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“R” Litter 8 Weeks and Homegoing

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We had a busy last week with the pups, as my daughter was visiting over the University of Nebraska-Lincoln spring break.

Cordelia and the “R” Litter pups

They passed their vet inspection with flying colors. Their teeth are all straight, their umbilical openings have closed, everything sounded and moved as it should.

The two girls at York Vet

In addition to the trip to the vet, they got some individual crate time in on a day that Cordelia and I went to the gym for a couple of hours.

Puppies crate conditioning in the “dog room” (and hunting junk room)
My head puppy assistant Caleb also got in some extra time with them the last week

We also worked on walking on a leash a little bit. They are used to following me around, so it doesn’t take much to get them to just ignore the leash and follow me around. Since Reba is going to be a dock diving dog, she got to see the retrieving bumper just briefly.

Reba checks out the bumper while on a leash

Other trainers have told me that it is important to only use the bumper for the task that you are training towards, it is not a chew toy or reward item. So this was literally less than a minute. It has been pretty chilly here (for South Carolina) the last few weeks so their time in the water was pretty limited.

Pups in the swamp

There is a little swampy area on the border of our property after it rains, so they were able to climb around in that a bit.

Rosalind will be working some birds, so she got some bird exposure while she was here.

Rosalind sight pointing a wing
Rosalind retrieving a dead quail

The way that I do the frozen dead quail is that I put the pup in an exercise pen so that they don’t have a chance to run off and get distracted by other things. I tie a string to the quail and drag it around inside of the exercise pen to get the pup’s attention. Then they pick up the bird and carry it around to much praise.

Rosalind checking out our bird menagerie

She also got a chance to check out some live birds in the bird pen. Early exposure folks are divided on whether to let a pup get their mouth on a live bird. I used to let a pup play with a live bird, but where we are testing more with pen-raised birds that they are able to catch at times, I would rather just avoid a problem and start them at “look/point only”.

Reba going home to Kentucky with vet Dr. Blair to trail run and dock dive
Rosalind going home with Clint and his wife to Pennsylvania to hunt and blood track

Then first thing Sunday morning, both of the puppies went home. The timing was such a blessing because I would have struggled with only having one of them here. They would have basically needed attention as if I were keeping the pup and I feel so lucky that both of the new owners were able to make it on the day that they turned 8 weeks. I look forward to watching them grow, they are great little girls! (Please note: the 8 week birthday rule is a USDA regulation for dog breeders and should apply to all dog breeders in the United States. Anyone sending puppies home prior to their 8 week old birthday is in violation of APHIS regulations and is opening themselves up to potential US Department of Agriculture enforcement.)

Since Ruth is five and it took us so long to get a male purchased, tested and raised to our specifications, we will be doing another litter in the fall. It looks like it is probably all reserved, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to get on our backup contact list. After the Fall of 2022, our next planned litter is the Fall of 2023. Our daughter is graduating from college in May of 2023 and we need to be able to travel back to Nebraska for that event. Spring of 2024 will be Ruth’s last litter and then she will retire. We will keep a female puppy (or puppies?) from those last two litters. I suspect Spring of 2024 will be Sally’s first litter, as long as everything turns out with health testing.

Speaking of graduations, our son Conrad graduates from Clover High School two months from tomorrow! I am not sure when I’ll be back here blogging, but Sally has her UPT test and Obi has his last UT test (we’re trying for the UT I one more time, I told Charles that he is not allowed to test him ten times like some people do for the UT I) in May at the Hudson Valley (NY) Chapter of NAVHDA. I will also have to keep you posted as to when Ruth comes into season for the next round, I’m hoping that she can hold off until July to come in, but it may be June. She and I will be working out and getting ready. And Duke will be training with Caleb for NAVHDA Natural Ability.

So that is a wrap on “R” litter 2022, good luck to everyone out there training and testing this spring!

“R” Litter Two Weeks Old

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

Rosalind and Reba

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

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

Rosalind face
Rosalind back
Reba face
Reba back

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

Ruth and the girls

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

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

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

South Carolina Quail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“R” Litter One Week Old

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The three musketeers of the “R” Litter have made it to one week old. We went to York Vet on Thursday for a health checkup and to have their tails docked and dew claws removed. We also had Ruth examined and blood drawn from her to make sure that everyone is healthy. There are no outward symptoms of any sort of infection, so we are anticipating the bloodwork to come back clear.

