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All about Kerry Blue Terriers—the good, the bad, and the beautiful!

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The Best of KB-L for 2017


December 2017


What these days would be considered a spirited discussion about Kerry barking on the KB-L evoked a QOTW on the matter. In a nutshell, Kerrys are generally considered by their owners as noisy. Some, like Patricia's Gracie, perhaps give those of us with barkers cause for comfort. Discomfort loves company indeed.


From: Patricia Carleton

Date: Dec 17, 2017

Subject: QOTW#785: "Is your Kerry a barker?"

Gracie definitely, definitely loves the sound of her own voice. She is just delighted with it. Never gets tired of it. I am kind of glad that it's winter so the neighbors have their windows closed, because there are alot of new dogs going for walks on our street at the same time as we are, and Gracie has many opinions to express while on walks with friends. She's not barking to announce, she's just... barking. She is probably saying things like, "I like his ball better!" and "We are walking too slowly!" and "We are walking too fast!" and "Her mother has better treats!" and "My mother forgot the treats!" and "My breakfast was too hot this morning!" and "My breakfast will be too cold when I get home!"
But it all sounds like a glass-shattering bark to me.


November 2017


It never ceases to amaze me how intelligent these wee beasties can be.
In this month's 'Best of KB-L'  we feature Maeve, a Kerry who, Irene explains, has been able to make the mental leap into Television Wonderland and correctly connect the TV images to reality. My Kerry Saxon Blue was nowhere near that mentally agile. (Of course it could be argued his staff weren't the sharpest tools in the shed either).
I think Kerrys naturally have a rather broad spectrum of personalities and abilities compared to many other breeds, don't you?


-Anne, our regular columnist, is recovering from surgery. We wish her the best and hope she's feeling better real soon!



From: Irene Landau
Date: November 15
Subject: QOTW#780: Do you have a Kerry who acknowledges dogs or other animals on TV?

Our 9yo Kerry, Maeve, recognises dogs on tv (by barking like a crazy thing and putting her nose to the screen) regardless of whether they are actual dogs, cartoon dogs or a book with a drawing or picture of a dog. But does not bark at actual books with dogs on/in them, just the ones on tv. She is strongly visual, the dog can be way in the distance. She watches out for park scenes - she knows they are likely to contain dogs.
Audio cues work too. If I'm playing a YouTube video (on my computer ) eg of a Kerry puppy litter, or Kerry antics - just the toenail taps, or dog breathing or puppy squeak will get her noisy attention and rush to the screen.
Dog movies, like Bolt, are impossible to watch with her around!
Try as we do, we have been unable to train her out of her loud response. Thankfully, she is the only one of our Kerries who is so strongly visual. The others can "leave it" no probs.
Unlike her 3yo son (who rushes outside) she does not believe the tv dog is located on the other side of the wall - she understands that its all in the picture on the screen and this is not a window.
It's not only dogs that gets Maeve's attention - almost any animal (sheep, horses, etc) will elicit a (slightly different) bark response (tho dogs are special) and some large wild animals may get a quiet or measured response.
Is she so reactive with live dogs - yes, but not at dog shows! She had a successful well-behaved show career.

October 2017 


Another interesting question of the week "Do any of your Kerries display an attraction or aversion to certain breeds or types of dogs? Years ago, I was living in London Ontario with two Kerries. They were litter sisters who were both friendly with other dogs with the exception of white dogs - they hated white dogs. Another of my Kerries, who was generally dog aggressive, would happily meet up with another Kerry, no problem.
Do you suppose she had looked in the mirror and recognized another of her breed? Never could figure that out. Anyhow JoAnn Wiedl's Kerry boys know what they like and aren't afraid to admit it! Check out her post which is our 'Best of KBL' for October.


From: JoAnn Wiedl

Date: October 7, 2017

Subject: Do any of your Kerries display an attraction or aversion to certain breeds or types of dogs?

