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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.

Q Litter Homegoings!

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Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to enquire about our 2022 litter plans.  I am hoping to get through the 2022 interest emails by the old tax filing deadline of April 15th.

Over the last couple of weekends the Q Litter has gone to their new homes.  They are really a handful at 8 weeks old and I am so glad that they are with their new owners getting into a routine and having plenty of individual attention.  We still have Sally here (her litter name was Quarry) and she is very sweet but obviously does normal puppy annoying behavior, like chewing stuff that she is not supposed to and having potty accidents.  I am not going to try and sugar-coat housebreaking a Griff.  They are really one of the toughest breeds to get through in my experience.  Where I can have an English breed fully broken by 12-16 weeks, I’m honest with myself in knowing that I’m still going to be struggling at that point and not to expect to be accident-free until 20 weeks with a Griff.

The only thing that I can think of to account for the longer period of time is that they have so much to learn as a versatile breed that it just takes them longer to get everything down.  And they are just a slower maturing breed anyway; Obi is 17 months-old and still has some very puppy behavior.

Let’s do photos first, then I’ll talk about what we’re working on with Sally.  I’m just going in the order of pickup for simplicity’s sake.

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Joe and family, with Qbert going to Iowa

We are excited to have Joe and Qbert (he will be called something else, but I always forget to write down their new call names and so I’ll just refer to their litter names, sorry) just across the river in Iowa and hope we get to train with them soon.

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Ricardo and Quartz are off to Colorado

Ricardo has an older Griff who will be showing Quartz the way on pheasants in Colorado.  They have a population of white ptarmigan out there that I hope that we get to chase someday, so maybe we’ll meet again.

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Cliff’s family and Queen on their way to Oklahoma

Cliff also has Belle from our “C” Litter between Sam and Mae, so this is their second Bluestem puppy.  They had just come up from taking their granddaughters to show their pigs.  Belle and the pup are still figuring out their relationship but it is going well so far.

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Greg and his wife with Quince going to North Dakota

Greg also has Epsilon from our J Litter between Sam and BB, so yet another two Bluestem puppy family.  He will be getting spoiled since both Greg and his wife work independently and someone always has the dogs with them.  And of course North Dakota is one of our favorite places to visit during hunting season, hopefully the bird population up there bounces back in the next few years.

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Jim and his family with Qiana

Jim and his family lives out on an acreage in central Nebraska.  This is their first Griff, so they are in for an adventure.  But Jim has had hunting dogs his whole life and his dad was a trainer of Labarador Retrievers so they’re ready for action.

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Aaron and his wife heading back to Ohio with Quest

Aaron has a Bluestem pup that goes by Pepper from our D Litter between our original breeding pair Sue and Sam.  He says that Quest and Pepper are getting along splendidly and she is really fitting in with the family.  Aaron also wins the “traveled farthest” award for coming almost 800 miles one way to pick up his puppy.

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Quentin going to Michigan with Paul and Deb

Second in the “traveled farthest” award is Paul and Deb, flying out from Michigan to rent a car and drive back home with Quentin.  They also own a pup by the name of Fielding from our O Litter between Fire and Chief with their daughter Galen and her fiancee.  Galen works in IT for a major Detroit auto manufacturer and her fiancee is a police officer, so all four of them take turns raising the dogs with schedules all over the place.

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Travis and family with Quetzal going to Kansas

Travis and I have been in contact about getting his family a puppy for a long time, but being active duty in the Army with consistent deployment and his wife home with three kids, there was no way she was going to let him get a puppy until he retired!  So happy military retirement, Travis and thank you for your service!  Bird numbers in Kansas have been good lately, so I’m sure you’ll get a chance to chase some of them around.

I suppose I should set up a tripod and take a family picture of us with Sally, but it has not happened yet, so here are just a few candids from around the house.

Charity Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies

Sally and I taking a selfie

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Sally on top of her big sister Ruth, who is almost exactly four years older

On Good Friday, Charles took Caleb and mama Fire out for some preserve hunting.  Caleb shot a rooster and a few of the chukar, with Charles harvesting the rest.  The most important to me was that Caleb and Fire had a good time.

