Archive for August, 2012

I am an anarchist. Let’s start with that.

August 31, 2012

Those  who know me would say, “Of course!”  Let’s get serious.  What does being an anarchist mean?  Are we the same as libertarians?  We share so many of the same values, it’s really hard to tell, but  the difference  is how we get to the end result of the government falling away. Karl Marx developed the theory that labor would organize itself, and labor unions would run the government.  That’s it in a nutshell.  As we Jews say, the rest is commentary.  This was at a time when labor was not really organized, and the thought was that labor would organize as industrial unions, not business unions, like what we actually have.

Anarchists  don’t believe in no government. They believe in small government—like the libertarians do.  We aren’t generally violent people, although the  writers of American history would have us believe Sacco & Vanzetti were  bomb throwers (it couldn’t possibly have been the police starting a riot…)

I came to anarchism through industrial unionism… syndicalism…and the Industrial Workers of the World. For those who don’t know anything about the Wobblies, you might get Patrick Renshaw’s book, or rent Warren Beatty’s movie, Reds (which is part documentary & interviews with old Wobs, as we were called).

We believe workers should run the economy…the government, and that the boss is useless.  I would general digress now about how difficult it is for dog groomers to work for non-dog groomers who are business owners, and who want to exploit our labor, but this is not why I am blogging about anarchism.

The problem is…that our needs in modern, urban, society are complicated and require full time oversight.  This would leave little time for economic activity to support our community’s needs:  planning, developing, and caring for infrastructure, energy resources, schools and education, health care, security, and information  communication  and distribution.

So—we have an overlay of bureaucracy to take care of  stuff’. They have to get paid, so we tax ourselves.

But then..the dynamic changes, and the politicians we elect seem to think that they really provide an added value, as do the employees they oversee that are working for us. They get much better benefits than the rest of us, including their pension plans…and the result is, of course, that so many government entities are now declaring bankruptcy.

I am an old lady now. The billions we could have spent on  teaching teachers to teach science, to provide health car  cradle to grave, to develop and renewable energy resources… we spend on the wars in Viet Nam, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia (but not Rwanda)…so people could be free?  We allowed the people we elected to underfund out schools,  pander to teachers’ unions (how ironic is this?)deny us health care as a human right (unless we live to be very old), bail out banks & AIG—the insurance company too big to fail—in place of environmental and economic security…what is this about?

We parrot that the USA is the greatest country in the world, and  we are, essentially, as bad as the Russians: buffoons to the rest of the world.

I am not sure what the solution is, but  now that we have the internet, I would think it would be easier for people to get more information and be a little skeptical about what we all think is the conventional wisdom.

Shedding in Dogs

August 24, 2012

This problem seems to vex a lot of pet owners.  The only dogs that do not shed are the hairless ones, the ones that matt (& thus require professional haircuts)…& dead ones.

There are several reasons dogs shed: genetics,  stress, exposure to sunlight, and not enough essential fatty acids in the diet.  Oh, and 1 more reason:  The dog not being brushed properly with the proper brush at proper intervals.

You know how your eyebrow & eyelash hairs grow only so long?  Then they fall out? that’s the shedding dog times bazillion.

Fight or flight?

There is also ‘flight’ shedding: where your dog, when he gets excited, explodes hair.  I’ve seen it happen. Dog is not shedding(in the kennel).  Owner comes to pick up dog, and he suddenly looks like PigPen (in the Peanuts cartoon),  Nothing you can do about that.  Without getting too scientific, it’s ‘God’s’ way of allowing a dog to get away from a predator, which would be, essentially, holding pawfuls of hair instead of the dog.

