613 – Junior Handler Wins NOHS Finals in Orlando

Junior Handler Wins NOHS Finals in Orlando

Adam showing his dog to Best of Breed.

The 2023 AKC National Owner Handled Series Finals was won by 14-year-old Adam Kucera and his two year old Irish Setter, Stryker. Adam and Stryker’s breeder, Patty Fanelli, join host Laura Reeves to share their story.

“At (Adam’s) first show, he beat me for Winner’s Dog,” Fanelli said. “It was one point with the brother. The next show was the Potomac Specialty. He went best in sweeps and he took a five point major and went best of Winners and best puppy.

“And I said to him, “You just took a five-point specialty major.” And he said, ‘I don’t even know what that is.’ He sure knows now.”

Stryker is Adam’s first Irish Setter that his grandmother arranged to purchase from Fanelli. He showed a Boston Terrier first, but really wanted to show a bigger dog.

Adam says he does all of Stryker’s grooming “except the clipper work because I am so afraid he’s going to just move and it’s just going to go, it’s all gone.”

The most challenging part of training Stryker, Adam said, was teaching him to freestack “Because he always just wants to jump, he always just wants to jump on my shoulders and thinks it’s time to play as soon as I hold a treat and not hold him.” A 4.0 home-schooled student, Adam says he practices with Stryker every morning before completing his school work.

Competing in NOHS gives Adam and is family more time to spend at the shows.

“My first show, we went to the show and I didn’t win the breed,” Adam said. “We went to go watch the groups and we saw that there were two groups going and we were like ‘why are there two, there should only be one?’ So then we found out what owner handler was. It’s kind of hard to show an Irish Setter. There’s not that many owner handlers out where I live, so if we want to stay a little bit longer at the show, we can do owner-handled and that gives us stuff to do and it’s a really fun competition.”

Adam has set lofty goals for himself and his dog. His remaining goals for Stryker include winning best of breed at the National Specialty and winning the breed at Westminster Kennel Club. He dreams of becoming a professional handler and breeding Irish Setters in his future.

Take a listen to the entire episode for more from this outstanding young man.

564 – Owner Handler Winner: “These Dogs Are Worthy”

Owner Handler Winner: “These Dogs Are Worthy”

Dr. Cheryl Stiehl hard at work in her veterinary practice.

Dr. Cheryl Stiehl, DVM joins host Laura Reeves to discuss the journey that brought her to the pinnacle of the Owner Handled Series with her breeder-owner-handled Irish Setter.

Stiehl and Declan, GCHS Bramblebush Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, topped more than 825 entries in the National Owner Handled Series finals in Orlando, FL in December.

A practicing veterinarian in Maryland, Stiehl offers her life hacks for succeeding as an owner handler while working a full-time job. And she shares the love — of her dog and the sport.

“I think one of the neatest things about this dog is who he is,” Stiehl said. “His nickname is ‘The Dude.’ He’s just good for purebred dogs, if you know what I mean. He’s funny and ridiculous and silly and he loves kids and loves cats and thinks everything’s an adventure. Declan has friends and friends he has not met yet. That’s just kind of who he is. He’s a bit of a party animal. The other thing and the way I describe him when people say, ‘well, what’s an Irish Setter like, what’s this dog like?’ I say, you know the guy at the tailgate pouring shots? That’s Declan.

“I think that owner handled for me is that there was one more thing I could do with my dog. I can walk in this ring and that ring, I can do it twice. If I get nervous, I can try to work through it.

“I can take out a spleen in the OR with an animal that has a really potentially dangerous or scary prognosis and barely break a sweat. But you know, sometimes I think we all get nervous. Is the dog going to behave? Is he stacked right? Does he look OK? Am I giving him his due?

“On the other side of it too, I think the interesting part of it is your dog’s doing double duty and your dog’s going into that group ring and hopefully going into another best in show ring. So, if you were lucky to win both breed and best of breed owner handled that day, you show your dog a whole bunch and your dog has to perform a whole lot more really. I’ve actually had a few judges say that to me. You know, ‘I watched your dog today and you didn’t give up once.’ So, he is a piece of work. He’s the dude.

