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“S” Litter Four Weeks Old

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The pups are four weeks old and really moving and grooving! All are spoken for at this time, but if you’d like to be on the contact list in the event that someone backs out at the last minute, email bluestemkennels@gmail.com. That will also put you on our list for information about future breedings. Plus, I always post here. Our next litter is planned for Fall 2023.

I have to run my son to his fencing club practice, so let’s get down to the business of pictures and video!

Male pup, Sebastian:

Male pup, Sebastian face
Male pup, Sebastian body

Male pup, Simon:

Male pup, Simon face
Male pup, Simon body

Male pup, Samson:

Male pup, Samson face (it was hot out so he is panting)
Male pup, Samson body

Female pup, Simi face

Female pup, Simi face
Female pup, Simi body

Female pup, Spokanne:

Female pup, Spokanne face
Female pup, Spokanne body

Female pup, Sue:

Female pup, Sue face
Female pup, Sue body

They moved out on to the covered porch yesterday so that they get more acclimated to the outdoors to make them tough hunting companions. I had to get up in the middle of the night to put them in the dog house, but they were all in there when I woke up this morning. I’m hoping that they learn quickly that the dog house is warmer at night than the cement.

They also have transitioned from puppy mush with formula/canned food to just straight canned food. I suspect that once their teeth start to pop out, we’ll have them on kibble soon. Here is their video for the week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95zASVo8bmA&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

Alrighty, it is time to get suited up for my son’s fencing club practice and on with the week. We’ll start talking about puppy placements next week and making sure that our travel plans are lined up for pickup.

Caleb and Duke run in the Natural Ability Test at the Foothills Chapter of NAVHDA on Sunday, so I’m hoping that they have great success!

“S” Litter Two Weeks Old

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The puppies have just opened their eyes and so it is time for individual pictures and kennel nicknames. All puppies are spoken for at this time, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be on the backup contact list in the event that spots open up prior to homegoing. Once these pups go home, I will start interviewing for the spots remaining on the Fall 2023 list.

Now that their eyes are open, we will start on puppy mush of puppy food and formula as we work towards solid food and weaning. They will spend more time out of the whelping box being exposed to both indoor and outdoor environments.

Here are the individual pictures. They are not very photogenic at this age where their eyes have just opened and are not super mobile except to scoot themselves around the whelping box. Once they get on the mush and have more exercise, they will become more mobile.

Male pup, Sebastian:

Male pup, Sebastian face
Male pup, Sebastian back

Male pup, Simon:

Male pup, Simon face
Male pup, Simon back

Male pup, Samson:

Male pup, Samson face
Male pup, Samson back

Female pup, Simi:

Female pup, Simi face
Female pup, Simi back

Female pup, Spokanne:

Female pup, Spokanne face
Female pup, Spokanne back

Female pup, Sue:

Female pup, Sue face
Female pup, Sue back

Here is this week’s video where I put the puppies out on the back porch while I was getting ready to clean out the whelping box. They are still in walrus crawl mode but are starting to get around: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYgDz8LUxG4&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

The evening is getting away from me and it is time for my son to do homework, but I hope that everyone had a nice Labor Day and maybe shot some stuff. Charles got out with the neighbors on some doves, so we didn’t spend the weekend crying about missing grouse opener in Nebraska. Looks like it was dry and hot out there, I’m not seeing much for body counts online so I’m assuming we didn’t miss much, but we still miss it.

“S” Litter One Week Old

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The six puppies of the “S” Litter of 2022 are a week old today! They literally triple in size from the time of birth until now. They had their tails docked, dew claws removed and first vet check on Friday. Everyone passed inspection with flying colors and they are all super fat and adorable.

The puppies were fussing in the laundry basket at the vet after their tails and claws were done and Ruth just couldn’t take it anymore.

Ruth taking care of the puppies at the vet

They will stick with only nursing from mom until their eyes are open. Right now my main focus is keeping Ruth in food and water, then making sure that she gets plenty of potty breaks.

I took the pups out into the sun on to a blanket on the lawn and it didn’t faze them much since it was so warm. But their favorite place is in their box with wood chips and mom nearby. I took this weeks video outside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cyx_zI5a52s&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

I took this week’s photos after the video once they had gone back to sleep.

The puppies 8 week birthday will be Monday, October 17th, so I’m hoping to confirm with the new owners that they are available that week or the weekend following to pick up. I will be starting to call out tonight and am not sure if I will get through everyone or if it will take me a few nights. I emailed out my phone numbers if it is easier for you owners to call me than to try and reach you.

