Thursday, 26 January 2012

fifteen today

Jem  - my Lakeland Terrier is fifteen years old today
I have just realised it is Jem's birthday today. I have checked her papers and she is actually 15 today. We collected Jem on Palm Sunday, fifteen years ago. She was my birthday present and our second Lakeland terrier. We had been posted abroad as a family and had missed the middle years of our first Lakeland dog, Bosun. We had decided that our next dog was to be called Jem while we were driving back to the UK. As a family we listened to Jamaica Inn  while we were driving to the port in northern Spain. We had returned to the UK to be reunited with a more elderly Bosun so I was promised a new pup. This photo shows a very tolerant Bosun and the young upstart Jem. From the start, Jem was a dominant dog and she was determined to make her mark.  Bosun (who was like a walking teddy bear without much brain) let her dominate and she would  attack  him ferociously. It is hard to believe such a sweet looking pup could cause so much disruption. It actually became distressing and we seriously looked at re homing her, but she was so bad we felt no one would be able to cope with her.
In hind sight (a wonderful thing) she might have been better where she was the only dog and the pride and joy of one owner. I'd like to call her a 'little princess' - maybe in personality but certainly not in behaviour. She had just fallen in the pond in this photo. She didn't care! As time has gone on, we have all learned to respect this madam. She is very clever and and has the instinct of a true survivor. If there is a crumb to be had or an escape route to be found - she's onto it.
There is a love hate relationship between Jem and my sons. They resent not being able to control her - she will do as she is told ...if she feels like it. But she is resilient. When the opportunity to have another dog again came, we all knew it had to be bigger than Jem and equally intelligent. So we acquired a Collie cross who Jem proceeded to bully until, one day, the Collie flattened her with his paw and held her there. Occasionally, he still resorts to this tactic - but not often. The Collie is a very tolerant dog!
They tolerate each other and that's it!
Jem eats anything and I mean anything! She will climb onto the compost heap and eat any vegetable waste - she loves carrots. She eats the raspberries and strawberries from the plants if she can find them before me. Like all terriers, she prefers to wear scent of Fox or any poo, dead bird or any rotted muck she can find to roll in.
She is the only dog we have owned who has a pedigree. She hates to have her coat clipped and, since she nipped the dog groomer, I have had to take the scissors to her myself. She does not have the manners to be a pedigree dog so she doesn't have to look like a show poodle!. She has all the hunting instincts of a hunting dog - as her breed suggests. She loves the moor and still enjoys climbing the tors with us. Occasionally she wears her wax jacket which stops the rain soaking through her thick double coat. Ribbons are endured only on birthdays (but can't you see that look of one who is having to endure the fuss!).

Happiest on the moor

Three different walks - three mud packs!
Any bed will do after a good walk on the moor!


  1. What a gorgeous story!!! Happy Birthday Gem [you share your birthday with my little grandson who is one today ... I now hope he is more pliable than you]

  2. They are always part of the family. Happy Birthday Jem! Jems' relationship with your collie, sounds like our Maddies' relationship with the new puppies. She has had to laid down the law on a number of occasions. All they want to do is play, they just don't get it yet! Have a great day! x Jode

  3. A very Happy Birthday Jem!
    She has excellent genes and has been well kept, to have achieved such a high age. Wishing all the best for her : ).

  4. Happy birthday to Jem. It doesn't look like she intends to grow old gracefully, Harriet. :-)

  5. A very Happy Birthday to Princess Jem. It sounds like she has definitely been her own dog all through the years! I very much enjoyed your story about Jem, Harriet.

  6. Jem crosses her front paws like my old girl, Mooch. She was a Chow Chow, Labrador cross who lived to be nearly 17 - so many memories that she shared with us!

    Found you today "surfing in" from Mrs Exeter. A joy!