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I acquired my first Irish Setter in June 1982 as a graduation gift from my mother and we named him “Ace” AM & CAN CH. Mar Dee’s New Age Aceonair – CD. With “Ace” came my mentor and dear friend Marita Gravatt – MarDee Setters from New Castle, PA and she taught me a lot about the breed, presenting them in the ring not to mention grooming and ring preparation. With her expert help and coaching I went on to finish the majority of the Irish Setters she produced. Ace was bred in May of 1989 to a lovely little girl from O’Dorsey Kennels (Ruth White – a founding member of GTISC).
So from that, I acquired my second success in the show dog world – Ch. Winsong’s Son O’Success – CD a/k/a “Sonni” who was my soul mate. Both Sonni and Ace were Highest Scoring Irish Setters at Independent Specialties so not only were they beautiful, but they had brains too. Losing Sonni was the toughest thing in life that I had to go through. Fortunately for me, Sonni was bred to yet another one of Ruth’s girls which she in turn bred producing his grandbabies, so in June, 1998 I ended up bringing home another boy when Sonni was around nine years old.
This took me up to Irish Setter #3 – O’Dorsey’s Vision Quest who was like a carbon copy of his grandfather more and more each day. “Quest”, no longer with me as of December 12, 2008, due to some type of neurological deficit that was diagnosed a year earlier and would cause him to become disoriented, almost like a dog with Alzheimer. Although Quest didn’t garner me with ribbons I sure do miss his company as my navigator. He always perched himself in the passenger seat while we drove for miles all over the country to shows. He will always hold a special place in my heart, a heart that aches every day over his loss.
In December 2003, I acquired yet another male #4 from local breeders, Patricia, in the Butler/Zelienople area of Western Pa., Sirius Bad Moon On The Rise a/k/a “Creed” (named after Creedence Clearwater Revival). Creed was just a major away from his championship when I realized he was having seizures. Unfortunately with this condition, that ended his career as a show dog and potential stud dog. I ran some tests and found his thyroid levels were off the charts so after two months of medication his seizures occurred less, plus he is on a grain free diet. He still has an occasional episode but they are at least 8 months to years apart, so he is not cured nor is he on unnecessary medication.
In the spring of 2004 I decided that Creed needed a little sister and purchased a puppy from Touchstone Kennels in NY. “Dora” was lost at the tender age of 4 months due to veterinarian negligence while in their care for Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) – another breed health problem that seems to be surfacing too frequently these days. Trying to fill that void in our household I acquired a two year old female from another NY breeder with many strings attached and after years of getting her into show condition she finished her championship and was bred. “Glory” produced 6 puppies which I got back to raise once they were 4 weeks old in June 2008. I co-own two of the boys with club members. So, this now took me up to #5.
In May 2007, I inherited one of our rescue progeny that we placed with Bill White from the Claysville area. “Wagner” who is now almost 15, was turned into a shelter at the age of 9 ½ years for separation anxiety. Then he spent another 8 months in a boarding kennel in Butler until I took him to my home to evaluate him. We placed him with Bill in November 2005 until May 2007, when Bill passed away suddenly. I made a promise to Bill that should God take him before Wagner, I would see to his wishes, which are to look after his buddy, and when his time comes, have him cremated and Wagner’s ashes, along with a headstone that Bill had made for his beloved boy, will be placed along side Bill’s grave site. When Bill traveled, Wagner made the adjustment of staying with me for short visits and he has just lost track of time that’s all, because Wagner knows that one day he will be reunited with the one man who cared enough to offer him a second chance at life since his first owners discarded him like a piece of old furniture.
Just to add more excitement in my life I obtained #6 in June 2008 from long time respected breeder Sue Hahnen in St. Paul, MN- Courtwood Irish Setters. Courtwood Quilting Bee, and a busy little bee is she! Ms. “Beatrice” certainly is a life of the party kind of silly girl and has stirred the pot at my house and in the dog show kingdom in more ways than one. What a thrill to have a 6-9 month puppy take Best Puppy In Show at the Cleveland Crown Classics in December 2008 with her breeder/co-owner Sue there to share in the win. We are taking our good old time picking and choosing where we show her because there is no big rush with obtaining a championship while she is still such a baby.
Just recently, I was accepted into the AKC Registered Handlers Program since I have handled a multitude of breeds over 27 years in the dog show world. In "2000" and "2001", I handled a friend's English Cocker Spaniel to the tune of 4 Best In Shows. There is a lot of heartache and physical labor in this sport but it is a labor of love and I wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China.
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