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Waiting for puppies and first birds

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If you would like to be placed on my contact list in the event that I have puppies available from this litter, feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com.  I am confident that they are all currently reserved, but in the event of folk possibly backing out, I like to have a contact list to reach out to for additional interest.

Any day now for Fire going into labor, any hour actually.  I suspect that it is an average sized litter of four to eight puppies.  It doesn’t look like fourteen, but it looks like more than three.  I can feel them and see them, she is starting to get milk in her teats, so once they start making their way into the outside world I will keep my Facebook page up to the moment as much as possible.

Pregnant Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Pregnant Fire

You can see in the photo where she is starting to pull the fur out around her teats.  Some people shave them, but the puppies will take care of it on their own.

If you are on my list, do not panic if we don’t have your number of puppies.  Some folks want a specific gender or will decide at the last minute that the timing isn’t right for them.  Once they are whelped, it will take some time for me to get that all sorted out so just bear with me please.

This will be the seventeenth litter that I have whelped.  Even so, I am still anxious and excited.

First Birds for Obi

Charles has been working with all of the dogs on daily obedience exercises and getting Obi ready for his NAVHDA Natural Ability test.  We are talking about possibly doing it early, with a late spring test or a summer/fall test.  He has caught on to the drag track game.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Retrieve

“Obi” sixteen week old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppy retrieves a quail

While the dog is with a handler out of sight, we pull some feathers out of a dead quail and lay them in a pile, then drag the dead quail and hide it.  Then the handler brings the pup out of hiding to the feather pile and they track and retrieve the bird.

We also took Obi out with some live planted quail and the starter pistol.  This is not his first exposure to loud noises, we’ve been banging pots and pans since we got him and then shooting a kids cap gun while he’s playing after that.  He caught on to the excitement of flying birds very quickly.

First Flush - Hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (2)

“First Flush” sixteen week old “Obi” Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

On the homefront, we think that we have pretty much conquered housebreaking.  He has chewed up a few things, but that happens with every puppy that we raise.  He sleeps through the night in his crate.  His favorite things to do are play-fight with Ruth and jump on Caleb (we are working on the “stay down”).  He is in good health at 25 lbs. and gets his rabies shot on April 1st, then look out world!  I look forward to taking him on walks in the Old Market (Omaha’s downtown entertainment district) and Charles can take him to NAVHDA training days with other owners and dogs.

That’s all of the dog news for now, but keep an eye on Facebook for when the puppies are being born.  And send up some doggie prayers for a safe and successful whelping.

Belated Valentine’s Day Greetings!

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

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

1940 Pheasant Hunt Simeon

1940 Cherry County Pheasant Hunt

Fire’s Pregnancy

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Four Weeks Pregnant

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

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

Obi Update

Wyo Oakley Pedigree_NEW

Wyo Quigley Pedigree_NEW

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

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

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

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy

Obi in the pack pile

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (2)

It took about two weeks for Fire to accept Obi

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (3)

Obi brought me a leaf

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (4)

How Obi enjoys our nightly anime watching with our boys

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Caleb with Obi hiking in the woods behing our house

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Crate

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

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Pointing Wing

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

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

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

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Caleb, Charles and the dogs

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

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Obi eyeballs a bouncing tennis ball.

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Obi fetching the tennis ball.

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

End of hunting season

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

Charity Upchurch and Ruth Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charity in her insulated camo with Ruth

Charles Upchurch European Tower Shoot

Charles bundled up to gun

Ruth Retrieve Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

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

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

 

Fall’s Abundance

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We are planning a litter of pups for Spring 2020 between Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” and Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire”.  The reservation list is currently full, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like to be placed on the contact list for in the event there are additional puppies.

Ruth (Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I) won’t be bred until 2021, but we received her OFA Hip scan and it came back “Good”.

