Archive for October, 2013

You need to know how to control the dog!

October 24, 2013

When I get new dog grooming clients whose dogs  I have to shave because they are matted, I   try to show the owners what   brushes they need and how to brush the dog.  Fundamental is insisting the dog be still so it can be groomed.  Many dog owners allow their dogs to get out of control, like they are martians or something.

I have  written about spoiled dogs in the past, abut  clearly  it really needs to be addressed.

I recently  took in a dog  that was somewhat obedience trained, but very reactive to small animals and other dogs, He’s a work in progress, but no matter,  He is learning that I am in charge & we don’t act a fool.  He sees a dog or a squirrel, and I tell him to sit.  Because  he has been behavior shaped to sit automatically (and most dogs ca at least do this), he doesn’t give  it a thought. He sits and he is distracted from whatever  captured his attention.

It takes a while to teach a dog anything, but if you are consistent, and motivated yourself, you can do this.

I  guess it’s a given that I am motivated to be able to communicate with my  dog and have a  relationship with  him.  Not so most pet owners, apparently.

Most owners have good intentions, but because they trusted the pet shop  sellers—or even the backyard breeder,  rescue, or shelter that sold/gave them the dog, and those people didn’t make a big deal about how important obedience training/behavior shaping is…. they let the dog get out of hand. When that happens, you have double the  problem, because not only are you trying to shape a new behavior, you have to overcome an old habit—the dog’s habit of being in charge of your human.

I  addressed this  to an extent in my blog on specials coat—and how to grow the coat long. The primary issue is forcing the dog to be submissive, then  using your own  system and working with confidence.  There is no reason the dog should be hurt.  I realized I  had done it wrong with my first Afghan Hound, because I always allowed him to stand on the grooming table, and he was too nervous to just lay down if I brushed him.  I started the next one as a puppy, before her hair grew long—-& this is  how I tell pet owners to start if I have had to shave the dog.  Start while the hair is short and go through the motions.  However, I also suggest  some sort of formal training for the dog, so  they both get used to the dynamic of the owner being in charge, and the dog paying attention.  A better bond forms,

I know most pet owners never planned to WORK with the dog every day.
They just didn’t give any more thought to taking car of a dog than walking and feeding.  I am sorry the  people who sold or gave them the dog were less than forthcoming.  I  wonder how  rescues can  NOT address grooming and training.  However, I know the pet shops can’t be trusted.  Please spread the word.

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No More Students

October 17, 2013

I  own  rental property.  It’s in a Victorian building, relatively well maintained, and walking distance to a private university.  It is also along a rapid transit line, and just 3 blocks from Lake Michigan.  It is  three bedrooms, 1 bathroom (with a deep clawfoot tub), a porch, a  backyard for bar-b-queing, and includes  one parking space and free use of a washer and dryer.  for  $1200 a month—which includes heat, it is considered a good value.  The neighborhood is  eclectic.  We have nightlife close by, and  a grocery store .

I had very good tenants for a number or years.  One couple saved up and bought a condo.  Another  couple—older gay men, lived below me for about 4  years, and then  one died. The other felt the rent was too much for himself, and he didn’t want a roommate.  In this  neighborhood,  due to the  real estate crash in 2008, there are plenty of condos for rent.  The infrastructure of these places may not be very good, but they are decorated nicely. If you just want a place for yourself, they might be a better value  if you don’t need the square   footage (my  place is 1300 square feet).  So, I started marketing to students.  Big mistake.

I always state that it is a  three bedroom place. When someone calls, I ask that all decision makers be present at the appointment.  This never happens. Excuses  are always  they are in class or at work,and they trust (my) judgement.  But they al;ways have to return with their roommates. As this  had happened several times, I came to understand that  college students at private universities think they are special and the rules don’t apply to them.

I ask for credit reports.  Clearly, being young, most students don’t have much of a credit history. What they do have is  boatloads of debt, and the average seems to be about $50,000.  More or less…no joke.  Some have borrowed  for living expenses.   Most are getting help from parents. This means they have never had to act responsibly and don’t understand a contract is a contract—even a lease.  I learned that most  young men won’t bother trying to rent from a landlord who lives on the premises.  The girls, however, seem to think  being free spirited is  ok.  So, you don’t just get  three  female roommates, you get their boyfriends, whom the girls give keys to, whom aren’t responsible for anything, and  I think this is the  main cause of the problems.

I had  one student who, a month before the lease was up, decided she didn’t like the  natural woodwork in the bathroom, so she decided to paint it—or at least start  painting it.  She gave up. I had to strip it, i can’t imagine what compelled her.

