THE WORKING KERRY BLUE TERRIER
by Edith Izant
From earliest history the Kerry Blue Terrier was a farm terrier in Ireland. He was used to herd horses and cattle to pasture, to guard’ the house, sheep and the children. He was used for many kinds of hunting. He started rabbits out of the grain, and chased them to their nests In the thorn hedges, having to catch them before they reached their hole or he and the family went hungry, and the rabbit lived to eat more farmer’s grain. He was tested in other ways, to dig badgers out of their holes, and to catch and kill large water rats in rivers. He went hunting in the forests and was expected to retrieve, or to fight off the gamekeeper’s dog. It was not until Kerries were imported to England about 1922 that they were trimmed.
Even today Kerries are doing many of these same activities, and some new ones. In Imperial Valley there is a Kerry that retrieves ducks from the river and up near Bishop, he retrieves upland birds. Near Reno a champion Kerry and her son take the racehorses out to pasture-in the morning and back to the barns at night. In the south a happy owner takes his Kerry to ground trials for terriers. She loves the trials and is so fast that she has earned her Certificate of Gameness.In New Hampshire a Kerry female is bonding with a herd of sheep, learning to protect them!
We all know Kerries in every part of the United States that are not only earning their obedience titles, but also winning their classes! Some of these older Kerries, four to six years, are working with their new owners. They do very well in tracking, head up as if out for a walk, turning on a dime at every turn. There are stories of Kerries that were endlessly patient with children, even little stick-my-finger-in- your-eye age, and others who warned their owners when the house was on fire.In the old days they were used as Army dogs, now they visit retirement homes and children’s hospitals.
One of the newest activities is the Agility Test. It is exciting and fun for the participants, both owners and dogs. At the 1992 World Agility Tests in Spain, the United States had a team there. The Italian and French teams both had Kerries on their teams, and it was the French team that won first place! At many of the dog shows Agility is being used as entertainment, and it is spreading all over the country. Try it…you and your Kerry will like it!
When Carol Postley, a longtime obedience enthusiast sent her American champion to England in 1991 the English breeders could not believe that a Kerry champion male could also have an obedience title! He not only had the obedience degree, but also made his English championship and went Best In Show!
Last Updated: 12/19/2002, 4:03 pm