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Welcome “R” Litter

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Complaining that I only ended up with three beautiful, healthy puppies and a perfectly healthy mama is like getting some really nice stuff for Christmas, but griping that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I have had friends go into the emergency vet for a c-section and come out with nothing, no mama and no puppies. I’ve had friends come out with puppies and no mama and vice versa (a living mama that is unable to breed again and no puppies). Dog breeding is not a vending machine and it is really whatever mother nature gives you. You cry and pout with the mama, but you have to keep going with positivity for the pups who are here and those who are yet to come. I can’t even count how many times I’ve said “I’m never doing this again” to myself. But I’ve matured as a breeder over the last 12 years and I do it for this:

Whiskey of our “A” Litter 2010 will be 12 in April

Old Whiskey of our “A” litter will be twelve in April. There have been so many great dogs that we’ve made. And we have to push past these times to get to the good ones.

“R” Litter Arrival

I woke up Sunday morning to two puppies nursing and one still born. It was all a very normal birth that lasted from the early morning Sunday until about mid-Sunday afternoon. Ruth never strained with any of the puppies, it was all 2-3 pushes and they came out. About an hour between each pup. There were more angel puppies than I would have liked, but I was at five alive on Sunday night.

Ruth and pups Sunday night

One of those was a girl who was slow to come around after being born and I really worked on to get going. The other was a boy who seemed fine and lively at first but come Monday morning, I saw no signs of any peeing or pooping from him, which really concerned. me. I tried to get both the boy and the girl to take a bottle with limited success. The vet and I both agreed that we just needed time and Mother Nature to sort things out. I tried getting them to take a teat with help, but once again, with limited success. I don’t do tube feeding and I don’t to intravenous fluids to try to save a pup, it just isn’t worth it to me to try and save a pup that could have problems later in life from whatever issues they were having.

Ruth never showed signs of any illness or distress throughout her pregnancy or whelping, nor now. She is shaking off the sadness of the lost babies and focusing on those that are strong and thriving, same as I am.

Ruth and the three puppies today
Ruth and the R Litter Puppies
R Litter Puppy Closeup

Ruth and the puppies go in on Thursday morning to York Vet for examinations and tail docking and dew claw removal. Ruth will have a full exam with blood work done to make sure there is nothing identifiable/viral as the cause. It really could be anything from random congenital abnormalities, a reaction to flea/tick preventative or Ruth unknowingly ingesting poisoned mice. We may never know. But we’re going to do a full blood panel to rule out anything identifiable (brucellosis, canine herpes, a parvo exposure breaking through her vaccination, etc.).

I really appreciate the Griffon breeder community for their insights and talking through theories and next steps with me on this litter. It helps to hear other breeders similar/worse experiences and how to best react and move forward.

(One totally random thing that came up in all of this is that a FB dog friend asked about the bottom of the whelping box. This is a very well-heated interior room of the house. So here’s the layout of the bottom of the whelping box: mom and puppies on top, pine shavings, plywood under the whelping box, tarp that goes under the entire whelping box and kennel and is zip tied to the kennel wire, horse trailer pads that are like wrestling mat type material that is under the entire tarp and kennel, linoleum, cement floor. The puppies are not laying directly on a wood floor of a barn or house. I have tried blankets, towels, and carpet scrap as fabric alternatives but I have found that they are so dangerous, along with gross and unsanitary. The bitch will dig up any fabric I put under them and then I find the puppies and mom all wadded up in a scary way. So I ditched fabric years ago and found that this works best for us. Where there is bare wood showing is where Ruth has shoved the wood chips out of her way.)

Ruth looks healthy and is moving around well, this is her spontaneously running to me this morning, I didn’t call her to get her to run just for a photo. She is producing milk and tending to the puppies as she should be.

Ruth is looking healthy as a mama

So there are two girls and a boy. At this time, all are spoken for. I have decided that I’ve had enough stress with the move, the holidays and having a one year-old pup Sally that I am going to hold off on keeping a puppy myself (so they will all go to owners on my reservation list). Obi and Ruth are young enough to breed again and we’ll be making sure (as much as we possibly can) that we control the environment for potential hazards such as: hold off of flea/tick medication during breeding and gestation (even though the packaging says it is safe) and making sure our immediate neighbors aren’t setting out bait poison for raccoons or poisoning mice without us knowing.

The reality is that we may never know what caused the angel puppies (but obviously I’ll let you know if I find something out). So we’ll just keep trying and praying and hoping for the best.

“Find us ready, Lord, not standing still/find us working and loving and doing your will/find us ready Lord, faithful in love/building the kingdom both here and above/building the kingdom with mercy and love.” – “Find Us Ready”, a newer Catholic hymn by Tom Booth

I will be back on Sunday with the One Week Old pupdate!

