Archive for April, 2014

Integrity, Dog Hobby Breeders, Puppy Mill Rescue, and Fake Rescues…..

April 25, 2014
This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not  grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

I was at an event several weeks ago, an event to promote dog rescue, ethical pet business, and dog training. Two local rescues, each with excellent reputations, had  dogs there, on display,  that needed homes.  One volunteer for a No Kill Group (PAWS Chicago) told me the purebred Labrador Retriever he was fostering for PAWS came from Omaha.  Huh?  Why is PAWS not taking every adoptable dog at the open access Chicago Animal Care & Control—our OPEN ACCESS dog pound? Especially when volunteers for other groups know that PAWS have put ‘holds’ on dogs?

The other group had, among their  animals, 3 old Chihuahuas.  The owner had to go  into a nursing home.  We were chatting and I said I had gotten  a dog from rescue, but in this breed (Whippets), the breeders take dogs back, & the volunteer  retorted, “Probably resells them…”  And? So what? What’s the difference between what you’re doing and what she is doing? She is responsible for the dogs she breeds, and pets go with shots and neutering,  housebroken, and  some obedience trained.  She will always take them back.  Meanwhile, your group is in the same league with all the fake rescues that  look for anf wide, and still go out of state to get the dogs they know people want:  the designer dogs and toy breeds.  If Pit Bulls are the most  often seen dog in shelters, why is it that none of you  brought Pit Bulls to this event?  Huh?  These responsible  hobby breeders are not the cause of purebred dogs in rescues.  Chances, are, the three  Chihuahuas were  all breeding dogs, and the breeder was the owner.

I’m on a roll.  When I was a teenager, I got the opportunity to work for a very well known hobby breeder of Afghan Hounds.  She was a founder  of the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago. We mt by chance. She came to a garage sale my family held and saw a painting of an Afghan Hound (my own dog, from her bloodline that I had made, and we got to talking.  I really respected her.  I told her I wanted to groom dogs, and she invited me to  help her.  What I found  when I got to her  rented home was over 50 dogs, most in crates that were too small for the dogs to stand up and turn around in.   How did this happen?  Another  hobby breeder died, and instead of having dogs euthanized, she took them, planning on  placing them with other fanciers.  Unfortunately,  due to lack of a Will and AKC rules, as well as her own bad record keeping,  they could not be placed with AKC registration, which  bogged down placing those dogs,  Some were dogs she took back. A few were dogs she took that were bred by other people, sold  for show or breeding, and no longer wanted.  Some were dogs she had shown, and planned on breeding, but  stuff happened.  She wasn’t a puppy mill. She just had too many dogs for  her family to care for humanely.  But who do you inform?  it was not illegal.  She actually had good intentions, but good intentions are not enough.

In Chicago and Cook County, laws were passed to prohibit the selling of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores unless they  come from BONA FIDE shelters and rescues.  Unfortunately, the laws are poorly written and  there is no money for enforcement.  The slick puppy mills, many run better than my friend’s hobby breeding kennel, may register themselves  with the state as a ‘rescue’, and like Christine Poyner, trade dogs and puppies with other puppy mills.

We also have  many breed specific rescues that BUY  dogs from puppy m ills and claim this is rescue—when they’ve done nothing to shut the puppy mills down.  We have THE PUPPY MILL PROJECT, which  helped pass the laws to prohibit selling commercially bred pets in pet stores, and that will  help go to solve the problem of poorly or inhumanely cared for  commercial breeding  dogs, but it will not make a dent in the number of dogs  in OPEN ACCESS pounds and  shelters, as most of those dogs were bred by BACKYARD BREEDERS, and nothing is being  done to  license them—most of whom post for free on Kijiji or Craigslist.  It would be simple enough to  pass a law that says that if you advertise  puppies/kittens/bunnies, you  pay to register for every breedable animal you have, every year.  That, however, is not as dramatic as passing the laws we have passed.

It’s just common sense, i think, that if you are looking for a puppy, you either  check out local animal shelters—that have facilities, or you  research the breed you want, and breeders—and be skeptical. We see  breeders posting on Craigslist say they are FOSTERING a litter—but they don’t say  for whom they are fostering.  If the rescues does not have a website that that’s they are licensed with a government entity, it is not a rescue.  You will not be rescuing.  If you can’t feel the dam—the mommy dog—you want to know why, and be skeptical.

