Then and Now

Submitted by Michael Cunnington, [email protected]

This passage is taken from a book called “The Modern Kerry Blue Terrier” by Violet E. Handy. (Reprinted from the original by Milo B. Denlinger Washington
D.C.) I’m not sure when the book was published but I think it was probably in the early 1930’s.

The extracts are taken from a chapter entitled “Then and Now”which was contributed by a Miss M. C. Green. (No information given but I presume she was
a noted judge of the day)

Note: Keep in mind then “Then” is the 1920s and “Now” is 1930s.

Mrs Handy has very kindly asked me to contribute an article to this book giving my impressions of the Kerry Blue Terriers at the 1931 Kennel Club Show,
comparing them with their ancestors of early days….


I gave Blue Leader Helter Skelter the certificate
at the Kennel Club Show because, apart from good points and an eye and expression which are marvellous, he too possesses that indefinable something
which stamps him with the hallmark of the Terrier; and I am bound to say that some of the exhibits to-day have lost this quality. I say lost, because
the original Kerry Blue, however much of a ragamuffin he may have been, was nearly always a Terrier, though at times a very badly behaved one.

This brings me to what I consider a very important improvement indeed, and one that has been so gradual that it is seldom remarked upon – namely, the
conduct of the dogs in the ring.

The early shows were really quite funny. It was all we could do to keep ourselves and our dogs firmly planted on the ground, and I can remember at
least one judge going round the ring with his fingers in his ears to shut out the din. A bottle of iodine was often in request, and I have heard
ringsiders remark that they were no dogs for a lady to handle.

No wonder that the breed soon lost a measure of its sudden popularity. Now at the Kennel Club Show the dogs, with few exceptions, behaved with perfect
decorum, and allowed themselves to be handled without the slightest objection.. I don’t think too much importance can be attached to this significant
fact. A Terrier can be a Terrier without being vicious and unpleasantly pugnacious, and the general public is, as a rule, very much averse to the
fierce and quarrelsome dog.

The Breed has undoubtedly reached a point when it could forge right ahead…. it is good enough to interest the most exacting Terrier fancier. But
it has got to interest the general public as well, so that there is an ever-increasing demand for surplus stock; and I firmly believe that it is
the good-tempered dog that is going to accomplish this….

There are still a great many people who have never seen a Kerry Blue, and there ought not to be, for he is, in my opinion, the best, the most intelligent,
and loyal companion in the world.

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