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North Dakota Hunting and Hunt Test Pupdates

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AWPGA Health and Genetics Database

Fellow Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breeders and owners: please participate in the AWPGA Health and Genetics Database.  You do not have to be an AWPGA member to participate.  We are looking to collect as much pedigree and health information as possible, so that we can go forward with a clearer picture of where the breed is currently and make appropriate breeding decisions. http://www.awpgadb.com/

2014 Hunting Issue of the Griffonnier

I am now co-editor of the Griffonnier with Amy Caswell-O’Clair from New Hampshire.  The first issue that I’ll be working on is appropriately the Hunting Issue 2014.  If you are an AWPGA member and have hunting training tips, hunting tales and photographs, or game bird recipes, please e-mail them to griffonniereditor@cox.net by November 30th.  If you aren’t an AWPGA member, please consider joining us: http://awpga.com/beamember.html.  We will be having our annual gathering in Fall 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa and would love to have you all join us.

Pups Hunting in North Dakota

I’m getting good reports out of North Dakota from both my puppy owners and Charles.  Here’s Susan’s North Dakota hunting party, with our pup TracHer from our 2012 “C” Litter from Sam and Mae.  Susan and TracHer are on the far left of the photo.

Susan and TracHer with friends and family.

Susan and TracHer with friends and family.

Susan said that the numbers were great and that they all would have had their limits if their shots had connected.  I know that feeling!

Ernie is having fun in North Dakota with 7 month old Duncan, from our 2014 “H” Litter from Sam and Mae.

Duncan and Ernie with a pheasant limit

Duncan and Ernie with a pheasant limit

Ernie has also picked up a GoPro camera and got some video of points and retrieves from Duncan.  GoPro seems to have improved the distance perception in the newer models, it seems more true to real sight.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this footage, what great work for a 7 month old pup.  

Hunt Test News

Congratulations to Sal and Chester (TracHer’s littermate) on two AKC Senior Hunter passes at the Long Island (New York) Viszla Club the weekend before last!

Sal and Chester with SH ribbons

Sal and Chester with SH ribbons

Also, congratulations to John and his pup, Cle, who is our Fire’s brother, on his NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize III at 8 months with the MidSouth NAVHDA Chapter in Pelham, Tennessee over the weekend.

More North Dakota

The dogs and Charles rolled into North Dakota mid-day Sunday, giving them some time to hunt in the afternoon and evening.  He took his first ever Hungarian Partridge then.  (Sorry for the low quality phone photos)

Charles's first Hungarian Partridge

Charles’s first Hungarian Partridge

I received another truck and bird photo mid-afternoon today, a drake redhead and two nice roosters.  The story on the duck is that he was working a slough surrounded by a cornfield when a group of ducks got up from the pond.  Charles tucked down, with this one flying in range.  The duck landed in standing corn and little Fire retrieved it.  He took the two roosters an hour or so later within 5 minutes of each other, but saw nothing else the rest of the day.  Still a nice bag.

Drake Canvasback and two roosters

Drake redhead and two roosters

Good luck to everyone else in the field out there!

North Dakota Trip, AWPGA Nationals, Nebraska Pheasants and other news…

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When you go three weeks without blogging, stuff piles up, so I apologize if this seems a bit like a random barrage.  What most people come to my website for is to find out about new litters, so I suppose I will start there.  Mae is starting to have changes and Sam wants to be in the kennel with her, so by the looks of things we will have a breeding between them within the next month.  So, let’s project that they breed at the beginning of December; that would have puppies being whelped at the beginning of February and going home at the beginning of April.  This is all just my somewhat educated guesstimation and by no means guaranteed.  Mae is 6, so I suspect that she will have a litter around the same size as last year, which was 4.  BB (who lives with us) and Velma (who lives with a friend) are set to have their first litters this year.  They should come into season anytime between now and April.  I will not breed after late March because any pups after that would interfere with being able to take a summer vacation before school starts for the kids and hunting season starts for us.  Right now I have 12 reservations with deposit and other folks trying to decide.  I could have anywhere from 12-30 pups if all goes as I plan, but it isn’t up to me.  Feel free to call (402) 682-9802 or e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net if you would like to discuss things further (I know I still have a couple of callbacks and e-mails, so bear with me another day or so to let me get those returned).

October 19-24 Charles, BB and Sam met up with Lou, Murph and Midge in North Dakota for a pheasant/duck hunt combo.  Also along was deer camp friend, Ozzie, and Lou’s father, Lew (AKA Lou Senior or Old Lou).  They saw some stuff.  They shot at some stuff.  They stayed in a cabin and cooked on a Coleman stove.  I’ll spare you the second-hand details and get down to the bird totals and photos.

Saturday, October 19, 2013: Charles and Young Lou got 3 sharp-tailed grouse.