I’m not sure if it is the particular Airedale girls in our neighborhood or Airedale girls in particular, but our current and previous Kerry boys both seem to like them. The same is not true of other Kerries. Our previous Kerry on occasion would even lift his back leg for the Airedale girls to get a better whiff. The girls appreciated the gesture. People tended to stare at that one.

Our previous boy was “infatuated” with female Giant or Standard Schnauzers. I thought he was a little ambitious, but that’s life.

I still remember a few years ago, when my groomer had a litter of Kerries at work. I went to pick up Cody from a grooming appointment. Several dogs were also being picked ahead of him. As the various dogs walked past the litter, the puppies paid no attention to them. When Cody finally walked by them, those puppies were all excited and barking like crazy. I guessed that those puppies knew what a Kerry looked like!

September 2017


Just like some people are fussy eaters, so are some of our Kerries. Jann McQuay's reply to QOTW 771 details her husband's valiant efforts to convince Kerry Pepper to chow down. It conjures up quite a picture!


From: Jann McQuay

Date: September 9, 2017

Subject: QOTW  Do you find yourself coaxing your Kerry to eat?

Oh dear, this QOTW was meant for Pepper and I had a difficult choice to make before I checked of my answer! She has her Dad doing handstands for her, especially at breakfast. There is not even a glance at her dish until he sits down for his own breakfast. Then she gives him a certain melting look. He gets up, stirs her food (floating in water), pretends to taste it, smacks his lips, lets her lick his finger...and then she decides to chow down. He has been known to get down on all fours, making yummy sounds as he puts his head into the bowl. This is too funny! I have a picture.

My feeling is that, like a teenager, she will eat when ready, although I don't like her crunchy food to get mushy. Maybe it is more about Dad feeling needed! It is their daily routine. Upon finishing, he wipes her beard and gives one garlic/brewers yeast tablet as a reward.

Dinner is easier as cooking juices and some veggies enhance her meal and she gobbles it up by herself with gusto. Our previous Kerry had an extreme Irish imagination. She liked the food but seemed afraid of any of the dog dishes I tried. Finally it was dumped, dry, onto her placemat which gave her a sense of peace. Got to love them!!

August 2017


With such wonderful noses, many clothing items are of great interest to our dogs. Mine have always favoured socks, slippers and underwear but I have one now that adores wet bath towels and tea towels. Go figure. Of course some of our dogs don items of clothing too. For example Francesca Fein tells us in this month's "Best of KBL" that her Colm wears his Thundershirt to calm him during storms. Hope it's bringing him some comfort in these particularly turbulent times.


From: Francesca Fein

Date: August 13, 2017

Subject: QOTW Do any of your Kerries have a penchant for human apparel?

Ordinarily Colm and I are not into dressing him, but this is summer in Florida which means almost daily thunderstorms and sometimes multiple storms in one day. He has become accustomed to wearing his ThunderShirt for hours at a time and occasionally even wearing it overnight. I don't know whether or not the thing works, but it's always accompanied by a vet-prescribed tranquilizer, then, if possible I confine us to our bedroom with the blinds closed so he can't see the rain hitting the pool. He can't run through the house barking madly, and I get a chance to sneak in some time with a good book

From: Francesca Fein and Colm

Sarasota, Florida. (Florida is advertised as the lightning capital of the world).

July 2017



Kerries come into rescue for many different reasons and while they share many Kerry traits, each one has their own unique personality and lots of love to give. Our 'Best of KBL' for July, is from Sharon Arkoff. Sharon's rescue Gracie has landed on her feet and is now enjoying lots of new experiences including some hiking in the great outdoors. From what Sharon tells us, she sounds like a real character. Typical Kerry!


From: Sharon Arkoff 

Date: July 11 ,2017

Subject: Gracie goes hiking

Rescue Kerry Gracie continues to be 1) the dumbest Kerry ever born, 2) the smartest Kerry ever born, and 3) both at the same time.(Only a Kerry can accomplish this.) She went on a mountain hike this past weekend, and was extremely brave! She insisted on leading the hike the whole way, and was very embarrassed and rushed to get back on the trail whenever she missed a turn and had struck off nobly in the wrong direction. She had trouble, though, when people were coming down the trail when we were going up. She wanted to herd everyone together. The idea that some people (never mind that they were complete strangers) were going in a different direction from her own pack took some thought, on her behalf. She figured it out by the third or fourth group, though.

