Then & now: four weeks and three days

I hope I’m not boring you yet with all the pictures, but I simply couldn’t resist… Remember this little teddy bear? It feels like it was only yesterday!

Then: September 16, 2011, four weeks and three days old. Now: September 16, 2012, 1 year later, too big (in size AND attitude) to sit on daddy’s lap!

Over the next few months, I will sporadically be posting these kinds of “then & now” pictures. I hope you enjoy them – we sure had fun (re)creating them!

As for my next post, it will be more substantial, I promise! 😉
Also, stay tuned for installment four of the grooming series (furnishings). It’ll be up by the end of the month!

Then & now: four weeks

It was exactly a year ago today, that we first met Jaz. (Take a trip down memory lane!) Only four weeks old and without any teeth, she tried to bite my fingers in protest when I rubbed her bum. Although she has plenty of teeth now, she’ll merely go all wiggly when I try to do the same…
I cannot believe it’s been over a year. Oh, how this little rascal has changed our lives!

anniversary_2-blogThen: September 13, 2011, four weeks old. Now: September 13, 2012, 1 year later, many inches taller!

Daycare… doggy-style!

September is here. Vancouver’s rain-season has started, the temperatures have dropped, it’s getting dark out sooner and all the kids are back in school (including myself – LOL). With all the excitement of the summer months in our rearview mirror, it was time to introduce Jaz to a new challenge: doggy daycare!
We’ve been talking to our trainer (Cathie Timascheff) about how to improve Jaz’s skills and confidence out and about in the city. Don’t get me wrong; she’s doing fabulous, but there is always room for improvement! Although we have come a long way, Jaz is still hesitant from time to time when it comes to new people or dogs, especially if they look or act a bit different… in comes daycare!

Everybody is curious
Look at those curious faces… everybody was very eager to meet Jaz!

Although Jaz is great with her playmates (you’ve seen some of them pass by here, here, and here!), meeting new dogs is a different cup of tea altogether. For us, it would be difficult to provide a steady stream of new dogs for Jaz to meet. But at the daycare we’ve selected (make sure you’re picky!), Jaz will be ensured of meeting new dogs all the time, while being provided with a safe environment to do so by the skilled personnel.  We were hesitant at first, which is why Jaz has never been to daycare before. We simply weren’t sure whether we could trust any of these places; what if they managed to un-do all the hard work we had put in?! But some research and great references helped us make up our minds, and I must say… I think it’s a godsend!
At daycare, the dogs can socialize, but as soon as someone is no longer playing nice, or things get too heated, there will be someone there to take action. Play is interrupted from time to time to prevent any upheavals, and the dogs are given schedule down-time so no-one overexerts him/herself. There are two large rooms indoor: one for playing/lounging with lots of beds and toys, and the other filled with crates of various sizes, so the dogs can have their naps. On top of that, there’s also a large outdoor area, suitable for potty, play and sunbathing. Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?!

Here’s what Jaz’s first impression looked like last Saturday:First impressions
Very clever: Jaz gets to dip her toes in the water before jumping in the deep end…

Jaz only stayed for two hours, because we wanted to ease her into it. All went well! After the initial meeting, which went surprisingly well, she had a ton of fun getting to know and playing with the other dogs. When we picked her up, everyone was lounging about and seemed very relaxed and comfortable. Jaz’s first time at doggy daycare was a great success! For consistency, we’ll be taking Jaz to daycare twice a week for the next couple of months. This will allow her to gain a lot of new experiences in a very short period of time, making her even more well-rounded than she already is! Plus, she’ll get some awesome playtime in!
Time to turn the tables: Have you ever contemplated taking your dog to daycare? Or has your dog been already? What was it like? Would you go back y/n?

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 —>

Where the grass is greenest…

Like all good things, the summer of 2012 has to come to an end. And this summer happens to be the end of Jaz’s first ‘real’ summer, for she spent the end of the summer of 2011 hiding in London’s belly and lounging in her private puppy-pen. Oh, how different things were going to be outside! Jaz could have never imagined the vibrancy and variety of colours, smells, and sounds that were waiting just behind the french doors, ready to thrust themselves upon her with more and more force, as, through the revolution of the seasons, they came to a climax in the summer.

Ah, summer! Sweet, sweet summer… Whether it was racing around the yard, sunbathing on the doormat, or snacking on frozen, trout-stuffed Kongs, Jaz enjoyed every single second of it! Especially the grass. Soft, cool, tasty, fresh grass… Jaz would marry it if she could!

So… what is next? September will come knocking soon. Summer puppy-classes have ended. And we probably won’t be showing for a while. Or at least not as often. Jaz qualifies as an adult now, but we’ll have to wait until she matures a bit. Most Lakies continue to look somewhat juvenile until they turn 18 months old. Six months from now, Jaz will look like a different dog. Scary (I adore her cute puppy-face!) yet exciting (just picture little Jazzy all grown-up!) at the same time.

But none of this will manage to cast the slightest drizzle on our parade. I happen to love Vancouver in the fall! We’ll still be rolling around in the grass, which, thanks to the rain, will be even greener than it is now. We’ll also continue our obedience training, as this is a life-long commitment. And if time permits, there may be some rally obedience or agility classes on the horizon, because Jaz seems to pick things up rather quickly. She enjoys a good challenge, and so do we!