Sam brings in the sharpie retrive with BB on backup.  Photo courtesy of Oscar Hollenbeck

Sam brings in the sharpie retrieve with BB on backup. Photo courtesy of Oscar Hollenbeck

Sam bringing the sharpie into Charles.  Photo courtesy of Oscar Hollenbeck

Sam bringing the sharpie into Charles. Photo courtesy of Oscar Hollenbeck

Young Lou, Murf, Sam, BB, Midge, Old Lou, Charles and the sharpie

Young Lou, Murf, Sam, BB, Midge, Old Lou, Charles and the sharpie.  Photo courtesy of Oscar Hollenbeck

The day's stringer of sharpies back at camp.  Photo by Charles

The day’s stringer of sharpies back at camp. Photo by Charles

Sunday, October 20, 2013 – skunked

Monday, October 21, 2013: Charles got 2 roosters

Charles and the first pheasant of the trip.  Photo courtesy of Oscar Hollenbeck

Charles and the first pheasant of the trip. Photo courtesy of Oscar Hollenbeck

Tuesday, October 22, 2013: Charles got a rooster pheasant and a mallard hen late in the day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013: Charles got one rooster

Thursday, October 24, 2013: Young Lou got two roosters (no photo available)

Random pic of Lou cooking since there is no pheasant pic.  It snowed Saturday night, so this must be Sunday morning.

Random pic of Lou cooking since there is no pheasant pic. It snowed Saturday night, so this must be Sunday morning.

The trip was more about the memories and the time spent together than the bird totals anyway.  I hope that the guys enjoyed themselves even without game bags overflowing.

The griffon masters

The griffon masters

As Charles was driving home from North Dakota, Cordelia and I were on the road to the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon National Specialty in Greeley, Colorado.  We missed the fun hunt, specialty show and annual meeting, but managed to see the supported entry show on Saturday and go to the banquet.  We also had an awesome sojourn into Boulder to shop and eat on Pearl St. and do some hiking in Boulder Canyon and at the Flatirons.

Cordelia and Charity in Colorado for AWPGA Nationals

Cordelia and Charity in Colorado for AWPGA Nationals

It was great to catch up with some griffoniers and talk dog nerd talk freely.   AWPGA National Specialty 2014 is on for Kennebunk and Union, Maine from August 25-31.  In addition to the events held this year in Colorado, they’ve got the Korthals Cup back on and there will be AKC and NAVHDA hunt testing opportunities available (in place of the fun hunt), and an interesting grooming and handling seminar.  I hope to make it out, but it is cutting it awfully close to the opening of dove and grouse Sept. 1.  I encourage any and all griffon enthusiasts to join the AWPGA and attend a specialty, so much fun!  Here are Susan Edginton’s photos of this year’s specialty dog show, if you want to check those out:

http://sedgintonphotos.photoreflect.com/store/ThumbPage.aspx?e=9111641&g=1ZZR001G02

Last weekend also had plenty of excitement!  Charles and Matt went out on Saturday in search of rooster pheasants and actually found some!  Nebraska Game and Parks planted 4000 pheasants this year on public land across Eastern Nebraska (finally).  If you’ve read my blog during pheasant season over the past few years, you know how much I like to whine about the decline of pheasants in our part of the state and how much NGPC needed to stock.  Well they have heard the desperate pleas of the hunters and “did us a solid” (as my kids would say).  The Pheasants Forever Rooster Road Trip party took 17 pheasant out of Northeastern Nebraska in one day off of public land.  We are very excited for this pheasant season in Eastern Nebraska, now that we know that we actually have a chance.  Both Matt and Charles took their limits and Charles got a quail too.  In total he said that they saw 20 pheasants and 50 quail.

Mid-day bag in Southeastern Nebraska

Mid-day bag in Southeastern Nebraska

End of day bag.  One of Matt's roosters somehow got away.

End of day bag. One of Matt’s roosters somehow got away.

By the time they pulled into the driveway, it was dark and the kids and I were in the middle of dinner, so no great photography went down.  Sorry.

On the same day we found out that our new male was born!!  He will be coming from Bourg-Royal Kennel in St. Lambert-de-Lauzon, Quebec, Canada, the same kennel as BB.  Different parents, both French imports.  We are very excited to bring him home around the first of the year!

Cristal and the 4 puppies: 1 male and 3 females

Cristal and the 4 puppies: 1 male and 3 females

Announcement in the last Griffonnier with the parents' credentials

Announcement in the last Griffonnier with the parents’ credentials

And the blog post wouldn’t be complete without some pupdates.  Here’s Midge (who went on the North Dakota trip), from Sam and Mae’s 2013 “F” litter with a big haul of pheasants from Montana.  Charles said she is a hard charging little dog with a great coat and lots of prey drive.

Midge and Montana Pheasants

Midge and Montana Pheasants

Midge’s older sister TracHer from Sam and Mae’s 2012 “C” litter has been having a great season up in North Dakota and is showing off all her skills.  According to Susan, “Gorgeous day today….we limited out 50 miles from home. TracHer retrieved 4 of the six birds, one in water with cattails.”

