Archive for March, 2013

Why did my dog become bald? Clipper Alopecia in dogs

March 29, 2013

It’s getting warm.  Did you know you absorb  sunlight  through your eyes, so you can manufacture vitamin D? Well, dogs  also absorb sunlight from their eyes., and start  a shed cycle.  Some dogs just explode hair. 
I offer to do a free blowout within 2 weeks of bathing a dog  if I have just loosened the hair, but I am disheartened by the number of people with double coated dogs that  want me to shave the dog.

What is even more discouraging  are the number of veterinarians who tell dog owners to have their dogs shaved so they will be cooler.  The dog will not be cooler, and may be subject to heat stroke. The dog’s  outer coat protects the dog from the sun. DOGS SWEAT THROUGH THEIR FEET.  & by panting—through their tongues. It’s one of the first thing you learn about dogs. It’s important to keep the feet cool.  A wading pool with just an inch of water  is enough.  Many Afghan hounds will stick their feet in their water bowls if they don’t have a pool.

Yes, the bracheocephalics (Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzu & Lhasas) will suffer more  when it is warm.  They have trouble breathing when the temperature is mild.  but Your Collie, golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Great Pyrenees,  Keeshond…they will not be cooler, and the coat may not grow back.

An excellent website that shows photos of this is :  Vanessa Padron’s website.  She also has other links that address this.  For a veterinarian to say, “I’ve never seen this, of course it will grow back!” tells me this veterinarian is not a dog lover, and doesn’t know much about dogs.  Ask any breeder of rough coated terriers what happens to their dogs’ coats if they are clipped.  For Miniature Schnauzers, sometimes you can never show the dog again—because the topcoat does not grow back.

The groomer who does not advise the  dog owner  of this is either inexperienced or unethical.  Now, what about the Afghans, Bearded Collies,  any drape  coated dog. Do they get ‘clipper alopecia’?  It  doesn’t seem that they do, but often, they coat grows back thicker, and coarser…and the dog goes through the ‘puppy coat stage’ of hair weaving together as it grows back.

So, what do I advise people who  claim the dogs is hot  and/or is shedding  so much?  Brushing the dog once a week, raking out the undercoat, and making sure the dog is not matted. No excuses. I don’t want to hear how busy you are, or how expensive I am. If you think some other groomer is going to be more honest and offer you a better deal because he will pander to your logic, go for it.  it won’t be the first time a dog owner has come back to me and said, “I should have listened to you…”

Book Review: Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E.Lawrence…and the ‘counterfactual condition’

March 21, 2013

If there is one genre of book I  would not pick to read…it’s military history.  I’m not much of a  Western fan, either, but the idea of reading about people being cruel to each other, and rich people having others killed to enforce their beliefs…just not entertaining.  I was not expecting a military history when I chose this book.   I don’t know what I was expecting.    Probably, from the title, more about Islam, and how Lawrence ‘discovered’  it for himself.  The fact is, there are five Pillars of Islam, and I have no idea where  Lawrence came up with this title.  I have had a fascination with T. E. Lawrence for  a long time.  First of all, there is the myth that Lowell Thomas created.   Having read several Lawrence biographies, the man  who emerges, from all descriptions, was  very complex.  He was the subject of so many bios because  he was a study in contradictions, and was also such a  fantastic artist and writer himself.

The book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (also published as Revolt in the Dessert), has  gone out of print.

I have to say, and anyone who has read the book  probably wonders the same thing, that the title is confusing.  Revolt in the Dessert is a better title, but still does not do the book justice.  I had put off reading the book (until my trip to Turkey) because I felt it might be  too dry to sustain my interest.  How wrong I was.    Lawrence does an amazing job  of describing how he got involved  with the Arab cause, and also of his experiences during his involvement during World War I.  This includes his  trips through the desert.  His descriptions are marvelous, very richly detailed.

