Thursday, February 28, 2008

California trials...

Hi all,

Received this note from NRSFTC club member Tim Keohane... sounds like Tim and his red dogs had a good time in spite of the weather, and brought home some placements too! Nice job, guys!

"Hi all,What fun we had in California with Rheo and our two pups Rhyder and Rhainy. Rheo and Tim won the Amateur Gun Dog stake then Tim and Rhyder won the puppy stake. Rhainy and Tim placed 3rd in puppy stake. Great grounds at Oneill Forebay Wildlife Reserve; a well-run trial, great food and friendly folks. We left Rheo with trainer RJ Marquart for the week and took the pups along with us to visit our son in LA. quite a change for the pups, being "urban dogs" but they adjusted well and we ran in the Gorden Setter trial the next weekend. Tim and Rheo had a miscue and Rheo took off after a bird. Rhyder won the puppy stake again and Rhainy was 4th. Again a good time, and a well-run event under very trying circumstances. It rained and the wind was blowing; we finished our runs just before the real storm set in and headed for home."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Roosevelt speaks...

With our country in the throes of political activity as we prepare for the election of our next President, I have been recently fascinated with the histories of some of our past Americans who have held this office. One of my favorite Presidents is Theodore Roosevelt. A historian, naturalist, explorer, author, and soldier, he epitomized the ideal of an American leader... fair, moderate, willing to attack unfair situations for both the average citizen as well as the average business. His willingness to attack corporate entities that he considered monopolies, as well as his historical and precedent-setting Square Deal, made him a model that certainly our current political candidates could learn from. But one of his most outstanding traits was his passion for the out-of-doors, his desire for conservation of our natural wonders, and his love of the hunt. What field trialer or hunter among you would not feel a tingle of excitement, or perhaps tightening of the throat, the rising of the hairs on your back, as you read the following passage by Roosevelt...

"No one but he who has partaken thereof can understand the keen delight of hunting in lonely lands. For him is the joy of the horse well ridden and the rifle well held,; for him the long days of toil and hardship, resolutely endured, and crowned at the end with triumph. In after years there shall come forever to his mind the memory of endless prairies shimmering in the bright sun; of vast snow-clad wastes lying desolate under gray skies; of the melancholy marshes; of the rush of mighty rivers; of the breath of the evergreen forest in summer; of the crooning of ice-armored pines at the touch of the winds of winter; of cataracts roaring between hoary mountain masses; of all the innumerable sights and sounds of the wilderness; of its immensity and mystery; and of the silences that brood in its still depths."

-Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

Anyone who has run the open prairies, the Allegheny woodlands, the piney woods of the south, or the wetlands of the coastal regions knows what Roosevelt felt... it's bigger than words can describe, and it certainly makes life worth living... were Roosevelt alive today, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have a string of pointers or setters in the back of the White House, a flushing whip hanging on the wall, and a tucker saddle in the horse trailer... heck, I suspect he'd even have a red setter or two, just for hunting those tough spots... now, wouldn't that be nice??

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reflections of a President...

"During the proper seasons, the urge within me to be in the woods and field or along a stream is such a strong and pleasant desire that I have no inclination to withstand it. As a child and an adult, I would hunger for a chance to escape for a while from my normal duties, no matter how challenging or enjoyable they were, and to spend a few hours or days in relative solitude away from civilization. Such retreats have always been as much an escape into something delightful as away from things I wanted to avoid or forget for a while."

- Jimmy Carter, An Outdoor Journal: Adventures and Reflections, 1988.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Breeding working dogs...

This posting was taken from the blogsite... thanks to this great site for all the work they do promoting the working dog! This posting has been edited to align with red setter objectives...

