NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic, our first Best of Breed, and other news…

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The Countdown Begins

It was only in the 50s when the sun was coming up this morning and it set Sam a-howling, which seemed appropriate to me because my first thought when I woke up was, “only two months left and it will be hunting season again”.  Although I’m very excited, I’m also a bit nervous since we’ve retired all of our older females at this point and I’ll be hunting with Sam.  It will be my first time hunting by myself with a male dog, and Sam and I have our moments where he thinks there is room for debate as to who is the dominate player in our relationship.  But I’m sure we’ll get it sorted out and have a grand time as we always do.

Opening weekend 2011: Charity, Ryan Tompkins, Chas, then Sue, Sam, and BB.

Opening weekend 2011: Charity, Ryan Tompkins, Charles, then Sue, Sam, and BB.

Best of Breed

I am just beside myself at the success of Bluestem Big Sky Rendezvous NA I “Midge” in both the field and the show ring.  She is from our 2013 “F” litter from Sam and Mae.  Only a couple of weeks after her Prize I NAVHDA Natural Ability test with a score of 112, she took Best of Breed on June 20th at the Electric City Kennel Club Dog Show in Great Falls, Montana.  The competition in Montana is tough and I am just thrilled.  Infinite thanks to owners/handlers Lou and Lindsay Volpe.

Midge has a stretch after her BOB win at Montana Expo Park

Midge has a stretch after her BOB win at Montana Expo Park

NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic

The first and most important thing I have to say about NAVHDA Handler’s Clinics is: GO.  I wish that we had gone 10 years ago, as it would have saved us numerous hours of time in both research and training.  We were lucky to have 3 judges with us over the weekend: our own Tracey Nelson and Chuck Casanova, and our instructor, Jason Wade from the Sebasticook and Yankee Chapters in Maine.  The first day was devoted to going over the Aims, Programs and Test booklet that covers the elements of the Natural Ability, Utility Preparatory, Utility, and Invitational Tests.  We then scored two dogs at the Natural Ability level.  The second day we scored a UPT and a UT dog, then finalized any remaining questions.  It was a great combination of direct instruction, guided practice, then finished with independent practice.  Kudos to Tracey and her family at Skyline Sportsmen’s Club in Thurman, Iowa for being gracious hosts to the Heartland Chapter yet again.

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Speaking of the NAVHDA Chapters in Maine, Tyson out in Bangor sent me a pic of Moose doing some work at a recent training day.  Moose is from our 2014 “H” litter from Sam and Mae and is 12 weeks old in the picture.

Moose retrieving a chukar

Moose retrieving a chukar

Kaylee down in Missouri shared this cute pic recently of my pup Fire’s sister, Willow, working on the water retrieve.  Willow is from our 2014 “G” litter of Sam and BB.  I love the confident look in her eyes, like, “I’ve got this!”

Willow is proud of her duck dummy

Willow is proud of her duck dummy

I just love all of the pics that Susan and Tom up in North Dakota get of TracHer and the pretty flowers.  Here is Susan and TracHer, who is from our 2011 “C” litter from Sam and Mae.  Don’t be fooled by her show dog looks, she’s tearing up the sloughs, ponds, and prairies up there.

Susan and TracHer in the summer flowers

Susan and TracHer in the summer flowers

As always, many thanks to all of my owners for sharing photos with me and giving great homes to our pups.

Mae’s Retirement  

We spent the solstice/wedding anniversary weekend up in the Nebraska Sandhills, enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

Caleb, Fire, Charles, BB, Cordelia, Conrad, Mae, and Sam at our special swimming spot

Caleb, Fire, Charles, BB, Cordelia, Conrad, Mae, and Sam at our special swimming spot

Mae has been officially retired to Valentine, Nebraska to live with my brother, Ron, and his 1 1/2 year old Siberian Husky, Whisper.  The initial introduction of the two dogs was a bit dicey, but they settled in with each other quickly and are good friends.

Mae and Whisper chilling in my brother's yard

Mae and Whisper chilling in my brother’s yard

Burr season is here

As I was writing this, I received a panicked phone call from a griff owner asking about how to deal with burr mats in the coat.  If we run the dogs in burrs, I try to brush them the same or the next day to prevent matting.  Should I forget to do this and a mat develops, I try to brush it out with a wide toothed comb or burr puller.  I make sure to grab the fur close to the skin before I start yanking on it with the comb.  There are spray-on liquid detanglers that you can buy at the pet store to help with this.  If it will not come out and the dog is crying and/or trying to grab your hand with its mouth, it is okay to cut the mat out with scissors if you have to.

I had better move on with my day, even though it seems like there is always more to write, but the littlest one is asking for me to fix him a hot breakfast.  So everyone have a safe and Happy 4th of July!  Keep the dogs inside or kenneled a safe distance from fireworks so they don’t try to eat them like my little cocker spaniel did when I was a child:)

How to Groom a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon


A couple of years ago I wrote a post about grooming the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and to this day it is one of my most visited.  As I’ve since learned more about the process, I wanted to provide my readers and others scouring the internet for information with my most up-to-date knowledge.

