Archive for June, 2010

Are YOU looking for a Dog Grooming job in Chicago?

June 23, 2010

I closed my dog grooming  business in mid 2006.  I was still netting about $300 a week (after I paid myself & all the bills), but  when I bought the business, I had over  100 either weekly or bi-weekly clients, and as those owners moved or their dogs died of old age, I was not replacing with new, high maintenance clients.  The economy had changed (due to Enron, 9/11, &… George H. W. Bush  & 2 wars…)  I thought it better to get out while I was ahead.

I am an experienced dog groomer.  I started apprenticing to a hobby breeder  who showed Miniature Schnauzers in 1967, and I graduated from dog grooming school in 1971, and then I apprenticed with some exceptional dog groomers who had been showing or were currently showing dogs. Those were the days, and they are now gone.  Many of those groomers were suspicious of grooming school graduates, and now I know why.  Back then, however, as my parents did not show dogs, there was no other way for me to get  the basic skills I needed.  Now, those experienced groomers  really don’t exist. Why is that?  The corporate refugees who just want to own a dog business either bought or started businesses. They have no integrity, generally know nothing about dogs & won’t learn—but they have the capital—& —if  YOU want to even chance making a living as a groomer, you have to weed through them.

Let me start at the beginning, when I first  experienced this.  It was in the 1980s.  A guy opened a ‘bed & breakfast’ for dogs in Lincoln Park—Cute Name.  I believe the business is now on it’s 3rd or 4th owner, but the first owner just had a concept & didn’t know anything about dogs. The concept was…no cages.   The first night they were open,  one dog bit another & required veterinary treatment, and another dog chewed up a wooden bench.  Seems the dogs didn’t really like that ‘open concept’ kennel all that much.  The owner fired me after about 3 weeks because I refused to bathe Lester Holt’s (yes–the newscaster—he used to live in Chicago)  deaf and thoroughly matted  Old English Sheepdog.  The dog walker  brought the dog in, &  the dog could not be dematted, & she would not  pay to have the dog shaved. I thought it a matter of integrity to not bathe the dog, as I knew he would never dry and I would cause skin irritations.

One shop owner , who didn’t know how to groom & had quit grooming school, but  had bought a  fantastic business in a great neighborhood, fired me for hanging up the collars wrong (& I didn’t even know I hadn’t hung them up ‘right’ at the time).  I had worked for her for about 3 months  when this happened.

One shop owner hired a woman who did not speak English and didn’t know how to groom, and when I told the shop owner that the ‘groomer’, Liz, didn’t know that  heat rises, and was not checking her dogs ( & her dogs were staying wet for hours), the shop owner said to me, “Heat rises!  Robyn, where are you coming up with that stuff?”  So I knew my days were numbered there.  She later apologized to me for all the times I told her to check another groomer’s dogs, and she had not listened to me.  But no matter.  She ended up selling her grooming business to….someone with capital, who had walked dogs—but knew nothing else about dogs.

I was offered a job at “The Furry Bistro.”  They are now out of business.  The owner, a corporate refugee, decided to  combine her love of baking with her love of dogs & opened the shop in a ritzy part of town (across from a well-established pet shop).  I knew things were not good when I came for the interview, she was over  1/2  hour late and did not apologize to me.  The shop was not yet open for business for the day, but she had at least 3 employees (at a minimum of $21 an hour in wages), standing around.  She told me her groomer (who was a snotty  recent grooming school graduate—-at least to ME)  was very busy & needed help.  The reason he was overwhelmed  was they didn’t believe in crating.   They’d tie a dog to a wall—& would just take one dog at a time.  If a client didn’t show up, or showed up late ( since the groomers are paid commission)—you didn’t make money…& that’s one of the reasons they are out of business now:  not managing the time well, too many people on their payroll.  If you take a job like that—where the owners ‘don’t believe in…’ what dog people know will not stress the dogs & keep them in business….be prepared to  not make a living wage, &  for the business to not stay in business.

