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Super Senior: Phyllis Kuhn

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 11:28 AM EDT
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WEST BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - On Route 9 in West Brattleboro, the Vermont Maple Museum has a homey feel.

It’s more of a store than a museum, selling many products from the Green Mountains. For over 40 years, Phyllis Kuhn has owned the business, along with help from her daughter, April. They greet each customer like they are old friends.

Reporter Joe Carroll: But it’s not phony, it’s real?

April Lavoie: Oh, I real huh, 100%!

Phyllis Kuhn: They’re people like us.

Kuhn is a people person, but her life has gone to the dogs. “The trophies are all over the place,” Kuhn said. She has a love affair with Scottish terriers and has raised 34 champions to date. In her home, there’s a Scotty shrine that included knick-knacks and portraits of her favorite breed. She admits it’s a bit over-the-top.

Reporter Joe Carroll: And my guess -- you don’t care?

Phyllis Kuhn: No, I don’t.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What is it about the breed that you like so much?

Phyllis Kuhn: Their attitude.

Reporter Joe Carroll: They have an attitude?

Phyllis Kuhn: Oh, they have an attitude.

The American Kennel Club calls the breed independent and confident with high spirits.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Sounds like they kind of mirror you, a little bit, these dogs.

Phyllis Kuhn: I’m afraid so, one of us too after the other!

The 88-year-old has trained hundreds of terriers for competition. In an adjacent room, Baxter the cockatoo has his feathers ruffled and inserts himself into the conversation. All just a few feet away from unsuspecting customers. Baxter is a pet but the terriers are something more. “Dogs can be a comfort, they can be a pain, they can bring you grief, you can be very proud of them,” Kuhn.

In a sense, they are Kuhn’s kids. But there’s an unfortunate fact -- a canine’s lifespan is short and she has had to put down many over the years. “That, I don’t like. It’s awfully hard to hold them,” she said.

The joy, though, far exceeds the pain. For Kuhn, the terriers are topnotch, but the award for “Best in Class” might just go to this Super Senior. “They’re astonished that I can have this store, be this age, and have so many champions,” Kuhn said.

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