irish setter Q&A WITH NENA DEE, PETER A. FROST & JUDITH ZAWIKOWSKI
“IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER THE ESSENCE OF BEING AN ARISTOCRATIC AND ELEGANT HUNTING DOG THAT MOVES WITH AN EFFICIENT BIG TROT AND NOT JUST A GENERIC, RED DOG.”
more aware of the health issues and endeavor to breed healthy specimens. JZ: The Irish Setter breed has changed dramatically since I became involved in the breed. That doesn’t surprise me after being around for 48 years! I have bred and finished quite a few Champions under the KILLARY prefix in those long years, along with my dog-partner, Deb Peterson and feel that the breed has lost a few things that I would like to see breeders concentrate on. One of them, which I call the “drag of the breed,” is the front assembly. Cathedral fronts don’t belong on a dog that needs to be sturdy enough to be able to go all day in the field. The gay tail that has cropped up in the past five years or so has me totally in disbelief. Doesn’t off the back mean anything anymore? They are not Afghan Hounds! The deep, scissoring groom- ing jobs that are seen in the conformation ring are so over-exaggerated, it’s pathetic. Some may think I am old school on that subject, but you are not hiding flaws from me by going crazy with the scissors! The Irish Setter is a beautiful dog, has a great temperament and should be bred to the standard and groomed properly, to amplify all its wonderful traits. I am seeing really pretty heads, lovely condition and nice, dark eyes. The breeders are paying attention much more than years gone by. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstood about the breed. ND: It is important to consider the essence of being an aristocratic and elegant hunting dog that moves with an efficient big trot and not just a generic, red dog. The Irish Setter is the raciest of the four Setters. PF: A word that is often associated with Irish Setters is racy and something that I believe many new judges interpret as lacking substance. Another problem is the speed that many handlers run their dogs and new judges often think is correct. Also too often some can be swayed by glamour. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. ND: I believe we have the only standard that calls for a rollicking temperament! So, please don’t fault a happy,
misbehaving youngster. This is a playful, humorous and loving breed so please enjoy them. PF: Irish Setters are much more than stunning redheads seen in the show ring as a breed they excel in obedience and in the field as well as being an ideal family member. JZ: The Irish Setter today is a handsome, aristocratic dog—as our standard states. Credit must be given to the people in the breed who address genetic issues and those who do so much with Rescue. We all thank you. Though num- bers have declined in recent years, the breed has really advanced with addressing health issues and maintaining a place in the Sporting Group that is hard to ignore when that beautiful red dog goes flying by! 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? ND: Too embarrassing to tell! JZ: Two funny things that have happened to me while judg- ing. The first was a large German Shorthair entry. An older man stacked his dog for me. When he bent over, he had his hair combed in a comb-over, which became “unglued” and fell into his face! It was about 12” long and reminded me of a rodent being let loose off his head! I gave him a moment to re-construct his hair-do and proceeded with the exam. Ringside was hysterical! It was all I could do to keep from laughing; I just smiled and went on! The second thing was a pair of untrained panty hose that I was wearing while judging. By the time I got to judge the breed in Irish Setters, the panty hose were misbehaving badly—almost down to my knees. They restrained my movement to the point that I was shuffling in the ring to gain my balance—and my composure. The judge said, “You would like a picture?” I answered him with a smile and said, “Okay, can I go to the rest room first?” Ringside was laughing, as the steward knew what was happening and told everyone within earshot what I was facing, as a provisional judge, with an AKC Rep fol- lowing my every move. I got a good review on the judg- ing part, but decided panty hose aren’t for me. I’m glad judges are wearing nice slacks and pantsuits now!
320 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , D ECEMBER 2018
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