18 month old TracHer on retrieve of a North Dakota rooster

18 month old TracHer on retrieve of a North Dakota rooster

TracHer on left with Tom, Susan with Zepher (griff unrelated to my dogs) and their friends, the week prior to the close-up photo

TracHer on left with Tom, Susan with Zepher (griff unrelated to my dogs) and their friends, the week prior to the close-up photo

And one of my first dog babies, Whiskey from Sam and Sue’s “A” litter 2010, took his girl Andi out on her first duck hunt out in Nevada.  They did so awesome and I love how much Whiskey is Sam Jr!

Andi, Whiskey and some ducks

Andi, Whiskey and some ducks

Well, that pretty much wraps it up for right now.  Charles and I are heading out on Saturday in hopes of some pheasants and ducks.  We are still debating about where, but it will be pretty close to home.  I’ll keep you posted.  Until then, stay warm, winter is coming!

Our First NAVHDA Utility Test

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On Saturday, August 17th was our first North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) Utility Test in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with the Midwest Tri-State NAVHDA Chapter.  In the running were Sweetgrass Plainsman Samson “Sam” age 5 and Bourg-Royals CB Bluestem “BB” age 2 with my husband Charles handling both dogs.  The Midwest Tri-State NAVHDA Chapter is one of the best in the country and folks come from all over to participate in their events.

They come from far and wide...

They came from far and wide…

The Natural Ability dogs were first in the field on the day, with Sam as the first Utility Dog who ran.  His very first point was not on one of the planted chukars, but was a wild rooster pheasant!  The gunner said that he was twitching to fire, but it isn’t that time of year just yet!  Sam did fairly well on his first three finds, but it just started to get out of control.  The field was packed with birds and he was finding them every 45 seconds in some places.  He just came apart.  Sam has been hunting wild birds his whole life but has only received steadiness training in the past year, so he just couldn’t handle the overwhelming number of birds.  His pointing and retrieving never fail, but his habit of breaking on the shot came out in full force.  He probably had 10 total finds, but only held on maybe 3 or 4 of them.  Afterwards, Apprentice Judge Leo Boman told us that we need to go ahead and make a correction with the dog in the field, not letting him mess up over and over without trying to right it.  This is different than AKC, where the dog is supposed to work without correction and commands or face an order from the judge to “pick up your dog” (meaning you failed).  So that was a great tip for future handling.

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Charles walking in on one of Sam’s points

Although it shows Charles carrying a shotgun, it is not loaded and only the two chapter gunners do all of the shooting for the test.

A bird in the air, Sam breaking on the shot

A bird in the air, Sam breaking on the flush

Sam on retrieve

Sam on retrieve

Charles was pretty disgusted as he walked out of the field with Sam, but I knew that was where the dog would make mistakes and his time to shine would come later on in the day.  We had to shake it off quickly because we were running 2 out of the 3 utility dogs that day, so it was a short break until it was BB’s turn.

BB has become an outstanding field dog and proved in this test that she is ready to move on to Master Hunter runs in AKC (American Kennel Club) Hunt Tests.  She had 4 or 5 finds and every single one was textbook steadiness.  There was even a point where Charles chose to run after a bird to try to flush it and BB just stood there stone still.

BB stands steady with a bird in the air (see it up between the trees?)

BB stands steady with a bird in the air (see it up between the trees?)

BB retrieves to hand

BB retrieves to hand

Another bird in the air with BB standing steady

Another bird in the air with BB standing steady

BB on retrieve

BB on retrieve

Moment of Impact: BB stands by as a bird gets hit in front of the smaller cottonwood

Moment of Impact: BB stands by as a bird gets hit in front of the smaller cottonwood

We walked out of the bird field with BB feeling as if we’d taken our first steps toward a Utility Prize I.  We were very hopeful.  It was time for a delicious lunch of chili and cornbread.  You can’t beat the food at NAVHDA tests!

The next order of business was the duck search for the utility dogs.  Sam was up first and we had no worries about his performance.  Swam the full 10 minutes and searched the pond thoroughly.  He did not find the duck, but that isn’t the point of the exercise.

Sam going hard on the duck search

Sam going hard on the duck search

BB’s weak spot is the water.  With Sam always dominating the retrieves while we are duck hunting, she just hasn’t had a chance to get fired up about it.  She did an okay search, then came and sat down by Charles at around the 7 minute mark.

BB out on the duck search

BB out on the duck search

Afterwards we talked to Dan Griffith, who is a full time trainer of German Wirehaired Pointers and a very experienced Utility Tester.  We were wondering if Charles should have re-cast her out into the pond.  Dan told us that if you re-cast without judge’s instructions, it is automatically a one point deduction.  If the judge wants you to re-cast, they will tell you.  Do not re-cast on your own.  Another great handling tip for the future.

The Natural Ability dogs did their duck retrieve first (which BB had no problem with at her test, NA Prize I with a perfect score of 112).  The setup for the Utility dogs was that they walk on leash on heel through a set of posts to the blind.  The dog is released from the leash and “whoaed” behind the blind.  Shots are fired and the dog has to stay steady behind the blind.  The dog is then moved just outside of the blind so that he can mark where the throw of the duck lands.  More shots are fired and the duck is thrown.

