Dogs have masters, cats have staff

Our home has been turned into a well-organized crime scene. Jaz has settled into a nice routine: daycare on Mondays and Thursdays, grooming on the weekends, and terrorization of the cats in between. She’ll chase them from barstool to scratching post to sofa, until they surrender and disappear upstairs (where Jaz isn’t allowed). Sometimes, she’ll corner one of them, attempting to stick her nose in their fur and take a good whiff. But she’s messing with the wrong felines. If she thinks she can win this battle, she’s got another thing coming. Our cats are no pushovers, and, unfortunately for Jaz, they will not succumb to the mere threat of nuclear weaponry. For over the past year, they have realized that Jaz is a lot of bark and no bite, and that they hold some impressive ammo of their own…

In our house, somebody is always watching your every move!
You better watch your back, Jaz…

Namely, whenever possible, our cats play the sympathy card with mommy and daddy. Their big eyes and scurried trips up the stairs scream: “Help us! Please!” However, when they suspect we’re not looking, they’ll throw a punch or two to defend their kind. From time to time, our oldest cat, Nana, even builds up the courage to turn the tables and chase Jaz around the living room, or hit her on the head when she passes under the scratching post. Nasty little sneak-attacks! Moreover, when Jaz comes home from daycare, Nana will rub herself up against her, as if by transferring her scent, she is reclaiming her property… or perhaps this falls in the ‘kill ‘em with kindness’-category…?
Dogs have masters, cats have staff. Cliché but oh so true. Nana is working hard on making Jaz one of her minions, because she knows that it’s only a matter of time; eventually, we all cave.
Take last weekend, for instance. I was grooming Jaz, and Nana came down to revel in her misery. A shameless case of Schadenfreude. She pulled up a chair, and came to take a closer look at Jaz, who was on the grooming table, held up by her noose, unable to defend herself…

Our new grooming audience...
Nana: “Well, hello there, doggy…”

It could have been the perfect crime, had I not been there with them. So out came Nana’s most innocent face as she she purred and twirled around on the chair, meowed at Jaz a couple of times, and was taken aback by the sight of this other, gorgeous cat in the mirror… If you didn’t know any better, you’d think she might actually be growing fond of Jaz!

"Hey... are there two cats here?!"
“Ooooh! Look at her!”

Grooming – part 3: jacket

<— Part 2: flats Part 4: furnishings —>

This is the third installment in my five-part series on grooming. Because we are showing Jaz, I’ve been very interested in the what, why, and how behind the grooming of wire-coated terriers. Jaz received her first “haircut” from her breeder (Judy Gruzelier) at the age of 8 weeks, right before we took her home. When she turned 12 weeks, the breeder gave me my first grooming lesson, and ever since I have been slowly but steadily acquiring the eye and skill required to hand-strip a Lakie from her. In a way, grooming is an art. A groomer can be seen as a sculptor, and the well-groomed dogs she produces as living sculptures. I am no professional, and still learning the tricks of the trade myself, but in this series of posts on grooming, I will try to communicate what I have learned so far…

Grooming sections - jacket
Grooming sections. The section labelled “C” is what is called the “jacket.” The sections labelled “B” are transition-areas between the jacket and flats (“A”) or furnishings (sections with the arrows). (source)

The jacket is arguably the hardest part of the dog to groom. The undercoat is raked out weekly (see this video), after which the coarse wire hair is groomed to sit tight around the body. I am still struggling with grooming the jacket myself. You can spend hours, even days on this, because it can always be improved by removing just one more hair… It’s hard to know when you’ve done enough!

If you just want to do a pet-trim, you can trim the jacket a couple of times a year. But if you want to keep your dog in near-show-condition, you should work on the jacket at least bi-weekly. I’m trying to work on Jaz’s jacket each week, not only to get better at it by doing, but also because as soon as I lift her off the table, I seem to be finding at least 10 more things that could be improved… 😉 Despite the fact that the results may not be perfect, I hope the following tips, pictures and video are helpful to you!

There are two stripping knives that I use to groom the jacket:
– Pearson Products finishing stripper medium
– Pearson Products regular stripper fine
They are pictured below, along with a Chris Christensen buttercomb #002, which is what I use to brush through Jaz’s furnishings before I start grooming. I didn’t picture this comb in the last post, so I figured I’d include it now. The comb is nice and coarse, so it doesn’t pull any hairs out that aren’t ready to come out yet.

Tools I use to groom the jacket
Tools: two different stripping knives and a coarse buttercomb.

[Of course, as also goes for my last post, you don’t have to use these specific tools. I’m just showing you the different tools I own and how I use them. Some people use mostly their hands and maybe one stripping knife or stone. It all depends on personal preference!]

