So, Do You Want to learn About Zoning or Insurance?

September 2, 2017

Both boring topics.  Lets deal zoning—-as this is  part of the problem in the Gulf  coast area of the USA (after climate  change —-or lets say, ‘an Act of God’—-caused record rainfalls).

Did you know that geologists can  determine how much  water the ground can hold? Did you know that how much water the ground can hold depends on the  type of soil, how much there is, bedrock or clay, and how much of the land is covered with an impermeable  covering?

Did you know that God isn’t making any more real estate, and  lots of people choose to live in certain areas, making land much more valuable for development than other areas? Did you know  urban  planners try to  convey this information to developers, and are often disrespected—that developers will then  call lawyers or contact politicians to override planners? Did you know that because of this, the rest of us have to come to the aid of people who  live in flood zones?

Did you know that it’s no mystery  regarding what happened to  some great ancient civilizations, like Egypt, the Mayans, the  Ankor/Khmer  and Naga Cultures?  They didn’t just disappear…but a combination of both over population/disease, and using up  environmental  energy resources caused people to scatter?

We’re not talking contrails here, or even if the planet is warming, but we are sort of addressing the statistical odds of a major weather event happening, and that is no mystery.

currently, in 2017, President Trump has ‘drained the swamp’ and brought all the  people who don’t think the rules mean them—or are fair to THEM—into  the government. They are in key positions to change the rules to make policy that benefits them, not all of the people in the country.  You can have a false consciousness  and  believe that their interests are your interests, but  time and time again, we see this is not so.  We could have single payer health care…or we can keep bailing out  people who  live in communities who believe d the developers over  the planners.

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A Bully is Obsessed With Me Because I Refused to Make Him Money

August 11, 2017

I am starting this blog post with a story many of us have heard about.  Mike “Lock her up!” Flynn, ranting about Hilary Clinton,  a Trump toadie, spread the Alex Jones rumor that Cosmic Pizza in Washington, DC—a family owned business…was a headquarters for Hilary Clinton’s pedophile ring.  Laughable? A guy went  in there with a rifle and shot the place up. Almost ruined a family business.  Not illegal.  I am sure the  business owner has a lawyer, but you have to wonder how often an asshole sets out to destroy a business  just because he can.

I am finding more and more dog groomers report being bullied by men. Same story I am going to report. they post fake reviews, they call and harass businesses…or make  fake appointments.  it’s not illegal to be an asshole.

I  started blogging about 10 years ago because I had a lot to say about a variety of subjects, but mostly… to expound on my experiences with dogs.  Due to a  bad economy, as well as a bullying boss , I was adrift for a couple of years. Yet…I never went into debt.  I  paid my mortgage—was able ultimately to REFINANCE my  mortgage, and look forward to retiring in about  two years.  From grooming dogs.

The bullying boss was never fired, but when the company (12 kennels is a company) was sold, he was demoted to kennel staff & moved to another location,  However…between (among) him, some people he had contact with (a guy with a dick & balls will always have more credibility than a woman), and a guy I refused to work for….as well as  people who say they love dogs—but have never actually trained a dog,  learned anything about animal husbandry, and  other dynamics  with integrity, problems remain.

This is the blog I posted: https://disparateinterests.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/are-you-looking-for-a-dog-grooming-job-in-chicago/     I interviewed  with Dan London, who told me his  dog experience came from walking dogs in a kennel.  He apparently either inherited money or got a structured settlement, and opened  a grooming shop…sort of. He paid to have bath tubs installed, had a portable grooming table, and  a ‘force’ dog dryer, but  not enough professional equipment. At the time–this was around 2008 or so, I had  several clients with long haired dogs which I groomed every week or every 2 weeks.  I knew I would have to move equipment in.  He  said he and his partner wanted to hire me…but they would set the prices. I told him that wouldn’t work.  My prices are my prices,.  He asked why, and I said, “You just don’t have enough dog experience.”

Again…what he had was bullying & internet experience.   I was looking for part time work, and  I inadvertently responded to a blind ad he ran. I learned not to do that, but he called and harassed all the groomers I worked for and posted fake Yelp! reviews.  My very favorite?  “I was being given a tour of (x shop) & I saw ROBYN MICHAELS beat a dog that urinated on her table.”

Of course, that never  happened.  I worked for  Pardise4Paws for  about two years.  Where I work in a kennel, I don’t have a phone.  That’s just how it is. You leave a message I will call you back.   Early on, Dan London  harassed them, and Saq Nadeem told me he was ignoring him.  I said, “No, please, get all the contact information you can.” But he didn’t.  Dan London would disappear, then get nuts again. He’d post all over the country on Craigslist that I had a puppy mill, that I took dogs from animal shelters to resell,  that I harassed people rehoming dogs (only the puppy mills—you can tell who they are) but worse  I abused dogs and  he told people to call Paradise4Paws and have them fire me.  I didn’t know this was going on. He could have harassed me directly, but  chose to not, and  one day, after the first of the year, Saq fired me because the manager wanted to. He didn’t know why, but she told me she was getting death threats.  Over not being able to sell your puppies? Because someone told you  I was a dog abuser?

These people are all over the country, and if they see it in the internet—it must be true.Why do they do it? Small dicks.  Because they can. They obviously get a vicarious thrill upsetting…women.  this is akin to domestic abuse..but if you can’t locate the abuser, yu can’t do anything.

At some point, this moron will slip up, and I will get a phone #, but as for now, this  is a guy, and this is what guys do.

California law 485 Banning Sales of Puppies….Controversial?

August 1, 2017

When I started exploring  owning a dog, and learning about the breeds, and what a responsible dog breeder does, I also learned what  irresponsible breeders do. This was in the 1960s.

Ethics   and integrity were not always  factors in breeding dogs, because  ‘way back then’, there was no  testing for genetic defects in dogs.  Some of the  larger puppy mills started operations then…with a mission to provide a reasonably priced  puppy to whomever wanted one…via mass producing them.  Hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, other genetic defects wer considered…bad luck.  It was the  ethical hobby breeders— people who really loved their dogs, who decided to  look for scientific reasons dogs had crippling problems.  they also realized that not everyone who wanted a dog of th8ir breed should have one.

