Archive for January, 2015

Too Rich

January 30, 2015

When he came to live with me, Kenji spoke  virtually no English. He did understand most of what was said to him, and  he was learning to speak.  This was the reason he had come to the USA.

As it  came out (as he learned to express himself), he  had gotten his  Ph.D. ( in so many words…I learned this when a piece of mail came addressed to him as “Dr. Kenji…”), had been working on   projects with military applications in his home country, and kept having his projects cancelled by the US government.  Sort of ironic, as he has military clearance here, and  the companies he contracts with do a lot.  So—what I am saying is—- the US government wouldn’t allow him to do this for his own government…. if he is going to do anything, he is going to do this for the American  government.

Ok.  Of course, since I am a blabbermouth, I don’t know  what he is actually working on, but I do know he  worked on some coatings, and he worked on a waste-to-energy machine…and this because USA Today published a photo of him looking at this machine on the front page, after his team delivered it to a military base.

Kenji tends to be a quiet guy, but now he’s been here long enough that he has no trouble expressing himself. When I  was having  car problems, he let me know in no uncertain terms that  it was due to my neglect that this happened, and I was too stupid to own a car.   Never mind that I taught him to drive—in my car—on the right side of the road so he’d be prepared when he got his own car, and I smoothed the way though other petty aggravations that are part of modern life.

He got the second job he applied for, and the company  paid for him to get a ‘green card’.  He  does tedious work that most Americans are either  not qualified to do or too lazy to do.  He is very patient.  He was with the company several years when he told me  the company—which had been in business over  30 years, was going to go out of business.  I asked him how he knew this, and he said there  were too many ‘support staff’ and not enough engineering contracts to support having so many  people  not adding value .

The company DID go out of business.  This was just after  Obama was elected and everything was a mess.  He still  satisfied the government contracts that the company had, but then he got contract work in dribs and drabs.  However, living with me is relatively cheap.  So, this went on for a couple of years, and then….

His former co-workers always stayed in touch, and they formed a new company, and  suddenly Kenji is making money again…and  because of how the company is structured, he is  an independent contractor (as I have been much of my life), and  he has to pay quarterly estimated tax…  For him, is  about $15,000 a quarter.  He  is paying more in taxes than I make in a  year.

He’s maxed out his IRAs, and doesn’t own any property or have any tax shelters.  I have suggested setting up a deferred compensation plan, but  he has told me he is ineligible because one of his contracts pays him as an employee.  I have suggested, also, that he consider making donations to some nonprofits.  He knows I support dog rescues and that his favorite dog came from a rescue.  He is Japanese, and is donating nothing.  I’ve explained that  he might be able to cut his tax rate, but he is stubborn.  Oh well.

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Stuff I Tell my Pet Owning Clients

January 23, 2015

 

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

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

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!

How do you  get new grooming clients?  Most of mine have  either come from seeing a dog I groomed, and talking with the owner, or often something I’ve said to a dog owner who repeated it to another dog owner.  For example,  as I get to know my clients, I always ask how the dog is at home, and, in so many words, if the owner is happy with the dog’s behavior.  The short conversation—about if the dog has a cat friend, or us a devil or angel,  gives me an idea of  whether the owner will keep the dog. It also  gives me a chance to address  other issues.  One big issue is the dog pulling on the leash.  Unfortunately, most of my clients have  frequented pet stores  staffed by retailers who know NOTHING about the products they sell, and whether the products are dangerous or appropriate. As a result,  almost all the small dogs I’ve been grooming went from wearing collars to harnesses in a matter of several years.  Trending…please….

Anybody who knows me, knows I hate them. Only Guide Dogs and sled dogs  should be wearing harnesses.  You can’t control a dog that wears a harness. Yes, I understand that many people don’t want to control their dog, an I understand the VETERINARIAN  told them  to get a harness (collapsed tracheas—of course) rather than reshape the dog’s behavior.  Paired with a Flexi, you’ve lost  all control. Dangerous not just on icy walks, but if you encounter  someone who  has their pooch similarly decked out—and they (the  walker) are on a cell phone or otherwise not paying attention to the end of the leash—dangerous.

As I don’t sell any products. I remind  my clients I  don’t benefit economically, I am telling them what is real. Well,  sort of a miracle has occured.  Am I really that persuasive?  Just about every dog owner I’ve talked to went out and bought  a martingale for their dog—and a  six foot leash!  & they tell me their dogs have stopped pulling! Can you imagine?