Alright. Below you can see the “before” picture of Jaz’s jacket. I’ve already given her a thorough brush-through:

Jacket, before grooming
BEFORE – jacket (note that, due to the fact that I am trying hard to keep up with the grooming, Jaz’s jacket looks pretty decent in this “before” shot!)

The hair on the jacket is kept longer than the hair on the flats. I use the fine stripper to strip the center of the jacket, where most of the hair will be trimmed down to roughly the same length. I use the medium stripper (which is a little more forgiving) along the edges, where the coat gradually needs to transition from longer to shorter (when blending jacket into flats) or shorter to longer (when blending jacket into furnishings). To figure out which hairs need to go, I pull/brush them up and see which ones are longest. Once you’ve done a rough all-over, you can start comparing sides making sure your dog isn’t furry on the left and bare on the right.

The goal is to trim the jacket to sit tight around the body (anything that sticks up or out needs to go!), with minimal waves or “creases,” as it’s called. The smoother the better. To prevent your terrier from looking like an armadillo (which is what creases will result in), you must be careful not to use the full length of your stripping knife’s blade, but just the tip. This guarantees that you pull out little locks of the hair at a time (whatever you can pinch between the tip of the blade and your thumb), not entire rows at a time. The latter will result in creasing, for rows of hair pulled out together will also grow back together in continuous, waving motion, resulting in creases in the coat. Just using the tip of the blade will make the grooming process more lengthy, but the results are well-worth the extra effort.

When looking at your dog’s profile (when properly stacked on the table), the arch from the top of the head to the middle of the back needs to be smooth, and the back and bum need to be level. Make sure you step back a few times during the grooming process, to assure yourself you are achieving the desired outline.

Jacket, after grooming
AFTER – jacket (the difference is not huge, but if you scroll back to the picture above, you will notice a difference in overall length as well as a much smoother blend from the neck into the chest and the body into the legs! Notice also that, due to the fact that Jaz is not perfectly stacked (in excitement over the bait she locked her knees, raising her bum), which makes it seem as if her back and bum aren’t level. They are level, trust me! Amateur mistake on my part; Jaz was pretty tired after 3.5 hours on the table that day!)

Here is step-by-step video, showing you how I use the tools:

<— Part 2: flats Part 4: furnishings —>

Happy 1st birthday, Jaz!

1 year old! Happy Birthday, Jaz!
Jaz has grown quite a bit! Then: August 16, 2011, only a few minutes old. Now: August 16, 2012, one year old.

It’s hard to believe, but a whole year has passed for our little pup. In fact, a little over a year ago, we weren’t even planning on getting a dog! But we happened to vacation close to the British Lake District that year, where one thing lead to another and before we knew it, the puppy count-down had started. 365 Days ago, Jaz was born, ready to get herself into all sorts of trouble we had no clue about!

Over the past year, Jaz has been doing a lot of barking and growling, a lot of snoozing, a lot of playing and has made a ton of new friends (see here, here and here). But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, because she also got her ears glued, lost a few teeth, got (and still gets) her hairs pulled and came into season for the first time. Luckily, life eased the pain with a lot of great experiences such as playing in the snow for the first time, venturing out on the water, taking handling and obedience classes as well as allowing her to show herself off after all the hard work.

It has been a wonderful year, may there be many more! We love you!

Showing off

As somewhat of a graduation ceremony after taking the handling classes, and also to put our newfound skills to the test in the real world, I decided to enter Jaz in a local dog show. So I went ahead and signed us up for the Pacific Kennel Club dog show in Surrey. This event was the perfect opportunity to put our hard work into practice!

Looking good! Head, ears and tail are all up!
Entering the show ring… “Let’s go, Jaz!”

The PKC dog show is a four-day-long outdoor all-breed show. I entered Jaz for two out of the four days. This turned out to be the perfect amount – enough to get the full experience, but not so much that it’ll drive you crazy. Because it definitely can drive you crazy, as there is a lot of work involved! Not just the grooming leading up to the shows, but the prepping at the show as well. Driving to the location, setting up all your stuff, washing, drying, brushing and fine-tuning the dog… and once you’re done showing you have to pack everything up, wash your dog up and do it all over again the next day! Luckily, Jaz’s breeder is very hands-on, and she helped me with most of it!

In a conformation dog show, the dogs are divided into seven groups: group 1: sporting, group 2: hound, group 3: working, group 4: terrier, group 5: toy, group 6: non-sporting, and group 7: herding. The dogs in each group are first judged in comparison to dogs of their own breed. This happens in alphabetical order; Airedale Terrier, Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier… Lakeland Terrier… etc. Puppies and adults are judged separately and then go up against each other for “best of breed.”

