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Should there be a Kerry in your life?

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Judith Bruno, with the help of Roland Alden, accomplish the impossible

© 2009 Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

Judith's involvement with the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation has been a natural evolution of her knowledge and commitment to the breed.

Judith grew up in a small New England town, with a dachshund, a Springer Spaniel a German Shepherd and a black Lab.

Later, while living in California, when she and Roland moved to San Francisco, getting a dog was a priority. The choice of apartment was based on their ability to own a dog.

We all can remember our first encounter with a Kerry. Here is Judith story. At the time I was taking classes at UC Berkeley and after classes I often went for lunch with classmates. On one such excursion to 4th Street in Berkeley I met the most unusual dog, a Kerry Blue named Nubbin. His owner was a shop owner on the street and he seemed to be the self-appointed mayor of the block. He was independent yet friendly, and when I reached down and touch his coat, it reminded me of a seal skin coat and so soft it seemed to melt with your touch.

In 1994 Judith went to the Golden Gate Kennel Club show at Cow Palace. I remember it was a miserable, rainy, bone chilling day. We sought out the Kerry booth and talked with exhibitors and also met Eileen Andrade who asked if I might be interested in a rescue and honestly, at the time, I had no idea what a rescue meant! Remember this was my first exposure to the world of dogdom as an adult.

Eileen told her the story of a 2 year old Kerry, Molly, who was dog aggressive; the Club had been unable to find her a home and feared they might have to put her down. That did it and at that instant Molly became Judith's mission.

Judith and Roland remember the anxiety. They were hardly the ideal candidate to adopt any dog, never mind one with problems. Neither had owned a dog as an adult. They had absolutely no dog training experience, and, were totally new to the ideas, theories, resources and supplies of modern day dog ownership. And they lived on the 22nd floor in San Francisco's financial district, so Molly's entire life would be a public one.

So they made arrangements for Molly to have a week or two of intensive 24/7 training with a local behaviorist, Alon Geva, and then for them all to begin a course of one on one training.

It is funny thinking back to those days and how far I have come and how much I have learned over the years. Those first months I was spoon fed by Dr. and Nancy Han, Eileen and everyone in the Northern California Club. Since I was not working, and did not have the children, I had the time to spend with Molly and training became a 24/7 proposition, since her entire outdoor life was on the streets and having no private yard. In a way it was good I had no experience, because I was a blank canvass, and a quick learner and Molly turned out to be eager to please.

Judith and Roland wanted to show appreciation for all the people that helped them and Molly. Judith became involved in Northern California rescue where she could help other Kerries in need, especially the difficult ones like Molly who might just need some direction and guidance.

One of the very first letters of congratulation and encouragement I received was from Janet Joers, who Judith came to know well and worked closely over the years. Judith's first met Janet when 15 year old Duffy needed to be transported from Southern California to his adoptive home in Northern California. Janet drove half up the coast and Judith drove the rest to deliver Duffy to Sunny Devlin.

Judith has an inquisitive mind. The advent of the KB-L newslist in 1995, opened up a whole new resource to Judith, and she immediately became active, asking for advice and sharing her experiences with Molly, then Scamp and Heddy, especially in areas of managing dogs with dog aggression, and one older dog with health issues. Judith was also able to bounce ideas off a wider circle of people, all over the world with different areas of interest and often with many decades more of experience.

About 5 years after the adoption of Molly, Judith and Roland adopted The Scamp; a Kerry found in just terrible condition, in a Bay Area shelter who turned out to be an very senior, wise and remarkable character.

At about the time of Scamp's rescue, another 5 year old female named Blue came in to Northern California rescue. Again Judith's heart ached for this poor girl, who was incredibly damaged by year of neglect and abuse in a small time puppy mill in Northern California. She was terribly dog aggressive and there was little hope of placing her.

After a failed placement, Blue was in jeopardy again. Then through Alon (who had helped Judith, Roland and Molly) one of his assistants, Sarah Freeman, offered to foster and try to rehabilitate her. Her name was changed to Heddy to honor this new beginning.

Judith remained involved: Over that year I spent a good deal of time with Heddy and Sarah. However in 2000, Sarah became too ill to continue fostering Heddy. After a year during which no reasonable homes had presented themselves Roland and I offered to foster her (we were the only other people she knew and trusted), and more than 8 years later she is still here with us today at 14.5 years old.

For years Judith had written the Northern California newsletter which was a vehicle of helping to educated average pet owners. Judith's interests have always been in care, maintenance and health, and sharing information that would enhance the Kerry owning experience.

It is hard to remember that back in the late 1990s, prior to the Mick phenomena, Kerries were a far more obscure breed. The National Club and regional clubs filled a gap, but they reached only their members, which is not the majority of Kerry owners.

