Catherine Otley writes about Callum ….
I have been very lucky in my life, what with being born to loving and wise parents, receiving a good education, having a good, long lasting marriage and a lovely son. I have also been blessed to have discovered setters, initially English ones. After losing our last one, I thought my luck had run out. We were unable to find a puppy. I’d began my search even before he passed away, prompted by the placement of the English setter on the Vulnerable Native Breeds List by the Kennel Club. Two years later we were still puppyless, so we decided to go to Crufts to see if we could meet someone who might have or be expecting puppies. I was heartbroken to see that the type of English setter now dominating was not the type we had had.
A debate had long been taking place in my head about getting another breed. When Spencer was a year old, I saw a magazine article about the Irish Red and White setter. I was quite keen on them based on what I had read, so I stored that enthusiasm away for future reference. A third dog was out of the question as we already had a Labrador as well as Spence. So now the time had come and though, being cautious types, we were leaning toward sticking with what we knew, what we saw in the English rings prompted us to saunter over to the Irish Red and White setter ring.
Within minutes I knew that we had to have a Red and White. The dogs were gorgeous and everyone we spoke to was very welcoming and helpful, including Pauline Ryan who had a litter of three week old puppies. She showed us photos, we told her about our experience with the English setters and the labrador, and plans were made to go up to Derbyshire in three weeks to see the puppies.
My luck had not run out – it had stepped up a notch or twelve! Callum is now six years old and I thank God every day that we could not find an English setter puppy. Let’s get the superficialities out of the way first: he is stunningly gorgeous! On to more serious matters: He is the most intelligent dog I have ever known. Training came naturally to him and I am always amazed at how he picks up things without being specifically taught. He is a superb athlete, ranging quite a distance from me. Though I was initially quite alarmed about this, a friend pointed out that even if I could not see him, he was keeping an eye on me. If I carried on, he’d soon join me. He comes after just one whistle, he goes off in another direction if I point that way, and he amazes me with his problem solving ability. At home he is quiet and well behaved, apart from the occasional mad five minutes pouncing on Ben, the Lab. And I so love it when he joins me on the recliner, me on the seat, him curled up on the raised foot rest.
In conclusion, I cannot fathom why this is not the most popular breed in the country. What’s not to like???