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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

 

P Litter at 5 Weeks Old

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I apologize that I haven’t had a chance to yet respond to everyone who has emailed asking if these pups are all spoken for, but yes, they all have homes at this time!  Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on the contact list in the event someone backs out at the last minute.  We won’t be breeding again until Spring 2020 (more on that at another time).

The puppies have been getting many new experiences: including transitioning to kibble, learning about the crate, coming in the house and playing with toys.  I did get their kennel set up so that they can move in and out of the box with steps, so now they are able to go out of the box to go potty.  I do let them outside every few hours so many of them are holding it until then and doing it outdoors.

Here is the video for the week, the first time they were outdoors: https://youtu.be/2aXOT2APiMw

I have been so focused on getting individual photos of the pups that I haven’t had time to really do too many candids.  Here are a few.

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Crate time

Puppy Attack

Have I told you that Caleb likes puppies?

Life of a Mom

Oh the life of a mom…

Now for some individual photos.  Most of the posed photos are terrible, but I need them for my record keeping, showing the owners the pups as best I can, and for the veterinarian when we do microchipping.  With only three boys and having them all being very different and going to totally different parts of the country, it was easy to decide who goes where and that has already been done.

I have to tell you that aside from coats, the girls are all totally the same to me.  They are all outgoing and mischievious, the way puppies should be.  It is going to be tough to decide who goes where over the next week and a half or so.  But I have to decide by the time they get their microchips.  Sometimes it works out where all of the new owners just happen to have different favorites, maybe that is how it will work this time.

Males

Paul – outdoor candid

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Paul face

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Paul side

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Paul back

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Peter – outdoor candid

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Peter face

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Peter side

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Peter back

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Philip – outdoor candid

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Philip face

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Philip side

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Philip back

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Females

Phila Mae – outdoor candid (purple collar)

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Phila Mae face

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Phila Mae side

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Phila Mae back

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Peggy – outdoor candid (Orange collar)

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Peggy face

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Peggy side

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Peggy back

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Penelope – outdoor candid (Teal collar)

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Penelope face

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Penelope side

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Penelope back

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Patience – outdoor candid (Pink collar)

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Patience face

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Patience side

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Patience back

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Pamela – outdoor candid (Hot pink collar)

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Pamela face

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Pamela side

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Pamela back

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I also have photos of Zoro training for his Natural Ability test, but I need to cut it short today.  The sale of our previous home closes tomorrow and there always seems to be loose ends to tie up.  I am working through contacting the new owners of these pups and starting to get things finalized, so  if you are getting one of these pups and have not heard from me individually yet, expect to hear from me in the next week or so.

P Litter at Three Weeks Old

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The pups are all getting big, have their eyes wide open and are waddling around.  They just started on canned puppy food yesterday.  Another week or so and they’ll want to start spending time outside, right now they stay in their box with the garage door open for sunshine, fresh air and outside sounds and smells.

Here is this week’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV4g9fQYaco

I’ve also started banging tins when I’m around to get them used to loud noises, which is part of how I start my process of gun exposure.  The pups will be too young to finish the whole process, the rest is left up to the owners.  I wrote an article about my puppy bird and gun exposure process a few years back and titled it “Early Exposure for the Gun Dog Puppy” and it is reprinted here: https://bluestemkennels.com/2016/08/08/early-exposure-for-the-gun-dog-puppy/

They will be up and moving next week, as well as eating lots of soft food, so come back and check them out then.  I hope everyone is enjoying the spring sunshine as much as we are.

P Litter Two Weeks Old

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It has been quite a week for the residents of Bellevue, Nebraska and the entire state of Nebraska for that matter.  By now you’ve seen it on the news I’m sure. The most shocking for us is that the neighborhood that we moved out of 16 years ago is under water.  Even today, the mobile homes are up to their windows with water.  The great thing is that we’ve all rallied together to take care of those impacted by the flood.  I wish that I had more to give for the relief effort, but 15% of the deposit money from this litter of pups went to food for those impacted by the flood here in Bellevue (the rest is needed for dog food and vet bills to keep these guys going).  So many people are coming together volunteering their time and making donations.  The Bellevue church community is running its own shelter and supply distribution center, ran entirely by local donations.  The American Red Cross is also operating a shelter and supply distribution center.  If you wish to donate to flood relief efforts in our area, please give to the American Red Cross https://www.redcross.org/local/nebraska/about-us/news-and-events/news/nebraska-flooding.html