The two females are just huge since there are so few puppies to compete with, then little brother is about half of their size. He moves normally and latches to the teat on his own, so we’ll just hope for the best unless things take a turn. This next week is extremely critical as we count down to when their eyes open and they can start taking a little bit of canned puppy food mush.

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Puppy nap pile
Little brother nursing while the two big sisters nap

Last day of hunting season

Charles and Sally went and harvested a couple of more South Carolina woodcock yesterday, as it was the last day of the season on public land. They are having good adventures in the cane swamps of the central part of the state. Charles says that it is tough shooting through the tree branches and the terrain is pretty uneven, so it is a challenge. But nice to see them put birds in the bag in a new state.

Sally and the last two woodcock of the season

So keep us in your doggy prayers this week as we wait for the bloodwork results on Ruth and hope that this little boy keeps on trucking. Our two weeks of winter are winding down here and it will be spring later on this afternoon, it looks like. It is so strange going from five months of winter with a few subzero weeks to pretty much no winter at all. I’ll take it though! I’ll be back next week, hopefully with all good news from here on out.

Welcome “R” Litter

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Complaining that I only ended up with three beautiful, healthy puppies and a perfectly healthy mama is like getting some really nice stuff for Christmas, but griping that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I have had friends go into the emergency vet for a c-section and come out with nothing, no mama and no puppies. I’ve had friends come out with puppies and no mama and vice versa (a living mama that is unable to breed again and no puppies). Dog breeding is not a vending machine and it is really whatever mother nature gives you. You cry and pout with the mama, but you have to keep going with positivity for the pups who are here and those who are yet to come. I can’t even count how many times I’ve said “I’m never doing this again” to myself. But I’ve matured as a breeder over the last 12 years and I do it for this:

Whiskey of our “A” Litter 2010 will be 12 in April

Old Whiskey of our “A” litter will be twelve in April. There have been so many great dogs that we’ve made. And we have to push past these times to get to the good ones.

“R” Litter Arrival

I woke up Sunday morning to two puppies nursing and one still born. It was all a very normal birth that lasted from the early morning Sunday until about mid-Sunday afternoon. Ruth never strained with any of the puppies, it was all 2-3 pushes and they came out. About an hour between each pup. There were more angel puppies than I would have liked, but I was at five alive on Sunday night.

Ruth and pups Sunday night

One of those was a girl who was slow to come around after being born and I really worked on to get going. The other was a boy who seemed fine and lively at first but come Monday morning, I saw no signs of any peeing or pooping from him, which really concerned. me. I tried to get both the boy and the girl to take a bottle with limited success. The vet and I both agreed that we just needed time and Mother Nature to sort things out. I tried getting them to take a teat with help, but once again, with limited success. I don’t do tube feeding and I don’t to intravenous fluids to try to save a pup, it just isn’t worth it to me to try and save a pup that could have problems later in life from whatever issues they were having.

Ruth never showed signs of any illness or distress throughout her pregnancy or whelping, nor now. She is shaking off the sadness of the lost babies and focusing on those that are strong and thriving, same as I am.

Ruth and the three puppies today
Ruth and the R Litter Puppies
R Litter Puppy Closeup

Ruth and the puppies go in on Thursday morning to York Vet for examinations and tail docking and dew claw removal. Ruth will have a full exam with blood work done to make sure there is nothing identifiable/viral as the cause. It really could be anything from random congenital abnormalities, a reaction to flea/tick preventative or Ruth unknowingly ingesting poisoned mice. We may never know. But we’re going to do a full blood panel to rule out anything identifiable (brucellosis, canine herpes, a parvo exposure breaking through her vaccination, etc.).

I really appreciate the Griffon breeder community for their insights and talking through theories and next steps with me on this litter. It helps to hear other breeders similar/worse experiences and how to best react and move forward.

(One totally random thing that came up in all of this is that a FB dog friend asked about the bottom of the whelping box. This is a very well-heated interior room of the house. So here’s the layout of the bottom of the whelping box: mom and puppies on top, pine shavings, plywood under the whelping box, tarp that goes under the entire whelping box and kennel and is zip tied to the kennel wire, horse trailer pads that are like wrestling mat type material that is under the entire tarp and kennel, linoleum, cement floor. The puppies are not laying directly on a wood floor of a barn or house. I have tried blankets, towels, and carpet scrap as fabric alternatives but I have found that they are so dangerous, along with gross and unsanitary. The bitch will dig up any fabric I put under them and then I find the puppies and mom all wadded up in a scary way. So I ditched fabric years ago and found that this works best for us. Where there is bare wood showing is where Ruth has shoved the wood chips out of her way.)