Charles has been working with Caleb and Duke on getting ready for the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test in a few weeks. Then Charles and Sally follow with another run at the NAVHDA Utility Preparatory Test in October.

He’s is starting to formulate his hunting plans for the fall, which sound like they will include a trip back to the middle of the country. I’d like to start taking some cracks at woodcock and ruffed grouse on this end of the country in the winter, we’ll see how it all comes together. Right now hunting season is just something to daydream about until we get through puppies and testing.

Take care until next week!

Everything at once: UT Prize One and Breeding

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We had our first mating between Obi and Ruth over in Valentine, Nebraska on June 20th, so today should be their last day of breeding most likely. Assuming that everything is successful, that puts puppies being whelped at the end of August and going home around Halloween. I will be getting in touch with those on my reservation list soon, but wanted to get a blog post done. My son graduated about a month ago and it has been non-stop since the last week of school in the middle of May. If you’d like to be on my back-up contact list for this litter or are interested in future litters (the next will be planned for Fall 2023 since my daughter graduates from college in Nebraska in the spring), you can email me at bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

On Saturday, May 21st, something happened that we’ve been waiting on for our 12 years in NAVHDA. Obi and Charles got a NAVHDA Utility Prize I and punched their ticket to NAVHDA Invitational 2023. They tested with the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter outside of Charles’s hometown of Newburgh, New York. If you’d like a step-by-step walkthrough of a NAVHDA Utility Test, you can go back to my blog post from October 28, 2021 titled “Our 2021 Utility Tests”. I wasn’t actually at the test this spring, I was at home in South Carolina taking care of kids and dogs, so it is tough to write about something that you didn’t participate in. I appreciate the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter hiring a photographer to document the event, I think that this is something that all chapters should consider doing. Thank you to photographer Jacquie Kuritzky for the use of the photographs!

Obi at the UT test photo by Jacquie Kuritzky
Obi retrieving photo by Jacquie Kuritzky
Charles taking instruction from the judge, photo by Jacquie Kuritzky

She also captured some photos of Sally on her first shot of the Utility Preparatory Test. She didn’t pass, but has plenty of time at the age of sixteen months. The only skill she didn’t perform was the retrieve of the dead duck, which led to the no-pass.

Sally and Charles, photo by Jacquie Kuritzky
Sally has a high-style point like her great-grandmother Sue, photo by Jacquie Kuritzky
Sally retrieving a chukar in the field, photo by Jacquie Kuritzky

The grand finale after the reading of the scores:

Charles getting the water cup for the Utility Prize I with Obi, photo by Jacquie Kuritzky

After our graduation reception here in South Carolina and our youngest son Caleb’s trip to YMCA camp, we headed out to my hometown of Valentine, Nebraska to see my family and have some fun.

Ruth, Obi and Sally wasted no time getting down the road
Puppy Duke is closest to the camera here, it took him a bit to figure out the game: run!
All together now…
Mama Ruth bringing it back in
Then a swim behind the kayak
Taking it way out
Sally and Obi swimming back to shore
Ruth swimming back to shore
Duke swimming back to shore

All of this exercise was right when we got to town around the 14th, long before Ruth and Obi started breeding, so none of this should effect that. We had a good visit in Nebraska and the dogs enjoyed their outings.

The next step is to have a pregnancy confirmation ultrasound in a month, so I’ll let you know how that goes. Charles and I will keep working with Sally to get her UPT skills down for a fall re-test, then Caleb will run Duke in the Natural Ability Test. I need to find somewhere in Charlotte who does Penn-HIP x-rays for Sally in the next few months. I should probably also find a place that will collect and store Obi’s semen in case an accident were to happen. You hate to consider the possibility, but they are dogs.

One other item to note: we are not really planning on studding out Obi. He is a part of our breeding program and it would take a really special female with a fellow breeder friend to get me to stud him out. Stud services come with risks: there are sexually transmitted dog diseases, the female can turn and fight an unfamiliar male; there are just too many bad variables for us to want to do it.

I’ll keep you all posted as things progress here, everyone stay cool this crazy hot summer.

Spring Test Prep

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Now that our oldest son has finally completed his schoolwork for his senior year of high school, I feel like I can breathe! He finished on Friday and will walk across the stage in about a week and a half.

