Our Irish Setters are a constant source of entertainment and joy, they are also frustrating and with a unique sense of humour that will have you laughing or crying within minutes. There is no doubt that they have been chosen as a companion because of their dashing good looks and good nature but I do think we tend to forget that as a working dog the setter was one of the top choices for the field not so very long ago.
The line between the working and the Show type has become firmly drawn as far as appearance is concerned but it's good to know that the ability to seek and find can be found among the larger , more heavily coated relatives. I'm hoping that more full champions will be seen in the future although I have to say that having watched the field test for show dogs I'm not convinced it is a clear indication of true working ability. In the last few years the dogs made into Full Champions certainly did prove themselves in the field , and not just on one day in half an hour!
The show scene is in full swing of course, at Bath under Jenny Miller (Feorlig) a thrilled Jackie Willis accepted the third CC for her lovely boy Frank (Gwendariff Thyme Bomb At Jacwilins JW) bred by Diane Stewart-Ritchie, Frank was also declared BOB. RDCC was awarded to ShCh Thendara Pot Noodle from Veteran, bred and owned by Jeremy Bott and Dee Milligan-Bott. The afternoon proved equally as thrilling to Susan Bott , Dee and Jeremy as Thendara Chasing Boys To Sumaric took the Bitch CC, well done Judilicious ! The RBCC was awarded to Deborah Armitage with her lass Sh Ch Gwendariff Coco Nut Cream. Best Puppy was Riverbrue Galliano Fizz To Clonageera .
Southern Counties and Ro Cox (Tiroen) at the helm. Orlanset The Rocker JW, Ollie to his freinds strode off with his second CC and was awarded BOB to the delight of owner/handler dave Hemmings. RDCC was awarded to Pawsword Priceless to Kerryfair JW bred by Laura Kolbach and owned by Mother and daughter Sandra and Kerry-Anne Chorley , Chorley-Newton and Flinders. The Bitch CC was greeted with great applause as it was presented to Evie, Ixia Ever Hopeful, her second Ticket! Hannah Boutell, resplendent in a beautiful unicorn print dress looked as much of a picture as Evie, congratulations to Hannah, father Bob Boutell and James Burbridge. the RBCC was awarded to Margaret Elkins lass Twoacres Promise of Spring with Avacet.BP was Danaway Desert Song owned by Mrs G Bailey. Best Veteran was awarded to Paul and Julie Humphrey's girl, Suteresett Miss Curious About Henaleas.
WALKING FOR RESCUE
Every May Day Bank holiday Sunday, the East Midlands Social Region of the Irish Setter Breeders Club, hold their Annual Sponsored Walk to raise money for the day to day running of the Irish Setter Rescue scheme at Treetops in Derbyshire. The weather is always just right for both walkers and dogs, pleasant and sunny, but not too hot. This particular May Day was no exception. The weather on the days either side of this event, were questionable as always, but somehow or other, the hosts, Sybil and Steve Lennox, always managed to ensure that we had perfect weather for this event. As this happened with such regularity every year, I became more convinced that they were ‘having help from up there’!
Every year, Sybil and Steve very generously hosted this event, allowing us to invade their garden when we’d finished. To just say thank you seems rather inadequate, but the East Midlands Regional Social Group of the ISBC are extremely grateful for their continued generosity. Since the death of Sybil and her brother Steve, this event has been very generously hosted by Andrew and Gill Dale.
On this particular occasion, I was secretary of the East Midlands Region and had gone with the express intention of helping in the kitchen, but then had the bright idea, whilst driving there, that I really ought to go on the walk to take some different photos, as we always seemed to have photos only at the start of the walk and in the garden afterwards. I was warned to change into my wellies as it was slightly muddy! So after greeting all the arrivals, I set off full of enthusiasm with the first group of walkers, but by the time I was half way up the first gentle incline in the woods, it was fast becoming clear to me that I was struggling. Being from Lincolnshire, where the land is flat and the fact that I had only helped, not walked , at the previous two walks, was proving to be very telling.
I stopped to get my breath back and remove my jacket, but by the time I had finished, everyone else in my group had disappeared. Were they all trying to tell me something? Never having done this particular route before, I had absolutely no idea where they had gone and not a soul was in sight. Directly in front of me was a dry stone wall, which in my wisdom, I convinced myself that everyone must have climbed over. It was only when I actually tried to climb over this wall, complete with heavy camera, camera bag and loose jacket, that I realised, too late, that it would not have been easy for them, or the dogs, to get over. Climbing over a fairly high dry stone wall, is a very precarious exercise, as just about every stone moved underneath me, whilst I tried to clamber over.
