Did You Say Puppies? / by Phoebe Bean

Photo by Ray Wolfram

Photo by Ray Wolfram

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to visit Wildrum Kennels in northwest Wisconsin. Having met the owner, Ray, and his family this past summer in Idaho, I was thrilled to spend more time with them and get to know their posse of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons... For those of you who follow my Instagram account, you already know that Ray also has a litter of pups right now (10!) so it didn't take much convincing to get me on a plane! 

My adventure began when I slept through my alarm on Friday morning and nearly missed my 7:00 AM flight out of Missoula. Upon my (very late) arrival at the airport, I discovered that I had left my favorite trout corkscrew in my duffle, which the TSA folks obviously couldn't allow through security. Miraculously, my "Craig, Montana" pullover sweater caught the attention of some fellow angler TSA agents and I received an escort back to my car so that I wouldn't have to throw my corkscrew away. Obviously, we talked fish the entire time. Before drifting off to sleep on the plane, the flight attendants announced the airline's drink offerings and added that their names were Sunshine and Destiny. I kid you not. 

I was met in Minneapolis by Ray and his daughter, Lola, who had made me my very own welcome sign! After a few hours in the car, we made it to Wildrum Kennels and the rest of the day was complete bliss. SO. MANY. PUPPIES.

Before dinner, which consisted of unreal homemade pizza that Ray's wife, Jenna, had prepared, I met all of the adult dogs and spent the better part of sunset outside in the beautifully crisp, late fall air. I didn't think my day could get any better, but when I crawled into bed later that evening, I could hear the whimpering of the sleeping pups from down the hall. I was in heaven. 

Saturday was kicked off with a restaurant-worthy breakfast menu, a few snuggles with the puppies, and the gathering of hiking boots, camera gear, and (of course) snacks. Ray, Lola, and I headed out down a country road with four griffons in the back of the truck to see if we could find any birds, but mostly to enjoy the woods and watch the dogs work. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for our excursion! Getting to know the four dogs we brought (Brodey, Jess, Belle, and Koda) was a blast; I was reminded why I love the breed so much. I'm biased, obviously, but I love how affectionate and calm these dogs are around the house and how fiercely - and joyously - they hunt in the field. 

Of course, as soon as we returned I had to spend some time with the pups! Take one guess at what're in the duffle bags...

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I feel blessed to have witnessed the pups' first time being outside of their whelping pen area - I think I had just about as much fun in the leaves as they did! My heart must have melted a thousand times. 

What a day. Jenna and Ray made an award-winning dinner - wild pheasant fritters, shrimp and scallops, green beans, filet mignon... Needless to say, I rolled to the couch after devouring everything on my plate! The rest of the evening was spent discussing future film projects, dog pedigrees, training, and swapping stories about outdoor adventures with scruffy beasts called griffons. Oh, and I had a puppy on my lap the entire time. Thank you, Wildrum Kennels, for such an unforgettable weekend! 

To learn more about Wildrum Kennels, visit: http://www.wildrum-kennels.com/