Ch. Kerryglen's Nan-C-Lin] had been bred to Ch. Tregoad's Vicky's Victor, one of the famous "Brothers Three", bred by Elsie Betts, mother of our own Lesley Boyes. Victor was a very honest, good moving dog with a great coat. The litter was raised by the Schlesingers, and I never saw them as pups. Mel had become attached to a dog pup he called "Tommy", and the pup was finished as a youngster, shown by Bea. Mel called one day, asking if I was going on the Texas Circuit in March. I told him I was, and he asked if I might show a Kerry Special for him at the Specialty in Dallas. Arrangements were made, and I was to meet them at the Fort Worth show on Friday night to look at the dog and trim him for the Sunday Specialty.
I was married to Lesley at the time. We had already been to ten shows on the circuit, and were both exhausted, We were late getting to the show site where the Schlesingers were waiting anxiously. After apologizing for our lateness, Mel walked over to a rather smallish crate and brought out Ch. Melbee's Chances Are. He stretched and walked around rather stiffly for a minute. Then he shook and looked like he was ready to face the world. I asked Mel to walk him over to a pen of dogs in the exercise area, and when he pulled up I could not believe my eyes. I asked Mel to move him down and back, and then asked him to go further and faster. I could tell he was getting a little exasperated with me, but went along with it. Finally, breathing rather heavily, he stopped and asked, "What do you think?" I paused for a moment and said, "Mr. Schlesinger, that is the greatest Kerry Blue I have ever seen. "
I proceeded to trim Tommy, and he looked better to me every second I worked on him. I finally asked Mel if he had a handler for Tommy for Westminster. Now remember, this was the end of March, and I was talking about the Garden the following February. I told Mel I would sure love to show a Kerry of this caliber in New York, no matter who was judging. Mel said he would check with his wife, Bea, and tell me in a few weeks. I found out later he did nothing about dogs without checking with Bea.
After I finished trimming Tommy, I asked Lesley to clear out a very large crate that we called our junk crate. Lesley was tired, but cleaned and scrubbed it out. I told Mel that we would keep Tommy in this crate instead of the small one he had brought him in. Little did I know that this made a big impression on Mel and Bea. What it meant to them, Mel later told others, was that I really did care for this dog. Sometimes in this world, it's the little things that count.
Tommy went on to win the Specialty and the Group that night in the first show I ever showed him. Mel called me two weeks later and asked if I would take Tommy on right away. This was the happiest phone call I ever received!
Ch. Melbee's Chances Are went on to make history, acclaimed by many of the most knowledgeable dog people to be among the all-time greats. He was frequently ranked with the great Scottie, Bingo, even Fearnought, the Bulldog and Ricky, the Whippet. Joan Ludwig, the best dog photographer the world has ever known, ranks Tommy one of the best dogs she has ever photographed- quite a compliment. I know he is the best dog I have ever shown. To tell you the truth, the only place I would have changed him was that I wish God had given him straighter whiskers. I never could put the finish on his face that I wanted because of his curly whiskers.
Tommy was poetry in motion. He had his great-grandmother Minuet's coat, color and movement. He had his grandfather High Fidelity's great bearing, and was even a better shower. Tommy had strength with refinement that one dreams about in a show dog. He was one hell-of-a-piece of machinery, and I know in my heart there will never be another Kerry to even come close to him. I had shown three generations of Kerries before him, and felt like he was a part of me.
Chances Are was Top Dog-All Breeds in 1968-my second dog so honored. Ch. Miss Skylight was my first, and the Lakeland dog, Ch. Jo-Ni's Red Baron of Crofton my third. Tommy was shown less than two years-a tragedy to me, because I thought I could have won the Garden with him. However, the Schlesingers wanted him home. They had given him to me, and he was theirs to take away. For nearly two years Tommy had been my house and yard dog. He was number one, and my life revolved around him. He was to my way of thinking an even better dog than my Garden winning Lakeland. I could have changed Baron, but not Tommy.
I have always felt blessed that I was given the opportunity to show this dog. I don't believe Mrs. Schlesinger ever did realize what I thought and felt
about Tommy. I had a hard time in those days putting it into words. Mel is now gone, but he knew my feelings.