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Caleb trying to pose with Fire

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Caleb showing off his rooster and his smile

As fas as what we are working on with Sally, I focus on the housebreaking and crate training.  If someone isn’t watching her to catch accidents, she is in a crate near the rest of us so that she can still interact and hear what we are doing.  Charles is working on whoa and heel using treats in the morning.

When we started out working with dogs twenty years ago, we didn’t do much other than housebreaking the first year and letting them on to wild birds.  This was sort of the old field trialer dog training mentality.  But as we’ve matured as dog owners, we’ve found that the sooner we work with them the better.  Not overtraining or hacking on the pup, but just fun basic command learning and general obedience.

Especially with Griffons, if they are not exposed to a little pressure to behave right away, because they are so sensitive it is extremely difficult to impossible to break bad habits since their feelings get hurt so easily.  It’s better to get them used to being trained early so that when you get to the more advanced steps they are not as difficult to handle.

Speaking of advanced steps, Charles is taking Obi and Ruth down to Lincoln for AKC Senior Hunter runs this weekend, so we’ll see how those go.  I had forgotten about the tests and am scheduled to lifeguard, so I am a little bummed that I won’t get to do some field photography.  We’ve also got them signed up to do the Utility Preparatory Test for NAVHDA in May, so I need to make sure to keep my calendar open that weekend to get some good photos.

Good luck to everyone with their Bluestem puppies, we are all in this challenging and joyous situation together so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email with questions.  And of course don’t be afraid to turn to your local NAVHDA chapter members for help and advice.

The End of 2020!

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Breeding Announcement

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

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

God Must Need Griffonniers

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

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

Chuck Speiss

Chuck Speiss, far right, chatting with the Terrys

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

Claudette Blackburn

Claudette Blackburn showing Ron Granai how to groom the head

Life Goes On

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

Fire BB Chief ND 2015

Fire, BB and Chief, North Dakota 2015

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BB, Chief, and Fire, again North Dakota 2015

Chief 2016

Chief in Downtown Omaha, Summer 2016

Chief BB Fire at the lake

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

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Chief and Fire, North Dakota 2017

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Chief going home with Kyle, November 2018

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

Chief Entryway

Psychedelic Chief Retrieves a Pheasant by Sierra Furtwangler

End of 2020 Hunting Update

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

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

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Northeast Nebraska mixed bag in November

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

Sandhills Muley 2020

Charles’s 2020 Nebraska Sandhills Mule Deer

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

Tower Shoot

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

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

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The bird gang with Ruth and Obi

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

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

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

Home Life

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

The dogs and Charity Upchurch

Charity with Fire, Ruth and Obi

Obi Ruth and Fire

Obi, Ruth and Fire

Fire and Ruth

Fire and Ruth

Pupdates

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

Bluestem TracHer 2020

Bluestem TracHer SH, NA III

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

Han K Litter

Bluestem Han

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

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

Gun Dogs Don’t Quarantine

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

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

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

Training

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

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

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

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Obi on the run at six months

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

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

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

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

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Charles shoots the bird

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Ruth brings back the retrieve of the pigeon

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Charles walking in on the bird while Ruth is pointing

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Ruth with another retrieve

Allie

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

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

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

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Two sisters: Allie and Ruth

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Allie after a full spring grooming

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

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

Other news

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

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Charles and a nice tom turkey

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and healthy.

Fire’s Results

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I had Fire x-rayed a week ago today and there were no puppies.  Although we were disappointed, with the social distancing and travel guidelines in place currently this is the best year for it to happen.  It is easy to second guess myself about timing and wonder what went wrong. I will probably start using progesterone testing in some instances to target ovulation better.  I’ve had big litters on one accidental tie, then to have no puppies with two ties…I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this year.  Especially where I have future owners traveling from high infection areas and one who is even under voluntary quarantine due to being at an exposure site.  Omaha itself is a bit of a hotspot and we have none of our tourist attractions open or restaurants available for dine-in.

