Archive for May, 2012

Labradoodle, Golden Doodle…or Portuguese Water Dog?

May 24, 2012

I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime, but people will pay more for a mixed breed dog than a purebred—because they believe the rumors—the hype.   I guess the hype is that they don’t shed, & are mellower than standard Poodles.

It’s true—the Poodles tend to be very active.  Some would say hyper, They are hunting dogs with a lot of energy.  But they are good with kids.  People who breed any purebred dog for the betterment of their breed are  concerned  not just with conformation, but genetic soundness:  that is,  solid hips, eyes that won’t go blind by the age of 3, other issues.

The person breeding dogs as livestock—to make money, doesn’t care about anything but money…& he will lie lie lie about everything—including the dogs he breeds being non-shed dogs—even not ever requiring professional grooming.

In the past 20 or so years that the Doodles have been around, I’ve seen coat textures of several types—including like a wire-haired pointing griffon, a wire-haired Labrador retriever, and something akin to an Old English Sheepdog.  Sometimes the hair is sort of like poodle hair, with a  kink to the coat, but it is usually very sparse….& ask any groomer:  about 70% of them shed, and you won’t know what your really got until the dog is  physically mature—about age 2.

So we have these ‘professional’ breeders claiming they know genetics, & their dogs are F1/F2 crosses, meaning they breed true, but unless you are a lawyer willing to sue (have any idea what it costs to file a civil case in court?), their guarantees are bogus.  In fact, what keeps the breeders of purebred dogs—again—breeding for the betterment of their breeds— on the up & up is that they would be censured by their fellow club members.

&, in fact, that is  exactly  what the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America does:  you adhere to their code of ethics, or your club members don’t breed to your dogs—& since the gene pool in Porties is very small (the original  were 28 dogs saved from the streets of Portugal), it pays to work together. They have—in the face of the president’s family getting a Porty as a pet—kept the breed from getting into the hands of puppy mill/commercial breeders.

I was thinking about this the other day because the facility where I work got another Doodle in for day-care.  Cute dog—nice coat, but I can tell already that the coat will change, & in a year, this dog will not look like the dog this family bought. Maybe they don’t care, but most are somewhat disappointed.  But, I know, even if you explain all this to people, they don’t understand.

The AKC  could  right this, but they  have lost all direction in the guise of keeping themselves afloat. They stopped publishing the Gazette which was so valuable, and continue to publish  Family Dog magazine, which  provides almost no value.

& although I thought I would not see the day in my lifetime, I’ll bet anything that some of the Doodle breeders will get together &  apply for AKC recognition. I mean if the breeders of Black Russian Terriers could do it (which is—what, a wide Giant Schnauzer), why not?

But I’ve written this to explain to people who pay so much for a designer dog that you  are over paying. You  are not paying for the years ethical hobby breeders put in to perfect their bloodline, but  for hype….and  hear it from the man responsible: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/nov/13/inventors-idea-regret

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Can You Afford to Have a Baby?

May 17, 2012

I was born in the last century. Many people didn’t even ponder this. In America , many people thought (& still think) that they just come—you don’t prevent them from coming…that birth control/family planning is a sin…..& the community (it takes a village, after all) will assist you.

In fact, that’s why we don’t teach anything about birth spacing or family planning to teenagers.  It’s up to their parents/guardians to decide what they should know. The thinking being is that if they don’t know how to prevent pregnancy, they won’t engage in sex.   Great logic, eh? As though this thinking has ever prevented teenagers from engaging in sexual activity!

The irony is that those who know how to prevent pregnancy engage in less sex or have fewer unwanted kids. What a concept.

But in these days where liabilities are called toxic assets, it’s easy to understand  how a high school—or even a college graduate —would not be able to  DO THE MATH &  be able to decide if she could afford to  raise a child.

I know people will think the analogy is gross, but I know hobby dog breeders. They only breed when they plan to keep at least 1 pup from the litter for themselves, and can afford to keep the entire litter indefinitely. Really.  & when they breed the bitch, they start collecting newspapers.   You know, to line the puppy pen.  The gestation for a dog is about 2 months, and then you  have to keep the pups for at least 2 months (it is ILLEGAL to sell or give them away before they are 8 weeks old anywhere in the USA), so …they have newspapers to raise the pups on. They ask their friends to give them newspapers, too.  & they purchase vaccine, and do all the preparatory work.

