In this issue of What’s New, we celebrate a very special volunteer, Mimi Karsh of Colorado. We asked Mimi first to tell us a bit about how she came to be a Kerry owner and about her amazing work for the Foundation’s rescue program in the rescue and rehoming of the “Tried, True and Blue Colorado Trio.” She replied by email with a lively story, which can’t be told better than in her own words:
I am a third generation Coloradoan and a lifelong dog lover. I have almost never been without a dog: I was raised with Cocker Spaniels, “THE dog of the day,” as had also been the case with my husband, in his childhood.
Early in our marriage, we moved to Southern California, away from family and friends and without children. To fill the void, we had our first “canine baby,” a marvelous and very bright Miniature Poodle named Cosmo. When we returned to Denver after nearly six years, along came two daughters and, of course, Cosmo. Our son increased our family size a few years later while Cosmo stilled ruled the house and watched over all of us. One summer night during a severe thunder storm, Cosmo panicked, bolted out the door and disappeared. He was found the next morning, the victim of a fatal automobile encounter. We were devastated, for in our minds he was irreplaceable. We knew we needed a dog in our home but felt that another poodle could never live up to what we lost. Thus began the breed search.
That First Kerry
We read every book on every breed and were fascinated by the Kerry BlueTerrier, but neither of us had ever seen one “in person.” After months of searching, we were told about an older couple who had Kerries and, as luck would have it, lived quite close to us. They were most gracious about letting us come with our children and spend hours with two very exuberant and beautiful Kerry Blues. We were hooked!!! This couple put us in touch with Edith Izant in southern California, and before long a beautiful puppy, Townsend's Terrance O’Brian, made our home whole again. As many will understand, one Kerry is never enough. Before long, a lovely little girl named Kelly joined us, and for many years these two fine Kerries protected and delighted us.
Years flew by, the kids went off to college, the marriage ended and O'Brian and Kelly both crossed the Rainbow Bridge. During this very dark period, I sold my house and bought a condo without realizing that nothing on four legs was allowed. It took me several years to make a move into a very dog friendly townhouse community, but then, before the paint was dry, 16-week-old Kismet's BlackTie Fred Astaire took charge of my life.
Freddy was a true soul mate. When he was two, a little Kerry girl named Mona with a most unusual and difficult past joined our home. To celebrate her “rebirth” we renamed her, and now Fred Astaire had his Ginger! Mona’s story was a sad one. She came to be owned by a breeder who had learned through terrible circumstances that Mona carried the gene for PNA or Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy. (Puppies afflicted with PNA appear perfect until about four to six months of age and usually have to be put down by age by age 1 to w years from the ravages of this neurological disease.)
While the breeder still owner her, Mona became the “basis bitch” for the PNA gene mapping study at the University of Missouri Vet School. After several litters at the school, the owner decided it was enough for poor Mona. The breeder, of course, could not dare to use her for breeding and wanted her in a forever home. We wanted a second KBT and had no intentions of raising any littersQQ
A Little Volunteering
About this time, I became involved with other local Kerry owners in forming the now disbanded Rocky Mountain Kerry Blue Terrier Club. Through that activity I learned about the fairly new Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation. In both organizations, I felt the pull toward rescue and rehoming.
Ginger crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2009 and a year later, I felt that Freddy needed a canine friend. As our very small yard made it necessary to take three walks a day -- every day no matter the weather -- common sense told me it was time to downsize. I had been volunteering to answer the hot line for a local group, the Colorado All Breed Rescue Network, and through other ABRN group members, Wilma, a Miniature Schnauzer in need of a new home, came to live with Fred and me. Wilma possesses a real Kerry attitude, just in a smaller package.
Freddy left us in 2013, and for a time after that the only dogs that have stayed with Wilma and me (one at a time) are visiting dogs that I foster short term for a local shelter or an occasional Kerry rescue … until the spring of 2015.
...And Then the Flood
In May of 2015 I received a call that a ten-year-old Kerry boy needed a new home due to a serious change in his owners’ circumstances. Wilma and I went to meet Casey in a local park and bring him to our home. From the first moment, I felt we had found our second dog. As a matter of routine, he was posted on the Foundation web site for adoption, but at age ten, I thought he might spend the rest of his life with Wilma and me. Surprisingly, a short time later, Rescue Coordinator Diane Collins told me that a Kerry was posted in a local shelter. I raced over to find a disheveled six-year-old champion show dog whose owner had recently died. So I brought Annie home to meet Casey and Wilma. I felt sure that she would have a new forever home quickly.
A few days later Diane called again with news of three Kerries in a rural shelter sixty miles away. Luckily, a local Kerry owner/groomer/handler (who is also my long-time friend) was able to help me bring the Terrible Trio to Denver in her crate-equipped van. But six dogs in my townhouse?? No Way!!!! I told Diane that I was changing my phone number.
The condition and progress toward rehabilitation of the Terrible Trio has been well documented on the Foundation web site. What isn’t obvious to anyone not involved in their rescue is the enormous effort required of a host of people: Diane Collins (at the time, KBTF Rescue Director and Linda Grisley, Rescue Coordinator for Canada and also President of the Canadian KBTF, as well as by many other people in the greater Kerry community in Colorado, across the U.S. and in Canada. Casey and Annie went off to wonderful new homes quickly and by July 1st of 2015 all three of the Trio – April, June (renamed “Annie”) and Marti (renamed “Jamie”) -- were in their forever homes as well. And what homes they are! Each is now living the good life with people who give them the best of care and love.
Mimi is being very modest here. With five rescued Kerries at her home, she had to feed each one its particular diet, arrange and take them to their various appointments (groomers, veterinarians, surgeons, rehabilitative trainers), work with Diane Collins to decide on appropriate treatments and care for each dog … and to keep everything calm so neighbors in her condo wouldn’t decide to call the cops!
Everyone in KBTF Rescue is a hero, an angel, a true friend to Kerries. But frequently one of them is called on to go way above and beyond the call of duty. Mimi Karsh has done a stellar job for the Foundation and we give her our full-throated salute: hip, hip, HOORAY! Hip, hip HOORAY! Hip, hip, HOORAY!!