The Joker In The Pack

Joker, whose pet name was Flynn, was not my first Irish Setter, but he was my first show dog. Having lots of ‘true Irish spirit’ and being quite an exuberant dog, I found him rather difficult to handle, as he was always very quick to take advantage of the fact, that, not only am I rather small, or vertically challenged, as some might say, but I didn’t know what I was doing either! At home he very quickly became known as ‘Hooley O’Flynn’ for obvious reasons.

We were both trying to learn together – no easy task for someone as small as myself, with such a high spirited dog. He always seemd intent on living up to his Kennel Name of Twoacres Joker The Hooley, seemingly seeing it as his sole responsibility to entertain the ringside at every show. What a good job I have a sense of humour!

Flynn matured into a handsome boy, with a beautiful mahogany coat, a marcel wave on his head and many engaging ways. His favourite hobby was sitting on the seat in the lounge window, watching the world go by. He took great delight in barking at strange objects, such as ladders and umbrellas, putting his heart and soul into every bark, especially when all was quiet, or I was just falling asleep! The love of his life was his ‘Grandad’, my father, who he idolised, following him everywhere.

Flynn was, by nature, a very stubborn dog, often being so single minded that he could not be diverted from what he wanted to do, no matter which method was employed! He actually managed to attain his Kennel CLub Good Citizen Bronze & Silver Awards, but to this day, it remains a total mystery quite how he managed to do it. I can only assume that he must have been having an off day, as it was totally out of character for him to be obedient. I have also learnt to my cost, that he could be extremely devious, having a particular passion for teddy bears, stealing them on a regular basis and also for sneaking upstairs, only to leave the bed in a large, messy heap, mine, not his!

As Flyn’s main objective in lfe was to please himself, showing him was always entertaining……for other people. For me, it was quite nerve wracking, as I never knew from one minute to the next, what he would do, or how he would behave. Even as a veteran, nothing much changed on that score. He still had the ability to make me break out in a sweat at the mere thought of having to show him! I can count on the fingers of one hand, how many times he managed to behave himself in the ring, during his show career. The following is a story about one of his many escapades.

On this particular day, we had been showing for about a year and Flynn was absolutely full of mischief from the minute he woke up, si I knew I was to have a difficult day. When we arrived at the Open SHow we had entered, it was to discover that he was the only dog in a class of seven bitches. One of them was eother in season, just finishing, or just coming in, because he went beserk!!!! Usually, on meeting a bitch, he became very excited, bashing with his paws, sniffing a great deal and wanting to play. But this time, he just grabbed hold of her and tried to mount her without any preamble. Then he tried to do the same to every bitch that walked past him. He was almost beside himself with excitement and had never behaved like this before.

Once in the ring, he didn’t know where to start, as he realised that he was surrounded by bitches. I struggled to control him as we waited our turn, but when it came, trotting down the mat was a nightmare, as we had to move so close to the bitches, due to the small size of the ring. Every time he came alongside this particular bitch,he broke his stride, did a little dance and cried loudly. VERY LOUDLY! Eventually, after four or five attempts, just when I was on the verge of giving up, he managed to concentrate long enough to succeed and the judge was patient enough to wait for him. It was obvious when she went over him that she liked him, but I thought that with all his naughtiness, he had thrown it away. To my delight, the judge gave him second place and the ‘love of his life’ came first.

However, he wasn’t content with that. Once out of the ring, much to my dismay, we were seated next to the same bitch, as her owners had positioned themselves next to my things without me realising. He cavorted around so much that he managed to somehow, get one leg inside my showbag. As he pulled his leg back out, he also pulled out a full pot of liver tablets – 250 in all! I had just removed the lid and it shot through the air, scattering them all over the floor and into the ring. Needless to say, there was utter chaos. The dogs in the ring, ready for the next class, were waiting to be given their ring numbers. As the liver tablets shot through the air, so the dogs shot across the ring, all diving frantically for the liver tablets, followed at speed by their owners, who struggled valiently to hang onto their dogs and stay upright.

Meanwhile, as I struggled to hold onto Flynn and pick everything up, my Mother attempted to help me and was promptly bashed in the face by Flynn’s flailing legs, as he jumped up in excitement to say hello. This sent her new and very expensive spectacles, flying off the end of her nose and through the air. There then followed a minor tussle, between Flynn and myself, as I tried desperately to retrieve them before he stood on them! Whenmy Mother put them back on her face, they were, of course, very cock-eyed and as she had only collected them from the optician’s a few days previously, both our names were mud! I was by this time, the colour of my jumper – pillar box red – but Flynn looked extremely pleased with himself, having yet again, caused quite a stir, but for all the wrong reasons!! As far as Flynn was concerned, when he went to shows he was there to entertain everyone. The more they laughed at him, the worse he became, really playing to the crowd, showing his true Irish spirit and fully living up to his name of Twoacres Joker The Hooley.

He really was the Joker In The Pack.

© 2008 Michelle Webster

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