A quick update on our breeding plans: it looks like I’m full on reservations for Fall 2022 Obi x Ruth, but folks can and do back out. Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to get on my contact list for litters. The next planned breeding(s?) after that will be Fall 2023 since our daughter is graduating from college back in Nebraska in the spring of 2023. But accidents can and do happen, so I can’t totally count that season out even if I try.

In the meantime, Charles, Obi and Sally will be heading up to the Hudson Valley (NY) NAVHDA Spring Test this weekend. It will be Obi’s second and final UT run. He was a very high scoring Prize II at the Carolinas Chapter Test and Charles wants to see if he can get a Prize I. Sally will be running her UPT Test, the practice test for the UT.

Obi, Duke, Sally and Ruth in the kennels

When we’re not working with them in the yard or socializing with them in the house, the dogs spend their time in their kennels. They are crated indoors at night.

Charles, Obi and Sally have been putting in lots of training hours at various grounds in the area, but I hardly ever leave “Tiny Farm of Bethel, SC” since there is so much to do here! I managed to catch some pics of them working in the yard yesterday.

Sally on the track
Sally with the duck
Obi with the duck
Obi retrieving to hand

I hope that they have fun in New York and give it their best shot! Charles grew up right near where the test is being held and so he is going to get to visit his dad while he is there too.

Duke is almost six months old and is turning out nicely! His teeth all seem to be in their correct places, he is learning his commands, we’re working on getting his fitness built up, he has a nice coat and he isn’t too large. When we weighed him a few weeks back he was 30 lbs., so we are hoping that he tops out in the 50-55 lb. range but we will see. Dukes lineage is a combination of Coppershot, Des Battures and Stonyridge, so I am expecting great things from him!

Duke on the move
Duke in the field
Duke pointing me and being cute

I look forward to our trip to the Nebraska Sandhills this summer so that he can get a big long run in behind the truck! And do lots of swimming at the lake too.

Ruth has really bounced back from the puppies and now it is just a matter of watching and waiting for her next cycle. I suspect that it is going to be in July or August, but I will keep you posted. I normally do not do back-to-back litters with females, but it took us three attempts to get an outside male raised and turned out properly to breed with her. A female pup from this fall’s litter is going to a breeder, then we will keep an Obi x Ruth female for our program in 2023.

Ruth running the hills
Ruth creeping through a low spot

We are so blessed to have our place here where we can work with the dogs right in the yard. I’ve been busy planting domesticated flowerbeds and trying to keep the wild woods at bay as much as possible. My vegetable garden is already exploding with lettuce, spinach and collards. I hope to add chickens for eggs and meat goats next year. Charles keeps a funny collection of birds for training.

Domestic mallards and a rooster pheasant

He has a whole other quail house on the back hill that I’ll have to get pictures of later.

Good luck to everyone at their spring tests, may we all savor the thrills of victory and withstand the stings of defeat.

“R” Litter Six Weeks and Hunting Ends

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The two girls are really getting active, come when called for the most part, explore, eat just hard kibble and love lots of hugs and pets. They go in for their shots and microchips a week from today and so we’ve sorted out who goes where. Reba will be going home to Kentucky and Rosalind with be rolling out for Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks.

Reba head on
Reba side profile
Reba facing the other way
Reba with a leaf in her mouth
Rosalind laying on her belly
Rosalind sitting down
Rosalind looking at the sky
Rosalind on the run
Rosalind through the fence, you can see Reba’s rump squeezing between the posts
Rosalind being accosted by Reba
Reba and Rosalind palling around
Girls on the prowl

This is actually a shot from last week that I forgot to include. They moved from the inside whelping box out on to the covered patio with a kennel and dog house. Outside is much more entertaining and where they start eating primarily solid food, they get pretty stinky to be indoors.

Outside is best after 5 weeks old

They also have spent time with our older puppy Duke and our son Caleb. It is fun for them to get exposure to dogs other than Ruth and people other than me.

Big puppy with little puppies
Caleb and the pups

Here is their six week old video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_yAKsP4BAg

End of hunting season

Charles and Quentin went out one last time on the final day of quail season in South Carolina. It took them all day, but they each put one in the bag. It was dark by the time they wrapped up, so there were no dead bird photos. Charles did snap this pic of the sunset with the pointers, setters and Griffons all together.

Sunset with a mixed bag of dogs

This was actually back on President’s Day but I somehow forgot to post this photo of our almost thirteen year old son Caleb with Charles, Obi and Sally and a big haul of preserve quail. Charles wanted to get Caleb even more excited about bird hunting and this seemed to do the trick!