Sally’s first wild bird retrieve

Sally brought this woodcock to Charles on Friday

Charles had the day off on Friday and took Sally back out by herself for some South Carolina woodcock. They got into a few more and connected with this one. The first one a week or so ago, Sally found it and just stood there sniffing it, not sure what to do. This time, she picked it up and brought it to Charles. The retrieve in the field is usually the last basic hunting skill that they pick up. Birds are stinky and sharing is not a natural instinct. It takes lots of training and practice to get to this point where they bring the bird back to you. Sally is Ruth’s full sister from Chief and Fire’s litter last year (both Chief and Fire are retired from breeding now). This picture is another great reminder of what this is all about.

Puppies on the way and first South Carolina harvest

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We are expecting our “R” litter from Obi and Ruth in the next week or two. I currently have 18 reservations with deposit. The largest litter of Griffs registered in recent times is 16 puppies, so I assume that I have homes for this bunch. If you are interested in waiting until our Fall 2022 litter, email bluestemkennels@gmail.com. Once the spring litter is two weeks old, I should know where my fall list stands.

Here are some updated photos of Ruth sporting her very pregnant belly. It doesn’t seem to slow her down much!

Pregnant Ruth running in the yard
Ruth side profile
Another belly shot (a little fuzzy phone pic)
Pregnant Ruth running in the snow (I circled her so you can see her)

Now it is just a matter of waiting for puppies to arrive! We just finished our whelping box setup this morning. It will be so nice to have them in a bedroom in the house instead of the heated garage. That way I have a bed right next to the whelping box in case of all-night puppies!

Ready for puppies!

This will probably be my last blog post until after puppies arrive. As they are being whelped, I will keep my Facebook page up-to-date. Then I will contact folks who have reservations once we are done whelping and I’ve had some rest. Finally, I will make a post here to the website.

First South Carolina Woodcock!

Charles is getting Sally ready for her UPT in May up at the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter in New York. This is the NAVHDA chapter nearest to Charles’s hometown of Newburgh and he thought it would be fun to get up there to run some tests. He will also be re-testing Obi in UT to see if he can get a Prize I.

In the meantime he is trying to figure out the hunting game in these parts and he and Sally had success this weekend. They only saw one woodcock pop out of a cane swamp on some public land and they were able to put it in the bag. Charles is pretty sure that this is his first woodcock and it was Sally’s first wild bird.

Sally’s South Carolina Woodcock
Our South Carolina Woodcock

I was really excited to hold a bagged woodcock, as I’ve only flushed them in the Missouri River Valley back in Nebraska while out exercising dogs maybe three or four times. I’d only ever seen photos of them up close. Their feathers are much more colorful than a snipe and their bodies are stubbier.

Here’s a random photo of Sally training in the yard with Charles back in November that I just noticed in my files.

Charles and Sally doing yard work

Here’s another random photo of Obi bringing me a stick the other day when I had my good camera out.

Obi with a stick in the driveway

Having snow on the ground in South Carolina is pretty fun and we are so glad that it isn’t day after day with feet of snow piling up like it was back in Nebraska. I think it will be all melted by tomorrow. But for now I will throw on my boots and go muck around in it with the dogs.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page for the latest on the puppies whelping and keep us in your thoughts and prayers for good health.

R Litter Confirmed by Ultrasound

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The Bluestem Kennels “R” Litter was confirmed by ultrasound today! Please see the earlier breeding announcement blog post for additional photos of the parents and our “About Our Dogs” page for pedigrees and health clearances. Right now, we have 11 reservations with deposits. This is going to be a large litter so there is a possibility that if you put down a deposit and made a reservation now, that there could be a puppy available. We are also repeating this breeding in the fall, so if you get on the list and don’t get a spring pup, you could get a fall pup: bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

Why do back-to-back litters? Ruth is young, in her prime breeding years at age 5 and we are finally in a place where we can expand our breeding kennel. She is the great-great granddaughter of Am/Can CH Duchasseur Moustache, UT I, an AWPGA Hall of Famer from Quebec, Canada. The Quebecois bloodline was joined with our strong foundation blood from the upper Midwest US. A fantastic combination of health, hunt drive and family companion.

Obi is a new start for us, coming out of a small breeder in Wyoming. He has hips in the top 10% for the breed recorded by Penn-HIP. He is the most silly, gentle male we have ever owned as a family dog. He also has great biddability and is easy to train. We have high hopes to eventually take him to NAVHDA Utility Prize I in his life.

So this is the beginning of the next chapter.

