Some years ago I observed a brace in action at a dog show and was quite impressed. Then and there I decided someday I'd love to try it. While attending Pioneer Valley's grooming clinic with my bitch Hope and Mom's dog Mike (1/2 brother to Hope) where this was to be my first attempt with a brace. They had a fun match, brace class included, when the grooming part was finished. After clipping two Kerries all day I had a case of scissoritis which affected my brain and clouded my judgment. So without thinking I took my two Kerries, squashed their show leads in my left hand and ran around the ring. To my surprise they did extremely well. One of the observers at the match, a long time exhibitor of Puli Braces, gave me encouragement stating they were certainly a show worthy brace. After that day I was hooked for sure.
AKC rules require that both dogs that make up the brace must have identical ownership. When judging the brace class sameness is the name of the game. Both dogs should be as similar as possible in type, size, color etc. and most importantly move together as one unit. Very few shows offer brace classes unfortunately.
When my brace is entered in a show it takes me two days to groom (I'm very slow). But five minutes warm up prior to going in the ring is the only practice the dogs require. In that respect I'm very lucky, they just naturally work well together. Other people I've told spend long hard months training their brace and still are not successful.
I have been showing my brace for about one year (seven shows). Their win record to date consists of 2 Best of Bread Brace (Empire Specialty Shows), 2 Terrier Group I, 2 Best in Shows and a Group II at Montgomery. The first time the judge pointed to me for Best in Show, I could hardly believe it. This is a thrill I will never forget but equally as exciting was showing my brace at Montgomery. Waiting for the group to start, I became very nervous. The ring is huge, the crowd is enormous and the important people of Terrier Dogdom from the four corners of the globe are here. I thought, "Please dear God I'm not known for my gracefulness despite all the years and money my mother poured into my dancing education, don't let me fall". My next concern was half my brace was just coming out of the season and the other half was all male. Again another prayer. "Lord please, I wish the Kerries will make an impression on the spectators but not a pornographic one." Well my prayers were answered and all went well. My Kerries did themselves proud and came in Group II just losing Group I by a whisker.
My mom, who is my spy at ringside during judging, hears all the comments from the spectators. Usually the sporting breeds with their hair flowing and long tail wagging in the breeze attracts attention. But people are also very impressed with the Kerries and being supportive of them. They are surprised that terriers can work so well together in close proximity without squabbling. Also I think the Kerries, being a long legged terrier, are more elegant. Judges are also greatly impressed and very complementary. One judge stated he could not take his eyes off the Kerries as they flawlessly moved around the ring. Another judge told me he was swearing off all bad Kerry jokes because he was so impressed with the brace.
In conclusion this past year has been great fun for me and wonderful exposure for our beloved Kerries. They have held their own in competition with the other groups and have proven to all they are worthy of consideration. Their intelligence and graceful beauty has been observed and commented on by all who have seen them.
[Editor: Karen and her brace winning group II at Montgomery in 1993 were pictured on Cherrybrook's Summer 1998 catalog cover. Karen's Kerries are Wedgewood Hope of Claddagh bred by the Schaefers and Wedgewood Luin Sunday Magic bred by the Schaefers and Hermine Munro. These lovely Kerries were bred for the temperament that made them a good brace.]