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Waiting for puppies and first birds

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If you would like to be placed on my contact list in the event that I have puppies available from this litter, feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com.  I am confident that they are all currently reserved, but in the event of folk possibly backing out, I like to have a contact list to reach out to for additional interest.

Any day now for Fire going into labor, any hour actually.  I suspect that it is an average sized litter of four to eight puppies.  It doesn’t look like fourteen, but it looks like more than three.  I can feel them and see them, she is starting to get milk in her teats, so once they start making their way into the outside world I will keep my Facebook page up to the moment as much as possible.

Pregnant Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Pregnant Fire

You can see in the photo where she is starting to pull the fur out around her teats.  Some people shave them, but the puppies will take care of it on their own.

If you are on my list, do not panic if we don’t have your number of puppies.  Some folks want a specific gender or will decide at the last minute that the timing isn’t right for them.  Once they are whelped, it will take some time for me to get that all sorted out so just bear with me please.

This will be the seventeenth litter that I have whelped.  Even so, I am still anxious and excited.

First Birds for Obi

Charles has been working with all of the dogs on daily obedience exercises and getting Obi ready for his NAVHDA Natural Ability test.  We are talking about possibly doing it early, with a late spring test or a summer/fall test.  He has caught on to the drag track game.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Retrieve

“Obi” sixteen week old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppy retrieves a quail

While the dog is with a handler out of sight, we pull some feathers out of a dead quail and lay them in a pile, then drag the dead quail and hide it.  Then the handler brings the pup out of hiding to the feather pile and they track and retrieve the bird.

We also took Obi out with some live planted quail and the starter pistol.  This is not his first exposure to loud noises, we’ve been banging pots and pans since we got him and then shooting a kids cap gun while he’s playing after that.  He caught on to the excitement of flying birds very quickly.

First Flush - Hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (2)

“First Flush” sixteen week old “Obi” Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

On the homefront, we think that we have pretty much conquered housebreaking.  He has chewed up a few things, but that happens with every puppy that we raise.  He sleeps through the night in his crate.  His favorite things to do are play-fight with Ruth and jump on Caleb (we are working on the “stay down”).  He is in good health at 25 lbs. and gets his rabies shot on April 1st, then look out world!  I look forward to taking him on walks in the Old Market (Omaha’s downtown entertainment district) and Charles can take him to NAVHDA training days with other owners and dogs.

That’s all of the dog news for now, but keep an eye on Facebook for when the puppies are being born.  And send up some doggie prayers for a safe and successful whelping.

Belated Valentine’s Day Greetings!

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As a native of Valentine, Nebraska I feel guilty for wishing you a belated Happy Valentine’s Day!  I was room parent for my son’s 5th grade class and I sent out Valentines instead of Christmas cards this year, so it was a busy week.

About two weeks ago my grandmother passed away, so saying goodbye to my last living grandparent has also taken time away from the business of dogs.  This picture was taken after a pheasant hunt in Cherry County, Nebraska near a former town called Simeon in 1940.  My grandmother Hope is second from the left with the big smile, my great-grandmother Gertrude is on the far right.

1940 Pheasant Hunt Simeon

1940 Cherry County Pheasant Hunt

Fire’s Pregnancy

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Four Weeks Pregnant

Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I at four weeks gestation

Right at four weeks there is still not much to see of the pregnancy, but you can just start to tell that they are getting bigger.  Fire is normally pretty thin, but at this point she is fatter than Ruth who naturally carries more weight, so I’m feeling confident that the breeding “took”.  I expect puppies around the 10th of March.

Obi Update

Wyo Oakley Pedigree_NEW

Wyo Quigley Pedigree_NEW

These are Obi’s dam and sire pedigrees with notes on them as to why I picked this puppy.  When I reference Sam, BB and Mae, those are some of my foundation dogs.  Some places I wrote the breeder’s name or the kennel name if it isn’t in the dog’s name.  It was an accidental litter, so the dam is young.  These are hunting dogs with no titles or health clearances.  I wanted to take a gamble on these pedigrees since I have lots of money on two male puppies whose parents had all of the bling who never panned out.  My first two Griffons were out of the same situation and were fantastic hunters who put out litters of healthy hunting pups.

