Jan. 6, 1991—Dec. 26, 2005
Before Snowflake was
born, we had vowed we would never keep an all white Jack Russell
puppy. But, for reasons now lost to us, we ended up keeping her
and am I ever glad.
Snowflake was all Jack
Russell and earned her natural hunting certificate to woodchuck.
Two days later she qualified in the Grand Prix to go to the United
States Agility Assn. national competition. That was back in 1994
when Snof was just 3 years old and I really did not know what it
meant to qualify for USDAA Nationals. So Snowflake, Bob and I flew
to Texas in August where the competition was held in the Houston
Astrodome. On our first warm up run, I was waiting at the start
line but Snowflake was concentrating on the skirt of the trophy
table where the air conditioning was blowing it around enticingly.
I guess she was sure there was a woodchuck under there and when
I released her, she went to check it out. So, that was it for that
run and of course I was mortified in front of all those spectators.
However, Snof pulled it all together over the next couple of days
and kept qualifying in Grand Prix with clean runs. Eventually, she
got to the finals and placed 7th out of more than 100 dogs in the
Mini Division which back then included both 12” and 18”
jumping dogs. Standing on the start line for that final run was
one of the biggest thrills of my life. Over the next several years,
Snof ran in the USDAA finals two other times - once placing 3rd.
When Snowflake was 11 years old, she earned that last illusive gamblers
leg to get her USDAA Agility Dog Champion award—another big
thrill for me.
After that first USDAA
Nationals experience, we bred Snowflake and found she had a very
important lesson to teach us. Her puppies, born January 1 and named
for Bowl Games (some of you may know Sugar), were slow to develop.
Our local vet suggested taking the pups to Tufts Univ. Vet School
for BAER testing for deafness. Much to our astonishment out of 4
pups in the litter, two were totally deaf, 1 unilaterally deaf (deaf
in one ear) and one had normal hearing. We also tested Snowflake
and the sire of the pups and much to our surprise, we discovered
that Snowflake was also deaf in one ear. My agility and obedience
instructors could not believe that Snof was unilaterally deaf. This
pointed out to us that not only is there deafness in Jack Russell
Terriers, but it is very difficult to tell when a dog is deaf in
just one ear. We gathered information about deafness in canines
and sent an article about Snowflake to our breed publication, “True
Grit”. Today, just 12 years later, most JRT breeders are BAER
testing all the puppies they produce. Through this lesson learned
from Snowflake, we believe the JRT is now making significant improvement
by no longer breeding deaf or unilaterally deaf individuals or not
repeating a breeding that produced deafness.
Snowflake was very much
a Jack Russell though except that she was more “laid back”
than most. But, when she was waiting to race, she would bellow in
anticipation louder than any other dog and became well known to
folks in the Northeast because of this. She was always cautiously
slow through the go-to-ground tunnel, but then exploded with the
loud barking. She even won the 1995 JRTCA National Trial Trailing
and Locating competition by earning bonus points barking at the
quarry. Snowflake won many JRTCA High Point Agility Championships
and Reserves at many trials including JRTCA Nationals.
Snowflake also did obedience
reaching the Open Level. She was a Delta Therapy Dog going with
me occasionally to visit folks in hospitals and nursing homes and
we also participated in a Doggie Square Dance Group that entertained
at local nursing homes.
A year and a half ago
Snowflake was diagnosed with Cushings disease and once again alerted
us to a disease that I did not know was found in Jack Russells.
Again, Snowflake’s story on Cushings went into an article
for “True Grit”. Through internet research, I found
out about Trilostane, a drug approved in England, and worked with
a wonderful veterinary internist to balance her cortisol levels
for another 1 ½ years. But, the cause of her Cushings was
thought to be a fast growing tumor on the pituitary gland and the
pressure on her brain must have caused the seizures that finally
ended her life.
Up until the end, Snowflake
enjoyed her walks in the woods, sleeping on my bed and doing some
obedience and agility with low jumps. The little white shadow that
followed me everywhere I went has now gone leaving a big hole in
my life. But, I am comforted by the knowledge that she lived a long
and full life.
Snowflake, I miss you
very much, but I thank you for all the agility you taught me and
for the knowledge you gave to the Jack Russell world. I hope you
are finding good hunting and some agility courses to run at the
in Jack Russell Terriers - Snowflake and Deafness" under
Articles for the reprint of the 1994 article.