A few mutts, a Cocker, two Boxers, Chihuahuas, a Basset Hound, Black Lab, Dobermans, and now Kerry Blues are part of the extensive list of dogs that have shared Rita Lockwood’s home, her life, and her heart.
Kerries became the breed of choice about 35 years ago when informed that she was allergic to specific dog cells. At that point, her choices were Poodles and Kerry Blue Terriers. Given that choice, Rita did what we wish everyone interested in a breed would do, contact a reputable breeder.
Berni Kusch was that breeder and Neil enchanted her so much that Berni helped Rita get her first Kerry, Cosby. Initially attracted to Kerries because of her allergies, she has since found them to be intelligent, funny, loving, protective, good company, entertaining, and beautiful. With tongue in cheek, Rita says that they are even trainable, if you are smart enough!
Rita has been a mainstay in the Kerry community. Her comments on the Kerry newslist are thoughtful, encouraging, and demonstrate her vast experiences and knowledge. She has become involved in Kerry Rescue by offering her home and expertise to foster Kerries who need a place to feel loved, cared for, and trained as they transition from their previous life and prepare for a new home and new life.
Mr. Muggins, almost 13 years of age, was one of those fosters. Surrendered to rescue after his elderly owner with Alzheimer’s disease was placed in a care facility, Mr. Muggins was very ill, seriously undernourished, had a cancerous growth on his left hind foot, and could not stand or walk. He survived surgery, learned to play with other dogs despite his reputation of being dog and cat aggressive, and was adopted by a fabulous couple who loved him dearly. Rita facilitated all of that as she fostered this dog in need.
Dog brokers in Europe can be unscrupulous preying on breeders who want their beloved puppies to find a loving home in the United States, only to have their precious pups become breeding stock in the mills. Viktor was the offspring of just such a dog, having been sired by a champion from Slovakia. Thanks to Rita and others who work, foster, or financially support the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation and its rescue program, Viktor was rescued in The Great Escape of 2006, and so was his sire, Gigi who was reunited with his original owner in Slovakia.
In 2006, the Shelbina Express Rescue freed 34 Kerries from their lives in the mills and seven more who would not have to be born into the mill life. Olivia, affectionately called Miss Livvy, was pregnant. First sent to Rita, Miss Livvy was to be transferred to Rita’s friend who was experienced whelping puppies for the local humane society. On the day of the transfer, Miss Livvy went into labor so Rita became midwife and nursemaid extraordinaire.
Seven little puppies were born into this world with help from Rita. Seven puppies would be growing up healthy, happy, and free.
We all know the benefits a foster home can have for the foster dog, but often the rewards are even greater for the humans.
There is a “Guest House” for people with mental disabilities near the Lockwood home. Many of those guests seem to respond to dogs, as was the case with a man who was not able to look at people.
One day, he saw the puppies at the gate, almost ran when Rita approached, but told her his roommate said it was all right to talk to dogs. Rita lifted each of the puppies to greet the man. He stood at the gate and talked to them while they licked the tears that ran down his face as he told them how much he liked their puppy kisses. I have no doubt there was a tear or two on Rita’s cheek as well.
When asked how she could foster a dog and then give it up, Rita comments that we raise our human children to become independent and allow them to go on with their lives. She says she is not giving away her foster dogs, but allowing them to move on with their lives. That was true until Miles of the Magnificent 7 remained a little too long with Rita before adoption. You guessed it; Rita adopted Miles who is now named Jamie. Rita describes him as very social, loves everyone, plays well with others, is a great dog, and spoiled rotten.
The Irish gods were indeed smiling when they selected Rita to foster Miss Livvy and they are still smiling on Miss Livvy, the Magnificent 7, Rita and all the dogs she has fostered.