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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.

Q Litter Seven Weeks

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This litter is all microchipped with their new owners’ information and they start to go home on their eight week birthday on Sunday.  Our next litter will be in Spring of 2022 between Wyo Plainsman Kenobi, NA I “Obi” and Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I “Ruth”.  We keep going back and forth on a final repeat breeding of Fire and Chief next year and have not yet made a final decision.  Once these puppies are all in their homes I will start responding to my backlog of new interest emails.  If you want to join the queue, shoot me an email at bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

I’ve made sure that the puppies all been over by the pigeon coop and have had a bird fly up near them so they get used to that wing flapping sound and are not startled by it.  We’ve all had a couple of turns on the leash.  They’ve spent time in the crate.  They run around the yard like wild animals and run out into the woods so far that I’m afraid a coyote will eat them.  They have their shots, microchips and vet checks.  The papers from the AKC and NAVHDA are here.  They are ready for their own people.

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Queen (female) is going to Oklahoma as the family’s second Bluestem pup

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Quartz (male) is going to Colorado

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Quentin (male)  is going to Michigan as the family’s second Bluestem pup

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Qbert (male) is going to Iowa

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Quince (male) is going to North Dakota as the family’s second Bluestem pup

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Quest (female) is going to Ohio as the family’s second Bluestem pup

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Quetzal (male) is going to Kansas

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Qiana (female) is going to Central Nebraska

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Quarry (female) is going to become AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Sally Forth “Sally” and stay with us.

Here is the video that I took this week: Q Litter Seven Weeks Old

I really need to run and do puppy chores, but for now I’m just going to post the photo of Charles and Wyo Plainsman Kenobi, NA I “Obi” and their sweep of the Walking Derby at the inaugural AWPGA AKC Walking Field Trial, winning first in both the Amateur and Open Divisions!  We are so proud and thankful that the club was able to pull off such an event.  Biggest thanks to Tom and Kristen Mathis for their work.  Also thank you to our Griffon friends for showing up, I really wish that I could have been there and thank you for all of the messages of being missed.

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Charles and Wyo Plainsman Kenobi, NA I “Obi” First Place ribbons in both the Amateur and Open Divisions of the AWPGA AKC Walking Field Trial

 

 

 

Q Litter at Six Weeks Old

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All of these puppies are spoken for, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are interested in our Spring 2022 litters. I am working with a considerable backlog of emails right now but I am receiving them and will be responding and placing you on our contact list for the future when we are ready to do interviews and take deposits for 2022. Due to the demands of home and family, it is pretty much impossible for me to manage raising a litter and communicating with those new owners, while trying to work with interest on future litters. Sorry.

These puppies are ready for action. We are going out in the yard around three times a day and if it is raining I have the garage picked up enough for them to run around. This is a big week for the puppies since they are going to be de-wormed for the first time, also introduced to the pigeon coop and a dead quail. It is always fun. Oh and I want to get them started on crate conditioning. It is not full-on crate training, but just the opportunity to spend time in a crate so that it isn’t a totally unfamiliar experience. They already prefer to potty outside, so hopefully having the new owners housebreak them once they are in their new homes won’t be awful, although Griffs are notoriously long to housebreak.

They are weaned off of canned food and only eating puppy kibble and drinking from the water dish. They do still get to see mom at night. They are all conditioned to the weather and are no longer receiving supplemental heat to their living quarters.

I will be in touch with all of the new owners this week and picks will be finalized by this weekend since they get their microchips a week from today. Also make sure to have your pickup plans finalized so that I can have you on my calendar.

Okay, time for photos! I took these this morning in the yard, they are pretty random and I’m just going to post them in the order that I took them.

Queen
Quest and Quentin
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Quentin, Quartz, Quetzal and Quest
Quartz, Quince, Qiana, Quentin
Qiana and Quentin
Quetzal
Quetzal
Qbert
Qbert
Quest and Queen
Quetzal
Quartz
Qbert and Quincee
Quentin and Quince
Quest
Quetzal
Quest and Quetzal
Quest with rop, Queen and Quartz in the background

WordPress (what I design this blog with) just did an update and changed some things on me, so I just had one of those times when you do something, then click the wrong button and all of your work disappears so that you have to do it all over again. So putting those photos in took way longer than I had planned!