It is well documented that Lawrence really pushed himself physically.  Others have speculated that he was  a masiochist, and did so because he was embarrassed that his parents had never married.

He does allude to the possibility of fame, and being knighted, but more, he wants to do right by the Arabs.  It is clear, early on, that he realizes that his country, England, has sold them out to the French.  What he also makes clear is that, as the Arabs were making progress, Mustafa Kemal (who was to become the great Ataturk) offered Feisal a deal for self rule once the war against the Ottomans was won…and Feisal decided to  trust  the British.  Big mistake.

One has to remember that the European powers, and Russia, got involved in World War I for an expansion of territory.  Malaysians  have told me that while the Chinese were always in southeast Asia, they never  fought for political control.  They were just doing business.  Not so the Europeans. They were always out to  subject people to their  rules and culture.  What started out as patriotic duty to Lawrence ended up in realizing he played a part in the betrayal of the Arabs. Sure, they got part of what they wanted, but  in the end, due to the French insistence on  ruling Syria, we have what we now have in the modern Middle East.

This is the counter-factual condition. Were it not for  this, everything would be totally different.  In the past several years, much has been written about Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, and how Jewish immigration was handled in Palestine, since nobody wanted the Jews,  dumping them in this desert place was as good an idea to European powers as anything, and  certainly the Arabs were not mature or intelligent to run a country . Transparency and respect for rules of law?  Issues not addressed.  it was the firth estate—the press—not mature or intelligent enough…and they still aren’t.  Vested interests and all.  However, we Americans are so gullible, and under the guise of our own patriotism, continue to fight for the wrong side  (Iraq, Afghanistan), using the wrong tactics, worshiping as heroes the people we send to die for an amorphous cause, and keeping the playing field unlevel so the rich in developed areas can  unfairly prosper.

In the end, Lawrence  was ‘rewarded’ by his government for his role, but, obviously sick at heart, he tried to become anonymous.  Although he died in a motorcycle accident, he was obviously depressed, and  it is fair to say he was also a victim of his government.

These People have no Garbage!

March 14, 2013

My roommate and I were watching  a news program on TV, and a couple with 2 kids were being shown how they   throw out—in the garbage, about $300  worth of food a month.  I couldn’t believe it.

I told my roommate, “We don’t even spend $300 on food a month.”

Of course, we eat very little mammal.  Maybe  several times a year.There are several reasons for this, which I won’t go into.  I admire vegetarians & totally  admire vegans, but , although I am getting closer, I am not there yet.    But this is not the total reason we average $80 a week on groceries—and that includes cleaning supplies,l office supplies, and toilet paper.

How do we do it? Well, remember, no kids. Kids are very expensive…and the idea they don’t  teach household budgeting in 7th & 8th grad math classes in the USA is  unconscionable. They should send kids out to price  diapers & baby formula. No joke.  But I digress…

I shop sales and buy  in season produce.  Gag me, but I do a lot of grocery shopping at Aldi’s.  I know they are cheaper because their employees are not unionized, but  they are 30% cheaper on  dairy, and at least 10–20% on many other items.  Bring cash or a debit card—& your own bags.  They are cheaper than Walmart—& I would only go to Walmart if they had something I absolutely could not find anywhere else.  Walmart has destroyed small town America.

We, in Chicago, are lucky to have specialty ‘green grocers’, and very close to  home are 2 that  provide phenomenal values on  produce.  Sometimes,  1/2  is spoiled, but even throwing it away, it is cheaper than a chain store…& that’s where we get into the  NO GARBAGE.  We compost.  

I had a pile by the  side of the house, & my  current tenants have a large bin.  We compost  everything we can.  &, we recycle.

In the early 1980’s, I, with several other concerned community members, founded  the first actual community based recycling center in Chicago:  Uptown Recycling Station.  I became involved because of the environmental conservation aspects of it, but other board members  joined on to create jobs for  southeast Asian immigrants.  I think, at the most, we created 4 jobs, but they were living wage jobs with health insurance.

