“On May 30, 2015, two KBT females appeared on Petfinder [later another, a male, was brought to the shelter holding them after surgery]…“ So begins the saga of the Colorado Trio, otherwise known as the “Tired, true and blue” Kerries rescued by the KBTF from situation of terrible neglect in Colorado. With filthy, matted dreadlocks down to the floor, they were first identified as Pulis! They were skinny (20-25 pounds when they should have been 35-40) and so malnourished that all of them had to have some teeth extracted – the male lost almost all his teeth except his front canines and the small teeth in between them. For undisclosed reasons, the county sheriff who had seized the dogs (and other animals from the location where they were found) ordered the court records in the case sealed, so the only information disclosed to the Foundation was that the dogs were pedigreed and were six years old. Their names were June, April and Marti (the boy).
Rescue Coordinator Mimi Karsh worked overtime to transport the dogs to Denver, oversee their medical care (the male Kerry needed surgery for a cancer of the peripheral nerve sheath in his left front leg) and find foster homes. Very soon, April found a home in Canada, June (renamed Annie) went to California, and Marti (now Jamie) was adopted by my husband Peter and me, who live in Golden, Colorado.
Life is dramatically different now for all three of these stalwart and handsome Kerries, as I have discovered by getting in touch with Carolyn Mabie in California and Jordan and Rosa Biggar in Beausejour, Manitoba. All three of the adoptive families in this case were previous Kerry Blue owners, and two of them were looking to adopt another (Peter and I had another rescued Kerry at home who we thought was probably best as an “only dog.” I decided to learn more about the characteristics and experiences of the two dogs who were rescued together with Jamie, and it has been fascinating to find out the ways in which these three dogs, who are probably related, are both very similar and so different from each other.
The first of the trio to be adopted was April. Jordan and Rosa met her at the airport in Minot, North Dakota and drove her to their home. Jordan has had KBTs all his life, although he and Rosa for the past few years had taken some time “off.” They had started thinking about getting another dog, iInitially wanting a larger dog, because they had the space and because they wanted a companion for their active lives outdoors and in social settings with other people and dogs. While they researched various breds, they also submitted an application to the KBTF to be a foster home, and when they heard about April, they decided to take her in as a foster-to-adopt.
Their first impressions of April were a bit mixed. She was friendly and gentle, very thin and had a quite surprising reaction to people: with each person she approached, she latched on and began humping one of their legs! [This behavior is sometimes interpreted as a sort of one-upmanship in dogs.] At home, she was ravenous , very attached to her crate, a devotee of “fluffing” her bed, a would-be escape artist, unfazed by loud noises (fireworks, thunder) and extremely dog-aggressive. But she also loved her adoptive parents and at home was very affectionate, lively and funny. She is also vocal, in the way of some Kerries. Jordan writes: If she does not get her desired attention she will start “talking to you.” This means she will sit where she can see you, stare at you, and gently moan and growl under her breath, just loud enough so you have to pay attention to her. If you still don’t look at her, she will slam her paw down on the ground to get your attention.
Carolyn and her fiancé Tom (they had just become engaged) met Annie (formerly June) at the Los Angeles Airport. They noted that Annie was calm and quiet, and obviously well-trained to the leash. They were charmed by her beauty and by her social side with their Kerry, Katie and with other dogs. It took four or five days before Annie barked, but when she did, they discovered that she had a deeper bark than Katie, who’s bigger. She had a ravenous appetite, both for food (in three months she went from 19 pounds to 30) and for affection. Carolyn says she is now quite the lap dog, especially with Tom.
Peter and I met Jamie when Mimi Karsh brought him to visit us at our home. We weren’t even considering ourselves as potential adopters, since our 12-year old girl Molly had always been quite aggressive with other dogs, even puppies. But we were quite taken with Jamie from the first moments.
He was small and scrawny (like all the Trio) and totally food-driven, going from 27 pounds to 40 within a year) but very good-looking and desperate for
attention and petting.