Ruth OFA

Currently the plan for 2021 would repeat my surprise breeding from last year, using Stonyridge Zoro as the stud.  His sire, Stonyridge Otis “Cooper”, is now VC Stonyridge Otis, NA II UT I.  For those of you who don’t speak hunt test alphabet, the “VC” stands for NAVHDA Versatile Champion, meaning that he passed the 2019 NAVHDA Invitational Test, the highest level test in the club.  In order to qualify for that, he recieved a Prize I on his Utility Test, the highest level in the adult hunting test.  The NA II means that he got a Prize II on his Natural Ability test, which needs to be completed by the age of sixteen months.  NAVHDA offers three open tests: the Natural Ability test, the Utility Preparatory Test and the Utility Test.  Each test has three levels of scoring with I being the highest and III being a pass.  The best way to learn about these tests is by attending a NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic near you.

General Dog Health Information Update

A few things that come up in conversation with my fellow dog breeders online that I feel like I should pass along.  This was a bad year for outdoor fungi and algae with dogs.  Blastomycosis (dirt fungi) and blue-green algae ravaged the country and had a big impact on hunting dogs training this year, with many deaths occurring.  Especially with first year pups, keep an eye on vomiting and lethargy and make sure to take it seriously and go to the vet.  The dog can be saved if steps are taken immediately.

Grain-free diets.  Just don’t.  Or if you do, it’s at your own risk.  The FDA has started the research to back up the numerous cases of dialated cardiomyopathy that veterinarians are seeing in otherwise healthy young dogs.

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Three Dog Day: Fire, Ruth (on top) and Zoro

Dead Bird Photos? Yes or No.

Scott Linden of the TV Show Wingshooting USA posed the question on his social media recently of whether or not dead bird photos are necessary or appropriate.  For people who operate hunting dog kennels they are mandatory.  We have to put birds in front of our breeding stock and our clients need to see that it is happening.  Right now, I am just not able to get away to get into the field to take live action hunting photos.  The time that I do get into the field, I want to spend hunting right now.  Once the boys are older, I will have more time for field photography, but for right now we have to settle for the dead bird photos.  So dead bird photos?  YES.

Snipe and Rail Hunt

Charles took Zoro just down southwest of where we live to a spot where we can reliably get into rail and snipe.  The birds are not much larger than your average tweety bird, so it is good pointing practice for the dog to get used to stopping on very little scent.  It is also a good way to work on preventing “hard mouth”, since the bird is very small and the dog has to hold it gently to bring it to hand.

We normally get into sora rail, which have the yellow triangular beak, but this year was the first time that we’ve taken any Virginia Rail.  They have the more reddish hooked beaks.

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Zoro and his snipe, with long beaks on left, and rails on right

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From left: three sora rail, four Virginia Rail, and six snipe

No Dogs Allowed: Sandhills Antelope 2019

Charles spent four days this week hunting antelope out in the Nebraska Sandhills.  He passed on some small bucks and settled on a doe.  We already have antelope horns on the wall, so the trophy pressure was not there.  He got to see lots of wildlife and some dumb grouse hunters (hint: sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens are not in the trees).

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The smaller antelope bucks that he passed on.

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The gun perspective, he likes to belly crawl in close

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His classic gun and big game photo

Sandhills Ducks and Grouse

Yesterday he finally got out with the dogs and chased some birds around.  It sounds like Ruth had an adventure with one of those ducks going down still alive and swimming under a muskrat mound to get away.  But she was able to dive down to grab it.  I wish that I had been there to see it, I always love to watch the dog work a duck retrieve like that. (Somebody didn’t wash the antelope blood out of the truck bed, sorry about that.  Gross.)

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Ruth with two mallard hens and two snipe

Fire and Charles did get into some more grouse and prairie chickens but with Fire being a little out of practice, there were a few slow points with wild flushes and birds flushing on the edge of range.  But a prairie chicken in the bag is better than nothing.

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It sounds like that he is out again this morning, so there may be additional photos to tack on to this post as the day progresses.  He drives back home tomorrow and then we wait for pheasant season to open up here.

