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Libby: Diamond in the Ruff


© 2016 Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

On July 1st (1999) the staff of the Tri City Shelter in Fremont arrived to find a badly neglected dog in their night drop box. She turned out to be one of the worst cases of neglect they remembered. She was filthy, and her coat was so badly matted she had to be shaved down to the skin, revealing countless imbedded foxtails in her eyes, ears, feet, mouth and vulva. So bad in fact that they had a hard time determining her age; she seemed old and arthritic, yet they would discover her feet so loaded with foxtails made it painful to walk.


No one came to claim her, and her sweet disposition most likely saved her from being euthanized. Her kennel card was labeled "diamond in the ruff".


Miraculously a shelter volunteer suspected she might be a Kerry and contacted our Rescue Coordinator Eileen Andrade, whose name they had on file.


Libby BeforeDiane Lee, who has been a Kerry breeder for 20 years, volunteered for the very difficult job of determining if she was indeed a Kerry. Luckily Diane had the benefit of having seen a dog of her breeding completely shaved down (Cash was featured in the November 1997 newsletter both with and without his coat). Even for Diane it was a difficult job, yet she recognized her as a Kerry and named her Libby, in honor of her imminent liberation from the shelter. However, before she could be released Libby needed to be spayed. Any Kerry who turns up in a shelter and is unclaimed is very disturbing to all of us, but especially troubling that Libby was an unspayed bitch who has clearly been bred.


Immediately an appeal for a home for Libby went out on the internet, and there was an overwhelming interest in her; we received 15 applications and countless inquiries.


On the day of Libby's release, I picked her up to transport her to Dr. Han at Richmond Veterinary Hospital. Her condition shocked me; even after being washed, shaved down, and given medical care for two weeks by the shelter staff. Her skin was alternately dark-to-almost-black and raw pink, and what remained of her coat was very oily and smelled "doggie". Her lower canines were nearly worn down, evidence of a chronic, untreated, flea allergy. Her eyes were very infected and not fully open. The whole ride to Dr. Han's she sat quietly by my side, and I stroked her and talked about her lucky change of fate and her bright future.


When Dr. Han entered the examining room, he sat on the floor and Libby walked over and licked his face enthusiastically. She appears never to have been abused, just terribly neglected; yet she remains trusting of all people, very affectionate and playful. Dr. Han wanted to keep her for observation; to be sure all foxtails had been found and removed, to do a thorough check up and clean her teeth. Several days later I stopped by to check on her progress, bathe her, and evened out her badly clippered coat-once the ears were properly clippered, even I began to see the Kerry in her.


As I spent time with her I sensed that she craved attention, and I realized that in order for her to begin to heal and recover from her ordeal Libby needed to be in a home environment. I called Roland and asked him to borrow a crate from a neighbor, and told him my plan. Although Molly is a very dominate female with a history of dog aggression, we had been very surprised early this year when we Kerrysat for Rod Glathar's Cassie. Molly accepted and enjoyed Cassie without hesitation or problem. I thought it was worth the chance, and at worst, I would have to return Libby to the hospital.


Roland met me outside our building, and after some initial barking, Libby joined Molly for her afternoon walk, side by side, sniffing and exploring the world together.


From her first encounter in the shelter, Diane suspected that Libby might have a hearing problem. She arranged to bring her to a hearing seminar held by the Boston Terrier Club. The B.A.E.R. hearing test showed that Libby has bilateral deafness, she was born with hearing, and still has brain stem activity;the deafness most likely is the result of trauma and neglected infections. The doctor hopes that once the inflammation is eliminated and healing complete she will regain at least functional hearing. Each day Libby seems to be using her ears more and react more to sound. Although hearing will only enrich her life, her limited hearing seems to have little affect on her; she is happy, carefree, affectionate, loving and trusting.


Libby settled into the urban life easily, unfazed by elevators, streetcars, skateboarders, bicycle messengers, street people, cars, horns and construction noise. She adapted very well to Molly's schedule of long brisk walks, regular baths, brushing and grooming and home cooked meals. Like Molly, she prefers the comfort of a down cushion, and to be covered when napping or sleeping. Twice daily she needs her ears and eyes cleaned/medicated, and a variety of holistic supplements to boost her immune system, cleanse her system of toxins and accelerate the healing process.


Although we had overwhelming interest in Libby, we wanted to be sure to match her to the right home. Deafness will require that Libby always be on leash or in a properly secured area, and that her owners use standard obedience and American Sign Language hand signals. Selecting a home is a long and difficult process of getting to know people, their family and their lifestyle, understanding their interests and expectations, learning about their history of dog ownership and their training experience. I had initiated conversations with likely prospects, and begun to make home checks.


We had fostered Libby for a month before the right home was selected. We decided that a trial period would best suit everyone's needs-we wanted to be sure Libby was in an environment where she'd continue to blossom and
thrive. When I brought Libby to her new home and left her, I saw the confusion in her eyes, and realized how attached we had become. As difficult as it was, I comforted myself knowing she was lucky to find such a good home.


Roland and I have never considered a second dog for many reasons; we have been through a lot with Molly who we rescued 5 years ago. One dog had fit well into our lifestyle, and two dogs seem like too much for downtown living. However, when that trial did not work out, Roland was as convinced as Molly and I that we had to adopt Libby ourselves, as we all had fallen in love with her quiet manner and sweet disposition.


