasm in the club. So many people have been very active long-term and it leads to open positions to volunteer. After four years of the magazine, I’ve stepped away from being active in the club for awhile, but love to keep up with everyone’s successes in the field and ring. It is a great way to meet people who are as equally passionate about these dogs as we are.

Across the various Facebook groups, we have several people who are attempting to be breed wardens of sorts. I appreciate their efforts, it is a huge cross to bear. The explosion of the breed through advertisers using them in commercials, our breed’s success in major televised dog shows the last few years, and just word-of-mouth has created a crazy demand for puppies and information about the breed. I stay out of the Facebook conversations as much as possible, it is just too overwhelming at this point to try to keep up. I really just need to get with some knowledgable folks and write a book at some point. But that is not today or anytime soon.

What should you look for in a breeder?

Don’t look for quick, flashy responses or lots of litters. We all have families and other careers. You will most likely wait a long time to hear back from them and wait even longer to get a puppy. Not always, sometimes buyers fall through and last minute puppies come up from great breeders. At a minimum, make sure that the parents have hip scans and are hunt tested (at a minimum AKC JH or NAVHDA NA). If you are wanting a solid hunter, lots of wild bird hunting photos too, not just pictures from one hunt.

Not all breeders give regular photo and video updates of the litter as they grow, so don’t necessarily expect a weekly update like I do. Not a lot of breeders will meet you or ship the puppies air cargo, it just varies (like I’ll do air cargo, but can’t meet, you have to come to my house).

Ask other breeders about them, good breeders are friends with one another. Most Griff breeders are odd, I’ll admit it. Having a successful breedings, getting the females through pregnancy, whelping litters (and all of the nasty mess that entails with stillborns and the ones who fade away in a few days), finding quality homes, trying to maintain some semblance of contact with owners over time, maintaining records, keeping up on research in health and genetics, dealing with having to retire dogs that we love, losing some dogs to accidents and old age, training, training, training, training, handling the dogs daily, various clubs and tests and all of the work that goes in to keeping those running, trying to educate the public about our breed and how it should be raised. It’s nuts. We are all nuts. So be prepared for some weird. We’re not some major corporation putting out a seamless, well-packaged product. We’re a bunch of people trying to keep a dog breed going and doing our best at it.

Thank you to all of my fellow crazy Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breeders for being out there. When I first started nine years ago, there weren’t that many of us. All across the country new people have stepped up to take on this daunting task of keeping this breed going in a QUALITY way. Not just churning out puppies to meet the demand. You can’t have a huge number of dogs of this breed and do them any sort of justice, they are very demanding of your attention and time. When this breed had a depression in the 1980’s, there was a breeder who had 40 of these dogs in a kennel. I can’t even imagine. I really think that the most one person could have and handle it is six. They aren’t good kennel dogs at all, they prefer indoor/outdoor with most of it being indoor. So if you see someone with ten or twenty of these dogs, I would seriously question it unless they were absolutely full-time dog people (and I know that there are a few good ones out there who have this number, so I don’t want to insult anyone, just do your research).

Make sure that the breeder asks you as many or more questions as you ask them.

Merry Christmas – Happy Hanukkah – Merry Kwanzaa

Blessed Winter Solstice – Festive Festivus – Happy New Year

Whatever the seasonal observance you observe this time of year, enjoy it. If you have a Griff, enjoy it with your Griff. You can even dress them up with hats and outfits if that tickles your fancy. I am not one of those types. But if you are, have fun with it. Peace.

The Last Day of Summer

Leave a comment

“O” Litter Homegoings from May

This last day of summer leaves me thinking about all of the letting go that I’ve had to do over the last four months or so.  Our “O” Litter went home in May.  I was not here for most of the homegoings due to unforeseen health issues and Charles had to cover for me on most of them.  The most important thing is that they all went home happy and healthy to great new homes where they are loved.

