Sister love

I hope you’re not bored of seeing videos with cats in them, because this one was too good not to share. It’s hot off the press, as it was shot this afternoon.
Jaz and Nana, our oldest cat, have moved to second base. I cannot believe I caught it on tape! Nana is so drunk with love that she takes a tumble off the stairs, and Jaz lifts her leg in order to give Nana better access, after which they have a little boxing match. You’ve gotta watch this one right to the end… enjoy:

PS: Note to my Dutch readers: Ik heb onlangs een stukje geschreven voor de digitale nieuwsbrief van de Nederlandse Lakeland Terriër Club. Je kunt het hier nalezen. Als je lid wordt van de club krijg je de digitale nieuwsbrief automatisch toegestuurd. Meer informatie vindt je op hun website, of op Facebook. (Nog meer lezen/zien over Lakelands? Bezoek ook eens het Nederlandse Lakeland Terriër forum!)

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.

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! —

Then & now: almost twelve weeks

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…

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