Grooming – part 1: general introduction

Part 2: flats —>

This is the first 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…

Lakelands have a double coat. A soft under-coat that provides warmth, and a wiry outer-coat that protects the dog from the elements. The Lakeland’s coat sheds naturally. Hand-stripping the dog will not only control this shedding (because you are pulling the hairs out on a regular schedule), but also encourage new hair growth and maintain the coat’s texture and colour. The difference between an un-groomed an a groomed Lakie is striking. A completely untouched Lakeland will lose it’s typical Lakie shape and have long curly hair of a faded colour that is much softer to the touch than the coat of a hand-stripped one. Most pet-Lakie owners, however, have their Lakeland trimmed with clippers, which does sacrifice colour (the coat will appear faded) and texture (the coat will be much softer), but, when done correctly, allows for the Lakeland to hold its iconic shape. Which route you decide to take (untouched/clipped/hand-stripped) depends on personal preference and lifestyle. As long as your Lakie is brushed on a regular basis (I would recommend at least twice a week), its coat won’t mat and you will have a comfortable, happy dog.

On the left: a Lakeland in the rough. On the right: a Lakeland ready for the show ring. (source)

When I tell people I hand-strip my dog, the first question they ask me is whether it hurts the dog. The answer is no, it won’t hurt your dog, as long as you are doing it right. The hairs want to come out naturally, so you’re simply helping the process along by removing dying hairs and allowing new hairs to grow in. Hand-stripping won’t hurt your dog as long as you remember to always pull the hairs in the direction of the hair growth. When learning how to hand-strip, you must be very careful, for although the direction the hair grows is easy to see on a Lakie’s back (it grows away from the head towards the tail), it can be quite difficult to see in places such as the sides of the neck (where the hairs grow in different directions). The longer your dog’s hair is, the harder it is to determine in what direction the hair grows. In the beginning it can be very helpful to look at pictures (or real-life examples, if there are any in your area) of well-groomed Lakelands to see how the hairs grow. Eventually, once you’ve stripped your dog a number of times, you’ll just know.

So. The hairs are pulled in the direction that the hairs grow. To know how much hair to strip and in what area, the Lakeland’s body can be divided into several sections. The following diagram will make your life much easier:

Grooming sections (source)

The sections labelled with “A” are called “flats.” This is where the hair is shortest and lays flat on the body (hence the name “flats”). On show dogs, these areas are stripped weekly.
The sections labelled “C” represent what is called the “jacket.” In these sections, the under-coat is removed using a rake-like tool, and the wiry hair that remains is stripped to medium length.
The sections labelled “B” are the transitional sections between flats (A) and jacket (C), where the hair is stripped in such a way that it gradually transitions from shorter to longer or vice versa.
The sections with the arrows are called “furnishings.” These areas on the legs and snout contain both under-coat and outer-coat, and this is where the hair is left the longest.

To know how long is long enough is hard to describe. I will try to give you an idea of appropriate length by using many pictures in the more in-depth posts to come. Of course the ideal lengths of these sections will depend greatly on the individual dog. You can try to picture it by using the mnemonic device 6-6-6. In general, a bald Lakeland would take approximately 6 days to grow flats, at least 6 weeks to grow a decent length jacket, and about 6 months to grow nice furnishings. (Yes, 6 months to grow furnishings! So if your Lakie ever needs to provide a blood sample or be hooked up to an IV… make sure to ask your vet whether s/he can do it without shaving a piece of your Lakie’s furnishings!)

[PS: The pictures used in this post were drawn by Patricia Peters (a well-known American Lakeland breeder), who also wrote a book about Lakeland Terriers that I highly recommend. You can find it here.]

Part 2: flats —>

(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?!”

We’re taking cyberspace by storm!

“What’s happening over there? I smell change!”

A lot of things have been changing around here lately. Some of these changes went on behind the scenes and may have gone unnoticed. I figured it was time to update you on them:

– Our new (and permanent!) url is: Simple, sort, and easy to remember!
– Due to technical difficulties, our YouTube moved to:
– We have so many great pictures (a lot of which never make it to the blog) that we opened up a Flickr account:
– Jaz is gaining popularity on Instagram…. If you want to see what she’s up to, you can follow us @lakielovepics

We’ve been busy getting everything up and running (which results in fabulous things such as the new Flickr widget in our sidebar)! And we are keeping busy, as a new header —UPDATE May 29th: new header now up!—, an ‘about me,’ a blogroll and a Lakie Love Facebook page are also in the works. Slowly but surely, Jaz is becoming a true cyberdog, tricks and all!

