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Mid-season Slowdown, Pupdates and Happy Holidays!!

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After the big hunting trip to North Dakota for Sam, BB and Charles, filling the game bag has taken a pause.  It isn’t that we haven’t tried!  Charles went out for deer the first two weekend in November on our friend’s land on the Platte River and saw deer but didn’t have any good shots.  Our freezer is full of birds anyway, so I think he was really just getting out of the house.  The latter part of November and the first part of December he’s gone out for ducks, pheasants and quail, with very few sightings and no shots.  There were two weekends where he drove 3 hours one way (in different directions), even going down into the Flint Hills of Kansas, but still no luck.  We are hoping that when the snow finally comes (we’re at a historical record for days without snow), that we might be able to come across a few roosters, but are really looking forward to our planned grouse hunt on the Sunday before Christmas up in my Nebraska Sandhills home.  For the most part we’ve given up on Eastern Nebraska this year and are going to turn our attention to getting Sam and BB trained up to take a shot at some legs of the AKC Senior Hunter test over the course of 2013.

Looks like we’re getting closer to breeding with Sue and I suspect that Mae won’t be too far behind.  I won’t have an exact calendar of events until pro-estrous (bleeding) actually starts, but there are definitely changes going on and I just have to keep watching.

Yet despite our slow time here lately, things appear to be going well in other parts of the country with our puppy owners!  Aaron of Ohio and “Pepper” from Sam and Sue’s 2012 “D” litter (age 6 months now) posted an update on our Facebook page saying:

Pepper, aka Derry, from the D litter is doing very well. We worked her on quail in a call back pen all late summer and early fall until the quail “went native”. On Monday we decided to shoot over her for the first time after a fair bit of work with a starter pistol. She pointed and retrieved two chukars with no concern for the gun fire. She trailed a wounded bird to a groundhog hole where it escaped. She is also doing great in the house.

It’s so exciting to keep up with all of the pups and how they are doing, knowing how much joy a good dog brings to the home and field.  Randy and “Roxy”, from Sam and Sue’s 2011 “B” litter, out of Utah are having an outstanding year.  Randy wrote:

Man, has the light ever came on with Roxy.  She did all that could ever be wanted while hunting Iowa, North Dakota, and Utah this year.  Best all around dog I have ever had in the 50 years of hunting.  I will attach a few pictures.  Thanks you guys for making my hunting career come together.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge:

Randy, Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) and company after a great day in the field

Randy, Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) and company after a great day in the field

Randy and Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) had a great time in North Dakota!

Randy and Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) had a great time in North Dakota!

Another great day for Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female)!

Another great day for Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female)!

I really love the last photo of Randy and Roxy because aside from being absolutely gorgeous, it’s a great shot showing that she looks exactly like Sue’s head on Sam’s body.  Of course, having a hunter say that you’ve given him the best hunting dog that he’s had in 50 years of hunting makes a person feel like a million bucks!!  But that is our goal!!

Cliff down in Oklahoma and his pup “Belle” out of Sam and Mae’s 2012 “C” litter, which is 9 months old now, are having a great time thus far in Kansas and Oklahoma:

Wanted to give you a quick update on Belle.  We’ve been out every week since the season opened in OK & KS.  I had to work the weekend of Nov 10th & 11th, but that was just as well  because it was so warm and windy.  Belle & I hunted the following Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in KS.  Saw very few pheasants (no quail) and bagged the only one I shot at.  That was Belle’s first pheasant.  Attached is a picture of us with #1.
 
The following weekend in KS we got 2 more pheasants.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving we hunted Kansas once again and got into a covey of quail and bagged 2 birds.  Belle as having rock solid points and also found a bird that had been hit and flown a considerable distance to which we only knew a general location.  With the quail, Belle made the connection that she was to bring them back to me, so she now brings the birds back to me in addition to fetching the paper daily.  So far the hunting reports across the state of Kansas are what I have experienced.  The bird population has been severely impacted.
  
Yesterday was opening day for pheasants in OK.  When I got up it was 59 degrees and windy.  The high got up to 76.  I should have had my OK limit (3 roosters), but missed the easiest shot of the day Crying face.  We saw a good number of birds, but with the weather most flushed far ahead.
 
