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NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize One

~ Our Score 112

Hi guys just wanted to drop a quick note. Me and Luna were first alternate and luckily got into the NA test yesterday. 

We surprisingly got a prize 1 – 112 score! Wow. I’m still shocked but she did it all and we trained hard. Now just getting ready for hunting season. 

Mike and Michelle


–The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

NAVHDA chapters sponsor four kinds of tests:

The Natural Ability Test is designed to evaluate the inherent natural abilities of young dogs and gain insight into their possible usefulness as versatile gun dogs. It rates seven important inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire and cooperation. Dogs are eligible for a Natural Ability Test up until, and including, the day they reach 16 months of age. Dogs over 16 months may be run for evaluation only. Dogs over 16 months may only be run if space is available. No prize classification can be awarded the dog run for evaluation.

The Utility Preparatory Test measures the dogs’ development midway through their training toward the Utility Test. No previous testing required.The Utility Test evaluates trained dogs in water and field, before and after the shot, as finished versatile hunting companions as well as many other specific tasks. No previous testing required. The Invitational Test is our highest level of testing. Only those dogs that have achieved a Prize I in Utility are eligible. This limits the entry to exceptional animals who have demonstrated a high level of training and tests their skills in the advanced work.                 

Breeder Comment on Points Earned

The maximum possible score for a dog running in the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test is 112 Points. You must earn a minimum of 99 points to net a Prize One. Luna got a perfect score–we cannot tell you how difficult it is to achieve this goal. Honestly, it is even more remarkable with the Weimaraner–who can potential flake out at the wrong moment.

To Learn More about competing your Weimaraner with NAVHDA click here!

Natural Ability

~What I Imagined

~The Reality

I remember when I first heard about the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) Natural Ability Test, I imagined you didn’t prepare. You took your young Weimaraner (or whatever Versatile Hunting Dog you had) to this event–and the experts discovered if you had a natural hunter or not.

This approach would be like flushing time and money down the toilet. These guys who participate work hard to prepare their hunting companions. There are several elements (or disciplines) involved in the process–you have to have them ready for each (and all). There are seven critical inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire, and cooperation.

It might seem wrong to work at developing these abilities, but it is the opposite. It is a bit like exercising a muscle–it gets stronger when worked. This preparation works.

Our Discovery and Placement Test

We test pups at six-weeks realizing that we are pushing the envelope at that age–at seven or eight weeks would be apt to test more easily. Nevertheless, we have had success at six-weeks when the pups are prepared and mature enough to engage in the activities. Below are some photos from a recent litter of Longhairs who were visiting the Three Cliff’s Sanctuary in preparation of the Discovery and Placement Test.

As with the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test process, preparation is essential. I am sure people wonder we are doing. We are exposing the pups to different locations, and expanding their world. We are showing them toys, and interacting with them in small groups and sometimes on a one-on-one basis. This preparation is an essential part–and all the while we are not gathering information or sizing up the pups. That might be hard to believe but one thing we have learned–don’t come (to the test) with preconceived ideas. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by anything–not clients, not what we seen before, etc. We are taking a fresh look–trying to get pure information or findings. At six-weeks these pups don’t do all that much– we hope to have them ready to engage with us as well as the exercises as they are presented.

OwyheeStar Summer Puppies

Mousse and her babies…

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We wanted to have a litter of summer pups. One can never guarantee these plans will come to fruition. There were folks waiting for a puppy, and we hope to help them fulfill their dream; however, it might take some time. We have the one litter this summer, and it is a doozy. Over the years, we have had so many small litters; this is not a small litter. Mousse’s litter has ten puppies. They are shown above nursing in the puppy yard. This photo was taken by Deven, our helper this summer. He is excellent with the puppies.

A mixed Litter

Our stud dog “Blue” was the sire of this litter; Mousse X Blue Wk4 Bonus_3therefore, we have some blue pups. You should easily be able to distinguish which pups are blue, and which are a shade of gray. There is something else in the mix. Did you notice? One of the blue females has the undocked tail–this is by request.

We had ten days of rain. I joked, we should bail the puppy yard, along with the hay. Pictured here you can see this little blue girl in the jungle, before we were able to mow it. She didn’t seem to mind the blade-forest. You will also notice she is the one with the undocked-tail. For those wondering, this is by request only. Mousse X Blue Wk4 Bonus_4The arrangements must be made in advance of the litter’s arrival. We require a larger puppy deposit. The reasons are many, and we won’t go into them at this time. We get several serious requests every year from folks wanting to forego the tail-docking. This (docking of the tail) is done within days of their birth. We might also note here, that Longhairs are never docked. We are willing to do the full-length tail (on the traditional smooth-coat), because in other-than-American Weimaraner Standards, they occur. In some countries tail-docking is illegal.