So we just keep training and hunting and testing and planning for 2021 litters.

I am also homeschooling my two boys right now and this week I am on my own designing curriculum.  Next week we should have some assistance from the district, but it will still be a lot of me.  I hope to get on the website and fix my old entries so people aren’t confused about puppies, but it will take some time.

Everyone stay safe and healthy.

Belated Valentine’s Day Greetings!

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As a native of Valentine, Nebraska I feel guilty for wishing you a belated Happy Valentine’s Day!  I was room parent for my son’s 5th grade class and I sent out Valentines instead of Christmas cards this year, so it was a busy week.

About two weeks ago my grandmother passed away, so saying goodbye to my last living grandparent has also taken time away from the business of dogs.  This picture was taken after a pheasant hunt in Cherry County, Nebraska near a former town called Simeon in 1940.  My grandmother Hope is second from the left with the big smile, my great-grandmother Gertrude is on the far right.

1940 Pheasant Hunt Simeon

1940 Cherry County Pheasant Hunt

Fire’s Pregnancy

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Four Weeks Pregnant

Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I at four weeks gestation

Right at four weeks there is still not much to see of the pregnancy, but you can just start to tell that they are getting bigger.  Fire is normally pretty thin, but at this point she is fatter than Ruth who naturally carries more weight, so I’m feeling confident that the breeding “took”.  I expect puppies around the 10th of March.

Obi Update

Wyo Oakley Pedigree_NEW

Wyo Quigley Pedigree_NEW

These are Obi’s dam and sire pedigrees with notes on them as to why I picked this puppy.  When I reference Sam, BB and Mae, those are some of my foundation dogs.  Some places I wrote the breeder’s name or the kennel name if it isn’t in the dog’s name.  It was an accidental litter, so the dam is young.  These are hunting dogs with no titles or health clearances.  I wanted to take a gamble on these pedigrees since I have lots of money on two male puppies whose parents had all of the bling who never panned out.  My first two Griffons were out of the same situation and were fantastic hunters who put out litters of healthy hunting pups.

I’m going to write something here about health clearances that isn’t a popular opinion.  Health clearances only cover that one dog.  The dog’s siblings could be expressing genetic health problems that you’d never know about.  It isn’t testing the dog’s genetic background, it is just testing the health of that one dog.  Additionally, there isn’t a health test to clear a dog for things like muscular tears, bitches who don’t lactate or can’t birth naturally, and bad temperaments.  So much really relies on the quality of the breeder and pedigree.  I know that my dogs are healthy because we hunt the heck out of them and they thrive.  If they had a heart or thyroid issue, it would show itself on its own and I’d stop breeding the dog immediately.  Anyway, that is my soapbox about the cult of health testing.  If the dog is a housepet who breeds, I can see how it would help sell puppies and seem very important.  But I don’t think it is the be all and end all of of evaluating dogs.

Obi is thirteen weeks old, he’s had his second round of shots, weighs about 22 lbs. and is being a typically slow Griff in housebreaking.  We are about 75% there, but we average about one accident per day.  He knows how to fetch, comes to his name, has done well with loud noise conditioning, is a total gentleman in the crate (not one accident ever!), uses his nose, points things he find interesting and is just a fun, spoiled Griff puppy!!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy

Obi in the pack pile

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (2)

It took about two weeks for Fire to accept Obi

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Obi brought me a leaf

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (4)

How Obi enjoys our nightly anime watching with our boys

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (5)

Caleb with Obi hiking in the woods behing our house

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Crate

Obi learned the command “box up” from the big girls

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Pointing Wing

The silly old wing on a string is good for a sight point

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A cedar waxwing ran into our living room window and died, so it became a training dummy

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Obi’s first walk at our dog training wildlife management area

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Caleb, Charles and the dogs

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Obi falls behind at the end of the long walk like a normal little pup

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Obi eyeballs a bouncing tennis ball.

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Obi fetching the tennis ball.

I am really excited to watch this pup develop and turn out as a great hunting dog and eventually once he proves himself, stud for our program.

