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The Best of KB-L for 2005

 

December 2005

Context:

Rescue Kerrries with agression problems are difficult to place. But not impossible!

Post:

From: Tracey Fulmer
Date: Fri Dec 23, 2005 15:44:27
To: KERRYBLUES-L@APPLE.EASE.LSOFT.COM
Subject: [KBL] Maxx's Christmas Miracle


Dear Listers,
I type this with the lightest of hearts and through tears of joy, after worrying along with so many others about the fate of Maxx, our neglected, spirited rescue whose last home kept him tied up outside, leaving him craving the one thing he needed: human companionship.

Maxx has found a home, and oh, what a special home it is. As you know, dear Maxx has dog aggression issues and through no fault of his own, he ended up in rescue where we couldn't find a foster home able work with him to manage these issues. Maxx stole my heart and he stole Mimi Wight's heart. If there were ever a Kerry that deserved a fighting chance, it was Maxx.

Through the Kerry network of Mimi and Victoria Kniering, we found a trainer who, by the luck of the Irish, had an opening, was willing to board and work with Maxx and offered us a rescue discount to take him on. Your Foundation donations bought him some time and the opportunity to better assess his issues, but his time was quickly running out. The trainer has been taking Maxx to her obedience classes, where her assistants work with the "project" dogs. One of the assistants saw something special in Maxx, something that she's been looking for over the past few years -- a dog so people-oriented that he would make an ideal therapy dog to replace her aging therapy Greyhound. So that is to be Maxx's fate -- to help those who need a cheery, furry friend to brighten their days. I can't imagine a Kerry better suited for the job!

Maxx has made incredible strides with his dog aggression and is now able run loose in the same room as a female Doberman and a female Springer. Over time, and with the expertise and guidance of the trainer, he will be integrated with his new canine siblings, where he will run freely in an enormous fenced-in yard in Connecticut and play with the adopter's two daughters. The girls adore him and the the feeling is mutual. And believe it or not, Maxx's new owner is a dog groomer, anxious to get him looking like a Kerry. She's also training a Shepherd to become a guide dog and will be taking Maxx to obedience classes several times a week where he will continue to get the training and socialization he needs. If you had asked me to describe the ideal home for Maxx, this would have exceeded my wildest dreams.

Our dear Maxx will be going home after the new year as the trainer has offered to keep him and continue to work with him over the holidays. There are many angels responsible for Maxx's amazing rescue story -- from the neighbor who called Peggy Turner to alert us to Maxx's plight, to Mimi, Victoria and the trainer, to our donors who bought Maxx much needed time, and finally, to his new owner who saw his incredible potential buried beneath that terrible terrier facade. For joy, for joy, for joy -- Maxx will be transformed from a difficult dog into an abassador for the breed. Our rescue funds couldn't produce a better return on investment. It truly doesn't get better than this!

(to the tune of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer)

Maxwell the Kerry rescue,
is a very special boy
And if you ever met him,
you'd say he exuded joy.

Both of his former families,
used to tie him out all day.
They never let poor Maxwell
run around the yard and play.

Then one thoughtful trainer saw
the potential in this boy.
Maxwell, with your eyes so bright
I'll love you with all my might.

Oh, how the family loved him
and they shouted out with glee,
Maxwell the Kerry rescue,
You'll be great at therapy!!

Tracey Fulmer
Foundation Rescue Coordinator, New England

 


November 2005

Context:

Shawna, one of our KB-L subscribers, was pondering if she should breed her Kerry.

Post:

From: Tracey Fulmer
Date: Tue Nov 8, 2005 11:13:27 AM US/Pacific
To: KERRYBLUES-L@APPLE.EASE.LSOFT.COM
Subject: [KBL] Irresponsible Breeding

I cannot stay quiet on this discussion stream. As a strong supporter of rescue AND responsible breeding, the bar should be set very high when making the decision to add more lives to this planet. That's the point so many responders are trying to drive home: If you're going to breed, that decision requires careful consideration and dedication -- set that bar high, very high.

The Kerry Foundation, as part of its mission, publishes many articles on the web site, maintains a breeder code of ethics and also runs this newslist to educate Kerry breeders, buyers and owners (thanks to our donors, volunteers and participants for enabling this fabulous service).

Our discussion has centered on what makes a responsible breeder. This link provides a fairly comprehensive, side by side comparison of a responsible breeder and a backyard breeder: http://www.geocities.com/Petsburgh/Fair/1901/chart.html .

On the left hand side are the breeders we want to see perpetuating and improving the amazing Kerry (or any) breed, consistent with the general advice from our wonderful listers. The breeders on the right hand side are contributors to our need to rescue.

