At the end of 2012, I had the opportunity to write an article for the UK Lakeland Terrier Club Yearbook. The yearbook has a section titled “Around the world…” and Jaz was lucky enough to represent Canada that year!
Lakie Land – it’s a small world after all
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a Lakeland terrier. Growing up with Kerry Blues, and surrounded by terrier books, I made up my mind at an early age. I wanted a lighter, more compact version of a Kerry Blue, and a Lakeland seemed like the perfect blend between cute and courageous. Never mind being careful what you wish for; I wished for a small dog with big dog attitude.
But this childhood dream of mine, as happens with many of them, sank to the back of my mind as I grew up, where it stayed dormant for quite some time. I moved out of my parents’ home, attended university, met my future husband, and immigrated from the Netherlands to Canada. It wasn’t until February of 2011, when we were happily settled in Vancouver with our two cats, that my childhood dream re-surfaced.
On a pending trip to Europe that summer, my husband and I were planning to spend some time in England; the Lake District, to be precise. And it was in email-correspondence with my father that the subject of Lakelands came up. If we were to visit the Lake District, the area where these dogs originated from, why not visit a breeder? Surely, this was an opportunity not to be passed up!
After doing some research online (what would we do without the world wide web?!), we found Alan and Angela Johnston’s contact info at Oregill kennels. A visit with the grandson of the man who was involved in creating the very breed of dog I was after… talk about getting to the root of the matter!
It happened as planned. We contacted Alan and Angela, and visited them in Egremont on a rainy Cumbrian afternoon in May of 2011. Terriers galore! Outside, we were greeted by two Lakies that were out in a run. In the side-building, we found working terriers and fox terriers, and inside the house we met some month-old Lakeland pups… all of them bursting with energy at the mere sight of us.
It was at that very moment that my childhood dream came rushing back more vibrant than ever. How can anyone, when catching sight of these spirited, small yet sturdy creatures, not secretly wish to own one? Sold! No need to check the price tag, discuss the warranty, or go over the return policy; I was ready to proceed to checkout.
While Alan told us a little more about the breed and its heritage as well as Oregill kennels, the initial veil of foolish excitement lifted, and my rational mind returned. I was not going to put a puppy through a 10-hour intercontinental flight. If I wanted a Lakie, we would have to find a breeder in Canada. And in Canada, Lakies are few and far between. It’s labradors, poodles, and, modern pet-breeders’ newest creation, labradoodles, that rule the streets of Vancouver. I think I had only ever spotted one dog that (probably due to poor grooming) somewhat resembled a Lakeland.
But we can count ourselves lucky that it is a small world, and that the world of Lakelands is even smaller. As it turned out, Alan and Angela knew one Canadian breeder: Mark Wamback, owner of Wakefield kennels. And after contacting Mark when we got home from our trip, he kindly referred us to Judy Gruzelier (Waterwalk kennels), who happened to live only a stone’s throw away from us. A few emails later, my husband and I were in Belcarra (a mere 35 km from our home in Vancouver), on Judy’s couch, each of us with a Lakie in our lap.
Things could not have lined up more perfectly. One of Judy’s bitches was in heat and about to be bred. And August 16th of 2011, we welcomed Waterwalk Rosso Corsa (‘Jaz’) into the world. All summer, I had secretly hoped for a red girl. Jaz was a singleton. Red. Female. I got everything I wished for in this tiny little package. If anything was meant to be, it was Jaz.
From that summer on, I was caught in a Lakie whirlwind. Socialization, obedience, grooming, handling… we tried it all! I had even started a blog about it. Jaz’s breeder was my be-all and end-all in everything Lakeland. She (very patiently!) taught me how to hand-strip a Lakeland, and introduced me to the dog-showing world.
Initially, I thought show-grooming was tough, but obedience and handling turned out to be tougher. Try getting a naughty dog with selective hearing (which, as you well know, Lakies are famous for) to pay attention in a room full of dogs… I didn’t stand a chance! Needless to say, Jaz did a lot of air-walking in the beginning, spinning and cartwheeling around the show ring. Quite the challenge, but never a dull moment!
Owning a Lakeland terrier has opened up a whole new world to us. Although Jaz is just a pet, I take pride in grooming her to look like a proper Lakeland. In the words of Jaz’ breeder: “hand-stripping wire coats is a dying art form,” and we should share these techniques to keep it alive. I am trying to do so, by passing what little knowledge I have on through my blog.
Besides the grooming, training is a never-ending project. We have taken some obedience and handling classes, and are contemplating taking a stab at agility next… Regardless of where our endeavours take us, we have met, and continue to meet, a lot of great people; in real life as well as online.
I thoroughly enjoy communicating with Lakie owners and breeders through my blog. Especially because there aren’t that many Lakeland owners where we live. And even my father, who doesn’t own a terrier at the moment, has gotten caught up in all the Lakie-craze by creating an extensive Lakeland terrier pedigree database dating back to the 1930s. All of this courtesy of Jaz, a single (but very special) Lakeland terrier.