At the top of the mountain, she found a large puddle in the rock slabs and lay down in the puddle happily and had a rest, splashing her tail and beaming at other hikers going by. This worked well for her and she was given several half-sandwiches from strangers. One young human was so entertained by "making her splash" that he had a tantrum when his parents wanted to leave and had to be borne screaming off the top of the mountain. After that, all the people coming up the trail knew Gracie on sight.

Gracie ate blueberries off of bushes, wallowed and peed in many mountain streams (Gracie likes to pee in water), and was charming to canine friends met along the trail. She was very, very happy. This was a challenging day for her, as one hind leg is getting older while the rest of Gracie is not, but she led the whole way with flair, and then snored adorably and did not break wind in the car a single time on the long drive home.

Good girl.

June 2017



My family were always terrier people, having had Scotties and Airedales in the UK but my Dad was always intrigued with Kerries. He was the one who found our first Kerry and started a Kerry tradition that went on for over forty years. While I'm sure we've all been introduced to Kerries in different ways, the result is always the same. They steal our hearts with their beauty and sparkling personalities. For our Best of KBL for June, Connie Spicer tells us how she discovered Kerries.



Date:June 4, 2017

From: Connie Dexter Spicer

Subject: Discovering Kerries

When I was a slip of a kid, we had a mutt named Rags. My folks said he was "part cairn and part kerry blue". I had no idea what that meant, but I surely loved that dog. It wasn't unusual for my parents to find me in their closet laying on the dogs' bed, with him right there with me. Typically, if I wasn't playing with him I was apparently sleeping with him... Besides the closet, I remember distinctly being under our old corner tables in the living room. Rags was a meanderer too, and while he didn't chase cars, one did eventually get him when he followed my brother to his friends house in the dark. That was 1969 and Ragsy was 10 years old.

My folks had the old Encyclopedia Britannica about that time, and I knew there were pictures of kerries in there. I have no idea, really how they imprinted on me. But I can tell you that when I was 12 in 1972, fate played a hand. My dad had gone to Docktors Pet Store on Christmas Eve... I don't think anyone had a clue back then about the evil side of pet sales.... But he went in with the idea of getting a miniature schnauzer, because my Mom said she though those were great looking dogs. He came home with "Misty", Blue Bells Irish Mist is what I named her. The Blue Bell kennels were out of Battle Creek Michigan, though I have no idea about any of them. I know Misty was 2 generations from Tontine's lines but only one of her parents had the CH in front.

When Dad called me out and put that 3 month old in my hand, I cried so hard! Could not let her out of my sight. I did a lot with her - trained her (the Lassie Method, by Rudd Weatherwax??) LOL Groomed her. Rode all over creation and she would follow me everywhere. She was a pet- she had hound ears, but she was just so lovely. The folks didn't want puppies, so she was spayed when it was appropriate. Misty was the first of several and was just a few weeks shy of her 14th birthday when my Dad and I took her in to the vets for her last visit. Her hips had gone and she was in constant pain.

Today, my mother's Misty (formerly known as Lily) crossed the rainbow bridge. She was the little hairless girl who had been in rescue for most of her life at that time. Her health was never great, but she was still a tough little girl. Even though she was aggressive with other dogs, we figured out how to keep her calmer and her last years with us wound up being full of people and dog love. Yesterday she developed an issue with her spine - either ruptured disks or similar. She could not walk, nor raise herself up off the ground without help. This morning, she was released when the vet advised Mom that even with surgery, because of the damage and her health issues and age, the prognosis for her recovery was very poor.

And so we are all dog-less now. I hope the powers-that-be will allow us one day to get another. Our application for a little girl is in, and hopefully soon, we'll be walking in Florida with a new love who will let us in.