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Bluestem Kennels Flood Relief Food Donations to the Bellevue Christian Center

All of the new owners have been anxiously awaiting new phots and video now that the puppies have their eyes open and are much more mobile.  At this point, I like to put them in a new environment for 5 minutes or so every day or every other day to get them used to the idea of there being a world outside of their box.  But their favorite place is still in their box and it will be for another couple of weeks yet.  I will start spoonfeeding them mush over the next week so that we can transition to the pan

Here are the photos of the individual puppies.  They are for my record keeping and identification going forward as much as they are for anything else.  These are just names that I use as placeholders to post photos online.  I do not actually call them by these names.  In this case, I had enough “P” female names in my family to give the whole litter names.  Usually it is family and friends’ names or characters from literature.  Due to time constraints, I only do individual photos a few times.

Here is this weeks video, from their adventure on the living room floor to back in their box. https://youtu.be/I1NJSQSJOGc

Females

Phila Mae Face

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Phila Mae Back

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Peggy Face

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Peggy Back

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Penelope Face

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Penelope Back

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Patience Face

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Patience Back

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Pamela Face

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Pamela Back

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Males

Paul Face

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Paul Back

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Peter Face

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Peter Back

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Philip Face

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Philip Back

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I hope you all enjoyed those sweet faces, I know that I did!  Take care until next week and keep Nebraska in your thoughts and prayers.

P is for Puppies and Procrastination

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Please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like more information on this upcoming litter. 

I’ve been in denial about this for quite some time and only finally faced it two or three weeks ago when it was no longer able to be ignored.  The “P” Litter of 2019 cometh.  Some kennels have trouble with breedings not taking, I have trouble with taking a year off.

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Pregnant Ruth napping in the sun today

We were in the middle of moving at the beginning of January when my 14 year-old son Conrad and I had to take some heavy items from the old house to the new (to us) one.  We left ten year-old Caleb at home, with Zoro in his crate and the girls in the yard.  We were gone for an hour at the most.  When I got home and saw three dogs out back and I didn’t see Ruth and Zoro in a tie, I thought maybe that Caleb had just let Zoro out and nothing had happened yet.  Wrong.

Ruth and Zoro

Zoro and Ruth sunbathing about a month ago

So here we are, puppies to be whelped any day.  With this being my SIXTEENTH litter in nine years, I think that I have this down and can handle it.  Get ready for some new puppy photos in the next week or so.

End of Hunting Season

Charles was able to get out for sharptailed grouse, pheasant and quail, all on public land right here in Nebraska this year.  Hunting season came and went and unfortunately I never made it out.  The hearing in my right ear is really starting to go and I’m not sure if I’m just going to suck it up and deal with it, wear an ear plug just in my right ear or slow down with hunting for awhile.  Charles is already deaf and loves to get out and chase birds, so I never have to worry about the dogs getting out.  I’ve done the Nebraska Grand Slam in my hunting career and I’m really wanting to get the out-of-state trips in once the kids are all grown.  I’m just going to keep getting in better shape and praying about it.

Zoro Quail 2019

Charles and Zoro with some Southeast Nebraska quail, January 2019

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Zoro in the snow a week ago

The dogs and the move

It has been quite an adjustment going from just living with the one youngest dog in the house with the older ones spending their most of their time outside kenneled to having three indoor dogs.  Of course, the dogs think that it is great being full time housepets.  I enjoy the company while I work from home during the day and not having the hassle of outdoor chores.

What is most suprising is how we’ve adjusted to not having a fenced yard.  Luckily it is a pretty remote neighborhood with no busy streets nearby, everyone has dogs so there are no complaining neighbors and the 3/4 of an acre is distributed equally around the house, so it is sort of a dog track.  We can walk on the sidewalk around the house and the dogs can range out and stretch their legs in the yard.  Even though we border a 2000 acre forest, the neighborhood full of dogs keeps the deer and raccoons pushed back so that the Griffs don’t seem to want to go out and chase.