Ruth looks healthy and is moving around well, this is her spontaneously running to me this morning, I didn’t call her to get her to run just for a photo. She is producing milk and tending to the puppies as she should be.

Ruth is looking healthy as a mama

So there are two girls and a boy. At this time, all are spoken for. I have decided that I’ve had enough stress with the move, the holidays and having a one year-old pup Sally that I am going to hold off on keeping a puppy myself (so they will all go to owners on my reservation list). Obi and Ruth are young enough to breed again and we’ll be making sure (as much as we possibly can) that we control the environment for potential hazards such as: hold off of flea/tick medication during breeding and gestation (even though the packaging says it is safe) and making sure our immediate neighbors aren’t setting out bait poison for raccoons or poisoning mice without us knowing.

The reality is that we may never know what caused the angel puppies (but obviously I’ll let you know if I find something out). So we’ll just keep trying and praying and hoping for the best.

“Find us ready, Lord, not standing still/find us working and loving and doing your will/find us ready Lord, faithful in love/building the kingdom both here and above/building the kingdom with mercy and love.” – “Find Us Ready”, a newer Catholic hymn by Tom Booth

I will be back on Sunday with the One Week Old pupdate!

Sally’s first wild bird retrieve

Sally brought this woodcock to Charles on Friday

Charles had the day off on Friday and took Sally back out by herself for some South Carolina woodcock. They got into a few more and connected with this one. The first one a week or so ago, Sally found it and just stood there sniffing it, not sure what to do. This time, she picked it up and brought it to Charles. The retrieve in the field is usually the last basic hunting skill that they pick up. Birds are stinky and sharing is not a natural instinct. It takes lots of training and practice to get to this point where they bring the bird back to you. Sally is Ruth’s full sister from Chief and Fire’s litter last year (both Chief and Fire are retired from breeding now). This picture is another great reminder of what this is all about.

Puppies on the way and first South Carolina harvest

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We are expecting our “R” litter from Obi and Ruth in the next week or two. I currently have 18 reservations with deposit. The largest litter of Griffs registered in recent times is 16 puppies, so I assume that I have homes for this bunch. If you are interested in waiting until our Fall 2022 litter, email bluestemkennels@gmail.com. Once the spring litter is two weeks old, I should know where my fall list stands.

Here are some updated photos of Ruth sporting her very pregnant belly. It doesn’t seem to slow her down much!

Pregnant Ruth running in the yard
Ruth side profile
Another belly shot (a little fuzzy phone pic)
Pregnant Ruth running in the snow (I circled her so you can see her)

Now it is just a matter of waiting for puppies to arrive! We just finished our whelping box setup this morning. It will be so nice to have them in a bedroom in the house instead of the heated garage. That way I have a bed right next to the whelping box in case of all-night puppies!

Ready for puppies!

This will probably be my last blog post until after puppies arrive. As they are being whelped, I will keep my Facebook page up-to-date. Then I will contact folks who have reservations once we are done whelping and I’ve had some rest. Finally, I will make a post here to the website.

First South Carolina Woodcock!

Charles is getting Sally ready for her UPT in May up at the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter in New York. This is the NAVHDA chapter nearest to Charles’s hometown of Newburgh and he thought it would be fun to get up there to run some tests. He will also be re-testing Obi in UT to see if he can get a Prize I.

In the meantime he is trying to figure out the hunting game in these parts and he and Sally had success this weekend. They only saw one woodcock pop out of a cane swamp on some public land and they were able to put it in the bag. Charles is pretty sure that this is his first woodcock and it was Sally’s first wild bird.

Sally’s South Carolina Woodcock
Our South Carolina Woodcock

I was really excited to hold a bagged woodcock, as I’ve only flushed them in the Missouri River Valley back in Nebraska while out exercising dogs maybe three or four times. I’d only ever seen photos of them up close. Their feathers are much more colorful than a snipe and their bodies are stubbier.

Here’s a random photo of Sally training in the yard with Charles back in November that I just noticed in my files.

Charles and Sally doing yard work

Here’s another random photo of Obi bringing me a stick the other day when I had my good camera out.