 

My Saluki as a young dog.  Not a cuddler.

Currently, the American Kennel Club claims that ethical hobby breeders are not meeting the demand  for puppies. Could this be true? Well, yes, but just because there is a demand, does that mean every consumer who demands a puppy of a certain breed should be allowed to own one?

The problem with pet stores and 3rd party sellers is they do not screen buyers for suitability. I have posted this fact a few times, but as a teenager, I worked for the Afghan Hound Breeder Fredric Mark Alderman, and  he did not sell you an Afghan Hound puppy (if you had never owned a long haired dog) until you had spent an afternoon grooming with him.  He didn’t want to hear any excuses about you not understanding how much equipment you needed, how often it needed to be done, how long it would take, or that you would keep the dog shaved.

I also know other breeders  who will ask if you own your own home with a fenced yard, and if you work all day, how will you housebreak a puppy?  Or,  when will you have time to groom a dog or train it?  And…  can I meet your children?  No giving a dog as a gift—bring them by for us to meet.

Yet the editors of the magazines aimed at dog show exhibitors and judges—not really breeders or exhibitors themselves, have fallen for  what the AKC old men & lobbyists are telling us:  if we don’t fight this—the restriction on selling pets breeds as livestock commodities in  pet shops—they won’t allow us to breed dogs at all.  There is a solution, but we all have to get on board.

I am a fancier with an education in urban planning.  I know that most fanciers/hobby breeders don’t have more than 1 litter a year.  If you have  more dogs and can afford to breed more and keep more…you need more space outside a high density urban area….a place  zoned for more than three dogs.  That should not be a problem.
There  are people who keep  three or more dogs in small condos .   Some people think that is crazy—but the fact is that  those dogs have more freedom of movement that dogs in many kennels. Great Danes and Mastiffs do not require that much exercise or room—they are sleepers.    Thinking that is a problem is not understanding dogs—but having a fantasy notion of what  dogs need.  That has nothing to do with  having a breeding operation in a small, enclosed space where you share dwelling walls with another household.  Tht’s a long way from your one litter—even maybe  two litters some years of toy breeds….and having a business breeding and selling  through third parties—-and not taking responsibility who they sell to.

Several issues being addresses are : 1. That the breeders/sellers  (of dogs to pet stores/3rd parties) do no screening of buyers, who often  are disappointed with their dogs and dump them;

2.That these dogs are the ones filling our shelters.

Thee is no evidence that the dogs in shelters are mostly from puppy mills & pet shops—or even ethical hobby breeders.  There IS evidence that most shelter dogs are from backyard breeders.   Yes, people lose puppies & dogs, and sometimes they are stolen, but  most pets in shelters  have been bred, and sold by BACKYARD BREEDERS—whom nobody  calls breeders—not the shelters, not veterinarians, not  do-gooder rescue folks. The  animal rights/’rescue community has been flim flammed into  bad mouthing  hobby breeders whose  puppies are  usually spoken for, and which  breeders  want back if the buyers won’t keep them…and so the  problem of unwanted pets  remains. They want me to take a shelter dog and claim that for every dog bred by a breeder, a shelter dog dies. Funny….you aren’t addressing the actual people breeding the dogs ending up in shelters…and I don’t want  anyone choosing what kind of dog I should love…that’s the bottom line.

Now, if it were conventional wisdom to  make it the law that anyone breeding puppies & kittens…and selling them  on any media source in your state—  have to chip every puppy or kitten they sell with their contact info, we might start making a dent.  How do we enforce this?  In Illinois, you can be trained to be a humane inspector.  Too bad  all these very large  no-kill- groups don’t pay a stipend to humane inspectors who can go visit advertisers & either chip their  livestock puppies & kittens, or  confiscate them…and havethe breeders pay a fine>  Once yo have to pay $100 for every litter, you will think twice about whether it is worth it to have so many ‘accidental ‘ litters.

The  logical  ADVOCATES for this kind of policy, and for hobby breeders…would be the  registries like the AKC & the UKC…but since they make their money from registrations—including  registrations from puppy mills—they have no incentive  to advocate for responsible policies.  I would think the parent clubs particularly would, but they seem to be afraid of the AKC.

If you are going to drink the Kool-ade and  accept that consumers have the right to buy from 3rd parties, and it is ok to sell your carefully bred puppies  to 3rd parties to resell…you may as well  just forget about testing for genetic defects and  forget about showing dogs.  It doesn’t make any sense. You will make much more money being unethical…and according to policy makers—that is ok.  Already, the top 30 breeds are  2 separate breeds—dogs bred by hobby breeders….breeding for the betterment of their breeds, and AKC/UKC/APRI /CKC registered  dogs of their breed.  As it is, there  are fewer and fewer fanciers who can afford to breed or show good dogs.  Their children have no interest.  We are going to lose breeds, but we can hasten the inevitable by  conceding to this  terrible notion that it is ok not to screen puppy buyers.

Dirty Laundry and the Elephant in the Room

June 25, 2017

Is the elephant pink, gray, multi-colored?  Does it matter?  It’s always there.

My father turns 90 in a few weeks.  He’s losing his memory, and having trouble getting around.  His muscles are constricting, but no doctor has sent him for physical therapy. They give him shots.  Since he hasn’t much to do, he calls his children just to talk, but it’s too late for that, and here’s why:

My father was always  a hard worker.  He went to college, and majored in business, and  early on, he had a meat packing plant.  This business was profitable enough when he started, but approaching  20 years in, he had to sort of re-invent the company for a niche market.  This will be relevant when I explain a few things.  He never really was close to any of his relatives. His brother had some sort of learning disability (was it dyslexia?) & so his parents made my father hire his brother.  Not sure what he did in the busisess. Sales? Whatever.  & when my father incorporated the business…for some reason, he gave both my grandfather  and his brother a(my uncle) shares of the business.  My father also hired my grandmother’s youngest brother, who wasn’t retarded, but a bit slow.My father worked all the time, Or rather, he left the house about 4:00a.m. to make sure the plant was open for trucks, He never trusted anyone to open up for him.  What i;timately happened is….his father died, and left his shares to my grandmother & uncle. So ,they had majority shares of my father’s business.  He had also taken on a  partner to generate sales and infuse capital. So all these people had control of the business my father ran.  Not sure how it happened this way, but they did, and  to  get out, he liquidated  and sold th capital equipment to my stepbrother.  He was supposed to  stay on as a consultant, but due to a very bad contract (you’d think he’d blame a lawyer), he was forced out with no consultancy, and, instead, my step brother pays my stepmother.  You can imagine the tension, but the marriage remains intact.  I don’t get it.

