One Monday evening in late May on checking my email I found a message that distressed me. It was a short message from a woman I did not know, asking for
help placing a 12 year old male Kerry whose owner had recently died. Not many details, but the thought of one of our senior citizens in distress was
depressing to me. What was I going to do for him? So many people open to a rescue also have the proviso that they will only take a younger dog. Where
would I find a loving home for this boy? I closed down my browser and went upstairs to cuddle my own dogs, with my mind searching for an answer. Almost
immediately the phone rang, it was Jan Joers in Southern California who had received the same missive and wanted to know what my thoughts were on this.
I'm afraid I could barely utter a word to her in my depression over this fellow. I believe I did tell her I had some thoughts on it and would get back to her soon, but I probably sounded low and unbelievable.
After a restless night filled with disturbed dreams of searching for a home for this dog I arrived at work and immediately sent an email to the woman who had contacted me. I needed more information. Over the next few days the story of this dog slowly took shape.
Duffy (Sir Duffy on his registration) was bred in Oregon, from Berni Kusch's line. He was originally sold to a Mr. Brooks, who loved and cared for him.
However, Mr. Brooks was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Evidently when Mr. Brooks first became incapacitated by the MS Berni boarded Duffy for almost
two years, even showing him. Mr. Brooks' son wanted her to place the dog for them, but Mr. Brooks objected. Eventually he was placed in a board and
care home and was allowed to bring Duffy with him - where they lived until Mr. Brooks' death.
At that point Duffy was 9 years old and moved to Northern California to live with his master's son, his wife and 2 daughters. The son's wife is not a "dog" person and did not want Duffy. Luckily Maxine Palmer came into the picture here. Maxine worked in the cubicle next to the son. She overheard him trying to find a home for Duffy or alternately exploring the cost of having the dog put down. Maxine intervened and found a new home for Duffy with an older lady, Betty. This was 3 years ago. They were very happy together. Unfortunately, Betty was now dying and Maxine took Duffy in again.
This is the point at which she found my name on the internet and contacted me. She felt she probably wouldn't have a problem finding another home for Duffy except for the fact that he had several large lipomas which were disfiguring. Lipomas are fatty tumors which are benign, but these were very large. There was one on his left rear leg that he had been chewing at, so it was bandaged to discourage him and give it a chance to heal. There was another one on his chest the size of a golfball. A local vet had quoted a price of approximately $450 for the removal of these tumors. Maxine did not have the resources to pay for this and didn't think she would be able to find anyone willing to spend this kind of money on a 12 year old dog. She wanted to know if I knew of anyone who might adopt Duffy or of any KBT service that would be willing to pay for Duffy's surgery? The other problem was that Maxine lived in a forest area without a fence and while Duffy was a very good boy in all other manners, when he saw a deer, rabbit or other normal forest wildlife - he was off and away, never hearing his name being called. For this reason she had to keep him confined or on a tie-out.
Of course the answer to Maxine was "We will take him. Where are you?" Maxine lives up in Rough and Ready, near Grass Valley. She volunteered to drive as far as Vacaville on Memorial Day weekend to meet me. So our plans were made. In the meantime, as I walked the halls of my workplace, a thought occurred to me as far as a foster home for Duffy. One of my co-workers had, for a short period of time, taken in a large, unruly dog who needed a home. Perhaps she would be willing to take in an elder statesman while he underwent surgery and recovery? Teresa stepped right up to the plate and said of course she would foster him, but what would happen if she and her family fell in love with him? Little did she know that this was exactly what I was hoping for!
Memorial Day dawned, clear and warm. My son and I hit the road early, heading for Vacaville and our first meeting with Duffy. When we pulled into the parking lot at the now defunct Nut Tree we saw a woman climbing out of a car with what was unmistakably a Kerry at the end of a leash. This was our first sight of Duffy. We pulled in next to her car and went to greet them. Duffy took one look at the open doors of my van and he climbed in to investigate! While Maxine and I introduced ourselves and talked about Duffy's needs my son walked him and gave him water. By this time I had the back of the van and the door to the travel crate open. At the first chance Duffy jumped up into the crate and sat down as if to say, okay, let's go now.
Maxine didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She said "I thought I would be sad to see him go, but he obviously thinks he is going somewhere good and is ready to do it." Duffy was a lovely guest and passenger. The drive home flew by. When we arrived at Teresa's home in Richmond he climbed out of the car, ready for his next adventure.
Six weeks have gone by. Duffy has undergone surgery to remove two lipomas and two sebaceous cysts; he has had his teeth cleaned and a general physical. For a twelve year old dog he is in remarkably good shape. He has an undaunted nature and greets each day with joy. He has settled in nicely at Teresa's, making friends with the resident cat (she was none too pleased to see him initially, but now they seem to be best buddies). He has decided that Teresa is his person of choice, though he divides his attentions between the other family members evenly. As I hoped, they have fallen in love with each other. Last week Teresa came to me to formally ask if Duffy could stay with them for good. Of course the answer was yes.
I feel blessed that this home fell out of the sky for Duffy. There were no waiting families in my database that would have been willing to take an older dog with some health challenges. Luckily Teresa's family understand about health challenges, her life partner is currently fighting cancer with a dubious chance of beating it. Their initial feeling about Duffy was understandable. They wondered if they could stand taking in an older dog with the possibility of losing first their hearts to him and then losing him. In the end they adopted the attitude that he would probably outlive them, so what the hell!
In so many ways this was an easy rescue. Maxine was Duffy's guardian angel, making sure that he ended up in caring hands. Teresa was my angel, offering hope for Duffy's future when I felt at sea as far as placing him. Duffy is Teresa's family's angel, enriching their lives. In a recent note to Maxine Teresa said "I can't tell you how much we love Duffy. He is the cutest dog and so much fun for us. It's almost scary how much time we now spend sitting around talking about the dog! He looks great--people who see him on the street think he is younger than 12. Thanks for intervening on his behalf. We are thrilled to have him!"
This rescue went well. In terms of cost the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of Northern California spent about $500 on his surgery and vet bills.
This was money well spent but it has had an impact on our Rescue Funds and we now need to be sure that money is raised in order to be able to help
the next Duffy that comes our way. If any of you out there wish to donate to defray Duffy's expenses or to support the Rescue effort your donation
would be welcome. Checks should be made out to KBTCNC - Rescue and sent to Jourdy Bacon, Treasurer at 1320 Benito Ave., Burlingame, CA 94010. Remember
that donations of this sort are tax deductible as we are a non-profit corporation. We will be happy to send you a receipt with the necessary information
for your tax records. Even more importantly, Duffy and the Kerries like him will send you their love.