So Shawna, the reason that you've received so many strongly worded responses is because your initial post mentioned only a good temperament, possible show lines and that the offspring would make great pets as your criteria for breeding. If that was indeed the extent of your thinking, that puts you firmly in the right hand column. I hope the advice you've received on this list, as well as on the Foundation web site and other sources, has either moved you into the left hand column or you have decided that you don't have the dedication it takes to become a responsible breeder.

Apologies for being so blunt, but now I must go meet and find a foster home for a Kerry that's tied out all day and needs to be re-homed. His irresponsible breeder gave him to an unfit home that had no dog experience and so the Kerry is poorly socialized with dogs and neglected. I truly hope we can help him. And I truly hope that all of our posts will prevent future Kerries like him.

Tracey Fulmer in Newton, MA
KBT Foundation Rescue Coordinator, New England


October 2005

Context:

Someone asked breeders what they did with older Kerries that no longer fit in thier breeding program.

Post:

Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2005 19:17:17
Sender: Janice Gessner
Subject: Placing older, retired Kerries


This is an interesting thread about breeders placing "stock" they longer need.

I was surprised when one lister commented that they saw this as a "betrayal" of the animal. Hmm, my Kerries when placed, think this is a great opportunity for a new life...they don't have to share training or grooming time, energy, a home, the car or the bed.

Kerries are canny and don't forget it.

At my house, depending on circumstance, there may be 2-6 kerries of different ages and sexes. I am a small breeder with a litter once every 1 to 5 years because it depends on my home life, whether I can set my family/friends on hold for 3+ months, the availability of a male where I feel the breeding is important and other factors. My adults are conformation champions, are obedience trained, hike, trail ride, are temperament tested, several are active therapy dogs, they push each other to get on the grooming table or go in the car. In other words an excellent companion dog, who can be taken anywhere with fairly reliable good behavior. Nothing is 100%!

Last saturday is a good example of what happens. People came out to meet the couple of pups I have available . First the adults come out ( 2 this time) so everyone knows what a full grown Kerry is like - sometimes a pet trim, sometimes a show trim, sometimes both or depending on the weather the latest mudhen look. After lots of visiting and talking the pups come out. Of course Hamish the cat comes by to check in or check the people out too.

The lady was delighted with the adults and after playing with the pups a bit simply said “Were either of the adults for sale?” My reply was "get in line grin"

Her comment was "with the adults the work is done". For many people we need to consider their skill in training, do they have the time and commitment to properly socialize and table train their Kerry?

I have placed several adults over my 30 plus years in dogs and many times within a few weeks something occurs that shows the Kerry has taken "ownership/guard status" of their new family. Any dog that isn't happy comes back but generally the initial interaction shows whether the Kerry is ready for a new family or not.

My initial Kerry , Tess, a Granemore Female, was not an outgoing Kerry and wasn't keen on men but after her second litter, a family came to buy a pup . Tess actually took her toys to the buyer and sat between him and the two daughters. The family loved her elegance and wanted her instead. This family had come well recommended, we negotiated and after a couple of sleep overs she went to live with them. [...]

Yes, I part with the occasional adult. It is a head decision not a heart decision. The head says... it is a better life for the dog... and yes the heart cries.

Janice Gessner - Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada
Zzin - I'm not keen on leaving ...she needs me !
Kohl- love me, feed me, share your bed with me and i'm yours !


September 2005

Context:

During this month, 14 Kerries were rescued from a auction in Misssouri. John Kimzey was our bidder. John has been working with the Foundation for a long time and his expertise has been invaluable in formulating the Foundation's policy towards auction rescues.

Auction bidders usually work under the cloak of secrecy and sometimes do not even know the other rescue bidders at dog auctions. It is with great honor and gratidude that John is willing to step out off the shadows of the dog underworld, and explain to all of us the operation of dog auctions.

Post:

Date: Thu, 15 Sep 2005 23:20:40 -0500
Sender: John Kimzey <jekimzey@CHARTER.NET>
Subject: Regarding the Great Escape - From the Bidder Content

Good evening to all,

My name is John K, and I am the Auction rescue person that worked with Janet and the KBTF to get these dogs out. I joined the list, at the urging of Janet, as she knows I like to hear the happy stories of these dogs after I have sent them on their way. Thank you again Janet, after reading the archives, I feel this is a wonderful group. Ever so greatly supportive, so very similar to my favored Berner-L for the Bernese Mountain dogs.