I had totally gutted the kitchen and put in new kitchen cabinets, appliances, and counter tops. Somehow, they managed to  chip  the counter top, and nobody could figure out how or when.  Beer bottles and cigarette butts all over the yard after weekly parties.  My God, we knew over  40 years ago that smoking was linked to lung cancer. What would cause someone under  25 to start smoking?  it doesn’t make you look sophisticated—it makes you look like a stupid, spoiled brat!

Twice they broke the washing machine.   Once, it was because of not adhering to the  ‘HE’ low sudsing detergent rule.  Once—dig this—a BOBBY PIN in a pocket.  Who uses Bobby Pins?

But my favorite is  what they managed to do to the toilet.  Last batch of girls had real problems with the toilet over flowing (which  wrecked a control on the boiler, which was right below their bathroom) and finally, it looked like it might be a compression valve problem.  I had my roommate—an engineer, come  down to their bathroom to help me trouble shoot. He said (no joke), “I thought girls lived down here!”  The bathroom was not only below his standards—I have lived in Africa, and it was below mine. They had so little respect for themselves and each other.

We replaced the valve, but the toilet continued to leak, and over flow,  even after I had  rodded it out several times.  So I called a plumber. He told me the tank was cracked.  HOW DO YOU CRACK A TOILET TANK?  No explanation.  I’ve had tenants with kids  break a brass faucet.  So the plumber told me  to get a new  toilet and he would install it.

“I found out what the problem was,” he  told me.  We never did  discover how they managed to crack the tank, but  he turned the  removed toilet over, and  there were several dozen plastic tampon tubes.  “Rodding was not going to get rid of this because they float up,” he told me.  I had asked them, too, about tampon tubes and all denied. So, when  I confronted them, much finger pointing—and it was X—even though they had told her not to.  I told them this was coming out of their security deposit.

It took the 3 girls and a set of parents about  4 days to  clean up—the kitchen was such a mess, and one had her Daddy tell me my place was a dump and I had intimidated their friends (I wish!), and he would not give me the keys back until I refunded their deposit, i wrote them a check for $500 and told them to leave.

No more kids.  I will sell this place & move out of the country before I  rent to kids.

2 Game Changers!

October 10, 2013

I am an independent contractor.  Yes, I do take jobs where taxes are taken out, but rarely have I qualified for benefits.  It is also important  to me to be able to act with integrity and be prepared to quit a job if I am asked to do something unethical or that might endanger a pet.  If you are a regular reader, you  know I’ve quit a lot of jobs—or been told to not return.  It’s shocking to me that people can say they love dogs and have so much influence—and  just do  so much that  gives people wrong information, or shows  lack of respect for a dog.

When I closed my business  in June of 2006, I bounced around for a few months. I checked out job offers.  One was  to groom at a  pet store—-Pocket Puppies in Chicago, that sold puppy mill bred  toy breed dogs. To this day, the owner, Lane Boron, still markets that he buys from  family breeders. True—Amish puppy mills are run by families.  They are breeding pets like livestock, and Lane is selling them like livestock…the only screening he does is making sure  buyers don’t have toddlers.  However, if you work or are gone 10+ hours a day, and  just leave a pee-pad out, & have the cash (or credit) to buy a dog—that’s good enough  for Lane.

I  checked out The Collar and Leash, on Wells in Old town.  I had worked for the original owner, Jan Condurso over 30 years before! Two  problems stopped me:  they paid an hourly wage—no commission—and they also sold puppy mill bred dogs.  The fact of the matter is that the guys were just fair groomers. They really didn’t love dogs, and were just  making a living…..and their over head was way too high.   Jan and her sister, Barbara Lewis, had set them up in business, as the 2 cousins —their sons—were high school drop outs, and they knew what they were doing was unethical, but didn’t care.  Dan Raymond, one of the cousins, died recently.  Just about 3 months ago , Dan’s wife decided to stop  retailing the puppy mill dogs &  marketed that she would work with shelters & rescues…but there is no evidence that  that ever happened.  They could not sustain the business without  hiring a groomer, and could not get a groomer to work for them.