Because of my mother reaching out, my father was in touch with relatives, but actually, we spent more time with my mother’s relatives…until she died. Then, those contacts sort of fell apart.  They fell apart for many reasons, but one reason was my mothers kids—me, my 2 sisters, and brother, were ‘odd’.  Now we know my brother and I have Asperger’s, but we were just too much for  my mother’s brothers families.   Bad influences? Whatever.  We siblings are pretty much estranged from our cousins.  It is even more pronounced because my stepmother is strongly bonded to both her and her first husband’s families.  Good for them.  I admire that.

My brother always  had behavior issues that my parents never successfully addressed.  That is, he was always rewarded for his arrogance and  short temper.  He was ‘the boy’ and many relatives also made excuses for this.  These behavior issues turned into addiction.  He’s been in jail several times, and my father has always paid his legal fees.  He allowed 2 houses to go into foreclosure, and my father has bought him his 3rd place to live.  My brother wanted to be a herpetology entrepreneur, but never was disciplined enough to keep sales records and avoid the trap of not being a  self starter. He’d get high  many days.  He has 2 advanced degrees, but had been caught several times stealing drugs.  My father seems to characterize this as my brother  marching to the beat of a different drummer…not being mentally ill and addicted.  He can’t allow my brother to hit bottom, as my brother might die.  so this state of affairs drags on.

Due to this pattern, my father has alienated his daughters. One son is worth 3 girls, and it is pretty obvious.  It’s disappointing, but it is what it is. He has always treated his daughters like  children. He thinks it perfectly  appropriate to show up where you work to just ‘see’.  So, we no longer tell my father where we work.

No matter what you tell my father, he will give you advice, and tell you how to live your life. I used to trust him, but I realized he gave me bad advice for my situation, and I had to figure  things out for myself. Both my father  and mother were disappointed that I learned to groom dogs and didn’t go to college after high school.  I think my father is now proud that I went to college—and graduate school—and never asked for money.

I did ask my father to consider investing with me in a 6 flat about 30 years ago, but he  clearly wasn’t interested. Instead, he invested in a house my niece rehavved and  didn’t break even.

I have blogged before about insurance, and how much my father bought—trusting another  guy his age, never mind that insurance is not transparent, and you  don’t know what you will end up with, A minor thing, but now, in a few years it will be over.  We’ll go through papers and see how much insurance he has, and  if there is any money left over.  Of course, at least we don’t have to support him.  I have a friend whose father was badly injured in an accident, and he became a quadriplegic.  In order to get  any sort of aid, he  and my friend’s mother were divorced.  He might have gotten a settlement, but I remember my friend scrambling to find assisted living for his father because his money was about to run out, None of the siblings would help. That’s the dynamics in families.

I wonder  about families that all get along and support each other. Well, you never know. somethings are never how they  appear, but this family is exactly how  it appears.

When a Rescue isn’t Honest About a Dog…we all Lose

May 11, 2017

A few years ago, I worked at a very unusual kennel.  At least it was, for the time.  The owner, who, due to a consulting career and great network, got the capital for his concept.  It was a 24 hour kennel. Thus, if you got back from being over seas at 2:00 a.m., you could go fetch your dog on the way home from the airport.  All his kennels would be in close proximity to  airports.  But that is neither here nor there.  The other part of this plan was that it was totally indoors, and dogs would be guaranteed at least 6 hours a day out of their suites.  So, they  ‘exercised’ in packs.  The theory was that the space was roomy enough that nobody got territorial.  It generally worked. When it didn’t, it  created a lot of extra work for employees, and some  injuries of both dogs and people.

Only the manager  had hands on dog experience, but she had never worked in a kennel or trained a dog.  This is a problem, these days—-when  people with money want to be in a dog business, but  have never actually communicated with dogs, and have no animal husbandry experience. They have a fantasy idea of how dogs are with each other.

Due to how busy this business was, and just the statistical odds, we were getting  a per centage of dogs that were nonsocial, and had to be kept separate from other dogs, as well as  dogs with clear neurological problems.  One of the managers wanted to consult an animal behaviorist.  My experience with dogs was not good enough, as I was just a dog groomer.  But the manager, who had been a Vet Tech, told her that an animal behaviorist wasn’t going to fix a brain tumor or whatever  was triggering these dogs, and we were in danger.  Yet, the owner was reluctant to turn away any dogs.

It came to pass that we got a dog in, a  Coonhound mix, who clearly wasn’t all there.  We could not get her attention. All she did was pace.  The manager  put her in an office with a glass door, nearer to where we were working, to see if  we could get her calm.  She was across a hallway  from  where I was grooming dogs…but it didn’t appear to me, although we could see each other, that she was paying attention to me.

She came and went several time over a few months (her owner traveled).  One day, I went into a pack of about 20 dogs (in an exercise area) to get a dog to groom.  The Coonhound came right up to me, jumped up, and bit me in the shoulder. Blood actually spurted out!  It didn’t hurt, but it was a bad bite, and I was really shocked.

I went to  the office to tell the managers what happened.  One of them wanted to call the owner.  “Isn’t he on his honeymoon?”  I asked.  He was.  I said, “Don’t  screw up his honeymoon.  He’s going to have to  make a decision when he gets back.”