I would like to thank Robert, and those of you that sent your blessings and thanks my way. I hope I can save each blessing for the next time a Kerry comes up on the auction block, because I will be there, for this group, as
well as for the dogs, your devotion to your breed is something very special, and worthy of any effort I can give to support it. In fact, Janet and I have a personal commitment between the two of us to find, and get back those that we lost. If it's at all possible, they will be brought out of that situation as well. And if it isn't possible, I wouldn't put it past Janet to find a way to make it so! And if I can be of assistance at that time, I will again, feel greatly honored.

You all have such a wonderful asset in this lady; that I couldn't even begin to describe. She certainly is giving the dogs, and the foundation membership 100% this week! The Vet, the Shelter, the dog wash and the airport are all pretty much to the four corners of the St. Louis area. How she's managed to run all of the directions she's had to is beyond me!

I would also like to express my heartfelt appreciation to Suzanna, who showed the most devotion as a breeder that I have ever seen in the dog industry. It nearly broke my heart when I saw you posting to the "other" Kerry list, asking that the list direct their venom to you and not the rescuers. As a dog fancier, a Rescue owner, auction rescue person, and a former Chow Breeder for show; I would willingly take any complaints about the auction, the price I paid for your boy, over and over again rather than let you feel that you did anything but the right thing. I may have paid dearly for that one boy, but in doing so, I have robbed the Commercial breeding industry in the US of having very valuable Pedigree on their dogs, thus, I have hurt their pocket books even more! And he is such a sweet boy; I will attest that he is worth every penny!

As to the methods used in the auctions; which have been questioned greatly amongst the Kerry fanciers as of late. This auction was not in any way, typical of how we normally will work an auction. This was, in fact, the first auction in which I have gone in, with the sole determination of getting EVERY dog of the target breed possible Regardless of my ability to transport, house, or feed the sheer number. Why? Because it was a breeder sell out, and I had confirmed that the breeder was surrendering her USDA license. As well as because there were over 100 other parties there that were determined that they were going to get into the commercial dog breeding industry, or augment their existing business with another breed.

Here is an excerpt from some information that I posted to the other list, (which for some reason, didn't make it to the public) about the impact we made is:

The amount of money, needed to buy these puppies is by no means a "small drop in the bucket". It is a great deal of money! But I ask you to consider what the cost of rescue will be in coming years if all of these dogs were in commercial breeding facilities. Even using conservative numbers, the resulting number of Kerry's in the US would be staggering. And the quality of Kerry's will decline at a very rapid pace unless we break the chain.

Consider that 1 female, (A) produces an average of 6 puppies per litter, and has only 3 litter in her life time. And only 1 female from each of her litters goes on to do the same either in a mill or someone's back yard and so on.

  • 1 st generation 1 bitch x 3 litters totaling 18 puppies
  • 2 nd generation 3 bitches x 3 litters each totaling 54 puppies
  • 3 rd generation 9 bitches x 3 litters each totaling 162 puppies
  • 4 th generation 27 bitches x 3 litters each totaling 486 puppies
  • 5 th generation 81 bitches x 3 litters each totaling 1458 puppies

So female (A) causes the result of 2178 puppies in 5 generations

Now take that figure times the 12 females Auction Rescue HAS kept out of the gene pool 2178 x 12 = 26,136 puppies in 5 generations

Now, remember that 12 of these original 20 were female & that a female can have one litter, and be pregnant again before the first year is out.

The scary part is that this is not only true, but is in fact, what we could have been looking at!

Our normal tactics are varied, but to give a quick overview, we will evaluate the dogs, stand in front of the cage and bad-mouth every flaw we can find, think of, or come up with until the auction starts, then we will do our best to drive down the bidding as far as possible. (There's always some bone head that will bid on the dog at $50.00 these days) and then we will delay our bids to the second or third call, often times raising the bid at smaller increments than what the auctioneer calls for. We have had to leave dogs in the past, which is one of the most heart wrenching things one can do. but when we go into an auction, we already know the winning bid history on the breed, and will have a realistic top price, that is usually lower or equal to the mid-range price at the previous auction. We know what these are, as we record all prices on all breeds, in support of other rescues as well as for our own trending and analysis. As I have worked with the Foundation in the past, and had multiple opportunities to speak with Janet, I know that she keeps this information as well, and is very well versed in the nuances involved with obtaining these dogs.