I  got hired by Best Friends Pet Care.   I have to mention this because  although they ultimately  addressed my issues by continually sending a regional manager  to observe the manager  assaulting me they never fired him. I should have known something was not right, not only because their website tells you to apply with the  local facility directly—but then the manager needs corporate approval to hire you—-  but because staff  told me their last groomer had just walked out. Why? Turns out the  manager, Bruce Blaine, was verbally abusive.  As he was with me, for over a year.   He hated that clients went out of their way to  fill out reports that told corporate I was the best groomer they had ever brought their dog to.  Granted, I did have some communication problems with some clients who wanted their short haired dogs shaved,  but they were few and far in between.  Even though human resources told me I had increased their  dog grooming revenue by over 10%, they  cut my health insurance benefits because I was not working an average of 25 hours a week.  I said to them, “You are cutting my benefits because I manage my time well.”  & they said, “Yes, we are.”  I gave  notice, but no matter.  They are struggling again.  The worst thing, however, was that  they had a high turnover because Bruce was so abusive.   The regional manager was  always coming out to talk to Bruce, and I was not the only one who complained to her.  He was horrible to the women.  & After   the regional manager came out, things were ok for a day, and then he was right back demoralizing the women & blaming them for the incompetency of the guys on his payroll.The company was ultimately sold, and Bruce was  sent to another location as kennel help with no management responsibilities!

I was spirited away by a manager (who was the owner’s father’s girlfriend, Dena Conn) for a start-up, “The Chicago Academy of Dog Training.”  They are also now out of business—for several reasons.  The owner, Courtney Simon, suffered from some mysterious  chronic illness.  Although really an excellent dog trainer, she was not keeping dog training appointments, nor could she manage her own staff. Plus, the way the ‘kennel’ was set up, it was very labor intensive to clean.  An added problem was that the owner of Doggie Bath House, Dan London (they are now out of business, too), called and harassed them constantly.  Why?  He was just an evil son of a bitch, and because I refused to work for him— because I told him he didn’t have enough dog experience—his way of getting back at me was to force other small businesses to ‘fire’ me.  He had my resume (because I had answered a blind ad—very stupid of me…) , He even posted fake reports on Yelp!  Yelp did nothing.  In fact, Yelp!  charges business owners to remove bad reviews now—sort of a bribery situation if you ask me—but a legal business!  Sure, they’d remove the false reports, & he’d post again using a different name  and different email address.  Take Yelp! reports with a grain of salt—especially the glowing reviews.   The irony was–I was right.  So much for being right.   You would think this is illegal—right?  It is not.  It is legal for 1 business to harass another business.

Dena told me that the CAODT had a 300  client base waiting for a groomer. They did not. They had 1 client waiting for grooming.  I had to take part-time work elsewhere.  It’s not illegal to lie to employees.  From their lies, I went to PETCO.

I had applied at PETCO  a couple years before, & was suddenly called as they were booked 6 weeks out.  To make a long story short about them….I asked, & they (store manage & grooming department manager) told me —how many groomers they had on payroll. They had only 1 groomer, & 1 bather. “So,”  I said to the store manager & the grooming manager, “I will get bath dogs if there is no grooming so I can make commission.”  “Of course!”  They said, It would not be a problem. We cleared up the  6 week grooming backlog in 2 weeks—because, the first day I came to work, they  posted a congratulations poster to the bather who was now a groomer, & had hired 3 other bathers.  The only person making commission was the  grooming manager.  She also lied about taking my personal clients, they never  diluted shampoo—so the bathers were rinsing dogs forever.  They  didn’t believe in heating elements (they never checked the dogs anyways), so the dogs sat cold and shivering for hours with cold air blowing on them.  They really didn’t need me, & I could see the store, situated in a very affluent community, was not even breaking even.  They fired me for insubordination  after telling  me to break one of their  policies to accomodate a client, who then complained.  I told them  they had too many people on their payroll, and they told me it was none of my business. They also, against corporate policy—-took dogs in  for grooming without  proof of shot records, which led to  an owner accusing me falsely ( they  determined that).  If you need health insurance  and can live on minimum wage, go for it, but if you love pets, this is not the place to be.

A groomer who was trained at Petsmart borrowed money & bought a shop, and her 2 groomers  took her whole client base—which she didn’t realize, and after 1 day she didn’t even have 1 dog a day for me.   She was totally clueless.  She was out of business in 3 months.

Another groomer with an excellent reputation told me her  assistant was moving, which was why she hired me. We were busy for about 3 weeks, but her assistant didn’t leave, and that was all she really needed.