Placing Jaz on the table for breed-judging…
First showday - on the table!
Day 1

Second showday - now we're both dressed up ;)
Day 2

Since Jaz was the only Lakeland Terrier entered in this show, we knew we would take home all the ribbons for breed (“winners,” “first,” “best puppy,” as well as “best of breed”). However, this did not mean that I could be lax about it! Most of the time, the judge’s only time of going over your dog (i.e. examining it hands-on) is during breed-judging, which impression will be crucial later on.

Show the judge your pretty teeth, Jaz!
Jaz being examined by the judge, day 2

It is crucial to do well on the table, because after all the breeds of your specific group have gone through breed-judging, the “best of breed” winners will go up agains each other for group placements. More often than not, during group-judging, the judge will just look at the dog and no longer examine it up close, relying on his/her memory from breed-judging to recall which dogs are great/good/not so good representations of their breed.

We're in good company!
Group-judging, day 1

Good thing I didn't wear red :P
Group-judging, day 2

The results of the group-judging will determine which dogs will go up against each other for the big title of the day: “best in show.” Unfortunately, Jaz didn’t place in group. This is not a big surprise, though, as she is still a puppy and a little juvenile looking. But this didn’t mean that the day was over for us! If none of the puppies place in group, there will be a separate group-judging of puppies only. On the first day, one of the puppies placed in group, but on the second day none did and Jaz had to go in the ring for a third time.

Highly concentrated...
Highly concentrated! Puppy-group, day 2

We ended up losing to an American Staffordshire Terrier, but it seemed like a close-call since the judged looked back-and-forth between the Staffordshire and Jaz a couple of times!!! I was so proud of Jaz for doing such a wonderful job! We might not have won anything, but we definitely put our best foot (paw?) forward and showed everyone what a beautiful Lakeland Jaz is!

Grooming – part 2: flats

<— Part 1: general introduction Part 3: jacket —>

This is the second installment in my five-part series on grooming. Because we are showing Jaz, I’ve been very interested in the what, why, and how behind the grooming of wire-coated terriers. Jaz received her first “haircut” from her breeder (Judy Gruzelier) at the age of 8 weeks, right before we took her home. When she turned 12 weeks, the breeder gave me my first grooming lesson, and ever since I have been slowly but steadily acquiring the eye and skill required to hand-strip a Lakie from her. In a way, grooming is an art. A groomer can be seen as a sculptor, and the well-groomed dogs she produces as living sculptures. I am no professional, and still learning the tricks of the trade myself, but in this series of posts on grooming, I will try to communicate what I have learned so far…

Grooming sections - flats
Grooming sections. The sections labelled “A” are what is called “flats.” (source)

Flats are the first areas I learned how to strip. These areas are the ears and head (minus fall and beard), the front of the neck and chest as well as the bum and the tail. As I have said before (in my general introduction to grooming), in these areas the hair is the shortest and is supposed to lay flat. Due to the fact that the hair is shortest here, it needs weekly stripping if you want to keep it at an acceptable length.

On the table, ready for flats!
On the table, ready for some flat-work!

Every Monday, like clockwork, I put Jaz on the table to do her flats. First I give her a thorough brush-through, and then I reach for the following tools (in the order pictured below):
– Clippers: Wahl arco 6170
– Rake: Greyhound 20
– Stripping stone: Greyhound transition 8mm
– Stripping knives: Pearson products detail stripper extra fine, Hauptner Heberholz “Real” stripping knife 68510, Pearson products finishing stripper medium.

In this post, I will try to describe what to do and how to do it, clarified by before/after pictures and two videos showing how I use the tools.

Tools I use on flats-day
Tools: clippers, rake, stripping stone and three different stripping knives.

The idea is to start stripping the longest hairs and to keep going until all the hair is only a couple of millimeters long. When you first try this on your Lakie, he/she will have a lot of bald spots, as no layers have been built up. Not to worry. Just keep going week after week, and you’ll notice that, eventually, enough hair will be left after stripping. The continuous stripping of the coat will result in a “rolling” coat; a coat consisting of many layers of hair of different lengths. The hair you pull out week1 will be one week long by week2, two weeks long by week3 and so on until it is time to strip it out again (which, when dealing with flats, is sooner rather than later). Notice that by week4, you’ll have three layers built up (the hair you pulled week1 that is three weeks long, the hair you pulled week2 that is two weeks long and the hair you pulled week3 that is one week long). If you keep at it consistently, there will be plenty of layers, and these layers will grow denser, allowing your Lakie to look better and better.