Of the thousands of Irish setter owners in the United States, most do not breed dogs, and that is a good thing. I am not particularly enammored with those that do, as most have no idea of what they are doing, do not work their dogs at all, and essentially treat the whole thing as a lark -- or a way to move up in the "pecking order" of the show-ring community. Breeding dogs is not a sport, and if you are not working your dogs a lot, please do not tell me you are breeding working dogs or have the slightest idea of what is needed in a working dog. In fact, when it comes to working Irish setters, you are probably the problem! You are the reason the dogs are getting too big, do not have good noses, and are (increasingly) stupid, especially when it comes to bird intelligence. Please, do NOT confuse the Junior Hunt test with real work. The fact that a dog can run 50 ft., flash point a planted quail 6 inches in front of its nose does not mean you have a dog worth breeding! I am happy that you are at least doing something with the dog, but this is the most minimum of beginnings. If you were looking to breed a running horse, surely you would ask more than an ability to trot?? The idea that most show-ring Irish setters are a load on the gene pool of their breed is so alien to the average breeder that they do not understand the words, much less the phrase. If a dog looks fine it is fine -- never mind that it does not use its nose, has no gait, cannot work a running pheasant, and has enough feathering to choke a horse! Never mind that the breeder is a man or woman with so little mucle tone he/she could not plant a dozen tulip bulbs, much less go on a four to eight hour hunt in prime pheasant or grouse country! In the world of Irish setters, the end result of such selection and breeding are the over-large, brain-befogged dogs we see in the show ring today. Their owners do not take them hunting or trialing (much less anything else), but they will tell you they are great at barking at song birds outside the picture window! Doing it wrong (and lying to yourself) is simply too easy, while doing it right demands a ferocious level of sustained committment.

That, it seems is the subtext of a little 46-page booklet entitled "The New Guide to Breeding Old Fashioned Working Dogs" by Guy Gregory Ormiston. I do not own this tract, but a friend sent me some quotes from the publication, and I have found them sufficiently interesting to append them below. The complete work can be ordered for $15 USD (includes worldwide postage paid) from Guy G. Ormiston, Rt.1, Box 181-G, Wynnewood, Oklahoma, USA 73098. Mr. Orniston raises blue-tick hounds, but the principles of raising all working dogs are largely the same, and the booklet comes highly recommended.

"To become wealthy you would have to sell dogs in volume and that is contradictory to one of the secrets of breeding outstanding working dogs. SECRET: Constant sorting of brood stock is necessary to prevent regression to average performers. You cannot mass-produce sound brood stock."

"You must be a USER of your own brood stock…You could not cull out the lesser dogs unless you used them under fire, identifying their weakness."

"Mental traits are inherited exactly like physical traits!"

"Line breeding and inbreeding will have to be used to maintain any excellence you wish to keep in your strain (but) Never, never, make a cross based solely on compatible pedigrees." [The author goes on to recount his method of developing your own separate strains for the eventually needed outcross.]

"Breed only based on the abilities of the present couple before you. Working ability is an absolute necessity but secondary to soundness and courage. Care must be taken to never double up on a weakness, but always double up on strength."

"If the progeny prove inferior, the animal is removed from the breeding program."

"To produce a credible strain of working dogs… you must breed dogs that will almost train themselves. They must be dogs that can rise above everything from limited exposure to work/training, to neglect, to abuse, and still make some fashion of a functional working dog. I would say only one potential user out of a hundred is a "real" dog trainer… a person who, first, will take the time to properly train a young dog and, secondly, knows how to go about it… a rare find indeed… Out of a litter of ten pups to a random sampling of users, only about two of those pups would have a fair chance of receiving a proper chance to perform their heritage."

"If you have something good in the way of a working dog strain, constant wariness is required to avoid losing it."

"Many a poor soul embarks on a breeding program, with no chance for success simply because this person cannot recognize a top working dog and, therefore, is unable to make intelligent breeding selections. One must study dogs, live with them in the working environment, succeed or fail based on their competence before one can recognize a top performer. Usually these sessions of learning must be lonely vigils."

Joe Edwards of Come Back Red Setters (shown here with his red setter Champion Come Back Audie) is a true working breeder. All the points noted above? That's Joe Edwards. He doesn't play... he works hard with his dogs and his breeding program. Joe doesn't just "talk the talk"... he "walks the walk." Guess what? Joe Edwards has produced more red setter champions than any other single breeder in the United States. And by the way... he's never run a Junior Hunt test, and he's never produced a "bench champion." Go figure... how'd he do it?? How about 40+ years of effort.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A dog on the edge...