Here’s this week’s video which was taken yesterday evening between rainstorms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SszbnY3D_W4&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

Time to walk some dogs! Hopefully everyone out in Colorado and Wyoming is safe and digging out from the big storm. We just have had lots of rain these last couple of days, it should stay cool throughout the week and be nice over the weekend. It is actually easier to keep pups healthy when it is cool outside since you aren’t fighting all sorts of weird dirt fungi, bacteria and bugs. So the cool weather can just stay until these pups go home in a couple of weeks!

Q Litter at Five Weeks

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Five week old puppies keep you moving!  This litter is spoken for, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com regarding our Spring 2022 planned litters.  My responses are slow right now with everything going on and I keep being hopeful that I can get around to responding to emails, but right now my focus is on raising these puppies and caring for my family.  If email responses have to wait until April then so be it.

But I’m here writing to you all now and that’s what counts.  Just to make sure that I got pictures of every single puppy, I pulled them out individually yesterday and played with them on the front lawn.  I am really going to take my time on making picks with this litter, they are really all fantastic and I want to make sure that I talk to all of the new owners again and get it all right.  They get their microchips on Monday, March 22nd so final decisions all have to be made by then.

Here is what I ask that the new owners have in mind when we talk next week: 1) have your pickup plans pretty firm so that I have it on my calendar 2) think of the personality of the pup that you are looking for: do you want an alpha dog or somewhere in the middle?  Coat length?  Size for your purpose?  All of them are really lovely and we’re having just a terrible time even figuring out which female we want to keep.  Regardless of which puppy you get, you will be happy!

Okay here are the pics.  They are simply in the order that they were photographed the first time at the age of three weeks, no reason for the order other than the random selection that I did on that day.

Males

Quartz

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Quentin

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Quince

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Quetzal

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Qbert

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Females

Queen

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Quest

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Qiana

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Quarry

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Wow, those are some cute photos!  They were pretty nervous.  They would run around for a couple of minutes, then come up to me for a cuddle and pets, then I’d put them back down and let them run around for a few more minutes.  When you see where they are sniffing and searching around, they are looking for their litter or their mom.  They are still very focused on wanting that security of being together.

Here is the video that we took in the backyard yesterday afternoon, pretty unscripted and random: Q Litter at Five Weeks Video

It is really getting to be nice weather here and I’m looking forward to when the puppies start to let themselves out which will be any day now.  Right now when I open the gate, they still pretty much want to stay in their kennel but that will change soon.  I did put collars on them a few days ago, those will stay with me when they go home.  Some of those camo collars on the boys are 10 years old!  Those are the small puppy collars, they will be ready for their new owners to bring medium puppy collars when they go home in three weeks.

We are trying to transition from soft canned food to puppy hard kibble, but they still really like canned food so they get it once or twice a day.  They have access to kibble at all times.  Mom generally goes out to see them once or twice a day and spends the night with them.  With the limited nursing, they do drink from the water bowl.  I will start our deworming regimen over the weekend, then next week is when I’ll defrost a dead quail to let them have a go at picking that up and also letting them inspect our live pigeon loft.  I’ve been doing noise exposure daily when they eat and they know to expect that and are not reacting.  We’ll mess around with a leash next week and practice being in a crate a little.  With it being spring break I’ll be able to have my helper Caleb assist me with all of this.

Of course right now sanitation is a continuous job and it will just get to be more so.  I’m able to get away with a once per day cleanup now but soon it will be twice a day and will continue that way until they go home.

Charles is preparing for the Griffon field trial in Illinois in a week and a half.  I am excited to see who shows up and how it all goes.

Time to sign off, enjoy the spring weather and good luck to everyone who is training, trialing, testing their big dogs or raising puppies right now.

Q Litter Three Weeks Old

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All of these pups are spoken for, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if interested in future litters (Spring 2022).

