Palarset's Winter Whimsy (Whimsy)
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Whimsy is our eldest girl. I am a little biased but I think she is stunning. Her coat is a rich, shiny mahogany and requires very little upkeep. We think she is one in a million. She loves being outdoors, needs a lot of human contact and is a creature of habit. She can be somewhat excitable when she knows she is going outside and will track birds to the point of exhaustion if you allow it. She can be a bit boisterous saying hello with a few barks, but generally is a quiet girl. She thrives on positive attention and her favourite thing to do indoors is scent-work. She has participated in 3 sets of scent detection classes - primarily for socialization and mental stimulation, but she LOVES it. When she is in scent detection mode she will search every place imaginable yet can clearly indicate her "find" in record time. She is so proud of herself when she "finds it" and her favourite reward is a little catnip mouse. We use several of them as they tend to get quite slobbery. Whimsy loves to swim and in the summer spends a good deal of her time tracking birds (and sometimes squirrels), chasing butterflies and swimming in the pond or the river. Her exuberant nature is obvious when she is outdoors. Inside she is cuddly and loving - when she isn't looking out the window for birds! :)
Whimsy went to two Field Training days as a pup and they certainly helped foster her natural instincts as she is quite "birdy" and driven. In spring 2019 we entered Whimsy in a Sprinter event for the first time primarily to expose her to something new. She had a lot of fun and earned her first points in the event. We have been unable to get her into another event since then (they fill fast here) but we are looking forward to attending more Sprinter Events soon so she can earn her Sprinter title. Her first race she started to run towards the photographer at the side of the course thinking it was me which affected her time a bit, but all in all she did well for her first time. By the end of the second run she actually realized she was supposed to chase the lure.
Physically Whimsy has a lovely gait, nice front and self-stack, pretty head and she is very muscular due to her high activity level. She holds her tail beautifully and I love to watch her facing the wind, body alert, tail wagging as she searches for birds. She is tall, but within breed standards, and quite lean. Her ears are stunning! They are so long and nicely set on her head. Her coat is dark and shiny but can be a bit ragged at times because she is always in water, mud and brush. She is not fond of the show ring but we wanted to expose her to many facets of the dog world as we learned. We are still working on proper show grooming and I fear it will take a lot more practice on my end!
When Whimsy came to us as a young puppy she fit in very well with our other dogs, cats and even our chickens. Our neighbour had 2 daschunds and she loved them. I had never shown a dog in Conformation before and I am somewhat shy so the whole show scene was stressful at best. I think I did everything wrong but most of the judges loved her. Their feedback tended to be directed at me telling me to relax or that my stress was affecting her. I was determined to learn however, and we attended handling classes when she was quite young and again when she was one. I felt a lot more confident as a result, and Whimsy was less stressed as well. We don't go to a lot of shows and up until summer 2019 we had only competed against other Irish Setters once (not counting Gwynnie.) Whimsy needs a 2 point win at either breed or group level in order to obtain her Championship. We decided to take the girls to a more competitive show to see how they would do with some competition, give them some exposure and so we could learn a lot more. So we headed to Ontario to the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Dog Association's shows in August, 2019. It was our first time hiring a handler (thank you so much, Noreena Seery) and so well worth it.
Whimsy was entered into 3 Specialties and 2 All-breed shows and the competition was stiff! She placed Second in most of the shows and Fourth in another. We wanted so bad to watch her but she could either see us or smell us whenever we tried to sneak up and watch. That made her less competitive as she was always looking for us. Regardless, she was still very competitive and although she didn't earn her Championship we were thrilled with the results. It was so awesome to see her place second in a field of 13 Irish Setters - most of them quite seasoned to showing. I was certain 2020 would be better for her but the Covid pandemic prevented us from attending any shows in 2020 or 2021. She was bred by artificial insemination in July 2021 and it did not take. We took her to the stud in December 2021 for natural breeding but ended up going the trans-cervical insemination route when things didn't work out as well as planned. The result was 4 lovely puppies - 1 boy and 3 girls. Whimsy was not in optimum condition for showing after giving birth and I was dealing with some health issues of my own so, sadly, I don't think she will see the ring in 2022.
As mentioned above, Whimsy is more vocal than Gwynnie. She will yip and squeal while she is playing (or anticipating playtime) outside and sometimes yips and yaps in glee when she is first let outside for exercise and she runs around the house five times! She is generally not a barker, though. She will bark if a vehicle comes down the driveway and every once in awhile at a strange dog. She barked at some dogs at a dog show (outside of the ring) and I became concerned so we took her to a dog trainer/behavior specialist. After only one session she was much improved. In the second (last) session she was introduced to two "strange" dogs (a Rottweiler mix and a Bull Terrier) as well as a horse. She did not bark and after a few moments she was able to socialize with the other dogs. She was curious and friendly with the horse.
Whimsy loves to cuddle with us but she isn't fond of a lot of physical attention from other people until she gets to know them. If they ignore her it sure doesn't take her long to approach you for some love, though! Part of that is because she is too busy looking for birds. :) She is very bonded with us and our visits to and from pre-Covid family, friends and neighbours. :) She also did not bark or react to any dogs at the 5 days spent at the dog show in Ontario in August 2019. Although it couldn't be helped, she had less socialization as a puppy and it's easy to see. We can't stress enough how important that is to an Irish Setter.
As mentioned above, we were looking forward to working towards the two point win she needed for her Championship in 2020 or 2021 but Covid-19 happened and we were not able to attend any events. It's difficult when Gwynnie is usually her only competition, but we'll get there eventually! As things began to open up in our Atlantic "bubble" in late summer 2020, we took Whimsy to a Scent Detection refresher (mainly for socialization) followed by her first try at Dock-Diving!!!! What fun! Whimsy wasn't hesitant at all. She made a lovely dive off the dock her first try and many more off the ramp. This is something we will definitely pursue with our Irish Setters! Everyone should give it a try!
By the way, be sure to keep watching our News and Puppies pages. ;)