Somehow I managed it, only to see a large expanse of very empty field stretching in front of me and still no sign of anyone else. How was it possible for everyone to vanish so quickly and so completely? I set off down the field track, getting about half way before common sense took over, telling me that the others couldn’t possibly have gone this way. So, turning round, I trudged back to the dry stone wall, where I was faced with the same problem yet again……I had to get over it!
At this point I really didn’t know what to do, or which way to go, so decided to stay put and see if the second group turned up. Eventually, after about fifteen minutes, which actually seemed more like an eternity, a group of dogs leapt into view over the brow of the hill and I breathed a sigh of relief. One of the whippets was so glad to be there, that she rolled on her back with her legs in the air. I was helped over the wall, but misjudged the distance down, jumped and a few minutes later, was doing the same as the whippet, much to the amusement of the second group of walkers!
The dogs in this group were definitely characters, especially one, Murphy, who delighted in laying down and rolling in the largest, muddiest, smelliest puddle he could find. By the time he had finished he was dripping black, sloppy, smelly mud from every part of him, apparently trying to turn himself into a Gordon Setter! Amazingly, when I fell over, I didn’t get dirty, but Murphy obviously had other ideas for me, as he rushed up to me straight from the puddle and shook himself hard, splattering me with wet, smelly mud.
Half way round the second part of my walk, it became painfully obvious that my wellies had caused some very large blisters, so I had no option but to remove them and continue in my socks. Walking on the stoney, wooded area was no picnic, as every tiny stone felt like a huge boulder and the blisters on my heels were really stinging. The only way I could manage to walk, was to mince along, taking very tiny steps like some stiletto-heeled bimbo. It was the longest two and a half miles I have ever walked! Other walkers passing us, must have thought that I couldn’t afford shoes. Eventually we reached the road, which although not easy to walk on in my socks, was infinitely more comfortable than in the woods. What I had forgotten, not having done the walk itself for a couple of years, was that the last part involved crossing three fields, one of which was full of cows, which meant that I had to be extremely careful where I trod!! The final straw was when I climbed over the last stile and despite being careful, I managed to spike my hand on the barbed wire fence at the side of it.
I finally arrived back at Treetops, having discovered muscles that I had forgotten about, splashed with mud, bleeding profusely, with sodden, sore, muddy feet, but still being able to say that I had enjoyed myself. Sincere thanks to my friends, who hung back to make sure that I was OK and helped me to struggle on, otherwise I might still be somewhere in that wood. The best bit, as always, came last, when we were all treated to lots of mouth watering, very fattening cakes and sandwiches, washed down by as much tea, coffee and juice as we could drink. Not much good for the diet, but then that can start another day! To top it all, when I got home and went to enjoy a hard earnt soak in the bath, I discovered that I was literally covered in insect bites. My crazy idea to do the walk in order to get that perfect photo left me a very itchy legacy for several days.
It was a most enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon, even if I did have to walk most of the way in my socks and I wasn’t even sponsored as I had gone purely as a helper. Don’t let my experience put you off joining us……I was the only one who managed to get into this state!!
The Joker In The Pack
Joker, whose pet name was Flynn, was not my first Irish Setter, but he was my first show dog. Having lots of ‘true Irish spirit’ and being quite an exuberant dog, I found him rather difficult to handle, as he was always very quick to take advantage of the fact, that, not only am I rather small, or vertically challenged, as some might say, but I didn’t know what I was doing either! At home he very quickly became known as ‘Hooley O’Flynn’ for obvious reasons.
We were both trying to learn together – no easy task for someone as small as myself, with such a high spirited dog. He always seemd intent on living up to his Kennel Name of Twoacres Joker The Hooley, seemingly seeing it as his sole responsibility to entertain the ringside at every show. What a good job I have a sense of humour!
Flynn matured into a handsome boy, with a beautiful mahogany coat, a marcelle wave on his head and many engaging ways. His favourite hobby was sitting on the seat in the lounge window, watching the world go by. He took great delight in barking at strange objects, such as ladders and umbrellas, putting his heart and soul into every bark, especially when all was quiet, or I was just falling asleep! The love of his life was his ‘Grandad’, my father, who he idolised, following him everywhere.
Flynn was, by nature, a very stubborn dog, often being so single minded that he could not be diverted from what he wanted to do, no matter which method was employed! He actually managed to attain his Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze & Silver Awards, but to this day, it remains a total mystery quite how he managed to do it. I can only assume that he must have been having an off day each time, as it was totally out of character for him to be obedient. I have also learnt to my cost, that he could be extremely devious, having a particular passion for teddy bears, stealing them on a regular basis and also for sneaking upstairs, only to leave the bed in a large, messy heap, mine, not his!
As Flynn’s main objective in life was to please himself, showing him was always entertaining……for other people. For me, it was quite nerve wracking, as I never knew from one minute to the next, what he would do, or how he would behave. Even as a veteran, nothing much changed on that score. He still had the ability to make me break out in a sweat at the mere thought of having to show him! I can count on the fingers of one hand, how many times he managed to behave himself in the ring, during his show career. The following is a story about one of his many escapades.
On this particular day, we had been showing for about a year and Flynn was absolutely full of mischief from the minute he woke up, so I knew I was to have a difficult day. When we arrived at the Open Show we had entered, it was to discover that he was the only dog in a class of seven bitches. One of them was either in season, just finishing, or just coming in, because he went beserk!!!!
Usually, on meeting a bitch, he became very excited, bashing with his paws, sniffing a great deal and wanting to play. But this time, he just grabbed hold of her and tried to mount her without any preamble. Then he tried to do the same to every bitch that walked past him. He was almost beside himself with excitement and had never behaved like this before.
Once in the ring, he didn’t know where to start, as he realised that he was surrounded by bitches. I struggled to control him as we waited our turn, but when it came, trotting down the mat was a nightmare, as we had to move so close to the bitches, due to the small size of the ring. Every time he came alongside this particular bitch, he broke his stride, did a little dance and cried loudly. VERY LOUDLY! Eventually, after four or five attempts, just when I was on the verge of giving up, he managed to concentrate long enough to succeed and the judge was patient enough to wait for him. It was obvious when she went over him that she liked him, but I thought that with all his naughtiness, he had thrown it away. To my delight, the judge gave him second place and the ‘love of his life’ came first.
However, he wasn’t content with that. Once out of the ring, much to my dismay, we were seated next to the same bitch, as her owners had positioned themselves next to my things without me realising. He cavorted around so much that he managed to somehow, get one leg inside my showbag. As he pulled his leg back out, he also pulled out a full pot of liver tablets – 250 in all! I had just removed the lid and it shot through the air, scattering them all over the floor and into the ring. Needless to say, there was utter chaos. The dogs in the ring, ready for the next class, were waiting to be given their ring numbers. As the liver tablets shot through the air, so the dogs shot across the ring, all diving frantically for the liver tablets, followed at speed by their owners, who struggled valiantly to hang onto their dogs and stay upright.
Meanwhile, as I struggled to hold onto Flynn and pick everything up, my Mother attempted to help me and was promptly bashed in the face by Flynn’s flailing legs, as he jumped up in excitement to say hello. This sent her new and very expensive spectacles, flying off the end of her nose and through the air. There then followed a minor tussle, between Flynn and myself, as I tried desperately to retrieve them before he stood on them! When my Mother put them back on her face, they were, of course, very cock-eyed and as she had only collected them from the optician’s a few days previously, both our names were mud! I was by this time, the colour of my jumper – pillar box red – but Flynn looked extremely pleased with himself, having yet again, caused quite a stir, but for all the wrong reasons!! As far as Flynn was concerned, when he went to shows he was there to entertain everyone. The more they laughed at him, the worse he became, really playing to the crowd, showing his true Irish spirit and fully living up to his name of Twoacres Joker The Hooley.
He really was the Joker In The Pack.
Results from ISAE and P/S Club Novice and Breed Open Stakes
Judges Wilson Young and Paul Dale
1st Steve Robinson's ISB Coldcoats Little Pixie
2nd Roy Heath's PB Glencuan Molly
3rd Howard Kirby's ESB Upperwood Kynn Elle Aurichalcum
1st Billy Darragh's ISB Erinvale Jenna
2nd Donna Clark's ISD Bownard Cherry Cherry (handled by Colin Forde)
3rd Steve Robinson's ISB Coldcoats Little Pixie
4th Steve Robinson's ISB Tiguan Pippa
COMs to Davy O'Neill's ISD FT Ch Shan-Ry-Con Android, Steve Robinson's ISB Coldcoats Little Lottie and Sara Chichester's ISD Dunroon Ginger Storm at Wiscombe (handled by Maddy Raynor)
Very foggy first thing but cleared up during the breed Open to make spectating the reds so much easier!!
