Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chilling in Mum's Study

On a regular evening after dinner, if Mummy and Daddy aren't watching tv, they can always be relied on to be at their computers in their respective studies. Mum's study doubles up as the laundry folding/ironing room, a place where she stores all her hobbies and crafts. Mum would be browsing the Internet, or reading email, and I'd remind her to update my blog to keep my friends up to date with my many activities. This evening, I told Mum to post an entry to show what I'd be doing regularly in her study, while I stay close to her. This is my favorite spot.
I lay on my comfy couch so that I can keep a close eye on my Mum as she works at her computer. Most often, I love to stretch out in any way I like, and doze off.
Hmmmm... I wonder what's on the screen. Is she working on my blog?

Mum allowed me to take a peek at her screen, but this is the only time I get invited onto her blue master chair to have a closer look. Humph!! She's not working on my blog!! Mum said that she's ordering books about Dog Agility from Amazon.

Mum loves me so much, she even bought a special mug that has an Airedale face on it. It looks so much like me.

My big black nose

I get so lazy I just doze off....


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Videos with Mattie Mae at Ragnar

Videos galore!!

Here are some of the videos of me and Mattie spending time playing at Ragnar, an old converted rail road station, which is now just open space with old logs lying around.

Mattie and I play well together, we do zoomies together, we play 'follow the leader', 'chase' and 'tag', 'steal my toy', we share 'branches', dig holes together, play wrestle and the list goes on, for games that have no human names...


Friday, March 21, 2008

A Day with Mattie Mae

This is my neighbour, Mattie Mae. We call her Mattie, Mattie and I get along like peas and carrots. She's also an Airedale like me, and Mattie is a few months younger than I am. Her Mum wanted her to be groomed because she looked like a fuzzy ewok, and it was time, so she called my Mum to arrange for her to hang out with us for a day, and to get groomed.
This is Mattie and me. Mattie is on the right, and I am on the left. Can you tell that she's all groomed, brushed out and neat? I on the other hand, am just me. This photo was taken at the end of the afternoon, before I slobbered on her again.

Mattie's mum dropped her off at my house early in the morning, and we played in the backyard for an hour or so, chasing each other, play wrestling and it was fun!! We smiled and played the whole time and the sun was shining. Such a crisp lovely morning it was to have a play date.

Then my Mummy had an early morning treat for me, pork hocks. They were very tasty and crunchy cos the bones were really easy to crunch. Yumm... I was very surprised that Mattie wanted some too, but I was a nice host and I shared my treats with her. I had no problem when she poked her nose into my food bowl and helped herself.

Me watching Mattie, probably eating her very first raw pork hock. She had a very good time, smelling, licking and chewing them in her mouth. Crunch crunch it went. The pieces were quite big so they really needed chewing.

Hi Mum, look Mattie's eating my pork hocks, you've got more?

Then after a morning round of games in the backyard, Mum decided it was time to hit the trails. She took her bike, loaded us both into the back, and off we went. The sky was overcast and cloudy, but that didn't stop us. Two big Airedales with lots of energy to spend? What does Mummy do? Make us run in the woods of course.

At the start of the trail, it was still nice tarred road, but the proper trail was just gravel. We got to go offleash because it was completely deserted. Plus given the bad weather, no one was really choosing to be out.

Mummy said we had 8 miles to do, so we should trot close to the bike and not do our zoomies, but we didn't listen. We still did zoomies all over the place, Mattie and I had such great fun sniffing all the bushes, rocks and branches everywhere. Then we'd zoom to catch up with Mum. It was fun!!

Zoom Zoom on the gravel trail.

At the 3 mile mark, we reached the old deserted train station called Ragnar. There are no longer trains running here anymore and the trail was actually the old track. Its deserted now, but the area is very big and open and had lots of interesting things for us curious Airedales to explore. Mum just let us go do what we dogs do. Explore.

Woopee.... we played many games, chase, tag, hide and seek. But mostly, we loved exploring together.

The ungroomed Mattie and Me.

