The last bloom; joining the land of the sterile

If there is a ray of sunlight, Jaz will find it
“Welcome back, Mrs. Sun!”

The sunglasses have come out, the grass has started to need weekly mowing, the birds are singing up a storm, pasty limbs are being exposed, and flowers and cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Spring has once again arrived in Vancouver, the only difference being that Jaz is no longer participating in the ritual, because Jaz got spayed. Yes, you read that right. The big ‘snip-snip.’ Jaz, officially, is no longer a she but an it. Jaz’s dad and I debated this decision for quite some time. There are several reasons as to why we decided to go ahead with it a few months ago, and I must say that I do not regret it.

The first reason we decided to have Jaz spayed is that Vancouver is not very un-spayed(/neutered)-dog-friendly. There are bylaws that prevent you from taking your bitch in heat off of your property. Now I’m not sure how all the people that live in tiny apartments do it (Are they supposed to lock these poor dogs up, not allowing them to see the sun or sniff the fresh air for a full month, forced to use a puppy pad in the corner?), but mostly having Jaz indoors with a little yard-time was tough for Jaz (not to mention us)! We did sneak Jaz outside and took her on some walks, but we had to be extra careful not just watch out for other dogs, but also for those pesky vans that say “city of Vancouver.” Moreover, nearly all daycare as well as boarding facilities will not take in un-spayed bitches over 12 months old, leaving one with very few options and having to sacrifice quality care over admission requirements. All these factors together make keeping an un-spayed bitch in metro Vancouver difficult.

The second reason we decided to spay her is that, although we enjoyed the showing, it was time to put down the leave-in conditioner and blowdryer for two reasons. Firstly, although Jaz enjoyed being in the ring (who wouldn’t, if it means getting hotdogs and liver sausage?!), and she tolerated the stripping, she did not appreciated all the additional primping that came with showing. You must realize that one only spends a few minutes in the ring on show-days, and that everything in between is endless washing, grooming and primping. Jaz doesn’t like taking baths, and really doesn’t like the blowdrying, applying of leave-in conditioner, more blowdrying, and endless combing that followed it. And secondly, although I enjoyed the grooming and showing, I did not enjoy witnessing some of the poor handling of the dogs, the over-competitiveness and the politics that came with it. Now I don’t mean to say that everyone participates in it, and that it is the same everywhere, but there was enough of it that it started to bother me. And that’s when you have to re-evaluate things. Maybe this wasn’t for us after all.

August 2012, at an outdoor dog show: “Oh no… she’s going to ‘fix’ my beard and fall again, isn’t she?!”

But the third and most important reason that helped us decide to spay Jaz was that we decided not to breed her. Although I love her, and I wouldn’t mind having a couple more of her, I wonder whether it would be the right thing to do. Jaz is a little fearful for a terrier, and she lacks pigment in her nose. Even if she was the perfect dog, and there would be no practical issues (which there are, because I wouldn’t want to send Jaz off to our breeder and miss her for two months, and I don’t have the resources nor the time to have a litter of puppies at our place), the fact remains that I am not a breeder, and I am not planning on becoming one. One should never breed just because it sounds like a fun idea. There is a lot of knowledge and skill required when breeding. Knowledge and skill I do not have. I’m more the nosey, slightly breed-obsessed pet-owner. In order to breed, one has to really know about genetics, the specific breed, as well as the individual dogs and their ancestors to make good decisions about who should be bred and why.

So we made the appointment. And all was said and done so quickly… [Note: because I requested he preserved Jaz’s furnishings as much as possible, our vet only shaved a tiny piece of fur on the inside of Jaz’s rear leg to put the IV in, so we wouldn’t have to stare at a sad chunk of missing fur that would take 6 months to grow back in!] Jaz walked around with a funny donut on her head for a while. She grew to love it, as it turned out to be great to rest your head on. We tried to follow the vet’s advice and make sure Jaz took it easy for the first two weeks, although this turned out to be quite the challenge. After 3 days Jaz was almost back to her energetic self, and stopping an enthusiastic dog from being enthused is no small task!

A few months ago: Jaz, still high from the medication, getting used to her donut.

Yes, we now have a dog that can no longer be shown or bred. But there are so many any other things we still can do, such as rally-o, dog sports, and agility. All of which I hope to try at some point this summer! We do not regret our decision one bit (and I don’t think Jaz does either; she despised wearing her girl-pants 😉 ). Since the spaying, we have noticed that Jaz has calmed down quite a bit, and is doing much better in training now that the hormone-levels have balanced out. It’s easier for her to focus and stay focussed. And it is also a huge relief that she can go to the daycare and boarding place that we like the best… Everybody wins. And although Jaz may no longer get to ‘bloom’ twice a year, she continues to blossom more and more each day.

“Let’s try some agility, mom!”