I’m going to write something here about health clearances that isn’t a popular opinion.  Health clearances only cover that one dog.  The dog’s siblings could be expressing genetic health problems that you’d never know about.  It isn’t testing the dog’s genetic background, it is just testing the health of that one dog.  Additionally, there isn’t a health test to clear a dog for things like muscular tears, bitches who don’t lactate or can’t birth naturally, and bad temperaments.  So much really relies on the quality of the breeder and pedigree.  I know that my dogs are healthy because we hunt the heck out of them and they thrive.  If they had a heart or thyroid issue, it would show itself on its own and I’d stop breeding the dog immediately.  Anyway, that is my soapbox about the cult of health testing.  If the dog is a housepet who breeds, I can see how it would help sell puppies and seem very important.  But I don’t think it is the be all and end all of of evaluating dogs.

Obi is thirteen weeks old, he’s had his second round of shots, weighs about 22 lbs. and is being a typically slow Griff in housebreaking.  We are about 75% there, but we average about one accident per day.  He knows how to fetch, comes to his name, has done well with loud noise conditioning, is a total gentleman in the crate (not one accident ever!), uses his nose, points things he find interesting and is just a fun, spoiled Griff puppy!!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy

Obi in the pack pile

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (2)

It took about two weeks for Fire to accept Obi

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (3)

Obi brought me a leaf

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (4)

How Obi enjoys our nightly anime watching with our boys

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (5)

Caleb with Obi hiking in the woods behing our house

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Crate

Obi learned the command “box up” from the big girls

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Pointing Wing

The silly old wing on a string is good for a sight point

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A cedar waxwing ran into our living room window and died, so it became a training dummy

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Obi’s first walk at our dog training wildlife management area

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Caleb, Charles and the dogs

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Obi falls behind at the end of the long walk like a normal little pup

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Obi eyeballs a bouncing tennis ball.

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Obi fetching the tennis ball.

I am really excited to watch this pup develop and turn out as a great hunting dog and eventually once he proves himself, stud for our program.

End of hunting season

Charles made it out a couple of more times after wild birds and he saw some, but none came home with him and the dogs.  We did go out on January 20th for another European tower shoot with Ruth.  It was in the single digits, so I’m dressed up in my walking sleeping bag.

Charity Upchurch and Ruth Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charity in her insulated camo with Ruth

Charles Upchurch European Tower Shoot

Charles bundled up to gun

Ruth Retrieve Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Ruth retrieving a hen pheasant (legal at a preserve) that Charles shot.

It’s time for me to move on to returning emails and making phone calls to my prospective owners.  We are in the last throes of winter and soon spring and puppies will be here.  Hang in there and stay warm everyone!

 

Nebraska’s Late Hunting Season Surprises

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We’ve had a mating with two ties on Thursday and Friday of last week between Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire” and Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief”, so we’ll be expecting the arrival of puppies sometime between March 8 and 13, for homegoings eight weeks later around May 3 through 9.  This is all my calculations at this point and subject to change once the pups are actually whelped.  I currently have ten reservations with deposits, but feel free to e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like to be on our backup contact list in the event that a potential new owner drops out or if we have more puppies that I have reservations.

Nebraska Late Season Hunting Adventures, Part I

On a tip from a good friend we headed north a couple of weeks ago to make an attempt at pheasants and quail, and were pleasantly surprised.  There was 4-5 inches of hardpack snow throughout the fields with butt-deep drifts in places and the cover was pretty thick to begin with, so it was not easy walking.  Our first field we walked for a good half hour, seeing hundreds of pheasant tracks in the snow, but put up nothing.  Then we saw a couple of roosters get up way out of range and the dogs started pointing hens like mad.  There was one point of Ruth’s where she had the hen pinned on one side and I walked towards her nose and the hen almost hit me in the face when it flushed.  We probably got up seven hens in that field, but no roosters in range.