The Winter of our discontent

This has been a very snowy and cold winter for many of us to say the least.  A record snowfall year in the Omaha metro area with plenty of snow days for the kids and teachers to enjoy.  Not sure what it is going to do to bird numbers across the plains, but we’ll find out in the fall.

My son just called that he is ill at school so it is time to say goodbye for now.  Until puppies!

Hunting Season Update

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Hunting Season Update

Charles has been having a great fall hunting with the dogs. It is tough to get motivated to blog about hunting when someone else is doing it and you have to sit out. I’m still working through some health issues that I need to get cleared in order to return to the field, but I’m hoping that I can take in a few late season outings after the first of the year.

He made it out to the Nebraska Sandhills for duck opener in October, where Chief and Fire saw lots of action.

Fire duck 2018

Fire with a limit of ducks

Chief duck 2018

Chief with a nice haul of ducks

Ruth was able to get some quail under her belt with Charles and Matt down here in southeast Nebraska.

Ruth quail 2018

Ruth is not being photogenic with the quail taken with Matt and Charles

He and the dogs had a great time with some landowner friends out in the south central part of Nebraska chasing wild pheasants. For whatever reason, the dogs didn’t end up in the photo, but our dogs were the ones retrieving these birds with Charles handling. The dogs must not have been too annoying because they were all invited back for next season.

Charles Neb Pheas 2018

Goodbye, North Dakota. You may have noticed that there was no pheasant hunting trip to North Dakota this year after almost a decade of getting up there every year. Between the droughts up there and habitat loss due to changes in farming practices, it just doesn’t make sense for us to buy the extra licenses and make the trip up there anymore. Nebraska has made a recovery to a point that although it might not be at levels seen in the 1990’s for pheasant in our area, there are some great quail numbers here and the pheasants are just a bit west.

 

Training Plans

Up this spring, we have Stonyridge Zoro going for his NAVHDA Natural Ability Test. He’s had some wild bird exposure earlier in the season and did well, but I want to get him out on some roosters and quail once I’m back in the field. It seems like forever to warm up enough in order to work on the water retrieve and we’re a long ways off from that right now. I should get some training pictures of him now that he is full grown. He is the sleeker type of Griff with the shorter, flat coat that is ticked, with short fur on the top of the head and ears, but with a beard and eyebrows. He is right around 50 lbs and well muscled. I really like that he is not too tall or heavy, which is what we struggle with in males of the breed out here.

Since Fire will be off from having a litter, we are going to work with her on getting ready for the NAVHDA Utility Test. It is hard to believe that she will be five in February, which is the perfect age for a Griffon to train for the test. They are pretty slow to mature, so all of the old-timers have told me to wait until this age to UT. She is a great natural hunter. This will be our third owner trained/handled NAVHDA UT dog.

Ruth is right in the middle. She’s done her NAVHDA Natural Ability Test. Like her mother, Fire, she got the maximum score of 112 and a Prize I. She needs so much work with middle level field work such as a staunch “whoa” in any and all situations, backing/not stealing another dog’s point, being polite when another dog retrieves/not trying to steal the bird, heel, basically everything that makes a dog a joy to work with in the hunting field and not training as you hunt wild birds.

Training as you hunt wild birds, although it gets the job done and is effective, can really ruin what could be a nice hunt. Not doing yard work and not working with planted birds in field training scenarios in the off-season just leads to screw ups by the dog and handler in the wild bird field and fewer birds in the bag. As much as I love the Nebraska Sandhills, I have spent countless hours trudging up and down dunes for another sharptailed grouse. Been there, done that. LOTS. If we want to branch out in our quarry, doing high altitude hunts such as white ptarmigan and Himalayan snowcock, foothills birds like the California quail, chukar, or dusky grouse, woodland hunts for woodcock and ruffed grouse, the desert quail species in the Southwest US…so on and so on. Those are once-in-a-lifetime trips. On a sage grouse or Himalayan Snowcock, you might only get one chance at a shot. It’s one thing if you miss because you’re a crappy shot (that’s me). But bad dog work makes it awful. As our friend and trainer Leo “Black Shockey” Boman says “train, don’t complain”.

And speaking of training, it isn’t just the dogs who need work. Those mountain hunts require some serious stamina, so it’s time for the humans to hit the trails or the pool or whatever it takes to get in shape to get ready.