After hitting us with seven inches of snow yesterday, Mother Nature is going to give us a break with snow-melting temperatures for the foreseeable future!  The puppies are really upping their output, so it was time to get them into the garage with woodchips.  I was struggling with indoor bedding, as Fire would dig at any blankets that I would put underneath the whelping box and I was afraid that a pup would get wrapped into it and get hurt or die.  So we settled on a layer of cardboard on the bottom with brown builder’s paper on top.  Okay absorbancy and needed frequent changing.  But it was totally safe so that was the most important thing to me.  Wood chips just make a huge mess in the house, but are the best thing if they are in a space that they can mess up.  They are old enough to regulate their body temperature now and I’ll have a warming lamp and heater on them for a couple of more weeks.

Here is this week’s video, taken today: Q Litter Three Weeks

And the moment that we’ve all been waiting for, individual pictures and names!  I do not call the puppies these names, they are just silly names that I give them to identify their pictures.  They generally get called “puppy” or “puppies”.

Also because of the perspective, angle, lighting, etc. it is tough to really tell too much about them at this point.  We’ll have a better idea after 5 weeks.

Males

Quartz

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Quartz face, three weeks

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Quartz back, three weeks

Quentin

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Quentin face, three weeks

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Quentin back, three weeks

Quince

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Quince face, three weeks

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Quince back, three weeks

Quetzal

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Quetzal face, three weeks

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Quetzal back, three weeks

Qbert

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Qbert face, three weeks

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Qbert back, three weeks

Females

Queen

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Queen face, three weeks

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Queen back, three weeks

Quest

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Quest face, three weeks

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Quest back, three weeks

Qiana

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Qiana face, three weeks

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Qiana back, three weeks

Quarry

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Quarry face, three weeks

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Quarry back, three weeks

Okay, that is all nine puppies.  Between moving their living quarters, giving them their first mush meal and getting these photos taken I worked up a sweat today with dogs.  Here was what I fed the puppies, some Science Diet puppy food mixed with dog milk replacer.

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We’ll do this everyday until they get the hang of it.  Then we’ll get rid of the milk in a week or so, then after awhile we’ll add kibble, then the soft food goes away once they can handle the kibble.

Everyone enjoy the warm up and hope that you were all spared any power outage related horrors (we were all fine).  Until next week.

Q Litter Two Weeks Old

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Fire and the Q Litter at Two Weeks Old

With all of the snow clearing and bitter cold I am running behind on responding to new interest emails.  At this point I don’t know when I’ll be caught up, since we have another cold day off from school tomorrow and I have to keep up with the boys as well as the puppies.  All of the puppies have homes at this time, so if you do email it should be for interest in future litters.  Our email is bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

Today it is so bitter cold that we are subject to rolling blackouts, so I’m going to keep this short.  The puppies are growing.  They are starting to push themselves up on their legs and their eyes are opening.  Next week we will definitely be ready for individual pictures and names.  We’ve passed the critical two week mark and I can see that these guys and gals are all going to make it to long, happy lives.  It is also time to start them on mush soon to take some of the feeding pressure off of mom.

Here is the video that I took earlier today: Q Litter at Two Weeks Video

And of course a photo montage:

I am going to do my part to conserve energy (the power company even called us with a message asking us to do so) and sign off for now.  The weather is supposed to break on Saturday and we will be looking forward to more normal temperatures.  It will be -25 without wind chill tomorrow morning.  May the Lord keep us safe and warm in these trying times.

Q Litter One Week Old

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Fire and the “Q” Litter at One Week Old

At this time the litter is entirely spoken for so any new interest should be considered for next year’s litters.  Reach out to us at bluestemkennels@gmail.com.  Aside from emails and phone calls from the new puppy owners, I am using my blog entries as my primary method of communication with the general public for the time being.  I am hoping to be caught up on new interest emails by the end of this week.

Snow on top of snow on top of snow and subzero temperatures have been making life difficult in Bellevue, Nebraska lately.  We shovel, and it snows, we shovel again, and it snows again.  The last little skiff of snow is just sitting there unshoveled as we stare at it disgusted, knowing that it won’t get warm enough for it to melt and that we need to shovel again.

