Exclusively Setters

Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World

HI all!  I’m writing this a little tongue-in-cheek so please forgive my ill-attempted approach at humor as it’s the only thing from keeping me from being committed to an institution in my current state of mind…So let me start from the beginning – it’s only appropriate as I’m new here and perhaps it will shed some light the situation at paw and hand.

 

Willow is our first Irish Setter and turned 4 months old today (10/28).   Sadly, her mother did not survive giving birth and passed away during the emergency c-section while delivering her and her 12 littermates, of which sadly only 7 survived.  This had been her second litter and she was a mere 5 years old.  The puppies were sent home with a surrogate mother (a Springer Spaniel), who was then returned to her owner after 4 weeks.  Willow came to live with us at the age of 6 weeks on August 20th, 2010 and it was that day, unbeknownst to me, that my life as I knew it would be forever changed.

 

My husband Mike and I live on approximately 7 acres of land, including a creek, in a semi-rural community.  While we already have two adult Springer Spaniels:  Doc, a 13 year old male and Sophie, an 8 year old female, and after losing our 14 year old Cocker Spaniel in July ’10 and our youngest Springer at the age of 4 in November ’09 , our house seemed empty, so we decided to increase our four-legged child population by one as we have no human children.  While the other dogs did not necessarily expect the arrival of the newest addition, they have reluctantly accepted her antics over the past 10 weeks.  She is completely submissive to Doc, (even though she doesn’t need to be as he moves like a 100 year snail due his age combined with the Phenobarbital/potassium bromide meds to control his seizures) and she finds Sophie an absolutely fabulous play, chew and chase toy, so much that when I let her out of her crate, she runs straight past me and latches onto one of Sophie’s ears (who fortunately is quite accustom to the antics of an unruly pup having produced two magnificent litters of seven herself).  The four cats are fully aware of their escape instinct and if they are not being chased, are perched high atop a safe location peering down at their newest sibling, cursing under their meows the entire time.

 

My nightly trips to the gym for cardio, weight lifting and general mind-melt were almost immediately replaced by walks (now ½ walk, ½ runs) with eventually some ball retrieving and Frisbee throwing or outback field play, mixed in and amongst Wednesday night trips to obedience school (which she passed with flying colors) and Tuesday night/Saturday afternoon puppy socialization hour at a nearby dog center.  Forget sleeping in anymore (unless “she” wants to) as now we’re up and on our morning walk most days before the rest of the world hits the snooze button.

 

Our house also now resembles a fine pet food store – there are currently no less than 6 opened bags of assorted puppy chows.  We’ve attempted Iams (what she came to us on), Beneful (against my wishes), Nutro Holistic, 4Health, Innova, Purina Puppy Chow, Eukanuba Lamb & Rice, and various concoctions and ratios of all of them with or without various enhancers such as stuffed pepper soup (please don’t comment on that as she loved it for exactly four days), venison & rice, turkey & stock, just stock, just turkey, just venison, just rice, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, water and canned food…  We’ve fed three times, twice and once a day.  Have tried putting the food down for 10, 15 or 20 minutes and picked up the remaining portion.  Have skipped meals.  I’ve talked with Iams and Purina experts to great length on the phone and received their money-back guarantees as well as the aforementioned feeding tips/guidelines.  Mind you, she’ll gladly eat the adult McKibbles & Bits until she bloats, (which we have NOT allowed, but she would if she could…) but heaven forbid she get a decent meal in her gut for more than six meals in a row before she changes her mind like the wind.  I even took her to the vet for complete blood panels as I thought she might be sick, knowing full well that a healthy dog wouldn’t starve itself to death.  Every test came back negative and normal…  When she was a puppy had been treated for ghiardia and also wormed at the age of 12 weeks (even though two stool samples came back negative) to simply to rule out any cause for suspicion.  Mind you, I did not need a vet to inform me that she’d like to see her gain some weight.  I got back in my car and cried.

 

I’ve never walked into a bookstore and purchased a book prior to owning her.  I now own and have read the complete works of Cesar Milan, 101 Dog Tricks and Dog Obedience for Dummies.  The answers I’m seeking weren’t found on any of those pages, but the bookstore can’t wait for my return.

 

She is wonderful in her crate as she’s finally stopped peeing in it (which is another topic for conversation that pushed every one of my last buttons as it makes my daily commute home during my lunch hour to “let her out” a lot quicker if there isn’t a bath for the crate, her and me involved).  Some nights she sleeps in there but most nights lately she’s in bed with me and Sophie (or am I in bed with them?) as she takes up more room with those outstretched long legs than a giraffe in a tent.

 

She does “toss her cookies” if she eats prior to a car ride, so meals are withheld until our return and we drive with at least one window down.  Again, she’s in her crate at this time for all travel.

