I stand and brush our little bijou. She is smaller, barely within standard for our breed, but full of substance and attitude that made her a winner. She is six years old and as my mom and I work on her, brushing, scissoring and combing every inch, I wonder where the time has gone.
In February 2003, we stood at a dog show with friends who owned her mother and another friend who owned her father and made the statement, “If you breed that bitch to that dog, we’d take a bitch puppy if there was a nice one.” Famous last words. They did the breeding and in a few months we travelled to Iowa to see the litter. We did not like her immediately. She was noticeably small and not particularly interested in people. But she had a swagger and an arrogance that made her stand out. We returned to Iowa when the litter was twelve weeks old and took home the smallest Kerry Blue bitch we’d ever owned. My mom had a name for her, Harmony Pursing History and we decided to call her Honour. You know, like Honour the past. Both her parents came from our line and the we felt we needed a bitch since we were still reeling from two single pup litters we’d recently had. Because neither one of these bitches was to be re-bred, this tiny puppy bitch was the hope for our future.
When we brought her home we had to lower all the water bowls so she could reach them. We had an elderly dog, returned to us when his owner went into assisted living who immediately became her mentor. She grew a big dog personality to match his size. Honour was the devil in a fifteen pound body. She drove all the home dogs crazy and received a head butt from her great-grandfather when she got on his nerves one day.
Honour was as close to a natural show dog as you can have. She was born to show and very serious about it. We would watch her gait around the yard and marvel at her confidence, like our Sunshine before her, but so small and dark. We never really believed in her as a show dog, but as she grew and became like her tiny mother, the perfect Kerry Blue scaled down, we began to show her.
I travelled to the Kerry Blue Terrier National Specialty at the Montgomery County Kennel Club shows in 2004 outside Philadelphia, with one of Honour’s breeders. Honour and I flew to Omaha and drove straight through in a van loaded with five dogs and two people. We met Honour’s other breeder at the shows. My mom and I historically don’t enter the sweepstakes with our dogs. But this time we did and Honour was BOS in the Nataional club’s sweeps. She placed in her classes on two of the four days of the weekend and many people loved her. Suddenly, she was our new show dog.
Honour showed until she was just past eighteen months old then was held out for lack of color for almost a year. When she came back, with barely enough color for some judges, she was ready to be a winner. We put points on her at small shows and then a major and then sent her out with the person she was to love the most in the whole world, Odebt Massey.
Right away Odebt saw something in this little bitch we never could. They forged a team that was hard to ignore. She picked up her majors and the few remaining points we needed to finish her and then, cautiously at first, Odebt and Honour became as one. We would send her out with Odebt for a weekend, but always took her back home after the shows. We didn’t want her going far or for very long and we didn’t want Odebt to trim her much. She put up with our on again, off again ways for most of 2005. Honour picked up some group placements, some with me, but more with Odebt. It was clear Honour was starting to show better for Odebt. We took her to Louisville, KY in 2006 and she got two awards of merit with me handling her. There was only one available each day. The people who owned and showed our breed number one, a very nice bitch, told us when they saw her they knew she would be their competition. We scoffed at their praise.
In 2006, something changed. Honour started to be a winner. More than we ever thought she could have been. We let Odebt take her more and more often and for longer and longer trips. She was suddenly ranked and people were noticing her. We ran an ad campaign for the two of them using the tag line: Honour the standard. She kept winning. Never a group one, and only a few group twos, but she was usually in the money.
We took her and our new bitch, Eva, to the Kerry Blue Terrier Travelling National in Greyslake, Illinois. The entry was over 60 dogs. We intended to show her ourselves and pick up a handler if Eva was winners bitch. At the last minute we took a chance and asked Odebt if she would fly in to Chicago to show Honour. Odebt hates to fly, but she came anyway. It was the biggest entry she’d ever shown a Kerry in and to a judge who years ago had ended her son’s show career with some mean spirited and harsh words.
Honour received the first award of merit, narrowly missing Best Opposite Sex. We never showed her ourselves again. Odebt and Honour showed the rest of the year and eventually ended up with Best Opposite at the 2006 Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach. They beat the same breed number one we had been in the ring with in Louisville. The handler smiled at me and said, “I told you we were right to be worried.”
Honour showed the rest of that year and came home to us. She was, after all, our hope for the future of our line. We tried four times to breed her to three different dogs and she never conceived. How ironic: we never doubted she could be bred and never believed she could be a winner. She proved us wrong all the way around.
We now have a new litter we have never seen, from a bitch we have seen only twice. This bitch, owned by our friend, leased by us, will be our hope for the future. But, our little bijou will always be my favorite. As we continue to work on her she moans softly and wags her tail in total enjoyment of the process. She is sure there is a show in her future and she watches me intently as I move away to get another tool. If I go too far for too long, she barks sharply as if to say, “Hey, stick to it. I’m not ready yet.”
My heart is always heavy when we leave her while we go to a show with other dogs. She is miserable if she is at a show but not shown. But her spirit is resiliant and remains ever hopeful that she will see the ring again. Her time is coming. Next May she will be seven and we will take her to shows as a veteran. Odebt will show her and Honour will be supremely happy. For now we brush her and keep her in good shape so when her day comes we will all be ready. One of us can hardly wait.