 

ChildersOphelia

Kelvin took his second Bluestem puppy (litter name “Ophelia”) home to Colorado.  He and his wife Nancy also have Winston from our “A” Litter

SundermanOwen

Dennis and his wife heading home with their pup (litter name “Owen”) to Missouri

Eldridge

Rodney’s pup (litter name “Obediah”) also at home in Missouri

MuellerOmar1

Galen and her pup (litter name “Omar”) at home in Michigan

CogdenOsborne1

Katie, her husband and pup (litter name “Osborne”) at home in Minnesota

Sherrell

John’s pup (litter name “Olivia”) playing in Alabama

Grass

Chris and his wife with their puppy (litter name “Oprah”) in Maine

Francis

Paul, his pup (litter name “Orville”) and me at the airport before they head to Texas

We had other pups go to Oklahoma, another to Texas, one to Kansas and one stay in Omaha, but due to all of the confusion of my absence, we didn’t get pictures.  I hope that everyone is having happy and healthy lives with their new puppies.  I figure that no news is good news!

BB’s Retirement

BB’s last litter was in the spring and she now is happy at her new home on a farm in Kansas with my friend Brice.  Brice is an avid hunter, so she should see some more hunting action in the coming years.  His son Ridge calls her his pet and I see that they recently went fishing together.  I just don’t have the space to retire all of my dogs at home once they are done breeding, so it is great to give them away to folks who really appreciate this breed and can give them a good place to live out their senior years.

BB was imported from Quebec’s Bourg-Royal Kennel, owned by Gilbert Tremblay and Renee Fortier.  She is a fantastic hunter and a valuable foundation bitch.  Thank you Renee and Gilbert for entrusting us with her.

CKC/AKC/NAVHDA Bourg-Royal CB Bluestem JH, NA I UT III and multiple AKC Walking Derby Field Trial Placements

BB Goodbye

Me saying goodbye to BB

Boyle Family BB

Brice and family getting ready to head back to Kansas

BB Ridge

Ridge and BB ready to hit to road with one of their shepherd pups

September Hunting

We traveled to the Nebraska Sandhills for the opening weekend of sharptailed grouse on Labor Day weekend.  I’m taking this season off from hunting for health reasons, but Charles got out for three mornings before it heated up.  The first morning he didn’t see a thing, but Sunday he, Chief and Ruth bagged a limit (pictured).  He also got a limit of three Monday morning with Zoro and Fire, but we didn’t get a photo because we were too busy getting back on the road.

20180902_110707

Charles with a limit of sharptailed grouse, with Ruth and Chief

He also made it out a couple of weekends ago for some teal, sora and snipe hunting with Fire.  Here is a photo of their bag for the day.

11649

Fire with a snipe, four sora rail and a blue-winged teal

A Change of Seasons

The cool of fall is here and with that arrives the ability to work in the outdoors.  That is exactly what I intend to do.  Happy hunting to everyone out there!

Bluestem Kennels is on Summer Sabbatical

Leave a comment

Please be aware that Bluestem Kennels has taken a very important Jesuit summer sabbatical.  The summer sabbatical is an important tradition in the Jesuit community of which I am a very important part of by being member of the Creighton University community who is aligned with the current Pope Francis.  I will not be responding to kennel e-mails until the fall.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

IMG_4753IMG_4754IMG_4755IMG_4756

Goodbye Griffonnier

Leave a comment

After four years as editor of the Griffonnier, the magazine of the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association, I decided that it was time to step down and let the board of directors of the club find new leadership for the magazine.

In our time at the helm of the magazine, Amy Caswell-O’Clair of Soonipi Point Griffons, our paid graphic designer Jane Swanson and I vastly improved both the appearance and the content of the club magazine.  With our nomination for the 2017 breed club magazine competition of the Dog Writers Association of America, we walk away with our heads held high.  Best of luck to whomever takes over this weighty position.  Thank you to all of our contributing members and advertisers who made our magazine a smashing success, we always received numerous compliments and were presented with the AWPGA Service Award in 2016 at the banquet in Helena, Montana.

It was also nice to go out with one of my puppies on the cover: Bluestem Winchester SH, NA II UT II retrieving a duck.  The photo is by Jerry Imprevento of Field Dog Imagery and “Chester” is owned by Sal Licata of New Hyde Park, New York.

