A woman’s love for her dogs

Pla­cen­tia’s Sheila Flynn blends her pas­sion for English Set­ters with home­town pride

The Compass - - NEWS - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY danette@nl.rogers.com

It’s not un­usual for those in the Pla­cen­tia area to see Sheila and Pat Flynn walk­ing their English Set­ters. What people may not know, how­ever, is that while the cou­ple may have two dogs with them on leashes, there are an­other seven of the same breed wait­ing to wel­come them at home.

“Right now there’s one in the kitchen, one in the hall, a cou­ple in the laun­dry room area and the rest are down sit­ting around the ch­ester­field or in the chairs,” Sheila Flynn said dur­ing a re­cent tele­phone in­ter­view.

Flynn’s youngest dog is 17 months old. Her old­est pooch is head­ing for 12. They are all blue bel­ton and or­ange bel­ton English Set­ters, and many have distin­guished them­selves at dog shows through­out Canada.

The breed is one she’s been fa­mil­iar with since child­hood.

“I grew up with set­ters. My dad (noted busi­ness­man and long­time Pla­cen­tia mayor Leonard Miller, now de­ceased) had a Gor­don and an English and when we were mar­ried we had an English. When I lost him I had a res­cue English. Then, she was get­ting older when I saw an ad in the paper for an English Set­ter out of Nova Sco­tia. She was show qual­ity and, in the back of my mind, I knew that was some­thing I’d al­ways like to do.”

A home­town am­bas­sador

Flynn started en­ter­ing her dogs in shows in 1994. In 1996, she es­tab­lished a Cana­dian Ken­nel Club (CKC)-reg­is­tered fam­ily ken­nel called Plai­sance and be­gan breed­ing English Set­ters.

On her web­site ( www.plai­sanceenglish­set­ters.com) Flynn ed­u­cates view­ers about not only her dogs but also her home­town and its orig­i­nal name.

A small town lo­cated on the Avalon Penin­sula of the is­land por­tion of New­found­land and Labrador, Pla- cen­tia was set­tled by the French in 1662.

Orig­i­nally named Plai­sance, it served as the French cap­i­tal un­til ceded to the English in 1713.

“The French name for Pla­cen­tia — Plai­sance, mean­ing a pleas­ant place — gave me the in­spi­ra­tion for my ken­nel name,” she writes.

Flynn’s dogs have won over a dozen com­pe­ti­tions. All have na­tional spe­cialty wins. Flynn’s name is rec­og­nized in com­pet­i­tive cir­cles through­out the prov­ince and across Canada.

Alexan­der, (Alex) who has since passed away, was her first home­bred “Best in Show” win­ner, her first Amer­i­can cham­pion and first in­ter­na­tional cham­pion. Alex was also first to at­tain a Ca­nine Good Neigh­bour ti­tle, she said.

“And he was the first English Set­ter to fin­ish what was then (2009) the Cana­dian Grand Cham­pi­onship ti­tle,” Flynn said.

Flynn’s puppy Joy took top English Set­ter puppy in Canada in 2013.

A ver­sa­tile dog

How­ever, her dogs are not only for show. They also make great hunters.

Her first show dog Blos­som came to the fam­ily in 1994.

“One day in late March, I was look­ing out the win­dow and no­ticed her stand­ing very still. When I went out to her, she was point­ing a Mourn­ing Dove that was on the ground in the gar­den. The dove came a cou­ple of times a day for the next six weeks and Blos­som al­ways stood and pointed the bird.”

Flynn and her hus­band took the dog hunt­ing in the spring.

“She would al­most be telling you to hurry up in the car when we went hunt­ing. I would spray her coat heav­ily with a pro­tec­tant as I was still show­ing her and we spent many days in the coun­try with her.”

While birds were scarce at the time, Flynn said, Blos­som had no prob­lems fol­low­ing the scent to the birds.

“And when she found the birds, she was staunch on point, never mov­ing, wait­ing for you to come. I shot my first Par­tridge over her,” she said.

A mat­ter of health

All of the set­ters in her breed­ing pro­gram have Or­tho­pe­dic Foun­da­tion for An­i­mals (OFA) clear­ances for their hips and el­bows and are also cer­ti­fied to have nor­mal hear­ing.

“The dogs I own have their teeth brushed ev­ery day and my eleven-and-a-half-year-old dog still has her skirt and fur­nish­ings,” Flynn said, re­fer­ring to the way she continues to keep the dog groomed.

She also has her own word­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with her an­i­mals.

“Most people use ‘shake’ for a dog to shake hands but I use that word when the dog is in the bath­tub to shake be­fore he gets out of the tub. And if I’m ask­ing for her paw, I’ll say, ‘Give me five.’”

While she en­joys show­ing her dogs all over the coun­try and is look­ing for­ward to a show in St. John’s in March, the ma­jor­ity of dogs that leave her home are sold as fam­ily pets.

They sell for about $1,400 each, but Flynn stresses that she is not run­ning a busi­ness. Her costs far out­weigh any money she earns in sales.

“We could take a very good cruise for the money we in­vest each year into our dogs,” noted Flynn, who owns and op­er­ates a beauty sa­lon.

Her love for dogs is un­mis­tak­able, and is ev­i­denced be­fore a vis­i­tor steps foot in­side their home. The wel­come mat fea­tures an im­age of a Set­ter, and in­side, the walls, shelves, ta­ble-tops and more are dec­o­rated with pho­tos, books, fig­urines and other ca­nine-themed trin­kets.

Flynn, who is mem­ber­ship chair and trea­surer of the English Set­ter Club of Canada, ded­i­cates a lot of time — up to three hours each day — and money to her dogs. Their se­cure back­yard of­fers plenty of space for ex­er­cise, pro­tec­tion and so­cial­iz­ing.

And it’s not all fun and en­joy­ment. At least twice a day, she em­barks on a poop-scoop mis­sion. But she loves ev­ery minute of it. “I don’t smoke. The time some­body else puts into go­ing out to bingo or par­ty­ing, I put into my dogs. I re­ally en­joy them.”

Pho­tos by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Sheila Flynn of Pla­cen­tia is pic­tured here with Ca­ree, her 11-year-old English Set­ter. Ca­ree is now in her twi­light years, but Sheila’s “Diva Girl” has had a distin­guished ca­reer on the com­pet­i­tive dog show cir­cuit. Sheila is the proud owner of nine Set­ters.

Sheila Flynn of­fers up some wel­comed treats to her English Set­ters.

Best-in-show win­ner Fil poses with owner Sheila Flynn.

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