Our last "best of KBL" post for 2011 is from Regina Corry about the recent loss of her beloved Miss Jessie. It's a charming obituary which describes Jessie so beautifully that I think we all fell in love with her when we read it. Jessie's endearing traits and positive attitude are a fine example of the Kerry Blue character which we all cherish.
From: Regina Corry
Date: December 30, 2011
Subject: Miss Jessie
Miss Jessie, of a certain age, passed away surrounded by the people (and treat jars) that she loved today. A native of Baltimore, Jess lived a charmed early life as a princess. A bit too long of body and rough of coat for a career in the ring, she instead went to charm school and perfected the Jessie pose: sitting, feet together, head downcast, looking up through her lashes. This caused everyone - including hardened obedience trainers - to squeal "she's sooo cute!" Sadly orphaned at the tender age of eight in 2005, Jess determined that rather than feel sorry for herself she would devote the remainder of her life to working for Kerry Blue Terrier Rescue. While she hoped to help many humans, her first home proved so in need of help that she remained there.
A lifelong advocate of canine civil rights, Jess was quickly elected President of Dog Union Local 2. She used arbitration to create much needed changes, including metrics for door opening response times, a work at home job for one of the humans, and a dog house in the mountains. Diagnosed with cancer in mid-2010, she choose chemo treatment to gain a 6-9 month prognosis. She stretched that out, but in the last two days began to show signs that it was time.
Jess leaves behind her special companion of over six years, Finnegan, and her broken hearted second humans. She's rejoined her first humans, and is enjoying her well deserved treats. Probably playing in the snow, and then laying in the grass, soaking up the sun - her two favorite activities. She'll be laid to rest in a private ceremony, and in lieu of flowers requested that donations be made to the KBL so that other Kerries can continue her important work of helping humans.
Those of us that have more than one dog are always trying to ensure that we don't play favourites. Making sure that each dog gets equal quality time can be quite a challenge but of course, our dogs are only too happy to help out by issuing reminders if they're feeling neglected! In this month's "best of", Irene Landau describes the logistics of life with her four dogs.
From: Irene Landau
Date: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Subject: new QOTW re multiple dogs
Apart from when the dogs individually request special attention - as others have mentioned, there are some one on one activities that I initiate.
We have 4 dogs - 2 Kerries, 2 Papillons. One is at mealtime. Each dog has a separate bowl. The Paps are trusted to eat in the same room without injuring
one another. The Kerries are fed In separate rooms and there's a little training routine I go thru with each
depending on what we are working on e.g. sit, wait, stand, watch, OK; or a focus on not barking for Shamrock. I find I have their full attention and cooperation at these times! Though the dogs are separated, mealtime is still full of dog politics that I have yet to understand.
Another is "ball time" outdoors. I find ball tossing/retrieving has to be an individual activity. Otherwise it is not a game with me but with other dogs and is played with dog rules and definitely no retrieving but a lot of possession/protection. Even though the Paps can and do hold their own, I think it has potential to get out of control as the Kerries do take ball play very seriously. Indoors with multiple plush balls works ok as a group game - the excitement level is controllable. All this is subject to training of course and I'm not too rigorous - i am happy for the dogs to behave like dogs most of the time.
Irene, Tasmania, Australia
We all love happy endings, and Belle's story is just that. As with many rescues, Belle had some issues, but in spite of the challenges, she managed to worm her way into her foster mother's heart and is now there to stay! Thanks to Sharon and her sister for sharing this heartwarming story.