End of hunting season

Charles made it out a couple of more times after wild birds and he saw some, but none came home with him and the dogs.  We did go out on January 20th for another European tower shoot with Ruth.  It was in the single digits, so I’m dressed up in my walking sleeping bag.

Charity Upchurch and Ruth Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charity in her insulated camo with Ruth

Charles Upchurch European Tower Shoot

Charles bundled up to gun

Ruth Retrieve Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Ruth retrieving a hen pheasant (legal at a preserve) that Charles shot.

It’s time for me to move on to returning emails and making phone calls to my prospective owners.  We are in the last throes of winter and soon spring and puppies will be here.  Hang in there and stay warm everyone!

 

Breeding Season: here with the new year!

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Please feel free to e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on the contact list in the event that Fire has more puppies than I have taken reservations.  I currently have ten reservations for our Spring 2020 litter, but have had litter sizes up to 13-14 puppies in the past, so there may be an opportunity to get a pup from us this spring.

Charles Upchurch and Fire

Charles and Fire in Southwest Nebraska a couple of weeks ago.  Photo by Aaron Wimmer

One of my Christmas presents this year is that Fire’s heat cycle started on Christmas Day, so now it is countdown to ovulation and breeding sometime after the new year.  Luckily, Chief is just a twenty minute drive down the road so I can continue avoiding the reproduction vet and progesterone testing another year and just let my stud and dam tell me when it is time to get this done.  That has puppies being whelped in March and going home in May, just as I had wished for!  Send us some positive breeding vibes, I just got word that a top female in the breed reabsorbed her litter halfway through gestation and is very ill.  This process is not without risks and I feel incredibly lucky that everything has gone smoothly over the last ten years of breeding here.

Kyle and Chief

Kyle and Chief hanging out

A New Home for Ally

My second Griffmas miracle was one of Ruth’s sisters down in Oklahoma easily finding a new home.  I had originally thought to take her back, but there is just too much craziness around here as it is for me to take the time to retrain a dog right now.  Prior to putting it out to the general public, I asked my friends Jimmy and Sandi if they knew anyone who would want her.  They have Zoey, which is from my “E” litter in the way back, which was my last litter with Sam and Sue.  Come to find out, they had been thinking of adding to the dog family.  Ally went home with them yesterday, what a blessing for us all!  I can’t thank Jimmy and Sandi enough for helping me with this.  I want to make sure that my pups are all in happy homes throughout their lives and if anyone ever needs to re-home one of them due to life situation changes, I am here to help with the process.

Ally

Ally headed to her new home.  Photo by Jimmy Clark.

Southwest Nebraska Pheasant and Quail

Charles and Fire had a great trip to Southwest Nebraska with private land access at the beginning of December.  They had plenty of success, but when you send a guy out with his buddies on a hunting trip, the photography is pretty scarce.  The first day that he was out, I got a text at the end of the day saying that he’d had success and of course I asked for a photo.  This is what I got:

Cleaning Birds

Standing around the dumpster cleaning birds

That is never going to make it into Grey’s Sporting Journal, but I guess it is true to life.  At least a few days later he tried to clean the dumpster photo a bit (but still not up to artistic standards):

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A lineup of roosters and quail on the dumpster

Finally someone must have heard my silent internal screams of angst and got a halfway decent action photo.

Charles Upchurch and Fire Action

Charles and Fire looking for birds.  Photo by Aaron Wimmer.

Fun was had by all, he got to eat bierocs (homemade runzas) and sauerkraut pizza (I guess it is good), get some good dog work in and spend time with some downhome rural Nebraskans.

The story about Fire from this trip that I hear over and over again is that there was one instance where she was retrieving a quail and totally locked solid on point on a hen pheasant.  It is always cool to see the instincts kick in like that.

