When asked if she is a cat or dog person, Paula Rausch of Big Stone City never hesitates to answer. Paula loves dogs! Irish... Paula Rausch’s Passion for Showing Dogs Takes Her to Florida

When asked if she is a cat or dog person, Paula Rausch of Big Stone City never hesitates to answer. Paula loves dogs! Irish Setters in particular. Tomorrow, December 15, she and her twelve-year-old Irish Setter, Theo, will be in Orlando, Florida to compete in the American Kennel Club (AKC) National Owner-Handler Series Championship. Only the top 10 dogs in each breed are invited to the championship.

The trip is a celebration for both. “I turned 60 this week,” Paula said. “Theo is in his prime, so what better time than now.”

Paula and Theo began attending shows in the summer of 2006 when Theo was just six months old. This year, the duo earned 340 AKC points and an invitation to compete in the national championship. Paula and Theo qualified three of the last four years, but this will be their first appearance. They rank fifth in the standings, their highest ever.

When asked,” Why Irish Setters?” Paula says she originally wanted a Golden Retriever. “But there were so many retrievers, that I decided I wanted a breed that was more unique. I always loved the look of Irish Setters and since I’m Irish, I thought it would be a great fit.”

She looked online for breeders and then decided to go to a dog show. She connected with Pam Seipkes of Windwood Irish Setters in Staples, Minnesota, and Pam’s partner, Cathy Twistol from Golden T Golden Retriever in Aiken, Minnesota. Our first breeding did not produce a litter, so I patiently waited for the next opportunity.”

Hogan, Paula’s first Irish Setter, was born on October 25, 2005. His registered name is CH Windwood A Fine Madness. “The litter names contain a Sean Connery movie, because the father was Windwood Hunt for Red October,” Paula said. “His call name was Hogan and it was love at first sight.”

According to Paula, Hogan was her most talented dog. “Unfortunately, he developed osteosarcoma at six and a half years old and died within a month of his diagnosis. He will forever be my heart dog. He could show himself. If someone wanted to show for the first time, he was our guy.”

Jet was Paula’s next Irish Setter. His registered name is CH Canadian Windwood Showbird, after the Canadian version of the Blue Angels. Jet was born in Canada, and Paula took him home at five months of age. “He is very birdy and hard on his body. He loves chasing the bird shadows as long as I will let him.”

Paula next chose Castle. He was born in January 2011. “He is very large and had a bad habit of opening the storm door with his nose.” Because of that repeated pressure on his mouth, he has a crooked wry bite. “It developed over the course of time, and because his jaws calcified late, he did permanent damage to the alignment.” Castle is major-pointed in dog show standings, but will not be a champion,” she said. “We will do smart dog things like rally and barn hunt, but that’s as far as we can go with him.

After losing Hogan, Paula always dreamed of a Hogan clone. She got the next best thing. Hogan’s littermate, Arria, gave birth to a litter. “Due to complications during the gestation, only two puppies survived – one boy and one girl. Pam, my breeder, told me to pray that it was a good boy. And he (Theo) is!”

Theo’s name means Gift from God. His registered name is GChB. Windwood Northern Sun. Theo is a spitting image of Hogan, right down to his expression, but Paula says he acts nothing like him. “Theo is a diva!”

Theo attained his Championship when he was very young, but Paula continues to show him. He achieved his Grand Championship, has 100+ points and holds the title of Grand Champion Bronze.

She says Irish Setters are high maintenance, especially during shows. At home, they still require regular attention. “My dogs get baths once a week. I brush them every day to get the undercoat out, which keeps them shiny and sleek. And I trim their ears and neck while keeping their whiskers long.”

Paula taught herself to show and groom her dogs. “I learned by asking questions, buying several books on conformation dog showing, watching videos, and lots of practice. It’s not as easy to get a dog to run in a small ring always turning left.” She learned how to groom from her groomer and handler, Yvonne Norton from Canada. “She learned from the best! I have met the top handlers in the nation thanks to Yvonne.

Paula also spends time on basic handling instructions to insure Theo stays in memory shape for his shows. “I simply put him in a stance at least once a day and make him hold it for a few minutes, just so he keeps that in memory.

Paula also plans to attend the Irish Setters National Championship show in Ohio in June. “I will continue to show and hope to eventually, someday, get a Theo puppy.”

Right now, the duo has to focus on an important day in Orlando. Let’s all paws for a moment and wish them Good Luck!

Click here to see Paula’s photo album!

Staff Writer

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