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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

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St. Patrick’s Day will soon be here, and it’s time to think green and to look for those lucky little leprechauns.

There is a good chance that if you live in southeast Nebraska, you have more German or Czech blood in your DNA than Irish, but on St. Patrick’s Day, we all claim to be from the Emerald Isle.

As we take a little time around March 17 to think about all things Irish, we may as well think about a couple of the country’s dog breeds. One of the most beautiful canines is the Irish Setter. The solid red Setter first appeared in Ireland in the 19th century and was one of the first nine breeds registered with the American Kennel Club in 1878.

According to the AKC, a setter is a type of dog bred to locate gamebirds by using its keen sense of smell. “Irish huntsman of the 1800s bred their sleek, rangy Red Setters to move freely and swiftly over the wide, flat countryside of the Emerald Isle.”

Famous setters and hounds

Eleven Irish Setters have won the Sporting Group competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Show over the years. AKC notes that “the most famous Irish Setter of all time was fictional – the title character of Jim Kjelgaard’s 1945 novel Big Red.”

President Richard Nixon’s Irish Setter, King Timahoe, was named for a small town in Ireland that was the homeland of the President’s ancestors, and Ronald Reagan had an Irish Setter named Peggy.

Another beautiful dog of Ireland is the Irish Wolfhound – also known as a gentle giant. Because of its size and presence, this handsome beast has inspired literature, poetry, and mythology.

According to Wikipedia, the AKC considers the Irish Wolfhound to be the tallest of all dog breeds and claims it is remarkable in combining power and swiftness with keen sight. “As a sighthound, this breed was bred for long solitary hunts based solely on the dog’s ability to visualize its landscape.”

Irish Wolfhounds are often favored for their loyalty, affection, patience, and devotion. And interestingly, the breed is usually unreliable as a watchdog of property as they are often friendly toward strangers. Their size, however, just might be a deterrent.

When a wolfhound senses that its human is in danger, it’s a different story. They display a fearless nature and seem to sense when ill-will or malicious intentions are directed toward their companion.

President Herbert Hoover’s wife, Lou, had three Irish Wolfhounds, but none of them worked out well for the family. One died shortly after arriving at the White House, one was unusually shy and was returned to the woman who gave it to Mrs. Hoover, and one bit a Marine guard and was given to a soldier. President John F. Kennedy’s family also had a wolfhound named Wolf.

Other Irish breeds that have their roots in the land of the leprechauns include the soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, the Kerry Blue Terrier, and the Irish Terrier. All are handsome, and all will undoubtedly claim that they will bring you “the luck of the Irish."

Spring cleaning

Yes, March brings St. Patrick’s Day, the start of daylight savings time, March Madness, and, for some, spring cleaning. Although it strikes fear and dread in the hearts of many, for the neatniks among us, it is a welcome process.

Did you know that your canine companion needs a little spring cleaning too? Our dog trivia calendar had a recent page with some spring cleaning tips for Fido such as “When you’re cleaning your house this spring, don’t forget to pay attention to your pup.”

Suggestions include to scrub food and water bowls with warm water, wash his bed and toys, trim back any overgrown areas in the yard where he likes to play, and give him a little spruce-up as well by brushing his teeth and fur with extra care. Remember, too, to keep nails trimmed. And don’t forget to check your supply of heartworm preventative – mosquitoes will be here before you know it.

Winter will undoubtedly make at least one more appearance, but we can plan ahead to help our canine companions to have a wonderful Spring.

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