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“P” Litter at One Week Old

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Please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wished to be placed on the contact list should someone back out of taking one of these puppies home.  At this time, all puppies are spoken for.

Saturday Ruth and the puppies moved out into the garage, which is just off of the kitchen and directly beneath my bedroom.  So I’m feeling a bit like having a new baby since I wake up every time one of the puppies pitches a fit on their way to the teat at night (going to have to talk to my contractor about getting some more insulation between the garage and the bedroom).

They are really starting to scoot around and we only have another week or so before their eyes open and they start to try to stand up.

The weather is warming up, the snow is melting and it is going straight into the rainy season.  But the change in the weather makes it so that they can be in the garage, otherwise they would still be in the kitchen if it was in the teens and snowing like it was a few weeks ago.

No news is good news, everyone is growing like they are supposed to be and all is well.  Here is the video from today: https://youtu.be/RlFBWcz4cu8

 

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.

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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

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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

P is for Puppies and Procrastination

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

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

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Pregnant Ruth napping in the sun today

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

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Zoro and Ruth sunbathing about a month ago

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

End of Hunting Season

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

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Charles and Zoro with some Southeast Nebraska quail, January 2019

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Zoro in the snow a week ago

The dogs and the move

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

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

The Winter of our discontent

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

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

Hunting Season Update

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Hunting Season Update

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

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

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Fire with a limit of ducks

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Chief with a nice haul of ducks

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

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

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

Charles Neb Pheas 2018

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

 

Training Plans

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

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

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

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

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

Chief moves on

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

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Chief and Kyle head for his new home

What’s going on in the breed?

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

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

What should you look for in a breeder?

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas – Happy Hanukkah – Merry Kwanzaa

Blessed Winter Solstice – Festive Festivus – Happy New Year

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

The Last Day of Summer

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“O” Litter Homegoings from May

This last day of summer leaves me thinking about all of the letting go that I’ve had to do over the last four months or so.  Our “O” Litter went home in May.  I was not here for most of the homegoings due to unforeseen health issues and Charles had to cover for me on most of them.  The most important thing is that they all went home happy and healthy to great new homes where they are loved.

 

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Kelvin took his second Bluestem puppy (litter name “Ophelia”) home to Colorado.  He and his wife Nancy also have Winston from our “A” Litter

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Dennis and his wife heading home with their pup (litter name “Owen”) to Missouri

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Rodney’s pup (litter name “Obediah”) also at home in Missouri

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Galen and her pup (litter name “Omar”) at home in Michigan

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Katie, her husband and pup (litter name “Osborne”) at home in Minnesota

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John’s pup (litter name “Olivia”) playing in Alabama

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Chris and his wife with their puppy (litter name “Oprah”) in Maine

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Paul, his pup (litter name “Orville”) and me at the airport before they head to Texas

We had other pups go to Oklahoma, another to Texas, one to Kansas and one stay in Omaha, but due to all of the confusion of my absence, we didn’t get pictures.  I hope that everyone is having happy and healthy lives with their new puppies.  I figure that no news is good news!

BB’s Retirement

BB’s last litter was in the spring and she now is happy at her new home on a farm in Kansas with my friend Brice.  Brice is an avid hunter, so she should see some more hunting action in the coming years.  His son Ridge calls her his pet and I see that they recently went fishing together.  I just don’t have the space to retire all of my dogs at home once they are done breeding, so it is great to give them away to folks who really appreciate this breed and can give them a good place to live out their senior years.

BB was imported from Quebec’s Bourg-Royal Kennel, owned by Gilbert Tremblay and Renee Fortier.  She is a fantastic hunter and a valuable foundation bitch.  Thank you Renee and Gilbert for entrusting us with her.

CKC/AKC/NAVHDA Bourg-Royal CB Bluestem JH, NA I UT III and multiple AKC Walking Derby Field Trial Placements

BB Goodbye

Me saying goodbye to BB

Boyle Family BB

Brice and family getting ready to head back to Kansas

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Ridge and BB ready to hit to road with one of their shepherd pups

September Hunting

We traveled to the Nebraska Sandhills for the opening weekend of sharptailed grouse on Labor Day weekend.  I’m taking this season off from hunting for health reasons, but Charles got out for three mornings before it heated up.  The first morning he didn’t see a thing, but Sunday he, Chief and Ruth bagged a limit (pictured).  He also got a limit of three Monday morning with Zoro and Fire, but we didn’t get a photo because we were too busy getting back on the road.

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Charles with a limit of sharptailed grouse, with Ruth and Chief

He also made it out a couple of weekends ago for some teal, sora and snipe hunting with Fire.  Here is a photo of their bag for the day.

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Fire with a snipe, four sora rail and a blue-winged teal

A Change of Seasons

The cool of fall is here and with that arrives the ability to work in the outdoors.  That is exactly what I intend to do.  Happy hunting to everyone out there!

Bluestem Kennels is on Summer Sabbatical

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Please be aware that Bluestem Kennels has taken a very important Jesuit summer sabbatical.  The summer sabbatical is an important tradition in the Jesuit community of which I am a very important part of by being member of the Creighton University community who is aligned with the current Pope Francis.  I will not be responding to kennel e-mails until the fall.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Goodbye Griffonnier

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After four years as editor of the Griffonnier, the magazine of the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association, I decided that it was time to step down and let the board of directors of the club find new leadership for the magazine.

In our time at the helm of the magazine, Amy Caswell-O’Clair of Soonipi Point Griffons, our paid graphic designer Jane Swanson and I vastly improved both the appearance and the content of the club magazine.  With our nomination for the 2017 breed club magazine competition of the Dog Writers Association of America, we walk away with our heads held high.  Best of luck to whomever takes over this weighty position.  Thank you to all of our contributing members and advertisers who made our magazine a smashing success, we always received numerous compliments and were presented with the AWPGA Service Award in 2016 at the banquet in Helena, Montana.

It was also nice to go out with one of my puppies on the cover: Bluestem Winchester SH, NA II UT II retrieving a duck.  The photo is by Jerry Imprevento of Field Dog Imagery and “Chester” is owned by Sal Licata of New Hyde Park, New York.

I went ahead and scanned in my contributions to the Spring 2018 Issue to share with you all.  As I have more time in the future, I may go back and scan in my articles for previous issues to share on my blog.  I hope to devote my writing time to creating a manual for my puppy buyers and writing articles for hunting publications.  And of course keeping you up-to-date with our dog silliness here.

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Griffonnier Editor

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I haven’t been taking many pictures recently, but Zoro is getting ready for his NAVHDA Natural Ability Test in the fall.  Maybe next time Charles goes to a training day with him, I will tag along to take some pics.  Until then, everyone have a great 4th of July holiday!

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