“What I have Learned from Having Setters”

Years ago, we came across this piece written by Kathy Parrott and knew that one day, we’d have to share it. Irish Setter owners, can you weigh in on “What I have Learned from Having Setters?”

1. Do not get so involved in solving a crossword puzzle that you do not notice the chair you are sitting in being chewed in two;

2. If you have children & puppies, try to keep your shoes where neither one can reach them…they will share!

3. Close your closet door very tightly, especially if you have an Irish Setter who is certain that he must wipe his wet face on your clothes (as they hang in the closet) every time he gets a drink of water!

4. Invest in a “Setter proof” trash can (assuming there is such a monster!), or be prepared to laugh as the two Setters who are certain they are royalty & can do whatever they want dance wildly around the garbage they have strewn all over the floor as they wag their tails & say “look ma, isn’t this just too cool!” (Then there is the perfect boy who would never get in the garbage lying next to the instigator, who has her halo shining as far as her kids are concerned, & her paws are neatly crossed, with what angelic look as if to say, “It wasn’t me, it must have been the evil cats!”

5. Training the squirrels to stay out of your yard is easier than teaching your kids to not take the dogs for a walk when you are not home…so do not be surprised when you come home to an Irish Setter who is glowing because she caught a squirrel, a kid who needs to go to the doctor because he was bitten by the squirrel he was trying to save…right before it dies, then you have to convince animal control that they need to rabies test the squirrel so that your kid does not have to go through the series of rabies shots;

6. When you are brand new into the world of dog shows & you have a handler showing your first show puppy at the Combined, do not even think it is a good idea to go to the ring entrance to get your very spoiled Irish puppy when he won his class (what do you mean he has to go back in again & I have to go back to hiding now that he knows I am here!), especially when the trophies are beautiful ceramic Irish Setter items sitting on the table right next to the ring entrance. (Levi decided to run to me via under the table, bumping it with his back, almost sending all the lovely trophies to an untimely demise. Thankfully they all survived! Though I barely survived the tongue lashing! lol)

7. While sitting ringside with your handsome Irish Setter, it is good to be aware of what is going on around you so that you do not end up flying out of your seat backwards as your dog drags you to meet that GSP that is wearing that special Eau de Parfum no male dog can resist…

8. English Setters & Irish Setters compliment each other…especially when they are food motivated! Who would have figured that one you put a lock on the pantry because the English can open doors, that the Irish would use brute force & pull the door off the hinges…the reward, 40 lbs of kibble. Yum!

9. It is a necessary evil that all friends & relatives are aware that they must tell you if that package contains anything edible before you put it under the Christmas tree, then leave to go shopping. (Yes the door was closed, but there was that \Setter that could open doors. His nose always knew when & where there was food! So much for those three packages with Chocolate Pecan Turtles…where is the hydrogen peroxide?

10. The most important word in any canine vocabulary is not NO, COME, SIT, STAY…the most important word is COOKIE!!! Any of the others are a command…COOKIE is a reward! When all else fails & your Setter has managed to get the door front open, escape from a crate at a dog show or hotel, COOKIE will get your pup running back to your arms in a heartbeat!

11. Realize that you have been out-smarted when you crate your dogs in the back of the van, then by the time you get back to the drivers side your Irish Princess is sitting there asking for the keys!

12. Be sure to tell your handler that your little Princess rules, & left unattended she will be ruling the entire showsite if there is no lock on that crate! (Oops!) Thankfully (as one security guard at a North Carolina show site once said) she was the smartest dog he had ever met…when approached, she went straight back into her crate;

13. Careful as to what treats you give your dogs, or at least where they can enjoy them…if they bury their chew toys in your bedding, they may just eat a hole through the bedding to get the treat back;

14. Train your dogs not to bring in the wildlife (possums, etc.) through the doggie doors…those are Not toys!

15. Most important lesson of all…is to open our hearts to a purer, unconditional love like our Setters give us!

So, Irish Setter friends, thoughts?

Image: Watercolor of an Irish Setter in marsh reeded lake side setting by Boris Stefanovitch Riabouchinsky (French, 1898-1975).

8 thoughts on ““What I have Learned from Having Setters””

  1. Laughed a lot especially brought back memories of my Irish and English working together as co conspirators!

    • We’re glad the post brought you a little merriment. These dogs of ours, how dull life would be without them!

  2. Many years ago my dad and his 2nd family had an Irish Setter. Whenever there was a babysitter, he would hide as the sitter arrived. Later, he would go ring the doorbell and hide again (where he could see the door) before she opened the door. Ring, repeat, several times until the sitter was sure the house was haunted and called her mother for backup. Meanwhile, the dog was in the bushes laughing–or at least smiling. They lost a lot of sitters until they caught the dog at his shenanigans and then warned the sitters up front. He had a great sense of humor on other topics, too. Miss him!

    • What a wonderful story, Amy! Irish Setters sometimes get an unfair reputation for being dim, but the story you share shows clear premeditation, and it takes a smart dog to do that!

  3. This was a bittersweet read – I recently lost my 5th Irish Setter (she who cleared counters when there was butter or steak to be had, who neatly operated the hands-free garbage can that was stationed over a dog fence in my dining room). For the first time in 41 years, I’m without an Irish. Although there are other dogs in my house, I’m bereft.

    • Mary Ellen, we are so sorry for your loss, and can empathize. We also lost a beloved dog recently, and it’s gut wrenching. We sometimes think that a dog leaves a hole in our hearts that is of a shape unique to them. No other dog can fill the same shape (though they have their own shape), and so our hearts are destined to have a hole that will never be filled. In time, we guess, the anguish dulls, but that dog will never be forgotten. Again, we feel your pain and wish for you (and us) a hastening of the time when we can remember our dog and smile, not dissolve into tears.

  4. This brought back so many wonderful memories of my beautiful Irish & English Setters from days long gone! I had no idea this article was still floating around! I love and dearly miss each and every dog in this article, Levi, Roulette, Princess Cori Creampuff, and baby Remington!

    • Kathy, we’re so pleased to hear from you, if only to share with you how much joy your article has given to so many people. Thank you for writing it, and for writing to us!

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