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By Bob Pajich, Staff writer 2/20/03

KEEs TO HAPPINESS
Baldwin woman devotes life to raising uncommon breed

 

The tangle of fur and feet that blurs around Terri Bricker whenever she moves from room to room represents generations of breeding of the Keeshond, the national dog of Holland.

The Keeshond also is the official dog of the Bricker family of Baldwin.

And Terri is unofficially known as the “Keeslady” in breeding circles. Her two ‘Kees’ — Bo and Peace — are from the same litter and feature the breed’s characteristic fluffy coat, alert eyes and curved, puffy tail.

Terri has bred and trained Keeshonds since the 1970s. But initially her interest was in dogs in general.

She knew she wanted to get into dogs but wasn’t sure what breed she would specialize in.

When she spotted the Keeshonds at a collie show she fell immediately in love with them.

“I’ve found the ‘Kee’ kind of matched my personality,” she says.

If that’s the case, then Terri is very alert, neither timid nor aggressive, intelligent and affectionate. Another quality that the Brickers like about Keeshonds is that they tend to not favor one family member over the other, although the person with a snack in hand tends to get most of the attention.

Over the years, Terri has owned 10 Keeshonds, breeding many of the bitches with superior males, she says.

She hasn’t bred all her females and the ones that were bred were bred only twice in her lifetime.

“That’s when I feel you get the best quality,” she says.

There’s also another reason.

“(If I were one of the dogs,) I wouldn’t want to be bred often, so I don’t want my dogs bred often,” she says.

She also doesn’t breed just any dog. There are certain qualities that the animal has to show before it is bred. In short, both the bitch and the sire need to be of champion quality.

“I want to have beauty as well as intelligence in my line,” Terri says.

Terri tests her dogs when the pups reach around 8 weeks. She looks for desirable traits like a solid stance, agility, brains, and alertness. If the dog is lacking, Terri won’t breed it.

And if for any reason the adoptive family doesn’t like the dog, Terri will take it back.

“We breed the dog, that’s for life,” she says. “The breeder should, ethically, take it back.”

The house and yard is a Keeshond playground, and her husband, Roy, doesn’t seem to mind. Sitting in front of a big screen television in their sunroom, Roy plays tug of war with one of the $1,000 dogs as if Peace were a common mutt.

Roy’s a dog person, too. He just loves the animals for what they are, he says.

“I love the dogs, I’m a dog person,” he says. “So we matched up good, I guess.”

Bo’s and Peace’s eyes dart around the room, looking for a sign of attention or food. They practically radiate with energy, their thick coats standing on edge.

Terri walks to the kitchen, and the dogs leap up and follow. All three of them are smiling.

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