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Fall’s Abundance

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We are planning a litter of pups for Spring 2020 between Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” and Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire”.  The reservation list is currently full, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like to be placed on the contact list for in the event there are additional puppies.

Ruth (Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I) won’t be bred until 2021, but we received her OFA Hip scan and it came back “Good”.

Ruth OFA

Currently the plan for 2021 would repeat my surprise breeding from last year, using Stonyridge Zoro as the stud.  His sire, Stonyridge Otis “Cooper”, is now VC Stonyridge Otis, NA II UT I.  For those of you who don’t speak hunt test alphabet, the “VC” stands for NAVHDA Versatile Champion, meaning that he passed the 2019 NAVHDA Invitational Test, the highest level test in the club.  In order to qualify for that, he recieved a Prize I on his Utility Test, the highest level in the adult hunting test.  The NA II means that he got a Prize II on his Natural Ability test, which needs to be completed by the age of sixteen months.  NAVHDA offers three open tests: the Natural Ability test, the Utility Preparatory Test and the Utility Test.  Each test has three levels of scoring with I being the highest and III being a pass.  The best way to learn about these tests is by attending a NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic near you.

General Dog Health Information Update

A few things that come up in conversation with my fellow dog breeders online that I feel like I should pass along.  This was a bad year for outdoor fungi and algae with dogs.  Blastomycosis (dirt fungi) and blue-green algae ravaged the country and had a big impact on hunting dogs training this year, with many deaths occurring.  Especially with first year pups, keep an eye on vomiting and lethargy and make sure to take it seriously and go to the vet.  The dog can be saved if steps are taken immediately.

Grain-free diets.  Just don’t.  Or if you do, it’s at your own risk.  The FDA has started the research to back up the numerous cases of dialated cardiomyopathy that veterinarians are seeing in otherwise healthy young dogs.

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Three Dog Day: Fire, Ruth (on top) and Zoro

Dead Bird Photos? Yes or No.

Scott Linden of the TV Show Wingshooting USA posed the question on his social media recently of whether or not dead bird photos are necessary or appropriate.  For people who operate hunting dog kennels they are mandatory.  We have to put birds in front of our breeding stock and our clients need to see that it is happening.  Right now, I am just not able to get away to get into the field to take live action hunting photos.  The time that I do get into the field, I want to spend hunting right now.  Once the boys are older, I will have more time for field photography, but for right now we have to settle for the dead bird photos.  So dead bird photos?  YES.

Snipe and Rail Hunt

Charles took Zoro just down southwest of where we live to a spot where we can reliably get into rail and snipe.  The birds are not much larger than your average tweety bird, so it is good pointing practice for the dog to get used to stopping on very little scent.  It is also a good way to work on preventing “hard mouth”, since the bird is very small and the dog has to hold it gently to bring it to hand.

We normally get into sora rail, which have the yellow triangular beak, but this year was the first time that we’ve taken any Virginia Rail.  They have the more reddish hooked beaks.

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Zoro and his snipe, with long beaks on left, and rails on right

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From left: three sora rail, four Virginia Rail, and six snipe

No Dogs Allowed: Sandhills Antelope 2019

Charles spent four days this week hunting antelope out in the Nebraska Sandhills.  He passed on some small bucks and settled on a doe.  We already have antelope horns on the wall, so the trophy pressure was not there.  He got to see lots of wildlife and some dumb grouse hunters (hint: sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens are not in the trees).

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The smaller antelope bucks that he passed on.

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The gun perspective, he likes to belly crawl in close

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His classic gun and big game photo

Sandhills Ducks and Grouse

Yesterday he finally got out with the dogs and chased some birds around.  It sounds like Ruth had an adventure with one of those ducks going down still alive and swimming under a muskrat mound to get away.  But she was able to dive down to grab it.  I wish that I had been there to see it, I always love to watch the dog work a duck retrieve like that. (Somebody didn’t wash the antelope blood out of the truck bed, sorry about that.  Gross.)

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Ruth with two mallard hens and two snipe

Fire and Charles did get into some more grouse and prairie chickens but with Fire being a little out of practice, there were a few slow points with wild flushes and birds flushing on the edge of range.  But a prairie chicken in the bag is better than nothing.

