Exactly a year ago today, Jaz’s breeder gave me my first few grooming instructions. The breeder had already stripped Jaz her jacket and flats at eight weeks of age, but now that Jaz was about to turn twelve weeks, the furnishings, including beard and fall had to go (at some point, all the baby hair has to go to make room for a wire coat!).
Jaz didn’t enjoy the process very much the first few times, as you can see in the “then” side of the picture below. Her ears are up, but there is some sadness in those eyes. This is why we tried to keep sessions short and ‘fun’ in the beginning (this, of course, is debatable, as I’m not sure you can call getting your hairs pulled ‘fun’ 😉 ).
But nowadays, Jaz doesn’t mind it so much. In fact, she has become accustomed to the ritual, and was somewhat surprised when I asked her to sit on the table to pose for a picture (to Jaz, the grooming table means “standing only”), which explains her goofy look on the “now” side of the picture. You can see that she has become a lady, though, because she is keeping her legs closed! 😛
Then: November 5, 2011, almost 12 weeks old. Now: November 5, 2012, a year and many grooming sessions later…
Today, exactly a year ago, we brought Jaz home! She was very small then, but she still managed to scare the cats, and didn’t listen to us at all… Now she is about three times the size, the cats take turns teasing and getting teased, and she’ll listen to us… that is, when it suits her (selective hearing–the breeder warned us about it)!
But I can tell you one thing: there hasn’t been a boring day since! It’s a miracle the same ball is still intact; most of her toys end up biting the dust after a few months…
This is the fourth 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. The sections with the arrows are what is called “furnishings.” (source)
The furnishings are the last grooming section we need to discuss when it comes to grooming a Lakeland. They include the hair on the legs as well as the face (a Lakie’s signature fall and beard). On the furnishings, the hair is longest, and the undercoat is left in place (we need it for the volume it provides).
The arrows in the diagram above tell you the direction in which the hair is supposed to be brushed. This is pretty intuitive, except for the fall and beard. These hairs, when you look closely (you can see it clearly on puppies), grow from the nose towards the ears; in the opposite direction of the brushing arrows (which point from away from the ears towards the nose). This is the only area in which you are supposed to brush and groom the hairs against the direction it grows. Brushing and grooming the facial hair in the direction opposite of growth, is said to ‘train’ the hairs to grow in this direction. Whether this is fact or fable, I couldn’t tell you, because five minutes after brushing, Jaz’s facial hair already points in every which way… I’m just sharing what I’ve heard. 😉
Just like when it came to the jacket, for full disclosure, I want you to know that a) although I know the theory and techniques behind it, I’m still learning how to groom furnishings myself, b) you won’t see a huge difference in before and after pictures because I’m trying to keep Jaz her ‘haircut’ up on a weekly basis, and c) Jaz’s furnishings are still pretty skimpy (the more I groom them, the more hair will grow in… it requires time to develop luscious furnishings!). Good? Okay, here we go:
BEFORE – front legs, front view
The front legs are supposed to look like two perfectly round pillars. They do not taper, and the transition from flats into furnishings is supposed to be smooth. A lot of the time, even in the show-ring, you see a stark difference between flats and furnishings – a big no-no. To groom furnishings, I use my fingers only. The hair tends to come out easily, and I find that using my fingers gives me the most control. The way to strip the legs is by brushing all the hair out to one side, measuring it by taking it between two fingers (kind of like hairdressers do), and pulling out the hairs that stick out. You take off the longest bits, keeping in mind that when your dog is properly stacked on the table, the legs are supposed to look like two straight, identical, pillars or columns. Something like this:
AFTER – front legs, front view
You repeat this step all the way up, down, and around both front legs. Throughout the process, make sure to properly stack your dog on the table from time to time, to take a step back and make sure things are even and straight.
BEFORE – front legs, side view
Once everything seems pretty straight and even, you can start focusing on blending furnishings into flats and jacket, as well as finishing off the feet. Again, you want the transitions to be as smooth as you can make them without going into either of the extremes (i.e. making the top of the leg look either tapered or bulky). One should also strip the long hairs under the armpits, so the leg is nice and defined from the side.
As for the feet, slippers need to be avoided (you can use clippers between the pads of the feet, but will have to strip between the toes), and they are nicely rounded.
It’ll look something like this:
AFTER – front legs, side view. Note that you can really clearly see where the wrist starts. It’s not supposed to be this way. Once Jaz’s furnishings grow in more, I’ll be able to hide this and make the front legs look like perfectly straight pillars from the side as well.
Now we can move on to the back legs.
BEFORE – back legs, side view
The furnishings are brushed forward, and I find the best technique to be to simply follow the natural shape of the leg, making sure the lines are smooth, and there are no hairs sticking out. As always: anything that sticks out needs to go!
Then you need to make sure that you get a nice, gradual (but not too gradual, or your pup’s rear end may end up looking too wide!) blend from furnishings into jacket and flats (I use a medium stripper instead of fingers for this). As far as the area below the hock is concerned, you can work this the same way you did the front legs; making sure the hair is of equal length all the way around, and the feet are slightly rounded at the end.
AFTER – back legs, side view
The inside of the back legs is next.
BEFORE – back legs, rear view
Jaz has very little hair here. At the top, closest to the privates, the hair is stripped real short. You should allow it to get gradually longer until it matches up to the length you desire (right now, for Jaz, that is not very long, as I am trying to encourage new growth by continuously stripping, but regardless of this, you should match it up to the length of the rest of the leg-hairs). Then, you let the line continue straight down. Like so:
AFTER – back legs, rear view
All that is left is the fall and beard. This can be tricky. There are certain rules when it comes to shaping the fall and the beard:
– the head is supposed to be brick-shaped
– the eyes should be visible from the side, but not from the top
– the nose should be visible from the side as well as from the top
You groom the fall against the direction of the hair-growth, so you pull the hairs towards the nose, away from the ears. I brush the hair up, and take off the longest bits. Then I bush it back down, check, and repeat until I’m happy with it. You want the transition from head to fall to be smooth – so no bulky eyebrows (but be careful to leave enough eyebrows so that the eyes cannot be seen from the top)! The same goes for the transition of the side of the face into the fall and beard, as well as the transition under the chin into the beard. Keep it smooth! We don’t want any bumps where the fall and beard start. For blending, as the hair is shorter in these areas, I prefer to use the medium stripper.
AFTER – fall & beard, top view. No eyes visible here!
You can see that, in the above picture, Jaz’s face looks a little more hourglass-shaped than rectangular, as the brick-shape requires it to be. I’ll have to wait for the hair on the sides to come in some more to achieve this look. From the side, though, I think I’ve achieved something that is pretty brick-like, if I do say so myself…:
AFTER – fall & beard, side view. Brick shaped? Check! Both eyes and nose visible? Check!
In hope of clarifying the descriptions above, here is step-by-step video, showing you how I hand-strip the furnishings:
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…
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…
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!