The correct tools for the job:

In a few words, you need a slicker brush. Now, it gets a bit more complicated, as there are many different kinds of slicker brushes with different gauges of wire, bent different ways.  You will have to experiment.  At least you can rule out a ‘Pin’ (or Wig) brush—as that kind of brush will not get out the shedding hair.  You will also have to experiment with the interval—but it won’t be EVERY DAY.
I don’t know where the idea came from that you should brush a dog every day. Possibly when they all lived outside & got into burrs & foxgloves.  The reason  to NOT brush your dog every day is that you won’t get the hair into a shedding cycle.  hair grows in stages:  growing in, grown in, & about to come out.  You will have more of the hair about to come out if you let it go for a few days. Is it 5 days?  7 days?  10 days?  You will have to experiment.  Then, besides the slicker brush, which may or may NOT get out a lot of hair, you will have to use deshedding tools:  Probably a rake of some kind, or a Furminator.  It depends on the dog.

Will Shampoo work?

Actually, it  may!   Why?   using warm water, the emollients in shampoo will loosen the hair follicles, and the hair  about to fall out will. Also, there is some anecdotal evidence that  shows that coconut oil in the shampoo will open the hair follicles even more, and get that about to come out hair out.  I have always brushed the shampoo through the hair, and that gets out a lot of hair.

What about shaving it all off?

Argh!!! To paraphrase H. L. Mencken: “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and WRONG.”

First of all, it will make the shedding hair shorter ofor about a month, so the dog will shed shorter hairs. Second,  if your dog is double coated, you can cause clipper alopoecia,  where the guard hairs—the hairs that don’t shed, are damaged, and increase the undercoat, causing even more shedding—& the coat will NEVER grow back the way it was. Nobody is really sure why it happens, but it does. So, you actually make the shedding worse.

Does adding E.F.A.’s really work?

For many dogs–yes!  It  will only take about 1 teaspoon per about 20 pounds of dog, but my clients have reported less shedding when they’ve upgraded their dogs’ diets.  Many dogs have problems with corn. wheat and soy.  Just as an aside, the old ‘bland’ diet was  boiled beef & rice. These days, I suggest & either pumpkin or sweet potatoes.  You might also want to look into  the BARF (beef & raw foods) diet, but  you can’t switch back  and forth, so make sure you can make a commitment.  Ask your veterinarian about EFAs, fish, & pumpkin.

What if it is totally out of hand?

Become friendly with a professional groomer who doesn’t shave every dog that comes into her shop, and  talk about the options. I offer my clients  a ‘blow out’ without a bath. Takes 10–20 minutes with a ‘force’ dryer (this is actually a high velocity blower,do it about once a month,  though I suggest a bath that often as well, and you will be able to keep on top of it.

If shedding really bothers you…think….about when you get your next dog, what you want in a dog, and what you can’t tolerate.  This is why some breeds have become less popular:  people  had a fantasy idea of what the dog was, with no real knowledge, and the breeders did little to dissuade or educate them (by breeders, I also mean the unethical backyard breeders breeding dogs to make money…go to Craigslist any day fo the week & you can find them easily—thousands violate the posting rules every day).

Dumping of Senior Dogs

August 16, 2012

I try to help out the organizations that  help animals in shelters. In Chicago, one great organization is the Trio Animal Foundation. They pay the medical bills of dogs  dumped in open admissions shelters.

What is an open admission shelter?  They take any  pet that the owners surrender or is brought in as a stray—& that is the difference between the no-kill (such as PAWS Chicago) &  a real animal shelter. They do not pick & choose, They take all comers. That doesn’t mean they can all be saved, but it is supposed to mean a humane, painless death if they can not be saved or there is no home.

In 1987, a few weeks after I  euthanized  a 14-year-old Afghan Hound, who had become blind, deaf, and incontinent in a matter of weeks(thus I knew her quality of life was  very bad) ,  I was working at a grooming shop when a customer brought in a toy Poodle, and actually said to us, “I don’t know whether to have him groomed or put him to sleep.”  There was nothing wrong with the dog except for his teeth.  I just blurted out, “I’ll take him.”  Chuck was 15 years old. He lived to be almost 18.  His last few months he was crabby, but after I had most of his teeth pulled, he livened up and was a real character.  You wonder why nobody in the family (4 grown kids) wanted the dog.  They were finished playing with him, grown up, and never bonded. Sick?  Yes, and  these are our neighbors, or friends, your fellow church members. Thinking of a live animal as a toy to be discarded.