From: Sharon Arkoff
Date: October 24, 2011
Subject: Update on rescue girl Southwest Belle
I'm forwarding a note from the adopter of Southwest Belle, a kerry found in a shelter just before the holiday season last year. The story is not told quite exactly how I remember it, but, this is my older sister who is a much better human being than I am, so, I guess her version is okay to print since it ends well for Belle. :-)
At the end of the story, my sister asks me to not send her any more kerries. I totally am not promising this. :-)
Message is as follows:
I got the call in late November from my sister in Massachusetts; "I'm sending you a Kerry." Now my family has owned and loved Kerry Blues for decades. We grew up with Kerry Blue puppies around our feet. My sister, Sharon Arkoff, in addition to owning and rescuing countless Kerries is the Rescue Coordinator for the Foundation for the East Coast. My current Kerry was blind and had health problems. "No Sharon, I don't want a Kerry, I've already got an old, blind, sick one. Don't send me another."
"I've got to get this Kerry out of the shelter, some people will drive to you in San Diego and drop her off, and you only need to keep her for a few days."
"No, don't send me another Kerry!"
"Her name is Belle; she's coming in a few weeks."
"Sharon, don't send me another Kerry"
Christmas Eve, two wonderful Kerry owners arrive at my house with Belle. What jumps out of the kennel is this huge, fat, ears not set, nub of a tail, cleaned, but not kerry groomed, dog. Is she really a Kerry, I wonder? She outweighs all three Kerries in attendance by at least 15 pounds. Due to some skin disease her coat was thin so it was hard to really identify her breed.
The transition wasn't easy. We are pretty sure Belle was abused, because she absolutely cowers when voices are raised. She is obsessed with food – she is like a bear, prying open cabinets, chewing through backpacks; if there's food available, she'll find it and get to it. She's eaten 3 ears of corn (husk and cob), loaves of bread, a couple of pounds of flour, tomatoes, chocolate (a bag of Hershey's kisses – the foil went right through her!), a frozen steak, and the contents of many trash cans. And that's just what we know about.
At first she refused to leave the house. She would run out, do her business and run back. If she was sleeping and you touched her, she'd leap up as if to bite you (which she never did). With Franny's (my older Kerry) various illnesses and Belle's bad skin, ear and eye infections, I spent a lot of time at the vets. I couldn't take Belle on walks unless I brought my other dog as company. And she didn't even like my other dog. Belle could never quite figure out why Franny kept invading her space and there were quite a few fights at first. I spent the first month, managing both dogs, feeding them separately, and training Belle where she could lie down and where she couldn't. On the leash, she'd lunge at other dogs, motorcyles and bikes. I called my sister several times to tell her to come get this dog.
In turns out, Belle is a diamond in the rough. She is extremely smart and wants to be loved. She knows many voice commands, sit, stay, roll over, go lie down, go get Daddy; the last one will send her running into whatever room my husband is and leap onto him. She loves children. She is a love whore! When my teenage daughter comes home with her friends, Belle, who is constantly at my side, abandons me to go lie in the middle of the girls, looking at them with her big brown eyes and wagging her nub of a tail. While she used to be very reactive to bicycles, other dogs, and motorcycles, she now looks to me to see how she should behave. She is absolutely perfect off leash; listening to commands and waiting, of course, for her treat.
We still struggle with her weight, but after every walk we come home and she runs into the backyard to take a cool down in the pool. She wades in, floats slowly about the pool (she is quite buoyant) and comes out to dry off.
There were times when we really had enough with Belle and her neuroses, but it's been almost a year and our family is so grateful we did not give up on her and send her to someone else. The other day, I was walking her (off leash) and she met another dog. For the first time, I saw Belle actually romp and attempt to play. Her nubby tail was up in the air, her shaggy ears flopped about as she tried to leap and run. She even has begun to be a little picky about her food!! She is so loving and affectionate. Her trust in us is amazing (I believe in large part, because we've showed her trust and respect). What was a once a fat, eager to please, but fearful dog, has slowly been turning into a confident, happy, (and yes, still fat) dog. I am no longer angry with my sister, I am grateful. But don't send me another, Sharon!