As to where these auctions are. Unfortunately, they are all around me here in St. Louis. They are held out of an actual auction house designed just for the purpose of selling dogs in Wheaton, MO, they are also sold out of an old decrepit barn in Cabool, MO, and then at an auction arena at a fairgrounds in Shelbina, MO. They are also held at individual's houses and at the OSU campus in Oklahoma as well as in an Amish outlet mall in Ohio. So as you can tell, they keep the few of us with morals, running like crazy! The biggest problem is that the Commercial breeding industry has formed a coalition under multiple names in which they are gaining support in the state of Missouri, and even placing state representatives in office via funding their entire campaign. This makes the fight harder, and harder each week, namely due to the inability of the majority of breed club rescues and breed specific rescues such as BARC Inc. and the KBTF to work together. The support and cooperation that I personally have received from John and Janet and the entire KBTF has been so great that it truly gives me hope that there is still a chance to make a difference rather than just manage to limit the damage being done. (Again, my utmost gratitude goes to you all!)

I hope I have answered several questions, and maybe inspired one or two to talk about the mills, the rescue, and take a moment to appreciate the group you have here!

After "the Escape" is completed, and I have said my final goodbye to Janet and Mimi, I plan on staying on this list, if you all don't mind; although in Digest form more than likely, as I am very active in Bernese, Newfoundland's, Leonberger's, Great Pyr, and Shiba Inu Rescue as well. (Yes, Janet can verify, coming into my house is a little more than an "event", with all of the 100lb + greetings!)

I would like to stay, so that I have this communications path open, both ways. As if anyone has questions about the auctions in Missouri or Ohio, the Amish puppy mills or anything along those lines, I will volunteer what I know freely and eagerly. Passing on what I see is the best way to make sure that the mills are held in check.

With appreciation, and the hopes of hearing 13 more wonderful meetings!

John K
St. Louis, MO
(and yes, 14 kerries in one place makes for VERY little sleep!)


August 2005

Context:

Have you ever considered adopting a rescued Kerry? A list member from Canada has but is also concerned about this being a heavy load since some of these dogs have had a poor start in life both emotionally and nutritionally. Here's a taste of what she found.

Post:

Date: Sat, 20 Aug 2005 20:19:06 -0400
Sender: peggy turner <peggyturner@VERIZON.NET>
Subject: Rescue Pups

Priscilla, Marie, Holly,

You all wrote such WONDERFUL responses to Anne Corke's concern over whether to adopt a rescue dog for fear of health issues. I, too, have purchased, bred, fostered and am now the proudest owner of one of the most awesome Kerry Blue Terriers we were lucky enough to adopt through the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation. He has a joy of life that is such a pleasure to live with and everyday he makes us laugh. We are thrilled to pieces that he is ours to love, and that, as Holly said, we were able to help out this little guy. When he got here he wouldn't come out of his crate, just huddled in the back. When he did come out he peed all the way. With lots of walking all over our town to socialize him, lots of playing with our other kerries, and puppy classes he started to come out of his shell. Now, a year later, he is doing agility, and loving it! Every where I take him no one can believe he is the same little sad guy he once was.

Do I worry about his health because of a poor start? Yes, sometimes. But I'm willing to take the chance to live with such a joyful guy. Our first 2 kerries lived to be 14 and 13 1/2. With this much love of life and common sense with good foods and vaccine titers, and our wonderful vet (a Jean Dodds follower) I'm willing to bet Mulligan will live a long and happy life. Whatever we get, we have been the lucky ones! And as Priscilla said, there are no guarantees. But had I known how much love these rescue guys had to offer, my husband and I would have adopted one YEARS ago. We would do it again without hesitation. What we give Mulligan he gives us back ten fold.

Anne, if you decide to try rescue I hope that you too will find the happiness that many of us found. There is truly nothing like it to help a Kerry in need.

Peggy Turner


July 2005

Context:

An amused lister from down under responds to a "Question of the Week" by questioning the soft wording that suggests our pooches are pampered and that anything less is scandalous.

Post:

Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2005 14:07:34 +0930
Sender: Michael Cunnington <mc@INTERNODE.ON.NET>
Subject: Comment about the Question of the Week

I am unhappy about the wording of question of the week. It seems to me that questions are loaded with emotive content. Let's look at the options.

If your oldest Kerry sleeps inside, where does it sleep at night?

1. - I admit it, in or on my bed How warm and cozy. What lucky Kerry's, to be so completely taken in to the hearts (and beds) of their owners. (Kasey wouldn't dream of climbing onto my bed or any other piece of furniture in the house. How can I cope with the guilt?)

2. - On the bare floor (Let me leave that option till the last)

3. On a piece of furniture or in his own bed Lucky Kerry's again! Either draped over their favourite sofa, lounge chair etc., or snugly curled up in his/her custom built boudoir.

4. In its crate Oh, very harsh! Poor creature, spending the nights with it's lonely nose pressed against the bars of it's prison cell.