My favorite pheasant spot is along the river and is probably going to be flooded out this year, so I’m most likely going to be working my way south and west of here looking for quail and pheasant while the kids are in school.

Happy hunting for those of you out in the fields this fall.  We are truly blessed to have well-managed public lands available to us all around the country.  I hope to see more of them in the future once the boys are grown, but for now I’ll just get out when and where I can and watch everyone else get the rest of it done on social media.

 

P Litter at Four Weeks Old

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These puppies are definitely up and moving these days and the time has come to make some modifications to their housing.  At our old house, now would be the time where I would move them into the outdoor kennel with insulated dog house, but we’ve decided against having any outdoor runs or kennels here.  I think that what I’ll end up doing is taking the railings out of the box and building steps in and out of the door, so that they can have run of the whole kennel.  Then a couple of times a day, I can just herd them out the back door to play outside since the kennel door and the back door are right next to each other.

Since it is still cool out, I’ve been bringing them in the house to play and sometimes we just sit in the box with them too.

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Caleb always enjoys his puppy time

We are in the final throes of getting the old house ready for the next owner, today should be the last day that I have to go over there and work.  We close a week from Friday.  It will be nice to have more time for the puppies and getting ready for Zoro’s NAVHDA Natural Ability test.

I will make sure to get individual photos for next week, the puppies will be big enough for Caleb to pose them for me.  And it will be time to start talking to the new owners about who we think should go where so we can have it all decided in time for them to go home.  They turn 8 weeks on Monday, April 29th, which is the first day that they can leave my house according to the USDA.  It will be between then and Sunday the 5th that they go to their new homes.  For those new owners who are planning on picking up on Saturday, May 4th: can we do it early (like between 7-9 AM) so that I can go watch Zoro run his NAVHDA Natural Ability test?  I will also put that in an email here soon.

Right now the pups are chowing down the soft canned food twice a day.  A whole can each feeding.  So that tells me that they are ready to start having kibble mixed in, so that I can transition to kibble-only in a week or so.

I am so thankful that my friend Drenda down by Lincoln had some live quail to part with for dog training.  We’ll use those to get Zoro ready for his test and let the pups see one.  I also have a good amount of dead birds stored in the freezer that they can practice carrying around towards the end.

Here’s a photo of our cute little suburban training quail holding pen.  It is a chicken hutch with a dog kennel around it.  I am just excited that it is on the ground where I can get to it, our old holding pen was on the top of our garage where Charles would have to climb a ladder to get birds out (I don’t do ladders generally):

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Of course, last but not least, this week’s YouTube video: https://youtu.be/T9klEWj6yqg

Now it is time for me to go and feed those pups, then I have to head over to the old house and take a sledgehammer to our old bird holding pen.  It was completely over-engineered by Charles; even though it is like twelve years-old, it was not coming apart with a crowbar and regular hammer last night.  Then we dropped it off of the garage roof hoping that it would come busting apart…nope.  So I need to go and put the hurt on it.

Have a good week and talk at you again soon.

 

Welcome “P” Litter!

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E-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on the list should someone back out of taking home one of these puppies!  As of right now, they are all spoken for.  The soonest the puppies can go home is on Monday, April 29th and I’d like to have them all out of the door by Sunday, May 5th so that I can get ready for my daughter’s high school graduation a couple of weeks later.

The “P” Litter of 2019 between Ruth and Zoro arrived on Monday morning, March 4th.  Ruth began whelping right before I got out of bed at 6:30 AM and finished up by 11 AM so it was very quick.  Five girls and three boys.  The whelping went very smoothly and the puppies are growing quickly!  Here is a photo of them right before bedtime on Monday.

P Litter Newborn

Ruth and the newborn pups of the “P” Litter

The pups went to the vet Tuesday afternoon to get their tails docked and their dew claws removed.  My vets were on vacation and it was a substitute vet, so I was too busy talking to get any photos.  I take of 1/3 of the tail and leave 2/3, the longest allowed by the AKC breed standard.  I think that it make their point look more stylish and helps them use their tail as a rudder for direction when swimming in the water.  The AKC standard states that the tail should be docked to 1/2 to 2/3.