One of the things that we all love and admire about our Kerries is their spirit. You just can't keep a good Kerry down. In our "best of" post for September, Janet McCallen shares a story about her rescue Shannon. In spite of a bad start in life and numerous health issues, Shannon continues to tackle every day with typical Kerry attitude. Atta girl, Shannon!
Subject: The Life of Shannon
Date: September 17, 2011
From: Janet McCallen
I would have said "The Life of Riley" but this is really about Shannon, not Riley, who's still just healthy and happy and eager to please - and to torment 7 lb. Dante, who delights in being thus tormented. Shannon, some of you may recall, was originally a KBT Foundation rescue when she was less than a year old. I got her when she was around 4, after she'd had a litter of pups (of which Riley was one), and she had mammary cancer. We had the original tumor removed. Nine months later, she had another one, and when the biopsy came back "cancer," but they didn't have clean margins, I took her to the Univ of Tenn Vet School for chemo, every 3 weeks for 5 treatments. Since then she's had three followup checks, all clean. In July, all of a sudden, she had a growth at the base of her tail. I took her to our regular vet, and they advised removing it, immediately. We were going to FL for 3 weeks in a few days, and I said I'd think about it. At the beach, I got clear that if it was cancerous, I wouldn't subject her to any more surgery. I want the rest of her life to be fun and good - not recovering from surgery. I scheduled an appointment with the alternative vet near here, and she confirmed that 98% of that kind of growth is cancerous. She also supported my decision not to have surgery (which she does, BTW), since it's delicate and can result in anal incontinence. She's put Shannon on several supplements to support her immune system, and may do acupuncture if it's needed. No guarantees, but she said that Shannon may have several more years.
So today, Shannon and I went on a 10-mile hike with a friend and his 100 lb Weimeraner-Lab mix, Napoleon. I decided to take only one dog, since if the 3 went in different directions, I couldn't cope, and I picked Shannon to go with me. Now, I didn't know it was going to be a 10 mile hike. He kept saying we could stop whenever I wanted. And we did stop and cook lunch, then continued about another half mile to see a beautiful waterfall. Then, we had to return. I ran out of gas about 1/3 of the way back, but there was nothing to do but keep going. Shannon felt the same way, I think, because instead of running ahead (as Napoleon continued to do), she just followed us on the way back. But she was a trooper and never faltered. When we'd come to streams, Napoleon would wade in and lie down to drink, but Shannon would prance around until she was standing on rocks (no paws in the stream, thank you) and then drink. Needless to say, she slept thru the 45 minute drive home, ate her dinner, and is sleeping beside me on the couch now. Dante and Riley, on the other hand, are full of energy and I'm just pawning them off on chew toys. Tomorrow is another day... Scarlet said.
There are always mixed opinions when it comes to letting your dog off leash in public, as evidenced by the response to one of our QOWs last month. My male, Danny, is very interested in playing with other dogs, and could quite possibly be let off leash in a safe area if he had other dogs to play with. Sophie, on the other hand, is a serious hunter and would happily leave Danny and I behind to pursue quarry. While it would seem that it's never completely safe to let your dog run free, a good solid recall can lessen the risks.
Our August "Best of KBL" is Sharon Arkoff's post about her dogs off-leash antics.
From: Sharon Arkoff
Date: August 14, 2011
Subject: QOTW Do you ever let your Kerry off leash in public?
We have been very, very lucky in that every kerry my family has ever had, spanning 40 years, has been a perfecty wonderful off-leash companion when allowed off-leash in safe areas such as dog parks, on hiking trails, etc. In the beginning of a hiking trail, they'd often to the "run ahead and then come barrelling back" thing, but after a few minutes, they'd settle down and just trot along at the family's pace. If they saw a squirrel, they'd go chase it up a tree, and then come running back. Again, we have been very, very luck with our kerries, and all of them were very used to going places and meeting other dogs, so, it wasn't a novelty for them.