The second spot that we stopped at, a covey of quail got up in the wide open about 15 yards into the push, but I had no shot since they were all around Charles and he was uphill from me.  He took a quail out of the bunch and I’m pretty sure it was Fire on the retrieve.  We worked our way another 75 yards and there was this scrubby ditch full of plum thickets and gnarly burr oaks.  He got on one side, I was on the other and the dogs were really birdy as we pushed down it.  Charles said, “They’re both on point!” in a loud whisper.  Two or three roosters get up, Charles takes down one right by me, I unloaded both barrels on one flying at the edge of range and four more go soaring by me totally within range (of course my gun is empty and I can only watch), while a few more boil out of the shrubs going away from us.  I seriously think that there were nine roosters in that group and it was the biggest bunch that I have ever seen in my life in Nebraska.  Ruth picked up the rooster for Charles and we finished the circle on that field, seeing nothing else.

So at that point we were getting up on 11 AM, I’d already marched over five miles in the snow after not having hunted all season.  I had been so focused on swimming to train for my lifeguard test that I hadn’t been hiking or hunting.  Let me tell you that swimming and hiking/hunting do not use the same muscles at all.  Deciding to pick up hunting again at the end of the season was not optimal and I need to make sure to get after it right away in September if I want to have any success next year.

Charity Upchurch hunting

Charity with her skunked face on

The next spot that we hit was right by a busy road and I didn’t see any really scrubby parts of it, so I was like, “Nah, I’ll sit this one out for the next one.”  Charles worked his way over the hill for about 30 minutes and as he and Ruth were working their way back, I started taking pictures.  It was cold and I had taken my coat off, so I just snapped a few and jumped back into the truck.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon On Point

Charles walking in to Ruth on point on two roosters

It wasn’t two minutes later that two shots rang out and I saw the last pheasant go down.  Charles shot a double!  Once I talked to him about what happened I found out the Ruth retrieved the first one, which was hit hard, then dropped it because she wanted to go after the second one which wasn’t hit as hard.  They lost track of the first bird but Ruth was able to retrieve the second one to hand.  I saw that they were struggling to find the first bird since they had lost their place, so I let Fire out and she and I went to where they had taken the first shot and found the bird.  Charles had a limit of roosters and a quail by noon.  It was a long drive home and we had gotten up very early, so we called it a day.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Pheasant and Quail

Charles with a limit of roosters and a quail, along with Ruth and Fire

Although Charles had completed his Nebraska Upland Slam on his trip with his buddies out to the southwest, he didn’t have the photographic evidence to submit it.  So this was the photo that got him to finish the Nebraska Upland Slam for the season.

Charles Upchurch upland slam

Welcome Obi, Part I

Over the weekend we headed out to Wyoming to pick up our new male pup Obi.  In my next post I’ll take apart his pedigree to show you why I picked him for the next candidate for our stud dog.  Today I’ll just show you pictures.

Things you see in Wyoming:

Wyoming sign

The official welcome sign

Wyoming Welcome

The real welcome sign

Wyoming Vedauwoo

Someday I will hike in the Vedauwoo, but this weekend was probably my twentieth drive-by.

Traveling with Obi photos:

Bluestem Kennels Obi in car

On my lap

Bluestem Kennels Obi in crate

In the crate

Charity Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon bath

Charity giving Obi a bath at the hotel.  Photo by Charles

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons hotel

Ruth welcoming Obi into the pack at the hotel

Charles Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Obi rolling down the road on Charles’s lap

Nebraska Late Season Hunting Adventures, Part II

On our way home from picking up Obi in Wyoming, Charles hit one spot for pheasants.  The weather was blowing in on Sunday, so we didn’t have much time.  We passed on the first spot that we drove by since it didn’t look right, but the second one that we pulled up to had all of the things that a pheasant would like in the cold.  A windbreak to the north, harvested corn on one side, baled hay on the other side and plenty of thick and tall grass cover in the sizeable field.  I wish that I had been running a video camera as I watched him walk away, because about 20 yards into his walk a beautiful rooster flushed and he took it down.  He only broke its wing and it was still running but Ruth got in there and snatched it up.