Still, I miss my Scamp, Nexis, Misty (One and Two), Portia, Boo, Dusty, Shadow, Corky, Skippy, Blaze, KaySee... and Rags.

I love all your stories. Keep them coming!

May 2017


Terriers are different, as I'm sure you'd agree. They are not like other dogs and yet many  of us would never share their homes with anything other than a 'terror'. A recent 'question of the week' asked if we had had other terriers before our first Kerry. My parents were owned by Scotties and Airedales in England. And for over forty years, here in Canada, our family has loved and owned Kerry Blues. Kanako Ohara's post, our 'Best of KBL' for May, details her experiences with other terrier breeds.


From: Kanako Ohara

Date: May 30 ,2017

Subject: Any other terrier breeds before my first Kerry?

Oh yes, I had. My first love, my Airedale Teddy.

I was raised by miniature schnauzers but I personally wanted a bigger dog for myself, so when I couldn't live without a dog anymore, I’m talking over 20 years ago, I had to choose between Giant Schnauzers, Airedales, Kerries, or Wheatons (see the trend here?).

I crossed out Giant Schnauzers because of the lack of good breeders in the area at the time (on the east coast of the USA), crossed out Kerries because I learned that their ear hairs had to be plucked out (which funny enough I now find rather a satisfying thing to do) and I also crossed out Wheatons because they didn’t seem terrier enough.

So an Airedale girl named Teddy entered into my life, and I was smitten. During her life with me, she lived in DC, NY and Tokyo with me. She was my companion, confidant, everything that defined me. I was obsessed. Completely infatuated. So when she passed on in Tokyo, I couldn’t bring myself to look for another dog for a whole year. It would have been longer if we didn’t chance meet a Kerry boy who needed to be rescued in Tokyo. He was a 1 ½ year old unneutered male that came with absolutely NO training. So rescue people were looking for a terrier experienced family, and we were it.

Louie entered into our life and we were immediately besotted. He was loving, cuddly, and oh so LITTLE! We were shocked how easy it was to handle him compared to an Airedale, how easy it was to train him compared to an Airedale, how easy the life generally was with him, and our Airedale Teddy was not the most difficult Airedale either.

Now that we have two more Kerries after Louie, I now know that Louie was exceptionally easy as a dog. He could have been adopted by a 90 year old and he would have been fine, which I cannot say about our current two, oh no.

Still, I dare say Kerries are easier to handle than Airedales in general, and in our current lifestyle, their handleability fits us well.

Kanako with Sakura & Paddington

April 2017


Sometimes a puppy just isn't appropriate and sometimes a breeder finds just the right home for a Kerry who is 'retiring' from their breeding program. This month's 'Best of KBL' from Margaret O'Carroll, tells about one such happy ending.


From: Margaret O’Carroll

Date: April 24, 2017

Subject: Kerries leaving home.

Dear all the Kerry Lovers

I had a much better "leaving me" on Easter weekend.

I have had 7 Kerrys for some time now, 4 boys and 3 girls. Now a litter of 5 girls and 1 boy. Totally divine litter - hard to choose on for myself.

The leaving home part.

I tend to let my older girls go to a new home if it's a perfect one. This has been of the cards for a little while as Colleen has had her share of puppies in her 8 years. This had to be a really special home as she was a somewhat unusual Kerry in being too nervous of strangers and so never went to shows. The perfect home came up. (Colleen being the grandmother of the new litter.)

About 15 years ago I sold 2 Kerrys to a family living not too far from me. We become fairly good friends and the daughters grew up. The eldest daughter got married, but before that event the family and in particular Sarah was very happy to take a Kerry girl from me round about that time - Pixie. Pixie lived a good life - actually didn't know when she passed over the bridge, but it was a few years ago. In the meantime Sarah's marriage was wonderful and a daughter was born and Pixie must still have been around to welcome the new baby and to get well acquainted.