We maintained the  recycling center, but  also got a van & collected ‘set outs’ of glass, metal, and paper, in the very high density neighborhood of Roger Park.  We probably had about 20% of the community  participating  then. Amazing, considering  the  ward was at least  70% rental apartments, &  people moved a lot.
We convinced the  city to  give us a ‘diversion (from the landfill) credit.’  That means  for every ton of stuff we  diverted from  the landfill, which the city would have had to pay to dispose, they paid us.  We were a very, ah, lean operation.

Now, about 30 years later, we finally—finally— got  blue bins for  what is called curb side collection, from the city.  I know people won’t take the time to separate their recyclables from their ‘wet waste’ unless they have kids, but we’re getting there!

Turkish Street Dogs

March 7, 2013

Street Dogs of Istanbul, and the Forest Sanctuary


Istanbul, one of the oldest cities in the world, is a wondrous place.  Situated at the very edge of Europe, the gateway to Asia, it is densely populated and vibrant.  It is truly a mixture of  old and new, modern and ancient.

Visiting Hag Sophia and Topkapi Palace, an American would be struck by the presence  of stray dogs relaxing contentedly on the grounds.  We notice many have ear tags. What’s the story?

sheltersignI was able to spend time with Bilge Okay, an active member of the group Sahipsiz Kopekler  (    She graciously gave me a tour of Istanbul and took me to the  forest sanctuary  the group maintains for street dogs.

She explained to me that while most urban Turks don’t keep pets, they love their street dogs, and try to care for them. However, as the city has become more dense, with much more traffic, and people becoming more transient, it  has not been a safe environment for  street dogs. Rural  people have also migrated to the city, or  immigrated from other  areas with dogs, & can’t or won’t keep them.  So, the group does trap/neuter/’release of dogs. While they have the dogs, they are also vaccinated, and ear tagged.  In fact, many tourists ask the tour guides about them.  The dogs do not look unhealthy.  They look like peoples’ pets…but they are on their own.

033Most are of a type that we would recognize as possibly Anatolian Shepherd or Marmara Sheepdog mixes.  There is some evidence that pariah dogs do develop a conformational type, but their general overall conformation is of a spitz type dog, many with prick ears.  There is a range of coloring, but most are  black masked blond, or black.

The forest sanctuary is at the northeast part of town.  Originally, it was  informally used, as it was close to a city refuse dump, and many people were dumping stray dogs. With assistance from  Dutch and British benefactors, they build dog houses and put up fencing, and they got tacit permission from the Ministry of Forestry to use the space.  Currently, the dog population hovers about 1,000 ,and they are permitted to stay there for life. What about the trap/neuter/release?  When they can, and they know where  dogs come from, they are returned to their neighborhoods.  When they are abandoned, they stay in the forest sanctuary.  The Ministry of Forestry now says there are too many dogs, but the supporters are hoping that the neutering program will decrease the number of dogs coming in.

Having visiteBilge  Okayd cities with street/pariah dogs, I am cautious to not approach dogs.  Many have not been treated well.  It is a sad fact that in many places, where the concept of human rights is still vague, one can’t expect compassion for stray animals.  Yet, upon hearing Bilge’s car, the dogs got quite excited and greeted us with wagging tails, and many leaned against us as we talked.

I told Bilge of my experience volunteering for humane societies in the USA, and of my experiences as a court advocate for a group that makes sure animal abuse cases are  prosecuted seriously in the court system. I gave her some of the printed materials we hand out, and she gave me the booklet they give out to elementary school children  to explain the overpopulation problem, and what it means to take care of a pet.

If YOU want to help the Turkish Street dogs, the groups assisting always need cash for food.

Here are the links:

For those who travel, please consider supporting the animal welfare activists in the country you are visiting.

If you can’t find information, or don’t know where to start, contact