I had to stay outside during the ultrasound due to COVID restrictions. York Vet in York, South Carolina
Ultrasound photo taken by the vet tech
Ruth resting with her little sister Sally a couple of nights ago

As we read test scores and judges evaluations in NAVHDA’s Versatile Hunting Dog magazine, as well as talk to other owners and breeders, it is tough for us to decide where to go next with bringing in outside blood again. We are keeping a male from this litter, so our backs are a little against the wall to come up with a mate for him somewhere. Now that I’m within halfway decent driving distance of Quebec, my eyes wander up there (also because I love the food and hanging around Vieux Quebec “est tres bien”). But I need to do my research on any new paperwork and veterinary requirements. But that is not where we are right now!

We need to focus on getting ready for the puppies. They are taking over the guest bedroom from the guests. I will finally have a whelping box with a bed next to it, like I’ve always wanted. So now it is just time to watch and wait! I will post more pictures of Ruth as she gets bigger and some of Obi training and just playing in the yard (once this rain goes away).

Happy New Year from Bluestem Kennels! Going into our twelfth year of puppies in style!

Merry Christmas from Bluestem Kennels!

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Merry Christmas from Bluestem Kennels! We’re taking some time off this week to enjoy family, but wish all of you a blessed holiday season. Ruth goes in for an ultrasound on December 30th to find out if we’re having puppies! Here’s Obi our stud and her in Central Nebraska at the beginning of the month hunting with Charles (Sally is behind Ruth in the dog box). Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are interested in our upcoming puppies. We’ll start back to talking to folks about dogs on Monday, December 27th.

R Litter: Spring 2022

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We are ready to start interviewing and taking deposits for our Spring 2022 R Litter. Please email me at bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are interested. I have sent an email to everyone who is currently on my contact list, so if somehow it was spam foldered, please consider this your notice to get back in touch with me. I will be taking 10 reservations with deposit on typically 8-14 pups per litter, first come first served (so the sooner you get back in touch with me, the higher likelihood you will get a pup this spring).

The breeding that we’ll be working on over the next year is the pairing of Obi and Ruth.  Obi is the sire and his registered name is AKC/NAVHDA Wyo Plainsman Kenobi NA I, UPT III, UT II.  Ruth is the dam and her registered name is AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Peaches En Regalia NA I, UPT II, UT III. 

Obi and Ruth with Charles, sharptailed grouse opener in the Nebraska Sandhills, September 2020

You can see all of their pedigrees, hunt test results and health clearances at the “About Our Dogs” page, which has a button in the brown navigation bar above.


We will be keeping a male pup out of this litter and plan to keep more out of our future litters from them.  This is a breeding that we are relying on to build on our already strong foundation of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons that are sound in health, have great stamina for all day hunts, cooperative and mentally stable members of the family.  In our eleven years of breeding, we’ve placed around 150 puppies successfully.


Our puppies are sold with Limited AKC and NAVHDA registrations, this means that they are not automatically eligible to breed (the requirements to lift the breeding restriction are on the “Puppies” button above). You give a gender preference to me (or state no preference) at reservation with a deposit.  Puppy placements are first come, first served by reservation order.  If there isn’t enough of a particular gender, you are given the option of the opposite gender, wait for a future litter, or a refund. Deposits are fully refundable, no questions asked, up until the date of the puppies 3 week birthday (at that point I keep the deposit if the owner backs out, with few exceptions). I do breeder picks based on the input of the future owners desires for the dog and the needs that the individual puppies have.


Puppies come with: at least 3 rounds of deworming, tails docked and dew claws removed, first vaccinations, microchips, limited AKC and NAVHDA registration papers, and a three year health guarantee against fatal genetic defects or genetic hip dysplasia.  They are seen by a veterinarian twice before they go home: for claws/tails right after birth and for shots/microchips right before they go home at 8 weeks.  The breeding is anticipated for around Christmas, with puppies born in February and going home in April.


The puppies need to be picked up from my home in Clover, South Carolina on or during the week following their 8 week birthday.  As soon as they are whelped, we know their 8 week birthday so that you can prepare to travel for the pickup.  I no longer offer air cargo shipment as an option. Regulations change regularly regarding taking a pup on a flight as a carry-on (if you are considering this you need to research your options and find out if an air carrier near you allows 8 week old puppies to fly with an interstate health certificate).


The puppies are exposed to dead birds, live birds and cap gun fire.  Once they are moving vigorously at around 5 1/2 weeks, they go outside to run and play at least twice a day.  I take litter photos once a week in the beginning, then around 2-3 weeks of age I take individual photos of the puppies weekly.  I also do weekly YouTube videos of the litter.  I update my Facebook page every few hours as they are being born.


Although we do prefer hunting and hunt testing homes, we realize that the Eastern US is hardly a Mecca of bird hunting, therefore we are open to active outdoors non-hunting homes interviewing (no apartments, please).