Now I hear you thinking “That’s great, but HOW do I use these tools? Do I just start pulling hairs out?” No. You need to know the basic rules and techniques to do a good job.
First of all, you need to make sure to pull your dog’s skin taut (just like aestheticians do when tweezing or waxing people). This not only makes the stripping easier, but also prevents the stripping from causing your dog any pain.
The goal is to pull the hairs out entirely; roots attached. This is why it is crucial that you make sure all your stripping knives are nice and dull. The Pearson knives come pre-dulled, but tools like the Greyhound rake and the Hauptner-Heberholz stripping knives are sharp when you purchase them. You don’t want to risk these tools cutting the coat, so before you use them, get a bucket of sand and run the rake or knife through it. I did this for about two weeks whenever we were watching tv in the evenings. You can see whether the tool is blunt enough by trying it on your dog and closely examining the hairs you’ve taken out. If the hairs have roots and are of different lengths, your tool is dull enough. If the hairs are all the same length and have no roots, you need to keep you bucket with sand beside the couch a little longer.
But beware, for even with a dull knife you can cut your dog’s coat! You need to make sure that you pull the hairs straight out in the direction they are growing. Do not flick your wrist when you pull the hairs out, but make sure to pull them out straight, along an imaginary line the hair would have if it were longer than it is. Flicking your wrist will not only make it harder to pull the hairs out, but it may also cause the hairs to break.

I usually start with the face and ears, as these areas are less sensitive than the bum. For most of the face, I use the greyhound stripping stone and the Hauptner-Heberholz, and I love using the Pearson detail stripper for the ears, especially the edges.
If you have a hard time seeing which hairs are longest, brush the hairs up with your finger to make them stand up. Whatever sticks out needs to go!

Face, pre-groom
BEFORE – front flats

When stripping front flats, draw and imaginary line above the eyes and from the corners of the mouth to the corners of the eyes. Anything that is behind the line is part of flats. Flats stop behind the ears, where they make a smooth transition into the back of the neck. Flats continue under the chin, along the front of the neck and chest, smoothly bending into the longer hair on the legs. For this blending work, I like using the Pearson finishing stripper in medium. Blending will be explained in the grooming posts about jacket and furnishings.

Front flats half-done...Halfway done. (This is the length you would keep your flats if you are not showing and want your dog looking perfect, bald-spot free at all times. Because we are showing, I strip them a bit shorter, allowing the hair to grow to the perfect length in +/- 5 days; I strip on Mondays and shows usually start on Fridays.)

Front flats done!AFTER – front flats (Notice the bald spots? Not to worry! This hair will grow back in in a few days. The hair on the cheeks is especially short to obtain the brick-shaped head the breed standard calls for. Note that you may have to do more/less of this, because these small details differ per dog; some have bigger cheeks than others!)

After I’ve finished stripping the face, I grab my clippers and clipper the inside of the ears, after which I move to the back to clipper around the private parts. (Note that the inside of the ears, around the private parts, between the footpads and the lower belly are the only parts you are allowed to cut/clipper on a Lakeland that is being shown.)
[Note to black Lakeland owners: I was recently informed by Drs. M.A.M. Dekker (Lakeland breeder and fanatic) that, on black Lakies that are shown, the privates and lower belly are to be stripped and not clippered. This is because the difference between stripped and clippered parts of the coat are significantly more noticeable in black Lakelands. Many thanks to Drs. Dekker from The Sounding Burrows Kennel for this sidenote. Please visit The Sounding Burrows (in English or in Dutch) for a wealth of Lakie information!]

Bum, pre-groom
BEFORE – rear flats

Once you’re done with the clippers and the longer hairs around the privates have been removed, it’s time to strip the bum. You need to be extra careful when stripping this area. Not only is the area far more sensitive, but the hairs also grow in many different directions. In the beginning you will have to keep reminding yourself to pull the hair out in the direction it grows only.

The rear flats run from the top of the tail down to the privates in an oval shape (see diagram at the beginning of this post) and blend into the hips and legs. Note that the hair on the tail can be left a little longer, depending on the individual dog, because it needs to be in proportion!

Rear flats half-done...
Halfway done. (Again: this is the length you would keep your flats if you are not showing and want your dog looking perfect, bald-spot free at all times. Because we are showing, I strip them a bit shorter, allowing the hair to grow to the perfect length in +/- 5 days; I strip on Mondays and shows usually start on Fridays.)

Rear flats done!
AFTER – rear flats (Looking a little bare? Not to worry! The hair will grow back in in a few days.)

Here is step-by-step video, showing you how I use the tools:

Every week, along with flats, I remove the undercoat from Jaz’s jacket (or the section labelled “C” in the diagram). This removes the soft, fluffy, light-coloured undercoat and leaves only the wiry hairs behind. It is really easy. Just brush through the jacket with a rake, keeping the skin taut:

So. Now you know how to strip those flats! It’s a lot of work in the beginning, but things will get easier and faster every time. Consistency is key; really make an effort to strip on a regular basis. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s okay to pull a hole in the flats here and there. Because these areas are kept so short, the hair will grow back in no-time. And remember: it all needs to come out at some point!

<— Part 1: general introduction Part 3: jacket —>