These two Irish Setters are regular clients of this dogwalker. I like their jumpsuits — they accentuate the plumage and thus the movement of the two dogs pretty nicely, though I’m not sure why they’re needed. The suits do nothing to keep the dogs on dry land, but at least they look cool while wading through the water.
The lady who had this Gordon Setter told me I “really know dogs” because I was able to ID her breed. Not really… unless the mere ability to call something by name bestows immediate knowledge (I wish)! I think, like many of the dog crazed, I’ve spent a lot of time flipping through breed books and clicking through dog blogs. There was a while when I was pausing to take notice of setters in general, because the DD was hoping to adopt one. He’d grown up with an Irish Setter that his family had taken in as a stray, and he often praised the breed for their gentle souls.
I’ve met surprisingly few setters, Irish or otherwise, so I have little to flesh out my image of the breed. They connote a very different type of dog experience than what I’m now used to. They seem like a good president’s dog,* robust and companionable, primpable for photo shoots, yet also embedded in some rugged, Euro-American sporting culture that I find unfamiliar and alienating. Without mastering their vocabulary, I would have a hell of a time cultivating any kind of meaningful conversation within such a crowd.
Maybe that’s why I just couldn’t see myself with a setter. Not that any of us are obligated to subscribe to breed culture with every adoption, but you know, it can be a nice perk. Anyway, I didn’t totally nix the idea, for the DD’s sake; if we stumbled across a setter that moved our hearts, her breed would have mattered less than her temperament or story.
* I know there have been a number of presidential Setters, but perhaps lurking in the back of my mind is the English Setter in Goodbye, My Lady, named Millard Fillmore after the last Whig president of the United States (“Whatcha doin’ namin’ a good dog a crazy name like that?!”). There’s something innately true to me about the high contrast competition between Mill and Lady the Basenji, but I’m not sure how to explain why it was so deeply satisfying that the Basenji just proves to be the better dog. Maybe I would’ve felt differently about the scene if we had ended up with a “real” gundog. Who knows?