(Wo)man’s best friend – an ode to dogs

Jaz & mom closeup
Puppy love: Jaz & myself just after grooming (which is why her hair looks awesome and mine not so much, LOL!)

A dog is so much more than just another pet. If you own a dog, there’s always someone to greet you the moment you walk through the door, someone that makes you get off the couch to catch some fresh air, and someone to share your stories or split your dinner with. A dog is the friend you take for a walk on the beach (even when it’s raining – because you promised!), the family member you snuggle up with on the couch (and who never complains during endless Sunday afternoon re-runs of ‘Sex and the City’) and a partner-in-crime when it comes to finishing that extra piece of pizza you could do without (but you’ll walk it off together, right?! :P). With its endless zest for life, a dog can magically cheer you up with something as simple as a wag of the tail.

Jaz & dad
Best buds: Jaz & dad enjoying refreshments on the beach at less than ideal temperatures… gotta love Vancouver 😡

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cats as well. But where my cats cry of abuse and scream of murder when I take them anywhere outside the house, Jaz is always ready to roll: anywhere, anytime, with anyone (well… except for toddlers, but we can’t blame her for that now, can we?!). And while my cats stick their noses up at new food offerings, putting them through an FAA-grade inspection before accepting them, Jaz will gobble whatever you have up in a split second – fingers included if you don’t watch out! Dogs have masters, cats have staff. Cliché, but oh so true.

Jaz & grandpa
Ready for anything: Jaz & grandpa on the prowl

But perhaps the best thing about a dog is that a dog knows it is part of your inner-circle. Jaz may not always listen and be compliant (after all… Lakies are known for their selective hearing ;)), but she knows exactly what is expected of her and she has a thorough understanding of our unique bond. She knows when and how to pull a cute face so she gets that extra treat. She knows when you’re sad, and will offer to join you on the couch. She knows when you’ve had enough and she should really listen, or else…!
It’s this interaction and the silent agreement that we have, that makes (to me, at least) owning a dog so special.

Jaz & grandma
Perfect posers: Jaz & grandma. You can tell that Jaz knows it’s picture time...
“Gramps! Did you get the shot?!”

… and a sailor was born!

Posing in my new life vest.
Jaz posing in Horseshoe Bay’s marina

When you own a puppy, it is important to introduce it to as many new situations and experiences as you can early on. As long as you make sure that it’s safe and it won’t overwhelm your puppy, these early experiences will help your pup to become a confident, flexible and easy-going dog. There are many firsts in a pup’s life, and as the owner, you can sense when it’s ready to pop another one of your puppy’s cherries. This was exactly the case with Jaz. She left her last fear period behind a couple of weeks ago and was settling comfortably into her daily routine, so we decided it was time to spice things up a little. We killed two birds with one stone by taking a speedboat to explore Howe Sound, which introduced Jaz to the nautical lifestyle while we entertained a houseguest.

Our 17 feet, 75 horsepower speedboat had us zipping around Howe Sound!

Like many terriers, Jaz isn’t terribly fond of water. She doesn’t like to go outside when it rains. In fact, she makes a point of avoiding rain puddles. And since bathing isn’t exactly Jaz’s favourite thing either, we have been holding off on the swimming lessons. Since we didn’t feel like testing the waters during our boating trip, we decided to purchase a bright orange life jacket for Jaz. Very fashionable, right?


Well… Jaz thought otherwise. I’m not sure whether it was because she reckoned the colour didn’t suit her or because she was worried the padding would made her look fat, but Jaz was terribly unhappy in her new vest. Since our rented speedboat was pretty deep and the chances of Jaz jumping off-board were pretty slim, we decided to cut her some slack and took it off. Sailor Jaz was born.

What is going on?
“What’s going on over there?”

“Hmmmmm! Fresh ocean air!”

Jaz loved the boat! She wanted to see everything that was going on, and stuck her little nose up high to smell the salt in the air. Even when we were going pretty fast, and experienced some very bumpy patches, she stayed put, bouncing up and down with us. Due to all the bouncing, we had to dock the boat in Halkett Bay on Gambier Island for a potty-break…

“Hey! No peeking!”

“Let’s get back on the boat! What’s our next destination?”

We circled around Gambier Island and travelled all the way south to Gibsons Landing on the Sunshine Coast for some drinks and snacks. Jaz had a blast getting on and off the boat, walking the pier and hanging out with her human friends on the patio of Molly’s Reach (if this rings a bell with my Canadian readers…. Molly’s Reach was the home of the CBC series “The Beachcombers”).
A successful first, that’s for sure!

“Ah, gotta love a good neck-scratch!”

Making new friends

Sometimes, things are meant to be. Last week was an example of such an instance. The universe decided it was time for Jaz and myself to make new friends. It all went down yesterday. But for me to be able to tell you about what happened, I’ll have to take you back in time to when it all started.

A few months ago, Jaz and I decided to walk to Tisol, our favourite local pet store. The goal was to hit two birds with one stone: take Jaz on her afternoon walk and pick up some cat grass for Jaz’ feline sisters. However, before we even made it to the section with the cat grass, we stumbled upon a gorgeous Welsh terrier: confident, muscular and (which is most extraordinary) perfectly groomed. You don’t see many Welsh terriers around here that are hand-stripped. In fact, almost none of the wire-coated dogs that you see are hand-stripped. It simply is too much work for most people to dedicate several hours a week to grooming their dog, which is why most pet owners have their wire-haired pooches clippered. After talking to his lovely owner, Emma, I found out that her Welsh, although he isn’t shown, is being hand-stripped to perfection by Emma herself.