& the owner did.  He made the right decision, and euthanized the dog.  No training was going to get her out of a neurological problem.  The manager asked me how I felt about that.  “It’s unfortunate, but we can’t save them all. The statistical odds are that some dogs just can’t be pets.”  I told her. “I’m glad you understand that,” she responded.  “I went to a seminar on evaluating dogs in shelters, and  the  person giving it said that when we aren’t truthful about a dog’s temperament, and a child is bitten, not only will this family never trust a rescue, but they may never get another dog,” she went on.  “Or, even worse, they’ll go to a pet store and get a puppy mill dog, ” I  said.

I bring all this up because I work at a commercial boarding kennel, and we make room for rescues who need space for  dogs in their programs.  I see what the rescues do.  Good intentions are not enough.  We have several dogs from a Greyhound Rescue. All the Greyhounds are used to being in kennels, and  very quiet and very friendly. Every weekend they go to an adoption event.  The Pit Bulls? No.  I have no problem with Pit Bulls as a breed. We have  quite a few who come for daycare, and they are  fine with other dogs.  I also volunteer for a  nonprofit that  places dog that are in the court system, due to  owners  being dog fighters, or just every day abuse and neglect, and most of those dogs are fine….but…there are so many Pit Bulls (lots of  low income ‘backyard breeders’).   Many are sold  barely weaned…so they are never socialized to even their litter mates, let alone other dogs, that  we have way too many that will never be good pets—& their group sponsors are in denial about this. They don’t want them killed,but they don’t want these dogs in their homes, either…so they languish…warehoused…in our boarding kennel.  Virtually all are  emotionally stressed from being in an animal shelter, and then, from their  perspective, they are moved to another animal shelter—our kennel, where there is just as much stress of  dogs running by, barking, all the smells, as  there were from the place they came from.  One dog spent 16 years in our kennel.  16 years, because my boss  agreed to keep her. Every time Gracie was out of her  kennel, she was muzzled. Finally, she got too old to attack other dogs.

We currently have 4 that will NEVER be pets.   2 were tied to our doors.  One has neurological problems, and has been in the kennel  a year. She is not spayed, she bites, and because one of the office staff ‘loves’ her (but not enough to take her home), my boss won’t euthanize her.  One  was a puppy…and still is. The rescue  posts her as housebroken.  What a joke!  2 were taken from OPEN ADMISSIONS SHELTERS.  1 is so reactive,  for the  hour or 2 she is out of her crate, she has to be in a kennel run, and  has a barrier in front of her crate so  she can’t  get frantic seeing other dogs. She was posted as  dog friendly on the rescue’s website. When I complained, they took the post down…but nobody has come by to work with her.  Same with the male, and now he will bite anyone. They want to raise $4000 to send him to a ‘special dog rehabilitator’ in another state.

This is not rescue. This is a bunch of psychologically  messed up people hoping for miracles.  I have had many experiences like this in my  40+ year grooming career. A client brings a dog for grooming, and it is a biter and I can’t get near the dog, and the EXCUSE is that the dog was abused.   Dogs are very resilient, and  that is not why they are biting.  Maybe the dog was abused, but that isn’t  my issue:  my issue is that the dog is dangerous, no matter how ‘cute’ it looks, and the neighborhood children (let alone your own!) are in danger.  When I was very  young and inexperienced with dogs, I  thought  this was very sad.  Now, as a more mature person with lots of dog experienced, I am angered by the many people in denial.  If we want our communities to be safe, we can’t be ‘no-kill’.  If you want to be ‘no-kill’ YOU take these dangerous dogs into your own home.  Get liability insurance.  Start desensitizing the dog to whatever is stressing the dog enough to bite. Put yourself at risk.  keep working on the dog until he dies.  Good luck.  Just  don’t  flim flam  us about what a good pet this dog IS.

When it Comes to Whippets, Even Breeders do Rescue

April 28, 2017

Venus was a a dog who lost her home at age 7—& her breeder took her back.

I try to support open admissions animal shelters, because I love all pets, and because of how capitalism has evolved, stupid people breed too many pets with no regard  for whether there are  good homes for them.  Now, there is statistical evidence of a ‘dog shortage’—and the reason we in the USA  import  puppies from foreign puppy mills (A/K/A commercial breeders) is because  the AKC claims breeders aren’t breeding enough dogs!

So—the wrong conclusion has been reached on both sides of this.  How can there be a dog shortage so bad that we have to import dogs…when so many dogs are  languishing (or killed) in shelters? Because Americans don’t want the dogs  in shelters—that backyard breeders have bred. They want baby dogs….puppies, and  of specific morphologies…not a mature, neurotic (due to being in a shelter) Pit Bull.

I, myself, prefer a mature dog to a puppy, because I got over the fantasy of  living with a puppy decades ago.  I haven’t had a puppy in over 30 years.  I’ve gotten several dogs via breed specific rescues, which referred me to hobby breeder when there were no dogs locally in rescue.

I know that this is not unusual, because I  compete in obedience and rally, and ask people how they got their  dogs. I also recently returned from the American Whippet Club Specialty, where I had a very interesting conversation with a hobby breeder who supports rescue.

What started the conversation was that  someone was holding a Whippet with  two blue eyes.  In our breed standard, even 1 blue eye, or diluted pigment, are disqualifying faults. Why?  This dilution is color linked to blindness and/or deafness…much as merling is in so many other breeds. When I see on Craigslist that  someone is selling ‘rare’ merle colored dogs, I know they are ignorant or in denial—and so are the buyers.  In any case, for whatever reason—-whether the breeder or the first buyer dumped the dog, it was in a shelter.  Apparently, the dog was posted on PETFINDER, and the shelter SHIPPED THE DOG to people in another state where the new ‘owner’   decided, for whatever reason…they did not want the dog, and she was put into a local shelter…. where the breeder I talked to, got her.   Got that? The rescue shipped the dog to someone they never met. The breeder was not going to breed the dog…she was going to keep the dog until she found a home for the dog, which she did.  Why would she do that? Because she loves Whippets and wanted to help this Whippet. She is not the only  one.   We all do what we can. We help each other sell puppies (I  am not a breeder, I have no puppies, but I can refer you to people).  This is 1 reason  I try to be active in events with other  dog lovers:  we  network, we shave information, and we try to help dogs.

