2 Game Changers!


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…

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