You don’t pay for a dog because you feel sorry for it.  You pay for a dog because you have the time to  work with it, bond with it, and  want to change your life.    Don’t keep unethical people in business.

How to Teach Kids to Learn to Save Money.

April 18, 2014

I don’t know that I would be a natural saver, planner, or budgeter if I had not seen what my parents did.  My  father would come home from work and empty his pockets and put his coins in coin banks.  My mother would make lists & never go shopping without a list.

My mother was the most influential.  My father turned over his paycheck to her, and she was responsible for bills and household expenses.  I am sure they were both on the same page when it came to  how to  plan for the future.  I knew that not all my mother’s friends were as savvy about money, because she opened ‘Christmas Club’ bank accounts with several of them. When I asked her why she had these (joint) accounts, she told me that ‘M’ would not save money every week if  it weren’t for the match my mom made.   I guess I am dating myself, as I don’t think any banks have that kind of account anymore. The idea was that you would open the account  two or three months before  Christmas, put money in once a week, then get a big check at the end.  The irony is that these accounts paid less interest than a regular passbook account.

Back then, in the  1960’s and ’70’s, some accounts paid simple interest, some paid compound interest.  It was known that ‘Savings & Loan Associations’ paid more interest on accounts than banks, and  nobody had heard of credit unions —except union members and farmers.  Certificates of Deposit were new products, and hardly anyone  knew what mutual funds were.  Instead, many people, like my father, trusted insurance agents and their products.  Funny, they were so opaque, but  it was your relationship  with your insurance agent that got you suckered in.

As a teenager, I really had no idea how much it cost to live.  My mother told me that  one week’s pay should cover  my rent and utilities for a month.  That was my ballpark.  I made an average of $20 a day grooming dogs, I am not kidding, Of course, my  share of the rent was $ 35 a month.  A can of tuna was 25c, and you paid for long distance phone service.

I didn’t get serious about saving until I  was entering my  thirties, and going to school and planning to travel.  Long story short, my first  house cost me $23,000, and I sold it  10 years later for $125,000 and bought the next house for $119,000.  This  kind of thing can be done again, with the ‘market correction’.  You just have to  decide what is a necessity.

These days, I try to pay for as much as I can with a credit card because mine gives me 3–5% cash back—which  sort of cuts the sales tax in Illinois.  I also have a record of what I spent at the end of the month.   I learned from my mother to pay off the balance at the end of the month, or  I’d be paying 10–25% more for everything with the fees.  That makes no sense. I am thinking of switching to a debit card, but that doesn’t give me cash back.

So…how do you teach kids to save?  By teaching them what  things cost, first.  Sort of like The Price is Right.  You can set up various packaged goods on a table  and have them guess.  Then, take them shopping and have them do comparisons of the various products.  Take them to different stores as well.  It’s important to teach kids that fresh food in season costs less than   prepared foods (canned or frozen, unless something is on sale or a loss leader).

When they ask for toys  or  luxuries, ask them what  it costs.  Ask them to compare costs or various brands.  Ask them how they plan to earn money, and give them ideas. My father had us separate a bucket of screws, nuts, and bolts into  about 20 different categories.    I think he paid us $1 an hour (minimum wage at the time was $1.60).  Kids can baby sit, do yard work, go shopping, do laundry, help  neighbors. I have also collected cans when I walk my dogs, Aluminum pays 40—50c a pound, Copper pays much more.

When I was in 8th grade, we had a section in a social studies class on  capitalism, and developing a business with a business plan.  Every school should have that, and if your school doesn’t, find out why.  A 10 year old can figure this out.

When I left home, at 18, I had no idea what anything cost, I just had the confidence that if I  shared the rent and household expenses, I would be ok.  I had a friend who had another friend who  moved out and back in to her parents home three times before she turned 26.  She didn’t want a roommate, and she was very fashion conscious.   I had a client who continued to live with her parents for several years after graduating from college. She worked as a trader  (with the internet, you can do a lot more than without).  She managed to save not only enough money to buy investment property, but also to return to school to get another degree. It just depends on your priorities.

