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Spring Test Prep

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Now that our oldest son has finally completed his schoolwork for his senior year of high school, I feel like I can breathe! He finished on Friday and will walk across the stage in about a week and a half.

A quick update on our breeding plans: it looks like I’m full on reservations for Fall 2022 Obi x Ruth, but folks can and do back out. Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to get on my contact list for litters. The next planned breeding(s?) after that will be Fall 2023 since our daughter is graduating from college back in Nebraska in the spring of 2023. But accidents can and do happen, so I can’t totally count that season out even if I try.

In the meantime, Charles, Obi and Sally will be heading up to the Hudson Valley (NY) NAVHDA Spring Test this weekend. It will be Obi’s second and final UT run. He was a very high scoring Prize II at the Carolinas Chapter Test and Charles wants to see if he can get a Prize I. Sally will be running her UPT Test, the practice test for the UT.

Obi, Duke, Sally and Ruth in the kennels

When we’re not working with them in the yard or socializing with them in the house, the dogs spend their time in their kennels. They are crated indoors at night.

Charles, Obi and Sally have been putting in lots of training hours at various grounds in the area, but I hardly ever leave “Tiny Farm of Bethel, SC” since there is so much to do here! I managed to catch some pics of them working in the yard yesterday.

Sally on the track
Sally with the duck
Obi with the duck
Obi retrieving to hand

I hope that they have fun in New York and give it their best shot! Charles grew up right near where the test is being held and so he is going to get to visit his dad while he is there too.

Duke is almost six months old and is turning out nicely! His teeth all seem to be in their correct places, he is learning his commands, we’re working on getting his fitness built up, he has a nice coat and he isn’t too large. When we weighed him a few weeks back he was 30 lbs., so we are hoping that he tops out in the 50-55 lb. range but we will see. Dukes lineage is a combination of Coppershot, Des Battures and Stonyridge, so I am expecting great things from him!

Duke on the move
Duke in the field
Duke pointing me and being cute

I look forward to our trip to the Nebraska Sandhills this summer so that he can get a big long run in behind the truck! And do lots of swimming at the lake too.

Ruth has really bounced back from the puppies and now it is just a matter of watching and waiting for her next cycle. I suspect that it is going to be in July or August, but I will keep you posted. I normally do not do back-to-back litters with females, but it took us three attempts to get an outside male raised and turned out properly to breed with her. A female pup from this fall’s litter is going to a breeder, then we will keep an Obi x Ruth female for our program in 2023.

Ruth running the hills
Ruth creeping through a low spot

We are so blessed to have our place here where we can work with the dogs right in the yard. I’ve been busy planting domesticated flowerbeds and trying to keep the wild woods at bay as much as possible. My vegetable garden is already exploding with lettuce, spinach and collards. I hope to add chickens for eggs and meat goats next year. Charles keeps a funny collection of birds for training.

Domestic mallards and a rooster pheasant

He has a whole other quail house on the back hill that I’ll have to get pictures of later.

Good luck to everyone at their spring tests, may we all savor the thrills of victory and withstand the stings of defeat.

“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 Six Weeks and Hunting Ends

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The two girls are really getting active, come when called for the most part, explore, eat just hard kibble and love lots of hugs and pets. They go in for their shots and microchips a week from today and so we’ve sorted out who goes where. Reba will be going home to Kentucky and Rosalind with be rolling out for Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks.

Reba head on
Reba side profile
Reba facing the other way
Reba with a leaf in her mouth
Rosalind laying on her belly
Rosalind sitting down
Rosalind looking at the sky
Rosalind on the run
Rosalind through the fence, you can see Reba’s rump squeezing between the posts
Rosalind being accosted by Reba
Reba and Rosalind palling around
Girls on the prowl

This is actually a shot from last week that I forgot to include. They moved from the inside whelping box out on to the covered patio with a kennel and dog house. Outside is much more entertaining and where they start eating primarily solid food, they get pretty stinky to be indoors.

Outside is best after 5 weeks old

They also have spent time with our older puppy Duke and our son Caleb. It is fun for them to get exposure to dogs other than Ruth and people other than me.

Big puppy with little puppies
Caleb and the pups

Here is their six week old video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_yAKsP4BAg

End of hunting season

Charles and Quentin went out one last time on the final day of quail season in South Carolina. It took them all day, but they each put one in the bag. It was dark by the time they wrapped up, so there were no dead bird photos. Charles did snap this pic of the sunset with the pointers, setters and Griffons all together.

