When I talked my hubby into getting himself a dog, I knew I wanted a proper doggy dogg.
I don’t much care for those mini handbag ones. They either incessantly yap with aggression or quiver on spindly legs at the sight of passing leaves.
However if you’re picking up after your dog like a good citizen then they do have one redeeming feature.
So as cute as they appear in the case of mini and toy dogs all Pekinese, Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terriers and Jack Russell types were unfortunately excluded from the selection process.
We also preferred not to have one that walked around with it’s tail permanently sticking up winking at everyone. This eliminated breeds like Boxers, Labradors and Pinchers but that still left plenty others to choose from.
As we were actually looking through a dog book at the time, we became aware of a section outlining features such as “likes to bark”. German Shepherds, my favourite, love barking. They also suffer with hip problems and as health issues were taken into account they too were sadly ruled out.
I quite liked dogs with long ears like Cocker Spaniels and sweeping tails like Golden Retrievers. We came upon the Setters page, English, Irish & ones from Scotland that were called Gordon Setters. The latter, being more robust and less timid of all the Setters. I reckoned them the most handsome also.
“Loves water” another massive plus point.
Sounded perfect. I thought it would be cool to have an action dog.
The American Kennel Club describes the Gordon Setter temperament as “alert, interested, and confident. He is fearless and willing, intelligent, and capable. He is loyal and affectionate, and strong-minded… Gordons are intensely loyal to their owners; thrive in an attentive, loving environment”
I found a beautiful sounding name. I wanted something with meaning so chose Asherah, she who walks in water. “Lady Asherah of the Sea.” A female deity worshiped in ancient Syria, Phoenicia (never heard) and Canaan.
I was determined to do everything correctly and vowed not to be one of those owners that neglect walks or her needs. I decided toilet & walkies would remain separate affairs. I’d seen enough frustrated owners yank the line of a dog that knows, once it’s dropped it’s load then it’s off home.
A special area at the far end of the garden was created. I can simply open the back door and say “Toilet!” adding “… ALL the way” as she tends to try it on, especially when rainy.
Very intelligent she learned the meaning of TOILET quickly, as a cat does a litter-tray. Walks came later in the morning. She always tries to save her number two’s for the walk , as she doesn’t like to poo in her area if I haven’t picked up in a while. She’s not keen on inclement weather and knows her own mind. Sometimes on those cold wet wintery days whilst out it is she that turns straight for home after a doing her business. I don’t complain, I simply comply.
We’re like sisters, sometimes we bicker. She thinks she’s the boss.
Whenever I taught her a new command, she demonstrated immediately she understood by showing me. Whether it was jumping, fetching or searching she was very capable.
Although I NEVER taught her yawning. Now when I give her an order she simply yawns to show her displeasure and does something else.
When she was young I could trick her with reverse psycho stuff. To get her off my chair, I changed my commanded for her to go to bed, then she’s get down and walk to the kitchen. Unless I really order her strongly, I mean like proper. She’ll ignore me.
She ALWAYS understands urgency in my voice and ALWAYS obeys when it really counts. Like being chased by cows. WE hate cows. They smell beef on us.
This is the only indication I get that I’m the mummy and not the other way around. Plus I made a concerted effort to go a bit over the top with fuss when she hurt herself. My plan was so she would run straight to me when in a panic or in pain. That worked well.
I also feel like a parent when I end up apologising for her arrogant rudeness. It really is embarrassing. People see her and praise her looks, reach out to pet her. She totally blanks them without breaking her diva strut and I’m left making excuses.
It is said that whilst you might be judging a Gordon Setter, they have already made up their minds up about you.
One thing I did right: I took her to watch a fireworks display when very young now she barely acknowledges them and isn’t at all afraid.
What I did wrong: I didn’t leave her with a trusted friend for the odd night as a pup. She as spent (almost) all her life just five paces away.
If I leave her at home I tell her “Mummy Shops.” Always the exact same words in the exact same tone. Sometimes it’s “Ashy, Mummy Shops” then we walk there together. I know for sure she knows what that means. I can also say it when I’m off out on the razz.
PLEASE REMEMBER dogs are pack animals and need EXTRA training so they don’t stress out when left alone.
Our girl is nothing like we expected despite all the research, she doesn’t even like swimming. She does however walk in water and is totally worshipped by us.
She is our family.