Code Red
Silver Creek Kennels

I like a dog on the "edge"... that dog that is under control, but "just barely"... that dog that hits the edges up front, and hangs on to those edges, but "just barely... a dog that sticks his birds, and you're thrashing to get that bird up, thinking, that damn dog is quivering like a banshee, and hanging on, but "just barely... when you have a dog like that, you've got yourself a serious bird dog. That's what Charlie Turner has with Montana's Full House. Congratulations to Charlie, to and to Tim Hammons, who handled "Montana" to a first place finish in the Amateur All-Age stake of the Kentucky Field Trial Association. And, just to keep the white dogs humble, Tim also handled his big running red setter Code Red to a second place finish in the Amateur Shooting Dog stake. Code Red is no slouch either, as the reporter noted that "Code Red had two finds and a big race, at times a little wild, having to be roped in by his handler occasionally." Just barely.

That's what makes a champion... just barely.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Red setters in Sweden...

Several years ago Dan Moore sent his outstanding red setter Celtic's Dixie Rebel over to Europe for a little "vacation." Seems that "Reb" had a few dates with some of his lady relations from across the sea, and ol' Reb now has several litters of children and grandchildren! Here's a pic of one of Reb's daughters from Sweden.
If you're wondering what Reb looks like, he's that nice looking red dog just to the right side of this blog site!! ------>
Thanks to Bengt and Maria Sandin for sending us this picture!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Just For Fun...

And you thought your dog was well trained.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Red setter club member Loren Spiotta-DiMare sent these two scans of her red setter Celtic’s Woodland Sunrise. The portrait was a surprise birthday gift from Jerilyn Weber, a professional animal artist and good friend. Loren says "it really was a complete surprise and the painting is superb." She also sent an actual picture of "Woody"... as Loren said, Jerilyn sure did capture the smart looks and intensity of this fine looking red setter! Great work Jerilyn Weber... I'm sure this portrait is hanging in a special place in Loren's home.
If you would like to see more of Jerilyn’s work, visit her website at
Also, Woody’s portrait is available on note cards!
Sounds like a great gift for that red setter friend...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Color blindness...

When I was a kid and looking for my first Irish setter, I was enamored with the deep red color of the bench dogs. Although I (along with my dad and his buddies) was an avid hunter, in those days we hunted over beagles, and truthfully, we shot as many pheasants on our special haunts as we did rabbits. Birds were plentiful in those times, and it was not uncommon to see pheasants along the road when we went on our weekly visits to my grandparents. So, my view of the Irish setter was more fantasy than fact. Now that I am older and hopefully wiser, I have come to realize that my childhood picture of the Irish setter was an illusion, for we well know that the average bench dog is unwilling and unable to hunt. These big, profusely feathered dogs with their deep dark red coats might be eye catching to the average Joe Public, but I have little place for them in my world. In fact, rather than considering them to be beautiful, I have come to consider them to be a bit pitiful... a "dog without a cause", so to speak. A dog whose breed standard says that they are a bird dog, yet they are incapable of being a bird dog because they have lost the core genetics necessary to do the job. Which brings me to back to the whole color thing again.

Several times a year, I receive phone calls from someone looking for a "hunting dog." As I talk to them, it becomes clear that they are an average hunter... they try to get out on the weekends during the season, maybe get a week out in Nebraska or Iowa, but for the most part, the dog is destined to be a family companion for much of the year. Inevitably in the course of the conversation, the question of color will come up. "Do your dogs have any white on them?" Or, "we're looking for a dog with a nice dark red color." In fact, I know that some of our red setter breeders (both AKC and FDSB) have tended to breed for less white, and for darker red in their breeding programs.

I think this is a mistake.
Here's why. Remember, this is all antedotal, but validated by historical notations. First, the issue of white on a red setter. Most of us are well aware that the original Irish red setters in Ireland were well endowed with white color. An all red dog was unusual, and in fact, was not favored by the hunters. Why? Because, it appears that the presence of white seemed to be linked with superior hunting ability. This was so notable in the breed club in Ireland that the presence of white was a part of the breed standard back in the 1800s when the standard was first written. The emphasis on an all red dog was brought on by the popularity of the bench shows. So I ask you, what breed improvement has the bench fraternity provided to the Irish red setter? The popularity of the red color is strictly a conformational issue, with NO BASIS IN PERFORMANCE.