“The (NOHS) competition is keen. The dogs are beautiful. They are multiple best in show dogs. They are best in show dogs, they are reserve best in show dogs. They’re group placers, group and specialty winners, sires and dams of beautiful animals. These dogs are worthy. I think that one nice thing is, is it’s the connections you make. I also will say to you that I love the sportsmanship that I have experienced in those ranks. We are really happy for one another.”

Listen to the full episode for more of Stiehl’s insights on the NOHS, dog shows in general, her favorite grooming products and more.

489 – Lorraine Bisso on the Irish Setter: “most beautiful of all dogs”

Lorraine Bisso on the Irish Setter: “most beautiful of all dogs”

AKC judge and Irish Setter breeder Lorraine Bisso shares her passion for the breed with host Laura Reeves.

“The standard tells you that it’s termed by artists, the most beautiful of all dogs,” Bisso said. “I tell people when I do judge’s education, when the dog walks in the ring, if your heart doesn’t skip a beat by the beautiful color, the symmetry, the silhouette, before you even get to know the dog, then something is missing. In this beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous dog beats a soul not to be matched. He would give his life for you. He also cheats at cards.”

Bisso has been involved with Irish Setters for more than 50 years and brings us a little myth busting.

“They are smart,” Bisso said. “That’s something that’s very misunderstood in this breed. They earned a reputation at one point for not being smart… they are very  creative and often the problem is that they are one step ahead of their owners.

“Irish setters do not like to do things over and over and over again. They will go from point A to point B quite willingly several times. Then they will decide to take the scenic route. When they get to point B, they’re really mystified as to why you are upset. They got there, they just took the scenic route. It’s a charming part of the breed.

“The standard describes a hunting dog. When you judge them, you should keep in mind that singular point. They are the most beautiful of all dogs and they are bred to hunt. Everything in the standard relates to those twin elements of type, shall we say. They have to be beautiful, but they also must be the active gundog that the standard talks about. That’s the reason for the feet, the tail set, the proportions. the bite, the head, the eye. Everything in that standard is about a working gun dog and as you judge the breed, you should keep that in mind.

“Irish Setters are a single coated breed. Their coat is designed to have things come out if you brush them. Again, our standard calls for a “pleasing fringe of hair.” It does not call for a foot of hair, it calls for pleasing fringe. While we all love the beautiful show coats, don’t get me wrong on this, I’m a sucker for the full on press, all you really need is the pleasing fringe. So again I tell judges, do not walk past a dog because you don’t think that he has quote enough hair. If it’s good hair and it’s the right quality and it’s the right color then you’re good to go.”

Tune in next week for more from Lorraine Bisso and hear all about the history and excitement at this year’s Morris and Essex dog show.

316 — Ireland’s “Heritage Status” for Native Dog Breeds

Ireland Designates “Heritage Status” for Native Dog Breeds

Sean Delmar, president of the Irish Kennel Club and Kerry Blue Terrier breeder, has just achieved the holy grail of “heritage status” for the nine native Irish breeds.

Heritage Status

JULY 16, 2019

I am pleased to announce that the 9 Irish Breeds have been granted National Heritage status by the Minister.

This is a wonderful step in the future protection and development of our amazing Irish Breeds and comes after many years of representations by those committed to Irish Breeds.

On behalf of The Irish Kennel Club I would like to specifically acknowledge the commitment of the following who put there heart and soul into making this a reality. Cathy Delmar, Eddie Burke, Vincent Flannelly.

Sean Delmar, President

“I thought there was a chance these breeds could go out of existence,” Delmar said. “I thought the Government should take some responsibility. We wanted to convince them these dog breeds are part of the patchwork quilt of the Irish people.”

This exciting success required a lot of initiatives over 10 years, Delmar noted. The small group of folks involved did demonstrations, paraded dogs at schools, had dogs on “chat shows” on TV.