Happens all the time. I was working at a kennel, where  we got a memo from a manager at another kennel. They had a 12 year old Labrador Retriever that the owners had abandoned. The owners actually told the kennel manager that they  no longer wanted the dog because she wasn’t playful, and they were going to get a puppy.  So matter-of-fact.

You have to wonder how people can not be embarrassed.  This all came back to me, because  one of the  leaders or Trio posted on their Facebook page that  she was at one of the shelters they work with & a couple brought in an old Poodle they no longer wanted. Said nothing about not being able to afford veterinary care or grooming.  Just dumping a now inconvenient dog.  The dog had abcessed teeth, which caused other health issues.  His veterinary care would cost  over a thousand dollars, & the person who posted  wondered how  we could afford to care for so many old dogs, and who would foster them or adopt them.  The answer is:

We can’t.  For every dog we try to save that will possibly live a few more weeks in stress & discomfort, we can’t  do the teeth  on a younger dog, or treat mange, or eyelid entropy. or—name it.  We have a larger problem here that these do-gooders don’t want to address:  as Malcolm Gladwell addressed in his book, we have not reached The Tipping Point.

That is the point where the conventional wisdom—-what everyone believes—is that  you really have to put some thought  into owning a pet, and not impulsively get a puppy as a plaything.  Due to the economy, due to the libertarians who think fracking for fuel at the expense of  our drinking water—- is the way to go, due to the people who think sending people to die in Afghanistan is a cost effective way to protect our freedom,  we are of the national mindset that the humane thing to do with an unwanted pet is to  dump it at an animal shelter (as the alternative is, of course, just abandoning it in a dumpster or park—so they are at least giving the pet & someone else the choice!) and no more thought need be given.

What kind of thinking do we need changed? We need to  get the word out that there IS a pet surplus, that shopping at pet shops that buy from  commercial livestock breeders  & sell pets is wrong, that people really have to think more carefully about why they want a pet. We have to get more people who care about this to demand that not so many  livestock pet breeders be licensed, and that the laws inspecting them be tightened up, and more fines be  enacted & collected to support shelters  and humane education.

I notice  on Craigslist that many people looking for a pet (the site is not a pet wanted site…shows you that peoples’  reading comprehension is atrocious) want cheap pets, and we have to  get the word out that if you want a cheap pet, you can’t afford a pet, and don’t really understand the responsibilities of pet ownership.

It’s shocking and demoralizing to me the  many people who think they are getting Lassie, or Eddie from Frazier, or Beethoven, or a cartoon dog, and even with the internet, can’t find books on dog training,  or on how to find a dog and not get ripped off.

It is even sadder that we euthanize so many dogs that could be wonderful pets because so many idiots keep bad breeders —& that’s mostly the ‘backyard breeders’—- in business.

The ironic  thing that  people don’t understand is—just because you see something for sale, it doesn’t mean it gets sold.  All those people who bred their Pit Bulls for fun & profit, & has so much fun with those puppies—it’s them. They should be made responsible for those dogs.

I point out to people that you rarely, if ever, see Scottish Deerhounds, Gordon Setters,  Salukis , Portuguese Water Dogs, or English Toy Spaniels in rescue. The breeders keep close tabs on who buys their pups, and make it very clear that they want those dogs back if the buyers  change their minds—no matter how old the dog is.

Yes, of course, they do euthanize dogs.  But  they don’t leave the decisions to others. They take responsibility. What a concept.

The sad state of science education in America….

August 9, 2012

The greatest country in the world? Really? Where the average citizen doesn’t know that hot air rises?  Really?

I got an exemplary primary school eduction.  Yet, I can only remember 3 sciences lessons.