Nebraska Pheasant Hunt

They had a second rooster flush wild on the far side of the field but come back into the thick of the middle since it really had no place to go and it was starting to flurry a bit.  Both of the dogs locked up in a patch of old sunflowers and he was able to bring a second rooster home.

With the weather getting nasty, it was time to take a photo and get back on the road home.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Nebraska Pheasant

A couple of southern Nebraska roosters for Charles and the girls

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon First Pheasant Eight Weeks

Obi got to see his first rooster

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Eight Weeks

Obi and I ran around in the ditch while they were hunting

Welcome Obi, Part II

Bluestem Kennels Obi and Caleb

Caleb is glad to have a new pal

Obi at the vet

Obi meeting everyone at the vet

End of hunting season

The end of January marks the end of hunting season in Nebraska.  I have had a lot of distractions the last couple of years but plan to get back into the field with renewed vigor in September.  I think that Charles might get out a couple of more times and we’re going out to another European tower shoot on Monday, with me handling and Charles shooting.  Practicing shooting at the tower shoots and over the summer with his sporting clays and skeet makes all of the difference for him.  Hunting wild pheasants in Nebraska is tough and you have to be able to hit since there are not gobs of birds.

A few pics from our New Year’s Day walk:

Other random things

I am going to start the process of monetizing the blog and my YouTube videos.  I have the raw footage to make a grooming video, but it is going to take me at least four hours to edit and I need to figure out a compensation structure for my creations.  I want to keep my puppy prices in the affordable range so that real hunting families can adopt them.  But expect to see changes coming to the blog and our YouTube channel in the future.

I’ll make sure to keep you posted about the end of the hunting season and the beginning of our “Q” Litter of puppies.  Yes, that means that this is my 17th litter.  Who would have guessed that ten years later it would turn into this!

Stay warm.

P Litter at Four Weeks Old

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These puppies are definitely up and moving these days and the time has come to make some modifications to their housing.  At our old house, now would be the time where I would move them into the outdoor kennel with insulated dog house, but we’ve decided against having any outdoor runs or kennels here.  I think that what I’ll end up doing is taking the railings out of the box and building steps in and out of the door, so that they can have run of the whole kennel.  Then a couple of times a day, I can just herd them out the back door to play outside since the kennel door and the back door are right next to each other.

Since it is still cool out, I’ve been bringing them in the house to play and sometimes we just sit in the box with them too.

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Caleb always enjoys his puppy time

We are in the final throes of getting the old house ready for the next owner, today should be the last day that I have to go over there and work.  We close a week from Friday.  It will be nice to have more time for the puppies and getting ready for Zoro’s NAVHDA Natural Ability test.

I will make sure to get individual photos for next week, the puppies will be big enough for Caleb to pose them for me.  And it will be time to start talking to the new owners about who we think should go where so we can have it all decided in time for them to go home.  They turn 8 weeks on Monday, April 29th, which is the first day that they can leave my house according to the USDA.  It will be between then and Sunday the 5th that they go to their new homes.  For those new owners who are planning on picking up on Saturday, May 4th: can we do it early (like between 7-9 AM) so that I can go watch Zoro run his NAVHDA Natural Ability test?  I will also put that in an email here soon.

Right now the pups are chowing down the soft canned food twice a day.  A whole can each feeding.  So that tells me that they are ready to start having kibble mixed in, so that I can transition to kibble-only in a week or so.

I am so thankful that my friend Drenda down by Lincoln had some live quail to part with for dog training.  We’ll use those to get Zoro ready for his test and let the pups see one.  I also have a good amount of dead birds stored in the freezer that they can practice carrying around towards the end.

