While we had owned a Kerry Blue as a family pet since 1956, we did not start showing Kerries until 1968 with the acquisition of Townshend's Fair Chance. This male was from the second litter sired by the legendary Ch. Melbee's Chances Are (Tommy). Volumes could be written about this dog and his contributions to the breed. A modern history of the Kerry Blue Terrier could very well be divided into the pre and post-Chances Are years. His inclusion into many lines strengthened rears and improved movement. He was handled by the late Ric Chashoudian prior to becoming an AKC judge. Mr. Chashoudian is credited with modernizing the Kerry trim to what is seen in the show ring today.
This fine dog was not without controversy. In a poignant statement found in Terrier Type's, July 1989 issue, The Kerry Blue Terrier in America, Mrs. Melvin A. Schlesinger, Tommy's owner, wrote: "There has been much pleasure and much sadness, as there is in anything worthwhile. Our greatest pleasure was accompanied by our greatest sadness, the single imperfection in an otherwise perfect dream come true, our Ch. Melbee's Chances Are." This was an allusion to the fatal PNA (now called CMSD) believed to have been carried by this dog. Ch. Melbee's Chances Are sired 66 champions and was top dog all breeds in 1969. He won 49 Bests in Show and 100 group firsts. For the good or the bad all Casey Kerry Blue Terriers descend proudly from this dog.
In the fifties and sixties, most dog clubs held single day shows and living in Colorado, exhibitors had to travel out of state, a journey of eight hours or more, to show dogs regularly. Our quest for a Kerry to show involved years of researching lines, traveling to out of state shows just to make contacts, lots of long distance calls and a lot of mentoring from long time breeders and exhibitors. We put a deposit on a puppy from one of these breeders, but when they decided to keep the puppy and show it themselves, we resumed our search. We contacted Heard and Edith Izant (Townshend), who we had met at some shows in California. Edith had a litter sired by Chances Are and she sent us a show prospect male.
Townshend's Fair Chance (Casey)
We consider Ch. Townshend's Fair Chance (Casey) and Ch. South County Muffet (Muffet) to be the foundation dogs of Casey Kerry Blue Terriers. He is pictured here going Best of Breed at the Beverly Hills Kennel Club show in 1970.
Casey was a nice, honest Kerry. He was 18 1/2 inches tall and had a beautiful, wavy, light blue coat. He was not a hard charging, firery dog in the ring, but was willing and happy. For Kerries of his day, he was hard to fault. He had a longer neck and head than some, and good reach and drive without running. We were fortunate to win groups with him, rank him in the top 10 for the three years he was shown, and establish a reputation.
Muffet was a bigger, stronger bitch with a proven track record as a producer. She was darker in color than Casey, but seemed much more robust and firery. We had seen her in the Northwest as a young bitch, where she was shown by her breeder/owners, and liked her attitude and overall type. She had whelped several litters by the time she came to live with us at age five, as the result of the break up of her owners.
Both Casey and Muffet made significant contributions to the establishment of our line. Both were excellent show dogs in their day, but more than that they were complimentary in type and very sound.
It was probably more of an instinct than anything scientific that led to the breeding of these two dogs. Maybe it was the desire to show more dogs or simply see if two decent dogs could produce something good between them. Whatever the reasoning, we were very fortunate to begin our line with these two dogs.