Due to the rampant selling of information and constant robocall harassment in the past, I have stopped releasing my telephone number on my website or through Google. Please email me and we can exchange phone numbers.

The breeding is planned on being repeated in 2023, so you can also contact me if you are not ready for a puppy in 2022, but would like to be placed on my contact list for future litters.

These parents are proven wild bird hunters with successful NAVHDA hunt tests under their collars, as well as great family pets.

Obi and Ruth, wild Nebraska Pheasants and Quail October 2020
Ruth, Obi and Fire, North Dakota mixed bag October 2019
Caleb and Obi, Nebraska pheasant youth season opener 2020
Ruth and Obi, Nebraska pheasant and quail 2020
Obi Nebraska Sandhills Snipe, October 2020
Ruth, Nebraska Sandhills duck, October 2020
Ruth AKC Senior Hunter pass at GWPC of Eastern Nebraska
Obi Fourth Place in the Amateur Walking Derby at the Heart of America GSPC AKC Field Trial
Obi First Place in both the Open and Amateur Walking Derbies of the AWPGA AKC Field Trial

Our 2021 NAVHDA Utility Tests

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We are planning a litter between Obi and Ruth for Spring 2022. I will post a breeding announcement with all of their pedigrees, health clearances, genetic and hunt test results once I get the official results of the Utility Test. My goal is to have it done by my birthday November 9th. If you have contacted us about this litter, watch for an email in your inbox about the interview and deposit process at the beginning of November. I will take 10 reservations/deposits and we usually have 8-13 puppies. God willing. Our email is bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are interested.

Our goal was to pass these NAVHDA Utility Tests and we did just that. Obi and Ruth ran on Saturday, October 23rd at the Carolinas Chapter fall test. It was pretty cool to have four of the six dogs doing Utility Tests be Griffs. Karen Krautz ran her two: Comet and Chigger, punching her ticket to Invitational 2022 with a UT I for Chigger. We were really close with Obi, but he was playing with the birds on his retrieves in the field and danced around during remaining-by-blind when he was supposed to be holding still. Ruth is a phenomenal wild bird hunting dog, but wasn’t obedience trained from day one like Obi, so she’s a mediocre test dog. She did all of the skills, but sort of begrudgingly and half-hearted since she doesn’t like testing. Obi seems to just love it and really had a good time. It’s amazing to see the difference that the early training makes, the old field trialer “just let them be a puppy for a year” just doesn’t cut it with Griffons when you need to put serious pressure on them when they are older.

I am going to post the photos divided by dog so that it doesn’t get confusing. The test went in the following order, with all of the dogs dogs running going through that segment before moving on to the next: 30 minutes of bird field, 10 minutes of duck search, heeling down the bank, steady-by-blind/remaining-by-blind, duck retrieve, duck drag. I am going to just sort of explain the test and how the dog did on that part of the test as I go, in a very unorganized and unplanned way. I also have the score cards here and I’ll just blurt out the scores as they apply.

Before I get too far, I want to thank Charles for training and testing the dogs for this during our move. Even though it sometimes felt like he was avoiding unpacking boxes to go and train dogs, it is an important part of having them and it needed to be done. Chapter gunners were just phenomenal on our two runs. I even caught a photo of a bird getting totally smoked (I’ll need to circle the bird so you can see it). Thank you Jerri Stanley for judging for her seventh weekend in a row. Thank you to Senior Judge Ric Kildow for telling me to be quiet about 100 times because my voice is so loud. And thank you to judge Leon Hairie for coming back to the Carolinas after also judging Caleb’s junior handling on Natural Ability, it was fun having a familiar face.

Bluestem Peaches En Regalia Ruth”

I kept telling Charles to prepare for Ruth to be mediocre. She is not a test dog, but she loves to go ham on the wild bird hunt. In the field, her first point she was super-steady, but from there she broke on the shot several times. She is a great bird finder and retriever, so those weren’t the problems. Her field scores were: Search – 4, Pointing – 4, Steadiness Total – 2, Retrieve of shot bird – 3, Nose – 4, Stamina – 4.

Ruth on point with Charles
Ruth on point with gunnar
Ruth on retrieve
Ruth bringing the bird back to Charles
Charles taking the retrieve from Ruth
Ruth working the field
Ruth in the water tub cooling off
The chukar were acting wild that day!

I am really digging the diversity of the Sandhills Game Lands over by Marston, North Carolina. Not only did it have the cool sandy-soiled pine barren field for birds (that is burned frequently to keep the oak saplings from taking over), but they have an amazing set of beaver ponds for duck work. The duck search pond access was definitely “no cars allowed” and you had to have a full size 4×4 pickup to cross the creek to get there.