Sporting Breed Tail Docking

The sporting breed that sees field action is prone to tail injuries. This is the reason for the docking. It is cosmetic, and a safety factor. Tails, and ears that get nicked bleed profusely. They are difficult to heal. The reality is that fewer dogs see actual field action than in previous years. Many hunt clubs (Versatile Hunting Dog Federation, as well as the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association) have mentoring programs. Whether you believe in hunting, or not–it is a deep American tradition. It helped establish this country, and fed our ancestors. Yes, they had gardens, but that would not have sustained life. More often than not, pioneers ate what they could get in a stew, or a dried jerky-pocket-meal. We should not forget this, in our day of supermarket shopping. More and more, folks are returning to natural foods.

The OwyheeStar Protocol

A lot of folks come to OwyheeStar wanting to investigate us. We understand this mentality. It is tough to trust people you don’t know with one of the biggest decisions you are going to make. Nonetheless, we must stick to our protocol, and way of doing things. It is the only way we can accomplish all the things we need to do. For those who have gotten and OwyheeStar puppy, we believe almost without exception they understand what we mean. The new person making a query, might consider us a bit too eccentric. We are always open to inquiries; however, even the initial inquiry is screened. It doesn’t require a lengthy email to net the application invite. In fact, a simple note stating a bit about yourself will do. You can save the lengthy description of who you are, and what you want for the application process.

Getting the details in the application is important to us. It allows us to focus on you, and to respond to everything is a systematic manner. Nothing gets forgotten, and everyone is scrutinized with the same measuring stick. The application reply, is where we look for information. During the process, and especially during the placement segment, we refer to this on many occasions. We like to ensure that we have the correct contact information, as well as all the specifics regarding the Weimaraner puppy you hope to bring home in this one location. Shela, normally spends at least an hour working up our application reply. We do not take this process lightly, nor are we less than grateful for your trust. It is in our heart to do what is in the best interest of the puppy, as well as for you.

Folks wanting to engage us, must be willing to do things in this manner. We believe our outcome speaks for itself. Thank you everyone for your vote of confidence, and willingness to work with our protocol.

Wilma and others at the Treasure Valley NAVHDA Hunt Test

Sometimes the stars align…

Wilma Field Training(1)It was a long shot that Wilma would do anything at the hunt test. Nonetheless, a last-minute change was in order. We scrambled to make the necessary changes, and Cliff took her. This trip will prepare her for the fall hunt tests. We hope to gain entry into that test. Wilma was phenomenal, and she aced the swim. Other sections of the test were not so stellar, but consider that she had not seen the field, a bird, or the pond before Monday. We had been planning to go another direction when it became apparent this girl had a pocket of ability, and the temperament we like so much.

Note about the Video: The following video is not edited. Wilma’s run is quite a way down the line. This is a GoPro video taken by Cliff of the Treasure Valley NAVHDA Hunt test. As you can see, no one is noticing he is filming. He has the camera strapped to his chest. He doesn’t always get the exact shot he hopes for, but this will give you a feeling for what is happening. Keep watching, and you will catch a glimpse of Wilma’s smooth-sailing swim. Friday was her first “true-swim”, and it was more dog-paddle splashy. At the Hunt Test, she looked like a pro, and swam with ease almost on command earning her 4 of 4 possible points.

 You can achieve the swim too….

Wilma Learning to Swim (1)

Wilma with Stackhouse soaking wet from time in the pond…..

Getting the Weimaraner to swim can take patience. A little knack, and good fortune can help along the process. We hope you enjoyed this two-day adventure. Yesterday’s blog showed the beginning. Thanks for your interest, and joining us on Wilma’s lesson in how to swim.

Wilma Swims


They started training on Monday (June 16, 2014). The water-work was only one portion, but crucial to the outcome. By Friday, she achieved the swim. She went on to swim at her North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) Natural Ability event; she earned 4 of 4 possible points for her swim. This event was hosted by our Treasure Valley NAVHDA hunt club. They do an awesome job. Tomorrow, we will show a video of Wilma’s NAVHDA water-work.