A groomer  hired me, her shop caught on fire.  My hiring was delayed.  I came in, finally, to work, and she had a bather—& she only did 6 dogs a day!  So that didn’t work out.

I was hired by Pawsatively Heaven Pet Resort for Sundays & Mondays. They are down in Chicago Ridge, over 30 miles from where I live.  This is a  wonderful kennel, and the  manager, Marty Sullivan, is a great guy.  So are the actual owners.  But the groomers are  little divas. Marty told me one was changing careers & moving on, one was retiring from grooming (but she wasn’t), & nobody wanted to  work on Sundays. I wasn’t even paying for my gas, but Marty assured  me things would pick up.  I was developing a bit of a following, but still needed part-time work, so I stupidly  responded to a blind ad on Craigslist.  Dan London—Doggie Bath House.  Again!  When I realized what I had done, I  went immediately to Marty & told him to check  his Yelp! reviews (sure enough, Dan  had posted lies) . Dan also started calling them and harassing them, claiming to be a current client.  He actually did this to several grooming shops & kennels he thought I worked for.  Can you imagine having the time to do this? Well, when you don’t actually work for a living—just own a business, and are not busy, you have plenty of time to be an asshole.    One Sunday I came  in to Pawsatively Heaven, & there was only  1/2  a gallon of diluted shampoo left.  I asked  the owner if she had some stored somewhere.  She told me what was in the closet was it.  I told her the girls had to know  they were down to this. What was going to happen? They were going to come in Tuesday & claim I used up the shampoo?  Suddenly, another groomer decided they’d work on Sunday & Monday, as I was getting those clients, & they no longer needed me.

I  kept interviewing.  Shop owners, not groomers, could not tell me how many dogs their groomers did in an average day.  One told me it was very important to learn the computer program for booking.  She had also been trained by Petsmart, & I  knew there would be an issue when she told me her breed was cocker spaniels.  Also,  the actual bathroom was in the shop next door.  Lots of issues there. They allowed an owner  to ‘help’ groom her own dog, & stuck her unbrushed Collie/Newf directly into the tub without brushing it.

I  worked up at Yuppie Puppy in Lake Forest, for about 8 weeks, going up there  twice a week. Go see for yourself.  See if you would want to board your dog in this  Ill. Dept of Ag. licensed kennel.  It is owned by the Whitakers—very  proudly a family owned business.  With daughter Lucy in California, Simon  going to Texas, and Dad clearly not knowing  one breed from the next,  and not really caring….he is a BUSINESSMAN—this place would be a joke were it not so stressful for the dogs…but it is totally legal. They constantly bitch about how hard it is to get help, but the lighting in the grooming room—which is also the kitchen—is terrible, and they don’t have enough dryers.  You really have to manage your time well. The owners do not do any physical labor beyond feeding the dogs.  I showed them that they were not charging enough for the grooms, & they told me I was an employee & it was not my business—-yet they didn’t mind me raising prices at all, and their main issue was my bad customer service.  Yep—I’m terrible with people who allow their dogs to urinate all over  and don’t control them.

Why did they fire me? At the end of a holiday weekend, they  booked too many dogs for us to  dry thoroughly, and my last dog was an out of control Golden Retriever—which they knew was hard to handle.  I told Simon I could not  handle the dog without help, and he accused me of not doing my job. Really.

You might have read in grooming industry magazines that you do not have to groom every dog—especially if it is safe for either you or the dog. But the Whitakers don’t read pet industry magazines. They had the audacity to tell the State of Illinois that I refused to do my job—(never mind that they threatened to withhold the pay I had coming). Initially, they told me  the average fee per grooming dog was $50 (according to their own computer records, it was $35), and there would be a 2 week delay in getting paid (it was actually 3 weeks). Do you want to go work for them?  You might make money.  Or not…

I  am now working for a very nice shop. Very clean.  Problem is, the owner was taught to groom at a grooming school, so she thinks she learned all there was to learn at a grooming school.  Even though she told me  I  am cutting corners, she has no issue with my grooming.  She just can’t figure out  how I get my grooms done faster than her 2 other groomers—also grooming school trained.   I ‘ve  shown her what I do  to get my dogs dried faster and fluffier, but she doesn’t believe it…so she won’t schedule dogs closer together. Here we go again. If a dog doesn’t show up, or is late, I am standing around—& that is after I’ve done laundry & filed cards!

