Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Airedales, Ridgebacks and Irish Terriers


I was talking to my son today. He had just finished grooming his 3 Airedales. He hadn't been able to do it in awhile since his ex-wife had his electric sheep-shears. He described the hair coming off of his largest Airedale, Samson. It came off in one continuous mass, and underneath he found some skin irritations of various kinds; so he treated those. His smallest Airedale, Winston, who is a rescue and was perhaps used to more regular grooming, waited to be clipped as though he was looking forward to it. Now as touching and wholesome as that all might sound, I found it rather daunting. Granted, I wouldn't be getting three Airedales, only one, but even grooming one sounds daunting.

My son, knowing my objections has promised to come over once a month to work his sheep-shears on my Airedale. In fact, he said, he could bring his three Airedales along as well and do them all at once. All that has a bucolic ring to it; which might sound appealing, and if I were younger it might even sound appealing to me, but I found it appalling. Do I really want the hair of an Airedale growing all month long in my house until my son comes over and clips it off?

I don't recall responding to the description of his clipping his three Airedales in any particular way, but perhaps I did. My son interjected, "I know what kind of breed of dog you are going to get."

"Oh yeah," I asked in surprise, "what?"

"Another Ridgeback," he said and laughed. "The Ridgeback is your ideal dog. I might try to talk you into getting an Airedale, but when the time actually comes, you won't be able to do it. You'll get another Ridgeback."

Well yes, if I could have a male Ridgeback at the same time I had only one elderly female Ridgeback, that would work, but Sage represents a problem for me. She just doesn't like other dogs. So, introducing something while Ginger, who loves other dogs, is still around, seems the humane thing to do; hence my exploration of the tiny (relatively) Irish Terrier. Why not a third Ridgeback? There is two-years difference between Ginger (who will be 6 in May) and Sage (who will be 4 in May); so various of my joints took the brunt of their puppy-hood. Also, there was a somewhat serious incident where I tripped on a crack in a sidewalk, just as the two of them decided to fence-fight with what looked like a Gargoyle leaning over a cinder-block fence to taunt them. I didn't break anything, but I felt the effects of that spill for months afterwards. And yes I was lectured by all and sundry about training my Ridgebacks, but that doesn't suit my lifestyle. I want them to run after rabbits at the river and the sort of training I do down there is just so that they will keep track of me and come to me if anything unusual occurs. I really have no interest in walking up and down in front of my neighbors lawns at high noon; so I'll have to take my lumps. I do try to anticipate, and I've learned to snap the leashes on their backs, but incidents could still happen. My girls are older and less likely to give me a bad time; so perhaps the addition of a small (75-pound ) male might work out, but I wouldn't look forward to putting that to the test.

I liked the idea of an Irish Terrier who could exercise his macho little ego to his heart's content around my girls. There would be no conflict. Ginger would want to play with him and Sage would just want to keep out of his way; although I would suspect she would eventually get used to him. With Ginger always wanting to play with him, Sage would be able to keep her distance most of the time. But if I go that way, I would have to do it fairly soon. Ginger is still playful at 6, and maybe she will be at 7, but I wouldn't expect it at 8.

As I was writing, another possibility occurred to me. See I could get him one of these collars and track him on his rabbit-chases. has this unit for $398.43. I don't know if one-mile is a good-enough range, but it might be.

I wish now that I'd had one of these for Ginger and Sage when they were puppies. The time came when I turned them loose at the River and then, for each of them, had occasions when they were temporarily lost. In the case of Ginger, it was a foggy morning. I'd heard coyotes howling and then she disappeared. As it turned out we'd passed each other in the fog. Sage was a different matter. She chases rabbits probably somewhat like an Irish Terrier would. On two occasions she so focused on the rabbits that she lost track of us and then ran up and down the river looking for us. When she finally found us she was very hot and her tongue was lolling – quite a pitiful sight. But after those two incidents, Sage kept track of me. So even though "Roameo" offers tracking for three dogs, I wouldn't need it for Ginger and Sage. And if my Irish Terrier (I've gone back to thinking one a possibility) ever became as trustworthy down there as the girls, we could dispense with the collar.

The local breeder I contacted is . You can see from her write-up that she ". . .found the darker the red, the harder the coat with less grooming required. We have some Irish that only need to be groomed once or twice a year."

I fear that if I spoke to Shari Halldane she might discourage me again – in regard to the river outings. What I should perhaps do is make up my mind in advance, tell her I don't need any advice in regard to my dog getting lost, and ask her if she would please sell me one of those dark-red Irish Terrier pups she described on her web site.

From: hbergsby []
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 6:37 PM
Subject: [Lawrence Helm's Blog] New comment on RE: Russian Airedales..

hbergsby has left a new comment on your post "RE: Russian Airedales.":

Thanks for that! It was a great read. You are correct; my dreams may not truly have been shattered. :) I have always thought the two breeds would complement one another well, and now I am even more convinced. Sure, the IT might be a bit over-the-top in feistiness, but that's what a terrier is all about, right? And surely the RR's more sane personalities (well, sometimes!) will rub off on the IT to some extent. Airedales are awesome dogs, too - I think perhaps I live in a fantasy world, wanting to bring certain elements of my childhood back to life. I actually named one of my children after my old IT, and the other after my current RR. Simply put, I am somewhat weird! I hope to read future updates on your blog regarding the pack .....


Zabou said...

We are moving to an unfenced property with some wooded area, some lawn etc. Our Irish Terrier Maisy is abbot 4years old and very attached to me. I typically let her run off leash in the forest on trails and even off trails with other dogs and she stays very close to me which is probably not typical of most terriers. I do keep her on leash when we go to a public park though. We got an exorbitant quote to fence in our property and I'm wondering if anyone could tell me whether we might consider an electric fence .
Much appreciated!

Lawrence Helm said...


I have never used them, but I understand that they work. See