4×4 Creek Crossing
Nasty mess of swamp for the duck search pond

Ruth’s duck search was pretty crummy, but enough to get the job done. She didn’t get out too far and there was too much running on the bank. But she didn’t run and hide under the truck or sit under Charles’s feet. She did some stuff in the pond for 10 minutes. The score: Search for Duck – 2.

Ruth on the duck search

She did really good on the heeling down the bank to steady-by-blind. The score: Walking at Heel – 4. As you can see, we switched to a second, more open pond in order to do the steady-by-blind and duck retrieve.

Ruth walking at heel

This photo is not in focus on the dog, because the grass throws the camera off, but this is a good illustration of how things went on steady-by-blind. This is the part where the dog is supposed to be sitting in the blind. Obviously, she is not, she is looking at Charles shooting a shotgun off in the distance. I think that this is one of the tougher skills for us to work on, because we are don’t do waterfowl hunting with blinds, we are just training to pass this part of the test. Also, there are multiple gunners: the handler is shooting and so is a chapter gunner. I haven’t quite memorized the shot sequence, but the judge will point at who is supposed to be shooting after the dog is placed in the blind. It goes back and forth between the chapter gunner and the handler. At the very end the handler comes down to the blind and repositions the dog just outside of the blind, shoots again, then a duck is thrown from the other side of the pond. Ruth’s scores: Remaining by blind – 3, Steadiness by Blind – 1, Retrieve of duck – 3.

Ruth by the blind (sort of) with Judge Jerri Stanley looking on
Ruth swimming for the duck
Ruth retrieving the duck

The last skill is the retrieve-by-drag. Basically a dead duck is dragged through the grass and the dog has to locate it and retrieve it to the handler. It is pretty easy, except that it is at the end of a very long day with lots of obedience, pressure and work. There was one dog who did Prize I perfect work all day, then ran off and started quartering the woods upon release instead of doing the duck drag. They are dogs, they do stupid stuff like that. But it is part of the test, to see if they come apart mentally. Ruth’s score: retrieve-by-drag – 3.

Ruth bringing her retrieve-by-drag duck back to the truck

Ruth’s final score in the NAVHDA Carolinas Chapter fall test Utility Test was Prize III, 159 Points. Some of the overall scores that weren’t included in my writing thus far were: Cooperation – 3, Obedience – 2, Desire to Work – 3. Ruth is now Bluestem Peaches En Regalia NA I, UPT II, UT III.

Wyo Plainsman Kenobi “Obi”

Aside from their pedigrees, the main difference between Ruth and Obi is the way that they were raised. Ruth was brought up that first year with minimal obedience work and just allowed to be sort of a wild bird hunting fool. Obi has been raised with obedience work and the foundations laid for this testing process the entire time. We are extremely happy with the way Obi has turned out, as we had attempted to develop two other outside studs that did not work out for us due to health issues. They cost us years in time and thousands of dollars. Yet it is all part of trying to re-establish a breed that was on the verge of extinction forty years ago and has a limited gene pool. Many folks ask where Obi came from, assuming that it was from a known breeder in our clubs. But luckily I know pedigrees really well and that gives me opportunities to utilize lesser known or infrequent breeders who don’t participate in the clubs. We feel lucky to have gotten a great dog out of Laramie, Wyoming who is a great-grandson of our Mae and also a close relation to our Sam. We look forward to seeing his progengy in the upcoming months.

Obi did outstanding in the field portion of the test with the exception of his retrieves, he was playing around with the birds a little on his way back. He was rock-solid steady to wing, shot and fall, until he was tapped on the head and released to retrieve the bird. His field scores were: Search – 4, Pointing – 4, Steadiness Total – 4, Nose – 4, Stamina – 4, Retrieve of Shot Bird – 2. The cover was super thick, so I didn’t get pictures of every point or retrieve, I am just posting the photos that I have in the order that they were taken.

Obi on point
Obi pointing on the left with Charles searching for the bird on the right
Obi bringing in a retrieve
Charles walking in on another point from Obi
Obi on point with a gunner searching for the bird
Obi pointing and Charles trying to kick up a bird
Another photogenic retrieve for Obi
Obi handing the bird to Charles
A nice side profile of Obi on point
Obi having fun running the field
Chukar hiding out

Obi on retrieve to Charles
Charles walking in to yet another Obi point
Charles trying to kick up a bird for Obi while the chapter gunner and judge Ric Kildow look on
Charles phantom gunning while the chapter gunner smacks a chukar in the butt (if you zoom in you can really see the detail)
Obi bringing back yet another chukar
Tub time for Obi after a good run

That was my first time out in the field with Obi, so I had no idea on how well trained he was. I was pretty blown away with his performance when we moved the duck search pond. They let a flightless duck go on one end of the pond, then fire a shot at the other end of the pond and away they go. He went to the far side and searched the bank, then swam around the whole far side of the pond…he worked hard the entire 10 minutes. He knocked that one out too, here is his score: Search for Duck – 4.