Here is a video that I took of them today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvGSsx_V93c&t=6s

The temperatures are starting to warm up here, so with supplemental heat the pups will be moving out into the attached garage over the weekend.  Not that I don’t love having them in the kitchen where I can be with them all of the time, it is just that after whelping the mother females lose their housebreaking with the amount of food that they have to eat and it makes for some nasty cleanups overnight and when I need to leave the house for a few hours.

I am very excited to watch these pups mature, as this is the mating that I am planning on taking the next generation of my kennel from in a new years.  It will be the fifth generation of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons that we’ve owned and the fourth generation and we have bred.  It is exciting and pretty amazing how the last nine years have flown by.  Caleb is still my head puppy hugger and does not know life before the annual arrival of the puppies.  He is so good with them and checks up on them almost hourly.  Caleb loves puppies so much that he has asked that his birthday cake is decorated with Griff heads this year!

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Caleb hugging puppies in 2019

Caleb 2011

Caleb snuggling puppies in 2011

Here’s a collage of some of the photos that I took today.  I don’t take individual photos until their eyes open in another ten days or so.

And one more of everyone before I close out before the weekend.  Catch up with all of you next week with one week old photos and video.

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Ruth and the “P” Litter at four days old

“O” Litter Four Weeks Old and Spring Training

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All of the “O” Litter puppies are spoken for at this time, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on a list in case of a last minute backout.
The four week old “O” Litter puppies are enjoying the outdoors more and more as the weather warms up.  They are in the transition to solid kibble and not quite ready to leave the dog house and kennel.  Next week they will start to show interest in roaming the yard.
Here is the weekly video of them: https://youtu.be/tt2LIbWpDYI
Their four week photos:
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Just this afternoon we took our other dogs: Zoro 10 weeks, Ruth 15 months (and the sister of the above litter), and Chief 2 years all out to the pond for some retrieving work.  At least Ruth and Chief, Zoro primarily watched.
Ruth, 15 mo old sister of the “O” Litter
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Chief, sire of the “O” litter
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Chief wanted to retrieve both bumpers at once

Stonyridge Zoro at 10 weeks

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Happy training everyone!

Welcome “O” Litter!

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At this time, all 2018 puppies are spoken for.  Please email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to inquire about future litters.
The arrival of the “O” litter…

I knew things were starting Friday night at bedtime, so I put Fire in the whelping area when I went to bed, thinking that she would bark or howl to wake me up to help her whelp.  Nope.  Here is what I woke up to Saturday morning…twelve clean and healthy puppies!  Nine boys and three girls.

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Fire and the “O” Litter

I had only taken five deposits since she’d had a smaller litter last year, so I’ve been working through contacts and finding some great homes all across the country for these little ones.

This morning I took them to my vet at Heartland Pet Hospital just down the hill for their tail docking and dew claw removal.  Dr. Kliewer said that everyone looks healthy and vibrant.  All twelve are still going strong after two days, so that is a good sign.  I don’t see any of them at risk for fading away on us.

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“O” Litter at the vet

I will keep this blog post updated as I fill the last two male puppy reservation spots for the “O” Litter.

“N” Litter Picks

I have listed the “N” Litter picks by the state where they are going to (or region in the case of MO).
Boys:
Norman – Tennessee
Nicholas – Virginia
Noah – Iowa
Newman – Nebraska
Girls:
Namaste – Northwest Missouri
Nichole – Oklahoma
Nefertiti – Mississippi
Nellie – Texas
Nettie – East Central Missouri
Congratulations everyone!  We are scheduled for our shots and microchips on Wednesday the 4th and we’ll be ready to rock and roll.  Here is the YouTube video that I made of them Saturday morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqg-2sIj2JY&t=7s
Thanks to everyone for your vote of confidence in me as a breeder.

Puppies on the way and pupdates!