Sam marks the throw.  You can see the heeling posts in the foreground.

Sam marks the throw. You can see the heeling posts in the foreground.

We were in no way prepared for the 50 yard duck retrieve that they set up for the Utility Dogs.  The throw was way outside of shotgun range and it is only because of Sam’s absolute love of swimming and water that he was able to pull it off.  We had not trained for that distance at all.

Sam brings in the duck

Sam brings in the duck

At that point, we knew that it would take a miracle for BB to get that duck.  She did great in the blind and I saw her mark the throw, but she got distracted by the decoys next to the shore and would only go about 20 yards out to search (within shotgun range).  We tried to cast her farther, but to no avail.  BB did not get the duck and received No Prize as a result.

The final event was the track.  Flight feathers are pulled from a pheasant or duck and left in a pile at the start.  The pheasant or duck is either allowed to run and hide on its own, or if a carcass is used, it is dragged to a particular spot.  Sam never follows a track from point A to point B.  He knows that the bird is there, he just wants to go to points C. D, and E, then pee on them, then find the bird.  So he did the track…sort of:)

Sam comes back from his track with the duck

Sam comes back from his track with the duck

BB does an amazing job of tracking and always goes from point A to point B flawlessly.  But as she didn’t get the duck, it was all for naught.  So we ended the day with Sam earning a Utility Test Prize III.  It was our first test and I was just happy to bring home a prize, especially on Sam who has just been a wild bird hunting dog for so long.  BB was perfect in everything but the water.  We will hunt her alone on wild ducks down in Missouri for early teal season in a few weeks and then Nebraska High Plains duck season a few weeks after that.

It was a great time in Sioux Falls and we learned so much from folks.  It was great seeing Cliff Koele of Coppershot Griffons, home of several NAVHDA Versatile Champions, who recently announced his retirement from testing and breeding.  He will now focus on fishing and mentoring other breeders/trainers.  We had so much fun with all of our fellow handlers, the volunteers and the judges.  We learned and laughed.  It’s just dogs after all.

Congratulations to our fellow griffoniers who also participated in the weekend from Aux Lake Kennel!  From left to right: Keith Feldhaus and Deke UT I, Scott Moore and Josie as observers, Rick Jones and Jessie NA II and the godfather himself: Larry Woodward and Holly UT I.  Thank you Kim Jones for allowing me to use your photo.  We had a chance to spend time with the Joneses since Jessie ran on Saturday, but only saw everyone else briefly as we were ships passing in the night.  Their UT dogs ran on Sunday.

Aux Lake Crew

Aux Lake Crew

Wow and a big thank you to the Midwest Tri-State NAVHDA Chapter for a great test.  We will be back.

I have so much more to write about, but am just out of time for today.  I will be sure to post again later this week before hunting season starts on Saturday!!  I have some pupdates that I need to clear out of my queue before I get way behind!  Talk at you later this week.

The Latest Happenings

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To those shopping for puppies: Our 2013 breeding season has come to a close and all puppies have homes.  Feel free to call (402) 682-9802 or e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net if you would like to discuss our breeding plans for 2014.

Mae’s litter has all gone home and I’m boarding a pup of Sue’s for one more week.  We’ve really become attached to “Reagan”, the name that her new owners have chosen for her.  Maybe they’ll chicken out at the last minute and we can keep her;)  She still has accidents in the house, but I’d say she’s 3/4 housebroken.  She comes when her name is called 90% of the time and even when she doesn’t come, she knows that you are talking to her, but she’s just trying to opt out of obeying.  I’ve seen her chase tweety birds in the yard and she picks things up on her own to carry around in her mouth like a good little retriever.  She keeps up with the big dogs running the property.  I sure hope her new family is ready for her, because she has lots of juice!  She does really well in the crate and I can keep her in there without protest for 5 hours or so and can handle about the same time in the outdoor kennel/run with BB.

11 week old Reagan striking a pose

11 week old Reagan striking a pose

Reagan and I on Mother's Day

Reagan and I on Mother’s Day

Phone pic when Reagan was carrying the bumper

Phone pic when Reagan was carrying the bumper

More beautiful puppy families!  Danny flew in from Austin, TX on the 8th to pick up “Flora” who will now be known as “Fern” and took her home as a carry-on.  That is how we brought BB home from Quebec, so I know that can be a challenge.  Danny just sent me an update today and it said:

I know this note is a little late, but I just wanted to update you on Fern.  She is awesome!  She’s fitting in to her family well.  Our Airedale, Alli, seems to accept her alright.  I do think that having a puppy around makes her nervous, though.  Puppies have a lot of energy for a 10 year old dog to handle!  When I got her home, I think she was shellshocked…the airplane ride was a little traumatic for her.  Her personality is about 180 degrees from when I picked her up at your house.  She is very outgoing and loves being by her family.  I think she loves the kids a little too much!  Very nippy.  Poor kids don’t know when they can pet her safely without getting bit!  So far she seems very eager to please.  She likes to play fetch with just about any object.  Her favorite thing to play with is frozen duck wings.  Fern just goes bonkers for these things.  Potty training is going pretty well.  She has adapted to the kennel and doesn’t really whine but for about a minute, then just curls up with her little toy and sleeps.  We’ve had a day or two of no accidents.  Most of her accidents have been our fault, not paying attention to her when she goes to the door.  I’ve been working with her on “here,” “sit,” and “down.”  She will do anything for a treat.  
 