Now let me deal with the only remaining option. THE BARE FLOOR! How could anybody be so cruel! I can see the poor dog now, soaking up rheumatoid arthritis through a freezing cold cement slab. Is it possible that we have owners in our midst who would own up to such barbarity. Okay, so where does [my Kerry] Kasey sleep?

Actually, it's none of the above. Yes, he sleeps on the floor next to my bed (his choice of location) but it is not BARE! First there is a thick carpet over wooden floorboards and then a couple of blankets which my wife spreads out to add to his comfort. Incidentally, he just won't accept neatly spread blankets. Before settling down, he first scrabbles and scrapes his blankets into an untidy pile then sort of wraps himself in and around them.

So there it is, my confession is now complete. I hope I still have a friend left in the Kerry community. Now I'd better go and barricade my front door in case representatives of PETA turn up to rescue Kasey from his heartless owner.

Regards to all,

Michael
Adelaide, South Australia


June 2005

Context:

When Mick came on the Kerry scene three years ago and started winning almost any show he was entered, the Kerry community was concerned about his impact on the breed. John Van den Bergh responds to Paul Gygi's post (marked with <) regarding the two of the four major impacts of Mick on the breed:

  • Improved quality of the breeding stock-- 
  • Improved recognition of breed & more knowledgeable public -- 
  • Increased demand by unqualified pet owners -- 
  • Increased supply of Kerries by puppy mills --

Post:

Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2005 15:00:12 -0700
Sender: John Van den Bergh <johnv@IMPULSE.NET>
Subject: Re: QOTW #153 Re Mick's Impact on the Breed

On Saturday, June 18, 2005, at 11:10 PM, Paul Gygi wrote:
> Thoughts on Answers to Question of the Week:

> * Increased demand by unqualified pet owners --
>
> What does "unqualified" mean?
> The number of dogs arriving at the SPCA shelters is not decreasing.
> Therefore, something continues to be very wrong with what is happening
> in the US. Has the number of rescued Kerries decreased & what is the
> reason for them being "abandoned?" Statistical answers to those two
> questions cannot be surmised.

"Qualified" not only means being informed about the breed and fully
understand and appreciate its temperament, but also being able to
handle it. At the Foundation less than 5% of the applications we
receive for rescue Kerries are "qualified." Janet could write volumes
about the misconceptions people have about our breed. If she wasn't so
busy rescuing Kerries, she would write about the absolutely hilarious
comments of potential Kerry addoptors.

While the quantity of potential Kerry owners has gone up because of
Mick, the quality has not.
>
> * Increased supply of Kerries by puppy mills --
>
> Only litter & individual registrations can determine this, not
> conjecture.
>
The Foundation is now tracking over 80 puppy mills that breed Kerries
in volumes large enough to require a USDA license (7 litters per year).
(The Foundation defines a "puppy mill" as a breeder who is required to
have a USDA license.) This number has quadrupled since Mick came on the
scene.

The AKC is making a big effort to register puppy mill Kerries through
their "High Volume Breeders Committee." (See their report at:
http://www.akc.org/pdfs/about/special_reports/HVBC_finalA.pdf )

The indiscriminate breeding by puppy mills, combined with the effort of
the AKC to register these pure-bred Kerries is not helping the quality
of our beloved breed.

However, over the last few months we have noticed that (1) some mills
are dumping their Kerry breeding stock, (2) the wholesale price of
Kerries is coming down, and (3) the "shelve life" of Kerries in puppy
stores has been increasing.

In general, Mick has had a negative impact on Kerry rescue, however,
not nearly as bad as we originally had thought. We expect that the
"Mick effect" on rescue will dissipate over the next few years as the
Foundation and some other organizations step up their education efforts
to convince the public not to buy Kerries from pet stores.

John Van den Bergh, President
Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation
http://www.kerryblues.info/
johnv@kerryblues.info or 800/532-2890
P. O. Box 1495, Solvang, CA 93464 USA


May 2005

Context:

One of the Top 10 viewed pages on the Foundation web site is Rescued Kerries. Many of us are interested in the secret lives of these Kerries whose faces seem so adorable and we wonder about the sketchy details of their lives. Here is another lovely Kerry girl whose short life has been forgettable. Several list members decided to make her the poster dog to encourage other list members to open their homes or wallets for the less fortunate of our breed.

Post:

Date: Thu, 26 May 2005 05:42:15
Sender: Janet Joers
Subject: Bailey, our new Rescue Kerry

Mimi Wight <mimij5@ADELPHIA.NET> writes publicly to Barbara Kam:

> Thanks to you, Barbara, for fostering this handsome girl. I read the
> write-up about her on the rescue page of the website and she sounds
> like a real gem. Are we allowed to know where she came from, why she ended up
> in rescue?