Now, we only have elderly kerries, and they can't be bothered chasing every single squirrel, and even if they are feeling spunky that day, I can outrun them. :-) If 13-yo Seamus sees a squirrel, he will often make an attempt at chasing it, but, it's not an Olympic-caliber pace.
When we've had youthful fosters in the house, I won't let them off-leash on walks in our suburban neighborhood because they could take off across the road when a car might be coming, but they've all gone off-leash on the conservation land without any issues. Even foster dog Riley, who was a Tasmanian Devil on amphetamines on a leash when he saw another dog or a cat, was best friends with everything and everybody when allowed to run at liberty through the woods (though I admit that I always left a 30-ft training lead on him, just in case -- he was so fast you could not even follow him with your eyes, but in our woods, you can't go far off the trail without a leash getting tangled on something so with the long leash I didn't have to worry). We had another foster who had probably never had an opportunity to run at top speed in her life; it took her a few tries to get the confidence, but then.... (but her limit was 8 seconds without visual contact -- she never went past 8 seconds without running back). Between her face when allowed to run at liberty, and Riley's face the day he learned how to play with other dogs..... gets me every time.
The oldies are funny off-leash in a different way. They may be old, but they're kerries, and often very curious. When invited (often by toddler-age children) Seamus likes to putter, with an air of happy oblivious entitlement, into backyards, up on porches, through doors and into homes, etc. He is always extremely charming. Taking off into someone else's house while I stand in the driveway is his one single expression of kerry independence (he is otherwise always perfect).
I'm a firm believer in finding safe, enjoyable ways to help a dog run and socialize at liberty.
Our Kerries are very complex creatures, much like ourselves. Last month, Rita Lockwood posed the question:
how much does the temperament of the owner affect the behavior of the Kerry, & how does that change depending on the temperament of the Kerry...
Linda Grisley's reply is our "best of KBL" for July.
Date: Sunday, July 3, 2011
From: Linda Grisley
Sorry I'm slow on answering this one, but it has resurfaced in my Inbox and now I'll take a moment to comment on a very interesting question:
My own Kerry, Kerby, was a rather dominant young man right from puppyhood.
I remember taking him to obedience class when he was six months old and the
instructor took one look at him and said "pinch collar!". I was devastated
that she assumed he would be difficult to handle before even knowing
him...but she was right. He was stubborn: he would drag me, or lag, and in
typical Kerry fashion, would be looking around at everything else instead of
focusing on me. At 18 months, he was quite aggressive and I was concerned
about him around other dogs. However, I kept working with him and both of
us learned a great deal. At 2 years of age, we became a pet therapy team.
We could go for walks without lunging and barking at other dogs. We could
have multiple dogs of different sexes over to play. And he absolutely loves
reading with children, visiting hospitals and right now, visiting
Alzheimer's patients. He is soooo patient with all humans. He still
doesn't like all other dogs, but he's obedient to me and doesn't react. I'm
sure though, that if I were in danger, his protectiveness would definitely
kick in. He is not, however, a cuddlebug. He has always been somewhat
'aloof'. 'Regal' is another adjective assigned to him.
In the categories given by Rita's email, I would say that this owner is mild
but good leader and dog is feisty but obedient. I think a Kerry adapts to
the behaviour of the household and the temperament of the owner, provided
that the owner is a good leader.
In rescue work, I've seen mild mannered Kerries blossom into feisty divas
(male or female) if the owner is not strong enough or treats them like 'poor
little doggies'. Kerry temperament is very strong and is not squashed by a
difficult beginning in life.
And that's why I LOVE this breed!
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The "best of" for June is Irene Landau's answer to the QOW "How does your Kerry behave at "human" mealtimes?". This question generated a lot of interest probably because it's a situation we all deal with everyday. With four dogs, Irene has to have rules, but even so, you can never let your guard down!
Subject: Question of the week - begging
From: Irene Landau
Date: June 19, 2011
When we had 2 dogs, there were usually scraps for dogs at the end of a meal. The dogs' cue for getting up and interested was the sound of cutlery being placed on plates (the way we signify we have finished), way before we would get up.
