uppdaterad/latest update 7/2-08
Almost no Irish setters...
There have of course been other dogs apart from setters. It all started with the dog that taught me the basics of obedience, my poodle Tina. Born 1961 and an amazingly easy dog to train in every way. I competed in tracking with her.
At the time this created quite a stir, not only was I (a girl of 12) trying to butt in on “this males-only-territory”, but I actually dared to enter a ”bloody” poodle to tracking-competitions! Normally only reserved for REAL dogs like rottweilers, german shepherds and such.
The ”bloody” poodle managed to win quite a few times and was army-tested with great results! She produced one unwanted litter, but was clever enough to pick a black poodle with matching pedigree.
But all those comments had left a mark…dog number 2 was defiantly going to be a german shepherd!
Before this became reality, a bloodhound appeared.
Her name was Venus and at the time I lived in London. I fancied myself as being quite good at the art of dog training, but Venus certainly got the better of me. She was (the way I saw it at the time) totally incapable of learning anything. But then she had a huge epileptic fit at the breeders (while we were away on a holiday in Sweden) and was put down. After an autopsy, I was told that her brain was totally underdeveloped, so I blamed her incapacity for learning on this.
We moved to Sweden and I finally ended up with my german shepherd. The first one was Simba, a dark bitch. And in fact a bitch in every meaning of the word!
I was newly married and we had just bought an old farm in the country. Quickly the stables filled up with pigs, sheep and hens. Life consisted mainly of renovations, feeding and mucking out. So there was no time for anything but ”home”-training and a puppy-class for Simba.
When Simba was two, Alladin arrived. My second german shepherd. For many years the dog closest to my heart. Mainly due to his trainability and the fact that he, without being taught, knew exactly what I wanted him to do. He was everything I could ever have asked for in a dog. I had a litter from these two dogs…in hindsight not a lot of thought went in to these puppies. Neither parents had any qualifications what so ever, nor were they hip-scored. But this was in the early 70’s, and hip-scoring was not something everybody did.
My only excuse is stupidity…
I soon found out that breeding is not just a bed of roses. The puppies were great, happy and tail-wagging, but Simba ended with a total disorder of her hormones. Amongst other things, this showed itself through severe itching and bald patches. The vets tried to compensate her overproduction of female hormones by injecting male hormones. With no result whatsoever.
At the same time I had got another bloodhound puppy from the breeder in England, Viktoria. With (as far as I knew) a normal brain. Unfortunately I found her to be as difficult to train as her predecessor. Well almost…but then it may well have been my fault.
Suddenly our life-situation changed rapidly. We were going to move back to England.
Viktorias breeder did not want to have ”her” dog sitting in quarantine for six months (the required time in the 70’s), so she found a new home with a bloodhound-breeder in Sweden.
The only remaining dog was now Alladdin, my absolute favourite, who was sent on ahead by plane.
I still remember letting him off the leash right next to the motorway before he was to be put on the plane bound for England.
He was either just as obedient as I thought, or I was totally brainless at the time. Every time I go to Malmö, I drive past that particular spot and shudder.
Nowadays I could not even imagine letting any of my obedience Champion-bitches off the leash in a place like that! In fact I would not even walk there with a dog ON the leash.
But I trusted that dog 100% - in any situation.
Alladin was sent to England two months ahead, so that the wait for him would not seem so long. But then I got a short note from the quarantine telling me he had been ill but was now recovering.
I phoned up, but that was all the information I got.
The house was sold, the furniture packed and we were on the move. The first stop in England was of course the quarantine. I was led through the double gates in to Alladins kennel and was met by a dog that only in colour resembled what I had sent from Sweden two months earlier. His ribs were showing, he lacked all coordination and quite clearly failed to recognise me. He staggered away from me and sat shivering in a corner.
I don’t know how many hours I sat crying on the cold cement floor, trying to get him to remember.
The autopsy gave no answers, but then the main search was for rabies.
I started looking for another dog.
I began with German shepherds, continued with Labradors, flat coated retrievers and curly coated retrievers. I looked at litters at big breeders and once-only-breeders, I even went to a puppy-mill. One day I went to look at some Irish setters.
Not that I ever wanted one of those!
In fact I don’t know why I went, but I suppose it had become almost a ritual, checking through the papers for puppies each Sunday and going to look in the hopes of feeling something.