As Jaz and I walked back home with a bag full of cat grass and our minds full of terrier thoughts, I regretted not asking Emma for her phone number. After all, how often do you find a fellow terrier owner dedicated enough to hand-strip their own dog, even when they are not showing? Exactly. Hardly ever.

A few months went by, and the encounter at Tisol had travelled to the back of my mind when I was browsing the website of a local dog training school and saw a picture of a Welsh terrier named Miles. Wait a minute! Miles looked very familiar. Could it be that we had met before? In the photo’s description I read that Miles’ owner Emma kept a blog called “Miles & Emma”… Lo and behold! When I clicked the link and perused the blog, this Emma was the same Emma I met with her Welsh at Tisol a few months ago!

It goes without saying that I wouldn’t let this opportunity slip by like it did the last time. I just couldn’t. This girl was a terrier-lover, hand-stripped her own dog AND blogged about it… hmm, who did she remind me of? At the risk of coming across as a stalker, I went ahead and emailed Emma. And, as a result, Emma, Miles, Jaz and myself met up yesterday to walk and talk terriers. Emma and I hit it off right away. Jaz responded a little hesitant to Miles’ advances, but I’m sure she’ll warm up to him on their next date. I’m so proud of her; she’s growing up to be the kind of girl that likes to be wined and dined first. 😉

Please enjoy some of the pics that Emma took while our four-legged friends got to know each other, and don’t forget to check out their website for more Miles!

Posing for my close-up!                    “Wait… who’s that around the corner…?”

The meeting of two great terrier minds… Jaz (little over 8 months old now) & Miles (almost 3 years old) make a stunning couple!

Jaz is playing hard to get. Look at Miles’s jacket; tight and pitch-black!

Two can play that game… Miles seeking higher ground.

Terriers on the prowl… Jaz is showing off; a perfect free stack.

Thanks Emma & Miles!

Steadily striding on

After letting the tension build for another 5 days, we were finally able to take Jaz out for her very first walk this past Wednesday. We weren’t sure what to expect. Some puppies are scared to visit new places and just sit down in protest, immovable. Others try to crawl up their owner’s leg in fear. Well, we were happy to find out that neither of these things were the case with Jaz… she was raring to go! So much so, that there wasn’t an inch of slack in her leash the entire time we were outside of our yard. Whether it was in front, behind, or beside me, Jaz insisted on meandering the circumference of the small five-foot circle her leash allowed her. ‘Heel,’ a command she can execute perfectly in the comfort of our own home and yard, seemed no longer part of her vocabulary. If something was scary, she would try to run away from it, if it was exciting, she would try to run towards it. Nothing (except for myself) fell in the category that lays in-between the two; uninteresting.

[Side-note: we obviously didn’t take pictures during our first few walks. The pictures you will find in this post are from last weekend, when Jaz was a bit more at ease. We purchased a long, retractable leash for her, so she could run around a bit.]

“Wow! What was THAT?!”

While Jaz remained in full fight-or-flight mode, we managed to make it past the tennis courts, through the park, and around the block. That afternoon, for good measure, we threw in a visit to the ocean as well. Regardless of the panting and heaving due to all the pulling (so glad we bought a martingale collar, otherwise she would have horizontally hung herself that day), and the growling and barking at the sight of other dogs, people and the odd ghost or two, Jaz was determined to take the world by storm. The verdict? Cars are scary, busses are scarier, but tractor-trailers are by far the scariest. Grass is fun, but nothing beats peeing in your own yard. The ocean is okay, as long as you manage to stay dry. And dogs are exciting, but people trump dogs as long as they don’t come in a stroller or with a backpack (children are definitely not Jaz’s strong suit… she seems to take after her adoptive mother).

Roughing up Jericho beach. (Don’t worry… Jaz was on her leash; we just photoshopped it out.)

You’ll be glad to know, though, that the second day we took Jaz out went much better than the first. After a good night’s sleep (which undoubtedly involved a lot of leg-twitching and whimpering to process everything that had gone on the day before), Jaz figured that, if she couldn’t go where she wanted whenever she wanted, she might as well heel for a moment or two between stimuli. Another perk is that it must have felt nice to be able to breathe and swallow effortlessly. There was slack in the leash about 40% of the time. Not too bad! Thanks to the more easy-going attitude, we met a lot of new dogs. Chase, Jax, Juno… it will be hard to keep up with all the names… and we haven’t even started on their owners yet! I discovered that this dog-walking thing didn’t just open up a new world for Jaz, but also for myself. Our neighbourhood is a real dog-walking-community! And a lot of these people seem to know each other. They sip coffee from their travel mugs while they watch their dogs chase each other around at 8 in the morning.

Dying to find out what’s at the top of the hill.

Being the neighbourhood’s newbie, Jaz must have been the first thing on these coffee-sippers’ lips, because the third day we were out walking, we discovered that a rumour had gone around about her already. A lady with a Labrador came up to us, and asked: “Is this the little Wheaten terrier pup I’ve been hearing about?” Lakelands are pretty rare, so I’ll forgive whoever started the rumour for calling Jaz a Wheaten (then again… a Wheaten… really?), but I must admit it is kind of neat that, in a large city like Vancouver, this kind of small-town-gossip is still possible!

We have been walking Jaz for a week now. In the mornings, we stick close to home and visit Tatlow park. In the afternoons, we try to explore new places such as Jericho beach, Spanish Banks and Pacific Spirit regional park (we are so fortunate to live in such a nature-rich city!). And at night, we roam the streets, admiring people’s Christmas lights (some streets are very ambitious and organize full-blown contests!).

Exploring Spanish Banks… downtown sure makes for a nice backdrop!

With every walk, we are developing new routines and creating new traditions for years to come… Stride on, Jaz, stride on!