Caleb and Charles with a big haul of preserve quail with Obi and Sally

This has taken me way longer than I intended, so it is time for me to get on with the day. Next week will be our last video before the puppies go to their new homes! See you then.

“R” Litter Five Weeks and Carolinas Field Trial

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For the remainder of the puppy time here, I’m going to shift to a Monday morning posting time. With the puppies needing to be fed and exercised twice a day, it makes for one less thing that I have to try and get done Sunday evening (along with dinner and tutoring the boys).

The girls are growing as they should at five weeks old and love to run and play!

Reba and Rosalind at five weeks old

They love their twice-a-day feedings of puppy kibble!

Reba at the top, Rosalind at the bottom eating food

They are also learning to swat items with their paws and pick things up with their mouths. Their teeth are starting to come in. They have finally mastered a decent run and don’t fall over when they are trying. All of these are normal developmental stages for Griffon puppies of this age. Looking at these photos reminds me that it is time to put their little puppy collars on!

For the next week we focus on eating and running. I have toys for them to pick up and carry around. They have also started to come when called (I don’t call them by their temporary internet names, I just call them “puppies”). I have seen where other breeders have toy gyms set up with PVC pipe where there are toys on a frame that the puppies can tug on. I choose not to do this intentionally because I don’t want them in the habit of tugging. Bird dogs need to pick up items and release them on command. I am concerned that if they get that satisfaction of tugging early on, that it will be harder to train them to release the bird later in life. So I stick with the old-fashioned “pick up your toy and carry it around” fun, which also taps into that retrieving instinct.

Here are some more action photos from the yard yesterday:

Reba on the run
Rosalind on the run
Here they come!
More running practice
Rosalind and Reba in the yard
Having a stare down
On the lookout

Here is their five week old video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5835uE9Mzg&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

Carolinas Griffon Field Trial

Charles took Obi and Sally to the Carolinas Griffon Field Trial in Benson, North Carolina on Saturday. Thank you to Kelly Hughes for organizing the event! I wish I could have made it, but I was home with puppies and kids. This event was formerly supported by the AWPGA (American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association, the AKC parent club of the breed), but appears to no longer be an official club event, even though it is mostly attended by AWPGA members.

Charles and Bluestem Sally Forth NA II “Sally” at the 2022 Carolinas Field Trial

Obi took second place in Advanced Gun Dog. Charles thinks that there were some handler errors that contributed to losing points towards taking first place. He said it was run in a NSTRA format and we’ve never run dogs in that, so it was all new rules. But hey, second place is great!

Carolinas Field Trial Second Place Advanced Gun Dog Ribbon 2022
Obi and Charles with the second place advanced gun dog ribbon 2022 Carolinas Field Trial

Charles is actually out today with Obi and Sally for the last day of quail season in South Carolina, so I’ll be interested to see if they bring anything home. One can hope! And at least quail country doesn’t have any gators!

It is time for me to go feed and run some puppies, but I’ll be sure to check back in this time next week.

“R” Litter Four Weeks and Low Country Snipe

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The two little girls of the “R” Litter are sure starting to grow up! They started on puppy mush this week and they are starting to go outside everyday to stretch their legs.

Rosalind in the grass
Rosalind up on her front paws
Rosalind looking straight on
Rosalind side profile on all fours
Reba in the grass
Reba up on her front paws
Reba close up
Reba up on all fours

Here is their four week old video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAPozIsymEc&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

Low Country Snipe Hunt

Charles and the neighbor Quentin went down to the low country of South Carolina snipe hunting. They saw more alligators than they could count. Obi went in after one and it was super scary! But they put birds in the bag and none of the dogs got eaten!

Charles and Quentin with South Carolina Low Country Snipe
Mama gator and all of those little lumps in the water on the right are baby gators

I will be back next week with the next installment of puppy adventures. It is hard to believe that they are half way to going home already!

“R” Litter Three Weeks and Welcome Duke

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The two girls of the “R” Litter are really growing! Their eyes and ears are open and they are starting to push themselves around the whelping box. They should be up and walking unsteadily by next week and I’ll get them started on some puppy mush, that always gets them up and moving.

Two girls
Mama Ruth and the babies
Rosalind peeking around
Reba just hanging out
Rosalind face
Rosalind back
Reba face
Reba back

And here is the YouTube video where you get to see them on the move! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94XqaRZsvmw&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

Welcome Duke!

