A Black Russian Terrier Just Wants To Have Fun in Sherburn, MN

Black Russian terrier
Tracey and Ruby


Last month, Beth Graves from Fairmont, MN contacted me and suggested I meet up with Ruby, a boisterous Black Russian Terrier who lives on a farm just outside of Sherburn.


Hi! Hi! Hi! I’m so glad to see you! Let’s play!

Hi Ruby! Slow down… I need to interview you first!

Oooohhhh, okaaay.

I’ve never met a Black Russian Terrier, or BRT, before. Can you tell me a little bit about BRTs?

Back in the 1950’s, the Soviet Army wanted a good watch dog that was smart, strong, loyal, and liked the cold and snow. They bred Black Russian Terriers using Giant Schnauzers, Airedale Terriers, Rottweilers and other breeds.

Black Russian Terriers grow to be between 80-140 pounds; right now I’m only 97 pounds… I’m still growing! The Black Russian Terrier is one of the newest breeds in the world; we were just recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2004.

BRT dog with stick
Ruby with one of her favorite sticks

Tell me about your mom, Tracey Schley.

I love my mom!

I know you do! Tell me a little bit about her….

She’s makes really good cakes!

Do you get to eat the cakes?

She gives me apples and bananas and oranges and clementines and sweet potatoes and melons and carrots and…

No cake?

Did you know my mom used to be hairdresser?

Does she do your hair? It’s beautiful!

She does! And she does my sister Annie’s hair and my brother’s hair too! We are all BRTs.

We get brushed, cut and blow dried every three weeks. It’s fun!

And then my “little” sisters…

“Little” as in younger?


They’re older than me but littler. That’s why they’re my “little” sisters: Ellie May, Ziva and Fiona. They’re Havanese mixes, like Bichons but more hair. They’re about as tall as half of my front paw. Hey, want to see my “Paw of Doom” imitation?!

That sounds a little scary….

It’s fun! I bring my paw up and let it fall on you and then I wrap my claws around your hand! Just like a bear! Mom loves it when I do it! Well, I think she loves it…

Speaking of your mom….

Oh yeah. She is the youngest of seven children they grew up on a farm in Dunnell, MN. Her father, Robert Thate, loved German Shepherds; mom has always loved dogs. She and my dad, her husband Dan, have four children, including Mackenzie who lives with us on a farm outside of Sherburn.

How did you meet your mom?

She picked me special from a kennel in California. I was only three months old and just 19 pounds. I flew on an airplane from California to Minnesota all by myself! I met a lot of people and smelled all sorts of things! Holy Hotdogs! I’ll never forget all those smells! Have you ever smelled airline food?

And then they took me off the airplane and I met mom. And then I met Annie in the car. Annie wasn’t very nice to me then. She growled at me. But as soon as we got home, we played and she became my bestest friend in the whole wide world.

Two BRT dogs outside
Ruby and Annie enjoy the garden

I understand Annie is an AKC Rally Novice Grand Champion and a registered therapy dog…

Yes. That’s my big sister! She’s my hero. I’m going to be just like her when I grow up.

One thing I do get to do now is go to the Jackson Food Shelf, where my mom is Co-Chair. I help by making the clients and the volunteers – especially Mary Leach, Laura Stubbe and Edie Sands – smile and laugh. I don’t know how I do it, but I do! Mom says I’m goofy. It’s what she loves about me.

Can we play now?

Girl with Dog playing Flirtpole
MacKenzie entices Ruby with the Flirtpole toy

What’s your favorite toy?

Flirt Pole!


Flirt pole! It’s a big pole with a bungee cord and a toy tied to the end of the bungee cord. People say it looks like a cat toy on steroids, whatever those are.

Oh! And I love sticks. We have lots of sticks. Did I tell you how much I love sticks? Look! Here’s a stick! Let’s play!

Have you mastered any obedience training or been in any dog shows yet?

(Sighs) Well. Yeah. I mean, I AM 11 months old, you know.

I know sit, stay, down, off, drop it. And I placed Class at my first – and only (so far) – dog show. The show was in Wichita, Kansas. It was my mom’s 50th birthday.

Did you get to eat cake for her birthday?

Did I tell you I like to do nose training? Mackenzie puts a hot dog in a box. But the box looks just like five other boxes and she hides all of them around the house. I find the boxes and get the hot dog!

So, no cake in the box?

Hey! Look! (runs over to a treadmill) I can DO this! Wanna see?

You can run on a treadmill?

Yeah! I’m learning it now. Mom says in the winter, I’ll be on it a lot! Know what else I like to do?


I lick Ellie May’s face! It’s so funny! She thinks she’s a cat. But she’s not. She’s 12 years old. Sometimes she gets really bossy. That’s when I give her a really long lick, from her neck to her nose! She doesn’t think it’s funny. But everyone else does!

Hey, I was wondering, how did you get your name, Ruby?

I come from Black Beards kennel and the kennel name has to come first in AKC papers. Mackenzie and my mom decided to make my official AKC name “Black Beards Treasure of the Caribbean.” Then, they thought of a precious stone that would be in a treasure chest… and that’s where “Ruby” came from! Isn’t that a fun story?!

Speaking of fun… it was a lot of fun talking with you Ruby!

It will be a lot more fun when we play! Wait! I see it! A stick! I see a stick! Do you see it?!

One last question, has anyone ever told you that you look like you belong in a herd of Scotland Highland Cattle?

I’ll get the stick! You can chase me! Play! Stick! Now!

Comment below and tell us about your dog’s favorite toys!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sandra Austin says:

    So, so funny, that Ruby is sure one playful sweetie! And first time I ever heard about Black Russian Terriers or a flirt pole. Great interview!

    1. Austin says:

      Thank you Sandra! You’ve got a great last name, btw.

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