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It sounds like that he is out again this morning, so there may be additional photos to tack on to this post as the day progresses.  He drives back home tomorrow and then we wait for pheasant season to open up here.

My favorite pheasant spot is along the river and is probably going to be flooded out this year, so I’m most likely going to be working my way south and west of here looking for quail and pheasant while the kids are in school.

Happy hunting for those of you out in the fields this fall.  We are truly blessed to have well-managed public lands available to us all around the country.  I hope to see more of them in the future once the boys are grown, but for now I’ll just get out when and where I can and watch everyone else get the rest of it done on social media.

 

Opening Weekend 2019

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For those of you who are on the reservation list for 2020 Spring Puppies from dam Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire”, we are going to use Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” as the stud.  His information is on the “About Our Dogs” page of the website.  Let me know if you have questions.

If you would like to be on the contact list in the event that we have additional puppies available, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

In other random kennel news, I took Ruth in for her OFA hip x-rays and the vet said everything looked good, so now it is just a matter of getting the certificate back from OFA to see what rating they give her hips.

Sandhills Upland Opener

Our usual luxury accommodations in town are currently occupied by other family members, so we decided to camp at the lake over the weekend.  With all of the moisture this year we were happy that the sandburrs were still pretty moist, but the mosquitos were sure thick.  The boys and I focused on things like swimming, shooting 22 rifle, kayaking, making s’mores (and just making meals in general), and my favorite part — stargazing.

Brenda Allison - Sandhills Stars

The night sky of the Nebraska Sandhills, photo by Brenda Allison

 

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Sunset over the lake, no filter.  By Charity Upchurch

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Not listed on AirBnB!

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Fifteen year-old Conrad has become a good kayaker,

 

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Ten year-old Caleb had fun with the .22.  Both of the boys did, we ran out of ammo.

You can see in the background of the picture of Caleb that some unknown soul added an “amenity” to our shared primitive campsite.  They turned a five gallon bucket into a pit toilet by cutting the bottom off of it, creating “teeth” so that you can stick it in the sand, then screwed a toilet seat to the top!.  So all you needed to do was to dig a hole to put it on top of, then you use your shovel to “flush” with the sand pile.  Thank you creative redneck!!

Oh but you wanted to hear about hunting, right?

So after every upland magazine has published an article about the Nebraska Sandhills, every yahoo in the country is out there trying to chase sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens.  Which I am happy for honestly, there was a span of about five years where it looked like we were the only ones out there.  The non-natives stay pretty close to the highway because unless you know the dunes, it is a scary place.  And even for those of us who know it, it can play tricks on you sometimes.  This year the biggest hazard is water on the roads, so even if you have maps and GPS that say that a road is there, it may be closed or flooded.

Charles took Zoro out the first day and ended up with a dove and a sharpie in the bag.

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Charles and Stonyridge Zoro with a sharptailed grouse and a dove

On Monday he took Ruth out and got a limit of three.

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Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I “Ruth” and Charles with a limit of grouse.

The Sunday grouse went in the pot with some marinated chicken and canned vegetables for supper that night.

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Cutting up grouse for the pot.

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Camp food (the grouse is the dark meat)

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Coleman camp kitchen

The three sharpies that came home with us went right on the griddle with some chimichurri sauce on the plate (I forgot to take pictures).  Give them a good marinade and cook them like a medium rare steak for the best flavor.  When I’m at camp, I cook it as stew meat all the way through just to make sure that I’m avoiding food poisoning, since our sanitiation is as good as we can get it, but not up to normal “hot-water-from-the-tap” standards.

Up Next

I am really sucked into youth football right now, but it will be over in time for pheasant and quail season.  I console myself with the fact that I’ve shot plenty of grouse and prairie chickens, and that youth football is only this year and next.

Charles has his sights set on some early teal duck action here locally.  He is going to skip North Dakota again this year until things improve habitat and bird number-wise up there.  He did draw a Sandhills antelope tag, so he’ll be back out there for that and some more birds and ducks hopefully.

Continued success in the fields for everyone and good luck to all of those who are running in fall hunt tests!

