How it all began

 

Many years ago, I visited some friends in Hampshire. There were two little dogs racing about the garden and I asked what they were.  “Pickle and Onion, Heythrop Hunt Terriers” was the answer.  I found them enchanting.

Little did I then think that, years later, I too would have a real Heythrop Hunt Terrier and that I would  become completely addicted to this lively and fascinating breed!

After Hampshire, the saga continued  in Ireland.  I went to stay with some friends in County Mayo, accompanied by a young lady who already was the proud owner of an Irish Jack Russell. A friend of hers, who had seen her Bonnie, had asked her to buy one of these plucky little persons and bring it back to Austria to be used for work.

On a typically windy and rainy Irish day we set forth to buy a local newspaper and to inspect the farmers who had advertised Jack Russell Terrier puppies for sale.

At the third farm we visited, a rather undernourished bitch with quite a smart looking litter of puppies was produced, taken out of the barn and allowed to run about the parlour. We were glad to get in out of the rain and were offered tea and biscuits.

The father of the litter had been run over, we were told, but they were definitely purebred Jack Russells.

Barbara, as my friend was called, chose a little tricolour bitch.  Without thinking, purely on an irresistible impulse, I decided to take her litter brother. The farmer beamed, sixty Irish punts changed hands and we departed with the two puppies to wait for a vet whom he had recommended.

In the next village we passed a shop called “O’Grady’s” just as the little dog began to whimper, so that became his name.  After more tea while waiting for the vet, Mr. Noone, we were told that the puppies were probably not eight weeks old yet. Mr. Noone nonetheless consented to give them their first shot.  He looked at us rather suspiciously and told us to be careful, as they were still quite young.

The next day we departed from the west coast of Ireland by train to Dublin to fly back to London.  The weather was appalling—Hurricane Charlie was blowing full force and most planes had been cancelled.  When we arrived at the airport, we were informed that we would have to get a crate for the puppies, who would be transported in the hold.  We had been given a couple of old towels for the journey, so we wrapped the puppies up in the towels, managed to find a taxi which drove us to the nearest petshop.  We bought a crate and returned to the airport.  People were being flown to London on a first come, first served basis.  It would be a long wait, we feared.  The puppies were not at all pleased by these developments and started to make an infernal noise.  It seemed to us that the whole airport was looking at us angrily.  After a wait of half an hour, one of the officials took pity on us, the puppies and the other people, and we were told that we could board the next plane to London.

We bumped along in the hurricane and arrived safely at Heathrow, where we retrieved the puppies from the freight department.  We took a taxi to the office of an Austrian diplomat who had been kind enough to let us stay in his house. Luckily he was the owner of a Scottish Terrier, so he was not too reluctant to have two tiny Jack Russells in his kitchen for the next few days.

The taxi driver who drove us to the house took a brief look at the content of our crate and said “I think you bought yourself some trouble!”

I have often thought of this taxi driver  during the past years—how right he was!

To make a long story short, we had to leave the puppies with another friend in London as we could not take them into Germany without a rabies shot.  Our plane landed in Munich.  Two days later the puppies arrived in Salzburg, still in their crate.  We let them out on the grass after having again collected them from the freight department.  They were completely unimpressed by their long journey from the west of Ireland to Austria and gambolled about happily.

Nellie went to Carinthia and O’Grady came with me to Vienna.  He turned out to be a real Irishman—full of charm and surprises.  I was madly in love with him and took him everywhere. He was extremely lively and, in order to tire him out, I went jogging in the Vienna Woods at least three times a week before going to town to my business.  I became fitter and fitter, and so did he.

One day we met a young woman in the woods, who also had a Jack Russell. There was a club and a yearly show, I was informed. 

I went to the show to meet the club secretary, the other members and to have a look at the other dogs.  I met a man who said he was a breeder, and he asked me whether I could purchase a rough-coated bitch for him the next time I was in England.

I found a little tricolour bitch in Norfolk, a tiny animal with lots of hair and even more personality.  She was adorable, I called her Lucy and, needless to say, I kept her.

O'Grady and Lucy

I have to admit that my first litter was not planned.  I came home from the hairdresser’s one day and found the dogs had tied. I knew very little about dog breeding in those days, but I learned fast, through experience. 

O'Grady, Lucy, Amos and Andy

I rang up our club secretary, and asked him what to do.  “Choose a kennel name” he said.  So I chose Claremorris, the name of the town where we waited for the vet, Mr. Noone.

My first two puppies, Amos and Andy, were born.

That is how it all began---and I haven’t regretted it for a single minute!    

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