Wilma and Stackhouse at the Pond....

Wilma and Stackhouse at the Pond….

Stackhouse Swimming (26)
You can view the entire Go Pro video on our Website’s Info Blog (click here); however, our plan is to edit the video to the portion where Wilma swims. 

This Week’s OwyheeStar News

Father’s Day to Summer

         It is an eventful week at OwyheeStar…….

To celebrate Father’s Day, we had a simple family gathering at the Three Cliff’s Sanctuary. This event included the too-hot bonfire, and the roasting of hot dogs. The side table had a variety of chips, veggies, dip, and a salad. It was a simple affair of the best kind–a family getting together. It was hard to start a new Era with Cliff being the family patriarch. With his father’s passing, it means a changing of the role, and he is no long a “Junior.”  On Wednesday, we would have celebrated our dad’s 96th birthday had he made it that far. He was so close. These events have overshadowed all we have had going on; and at the same time they have propelled us forward. The direction we are headed involves a number of things resulting from the dramatic status changes.

Hunt Test Preparation, and Larry Cleveland


Stackhouseand Retrieving 2014 (80)Larry arrived on Monday as planned. He graciously has offered to take some professional photos of our Weimaraners. You might remember Larry from previous blogs. He lives with Reno, his most trusty sidekick assistant. He is also a wildlife photographer–click here! We cannot express our gratitude in a few short words. He has presented us with a goodly number of excellent photos, and about a hundred extraordinary captures. Many of these action shots will bring a smile to your face. They do ours!

Stackhouse and Wilma

Stackhouse and Wilma

(In the midst of the photo shoots), Cliff has found himself preparing for the Treasure Valley North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s (NAVHDA) Hunt Test. He and Wilma are scheduled to run on Sunday. On Monday, we made the decision to go with Wilma (who is really a bit too young), rather than Goldie. The change is complex by nature, and it was not easy to make the last minute shift to Wilma. So, here Cliff finds himself (with the afore mentioned backdrop) trying to get Wilma ready in less than a week.  The biggest concern at the moment is she will freak-out over seeing so many unknown dogs, strange people, and being in an unfamiliar place. She could glue herself to Cliff’s heels, and do nothing–or bark a warning that there is something she doesn’t know or understand. Nonetheless, she has all the components in place. Cliff and her have accomplished a lot in quick order. The photo of her and Stackhouse at the pond was taken on Thursday; she did a kind-of swim on that trip. Last evening she swam. What a good girl Wilma is, and she has a lot of potential to do a fairly successful hunt test despite the odds being stacked against her.


Here are the links for this week’s blogs….

Summer Begins……

Today, is the longest day of the year. That is good because we have a lot to accomplish. The garden is calling me. The weeds are coming faster than the plants. Thank goodness, the plants are taller. The puppy yard needs mowed. I should try to mow it myself this time. Cliff has been gracious enough to mow it for me on several occasions. Everything is growing fast, and requiring a lot of water. Cliff is mowing our lawns twice a week. There are almost two acres for him to mow. His hay is getting close to the second cutting, and the grain field hints of harvest. Time flies by, and I take a deep breath to capture a moment here and there. I love looking out upon the lush fields.


Thank you for your love and support. Keep the puppy updates coming. In the weeks ahead we can use them. We have a few interesting ones in the works for next week. We look forward to another fun week of sharing with you. We appreciate you all!


Many blessings and warm wishes from Shela and Cliff–(and the OwyheeStar Weimars too!)

~Thank you for being a part of our lives!


This Week’s OwyheeStar News

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Pumping Irrigation Water

Pumping Irrigation Water

Isn’t spring grand? It does bring its own set of demands. Cliff was pressed on every side this week. He has not farmed the second half of our property in recent years; however, last fall he put in winter wheat on the east parcel. It is coming along nicely; it required irrigation (for the first time this year) this week. Getting the water going took some concerted effort. He has had to revamp everything to work for how we will be doing things. Isn’t that the way it goes? Anyhow, he got the wheat watered. Beyond the farming, he is preparing for spring hunt tests.

He has a couple of Weims to get ready for the spring hunt tests. We will see how it goes; he only has one girl who fits the time frame for the NAVHDA N/A (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Natural Ability) hunt test.  He hoped to put more time into her, because she has hunt-potential-promise, but it takes patience to develop a good hunt-performance. This is true, even though it is known as the natural ability portion of the NAVHDA testing process. It requires exposure to birds, field conditions, and water prior to the test. The pup must be ready to perform to a certain level.

