Narrator: President Truman’s Irish Setter, Mike, had the run of the White House. But when the Irish Setter, King Timahoe, move with the Nixon family the breed became the country’s third most popular. And Irish Setters are romantic too.
Dr. Karen Halligan: Their great kissers.
Tyson Kilmer: They’re really focus. They really love to have a good time and party.
Narrator: Irish Setters are happy go lucky, playful dogs that thrive on physical activity. The fields and woods of sharps farm in New Hampshire are pure heaven to an Irish Setter.
Dr. Karen Halligan: Irish Setters were bred in Ireland, so they get a lot of exercise. They love to run. They’re very, very fast.
Narrator: No one knows for sure but it’s believed that the Irish Setter developed in the 1700s from a mix of Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Terrier, Setting Spaniels, Pointers and a dash of Gordon Setters. Its signatures silky mahogany coat is not its original coloring. No, this is what they first look like. Mostly white with red patches.
Andrea Arden: It was originally red and white. Now there is a separate breed called the Red and White Setter.
Narrator: The deep red coloring appeared in the 19th century. It became a mark of quality and superior sporting ability. And two newcomers and veterans alike the rich red coat caught in just the right light remains one of the most beguiling features. As bird dogs go, the Irish Setter was designed to do it all. Find birds, point them out to the hunter and to retrieve down query. They do this by quartering. Running a unique zigzag pattern in front of the hunter, this helps them scan up and down the wind for bird scent.
Finding birds over miles of territory takes what breeders call an excellent nose. Irish Setters scent their query in the air, not on the ground like scent hounds. Its narrow balanced frame and long legs make the setter nimble enough to turn on a dime. Some say the Irish Setter can run faster and has more endurance than other setters. These dogs have the ability to travel over vast and varied terrain.
Characteristics that come only in a dog with a cavernous chest that houses a massive heart and gigantic lungs, which provides these energetic dogs with plenty of oxygen, but this high spirited breed does have some health issues. Like most large canines Irish Setters are prone to cancer.
Andrea Arden: I do think unfortunately setters in general are prone to cancer and they do tend to suffer from bone cancer as well.
Narrator: But fortunately for these dogs new advances in veterinary medicine are helping nurse them back to health. Jeff Philibert knows a lot about cancer in Irish Setters. It’s his life’s work, and that work led him to a special friend.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: Hi, Diane. This is Dr. Philibert. How are you doing? How’s Felix feeling today?
Narrator: Dr. Jeff Philibert is a veterinary oncologist who treats dogs and cats with cancer. Hundreds of them each week.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: I definitely think we see more cases on an annual basis and cancer on an increasing incidence in our older pet population.
Narrator: Two and a half years ago however tragedy struck, and Dr. Jeff Philibert the oncologist became Jeff Philibert his own client. Within 30 days of each other he lost both of his beloved dogs. Clifford a Shepherd Husky mix and Calvin a Lab Australian Shepherd mix to a fast-spreading malignant cancer of the blood vessels.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: That ripped my heart out. People talk about that idea of the one perfect dog and I had two perfect dogs, I just really don’t think that emotionally I was ready to let another dog into my heart and I think part of it may have been for the fear of loss.
Narrator: Two years ago, Penny, a year old Irish Setter puppy was brought to Dr. Philibert for a consultation. The dog’s breeder was having trouble finding a home for the dog due to a recurring cancer.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: The second removal of the tumor had not been completely removed, it yet grew back another time.
Narrator: But Dr. Philibert soon discovered that with the right treatment Penny could recover, but the treatment would be expensive. A cost Penny’s owner feared she could not cover. The dogs future remained uncertain and it looked like she might have to be put down.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: I could sense she was getting emotional because she’d obviously had a bond with her and was really trying to look at what is she going to do.
Narrator: But on that visit the insightful dogs sense a connection with the doctor and took matters into her own paws. As her owner and Dr. Philibert discussed the pup’s future Penny climb into Philibert slap and into his heart.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: She literally chose me. I didn’t even think about it and I just said, “I’ll take her.”
Narrator: A week later Dr. Philibert adopted Penny, surprising his family when he brought the Irish Setter home with him.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: A year later Penny is happy, active, runs faster than any dog that I’ve seen.
Narrator: Today after a successful surgery, Penny is a happy and healthy dog.
Dr. Jeff Philibert: She has absolutely filled the hearts and the void that we had from losing Clifford and Calvin previously. Fate has its way of working things out, that she came here that day and she needed me I guess as much as I needed her, and I do truly believe that that happened for a reason.
Narrator: Irish Setter owners will tell you that as a breed Irish Setter seem eternally youthful and uniquely loving, devoted to their owners. But don’t be seduced by this breed’s charm and beauty if you can provide the right environment for one.
Tyson Kilmer: If you’re a couch potato don’t even bother getting this animal. This is a dog that runs, this is a dog that needs to jump, this is a dog that needs to bark and be vocal and get his point across.
Narrator: On average Irish Setters live 11 to 16 years, but they’re prone to cancer, epilepsy, eye disease and other health problems. Chiefly bloat, the life-threatening condition common to all deep treated dogs, but setters especially. Setters require regular grooming.
Dr. Karen Halligan: They do need to be brush because they have that long silky coat.
Narrator: When training patience is a virtue.
Dr. Karen Halligan: They really need to be trained because they really want to please you.
Narrator: And they make a great family pet.
Tyson Kilmer: I’ve never met a mean Irish Setter and if your kids want to have a good time and they want to run and play this is a great dog for you.
Narrator: So in general these dogs need to run on a regular basis, among other things it’s prone to cancer and bloat. They’re easy to groom but you have to do it often, trainable with patients and gentle touch, and one of the best breeds for an active family.
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