A hop, a skip, and one hell of a jump away

Summer in the city means less locals and more tourists. And although we generally like to defy that rule by staying in Vancouver while it’s nice here (those 3-4 months we get actual sun and minimal rain), our homeland was calling. –Actually, it were my parents and grandparents that were calling, but close enough!– So we booked ourselves a trip to the Netherlands and arranged for a little stay-cation for Jaz.

jaz_poolLeaving your pets behind is a difficult thing to do, and finding good people to take care of them while you’re gone is key. We have found an awesome cat-sitter for our two feline friends, and Jaz gets top-of-the-line care at one of our trainers, who offers in-home boarding. Boarding with the dog-trainer means that Jaz will not only get lots of love and caring, but will also have to stick to the ‘rules’ while we’re gone.

Left: Jaz enjoying some pool-time during her stay-cation.





Right: Jaz even had a little summer fling! Meet Fred. The two were inseparable!




While Jaz was having lots of fun hanging out in the pool and making new friends, we were over in the Netherlands doing the same (well, minus the pool…) Namely, besides the usual suspects –you know who you are!–, we also visited some place new, namely: The Sounding Burrows kennel! The Burrows and I met by admiring each other’s Lakies on Flickr, and have been conversing ever since. The Burrows breeds beautiful Lakelands with lovely temperament, and is actively trying to maintain variety by breeding black Lakelands, and, most recently, starting to focus on breeding liver-coloured Lakelands. We share a passion for Lakies, and since this would be one of the few occasions where we’d be on the same continent, my husband and I decided to stop by and say ‘hello!’.

20130704-DSCF1568“Hi! I’m Scott, man of the house!”

We were lucky enough to meet a plethora of puppies, as The Burrows had two litters, one of 4 and one of 5. Needless to say, I wanted to take them all home! They say all puppies are cute, but to me there’s nothing cuter than Lakeland puppies; who can resist those tiny stumbling plush teddy-bears with their cheeky eyes and boastful roars?!

Puppies – yeah!

Not just the puppies, but the whole crew was a lively bunch; energetic, cheerful, just plain-old happy! I cannot blame them; I’d be happy to be living at The Burrows too. This place was set up with Lakies in mind. A fusion of human and canine space, where functionality and comfort were perfectly balanced… we’d never seen such a thing!

Happy, happy, joy, joy! Chess is living life to the fullest each day!

It was great to meet someone with whom I share a passion. We could have talked for days, I’m sure of it. But, for now, it was great to put a face to a name, to share in some of The Burrow’s knowledge, and, most importantly, to get some Lakie-love oversees. –Boy were we missing our daily Lakie-fix!– Thanks, The Burrows!

Grooming – part 4: furnishings

<— Part 3: jacket

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:

Front of front legs - before
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:

Front of front legs - after
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.

Side of front legs - before
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:

Side of front legs - after
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.

Side of rear legs - before
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.

Side of rear legs - after
AFTER – back legs, side view

The inside of the back legs is next.

Back of rear legs - before
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:

Back of rear legs - after
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.

Fall & beard - after
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…:

Side of beard & fall - after
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:

<— Part 3: jacket

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!

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!