'Just Dogs' columnist retires column after 61 years
Dogs turn up everywhere around the home of Daily Herald columnist Alice Terrill, and rightly so.
From her shelves filled with dog figures, to prints on the walls, to her afghan and even the mouse pad for her computer.
The one place you won't find one, though, is walking around. Nope. At 91 years young, Terrill has outlived her dogs - all four of them - and now she has outlived her column.
Last month, Terrill decided she would retire her weekly "Just Dogs" column. Today's column is her last entry.
That's saying something, when you consider the "Just Dogs" column has run consistently since 1947, or for 61 years. Heck, President Harry Truman was in his first term of office when the column began.
Not that Terrill has written it all those years. Her husband, Dave Terrill, started it, shortly after the couple moved to Palatine from Evanston, where he had been writing a weekly column for the local paper since 1941.
At the time, the couple had their first beagle, named Trixie. Dave Terrill enjoyed learning so much about the breed, he became a certified obedience judge with the American Kennel Club.
Within 10 years of coming to the Northwest suburbs, the couple helped to start the Northwest Obedience Club in Palatine, which offered everything from dog training classes to agility and obedience trials for competitions.
The club still operates, though it has moved to Cary.
As a result, the column reflected the Terrills' interest in dog training and competition, and it aimed to educate other dog owners about various opportunities open to them and their pets.
"Our main goal was to educate readers and let them know what's going on in the dog world," Alice Terrill says, "including about shows and trials, tracking tests and new classes."
Her husband traveled across the country, and internationally, once he was certified with the International Kennel Club. He also developed thyroid cancer that eventually led to 15 surgeries, and ultimately claimed his life in 1982.
Increasingly, through his illness, Alice Terrill began to take over writing the column, first as something of a ghost writer under her husband's name, and then under her own byline when he passed away.
When she decided last month to call it a career, she realized her decision came on the exact day of her husband's passing.
"Strange, isn't it," she says.
With Dave Terrill's cancer diagnosis, his wife went back to work full time for the Daily Herald, and over the next 32 years, worked as the community column editor, editorial office manager, and even obituary writer.
When she retired from her full-time position, the entire editorial staff at the time carried all of her office supplies outside, to pose for a picture in front of the old office space on Campbell Street in downtown Arlington Heights.
Terrill still cherishes that photo, and keeps it hanging in her home office, where she continued to write the column as a freelance correspondent.
Under her hand, the column added news about therapy dogs - including two of her favorite organizations, Canine Companions for Independence and International Hearing Dog, Inc. - and opportunities to volunteer.
The dog assistance groups reflected Terrill's active involvement with the Lions Club, whose international mission is to help the vision impaired and hard of hearing communities.
Retiring the column will leave her more time to spend with the Lions, in which she now is a district representative. It also will give her more time to travel, including making her twice-yearly treks - by car - to see her son, Jim, in Oklahoma.
"Before, I always had to write the column ahead," Terrill says. "Now, I won't have to worry."
And that is the bottom line, she says. She finally decided it was time to kick up her heels and live a fancy-free life, unencumbered by a weekly column deadline.
Editor's note: The "Just Dogs" column will be retiring along with Alice Terrill. Material about dogs and pets may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be incorporated to run in the "animals and plants" calendar, which usually runs on Fridays in Neighbor.