Our Life with Irish Setters

Although having owned Irish Setters for over 40 years we only started showing in 1998 when we had Abbie – Settador Hot Rumour.

Our first dog was named Kelly and I know she was of Wendover lines but unfortunately have lost her pedigree. We had Kelly not long after Julia and I got married, what a handful she turned out to be. Many an hour or two was spent in the park trying to get her back, tried taking her to dog training but as the first thing they did in the field was a one minute down you can guess the result of that with me spending most of the morning trying to get her back. We used to drop her off at Julia’s parent’s whist at work and their dog Brandy took great delight in bossing her around until one day Kelly realised she was now bigger than him. I remember meeting up with Lynda Davis and others on Sunday mornings over Sutton Park and there could be around 20 Setters all running in a pack over the fields.

Deciding that it would be nice for Kelly to have some company we gave a home to a Rescue Irish Setter, this was arranged with David Bell who I sometimes meet up with whilst walking the dog over Great Barr Beacon. Nell although poor movement in her rear legs at first, improved with exercise and was a different dog within a year. 

When Nell passed away aged eight we had another puppy we called Amber from the Lewis’s at Clent Hills.
Sadly after losing our first dog Kelly we had another bitch off Gill & Keith Lewis who lived nearby, I used to regularly walk my dogs with Gill over Wythall Park and knew Gill for over 30 years. Our new dog Chloe was a lovely dog and really should have been shown, I remember Gill commenting when she saw her at one year old that they would have had some fun with her in the ring.

The next dog we had Abbie resulted in our first introduction into showing, Abbie was a lovely dog and it was a shame that she never really coated up, but I managed to qualify her for Crufts twice and remember the thrill when Viv Blackshaw gave Abbie a third in a class of over thirty at Manchester to qualify for the first time. Abbie was full of spirit which she put to good effect in the ring, but also resulted in her having to be put on a lead one hundred yards from the car on the way home from the park as even at ten plus would still run off. Abbie was my best friend and I still miss her now.

Chloe never really took to Abbie but when we introduced Breeze who we had off Olivia Henson she took to her immediately. Breeze was always quite a nervous dog, and this resulted in us stop showing her at an early stage as it was clear it was not for her, however we loved her to bit’s and she was Julia’s treasure and was devastated when Breeze passed away at in October 2013. 

When we lost Abbie suddenly at the age of fourteen, Julia said we were not having any more dogs. A week later she returned from a meeting in Nottingham rather late. Turned out she had gone over to Newark to look at a litter that Diane Heppell had just had by her bitch Lucia and Marita Botts boy Stefan. We went to look at the puppies at the weekend,  I then spent the next few days convincing the boss that we should have a boy this time. Flynn has been a joy to own & had a promising start to his show career. Unfortunately, just when he was going into Post Graduate I had a year of illness followed by a further year of recovery, this resulted in a premature retirement from his time in the ring. 

Having had the pleasure of developing and maintaining the Thendara website for Dee & Jeremy for several years, I was always going to have a Thendara puppy when the time was right. Four months ago, we took on Willow “Thendara Cherry CoCo at Arunset”. If she performs in the show ring as she does out of it, I am in for a lively time ahead.

Kevin Venables