Turtle Soup and the end of summer

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My reservation list of ten for Spring 2020 puppies is currently full.  Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on our contact list in the event that a spot opens up on the reservations list or if there are additional puppies when the litter is born.

Where did summer go?  It never seems long enough.  Now it is time for youth football for my youngest son and we just took our oldest to college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  My middle son is busy getting through high school and learning to drive.  But the dogs always make their presence known and of course we have to keep them exercised for hunting season.  So here are a few shots from our weekly runs.

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Zoro in the grass

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Zoro on a run

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Ruth taking a break

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Fire on the move

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Fire pointing some old scent (or a really tucked in bird)

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Ruth, Fire and Zoro heading back to the truck

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Zoro, Fire and Ruth watching me clean the bathroom

Our first Utility Prize I pup

Bluestem Winchester SH, NA I is now UT I and qualified for NAVHDA Invitational!  Chester is owned by Sal Licata out in New York and is out of our “C” Litter of 2012 between Sam and Mae.  We couldn’t be more proud, great work!

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Sal and Chester when he earned his AKC SH title

Turtle Soup

Over the summer I found a snapping turtle in a parking lot of one of our local businesses.  I can see why the pioneers like to eat these critters.  They have a lot of meat on them!  Chicken of the swamp.  They taste sort of like alligator, be sure to give it a try if you get a chance.  After I caught it (you need a current fishing license to do this), we let it live in the bottom of a trash can with a pool of water in it under a mulberry tree (he ate bugs and fallen mulberries) for a week to clean himself out.  I dumped out the water and gave him fresh every day.  We then dispatched him using a sharp ax, with one person pulling the tail and shell back while the other used pliers to grab his snout, pull his neck out and chop his head off.  You have to leave them hang in a cool place for about six hours before they stop moving before you can cut them up.  Here is the recipe that we used: https://honest-food.net/turtle-soup-recipe-creole/

Grooming video still in the works

I have the footage for the grooming video but I am going to wait until I have more time this fall/winter to edit it.  I am working with new editing software and I find it extremely frustrating and time consuming.  Please be patient.

Hunting season is here!

Now that we are down to three dogs it is easier for Charles to take over most of the hunting “responsibilities”.  I’m sure that he doesn’t mind.  This weekend is sharptailed grouse and prairie chicken opener in Nebraska.  I might get out for a couple of hours, but I’m going to focus most of my time over the weekend on camping with the boys.  There is still a crazy amount of water out in the Sandhills so it will be interesting to see the places where there are water crossings where there usually aren’t any.

Good luck to everyone heading out into the fields this season!

Dog Days of Summer 2019

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My reservation list of ten for Spring 2020 puppies is currently full.  Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on our contact list in the event that a spot opens up on the reservations list or if there are additional puppies when the litter is born.

Zoro’s Penn HIP Results

Zoro’s hips came back good, he is right in the median for the breed and has no signs of dysplasia.

Zoro's Penn HIP

Summer Candids

We hope that everyone has had a productive spring training and puppy season and are staying cool over the summer.  Here are some shots of the dogs hanging around as I continue to unpack from our move.

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Top to bottom: Fire, Ruth and Zoro

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Left to right: Ruth, Fire and Zoro

Summer training

We’ve been spending time both in the yard and out in the field working with the dogs.  Charles has done quite a bit right in the yard with “whoa” and “heel”.

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Charles and Fire working on “heel” in the driveway.

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Zoro on the run looking for planted quail

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Zoro on “whoa” in the field

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Ruth, Fire and Zoro taking a mud hole break

Charles also attended the Clyde Vetter seminar hosted by the Heartland NAVHDA Chapter a couple of weeks back.  They learned about table work, use of the e-collar and live birds in field training scenarios.

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Attendees of the Vetter Seminar.  Photo courtesy of Heartland NAVHDA

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In the field during the seminar.  Photo courtesy of Heartland NAVHDA

Grooming Video

I have an un-edited version of the grooming video done, but it was way too long to be a functional YouTube to upload (it stalled for hours when I tried).  I’m going to edit it and break it down into multiple videos and get it posted this week.  I’ll post it along with my adventures of catching and cooking a snapping turtle, which has nothing to do with dogs obviously, but still a fun summer adventure to share.

Stay cool until then!