I went ahead and scanned in my contributions to the Spring 2018 Issue to share with you all.  As I have more time in the future, I may go back and scan in my articles for previous issues to share on my blog.  I hope to devote my writing time to creating a manual for my puppy buyers and writing articles for hunting publications.  And of course keeping you up-to-date with our dog silliness here.

Griffonnier Cover_0001

Griffonnier Editor

Griffonnier WKC1

Griffonnier WKC2

Griffonnier WKC3

Griffonnier WKC4

I haven’t been taking many pictures recently, but Zoro is getting ready for his NAVHDA Natural Ability Test in the fall.  Maybe next time Charles goes to a training day with him, I will tag along to take some pics.  Until then, everyone have a great 4th of July holiday!

“O” Litter Bird Exposure and Ruth’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test

Leave a comment

The “O” Litter puppies have gone to great hunting families all over the United States: Alabama, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.  I appreciate all of the new owner families having the confidence in Bluestem Kennels in choosing us as your breeder.  I am working on organizing those homegoing photos and hope to have those posted later on in the week or sometime next week.

For those of you looking for a puppy this year, we are done with our litters for 2018.  We take a break in the summer months, then start taking names in the fall for our spring litter.  We are planning only one litter for 2019, a repeat of the wonderful Chief x Fire breeding.  So please do your research regarding the breed and read the writings and check out the photos that I’ve taken over the last seven years of blogging, then email us at bluestemkennels@gmail.com in the fall if you are still interested in the puppy from us in 2019.

I have yet to do a precise head-count, but over the last eight years, we have bred over 100 puppies with clean bills of health.  We have brought together the hunting bloodlines of Europe and North America in hopes of reconstructing the family hunting dog that Korthals established in the mid-1800s in the Netherlands and in Germany.  The breed, as with all European hunting breeds, took a serious hit during the two world wars.  It survived a genetic depression in the 1970s and 1980s and it is only through conscientious, responsible breeding since that time that we have the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed that we all love today.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the Griffonnier entitled “Early Exposure for the Gun Dog Puppy”.  Here is the link to the article on my blog: https://bluestemkennels.com/2016/08/08/early-exposure-for-the-gun-dog-puppy/

This gives new puppy owners an idea of how we approach the raising of a gun dog puppy.  We have found that it is a successful way to expose a pup so that it is successful in the field.  Here are photos of the “O” litter pups and Stonyridge Zoro, our new pup from Wisconsin, with a dead, frozen quail.  I gave each of the puppies access to the quail and let them carry it around, but it is difficult to train and take photos at the same time.

 

IMG_4662IMG_4665

Ruth’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test

We were pleasantly surprised by “Ruth” Bluestem Peaches En Regalia’s performance at the Heartland Chapter NAVHDA’s Spring Test on May 5th.  We were getting less than 100% water retrieves in practice, but the excitement of the testing environment really made Ruth shine.  She achieved the maximum score of 112 points.  Ruth is now officially:

Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I

She is from our first breeding of Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II and Bluestem Prairie Fire, NA I.  Chief brings the power from his genetic origins in Montana, Michigan and Iowa.  Fire brings the finess of her roots in the bloodlines of Quebec.  Here are the photos from test day:

In the bird field

IMG_4529IMG_4530

IMG_4534

IMG_4540

Our nine-year old son, Caleb, was my buddy in the gallery.

IMG_4544 (2)

Ruth pointing in the proper style for the breed, known as the “Korthals Crouch”.

In the water and evaluation of attributes

IMG_4555

IMG_4564

On the track

IMG_4566IMG_4570IMG_4572

Great job, Ruth and handler, Charles!  Many thanks to NAVHDA judges Tracey Nelson, Dan Pforr and Chuck Casanova, as well as appentice judge Kat Pippitt for their priceless assistance in evaluating our dogs.

In my opinion, the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association has the best testing system for the evaluation of breeding stock of the versatile hunting breeds.  We are so blessed to have multiple active chapters within driving distance of our home.