Anyway, I just wanted to keep you up to date with Fern’s new family and her progress.  So far, she has been a great addition to our family.  Also, it seems like she is going to shape up to be a serious hunter.  
 
Thanks,
 
Danny
Danny and family in Austin, TX

Danny and family in Austin, TX

Chris and Elysia in Ohio had “Frieda” flown out to them in Dayton, Ohio.  Chris is a dog handler with the US Army, so I know that she is in good hands!  Elysia sent me a note and photo too, “She’s beautiful!  And doing great.  She loves the kids, gets very excited when she sees them.  She’s pretty calm with us though.  We’re missing one kid in our picture because he wasn’t being cooperative.  They’ll be plenty more pictures though.  Happy Mother’s day, we hope you had a great weekend!  And thank you again for everything!”

The Pritchett family in Dayton, Ohio

Chris and Elysia’s family in Dayton, Ohio

“Fern” also flew out on Friday the 10th and is now living in Helena, Montana with our friends Louie and Lindsay.  Lou is a childhood friend of Charles from back in upstate New York, they belonged to the same deer hunting camp back in the day.  Fern is now known as “Midge” and has a 7-year old male griff friend, Murf.  He’s fixed, so there will be no Murf/Midge progeny, but we hope that Midge turns out and we can tap into the great studs in Montana.

Lindsay, Frannie, Lou and the dogs

Lindsay, Frannie, Lou and the dogs

Gabe practices stacking Midge

Gabe practices stacking Midge

Last weekend was the Heartland NAVHDA Chapter spring test.  BB and Sam were tested in the Utility Preparatory Test.  Even though she had the higher score of 164, BB did not prize because of lack of water search.  She was in the middle of her heat and come to find out she had a nasty case of worms (courtesy of a dead squirrel she gnawed on in our woods), so we felt bad that it was sort of our fault that she bombed.  It was really too bad because she aced the field work and even if she had given a III performance in the water, she would have had a prize I overall.  It was just sort of a strange deal, because she had no sign of being ill until that day.  She had been staying in the house full-time to help me babysit Reagan and to keep Sam from freaking out about her heat and we had seen nothing wrong until that day.  I’m just thankful that nobody else got sick and we were able to get it treated.

Charles giving BB the release command (file photo from her NA test)

Charles giving BB the release command (file photo from her NA test)

Sam’s field and track were okay, but he was the star of the day in the water, taking home a Prize II with a score of 163.

Sam and Charles (file photo from AKC test in March)

Sam and Charles (file photo from AKC test in March)

I’ve had folks asking me about what I’m writing for Lion Country Supply http://www.lcsupply.com/.  I have been updating their product descriptions and will be branching out into blogging and product reviews once I get through the catalog.  I am so excited to be connected with such a great company and look forward to having a long career of dog writing ahead of me.

Next up is the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of Central Iowa and the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of Eastern Nebraska’s double/double AKC Hunt Test Memorial Day weekend at Yankee Hill WMA near Lincoln.  We’ll see if we can get a pass in SH for Sam or BB, it has been eluding us at this point, but we’ll keep trying.  Call me or shoot me an e-mail if you would like to participate and I can forward on the premiums, it closes on Tuesday so you might have to overnight them!

I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend, but don’t forget about the sacrifices made by the armed forces.  I’ll be thinking of my Dad who passed away in 1998 at the age of 49 as a result of complications from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam.  I know that he looks down on all of this dog craziness and smiles.

“E” Litter – One Week Old

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It never ceases to amaze me as to how quickly these puppies grow!  They’ve gone from the size of bratwursts to the size of really fat guinea pigs in a week.  Good job mama Sue!

"E" Litter at one week old

“E” Litter at one week old

I have registered the litter with the AKC online and have sent the litter registration paperwork to NAVHDA via mail.  Just to make sure that my future owners are clear, I will give you the paperwork to register the dog individually, as I have not built the individual puppy registration into my price.  That also gives you the right to register your dog with whatever name you would like, I only fill in the kennel name “Bluestem” at the front.  I also want to make sure that everyone is clear: these dogs leave with “limited” AKC registration and “breeding restricted” NAVHDA registration (which is normal for reputable breeders).  If you wish to breed your dog down the line, there are additional hunt testing and health clearance steps that we will go through.  Contact me for details.

Also, if you are an individual shopping for a puppy, I have decided to stop taking reservations for this year’s puppies because I feel as if I have a full roster.  If Mae has more than 9 puppies (which the current number of reservations I have for her litter), I will let everyone know.  Otherwise, feel free to call or e-mail if you would like to talk about next year’s breeding plans.

