In 1976 I went to the local shelter and saw a 3-5 year old female Irish Setter. Because my spouse liked Irish Setters, I took “Whiskey” home with me that same day, July 4, 1976. Initially Whiskey was lovely. At the shelter, that is. Soon after, I was on our front lawn with Whiskey when my husband and his friend came home. Whiskey lunged at them with intent to do bodily harm. Somehow we struggled through this without anyone being hurt, but it was frightening and exhausting to see this dog in action.
Inside our home, it became apparent that Whiskey was not housebroken.
She jumped on us and our visitors, she got in the garbage, she was extremely high energy and if I did something she disapproved of, she bit me.
She was 60 pounds of power and she pulled me around the block as I struggled to hang on. When she got away from me she ran as far and as fast as she could.
I really wanted to get rid of this horror but my husband wouldn’t hear of it. So, I went to the phone book (no internet in 1976).
I heard many negative comments from “dog trainers” who said “No, she’s too old”. “No, she’s an Irish Setter and they are stupid, can’t be trained. They always run away”. “No, she bites”. “No, she’s a shelter dog” and on and on. I did not give up, though, and I found a group of dog lovers who “specialized in rehabilitating problem behaviors in dogs”.
Mentoring and inspiring the group was William R. Koehler, head animal trainer for Walt Disney Studios for more than 25 years
After one session with one of their instructors, Whiskey was a new and different, controllable dog. In September, I attended a 10 week course in a classroom situation and graduated, and shortly after that graduation, I showed Whiskey in American Kennel Club obedience trials, with scores in the 190’s out of a possible 200 perfect score, to earn her Companion Dog degree. She went on in obedience to earn her Utility Dog degree in 3 straight shows, with scores in the 190’s.