Congrats to everyone in the cards
BLOAT & GASTRIC TORSION A CAUTIONARY TALE
Bank Holiday Monday 28th May 2007 will stay etched sharply in my mind for the rest of my life. My youngest Irish Setter, Geordie, who was just 5 years old, otherwise known as ‘Cymbeline Fallon By Hooley’ (Timadon Miss Irresistable & Twoacres Fergus) had Gastric Torsion and Bloat. His mother had Bloat when she was 7 weeks in whelp and tragically was later found dead in the whelping box, when the pups were just 14 days old. So I took Geordie always knowing that because of this I could never use him at stud and turned down several offers of stud work for him, being totally honest about my reasons for doing so, as it has always been my policy to be open and honest about any health problems concerning my dogs.
I have always believed that Bloat & Gastric Torsion happens very quickly and is a dire emergency, but this was not my experience. I watch my dogs like a hawk, so am always immediately aware if they are not well, even if it isn’t obvious what the problem is.
Geordie was not himself for 48 hrs prior to this happening. If I let him out he wanted to come straight back in, but once inside he just wanted to go back out again. He just couldn’t settle, clinging to me like a limpet, feeling very sorry for himself and generally not knowing where to put himself or what to do. His appetite during this time remained normal….nothing distracted him when there was food around, eating was his favourite activity; unusual for an Irish Setter.
One of the reasons that it wasn’t immediately obvious that Geordie was bloating, was because he had another health problem and his behaviour could have signaled the onset of that quite easily. Geordie started fitting when he was 18 months old, eventually being diagnosed with Idiopathic Epilepsy after an MRI scan of his brain and a spinal tap at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. This ruled out the possibility of the fits being caused by anything other than Epilepsy, such as a brain injury, a virus, a brain disease, or another diseased organ. This is not a particularly pleasant procedure for the dog to experience and is not the first diagnostic test the vets opt for to diagnose this disease, but I felt that it was imperative as, not only had his father had been used at stud and his mother whelped another litter, but Epilepsy is not the only reason for fitting. As you can imagine I was absolutely devastated by the diagnosis.
I hadn’t been active in the ring for about two years and I can just hear you all thinking that now you know why, but you would be wrong. Geordie’s Epilepsy would not have stopped me showing him. I was absent from the ring because of numerous family commitments and my own serious health problems, but then that’s another story!
Geordie’s Epilepsy progressively became worse until he began to have cluster fits, severely enough to need hospitalizing in order to stop him fitting. On Bank Holiday Monday 28th May, Geordie hadn’t fitted for eight months and as any change in his behaviour pattern could indicate that he was going to begin another bout of cluster fits, his behaviour that weekend did not immediately scream Bloat at me.
Geordie did not swell up suddenly, but, very gradually over the course of 48 hours, until by the Monday morning, the day he bloated, I noticed that he seemed fatter than normal and made a mental note to take him to the vets after the holiday for a check up. His twice daily medication regime of Epiphen and Potassium Bromide for the Epilepsy, had caused him to steadily gain weight so he was on a restricted diet and never had titbits, so there was no apparent reason why he should have been getting fatter.
As the morning wore on he just wouldn’t leave me alone, to the point of becoming a nuisance, though it was obvious that he was desperately trying to tell me something. At this point he wasn’t huge, just slightly fatter than normal, he was salivating a lot, but the Epilepsy medication often caused him to salivate heavily, so alarm bells didn’t ring. He didn’t seem to be unwell; he just wasn’t his usual bouncy, happy self. It is worth noting that he was not at this time, exhibiting any of the other signs of abdominal discomfort usually associated with Bloat & Gastric Torsion.
PHASE 1 SYMPTOMS:
• ABDOMINAL FULLNESS
• GETTING UP & LYING DOWN
• LOOKING AT ABDOMEN
• UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS TO VOMIT
Then a couple of hours later I noticed that he was trying to be sick without success, though he only did this once and he was uncomfortable when he walked, moving very stiffly on his back legs. It was so similar to watching someone trying to move whilst suffering a severe bout of colic that this is when my instinct kicked in, BLOAT shouted at me and I called the emergency vet. However, it also occurred to me that he might have an abdominal obstruction, though to my knowledge he hadn’t had anything which could have caused this.