Planet Pooch is opening 7 locations in  the metro Chicago area. The manager told me that they don’t buy from puppy mills, only USDA Licensed Breeders.  He doesn’t know that  ethical hobby breeders don’t sell to others to resell—that they want to meet the people who want their pups & to determine if  their dog would be right for them. He apparently doesn’t know the difference.  I’d rather starve.  This is the reason I lasted but a week at Pocket Puppies.  It just hurt too much, emotionally.  (Update:  they never opened.  Not sure why….)

There’s a businessman who opened a dog daycare in Mount Prospect.  You could make $350 a week!!!  Do you realize that isn’t even $19,000 a year?  Who could live on that?  More important—the person who doesn’t understand that that is not a living wage doesn’t have to work for a living.  Beware!  Lots of business people who own dog daycare facilities need groomers, but they can’t tell you how much you will make.  In fact, there is a woman recruiting for the dog grooming outlets at Walmarts in Aurora & Zion. When I asked her what her average groomer made in a day, or a week, she could not tell me.    But she provides a grooming manager/receptionist to answer the phone & deal with customers.  Wow!  I asked her, “Are you telling me you don’t pay that person at the rate of $35,000 a year, but you can’t tell me what the groomer makes in an average week?”  She stammered and b.s.’d me for a few minutes, but that was, essentially, what she was telling me. The person who did no physical labor was making more than the groomer who  was to provide   the means to pay the receptionist. What am I missing?

I have about  10 years left in my grooming career.  I work part-time at a great kennel, but were it not for the assistant managers who happen to be vet techs,  this job would be a nightmare.  Virtually 3/4 of the clientele  are ‘non-groomable’ short haired dogs:  Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, Bulldogs.  This is the nature of the industry now.  Only the wealthy (or those who  are comfortable carrying boatloads of debt) can afford the non-shed breeds requiring dog grooming skills.  If your experience has been different in the Chicago area, please let me know.

Housebreaking the difficult dog (Afghans, Chihuahuas, Bostons, etc)

June 19, 2010

Please read this carefully.

I decided to address this subject because it is never addressed honestly or accurately by all the dog training experts or dog books that currently address dog training & housebreaking.  People become frustrated & then use methods that make the problem worse.  As a dog groomer, it concerns me that so many people have  problems with incontinent dogs.

One of the biggest frustrations I hear is, “I got this dog, don’t really know how he was housed in the past, I take him out to relieve himself, he does nothing, then comes back into the house & urinates (or defecates), even if I put him in his crate.”

The reason this happens is (usually)—the dog was kept confined, to his mess, has lost his instincts to keep his bedding clean, & now only feels comfortable relieving his urine in his bed.   Or, he is not comfortable defecating because some idiot scolded him while he was defecating in the wrong spot without giving him an alternative!  Sad, of course, but this is what happens with the thousands of puppies that don’t find homes by the time they are 3 months old.

The general consensus is that if you keep the dog confined to a crate (or tied to your waist) & take the dog out to relieve itself on a regular basis—either outside or to a pee pad, the dog will eventually learn  where  he can relieve himself…and everyone will be happy. That’s all you have to do.

Statistically…if you do this—the average, intelligent puppy (or adult dog who has had some training) will ‘get it’ in less than a week—if you are consistent & get the dog out of the crate in a timely fashion—every 2 to 4 hours.  However, it doesn’t always work.

Why?  Some dogs —especially puppy mill bred dogs—but often dogs bred by irresponsible breeders—are kept in their own filth, so they lose their instincts.  Some dogs are mentally defective. People who breed f very small toy breed dogs never expect them to be housebroken. What if you have the dog that is on the low end of the ‘bell curve’ statistically?  Can you get the dog trained?

According to the small breed rescue coordinators, the #1 reason the small breeds are surrendered to rescue is NOT that their owners are moving, or too busy, or ‘don’t have time’ for the dog. The reason is that they failed to  housebreak the dog & no longer want to clean up.  Since the rescues are honest about the dogs they want to find homes for, they tell the truth about the dogs they have (generally) and tell prospective adopters that they will need a crate and/or have to keep the dog belly banded or diapered.  &—they still manage to adopt out these unhousebroken dogs for a fee.

What works?  There is no magic, and there are no guarantees.  You have to ‘reshape the dog’s behavior’. How long will it take to reshape the dog’s behavior?  There is no statistical data available anywhere.  What I would suggest is trying the following method diligently for 30 days.  If the dog is not on track to eliminate where you want or be continent, the dog will never be reliably housebroken.

It is a given the dog is not suffering from kidney, bladder, or urinary tract issues.  You are not trying behavioral methods to address a medical issue.

First, you have to keep the dog confined to a spot where it can only stand up and turn around.  That is generally a dog crate.  You can also try leashing the dog to your waist.  You do not want to carry the dog—as the dog will get SPOILED and whine if not being carried, and if the dog is spoiled, it will be stressed, and that causes  inappropriate elimination.

Second, you have to put the dog on a regular schedule of outings and directed play or observation. This is where most people screw up.  You can’t get distracted yourself, because one accident sabotages all your efforts—& this has been proven.  Set a timer if you have to.   Start the dog being released from confinement every 2 hours—& then walk the dog on a leash to the spot you want the dog to eliminate on.  Thing is—& this is what most training books don’t tell you—the dog may need to walk or play for five to 15 minutes before eliminating–-to get the digestive system actually moving!  You might walk the dog to a pee pad, but I strongly urge out of the house/’den’ housebreaking.  Give the dog 5 minutes after the  five-to-15 minute walk to eliminate.  You can use a flexi leash or long line if you want, but the dog needs some exercise,  and then needs to be RESHAPED—so you are going to give verbal cues to the dog (if the dog is deaf you will have to find a visual way to communicate).  Tell the dog to “hurry up”  or “Go Potty”.  I start counting to 3, as my dogs, which are walked in an urban setting, will dawdle and sniff, or possibly hunt, and that’s not what we’re out for.

If the dog then urinates and/or defecates, you PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE the dog & the training session is over.  You can play for up to 1/2 hour before the dog is confined again.  Don’t forget water ( 1/2 cup for every 5 lb of the dog’s weight).

If the dog does not eliminate in five minutes, you are now going to either  use a suppository, or paper matches—unlit of course, sulfur end in the anus (2 or 3 for giant breeds of dogs), to start peristalsys (the pooping spasms).  Even if the dog does not have to defecate, it will squat to get the irritant—the matches— out.  As the dog squats, you will say your magic words  & PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE the dog;  you are going to make a fool of yourself praising the dog…then play, then back to confinement.  Repeat every 2 hours for the first 2 days, and if you get success,  increase the interval to 4 hours.  If you did not get success in 2 hours and the dog eliminated in the crate, you may have to make the interval 1 hour.

I know—who has the time?  It’s not about having the time—it’s about getting the dog housebroken.  If you don’t have the time, and can’t find someone who has the time,  forget it. The dog will not be housebroken.  If the dog is a breeding quality animal & you want to keep the dog kenneled, it is up to you.  If the dog is not breeding quality, and can’t do another necessary job, like guarding or herding, the dog should be EUTHANIZED.  Nobody wants an unhousebroken dog.  It is unethical to  ‘rehome’ a dog that the  taker expects to be housebroken. What kind of real dog love does that?—& this is what most people have an objection to.  They won’t take your unhousebroken dog, but they don’t want YOU to have the dog euthanized.

I have a 14-year-old dog who NEVER had an accident in the house…until recently.  The veterinarian says he has no health issue…he is just getting old and confused.  I love the dog, he does not seem to be in distress, so I have confined him to 2 rooms—one with his bed, on carpet (he has trouble getting up & down, & needs the carpet for traction), & the smooth floor  for in case he has an accident. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.  I  am talking about the dog YOU won’t keep.  It is dishonest to give away or sell a dog as housebroken when it is not.  &  it is extremely inhumane to turn this formerly pet dog  to a kennel environment, where it is a member of a pack of dogs, not getting attention or affection, and possibly being neglected or abused by the pack.

Sometimes, doing  basic novice obedience training helps.  It  solidifies the bond between owner and dog, helps increase the dog’s attention span, and often the dog gains a ‘sense of self’.  However, there are many top obedience dogs that are not housebroken. They live in kennels.  It is a different part of the brain that controls continence.