Chief moves on

Due to the upcoming move, we have sold Chief as a started stud dog on contract. He was sold to a previous puppy owner who was looking for another dog here in town. We still have rights to breed with him should we choose to do so in the future. I am not sure if Kyle is interested in having him as an active stud to service females, but it is something for him to consider. If you are interested in using him as a stud on your female and live near Omaha, let me know and I can pass your contact information on to Kyle.

Chief and Kyle

Chief and Kyle head for his new home

What’s going on in the breed?

The AWPGA had their president step down and there are some new regional representatives, as well as new people working on their magazine the Griffonnier, they have some regional specialty shows coming up and are working on 2019 Nationals in Idaho. Take a look at their Facebook page or website if you’d like to get involved, we need new enthusiasm in the club. So many people have been very active long-term and it leads to open positions to volunteer. After four years of the magazine, I’ve stepped away from being active in the club for awhile, but love to keep up with everyone’s successes in the field and ring. It is a great way to meet people who are as equally passionate about these dogs as we are.

Across the various Facebook groups, we have several people who are attempting to be breed wardens of sorts. I appreciate their efforts, it is a huge cross to bear. The explosion of the breed through advertisers using them in commercials, our breed’s success in major televised dog shows the last few years, and just word-of-mouth has created a crazy demand for puppies and information about the breed. I stay out of the Facebook conversations as much as possible, it is just too overwhelming at this point to try to keep up. I really just need to get with some knowledgable folks and write a book at some point. But that is not today or anytime soon.

What should you look for in a breeder?

Don’t look for quick, flashy responses or lots of litters. We all have families and other careers. You will most likely wait a long time to hear back from them and wait even longer to get a puppy. Not always, sometimes buyers fall through and last minute puppies come up from great breeders. At a minimum, make sure that the parents have hip scans and are hunt tested (at a minimum AKC JH or NAVHDA NA). If you are wanting a solid hunter, lots of wild bird hunting photos too, not just pictures from one hunt.

Not all breeders give regular photo and video updates of the litter as they grow, so don’t necessarily expect a weekly update like I do. Not a lot of breeders will meet you or ship the puppies air cargo, it just varies (like I’ll do air cargo, but can’t meet, you have to come to my house).

Ask other breeders about them, good breeders are friends with one another. Most Griff breeders are odd, I’ll admit it. Having a successful breedings, getting the females through pregnancy, whelping litters (and all of the nasty mess that entails with stillborns and the ones who fade away in a few days), finding quality homes, trying to maintain some semblance of contact with owners over time, maintaining records, keeping up on research in health and genetics, dealing with having to retire dogs that we love, losing some dogs to accidents and old age, training, training, training, training, handling the dogs daily, various clubs and tests and all of the work that goes in to keeping those running, trying to educate the public about our breed and how it should be raised. It’s nuts. We are all nuts. So be prepared for some weird. We’re not some major corporation putting out a seamless, well-packaged product. We’re a bunch of people trying to keep a dog breed going and doing our best at it.

Thank you to all of my fellow crazy Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breeders for being out there. When I first started nine years ago, there weren’t that many of us. All across the country new people have stepped up to take on this daunting task of keeping this breed going in a QUALITY way. Not just churning out puppies to meet the demand. You can’t have a huge number of dogs of this breed and do them any sort of justice, they are very demanding of your attention and time. When this breed had a depression in the 1980’s, there was a breeder who had 40 of these dogs in a kennel. I can’t even imagine. I really think that the most one person could have and handle it is six. They aren’t good kennel dogs at all, they prefer indoor/outdoor with most of it being indoor. So if you see someone with ten or twenty of these dogs, I would seriously question it unless they were absolutely full-time dog people (and I know that there are a few good ones out there who have this number, so I don’t want to insult anyone, just do your research).

Make sure that the breeder asks you as many or more questions as you ask them.

Merry Christmas – Happy Hanukkah – Merry Kwanzaa

Blessed Winter Solstice – Festive Festivus – Happy New Year

Whatever the seasonal observance you observe this time of year, enjoy it. If you have a Griff, enjoy it with your Griff. You can even dress them up with hats and outfits if that tickles your fancy. I am not one of those types. But if you are, have fun with it. Peace.

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