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Protecting Kerries through Education, Rescue, and Health & Genetics

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January 20, 1995 - February 12, 2002

Bred and owned by Janet Joers & John Van den Bergh


by Janet Joers

Many of the things that made Guinness special are the things that make all our Kerries special--that twinkle in his eye when he was up to no good; that questioning cocked-head look when he could smell a cat but couldn't find it (and hoped we would tell him where it was); that wild excitement at the sight of another dog. But there were things that made Guinness uniquely Guinness.

One of them was his amazing ability to reason in ways we know are impossible. Unlike Jazz, he did not bark at the door to the garage when he heard the automatic garage door go up. He'd run through my office, through John's office, cross the entire length of the living room, charge out the dining room door and into the back yard, cross the patio, follow the length of the garage, and dive through the doggie door to emerge in the garage just as the car stopped--not a minute too late to be first on the scene.

Guinness also had an uncanny ability to do the unexpected, hoping to get a rise out of his very predictable owners. He once disobeyed orders to stay and marched straight into the house, muddy paws and all, made a beeline to the nearest bathroom (I could tell by the footprints), hopped into the bathtub, turned around, and waited patiently for his bath. (And believe me, he hated baths just as much as any Kerry.) He also once brought his dead gopher trophy into the middle of the bedroom one night. That in itself was not so unusual. But what dog would flip his bed over, drag it near the gopher, and lay there in the dark, intensely alert, waiting for his master to flip on the light and scream? (We did not disappoint him.)

Guinness was also bigger than any Kerry had a right to be (23 inches and 55 lbs.)--but before that happened, he did once compete at a club Puppy Match. His performance in the ring was memorable for his incredible movement--he had the most agonizingly slow bowel movement in recent dog show memory. And he thoroughly enjoyed keeping the judge and spectators waiting.

All his life he did the unexpected. He could spot a high-flying airplane and follow it with his eyes. He nearly always slept on his back as if he were a person (and we never told him he was not). He kicked like a mule on the grooming table (when he wasn't sitting down). He was riveted by dinner conversations about cattle, catamarans, catastrophes, and caterpillars, and would fly into search-and-kill mode for the cat that must surely be here somewhere. He could be shy, putting both paws over his eyes, certain that if he didn't see us, we wouldn't see him. Only a few months ago, he backed up to a curb and sat down, as if he were waiting for a parade!

Guinness had an amazing mind, but he had an amazing heart, too. He loved life with the same zest and exuberance that makes all our Kerries so special. He loved those car rides to special places--or any places. He loved those hide-and-seek games, even though Jazz always won. But most of all, he loved John, and even me, the dreaded groomer. And that's what made him so extra special to us.


by Lisa Frankland

Both the beginning and ending of Guinness' life seems to have been dominated by sevens. He was the seventh pup born in his litter, and I first got to know him and the rest of Jazz's puppies when they were seven weeks old. He died at the age of seven years, after battling AIHA for seven weeks.

I have many fond memories of "the Goofball," as I often referred to him as, from before I moved from California in 1997 (We lived only a short distance from Jan and John, so in addition to seeing each other fairly regularly, we also traded dog-sitting duties): Guinness and his littermates serving as junior breed ambassadors at the Kerry breed booth during the Pet Expo in Los Angeles. Four or five month old Guinness and his brother storming the baby gate that confined them to the puppy room, bringing a whole new meaning to the term, "gate crashing," and leaving a trail of messes throughout the house (on white carpet, no less!) for Jan and John to clean up on their return. Guinness earning his CGC on the first try, to what I believe was Jan and John's perpetual amazement (he was a Kerry, after all). Two way barking contests (Lav's favorite form of play) between Lav and Jazz turning into three way barking contests as Guinness matured enough to join the fun. Guinness and Lav wrestling in my back yard, with Jazz playing referree and flying out to put her wayward son in his place if he ever tried to challenge Lav. Leaving for the show early on the day Lav finished his UDX, and a having a Dandie Dinmont-owning friend of mine who was staying with me for the weekend greeted upon awakening by two fierce-looking Kerries (Jazz and the Goofball) who were quickly reduced to tail wagging weenies as soon as they realized it was only Auntie Carol. Guinness learning that going into his crate at my house meant cookies, and running in so fast that the crate would sometimes slide across the floor! The Goofball turning into the Mudball as raced around my backyard with Lav, Carol's older Dandie bitch, or a Harrier puppy I was fostering. John egging Guinness into teasing my notorious Oscar cat, and Guinness knowing better than to escalate it after one or two well-aimed swats from Mr. Oscar. John proudly sporting a t-shirt which read, "Guinness--Irish for Genius!"

