I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few 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. American/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 first of four installments. I hope you’ll join me in sharing the experience of a lifetime.
It started innocently enough with a telephone call from Ms. Linda, a Bedlington Terrier icon. Would I be agreeable to serve on a panel at the Bedlington Terrier National Specialty, to be held that year in Louisville, Kentucky? I was chuffed at the invitation. After all, I’d been judging Beddies for a couple of decades, and indeed, the first dog I ever showed at age 14 was a Bedlington. “Oh, it’s not that,” said Ms. Linda, “You’re just the only person we know who has hunted with a Bedlington.” I was returned to my state of humility.
March 16, 2013 brought the Bedlington Terrier Club of America’s National Specialty, held at Louisville. The panel that had been assembled to discuss the breed featured Lydia Hutchinson (who would also judge the specialty), Sandra Miles, a noted American breeder, and Malin Eriksson, a Swedish breeder (Isotop’s). Yours truly rounded out the panel. It seems that the folks in the BTCA had decided to emphasize and present the Bedlington’s working history in order to focus the judges’ attention on the functional requirements for the breed.
Way back then, I’d been judging Bedlingtons for about three decades and felt pretty comfortable. I had been out hunting a few times with Beddies owned and hunted by Joanne Frier-Murza and working terrier icon John Broadhurst. I wasn’t prepared for the roster of attendees that included a ton of knowledgeable breeders and a collection of longtime judges looking to acquire approval for the breed. I remember that Houston and Toddie Clark were among the attendees. The seminar went along pretty well until I mentioned that any working terrier needed to be laterally flexible. (“Body: Muscular and markedly flexible,” says the AKC Breed Standard.)
Several people had brought dogs, and the club had recruited two or three for discussion purposes. In the field, we sometimes evaluate flexibility by bending the dog literally in half. This must be done ever so gently and dogs lacking the requisite flexibility just won’t bend. At any rate, I bent a couple of volunteers’ dogs. Much to my surprise, a lot of breeders up and left the room. “Now I’ve done it,” I thought and I was prepared to skulk back into anonymity from which I had come.
Much to my surprise, all of those who had “fled the scene” returned with their dogs in hand and asked that we try to bend them. That was kind of the end of the planned program and we spent the remainder of the allotted time bending canines. Most were flexible, some weren’t, but every attendee darned sure knew and understood the necessity of flexibility and how to evaluate it. After the seminar, I was invited to an impromptu barbeque in the “mobile aluminum ghetto” located in the parking lot. Fueled by a wee dram or two, the bending and hunting stories continued well into the night.
Having found my way from the mean streets of New York City to the blue grass of Kentucky, I, of course, stayed for the specialty. For her entry, Malin Ericsson had brought a young liver male from Sweden in a quest for his American championship. I had seen Malin and her sister, Eva Byberg, on several previous occasions. They were frequent visitors to the US and who could miss this pair of blonde Swedish bombshells? Eventually, though, I managed to stop gawking long enough to look down the lead and take in the stallion of a dog that she had brought. That dog was Trevelyan’s Quiet Playing Games, “Marcus.” For me, it was love at first sight.
Marcus was owned on paper by Eva Byberg, herself a noted breeder of Bedlingtons, but he had become Malin’s heart dog and the two were inseparable. The bond they shared was obvious and “M & M” were a pair to be reckoned with both in and out of the ring. That bond shone through at the National Specialty, and Ms. Hutchinson awarded Marcus Best of Winners over a large entry.
Lydia Hutchinson has been my friend and mentor for more decades than I care to mention. She has a cracking sense of humor and, like the terriers she breeds and judges, she enjoys a little sparring now and then. After the show I cornered her and asked why, when she had obviously recognized this truly great example of the Bedlington, had she not taken the dog to Best of Breed? “Oh well,” she shot back, “I just thought I’d stay within two or three inches of the Standard.” Marcus, you see, is a big boy, but the Standard allows “Only where comparative superiority of a specimen outside these ranges clearly justifies it, should greater latitude be taken.”
Given my own observation and Lydia’s obvious approval, I couldn’t get Marcus out of my mind, and since I’d been in need of a lurcher-type for woodchuck hunting it seemed like a good idea to take him home with me. I ran into Malin “out behind the barn” and told her I wanted to buy the dog. Now, anyone who buys dogs knows that you don’t make an offer on the day that the dog wins. That’s seldom successful and you’ll always get a better price on a losing day. “Not a chance,” said Ms. Ericsson in fluent English, “This is my heart dog and best friend.” “How coy!” I thought and offered her more money. That didn’t work either and eventually Marcus and Malin headed back to Sweden.
