Wide and diverse is probably the easiest way to sum up my experience within the canine world! It would be impossible to include everything here so I will just stick to a very potted version.
I award Challenge Certificates in Gordon Setters and have judged at this level many times throughout the UK. International judging appointments include the Gordon Setter Club of New South Wales Championship show in Australia. I served on a Gordon Setter breed club committee for over ten years undertaking several tasks including the role of Secretary. Other duties undertaken were performing the role of Newsletter Editor; I also instigated and single handedly produced another publication, a Results Book detailing full Gordon Setter breed results at all UK championship shows. This incorporated copies of critiques as published. I also served as a member of the initial Gordon Setter Breed Council committee.
For many years I reported on general championship shows on a freelance basis for Dog World, a very popular weekly newspaper with a large circulation. This enabled me to gain a fairly thorough insight into general championship shows; I have also written a number of articles, many of which were included in Dog World and various breed publications – a handful are reproduced on this site, check under ‘Articles’. Towards the end of 2013, personal circumstances coupled with other business commitments meant I was no longer able to undertake work in that capacity. Sadly, after more than a century of publication, Dog World ceased trading in June 2017: publication abruptly stopped; all records were destroyed; and the website, which contained an enormous amount of historical data, was obliterated.
Our first Irish Setter joined our household courtesy of my father-in-law and, as is often the case, it wasn’t long before someone told me I should show him, which we did in a very small way. Later on we had two sons of Show Champion Glendronach Girl. One of these, ‘Derry’ was not shown, dying very young as the result of the dreaded bloat. His brother ‘Kyle’ did gain a Stud Book number. My first Irish Setter bitch came from Jean Quinn, Wickenberry Enchantress, ‘Shelley’.
Many years later Ronnie constantly admired Jean’s Gordon Setter, Carek Hattie-Brown at Wickenberry, ‘Hattie’. When she had a litter sired by a young dog that I had admired, Maureen Justice’s Lourdace Mineer of Liric, ‘Welly’, Jean let us have a bitch. So Wickenberry Mystique, ‘Misty’, came to us and proved a tremendous foundation in Gordons.
As we have got older, we wanted something a little bit smaller than the Gordons. I had always admired John Thirlwell’s (Ferndel) Welsh Springer Spaniels and after waiting patiently we eventually got Ferndel Philosopher at Shannas, ‘Danny’.
We do not keep a large number of dogs and do not have many litters, only breeding when we want something for ourselves. Our bitches only have one or possibly two litters. Despite this very small number of litters we were Top Breeders in Gordon Setters in 2001 and again in 2002. All of our dogs go through all the relevant health tests recommended for the breed. More detail of the individual dogs can be found elsewhere within these pages.
The Kennel Club invited me to judge Gordons at Crufts in March 2020. A great honour and privilege, it was an appointment I very much looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed.