Today is indeed a special day for our family. Today is our 49th Anniversary! I recall seeing a photo of the 50th Anniversary of my grandparents. They looked so old! I suppose when our grandkids see photos of us in coming years, we'll look old too. (I think maybe they already think so!
Here's the happy couple -- young, naive, in love -- with no idea what the years ahead had in store. It's been quite a ride. Here's to many more years together!
We were married the Saturday after finals week, both of us seniors in college and looking forward to our last semester in the fall when we'd be student teaching.
A year later, in March and April, we already had two Lhasa puppies! To read that story click here.
Since I last wrote, Millie has been in 4 shows at which she was selected as Best Opposite Sex to Best of Breed and earned points toward her Grand Championship. I love showing that girl. We have two weekends of shows coming in May when Rusty and Emmy get to be shown for the first time. They have been attending some conformation classes in preparation for the big debuts.
Here are those two hooligans, waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. They have conspired to trip me. They never move!
Here is a recent photo of Rusty taken the day he turned 4 months (April 5). He is a pretty Lhasa!
And then there is Emmy, who is 6 months old as of April 8.
And now, here is Rafe at age 6 months when he won his first points. Rafe was on a true puppyhood winning streak, finishing his championship at age 8 months, even taking Best of Breed over older specials.
Coat Care Reminders
I was recently contacted by a reader who had concerns about the lack of length of her two-year old show male Lhasa's coat. She asked if I could give her any hints about things she should or should not be doing. It's difficult to evaluate coat without being able to see or feel it, but I do have some hints that may help those of you with similar concerns. Consider the dog's health, his environment, the products used on his coat , the amount and type of grooming he receives, and his heredity.
Fleas or internal parasites are obvious deterrents to healthy coat growth. Fleas cause the dog to scratch and break coat. Internal parasites cause a dry, lusterless coat that tends to be brittle and break easily. Dry skin can also cause scratching and coat damage. Solutions are flea control and prevention, which often is easier said than done; a visit to the vet to determine if parasites are present followed by medication to get rid of them if they are; and a vitamin-mineral coat supplement which adds fatty acids to the dog's diet. If you feed your dog a balanced diet, his coat should be healthy, and no supplement should be necessary. However, Lhasas often need extra fat in their diets to aid skin and coat condition, so you might consider adding a supplement designed to aid healthy coat growth. A poor coat is often a sign of a thyroid problem, so if you have tried everything else and nothing works, ask your vet to check the thyroid.
Environment includes not only where the dog is housed but also where he is exercised and allowed to play. If your aim is to grow a nice show coat, the sad fact is that you can't treat your Lhasa as if he were "just a pet." If you allow him to constantly run and play on carpet, resulting static electricity causes coat ends to snap off. If he's allowed to roll on carpet or on the bed or sofa, the same thing happens. If you let him exercise in the back yard so grass and dry leaves can catch his coat, you risk coat damage. Now, I am not an advocate of show dogs living atop a grooming table for the sake of a lengthy coat, but I do advocate being careful with coat and avoiding situations that can cause damage to the coat. A cemented or graveled exercise area is not only easier to clean than a grassy one, but also easier on coat. There is also less of a chance for flea infestation if the dog exercises on cement. Try to keep your dog on vinyl or wood floors while he is spending time in the house with you. If you keep a pillow in your dog's crate or sleeping area, cover it with a fabric that will not catch coat or cause static electricity.
Clean coats grow better than dirty ones. Well conditioned coats grow better than those in poor condition. Numerous products are marketed which make keeping a coat well conditioned an easy task. Choose a shampoo and conditioner for your dog's coat type. You may choose products marketed for dogs or choose from the variety of human products. In most cases, the results are the same. What works for one dog's coat type may not work for another's, so you often have to experiment. If a Lhasa's coat is in very poor condition, you may want to use hot oil treatments on a regular basis to begin controlling the damage and making the hair more resilient. If matting is a problem, often keeping the dog in a conditioning oil between baths is recommended. These conditioning oils come in either aerosol or liquid concentrate forms. Either type is effective when used on a clean coat on a regular basis. The aerosol conditioner is sprayed on a dry coat. Spray it layer by layer as you brush through the coat. The concentrate is diluted with water and poured over a wet dog after his bath. The coat is then blow dried as usual.