Overall, I am very pleased with Belle’s performance.  Responds to commands, hunts close, has a great nose, does not flush birds wildly, and has learned to hold point and to find and retrieve downed birds.  I just need to keep giving her the opportunity to hunt so that we can refine her skills.  I have attached additional pictures.

Cliff and Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) with her first pheasant

Cliff and Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) with her first pheasant

Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) and the Oklahoma opener game bag

Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) and the Oklahoma opener game bag

Awesome success, Cliff and Belle, so happy for you!!  It gives us hope that there is still upland bird hunting to be had out there since honestly, we’ve been in a bit of a funk about how things have been going lately.  I have pictures from the 1990’s of Charles and our Brittany “Sheaf” going out every weekend and getting a limit of pheasant here in Eastern Nebraska.  It really hurts my heart that those days are probably gone and we’re going to be stuck with three options: 1) extended bird hunting safaris to the Nebraska Sandhills, North Dakota and other states with sustainable bird populations 2) joining a hunt club 3) buying and planting our own birds on the local dog training wildlife management area or on a friend’s land.

Okay, back to something happy for the holidays!!  Joel and Jenn from Kearney, Nebraska shared this picture of Roxy’s brother, Mowgli, from Sam and Sue’s 2011 “B” litter.  He looks like he enjoyed the snow that they had out there!  What a face!

Mowgli (18 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) chillin' in the snow

Mowgli (18 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) chillin’ in the snow

Keeping in the holiday spirit, Sal and family in New York were kind enough to mail us a Christmas card with a cute photo of Belle’s brother, Chester, also from Sam and Mae’s 2012 “C” litter (9 months old):

Merry Christmas from Chester (9 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

Merry Christmas from Chester (9 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

Many thanks to all of my puppy owners for making this blog fun to put together and read!  You really go out of your way to take the time to send us great photos and write-ups and it is appreciated more than I can ever express.  We put a lot of time and love into our puppies, so it is a big warm fuzzy to see that loving spirit carried on in their lives in their forever homes.

Wishing all hunters and lovers of griffons, our puppy owners, friends and family the Merriest of Christmases, from Bluestem Kennels and the Upchurch family!

"Not a creature was stirring..." Clockwise from top left: BB, Mae, Sam and Sue.

“Not a creature was stirring…” Clockwise from top left: BB, Mae, Sam and Sue.

Week old puppies and BB’s Reserve Winners

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Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies One Week Old

Sue tends to some of the brood as they nurse

The puppies were a week old yesterday, hooray! Things started look like they were going to happen on Wednesday (the 6th) when Sue got very whiny, which is totally not her personality. I took her ear temperature and it was only 100 degrees, which is a little low for a dog (base temp is 101.5) and a known sign of upcoming whelping, typically within 24 hours. We thought that it was going to happen Wednesday night, but when I woke up and went to the whelping area Thursday morning, still nothing. I took her out for a walk with the rest of the pack first thing Thursday morning and she went in and “nested up” every single dog house, plus a pile of straw in the woods. Her next trip out of the whelping area, there was a lot of whining, she refused to eat pork scraps (that’s when I really knew it was coming because she’s a total soup hound) and lots of squatting in the yard. About 1 PM I let her out again, once again lots of squatting and this time started seeing definite contractions. So, I put her up in the whelping area and 45 minutes later, we had our first pup. She had a pup an hour up until about 7:30 PM, when we were up to 6. I checked again at 11 PM and we were still at 6. When I got up at 5 AM the next morning, we had 7: 3 boys, 4 girls. I left her whelping box undisturbed until midday to make sure that she was finished before cleaning it out and adding new chips.

We went to Heartland Animal Hospital first thing Monday morning to dock tails and remove dew claws. Dr. Andrew Kliewer told me that they were all fat and healthy.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies One Week Old

Asleep

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies One Week Old

Sniffing out a teat

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies One Week Old

Madonna of the cedar chips (no blasphemy intended)

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies One Week Old

Chowing down!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies One Week Old

A unique approach

Here is the video taken on days 5 and 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww3h-6t99IY

Right now the biggest challenge for me is keeping up with letting Sue out, I’m having to let her out of the whelping area once every hour to hour and a half unless I want to clean up a mess in the whelping room outside of the box with the pups in it. It doesn’t happen for all females, but Sue has consistently abandoned housebreaking the first few weeks post-whelp with her other litters (Mae did not).

