New Hands on Deck [in which case you could say in the last lines of my bit that there are “new hands to take over the tiller.”]
As 2018 gives way to 2019, there will be a few exciting changes in various roles at the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation. Included will be a change in the Editorship of this newsletter, as Linda deLeon hands off the baton to Sharon Arkoff. Here are a few paragraphs from Linda (pictured with her present Kerry, Jamie) as she bids farewell, and from Sharon introducing herself to you all.
LINDA: My first Kerry came into my husband’s and my life after the demise our 19-1/2 year old sheepdog-poodle mix “Sammie.” We called her our “woolly bullet” because she was a fast runner, but she also shed copiously and took up a lot of space on our queen-size bed, where she insisted on sleeping.
After a time, we began to feel the need for another dog. My husband is a specialist in the academic discipline called “policy analysis,” so he approached this selection problem in a professional manner. He first worked out the criteria to guide our decision, as follows: the dog had to be of medium size (i.e., smaller than Sammie), energetic (i.e., no couch potato) and non-shedding.
One day he brought home a large catalog with information about many breeds and listings of breeders who had available dogs. After going through many breeds and listings, he finally came to the Kerry Blue Terriers, and easily persuaded me that a KBT would be a perfect dog for us. Fortunately, a breeder in Oklahoma (the closest location to us in the catalog) had a litter. After a few phone calls, we had our fierce, fearless and funny Simon, and we’ve had only Kerries ever since.
Not long after acquiring Simon, I learned about the website that John van Den Bergh had created and the listserv that Kerry owners were using to share their stories and problems. What an amazing resource these were for a new Kerry owner like me! In 2014, John recruited me to assist Judi Young in publishing the KBTF’s What’s New? newsletter and, when she retired a year later, I took over the job.
In 2016 the newsletter went online, and I’ve been its editor since then. I also joined the KBTF Board as Education Director, later as Vice President and finally, two years ago, as President. My involvement with the Foundation has been an interesting, sometimes daunting and always rewarding experience. It’s especially wonderful to know that as I step out, there are other willing and extremely able hands to take over. We are all very fortunate to welcome Sharon Arkoff as the new editor of What’s New?
SHARON: My first kerry came into my life when I was six years old – that would be Heather of the Hill Country, who was a perfect dog in every way. Heather saw me through the dramas of childhood and adolescence (at least, the next 15 years of it), and alas, began that life-long lesson that loving a kerry isn’t enough to keep him or her with you forever.
Some 20 years later, my fiancé and I (him having had to negotiate the “Well, I’m sorry, honey, but if you aren’t willing for us to get a dog, I’m not marrying you” hurdle) adopted Bits (Fralin’s Bit o’ the Brogue) after seeing her posted on an earlier version of what is now the KBTF website. Bits was a perfect dog in every way, and saw me through the dramas of career, marriage, children. Somewhere along the line came B.J., our first official geriatric rescue (again through the KBTF). He became a perfect dog in every way…. (do you recognize a theme here?) Actually, BJ ‘s file at the groomer and the vet had “Biter” in big red letters (he wasn’t; his old bones just needed to be handled carefully). BJ was a gem as the children moved through their infancy and tolerated their learning to stand by grabbing fistfuls of his fur to pull themselves up; he also had a flip-top head and he would stand under the kids’ high chairs with his mouth open and wait for food to be dropped in.
Then followed a series of remembered-as-perfect-dog oldies including Duffy, Andrew, Seamus, Nunzio (who was not perfect when he came, but got there eventually), and I’m probably forgetting someone else, as I’m close to geriatric now too. And now there is Gracie Lou. Each kerry has been their own unique self, but each has had that kerry joie de vivre and has managed to be both elegant and goofy, and, of course, perfect. We only adopt the geezers, as we love them and could not possibly keep up with a puppy, and our time with them tends to be measured in a couple of years vs. a lifespan of 10-14 years. Having the kerry community with us through all the ups and downs of rescuing, training, losing, and resuming having a kerry has made all the difference, and it’s an honor to bear witness to the stories and knowledge of so many other owners! Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the community via the newsletter that we still will always think of as Judi’s and Linda’s!