I know that I only have a couple of more weeks of Fire cleaning up after the puppies before I am going to be shoveling lots of poop.  The setup might have to be in the basement if it doesn’t get warm enough.  Right now the puppies are in the kitchen.  I decided that the Step 2 sandbox was getting too small and moved the big whelping box in the house with a blanket underneath.  I will need to change the blanket every day so that it doesn’t get stinky.

The puppies are starting to get loud sometimes at night.  Hopefully the bigger quarters will prevent some of that but it might just be like having a baby for awhile where I have to get up with them in the middle of the night.  I’m not working outside of the house a whole lot these days, just a couple of afternoons a week probably until they go home.

You can see their little legs starting to work a lot in the video:  Q Litter One Month Old

Here is the montage of photos that I took today.  You can click on the individual images to make them larger.  The lighting in the pictures makes their dark liver coloring look black.  They are not black!  And in the video you see a bare patch on Fire’s back.  She does not have any disease.  This is where I went to grab her hide to stand her up during whelping and a big patch of fur let go into my hand.  It is not uncommon for females to get weird bald patches right after birth, so she is fine.  But anyway, here are the pics.

The only time that Ruth and Obi get a chance to see the puppies is when Fire is outside.  Otherwise she will growl and snap at them to get back!  A mother’s instinct is to protect her young when they are this small.  Once they are up and moving around, Fire will allow the other dogs to have play time with them.

Once their eyes are open I will take individual pictures, identify their genders and give them their silly “Q” names.

Charles is signing Obi and Ruth up for an AKC Walking Field Trial in Missouri at the end of the month to get primed up for the big show in Illinois in March.  Speaking of which, I had better sign off and get those premiums in the mail to the Heart of America German Shorthaired Pointer Club.

Stay safe and warm in these Arctic times.  Until next week.

2021 Puppies on the way

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We have a litter due to be whelped the first week of February between Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I and Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II.  I currently have ten reservations with deposit and a backup contact list in the event that anyone decides not to take a pup this year.  Should you wish to be included on this contact list, please email bluestemkennels@gmail.com.  Our pups are placed in hunting homes only and need to be picked up at our residence at eight weeks of age, air cargo is no longer available.

I took Fire down to Hillcrest Animal Clinic in rural Lincoln, Nebraska a couple of weeks ago to have an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy.  They saw 12-15 embryos in there!  Whether they all turn into viable puppies is a mystery, it is not unusual to have a couple of stillborns or one or two that are born alive who fail to thrive in the first week or so.  But it was fun to find out two weeks earlier than usual that she was indeed pregnant and it is something that I plan on continuing in the future.

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Fire getting her ultrasound

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View of the pups

There is no mistaking now that Fire is pregnant!

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Fire eating at six weeks along

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Fire flopped out with a full belly

Late Season Hunting

Charles has been staying busy in the field while I’m trying to finish healing a torn up right foot from a year ago.  My goal for 2021 is to swim 100 miles (I’m on mile 5), so I’m hoping that by grouse season in September I’ll be ready to rock and roll again.  I don’t walk with a limp and really only start to have pain when I get up in the 10,000 step range, but that is a normal day in the bird field.  My oldest son is at the end of his high school career and the beginning of his life in the work force, so I stay plenty busy keeping him and his younger brother (who starts middle school in the fall) on track.  I figure that as long as I stay in shape that I have the rest of my life to bird hunt, but only have a few more years with kids in the house.

The neighbor Sam and Charles headed over to close out Iowa’s hunting season with some success.  Compared to southeastern Nebraska, which hasn’t had a decent pheasant population since the nineties, it is a paradise!  I’m going to have to think about getting an Iowa license in the future.  We think that it is just the difference in terrain and agricultural practices.  Southeast Nebraska is flat enough that you can farm it fenceline to fenceline with no scrubby borders like pheasants need.  Iowa has more hills and draws, so you either have terraces that have the lip on the end that you can’t hit with a tractor, or just naturally occuring draws and creeks with the thick cover.