Bailey

Of course (!), but we don't know much either. Bailey is only 3 years old, but she's had 3 homes already so we don't know where life began for her, who her breeder is, who her first two owners were, or why they gave up such as sweet girl as this.

We do know why Bailey's last owner gave her up: They were unable to afford the grooming our breed requires, and unable to give her the attention she needed. The family owned another dog, 2 cats, and had a new toddler, and with the husband out of the country, the wife found herself on overload. There was also some suggestion that the husband wanted to breed Bailey, but since she didn't come into season the year they owned her, that, thankfully, didn't happen.

Although one might suspect behavior problems in a dog that has been passed around like this, it is certainly not true in Bailey's case, nor has it been true in other multi-home Kerries we've rescued (like Jagger last year, who had 3 homes by 2 years of age).

In my opinion, it happens when people acquire our breed without knowing a thing about them. Kerries are demanding--the grooming requirements are considerable, the training imperative, and the one-on-one attention a necessity. Owners unprepared for that don't do well with our breed and quickly give them up.

Bailey's last owner filled out a short info sheet on her when she surrendered her. From that we learned that Bailey was not tattooed or microchipped, had no papers, was out-of-date on all her vaccines, was fed Ol' Roy, and lived outside in the back yard. Bailey was also forced to sleep outside "except on rainy days."

She came to us with ear infections, an eye irritation, abscessed tooth and dirty teeth, two growths that need removal, and possibly intact--all treatable and remedied with proper care.

Thanks to your donations to the Foundation, Bailey, and future Rescue Kerries like her, will get the medical treatment they need, and the loving home they deserve. How many Kerries we are able to rescue depends solely on the generosity of the Kerry community and its willingness to provide temporary foster care to help a Kerry on its way. Without that, Bailey would still be in that back yard, miserable and unloved.

If you think our Rescue program is worthwhile, please donate or volunteer. It can make a huge difference in the life of a Kerry.

Volunteer: jjoers@impulse.net Jan in Santa Ynez, CA Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation, Rescue Director 


April 2005

Context:

Aggression in Kerries does exist but if exhibited it is mostly directed towards other dogs, and on rare occasions towards people. During April, three list members asked for help with different levels of aggression. The post offers an insight into the topic of Nature vs. Nurture.

Post:

Date: Sunday, April 10, 2005 10:22 PM
Sender: "Christopher Korody" <chriskorody@MAC.COM>
Subject: Nature and Nurture

I continue to read the debate about the temperament of our dogs with great interest. But what I find even more interesting is what informs the point of view about what "the right thing to do" is . So here's my two cents.
When I first got Mason we were walking on the beach on a bright December day. A pair of older gents were sitting on the bench enjoying the pale sunshine. One of them, with a snap brim cap turned to us as we walked by and in the richest and grandest brogue I have ever heard said:

"Pardon me, would that be a Kerry Blue?"

Charmed, I allowed as to how he was and brought Mason over for inspection. He bent down to give a scratch.

"Fine dogs these. Me father used to breed them for the pits."

Noting the complete lack of comprehension on my face he continued:

"For fighting you know. Great heart these dogs. Fight to the death they would...helluva thing to see"

I'll bet.

How about the very kind man whose advice to me as a new Kerry owner was that I could never give the dog an upper hand... and explained in some detail how he went head to head with his male at the age of 7 months by physically manhandling him until the dog realized that he (the man) was the alpha in the pack... Which in his world seemed to mean that he felt his wife and children were safe from the dog. So what if this works but you're not strong enough to do it?

More recently we did a Strong Dog trial. That tunnel is a daunting thing, especially when you are told that to a dog, the size of the tunnel equals the size of the jaws inside it. I wouldn't want to go down it - but Mason with sufficient coaxing did on his second try and brought back the prize. Then I saw an intact Staffie male go down that tunnel and came out with the bait so fast that it startled everyone. Is that a natural born killer or was he made that way? He had never seen a tunnel before.

Among any group of people who value lineage - be it among society, dogs, horses or anything else that is purpose bred and trained - the discussion will inevitably turn to Nature versus Nurture.

I was interested to see today's post regarding the steady improvement since the 20's - it is a powerful argument for the importance of Nature over Nurture...Do we really think that all of these "highly desirable" tendencies can be bred out in the 10 or 20 generations we have been trying to make KBTs into dogs with "just the right gameness"? That too is a question about Nature...

