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The Irish Setter Club of Colorado, Inc. was first organized in 1963, but interest in Irish Setters had long been in evidence in the area. In a state with such great natural beauty in its mountains and forests, with such an abundance of wildlife and game birds, the combined qualities of beauty and birdiness that the Irish Setter had been bred for were much sought after, and the breed had many local fanciers.

On May 18, 1963 the first election of officers was held, and the Charter members then worked diligently on the Constitution and Bylaws until on May 5, 1965, the Club received official AKC approval to become known as the Irish Setter Club of Colorado.

During the first years of the Club, meetings were held in members’ homes, meeting halls and such, and usually involved a pot luck dinner. Programs were generally educational, consisting of Veterinary speakers, grooming clinics, and informative training sessions for conformation, obedience, and field events. A yearly tattoo clinic was held, and for many years the Club conducted both obedience and conformation classes, as well as Sanctioned Matches for Irish Setters.

The Club’s first Breed and Obedience Match was held November 29, 1964, and additional matches were held until 1967, thus paving the way for our first Licensed Specialty Show which was held on April 27, 1968. Total entries at our first show numbered 76 in breed and 16 in obedience, and these early shows were held in conjunction with the Denver Association for Allied Specialty Shows. In 1971, ISCC began to hold 2 Specialty Shows each year, and in 1975 ISCC began holding its 2 Specialties independently. 1974 saw the ISCC hosting the Region IV Specialty for the Irish Setter Club of America. 10 years later, in 1984, the ISCC hosted the 12th National Specialty Show for I.S.C.A., which was held in Denver at the Loretto Heights College grounds.

As the membership grew to include many outside the greater Denver area, more local indoor training facilities opened and became convenient for those actively training and competing, so club training classes were no longer held. Continued interest in obedience training was supported by Club events, and for a number of years, 2 Obedience Trials were held each year, in conjunction with our 2 Specialty Shows. In more recent years, Obedience Trials were held with the outdoor summer Specialty only, as overall breed numbers declined from the highs of the 1960s and 70s.

Field activities have been a regular part of the Club program since 1963 and the First Sanctioned Trial was held September 5, 1965. The interest in field work, trials, and hunting tests has continued to the present day, although by a smaller portion of the membership. Because of the dedication of these few, the dogs owned by ISCC members have maintained a high degree of competition at All Breed Field Trials, as well as at the 2 ISCC Field Trials and 2 ISCA Member Trials held each year. ISCC members’ dogs regularly compete and place at the ISCA National Field Trial, and ISCC hosted the National Field Trial in 1978 at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

For the last 20 years or so, a yearly Tri-Setter Match has been held with the cooperation and participation of the English Setter Club of Greater Denver and the High Plains Gordon Setter Club, since there are many Irish fanciers who also own other Setter breeds. The match has conformation classes for all Setter breeds and obedience classes for all Sporting group breeds, and all 3 clubs usually have picnics and meetings that follow. As another annual event for fund raising purposes, the ISCC hosts a large All Breed fun match in January with both obedience and conformation classes. Fund raising raffles are usually held as part of our summer Specialty, with vendors, shops, and members donating the raffle items.

Members also have informal local get-togethers for puppy parties, training, grooming, and field training purposes on their own, since the membership is quite far-flung geographically. Although not ‘Official’ club events, the Club spirit of participation and helpful friendship is there. ISCC members represent the Club in a yearly Breeders’ Showcase sponsored by The Colorado Dog Fanciers Association, and in the annual Scottish-Irish Festival held in Estes Park, CO. The ISCC is a member club of the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs, and sends a delegate to their meetings, and is also a member of the ABRN (All Breed Rescue Network) in Colorado.

Family participation in club events is encouraged, and through the years we’ve seen members’ children grow to become quite competent handlers who are successful in both Juniors’ classes and the breed ring. Most of our Specialty shows have offered Junior Showmanship classes for those who will hopefully be part of the future of the breed.

Being Irish, of course, one of the year’s highlighted family fun events is St. Patrick’s Day, and ISCC sponsors entries in 2 parades in the state. Many Club members march with their dogs in the Denver parade, which is the 2nd largest in the country. Those from the northern part of the state march in the Fort Collins parade, and at both parades the decorated Irish Setter entries are special favorites of the crowds, picture takers, and the judges, too. As our dogs kiss kids, wear hats, and leap through hoops and over banners on command, we always hear “I wish our dog could do that!” or “I thought Irish Setters were hyper, but your dogs aren’t …”, so this is a great way for people to see and meet our breed. Rescue dogs and their owners are encouraged to turn out and march in the parades, and contacts for future rescue placements are sometimes made at the parades, too.

The first Club Bulletin was published in June, 1963, and although it has gone through many changes of name, style, and editors, it has always been known as an outstanding publication by both members and others in the fancy throughout the country. It enjoyed a larger magazine format and was known as The Setter Letter during the 70’s and early 80’s, but expense, mailing, and time constraints later returned it to a Newsletter type publication. Today it is still ‘alive and well’ and is available by email as well as on paper, for the convenience of the membership.

From 1997 through 2005, the ISCC sponsored the well known ISCC Calendar project. ISCC Calendar sales enabled substantial donations to be made by the ISCC to both I.S.C.A. and the I.S.C.A. Foundation, to benefit rescue and health causes for all Irish Setters. With the 2006 issue, sponsorship of the calendar project moved to the Foundation, and we wish it well.

In 2005, the Irish Setter Club of Colorado celebrated its 40th anniversary as an A.K.C. club with its Spring Specialty, held April 15, 2005. In 2006, we move to holding our 2 Specialty Shows back-to-back in August, on the Thursday and Friday preceding the Greeley Kennel Club All Breed Shows. Through the last 40 plus years, members both old and new have had a part in the Club while promoting quality in breeding, encouraging sportsmanlike competition at a variety of events, educating members and the public about the breed, and promoting member cooperation in all these activities. We look forward to the future well being of Irish Setters as a breed, and trust that this Club, which was originally formed to support and contribute to that well being, will continue to do so.

(Club History originally written by Ginny Swanson in 1999/2000 – updated by Deb Garfield in 2005.)