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“O” Litter Four Weeks Old and Spring Training

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

Stonyridge Zoro at 10 weeks

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Happy training everyone!

Welcome “O” Litter!

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

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

Fire O Litter1

Fire and the “O” Litter

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

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

Fire O Litter2

“O” Litter at the vet

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

“N” Litter Picks

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

I hear that you’re into dogs…

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My last graduate school class of my program is a full day Saturday class, it just happens to fall on every Saturday this semester that I’m not coaching a high school debate tournament.  We were working our way through introductions in the room and word had gotten around to me that there was a fellow dog person present.  I went up to her and said, “I hear that you’re into dogs, so am I!”  One of our classmates, who I’ve had classes with in the past turned to me and said, “That’s one of the greatest introductions that I’ve ever heard!”  Of course, the fellow dog lady and I launched into all sorts of chatter about where we are in our breeding programs and gossiping about what is going on in our respective breeds.  She is a Boston Terrier girl, which is one of the two small dogs I’ve ever thought about (the other being a Jagdterrier).  But I’ll be a one-breed dog owner for the foreseeable future.

But that really has nothing to do with the task at hand, which is updating you on the end of hunting season and the beginning of puppy season.  This Saturday the 31st is the last day of hunting season in Nebraska, and of course I will be at a debate tournament.  But Charles and Matt are planning on hitting the fields.  They had great success last weekend just south of Auburn, Nebraska on some private land full of quail.  They said that they saw numerous coveys and probably 40-60 birds in total.  The harvest shows a successful hunt.

Charles and Matt's harvest of quail with Fire and BB.

Charles and Matt’s harvest of quail with Fire and BB.

Breeding Update

Although I had thought that I’d missed Sam and BB’s breeding while we were in Valentine for Christmas, last week told us otherwise.  If Sam wasn’t having his way, he was howling and barking at BB 24/7.  We had to bring in Sam at night in order to not disturb the neighbors.  So that puts us at pups being born toward the end of March if Mother Nature smiles upon us.

Aaron also brought Velma over this week to see what the interactions between she and Sam were like.  Ben has been kenneled with her since before Christmas and all of the signs seemed to be correct for her being bred.  Velma was looking chubs when she was here and she had absolutely no interest in letting Sam get with her.  So, we’re going to assume that the deed is done and keep an eye on her for possible March pups as well.

Velma and Sam hanging out.

Velma and Sam hanging out.

Here’s just a random photo of Caleb with BB and Sam.  He is my dog boy and loves spending time with them.

BB, Caleb, and Sam

BB, Caleb, and Sam

I have caught up on my e-mails, but am a bit behind on returning phone calls.  Right now, e-mail is the best way to get a hold of me with my erratic schedule.  I will return phone calls as I can, but I also know that I take down messages sometimes, then the kids get into my office playing around and carry away my papers.  So, if you haven’t heard from me, please e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net for the best response.

Pupdate

Fire’s sister Bella got out for her first hunt recently.  Here’s the word from Gil:

Bella’s first bird hunt was a success!  Even more impressive considering the tough conditions. The wind was blowing 25 mph, gusting to 35 mph!  Nothing was flushing. Everything was running. She also found plenty of dead/un-retrieved birds.

 This sweetheart is a bit of a late bloomer, but seems the training and bloodline kicked into gear.(@ Pheasant Bonanza)

Bella with her chukar from Pheasant Bonanza

Bella with her chukar from Pheasant Bonanza

Thanks to Gil for the update and thanks to you all for continuing to check up on us even though I’ve gotten a bit sketchy on posting with my new duties.  The school district asked me to teach 10th grade English full time and coach the high school debate team this semester, so it is crazy!  It might just be for the semester, or it might turn into a permanent thing.  The district has to cut 5 million from the budget next year, so there is a possibility the position could be eliminated.

Charles and the kids are stepping up around the house and kennel to make sure that everything we need to do is done.  I might drift off for a bit on the blog between now and when the puppies are born, but make no mistake about it, the puppies will be well tended to.  My school is only 5 minutes from the house and I will be running back and forth during plan periods and lunch once the puppies are born.

I will certainly let you know about the hunt next weekend and a few weeks after that when and if the females are showing signs of pregnancy.  At this point, I am not taking any more reservations this year until I know what the puppy count is.  I won’t start thinking about next year until these (hopeful) puppies go home.