Why is it that so many seem to ignore the not-so-little secret that our grandest champion (and I would assume the most valuable stud in KBT history) has the same manners off-camera as these legendary brawlers? And that many of his offspring are so aggressive as to be near unmanageable before they are a year old... The ones that I have met seem destined to live out their lives between the crate and the ring... Which begs the question - especially in the context of this thread - can the offspring of our greatest champion be sold as anything but pit dogs or show dogs with less than full disclosure that heartbreak is a likely part of the deal? Is this what we as a group think is a premium dog? Our best product? What we as a group think should be out there?

At least hypothetically in the name of Science, wouldn't it be interesting to take the responses to Question Of The Week survey and attach bloodlines to each of the categories? And see if there is a random or uneven distribution? If more are male or female. Fixed or intact. How does a litter distribute across the scale. And at what age the problem/tendency/temperament first manifested itself... And please - before you pull out your incinerating devices - note that KTBF clearly states that this this is not their intention. Nor would it be a statistically valid sample...

But you could... Just as we could profile the owners against these behaviors too... and we have read plenty in the last few days to see that its not always the dog.

Most likely you would prove that there are exceptions to everything. But there would be clear trends and behavior can be projected from those trends. When a choice is between a dog's life and a persons life or safety - especially a child's or a stranger's - everything needs to be out in the open and on the table. As does a frank discussion of that person's ability to modify their own behavior quickly enough to turn the situation around.

My very specific hope is preventing the agony that leaves someone feeling that they failed or were inadequate in their Nurturing of their dog. Sure in some cases, they weren't up to the task. But there are times when no one failed. When someone needs us as a group to say, that's exactly what the dog was bred to be... so they can deal with things as they are in Nature, not as they wish them to be.

Best,

Chris Korody


March 2005

Context:

As we say goodbye to another Kerry, let's take a moment to reflect upon her life: Gourmand, Adventurer, Homeless, Down Blankets, Ambassador, Friend: What could these things possibly have in common? Libby, aka the Scamp.

Post:

Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2005 22:37:11 -0800
Sender: Roland H. Alden, Jr., ralden@ralden.com
Subject: The Biography of the Scamp

Libby Bruno-Alden
Born: Under a Lucky Star
Died: March 2, 2005

Libby passed away this morning after a brief but serious illness that
threatened to take the joy out of life for her. Libby, a true gourmand,
had cheesecake for dessert last night, slept peacefully, and died with
her boots on during a short morning walk. Her life was a long adventure,
and only now can some of her secrets be shared.

Nobody knows exactly when or where Libby was born, but we do know that
her first real job was assistant navigator to Amelia Earhart and it is
thought she was on that fateful last flight. Presumably this is how
Libby arrived in the islands of Tonga in the South Pacific where she
held a number of positions; most notably as Minister of Satellites.

She got to the Bay Area on a tramp steamer and probably worked in the
kitchen to pay her way. She always felt that it was her job to guard the
refrigerator; perhaps during this period that really was her job.

Judging from her sophisticated tastes, it is likely that she lived in
luxury for a number of years. However, when times got tough she was
forced to live in a junkyard. True to form, she found an abandoned Rolls
Royce and lived there with a small entourage of squirrels and cats.

During these years Libby must have had some close calls. Somewhere she
took a bullet which remained lodged in her ribcage for the rest of her
life. She no doubt spent some time in a state of homelessness because
she eventually wound up at the Fremont animal shelter covered in burrs
and in an emaciated condition. Here's a picture of her from that time:

When Libby came to live with our family, Molly took her under her wing.
Molly was like an older sister showing Libby the ropes. Later, Libby
repaid Molly, by working the tail gunner position on walks; she would
bark like a cannon at any dog that Molly questioned.
But, over time it became apparent that Libby was older and wiser. Libby
would eventually become the elder statesman of our house. She was quite
the Ambassador, and would extend a warm welcome to dogs we would meet.
She helped Molly and Heddy make many friends they might never have
otherwise given a chance.

Libby was also very friendly with frail and elderly people, and enjoyed
meeting everyone at the nursing home where Roland's mother lived. On
walks around San Francisco she counted as friends many homeless people;
no doubt she felt kinship with them.
Like Orson Welles, Libby was a gourmand. She acquired the name
"Margaret" from a man who said she "never missed a meal." Whereas Molly
was a fussy eater, Libby was quite the opposite. She would eat anything;
garbage on the street, pate on the hors d'ouvres tray, ice cream, you
name it.

She also loved to take naps and acquired an extensive inventory of
nap-properties around our house. She had her "gondola", a canopy-covered
bed she would often use for serious dreaming. She took over the entire
couch in her last year. She loved to snooze in the sunshine on the patio
after breakfast. If the weather was cold she would snooze under down
blankets. She would snooze on piles of laundry, under tables where we
would spot special pads for her, and she was a great traveler that would
snooze quietly in any car trip.

