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! —

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!