Once again I am packing my bag before boarding a plane to go off and spend a few days at a major doggy event. This time I’m headed for suburban Philadelphia PA for the granddaddy of all Terrier shows, the Montgomery County Kennel Club show. I have for a number of years felt a kindredship with the Terriers, especially the Sealyham Terrier. Somehow a short-legged, stout dog with whiskers, and not much hair on top fits my persona. However, I confess I am one of those dog owners that has a wandering eye. While other dedicated breeders have been able to focus laser-like on a specific breed for 50 years, I admit I can be seduced by a well put together dog from another Group.
As a matter of fact, I have shared my home with dogs from almost every Group. Growing up, my family had a Black Cocker Spaniel, a Smooth Dachshund, a Siberian Husky, a Boxer and a Saint Bernard. In my own home, I have had an Afghan Hound, a 15-inch Beagle, a Cairn Terrier, a Sealyham Terrier, a Scottish Terrier, an Italian Greyhound, several Maltese, a Pekingese, a Toy Poodle and a Miniature Poodle. While I have never owned a Herding Dog, my brother and my sister both had Australian Shepherds which were frequent visitors in my home. I loved every one of these dogs, and each one of them brought out some special part of me.
The Maltese & Toy Poodle were very much lap dogs, always with me, content to lie by my side peacefully as I worked. They all could lower my blood pressure by 20 points just by looking up at me. The Terriers and the Dachshund have all kept me going through all my health issues, teaching me tenacity, survival and the pure joy of being active. I especially remember the Dachshund, Blacky, who lost the use of his rear legs late in life. I was 14, and I strapped him to a roller skate and he would follow me all over the neighborhood, never complaining about anything.
My Scottie, Bernie, was my constant companion during my rehab after heart surgery. He never accepted my protestations, demanding he be fed and exercised on schedule. In exchange, he sat by my chair on the ottoman looking down the drive and made rude remarks about anyone who passed our house. I never had a day that I did not laugh.
My Working Dogs taught me dedication to the job. The family’s Saint Bernard, Brandy, was the first dog I stepped into a show ring with. While she was just a pet, she took every task seriously and insisted I paid attention. The Afghan, T-Bone, and the Beagle, Rosie, both rescues, taught me to be adventurous, as they were both extraordinary escape artists. Each time I found them wandering outside the fence line, they were anxious to show me just how exciting the outside world was.
Happily, my forays to the major conformation venues around the U.S. allow me to flirt with all the breeds and return home with the smug satisfaction that I get from spending time with each one of the wonderful animals that are AKC purebred dogs. It’s kind of like being a grandparent. You get to admire them, play with them, love them and then give them back to their parents to take care of. It’s the next best thing to having a huge kennel with all the help you need. And that’s today’s Back Story.