Once upon a time, not long ago, there lived in France a handsome prince, named Blue Berry, after the color of the coat he always wore. Although he was intelligent and charming, catastrophe was about to befall him – he was imprisoned and would be put to death unless a lovely princess would take him away. Fortunately, happy endings don’t happen just in fairy stories: Thanks to the efforts of Canadian Rescue Coordinator Linda Grisley, a princess was found: Louise Lang agreed to the three day adventure of being Blue Berry’s transporter, flying from Toronto to Charles de Gaulle then driving five hours to his French village to bring him to North America, where he is living happily ever after in his forever home in NY State, greatly loved by his new owners.
Louise Lang, who lives in downtown Toronto, Canada with her husband George Moad, says that dogs have always been her passion. When she was born, the family had a Brittany Spaniel named Ginger, whom Louise loved madly. She says she learned to walk holding on to Ginger. Unfortunately, the family doctor found that Louise was allergic to dog hair and suggested that the family get rid of the dog. Louise’s mother offered her horseback riding lessons in exchange, but Louise intuitively knew no one would want an old dog and besides, she loved her too much to give her up. Ginger’s death in 1961 at age 12 was a shock and left a big hole in her heart.
Shortly thereafter, in 1961, Louise’s love affair with Kerries began when her father brought home a nine-month-old Kerry bitch, Tregoad’s Fine Lady. Lady and Louise became inseparable – “We went for walks at the crack of dawn, visited the library and the Honey Dew restaurant each Saturday where she would enjoy a bowl of milk (yes, this was before the health authorities cracked down on animals in public places), rode the subway downtown to shop at the big department stores, just had a great time hanging out together.” When she died at age 13 Louise was inconsolable.
The next family Kerry was Casey Gardiner’s Kerrycroft’s Kelly. When Louise eventually had her own apartment, she would “borrow” Kelly for the weekend. Her parents reported that every Friday night Kelly would lie by the front door, waiting. At age 13, Kelly was the flower girl at Louise’s wedding and the happy couple sneaked her into the hotel room on their wedding night. Less than a month later when Louise and George bought a house, they took Kelly with them to stay permanently. She lived with them until age 16; “her ashes will eventually be in my coffin” writes Louise.
Now she was in a big quandary – dogless for the first time in her life and not happy at all. A phone call from a stranger in New Jersey changed her life – Evelyn Gansfuss asked if she would be interested in a ten month old Kerry bitch found running at large in Clinton, NJ?
Since Louise was unable to get there for six weeks, Evelyn agreed to foster Bonnie. Being an experienced Obedience competitor, and faced with the prospect of living with a totally untrained dog who did not even know “sit,” Evelyn accomplished a truly incredible feat – she put a Companion Dog title on Bonnie, with very high scores, in just six weeks!!! Bonnie was entered in shows the weekend Louise and George arrived to pick her up, but Evelyn would not let Louise have her until Bonnie’s classes were finished. That’s how George and Louise came to attend their first dog show ever, in Ludwigs Corner, PA. What an amazing and exciting world they found there! Vendors with all sorts of dog paraphernalia, gigantic motor homes full of dogs, tents, breeds she’d never seen before, people buzzing around. Sitting in the rain, watching Bonnie in the ring with Evelyn, Louise was bitten by the show bug. Once home, Bonnie and Louise started Obedience lessons. They took advantage of each and every dog event going – duck herding (the evaluator originally believed Kerries could not herd – Bonnie sure changed her mind), sheep herding (Bonnie was written up in the local farmers’ newspaper), costume competitions (“Miss Rich Bitch”), trick training and weight pulling. She got her Canadian & American CD and an Altered Canadian Championship. Right to the very end, at age eight when she had skin cancer, she lived life to the fullest. Kerry bitches Clydie & Katie made it a three dog house. Holidays were road trips to dog shows so they would all be together.
Agility was just beginning – Clydie & Katie got Novice Agility titles before they passed at ages 15 & 16. A year after Bonnie died, Angel joined them; Angel was competing at the Agility excellent level when she “retired” due to neurological issues at age 10 in 2009. She lived another three years.
During this time, two senior Kerry rescues added to the chaos. Dandy – at age 10 snatched from a kill shelter just in the nick of time (he lived to be 13) and dear Maggie who at age 13 was left behind when her family moved to Indonesia – she lived to be almost 18. Fitting five Kerries into a sedan took creative planning!!
Now Louise has just one – Betty, age seven, who has no intention of letting another dog share her space. Betty excels at sheep herding, tracking, scent discrimination and is planning on Treiball lessons this spring. She’s the smartest of them all.
Once she got Bonnie, Eve Fishell sponsored Louise for the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of Canada. Louise has been on the executive committee ever since, doing whatever needs to be done – hospitality, fund raising, newsletter, home checks, finding homes for Kerries (puppies & adults) and putting Kerry buyers in touch with breeders. Never shy, Louise writes that she will pick up the phone and ask Kerry people she has never met to help out. She has been involved in getting Canadian homes for American Kerries and vice versa. Many times Louise has helped coordinate a convoy to transport the Kerry, long before the Internet made things easier. In 2014 she found a home for seniors Finn & Rosie and helped their new owner cope with their passing a year later.
“Thanks to Bonnie,” Louise states, “rescue, especially for seniors, is near and dear to my heart. It is my way of honouring her and all she did for me.”
Louise says that over the years she has come to know so many amazing dog people whom she would never have otherwise met. “My dogs, dog events and dog friends have enriched my life.” Our hat’s off to Louise Lang, who embodies love for the Kerry Blue Terrier in a very special way.