Now with 4 dogs of all sizes we don't think it is practical to have table
scraps (or even bones) for the dogs at all, so they just go in the bin.
If there is something special (eg chicken or salmon skin) I will save it for
their next mealtime, where I can be specific about who gets what.
And since they are fed separately (and before our meal), I can be sure who
got what and how much.
There is no begging at our table (or at meals in front of the tv on our
laps) - tho sometimes there's some sniffing and Maeve will try on the "poor
starving me" expression. But you can't leave your ham sandwich unattended!
But if there is a change of context, eg no humans present, dining outdoors
or having guests - they all know to retest the rules to see if they still
apply! You just never know when those humans are going to change their minds.
I am amused by the context stuff - they test it and remember it well, for a
number of different things.
"you can sit on this sofa but not that sofa"
"What about the sofa at the shack?"
"What about the guest bed?"
That doesn't mean they don't try to be "naughty" if you're not paying
attention - Maeve especially likes to pretend she doesn't know the rules.
Do they ever get tidbits? Absolutely. Mainly while we are cooking - things
will fall on the floor (accidentally or on purpose) and the fastest and
keenest will get it. Sometimes I'll test some new foods this way. But it's
not a predictable event. They all love blueberries, the Kerries love apple
pieces and nuts. But surprisingly, I don't have dogs underfoot in our tiny
kitchen - maybe they just listen for falling food or wait to be called.
While reading about the latest inductees into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame recently, I was reminded that our beloved pets, whose love and loyalty enrich our lives each and every day, also have the potential to become heroes when necessary as illustrated by Rita Lockwood's post about her "guardian angel" Jamie, one of the Magnificent Seven.
From: Rita Lockwood
Date: May 15, 2011
I was sitting at the computer when Jamie came to the door & grrrr-ed at me. I said "Just a minute" He grrr-ed louder. I said it again "Just a minute" He barked seriously at me, so I got up & He took off toward the kitchen, which leads to the back door. But he didn't go to the door. He barked at the stove. I was reseasoning a cast iron skillet, it was starting to smoke, & the smell was strong. I had a timer on, but I had apparently set it for too long, so it still had minutes left. But Jamie didn't know anything about the timer, he just knew something was wrong in the kitchen. Jamie is one of the Magnificent 7. He is not a show dog, but he is definitely a Kerry Blue Terrier, & a winner in my book.
The question of the week, "How does your Kerry react to seeing other dogs when riding in your car?", solicited this response from Jann Lane about her vigilant Kerry, Kenzie. I can relate to her experience as I had a male Kerry who, when riding in the car, was always on the lookout for those lifesize cutout silhouettes that some people erect on their lawns. The cowboy variety was the most threatening and would cause frantic barking in the back seat!
From: Dr Jann Lane
Date: April 10, 2011
Subject: New Question of the Week - Kerry prevented an attack of the "killer reindeer:
When we are in the car, Kenzie does not always "approve" of other dogs walking down the street and voices her opinion depending upon the type of dog -we have yet to determinethe exact qualities that set her off but mostly white in color seems to be a criteria. Some pass muster others are more of a threat. When they don't pass, she gives them the grumble and sometimes the bark. The funniest example however - was a few years ago our neighborhood bought new life-sized white wire reindeer that were lit up and moved their heads up and down at our entrance. - well, we were at the stop light across from the reindeer and Kenzie glanced out her back seat window - she sits in a harness seat belt behind the drivers seat- and she saw this white life-size reindeer move - it might as well been a great white Pyrenees moving in for a kill - she literally jumped in her seatbelt -startled -and gave it the 'out of nowhere' hard bark she saves for special threats to our safety. She then realized it was not alive and became very quiet, did a grumble under her breathe that sounded like -" I knew it wasn't real" and then laid down in her seat, clearly embarrassed never to bark again at the reindeer.