Obi looked for the duck for 10 minutes

Walking at heel to steady-by-blind looked good too: Walking at Heel – 4.

Obi walking at heel to the blind

At this point, I really couldn’t look I was so nervous. I knew that we were so close to a Prize I and this was the make or break moment since we struggle with training for the blind since we don’t really use it in real life. I have to look at the score card to see where the flub is, so he stayed in the blind for the shots, but when he was relocated next to the blind for the final shot and duck throw, he broke to retrieve the duck before he was released by command to do so. Scores: Steadiness by blind – 4, Remaining by blind – 3, Retrieve of duck – 4.

Obi super at-the-ready for the duck retrieve
Obi bringing back the duck

Last but not least again, we did the duck retrieve by drag. Score: Duck retrieve by drag – 4.

Obi bringing back his drag duck

Other overall scores for Obi: Desire to Work – 4, Cooperation – 4, Obedience – 4, for a total of 199 points and a Prize II. I think there is a way to get 199 points and a Prize I, but I think that the weighting of the “retrieve of shot bird” points knocked him down to a Prize II. So Obi is now Wyo Plainsman Kenobi NA I, UPT III, UT II.

I know that post has gone on a bit with lots of photos and scores and explanation of Utility Test skills, but this is the first time that we’ve tested at this level and I actually fully understood what was happening and was able to capture all of the pieces in photos. Maybe this will help someone else work up the courage to train for the NAVHDA Utility Test. It is a great bonding experience with your dog, if nothing else.

Sally’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test

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We are planning a litter for spring 2022, but I’ve decided to hold off until we’re done with Ruth and Obi’s Utility Tests before we take on any more dog tasks (interviews, deposits, etc.). I’m shooting for the first week of November to have all of the health clearances, pedigrees, test results, etc. loaded on to the website and get a formal breeding announcement made. Then we can start talking about puppy placement.

The goal of testing Obi and Ruth are not Prize Ones, with the move and Charles’s new job there hasn’t been gobs of training time to get to that point. We will be happy to pass.

Caleb was the first junior handler for the Foothills Chapter of NAVHDA, they are a new chapter based north of Charlotte that was started in 2020. There are two other chapters in the Carolinas: the Carolinas chapter and the Tarheel chapter. Folks at the Foothills chapter were very friendly and nice to visit with. We were very thankful for judges Ed Harrington, Tim Clark and Leon Hardy for taking time out of their lives the weekend after NAVHDA Invitational in Iowa to come and judge this test.

Caleb walking Sally down to the field

These photos are all taken from very far away because I wanted Caleb to handle Sally and not have her distracted by me. This was a little over a week ago, Sunday, September 26. We were at Quail Haven Hunting Preserve in Harmony, North Carolina. She was the eighth dog to run the test and so the field was pretty stinky. We all love to make excuses as to why our dogs didn’t do what they were supposed to in tests, so here’s mine. Sally had fours on everything except “Search” was a three (I think she was hesitant with the stinky bird field) and “Desire to Work” (she’s never been wild bird hunting before, so this is all still new) was also a three. She probably had some of the most bird finds on the day though, but as one of my favorite judge quotes goes, “This isn’t an Easter egg hunt”.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
Caleb kicking up a bird in front of Sally
Sally pointing a bird. It isn’t stylish but got the job done.
Caleb and Sally wrapping up their field work
Good flying quail are tough to come by, but Quail Haven has them.
NAVHDA Natural Ability Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
Sally and Caleb after the field

The tracking portion of the test was next, Caleb did not want me over with the handlers and judges, so I stayed behind at the clubhouse. She did great on the track, went right to the bird and pointed it. Caleb walked over and picked up the bird (now it lives in our bird collection).

Caleb and the other handlers way over yonder at the track

The final portion of the test was the water and the evaluation of attributes. She did great on the water, Caleb threw a couple of bumpers and she came back with both of them. All of the dogs tested both days retrieved their bumpers, the judges really appreciated that and brought it up at the reading of the scores. Some dogs won’t go for the bumper and they have to use a dead bird at the water (which is a hassle).

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Water
Sally retrieving the bumper
Evaluation of attributes

Everything came back clear from the evaluation of attributes and coat was judged Medium Dense/Medium Harsh.

