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Cheers for Pat Harrelson and Bill Hirst: Volunteers Extraordinaire!


This month, Cheers salutes Pat Harrelson and Bill Hirst, who live in Little Rock, Arkansas. Pat and Bill have had a total of four Kerries, all told, in their lives. Each Kerry has been different in charming ways. Rosie kept Pat’s home critter-free and performed those duties with great enthusiasm -- sometimes too much enthusiasm as when Rosie had to be pulled by her tail to stop her attempt to pursue an armadillo underground. Belle was an amazing ball player and could field a grounder like a professional shortstop. She also would fetch her harness and leash from the hall tree to go for a walk --then she would get Stonewall’s gear (he considered that girl’s work and wanted no part of it). However, he always entertained visitors with his impression of Johnny Depp. Bill would pull Stoney’s whiskers to the side and he’d growl “aarrgghh,” just like Pirates of the Caribbean!

Both Pat and Bill are retired from the U.S. Navy. Pat served for 22 years as a Clinical Psychologist after teaching college for several years. Following military retirement, she worked at the US Department of Veterans Affairs in the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Unit. Bill spent most of his 25 year military career as a Naval Intelligence Officer. The met when they both were stationed overseas in Bahrain.

Pat and Bill currently own Darby, a male Kerry Blue Terrier just one year old, whom they got from a breeder. Although Bill had never had a dog of any kind, Pat is a life-long dog owner of various breeds, having purchased her first KBT, Rosie, from a breeder in Washington State in 1984. The first Kerry they got together, Belle, came from a breeder in Florida in 2002. Soon realizing that Belle needed a playmate, they “were picked out by” Stonewall from another Florida KBT breeder in 2004. Belle’s and Stonewall’s departures from their lives left gaping holes that could only be filled by another Kerry. Enter Darby, their fourth Kerry overall.

Pat and Bill find their Kerries provide the perfect motivation to get up and out for a walk. They always are eager participants in exercise disguised as a stroll, and in true Kerry fashion, they lead the way through the neighborhood or through the woods, along the river or along the beach. RV-ing also is a favorite activity. As a five-month-old puppy, Darby readily took his place in the Airstream trailer and quickly learned that camping gets you lots of walks, lots of attention from other campers, lots of opportunity to meet other doggies, and lots and lots of treats.

Clearly raising a Kerry and dealing with the Terrier Temperament is a challenge: think strong-willed, hard-headed, and stubborn. Rosie, Belle, and Stonewall, however, let Bill and Pat win most of the time. The two girls were loving and sweet, and Stoney was a big goofball who charmed everyone. (Check him out as Mr. December on the 2018 KBTF Calendar.) Then came Darby. He has required every bit of experience from raising three previous Kerries, grand patience, and a solid sense of humor. When they first brought him home, if you left slippers out, he would hide them; remote controls, bite off the end; knobs on car dash, also for biting; have we mentioned boxes of tissues? And, toilet paper and newspapers and magazines. Outside, everything went in the mouth: twigs, bark, stones, cicada shells, duck poop, and lawn mushrooms. Fortunately, he is growing up, and now they can leave him alone in the house and unmonitored outside, but they do fear the upcoming lawn mushroom season!

Health problems also have been serious challenges. Rosie lost a rear leg to cancer. Belle had surgery for patellar luxation in both rear legs and then tore an ACL. That repair caused her lifelong problems, which we only realized toward the end of her life when her orthopedic surgeon discovered she had been rejecting a titanium pin used in the ACL repair. Stonewall had chronic GI issues and regularly regurgitated water after a big drink. And, Darby, so far, has been treated twice for diarrhea and bloody stool. In spite of health issues, all enjoyed being the best Kerries they could be and have filled Pat and Bill’s life with great joy and affection.

Pat and Bill helped tremendously with the KBTF transition to the new website, working over several months formatting and moving articles and photos. They also are on the list of volunteers to transport rescue Kerries. In the near term, Pat and Bill are concentrating on Darby’s socialization and training, with the goal of volunteering him as a therapy dog. He has completed Puppy Kindergarten and Beginner Obedience. On Saturdays, he gets to romp in well-supervised pack play with about 20 other dogs. And, in the fall, Pat and Bill will enroll him in a Canine Good Citizen class. Recently, they completed the Pet Partners Therapy Dog Handlers Course, learning mostly that “we have a long way to go on Darby’s training, but also realize there’s a good chance that he can meet the requirements.” They hope to become a Pet Partners Registered Therapy Dog Team and take Darby to the VA and other local hospitals and nursing homes. After all, who can resist the Kerry charm?

Although they don’t remember how or when they became aware of the Foundation, they routinely rely on its website and members for a wide range of Kerry information and experience. They write “there is no better source of inspiration and support if there’s a Kerry Blue Terrier in your household – and of course, we think that is the ideal situation.”

Our hats are off to these long term and dedicated KBT connoisseurs, and KBTF volunteers!







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Today is December 6, 2019

On this day in 1979:

The Canadian Kerry Blue Terrier Club received its charter from the Canadian Kennel Club.

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The Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation is a nonprofit charity dedicated to promoting the welfare of the Kerry Blue Terrier breed in the areas of education, rescue and health & genetics. Learn More.


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