I’ve been fortunate enough to have several really great dogs in my life. The thing is, all of them were bred by someone else. They came to me by design or by happenstance, or a combination of the two. “A Secondhand Dog” is the story of one of them. Am/Swedish Ch. Trevelyan’s Quiet Playing Games began his life in the Netherlands, was a show dog, stud dog, and most importantly, a heart dog in Sweden. His human was ripped from him by cancer and his prospects appeared bleak.
“Marcus” eventually came to the United States where he found a job, changed his attitude, sired some national specialty winners, learned to course foxes, and picked up just a few Conformation wins along the way. This is a story of tragedy, grief, kindness, and ultimate triumph that only “dog people” can truly appreciate. What follows is the second of four installments. I hope you’ll join me in sharing the experience of a lifetime.
Much has been written about the manifestations of grief in dogs when they suffer the loss of another dog or pet; far less about the impact of the loss of their human. A human can reason with their grief. They understand what happened, even though they may rebel against it. You can’t explain the loss through death to a dog. Try as I might, I can’t see that experience through the eyes of a dog. We have defined stages of grief, but my thinking is that the dog has them all simultaneously with no explanation and no real means of finding solace. Marcus and the other dogs of the Isotop’s pack spent those first days looking everywhere for Malin. Their sense of loss was palpable, as was the strain on Malin’s family.
I had pretty much given up on the idea of ever having Marcus, so I was more than shocked at the telephone call from Eva asking if I still wanted him. The shortest period of time known is not the nanosecond, but rather the pause before I said, “Wow! I sure do.”
Marcus arrived in the United States in the arms of Patricia Erikkson. He was freshly bathed and groomed, and at first glance appeared as hale and hearty as ever. I had some dogs to show that weekend and, to a degree, Marcus got consigned to a crate. We couldn’t wait to get him home.
The house contingent at that time included three Dachshunds and Marcus’ son, “Catcher,” who had come from Ninna Odehag (Kennel Notice) in Sweden. A rather elderly Dachshund, Rose Farm’s Range Rover, had miraculously survived and recovered from a ruptured disc and had returned to his prime passion of hunting woodchuck on a fairly regular basis. “Ranger” was a gentle soul (unless confronting quarry) and represented some of the best breeding from the late Dee Hutchinson. He was a late bloomer, but once he started hunting, he was surpassed only by his own son, “Huey.” He was one of the few American Dachshunds to pass the Natural Den Test administered by the Deutscher Teckelklub. By now, though, he was content to ride shotgun in the truck, lie in the sun, and maintain his spot at the foot of the bed.
Catcher (Ch. Notice Catcher in the Rye), on the other hand, was doing it all. As is our custom, he finished his Conformation title and began training for a working career. Most of my dogs start as working ratters and only later graduate to larger quarry. By the very nature of the activity (for which I like to use a team of eight dogs) a pack mentality with a large shot of cooperation is required.
Most of my dogs start as working ratters and only later graduate to larger quarry. By the very nature of the activity (for which I like to use a team of eight dogs) a pack mentality with a large shot of cooperation is required.
Catcher carried the genes of his ancestors and proved to be an excellent ratter. He worked as a “catch” dog and was able to share his quarry with other dogs. (We frown on rodent stretching, but it does happen.) In a nutshell, Catcher was living up to everything I wanted in a Bedlington Terrier, but like some of his ilk, he could be a bit dog aggressive. Many terriers are a bit feisty, though, and anyone foolish enough to keep a few stud dogs on the same property learns how to deal with it soon enough.
Now about this time, I fell victim to a sweet-talking Baptist preacher from Kentucky who convinced me that in addition to finding Jesus, I really needed to find a Jagdterrier or two to round out my team. Dachshunds serve as “hole dogs” to navigate a deep dark burrow and locate the quarry. The hunting style of a Dachshund, charge and parry, is ideal for backing up and holding quarry or causing it to bolt. Bedlingtons and other long-legged terriers can be used effectively as small lurchers to wait outside the back door for the quarry to bolt.
The Jagdterrier, however, is ideally suited to fill that middle ground that requires a fairly gritty little monster to be dug into the burrow and take over where the Dachshund leaves off. They’re cute, friendly, and have an energy level that puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. They need to hunt, and woe betide the owner who is unable or unwilling to satisfy that need. I took the bait and “Rommel,” a broken-coated male, and eventually, his younger sister, “Zoey,” took up residence in the kennel.