When I mentioned to Judith that I wanted to build a website dedicated to the breed, she was thrilled and hooked me up with Roland who is a super computer expert. Roland had plenty of computer capacity and agreed to host the site, which he was happy to do for the first few years.

Judith remained active in the Northern California Kerry Club until she and Roland relocated to Palm Desert in 2001, and for a time was also active in the US Club.

When the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation was formed in 2002 it addressed the needs and concerns in the community of Kerry owners. Judith was an early endorser; I recall all the controversy about when it was announced and I wrote a lengthy post in support of the work John Van den Bergh and Janet Joers had done for years and that they foresaw the Foundation carrying on.

Judith worked on a close but casual basis with Janet on a variety of administrative rescue matters. Over the years Judith had created a database of all Kerry owners. It started as a list of contacts but with Roland's help it became a proper database in Microsoft Access which was constantly updated and expanded. This became a very important tool when seeking help for Kerries needing the Foundation's Rescue.

This database has grown from several hundred to over 2300 Kerry owners in the US and Canada. The fact that you are holding this newsletter is thanks to Judith's database.

In 2004, Blackjack, a Kerry puppy discovered in Arizona, who was suspected to have PNA, needed transport to Dr. Dennis O'Brien's research team studying degenerative neurological diseases at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Judith was part of the relay team.

Judith became sort of the administrative handy man for the Foundation. The number Kerries needing the Foundation's rescue increased exponentially with the purchase of Kerries from Livestock auctions. Judith made sure she had each dog logged in the database so the Foundation could keep track of their homes. It could easily have become a nightmare; at each auction, dogs were assigned auction numbers, then foster families named the dogs, and often when they went to their forever home the name might change again.

In 2005 Judith became part of the shelter scanning team, and her area was scanning online advertising in the big puppy mill areas. That lead her to also scan Google and Lycos nationally for dogs whose owners might be looking to rehome them privately. Several of those dogs (Onyx, Sully, Murphy, and Kirby to name a few) were rehomed with help from the Foundation's Rescue Coordinators. When such searches turn up Kerries in need outside of the USA, Judith works to get them assistance. Across the pond she has worked with the indomitable Fionnuala Malone (Glenfitor) in Ireland, whose dedication to the breed and Kerries in need is unsurpassed.

Judith often comes across ads of people looking to acquire a Kerry, and she always takes the time to introduce them to the Foundation and see if we can facilitate them meeting a Kerry in their area.

In January 2006, through the scanning team, Judith became aware that one of the rescue Kerries had gone missing. So Judith offered to help coordinate the search effort. That lead her to create instructions and materials to help owner find their lost dogs. This information is now available to all through the web site. In her scanning she has come across some dozen owners nationwide looking for their lost Kerries, and has taken the lead in helping them mounting and maintaining comprehensive searches. She has also shared her search resources to help owners of lost Kerries in both Canada and Costa Rica.

The kind of in depth searching of the Internet that Judith does turns up all sorts of things. She often discovers interesting tidbits about the breed, history of the breed or colorful Kerry owners, which provides some of the diverse color we all enjoy on the website.

In 2006, a 4 month old Kerry who had been rescued from a puppy mill, ended up needing a new home when her owners had trouble potty training and believed she was incurably incontinent; I thought Roland and I might be able to help. Heddy had come to us with dribble incontinence and in her later years Scamp had periodic problems with incontinence. We had discovered many treatment options, which had been successful for us, and we thought this pup deserved a chance. Pinky is still here with us today, and has 100% urinary continence. Another one of Judith's success stories.

The Foundation website periodically receives question from owners seeking help dealing with a host of behavior issues and many of those questions are forwarded to Judith. I do my best to coach people from afar, sharing my experiences, and the host of resources I have accumulated over time. In some cases I have been able to give the owners direction to change a negative dynamic, however there are the cases where there is so solution, and I have tried to be a kind and empathetic shoulder. Each hard case it is not a stretch for me to imagine either my own Molly or Heddy being in that same situation.

Judith sums it up, I helped where I could and in each case it was really not a lot of work or effort, but each experience has been wonderful. I do try to what I can, whenever I can, usually a bunch of small manageable tasks. Roland is often the magician behind the curtain, helping and advising with technical aspects or doing the heavy lifting. I hope that I may have helped a few Kerries in need, and may have allowed a few owners to enjoy their life with their Kerry a little more. In some ways it's a little like my yoga and pilates classes; I might be busy or lazy some days, but I always feel better and exhilarated after live done my scanning, updated the database, returned a call, email or whatever task is at hand.

Judith lives in Palm Desert, California with Roland Alden, and their two beloved Kerries; Heddy and Pinky.

Judith and Roland deserve the gratitude of the Kerry community. Their daily work for the breed is not always visible by all, but it would be impossible for the Foundation to provide the services we are known for without Judith and Roland.

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