What kick started me to economic security was  joining an investment club, and learning to do the research. Nobody ever got rich by saving.   Although I do own stock in a few companies, mostly I own  mutual funds. There is less risk and greater chance of reward. Still you have to know what your goals are and what kinds of investments meet your needs.  If you are going to pay someone else to mind your money, and have less than  $250,000,  you are really taking a risk and are going to pay a lot.  I remember when the concept of the Individual Retirement Account (IRA) was introduced in the early 1970s. Contributions were tax-deductible, but you had to keep the money in until you retired or there was a penalty.  I thought that was a great idea.  I had no idea that  Social Security would not be enough, but no matter.    It took me a while to get  with the program, but I  have 3 IRAs and  put as much in as I can.

The work I do, dog grooming, is very seasonal. That means in some parts of the year I am very busy and make a lot of money, but when the weather gets bad,  my wealthy clients leave town, and the rest make excuses.  I had to learn to save for those bad times.    I often do dog walking or over night pet sitting  in those lean times.

My checking account is  attached to a money market. That means it pays interest, but I have to keep a certain balance.  So, I put money in but it is not in the checkbook.  I see it on the statement, but it is not there to spend.  I divide my tips in three.   1/3 goes into savings, 1/3 is in the reserve, and 1/3 is to spend.  At the end of the month, if there is more than $100, it all goes into savings.  My guilty pleasures are  movies, dog shows, and going out to eat with friends.  Also, vacations, and most recently, books.  I live near a recycling center, and in Chicago there are a lot of church rummage sales and used bookstores. No need to pay for a book unless I really want it.  I consign books, clothes, and jewelry that I don’t intend to  use or keep.  I also donate a lot and keep very good records, as  I am self-employed and the tax write-off for ‘donations in kind’ is significant. I upped my  tax refund 40% by keeping track of donations-in-kind and using ‘client valuation’ guides—which you can find online.  I am not very fashion forward.  I buy clothes that are functional and durable, mostly at used clothing stores.  Several  of my male friends have disparaged  my  clothing, but since they are all in debt, I laugh them off.  Idiots.

So—- how can you teach a  child to save money?  Talk over all that I mentioned and encourage them to be curious and discerning.  Don’t pay for everything they want.    Don’t be judgemental if they make choices to spend money on stuff you wouldn’t.

For  more information on  financial education, check out  “”  Great nonprofit doing financial education all over  the USA.

The Dog Stinks

April 11, 2014


I bathe a lot of dogs  that I don’t think need baths.  They don’t seem dirty to me.  However, I am inured to  smell.    Or so my significant other says.

Odor is caused by bacteria and anaerobic digestion.  You have to determine what is causing it to get rid of it.

Try to rule out what it is not.  Are you sure it’s not the dog’s collar (I often wash them in the shop I work in—no sense putting a sticky collar on a clean dog)?  It’s not his bedding or your carpet, is it?  Be a shame to wash the dog and have the stink jump right back on!

Are you sure  the dog does not have  a dental problem, ear infection, problem anal glands, digestive issues (causing gas and farting—let’s be honest), or something wrong with his feet?  Amazing how often I  ‘discover’ a health issue.  Dogs perspire through their feet, and very often, matted hair in between the pads prevent you from  finding out  if the dog has an infection.

Have you been brushing your dog once a week with a proper slicker brush and taking out the dead hair?

For all of you who wondered why  you needed to learn anything about physics in high school, we are taking about surface area.  The more hair (surface area) you eliminate, the  more stink you eliminate.

So, let’s say you’ve done all the trouble shooting and the dog, frankly, needs a bath.  Keep in mind that suds does not equal ‘cleaning’, and that using more shampoo won’t necessarily  get your dog cleaner or smelling better.  Some people like the scented shampoos, but if that scent lasts more than 24 hours, you may be masking or causing other problems.