European Tower Shoot

When you see the influenza maps of the US and Nebraska is in red, you had better believe it.  I have gotten sick more times this year than I have in a decade.  Guess we’ll be getting flu shots next year.  I was totally sick at the European Tower Shoot, but I went and handled Ruth anyway.  It was cool to watch her do 15 retrieves in a day.  It was our first time doing one and the way they work is that there are stations in a circle, sort of like a skeet range.  Except the circle is a few acres and is filled in with cedar trees in the middle so that people don’t shoot each other.  The birds are released from a high tower in the middle so that they fly over the trees and you shoot them.  Don’t tell PETA.  There were probably 75 pen raised birds who gave their lives for the sport that day.  It was a noble cause.

Charity Upchurch and Ruth European Shoot

Charity and Ruth in the shooting station

Charles Upchurch European Shoot

Charles in his European-style garb

Black Pheasant and Ruth

Ruth retrieving a black pheasant

Charity Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

The traditional ringneck rooster retrieved by Ruth

That photo of Ruth and the ringneck is probably one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken in awhile.  I like the colors of the pheasant and the one eye of the dog.

Change of Seasons

I have some sad news to report.  Charles also took Zoro on the trip to Southwest Nebraska and it did not go well for him.  He collapsed in the field and we had to say goodbye.  We are not sure if it was an environmental poison or congenital defect, but something attacked his liver according to the tests.  It was the hardest on little Caleb, who loved Zoro very much.  We had high hopes for him and he leaves a hole in our breeding program.  Rest in Peace, Zoro.

RIP Stonyridge Zoro

Caleb and Zoro

Yet hope springs eternal and a new breeder has a male pup ready for us in a couple of weeks.  As of today, I want to register him as “Kenobi My Only Hope” and have the call name “Obi”, but we’ll see.  We want Caleb to name him.

The pedigree could not complement our breeding program any better.  He is the great-great grandson of “Mae” AKC/NAVHDA Little Lady Aspen, who is the mother of two senior hunters from our kennel.  The pup is also the grandson of a sibling of our foundation stud Sam’s sire.  He is also related to our foundation bitches Sue and BB.  I’ll post the pedigrees and show everything off in detail once he is in our anxious hands!

This will be our third attempt in the last five years at securing an outside stud dog.  We will have close to $10,000 wrapped up in having a stud of our own when all is said and done.  So when people wonder where the puppy money goes…yeah, it goes fast.  But we are passionate about continuing to improve this breed.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Pup

In the words of Princess Leia, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!”

Happy New Year everyone, and new decade depending on who you talk to.  Let’s make it a great one for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed.  In the last few years, we’ve become the second most registered dog in NAVHDA behind the German Shorthaired Pointer.  Make these quality dogs, not just quantity.

 

Busy with Big Game

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Pheasant season here in Nebraska has been off to a slow start for us, with many of our usual haunts still underwater.  Charles has put an antelope and a deer in the freezer and he’s on the road again in search of another trophy mule deer buck in the Sandhills.

I have an idea of a few spots that I want to hit that aren’t underwater over the next few weeks, but I’m primarily focused on two boys in winter sports: one wrestles and the other one just started swim team. So the dogs and I spend an hour at the dog park a few days a week.  Here are some random fun shots of them (if you click on them, you can make them bigger).  It is good to get them out and socialized with other dogs and people.

I’ve had some questions asked by folks on the list for pups next year of when Fire is expected to come into season.  The earliest is around Christmas but it can be as late as Valentine’s Day.  So I’d say pups would be whelped between February and April and go home between April and June.  But those are all just guesses and we’ll have to wait for Mother Nature to tell me what is up.  I will let everyone know as soon as I know, I have yet to miss a breeding in the ten years that I’ve been doing this, so I’m feeling confident in my abilities to get this done.

We had our second female pup get an advanced hunting title recently (Bluestem Blooming Sunflower SH was our first female AKC Senior Hunter pup a few years back).  Bluestem TracHer out of our 2012 “C” Litter between Sam and Mae earned her AKC Senior Hunter over the fall.  Congratulations to Susan and Tom up in North Dakota for all of your hard work over the years to make this happen!

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Bluestem TracHer SH

That’s all for now, hopefully we’ll get you some bird photos before Thanksgiving!

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!

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