As far as the puppies go, about the only things they are doing right now are eating and sleeping.  They are just getting old enough to where I can let the kids hold them.

Conrad (almost 9 years old) holds a pup

Conrad (almost 9 years old) holds a pup

 

I filmed two videos of the litter on their one week old birthday, the first is of them just sleeping:

The second video shows their other favorite activity, eating:

Mae is doing well and getting bigger, I don’t have a picture of her for this week as of yet, I will work on that over the weekend and try to get something up either Sunday or early next week.  Charles is headed down to Branched Oak Trial Grounds this weekend to run BB and Sam in Senior Hunter on Saturday and Sunday at the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Lincoln’s Spring AKC Hunt Test and Walking Field Trial.  Joining him on Saturday will be Rick and his 9 month old puppy “Dottie” from Sue and Sam’s last litter (the “D” Litter of 2012), who will be giving the Junior Hunter course a shot.  Sounds like it is going to be a rainy one, but I hope to get some pics of everyone up by the clubhouse.  So send us good vibes for success on the hunt tests and continued health with the puppies!  Do not hesitate to call me at (402) 682-9802, e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net, or just leave a comment on this page if you would like to get in touch.

“E” Litter Arrival…the rest of the story

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Our first clue as to the imminent arrival of the puppies came over the weekend, when Sue started quietly whining pretty much constantly.  I took her temperature on Sunday at it was normal, around 101F.  A funny aside about Sue’s personality is that when she’s with the people, she’s going to be retrieving you something…anything…(I swear that these are candid and not posed)

Sue on Saturday with a deer antler and a cow skull from our flower bed bone pile

Sue on Saturday with a deer antler and a cow skull from our flower bed bone pile

Sue picking up the kids dirty socks

Sue picking up the kids dirty socks

Sue brought me a "double retrieve" a kids pj shirt and an alligator puppet

Sue brought me a “double retrieve” a kids pj shirt and an alligator puppet

I took her temperature again three times on Monday, each time it was between 98-99F.  They say that when this happens, the puppies come within 24-48 hours (and since I’ve been doing it, it has been true).  I just use a human ear thermometer to take the temperature in her ear.  I am sworn to never do a rectal temp on anything, man nor beast.

Tuesday morning we started walking the yard and property quite a bit.  When I went to make lunch, Sue was hanging out next to me in the kitchen being her normal self: head up looking at me and tail wagging.  All of a sudden her head dropped and turned away from me, her tail stopped wagging, she let out a low groan and I saw the tightening of her puppy belly.  So we walked and walked and walked all afternoon.  About 3 PM she started going into the “poop pose” with nothing coming out pretty frequently.  She began nesting in the dog houses and in the leaf piles under the bushes.  But her water hadn’t broken yet and I had an early evening obligation, so I put her in the whelping area and was away until about 7.  When I got home, she had been asleep in the whelping box and nothing had happened.  So we walked some more and her contractions seemed to be getting stronger.  A black sort of mucus plug looking thing came out while squatting at one point, but still her water wasn’t broken yet.  It was time to put the kids to bed at 9, so I put her back out in the whelping area around 8:30.  The kids took awhile to get around for bed, so I didn’t get back out there until around 9:30 PM.

I was all dressed up to take her back out walking, but this time I had a towel and a flashlight in case she accidentally popped a puppy out on to the snow.  But as I was walking to the door of the room, I heard the distinct sound of a puppy squeak!  I threw down my stuff and tore off my outdoor gear.  She had made quick work of things because I could see where her water had broken while waiting for me at the door, but she was in the box with her first puppy.

Sue and her first puppy around 9:30 PM Monday

Sue and her first puppy around 9:30 PM Tuesday

Having given birth naturally to three children under the care and observation of a nurse midwife very much influences my practice as a puppy whelper.  I totally see myself in the role of the midwife: checking on the mother regularly, but assuming that our bodies know what to do and that mother nature will make things happen properly.  So I give my females plenty of space to do their work bringing life into the world.  I checked back with Sue around 11 PM and puppy number two had arrived.

Sue and two puppies around 11 PM Monday

Sue and two puppies around 11 PM Tuesday

I went and grabbed a couple more hours of shut eye, but Sue was hard at work between 11 PM Tuesday and 1:30 AM Wednesday, as by my check-in she was up to 6 puppies.

Sue with 6 puppies at 1:30 AM Tuesday (there is one under her front leg).

Sue with 6 puppies at 1:30 AM Wednesday (there is one under her front leg).

By the time I was up again at 4:30 AM, two more puppies had arrived on the scene, for a total of 8.  I was able to get Sue up to go outside to go potty and I checked her stomach and thought she was done.  I also went about cleaning out the whelping box and freshening up the chips, assuming everyone had arrived.

Sue and the 8 puppies at 4:30 AM on Wednesday

Sue and the 8 puppies at 4:30 AM on Wednesday

I had an obligation Wednesday morning that I went ahead and attended to, as all of the puppies appeared healthy and Sue had everything under control.  When I went to check in at noon, I knew from past experience that I had better re-count the puppies.  Sure enough, a ninth one had arrived.  It was limp and cold, when I picked it up at first, I thought it was stillborn.  But it was alive, just barely.  It had a small, triangular head and was just odd looking, almost like a mole.  So, I called him “Mole”.