But there was a little luck on my side, as Marcus hadn’t gotten his 15 points on this initial trip to the US and he returned the following year with Malin and Eva. I renewed my offer to buy him with more money (a lot more money) but the answer was still the same. During the year, Marcus had been bred both in the US and in Sweden and had been lightly shown. His (ahem) “commanding appearance” held him back a bit in the ring, but not at all in the heart of his owner. I don’t handle rejection all that well, so I decided to go in search of a Marcus puppy.
Word came that a nice blue male puppy sired by Marcus was available from Kennel Notice in Sweden. Looking back, this was probably the consummate set up since my source of information flatly informed me that if I didn’t buy it, she would. At that time, we had a pretty good scheme going whereby you would take the puppy to the airport and pay a likely looking college kid about $100 to carry the dog. We would meet the kid at the arrival gate and reclaim the dog. (You can’t do that today). In due course, a little bit of Marcus known as Notice Catcher in the Rye, “Catcher,” arrived in the US.
Catcher did very well indeed and finished his championship in due course. He became a very good ratter and contributed greatly to the R.A.T.S. team. He reintroduced the US to the working Bedlington and his appearances in the media, even when identified as a Poodle, helped to raise awareness of the Bedlington’s true purpose in life. And like the Bedlingtons of old that would meet behind the pub after a hunt, Catcher would never shy away from a fight. He was game as a terrier should be and I knew that gameness probably came, in part, from Marcus.
Back in Sweden, Malin Eriksson had been diagnosed with a metastasized cancer. This minor inconvenience dampened her enthusiasm for dog shows and the dogs she loved not one iota. She braved every treatment with a smile and when she lost her hair, would appear in crazy wigs that belied the gravity of her condition. She charged on for several years with the help of her sister Eva and daughter Patricia who helped her along. During this time, she had a few worthy campaign specials that did a lot of winning for her. Marcus was more or less relegated to his role as her pet, companion, and heart dog. He often stayed home.
In 2015, the World Dog Show was held June 10-14, 2015 in Milan, Italy. Despite her weakness from the advancing cancer, Malin had to attend. Marcus was not being shown at the time and stayed home in Sweden. It was to be her last dog show and she became hospitalized in Milan. She passed away in Italy on June 15, 2015. Even though her untimely death was expected, it fell hard on her family and friends. But nowhere was her loss grieved harder than with Marcus. My friend, the late Roger Caras said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” On the part of our dogs, we are indeed their whole life and there is no way at all of easing the pain that comes with the loss of their everything.
We all know and understand the grief we feel when a cherished dog dies. Some of those losses affect us more than others and some have lasting affects on us. To avoid being told, “It’s only a dog,” we often keep our tears and anguish bottled up inside. It hurts, but we understand the process and grieve our loss more or less as society expects. Fortunately, few of our dogs undergo the loss of their owner. They can’t understand and there is no way to explain it to them.
History is full of epic stories of dogs playing out their grief and sense of loss. Greyfriar’s Bobby guarded the grave of John Grey, his late owner, daily for 14 years after his death. Grey had been employed as a night watchman and “Bobby” was his partner. At that time, policemen were obliged to have dogs and the pair were together 24/7, forging a bond that could not be broken even
Marcus’ grief was equally strong and the death of his owner was a turning point in his life.
On May 4, 2016, Marcus came once again to the United States. Malin’s daughter Patricia brought him and he was given to me at the Trenton Kennel Club show a few days later.
It was November 24, 2011 when Marcus was whelped in Melderslo, Netherlands in the kennels of Wilma Janssen (Trevelyan’s). He was from a litter of five puppies sired by Symretoppen’s Freke Nordic Star out of Trevelyan’s Olala For Your Eyes Only. It was Wilma’s “Q” litter, and therefore, at birth, each of the puppies was assigned a name beginning with that letter of the alphabet. Like many breeders, Janssen held back two of the litter that looked to be the “most likely to succeed.” Those two were Marcus (then named Milo) and Trevelyan’s Question of Quality, “Charming.” After a fashion, Charming went to the prestigious Kinterra Bedlingtons in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Marcus got a Facebook post looking for a forever home.
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
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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