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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

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It took about two weeks for Fire to accept Obi

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Obi brought me a leaf

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How Obi enjoys our nightly anime watching with our boys

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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!

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.

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