Caleb, age 12, Sally, age 7 months with judges Ed Harrington, Tim Clark and Leon Hardy

Caleb and Sally ended up with a Natural Ability Prize II with 103 points. Pretty darned good for a first time 12 year old handler and a 7 month old dog who hasn’t been wild bird hunting yet. Thanks to Charles for taking the time to help Caleb learn how to handle a dog in a hunt test and to all of the volunteers for putting on a great test.

Next up on our dog adventures, Obi and Ruth will give the Utility Test a shot. Obi got a Prize III on the Utility Preparatory Test and Ruth got a Prize II, so it will be interesting to see how those scores line up with the new ones.

Good luck to everyone out there chasing the sharptailed grouse around, it was so strange not going out to the Nebraska Sandhills for the opener. Charles is headed out that way after Thanksgiving and I am terribly jealous. It is beautiful here in South Carolina and the people are nice, but the east coast is crowded. I know that I will be super happy to be here come February though.

Congratulations to the new NAVHDA Versatile Champions in the breed, I know of at least two. I’ll wait for the magazine to say for sure. And everyone up in Pennsylvania for AWPGA National Specialty, have fun! I really wanted to go, but my oldest son is a senior this year and it is the end of the first quarter, so I have to tutor him to get through midterms.

I’ll catch back up with you all after the Utility Test is done. I’m pretty sure we’re down in South Carolina with the Carolinas chapter, so it will be fun meeting another new NAVHDA bunch.

Hunting for our dream

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In case you missed the news, we’ve moved! We are now located in the rural area between Clover and Lake Wylie, South Carolina known as Bethel Township. Our place has three acres and a small barn, perfect for raising these dogs.

I won’t post too many detailed photos of our property since there have been so many problems with Griffons being stolen throughout the country and I don’t want to be in that position. Luckily there is always someone around our little acreage neighborhood keeping an eye on things. Where we are living is in the middle of a large family farm that was split between the family members, so everyone around us is related. The properties are all between one and forty acres, and the folks have animals of one sort or another, shoot guns, drive trucks…we fit right in. It is fun for Charles to be able to train dogs right in the yard. A much better option for us than one of the many subdivisions in the Charlotte metro area.

Right now Charles is working with Caleb and Sally on getting ready for the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test at the end of the month. Without much wild bird hunting around, the next few years will allow us to focus our efforts on our hunt testing and field trialing prowess. Caleb will be the first junior handler for the Foothills NAVHDA Chapter, so regardless of how Sally comes out, it will be a great experience for him. Plus, if we don’t like the prize that she gets out of this test, Charles can re-test her in the spring if he feels the need to do so.

Bluestem Sally Forth at 7.5 months, meeting her new vet

Sally is weighing in at 43 pounds and is a cute little dog. She was the smallest of the litter, so we are hoping that she doesn’t get much bigger than what she is now. Her coat is changing from her puppy fluff to her adult coat and we think that the warmer weather down here has it coming in shorter and tighter than with dogs past. Or it could just be her genetics, it is tough to know for sure.

You can see where the lighter softer coat is being replaced by a harsher, darker coat

This is the first Labor Day Weekend since 1995, when we were both still in college taking summer school classes, that Charles hasn’t been hunting the Nebraska Sandhills this weekend. I’ve been hunting there pretty consistently over the last 20 years. It is pretty emotional being away.

Nebraska Sandhills Sunrise, one year ago today

So then, why are we here in South Carolina? There was an offer that we couldn’t refuse. We are hoping that we can retire here, then have a big pickup with a dog box and an Airstream trailer that we can live out of during hunting season upon retirement. I love being between the beach and the mountains but still in a rural lifestyle. Charles will be back in Nebraska for a hunt in December and hopefully as we get settled in there will be more time for hunting travel. Our older son graduates this spring, then there’s one more kid for me to get through school. I will be mostly homebound until that task is completed, but am going to focus on conditioning in that time because hunts like Himalyan Snowcock, chukar partridge and white ptarmigan are going to take some serious athleticism.

The Palmetto State

I have found that keeping our Facebook page updated has been an easier task than sitting down to blog. Here are some miscellaneous photos of the dogs that I’ve taken with my phone recently:

AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Peaches en Regalia, NA I UPT II “Ruth”
AKC/NAVHDA Wyo Plainsman Kenobi, NA I UPT III “Obi”
AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Sally Forth
Obi, Ruth and Sally

As far as breeding this year, we are planning on a litter between Obi and Ruth in the spring. I will make a formal breeding announcement in a few weeks, then start to take new inquiries while getting back in touch with my contact list. I thought that I would bounce back to kennel work at the computer faster than I have, honestly. Having all of my things boxed crammed into a semi then stuffed into an empty house is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I pray that this is our last stop, but we’ll see where life takes us.