Jann and Kenzie
Sent from my iPad
The Foundation has been involved in many rescues, but perhaps none so heart-wrenching as the Shelbina Express Rescue. Our "best of" for March celebrates the survivors of that rescue and the people who made it possible for these deserving Kerries to finally find love in their forever homes.
From: Tracey Fulmer
Date: 24 March 2011
Subject: Happy 5th Anniversary to the Shelbina Rescue Kerries
Okay, I'm a few days late (official rescue took place on March 18, 2006). I can't believe it's been 5 years. Seems like just yesterday.
My sweet Isobel is doing great and continues to gain confidence with each
passing year. She is now 7 years old. Her beard turned white two years ago
so I always wonder if the mill's "paperwork" was accurate. But she is
healthy, happy and glad to be alive and barking at the passers by.
And I am still so thankful to have her and to have seen first hand what goes
on in those mills.
I will never forget and I will never stop telling anybody who will listen
about the story of the 34 Shelbina Kerries and the atrocities of the
pet store trade.
Please send a note with an update on your Shelbina Kerries. And to those
who are no longer with us on this earth, may they rest in peace knowing they
were very much loved.
Tracey, Bailey, Isobel and Piper in Newton, MA
On February 22nd, we celebrated the ninth anniversary of the incorporation of the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation. To mark the occasion, founder John Van den Bergh asked that we do something special for our Kerry community and offered some suggestions to inspire us. The anniversary "day of service" was a success as evidenced by the results John detailed in this post. Many thanks to all our wonderful volunteers for their ongoing efforts to support our wonderful breed through the Foundation. Let's all start thinking about next year so we can make the tenth anniversary an even bigger event. And remember, it's all about our Kerries. Well done!
Date: February 24, 2011
From: John Van den Bergh
Subject: A Day of Service
I'm happy to report about our "Kerry Day of Service".
We receive donations totaling $560.
About $100 in fund raising merchandise was sold.
Six Angels were posted on the web site, producing $180.
$110 was donated "in memory".
In total, we collected just over $1000 for our rescue program.
We also received a pledge of $50 per quarter.
One person wrote a nice story about his Kerry which I will post on the web site shortly.
Several people reported they treated their Kerry to something special.
Thank you all for participating in our ninth anniversary.
John Van den Bergh, President
Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation
P. O. Box 1495, Solvang, CA 93464, USA
This month's "Best of KBL" is a post from Janet Beeby about her Gabby's CD title. Gabby is a senior Kerry who certainly doesn't act her age! Let's hear it for Gray Power!
Date: January 17, 2011
From: Janet Beeby
Subject: Gabby earns her CD
Just a quick little brag to let you know that Gabby, (MACH 3 Keriland's Talk About Town) earned her CD yesterday!
Finishing that title, that we started so, so long ago felt like such a lovely finishing punctuation mark to a really special career.
Almost more than the award was when we ran into someone at the show who came up and said
"Aren't you the one with that cool Kerry Blue we met so many years ago"?
To which I said, "Why yes, this is her - it's Gabby"
The woman said "Well it just can't be - this was years ago". To which I beamed and said,
"This is Gabby, she is 13 years old and she just earned her CD today!"
I thought the woman would just cry - she bent down and gave Gabby a big hug and told me she looked just beautiful - which she does!
Gabby is older, she is 13, but she is also a wonderful example of what 13 can look like and what 13 can do.
Thank you to all of those who have watched Gabby's career over the years - I't's been lovely to hear about all your accomplishments too!
All the best,
Janet Beeby Seattle, WA
MACH 3 Keriland's Talk ABout Town
CD, RA, NF, NAC, NJC, NGC, OAC, OJC, OGC, EAC, EGC, USDAA AD, NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ, AX, AXJ, MX, MXJ
& Annie Oakley (Who is unbelievably cute)