1st April 2004 – 24th February 2014
Sire: Barleydale Rondo
Dam: Anlory Minervois
Breeders: Mr N. C. Naylor & Miss J. Morrison (KCAB)
Owners: Sqn. Ldr. & Mrs A. E. Colman
We had to say goodbye to our previous Irish Setter – a dear elderly boy we called Flash (Twoacres Flashman), due to nasal cancer on 28th November 2008. At that time we had already shown, bred and shared our homes with Irish Setters for around 35 years and knew that we wouldn’t be happy without another one. Luckily, due to a marital problem affecting the owners, we were quickly offered a 4 year old dog called Juno and, having seen his picture, we knew that Juno was a fine and very handsome example of the ‘Show’ side of the breed and that there was little doubt that we would have him. With that in mind we set off to look him over having pre-arranged that, all being well, we would bring him straight home with us. As it turned out, as soon as he appeared and ran to us, tail wagging, we knew we had found another Setter companion. That feeling was confirmed when he jumped, unbidden, straight into the back of our Volvo and laid down. There he remained until we had driven him back to our home here in West Sussex. This was the 6th December 2008. Throughout the journey he didn’t make a sound or jump about – and that was the way it was always going to be – he loved car journeys, but the only emotion he ever showed was excitement when we returned home and he could rush indoors ahead of us.
Like all the Irish we have known, Juno loved his twice-daily ‘walkies’. He proved to be totally trustworthy off the lead, our only concern was that he invariably tore off into the distance as soon as he was released, but would shortly wait for us to catch up, especially if there was a fork in the path and he was uncertain which way we intended to go. Thereafter, he would stay quite close and well within bidding distance. He walked round mud and puddles, ignored stretches of open water, took no notice whatever of horses, people, cats, game, or squirrels, but was fascinated by other dogs – apart from jumping ankle biters that he looked down on with disdain – and other dogs if they appeared belligerent, in which case he would give them a very wide berth. At the end of the walk, a call of ‘Wait’ was all that was ever necessary in order to put him on the lead again. On the lead he walked calmly beside you and didn’t ‘pull’ like some of his predecessors. However, unlike our previous Setters, he had no interest whatever in ‘play’. Soft toys, balls or sticks were of no interest to him – the only things that would get him up to speed, were hide chews or pieces of Tripe Stick – he would run to retrieve those and then eat them – quickly!
In the house he was equally well behaved, although that amply-feathered tail was very dangerous to ornaments – and food and drink – on any low cupboard or table! Around food he was absolutely safe – although he particularly loved cake, he never stole anything. Juno’s object in life was just to be with you – he was the most loving dog we have ever owned. He would follow one or the other of us wherever we went and would then lay on, or very near, your feet. That was, unless you sat down on a comfortable chair or sofa – then the 40Kg Juno would climb carefully onto your lap, or take up the spare seat beside you on the sofa. Once in position he would go straight to sleep! If he ever wanted anything he had a way of telling you – standing and looking intently at you until you started to ask him what he wanted. As soon as you mentioned the right thing – ‘Drink’ – or ‘Go Out’ (or ‘Dinner’!) he would wag his tail and dash to the door. The same at night – on those very rare occasions when he needed to heed a call of nature, he would come up close to you and stand with both front feet on the bed looking down on you. Once again, as soon as you suggested the right thing he was off thundering down the stairs to wait by the garden door.
In a public house or restaurant he was equally well behaved, quietly positioning himself under the table or in a corner. Once settled he would remain, peaceful and quiet, until you stood up to leave. Needless to say, this benign behaviour made him very popular with friends and relatives and we soon found we could take him anywhere. That was just as well, because Juno hated being left at home – he always appeared to understand what you were talking about and would position himself by the front door so that you couldn’t get out without moving him. Actually, that suited us fine. He was only left alone for three brief periods during the entire five years that he lived with us – we just loved having him along. He was part of the family.
Juno was a fundamentally healthy dog. He rarely needed any sort of medication. His nose was permanently ice cold, his coat gleamed and his eyes sparkled. He was universally admired. It was therefore with little initial concern that we spotted that he had a slight limp when out walking in the middle of February this year. Initially we thought he might have bruised himself jumping into the back of the car, or have a thorn in a pad – or even an interdigital cyst, but we could find nothing. After three days we thought it seemed to be getting worse and arranged to take him to our vet (although he still dashed about on his walks, jumped into and out of the car and tore upstairs and downstairs in the house). After quite a search the vet suddenly said – “feel this – it isn’t the same on the other side”. Juno had a small hard lump on his right shoulder. We were advised to watch how things went for a week and if he got worse to take him back for an X-ray. On 24th February, with the shoulder lump now much bigger and his limp so bad that he was almost incapacitated, we took him for the X-ray. That required Juno to be given a sedative and the vet suggested that we went home and he would call us when the job was done. When the call came we were shown an X-ray plate of Juno’s right shoulder that showed a large growth on the bone which was in such a position that it restricted the mobility of the joint. The vet gravely advised that poor Juno had Osteosarcoma of the right shoulder. This, he said, was a most aggressive and untreatable form of cancer which, even if he amputated Juno’s entire shoulder and right front leg, would assuredly return again within three months. He recommended euthanasia.
In our many years of Setter ownership we have been forced to confront this dreadful decision several times, but never have we had to agree to destroy such a young and outwardly healthy dog. He wagged his tail as we tearfully said goodbye. His eyes gleamed and his coat shone as the vet performed the final procedure. He went peacefully, but it has left us heartbroken. He was certainly the best behaved, most affectionate – and probably the finest Irish Setter – that we have ever shared our home with. That beautiful dog really loved us – and we loved him so. This big old house is empty without him.