Libby loved to go for walks. Unlike most dogs, Libby didn't really view
the walk as a turf-building exercise. She enjoyed meeting new people
(who might have biscuits), meeting new dogs (so her hummingbird tail
could wag), and most importantly, each walk offered new opportunities to
get dirty. She was unafraid of dirt; happiest digging a hole, burrowing
into a hedge, or sticking her face into some pile of filth. On occasion,
she would reluctantly submit to a bath, and was a real beauty queen when
groomed. See this picture for proof:

Like W.C. Fields, Libby tolerated children and puppies. Doctors say she
probably had at least one litter. We once saw a dog that could have been
her littermate; but only once. Since that one sighting we have never
seen another dog like Libby. As far was we are concerned she was
one-of-a-kind.

March 2, 2005
Roland H. Alden, Jr.
ralden@ralden.com


February 2005

Context:

Each time a beloved Kerry passes, we silently know that one day it'll happen to our own. Some are champions from the show or agility ring, some are pets. Jazz was the spark that inspired Jan & John to devote their lives to Kerries and is the reason we are connected here as a group of people from around the world. We mourn her loss and celebrate the life she lived.

Post:

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2005
From: Janet Joers
Subject: All That Jazz, 1990-2005

Jazz

It is with unbearable sadness that John and I report the passing of Jazz, Ch. Calkerry's All That Jazz, our first dog and our first Kerry. She died yesterday, when all hope was gone, and we released her to her true home. She left this world peacefully, surrounded by love, with the great dignity befitting a great dog.

To us, Jazz was more than a tribute to her breed; she was a monument to it. She met life head-on with courage, confidence, and pride, never doubting herself for a minute. She didn't just live life, she dominated it. Independent, fearless, keenly intelligent, and strong-willed, Jazz was a force to be reckoned with.

Owning Jazz has been an incredible adventure, and we are humbled by it. She was our introduction to Kerries, and it was she who inspired KB-L, the Kerry web site, and the Kerry Foundation itself. She was an extraordinary dog. She was bigger than life.

Jazz died on a dark day of torrential rain, but she was buried this morning under a brilliant clear sky. She lies peacefully under a mighty oak--as mighty as she was herself. Surely her indomitable spirit will live forever.

Jan & John in Santa Ynez, CA


January 2005

Context:

 

This is a continuation of the life and mishaps of Murphy as seen through his human caretaker's eye. To read this post properly, kindly read the December 2004 Best of KBL.

Post:

Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 19:46:31 -0800
From: Joseph Greenleaf <jagreenleaf@YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Busted

I sadly report that Murphy, he of the $285 trim, has changed his pricey fur coat for jailhouse stripes.

Molly, the sultry tempress of a Labrador retriever, of whom he is smiten, enticed him out of the yard through an open gate. She pranced home without having retrieved young Mr. Murphy (he of the recent 2nd birthday, and obviously feeling like he could go for a stroll without the Parent Figure).

I wandered the neighbourhood asking strangers if they've seen a curly, black/silver/blue... Nada.

I returned to a phone message from the Big House: it was the Warden to advise that Murphy had been busted by the Dog Catcher for Highway Mopery (2 counts) and Attempt to Gawk; could I collect him from stir?

Unable to get the Legal Aid lawyers mobilised, I went myself.

Sure enough, they had him. Yes, he was inciting to riot, adding another count of Being Silly in a Public Place to his rap sheet, and would I like to bail him out?

By the time I was done, I had joined the Animal Shelter (hoping for leniency), bought yet another chip (as his was Irish and they couldn't read it with one of the two readers, and the one that could read it couldn't figure it out), had him get yet another rabies jab (he's thinking of selling his blood) and generally making my credit card transparent. The numbers are no longer raised.

The other dogs were making fun of his accent, so he had to yell at them, the cats thought he was cute (which he did not want to be) and the screws had him down as a Schnauzer. Must be the hair-do.

He wanted to stay and continue his game of poker, get a jailhouse tattoo of a sailing ship to be like the Lady Wrestlers, and learn how to dumpster-dive, but I hauled him out.

He told the other cons that he was in for catricide, which isn't true, as he loves cats far more than they love him, but it made him sound tough. He wants to be known as Killer.

Killer told me he was innocent, and wanted to take it to a higher court. I told him I didn't think that was possible. He said it is *always* possible--Kerries always have appeal.

----
Joeseph Greenleaf is an Irish author and publisher. His books can be purchased at:
http://www.swordpoint.com

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