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I'm considering adopting an alpha 3 yr. old male I.S. show dog (retired) that was rejected for being too large by judges. He has never lived in a house, only a kennel. Do I need a trainer? Any advice for converting him to family household pet?

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I did not see your blog about the passing of your beloved Dudley. I am so very sorry.

You do not need training. All you need to do is give this new dog your love. He will be so happy to no longer be confined to a kennel and he will be so happy to be treated as a valued family member. If he does have social "issues" with mixing with other dogs and/or humans, these will be overcome with love, patience and time.

Three of my six English Setters have been re-homed with me around the ages of 5-7 years. Two were retired male show dogs and both had been used as stud dogs. One of these retired show dogs had had many homes before I rescued him from a local dog pound. I was advised he had a bad temperament. I never saw this in him. To the contrary. The day I met my English Setter, Rose she was lying on the ground away from everyone. When Hobson approached her, she attacked him and he was bleeding around the face. I had no hesitation in bringing her home with me.

It was love at first sight for me and for all my beautiful English Setter dogs.

Best wishes from Susan

Wrote you a note under your blog post,,,,,hope things go smoothly for you .

Thanks for the encouragement!  I don't know training tactics but I've got plenty of love and patience!


Hi Julia

I notice from your profile you owned Dudley for 3 years. I do not know how long you have owned dogs. I have been involved with dogs since I was brought home from hospital as a baby and I am old now so I have had lots of experience over the years. I used to take my puppies to puppy kindy for socialisation and I have attended many dog obedience classes over the years but once you know the basics and once you understand your breed of dog, it comes down to the connection you form with each dog, because each dog is unique even within the breed. For more than 20 years I have challenged a lot of "training" methods. I also believe in intuitive communication.

You gave Dudley a wonderful life. If you decide to go ahead with this new dog, I am certain you will be fine and you can always ask someone on this site or join a local club if you need clarification or help.

All the best

Dudley was left -- by a casual acquaintance--  lame in the hind quarters on my doorstep with a note: 'Help him or take him to the pound.....but YOU know what will happen.' I had dog sat for Dudley a couple of times but had not owned a dog since childhood. But Dudley quickly won my heart and I took on the challenge. I provided the best western and eastern medical care (hydrotherapy/acupuncture) along with diet and exercise. Mostly I gave him lots of love and attention and took him everywhere with me. He was welcome in the best establishments in town. He thrived and gained 10 pounds. For awhile it appeared we had reversed his arthritis. Dudley celebrated his 13 b-day, then his 14-b-day. He was doing great till the brutal summer of 2011. Finally his back gave out overnight and I lost him in June 2011.

I have met other Irish Setters and know each dog is different.  So I'm not sure if I know the breed at all beyond the stereotypes: playful, high energy, stubborn. Dudley disliked other dogs and preferred people, even his vet. He wanted to be the center of attention at all times. And he preferred chaise lounges and leather highboy chairs to dog beds. He hated crates and wanted to ride in the back seat of my car seated like a person w/a seatbelt. Probably not  your typical Irish!

From the beginning I have looked to this site for guidance and always found help. I shall continue to do so and I remain grateful.


I have to say, I find the thought of show dogs kept in kennels and then discarded once there is no more need for them VERY alarming!

Do you guys know if this happens often? 


I do show my young Karla, but she is first and foremost our much loved pet and a member of our family

True ;-). We're going to have a long weekend trial visit with the show dog first before committing: Dog to woman.

I'm willing to bring in trainers for the expertise I lack and I welcome the challenge of transitioning a dog from  kennel to hearth.

A.K.C. Irish puppies are rare in the U.S. and there's often a year wait list.  So when I learned that some breeders are willing to re-home young dogs it sounded like a good deal to me.

Even so, the breeders are picky and selective.. They want to check out my home, fence and I.S. experience.

It's not that 'failed' show dogs would be neglected with a breeder. It's that they would get more attention as a pet/home dog than in a kennel with lots of other dogs. Especially w/o the grooming and transport that goes along with being in the show ring.

My goal is to take this youngster and train him as a compassionate care dog if temperment permits. Most of all I want a lovely pet w/o the huge expense of a puppy. Think it's a win-win situation for all....if it works out.


Praying it will work out for both of you.  If it possible to take a IS who has never lived in a home and have them turn into the "Dog of your Heart"....what our Molly has become for us .  Think the most important thing is being consistent on what the rules are.....not allowing it one time as is is cute , forbidding it the next and then allowing it so friends can see how funny it is.  I know all about that wait here in USA for a puppy...or finding a breeder you are comfortable with and that is why when we saw our Molly on tv needing a home I knew she was meant for us......or we were meant for her.  In home training not that hard to do just a lot of reassurance at first or patience as she needed time to get over her fascination with things ( toilet flushing was the funniest as she sat and watched the water swirl and looked so disappointed when it stopped)..  Classes are offered for training classes here at all sorts of places which can be a real bonding experience for the two of you if you have never really trained a dog before.  Let me know if I can help in any way?  Molly and I off in bit for a fund rasier for HOPE fund at her vet's........Molly in her Jack O Lantern costume!") and ready to go before me as usual.
What a touching story.  I love to hear about more & more of our Setters living to 14 yrs!  Applause for 'Oldies.'  A local breeder told me Dudley would never live past 12 yrs. But Dudley actually became stronger and healthier after I adopted him. His heart was strong and all his organs were fully functional till the end. Hard to believe that arthritis and a weak back put him down. Even while walking with a limp it was clear Dudley loved his family, the woods, his toys and, of course, his grilled wild Alaskan salmon dinners! How I loved spoiling my sweet boy and giving him a 'spa' life with acupuncture, PT and hydrotherapy.

Dudley sounds like he was a pretty typical Irish Setter as all my males ( and my Molly) loved the softest place in the house ...beds , chairs , sofas....they also rode in the car seated in the center of the backseat so they could help by back seat driving.  I do think you would be a perfect person for another Irish Setter to own!  You wrote the perfect thing they basically require....time with you and love from you. You gave Dudley that and so much more and I have no doubt you will offer this new Irish the same.  Let us know how the weekend visit goes?


good luck hope it works well for both of you. The IS has the most wonderfully accepting temperament and adjust rapidly to circumstances.I have just read a book called "On Talking Terms with Dogs Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas . It has had a stunning impact on our little pack and changed forever how I read dogs behaviour and the connection they have with us, it may be of help to settle your new guy in
Thanks for the support and book recommendation. Will try to hunt down the book. Am curious how it changed your dog handling methods?




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