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Sue’s retirement

Sue out on the prairie

Sue out on the South Dakota prairie

12 year old Trey gave me an update on how 10 year old Sue is doing up in South Dakota.  He says that he is finally licensed and has a shotgun and is ready to shoot some birds over her.  We miss Sue and my youngest boy Caleb (age 4 1/2) asks about her at least once a week.  We want to keep our dog numbers at 4 here at the house, so that we can hunt them regularly and give them personal attention, so retirement and re-homing is a necessary sadness.  But we are so happy to give folks an opportunity to experience the griffon who might not be able to afford or have no desire to raise a puppy.  I can’t wait to see pics of Trey and Sue with some birds in the fall!!

Sue's sweet face

Sue’s sweet face

Pupdates

I really appreciate all of my puppy owners who contribute photographs and stories of their dogs as they grow up.  It is truly the reason why we do this.

Pete, Whiskey, Andi and chukars in NV

Pete, Whiskey, Andi and chukars in NV

Great job to sharpshooter Andi and our oldest boy Whiskey, who will be four years old soon!  He is from our first, or “A” litter in 2010 with Sue and Sam.  Andi and Whiskey really tore it up in the chukar field and we couldn’t be more proud!!  Thanks to Pete, Deborah and Andi for giving him such a great life out in Nevada!!

Sal and 2 year old Chester

Sal and 2 year old Chester

We received a lovely Christmas card with photos of Chester from Sal and family out in New York!  When Chester isn’t out with Steve “Hoss” Anker training or out with the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter, he’s having a good time at home on Long Island.  He is from our 2012 “C” litter from Sam and Mae.  Sal has done a great job working with this dog and he has a bright future ahead!

Chester taking a rest

Chester taking a rest

Chester’s “C” litter sister TracHer is having a good season up in North Dakota.  She has a new brother, a 10-month old German Wirehaired Pointer named Max.  Thanks to Susan and Tom for the lovely Christmas card with photos.  Tom had surgery is on crutches from a knee injury incurred while hunting, so we send prayers for a speedy recovery.

TracHer and Susan in the ND snow

TracHer and Susan in the ND snow

Chester and TracHer’s little sister Zoey, from our “F” litter in 2013 also from Mae and Sam, is having a blast down in Oklahoma with Jimmy and Sandi.  Here’s what Jimmy had to say:

This girl is the best thing that every happened to Sandi and me. Here some updated photos. She is now 10 mos old and weighs 55 lbs. We just bought some land in the badlands of SW Oklahoma and she loves it. Here is some photos of her expeditions so far. She loves hunting antlers and when go into the shop she will go to the gun safe and sit there until I either get a gun out or tell her we aren’t going hunting. 

Jimmy and Zoey

Jimmy and Zoey

Zoey on point

Zoey on point

Zoey water retrieving a stick

Zoey water retrieving a stick

Zoey retrieving an antler

Zoey retrieving an antler

Zoey patiently waiting for the ducks

Zoey patiently waiting for the ducks

Zoey and her mallard haul!

Zoey and her mallard haul!

Thank you so much again to all of my owners for contributing to this and keeping me up to date on how their dogs are doing.  It is really important for us to see their success, it keeps us going during the times that we find the pressures of breeding overwhelming.  Watching the gun dog lifestyle continue in our pups is one of our greatest joys.

I will be sure to keep everyone posted on the upcoming litters.  BB is already heavy and I need to get some pictures of her, along with updated shots of the rest of the dogs.  I’d also like to do video of Tor.  Now that I’ve recovered from travel, the holidays and a major plumbing project, I will do a better job of keeping the blog updated.  Charles and Matt are out right now trying to spook up some pheasants, all of the chaos lately has really cut into their time in the field.  Until then, stay warm and don’t blow away in these winds!

