Dogs Might Fly
PUBLISHED: 09:05 21 March 2012 | UPDATED: 17:28 07 January 2016
Jilly Parton meets Lakeland terriers on the beach at Appledore
Tucked up a tiny lane in Appledore in North Devon lives a small dog called Milly, a three-year-old Lakeland Terrier who loves to run on the beaches and dunes around Westward Ho! So far, so what? Well, for one thing Milly has over a thousand friends on the social networking site Facebook, including buddies in America, Italy and New Zealand. Not only that, her global popularity has helped spawn a successful business for her proud and loving owner, Jennie.
I met Jennie Braid-Lamb quite by chance. I was visiting a friend in Appledore and had with me my own dog, Poppy. “Ooo,” said my friend, “come next door and meet Jennie. She has a dog just like yours!” Dutifully, I popped to the neighbour’s house and was met at the door by a carbon copy of my own terrier.
So, Jennie’s Milly and my Poppy are both ‘Lakies,’ but this story had only just begun.
Within a few moments Jennie was on the phone to another Lakie owner, Sarah Walton, who lives in Westward Ho! with her two-year-old called Patrick, and we all agreed to a meet-up. It was a wonderful afternoon, the three dogs racing across the sand and through the surf together and gathering in small huddles with other dogs who came over to sniff out the competition.
Back at Jennie’s comfortable and beautifully furnished cottage in Appledore, she and Sarah began explaining to me the extraordinary phenomenon that has brought together Lakies and scores of other terriers from around the world.
“For me, it started in 2009 when my husband, Ian, was away working in Oman for three months,” says Jennie. “I was taking a break from running a busy retail business in Barnstaple so I had plenty of time on my hands. I bought a camera and began taking Milly out on long walks, taking lots of pictures and loading them onto her Facebook page, which I had set up just for fun. It was a way of documenting our days for Ian to see out in Oman. But I began to get loads of messages from Lakie owners in America who loved seeing shots of the wonderful coast here in North Devon.” Slowly, Milly Lamb began building up her list of Friends.
Sarah Walton and her Lakie Patrick live in Westward Ho! and Sarah stumbled across Milly on Facebook by chance a year or so ago. “I was sure I recognised the slip-way at Westward Ho! in one of her photographs,” she says, “so I messaged Jennie and she confirmed it. Neither of us knew each other before, but we began meeting up regularly with our dogs, and Patrick now has his own Facebook page as well.”
A couple of other local Lakies are now part of this expanding canine ‘club’ in Devon (Waffle Bennett, a Lakie from Exeter among them), but really there are no geographical boundaries when it comes to making new terrier (and human) mates on Facebook.
“We have become very good friends with a couple called Marie and Rob Nute who live in Cornwall,” says Jennie. “Their Lakie, Sowena, messaged Milly on FB about a year ago to say she was coming up with her owners in their campervan and she wanted to meet up. We made a day of it – took the dogs on the beach then went for a meal afterwards. It always draws a lot of looks seeing a small crowd of Lakies bombing about together, and they have such a great time.”
There are no geographical boundaries when it comes to making new terrier (and human) mates on Facebook
I have been listening carefully and scribbling notes and am suddenly a little confused: the idea of a dog sending another dog a FB message seems manifestly impossible. “Well obviously we humans send the messages,” says Sarah patiently (I obviously looked more than doubtful), “but each dog really does have its own character and language on FB, so you have to kind of ‘get in part’ when you are talking to the other dogs.”
And she’s not kidding: Patrick has his own very unique ‘language’, which mostly entails a lot of phonetics and whooping: “Fank you! WoooHooooo! Woofs!” sort of thing.
Sarah and Jennie are clearly both besotted with their Lakies and I can understand why; my own pup, Poppy, is quite a character and is at her most stunning when she is in full flight. “In that case, you must get some pictures of her on Milly’s Facebook album of Flying Lakeland Terriers,” says Jennie earnestly; “but the rules are strict – she must have all four feet off the ground to qualify.”
Jennie taps at her iPad and brings up an album of more than 80 photos from around the world of Lakies leaping through the air. But one in particular is hilarious: a terrier called Ingivel Lucien is sitting astride a miniature plane made from what looks like a skateboard and travel bag, and is wearing a flying jacket, jaunty scarf and goggles. Ingivel Lives in Santigny in Switzerland, so whoever said the Swiss have no sense of humour?
But not only has the power of the internet created a network of worldwide friends for all breeds of terrier owners and their dawgs, it has also helped boost or create from scratch hundreds of small businesses. Not least for Jennie and Sarah.
Jennie is a passionate glass bead-maker and spins the most glorious creations in her small studio in Appledore. Her fledgling business, Raspberry Rings, began as a hobby, but since joining the terrier community on Facebook she is getting orders from people all over the universe. “It all started after the death of an Airedale called Lily in America,” she explains. “I made her owner, Joyce, a glass bead with my own interpretation of a lily inside it and posted it to her. She raved about it on FB and it grew from there. I get orders from all over the world now and slowly the business is growing.”
Sarah’s card company is called CurlyCraft and began after she made a Thank you card for Milly after a sleepover (yes, these doggies have sleepovers!)“ Jennie put a picture of the card on Facebook and whoosh, suddenly everyone wanted one. It’s just snowballed!” Her gorgeous hand-made cards feature cut-out dogs of all shapes and sizes. The Americans in particular go mad for them.
It always draws a lot of looks – seeing a small crowd of Lakies bombing about together and they have such a great time
Suddenly, Jennie jumps up and runs upstairs. She returns with a stash of goodies: fleece pyjamas for Milly from ‘Warmer Woofers’, an exquisite miniature Milly made from felt, by ‘Fleur’s Felties’. There is no limits to which the terrier-maffier (as Patrick might spell it) will go to extol their four-pawed companions.
A few days later we are on Westward Ho! beach once more with our Lakies. Sarah mentions conspiratorially that the comedian Bill Bailey has a Lakie, and an optician in Bideford – though his identity so far is a mystery.
Just imagine it, I think, as I watch my Poppy bound across the sand like a miniature Red Rum… A thousand Lakies on Westward Ho! It might yet happen, as Sowena Nute’s mum is trying to organise the biggest Westcountry meet ever for Lakies and their daft owners this summer!