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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 Seven Weeks Old!

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This week we will be heading to the vet for first shots, examinations and microchips! Then they go home a week from today on Sunday the 20th. This week we’ll work on walking on a leash a little bit. One of them will get bird and cap gun work. They will both get crate conditioning. I will continue with outdoor exercise every day, because it is fun! As you can see in the video this week, they come when they are called to the generic “puppies!”. They’re in the middle of their de-worming regimen.

It is always bittersweet when they go home because you will miss their company, but it is so rewarding sending them home to their new families!

Rosalind in the muddy driveway
Rosalind on the run
Rosalind running in the pasture
Reba giving something a stare
Reba on the run
Reba giving me a point
Rolling down the hill!
Chomp!
Exploration

And here is their seven week old video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DLy_E7JJP8&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

My daughter is here from Nebraska for her spring break, so I need to run and spend time with her (and not just the dogs!), so I’ll sign off for this week and be back next week with homegoing pictures.

“R” Litter Three Weeks and Welcome Duke

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The two girls of the “R” Litter are really growing! Their eyes and ears are open and they are starting to push themselves around the whelping box. They should be up and walking unsteadily by next week and I’ll get them started on some puppy mush, that always gets them up and moving.

Two girls
Mama Ruth and the babies
Rosalind peeking around
Reba just hanging out
Rosalind face
Rosalind back
Reba face
Reba back

And here is the YouTube video where you get to see them on the move! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94XqaRZsvmw&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

Welcome Duke!

Wednesday we welcomed Cedar and Spruce’s Apollo to the south from Hull, Iowa. He took a plane from Omaha and got here safe and sound. We’ve really been having fun getting to know him and getting started on the basics. I will go over his pedigree and why I selected him in the future, it is getting late and I really just want to share the pictures from today for now.

Duke on the move
Side profile of Duke on the move
Duke with Sally and Obi
Sally and Obi giving Duke a sniff
Duke chasing Sally

I hope that everyone enjoyed their Super Bowl celebrations and has a Happy Valentine’s Day! Talk at you next week.

Hunting for our dream

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In case you missed the news, we’ve moved! We are now located in the rural area between Clover and Lake Wylie, South Carolina known as Bethel Township. Our place has three acres and a small barn, perfect for raising these dogs.

I won’t post too many detailed photos of our property since there have been so many problems with Griffons being stolen throughout the country and I don’t want to be in that position. Luckily there is always someone around our little acreage neighborhood keeping an eye on things. Where we are living is in the middle of a large family farm that was split between the family members, so everyone around us is related. The properties are all between one and forty acres, and the folks have animals of one sort or another, shoot guns, drive trucks…we fit right in. It is fun for Charles to be able to train dogs right in the yard. A much better option for us than one of the many subdivisions in the Charlotte metro area.

Right now Charles is working with Caleb and Sally on getting ready for the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test at the end of the month. Without much wild bird hunting around, the next few years will allow us to focus our efforts on our hunt testing and field trialing prowess. Caleb will be the first junior handler for the Foothills NAVHDA Chapter, so regardless of how Sally comes out, it will be a great experience for him. Plus, if we don’t like the prize that she gets out of this test, Charles can re-test her in the spring if he feels the need to do so.

Bluestem Sally Forth at 7.5 months, meeting her new vet

Sally is weighing in at 43 pounds and is a cute little dog. She was the smallest of the litter, so we are hoping that she doesn’t get much bigger than what she is now. Her coat is changing from her puppy fluff to her adult coat and we think that the warmer weather down here has it coming in shorter and tighter than with dogs past. Or it could just be her genetics, it is tough to know for sure.

You can see where the lighter softer coat is being replaced by a harsher, darker coat

This is the first Labor Day Weekend since 1995, when we were both still in college taking summer school classes, that Charles hasn’t been hunting the Nebraska Sandhills this weekend. I’ve been hunting there pretty consistently over the last 20 years. It is pretty emotional being away.

Nebraska Sandhills Sunrise, one year ago today

So then, why are we here in South Carolina? There was an offer that we couldn’t refuse. We are hoping that we can retire here, then have a big pickup with a dog box and an Airstream trailer that we can live out of during hunting season upon retirement. I love being between the beach and the mountains but still in a rural lifestyle. Charles will be back in Nebraska for a hunt in December and hopefully as we get settled in there will be more time for hunting travel. Our older son graduates this spring, then there’s one more kid for me to get through school. I will be mostly homebound until that task is completed, but am going to focus on conditioning in that time because hunts like Himalyan Snowcock, chukar partridge and white ptarmigan are going to take some serious athleticism.

The Palmetto State

I have found that keeping our Facebook page updated has been an easier task than sitting down to blog. Here are some miscellaneous photos of the dogs that I’ve taken with my phone recently:

AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Peaches en Regalia, NA I UPT II “Ruth”
AKC/NAVHDA Wyo Plainsman Kenobi, NA I UPT III “Obi”
AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Sally Forth
Obi, Ruth and Sally

As far as breeding this year, we are planning on a litter between Obi and Ruth in the spring. I will make a formal breeding announcement in a few weeks, then start to take new inquiries while getting back in touch with my contact list. I thought that I would bounce back to kennel work at the computer faster than I have, honestly. Having all of my things boxed crammed into a semi then stuffed into an empty house is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I pray that this is our last stop, but we’ll see where life takes us.

Our stuff filled an entire semi trailer

AKC/NAVHDA Sweetgrass Sandhill Sioux “Sue” 05/26/2004 – 08/20/2021

I will be sure to do a better write-up about the life of Sue at a later date with more pictures, but I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the passing of the Griffon who started it all for us. She was born the day before our first son, Conrad, and spent her first 8.5 years living with us in our first house in Bellevue. Upon her retirement from hunting and having puppies, she went to live with the Knispel family in Cedar Butte, South Dakota (just west of White River, near Badlands National Park). She passed at the age of seventeen, after a long life of many adventures and being very loved. There are so many more pictures and stories to go with Sue, but this will have to do for now. See you at the happy hunting grounds, girl.

If you’ve been following our Facebook page, this isn’t much new material, but I’ll be getting the good camera out for Sally’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test with Caleb in a couple of weeks and there will finally be some fresh content.

Good luck to everyone out there in the wild bird fields and with fall hunt testing. The future of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed is looking bright thanks to all of our efforts.