Peter, joking that Jamie was in the Witness Protection Program after being seized by the Sheriff, decided to rename him “Jameson” (after the Irish whiskey, of course), so now he’s called Jamie. Early on, his table manners were just awful. If not constantly monitored, he would eat anything he could reach. Once he finished Peter’s morning cereal and peaches then climbed on a chair to drink his orange juice, too. Another time, Peter had brought a small cup of Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur into our TV room for a nightcap. He set it down and left the room for a moment, only to come back to see Jamie licking his beard – little Irishman that he is, he had drunk every drop!
Even in this short history, it’s clear that the Trio had quite a few things in common. They were handsome, they were too thin, and they craved attention and affection. Some other additional connections are also interesting:
- Annie and Jamie were very comfortable with people, including those outside their human-canine “pack.” Jamie, in particular, is very people-oriented, wanting to meet everyone he sees, and he just loves children. He willingly sits quietly for them to pet him, completely shedding the
- rowdy behavior he often shows with other dogs. April, on the other hand, can be aggressive with people, mostly when they are on her territory. After a couple of incidents, the Biggars have become cautious when she meets people outside her core family, although she does not always have issues with strangers.
- Annie and Jamie are both generally sociable with other dogs. Jamie doesn’t like small dogs, who often don’t exhibit the deferential conduct that most dogs do when they meet (sliding their eyes away rather than staring, brushing their tails softly from side to side rather than holding them up stiffly, etc.). After a brief once-over sniff, he seems fairly indifferent to most dogs, but with some he does a play-bow, tail vibrating like a tuning fork and barks out his invitation to start roughhousing.
- In general, all three dogs bonded with the other members of their human-canine pack. Both Jamie and April, however, showed some early tendencies to want to escape. April tried to find her way out of the Biggars’ yard, and when Jamie managed to sneak out – once from our garage and once from our car – he led us on a merry chase, seeming to think we were playing “keep away.” (We finally turned and started walking back without him, which brought him to his senses.)
- Interestingly, all three dogs displayed familiarity with some key elements of canine good behavior. Annie and Jamie were good on-leash, Jamie and April were very well-trained to use a crate and sleep quietly all night, both also knew to settle and stay quiet during car travel. April also knew the instructions to sit, lie down, shake hands and roll over. And now that Jamie knows food is never far away, he has become ideally well-mannered, only coming for a treat when invited. These behaviors, and the way each dog quickly adapted to a new home, suggest that the Trio may have had a good start in life before some misfortune left them sadly neglected.
- Two of theTrio have had significant health issues: Jamie had a cancer removed from his leg before we met him; his surgeon and our vet both agree that it is of a type very unlikely to recur.
April was diagnosed with a malignant lump on one of her mammary glands in January 2015. In February, she had surgery, which proved to be more extensive than at first expected. April healed well after her ordeal, begging “against medical advice” to be allowed to play football and go cross-country skiing.
It is wonderful to know that the three “Tired, True and Blue” Kerries who came into the care of the Foundation a year and a half ago are all now so well settled in homes where they are happy and healthy. Each of them is loved for him- or herself. Carolyn says Annie is a now a valued member of their “Pack of Four” --“She rescued us as much if not more than we rescued her.” Jamie is an unending source of entertainment for Peter and me, as well as being a great walking dog to keep me healthy and fit for hiking the Colorado mountains. Jordan and Rosa love April because she is so “lovable, affectionate, playful, smart and funny.”
All the dogs have adapted well to their new families, which shows the adaptability of Kerries. But these three stories also show the equally wonderful adaptability of their families. Here are some “final thoughts” from Jordan and Rosa, but they could be speaking for the families of Annie and Jamie too, and for many other rescuers who’ve stepped up to adopt rescued Kerries:
We had originally told ourselves that we wanted a laid back dog that was good tempered and could be taken everywhere. A dog that would be good off the leash and could be outside with us while we are working in the yard or at the lake. We ended up with a dog that … must avoid contact with all dogs…. This has resulted in severe restrictions to our daily lives. That being said, part of the reason we decided to give April a forever home was that in evaluating her temperament, it became clear that she really was not an adoptable dog…. We did not want to put April through any more trials and tribulations than what she had already been through. We are thankful for our decision because April brings joy, happiness and laughs to our house each day! She is so imperfect that she’s perfect, and we couldn’t imagine life without her!!