Obi with a stick in the driveway

Having snow on the ground in South Carolina is pretty fun and we are so glad that it isn’t day after day with feet of snow piling up like it was back in Nebraska. I think it will be all melted by tomorrow. But for now I will throw on my boots and go muck around in it with the dogs.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page for the latest on the puppies whelping and keep us in your thoughts and prayers for good health.

R Litter: Spring 2022

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We are ready to start interviewing and taking deposits for our Spring 2022 R Litter. Please email me at bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are interested. I have sent an email to everyone who is currently on my contact list, so if somehow it was spam foldered, please consider this your notice to get back in touch with me. I will be taking 10 reservations with deposit on typically 8-14 pups per litter, first come first served (so the sooner you get back in touch with me, the higher likelihood you will get a pup this spring).

The breeding that we’ll be working on over the next year is the pairing of Obi and Ruth.  Obi is the sire and his registered name is AKC/NAVHDA Wyo Plainsman Kenobi NA I, UPT III, UT II.  Ruth is the dam and her registered name is AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Peaches En Regalia NA I, UPT II, UT III. 

Obi and Ruth with Charles, sharptailed grouse opener in the Nebraska Sandhills, September 2020

You can see all of their pedigrees, hunt test results and health clearances at the “About Our Dogs” page, which has a button in the brown navigation bar above.


This is a breeding that we are relying on to build on our already strong foundation of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons that are sound in health, have great stamina for all day hunts, cooperative and mentally stable members of the family.  In our eleven years of breeding, we’ve placed around 150 puppies successfully.


Our puppies are sold with Limited AKC and NAVHDA registrations, this means that they are not automatically eligible to breed (the requirements to lift the breeding restriction are on the “Puppies” button above). You give a gender preference to me (or state no preference) at reservation with a deposit.  Puppy placements are first come, first served by reservation order.  If there isn’t enough of a particular gender, you are given the option of the opposite gender, wait for a future litter, or a refund. Deposits are fully refundable, no questions asked, up until the date of the puppies 3 week birthday (at that point I keep the deposit if the owner backs out, with few exceptions). I do breeder picks based on the input of the future owners desires for the dog and the needs that the individual puppies have.


Puppies come with: at least 3 rounds of deworming, tails docked and dew claws removed, first vaccinations, microchips, limited AKC and NAVHDA registration papers, and a three year health guarantee against fatal genetic defects or genetic hip dysplasia.  They are seen by a veterinarian twice before they go home: for claws/tails right after birth and for shots/microchips right before they go home at 8 weeks.  The breeding is anticipated for around Christmas, with puppies born in February and going home in April.


The puppies need to be picked up from my home in Clover, South Carolina on or during the week following their 8 week birthday.  As soon as they are whelped, we know their 8 week birthday so that you can prepare to travel for the pickup.  I no longer offer air cargo shipment as an option. Regulations change regularly regarding taking a pup on a flight as a carry-on (if you are considering this you need to research your options and find out if an air carrier near you allows 8 week old puppies to fly with an interstate health certificate).


The puppies are exposed to dead birds, live birds and cap gun fire.  Once they are moving vigorously at around 5 1/2 weeks, they go outside to run and play at least twice a day.  I take litter photos once a week in the beginning, then around 2-3 weeks of age I take individual photos of the puppies weekly.  I also do weekly YouTube videos of the litter.  I update my Facebook page every few hours as they are being born.


Although we do prefer hunting and hunt testing homes, we realize that the Eastern US is hardly a Mecca of bird hunting, therefore we are open to active outdoors non-hunting homes interviewing (no apartments, please).


Due to the rampant selling of information and constant robocall harassment in the past, I have stopped releasing my telephone number on my website or through Google. Please email me and we can exchange phone numbers.

The breeding is planned on being repeated in 2023, so you can also contact me if you are not ready for a puppy in 2022, but would like to be placed on my contact list for future litters.

These parents are proven wild bird hunters with successful NAVHDA hunt tests under their collars, as well as great family pets.

