About us

Early dogs: companions and obedience

Gail and John’s involvement with Irish Setters began in 1969. At the time they picked up their first puppy—a large male named Sean with field and bench heritage—they could not have predicted how their involvement with dogs would continue and evolve into what it is today. Gail and John were initially attracted to the breed because of its beauty and fond memories of Irish Setters they had known when they were kids.

Like many Irish of the 1970s, the first Irish Setter was a training challenge. Sean had beauty, brawn, brains, and inexperienced owners. Sean took full advantage, and his legend lives on in stories of eyeglasses deliberately thrown in toilets, unrolling of toilet paper, and all manner of projects the uncrated Sean developed to amuse himself while his owners were away at work. Had we known then what we know now, he would have been a better trained dog.

Our earliest dogs were companions. In 1976 we ventured into the obedience ring for the first time, and earned our first Companion Dog (CD) title.

The foundation of Anamacara

Like many folks who have spent a long time in the world of dogs, we have learned many lessons—sometimes the hard way. We started over many times before finally obtaining a bitch that had the conformational quality, health clearances, and temperament that we wanted.

Our first attempt at a show dog was a failure. In the 1980’s we bought a bitch to show in the conformation ring. She was not, in fact, a show quality animal. Undeterred, we bought a second show bitch, which also turned out to be a conformational disappointment, but a lovely pet. Our third show bitch had some limited success. Our fourth bitch was also a disappointment.

Although the wins with these dogs were fewer than we would have liked, we learned to groom, train, and handle for the ring. These early show bitches did not earn AKC Championship titles, but we learned from them—most importantly why they did not win. We objectively evaluated these bitches’ qualities—their structure, temperament, health, breed type. We continued to learn more about the breed, its history, pedigrees, and the bloodlines that produced attributes we admired. We decided that in order to produce the quality of puppies we desired, we needed a better bitch.

Then after an 18 month wait for a puppy, we got Dana as a 10 week old puppy from a long-time breeder. This was indeed a show puppy. She was well built, had a sweet and trainable disposition, and passed health clearances. She earned titles in both the breed and conformation ring completely owner trained and handled. Dana became the foundation of Anamacara, producing multiple AKC and UKC Champions, obedience titled offspring, and trainable field dogs. All of our dogs are descended from this wonderful bitch.


Anamacara now

Through careful selection, we have maintained the movement and structure we prize as well as improved the overall quality of each generation.

We are five generations beyond Dana. Her daughter Aine, granddaughters (Bevin, Eva) and great granddaughters (Teagan, Caireen, Callie) who are next in line to carry the Anamacara name forward. From among our champions and titled dogs, we select only the best for future breeding.