As you can see, Jaz has the tricks-part covered!

As far as the blog itself is concerned… I have one post ready to go up in a day or two. After that, I am thinking of starting a short series on grooming. I know that I have been promising you a post on grooming for a while, but there is just too much to talk about. The idea is to split the story on grooming up into 5 separate posts: general introduction, flats, jacket, furnishings, and miscellaneous. I’ll space these posts out a bit, so those among us that aren’t interested in the details of hand stripping won’t get bored!

Alright. Onwards and upwards. I’ll leave you with a picture of Jaz and myself taken at Beaver Lake in Stanley Park, Vancouver. This is the full version of the picture I cropped to use as my Gravatar (oh, I’m so tech-savvy these days!)

Jaz & mom profile

Fear periods… nothing to be afraid about!

Jaz prancing around the dog park

As opposed to what some may think, being a puppy isn’t always fun. Yes, you get to run around like crazy, bark at everything that moves, pretend that you are deaf, and get away with it all (“Awe, look how cute…!”). But there is a time in every pups life when it’s time to go through something equivalent to human puberty. Around seven to eight months (for Lakelands, that is; it differs a little depending on the breed), puppies reach sexual maturity. Around this time, they go through what is called a ‘fear period,’ during which fright and pain should be avoided. Around this time, your puppy loses its confidence. Depending on the dog and the situation at home, this period can be very prominent or even go by unnoticed (especially if you already have a confident, adult dog in your household).

Looking a little hesitant…

… yet totally cool when rollin’ with her buddy Miles… Look at those cute terrier bums! 😉

To be more precise, there are two fear periods in puppy’s first year. The first one is between eight and twelve weeks. Eight weeks is usually when new owners take their puppy home, and this is not without reason. Not only is the dame’s job of raising the puppies done by now, but this first fear period also helps the puppy bond with its new family. Because this period occurs when people first get their puppy, most don’t notice the symptoms, as they are still getting to know their new family member. Once puppy is about to go through its second fear period, however, it has been a member of the new family for roughly 6 months, and the owners are more likely to notice the change this time.

Not so sure what to think about this new, strange-looking white dog…

…but brave enough to steal a stick from her playmate Daisy!

We definitely experienced the changes in Jaz, because right as her second fear period started, Jaz’ dad was away on a business trip. Any change can affect your puppy during this vulnerable stage. Jaz, who was perfectly capable of contently sleeping at least 9 continuous hours every night, woke me up at all hours of the night, crying and barking for attention. The physical changes (she was about to come in heat for the first time) as well as the dramatic change in environment (her daddy being away) proved to be too much for her. Not only did she keep the entire neighbourhood up at night, she also was quite a wimp during our walks and whenever we were at the dog park. The puppy that charged full speed ahead and was dying to meet everyone (human as well as canine), changed into a scared, nervous dog.

There are many different theories about how to handle these fear periods. The problem is that anything traumatic that might happen to your puppy during this period will stay with it for its entire life. Handling things properly, therefore, is crucial! Some say not to do anything new, meet anyone new or visit any place new. Others say you should introduce your puppy to new things place and people, but just to be careful about it. Whatever you choose (we were more moderate in the beginning -especially since Jaz had such a sudden reaction due to her dad leaving- and then gradually started adding new experiences), just make sure you are monitoring things. Adding short, confidence-building exercises (i.e. asking your puppy to do things it knows how to do such as sit/down/come) into the daily routine will help as well.

I love my yard!
“I love my yard!”

We have left Jaz’ second fear period behind, but are still working on building her confidence back up. Our trainer has told us that, besides reaching sexual maturity, the blur that used to be the outside world has become fully in focus. With its new, perfected senses, your puppy experiences the world afresh for the second time around. One can only imagine… quite a change! I’ve found that the short, confidence-building exercises really work, as well as having familiar people and/or dogs around to give your puppy that much-needed boost of confidence.

Hanging out with Miles. —Check out Miles’ blog!—


Have a great weekend!

… 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!”