Although I hadn't seen Guinness in over four years, the news of his illness and resulting death has saddened me greatly (I'm not ashamed to say that I am crying as I write this), and also reminded me how very lucky we are to have the dogs in our lives. Show wins and titles are great, but a very insignificant measure of a dog's true worth in the great scheme of things. My condolences to Janet, John, and Jazz.

Hug your dog today!

A Case of Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

by Janet Joers

Guinness was diagnosed the day after Christmas 2001 with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA), a life-threatening disease of the immune system that causes the destruction of red blood cells.

His symptoms included listlessness, darker-than-normal urine, two episodes of vomiting, and momentary jaundice. He tested positive on the Coomb's Test, and lab results showed that his red blood cell count was down to 26 (40 is normal).

Dr. Jean Dodds, the leading researcher of blood and thyroid disorders, was consulted, and we began with the standard treatment, including Prednizone and the cyclophosphamide "Cytoxan," a chemo drug. When it became clear that Guinness was not responding, Dr. Dodds referred us to a specialist, Dr. David Feldman of Los Angeles Veterinary Specialists in West Hollywood, who performed a series of diagnostics. X-rays were normal, an ultra-sound showed one small growth inside the liver, and blood tests now showed the red blood cell count down to 22. A bone marrow biopsy confirmed that Guinness had a rare form of AIHA called "Pure Red Cell Aplasia."

In Guinness's case, the bone marrow sample did not show any of the 5 stages of "baby red cells" that are precursors to adult red blood cells. Since no cancer or infection was found, the conclusion was that the marrow was capable of producing these young red cells (assuming the "stem" cells were still present), but the body's immune system was destroying them. His treatment, therefore, was a course of immunosuppressive drugs--Prednizone (double the initial dose), a cyclosporine called "Neoral," and Imuran (azathioprine). It was hoped that these drugs would prevent the body from attacking the young red cells, and we would begin to see these young cells in subsequent blood tests over the next few weeks.

By January 22nd, Guinness's blood count fell to 17, and the specialist called for a transfusion the next day. It was Guinness's 7th birthday. This transfusion, and the second one 9 days later, were intended to buy us time while we waited for the drugs to take effect.

Although his prognosis was guarded, we had much to be thankful for. Guinness was hospitalized only 2 nights throughout the entire time, and, apart from weekly blood draws and visits with the specialist, he remained home with us. He took all his medicines like a real trooper, and their side effects were minimal. He maintained his hearty appetite, enjoyed the short excursions to where we used to walk him, and remained interested in his world until the final day. And he had the best care we could obtain for him.

Although he was critically ill, the end came suddenly and unexpectedly. His outward behavior had remained steady during the 7 weeks of drug treatment, tests, the 2 transfusions, and he was 2 days away from receiving a transfusion of gamma globulin--a human blood product that had been successful in a number of AIHA cases. His condition was considered stablized by all vets involved, yet he passed away during the early morning hours of February 12th. He died in the same house he was born, with the only family he ever had. We buried him on our property beside the myrtle tree, where he now rests in peace.

Guinness was a tribute to the true fighting spirit of our breed, its tenacity, and its courage. He did our breed proud, and we will miss him terribly. He was much too young to lose.

We wish to thank all of you who sent your good wishes, healing thoughts, and prayers. They helped keep him with us just a little while longer.

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