When good triumphs over evil, we cheer. When dogs are rescued from a puppy mill or kill shelter, we rejoice.
However, after the rescue comes more hard work and that is done by the people who open their homes to foster those dogs in transition from rescue to their forever homes.
Trooper, Kirby, Chance, Brady, Maddy, Gully, Cavan, Cialey, Ozzie. These are the Kerries Priscilla and David Harvey have fostered since 2004.
Their introduction to Kerries began nineteen years ago after researching what would become the best breed for them, medium sized, intelligent, athletic, and NON-SHEDDING. Their perfect Kerry, Bailey, was given to David for his birthday by their daughter, and Bailey proved to be a very special dog visiting the elderly, rehabilitation patients, and schools.
Bowser and Tuffy, totally different from Bailey, were Bailey's puppies who gave the Harveys their Kerry education. That education has been invaluable in their work with their many rescue dogs.
Fostering began with transporting Trooper and a weekend stay at the Harveys before Trooper went onto another rescue family. Since that time, David has made many trips to Cargo City at the Philadelphia International airport to pick up or deliver a Kerry as well as driving relays to get a Kerry in transit from one destination to another. Kirby is an owner- relinquished Kerry who at age 9 wasn't initially adopted. That gave Priscilla and David the time to realize that Kirby was a very special dog and now adopted, is part of their family today. Priscilla describes Kirby as a steadying factor with the young rescues.
Although a resident dog may not be necessary when fostering dogs, Kirby has had a significant role in teaching their rescues how to be a companion dog, how to follow the rules, and how to respect other dogs.
Rescues placed with the Harveys have another advantage. Their six-year-old grandson, Jacob, is very kind with animals and shows the Kerries that children can be trusted as well as being a lot of fun.
Cavan, an exuberant year-old owner relinquished rescue lost his home in part because of his enthusiasm and excitement. Jacob showed Cavan that play could be fun without having to be disciplined and together they played so hard that Cavan could hardly climb the steps into the house at night.
With Jacob's help perspective adopters will know if a rescued dog is suitable in a home with young children.
Once a rescue comes into foster care, the expectation is to provide good food, have the dog vet checked, spayed or neutered as needed, follow-up with medications and begin training or re-training on some level.
Fear is the strongest issue with most mill rescues. The most traumatized of the mill dogs just need a quiet environment at the beginning and simple training such as how to eat from a bowl rather than the floor, and accept being touched, learning that they won't be hit or kicked.
The most tedious part of fostering is training puppy mill survivors that had to eliminate wherever they could that the house is off limits. Owner relinquished Kerries usually just need to learn a different set of house rules and perhaps that the humans are the leaders of the pack.
When foster dogs have remained long enough, the Harveys have given the dogs names, begun training to come to their name, and some leash training.
According to Priscilla, the most challenging rescue with whom they have worked was GuIliver of the Summer's Pride Rescue. The thinnest of all their rescues, Gully had incredible energy... for chewing. He was so cute that they just couldn't get mad at him. Perhaps that was the first time in his young life that Gully had something on which to chew.
When homes were again needed for the St. Patrick's Day rescues, Cialey at age 6 came to what was to become her forever home. She had so many medical issues, that by the time she was ready to be adopted, Priscilla and David couldn't part with her. She was so sweet, but as is unfortunately the case, their hearts were broken because after a year of joyful companionship Cialey was diagnosed with cancer. Her time with the Harveys was all too short, but she was loved and cherished at the time she needed them most.
The Harveys have said good-by to Trooper, Chance, Brady, Maddy, Gully, and Cavan. Those last moments with each little Kerry girl or boy before going onto a forever home have been a Kerry leap of faith. How fortunate each was to have known the love, caring, and nurturing given to them by Priscilla, David, Jacob, and of course, Kirby.
Both Priscilla and David have said that the true heroes of the rescue process are the people who come forward to give a dog in need his or her forever home. In fact, those involved in each part of the process from rescue to foster homes and finally to forever adoptions are all Kerry Blue Terrier Heroes.
The reward for the dogs is a chance to become a loving and loved pet. The reward for the humans involved in rescue, fostering and adoption is the opportunity to do so much good and meet other wonderful people who have the welfare of Kerries as a priority in their lives.