Our Cheers Volunteer for this newsletter is Sharon Arkoff, a wife, a mother of two, a resident of Massachusetts and a dedicated Kerry Blue terrier lover. If Sharon's name sounds familiar to you, it is because for the past ten years Sharon has been one of the rescue dog's very best friends.
To say she is very active in KBTF rescue programs is an understatement. Starting off as a rescue coordinator, Sharon recently "retired" from being the Director of the US Rescue Program but still remains true to her rescue roots by remaining the rescue coordinator for New England.
By education and training Sharon is a hospital social worker but by vocation. Sharon has been a dedicated rescue team member and leader for the last 10
Sharon's first experience with a Kerry Blue Terrier was when she was only five years old: Heather of Hill Country. Sharon says that Heather was a wonderful childhood companion. Heather was the perfect family dog but more importantly, Heather was Sharon's confidante for 15 years.
While Sharon has a loving and compassionate heart for all Kerries, she seems to have a special soft spot for those wonderful "'senior" rescues as witnessed by her four truly "senior" rescues. Sharon's Kerries as an adult have all been rescue dogs: Bits (Fralin's Bit of the Brogue) adopted when she was 5 years old; BJ, a 14-yo rescue; Duffy, a 13-yo rescue; Andrew, a 14-yo rescue; and Seamus, an 11 -yo rescue. Sharon characterizes these rescue dogs as "all perfect, wonderful, funny, smart, giving companions, every single one of them." She adds that they were "all gone too soon."
Sharon has enjoyed walks with her dogs as well as sharing the couch with them, adding that they "decrease the monotony of the daily routine." Due to her very busy schedule she does not currently have a Kerry in her home. In the spirit of a Kerry devotee who is well aware of the needs of the highly social KBT, Sharon says that she is just not home enough to be fair to another dog right now.
Over the past years, we have all enjoyed Sharon's unique way with words which verbally help people visualize the rescue dog, its distinct personality, playfulness, the transition of a frightened scared rescue into a valued and much lived member in its new forever home, the joy and yes the sadness experienced in rescue work. For example here is Sharon's description of a rescue KBT begging for more food in his new home: "I'm starving. Look how sweet I am. Don't I deserve an entire rack of lamb?" Who reading this has not seen that look on their own KBT? Or Sharon's description of the rescue Marley: "World's wriggliest, licking-est, most affectionate, highest-jumping, and fastest Kerry boy."
Because of Sharon's strong passion for the older senior rescues, she has developed some classic lines that touch our hearts and minds to tell us about these special rescues. For example: "The older the barrel, the sweeter the cognac" (Seamus), or "Older man likely to commit theft of your heart (also Seamus), or my personal favorite in talking about why older rescues are so special: "They have the soul of puppies with much more dignity" (Duffy). She routinely describes a rescue she is working with as a "goofball" or being delightfully "dorky." These words make me want to sign up and adopt that rescue right now!
Sharon learned about the rescue coordinator position through contacting the program and being involved in rescue/adopting Kernes herself. She says that the best thing about being a Rescue Coordinator is doing what you can to show the dogs that there is a wonderful life for them, regardless of what may have been before. Sharon has spent the last 10 years "opening new doors" for Kerries in need of caring homes. She adds that the other rescue coordinators are amazing, inspiring, and have been a total blast to work with.
Thank you, Sharon, for your passion and your leadership of the rescue program for so many years. It is a great comfort to know that you will still be here fighting for every rescue, finding the foster home and the right forever home while arranging transportation, vet visits, evaluations, home visits, and your own personal life at the same time. Actually that sounds a lot like the daily life of all of our rescue coordinators and directors but as Sharon is so willing to tell anyone who will listen "It is all about the Kerry." And rescue Kerries are indeed lucky to have Sharon continuing to support them as a member of the rescue team.