Obi Elsa Iowa

Obi our Griff and the neighbor’s DD Elsa with an Iowa quarry

Last Friday, Charles and friends braved the blizzard in Eastern Nebraska to head out to the southcentral part of the state to see if there were any birds left from the last time.  There were plenty of cars in the ditch and going off into the ditch between Omaha and York, but things were clear sailing by the time that they got past there.

It was a long Saturday hunt walking nine miles for the people and far more for the dogs, but with plenty of success.  Obi is getting lots of good practice running down and retrieving poorly hit birds that are still alive.  No offense against the shooters, it is just that the pheasant is a tough bird and can take some pellets.  The dogs really have to work some thick tumbleweed cover and it is very dry out that way (a town almost burned down from a prairie fire last week and had to be evacuated at 4:30 AM).  I am really proud of their hard work on these wild birds in wild country.

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Obi, Ruth and the southcentral Nebraska birds

This old bird caught Charles’s eye and I thought that it looked like Gonzo from The Muppet Show.

The neighbor is trying to get his DD certified in fur, so we’ve been trying to live trap a raccoon, but ended up with an oppossum instead.  He was happy to play dead while Obi fetched him (the oppossum was not injured and lived to see another day).

Obi Possum

Obi and his oppossum

So I’m now on puppy watch and we’ll see if Charles takes these last couple of weekends of Nebraska bird season off (ha) or not.

It is easiest for me to keep my Facebook page up-to-date, so keep an eye on that for when the puppies start to arrive!  I’m expecting them sometime between January 30th and February 5th, but the Good Lord and Mother Nature will let me know when it is time.  Keep us in your good thoughts for a safe delivery.

October 2020 Hunting Recap

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For those of you looking for puppies, we are planning one litter in the Spring of 2021 between Chief and Fire.  I consider the reservation list full, but we may get a surpise with more puppies than reservations.  Feel free to shoot me an email at bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on the backup contact list.

In Memoriam

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon world recently lost two special breeders, Jan Resler of Potowotomi Kennel in Wisconsin and Philippe Roca of Des Vignes Rouges Kennel in Kentucky.

Jan was a strong woman with an intense passion for the breed.  She bred, trained, showed and hunted Griffs and excelled at all of it.  She and her dog Amstel won Best of Breed at the 2013 National Specialty and I captured this shot of her celebrating by drinking some wine from the trophy!  I thought that photo really represented her fun-loving spirit.  We shared many good times all over the country at Griffon events.  She is missed by many.

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Jan Resler celebrating Best of Breed

Philippe was our American breed ambassador to France and cannot be replaced.  When I was editor of the breed club magazine, he called me at least twice a month to talk about Griffons.  We worked intensely on a few of his articles together that really captured some important breed history from Europe.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to help clarify his vast knowledge of the breed.  A native of France, he felt most at home on his sheep farm in Kentucky.  He told me many tales of how he incorporated dog training into everyday farm life.  I promise that I will learn French when my kids graduate, Philippe.

A side note to this photo by Barbara Young, is that the dog in the photo is Owen des Dunes du Captelat, our foundation female Sue’s grandfather and also in our new male Obi’s pedigree.

Philippe and Owen

Philippe Roca and Owen by Barbara Young

October Hunting Sandhills and North Dakota

October was a whirlwind of activity with Charles on the road hunting and I’m back in the classroom substitute teaching middle school.  Not two weeks before the district asked me to come back, I told another substitute that I’d probably never go back into education!  But here I am and it’s keeping me active.  But it does keep me distracted from hunting and blogging.  Luckily, Charles can’t seem to stay out of the field so the dogs get plenty of action.

The COVID is even impacting hunting, one of Charles’s hunting buddies ended up in quarantine due to his daughter testing positive and missed out on the trip to North Dakota, so it just seems to be more and more pervasive.

Before Charles made it up to North Dakota, he stopped by the Nebraska Sandhills for a few days of hunting.  The entire trip was warm, but the dogs held up throughout.  In the beginning, he only had one or two at a time out of the box to keep their competitive energy in check.  This photo is from the first morning on October 7, with our friend Ryan joining him on sharptailed grouse.

