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...
Many thanks for your time and input...
Andrea & Willow