I can feel spring in the air and the snow geese are traveling north.  Enjoy the extra daylight and send good puppy vibes our way!

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:)

Spring Training

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It is supposed to get into the mid-90s today, so it is a perfect day to get dog baths and grooming out of the way.  Mae will be heading up to her retirement home with my mom and brother in Valentine, Nebraska this weekend, so I want to get her all spiffy.  Speaking of retired dogs, I’ve gotten some pics and video of 10 year old Sue who is retired up in South Dakota and she looks to be enjoying a relaxing family life up there.  I am so thankful to the folks who are choosing to take our retired dogs, as an acre and a small house that is already full of kids just isn’t enough to keep an active breeding and hunting program going without transitioning the elders.

Fire and Charles out working over on Saturday

Fire and Charles out working on Saturday

Right now we are mainly working on getting Fire ready to hunt with us this fall.  Opening day of sharptailed grouse season is only 2 1/2 months away!  She comes when called, searches out in front, retrieves, has a good point, and isn’t afraid of the starter pistol sound.  The housebreaking accidents are getting to be more infrequent.  I seriously think that griffons are one of the slowest breeds to housebreak and am finding that it usually happens between 16-20 weeks.

I went out with Charles on Saturday when he worked with Fire on some planted quail.  Obviously this video is edited for time as we walked for probably 30 minutes or more.  I apologize that it is impossible to see the dog point because of the thick cover, but you know when the dog is pointing when Charles gets his starter pistol ready to go.  Keep in mind that the pup was first started on pointing/flushing birds without a gun, then with a kids cap gun, now a .22 starter pistol with acorn crimps.  We are getting close to working with a shotgun.

Ernie up in North Dakota sent me a video about a week and a half ago of Duncan, who was 10 weeks at the time, pointing a pigeon.  I love the timing on this since I had a gentleman ask me a week or so ago if I guarantee my dogs pointing abilities.  I don’t guarantee it in writing because I can’t guarantee someone training a dog incorrectly and messing it up, but the natural ability and instinct is all there and I see it starting at 5-6 weeks old here in the yard.  I think that the only way that a griffon wouldn’t naturally have pointing instinct would be through poor breeding practices, but I’ve heard of plenty of housepet and show dog griffs who have the instinct without formal training.  They are pointing dogs, they all are supposed to point naturally.  I’ve never had anyone tell me that one of my puppies doesn’t point.

Thanks again to Ernie for sending that video over!

 

Training and Testing

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Puppy Homegoing

I received a picture of Hez in his new home in Bangor, Maine with Tyson and family.  He also has a big golden retriever friend named Ferg and they are all getting along splendidly!

Hez (now Moose) and family in Maine

Hez (now Moose) and family in Maine

Shipping a puppy by air cargo

Someone asked me recently about how I ship puppies by air cargo.  Well, I get an interstate health certificate from the veterinarian (needs to be dated within 10 days of travel).  Then I buy the intermediate level crate, which is 22 inches tall, 28 inches long, and 22 inches wide.  I take all of the plastic hardware off of the outside of the crate and replace with metal nuts and bolts, then fill the crate about 1/3 full of shredded newspaper.  Each side of the crate has “Live Animal” signs taped on to it, with a leash, a small bag of dog food, and the shipping/care instructions taped to the top.  I attach food and water dishes to the inside of the crate, then simply place the pup in the crate with his collar on.  I always have the pup take the first available flight out of Omaha Eppley so they are more mellow.  I am about a 15 minute drive from the airport, so I feed and water the pup, give it a walk to go potty, and away we go.  I use Delta Pet First/Air Cargo.   I check the dog in at the air cargo office (which is over with the FedEx and UPS buildings), they pull the pup out of the crate and inspect the crate for any contraband, put the pup back in and ny-tie the door closed.  All of the holding areas in both the airports and the planes are climate controlled so that the pup never experiences extreme temperatures.  I wish I could put a little camera in the crate and see what the pup sees when he is being shipped, it must be exciting.  But I think that the cargo folks are really nice to the pups because they’ve never come out of their crates traumatized.  I’ve shipped 15-20 puppies this way and have never had a problem at all.  Some breeders do not ship air cargo from reading a story or two on the internet, but it is like anything you read from questionable sources.