Wednesday we welcomed Cedar and Spruce’s Apollo to the south from Hull, Iowa. He took a plane from Omaha and got here safe and sound. We’ve really been having fun getting to know him and getting started on the basics. I will go over his pedigree and why I selected him in the future, it is getting late and I really just want to share the pictures from today for now.

Duke on the move
Side profile of Duke on the move
Duke with Sally and Obi
Sally and Obi giving Duke a sniff
Duke chasing Sally

I hope that everyone enjoyed their Super Bowl celebrations and has a Happy Valentine’s Day! Talk at you next week.

“R” Litter Two Weeks Old

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I always, always say that I won’t know how many puppies I have until they are two weeks old. There is always a small one that hangs on a good week and then fades away seemingly out of nowhere. When I posted last Sunday, the little boy was still taking a bottle and nursing the teat, even though he wasn’t putting on weight at all. Like I’ve said before, the most intervention I will do is helping a pup on to the teat and giving a bottle. I won’t try IV fluids or tube feeding like some breeders do, that is just too much intervention that could possibly be bringing up a defective pup that will pass early in life. Little boy stopped eating Monday morning and was gone Tuesday morning. We have two sisters who are going strong and their eyes are now open.

Rosalind and Reba

I finally got Ruth’s bloodwork results back late Wednesday. Although there were no answers, I am glad that it was not a viral outbreak that would potentially impact the future. The working theory is that we switched to an oral chewable for flea and tick when we moved to South Carolina. She was due for that at 30 days gestation. The package is marked “safe for pregnant females” and I was worried about an infestation with year-around bugs down here. So I gave her the chewable. Many fellow breeders and vet friends say that they’ve seen similar outcomes with the flea and tick chewables, and that the study to mark the medication safe for pregnant females was a very small sample size. Ruth had an unplanned litter right when she turned two that had nine healthy puppies, so it isn’t her. And we may never know the full answer, but this is where the collective thoughts are at this point. DON’T GIVE PREGNANT FEMALES FLEA AND TICK CHEWABLES.

I’ve decided to call them Rosalind and Reba. Rosalind has the blaze face and a little bit longer coat. Reba has the shorter coat and liver face.

Rosalind face
Rosalind back
Reba face
Reba back

Their eyes are just opening, so it is tough to get very photogenic pictures of them since they are so squishy at this point.

Ruth and the girls

Ruth really does not like cameras. She is a little bit more used to the still camera, but she growls at the camcorder.

Here is the first video of the “R” litter at two weeks old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ-PNpvfzl0&t=3s&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

I take the puppies out of the whelping box and put them on a sleeping bag to help them practice using their legs. I try to keep the wood chips under them, but Ruth is always digging them away. Once their eyes get good and opened, they will start to use their legs more and more. Then we will introduce puppy mush and they will really get going.

South Carolina Quail

I had no idea that bird season was still open down here until Charles mentioned that he was going to head into North Carolina with a buddy to chase some ruffed grouse. That fell through due to his buddy’s doctor’s orders and Charles didn’t want to hunt someone else’s spots without them.

So luckily the neighbor across the road just happens to run pointers and setters. Who knew that when we randomly picked our house sight unseen, that we’d pick one right across the road from another bird hunter? So Quentin and Charles headed out for some central South Carolina quail yesterday, even though woodcock closed at the end of January, quail goes until the end of February. Charles got two and Quentin got one and a rabbit. Charles forgot his chaps and his legs are full of blackberry thorns. The brambles down here are horrible, if I go work at cleaning up the thickets on our property, I end up pulling thorns out of me for days.

Charles said it was fun to watch our dogs work with other upland breeds, he thinks that it makes them better.

Sally with the pointers with Quentin going in.
The full bag for the day on Quentin’s horse trailer dog box.
Sally with the South Carolina quail

The bag limit down here is twelve per day, so we were excited that they found some! Obi ran with the setters but didn’t have any luck.

So we’ll just keep plugging along here on raising puppies and doing some late season hunting for a few more weeks. We’ve got a little surprise catching a flight into the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport this week and you’ll get to see it in our next blog post next week too.

Oh and congratulations to all of the NAVHDA Invitational Invitees in this month’s Versatile Hunting Dog, a lot of familiar names in there in the Wirehaired Pointing Griffons! And a Griff on the cover even! Keep up the good work everyone.

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