Never before have I been so relieved to discover that my own vet was the duty vet that weekend. Although his abdomen by this time was enlarged and tight like a drum, his back end being wider than his front end when viewed from the head down to the tail, the other symptoms of phase two were not present.
PHASE 2 SYMPTOMS:
• HEAVY SALIVATING
• ABDOMEN ENLARGED & TIGHT
• VERY RESTLESS
• PANTING CONTINUOUSLY
• DARK RED GUMS
• ELEVATED HEART RATE
At weekends and Bank Holidays the local surgery, which is literally 5 minutes down the road, is closed, we always have to travel to the main surgery, a nine mile drive away. It was a nightmare journey with every red light being against us. Geordie was normally so good in the back of the car, even on his own, just laying down and keeping still, he was so quiet that several times I have thought that I must have left him behind, as it hasn’t been obvious that he was in the back. This journey was not like that, he spent the entire journey moving around and throwing himself all over the place. The further we traveled the more acutely aware I became that he could very well be Bloating and having Gastric Torsion in the back of the car and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt totally helpless and useless, but tried to stay calm for Geordie’s benefit.
My vet arrived at the surgery at the same time as me and as he lives further away than I do, he must have driven like the proverbial clappers, for which I will be eternally grateful. When he examined Geordie, he said he didn’t think he was in dire straights yet and he didn’t think his stomach had started to twist, but there was a possibility that he could actually have torsion later, if he sent him home, so he would have to X-ray him and release the gas anyway, as he was full of it and blown up like a drum. He did note that Geordie had a shaky stance whilst being examined. He was not normally anxious when at the vets. This shakiness was probably due to shock.
My vet wasn’t able to release much of the gas by tubing him, so had to perform abdominal surgery to get rid of the gas. He explained that quite often Bloat creates lots of frothy foam, which blocks the exit from the stomach, making it impossible for the gas to escape. When he opened him up he was astounded to find that the stomach had already started to twist, because Geordie had not presented as if he was in this stage of Torsion.
He stressed that if I hadn't phoned when I did, then the organs inside would have been damaged by the blood supply being cut off as the stomach twisted. This is what causes the damage and is why some dogs do not recover. I've never had a dog with Bloat before, or seen one with it, but knowing my dogs as I do, I instinctively knew that he wasn't right. I was surprised to hear from my vet that Bloat and Gastric Torsion can also be caused by a blockage, or a tumour, as I didn't know this could happen. Geordie's liver was very swollen, so some was sent away for analysis, but found to be normal. He had a much bigger operation than normal, as his stomach had to be cut open to remove the contents, because my vet couldn't get them out any other way and his stomach needed to be completely empty to stop him bloating again after the surgery, so Geordie was stitched all the way down his abdomen. Whilst Geordie’s stomach was stitched down in an effort to reduce the chance of him having Gastric Torsion again, my vet was at pains to point out that he could probably Bloat again and that if this happened then it would be a battle between the gas and the internal stitches. Unless the internal stitches broke down he would hopefully not experience Gastric Torsion again, though of course there were no guarantees.
No one knows the definitive reasons, or cause of this dreadful disease, but there are several well known risk factors. In the thirty seven years that I have owned Irish Setters, I have always been scrupulous about following a strict management code, doing everything that we are supposed to, in order to limit the possibility of this happening, but yet disaster still struck.
As a matter of course I have always:
• Fed my dogs twice daily, staying with them after they have eaten
• Used a head-height stand for both water and food dishes
• Limited the amount of water available immediately after eating
• Avoided rigorous exercise, stress and excitement for 1 hour before and 2 hours after eating, even making them go to bed if necessary
• Any diet changes have always been made gradually over a period of 7 days
After 7 days in intensive care Geordie was allowed home. So far so good, he was managing to eat without further problems, but much to his delight he was eating four small meals a day, the biscuit being soaked to avoid it swelling and fermenting in the stomach. The vet was very pleased with his progress. He said this was helped by the fact that I got him there so quickly, right at the start of it, so there was no damage to the internal organs. Geordie was lucky that his Bloat and Gastric Torsion was a ‘slow burn’ and not the rip roaring type that we all think of when we hear those dreaded words. Because of his other health problem, it would have been so easy to miss this, or not recognize it for what it was. If I had not followed my instinct and had thought that I would see how he was in the morning, he would have been dead. I am so very grateful for the skills of my vet and the support I received from my friends in the dog world. Knowing that you were all there for me helped tremendously. Thank you so much.
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