It’s all about compromising

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight when it came to Jaz and our two cats. Especially Nana, our eldest, used to tell Jaz off all the time. What did we expect, with a house full of females?! (I can hear one of our dog trainers say: “It’s why they call ’em bitches!”) Jaz tried to get the cats to play, but soon discovered that that’s easier said than done. “These are some strange dogs…”, Jaz must have thought “…they seek refuge in higher places as soon as you as much as wag a tail or move a paw!”

And although in the beginning it seemed as if they weren’t interested in the dog whatsoever, and tried to resist getting to know her, the cats were definitely intrigued in Jaz. Slowly, bonds developed between them, and canine and feline lives started to integrate. Our youngest cat, Bibi, started drinking from Jaz’s water, and even utilizing Jaz’s beds (before, she would frantically try to ‘bury’ anything with Jaz’s scent on it, because, to her, it all stank!). Nana would even be as bold as to come and check out what was going on during our grooming sessions, with Jaz still on the table!

Although the cats sometimes still jab Jaz in passing (often well-deserved, because Jaz can be quite pushy), and Jaz still chases them around the living room every so often, the three of them have somehow come to an agreement to share part of their territory also known as the living room. The cats used to rule the house. All three floors. They now have to share one of them. And although Jaz only gets to use this one floor (which means that, sometimes, she is left out when the cats are playing upstairs), she has the great outdoors to explore. Each has their own privileges. Occasionally, a cat toy will make it down to the main floor, which gets Jaz all excited. Similarly, if Jaz happens to drag some twigs, sand, or ocean water inside, the cats are the first to inspect Jaz, closely examining every square millimeter of her fur.

So everyone has compromised around here. The cats have learned that sprinting will only result in being chased. And Jaz has learned that being too enthusiastic will cause the cats to scurry off. And since they’ve admitted to the fact that they are curious about one another, both parties have started to change their behaviours. The cats tread slowly through the living room. And Jaz almost turns into a statue when either of them is close, hoping for some good body-rubs… Witness the mutual compromise at work between Nana & Jaz, it’s a thing of beauty:

UK Lakeland Terrier Club Yearbook Article

If you’ve read my last blog post, you’ll know that I’ve 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 this year! My own copy of the Yearbook is still in the mail, but I was thrilled to receive pictures of the publication (thanks, dad!):


For those of you that are not members of the UK LTC (in which case you will have received a copy of the yearbook already), here’s the article:

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.

Knock, knock…


Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Annie who?
Annie-body home?

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Ketchup who?
Ketchup with me and it’ll become clear!

It’s been a while. But sometimes life gets in the way. It’s not just Jaz that wants an education, but also her mommy!
And although it may have been quiet around here, we’ve not been idle whatsoever. I may not have had time to write about grooming, training, or playing, but we’ve been doing all of it in real life… Let me catch you up on a few highlights:

– I wrote a piece for the UK Lakeland Terrier Club Yearbook, which I just found out has been published and the yearbook is available on their website! Very exciting! I will upload a copy of the article onto the blog soon, so you can read it if you don’t have access to the UKLTC Yearbook.

– We took Jaz out to the snow and to the beach in the same week:
Snow dogLooking sharp! Cypress Mountain, BC

Long beach, Tofino, BCWatching the sunset. Tofino, BC

– We’ve been taking more training classes at DOGSmart, doing all sorts of exercises: from not rushing through doors before mom and dad, to ignoring edible items that happen to lie on the ground, to cavaletti walking. Jaz has no idea what to expect next, nor do we; the trainers have kept us on our toes!

I really want to start agility of rally-o this year; we’ll have so much fun together!

How have you all been? Let’s talk Lakeland!

Then & now: 13 & 14 weeks

When Jaz was still a puppy, people used to tell us she looked like a little teddy bear… the following picture will tell you why:

Then & now: 13 weeks oldThen: November 15, 2011: This was taken a week after I fully stripped Jaz’s furnishings and beard… look at that skinny snout!
Now: November 15, 2012: I tried to re-take this picture last week, but Jaz wasn’t having any of it. I even tried to wear her down a bit by playing tug, hoping she’d be tired enough to lay still, but missy was determined that laying on her back was a bad idea. Oh well… I tried. You get the gist 😉

Cute as they may be, even little teddy bears have a job to do, and Jaz’s job was to learn how to stand properly on the table for showing. This is not only required during the show, but also comes in very handy during grooming:

Then & now: 14 weeks old
Then & now: November 19, 2011 and 2012. It’s safe to say that Jaz has figured the art of standing out by now. She spends quite a few hours on that table each month. (Side note: I’m thrilled to see that she has finally grown proper furnishings!!!)

— And now for an administrative announcement… I have to apologize for lack of content on the blog lately. Time flies when you’re having fun, but also when you’re really busy. My studies have bogged me down. Luckily, there are only two weeks left of this semester. The final grooming post will be up by the beginning of next month, and there are some exciting things happening in 2013, which I will tell you about later. Thanks for being patient! —