Living with an Irish Red and White Setter
I first saw an Irish Red and White Setter at Shepparton Show in country Victoria in 1988. She was, of course,
Glenkeen Gypsy (Imp UK) and was shown by the Taylor's. If anyone had told me then, that eight short years later I would be besotted with the breed I would have laughed at them. However, in 1996, after moving from Victoria to Western Australia we decided that it would be nice to have another breed besides our Pointers. Having known Heather Beasley for many years and hearing that the bitch she owned in partnership with the Lewis',
'Spyefire Maiden Voyage' had produced a litter sired by Autumn Dew of Truestone (iid) we purchased the male puppy
Eirefyre Padraic and the fun began.
We had only owned 'Paddy' for a few months when we went to bed one night and left him alone in the large and enclosed back verandah. To our horror when we got up the next morning the bottom half of the back door was reduced to a pile of splinters! Paddy had chewed his way through it and was sitting happily in the kitchen. Thus we learnt the hard way that an Irish Red and White setter absolutely has to be a part of the family! Paddy is also the Houdini of the dog world - he can escape from anywhere, and climb over anything, and he does it simply to let you know that he CAN do it. After escaping from the very securely fenced back yard
he will calmly walk around to the unfenced front yard and sit on the front verandah and bark, waiting to be let inside. (I am still waiting for him to ring the doorbell, I swear it is only a matter of time before he learns to do this). Once let in he looks at you with a ' I told you I could do it' look and the same rigmarole happens the next day. Fortunately none of our other Irish Red and Whites follow in Paddy's footsteps.
I am telling you this story because I want to emphasize that an Irish Red and White Setter is not a breed to suit everyone. They are stubborn, exasperating, intelligent, boisterous and totally lovable all at the same time. They demand to know EVERYTHING that is going on and they must be a part of everything you do. They are loyal, affectionate and wonderful with children BUT they need a firm hand otherwise they will rule you. After many years with Pointers who will respond just to the tone of your voice, we were far too lenient with Paddy - thus it was our fault that he became a naughty dog. We learnt by the mistakes we made with Paddy and we now rule the others with an iron hand in a velvet glove, that is, firmly but kindly.
An Irish Red and White Setter MUST have daily free running exercise. This is essential, as they are an extremely active dog, they must also have a lot of consistent training. It is no use stopping training as soon as your dog appears to be a
civilized member of the family - training must continue throughout life. If trained from an early age then your Irish Red and White Setter will give you many, many years of pleasure.
Irish Red and White Setters are excellent watchdogs their strong sense of smell ensuring that they smell someone long before you have heard them. They also have a wonderful sense of humour and their beautiful expressive eyes will melt your heart. I firmly believe that they are one of the most wonderful breeds around and while I would not want them to become 'flavour of the month' I wish more people
realized what a wonderful, loving and affectionate companion this dog can be. I know that my life, and the lives of my family, have been enriched by having these beautiful dogs sharing our home.