What about diapers & belly bands? They often work.  The dog feels the urine and stops eliminating.   This method is particularly helpful for the dog that won’t  urinate outside, but returns to the crate to urinate. Sometimes,  he just gets into the habit of being continent, so try them for 30 days.  However, we’ve  witnessed many dogs that don’t mind being wet.  In that case, the dog will never be trained. Never.

If the dog eliminates in the wrong place—-this particularly happens with puppies & with dogs whose owners’ timing is off. …if you see the dog circling & suddenly squat— startle the dog & PICK THE DOG UP & CARRY THE DOG TO THE RIGHT PLACE!!!!!  Yes, you may get urine & feces on yourself—but you will make such a dramatic impact on the dog that  you will cut your training time.  No yelling, no punishment.  I’ve had this work for me several times.

Urine has ammonia in it. So clean up with a commercial odor neutralizer. In the olden days, we used to use vinegar to neutralize the ammonia—but there are many commercial products that do a much better job.

It is extremely unfortunate that so many  animal shelters are managed by people who know nothing about animal behavior and have never trained a dog to off leash reliability.  It is also unfortunate that they have so little integrity that they lead people who really want to save an animal’s life to believe that all dogs can be pets.  They can not all be pets.  For every dog with a behavior issue that people ‘save’—the no-kill shelters—that really pick & choose the animals they allow in—a dog with no behavioral issues will not get into their ‘no-kill’ shelter & be euthanized.

I invite you to share this information.  Also, I will say right now that I have gotten many dogs from shelters that were  ‘clean’ in the shelter—& those dogs ‘got it’ right away.  We’re addressing dogs where you have tried EVERYTHING and had no success. It’s not you—it’s the dog.

Pat Miller of the Whole dog journal posted this on Facebook:

Is This a Great Country—or What?

June 16, 2010

Several years ago, I  needed postcards to send to clients.  You can get them pre-stamped from the U.S. Postal Service.  You know—what we commonly refer to as THE POST OFFICE.  I went to  a local post office and got into the line.  I stood in the line for  over 45 minutes. When I got to the front of the line and asked for postcards, the clerk told me, “We are out of postcards.”

Huh?  I said, “This is the post office, isn’t it?

She got all huffy & said, “Well, we run out of stuff, too!”

“I want to talk to the manager,”  I said.

“She’s on vacation,”  the clerk retorted.

“She went on vacation without making sure you had postcards?  I don’t get it. All you sell is stamps and postcards.  How do you leave on vacation without ordering supplies?  Why don’t you put up a sign?”

It didn’t matter.  They are the post office. They are not part of the government. They are sort of a parastatal.  They can do whatever they want.

I told a friend of this incident, and he told me how he went to a currency exchange to apply for a license plate, stood in line for about as long as I did, got to the front, & they were out of forms.  & you wonder why businesses go OUT OF BUSINESS.

But now,t he formerly  well run companies—the  FORTUNE 500 are getting pretty sloppy in their business dealings.

I have a Worldpoints VISA card, and they sent me a couple of mailings telling me they’d gladly refinance my mortgage at a lower rate.  I knew the odds were pretty slim, but I had nothing to lose, so I called them. Sure enough, their phone clerk could do nothing for me as they didn’t hold my mortgage.  So—why did they send me letters?  How could they not know?  They obviously sent it as a teaser to credit card holders.

Citimortgage, which does hold my mortgage,  turned me down when I asked to refinance, but sent me  a letter telling me they would refinance me after the turned me down.  It was a wash. While they’d lower my interest rate, all their closing costs negated the savings!  Really!

But I think the champion letter for flim flam  goes to the collusion of Citimortgage with “Essential Health”—which—in large type on the front page of the mailer, says, “With this insurance plan….” & tells you, “Worry less about bills if someone gets sick or has an accident…” & THEN, on the back page, & on the disclosure tells you that this is NOT a health insurance plan (it does not say what kind of plan it is—except that it will pay hospital  stay bills), and it DOES NOT  COVER SICKNESS OR DISEASE.  Um,  so illness is covered—not sickness or disease. It covers the hospital room only. Nothing more—& apparently only if you are injured, and they will pay  up to $400 for up to 365 days (this is item #7) except  they will pay only for up to 30 days  they will pay up to $5000 lump sum (item #8)—meaning  $166. & change per day.