Here's what Ray O'Dwyer, in his recently published book, The Irish Red Setter, Its History, Character and Training, has to say on this topic: "Within the parameters laid down in the breed standard, the occurrence of white is still widely visible in the working dog but less so in show dogs, and on this point I would like to make only one comment. I believe that an examination of the dogs that have become FTCHs in the history of the Irish Kennel Club would be very interesting, as, in my experience, many of the top-class workers have had some white to a lesser or greater extent."

The color red is another area in which we seem to be a bit confused. Again, the bench fraternity seems to be infatuated with a deep red color, and (at least here in the USA) has come to accept this color as the acceptable norm for the Irish red setter. In reality, these folks are way off base again. Here's what Colonel J.K. Millner, one of the founding members of the Irish Red Setter Club (formed in 1882) had to say: "Some of the Irish setters now seen at shows are not of the same type as those of forty years ago. Like other breeds the showman has left his mark. A good many years since there was a run on dark coloured ones, especially in England and the Continent, where the dark coat and absence of white are still considered marks of excellence." While the show fraternity continues to insist that this dark red color is the correct one, those who have working setters note that WORKING PERFORMANCE TENDS TO BE BETTER IN SETTERS OF LIGHTER COLOR. The standard of the 1882 Ireland Red Setter Club states that the colour should be a rich golden chestnut. As Ray O'Dwyer points out in his book, virtually every better-known writer on this topic concurs. Ingle Belper, of the famed Rheola Setters and the co-author of the book Setter, Irish, English and Gordan (1935), states "Leaving the question of cross-breeding and returning to colour, I hold that the ideal one for an Irish setter is an even chestnut red, neither too light nor too dark, but just the tint of a newlyh shelled horse-chestnut." And later in the text, "Could the history of those ultra dark-coloured Irish setters be traced sufficiently far back, it would be found that an outcross had been used with either a Gordon, a black retriever, or some other black breed. "

So what's a bird hunter to do??
Honor The Challenge...
breed for performance...
buy for performance...
hunt with a performer...

National Red Setter Field Trial Club Board member Allen Fazenbaker
with his working red setter Her Ruby Red Slipper
Chestnut and White and Proud to be a part of the Purest Challenge!!

A Little BIt of History...

Found this old copy of the American Field, dated Nov. 28, 1953... the report of the 1st National Red Setter Field Trial Club Open Shooting Dog Championship, held on Kelly's Island, Ohio. At that time, Kelly's Island had a population of thousands of pheasants, and not much else. Most of the island was farmland or thickets. The Championship stake was won by our foundation red setter, Askew's Carolina Lady, although the Champion title was withheld. Here's what the reporter R.C. "Rusty" Baynard, Jr. had to say...

"up until the last brace of the Championship, it looked as though the judges would have to name a dog that had the least mistakes, and of that we were not too proud. But, as so often happens, along comes one dog that helps pull the chestnuts out of the fire. Askew's Carolina Lady was named the winner, but not a champion. Lady, is not a fast dog, is very merry; her tail is always busy and high and most of the time she carries her head high, searching for body-scent; at times, though, she will lower her head and work on foot-scent. You can overlook this when you see her go boldly to her bird and swell up, head and tail high, every muscle acquiver with anticipation, a beautiful sight to a bird dog man and particularly so to a red setter enthusiast. " Lady was owned and handled by Ned LeGrande.

Also winning that October 17 1953 day on Kelly's Island were the following...