Obi and Ruth, wild Nebraska Pheasants and Quail October 2020
Ruth, Obi and Fire, North Dakota mixed bag October 2019
Caleb and Obi, Nebraska pheasant youth season opener 2020
Ruth and Obi, Nebraska pheasant and quail 2020
Obi Nebraska Sandhills Snipe, October 2020
Ruth, Nebraska Sandhills duck, October 2020
Ruth AKC Senior Hunter pass at GWPC of Eastern Nebraska
Obi Fourth Place in the Amateur Walking Derby at the Heart of America GSPC AKC Field Trial
Obi First Place in both the Open and Amateur Walking Derbies of the AWPGA AKC Field Trial

Pheasant 2014: North Dakota and Nebraska

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North Dakota Wrap-Up

As mentioned in the last post, Charles and the dogs were in North Dakota last week from Sunday until Thursday.  Sunday they got a hun, and Monday a duck and two pheasants were in the bag (both of those photographs are in last week’s blog post).  Tuesday they bagged 4 ducks, but they were mixed in with everything else on the stringer in the photograph and it was getting dark, so I opted to spare you another body count photo.  Wednesday, they got a snipe and a rooster.

Snipe and Rooster from Wednesday, October 22nd

Snipe and Rooster from Wednesday, October 22nd

One of Charles’s friends tipped him off to a good spot to hit on his way out of North Dakota, where he got a limit in an hour and a half on Thursday.

North Dakota Rooster Limit

North Dakota Rooster Limit

I apologize for the body count photos, especially to one of my regular readers who scolded me recently about having too many of them on my blog.  We’ll get some more artful action photos with dogs in them and such next year, I opted to stay home since I got in plenty of travel earlier in the year.

Nebraska Opening Weekend

We decided not to wade into the fray of opening morning, but I was bound and determined to get out on Sunday.  Charles decided that he wanted to come along too even though he had a cold and had just spent the whole week hunting.  We went out midday and by the time we were headed back to the truck later in the afternoon it was 86 degrees out.  Way too hot.  He got 2 roosters within the first 5 minutes of our arrival to the field.  I got a shot off on one a bit later, but missed.

The second rooster that Charles shot yesterday still had enough juice to fly 80 yards or so into some thick sunflowers, making Sam and Fire work hard to find the carcass.  Fire was the one who found it and brought it right to Charles.  He wanted to make sure that he got the bird from her in a timely fashion, so I didn’t have a chance to take a picture since I was carrying my shotgun.  Darn.

I took Wednesday morning of this week off from work so that I can get out on my own.  Not that it will necessarily change my shooting luck with rooster pheasants, but I’m going to give it a try.

Yet another dorky hunting selfie from Charles and Charity

Yet another dorky hunting selfie from Charles and Charity

It appears that the top pheasant in the photograph below was released by Nebraska Game and Parks this year, if you notice the nostrils are enlarged from the blinders that were on the bird during its time in the pen.  The bottom bird is either a survivor from last year or a wild hatch.

Notice the size of the pheasant nostrils

Notice the size of the pheasant nostrils

Pupdates

Bob from Minnesota sent me an e-mail and photo of “Ed” from our 2013 “E” Litter from Sam and Sue.

Just wanted to give you a quick update on Ed.  We finally made it out pheasant hunting in MN this past weekend.  I managed to get Ed and my oldest daughter, Faith, out for a bit.  In a year in which MN DNR says the numbers of birds are down, Ed managed to find and point 7 birds in a quick morning walk.  We have done no live bird work since last year and he was flat out amazing!  He is definitely ready for our annual trip to North Dakota next week.  I will get you some pictures upon our return from that trip.  Definitely looking forward to it.

Ed and Faith in MN

Ed and Faith in MN

Curt out in Central Nebraska shot this video a couple of weeks ago of our Fire’s sister “Gracie” doing her first water retrieve at 8 months of age: 

Congratulations to Lindsay and Bluestem’s Big Sky Rendezvous CGC NA I “Midge” in Montana for qualifying for the AKC Owner Handler Series.  Midge and Lindsay were #8 (tie) in conformation show points in the series (click photo to enlarge results).

AKC Owner Handler Series Rankings

AKC Owner Handler Series Rankings

I hope that everyone who celebrates Halloween has a happy and safe one.  I do not dress up my dogs, so don’t even think that you’ll be seeing that next week.  Not gonna happen.  But thanks to all of my owners for the updates and I’ll be sure to keep you posted as to what is going on here.  Happy Haunting and Hunting!