Sunset with a mixed bag of dogs

This was actually back on President’s Day but I somehow forgot to post this photo of our almost thirteen year old son Caleb with Charles, Obi and Sally and a big haul of preserve quail. Charles wanted to get Caleb even more excited about bird hunting and this seemed to do the trick!

Caleb and Charles with a big haul of preserve quail with Obi and Sally

This has taken me way longer than I intended, so it is time for me to get on with the day. Next week will be our last video before the puppies go to their new homes! See you then.

“R” Litter Four Weeks and Low Country Snipe

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The two little girls of the “R” Litter are sure starting to grow up! They started on puppy mush this week and they are starting to go outside everyday to stretch their legs.

Rosalind in the grass
Rosalind up on her front paws
Rosalind looking straight on
Rosalind side profile on all fours
Reba in the grass
Reba up on her front paws
Reba close up
Reba up on all fours

Here is their four week old video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAPozIsymEc&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

Low Country Snipe Hunt

Charles and the neighbor Quentin went down to the low country of South Carolina snipe hunting. They saw more alligators than they could count. Obi went in after one and it was super scary! But they put birds in the bag and none of the dogs got eaten!

Charles and Quentin with South Carolina Low Country Snipe
Mama gator and all of those little lumps in the water on the right are baby gators

I will be back next week with the next installment of puppy adventures. It is hard to believe that they are half way to going home already!

“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.

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.

Our 2021 NAVHDA Utility Tests

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We are planning a litter between Obi and Ruth for Spring 2022. I will post a breeding announcement with all of their pedigrees, health clearances, genetic and hunt test results once I get the official results of the Utility Test. My goal is to have it done by my birthday November 9th. If you have contacted us about this litter, watch for an email in your inbox about the interview and deposit process at the beginning of November. I will take 10 reservations/deposits and we usually have 8-13 puppies. God willing. Our email is bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are interested.

Our goal was to pass these NAVHDA Utility Tests and we did just that. Obi and Ruth ran on Saturday, October 23rd at the Carolinas Chapter fall test. It was pretty cool to have four of the six dogs doing Utility Tests be Griffs. Karen Krautz ran her two: Comet and Chigger, punching her ticket to Invitational 2022 with a UT I for Chigger. We were really close with Obi, but he was playing with the birds on his retrieves in the field and danced around during remaining-by-blind when he was supposed to be holding still. Ruth is a phenomenal wild bird hunting dog, but wasn’t obedience trained from day one like Obi, so she’s a mediocre test dog. She did all of the skills, but sort of begrudgingly and half-hearted since she doesn’t like testing. Obi seems to just love it and really had a good time. It’s amazing to see the difference that the early training makes, the old field trialer “just let them be a puppy for a year” just doesn’t cut it with Griffons when you need to put serious pressure on them when they are older.

I am going to post the photos divided by dog so that it doesn’t get confusing. The test went in the following order, with all of the dogs dogs running going through that segment before moving on to the next: 30 minutes of bird field, 10 minutes of duck search, heeling down the bank, steady-by-blind/remaining-by-blind, duck retrieve, duck drag. I am going to just sort of explain the test and how the dog did on that part of the test as I go, in a very unorganized and unplanned way. I also have the score cards here and I’ll just blurt out the scores as they apply.

Before I get too far, I want to thank Charles for training and testing the dogs for this during our move. Even though it sometimes felt like he was avoiding unpacking boxes to go and train dogs, it is an important part of having them and it needed to be done. Chapter gunners were just phenomenal on our two runs. I even caught a photo of a bird getting totally smoked (I’ll need to circle the bird so you can see it). Thank you Jerri Stanley for judging for her seventh weekend in a row. Thank you to Senior Judge Ric Kildow for telling me to be quiet about 100 times because my voice is so loud. And thank you to judge Leon Hairie for coming back to the Carolinas after also judging Caleb’s junior handling on Natural Ability, it was fun having a familiar face.

Bluestem Peaches En Regalia Ruth”

I kept telling Charles to prepare for Ruth to be mediocre. She is not a test dog, but she loves to go ham on the wild bird hunt. In the field, her first point she was super-steady, but from there she broke on the shot several times. She is a great bird finder and retriever, so those weren’t the problems. Her field scores were: Search – 4, Pointing – 4, Steadiness Total – 2, Retrieve of shot bird – 3, Nose – 4, Stamina – 4.