Last year I got a phone call from Sarah wanting a Kerry puppy. I thought great; no pups now but a good new owner. Husband thought a puppy too much to handle being away on business too often. Oh yes there were 2 rescue males and a Jack Russel bitch living with husband's parents next door. So the inquiry changed to an older bitch if there was one. I was sort of nervous about Colleen going to somewhere new and strange. The family visited - Colleen thought this would be rather nice. A few thoughts were talked about during the next few days. All problems solved and Colleen left me with the proviso that she would come back if other dogs not acceptable/accepting. Colleen now has a subservient Jack Russell bitch and two larger male dogs that think she is just great. It's so perfect that Colleen really now has a complete family instead of being one in a group of 7 with only one human to be loved by.

March 2017


In Mach we had several inspiring Questions of the Week about letting your Kerry off leash, interaction with cats, and the impact of Kerries on the public. The March selection for Best of KB-L goes to a series of vignettes written by Margaret O’Carroll in South Africa. Margaret writes about the many circumstances her Kerries inspired others to get involved with the breed.


From:Margaret O’Carroll

Date: March 5, 2017

Subject: QOTW:#744: Has anyone you know, ever seriously considered a Kerry as their next dog after meeting yours?


I must say quite a few times over the last 35 years. I have had people attending a show just to see my dogs and thereafter buying one.

One of the most amazing things was the Bitch (Velvet) I sold to someone in Cape Town very many years ago. The owner had an antique furniture shop and took the Kerry and a toy Poodle to the shop every day. Quite a number of people saw the Kerry and her temperament with the smaller dog and people who came to this unusual shop and saw an unusual dog. A little story about this is that one of the people who did buy a Kerry from me living near me in Johannesburg had the misfortune; now 10 years later, to have this Kerry pass on; never wanted any other breed and in-between did also buy a bitch. I had a litter born yesterday, 5 bitches and one dog. A boy for this family!!! During the whelping, a bitch, another, another, another, at last a dog puppy, then another bitch. Not often more girls than boys in a litter. I had more of less finished the whelping; making sure all was in order, etc. the phone rang "Do you have any puppies at the moment" not often one can say "Yes just born" Lives locally in Pretoria which is 35 kms from my home in Midrand.

Another story about wanting a Kerry after seeing one in the flesh as it were.

I sold a puppy last July to a family living in a small town about 100 kms from me - Potchefstroom. When this puppy was taken to their vet for next inoculations, another family there for the passing of their Irish Terrier's fell in love immediately. So one of my second and last litter last year also now lives in Potchefstroom. Totally besotted with this breed. Have warned of the possessiveness.

I think that few people realise that a breed that so many people think to be a nasty, difficult dog have really little idea how exceptional they are. I know I am writing to the converted, but there is one problem with them

sometimes that one must not allow to happen too seriously; and that is to be too possessive of the owner. I have found that although having a dog love me very much can become a problem. I have to put Patric away when visitors come round because it's a case of that's my person don't come near at all. Not very nice - wonderful as a guard dog, but sad to have to keep Patric away from friends. I have seen this a bit with dogs and a lady owner.

February 2017


In February, the Kerry community lost a very special Kerry called Shelby. Shelby was one of the dogs rescued in the Shelbina Express rescue. She was horribly disfigured and required multiple surgeries but she survived and became a bit of a poster child for our rescue group.
Shelby was adopted and loved by Irene Mele and her family who gave her everything she needed and more. In spite of her heartbreaking early years in a puppy mill, Shelby lived to the ripe old age of 16. In her post of February 6th, Francesca Fein forwarded Irene's letter of thanks.


From: Francesca Fein
Date:February 6, 2017
Subject: Shelby

Irene Mele and her family have asked me to post this for them to thank all who have been involved with Shelby and them over the years.

Dear Kerry Blue Rescuers, Friends and Family:

As you all probably know by now, our beloved Shelby crossed over the  Rainbow Bridge Friday night at 7 p.m. She started to shake violently and within 30 seconds expired. She was on her bed next to our couch in the living room when it happened. I tried to hold her, but she was limp, and then I realized she left us for the Bridge. I ran over to her and screamed for her to not leave us, but it was too late.

