David DeYoung is the Cheers recipient for this month. He lives in Media, Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia suburbs; he’s a retired psychologist and he’s the full time owner of a KBT named Michael Patrick O’Ryan. Michael’s father’s name is Ryan and Michael is two years old.
Michael came from a breeder in western Ontario, Canada. He was one of a litter of several puppies bred by Ed & Katherine Greer, who are well-known members of the international Kerry community. Ed is a breeder–owner–handler and is currently showing Michael’s brother, Terry, and his sister, Rose, for champion points. All of the dogs from this particular litter turned out to have excellent breed conformation and beautiful color. Of course, Michael was jet black when David got him at six months of age, but by his first birthday his hocks were silver and he had the beginnings of silver throughout his coat.
David related that this is his third Kerry, if you include the foster Kerry who lived with the DeYoungs for two months last year. The DeYoung family’s first Kerry was a beautiful and devoted dog named Finbar.
Michael is a true ‘hearth & home’ Kerry. He likes to be home, and he wants everyone in the family to be home, too. He has his own large, fenced yard which he inspects several times each day, but he is truly happiest in the house with his family. David reports that this was true of their other Kerry, too. These dogs are simply devoted to their masters.
Although David hasn’t yet followed through with his intention to take Michael
to obedience school, he says that Michael is so sweet, affectionate, and lovable that obedience issues have not been a concern. However, he was two
years old on October 1st, and David reasons that Michael is gradually moving into adolescence. Now, when he’s called to come in the house,
he considers the alternatives before deciding whether he will choose to obey ! “Maybe it is time for a course in obedience, reports David.
Regarding special talents of the breed, David relays that Ralphie, their foster Kerry from the Foundation, had clearly been raised around children who must have played soccer with him. As a result, he had the most remarkable athletic skills David has ever seen in a Kerry! Soon after he arrived, David rolled a five-inch, light plastic, red ball to him just to see if he would like to play with it. Seeing the ball rolling toward him, Ralphie fell on the ball and proceeded to push it with his nose and front legs all over the dog yard. He would literally scoop the ball up into the air with his snout; and then, when it landed, he would continue to push it around the yard at breakneck speeds. David says that he’s never seen a dog with such skill in moving and controlling a ball. Furthermore, he would continue playing with the ball with the same intensity until David simply had to take the ball away. Ralphie played soccer with abandon all by himself; and he looked forward to a game or two every day.
When asked what the the major challenges of living with a Kerry has been, David indicated that living with Kerries is simply a joy. They love their masters and seek out people for affection. David reports that Airedales are the other breed that he has always loved and owned. Before having Kerries, the DeYoung family always had one or two Airedales in the house. Going to Kerries was sort of down-sizing from Airedales. Both breeds share many similarities: they are beautiful dogs; they seek the society of people; they defend the house; they can, and do, think for themselves. It’s just that Airedales are twice the size and weight of Kerries.
With the foundation, David DeYoung has been involved in the fostering of one Kerry – “Our Ralphie,” the soccer player – for two months. He reports that this was a very happy experience because the KBT Foundation, his local veterinarian, the adoptive parents, and David worked together to save this sweet and talented dog and gave him a new lease on life. After Ralphie was adopted by his Canadian family, David’s attention turned exclusively to raising and training his new puppy, Michael. But he also reports that he would welcome another foster dog from the Foundation now that Michael is a grown dog, two years old.
David learned about the Foundation from the internet website and indicates that the best and most important part of the fostering experience with the Foundation was discovering the foster dog’s nature and temperament. The only thing the DeYoung family knew about Ralphie was that he had been in a fight with the other family dog – a poodle – with Ralphie seeming to have gotten the worst of it. He came to the DeYoungs with wounds on his face and ears which continued to need medical treatment, though they healed very nicely. The family – they were told – decided that one dog had to go, and Ralphie got the short stick. This version of the story came third-hand from the staff of the kill shelter in St Louis. No one could really be sure of what had happened in this poor dog’s life. David’s job was to establish a relationship with Ralphie, see to his daily medical treatment, give him a Kerry-friendly home, and determine if he would be a good candidate for adoption. In his case, the job was very gratifying, reports David. Ralphie turned out to be a very companionable dog who was friendly, clever as can be, affectionate toward adults, and altogether easy to live with. In his case, too, the angels found him the perfect couple to welcome him into their life.
David believes that the hardest part of the fostering experience was giving a foster dog over to a new owner. The reason it is somewhat difficult is because, of course, the foster dog has become a part of one’s family. When the time comes to part with this new friend, it’s a bitter/sweet moment. It is made easier by knowing that the dog is embarking on a new life with a family that will love him and care for him, and that the foster family has played a small part in making that possible.
David most certainly recommends this experience to others. “If you think about the misery and unhappiness of countless dogs who have lost their family because of ill health or death; or who are in unloving homes; or who have been given over to animal shelters for a variety of reasons; you could be brought to your knees in despair,” says Mr. DeYoung. Adding that a “happier alternative response is to devote some time to helping one dog of one breed that is dear to one’s heart. We can’t stop unfortunate circumstances that arise, or irresponsible dog ownership, or cruelty to animals nationwide; but one person can make a remarkable difference in the life of one dog in need of love and a kind home for just a while.”
Our Cheers “Hats Off” to David DeYoung and his devotion to the preservation and care of this special breed of dog—The Kerry Blue Terrier.