I quickly realized that we were getting tired, and we started doing less zoomies and sticking close to Mum. We had 1 more uphill mile and then do the remaining 4 miles back to the start. By the time we got to the car, we had spent 3 hours out in the woods, it was really nice when it started to snow on our way back, but Mum said it was cold.

When we got home, Mum didn't let Mattie take a nap, she had to have her nails dremeled. She yelped and cried, and even snapped at mum, but Mum told her "No Bite" and had to make it clear to her that she was going to have her nails done, whether she liked it or not. Then she settled down and got many nice treats because she was good. Then she had a bath and a good styling, and then we could play again.
At the end of the grooming, she looked so beautiful. Mattie also goes to Cascade k9 dog school like me. Here we are posing for Mummy while on a "Chill" command. I hope Mattie gets to hang out with me again soon. I like Mattie very much.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finishing up Grooming (Last Day)

As Mummy had promised me, she was going to take me biking today for 14 miles (she bikes, I run). But first, she said we'd have to spend at least an hour, tidying me up, and finishing the grooming left for the last day. I had been bathed and brushed last evening, so it was a piece of cake tidying me up. Me sitting nicely for the camera, getting ready for scissoring.

Full body, prior to scissoring.
We only need to have legs and feet to tidy up, and straighten my facial hair and beard, to make it look like a brick.

Can you tell that my legs are overgrown and feet look so untidy? Yup, after several months of not doing anything to my feet, they look messy. Every month, Mum shaves the paw fur off, but that's to help me have 'my brakes' on, to let me have grip. Also, if left unshaved, the paw fur can cause mats in between the toes and that's very uncomfortable. Imagine if you had a stone stuck to the bottom of your shoe, that's what Mum says it feels like.

So Mum needs to round the feet like a cat's. The legs need to be plucked and scissored to look like long straight poles. At the joints where the leg furnishings and stripped body meet, these areas need to be stripped and blended.

The head needs to look like a rectangular brick. From the forehead to the tip of my nose, there should be a straight line (as shown by that black line in the above photo), and any excess facial hair is plucked off to make me look neat. My muzzle is also carded to remove length and undercoat. My cheeks are blended by stripping to create gradual length toward the front. From the front, my face should look rectangular like a brick.

My messy feet.

I have been trained to 'Stand' and I will not move my legs or feet unless I am freed. This allows Mum to work on me as she pleases. Note also that I do not need a leash on the table (like some other doggie friends and their groomers) as I have been trained to 'Climb' and I will stay on any elevated platform until I am released.

Finally, you get to see me as the finished product. After 5 hard days of toil, pain, blisters, sweat and hours, I am done. Finally done. Yes now, Mummy and I will head off to the trails and do 14 miles today to burn off energy.

Me and Mummy

Hope you all like my pics. I know my fur looks extremely short, and my body looks bald, and I must admit that I do look strange, but give me 2 weeks, and I'll be more handsome than ever. My coat will begin to grow in, and I'll be very handsome soon.


Handstripping Day 4

Day 4 finally managed to be the last day of my handstripping torture. Mum said her arms were really sore and tired, but she also praised me and said I was the most tolerant doggie she's ever met, and I make her so very proud. Day 4 included another 6 hours of grooming, no joke at all.
My furry head and neck, about to begin being handstripped.
The areas that need to be finished only include the front part of my body, neck, chest, head and face. These are also the most difficult areas to handstrip because the skin is so loose, its so hard to make the skin taut. Also, the face and neck are very sensitive areas so the speed has to be slow and Mum has to be extra careful with the blade, not to scrape any part of me.

Mum used an old decapitated head (of one of my old toys) as a chin pillow so that I don't have to strain my neck and get tired. She strips out a pathway on the back of my neck, and then tackles it from the side, gradually moving toward the front of the neck. The neck has extremely profuse thick coat.

From the center path, stripping towards the left. I take a nap while Mum does her work on me.

Yay, time for a break and more treats. My left back neck is now all done.