Sometimes a Lhasa's lack of coat is caused by abusive brushing and/or over-brushing. Unless your Lhasa is going through a coat change and seems to be matting constantly, there is no need to brush him daily. A thorough brushing once or twice weekly, with spot checks of troublesome areas (e.g., neck, behind ears, "arm pits") throughout the week, should suffice in most cases. This is especially important during the coat change period. The logic behind this is that if you are grooming your Lhasa incorrectly, you are causing the damage to the coat. The more often you groom him, the more damage you cause.
Here are some things to keep in mind about grooming your Lhasa:
1) Brush the coat in layers.
2) Lightly spray each layer with a detangler or conditioner before you brush through it. This will lubricate the hairs, cut down on static, and make removing tangles easier.
3) Turn your wrist down and toward you when you reach the coat ends. Don't flick the brush upward. That practice tends to break coat ends.
4) Avoid using a comb on the ends of the coat. Use the comb to loosen mats and to work loose hair through the coat, but when you get it near the ends, use a brush. It's easier on the coat.
5) Avoid using a slicker brush. It's too easy to abuse the coat with one if you don't know how to use it correctly.
6) Brush the coat gently. If you rip through it, you'll rip it out.
7) Don't brush a dirty coat. Wash any dirty or sticky areas with a rinse-less shampoo and allow them to dry before you groom the dog. Such areas include the feet, mustache, loin area on a male, and the rear end if there are particles from a stool stuck to the hairs. A male often gets urine on his side coat in the loin area. Never comb or brush through it without rinsing it. It's sticky and breaks easily.
8) If your Lhasa gets a stuck stool, don't think, "I'll just wait til it dries and then brush it out." You'll wind up brushing it out along with coat you can't afford to lose. Shampoo the offending piece(s) from the coat and condition as necessary.
Of course, it is possible that your Lhasa comes from a line that produces slow coat growers or poor coats. Some investigation into his background should tell you if that's the case with your Lhasa. If it is, others who have Lhasas from the same lines may be able to provide strategies for you to help you grow coat. Sometimes you have to wait for the dog to mature before his coat comes in nicely. In some cases, you may have to give up your plans for your dog's show career. While a sound Lhasa that has great movement may win single points with a poor coat, you cannot expect him to be competitive when it comes to majors unless his coat is in good condition. All other things being equal, the judges are bound to select the dog that is in the best condition.
Of all the possible conditions that may cause your Lhasa's coat problems, heredity is the one that is most difficult to overcome. You can affect some control over his nutrition and health, his environment, and his coat care, but if a poor coat is his heritage, you may be fighting a losing battle
Notes and Photos from Others
Thanks to those who sent updates and/or photos.
From Nick about Sophie: "My new puppy, Sophie, is doing great! I’m happy to say she is fitting in well with my parents’ dogs, Zoey and Lilly, who are staying with me. She LOVES them so much! She is growing on them too I think. She is full of energy and loves to play, especially in the yard with Zoey and Lilly. I caught this awesome family portrait of all three on my deck!She goes to work with me everyday right now and will start puppy kindergarten next week. I think she will love that especially the daily playtime with other puppies...It’s been a lot of work, but I know I made the right decision getting her. Sophie is adorable, and I’m really enjoying her! Thank you!" (The trio on the deck is Lilly, Sophie, and Zoey. Zoey (the black Lhasa) is also a Joyslyn's Lhasa. Her parents are Breaker and Onyx, for those of you who are curious to see relatives to your Joyslyn's dogs.)
Kathleen sent this photo of Sophie's brother Mel.