Ruth on point with Charles
Ruth on point with gunnar
Ruth on retrieve
Ruth bringing the bird back to Charles
Charles taking the retrieve from Ruth
Ruth working the field
Ruth in the water tub cooling off
The chukar were acting wild that day!

I am really digging the diversity of the Sandhills Game Lands over by Marston, North Carolina. Not only did it have the cool sandy-soiled pine barren field for birds (that is burned frequently to keep the oak saplings from taking over), but they have an amazing set of beaver ponds for duck work. The duck search pond access was definitely “no cars allowed” and you had to have a full size 4×4 pickup to cross the creek to get there.

4×4 Creek Crossing
Nasty mess of swamp for the duck search pond

Ruth’s duck search was pretty crummy, but enough to get the job done. She didn’t get out too far and there was too much running on the bank. But she didn’t run and hide under the truck or sit under Charles’s feet. She did some stuff in the pond for 10 minutes. The score: Search for Duck – 2.

Ruth on the duck search

She did really good on the heeling down the bank to steady-by-blind. The score: Walking at Heel – 4. As you can see, we switched to a second, more open pond in order to do the steady-by-blind and duck retrieve.

Ruth walking at heel

This photo is not in focus on the dog, because the grass throws the camera off, but this is a good illustration of how things went on steady-by-blind. This is the part where the dog is supposed to be sitting in the blind. Obviously, she is not, she is looking at Charles shooting a shotgun off in the distance. I think that this is one of the tougher skills for us to work on, because we are don’t do waterfowl hunting with blinds, we are just training to pass this part of the test. Also, there are multiple gunners: the handler is shooting and so is a chapter gunner. I haven’t quite memorized the shot sequence, but the judge will point at who is supposed to be shooting after the dog is placed in the blind. It goes back and forth between the chapter gunner and the handler. At the very end the handler comes down to the blind and repositions the dog just outside of the blind, shoots again, then a duck is thrown from the other side of the pond. Ruth’s scores: Remaining by blind – 3, Steadiness by Blind – 1, Retrieve of duck – 3.

Ruth by the blind (sort of) with Judge Jerri Stanley looking on
Ruth swimming for the duck
Ruth retrieving the duck

The last skill is the retrieve-by-drag. Basically a dead duck is dragged through the grass and the dog has to locate it and retrieve it to the handler. It is pretty easy, except that it is at the end of a very long day with lots of obedience, pressure and work. There was one dog who did Prize I perfect work all day, then ran off and started quartering the woods upon release instead of doing the duck drag. They are dogs, they do stupid stuff like that. But it is part of the test, to see if they come apart mentally. Ruth’s score: retrieve-by-drag – 3.

Ruth bringing her retrieve-by-drag duck back to the truck

Ruth’s final score in the NAVHDA Carolinas Chapter fall test Utility Test was Prize III, 159 Points. Some of the overall scores that weren’t included in my writing thus far were: Cooperation – 3, Obedience – 2, Desire to Work – 3. Ruth is now Bluestem Peaches En Regalia NA I, UPT II, UT III.

Wyo Plainsman Kenobi “Obi”

Aside from their pedigrees, the main difference between Ruth and Obi is the way that they were raised. Ruth was brought up that first year with minimal obedience work and just allowed to be sort of a wild bird hunting fool. Obi has been raised with obedience work and the foundations laid for this testing process the entire time. We are extremely happy with the way Obi has turned out, as we had attempted to develop two other outside studs that did not work out for us due to health issues. They cost us years in time and thousands of dollars. Yet it is all part of trying to re-establish a breed that was on the verge of extinction forty years ago and has a limited gene pool. Many folks ask where Obi came from, assuming that it was from a known breeder in our clubs. But luckily I know pedigrees really well and that gives me opportunities to utilize lesser known or infrequent breeders who don’t participate in the clubs. We feel lucky to have gotten a great dog out of Laramie, Wyoming who is a great-grandson of our Mae and also a close relation to our Sam. We look forward to seeing his progengy in the upcoming months.

Obi did outstanding in the field portion of the test with the exception of his retrieves, he was playing around with the birds a little on his way back. He was rock-solid steady to wing, shot and fall, until he was tapped on the head and released to retrieve the bird. His field scores were: Search – 4, Pointing – 4, Steadiness Total – 4, Nose – 4, Stamina – 4, Retrieve of Shot Bird – 2. The cover was super thick, so I didn’t get pictures of every point or retrieve, I am just posting the photos that I have in the order that they were taken.