We’ll pretty much keep on the same track with the pups for the next couple of weeks and wait for their eyes and ears to open sometime towards the end of that.

Not but a few hours after I finished cleaning out the whelping box on Friday, Cordelia (my 11 year old daughter), “BB” (our year old female) and I left for the Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota Kennel Club dog show on Saturday and Sunday.  It is difficult to get a “major”, or a group of griffons together at a dog show in this part of the country.  Our longest traveler drove 6 1/2 hours and the shortest drove 2 hours.  It took us about 5 1/2 hours to get there, but the trip was well worth the fabulous griff fellowship!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons Dog Show

A gang of griffons! Photo by Cordelia Upchurch

Results-wise, Saturday was kind of a bust because I was so nervous about the show and emotionally overwhelmed about the pups and my two younger boys (ages 3 and 8) at home with dad.  Cordelia took some photos of my form and movement on Saturday that allowed me to make corrections for Sunday.  Although it isn’t worth any points towards an AKC Championship, we won first place in Open Bitch class and Reserve Winners Bitch on Sunday.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Dog Show

Charity and BB “go around” on Sunday.  Photo by Cordelia Upchurch

For those of you who don’t speak dog show (I’m just learning), there were 3 classes of bitches: puppy, 12-18 months and open.  Whoever gets first place in those 3 classes goes to the “Winners Bitch” round, where you go through the whole process of stacking your dog and doing whatever movement exercises the judges asks you to do again.  There is then awarded “Winners Bitch” who goes on to compete with the other Winners (Winners Dog and any Best of Breed only competitors) for 3 places that are worth points toward the AKC Championship: Best of Winners, Best of Opposite Sex (opposite from BOW) and Best of Breed.  It all seems to happen very quickly and it is sometimes confusing to know where you are supposed to be at in the ring and what you are supposed to be doing, but I was lucky to have helpful experienced fellow competitors who shepherded me around.

Another highlight of the trip was meeting the outside audience that the griffons had both days.  It is great to see other people’s enthusiasm for the breed!  My favorite observer was a surprise visit from a two-year old “A” litter puppy, Winston.  He is also a pup of Sue and Sam, just like our current litter.  Thank you to Nancy and Kelvin for bringing him out!!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Two Years Old

Winston’s face

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Two Years Old

Winston’s body

I’m really not sure when our next show will be, I’d like to spend the next couple of months at home with the pups and getting ready for hunting season to start September 1st.  We have nationals in Sioux Falls in October and I’d like to organize another major here at the Lewis and Clark Cluster Dog Show (co-sponsored by the Nebraska and Council Bluffs Kennel Clubs) at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha in November.  I also want to get Mae trained up for Cordelia to use as her Junior Showmanship dog.  So we may take a break from the dog show circuit for awhile, but we are not dropping out.  Even if we don’t win, it is so much fun to get together with everyone to compete.

I apologize to the pup owners who sent in photos and videos this week that I didn’t get posted because of the dog show news, I promise they will go in next week!  Time to get on the dog chores…talk at you then!

Puppies soon

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As I’ve failed to take any pictures of Sue with the good camera this week and they are all on my phone, I thought I would attempt a post from my phone. I apologize if it is low rent.

It has been in the mid-eighties and low nineties here during the day, which is nice to go fishing and swimming in, but not nice to do too much dog running. Considering that Sue is due to whelp any day, most of our dog time has been spent in the yard sitting in the shade with the kiddie pool out.

Sue was really whiny today, her temperature was 100 degrees (which is low for a dog) and she really slowed down, so I think the time is very near. I put her in the whelping area where the kids can’t bother her. So we’ll keep waiting, it could just be a bump in the road to the finish.

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In other excitement, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture inspected us today and approved our license as a commercial breeder. We will be the only licensed Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breeders in the state. The license also grants us the right to own as many dogs as we wish, so of course we are dreaming of our next puppy!

I hope to have news of Sue’s whelping for you soon, so keep your ears on the airwaves!