P Litter Homegoings

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The puppies have all gone home and Ruth and I miss them.  I am planning a litter for next spring, but I’m not looking to go gangbusters on taking interest right now since I have my daughter’s high school graduation in a few weeks.  So feel free to drop a note to bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are thinking about a pup in 2020, but I won’t be ready to start doing interviews and taking deposits until mid-June.

I’m just going in the order that they went home:

Austin and his wife drove up from Waco, Texas and returned home to their one year old child with their first hunting puppy.

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Philip went home to TX with Austin and his wife.

Alex drove over from Ohio to pick up his retirement hunting dog.

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Pamela was on her way to Ohio with Alex

Sherry and Bert live just across town in Bellevue and also have a retirement hunting pup.

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Phila Mae and Sherry headed just down the road a few miles.

Marty and his wife run a vineyard in Wisconsin and they have a new mascot who will also chase birds.

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Paul was already in love with his new owners and ready for Wisconsin.

Vicky and her family are getting their second Bluestem pup and will be just across the city in Omaha.

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Vicky and her daughter with Patience

Rob and his family are also on their second Bluestem pup and are from Omaha!

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Penelope is still a Husker too!

Derek and his family have been looking for a Griff puppy for quite awhile and were excited for my surprise litter.  She’ll get to chase birds down in Kansas.

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Derek took Peter down south to Kansas

Peggy flew out to Dan in California.  This was my last air cargo shipment due to the increasing restrictions related to the weather in every city that they depart/layover/arrive.  We have no control over the weather and I’m not going to have pups bumped off of flights because of it.  She made it safely to California with only a slight delay in Minneapolis.

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Peggy checked into air cargo

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Peggy leaving the airport

Zoro’s Natural Ability Test

We learned a lot from Zoro’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test.  Charles has handled four NA dogs (three prize ones all 112 and one prize two) prior to this and two UT III dogs.  Two other co-owned dogs we’ve watched go to NA I 112.  So I think that we were a little overconfident.  I was tired from sending puppies home the days prior, so I didn’t go.

From what Charles tells me he had a few good points in the field and did great in the water, but instead of following the track during the tracking portion of the test, he did a search and flaked.  No pass.

So now we get to work on the UPT for either a late summer or early fall test.  We’ve been a bit lax on our last few dogs and have just put Natural Ability prizes on them and just wild bird hunted from there.  This will dial us back in to higher level training and we learned a big lesson about waiting until the age cutoff in the spring to Natural Ability Test.  Best to get it over with in the fall while they are young and be done with it.

Zoro has no idea that he didn’t pass and is still as happy-go-lucky as ever.  Charles laid a track the next day and he followed it and found the bird with no problem.  It’s just one day and one test.

Here are some shots from when we were working on getting ready:

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Coming Soon

I finally have a camcorder again (I’ve been using the video function on my DSLR for the puppy videos and it is just not as good), so I’ll be recording a new grooming video soon, since that seems to be the most commonly searched for topic on my blog right now.  I’m sure I’ll get a chance to take some training videos over the summer too, so keep an eye out for that.  Good luck to everyone else out there with puppies and testing this spring.

P Litter at Seven Weeks

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We’re down to the final week of having the “P” Litter with us and it is always bittersweet.  The puppies are lovely and fun to be around, but we are only one family and they are a pack of dogs!  Luckily they are good and come when I clang the dinner bell (hitting a Christmas tin lid with a spoon), because they have no fear of the woods.  I have learned to let go a bit and allow them down the hill to dig holes and run around in the wild, but they wish that they could do it all day instead of just for a couple of hours.

Next up is the last round of de-worming, trips to the vet for exams, shots and microchips (I am splitting them up and doing it over a couple of days to make it easier), then lots and lots of paperwork for me.  Oh and I need to squeeze in some crate conditioning in there, but luckily I have enough crates where I can get it done in a day in a couple of shifts.  Then the fun of meeting the new owners and getting to play Santa Claus in the spring.

Bird Introduction

How I do bird introduction as a breeder: I like to do it at 6.5 – 7 weeks. I have a chicken hutch inside of a woven wire dog kennel, this go-around we happened to have quail. I carry the pup to the kennel, place a lead on the collar, open the door to the kennel and just let them check out the birds. I step back a few paces and fire off a kid’s cap gun a few shots. Once the pup acknowledges the birds, I collect it and give it lots of praise.

