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What was your first Irish Setter encounter?

The first time I met an Irish Setter was March of 1993. I had a first date with a woman who I would eventually date for 3 1/2 years. When she opened the door, Chelsea was barking away. After introducing us, she volunteered that "Irish Setters are the most beautiful dogs in the world". While I thought Chelsea was beautiful, I was not prepared to concede that title to red heads at that moment but did not want to start a fight 5 minutes into a first date. I later found out that Chelsea was her ex-husband's dog. We moved in together for about 18 months and then when she moved out, I got custody of the fur kid. So, my first Setter was my ex-girlfriend's ex-husband's dog!

And over the years, I have learned that she was right. Irish Setters are the most beautiful dogs in the world!!

How about you? How did you get involved with Irish Setters?

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Ah well now, my story is a bit embarassing really, considering I'm 55 years old and all this happened 42 years ago in January 1970.


I went to the first dog show I'd ever been to, with a friend who was showing Labradors. Across the room I saw the most gorgeous young man I'd ever seen and he was showing an Irish Setter. I'm not sure which I thought more gorgeous, the young man or the Irish Setter. Well I was only 12 years old and the young man was 13 and I was completely and utterly smitten, and being the devious type I had to think of a plan to get myself noticed so I set about the task of aquiring an Irish Setter. I had to manipulate my parents first of course, but by the end of 1973 I was the proud owner of Bridie, my first Irish Setter. I did get noticed, though sadly not in the way I'd hoped, but the young man and I became friends. I did get to tell him how I felt, but I had to endure unrequited for many years.


We lost touch as we approached our 20s and we eventually met and married our ''other halves'' but we met again only 4 years ago when he turned up at a dog show with an Irish Setter born on the exact same day as my current boy Rory. We are both still happily married to other people, but it was lovely to meet up again after all those years.

Still love the Irish Setter though.


Dawn R.

I was 10 years old, and on holidays in the south-west of WA with my cousin.  There was a lovely, gentle, sweet Irish Setter called Red, who used to turn up at our door every day and spend the entire morning playing with my cousin and I.  If we were late, he'd sit at the door and bark until we came outside, and he almost always brought us a present of a stick or chewed up ball to play with!  When he was done playing (hours later!), he'd just run home.  His owner used to let us take him everywhere, because she said how much he loved kids and never got to play with any until we were there.  I fell in love with the breed, and have been obsessed ever since.

When i was about 10 we took our poodel to vets on the wall was a big poster with different breads of dogs on, i was drawn to the setter and asked if we could have one, i went on about this fof ages my mother said they were to big for us to have and needed alot more exersise then the poodel and if i wanted one i'd have to wait until i was older and had my own place, so thats what i did took me about 12 years befor i got my first boy Muffin, after i bought Muffin my mother asked why i'd been so obsesed with  the breed and told me her mother who i was named after always wanted a setter but she died quite young and never did get her setter, i've been in love with them ever since.

I had grown up with dogs but in a farming family there was no time for "pets", but we loved the dogs anyway!  When I married (a very NON doggy man LOL!) I decided we simply had to have a dog & after a few false starts looking at other breeds we settled on an Irish Water Spaniel, only to find they were as scarce as hens' teeth in NZ at that time - this was in the late 1960s LOL!  Next choice was the Irish Setter.  Our vet told us of a breeder who might be having a litter so we trotted along to Frank & Betty Cantwell's home, to be greeted by Irish Setters hooning down their driveway.  Beautiful Wendover imports!!  We were lost!!! 

Since the arrival of that first bitch puppy from the Ballymoss Kennels, born in 1970, my life has been filled with happy smiling faces & waggy tails, much joy, some show success (but I much prefer breeding a litter to showing), & more than a few heartaches - but I simply cannot even imagine a life without my Irish.  I have since added English Setters to my home, but my Irish will always & forever hold first place in my heart.

In 1975, my mother, stepfather and brother and I were transferred from Sydney to Norwich, England for my stepfather to take up the position: Director of  Worldwide Food & Wine Development, Reckitt & Colman.  The Managing Director of Colman Foods, John St Lawrence and his family had purchased an Irish Setter bitch in Germany when they were transferred there some years earlier.  They would bring the dog over to our house and she was so naughty and funny jumping on our brand new furniture and being quite wild.  I loved her even though my stepfather didn't share my feelings and would always suggest I take the dog outside to play with (we had an acre of garden).  My stepfather was a cat man anyway but he wasn't too pleased with his bosses dog running wild all over our newly painted and carpeted house with brand new furnitre as we had left our house furnished back in Wahroonga, Sydney.  The promise when we moved to England was that I could finally have a dog.  I chose of course an Irish Setter.   Mary St Lawrence, wife of the M.D. gave me some names of breeders and I rang Marjorie Jarosz of Joanma's Kennels.  She told me she didn't have any pups but one of her dogs (Sh Ch Joanma's Saffron) had sired a litter recently born which turned out to be the next village to ours.  We purchased a male puppy which I named Ginger Meggs (Imp UK) (after an Australian comic strip character - a red haired boy who always getting into trouble that lived in the suburb next to us in Sydney) who along with a Labrador puppy bought for my brother came back to Australia with us.  I have loved and owned Irish ever since.  I have imported one other Irish from England, Ciaran Dariabar (Imp UK) and still have a granddaughter from him.