More Field Trial Action and Pupdates

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On Field Trials

Saturday, September 22nd was a big day for AKC field events in the Lincoln, Nebraska area, so the kids and I hit the road to visit friends and family involved.  Our first stop was the Missouri Valley Brittany Club’s AKC Hunt Test at Yankee Hill Wildlife Management Area just southwest of Lincoln, near Denton.  Although Charles and I lived in Lincoln for a couple of years in the 1990’s, I had never been to this WMA.  It is very nice, lots of good cover and space, I can see why the Nebraska Game and Parks selected it as a new spot to plant pheasant for the youth hunting weekend in October.  Yet I digress.

I was headed to the test to visit with my friend Sally Jo Hoagland from North Platte.  Although she is probably closer to my mom’s age than mine, she is one of the top (if not THE top) Weimaraner breeders in Nebraska (Weimshadow Kennel) and one of the only professional dog trainers in Central Nebraska (Four Paws Dog Training).  We had met at the Grand Island Kennel Club Dog Show earlier in the year after first connecting on Facebook, due to our mutual involvement with NAVHDA and AKC.  It was funny that at the hunt test I not only knew Sally Jo, but probably 90% of the people at the test and what was even funnier is that we were not the only family of spectators.

The hunt test environment is very family friendly, there are usually multiple families with elementary age children running about, so we all look out for one another’s kids and there is never any worry about any of the dogs being mean.  The dogs typically sit quietly in their crates or on their stakeout chains and love to have the kids mess with them.

Following lunch at the hunt test and a good visit with friends and fellow local hunt test junkies, we loaded up and headed north to Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds near Raymond.  Although we had been there for hunt tests in the past, this field trial environment was completely different.  The German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Nebraska’s field trial over last weekend was four days long and had 235 entrants, making it one of the largest AKC field trials of the entire year.  Our “camp” was out in the back 40, so when the kids wanted to go to the clubhouse to get some sweets and sodas, we had to wade through the melee.  As most field trials are on horseback, most of the other camps consisted of a camper/horsetrailer/dogtrailer combo, a stakeout chain of 10-25 dogs and at least one horse.  Anytime someone walked down the dirt road in the midst of the gypsy village, all 235 dogs barked and spazzed out on their chains.  This was with the exception of BB of course, who really wanted her people very close to her in this strange setting.  I don’t think that any of us were comfortable and felt pretty alien: a family with small children and one griffon surrounded by herds of barking shorthairs, German Wirehaired Pointers and Vizsla dogs along with their owners who reminded me of the rodeo crowd; not sure if their faces are red from being sunburned or last night’s whiskey, or both.  The only time that I saw any other women is when they came out of their campers to water their dogs or smoke a cigarette.

A string of German Shorthaired Pointers at the AKC Field Trial on Saturday

Maybe I’m only drawing these caricatures because I was nervous and scared that my 3 year old was going to wade into a pack of freaked out hunting machines.  I don’t want to hurt any field trialer’s feelings and I’m sure we’ll be back for more, so I’ll get more comfortable and quit seeing things that make me want to point them out.  But as the hunt testing environment is where my fellow griffoniers find themselves, I wanted to point out the differences before anyone else decided to strike out into the field trial world.  Not that I have any serious ideas of other griffoniers going this route, as a few of them have raised questions about participation.

Our take on it is that Korthals wanted to breed a foot hunting dog that was faster than the bootlicking continental breeds of his time.  We do not believe that hunt testing does enough to test the athleticism and endurance of the animal, as it is a brief exercise that is only looking for the dog to satisfy the training requirements of the test (search, pointing, retrieving, steadiness, honoring etc.).  Even in NSTRA and BHU trials, the field is too small for it to be a valid test of athleticism.  We intend to continue to participate in walking stakes at AKC field trials and other trialers at the event encouraged Charles to look into American Field’s Region 19 events.

In my brief readings on American Field Region 19, these are events that last longer than an hour and are on open terrain and wild birds, which is a lot like what we are doing for hunting anyway, where we walk for at least an hour before stopping for water and usually two hours before we really stand or sit around for any lengthy period of time.  I would suspect that BB would be the first griffon to ever participate in American Field, should we decide to check it out.