Our stuff filled an entire semi trailer

AKC/NAVHDA Sweetgrass Sandhill Sioux “Sue” 05/26/2004 – 08/20/2021

I will be sure to do a better write-up about the life of Sue at a later date with more pictures, but I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the passing of the Griffon who started it all for us. She was born the day before our first son, Conrad, and spent her first 8.5 years living with us in our first house in Bellevue. Upon her retirement from hunting and having puppies, she went to live with the Knispel family in Cedar Butte, South Dakota (just west of White River, near Badlands National Park). She passed at the age of seventeen, after a long life of many adventures and being very loved. There are so many more pictures and stories to go with Sue, but this will have to do for now. See you at the happy hunting grounds, girl.

If you’ve been following our Facebook page, this isn’t much new material, but I’ll be getting the good camera out for Sally’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test with Caleb in a couple of weeks and there will finally be some fresh content.

Good luck to everyone out there in the wild bird fields and with fall hunt testing. The future of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed is looking bright thanks to all of our efforts.

NAVHDA UPT Passes and Move News

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Thank you to the Central States NAVHDA Chapter and the judges present who made Obi and Ruth’s UPT tests possible. Obi passed on Saturday with a Utility Preparatory Test Prize III and Ruth passed on Sunday with a UPT Prize II. I wish that I could have been there to photograph the event, but our upcoming move kept me at home. Thank you to Pam Robinson of Robingun Small Munsterlanders for the photographs. Obi’s mistakes were in the field and Ruth’s were in the duck search. But we passed! It will be a few months before we hit the testing grounds again, so it is good to have this under our belts.

Obi with Charles and our youngest son, Caleb, on Saturday
Charles and Ruth all wet on Sunday

In other news, we somehow managed to avoid the bidding wars and drama that are going into home purchases in the Charlotte/Rock Hill region and went straight into contract on a nice house and almost three acres with a little barn between Clover and Lake Wylie, South Carolina. It is 20 minutes to the Charlotte airport, so an easy shot should we need to get home: there is a direct flight between Charlotte and Omaha, which is important since our daughter will still be here finishing up at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the next couple of years and my mom and brother are still in Valentine.

This is my first half-way-across-the-country move since I was four years-old when we came back to Nebraska from the San Fernando Valley in California (where my mom grew up) back in 1978. I still vividly remember the trip in the green Gran Torino station wagon towing the red VW Beetle full of stuff.

Charles has been here since he started at UNL in 1991, when he rode the Greyhound Bus from New York to Omaha.

But I know the folks down in the Clover area are good people and we look forward to experiencing their own version of rural culture. And there are lots of good Griff friends and family on both sides nearby and that makes it easier.

I gave away all of my snow shovels today. That was an awesome feeling.

We’ll be pretty bogged down in the move with not much news until we’re settled in South Carolina, probably mid-July. So hang tight fans.

And a big shout out to Susan Davy and TracHer from our “C” Litter with Sam and Mae who has almost all of her AKC Master Hunter legs up in North Dakota at 9 years old. Griffs never give up!

So keep training and spoiling your dogs. My dogs just got themselves a tiny farm, which we are all excited about.

Bluestem: Transplanted

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Bluestem is the state grass of Nebraska. Little bluestem to the west, sand bluestem in the Sandhills and big bluestem in the east is a dominate grass species across the state. Charles was originally a range science major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln when he moved out here from New York in 1991 and was part of the international plant identification team for the university before he became an economics major.

He started on at Ameritrade in 1997 and recently relinquished his position there (of our own doing) after the business was sold to Charles Schwab. We will be moving to York County, South Carolina over the summer to advance his career (the southern suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina). This is actually the homeland of the Upchurches, as Charles’s parents were raised in Hamlet, North Carolina not an hour from there. We still have many relatives in the area and have visited there our entire relationship.

We have retired Fire, she is currently recovering from her spay and will go home with one of Charles’s old hunting buddies who is retired between Minnesota and Arizona.

I would like to devote this post to the retired mothers of our kennel. Sue, Mae, Velma, BB and Fire. We would not exist without their bodily sacrifices and motherly love. I have yet to rush a female to the vet to do a c-section or have to bottle feed puppies because a mother would not nurse. All of these mamas have whelped naturally and nursed their puppies. They will always be loved and remembered as contributors to our kennel and the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed.

So here’s to the mothers of Bluestem Kennels:

Sue, the griff who started it all for us, who is still alive at 17
Mae, great-grandmother of Obi, who recently passed at age 15
Velma out of De Jac Pine, who is still living with our friend Aaron
BB from Bourg-Royal Kennel in Quebec who is currently living in Kansas at 10
Fire and the most recent Q Litter, who will retire this year at 7

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