For the dog who smells like dawg,   I use Double K Grimenator Shampoo.   It dilutes 32 to 1 and does a really good job eliminating  odor,  and smells clean.    For those dogs with sensitive skin, Bobbi Panter makes the sodium free Itchy Dog.  If you think you are  going to be a frequent dog washer, might be worth buying a gallon. It dilutes 16 to 1.  Some of the holistic veterinarians are suggesting  Murphy Oil Soap, which also has a high dilution ration, and  does not irritate the skin.

The end?  I know…some dogs start to stink again in a few days. Lip folds (or in the case of the bracheocephalics—Bulldogs and Pugs), face folds…Use cotton balls soaked in Listerine.  Not minty fresh—generic.  The eucalyptus oil breaks up the proteins in the amino acids that make up bacteria.  You can also mist the dog with Listerine.

Did the dog get skunked or roll in  something dead?  Two products:  Nature’s Miracle and Outright!  are very effective breaking up these kinds of  bacteria—but I  warn clients that the smell might be there for the life of the hair. Hair is protein.  We can shave it off, or you can try several applications of these products.

Is  the smell in the carpet or bedding?  Odoban, which you can get at most hardware stores, will break up  odor causing bacteria.  Amazingly effective.

Now, how about those droopy ears?  The dog does not have an ear infection, but his ears are in the water bowl.  Two solutions:  having a dog wear a snood (Afghan Hound, Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniels, etc) will keep the dogs ears off the  floor and out of food and water.  So will raising the  bowls and using what we used to call ‘cocker bowls’ which are more like pails:  the dog puts his face in, but they are narrow enough to  keep the ears out.

What about the beard (terriers, Shih Tzu, etc)?  The only solution is combing the dog’s face after he eats.  We can  cut beards very short, but don’t complain about how the dog looks.

A final ‘word’:  dogs are more than four legs and a tail.  You do have a choice.  You don’t have to  own a dog  that  will always smell or need professional grooming or daily upkeep. I, myself, own Whippets. As much as I love fluffy dogs, I don’t  have time to wash the floor or wash dog faces every day.  It’s not like  you can’t get information about the breeds and  the pros and cons of the breeds. Think about it.

What the Ban on pet shop Sales of pets means for pet lovers & consumers

April 4, 2014
Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with  genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

In Chicago, we (  in this case,meaning 49 of 50 aldermen— unheard of cooperation NOT led by a mayor) recently voted to ban the sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits that do not come from bona fide shelters and rescues, in pet shops. That means  pet shop sales of commercially bred animals–-pets bred as livestock—  will no longer be legal. ( See: ).

Will this make a difference in the number of  pets that wind up abandoned in shelters, or abused? Probably not, As  Kathy Mordini pointed out in  one of her Raining Cats & Dogs/Chicago Now blog… you even have to look at shelters & rescues with some skepticism.    We have several in the Chicagoland area adopting out unhealthy  pets & feigning ignorance.  As I’ve said many times, good intentions are not enough.

What we do know is that it starts the discussion on why it is unethical to raise pets as livestock, for profit, when so many are abandoned.  However—is a problem being solved?

Because I have worked in the pet industry (as a dog groomer) for over 40 years, I have a lot of experience in what goes on.  People  who own or manage pet shops are retailers first and foremost. Pet lovers?  maybe—maybe not.  You have to wonder  how people who love pets can ship  baby animals, which are under so much stress, knowing that  a certain per centage will die of the stress, to sell to impulse buyers who either have not thought out what  taking care of a live animal means, or who probably have  WRONG CARE INFORMATION.

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!

This is the right brush for most pet dogs—the ‘universal’ style curved slicker, with bent wire ‘pins’.

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

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

For over 50 years. pet shops have been selling the wrong brush.  I have posted  a photo —again—showing pins on 1 side, bristles on the other.  The right brush is a  slicker brush—particularly a  curved slicker—like the red one–( the Miller Forge offered by   is the best, I feel, for most  dogs whose coats are over 1 inch long or are double coated or non-shed. They don’t even know it, and don’t care. Why don’t groomers tell them?  I have worked for some of these managers—who have told me to shut up and just do my job (See:  I got fired for wearing a scarf That’s why. Well, now with the  Affordable Care Act, I bet  a lot of groomers will tell these  horrible bosses to take this job and shove it… but it won’t help any of these  bad pet shop  owners or managers gain any integrity.  Possibly—just possibly—their desperation to make up the lost profits might cause them to get information  on  how to find hobby breeders & refer  buyers to them for a commission  pets, but  it’s going to be tough. Why?