October 7 AM

Obi and Ruth with Charles and Ryan’s sharptails

Later on that afternoon, they took Ruth out again for some duck jump shooting.  The toughest thing about jump shooting ducks is keeping the dog on “heel” so that they aren’t running and swimming ahead and busting up ducks out of range.  It was good to see our usual creek produce yet again.

October 7 PM

Ruth and some jump hunted Sandhills ducks

The second day of Sandhills hunting, Obi was the star with Charles’s first limit of snipe in his hunting career.  This is impressive to me since I have shot at probably 100 snipe in my hunting life thus far and I’ve never hit a single one of them.  Snipe hunting really tunes in the dog’s pointing and retrieving skills because they are such a small bird to scent to both point and locate to retrieve.

Snipe Limit Obi Oct 8

Obi with Charles’s first snipe limit on October 8

The day of October 9th was spent driving from Nebraska to North Dakota and getting set up in the house with the other guys.  I don’t know their names and they never make an appearance in any of the photos, so I apologize that they sort of get left out of the whole story.  They are a part of the harvesting though, so not all of the North Dakota birds were taken by Charles, but the dogs did get to do all of the pointing and retrieving which is what is important to me.

NoDak Day 1 Oct 10

Ruth, Obi and Fire with the mixed bag from October 10th in North Dakota

NoDak Landscape

North Dakota landscape photo by Charles Upchurch

By the time Sunday, October 11th rolled around, the dogs were worn down enough to have all three running at once.  All of the crops were harvested in that area of NoDak, so it made for some fun cattail hunting.  It is hard work for the dogs busting through dried cattails, but at least you know where the birds are hiding out.

NoDak mixed bag Oct 11

The October 11th game bag

You can also tell that Charles is starting to get a little tired because he isn’t posing the dogs for photos for a couple of days!  He said that the dogs would be tired and sore at night, but when the tailgate dropped the next morning that they were ready to go to work again.

NoDak mixed back Oct 12

October 12th NoDak game bag with dogs boxed

Photo short a rooster Oct 13

Fire, Obi and Ruth with the final day’s mixed bag in North Dakota, October 13

It wasn’t the best year he’s ever had in North Dakota, but it wasn’t like the last time that he and I went up there in 2017 either.  2017 we hardly got into anything and some days we got skunked.  At least this year there was game in the bag every day.  I really appreciate the other gents who were there to help put birds in my dogs’ mouths.

Back Home

The weekend after Charles and the dogs returned from their big trip, he and Ruth hit a local swamp and got two teal and a snipe.

Ruth Oct 19

Ruth with two teal and a snipe in southeast Nebraska

Most exciting of all is Caleb’s first roosters at the Nebraska Youth Pheasant Hunting opener the weekend before Halloween!  Charles said that there were gobs of roosters flushing everywhere and Caleb was just blasting and they were falling down.  There are miracles in hunting, I’ve seen it.  And Obi just really loves Caleb, so this photos is just perfect.  They also had one taken by Nebraska Game and Parks, so keep an eye out in Nebraskaland and you might see him.

Caleb Youth Hunt Obi

Eleven year old Caleb with his first two pheasants.  Obi on retrieve and kiss.

In Closing

Write about one trip and get ready for Charles to go on another soon.  Deer hunting is just around the corner and he is taking the dogs to hit some fields on the way.

We got Obi’s Penn HIP results back and the doctor said that they are the best sporting dog hips that he’s ever seen.  Greyhounds have the best hips all-breed and the vet said that is where Obi’s are.  Just off of the charts.  I am working with a new scanner and will get those ready for my next post.  But great news.

The weather is finally cooling off and I’m thinking about getting out for some roosters and quail myself after rifle deer season ends.  It also sounds like I’m getting roped in to handling Obi with Caleb at a European tower shoot at the end of November.

We’ll see what all of this brings.  After Thanksgiving we are having our kitchen and main level bathroom floor torn up to replace the dying pergo with porcelain tile, so that will be an event.  At the same time we’ll be tearing down a gazebo in the backyard that will be replaced with a dog kennel set-up.