I had a year of biology in high school.  I had a semester of lab biology on college.  I was able to get a minor in environmental science, because I understood the concepts…but I made a point to learn the concepts.  The concepts are logical.  But we have a culture that thinks of science as magic.  We also have a culture that teaches teachers to  teach, but doesn’t encourage people with  an interest in a particular subject  to become primary school teachers…and this is the problem.

It’s shocking the per centage of primary school teachers who become teachers because they don’t have to work weekends and have summers off.  People who say they love kids, but are unsure of their own math skills and knowledge of science concepts, so they major in literature, or teaching English.

I think most  people who are not  Americans would be shocked at the  per centage of our teachers who are foreign nationals—teaching mathematics & science.

Our late president, Ronald Reagan, thought he could pay a bunch of scientists to build a heavenly shield over the USA,  to deflect missiles.  he called it ‘star wars’.  Really.

What we have is a great propaganda machine, &  politicians—but we don’t have science education.  We will not have science education until parents start demanding science education.

This is what the late comedian George Carlin had to say about education (in America) & it is soooooo true!!!!

Who Pays? What Does Being ‘Middle Class” Mean?

August 2, 2012

What does it mean to be ‘Middle Class’?  Does it mean you are not rich…but not poor? That you can pay your bills and don’t have more debts than assets?    That you can save money for retirement & can afford 1 vacation a year?

What does it mean when  journalists and reporters talk about the middle class…here and in other countries?

When I was in graduate school, over 20 years ago, I was shocked to learn that being considered middle class was actually based on your level of education.  Not your  income!  It had nothing to do with how much money you had.  Your level of education actually gives you some social/economic mobility.  That’s the important thing.

I had thought it meant  living in a house with electricity, running water, and  a phone. Also, having good health or access to healthy care.  Apparently, it doesn’t.  Nor does it have anything to do with the amount of debt you carry—-witness the many college students graduating  and carrying well over $50,000 in debt!

When I was in India, I was invited to the home (well, actually, the apartment, on the fifth floor of a walk-up) of a middle class couple. The husband and wife both had masters degrees, but no car, no refrigerator. That means they had to shop for groceries every day.  They DID have a TV…but heck:  I was  working in a squatter community where people didn’t have running water, but many households had TVs. You see, the men folk like to watch the cricket & ‘football’ matches…so owning a TV is more important than owning a refrigerator. I could only think , They both have masters degrees, and this is the best they can do?  500 square feet on the fifth floor, no air conditioning, no refrigerator?

I learned, as an undergraduate, some of the indicators that a nation was developing towards a middle class tax base.  They had to have a literate populace (in the 1970’s, Tanzania had a literacy rate of over  90%).  Most households had to have access to communications infrastructure.  They had to have access to at least primary health care.

The theory is…that if people have their basic needs met, they have the  social and economic mobility to create wealth, and a tax base that supports infrastructure that in turn—supports more  economic development. What a great theory.  Matter of fact, it is what all governments are based on!

Unfortunately, for us 99%, none of the economic theorists ever addressed what would happen if the overseers of our government infrastructure—our politicians—spent more than we took in:  on wars, toys, vacations, perks, PENSION PLANS for themselves that are better than Social Security.  & if we 99% had to pay more of a per centage of our incomes in taxes to support  such frivolity than we could save or spend on our own pursuits we would no longer be…middle class. Oh, wait, …it works ok in  the Scandinavian countries. Oh, right—they aren’t supporting wars, and corruption….

So…what do we do?  If we were smart, we would tax the rich.  In fact, the rich would either tax themselves, or get rid of the rascal politicians & get a new set of rascals—because the funny thing is….if  there is no middle class to buy what the rich sell…..there aren’t any rich, either. There is a limit to (economic) growth.

We are now, in the USA, at a terrible crisis. We’ve destroyed the  natural environment, &  are heading towards a population crash.  Too many dimwits have too many children, because they are clueless & this is the way they have always lived. The kids  aren’t learning anything useful in many urban schools, so they become criminals to survive.  Due to our    communications infrastructure, the predators among them can easily corrupt  and destroy naive middle class youth—& they do—with METH.

We really have to get organized to address this.