We mentioned the time frame for NAVHDA N/A testing was limited, but the Versatile Hunting Dog Federation (VHDF) has a much more doable set of age requirements. The VHDF Hunting Aptitude Evaluation (HAE) which is similar to the NAVHDA N/A doesn’t restrict participation due to age. In many cases, this can be a huge plus. Some Weimaraners (and other breeds) will mature later than others; it can be difficult to have a pup ready in the exact NAVHDA test time frame. Both venues have a lot to offer a dog breeder, as well as someone wanting to develop a serious hunting companion.

Here are the links for this week’s blogs….

The Blues……

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Friday’s blog featured the puppy swim. The (Blues in the Wagon) photos we posted on Facebook were a hit with you, and others. There are a few blog subscribers who don’t get on Facebook; therefore, we will post these cute faces for you again. We don’t think anyone will mind. I am heading off to bathe two of these pups that will depart for their new family today. Others will be leaving soon. We have a couple left to place, but inquiries have been consistent. Although we have a waiting list, each person on it has their own agenda. This includes coat color, time frame, and other factors. Placing the pups in the best possible home is important to us. We believe it is a breeder’s duty to care about where the pups go, and what happens to them. 


Many blessings and warm wishes from Shela and Cliff–(and the OwyheeStar Weimars too!)

~Thank you for being a part of our lives!

This Week’s OwyheeStar News

Saying good-bye to January 2014….

Trip Home (100)

Near New Plymouth, Idaho

January has been interesting. The weather has not been sub-zero (thank goodness); however, we have been socked into a gray inversion that is driving folks a little crazier than usual. I snapped this photo of the valley on the way home from Nampa this last Wednesday. We say the sky earlier in the morning, but it was snatched away. Visibility was better than usual. The closer you get to Ontario, the more snow, and the colder the temperature. Our end of the valley has gotten the blunt-end of the winter-woes.

Here are the links for this week’s blogs….


Cliff will attend the Treasure Valley Chapter North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (TV NAVHDA) annual meeting. They will discuss the upcoming hunt tests for 2014–spring, and fall. It is important to make these events for so many reasons. Other than that, we have the usual must-do things on the home front. We are hoping for sunshine, and earth-warming weather to let the trapped moisture seep into the ground. The January mud is not all that pleasant. This is never truer when it is combined with things like freezing rain, and patchy snow. It makes for a lovely (and yes that is sarcastic) cleaning situation. It makes things harder than usual.

This Week……

Do you like kisses???

Do you like kisses???

We had sunshine of a different kind, for the most part. Since the skies gave us gray, and the ground was much the same, we look toward some of more heart-warming moments for inspiration. Ruger (formerly known as Brewser) joining his awesome family is certainly the high-point. When his family had a last-minute unexpected monumental crisis, we were concerned. Duchess’s pups had been promised for some time. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the departure, including his family. Then, the news came right at departure time. The story ended perfect for him (and all concerned). This is Wes and Hollee’s third OwyheeStar. Their first Owyhee Weim (sadly) departed this earth some time ago. When we met this lovely family, they were already infected with the Weimaraner bug; however, over the years, we have gotten to know them a bit better. Ruger has found a great family. Some of you have followed the posts on Facebook. He slid (very nicely) into their family, and home adjusting easily into their lives. Who wouldn’t? We cannot thank this loyal family enough. We have been blessed to meet some of the greatest folks on the face of the earth. There is nothing sarcastic in that comment. These are the moments that can brighten oppressive gray skies. (This morning) We can see pink amidst the clouds. We are hoping for a lot of sunshine, but one thing is for sure. Our hearts are warmed by your comments, updates, and continued support. Thank you, one and all!


Many blessings and warm wishes from Shela and Cliff–(and the OwyheeStar Weimars too!)

~Thank you for being a part of our lives!

Rodney and Molly net a NAVHDA N/A Prize I

Congratulations on the NAVHDA N/A Prize I

Rodney and Molly (NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize One) October 2013

Rodney and Molly (NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize One) October 2013

Molly-A blue Weimaraner competes and nets a prize one.

The Treasure Valley North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Late Fall (October) Test Results are in, and we are thrilled to announce that Rodney Behm and Molly earned a Prize I (107 points). Her performance was stellar across the board with the exception of a slightly less than perfect water-work score where she earned 3 points instead of 4.