At Reynard’s (my current kennel prefix), I keep the breeds of dog that are necessary for the types of hunting in which we participate. Each dog has a role to fulfill and the conformation to make that happen. Over the years, there have been Beagles, English Foxhounds, Jack Russell Terriers (Puddin’s, of course), Norfolk Terriers, and Smooth Fox Terriers, in addition to the current crew. It was into this rather diverse mix that Marcus landed without choice or explanation. Since he had been kept in the house in Sweden, I afforded him the same privilege, but he was, as the saying goes, “At sea.”
The proud, cocky, stallion of a dog that I had seen at Louisville had become a subdued and more than a little insecure refugee. New smells, sights, and even a new language were a seemingly insurmountable challenge. (It is possible, though, that the word “A$$hat” sounds similar in English and in his native Swedish since he seemed to respond to that.)
I’ve never subscribed to the theory that you can’t keep two stud dogs in proximity. Hell, I’ve kept 30 of them together and eventually they sort it out. Harmony, however, was not to be the case in the new mix. While Marcus muddled on in trying to absorb his new surroundings, Catcher (Marcus’ son) decided to try out for Alpha Dog status.
The Bedlington Terrier is designed for a particular type of hunting. Actually, the pursuit of game by illegal means. Poaching. If you’re skulking about at night where you don’t belong, doing something you shouldn’t be doing, you don’t advertise much. No barking. No growls. No warning. A fast attack and a punishing grip between huge canines that is seldom released voluntarily. (And that, dear reader, is why one must NEVER spar Bedlingtons in the Conformation ring.)
It took me a few months of infrequent, but serious, fights before I figured out that in each case, Catcher was the instigator and Marcus the able, if unwilling, participant. Catcher inflicted a fair amount of damage until he was rehomed to a life of luxury as the only dog in residence.
My dream for Marcus was that he would become a world-class show dog and would propel himself and his aging owner to greatness in the Conformation spotlight. As a one-time professional handler, I was pretty sure that I could waltz the boy around the ring as good as anyone. There were also dreams of untold riches from stud fees and personal appearances. I loved that dream… and still do.
Reality was significantly less than the dream, though, and I rather quickly discovered that I couldn’t groom a Bedlington worth a damn. The great groomers within the breed tried their best to teach me the ropes, but sometimes even the best efforts are doomed to failure. I solved that problem by taking Marcus to a friendly close-lipped Beddy breeder who would do all the hard work and the hair-perfect scissoring a day or two before the show. At the show, I would put the dog on the table and go through all the motions while not actually doing a damned thing.
Now it’s not everyone who can claim to have been stalked by a nun. At one show, I was putting on my grooming performance—hours ahead of ring time. I’d put the dog up, fuss a little bit, trim a whisker, and return the dog to a crate while I wandered aimlessly about the show. I wasn’t aware of the lady in the flowing white habit who was shadowing me about the building.
As ring time drew near, I put the dog back on the table and continued my grooming charade. “Can I do the head?” came the strong inquiry? I looked up to see a Dominican nun in high dudgeon whose tone of voice let me know in no uncertain terms that I was doing it wrong. I felt like a kid in Catholic school. All she lacked was a ruler in her hand. I meekly handed over my shears.
It seems that Sister M. Dolorosa was a noted breeder of Bedlingtons in California before taking her vows. You had only to watch her hands as she snipped and trimmed to know that this was a professional. We won that day, and the most unlikely of friendships took shape. For as long as she was able, I would take my dogs to the convent and she would set up in the back of the building and groom away. When groomed, she delighted in taking the dogs through the hospital at which they worked as therapy dogs. No matter that they were untrained, Sister’s perfect guidance made them perfect.
It took almost a Papal Bull, but we eventually convinced her to judge a Beddy sweepstakes at a local specialty show. The weather was abominable for this outdoor show and the rain came in buckets. Still, muddy habit and all, the good Sister proved that divine guidance can help pick great winners.
Sister bred a great line of dogs and knows the breed through and through, but she thinks Marcus is too big. I need to get the new puppy up there for her to visit with.
So, our show career began. It’s almost impossible to carry on a judging schedule and still find time and places where you can show your own dogs. Toss groundhog season, fox season, and ratting all year long into the mix and your show schedule looks meager indeed. Still, we did well, and Marcus enjoyed the travel and the limelight.
We didn’t know it then, but where showing had originally been our sole purpose, it was only a beginning.
Are you looking for a Bedlington Terrier puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Bedlington Terrier dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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