Not Poems





Any breed whose standard dictates that it should be ‘most handsome and refined in looks’ as well as ‘full of quality’ might be thought to be gilding the lily somewhat. But, in the case of the Irish Setter, the standard is simply telling the truth.

Known, incorrectly, as the Red Setter to the world and his wife and, as the ‘wild Irishman’ to the cognoscenti, this glorious dog, in his rich chestnut coat is truly one of the dog world’s real characters. His temperament is described as demonstrative and affectionate and anyone who has been hit by the Irishman about three feet off the ground as he spots a friend will say “Amen” to that. Everything the breed does is done in top gear. He gallops over park or pasture at breakneck speed like a thoroughbred yearling and perhaps that word ‘thoroughbred’ best sums up this most easily recognized of dogs.

Sizewise, with typical Irish illogicality, he refuses to have anything so mundane as a height/weight clause in his efficient blueprint; the aficionados simply state that a good Irish Setter cannot be a bad siz ! All that can be said is that, if a Labrador Retriever stands around 56cm (22½ inches) at the shoulder, an Irish Setter male will top him
The experts refer to him as racy, and his long, lean head, his deep and relatively narrow fronted chest, his long but powerful limbs, coupled with his free flowing, driving way-of-going, all add up to a very racy animal, which is a joy to watch on the move or standing still. Perhaps the best way to paint the picture is to say that he typifies the word ‘style’.

As puppies just out of the roly poly stage, which lasts a very short time, the Irishman can appear a gangling, awkward shape; at the same period he can be a pretty awkward chap mentally as he doesn’t take to discipline all that easily. He likes to be free of restraint and needs consistently firm handling from an owner with plenty of time and patience. Lose your cool and Seamus will laugh at you and disappear round the corner of the house, only to turn up again seconds later from a totally different direction and knock you over because he expected you to realize that you were the one who had to duck! Eventually, he will become an obedient companion, but on an equal footing, not as an obedient servant.

As a working gundog he needs a special sort of trainer; he quarters his ground with confidence and speed, but he needs discipline if he is not to range too widely to be of real use. Once again, the impatient owner will lose temper, face and respect. All in all, the message is “Are you good enough to own an Irish Setter”? If you are, you can find no better dog.

Exercise in the early months does not want to be overdone as he will grow rapidly rather like a sapling; once mature, he is not a dog for the idle. He will need exercise every day of his life, which is good news for the energetic but is definitely out for the slothful.
For what appears to be a large dog at first sight, the Irish Setter is not a big eater, but he needs enough to fuel the fires until he reaches the sere and yellow; but in his case, the old age pension is unlikely to be claimed before he is well into double figures. He may go a bit grey on his face, but not in his mind.

He is an easy dog to groom, because his hair (for all its length) has to be free from curl and as flat as possible; let him get dry even after the filthiest weather on a country walk and the dirt will brush out to return it to its typical glossy sheen.

Healthwise, he is remarkably free from trouble. At one time the breed had a deal of eye problems, but intelligent breeding and firmness in the breed clubs has virtually eliminated them. But one word of warning — the breed is rightly popular and as a result some have tried to capitalize on that popularity by breeding from poor quality specimens. The only way to obtain a really sound Irish Setter, as is true of all breeds, is to ‘buy from a breeder’ and see the quality of the stock from which it comes. DON’T fall for the first appealing pup you see in a pet shop because you won’t know where it came from and may live to regret it.

Costwise a healthy dog from good stock will cost you around £250(£800 in 2012). If you are aiming for the showring, take your time watching where the best are found and expect to pay a fair bit more. But show winner or not, you will be taking on one of the most engaging breeds of dogs there is.

This article, by Mr M Stockman, first appeared in “You and Your Vet” 


Romney hounded by memory of Seamus the dog and 'Crate Gate'




AMERICA: MITT ROMNEY, who is likely to be the Republican presidential nominee, is hounded by the memory of Seamus the Irish setter.

My friend Orla reminded me of the story when I was in New Hampshire this week. It was history, I thought, underestimating the doggedness of US reporters.

Rachel Maddow devoted a long segment of her Thursday-night show on MSNBC to Seamus. The Dogs Against Romney website, founded in 2007, has been revived and is hawking T-shirts stamped with paw prints and the slogans “Mitt is mean!” and “Never Forget Crate Gate”. The subject is again being addressed by serious newspapers.

The incident occurred in 1983, and was first reported by the Boston Globe in June 2007, when Romney made an earlier bid for the presidency.

As recounted by the Globe , Romney, his wife and five sons set out in their Chevy station wagon on a 12-hour holiday journey to Ontario, Canada. Romney placed the family pet, Seamus, in a dog carrier, which he strapped to the roof of the car.

The eldest son, Tagg, watched out the rear window, “where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ‘Dad!’ he yelled. ‘Gross!’ A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

“As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station,” the Globe report continued. “There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back on to the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.”

Romney’s detractors have created a “Google bomb”, a method of redefining a name and pushing it to the top of Google searches. If you enter “spreading Romney”, the first thing that pops up is: “(rom-ney) v. 1. to defecate in terror”.

In August 2007, Fox News presenter Chris Wallace asked Romney how he could do such a thing. “This is a completely airtight kennel and mounted on the top of our car,” Romney said. “Love my dog. We’ve had a lot of dogs over the years. Love them. Seamus, as his name is, climbed up there all by himself, enjoyed his ride . . . it was a good ride.”

Wallace failed to ask the obvious follow-up question: why Romney put Seamus back on the roof after the dog’s distress became apparent.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins has retold the Seamus story more than 30 times in five years, and the Wall Street Journal recently asked Romney to rebut Collins’s insinuations. “Uh . . . Love my dog,” Romney replied. “That’s all I’ve got for ya.”

The Journal insisted. “Oh please,” Romney said as an aide hustled him away. “I’ve had a lot of dogs and love them and care for them very deeply.”


Pet Rules

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required..

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here. You don't.
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people..
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't smoke or drink,
(7) don't want to wear your clothes,
(8) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(9) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
(10) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ..