Dog ownership can bring fantastic, and sometimes unexpected, gifts into our lives beyond experiencing the unconditional love and support they provide. For some, dogs encourage exercise. For others, they provide much-needed therapy; and for many, dogs bring people together and help create new friendships. And sometimes, they create whole worlds. For Betsy Vereckey, her dog Ronan was also the connection that brought her to the Upper Valley when her life in New York City turned upside down.
When Betsy first began looking for a dog with her then-husband six years ago, she didn’t set out looking for a Glen of Imaal Terrier necessarily. She researched various dog breeds and kept searching for the one that caught her eye, and the Terriers did it. “They’re like little bears,” she said, and they love to cuddle.
After finding a breeder, Susan Blum, and discovering just how intense a process it can be to talk with and purchase a puppy from an ethical breeder, she finally heard back that Susan’s dog had puppies and decided to go ahead with buying one. So, they made the long drive up from NYC to pick up Ronan and left, as Betsy said, “We went back to the city, and I thought, ‘Well that’s nice, Hanover was great, but I will probably never see her [Susan] again.’” But the women did stay in touch, to both of their benefit. In fact, around here Susan is known for having created a large Glen of Imaal terrier population and extensive web of friends.
Betsy ended up coming up here quite a bit with Ronan and made several terrific friends through the dog world.
Fast-forward a few years to 2017. Betsy’s life had changed drastically, and she was ready to get out of the city. The Blums invited her to come up and stay with them for a while. So, Betsy packed everything up and moved here in October 2017. “I basically upended my life because of my dog,” she said. “It’s great, I have a whole community up here which would have never happened in New York.”
Betsy said Ronan is having a blast living with so many other dogs, as Susan has five, and it’s been a lot of fun for her, too. First of all, a litter of puppies was born recently, and what dog person doesn’t want to get to snuggle in a pile of puppies, but she’s also met many new people through Susan, including other Glen of Imaal Terrier owners, such as Erin and John Tunnicliffe of Norwich.
Erin previously owned a Glen of Imaal Terrier, Sadie, who was the “light of my life,” she said, “and shaped so much of how I lived my day-to-day.” Erin got Sadie over 13 years ago.
Erin noted that this is one of the highest per capita area for Glen of Imaal terriers, despite them being a rare breed, “and it’s because of the Blums.”
Before she got Sadie, Erin had grown up with smaller terriers, West Highland White Terriers, but had never heard of a Glen of Imaal. She was just at a place in her life where she was ready for a dog but wanted something slightly bigger. She saw Catherine Britton, of Norwich, walking her Glen of Imaal, and thought, “Wow, they are fanciful looking creatures.” Then Erin discovered that there were breeders right around the corner from her, the Blums.
She went and met with them and talked about the breed and met their dogs.
“They’re so unique and interesting looking. People were always stopping on the street to pet Sadie or to ask about her and her breed.”
Sadie was so special to both Erin and John during their relationship that they ended up having her be the only other being in their wedding.
In this instance, not only are these individuals meeting new people on the street with their dogs, or potentially at Huntley Meadows or another dog park, but also through the spider web of friendships that center around the Blum’s.