About 15 paces away I have a run that I set up using two ex-pens connected together, with a dead quail (from previous training sessions with the big dogs) tied to a stick off to the side. I take a few steps away from the live birds, place the pup on the ground and encourage the puppy to follow me while on the lead to the ex-pen setup. I place the pup inside of the ex-pen and get the pup’s attention with the dead bird by dragging it around and popping it in the air. I then lay the bird down on the ground close to the pup and they just seem to know what to do! Once they pick up the bird, I give the pup lots of praise and encourage them to run to me. I tell the pup to “give”, gently take the bird out of its mouth, then pick the pup up and love the heck out of it.

Here are everyone’s individual pics from the bird introduction session.  Please don’t take their poses to analyze their individual potential, it just happened to be one exposure session at a very early age and where I caught that particular puppy with my camera.:

Paul

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Peter

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Philip

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Phila Mae

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Peggy

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Penelope

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Patience

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Pamela

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And last but not least, a quick video of them jumping on me in the kennel: https://youtu.be/BM85e3txbqU

New owners: we’ve set up our dates and times for you to get your pup, please let me know if anything changes.  I’ll also be reaching out before you come over to see if you have any last minute questions.  Between vet visits and kid events my schedule is sort of random the next week, so if I don’t catch you, feel free to call back or email.

Next up on the blog will be these babies going to their new owners and Zoro’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test results, so keep an eye out for that sometime the week of May 5th.  Good luck to everyone else out there testing dogs and having litters this spring.

P Litter Six Weeks Old

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The puppies are really getting rambunctious and difficult to keep track of these days!  They are always slipping into the woods or under a bush.  Luckily Ruth helps me track them down if needed, but they are getting obedient enough to come when called quite a bit.  After this morning’s run and kennel cleaning, all eight ran back into the kennel when I rang the breakfast bell, with zero stragglers.

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P litter puppies in the ex-pen while I clean out their kennel

They’ve found the bird pen on their own and take great interest in it.  They would love to explore the woods, but I can’t risk having them wander too far with a large pack of coyotes close.  The neighbor says that the coyotes used to come up into our yard before we lived here, which is one of the reasons why we elected not to have a kennel outside.  Zoro does a good job of doing laps around the house barking and peeing on things to let them know to stay away.  I did see one a couple of weeks ago about a block away acting very disoriented, which in addition to the flood would make sense if my dog pack has displaced them from their normal trail.

But back to the puppies.  They love to play and bite and chew.  Everyone is healthy and fun.  I wish that I had more time to go through and label each of these photos individually, but I think that I got at least one of everyone.  They are all equally cute.

Shopping list for new owners: Puppy food (I feed Diamond, but can give you some to mix with whatever you pick), food and water dishes, Medium puppy collar (they are growing out of these already) and puppy leash, either a small crate (no smaller than 22 in. tall) or a larger crate with a wire insert, and puppy toys (I like small rope bones and hard rubber balls).  For those of you traveling a long distance by car, bring some old bath towels in case you want to hold the puppy on your lap and paper towels to clean up any messes.  Bottled water is also a good idea both for them to drink and to use with clean-up help.

Very important: purchase liquid de-wormer (available at any pet or farm store) and a children’s medicine syringe that you can get from a pharmacy.  Two or three days after taking the puppy home, you need to de-worm them again.  Being in the bird poop under the bushes, even though I will de-worm them again right before they go home, they will need it again.  And if you spend a lot of time outdoors and they have their mouths on things outside, once a month from then on out.

I have two videos this week, one indoors and one outdoors.  I am going to mess with individual crate and dead/live bird time this week.  Since I’m a one-man band, it will be tough to get good footage, so bear with me if it isn’t great or non-existant, plus with the holiday and having family in town, I won’t have time for everyone before next Wednesday.  I also have a brand new cap gun around here somewhere that I’ll pop off while they are messing with birds, so I’ll have to track that down.

Indoor video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx-4QvX41S8

Outdoor video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEdVOla8YDA

 

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