Note: A couple of points that should be kept in mind when reading this blog– 1. This is not a competition. Everyone who participates can earn a Prize if their versatile hunter meets the criteria. The criteria is not easy, but everyone can Prize. 2. N/A is natural ability. Natural hunt potential must be developed to participate successfully in these hunt tests.

Rodney Reports on Molly in the field and around the house……..

Working with Molly has been fun. We are happy with the outcome. Here are some insight to our success, as well as some comments on our life we share with Molly.

  •  Natural Ability (hunt-potential) is important. However, aside from her natural skills ie nose  etc, I think what has made her successful is her desire to please me.  It’s our special time together. She’s knows when I lock up the other dogs and grab my hunting bag its “go time”.
  •  From an obedience standpoint of view– she’s a pleaser, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have her own mind.  If you give her an inch, she’ll take a mile.  I’ve been strict in the home so that the house is orderly, but haven’t been too tough with her in the field.  That’s going to change now that we have made it through the first set of tests.
  • Our future plans when it comes to the hunt tests— I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about the future with her. At first. I wasn’t sure I wanted to move on to the advanced tests.  I’m reconsidering that now.  I think I might train her for Utility.  We’ll see how she takes to that level of training.  In the end, I think hunting is about the dog,  not only about me.  I want her to have fun.  I want that to continue being our special time.  As long as we are both enjoying ourselves, then we’ll keep going and see where it takes us.
  • On the home front — We’ve got three kids at home with varying ages.  Lots of friends constantly stopping by.  She enjoys the visitors and likes to play with her doggy daycare friends as well.  She is very protective of me though.  If a stranger tries to approach me in a strange environment, she’ll let him know to back off.  Cliff has seen a little bit of that at the tests with the strangers.  I think its important to remember that for all of the dog’s strengths, there will be areas for improvement.  No dog is perfect, so we’ll keep working on that and try to make her the best she can be in every element.
  • The hunt potential Weimaraner–I don’t know the difference between blues, grey’s and long hairs from a hunting perspective. She works for me so that’s all I care about. for those wondering,
  • Molly is a Weimaraner— She is just like any other Weim.  Velcro… As I write this, she is laying her head on my keyboard licking my hand as if to say, “Dad, give me attention!”.

Breeder’s Comment: We are more than pleased with Rodney and Molly’s achievement. For those thinking about doing something like this, it is not as easy as one might perceive. Nonetheless, we encourage you to check out your local options, and to get involved. At a minimum, you will become a better handler, and at the best the two of you will accomplish things not previously possible. As you merge and become a team, you will experience a deeper relationship.

There are many misconceptions about the hunt test in general. Participating in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Natural Ability hunt test, does not mean taking an inexperienced pup to the venue to see what they can accomplish. To do so would net a disappointing outcome. The work begins from day one. The more hunt-potential the more challenges you may face, but often when handled correctly things will even-out across the board. Rodney’s Molly appears to be more territorial away from home. The vast majority of issues surrounding the protective-nature usually regard guarding the home property, or ownership–food, crate, or a specific area.

We are very happy to hear that Rodney and Molly plan to continue with the training and the hunt testing. It is a process. For the dedicated person, the result is a better-balanced Weimaraner on every level; at home, they are better behaved and adjusted, as well as when working in the field. Everything you achieve is based in the relationship. The Weimaraner must want to please, and respect your leadership in order to get compliance. These foundation principles become even more important when you step up to a higher the level of competition. The versatile hunting Weimaraner will be competing in the shadow of other breeds, some of which are (in our opinion) more dogged in their field-approach. That being said, a well-bred Weimaraner (despite the coat-color or length) can be trained to do some extraordinary things. Nonetheless, this takes dedication and commitment to spend the effort to get the result. While doing so, it is very important to make this fun. Failure to enjoy yourself, and for the Weimaraner to enjoy the process will be counterproductive at some point in time.

One last point hereMolly and Rodney participated in another hunt test (via the Snake River Versatile Hunting Dog Club which hosted the Versatile Hunting Dog Federation (VHDF) held in Montour, ID) Click here to read more about their results from that hunt test. It should be noted that extra credit points can be earned, so a handler can exceed what termed a perfect score. This is like a student who earns better than a 4.0 grade-point average. Once again, we congratulate Molly and Rodney for doing a good job at both the VHDF as well as this more recent NAVHDA hunt test. Keep up the great work!