Molly's Love Bug

by Roland Alden


The first time Molly and I saw Libby, Judith had brought her home from Dr. Han's clinic for some outpatient intensive care. She looked more like an ugly little rat than a Kerry. She was hairless with bad skin, bad teeth, mucous covered eyes, and she stank. As if that were not enough, we took her for a walk and the way she pulled on the leash you would have thought she was a John Deere tractor going in the opposite direction. She's earned the nickname "torque" for sure.


However, Libby did pass the only really important test: Molly liked her, and from the start they seemed to get along. In fact Molly must have fallen for Libby long before I did. As soon as we got inside our apartment from that first walk she showed Libby around the house and shared her toys and beds.


At first we were very careful about feeding them separately, with Libby waiting on a tie-down until Molly finished first. However, after they ate ice cream together in the back seat of the car, we began to allow them to eat at the same time, off leash, in separate corners of the kitchen. Much to our surprise Libby often licks Molly's bowl clean and occasionally even steals a bite or two of her dinner-and Molly lets her!Now don't get me wrong, Molly's no pushover. Our theory is that she is now so supremely confident of her status in our house that she can afford to be generous to her little sister.


Libby goes by many names. We call her "bug" (because she's cute as) "The Scamp" (because she's mischievous and tends to scamper about) and "shrimp scampi" (because she's smaller than Molly, although she's rock solid and weighs a ton).


One of the first things she did to endear herself to us all was to become Molly's greatest playmate. Molly has always loved to chase and bite the hind legs of certain of her best friends, and The Scamp responded in kind and really gives Molly a run for her money; more so than any other playmate. The Scamp has moves Molly's never seen and since The Scamp has so much mass and torque she does incredible things like tumble in a ball
beneath Molly, at high speed! The fact that Molly is a dark gray and The Scamp is a very light makes the show even more impressive because it's easy to see who's doing what, to whom.


The Scamp has her own trick-she likes to bite and pull on Molly's collar, and drag her around the house from room to room. Her real goal is to unbuckle the big brass buckle, and like Houdini she can do it in as little as 15 seconds. She then parades her trophy, gives it the death shake, or chews it. Yet Molly doesn't seem to care at all, she seems as completely amused by The Scamp as we are. When Libby had to have eight front teeth extracted we thought her collar trick days might be over, but where there's a will, there's a way!


With a steady diet of Dr. Han's care, every variety of psychic and holistic consultations, Judith's home cooking, medicinal baths, and huge amounts of fresh air, play, love, affection and security Libby blossomed into a funny little, cuddly puppy who we have fallen in love with.


Molly's not much for relaxing, and is always on red alert. She considers it her duty to stay on the job, especially if others nap. Not so with The Scamp, who knows a good nap when she sees one. After a bath she's just irresistible, I find I have to take her into bed with me for a midday nap. Unlike Molly, Libby knows just what down pillows are made for and she lays back like the Queen of Sheba and dozes off, oblivious of the world. At first we were concerned that Molly might get jealous seeing The Scamp up in our bed, but apparently not.


Molly draws the line at her personal bed and even then, there have never been "words"; just an unspoken understanding that The Scamp should sleep on her own bed (they happily share other rugs around the house). In The Scamp's first weeks with us she did not yet have her "own" bed, so she had to make due with one of Molly's hand-me-downs. In Libby's hour of greatest need Molly actually did share her giant featherbed for one or two nights, but in short order Judith amassed Scamp's own dowry, and only then did Molly draw the line ever so subtly.


In order to show her gratitude for Molly's generosity The Scamp enlisted in Molly's private army defending the home front from all motion at the perimeter. The Scamp has impaired hearing and generally isn't the first to identify the sound of invading forces, or even know from which direction they're coming. However, what she lacks in precision she makes up in enthusiasm. When Molly barks The Scamp immediately rolls into action with a bark like a circus cannon. The Scamp often runs in the wrong direction missing the source of invasion by a wide margin. Often The Scamp will go up to a window and start barking at nothing in particular just because she knows it's a good way to get Molly's attention and win her favor!


It's easy to see how we assumed Libby to be a young dog, much younger than Molly, who is now 9 (and not slowing down one bit). After all, she's much smaller and more playful than Molly, a real cuddler, and Libby seems to follow and imitate Molly's every move. So imagine our surprise when a variety of medical procedures, dental work and skeletal x-rays, revealed Libby to be quite an old lady, at least 2-3 years Molly's senior (10 to 12 years of age!). Libby's obviously had a difficult life and neglect could maybe explain bad teeth and skin, but older? That came as quite a shock.


We should have known; there were clues. The Scamp's patrician bearing and imperial consumption of luxury and refined tastes are clearly the prerogatives of being an elder, right? Maybe The Scamp has been around the track a few times and really tasted Champagne and Caviar in an earlier gig? Only one thing comes to mind watching Libby riding in the car: Driving Miss Daisy. As she glances out the window Libby is obviously thinking: "I am accustomed to being chauffeured, I expect to be chauffeured. Are we in Hollywood yet?


Not a day goes by that Libby does not do something to endear her to us further. Her enthusiasm for walks, her trust in us during all sorts of medical procedures and the indignity of a bath, her confidence that lying so close to the refrigerator door (that it can't be opened) is a helpful contribution to mealtime preparations. And we love her for what she's done for Molly. She's Molly's best friend, and being her "little" sister has done more than anything we could have done to show Molly that "strange" dogs are not always the enemy.

Libby may not even be 100% Kerry Blue Terrier but we don't care one bit. We all just love that little Bug!


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