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Fionnuala Introduces Don Munro
An introduction to Don Munro
To say Don has spent a lifetime in dogs is an understatement as at the tender age of nine years old he sold his first dog, an Airedale Terrier, to Walt Disney to star in some films. He has, for a long time, been renowned within the canine world as a highly successful and compassionate professional handler.
Looking back now, Don is not fully sure when it was that he initially became involved in Kerrys, but it was from Lisa Atwood-Parker that he acquired his first. Unfortunately this dog, pet named “Toad” was rarely shown as he didn’t overly enjoy the experience. This introduction to the breed proved beneficial both for Don and the countless owners who have had their Kerrys handled to Champion status by Don.
To date he has had a prolific career and has piloted an enviable amount of dogs to their titles in all Groups. When asked how many dogs in all the different breeds he has made up he becomes quite coy. Don is a remarkably private man whos ego is far from large, he is definitely not one to blow his own trumpet and indeed getting him to talk about his wins was rather akin to getting blood from a stone. A rather refreshing quality for one who has won so much.
When asked to list the dogs he has bred that have gone on to win top awards he simply includes litter brother and sister, Ch Arkama Take By Storm and Ch Arkama Touch of Class. Upon further investigation it would appear that Touch of Class went Group 1 at WELKS in 1985. Take By Storm took Group 1 at Crufts among other shows and was Top Kerry in 1984. He produced many top winning progeny and is the grand sire of Eng, It And World Ch Arkama Megastar. Take by Storm moved to the USA to reside with Roberta Brennan and gained Champion status there.
For many years there was an unwritten rule within the doggie world preventing professional handlers from judging as it could be construed as improper. Despite this and in recent years he has awarded CC’s on many occasions. He has also judged both Club and Championship shows in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland and of course over here, both North and South of the border. Don is also among a select group who have had the privilege of judging at Crufts bestowed upon them.
He admires a quality dog in any breed and enjoys passing ringside and the sight of a good dog hitting him in the eye. Quality coupled with beauty, in any breed, is sight to behold. He desires Kerrys of overall balance and quality. This must be combined with ring presence and of course, correct movement.
He worries that the size stipulated in the Breed Standard is being ignored and while big dogs may look impressive they are not correct, after all, a Kerry Blue should not be able to look an Airedale in the eye! The other major issue that concerns him is the Anti Docking Laws, he fears they may prove disastrous for the breed and lead to a fall off in the numbers interested in the breed as aesthetically they may appear less attractive and therefore lose some of their appeal.
In 1999 Don was busy campaigning Ch Nutleeze Miss Blarney and Eng, It, Int, Eur and World Ch Balboa El Cid. Don admires many things about Miss Blarney. She possesses an excellent rear end, one so good it is rarely found on a bitch. She also has a beautiful short back, long neck, good shoulders, and wonderful movement.
Many things have been said by many people about Balboa El Cid, but searching his memory and the plethora of dogs Don has handled in his career, none, in his opinion, can compete with Cid as he fits the breed standard like a glove! Unfortunately Cid has now returned home to Italy and will be sadly missed as not only was he a joy to handle in the show ring he was also a wonderful dog for their family to live with
Without hesitation Don remembers Ch Arkama Made to Measure as the one Kerry he has owned that remains special in his memory. She was a beautiful bitch in ever way and words cannot express fully how much she meant to them as a family pet and a showdog. She does, however, live on in the presence of her descendants. Her daughter, Ch Arkama Crystal Clear, on completion of her own show career and after producing her own quality litters, lives in the lap of luxury amongst the family in their home. Indeed all the retired showdogs live out their days in this way so it is imperative that their dogs possess excellent temperaments.
Surprisingly for one who has spent most of his life in the spotlight of the show ring and indeed has attained so many top awards, Don is a very modest man and one that is remarkably easy to be around. Dogs still excite him immensely and he extracts enormous pleasure from handling them. He is refreshing in many ways, he keeps his own counsel but if his opinion is requested an honest reply is always given. Unfortunately most people try to find fault in any way they can with other exhibitors dogs, Don however does not practice this, he sees a fault as something to be overcome and will always find something positive to say. He speaks of others as being characters but I believe many people would say he is one himself. He enjoys a good laugh and slagging and more importantly he can and does, make jokes at his own expense.
Don has done Kerry Blues and their fanciers an enormous favour by importing the “Balboa” dogs. This is not a new phenomenon as in the mid Eighties he first imported Balboa King Regal, and later his full brother by a later mating, Balboa Roller Coaster and handled them both to their titles. King Regal was also crowned Top Dog in All Breeds in 1986.
More recently Ir, Eng, and Int Ch Balboa Belmondo took the ring by storm while he was being campaigned and later when Cid took over the limelight he also gained a lot of admirers within and outside the breed. Don and Lesley were both heartened by the ringside reaction they received when they exhibited both dogs in Belfast on consecutive years with people approaching them to express their gratitude for the opportunity of seeing these great dogs.
Without doubt dogs are a huge part of their life, but their main priority, and rightly so, is their family. In his home environs Don is a wonderfully tactile man who shows his family affection routinely. He is supportive and is always there to listen. He is also an extremely laid back man who takes things in his stride and deals with any problems that present themselves without any fuss.
In previous introductions I have done, Don has received plenty of mentions for his professionalism, enthusiasm, knowledge and above all, his fairness. One comment that was made regularly was that he was as gracious in defeat as in victory and indeed that he has also taught others to be the same.