One of my favorite parts of running this site are the emails I receive, and the great people I get to know. One such person is Darcy Dorwart. When Darcy wrote to me and spoke of her experiences with her Welsh terrier Chester, I could tell that she has a unique perspective that would be worth sharing. She and Chester are a great example of a human/dog team. I asked Darcy if she wouldn’t mind talking a bit about her life with Chester on M&E, and to my delight, she agreed. What resulted was a very informative interview.
Emma: Darcy, what lead you to bring a Welsh Terrier into your life?
Darcy: When I was a child I always wanted a wire haired terrier. I grew up, had 4 children, had several dogs… but never a wire haired terrier. One day, I was alone. I had grown up myself, I had grown up children. I took my daily 4 mile fitness walk, and I day-dreamed. In my mind’s eye I saw a little dog trotting by my side, game and energetic. A little dog I could pick up under my arm if I needed to. A smart dog who would understand me and learn tricks. One I could groom and trim and brush. On the Internet there was a dog breed match-maker site. I answered many, many questions about my life style. My perfect match? Wire Fox or Welsh Terrier. I had never heard of Welsh Terrier. I wrote to the Welsh Terrier Club of America, found a breeder in my area, and two years later I went to pick up 8 week old Chester. In the last 6 1/2 years since, Chester has trotted by my side summer, winter, spring, and fall, been carried under my arm, learned tricks and is my best friend.
Emma: What are some things about Welsh Terriers that you did not expect?
Darcy: I did not expect Welshies to be so cunningly difficult to house break!
I did not expect Welshies to mind the heat so much. When it is very hot, Chester will throw himself down in the shade, or walk belly-deep in any kind of water… just to get cool. Forget taking a walk.
I did not expect the deep seated dislike of kitties. Moles, voles, chipmunks, mice.. I get that, but I think Chester, given the chance, would kill a cat.
What do I feel people should know about Welsh?
Even though the Welsh looks like a cute stuffed animal… do NOT, people, DO NOT, (or let your children) try to bury your face in him, do not try to “snuzzle” him, do not try to hug, descend upon, snatch up, grab suddenly, or kiss his face… Chester hates to have these things sprung on him, though he will allow, in his own time, scritching under the chin, patting his back or rump, or squatting down and waiting for him to check you out.
Emma: Darcy, please tell us how you’ve built your relationship with Chester.
Darcy: At 8 weeks of age I asked the breeder if I could take Chester to puppy kindergarten. They highly recommended it. Chester and I went to puppy kindergarten I, II, and III, where we learned about positive re-enforcement. Then took a “tricks” class. Then took a “Canine Good Citizen” class. Then took a “Therapy Dog International” class. Classwork is very bonding. But mostly the bonding comes from getting up at 5am to take him for an hour walk… rain, snow, sleet or shine. No matter how drizzmal we are committed to taking our walks. Also, Chester goes everywhere with me… we get kicked out a lot, but he goes everywhere he can with me. That commitment has built our solid relationship.
Emma: What advice would you give dog owners who are interested in “Canine Good Citizen” or “Canine Good Neighbor” programs and certification?
Darcy: Any training, any classwork is good for you , good for your dog, good for relationship building. CGC or CGN? Be SURE the dog is enjoying the work! Don’t subject your dog to the sick, infirm, elderly, or unpredictable because it is what you want or like. Make sure it goes both ways.
Emma: Please tell us more about Chester’s time as a TDI therapy dog.
Darcy: Chester enjoyed the excitement. The squeals of delight when his friends would see him coming. Chester loved the adoration. Chester’s unique help that he could offer… two things… One, Chester could do tricks. The sick, infirm, lonely, elderly… no matter who… the people loved to see his adorable tricks!!(made people smile). Two, Chester had been taught to jump up on a lap from the floor without touching anything. He could be asked to get up on a lap, and go straight from floor to lap without a single wrinkle. The people loved that too.
Emma: Is there anything else you would like to share with everyone about Chester?
Darcy: He has more than the usual dog intuition. Chester will bark at a noise to indicate that something is wrong. He knows something is wrong before I do. Usually Chester will not lick people, but I have seen him lick the hands or face of a person who is dying. Usually Chester is quivering with joyful anticipation to meet a new dog, but when he stares, stands his ground, and barks … Sure enough, that dog is big trouble… And he knows it first. I rely on his intuition to help me supplement my own intuition, which as a person, has been intellectualized out of me.