“We built up a portfolio so we had something to show the government, not just an idea,” Delmar said. “We created a heritage weekend revolving around dogs. Even hawking with setters in the midland bogs. People learned a lot about Irish breeds. The general populace is now more aware.”

The Irish Kennel Club was only the national body that made the application. So much enthusiasm and work done was from a handful of devoted fanciers, Delmar said.

“Dogs developed because of working ability originally,” Delmar observed. “Ireland has the Irish Wolfhound and Kerry Beagle, Red setter, Red and white setter and Water spaniel. In the terrier group we have Kerry Blue, Irish, Glen of Imaal, Soft Coated Wheaten.”

Purebred dogs are history and art

Wolfhounds are one of the ancient symbols of Ireland along with the shamrock and harp. Kerry beagle are a hunting pack unique to Ireland. During the potato famine in Ireland, ships carrying refugees to the US, took Kerry beagles with them. Delmar expects these dogs could be found behind coonhounds in the US.

Romantic figures in Irish history hunted on horseback with hawks and setters, using nets before guns were invented.

Delmar’s telling of the rich tapestry of Irish history, includes Grace O’Malley — one of the earliest known female pirates, born around 1530 in Ireland and growing up to lead a 20-ship fleet. Her contribution to the development of the Irish Water Spaniel was the connection to her incursions on the Iberian Peninsula.

“We just undersell everything we do,” Delmar said. “We don’t spend enough time telling people that what you get with pedigree dogs is predictable qualities, predictable characteristics. Don’t get that in crossbreds. Can be great dogs. They might have one or two of the qualities. But it’s a lucky get. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.”

262 — Will Alexander on Grooming, Handling and Heroes

Will Alexander on Grooming, Handling and Heroes

Will Alexander winning BOB in Gordon Setters at Westminster Kennel Club this week.

Canadian dog handling legend, Will Alexander, shares his memories, his handling tips and grooming tools that have brought him significant success in the last 25 years.

“My heroes were people like George Alston,” Alexander said. “He basically taught me to trim Irish Setters over the phone.”

“I always wanted to be a handler, but before embarking on a handling career I worked for Garry MacDonald in Canada, and for Bobby Stebbins in the States,” Alexander said.

Carving the picture

Will Alexander grew up with Irish Setters and learned from George Alston, over the phone, how to trim them.

Grooming is not a recipe, Alexander noted. Every dog is different. Famous for his meticulous grooming of setters particularly, Alexander describes a process to “build a shell around the dog” when trimming the back coat. He works with a stripping knife, his fingers, a grooming stone and, the most important piece, a bristle brush to bring up the oils in the coat.

Attention to detail

“I hate it when I hear “Oh, they won because they are so and so… well, they didn’t just grow up and they were so and so… they had to work hard to become so and so,” Alexander said. “It’s hard work. For every 15 minutes of fame there are 23 hrs 45 minutes working on your dog. It’s not age, it’s mileage.”

Tips of the trade

  • Think in slow motion. In real time you’re doing exactly the right speed.

“When Miss P won the group at the Garden, George Alston called and yelled at me that I had gone too fast on the down and back.  It was terrifying!”

  • Attention to detail.

“I like to sit and watch the ring, pretend I’m in there already, making my mistakes in my head so I don’t make them in the ring.”

  • “Old fashioned” isn’t bad

“I have a mind’s eye picture of the dogs. So much of type is in how they move, how they carry themselves,” Alexander said. “We need to be preserving the breeds not ‘improving’ them.”

Dream Best in Show Lineup

  • English Springer Spaniel Ch. Salilyn’s Condor
  • Borzoi Ch. Kishniga’s Desert Song
  • Doberman Pinscher Ch. Brunswig’s Cryptonite
  • Wire Fox Terrer ch galsul excellence
  • Pekingese Ch. Wendessa Crown Prince
  • Standard Poodle Ch. Rimskittle Ruffian
  • German Shepherd Dog Ch Altana’s Mystique

BIS to Robert the Springer

For more information, videos, the book and more, visit http://www.doghandlingtips.com/