Thus, when I hear all the ‘no-kill do-gooders’ bash breeders, it’s another group I will not support.
They are bashing the fancy, not the people causing the problem:  the backyard breeders.  They are all over Craigslist, and the dogs they sell (and the ones they can’t manage to sell are in our shelters.  Many designer dogs.  No ethical hobby breeder is breeding ‘Chiweenies’:  they all come from  backyard breeders & puppy mills. yet the  rescue people  never bother the source of the problem.

Does a Dog Really Need Coat Conditioner?

April 14, 2017

Jennie, a Soft-coatd Wheaten Terrier, needed more than a bath.

I was  going to address this topic from a different perspective, but I’ve had this debate with a couple of dog groomers whom I respect. They insist on using coat conditioner/creme rinse on all dogs.  I do not…and here’s why:

  1.  Coat ‘conditioner’—what is it?  it is  a product to seal moisture into the coat.  While it’s true some dogs desperately need this…it just makes the dog harder to dry;
  2. Why would a  smooth coated dog  like a Lab or Pit Bull need conditioner?   By the time the cuticle  separates due to being too dry, the hair has shed out.   If your shampoo is mild enough—and these days  all shampoos have ‘conditioners’ or ‘softeners’ in their formulas,  you are just going to  rinse it all off. What most of these dogs actually need is a skin conditioner—which can be applied and left on after the bath;
  3.   If you are going to say that it’s to seal the cuticle of the coat—& that is what I want a conditioner to do—–I  usually put on a leave-in conditioner—or a coat polish…during my drying process. Saves time, saves the product.

Too many of us fall for the marketing.   Advertisers are still promoting copious  shampoo lather. Lather is SALT—sodium:  it dries your skin and hair, and can make you itchy. Same for the dog.  Lather is not good. I want my shampoo to lather up just enough so I know I have it on the dog, and I can see the dog needs rinsing…and that’s the problem with conditioner:  it’s difficult to rinse out.  You leave  it on a dark dog—and you see film.  The dog is not only not clean, it will attract more dirt. That makes no sense.

If you doubt your shampoo has conditioner, do this:  get either Murphy Oil   soap or Dr. Bronner’s. Both are Castile soaps. They are soaps—no conditioner.  You will feel the difference not just on your hands, but on the dog, Using these product  once in a while will not hurt the dog.  Dr. Barbara Royal, the holistic veterinarian, sometimes suggests these soaps for dogs that have an extreme reaction to sodium. These are great for  after the beach, or a field trial quick bath—but so is Listerine!

All that said, conditioner is necessary to seal the cuticle of the hair and  calm the skin.  I work  in a kennel where some dog owners are  eccentric. Whenever their dog comes in for daycare,  at the end of the day, they want the dog bathed.  I use an extremely mild shampoo.  It is not a great ‘cleaner’—but it will get the stink off and not irritate the dog’s skin if used every day.  What is the ‘conditioner’ in the shampoo?  I have no idea—some sort of fatty acids, or cetyl alcohol. Just enough to not irritate the dog’s skin, but leave the hair soft.

What dogs do need conditioners? dogs with very dry coats.  However,  even if the coat is dry, and you want to seal the coat cuticle, you don’t want to SOFTEN the coat, or that will actually make it worse. That’s why you want to know that the product you are using will do what you want it to do. That involves experimentation.  I know this, because I groom Coton de Tulear… all in specials coat.

You can not imagine a coat more dry than that of a Coton (except, of course, the  designer Shih Tzu mixes bred for the  consumer market).  They are very  affected by static. The cuticle opens up if the dog runs on carpet…or merely turns around. This is especially true when the dogs are puppies going through a coat change.  the breeder and I,  with the expert advice of her (AKC professional) handler, have  used several different products.  sometimes, the dogs are  bathed more often than once a week.  The owners have taken up the carpets  and put in wood floors, and their furniture is leather.  Nothing helps…and these dogs have the ideal coat texture for  Cotons.  What  chance does a pet owner have to keep a Coton in coat? Virtually none. the breeders suggest  having the dogs trimmed down like Bichons.

Also, a  few words about deshedding treatments….  I am bringing this up because  they way they are formulated if used according to manufacturers ‘ instructions—-can be great deep conditioning treatments.  The reason for this is that they are formulated with  Vitamin E, and meant to be left on the dog’s skin for  five to 10 minutes, and make the skin more supple.  Then, you leave the conditioner on for  a few minutes as well.  By making the skin more supple,  it causes the hair about to shed out, to loosen.  It will not make a dog loose coat if the dog is not losing coat, but it will coat  every hair and  you can see the results.

Hong Kong: A Great Trip for a Single Woman, but not as Quaint as I Expected

March 3, 2017
Hong Long is a 'high density city. I don't think you are allowed to put ip a building that is under 50 stories.

Hong Long is a ‘high density city. I don’t think you are allowed to put up a building that is under 50 stories.

I was in Hong Kong recently.  It was on my bucket list.  I didn’t have  a lot of vacation time (as I want to take another trip this year), and several people suggested that  five days in HK would be more than enough time.

I got a round trip airfare for under $600 from Chicago.  How did I do that?  If you make  one stop, it reduces the fee by a lot.  Going, my stop was Vancouver (I only had about an hour between planes). Returning, it was in Toronto.

Several websites had suggested getting an ‘Octopus’ card at the airport.  The initial fee is high (HK $50 for the card, and  a minimum of $100 for use), but not only is it good for the airport bus to wherever you want to go, it’s also good for city buses,  the MTR,and the express train back to the airport…& they refund your balance at the end!  It’s great!

Lodging was under $50 per night including tax.  I used Booking.com , Tripadvisor, and Trivago to do the research.

ChunKing Mansion is NOT a mansion. it is a large building with many small hotels.

ChunKing Mansion is NOT a mansion. it is a large building with many small hotels.