Sounds like a good idea, doncha think?  So, wondering if you can afford a kid? These days, people don’t wash diapers. You can, and you might want to go online and find out how many diapers a baby at various ages goes through in a day…& then…start either collecting enough cloth  diapers for 2 weeks at a time (you will want to wash an entire load at a time) or—-start buying disposable diapers…because you will need them until the kid is at least 2 years old.

& diapers are only about 10% of the cost of having a baby.  Think you will go on public aid, or get food stamps?  That kind of existence is just that—an existence. Not much of a life.

My advice would be to manage a household for about a year.  Learn to budget what you have.  Check out what  health insurance will cost.  & check out the cost of diapers.  Set aside time, now, while you don’t have a kid, to do an extra three loads of laundry a week.  Think about how much extra time you will need  to find day care, get to work, and return to pick up your child—& oh, by the way—how much does day care cost?  Hey—what do groceries cost?  I used to go to 2  grocery chains—Dominick’s  & Jewel in Chicago. Bioth USED TO HAVE great prices. I  now  know that Aldi’s & my local small markets have better prices on the staples.  I have not found Walmart or Target to offer  great values unless they have what I want on sale.  Probably COSTCO might—but I am not shopping for 5, just 2.

Who is going to pay for all this, and how?  Your partner? Your parents?  The state?.

The information you need is not top secret.  You can even go online & find out how many diapers you need, & what diapers cost.  & rent in various parts of the USA, ans figure out how much income you need,and how you are going to go about earning that income when many  highly skilled people are out of jobs.

And while you are at it, start thinking about whether you want to have more than  one child, and why.

Cutting dog toenails

May 11, 2012

People frequently ask me to cut their dog’s toenails back.    I don’t know how the rumor got started that you can cut the quicks—the part inside the toenail that  bleeds, and they won’t grow back, but  it is a widely held belief…and it is not true.

Why  do people want their dogs toenails cut back?

They don’t want to pay  to have them cut, or bother with them for a long time;  they don’t want to hear them clicking on the floor;  they don’t want to be scratched by the dog.

An interesting thing about dogs:  all the breeds have different  lengths of quicks, &  no breeder breeds  for the trait of short toenails.  Also, the shape of the foot seems to have nothing to do with how long the quicks are, but the surface that the dog exercises on may.  Or rather–the surface the dog exercises on  will greatly influence the shape of the dog’s feet, and how long the toenails seem to be.

Early in my dog grooming career, I worked for a hobby breeder of Boston Terriers. They do not have ‘good’ feet. They have ‘soft’ feet. The breed standard says the feet should be small  and compact (as does the French Bulldog Standard), but  while I interpret that to mean a cat foot, it does not. What the breeders do, if they have the dogs put under for any surgical work, is have the  toenails CUT BACK and cauterized.  As this is very painful, best the dog be knocked out. Then, with the quicks cut back, the toenails can be maintained short.

I own sighthounds:  dogs bred to run.  They are supposed to have  cat or hare feet. That means arched toes. They do not have  terribly long quicks, but not  short, either. They need enough toenail to grab ground & get traction when running.  Show Poodles have incredible feet, and most have very short  toenails naturally, but I would not be surprised if many had their toenails cauterized.

I find most terriers to have especially long quicks—especially the Welsh Terriers, but I’ve seen Bedlingtons with very long quicks.

What I have done for years is cut around the quick, attempting to expose the quick, the theory being that  the dog will arch his toes, and keep his nails pointed down…but if the dog is  always on a smooth or soft surface, this will not help at all.

There are so many good reasons for having the surface of a dog’s kennel run  be stones. Drainage is one, but the uneven surface forces the dog to contract & arch his toes, and this really does keep a dog’s nails short, and helps with keeping the legs &  shoulder/upper arm  in condition as well.  I do know one thing:  if the dog is always on concrete or grass, and not pulling, his nails will not be ground down, but his feet will splay.

If you are not a dog fancier, all this  is just so much blather.  If you want your dog to have nice feet and be healthy, you have to take this seriously.