 

Speaking of cookies, I’ve resolved to making my own from a Dog Biscuit Cookbook I purchased during one of the trips to the bookstore mentioned above…  She seems to like the banana/peanut butter then the pumpkin/peanut butter version, and I did too.

 

As for her antics…Yesterday she realized she could jump in the tub and drink from the trickling tap water left on for the cats (this I admit made me laugh out loud).  She’s flipped bowls of cereal with freshly poured milk right off the counter (of course my back was turned for .04 seconds), and thinks she’s the pre-rinse cycle for the dishwasher and at puppy socialization she will seek out the two pups that are having the most fun and quickly make herself the third wheel.

 

BUT IN AND AMONG ALL OF THIS, SOMETHING IS MISSING!!!!   Where is the puppy that realizes I exist for her happiness?  She rarely comes to me just to be with me or see what I’m doing… she much prefers to play with Sophie, she’ll sit on the couch but turn and face the other direction AND she all but despises physical attention.  I’m actually afraid to correct her for the fear of the distance between us widening. 

 

And here are some other goings on that we’re struggling with the most or the ones questioning my level of sanity and need for anti-anxiety, anti-depressant meds:

 

·         She can sit and stare out at absolutely nothing in the distance within 6 feet of me and never hears “Willow” once in the 101 times I’ve said it.  If Sophie is added to the mix, make it 202 times.

 

·         She curls up on her dog bed in the other room, peering at me, yet when I approach her, she does not wag her tail and will groan if I attempt to move her.

 

·         She assumes the couch is hers, whether we are in the room or not.

 

So some questions in closing at this time as i simply must get back to work...

  • Are all Irish Setter puppies the same?  (dumb question as I know they are not) 
  • Is she a cat in a dog suit? 
  • Will it get better BEFORE I’m confined to a straight jacket and padded room? 
  • Or am I just getting a harsh lesson in being the proud owner of a beautiful and intelligent Irish Setter?

Many thanks for your time and input...

 

Andrea & Willow

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Well said! Thank you Susan...
LOL loving this advice
Might I remind all that this is a 10 week old pup. The age when most are just getting into their new homes. When I brought home our pup he was rather aloof to us but loved when my friend came daily with her older Golden's to hang out with us.
He came to life to see other dogs. It just takes time. Of course the basics with training, but let's remember the dogs age and right now puppy socialization is usually what is the focus.
I read 4 months.

But actually to my mind it makes little difference what age the pup is. I try to start the way I plan to continue.
It will only confuse the pup and cause reason for upset later on if we give him the wrong impression of its own importance when it is 8 weeks old. We then end up complaining at 8 months that this unruly youngster does not know his place in the family and takes no notice of what we ask of him. How should he?

Just look at how the dam would treat her offspringat around 7 or 8 weeks: If and when she ventures to the pups, they welcome her with wild antics, wriggling around, licking her mouth, showing all signs of active submission. And what does she do? Most of the time she will turn up her nose and stalk past them. If however she is in a mood to play the whole family comes running saying: "Look, Wow, Mum is ready to play with us, Yippie!"

You will notice I am not advocating any kind of physical correction or punishment. That is not what it is about.
This is all about re-inforcing the behaviour we wish to see using positive methods. Food is an excellent way of showing the puppy how important we are. My pups learn to work for their food from a very early age. It means I can treat easily on walks and as an extra benefit it makes food a lot more interesting to a finicky eater.

Have fun!
Im with Susan it isnt ten weeks and even if it was I have them coming to class at that age and they are already "ruling the roost"