ChunKing Mansion is NOT a mansion.   I stayed at the Everest in Chunking Mansions.  This is an excellent location, right on Nathan Rd, across the street from the Peninsula, an iconic hotel. Very spartan lodgings, a towel was included, and toilet paper, but no soap! It was perfect for one, but would have been cramped for two, and the bathroom was very small.  Had I not traveled in Africa, I might have been shocked at how spartan it was, but you  aren’t planning on spending that much time in your room, are you?  It’s just to sleep, drop your stuff, and shower, right?  I probably should have checked out more places in Chunking Mansion, as it is a large building divided into several sections (and it is not a ‘mansion’, but  a complex of dorm like rooms),  but…although my room was very clean, it was not cleaned the whole time of my stay, and the building is sort of ‘earthy’.  That is,  a bunch of  Asian men from India & Pakistan (they seem to be an interesting mix of Sikhs, Hindus, and Moslems)  sublease the ‘hotels’, and on the first floor, they run  little kiosks  and  food stalls.  This would be a very interesting  study  for  an urban anthropologist, as they are  on the edge of a section of  HK where the subcontinentals live.

The whole area is considered Kowloon, but it is the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR stop.  Right outside the door.

Tsui Tsim Tsai MTR entrance...ther are about 6 for this 1 stop!

Tsui Tsim Tsai MTR entrance…ther are about 6 for this 1 stop!

Extremely convenient…if the  actual train wasn’t  about 1/2 mile away underground!  Actually, the MTR system is very clean, people are around who speak English and are very helpful, but it would probably take about a week to learn the system. Just as in the USA, where one subway stop has multiple  entrances and exits, it’s the same with the Metro Transit Railway of HK.

So, what did I  do on this trip?  I got on the Big Bus, which allows you to hop on & off, to see the main attractions.  I  heartily recommend it, because it goes to just about everywhere, or close by.  They have several routes, and if you buy a 48 hour pass,  it gets you ‘express’ into some attractions.  I took it around for a look/see first, then again to where I wanted to stop.  My first stop was the town of Stanley.

I was disappointed.  Most of what you want to see is along the water, and it’s a row of small shops selling mostly touristy types of things (although there was a dog groomer down there).  There are also several restaurants.  The thing is, where the bus lets you off is a modern mall, with a McDonald’s and an H & M, and I was picturing something more quaint and rural.  It’s picturesque, very hilly (HK is the land of escalators), but not what I expected.  Same with Aberdeen, which many guidebooks describe as a quaint fishing village,  and suggest stopping for a fish lunch—which I was looking forward to.  Maybe 20 year s ago.  It is a harbor filled with small fishing boats, and  these days, women give tourists rides in the boats…but HK come right up to the harbor.

Everyone  says you have to go to Central for the elevators on the sidewalks.  Well, that would be fine if you had something to do in this section of town.  If you don’t, it’s like being in a crowded outdoor mall.

View from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

View from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

My last  tourist site of the day was the tram to Victoria Peak. I was really looking forward to this:  going up to the  top and watching the lights at sunset come on in the city. I live in Chicago, and I have brought many people to the top of the Hancock Center to watch sunset over the city, and sometimes, fireworks.  So, that was the plan.  But this  actually  is what happened:  even with express passes, it took us 45 minutes to get on the tram.  It was really crowded.  Someone told me it was because of Chinese New Year, but whatever.  I know some people waited in line over an hour just for tickets, and had to wait much longer to get on.  So, it’s 3 minutes to the top, and at the top….is a mall.  I kid you not. Right when you get out, there are all these  vendors of touristy things, and they follow you around, because it looks like  one big store….but it is actually about  eight vendors!   You walk around, and it struck me there was a Swatch Watch store at the top, and two ice cream places…and a Starbuck’s.  I was expecting a park.  It was about 3:00 or so, and I saw all these people waiting in line to get back on the tram to go down.  The last Big Bus  leaves at 6:30, so if you missed that, you’d have to get on the MTR…not a far walk, but….I decided to walk down the peak.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but you spiral down, of course, about  3 miles. I wanted to catch a bus, but I got about 1/4 the way down, and  I notices there was a traffic jam going up the peak, and no traffic coming down. About 1/2 way down, I met a Chinese man (Mr. Hu) who was walking down the peak…he was going to the MTR, but  didn’t want to take a cab, and he pointed out to me that nothing was coming down (and also, there was a hospital near the top, so there might have been an accident), and so, we walked and walked.  Finally, we got close to Central, and he flagged a cab to take us to the MTR. The cabbie  tried to take us on a circuitous route (Mr. Hu thought it was because we were speaking English), but  he went with me on the MTR all the way back to  Tsim Sha Tsui, which was very kind of him.  It wasn’t really that long a MTR ride, but I got to see how vast the underground was. Very bright, very clean.

Ocean Park

Ocean Park

The next day, I took the Big Bus and got off at Ocean Park.  Ocean Park is sort of like Sea World and an amusement park. They do some research there,  and  promote environmental education and recycling, and there are a few rides.  I was going to go to Disneyland, but all the  guide sites  said Ocean Park was iconic & not to be missed.  I had to wait in line  about 45 minutes for a ticket to get in. The park is divided into  two sections because of geography  You can take a skyway ride to the section of the park you are not in. There are several other rides, including a roller coaster, which is described as a ‘mine train’ but isn’t.  There is a small  zoo, with both  red pandas and a giant panda, and a  display about how goldfish breeding has evolved.  I can see how a family could spend the day there.  I spend about  three hours.  Of course, there is a huge gift shop, but it sells the usual souvenir stuff:  T-shirts, water globes,  key chains,and stuffed animals.  They really missed the boat:  no dog squeaky toys or chopsticks,

Water between 'Central' and 'Kowloon"

Water between ‘Central’ and ‘Kowloon”

Day  three, in the morning, I wanted to go to the HK Art Museum, but it was closed for renovation.  The cultural center  didn’t have anything going on. Both of these are along the promenade.  So, I decided on a  tour of Kowloon, and took the Big Bus first to the Jade Market, and later, to the  Ladies market.

I felt both were disappointing.  The Jade market is under a big tent, and there  has to be  over 100 vendors.  Many have  small antiques and other jewelry.  If you don’t really know jade, you don’t know if you are looking at plastic or glass.  Bargaining is suggested, but so many young  people come from the rest of southeast Asia, and are willing to over pay, so I didn’t buy anything.