Pet dogs we always had in my family, Alsatians and as my father used to say, at least someone was obeying at home! When I turned an adult I had my own dogs, Borzois, very sweet, strong personality and less obedient and I loved that. One day, my American friend was baby sitting an Irish setter from one of her German work colleague, and one evening we ended up taking care of this absolutely stunning Irish setter and I couldn't believe how wonderful they were. Although I am French, I was living a very happy life in Berlin, where I met a very strange man living in the flat above mine. He was Irish, and little did I know that once married to an Irish man, he will always bring his wife back "home" ... so there I went and turned absolutely besotted with everything Irish. While in Berlin, I had lost my borzoi so I wanted one here in Ireland. As usual, dear hubby was interested in something else .. cats, which I totally refused as my garden was full of free birds. Dogs were not his option and if he had to have a dog it would be the lassy type. I cannot live without a dog, was getting depressed because in this early days (20 years ago so just the start of internet) I couldn't find a Barzoi where I live. I really needed a dog so I went several time to the RSPCA, naively thinking that at least, in between, I can make another dog happy ... Could never make a choice, was loaded of guilt for not taking this one and this one and this one...  a horrible nightmare! One day we saw an ad about Irish setters puppies, and thinking of the one I knew in Berlin I wanted to see them as puppies, so we went to see them with no intention to take one as I still wanted my borzoi. The game was to pick up the one we preferred, I saw two red puppies amongst the others that I thought have a great personality. One was a female with a bit of white on her chest, so I discarded her as I thought it was a fault  :-(  and a bossy fat boy, who had no interest in us at all, too busy playing with his sisters and brothers. Guess what? two hours later, we arrived at home with this little bossy red fur  :-)

Three day after, my husband said - I wonder how I could lived before without a dog  :-) In my mind I was still waiting to have a borzoi, but this little bundle of joy and troubles completely turned my life up side down. This was our beloved MC, took us 1 month to find a pet name which fitted his personality  :-(. This puppy was so clever, a little genius like Einstein, so you can guess where the MC came from :-) He was a Monroad, mother and father champions, but we were only pet owners. We had 14 wonderful years with him and still cannot spend a day without thinking about him. Then came Darwin a real angel who is almost 8 now, and last year our latest addition was hooligan Mac. I still dream of having a borzoi, but could never ever live again without an Irish Setter. So beware people, as all ES friends know, there is a very dangerous bug called "Irish Setter", once you got it, it is not curable  :-)

I have the double whammy - Irish Setters and Arabian horses.

stop making us envious Nardi  :-)  :-)  wait until I win the lottery!!!!

Sorry Chantal.  I don't mean to.   Hope you win the lottery.  Horses cost a lot more to take care of properly than dogs.  Sometimes I wish I only loved my Irish though just cant' bare to be parted from my Arabians - all of whom I bred from my foundation mares except one.


I would love to have plenty of animals but then it means that I would have to share my time between all of them and I may miss this special connection I have with my 2 boys ... very happy for you lucky  Nardi, and I will enjoy your pictures and let you the work until I will win the lottery  :-)  :-)

Chantal I understand where you are coming from just having your 2 boys and spending more time with them.  I suppose it is a bit like having only 2 children and not 6.  When you have 6 you love them all and you do have special times with each of them but it is true, your love and time is spread amongst a greater number.  I find each dog or horse has its own personality and talents so you do have lots of special connections . Once you have 6 or more animals, it is very hard to be parted from any of them.  Feels like for me having to do a Sophie's Choice to make a choice of letting them go especially hard when you have bred them and owned them for many years.  It is hard financially to do what I'd like to do with them ie have them back in the show ring (horses I mean) .  During the years 1985 - 1989, I had two top winning pure bred Arabians both in hand and under saddle in Australia; Ralvon Royal Jubilee and Ralvon Nirvana.  Since then, I have not been able to show my horses due to several reasons.  I enjoy taking care of them and sharing my life with them as does my young daughter.  It has to be enough for the foreseeable future unless I too win the lottery.  I hope to breed 2 of my mares this coming season - if successful, they will be the first foals since 2006.

Reply to Nardi,

Oh, just like actress Susan George, one time Irish exhibitor.


Dawn R.




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