Interview With Darcy Dorwart

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.

{  Note: If you have any comments or questions for Darcy,
please don’t hesitate to comment. She is happy to talk. 
So take the opportunity, and by all means, ask away!  }
 Q & A

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.

Interview With Darcy Dorwart
image courtesy of Darcy Dorwart

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.

Interview With Darcy Dorwart
image courtesy of Darcy Dorwart

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.

That, and just, that he is my very best friend.

8 comments on Interview With Darcy Dorwart

  • Gail

    Great interview with Darcy. It is always interesting to compare notes with fellow Welsh Terrier owners, and, having the experience of now owning our second WT, I have come to the conclusion that while there are some basic similarities, no two Welshes are alike. Example, our first Welsh hated the heat, water, grooming and other dogs, while our current Welsh loves all of those things! Booth however, were easy to house train, and just love to snuggle!

  • Emma (author)

    I agree about comparing notes Gail. Like in families, we sometimes are remarkably similar, always individually different, and sometimes, there is a total wild card in the mix!

    Like Chester, Miles is extremely friendly with other dogs, unless he senses danger. Also like Chester, he was a maniac to house train. As for snuggling, Miles is particular about who he snuggles with — but if you are one of the chosen ones — he is ridiculously cuddly.

    Out of curiosity, are yours boys, girls, or one of each?

  • Darcy

    Even Chester has his own dichotomies… He has his own kitty, whom he's lived with for years, and he plays with her and sometimes sleeps in his bed with her.. But other people's kitties… Well, BEWARE. Snuggling? He is snugly with me all day long… He does however mind people swooping down on him, or grabbing at him. He chooses his cuddling. When it comes to other dogs though… He is an equal opportunity other dog lover.. If the dog is a balanced dog Chester LOVES to play… Girl dogs, boy dogs, big, drooly, tiny, fluffy, young, old… But nasty dogs… He barks. It's about the only time he does bark. He's not much of a barker… But a nasty dog… Well that's worth barking over!

  • Gail

    Emma, our first Welsh Terrier was a female. She died of cancer at age 12 in June 2011. We were fortunate to get another Welsh four months later – the sole female from S-B Summer Storm 2011 litter. (prior to having Welsh Terriers, we had an Airedale and waited 2 long years before getting another dog- never again:)

    I don't know if there are sex differences in the ability to house train as we have never owned a male, but both took to established routines nicely and signal us or go to the door when it is time. And it is interesting to see the dogs our Welsh gravitates to in our dog park. As a pup, she thought all dogs were like her, but now is more discriminating.

  • Emma (author)

    Darcy, how wonderful that Chester is good with his roommate cat. That is impressive 🙂

    Gail, I was thinking that, because the girls are considered much easier to house train, and the boys are often a challenge. I've noticed too on rescue profiles of Welsh terriers that it is very common for males to be listed as having house training "issues," whereas girls almost never are listed as such.

    Your girls sound wonderful, no wonder you brought a second one into your life. I'd love to see pictures!

    Also — a Welsh terrier that enjoys heat?!??! This is the first one I've heard of like that! How fantastic.

  • Gail

    Emma, as we spend part of the year in the CA desert and part in MA hands down the preference is desert heat! Of course with a bit of pool time mixed in:)

    Interesting observation about rescue dogs!

    Find pictures of Bailey on FaceBook!

    Love your blog! Gail Foote

  • Cassafrass

    First of all, great interview!

    Second, great information for anyone new to the Welsh. I think it's fascinating how different various breeds are from one another, and especially how different breeds in the same group are from one another. The Welsh is so very different from the Border Terrier, but it's way too easy to lump all Terriers into one behavioral group.

    I love learning more about your breed and this will be a gold mine of info for someone looking at adding a Welsh to their family.

  • Emma (author)

    Thank you Cassie, your comment means the world to me. I am beyond happy to hear that — and beyond humbled.

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