Across the street from the Collar And Leash, , The Furry Beastro was interested in  me being available  one weekday and one weekend day, but I could see the way they  were set up that I would never make money.  For one thing, they had 1 groomer, & he took in 1 dog at a time.  If that dog didn’t show up…he would not be making money.  They wanted me to be available for his over flow.  The owner also had 4 people on the payroll hanging around and the store wasn’t even open for business!  Sure enough,  they were  out of business within 6 months

I took a job at an animal hospital, as a groomer, that had over a 90% ‘no-show’ rate, so I had to look for other work, and got hired by Best Friends Pet Care, which owned a chain  of kennels.  I could never used them as a reference as my manager quit, and Bruce Blaine, well….  It took a couple of months to be hired, and I had to be assertive about it, because, although their website  tells you to  apply at  the location you want to work at, you  do that & the manager tells you he needs approval from corporate.    Huh?  It was also disturbing that a friend of mine was training with an independent contractor dog trainer at this location who told my friend she wouldn’t want to be caught alone in the building with Bruce Blaine, but what was I to do? They had business and I’m a tough broad.

Bruce was a real asshole.  He  allowed men  on his payroll to  be irresponsible, lazy, and not do any work, and he was  always angry and condescending to the women.  The way the kennel was set up, you had to walk dogs out to an ‘exercise area’ for them to relieve themselves.  This would have been ok if the last outing wasn’t  9:p.m., and you started letting dogs out at  6, but  because  Bruce  wasn’t there in the mornings,—or because he didn’t care—- and he only had 2 kennel staff scheduled, 1 girl  had to  do all the ‘walks’. &  this meant that  if there were over 10 dogs in the kennel (like on a holiday or weekend), dogs were sitting in their own mess.  Real dog lovers, these guys.  I asked for a shelf in the laundry room, so kennel staff wouldn’t take  towels out of the dryer & just throw them on the floor, and he told me to mind my own business.  My  2 days off were Tuesday & Wednesday, but he had me come in on July 4th—a Tuesday—to groom 1 dog  that didn’t go home until after 2 on July 5th. I guess he showed me who was boss. I know  one issue was that I was netting more than him  working less hours, and getting a lot of compliments on my grooming. So it goes.

My  manager—an assistant, quit, because she couldn’t take working for him.  After a year, I wanted to be able to take    off 1 weekend day of a month. I asked Bruce  how we were doing grooming wise, and he wouldn’t give me any info, so I called human resources. They told me I had INCREASED NET IN THAT LOCATION by over 10%.  You’d think I’d have some bargaining power, but no.  A few weeks after, I got a certified letter telling me they were cutting my health insurance and benefits because I wasn’t working an average of 30 your a week.  “But you told me I  have increased your net!  You are penalizing  me for managing my time well!”  The response: “Yeah, well, that’s just our policy.”  Bruce was away—at a meeting, but  when he returned he was livid.  He actually told me he would have given me kennel hours. As it was, I WAS working in the kennel, as I  didn’t want dogs I groomed  sitting in  peed up runs, but no matter. Someone offered me a  job, and I quit.

I have a client who still used Best Friends for boarding, and I said something about how Bruce manages the kennel.  She said, “He’s no longer there.” So, I called another   dog trainer who also worked there.  She told me she had it in her contract that Bruce could not talk to her.  She told me the corporation  was sold, they promoted  an assistant manager, and Bruce was gone. They gave him an assistant manager’s job at another location.  He now has  two layers of bosses over him.  Oh, well…

Lots of groomers take jobs with  corporate owned pet shops for the health insurance.  Some even quit in spite  of having health insurance. Now with affordable healthcare (a/k/a Obamacare), I bet a lot of dog groomers are going to be quitting corporate pet shops…Pretty soon, there will be many more groomers available, at least temporarily.
we’ll see if they really know how to groom dogs…

No Integrity Needed: It’s a ‘capoodle’, a designer pup…and lies the pet industry perpetrates…

October 3, 2013
This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu--- can you guess what they call it?

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu— can you guess what they call it?

I can’t say this enough, it is a terrible industry.  They  fight the  Endangered Species Act, and promote animals as pets that do not do well in captivity,
They constantly give  absolutely WRONG care instructions for birds & herps, the thinking being that if your animal dies, they will sell you another one.  & I have a few choice words for the puppy sellers….

The dog in the photo to the left is a Bull-Shit, no joke,   A Pit Bull—Shih Tzu Mix. In this case, it  was  an imbecile owner with 2 intact dogs.  However, I have  dogs come in for grooming that are sold as Bandogs’, ‘HavaShih, and ‘Caboodle’ (Cavalier—Poodle cross), Cavashon (Cavalier-Bichon), Chiweenies (Chihuahua-Dachshund), Bugs (Boston Terrier-Pug) blah blah blah…  & these buyers really think they got something rare—not a mixed breed dog!!