 

NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic, our first Best of Breed, and other news…

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The Countdown Begins

It was only in the 50s when the sun was coming up this morning and it set Sam a-howling, which seemed appropriate to me because my first thought when I woke up was, “only two months left and it will be hunting season again”.  Although I’m very excited, I’m also a bit nervous since we’ve retired all of our older females at this point and I’ll be hunting with Sam.  It will be my first time hunting by myself with a male dog, and Sam and I have our moments where he thinks there is room for debate as to who is the dominate player in our relationship.  But I’m sure we’ll get it sorted out and have a grand time as we always do.

Opening weekend 2011: Charity, Ryan Tompkins, Chas, then Sue, Sam, and BB.

Opening weekend 2011: Charity, Ryan Tompkins, Charles, then Sue, Sam, and BB.

Best of Breed

I am just beside myself at the success of Bluestem Big Sky Rendezvous NA I “Midge” in both the field and the show ring.  She is from our 2013 “F” litter from Sam and Mae.  Only a couple of weeks after her Prize I NAVHDA Natural Ability test with a score of 112, she took Best of Breed on June 20th at the Electric City Kennel Club Dog Show in Great Falls, Montana.  The competition in Montana is tough and I am just thrilled.  Infinite thanks to owners/handlers Lou and Lindsay Volpe.

Midge has a stretch after her BOB win at Montana Expo Park

Midge has a stretch after her BOB win at Montana Expo Park

NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic

The first and most important thing I have to say about NAVHDA Handler’s Clinics is: GO.  I wish that we had gone 10 years ago, as it would have saved us numerous hours of time in both research and training.  We were lucky to have 3 judges with us over the weekend: our own Tracey Nelson and Chuck Casanova, and our instructor, Jason Wade from the Sebasticook and Yankee Chapters in Maine.  The first day was devoted to going over the Aims, Programs and Test booklet that covers the elements of the Natural Ability, Utility Preparatory, Utility, and Invitational Tests.  We then scored two dogs at the Natural Ability level.  The second day we scored a UPT and a UT dog, then finalized any remaining questions.  It was a great combination of direct instruction, guided practice, then finished with independent practice.  Kudos to Tracey and her family at Skyline Sportsmen’s Club in Thurman, Iowa for being gracious hosts to the Heartland Chapter yet again.

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Pupdates

Speaking of the NAVHDA Chapters in Maine, Tyson out in Bangor sent me a pic of Moose doing some work at a recent training day.  Moose is from our 2014 “H” litter from Sam and Mae and is 12 weeks old in the picture.

Moose retrieving a chukar

Moose retrieving a chukar

Kaylee down in Missouri shared this cute pic recently of my pup Fire’s sister, Willow, working on the water retrieve.  Willow is from our 2014 “G” litter of Sam and BB.  I love the confident look in her eyes, like, “I’ve got this!”

Willow is proud of her duck dummy

Willow is proud of her duck dummy

I just love all of the pics that Susan and Tom up in North Dakota get of TracHer and the pretty flowers.  Here is Susan and TracHer, who is from our 2011 “C” litter from Sam and Mae.  Don’t be fooled by her show dog looks, she’s tearing up the sloughs, ponds, and prairies up there.

Susan and TracHer in the summer flowers

Susan and TracHer in the summer flowers

As always, many thanks to all of my owners for sharing photos with me and giving great homes to our pups.

Mae’s Retirement  

We spent the solstice/wedding anniversary weekend up in the Nebraska Sandhills, enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

Caleb, Fire, Charles, BB, Cordelia, Conrad, Mae, and Sam at our special swimming spot

Caleb, Fire, Charles, BB, Cordelia, Conrad, Mae, and Sam at our special swimming spot

Mae has been officially retired to Valentine, Nebraska to live with my brother, Ron, and his 1 1/2 year old Siberian Husky, Whisper.  The initial introduction of the two dogs was a bit dicey, but they settled in with each other quickly and are good friends.

Mae and Whisper chilling in my brother's yard

Mae and Whisper chilling in my brother’s yard

Burr season is here

As I was writing this, I received a panicked phone call from a griff owner asking about how to deal with burr mats in the coat.  If we run the dogs in burrs, I try to brush them the same or the next day to prevent matting.  Should I forget to do this and a mat develops, I try to brush it out with a wide toothed comb or burr puller.  I make sure to grab the fur close to the skin before I start yanking on it with the comb.  There are spray-on liquid detanglers that you can buy at the pet store to help with this.  If it will not come out and the dog is crying and/or trying to grab your hand with its mouth, it is okay to cut the mat out with scissors if you have to.

