The Lhasa Apso: The Divine Guard Dog as a Furry Family Member
This month, the Chinese New Year ushers in the Year of the Dog—according to predictions, a happy and fulfilling year, if a bit frustrating and exhausting in parts.
Sounds like an auspicious year for Lhasa Apso breeder Belinda Chang Laddaran. The proud owner of Pooch Glamour, a kennel with, currently, 20 Lhasa Apsos (and a rabbit and a hamster along for the ride) based in Capas, Tarlac, Belinda sat down with us during a photo shoot of three of her dogs—Matilda, Swagger, and her champion show dog Jonas—a gorgeous young stud muffin with a long and gloriously magnificent white coat who patiently endured the hour-long shoot with the air of the born professional.
Just last September 2017, Jonas, also known as Multi Ch Kutani Snowfall in the international dog show circuit, won Best in Show at the 154th FCI All Breed Championship Dog Show in Manila, judged by Oleg Yanchev, a pillar of the Russian Kynological Federation (RKF). And 2017 also saw the soft debut of Jonas’s offspring, Pooch Glamour Baby Matilda, into the local dog show circuit, with Matilda winning 3x Best Baby Puppy In Show at the Metro Clark Pampanga Canine Club Dog Shows a month after Jonas’ triumph.
Belinda started breeding Lhasa Apsos in 2004. “It was an accidental mating between my two Lhasa Apsos, Ruffles and Troy,” she says. Ruffles and Troy were the two Lhasa Apsos she adopted in 2003, to help her cope with the death of her beloved father. That same year, upon graduation from college, she was trying to figure out what to do with her life—and Ruffles and Troy steered her towards her current path as well. “[After graduating], (when) I was looking for a job, I would always tell myself I would have less time for the dogs if I had a full-time job,” Belinda says. “So I made dog biscuits first, then dog ribbons, then dog clothes.” And thus Pooch Glamour was born.
As the years went by, Belinda decided to take her show on the road full time, making friends in the dog circuit and cultivating contacts with other Lhasa Apso breeders around the world. She made her dog show debut at the January 2014 Philippine Circuit Show in the Megatrade Hall at SM Megamall, with Bruce (Hall of Fame, Int’l Ch Blanziflor Jp Bruce Wayne) and (PH Ch Kutani Carbon Copy) Luther—two Lhasa Apsos she acquired from international breeders Blanziflor (from Japan) and Kutani (from the UK). As a newbie, Belinda was a bit floored at how deadly serious the whole event could get. As she writes in the Pooch Glamour blog:
“For four days from January 23-26, 2014, Megamall became a dog town. Within hours the trade hall was transformed into a dogville […] a warren of crates, table, chairs, and an exponential number of hair sprays, chalks, combs and brushes I have ever seen in my life. And then there were those exhibitors who groomed their dogs very very early and continuously trimmed and toiled throughout the rest of the day for four days and all they did was trim and groom their dogs to perfection. You wondered how such outlandish and time-intensive hairstyles made them still sleep at night.” (link: “Bruce Wayne: Life of a Show Dog” [http://poochglamour.com/wp/?p=63])
In 2016, Belinda was in the UK to attend Crufts, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious dog shows, and to pay a visit to her friend, Luther’s breeder Wendy Cain, owner of Kutani Lhasa Apso. When Belinda saw Jonas (Kutani Snowball) at Crufts, it was “love at first sight.” Jonas was already a seasoned dog show veteran at that point—before finding a forever home with Pooch Glamour, Jonas had stayed for a few months with Olga Ivanova of Avgit kennel in Russia, winning the championship titles in Russia and Belarus before returning to Kutani to sweep awards in the UK as well. Once Jonas gained his UK Champion title, Belinda was able to take him home with her to the Philippines, where he proceeded to win awards as well—winning the abovementioned Best in Show at the FCI All Breed Championship, and earning a place in the Philippine Hall of Fame.
Somehow, during all this, Belinda also found the time to get married and have two sons, now aged five and one. The Laddarans had a puppy pile of their beloved Lhasa Apsos serve as their wedding entourage in 2012, and Pooch Glamour’s Instagram account is full of adoring pictures of their brood, furry and otherwise. (link: https://www.instagram.com/poochglamour/)
Belinda, as a full-time mom, has a daily routine all set up. Ate Josie, Belinda’s assistant, is the dogs’ yaya who gives them their once-a-week bath and blow-dry sessions and, given the careful fussing during the photo shoot, takes a very maternal pride in her work. They both also handle daily grooming sessions, as Lhasa Apsos can be quite high-maintenance.
The Lhasa Apsos of Pooch Glamour live cage-free, which can make daily maintenance a bit difficult perhaps, but guarantee that the dogs are able to exercise, roam freely, and play. The males are separated from the females, of course. Jonas, however, stays separately with Belinda’s older son Milo, to prevent him getting scuffed and injured from rough play with the other dogs, and his play time is monitored.
Show day time is always hectic; Belinda now knows that what she saw in SM Megamall in 2014 is pretty much par for the course. For Show Day, they have to wake up early, and start with a bath and blow-dry session. Then afterwards, grooming is pretty much continuous—combing, brushing, checking for tangles, an occasional hair trim if needed, checking the claws and trimming them if they’re too long. Fortunately Jonas is always up to the challenge, and excited to go. “When you ask him, ‘do you want to go to the dog show?’ he wags his tail profusely,” she says. It’s not surprising, given (again) how professional he’s been throughout the photo shoot. That’s a born show dog, right there.
While 2017 was a very good year for Pooch Glamour, Belinda is looking forward even more to 2018, because this is also the year that her home-bred Pooch Glamour puppies, Matilda and Clarabelle (born only a few months ago), will break into the local and international dog show circuit! And Belinda is certain that they will be a smash hit. Just like their proud papa, Jonas.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s February 2018 issue.