Most of my grooming comes out of necessity, as my property is wooded and contains burr bearing plants.  There are things that those grooming for show do that I don’t, which I’ll talk about at the end of my explanation.  My grooming is very utilitarian and only very infrequently for the show ring, but I will talk about show grooming techniques later on.

It is important to have good supplies.  I’ve acquired my collection of brushes, combs, scissors and other necessities over the years, but would think that starting out with a complete set and knowing how to use them would be helpful for a relatively new griffon owner.

Brushes and combs:  Multi-width metal comb, wide-toothed burr remover, undercoat comb, universal brush, slicker brush.  I also have a dog shampoo brush that I failed to include in my video, but it looks something like this: http://www.petsupplies.com/item/groomaster-rubber-brush-for-dogs/494975/

Shampoo:  For dogs under 6 months of age, I use a multi-purpose puppy shampoo of any brand.  Once they are over 6 months, I use Hartz Flea and Tick Dog Shampoo.  I do not recommend using the flea and tick shampoo within 2 weeks of having the dog’s coat evaluated, because it strips the oils from the coat. If you must wash the dog (like if it gets in the mud or something) within 2 weeks of going to a dog show or NAVHDA test where the dog’s coat is evaluated, use Bio-Groom Wire Coat Shampoo.  I have yet to try it out, but I do have a bottle and know the vast majority of griffon owners swear by it.  Due to my dogs spending so much time in the woods and field, I feel like I need to use the flea and tick shampoo in addition to my monthly flea and tick preventative regimen.

Ear cleaner:  My vet prescribes DermaPet Malacetic Otic solution, but any vet recommended ear cleaner should be purchased in the largest dispenser possible.

Scissors: I have a round-tip pair with a 1″ blade if I need to trim around their eyes (I don’t like hair blocking their vision), then a normal pair of round tipped shears for the body and ears and a pair of thinning shears for flattening out anywhere it is not level for the show ring.

I start out brushing the entire body of the dog with the wide-toothed burr remover, then repeat the process with the undercoat comb, then finish with the universal wire brush.  I just purchased a grooming table over the summer and am really enjoying it, saves me all of the bending over from when I used to brush them on the ground.

If the dog needs a bath, I then bathe them with one of the above listed shampoos, scrubbing them down with the rubber shampoo brush.  I’m in the process of creating a spot in my garage stall (that I’m slowly turning into a dog room) where I will have a dedicated grooming tub that is elevated, but as of right now my dogs are bathing in the kiddie pool in the summer and the human bath tub in the winter.

I then go through the process of cleaning my dog’s ears.  Holding the dog’s head still, fill the entire canal with the ear cleaning solution, put the ear flap down begin massaging the entire ear structure on the dogs skull vigorously for a few minutes.  They will shake out most of the excess.  You can either wipe out any excess and leftover dirt or simply let them drip dry.  Here is a video of me cleaning Sam’s ears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjgP6KNDfi8

That’s pretty much my basic regimen that keeps them clean and healthy.  If I’m going into the show ring, I will trim them after brushing and before bathing.  Please keep in mind that I’ve only started showing this year, but we did win Reserve Winners Bitch at our first major, so I must not have done too bad of a job.  Here is where I trim: probably the most important is leveling out the head furnishings.  Trim the hair at the bottom of the ears so that it is even, even out the head furnishings a bit, trim around the snout so that it is somewhat uniform and then level out a well combed out beard.  If the hair on top of the ears is not laying flat, use thinning shears to even it out to lay down.  Also make sure that the fur on the back of the head is under control, in order to accentuate the head furnishings.  Here is the photograph that I use for a guide (thank you to Paige Pettis of Pageska’s Griffon Town in Nova Scotia, Canada for use of the photo):

Two very handsome Wirehaired Pointing Griffons ready for the show ring in Quebec, Canada. Photo property of Paige Pettis

I then move on to make sure that the body hair is even.  Make sure that the feather on the back of the front legs is straight, trim any “sticky-outies” on their underside, trim the top of the tail if necessary and level out the feather at the bottom of the tail if you have a longer tailed griff like BB.  Here is the photograph that I use as a guide on the body (Thank you to Kristi Woods Rogney and her handler Amy Rutherford of Whiskeytown Sporting Dogs in California for use of the photo):

A Wirehaired Pointing Griffon ready for the California show circuit. Photo property of Kristi Woods Rogney

There are things that most griffon show groomers do that I do not due to our dogs spending most of their time in the field.  I do not finger strip, use a stripping stone, knife or furminator on my dogs’ coats.  Once you’ve seen a dog hunt cattails for a few hours, you’ll know why.  I do not pluck my dogs’ ears, so I end up cleaning them quite a bit.  My vet recommended not plucking them to make sure that field debris does not end up in the ear canal; I have a friend whose lab has his eardrum punctured by dried grass last year.  I have yet to learn how to clean my dogs’ teeth and right now rely on bones to keep them clean, but it is on my to-do list of things to learn (many folks have this done at their vet).  I do not trim my dogs’ claws because they get naturally worn down in daily exercise.  These are other things that you might want to think about and research elsewhere.