I had better move on with my day, even though it seems like there is always more to write, but the littlest one is asking for me to fix him a hot breakfast.  So everyone have a safe and Happy 4th of July!  Keep the dogs inside or kenneled a safe distance from fireworks so they don’t try to eat them like my little cocker spaniel did when I was a child:)

Hunting season slowing down and puppy season upon us

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With all of the holiday and end-of-year activity, Charles has only had a chance to get out hunting once on November 30th, for the first time since my birthday hunt.  They did manage to bag a few birds and we all hope to get out for a few more before the season ends at the end of January.

Charles and Matt each bagged a rooster on November 30th

Charles and Matt each bagged a rooster on November 30th

Breeding season is upon us!  Sam and BB mated on Friday and Saturday, so we are looking at puppy whelping around Valentine’s Day (February 14) and homegoing in mid-April as long as everything goes as planned.  I am checking Mae every few days and we are getting closer, pro-estrous (bleeding) could be any day now, or it could be a few weeks out.  Having some space between the two litters is a good thing!  We are also waiting on Velma, but she has until mid-March to cycle within our cutoff time.

Right now I have 18 reservations for this breeding season and have already have a reservation for 2015.  I am really flattered by all of the attention and positive feedback that we are getting on our puppies.  We have so much fun raising them and love sending them to great families!  Feel free to call me at (402) 682-9802 or e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net if you have any questions about our breeding program.

Speaking of our breeding program, our new male is just over 6 weeks old and looks like a fat little dude!  Renee says that he is very active and inquisitive.  We can’t wait to meet him.  It sounds like his registered name might be Bourg-Royal FC Hector and we would call him “Tor”.  A tor is a medieval pagan/early Christian holy hill in England.  Here he is with his littermates

Tor at 6 weeks up at the very top of this photo

Tor at 6 weeks up at the very top of this photo on the left

Cordelia and I will be flying up to Quebec City on the Friday after Christmas and will bring him back on the Monday before New Year’s Eve.  Of course, we will enjoy lots of great food, sightseeing and good friends while we are there.

Pupdate time.  Roxy is from our 2011 “B” litter from Sam/Sue and lives out in Utah with Randy and Pam.  Sounds like Roxy and Randy had a great time in North Dakota.  Randy said:

Wanted to send a few photo’s of the results in North Dakota this year with some of my buddies. Bird counts were a little over the limit with what the picture shows but it took more people to run the cameras so they couldn’t all be in the picture. Over all another excellent trip in the Dakota’s even though the bird numbers were down.

 Roxy done an amazing job and has lived up to everything an owner could ever expect. Again,,thanks for the ability for me to experience life like this with her by giving me the opportunity to get her as a pup from you. Griffs forever.

Randy and Roxy on the left

Randy and Roxy on the left

Another great day for Roxy and Randy in ND with the gang

Another great day for Roxy and Randy in ND with the gang

Frankie from our Sam/Mae 2012 “C” litter is having a great life out in Colorado too.  Her owner Mike said:

Frankie had a great year last year with several good wild hunts and a LOT of preserve training (82 successful points last year ).    Not as many preserve hunts preseason but my oldest helped me gear her up a few times with some planted chukar.   Opening day in Kansas we limited out.   And we took a Wednesday last week into eastern Colorado.  Very few birds and It took all day but me and a buddy both got our birds.   Fetching is really coming in this year, was sketchy last year.

She is doing great, just thought I would say hi.

Mike and Frankie with CO roosters

Mike and 20 month old Frankie with CO roosters

18-month old Abby is from our Sam/Sue 2012 “D” litter and lives with Rob down in Western Illinois.  Rob said:

Abby was wonderfully today. Took her by herself for a few hours today trying to get more range.  She was stretching out farther and covering ground methodically leaving nothing untouched. She worked for over an hour with no bird contact.  Then she got birdie and tracked for about 150 yards. Then stopped on a dime. I was not sure she had it the it erupted from the switch grass a rooster. One shot later it was in her mouth and on its way back to my hand. She dropped it out about twenty yards and started tracking and up came number two. Hit it but not real hard she was on it and caught up to it. Two roosters in less than five minutes.  She was great.