BB placed 4th out of 5 in the Amateur Walking Derby stakes last Saturday, beating out a Vizsla her same age, working the terrain more thoroughly and having the one bird find of the run.  Although we are flying in the face of current convention with the breed, we worry more about the prevelance of designer house pets and conformation show-only dogs than about our involvement in walking stakes at field trials.  I really just wish we could channel the spirit of Korthals to ask him himself, but in the meantime we’ll just keep doing our research to support our methods and having fun with our dogs.

BB’s Fourth Place Ribbon.

Pupdates

TracHer is busy as usual in North Dakota, she’s 7 months old now and been out on a few sharptail grouse and Hungarian Partridge hunts.  She’s even retrieved a few of them!  Most recently, she brought a live rabbit into the house through the doggie door while company was over, luckily they were fellow hunters!

TracHer on left (7 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) with Susan and her old buddy Zephyr with Tom and their limit of sharptail grouse!

TracHer and her bunny (7 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

TracHer retrieving a sharptail grouse (7 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

Mike out in Colorado has also been working with TracHer’s “twin” sister Frankie on some pheasants.  He’s been working on steadiness on the point and he says she’s doing a great job!  Both TracHer and Frankie are from our 2012 “C” litter with Sam and Mae.

Mowgli is 18 months old and is from our 2011 “B” litter out of Sue and Sam.  Quite the looker!  I saw his brother Duke’s owner at the movie theater when I was taking the kids to see Finding Nemo 3-D, so hopefully I’ll get to see him soon.

Mowgli (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) and his neighbor friend the Dachshund chilling on the deck

Coming Soon to Versatile Hunter

Well in less than a week, we’ll be headed back out to the Sandhills for some more hunting.  There are no words for how terrible Eastern Nebraska has been this year thus far.  The swamps are too dry for early teal and snipe, then the prairie chicken grounds have all been mowed for hay.  Damn drought.  We are going to have to start commuting to not only the Sandhills, but the Rainwater Basin of Central Nebraska, the pheasant fields of South Dakota and Southwestern Nebraska as well as the quail fields of Kansas.  I hope that this is a temporary blip in the hunting situation in this part of the state because I don’t see us moving anytime soon.  But we are in fear of this being the beginning of a total collapse in hunting in Southeastern Nebraska.

Shirts!!

Oh and one last thing, be sure to check out the new t-shirt designs on our Shop!!  You can either click the button at the top of the page or go directly to http://www.wirehairedpointinggriffongear.com Buy a shirt to show your griffon pride, 100% made in the USA, from the shirt itself, the artists designs to the embroidery and screenprinting!!

How to Groom a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

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A couple of years ago I wrote a post about grooming the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and to this day it is one of my most visited.  As I’ve since learned more about the process, I wanted to provide my readers and others scouring the internet for information with my most up-to-date knowledge.

Most of my grooming comes out of necessity, as my property is wooded and contains burr bearing plants.  There are things that those grooming for show do that I don’t, which I’ll talk about at the end of my explanation.  My grooming is very utilitarian and only very infrequently for the show ring, but I will talk about show grooming techniques later on.

It is important to have good supplies.  I’ve acquired my collection of brushes, combs, scissors and other necessities over the years, but would think that starting out with a complete set and knowing how to use them would be helpful for a relatively new griffon owner.

Brushes and combs:  Multi-width metal comb, wide-toothed burr remover, undercoat comb, universal brush, slicker brush.  I also have a dog shampoo brush that I failed to include in my video, but it looks something like this: http://www.petsupplies.com/item/groomaster-rubber-brush-for-dogs/494975/

Shampoo:  For dogs under 6 months of age, I use a multi-purpose puppy shampoo of any brand.  Once they are over 6 months, I use Hartz Flea and Tick Dog Shampoo.  I do not recommend using the flea and tick shampoo within 2 weeks of having the dog’s coat evaluated, because it strips the oils from the coat. If you must wash the dog (like if it gets in the mud or something) within 2 weeks of going to a dog show or NAVHDA test where the dog’s coat is evaluated, use Bio-Groom Wire Coat Shampoo.  I have yet to try it out, but I do have a bottle and know the vast majority of griffon owners swear by it.  Due to my dogs spending so much time in the woods and field, I feel like I need to use the flea and tick shampoo in addition to my monthly flea and tick preventative regimen.