Memorial Day Thoughts

I hope that everyone is enjoying a relaxing Memorial Day, remembering all of those who have fallen in service to our country.  My rememberance is of my father, Ronald Gene Dredge Sr.  He did two tours in Vietnam with Naval Task Force 116 on the Mekong Delta, aka “The Brown Water Navy” or “The Gamewardens of Vietnam” as they liked to call themselves.  He was one of the first service connected disabilities related to the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.  Agent Orange was an untested dioxin defoliant used by the military to assist in locating the enemy by forcing the trees to drop their leaves in the jungle.  He met an untimely death at age 49 in 1998 after battling constant health issues since his return to the states after Vietnam.  He also gave me my love of sporting dogs through our childhood dog, AKC ASCOB Cocker Spaniel “Butch”.  He was at peace with our God at his passing and rests easy in the arms of Jesus.

“O” Litter Six Weeks

Leave a comment

The “O” Litter is getting very active and spending most of their time running around and laying around the yard with the other dogs.  I have the whole week to spend with them this week to get them evaluated for their new homes.  I want to spend the next couple of days with them and then start talking to owners later this week.  Last week got away from me with getting ready for Ruth’s Natural Ability test when I wasn’t planning on it being such a time consuming thing (luckily, the work paid off).  Thank you to the new owners for their patience in waiting for me to be ready for all of this!  I will be more in touch this week to reconfirm travel plans.

If the pup is flying air cargo on Monday the 21st, today is the first day that I can book those flights.  Even though the air cargo shipment of pets has had some bad press lately, I have done it over twenty times without problems.  The top show dogs also fly from city to city, so dogs are moving more than you think every single day and one bad trip doesn’t sink the whole industry.  The dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows were shipped by train.  This has to be much better.

I’ll also send out a list of new puppy supplies soon.  Nothing out of the ordinary, but I will share what I use specifically.  So here are the puppies (in no particular order, they are all up to this type of action these days)!

IMG_4575

IMG_4585

IMG_4587

IMG_4588

IMG_4592

IMG_4594

IMG_4598

The little pups with 12 week old Zoro

IMG_4599

IMG_4600

IMG_4603

IMG_4604

IMG_4606

One of the big dogs brought a sock out of the house.

Here is the video for this week: https://youtu.be/r8mXEvyB6DA

I have other news to report, such as Ruth’s Natural Ability Test results, we have a new AKC Senior Hunter in the clan, and our “A” Litter just turned eight years-old, but I will post that news later in the week so that I can get these photos up for the new owners.  I also need to deworm the puppies and get on the phone with the airline before the kids get home from school, so I’ll check back in with everyone later on in the week.

 

“O” Litter Five Weeks

1 Comment

Today the “O” Litter is five weeks old and they are really out and about these days!  I did not have time to get a video of them today, but I will be sure to get one here in the next few days.  Tonight is my daughter’s high school prom, so I’ve also had to take her photos and I’m getting ready to leave to chaperone the post prom lock-in.

Here are the five week old stacked photos.  Well, as good of a stacking job as a nine year-old boy does.  I will take some action shots here soon so that you can see them looking normal too (video does that best, though).

Females

OprahIMG_4456IMG_4457IMG_4459

Ophelia

IMG_4461IMG_4462IMG_4464

Olivia

IMG_4466IMG_4468IMG_4470

Males

Osgood

IMG_4471IMG_4473IMG_4474

Omar

IMG_4476IMG_4478IMG_4480

Obediah

IMG_4481IMG_4484IMG_4486

Osborne

IMG_4488IMG_4489IMG_4491

Orville

IMG_4493IMG_4495IMG_4496

Otto

IMG_4497IMG_4499IMG_4500

OwenIMG_4502IMG_4503IMG_4504

Oliver

IMG_4505IMG_4508IMG_4509

Otis

IMG_4511IMG_4512IMG_4513

I will make sure to get a video made over the next few days and I’ll be in touch with new owners about who would be a good match within the next week.  The puppies will start to go home on Saturday, May 19th!

I will write more about the goings on here at the week six mark, but it is time to me to rest for the festivities tonight.  I am “the bounce house bouncer” from 10 PM – 3 AM, making sure that the teenagers don’t pummel each other too much.  Wish me luck.

 

Older Entries