My mother and I are heartbroken. Shelby was our everything. She had a horrible first five years of her life, but the last 11 years were heaven for us and Shelby. When we got her, we did not think she would make it, but then she fought and survived another 11 years with us. We were inseparable with car rides, a fenced-in yard, toys, many beds and treats. She survived three operations for her 16 years. When we got Shelby she was half-dead with a hole in her mouth that the food came out of. We cried and cried when we first picked her up at the Hartford Airport. She was so frightened and tried to hide. It took a long time for her to even be in a room with people. We never pushed her. We let her heal slowly and held her all the time with kisses, sweet talk and hugs. Slowly she'd come into the room when we had company. Slowly she'd trust us and come to us on her own. Shelby was finally the girl she was meant to be...happy, loved and secure. Shea
loved her too and is lost without her. Shea is 12 and misses Shelby. He was very watchful over her and protected her.

You all made that possible with your love and support. A personal thank goes out to all the Shelbina rescuers who saved Shelby's life and many other Kerries. It was because of your dedication, sacrifice and courage that they all survived a terrible future. I can't even think about someone hurting my girl or any other kerries. The pain would be too great. I still fight for animal rights and will never stop. We are their voice. We must help all we can.

There will never be another Shelby for us. She actually rescued me. She was my constant companion, my friend, my hero. She needed me. I could read her face and know what she was saying or wanted. I hope they are taking care of my girl up there in heaven. I worry she won't get what she needs nor her treats. I can't be with her now to comfort her. It is so heartbreaking.

Thank you all for remembering and loving Shelby. That brought comfort to us. Thank you for all your calls, emails and prayers. We appreciate them very much. You are such wonderful, amazingly kind people and we will never forget you.

Warmest regards,

Irene and Jeanette Mele

Brewster, NY

January 2017


We've all been following the story of Sammie, the elderly Kerry who was adopted  by Rita Lockwood. In this month's 'Best of KBL', Rita brings us up to date on Sammie's  new life and it sounds like the old girl is doing very well in her new home.


Date: January 9, 2017
From: Rita Lockwood
Subject: Sammie

Sammie enjoyed the holidays. Lily, Brian & Teddy came here for a day or two, then we went to Portland for a day or two. She seemed quite happy to be held, cuddled, adored. First time she met Teddy (of the Magnificent Seven) his energy was a bit too much for her. But she apparently has realized he is no threat to her, & they do quite well together now.

She was not interested in bones first time I offered. Recently I gave Casey one, but didn't give her one. She watched him, (smelled it?) & walked over & took it away from him. He didn't bat an eye, just let her take it. She didn't chew it, she just put it on her bed. A few hours later, when she was away from it, he walked over & got it. Later, she realized he had it & went over to take it back... Casey said No! She was offended, but... If she enjoyed chewing on a bone, I'd give her one, but she can't have his just because she wants to take it.

He loves his bones, he also loves Fuji apples. I was eating one a couple of days ago, & gave him a chunk. He took it to his bed & ate it, came back for another chunk. He took the second chunk to his bed, put it down & came back to get more. Sammie walked over to his bed, got his chunk of apple & ate it! She doesn't usually hesitate to ask for treats, I had no idea she would eat apple.

She went to the groomer's with Casey. The groomer noticed, & commented on, how protective Casey was of Sammie. The groomer also noticed a couple of weeping lumps & mentioned them to me.

So we went to the vet this morning, & nothing appears to be critical. Yaayy Sammie. We have oral antibiotics for the open sores. She also has lost a little weight, we will recheck in a few weeks.

She received an ortho crate bed. She has been sleeping in it several days now, & I noticed she is less stiff when she gets up. She rises, stretches (new morning behavior) strolls out of the crate & looks around. She moves more easily right away, instead of taking some time to work the kinks out.

In case I haven't said it here... I don't have a magic potion. I have no intention of trying to see how long modern medicine & heroic efforts can keep her body alive. My goal with her is to ensure that while she is here she is safe, well cared for, & feels as loved & happy as possible. So far, we're doing great !!!

Rita, Casey, & Sammie,
Oregon, USA

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