Oh speaking of dog kennels, one last thing.  My worst nightmare happened to someone else. Desbattures Benelli Bro, NA II UT II was stolen from his kennel at the Wild West Lodge in Grenville, South Dakota.  Owned by Coppershot Griffons Cliff Koele but used as a guide dog by the John Andersen of the lodge.  Bred by Dominic Brisson and Claudette Blackburn of Quebec, Canada.  He is very special breeding stock for Griffons in the Great Plains of the US and he needs to come back!  Reward offered, please contact Wild West Lodge or Cliff Koele on Facebook with any leads.  Look at other people’s trucks while hunting, like if they have a mess of mutts and this guy.  Or if you use any guides in the Dakotas.  He could be anywhere at this point.

Desbattures Benelli Bro

STOLEN: Desbattures Benelli Bro

 

 

Hunting Season Opener 2020

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Like everything in 2020, our opening weekend was a little different than normal.  Many of our “go-to” spots are still flooded out, but luckily the bounty of the Sandhills still provided.

Opening day we split into two parties, with Fire and I taking one dune ridge and Charles, our buddy Ryan, Ruth and Obi went on the ridge to the south of me.  It’s funny the difference that one valley makes.  Fire and I hiked for five miles and saw absolutely nothing, while Charles and Ryan saw about 14 sharpies and Charles limited out by noon.  Which was good because the high temperature got up to 105 that day, a record for a September day in Nebraska.  Obi was having a great first outing as he got all of the retrieves that day.

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Charles and Obi headed back to the truck

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Obi and Ruth with Charles and a limit of sharptailed grouse opening day

Day two we decided to all three hunt the same ridge with all three dogs.  Charles and Ryan stayed up high and I worked the mid-level hills closer to the valley.  We had planned on crossing the valley once we got to the fence, but they had seen a group of birds get up that I did not, so I met up with them at the top of the ridge and we headed back the way we came.  I saw a group of about ten of them get up and go around a dune, so I hoped that we’d be into birds soon.

It wasn’t too much longer until Fire went on a super-stylish point down in a little bowl.  It was one of those where their body is posed in one direction and their head is cocked to the right as if to say “The birds are right here!”.  With scenting conditions so difficult in the Sandhills, I’ve only had this happen one other time in twenty years of hunting.  So I ran down in front of Fire and sure enough, a group of five got up right in my face.  Due to the direction of the wind, with them taking off right into it, they shot straight up into the air and I shot right underneath of them.  One peeled off and flew back towards Ryan and he took it down.

Ryan is a traveling geology technician, so he hadn’t been out with us hunting in five our six years while he’s been on the road.  It was great to have him on the bird board again.  We continued our push and I sort of meandered toward the lower hills like I normally do.  Up at the top of the ridge the guys got up another small group and Ryan took another bird out of it.  Fire was hanging around with me, so we hiked up to where the guys were to try to help them find the bird since they seemed to be struggling to locate it.  It took us a good five minutes, but Fire put her nose to the ground and went about 40 yards to the south and came back with the runner.

I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis in my right foot for about nine months, since we chased roosters in January outside of South Sioux City.  Where I used to be able to do 8 miles of dune stomping in a day, I’m down to about 5.  The guys used to be up in the 10-11 mile per day range and now they’re at a little over 8.  We’re all between the ages of 45 and 50 now.  Ryan made the dreaded statement that, “Someday we’re not going to be able to do this anymore!”.  I’m hoping that isn’t for another 25 years or so, but I guess we just don’t know.  The oldest grouse hunters that I’ve seen have been in their mid to late 70s, but that was 10+ years ago.  We’re the old hunters of our part of the world now.

With that being said, I bailed out of the last three mile push of the day all three days.  So when the guys went out on day two and Ryan brought back his third bird for the limit, it was a great feeling just to be there.  I don’t have a good idea of how many sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens I’ve taken out of those hills, but I’ve done it.  And it hope to do it again, but it just wasn’t this trip.