Same with the Ladies market.  Most guidebooks  describe  the ladies’ market as selling toys, clothing, sportswear….but  the irony is…you can get most of the stuff more cheaply in the USA….especially if you live in a ‘major market ‘ (or a community with a large Chinatown).  In fact, the Fodor’s guidebook suggested a  store called ‘Me and George’ for vintage clothing.  I actually found the store, but  it was mostly men’s stuff just crammed in, with  one rack of women’s blouses that were way out of style, and a rack of skirts.  It was a big disappointment.  I probably spent about  two hours at the Ladies Market, and I bought 2 sets of chopsticks.

In the evening, I was interested in taking a dinner cruise during the light show, but the people at the tourist office told me I would have to take a cab to another pier, and the  fee for a dinner cruise was in the $80 range.    Not worth it.  Several online sites suggested a place called Mak’s  for noodles, and there was  a Mak’s in the Ocean Pier Mall.

I have to say  a bit about this mall. First of all, I  missed seeing Mak’s several times, even though it was on the main floor, because they have  one small sign and they are behind  the ‘Greyhound Cafe’ (not sure why it is named that).  People come to HK to shop, and the whole first floor of this mall, aside from a few upscale restaurants, was boutiques offering baby clothes:  Baby Dior, Baby Channel. Stuff, you know, like Beyonce and the Khardasians would buy…not normal people.

Second floor was adult designer stuff…including Stella MacCartney.   & more jewelry. Really really expensive stuff.  Third floor was all electronics.  It just boggled my mind.

In any case, I had dinner at Mak’s, which was just noodles with a wonton…for $13.  Not bad, but really, not worth going our of your way for.

Day four, I took a day cruise,where you can see all the tall buildings along the harbor.  That was nice.  In the afternoon, I shopped  a little west of where I was staying.  The prices were a bit lower, but I saw nothing I had to have.  The guide books suggested  the bird market and the Goldfish markets, but I would have had to do more walking, and seeing animals just to see them isn’t my thing.  I wanted to go to the tea museum, but several people told me it was very small, and  due to construction  in the area, could have been difficult to get to.  So, in the evening, I went to the Promenade along the  harbor, where  some awful musicians played until the official music and ‘light show’ started.

The light show….I was expecting fireworks after all, this is China), but what is was was a few green lasers.  What was really interesting is that all the buildings in Central facing the promenade are all lit up.  That was sort of cool.

Clan housing in a more rural part of Hong Kong

Clan housing in a more rural part of Hong Kong

On Day five, I took a totally different tour  to the area known as ‘new territories’, with a guide and several other people. Apparently, when the British came to HK, they needed some land designated for  agriculture, and  made a deal with the clans in this very rural area  to allow them to keep their land, but not sell it for development.  So, they are allowed to build three story buildings.  They had to live in the buildings, and, traditionally, their children would live in that upper two floors….but real estate  appreciated so much in value that, although  one family member still has to live in the building, most are rented out, and it is the only low density housing (if you can call it that) in the region.  Indeed, I don’t think I saw a building under 50 stories, and most were over 100.  Also, the guide told us that most of it was public housing, and most apartments are about 400 square meters.  Very small. But also,  most  people don’t have children…it’s too expensive.

Other impressions of Hong Kong?  Yes, people come to shop, and I was shocked by the number of designer watch stores.   Tag Heur, Phillipe Pateke, Swatch, Rolex…Rolex stores across from each other!  People still seem to think a wrist watch is status.  I can’t believe that  so many people buy watches that it pays to have so many.   And…jewelry  stores.  In the windows, many (there is a chain that is on every block, and I am not exaggerating), they have  solid gold ‘character’ tchotchkes. Ugly, but  people collect these things…and remember, gold is portable.  Also, in HK, there  is Watson’s, sort of a drugstore with a wider variety of non-prescription drugs than our American stores (I went in for Nyquil, got Melatonin), and several stores specializing in cosmetics.  I also  stopped at several groceries, some offering good deals.

It was very crowded where I was. A zillion tourists, mostly from South Korea, Japan, the Mainland,  Malaysia,  New Zealand and Australia.  Every young person was either glued to a cell phone,presumably following a tour, or taking a selfie with a selfie stick. I have never seen so many.  Nobody watches where they are going.

I am glad I went, but now that I’ve seen it, on to another adventure.

Move on? Resist? What’s the Plan? 2017

February 24, 2017
Me (Robyn) at Vic Falls

Me (Robyn) at Vic Falls

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, in 1992,  the country was  undergoing a big shift. There had been a president, who had named himself  life president, and had served, at that time, 26 years:  Hastings ‘Kamuzu’ Banda.  He was s dictator:   he terrorized the country.  He was supported by the Europeans & the USA because he was NOT a communist, and  he  supported apartheid in South Africa. About the only good thing he did for the Malawians was build a  decent road infrastructure.  The school and health care systems were virtually nonexistent.  It was a country run by elites. who went for medical care out of the country.  Malawi was socially stratified:  if you had a decent job and were literate, most likely you employed an illiterate servant to clean your house & probably cook for you. There was no way to improve your lot unless you were (or are) particularly ingenious.

Of course, I worked with elites.  They  two I worked with were honest, and had integrity.  Things were the way they were.  Pick your battles. but I explained to them that  democracy did not bring good government, but representational government.

And here we are, over 30 years later, and our  representational electorate has elected  a guy who lied, who had no plan, who  disrespects women, minorities, the handicapped…. people who are not white Europeans.  It will be interesting to see how  his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law works with the white supremacist  Bannon, who is a close advisor.  Really interesting….but I think they are sell-outs. I have some friends who I really lost respect for.  It’s one thing to think your friends are  uninformed—but to see they voted for the white guy because they believed ‘fake news’ (what we used to call lies….as ‘toxic assets’ were liabilities) and just didn’t like  or trust Hillary.   Was it because she was a woman?  Doesn’t matter—she actually got the popular vote. She won!  But due to the political mumbo jumbo of the electoral college, these former friends who voted for Trump think—really, that HE won!  It’s like saying 5-3=10!  So this is the new reality.