Amateur puppy: Patrick Michael O'Brien, T.L. Miller, handler

Open derby: Willow Winds Hobo, Ned LeGrande, handler

Amateur SD: Highpoint Fleet, Arthur Church, handler

Novice stake: Shelley's Red Spice, Joyce Schollenberger

Askew's Carolina Lady

Sunday, February 3, 2008


The recent spat of legislation occuring throughout the United States regarding the attempts by various "animal rights" groups (notably PETA and HSUS) has illuminated the differences in philosophies of these so-called animal rights groups and how they distinguish between humans and animals. Animal rights groups wish to convey the same status on the various animals as that conveyed on humans. The reference of pets as "companion animals" is just a first step in the move to have your dogs, cats, horses, and chickens provided with the same constitutional rights bestowed upon us by our founding fathers. (I think that Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave to see such lunacy in the legislatures). Here is an interesting point of view from a posting on the No Pit Bull Ban website, in reference to the current legislation in the state of Ohio revising kennel regulations. As expected, the HSUS and PETA are fully supportive of this legislation, which will be a step closer to conferring "human" status on our dogs and cats.

From the website...

"As for ‘equal rights’ with humans, this is problematic on many levels. I’ll say right now that I treat my dogs as well as, or better than I treat myself, so I’m not one of those ‘I can do whatever I want’ types.
1. If dogs are equal to humans, then I presume euthanasia in the case of extreme suffering or terminal illness would be disallowed?
2. If dogs are equal to humans, then I presume this would overturn Ohio’s various ‘breed’ (race) bans?
3. If dogs are equal to humans then they surely cannot be sterilized without informed consent?
4. If dogs are equal to humans, then any barriers to their entry into businesses, public places, etc, would be nullified?
5. If dogs are equal to humans, then they are entitled to subsidized healthcare (in Canada, don’t know about various states but since dogs are impecunious they would likely qualify for medicare).
6. If dogs are equal to humans, they the should not be leashed or confined against their will and cannot be considered to be at large when out enjoying themselves, so there goes the pound.
7. If dogs are equal to humans then they should be free to choose their human families and friends.
8. If dogs are equal to humans, then they don’t require licences, microchips or tattoos - as free and equal citizens they should be recognized on their own recognizance.
9. If dogs are equal to humans, must they be paid for any work they perform and is there a minimum wage? Where would these wages accrue, in trust funds set up for their progeny?"

I'm wondering if my dogs will be able to file for unemployment compensation during the off-hunting/trialing season. Actually, if this works out, I might be able to quit my job, and let my dogs support me by "going on the system." Can they apply for "dog food stamps?" What about subsidized housing? Reduced lunches at "obedience school? But what about the ligitation over the forced marriages? We might be in trouble there...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Words of Wisdom from Ireland...

"The composition of the method and style of a setter at work as well as its conformation dictate the level of perfection that any particular individual may attain. They are integral parts of the same equation. In the unforgettable words attributed to Billy Phelan, a professional trainer from Co. Waterford in the 1940s and 1950s, 'Not every red dog is a setter!' A simple statement full of truth! If the dog is not a worker, he is not entitled to be called a setter. The aspiration adopted by the European Pointer Club in seeking dogs that are beau et bon has without doubt paid off, as almost every top-class worker is also good looking. Several other Irish setter clubs have made similar efforts and in these countries it is not uncommon to have dual champions. However, the English-speaking world has taken a separate road, with the result that show dogs are now a different type to the original working type. The greatest problem with this new type is that the dog lacks the conformation of a galloping dog that is clearly required of a setter. If this policy continues in the same manner, as it has over the past 50 years, it will end up furthering the separation of the breed into two types, and that would be a lamentable situation.
As things stand, the differences in colour, size, conformation, energy and mental attitudes is already enormous. There is no doubt that the working ability of almost all the show strains is beyond redemption. There are claims that they can still work, but those that I have seen are outside the level of performance that is acceptable for the breed and only serve to confirm in the minds of many that Irish setters are lesser beings in the gun dog world. I have to say that, when judging abroad I have seen more show type Irish setters presented at field-trials than from any other breed and perhaps the owners of these dogs would serve the breed better by leaving them at home. Irish setters are not numerically strong in comparison to the other classical pointing breeds, but if those presented at trials were of a high quality it would give them a better reputation and thus encourage greater support for the breed."
From "The Irish Red Setter, It's History, Character and Training" by Ray O'Dwyer, President of the Irish Red Setter Club, Ireland.

FTCh Sheantullagh Godswalk

Ray O'Dwyer, Owner/handler

This book is available from the National Red Setter Field Trial Club. For more information, check our website link at