Obi on point
Obi pointing on the left with Charles searching for the bird on the right
Obi bringing in a retrieve
Charles walking in on another point from Obi
Obi on point with a gunner searching for the bird
Obi pointing and Charles trying to kick up a bird
Another photogenic retrieve for Obi
Obi handing the bird to Charles
A nice side profile of Obi on point
Obi having fun running the field
Chukar hiding out

Obi on retrieve to Charles
Charles walking in to yet another Obi point
Charles trying to kick up a bird for Obi while the chapter gunner and judge Ric Kildow look on
Charles phantom gunning while the chapter gunner smacks a chukar in the butt (if you zoom in you can really see the detail)
Obi bringing back yet another chukar
Tub time for Obi after a good run

That was my first time out in the field with Obi, so I had no idea on how well trained he was. I was pretty blown away with his performance when we moved the duck search pond. They let a flightless duck go on one end of the pond, then fire a shot at the other end of the pond and away they go. He went to the far side and searched the bank, then swam around the whole far side of the pond…he worked hard the entire 10 minutes. He knocked that one out too, here is his score: Search for Duck – 4.

Obi looked for the duck for 10 minutes

Walking at heel to steady-by-blind looked good too: Walking at Heel – 4.

Obi walking at heel to the blind

At this point, I really couldn’t look I was so nervous. I knew that we were so close to a Prize I and this was the make or break moment since we struggle with training for the blind since we don’t really use it in real life. I have to look at the score card to see where the flub is, so he stayed in the blind for the shots, but when he was relocated next to the blind for the final shot and duck throw, he broke to retrieve the duck before he was released by command to do so. Scores: Steadiness by blind – 4, Remaining by blind – 3, Retrieve of duck – 4.

Obi super at-the-ready for the duck retrieve
Obi bringing back the duck

Last but not least again, we did the duck retrieve by drag. Score: Duck retrieve by drag – 4.

Obi bringing back his drag duck

Other overall scores for Obi: Desire to Work – 4, Cooperation – 4, Obedience – 4, for a total of 199 points and a Prize II. I think there is a way to get 199 points and a Prize I, but I think that the weighting of the “retrieve of shot bird” points knocked him down to a Prize II. So Obi is now Wyo Plainsman Kenobi NA I, UPT III, UT II.

I know that post has gone on a bit with lots of photos and scores and explanation of Utility Test skills, but this is the first time that we’ve tested at this level and I actually fully understood what was happening and was able to capture all of the pieces in photos. Maybe this will help someone else work up the courage to train for the NAVHDA Utility Test. It is a great bonding experience with your dog, if nothing else.

Bluestem: Transplanted

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Bluestem is the state grass of Nebraska. Little bluestem to the west, sand bluestem in the Sandhills and big bluestem in the east is a dominate grass species across the state. Charles was originally a range science major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln when he moved out here from New York in 1991 and was part of the international plant identification team for the university before he became an economics major.

He started on at Ameritrade in 1997 and recently relinquished his position there (of our own doing) after the business was sold to Charles Schwab. We will be moving to York County, South Carolina over the summer to advance his career (the southern suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina). This is actually the homeland of the Upchurches, as Charles’s parents were raised in Hamlet, North Carolina not an hour from there. We still have many relatives in the area and have visited there our entire relationship.

We have retired Fire, she is currently recovering from her spay and will go home with one of Charles’s old hunting buddies who is retired between Minnesota and Arizona.

I would like to devote this post to the retired mothers of our kennel. Sue, Mae, Velma, BB and Fire. We would not exist without their bodily sacrifices and motherly love. I have yet to rush a female to the vet to do a c-section or have to bottle feed puppies because a mother would not nurse. All of these mamas have whelped naturally and nursed their puppies. They will always be loved and remembered as contributors to our kennel and the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed.

So here’s to the mothers of Bluestem Kennels:

Sue, the griff who started it all for us, who is still alive at 17
Mae, great-grandmother of Obi, who recently passed at age 15
Velma out of De Jac Pine, who is still living with our friend Aaron
BB from Bourg-Royal Kennel in Quebec who is currently living in Kansas at 10
Fire and the most recent Q Litter, who will retire this year at 7

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