Ear cleaner:  My vet prescribes DermaPet Malacetic Otic solution, but any vet recommended ear cleaner should be purchased in the largest dispenser possible.

Scissors: I have a round-tip pair with a 1″ blade if I need to trim around their eyes (I don’t like hair blocking their vision), then a normal pair of round tipped shears for the body and ears and a pair of thinning shears for flattening out anywhere it is not level for the show ring.

I start out brushing the entire body of the dog with the wide-toothed burr remover, then repeat the process with the undercoat comb, then finish with the universal wire brush.  I just purchased a grooming table over the summer and am really enjoying it, saves me all of the bending over from when I used to brush them on the ground.

If the dog needs a bath, I then bathe them with one of the above listed shampoos, scrubbing them down with the rubber shampoo brush.  I’m in the process of creating a spot in my garage stall (that I’m slowly turning into a dog room) where I will have a dedicated grooming tub that is elevated, but as of right now my dogs are bathing in the kiddie pool in the summer and the human bath tub in the winter.

I then go through the process of cleaning my dog’s ears.  Holding the dog’s head still, fill the entire canal with the ear cleaning solution, put the ear flap down begin massaging the entire ear structure on the dogs skull vigorously for a few minutes.  They will shake out most of the excess.  You can either wipe out any excess and leftover dirt or simply let them drip dry.  Here is a video of me cleaning Sam’s ears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjgP6KNDfi8

That’s pretty much my basic regimen that keeps them clean and healthy.  If I’m going into the show ring, I will trim them after brushing and before bathing.  Please keep in mind that I’ve only started showing this year, but we did win Reserve Winners Bitch at our first major, so I must not have done too bad of a job.  Here is where I trim: probably the most important is leveling out the head furnishings.  Trim the hair at the bottom of the ears so that it is even, even out the head furnishings a bit, trim around the snout so that it is somewhat uniform and then level out a well combed out beard.  If the hair on top of the ears is not laying flat, use thinning shears to even it out to lay down.  Also make sure that the fur on the back of the head is under control, in order to accentuate the head furnishings.  Here is the photograph that I use for a guide (thank you to Paige Pettis of Pageska’s Griffon Town in Nova Scotia, Canada for use of the photo):

Two very handsome Wirehaired Pointing Griffons ready for the show ring in Quebec, Canada. Photo property of Paige Pettis

I then move on to make sure that the body hair is even.  Make sure that the feather on the back of the front legs is straight, trim any “sticky-outies” on their underside, trim the top of the tail if necessary and level out the feather at the bottom of the tail if you have a longer tailed griff like BB.  Here is the photograph that I use as a guide on the body (Thank you to Kristi Woods Rogney and her handler Amy Rutherford of Whiskeytown Sporting Dogs in California for use of the photo):

A Wirehaired Pointing Griffon ready for the California show circuit. Photo property of Kristi Woods Rogney

There are things that most griffon show groomers do that I do not due to our dogs spending most of their time in the field.  I do not finger strip, use a stripping stone, knife or furminator on my dogs’ coats.  Once you’ve seen a dog hunt cattails for a few hours, you’ll know why.  I do not pluck my dogs’ ears, so I end up cleaning them quite a bit.  My vet recommended not plucking them to make sure that field debris does not end up in the ear canal; I have a friend whose lab has his eardrum punctured by dried grass last year.  I have yet to learn how to clean my dogs’ teeth and right now rely on bones to keep them clean, but it is on my to-do list of things to learn (many folks have this done at their vet).  I do not trim my dogs’ claws because they get naturally worn down in daily exercise.  These are other things that you might want to think about and research elsewhere.

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