I fear for the environment.  Even the Clean Air & Clean Water acts were signed by Nixon—a Republican.  It is proven that when you offer free birth control and family planning information—the unplanned birth rate goers down, and the community prospers….but our rulers  really have a mindset that women should be punished for having sex—the punishment being raising  children, and this will lead to a surplus in labor.  Our economy can no longer absorb uneducated people—as it can’t absorb the educated ones! What other explanation can you  come up with for  defunding  Planned Parenthood or making abortion illegal?  It’s not like the people who make these laws are fostering or adopting orphans or kids in the child care system.

I also think  the Democratic Congress made the banking industry more accountable. Trump thinks it is too much regulation.  Education would  fix this, as kids would understand more, but with DeVos, they have demonstrated that  making sure kids learn math & science is not a priority.  it’s up to us…in the states…to work this out.

So, as a result of all this, I am much more in touch with my elected officials.  I let them know how I feel about everything.

But  are there  citizen movements emerging to develop strategies to  change it all back….or…?

While   I have big issues with the Affordable Care Act, the problem is with insurance companies, and it is time for Single Payer.  If Trump wasn’t flitting off to Florida every week, there’d be plenty  of money  for  people of all ages to buy into Medicare. You wouldn’t have to—you could still pay for private insurance if you really believe you’d get a better deal….but, having had to  deal with  health insurance a lot recently (Bursitis, and I was bitten by a dog), I can tell you, the government couldn’t make a bigger mess out of what things should cost & how hospitals get paid than the insurance companies have!

If we are going to ‘resist’ and make things better, we must educate ourselves, so we have talking points.  I want everyone who wants to make a difference get  4 books and read them.

  1.  The First is, “Lies My Teacher Told me, ” by James Loewen  You really have to understand American History, first, or you will be ‘condemned to repeat it.  It’s outrageous, what we learned in school and  what we think is real;

2. “Charlie Wilson’s War,”  by  George Crile.  Aaron Sorkin made a pretty funny movie by manipulating facts.  All of what Charlie did, and why,  is sort of ‘funny’ in an ironic way.  It’s important to understands what he did and who influenced him, as he changed history.  You will learn  that he actually armed what became the Taliban, ISIS, and all the others who hate  freedom;

3.  You ought to read a book on economic history.  “The Big Short,” by Michael Lewis, again, was a funny movie.  Not so funny  is that is our history, and he documents it and writes about it in a way you can understand.  Bottom line:  because we are  an innumerate nation, and so few of our schools teach  people real math and budgeting, our neighbors trusted the banks—even thought the numbers were right in front of them. We all lost, big time.

If this seems too convoluted, get a copy of Robert Reich’s book, “Aftershock.”  We could have saved ourselves, but Hillary didn’t make it engaging enough (that, and the Russians and FBI director Comey put the final nails in her coffin);

4.  Finally, how do we actually  get the hearts & minds?  You have to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point.”  We’re not going anywhere in a hurry unless we know the dynamics of social change.  In simple language,  this book tells us how it’s done.

Afghan Hounds…. and managing keeping your home clean

January 6, 2017
Notice the Afghan Hound taking her half out of the middle.  What do you think the Whippets are thinking?

Notice the Afghan Hound taking her half out of the middle. What do you think the Whippets are thinking?

I haven’t been blogging  the past several months because I’ve been busy doing other things, but  I thought this information might be helpful to anyone who owns or is considering owning an Afghan Hound or any drape coated or double coated dog.

I am not a neat freak by any means…but I am not a total slob, either.  I don’t like sticky surfaces, and I don’t like dust.  I had Afghans for over 30 years, and although I love the breed, I know my limitations,and now own Whippets.  You know the types of questions people  usually ask:  Are they easy to train  ?  Do they shed much?  Afghans and Whippets are at different ends of the spectrum.

I’ll get the Whippets out of the way, first.  Whippets tend to be cuddly, very  oriented to their humans, very eager to please, and hardly shed at all.  Many are bald underneath (so are Greyhounds),  often due to a vitamin deficiency.  They are great dogs & I love living with them.

Afghan Hounds tend to be aloof…much like most cats.  A veterinarian likened  having one like living with a roommate who never cleans up after himself.  They will steal your food.  They usually don’t care  if you come or go.  If you keep them brushed, they hardly shed at all….but what does happen is that their hair will break off….especially if you have carpets.  If they lay on carpets,  the carpet will act sort of as a brush.  Due to static, the carpet will pull out loose hairs and break off old hairs.

When I lived with Afghans, and  lived in homes with carpeting, I used to take a slicker brush and brush the carpets before vacuuming, or the  vacuum cleaner bags would be filled with dog hair—as would the beater bars on the vacuum cleaner.  I relived this just  this week—as I took care of an Afghan last week.  I vacuumed…. and the beater bars were filled with her hair.  She has only been in the house 4 days!

I had clients  who desperately wanted to grow coat on their dogs, so I told them to take up their rugs.  They did it, and refinished their oak floors, which looked incredible, and their dogs  stopped losing coat.  I currently work for a Coton de Tulear breeder who did the same thing.  I also admit to doing this:  taking up wall-to-wall carpeting, sanding, staining, and refinishing floors…so my dogs’ coats would not break off.

The biggest problem with long haired dogs is  carpets, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have hair collecting along the floorboards. while a Swiffer will  work….you will be changing that pad several times if you don’t do your floors at least  once a day.

So, what  can you do?  #1:  keep the dog clean.  if the dog is clean and brushed out, there will be less hair breaking off & less hair getting stuck to surfaces.;  #2—take up your rugs.  Unless you’re the type who can stick your rungs in a washing machine once a week, you will never keep the rugs clean…or  the dog clean;  #3:  cut the hair off the dog’s feet.  This can  be done so it looks natural, but still….less hair equals more clean; #4  Get a rug brush:  a fine gauge slicker, like a Vista slicker, to  top the rungs before you vacuum.