This is a Whippet. Chances are very slim you will find them  in a shelter, but they do get loose.  Most likely, you will either have to be on a waiting list  (WRAP---Whippet Rescue and Placement) or network to find breeders.  Whippet breeders are NOT the cause of pet over population.

This is a Whippet. Chances are very slim you will find them in a shelter, but they do get loose. Most likely, you will either have to be on a waiting list (WRAP—Whippet Rescue and Placement) or network to find breeders. Whippet breeders are NOT the cause of pet over population.

     The bottom line is that people who breed pets for the betterment of their breed or to improve their line want to meet the buyers. They do not sell to third parties & trust that they will do a good job of screening—making sure you know what is involved in taking care of the dog or cat you want.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts how Fred Alderman of Dynasty Afghan Hounds had people wanting Afghan Hounds come out to the kennel and spend a day grooming…to make sure they  understood what was involved and wouldn’t make excuses.  As it is, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America (and I am sure many other breed clubs) have like minded  breeders who  really ask you and your household a lot of questions.  You never see Briards or Scottish Deerhounds in pet shops—and they only end up in  shelters when they are lost or an owner dies.

This is the right brush for most pet dogs---the 'universal' style curved slicker, with  bent wire  'pins'.

This is the right brush for most pet dogs—the ‘universal’ style curved slicker, with bent wire ‘pins’.

So…when (in Illinois) shelter fees include shots and NEUTERING, how are the pet shops going to justify charging the same amount as a shelter when  all shots and neutering are NOT INCLUDED IN THE SALES PRICE?  How?   By counting on buyers  coming in for ‘a puppy’  not being too particular,  knowing they haven’t done any research.  When Dad (or a brother or  cousin) comes home with a dog for the kids that Mom doesn’t want…that’s the pup that will end up in a shelter along with all the Pit Bull pups that morons bred that  dishonest buyers who  tried to sneak past a landlord and the breeder won’t take back.  That’s how it is.

I attended a meet-up event for pet owners recently and we were talking about no-kill shelters—and the  pet owners had no idea that  the No-Kill shelters were not OPEN ACCESS-–meaning they did NOT take owner surrenders.

So, I think this starts the discussion.  When people looking for a dog of a particular breed, and in Chicago, the pet shop can no longer sell them unless they came from a shelter (keep in mind that the puppy mills have set up ‘shelters’ for their unsold pups—& I bet a lot of pet shops will learn who they are—soon!)…will the  retailers have done any research and referred  puppy seekers to dog clubs?  Or will they refer them to  retailers in the next town over and gain a commission?

Many of the breeders who sold to pet shops still sell on Craigslist. The city—and the state—could have  designated funding to  hire people to  pay a visit to all these  unethical breeders—& fine them.   This would pay for itself in a year! Really—-as so many people who post on Craigslist  are just in it for the money & barely making anything.  They  either don’t understand or don’t care  that  over half the dogs they breed will end up  dumped.  THAT would solve the surplus dog problem in less than a year…but that is not what they did.  It’s as though our elected officials  don’t know the internet exists —it’s a mystery—when it comes  to law enforcement of commerce.

I am including this link because this happened to a dog—bought as a puppy (who knows from where…enough blame to go around) that probably  was so cute as to not look like a real dog—needing grooming and training:

So,  if the problem is  breeders breeding  pets as livestock not having outlets for the animals they breed (as more and more municipalities  outlaw sales of  commercially bred pets in pet shops), will  we have solved this problem?  No, and neither will we solve the problem of pets being  abused, neglected, or dumped.  This just starts the discussion, and it is an important discussion.

Do you want to end this horror?  Call or email your  elected officials.   Send them a link to  a post for puppies posted on Craigslist—and ask why they don’t  designate funds in the  state budget  for inspectors  to call  posters, pay them a visit, and fine them for  breeding  animals they don’t have deposits for.  Word will spread.   That’s the only way.