Sue and 9 pups at noon on Wednesday.  "Mole" is on the far left, turned away from the teats.

Sue and 9 pups at noon on Wednesday. “Mole” is on the far left, turned away from the teats.

From my first discovery of Mole, I tried to bring him around.  He was too weak to get to the teat and I had to force his mouth open to even take a bottle.  No matter how hard I tried he would never get warm, even if I sat right in front of the fireplace and rubbed him as much as I could.  Every time I went to the box, he was pushed over into a corner, cold and alone.  I really knew something was off when I finally did get him on the teat, as he was strong enough to suckle, Sue pushed him and my hand away.

I had made the appointment to get the pups tails docked and dew claws removed at the vet’s office on Thursday morning at 10:30 AM.  Before we made the transition out into the big world, we did a small one into the living room, just as something in the interim.  Plus a warm fire is always nice.

Puppies enjoying time by the fire before the vet's office.

Puppies enjoying time by the fire before the vet’s office.

9 puppies sleeping, "Mole" is on the left

9 puppies sleeping, 1 day old, “Mole” is at the top

I really adore my veterinarians, Drs. Andrew and Susan Kliewer of Heartland Animal Hospital.  Of course it is cool to work with another husband and wife team, but the best part is that I just feel like we share the same philosophy when it comes to animals and we really “get” each other.  So I showed Susan “Mole”, I talked about what had been going on, my concerns and interventions.  She told me that she had a friend who had recently nursed a pup like “Mole” back to (what was thought to be) health, only to have it get kidney failure at 6 months old.  The persistent coldness showed that he had poor circulation, he had a strangely shaped palate, an improperly shaped skull…there were just too many problems to overcome.  So we elected to humanely euthanize him.  I really appreciate all the support from my dog friends on Facebook when that happened, it helped me feel better.  I knew it was the right thing for the puppy and for the breed and for myself (I was spending the majority of my time, including getting up a night, fussing over him), but it was still sad.

But hey, we have 8 gorgeous healthy puppies and that is something to be so super excited about!!  Here is their debut on YouTube: 

And right afterwards, I took these still shots of them resting:

8 healthy puppies at 2 days old!

8 healthy puppies at 2 days old!

Sue making sure that everyone is having a good nap

Sue making sure that everyone is having a good nap

Sue's way of telling us to go away is when she sticks her head between us and the puppies

Sue’s way of telling us to go away is when she sticks her head between us and the puppies

So now everyone is good, Sue included.  She seems very relieved to have all of the puppies out of her belly.  She can go back to trying to catch the squirrels in the backyard when I let her out.

Sue looking svelte waiting to come back into the house after a run in the backyard.

Sue looking svelte waiting to come back into the house after a run in the backyard.

She even felt secure enough today to come upstairs and visit me while the puppies were taking a nap.  That made me happy, as the first day I always have to feed and water her in the whelping box because she doesn’t want to leave them.

Sue came up for a visit while I blog at the kitchen table.  She brought me one of the kids sweatshirts.

Sue came up for a visit while I blog at the kitchen table. She brought me one of the kids sweatshirts.

Well I need to get my rear in gear, the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Lincoln’s cutoff for next weekend’s AKC hunt test is tomorrow at 6 PM, so I have to hustle to get our entries in.  BB and Sam are going to do some Senior Hunter runs.  I’m hoping that we can get Rick’s pup “Dottie” from Sue and Sam’s “D” litter last year signed up for Junior Hunter too.  Should be a great weekend reuniting with the local dog crazies at the first event of the year at Branched Oak Trial Grounds.  I’m excited that they are having a 100% walking stakes only (no horseback) AKC field trial that weekend too.  Love to see the foot hunting dogs get some respect.

Oh and I do have a pupdate, from TracHer in North Dakota from our “C” litter last year out of Mae and Sam.  Tom and Susan got a GoPro camera that Tom is wearing here on his chest while he’s cross country skiing with Susan and the dogs.  TracHer is almost a year old and looks like she’s having a great time snow diving!  That’s one of her griffy buddies Zephyr along with them.  

I’m in the process of getting e-mails out to everyone with reservations for puppies, so if you have a deposit down with us, please keep an eye on your inbox.  I should have a status for everyone written up by Sunday.  Oh gosh, I almost forgot the Mae update!  She is due sometime around March 18th, so I need to get ready to go through this all over again:)

Mae sporting a puppy belly as she chomps on an antler Saturday.

Mae sporting a puppy belly as she chomps on an antler Saturday.

BB’s Big Adventure (and other news)

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As the blog has been focused on my most recent litter of puppies, I haven’t had time to fill you all in on BB’s big adventure.  For those of you who don’t know, BB is our year old female griffon that we imported from Quebec City, Canada.  Her first breeding isn’t planned until 2014, as we have high hopes for her in competition prior to breeding.