I most defiantly fell in love, not with the colour or the elegance but with the inside! Dorrfield Red Baron was his name and he was about as far removed from my German shepherd as you could get.
I just did not know it at the time.
All I could see was a tail wagging, happy dog that loved me. I had absolutely no idea he loved everybody else as well.
I was used to dogs that would lie at my feet, dogs that would follow me without question so I was ill prepared for this one.
Ill prepared for a dog that could just as well be a kilometre away from me without having actually run away. A dog that would gaze longingly over fields the way my shepherds would longingly gaze at me.
It took some getting used to.
We moved back to Sweden.
I had no breeding plans, but Baron was shown and did very well. Well enough for me to enjoy the whole process! And well enough to start thinking about dog number two. An English setter, slightly calmer, so I was told.
I found what I was looking for in England.
Kind and sweet-tempered. And well behaved…it seemed. He never jumped up at people or charged out over fields the way Baron did. Luke mainly walked. Or he would lie down when you stopped.
Finally I became suspicious enough to contact a vet for an X-ray.
His hips were catastrophic.
Suddenly an English export did not look quite as tempting any more. By this time, some breeders in Sweden had started X-raying their breeding stock.
The Irish setter-bitch Flisa was bought, and I started to think about perhaps taking a litter. Flisa was great, and I find it difficult to think of a kinder dog than her. Always eager to please, if my son wanted to do some ring training or when it came to the beginning of obedience training.
But then there was a train.
Next “no-setter” came many years later, and was a pug.
Robics Åskar den förste. I have always loved those small dogs, compact, happy and with those great (and wonderful to draw) faces. Sometime in the future I will have one of those…well that’s what I wrote in the Swedish kennel-club-magazine Hundsport, and was immediately contacted by loads of pug-people. “No, no, not yet …!” was my reply. But then there was a 7 months old pug in Stockholm, desperately looking for a new home.
I was going up to Stockholm on business, so I might as well...
Åskar was totally wild and mad in that particular “pug”-way. When I bought him, the purchase-price included a cage and a lead with more knots than you could count.
It was quite an eye-opener to suddenly have such a small dog, especially when it came to obedience training! And yes, I competed him as well and my co-competitors superior smirks would often turn in to surprised expressions.
He got a LP1 (the first step on the way) and then, for good measures, I army tested him as well.
And yes he passed (to the examiners surprise).
On top of that he also got the title SUCH = Swedish show champion and won the group at a Kennel-club show.
Apart from his more official titles, he also took over the guard-dog duties here at home (and I admit, things were a bit slack with the setters in charge) and warned me as soon suspicious characters ventured anywhere near our house… suspicious characters like the postman, the dustman or neighbour etc.
I really never thought about getting another pug, but Ola at Björnhovs kennel more or less persuaded me. He thought it was about time that Åskar got another pug-friend and so he convinced me to take Bosse, from his very last litter. But of course we never knew at the time...Considering all I had put Åskar through, I quickly decided that THIS pug only needed to be himself. No obedience training, no army-testing, nothing.
I stuck to that promise, and Bosse has ended up being just that, a happy, jolly pug.
And nothing else.
But he is the one that teaches the setter puppies to behave (as none of the other dogs seem to) and will firmly put his foot down when they become too wild.
He was shown three times with great results, but then Ola died in the flight crash in Linnate and I sort of lost the pug-interest altogether.
Bosse has taken over where Åskar left off.
He guards this place against all those suspicious characters, although he gives the postman a miss for some reason.
A great pity!
I often end up wandering down to the letterbox by the road in vain...
.My daughter left home and was missing a dog around the place. Rather than buying a cheep mix (all she could afford) we decided to share the future dog.
“Something not too large, nothing that needs constant brushing, and above all, nothing that needs constant training at the dogclub” was her requirement.
Quite a few breeds were discarded due to coat, temperament and to the fact that my daughter and I could not agree.
So it ended up being a French bulldog.
Slightly like a pug, yet not.
No longer so little. A black cannonball that (on the face of it) appears totally fearless and quite a handful!
Considering her energy-level, its lucky I only have 50%…
The perfect French (au-pair) bulldog for Irish red setter puppies!
To be continued…but not for some time. (Years?)
© Copyright Ursula Wilby