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Ryan and Fire with a limit of sharpies

Day three was at least a bit cooler.  At least the outside temperatures.  Let me just say that if you buy the Kindred Creamery Ghost Pepper Colby Jack Cheese, which is the hottest pepper cheese that I’ve ever eaten in my life, wait to eat it until you get home.  Don’t eat it during the hunt or you will regret it.

We went to the spot that we call “Lone Tree”, but the pasture with the lone tree and the grouse flock that we normally hunt had cows in it.  If there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the years is that the grouse don’t hang out with the cows.  So we tried a new dunefield.  And sure enough right when we got into it, a group of about ten got up at about 150 yards and sailed away.  We walked for another hour looking for them, but never saw them again.  The guys hit one more spot and Charles took a single with Ruth on retrieve.  It was the end of the trip and everyone was done posing for photos.

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Charles with some worn out dogs and a single.

Someone made a post on one of the Facebook bird hunting forums that three guys and three dogs had been in the Sandhills for three days and hadn’t seen a thing, so I feel lucky that we didn’t get skunked.  I hope that we get out chukar hunting in Nevada someday because I’d like to see how it compares to the difficulty of hunting sharpies in the Sandhills.  If it wasn’t for my bum foot, which is only impacting me at long distances, I’m really in the best shape cardivascularly that I’ve been in 10 years now that I work as a lifeguard part-time and swim a mile once or twice a week, then walk once or twice a week too.  The orthopedist said that it will take time to resolve, so I just need to be patient and keep training.

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“I’m getting skunked in the Sandhills”

Introduction to Iowa

There is a big swath of public swamp right on the other side of the Missouri River from where we live, so Charles decided to pick up an Iowa license and took Ruth over there a couple of days ago after work.  They managed to stir up a blue-winged teal and a dove.

Hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Teal

Ruth in the back of the truck with an Iowa teal in her mouth

Hunt Test Pupdates

Congratulations to Brent Haefner and Bluestem Madeline the Huntress, NA III can now add a UT III to the end of her name.  They passed the very difficult NAVHDA Utility Test at the Minnesota Chapter Test recently with 174 points.  Brent said that the hardest part of the training was for the duck search, where the dog has to stay out in the pond for ten minutes swimming and searching for a duck.  Maddy is from our 2017 “M” Litter between Chief and Fire.

Brent and Maddy Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Bluestem Madeline the Huntress, NA III UT III and Brent

At the IllIowa Chapter test, Derek Gilsdorf and Bluestem Captain Augustus Mccraer “Gus” got it done in the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test, earning a Prize I 110 points.  Here’s Gus with his recent haul of teal down in Kansas.  He was from our surprise 2019 “P” litter between Zoro and Ruth.

Bluestem Gus Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Gus got the ducks

I love to hear news of our past puppies, but it is tough to stay in touch with 150 people (that’s why I have a blog).  Feel free to share your pup with us at bluestemkennels@gmail.com and I’ll be sure to share it with everyone here.

The Griffon that started it all…

Good old Sue is still out on the prairies of South Dakota doing her retirement thing at almost 17 years old.  She is the great-grandmother of our current female Ruth and the first Wirehaired Pointing Griffon that we ever owned.  It makes me happy to see her spending time with the family; her current mama Debbie is from Texas originally and moved to South Dakota to be a nurse on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation.

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Stan and old Sue

Up next

The hunt tests all have waiting lists these days, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be running Ruth here in a couple of weeks in AKC Senior Hunter like we had planned.  Charles will be back in the Sandhills for duck season in a few weeks and is headed up to North Dakota with our pal Aaron too.  I’m going to stay home with the kids and wait for Nebraska pheasant season to open on Halloween.

Obi went to the vet today to get his PennHIP x-rays.  He weighs 54 lbs and Dr. Arndt of Harvey Oaks Animal Hospital said that his hips look “terrific”.  That is such great news, so it seems like the stars are finally aligning for us to have a quality outside stud after seven years of trying.

We’ll check back in after Charles returns from North Dakota and see if he gets any interesting photographs.  And hopefully some birds and great outdoor experiences too.  Best wishes to everyone out there chasing their bird dogs around the wilds.

 

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