I believe this company is banking on people not being able to read, or do math, or counting on the integrity of Citimortgage to not rip them off.   & it’s legal—because you have to read the entire document.

I also believe that all these companies have a vested interest in not having our educational system improve.

Yesterday, the Illinois legislature passed a bill allowing the telephone companies to change your plan without notifying you.  You will not find out until you pay your bill.

If anything will drive  more people to become computer & internet savvy, & switch to Skype, this must be it, but  it will be a while.  We know…people are not checking their bills.

Why I am not a dog breeder

June 4, 2010

This is a question I am asked often:  “If you love dogs, why  don’t you breed dogs?”

It’s because I love dogs that I don’t breed dogs.  I wanted to breed  afghanHounds for …”the betterment of the breed…’  —& as it turned out, the foundation bitch I got was not up to my standards.  She had a decent head, but not  gorgeous. She was east-west.  She  didn’t really have a depth of chest, and not much of a coat pattern.  In fact, her pedigree was excellent, and she had great shoulder/upper arm angulation, and a fantastic coat texture.  I knew, however, that there were  much nicer,  sounder,  better built bitches out there. There was no shortage of Afghan Hounds, either.

It was from reading the Purebred Dogs (known as the Gazette) to hobbyists and fanciers, that I got this notion that  breeders who love dogs are responsible  for the dogs they breed.  They are responsible for the dogs they breed until those dogs die. They  have to take them back if the owners they sold to lied to them, and can’t or won’t keep the dogs.  Or have bad luck, or whatever…

Also, from reading the Gazette, I learned that ethical hobby breeders do not sell dogs to third parties to sell for them. Breeders  want to meet the people they sell puppies to, and  screen them for suitability.

I was confronted with the  reality of this, again, this week, when I was being interviewed for a dog grooming job.  Because I am currently working at a very fine kennel that can not provide me with enough income, I have to explore all my options.

The ad said that the business had seven locations around Chicago, and I thought it was one of the well known supply stores. Turns out, it was for Planet Pooch, a retailer of puppies.  The manager  didn’t tell me  straight away that was what the stores were.  He interviewed me about my experience.  He seemed impressed.  THEN the asked me how I felt about working in a retail environment.  Bamboozled again!

He actually told me he had relationships with USDA licensed breeders—& that they were not puppy mills!  He said that to me!  So I asked him what kind of ethical breeders have puppies all the time & sell them to third parties to resell?  And that was the end of the conversation.

When, almost 40 years ago, I contemplated  breeding Afghan Hounds, I also contemplated  having enough space to keep a dozen dogs, and having a boarding/training kennel, showing dogs…in short, being  better off economically than I am.  Life is what happens when you are out making other plans.  Oh, well, that’s how it goes.  I was also  a coordinator of Afghan Hound Rescue for the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago.  At the time, virtually none of the 50 dogs that came through rescue (an average of 1 a week) were bred by club members…so…they didn’t see why  the club should be responsible for the unwanted Afghan Hounds.  But the puppies were the results of pet dogs they had sold & hadn’t insisted that they be neutered.  So, in a way, they did cause the problem.

Sometimes I wonder if  having integrity is worth it, because I would be much more economically secure if I didn’t have scruples.

I am sort of dismayed that the fancy does not do a better job of marketing their integrity.  The job the AKC does is laughable, really.  I guess that as long as ethical hobby breeders can sell their pups and feel their dogs aren’t winding up in shelters * rescues,  the status quo is ok.

My former employer, Dan DeWalt, is active with Basenji Rescue And Transport (BRAT), & they have determined that for every Basenji pup AKC registered, an adult dog goes into rescue. They have statistics for this.  They all feel Basenjis are hard to live with, and people aren]t prepared for their stubbornness.

I have  blogged about this before.  I believe, in  certain areas, the stats may be true for Siberian Huskies, Shiba Inu, and Pit Bulls. Since Pits are not AKC, it would be difficult to get accurate data.

Anyone can challenge the accuracy of this. It’s all anecdotal, but as a dog lover, I  don’t want to be responsible for dogs I bred ending up unloved and unwanted.  That’s why I am not a dog breeder.