Thanks 

Rob, 18 mo old Abby and roosters

Rob, 18 mo old Abby and roosters

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and most prosperous New Year!  I will be sure to post a report when I get back from Canada with Tor and hopefully we’ll have some breeding news on Mae too.  Sorry, I don’t get the dogs dressed up in elf garb or make them sit in front of the Christmas tree.  May your days be filled with family, friends and some late season hunting too!

Mid-season hunting update

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I think I’ll start off on telling you all what is happening with this blog.  It is blowing up on me a bit.  Right now I’m getting between 60-100 individual viewers everyday, each reading between 5-10 items.  If you search anything online about Wirehaired Pointing Griffons and hunting, we are the top kennel name that pops up.  I’m getting phone calls and e-mails every day about puppies, which is great!  But if you have to leave a voice mail, get me on the phone and I sound stressed and frazzled, or send me an e-mail and it takes me a week to respond, please try to understand.  We are not a big farm with lots of kennel hands or anything.  We are just a busy family that loves hunting with our dogs, which takes us on the road this time of year quite a bit too.  I respond to everyone.

If I had to wager, I would bet that my females are getting ready to cycle in December.  They are both showing about the same amounts of changes and Sam’s interest is high in both of them.  Mae might be a little ahead of BB.  So, I’m thinking that they’ll have puppies in February that go home in April.  But it is Mother Nature after all, so we’ll just wait and see.

My birthday was on November 9th, so we went and chased some birds.  Charles got 2 pheasant and a quail.  I missed the shots that I had.  But it was fun to get out on a beautiful fall day anyway.

Birthday girl Charity, your loyal narrator

Birthday girl Charity, your loyal narrator

BB, Sam and Charles with my birthday presents

BB, Sam and Charles with my birthday presents

Last weekend, we took time away from bird hunting for Charles to go after his annual mule deer in the Nebraska Sandhills.  I was able to stay back in town and visit my family.  He took this bad boy opening morning.  It is a tie with his muley from 1999 for personal best deer antler rack.

Charles's mule deer buck and rifle out on the prairie

Charles’s mule deer buck and rifle out on the prairie

Up close with Charles and his deer

Up close with Charles and his deer

I’ve been all amped up about trying to shoot a goose.  There is a pond along the Platte River that I have access to and I went out to it for a couple of hours the day before yesterday.  Saw lots of geese on an adjacent pond that is property of the gravel mine, so I’m hoping that if I get in some morning in the dark and set up, I might be able to get them flying into the mining pond.  But we’ll see, it is a work in progress.

Charles will take the weekend off from pheasants due to it being the last weekend of rifle deer season.  We don’t want one of the dogs to get shot on accident.

I am also getting ready to go to Quebec the weekend between Christmas and New Years Eve (God willing!).  The puppies are three weeks old now and have their eyes open.  I’m not sure which one of these three is mine, but I plan on calling up there tonight and I’ll find out.  Renee and Gilbert have very busy jobs on top of having way more dogs than I do, so I completely understand.

Cristal and Fortis puppies at 3 weeks old.

Cristal and Fortis puppies at 3 weeks old.

I am so thankful for all of my owners who take such great pictures and write such nice e-mails to keep us up to date our our pups.  8 month old “Ed” is out of Sue and Sam’s 2013 “E” Litter.  Here is what owner, Bob, had to say about their trip to North Dakota:

We had a great hunt in North Dakota this year.  We had 5 hunters and got our limits 2 of the 3 days we hunted.  It rained all day on our second day so the hunting was pretty short.  Ed figured out the game and has picked up the art of pointing just like I hoped he would.  He also has shown his desire to retrieve with no hesitation.  Very successful first North Dakota hunt for Ed!  It is awesome what a good dog can do.  And at only 8 months old is unbelievable!

EdND

Bob and Ed had a great time in ND!

Ed's stack of ND pheasants

Ed’s stack of ND pheasants

And as always, year and a half old TracHer, from Sam and Mae’s “C” Litter is having a great time living in North Dakota!  Susan and Tom are so generous to share their photos with us.  On this day, Susan got the first bird of the day, but missed for the rest of the day (I know that feeling!!), but Tom got his limit.

Here comes TracHer with a pheasant!

Here comes TracHer with a pheasant!

TracHer retrieving another pheasant

TracHer retrieving another pheasant

TracHer is excited about the bird that she brought to Tom

TracHer is excited about the bird that she brought to Tom

Everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving.  We all have so much to be thankful for!  Hopefully we’ll get out to chase some pheasants around then.  Take care.

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