Her first AKC event was at the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Lincoln’s AKC Hunt Test on March 10th (yes, the same day the puppies were whelped).  Charles and BB left early, but I made sure that Mae was done whelping, cleaned out the whelping box, cleaned up Mae and then the kids and I headed down to Lincoln to watch BB’s first run at the AKC Junior Hunter title.  It was a hot (mid-70’s) and windy day, there were several dogs that came out of the Junior Hunter field with zero bird finds.  Experienced handlers looked on skeptically as Charles and BB entered the field.  The Junior Hunter run is split into two parts, 8 minutes in the “back field”, where there are no birds planted, but they are expected to search, then another 8 minutes in the bird field, where the dog is expected to find and point birds, then the handler flushes the birds and fires a blank pistol on the flush.  It is also done in a “brace” with two dogs and two handlers, so you are having to “outfind” the other dog/handler in the bird field.  I was tickled to death after BB’s 8 minutes in the bird field, she had found and pointed 6 birds!

The AKC Junior Hunter title consists of 4 legs of the same event, so BB finished her second leg with GSPCL the following day, then completed her final two legs on March 31st with the Missouri Valley Brittany Club and on April 1st with the Nebraska Vizsla Club.  All four runs were done at the famous (in the field trial/hunt test world) Branched Oak Lake Field Trial Grounds in Raymond, Nebraska.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Junior Hunter

Charles and BB with the two GSPCL AKC JH Ribbons

On Saturday, April 14th, Charles and BB went out to play a very un-griffon game known as the AKC Walking Field Trial.  They were entered in the Amateur Walking Derby and the Open Derby stakes with the Heart of America German Shorthaired Pointer Club in Hillsdale, KS.  I will let Charles speak to this in his future blog post on Versatile Hunter (versatilehunter.com), but it is more of a running game than a bird finding game.  Yet it was a good time for them both, they had fun and got more experience with AKC competition.

In April, BB and I participated in two AKC Conformation Dog Shows.  I used to be very skeptical of dog shows as some sort of beauty contest for dogs, but as a breeder, the AKC puts pressure on you to get your dogs into the show ring, as the dog show’s purpose is to evaluate the quality of AKC breeding stock.  We attended the Grand Island Kennel Club dog show on Saturday, April 21st, then the Seward County Kennel Club show on Sunday, April 29th.  We took home first place, best of breed and winners ribbons from both shows, but we were the only griffon participating.  The judges did say that she is a quality animal.  It was pretty intimidating getting into the sporting group ring with professional handlers, but we are getting more comfortable in the ring and are looking forward to what looks to be our first “major” show (multiple griffons in attendance) in Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota in June.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon dog show

BB and I practice stacking at the GIKC dog show. Photo by Cordelia Upchurch

Last weekend we ran BB in the Heartland Chapter of NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association) Natural Ability test, which consists of a 20-minute field search similar to the AKC JH, a seperate bird track, where they are tracking a running pheasant, then a water retrieves of dummies.  BB scored a Prize I on the test, with a perfect score of 112!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon NAVHDA NA

BB points a quail during the field search of the NAVHDA NA test

BB is now officially known as AKC/NAVHDA Bourg-Royal’s CB Bluestem JH NA   1.  We hope to keep adding to the titles over the next year or so!

In Other News

Our co-owned year old female, Velma (AKC/NAVHDA De Jac’s Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah) also had a perfect score of 112 on the NAVHDA Natural Ability test, with first time handler (and co-owner) Aaron Klusmire.  Congrats Aaron and Velma!!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon NAVHDA NA

Aaron and Velma return from the bird field

Sue is looking quite pregnant and I’ve started putting the heavy feed to her in preparation for her final weeks of pregnancy.  I suspect we have about 3-4 weeks to go before I’m back on litter duty!

Getting lots of updates on the most recent litter that went home.  I was glad to hear that Belle (Carlita) in Oklahoma is over getting motion sickness and has ridden in the vehicle sickness-free since her trip home.  TracHer (Candida) in North Dakota and Frankie in Colorado are going everywhere, including the water.  Speaking of Frankie (Carmelita), I haven’t posted her homegoing photos yet:

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 8 weeks

Frankie (Carmelia) and her hunter, Mike, in Colorado

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 8 weeks

Frankie meets some new friends

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 8 weeks

Frankie having fun

Then there’s some pictures of TracHer in North Dakota up to her antics:

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 8 weeks

“Can I have some?”

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 8 weeks

“Where’s the ducks?”

I also received some updated pictures of a year old female from last year’s “B” litter between Sue and Sam.  This is “Shady Lady”, who lives in Nevada (you may also catch a glimpse of her partner in crime “Smoky” who’s out of Whiskeytown Kennels in California):

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 1 year old

Shady Lady appears very proud of herself in the yard

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 1 year old

Up close and personal with Shady Lady

Thank you to all of my owners for the photo contributions!  We’re going to keep busy here with dogs and more puppies, and of course we’ll keep you posted as it all unfolds!