Grooming of the young griffon

I also had a question about what type of grooming to do on a young griffon puppy.  Aside from giving it a bath once a month with puppy shampoo and cleaning its ears with Malascetic Otic solution, very little.  I don’t recommend aggressive brushing like I do with adults, as I accidentally overbrushed a young puppy once while its puppy coat was coming out and the adult coat still hadn’t come in.  I had an almost bald griffon in October.  Charles was not happy.  So don’t do that:)

Fire’s training

Fire is coming along nicely at 15 weeks old; Charles has been planting birds for her once a week to point and flush.  He has switched from using the kiddie cap gun to the .22 starter pistol with blanks and she couldn’t care less about the noise.  He’s talking about incorporating the remote bird launchers as to avoid any accidental “traps” (when the live bird gets caught by the dog).  Then once he feels comfortable there, probably mid-July, will try the first live-fire exercise with a shotgun.  I will try to get out to catch some video of this process.

First NAVHDA Test Pupdate of the Season

Congratulations to owner/handler Lou Volpe and Bluestem’s Big Sky Rendezvous “Midge” on a NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize I with a perfect score of 112 at the Montana Sharptail Chapter test over the weekend!  Midge is from our 2013 “F” Litter from Sam and Mae.  Great job everyone!!!

“A” Litter Pupdate

Back at the end of April, my very first litter from Sam and Sue turned 4 years old.  Here are some recent owner photos from the litter that changed my life for good!

Maggie is a good kid pillow

Maggie is a good kid pillow

Maggie keeps her coat trimmed for the Alabama heat

Maggie keeps her coat trimmed for the Alabama heat

 

Maggie giving a look

Maggie showing off her beautiful eyes

Whiskey is a handsome dude

Whiskey is a handsome dude

Whiskey (front) and friends beating the Nevada heat

Whiskey (front) and friends beating the Nevada heat

Whiskey bringing Dad (Pete) his croc

Whiskey bringing Dad (Pete) his croc

I also saw a cool video on Whiskey’s mom’s Facebook page of him hunting chukars with his girl, Andi.  

More training

Susan and Tom have been working with TracHer on preparing for her NAVHDA Utility Test and sent me some pictures of her retrieving a giant Muscovy duck.  The first picture is of her retrieving it after a 60 yard dryland track from a drag and the second is a water retrieve.  TracHer is from our 2012 “C” Litter of Sam and Mae.

TracHer and the duck in the field

TracHer and the duck in the field

TracHer's water retrieve

TracHer’s water retrieve

I have one last bit of media to share with you and that is a YouTube that I made from a couple of video clips that new owners of this year’s litters sent to me.  You can see the pups style and personality already starting to shine through!

Many thanks to all of my generous owners who take the time to update me with photos and videos so that I have something to share with you!  It is greatly appreciated and keep it coming!  Hope that everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer and I’ll check back in soon.

H Litter Homegoing

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I am officially puppy-free for the rest of the summer (aside from Fire, of course)!  Everyone went home on their 8-week birthday on Tuesday, except one who went home on Sunday.

Herbert went across town with Bill and family.

Herbert went across town with Bill and family.

Harriet's went to South Dakota with Matt and family.

Harriet’s went to South Dakota with Matt and family.

Hope went to Wyoming with George and his wife.

Hope went to Wyoming with George and his wife. (Photo courtesy of George)

Harold went to North Dakota with Ernie and family.

Harold went to North Dakota with Ernie and family.

Hez is not pictured because he took a plane all the way to Maine!  He arrived safely without even messing in his crate.  Maybe one of these days Tyson will have a chance to send us a photo.

Mae did well with her spay and is ready for retirement.  We took Sam, BB, and Fire out on Memorial Day for Fire’s first swim.

Fire swimming with the kids.

Fire swimming with the kids.

Sam found himself a big stick.

Sam found himself a big stick.

BB and Fire having a run on the shore.

BB and Fire having a run on the shore.

I hope that everyone enjoyed their extra day off!  Spring NAVHDA tests are upon us, so I’ll be looking forward to any pupdates on that front and any others!  Fire is due for her last round of shots this week, so then we’ll be ready to start going to training days.  I also need to think about getting her trained up to go into the show ring at least once.  Maybe we can learn to enjoy it because BB, Mae and I really did not.  But if at first you don’t succeed, try again, right?

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