A close up view of the neck shows that it is a tricky part to handstrip because the fur begins to grow in all sorts of directions (up, down, sideways). There is a line from the tip of the ear, down to the chest where the hair growing in different directions merge. This means the method of stripping in one direction wouldn't work, and the human will need to change directions frequently to minimize discomfort for the dog.

Half of the front of the neck and chest are now done. See how red I've become, and that's with slow speed and less plucking. These areas tend to be very sensitive and I do my best to tolerate Mum's fussing. I need to be bribed with more treats and fortunately, Mum gets the hint.

Finally the whole chest is done. Now we move upwards toward the head, ears and face.

A side profile showing what Mum has to do. All of that fur needs to come off.

Mum prefers to clip me directly underneath my chin, because I don't get shown and that's an extremely tough and painful area to strip. Mum says I can be saved from that torture. Thank Goodness!!! She cleans up that area a fair bit, all the way front, until the lip has a crease where it joins the gums. That crease also has nasty hair normally and a stink. It is best to shave off all that nastiness.

Mum does her best to minimize pain on my skin, so she does the plucking as slowly and gently as she possibly can. She tells me that as a reward, we'll go biking tomorrow, for 10 miles if I'd like. Yay Mummy, I'm really looking forward to that.

We're finally done with the handstripping stage. Now I take a bath, get brushed up and then ready for a last day of fine tuning and finish work.

The above picture shows the difference between before getting head stripped and after. I look much neater now.

The picture shows how Mum tackles the neck, a very difficult area. She creates a pathway first, and from there, moves to the sides.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Model Airedales (Show Dogs)

Hi all, here are some of the most beautiful Airedale photos snapped by Lesley Mattuchio at the ATCNE dog show in 2006. These photos can be found at her website, http://www.lesleymattuchio.com/atcne100special1.html

Mummy adores the photos taken by this woman, and regards her highly, naturally she strives to groom me to look like these beautiful show dogs. Mum has added some notes to the photos to show which areas are of importance to all Airedale grooming enthusiasts like herself.
Beautifully groomed Airedale, standing alert and curious. A stellar example of how a well groomed Airedale should look like.

A close up head shot shows the finer details of grooming.
The shoulders' coat is slightly longer as compared to the neck, chest or head.
The neck is taken down very close to the skin.
The cheeks are nicely blended in, and there is almost an imaginary vertical line straight down from the outer tip of the eye. This is then slowly blended in toward the front of muzzle, using the outer tip of the lip as a guideline.
To create a straight line from the top of skull to tip of nose, the muzzle could be finger plucked to create the straight lines and neatness which would accentuate the beautiful eyes.
The bottom of the chin needs to be mostly short, except for the 1/3 which is directly beneath the lip. This reduces the puffiness on the sides, and creates a more streamlined face. (My Mum will be taking a photo of my chin when I am done to show this)

It is possible to re-create this look in the clipped Airedale as well, provided that the groomer is knowledgeable to know when to vary the usage of different length blades while grooming different parts. Most well trained groomers would know what length of blade to use on which parts. As a guideline, this is what my Mum uses on Airedales she grooms.

Back of Neck, Saddle, Tail - #4 or #5 (depending on owner's preference of shortness)
Butt - #7 (#10 close to anal for hygiene)
Chest - #5
Head, Face sides - #5
Ear Flap - #7
Everything else is scissored. Recommend carding prior to clipping because this promotes correct color and texture even on a clipped dog.

Airedales sparring in the show ring (A requirement for Terriers in the show ring to show terrier temperament).

A most beautiful side profile of a handsome Airedale. Note how the chest is flat when viewed from the side. It should not be puffy or showing a 'bib'. Strong lean neck muscles and shoulder muscles are accentuated.

When I was a very young puppy, my Mum would clip me, but when I turned around 4 months of age, my Mum started plucking my hair, but it was only after 6 months of age, when I was stripped down to bare. Subsequently, I rotated between being clipped and handstripped, depending on availability of time and circumstances, because Mummy was using me as her practice dog for her Terrier Certification. After that, I have only been handstripped, no more clipping. I suppose I'll return to being clipped again when I am sick or old, but that's a long way.