I had a dog come in for grooming  this week…. this is  typical…. the owner told our staff it was a Miniature Australian Shepherd.  This is a pure breed, true.    The dog she brought in for grooming, however, was some sort of spaniel–shetland sheepdog mix, by the look of her. She was NOT a purebred anything.  But the owner told us she got registration papers for this dog! What happened (I’ve seen this before):  the pet shop gets several litters of puppies, and the  registration papers for all of them in an envelope…. and as long as they get an AKC (or APRI, or CKC) registrations for every pup, they  don’t really know  and don’t really care which papers go to which dog, or even if all the dogs are purebred! They know nobody will challenge them. You ask for registration papers, and they give you ‘papers’.  Worse, now that the American Kennel Club allows  mixed breeders to  compete in performance events, the pet shops sell mixed breeds as ‘AKC registerable’!

An example fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An example fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

The pet stores love  buyers.  Right from the get go,it’s clear that people who go into pet shops looking for a puppy haven’t got a clue about how to find a healthy, well bred puppy.  It is illegal to sell puppies in the internet in the USA. The law is not enforced, but how can you tell the difference between a puppy mill and a hobby breeder breeding for the betterment of the breed? I always warn people that  very few breeders offer  more than 1 or 2 breeds, and they will show you photos of the dogs winning the awards. They will also mention the genetic testing they do. But puppy mills steal photos all the time.

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

Getting back to pet shops…so you buy a puppy, and you need a couple of  bowls for food & water, a crate,  toys, a brush….& nobody gives you any instructions on housebreaking, or mentions what grooming will cost ( unless you ask), but the worst thing is…they always sell the puppy buyers WRONG BRUSH!  It has pins on one side, bristles on the other. and is WORTHLESS for most types of dogs. The correct brush for most dogs is a slicker brush!  But , for some reason, nobody who works in a pet store that sells puppies or kittens  knows how to use one of those, either!  It’s so frustrating!  Anybody with 2 hands can learn to brush a dog in a matter of minutes!  Why would  pet shop  owners– and  managers, who profess to love animals, be too lazy to learn how to brush a dog, and teach their staff?  Why would they continued to sell the wrong items to pet owners?  There is no reason   to NOT  do the right thing except a lack of integrity and a total disregard for  pet owners.  The irony is…people really think that  businesses that sell animals are operated by animal lovers, and want to do right by them!  Who should teach a pet owner how to brush a  dog (or cat)  if not the seller?  & that is why  you  have to think:  if the breeder of this  animal didn’t love it enough to want to meet ME, and make sure I was the right owner for this pet…did they really care about the pets they are breeding—like livestock?  If they don’t care, who can I go to for  help, even mentoring? And that is the value of the hobby breeder…and the reason you don’t see  Gordon Setters, Briards, Sussex Spaniels, Salukis, or Lakeland Terriers in pet shops..  It is also the reason you now see Brussels Griffons, Papillons, FRENCH BULLDOGS, and so many formerly ‘rare’ breeds in pet shops:  it took 1 naive  hobby breeder to sell a breedable bitch and an intact male to  someone with no integrity, who only wanted to make  money breeding dogs.

We  genuine dog lovers are not reaching the pet buying public.  We have clients who tell us they adopted a dog—when they bought the dog (you adopt from a shelter or rescue…), that  they bought the dog from a REPUTABLE pet shop (no reputable pet shop sells puppies unless they bred them themselves…and if they didn’t test the parent dogs for discoverable genetic defects, they are not reputable).  Meanwhile, the American Kennel Club is waging a subtle war on the  hobby breeders because they are not breeding enough puppies. What are enough puppies? Enough for the  employees of the AKC to keep their cushy jobs, apparently.  Nobody can afford to show a dog unless they are really wealthy, and few can afford to breed dogs and keep an entire litter of  five, eight, or 12 pups until good homes come along.  It wasn’t always like this. From the 1950’s through the  turn of the century, middle class people were showing dogs.  The American economy has been destroyed by the 1%.  This is not  just my opinion—it is an economic fact.

But say you want to   live with a dog, what to do….?   If you don’t know any  dog groomers, dog trainers, or  veterinarians who know hobby  breeders, you  really have to  google local animal shelters and breed specific rescues, PETFINDER… and you have to be a little skeptical. The  rescue or shelter that only has puppies & never adult dogs—-is a front for puppy mills.  The  rescue that doesn’t do any  health or temperament screening, and doesn’t ask you  if you own or rent, who all you live with, and about your available time for a pet—is not a rescue—it is a pet brokerage, most likely getting dogs for free off Craigslist & reselling them.  If they don’t have a website, a physical address, and can’t show you an annual audit of their expenses…it’s a scam.  There are plenty of places to find dogs and puppies.  Don’t be impulsive, and  please please please don’t enrich the pet shops selling pets.  They are not your friends, and they are not the  friend of pets.