Here’s a photo of our cute little suburban training quail holding pen.  It is a chicken hutch with a dog kennel around it.  I am just excited that it is on the ground where I can get to it, our old holding pen was on the top of our garage where Charles would have to climb a ladder to get birds out (I don’t do ladders generally):

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Of course, last but not least, this week’s YouTube video: https://youtu.be/T9klEWj6yqg

Now it is time for me to go and feed those pups, then I have to head over to the old house and take a sledgehammer to our old bird holding pen.  It was completely over-engineered by Charles; even though it is like twelve years-old, it was not coming apart with a crowbar and regular hammer last night.  Then we dropped it off of the garage roof hoping that it would come busting apart…nope.  So I need to go and put the hurt on it.

Have a good week and talk at you again soon.

 

“P” Litter at One Week Old

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Please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wished to be placed on the contact list should someone back out of taking one of these puppies home.  At this time, all puppies are spoken for.

Saturday Ruth and the puppies moved out into the garage, which is just off of the kitchen and directly beneath my bedroom.  So I’m feeling a bit like having a new baby since I wake up every time one of the puppies pitches a fit on their way to the teat at night (going to have to talk to my contractor about getting some more insulation between the garage and the bedroom).

They are really starting to scoot around and we only have another week or so before their eyes open and they start to try to stand up.

The weather is warming up, the snow is melting and it is going straight into the rainy season.  But the change in the weather makes it so that they can be in the garage, otherwise they would still be in the kitchen if it was in the teens and snowing like it was a few weeks ago.

No news is good news, everyone is growing like they are supposed to be and all is well.  Here is the video from today: https://youtu.be/RlFBWcz4cu8

 

Welcome “P” Litter!

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E-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on the list should someone back out of taking home one of these puppies!  As of right now, they are all spoken for.  The soonest the puppies can go home is on Monday, April 29th and I’d like to have them all out of the door by Sunday, May 5th so that I can get ready for my daughter’s high school graduation a couple of weeks later.

The “P” Litter of 2019 between Ruth and Zoro arrived on Monday morning, March 4th.  Ruth began whelping right before I got out of bed at 6:30 AM and finished up by 11 AM so it was very quick.  Five girls and three boys.  The whelping went very smoothly and the puppies are growing quickly!  Here is a photo of them right before bedtime on Monday.

P Litter Newborn

Ruth and the newborn pups of the “P” Litter

The pups went to the vet Tuesday afternoon to get their tails docked and their dew claws removed.  My vets were on vacation and it was a substitute vet, so I was too busy talking to get any photos.  I take of 1/3 of the tail and leave 2/3, the longest allowed by the AKC breed standard.  I think that it make their point look more stylish and helps them use their tail as a rudder for direction when swimming in the water.  The AKC standard states that the tail should be docked to 1/2 to 2/3.

Here is a video that I took of them today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvGSsx_V93c&t=6s

The temperatures are starting to warm up here, so with supplemental heat the pups will be moving out into the attached garage over the weekend.  Not that I don’t love having them in the kitchen where I can be with them all of the time, it is just that after whelping the mother females lose their housebreaking with the amount of food that they have to eat and it makes for some nasty cleanups overnight and when I need to leave the house for a few hours.

I am very excited to watch these pups mature, as this is the mating that I am planning on taking the next generation of my kennel from in a new years.  It will be the fifth generation of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons that we’ve owned and the fourth generation and we have bred.  It is exciting and pretty amazing how the last nine years have flown by.  Caleb is still my head puppy hugger and does not know life before the annual arrival of the puppies.  He is so good with them and checks up on them almost hourly.  Caleb loves puppies so much that he has asked that his birthday cake is decorated with Griff heads this year!

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Caleb hugging puppies in 2019

Caleb 2011

Caleb snuggling puppies in 2011

Here’s a collage of some of the photos that I took today.  I don’t take individual photos until their eyes open in another ten days or so.

And one more of everyone before I close out before the weekend.  Catch up with all of you next week with one week old photos and video.

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Ruth and the “P” Litter at four days old

“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!

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