You really mist get on top of pups!
My mistake on the age thing....sorry all. Busy Halloween day here. Bad girl, bad girl!
Hi Andre & Willow
be patient with her she is still a baby. and it is a wonderful world out there for a youngster.
i would go to puppy classes if you can. i may get howled down here but please put Cesar Milan book into the bin. no way would i use his ideas and definately not on an Irish. gentle training is the only way.
Dog Star Daily is a great site and you can down load for free before and after you get a puppy great books.
i am not a huge fan of crates for a very short time may be and travel, but not for long periods of time.
she will re-turn your love in time, get lots of photos i have just lost my dearest friend and to look back is fantastic.
good luck Rosie
ANDREA , I'VE GREW UP WITH SETTERS (HUNTERS) AND CONTINUE TO KEEP GETTING THEM BECAUSE THIS BREED IS IN MY SOLE; I JUST LOVE THEM.....BUT SOMETIMES THEY CAN MAKE YOU "CRAZY' I HAVE 3 DOGS NOW , ONE LAB MIX (10 YRS.OLD) AND TWO 1 1/2 YR.OLD IRISH SETERS (BROTHERS) WHEN I FIRST GOT THEM I THOUGHT " OH, 2 IS JUST AS EASY AS ONE....GET 2 AND GET IT OVER AT THE SAME TIME" WRONG. ITS MORE LIKE DOUBLE TROUBLE. FROM YOUR ACCOUNTINGS, IT SOUNDS LIKE WHAT I DO FROM TIME TO TIME. LET THE DOGS RULE YOUR LIFE. I FOUND THAT MAKING A SCHEDULE( 3- TIER) WORKS BEST AND NOW MY DOGS ARE NOT A BURDEN BUT A WONDERFUL ACCENT TO MY LIFE . I'M NOT STRESSED ,THEIR NOT STRESSED AND I GET TO BE THE 'BOSS' THIS IS HOW IT GOES....KAREN 'S THREE TIER SCHEDULE FOR SETTER MANAGEMENT. FEEL FREE TO REPEAT 'I'M THE BOSS' SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE START, MIDDDLE & END OF THIS SET-UP TIME . IT DOES HELP OUR BACKUP. 1) SIT DOWN WITH A PIECE OF PAPER AND WRITE OUT A DAYS ACTIVITY THAT YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO EVERYDAY , 100 %. EXAMPLE : A) MORNING: LET OUT OF CRATE ,STRAIGHT TO YARD TO DO THEIR BUSINESS AND 15 MINS OF PLAY WITH ME . B) AFTERNOON : TURN OUT TO DO BUSINESS, THEN 15 MINS OF PLAY W ITH ME. C) EVENING: TURN OUT TO DO BUSINESS THEN 15 IMNS. OF PLAY WITH ME . EVERYDAY THIS IS MY LIFE , THIS IS THE BARE MINIMAL BASIS. (MY HUSBAND SOMETIMES TAKES A TURN) NOW ON DAYS YOU HAVE EXTRA TIME ... TIER 2 : INCREASE PLAY TIMES TO 30 MINS . TIER 3 : WHEN YOU HAVE A DAY OFF TO SPEND WITH THE DOGS . INCORPERATE SOMETHING SPECIAL, A WALK ,A CAR RIDE, A PLAY DATE WITH A FRIENDS DOG, ETC. 24/ 7 - ALWAYS DO TIER (1) , 2-3 TIMES A WEEK DO TEIR (2) , 1-2 TIMES A WEEK DO TIER (3) . MY BOYS GOT USE TO ME BEING THE BOSS AND THE SCHEDULE BEING REGULAR (BY THE SECOND WEEK EVEN) ALOT OF THE BEHAVIORIAL ISSUES WERE GONE AND THEY EVEN SEEMED HAPPIER. AS FOR FEEDING , I HAD PROBLEMS WITH 1 BUT NOT THE OTHER. GUINNESS .HAS DIGESTIVE ISSUES. I FEED THEM 2 CUPS OF DOG FOOD (GRAVY TRAIN WITH WARM WATER) AFTER PLAY TIME IN THE A.M. AND AFTER PLAY TIME IN THE P.M. ALWAYS HAVE 1 HOUR CALM TIME AFTER EATING , EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO CRATE HIM. THIS CURED GUINNESS OF HIS DIGESTIVE ISSUES...HE KEEPS HIS FOOD DOWN AND HAS MAINTAINED HIS WEIGHT . AFTER 2-3 WEEKS ,I NOTICED SO MANY CHANGES ; IT JUST GAVE ME STRENGTH TO KEEP TOO OUR SCHEDULE . I WISH YOU GOOD LUCK AND REMEMBER THE SAYING " I ' M T H E B O S S !!!"
Hey! Happy (?) Monday & I can't believe it's November! Where have the past few months gone??? It seems like only a couple weeks ago since the Little Red Corvette arrived and its been 10 weeks! We had some snow last night, not a lot, but enough to make the deck slippery so everyone went sliding down the stairs this morning on their way out, me included! ugh...

Please don't think I'm ignoring anyone as I have copied and pasted all of the responses and will sit down with a cup of something (depending on how may day goes, it may be hot cider or wine) and will share all of your words of wisdom with Mike tonight. He can't get on this site from work and we don't have a computer at home. I just don't want anyone to think they are being ignored nor that I was put off my any comments or suggestions, simply no time to read them thoroughly enough and compose a due response.

Friday night we took her to the big property and did the grand tour. Saturday morning she was up at the crack of dawn and I took her for a long walk/run and then she rested until it was time for puppy socialization. By Saturday afternoon she was wiped and promptly crashed on the chair at camp

and didn't wake up until almost 7 p.m. Sunday I needed some ME time so Mike played some Frisbee with her and last night she teethed on some raw hide while we greeted trick-or-treaters and watched a movie and we were all in bed by 10:30 (this never happens).
Give me a day to catch up on reading (off line ) and we will be in touch with our new found friends VERY soon.

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