Articles Index/Norfolk History
Editorial . . .
Thoughts on Norfolk Terriers . . . Then and Now
Without offering too much personal information, I've been a fan of Norfolk
Terriers for just over 50 years ever since I saw my first Drop Eared Norwich
at the old (benched) First Company Governor's Foot Guard dog show in the
mid-1950's. (For those of you who care this makes me old enough for AARP
membership but too young for Medicare.)
Following are some personal observations in no particular order of importance
as ANTA celebrates its Silver Anniversary.
- Foot Guard was a benched show and I met the Bethway Norfolks long before
I actually met Bobby Fournier. Years later, as I came to know her well,
I realized that the ever sociable Bobby had undoubtedly been off greeting
other exhibitors while I was looking longingly at her dogs. It is true
that Bobby never met a stranger and she was a great ambassador for the
breed. I thank her for giving me my first Norfolk, the little red sprite
who grew to be the exceptional Ch. Bethway's Joshua.
- All in all, I think Norfolks have probably improved over the years,
with two notable exceptions. The old fashioned, hard-coated dogs described
in the standard would be hard pressed to compete in today's breed ring
against their carefully coifed brethren so often seen today. We really,
really need to reward correct coats.
Secondly, while most Norfolks retain a happy, sunny temperament, those
that are argumentative should not be used in anyone's breeding program.
Note that I don't mean the typical terrier dust ups that can occur when
feisty earthdogs meet. These incidents are generally settled as fast as
they start. I am talking of dogs that are not nice to other adult dogs,
to puppies, and to people. There is no place for sharpness in our breed.
- And speaking of coats ... color really should come from within the
dog ... not from artificial enhancement.
- A pat on the back to ANTA! As we see more and more Norfolk in competitive
events such as earthdog, obedience and agility, we can be proud of our
club's role in encouraging such activities. The parent club of the two
breeds (that's another story for another day) has been making a much stronger
effort to reward versatility in Norfolks and we welcome their interest.
- Health issues, particularly MVD, are a concern. While most Norfolks
are capable of participating in a wide array of activities, it is heartbreaking
to see their lifespans shortened. Thanks to Carol Falk and others who have
worked diligently to help get this problem solved. (Carol and Lori Pelletier
will be addressing MVD in Norfolks at the Joan Read Memorial Lecture at
the Fall Festival.)
- History. This is important. If you have a Norfolk, you should know
they were basically little farm dogs that killed vermin, got dirty, and
tracked mud into the house. Admittedly, I am biased, but I hate it when
we take a breed (any breed) and try to make it something it isn't; specifically
by treating them as `little people in fur coats'. I hate it when we make
our dogs play `dress up', refer to them as `Norfies', and act as though
they are delicate little lap dogs. They're not . . . at least not until
after they've finished their Terrier activities. Does this mean that I
don't spoil my dogs? Nope. They take turns sleeping on the bed, get the
best food I can select for them, have several silly `pet names' each and
get lots and lots of hugs. But, I also encourage them to rough house, dig,
and generally act like dogs. I want my Norfolks to act like Terriers.
- By the time of the Fall Festival, it will be ten and a half years since
Joan Read died. I still miss her, think often of her wisdom, and wish we
could have her back with us. Being Joan's friend meant we shared countless
laughs while sitting in her kitchen on Berry Hill Road, had our share of
spats (see "feisty"), and that I (along with many of you) benefited
from her wisdom and insights in ways that we only realized after she had
ANTIC, September, 2005
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