Why would I care?  I care because I love dogs. When pet owners are not happy with their dogs, they don’t bond with their dogs. They might find homes for their dogs, and I’ve lost a client.  This is why YOU should also care. Nobody leaves a dog groomer just because she charges too much:  they leave because they  don’t feel they are getting service. The big box stores will be able to under cut you on everything.  You have to keep seeking knowledge about dogs and expressing an interest in your clients’ dogs.

What else do I tell my clients?

1.  Let me show you  how to brush this dog with a slicker brush…and you are going to need a comb.  I  often get clients because the last groomer  shaved the dog.  Sometimes,you have to shave the dog.  I ask if the client bathed this dog without brushing it, and I ask them to show me their brush.  90% of the time it is one of those horrible  pins on 1 side, bristles on the other—-worthless.  Lots of people don’t know  that matting is caused by static electricity.  I use The Stuff or Ice on Ice in the shop, but  you can now get smoothing products at a lot of drugstores—and it doesn’t take much Dimethicone  to  get the tangles out.  I explain why having the dog up off the floor is important, and why  it might be a 2 person job—but once a week, 5 minutes is all it usually will take…and I remind them if they have to wash their hands after brushing the dog, the dog needs a bath….and I brush they shampoo through the coat.  Who is going to do  this?  The pet owner who doesn’t want his dog shaved.  More important, the pet owner knows I showed him what to do, and he didn’t do it, and I am trying my best.

2.  Get a doubled edged thinning shears! How often do I get a dog in who needed a haircut  3 weeks ago? So the owner cut the hair around the eyes.  Sometimes I can fix this…but not always. Since they are  going to cut anyways, I advise them to get a double edge thinning shears. They are less likely top make a big booboo.  They always laugh.  I like the Oster & Master Equipment  (PetEdge) curved grooming rakes, too, especially for  Goldens & collie types.

3.  Get the dog used to being handled. So many of my clients are mature adults with no kids. The dog is just there, or  sitting on Mom’s lap.  When I get them on the table, they become passive resisters.  You know the type—they won’t stand up, and they pull back.  It used to be  that obedience classes taught the basic ‘stand for examination’, but those kinds of classes are harder to find.  If you can find conformation classes, they are much more informal,but the dog will get used to walking on a leash and being handled. This really helps with shy dogs.

4.  Please don’t put  a sweater on the dog—get a decent dog coat . Sweaters are a joke.   If it is really that cold, the dog needs a coat.   And  why  shave a dog to put a coat on it?  Another question…is the dog cold?  I have 2 Whippets: 1 dog who shivers looking out the window.  The other goes out in all sorts of weather & never seems to get cold.  A swearer is a fashion statement—and when you pull it off a non-shed dog, hello static—and matting.  What’s the point?

5.  Enroll your oldest kid  (& the dog) in an obedience class…and get one of the great books on dog training.  I have seen kids as young as 4 do amazing things with dogs. How can that be?  They don’t carry a lot of baggage about how to communicate with the dog.  They speak directly to the dog, and they expect results. They just need mentoring.  Dog training classes are an excellent family experience.  Plus, there are so many really good books out there.  I always recommend “How to be Yor dog’s Best Friend,” by the Monks of New Skete;  Good Owners, Great Dogs, by Kilcommons and Wilson; Dog Training for Dummies…and there are now many good YouTube Videos.  Training a dog gives a child experience in exercising patience and leadership.

6. You don’t want that smell from the shampoo to last more than a day.  I love the scent of the Pina Colada.  I Love the Nature’s Specialties LavaDerm,  and I really loved the Bark 2 Basics Almond.   Unfortunately,  1 of the dogs I used the Almond on…her owner was allergic to almonds and she almost went into allergic shock.  I am not making this up. Phthalates….have been linked to carcinogens.  If it last more than a day, it might have bonded to your dog’s coat and skin.  Better to use   a spray cologne which is much lighter and will evaporate.

7.  Let me know if you need training or grooming help…& if you know of people who can’t have pets but want to help them.  I am involved in  many animal welfare  groups, which always need volunteers. Safe Humane Chicago always needs  people who can go to court as advocates for animals in the court system.  In less than 10 years, they’ve made a huge difference in how animal crimes are prosecuted, and the judges welcome us.  Many groups need help with marketing or fund raising. some of the shelters need dog walkers and socializers.  If we can’t spread this information around, who can?

8. Put some emergency  plan for your pet somewhere most people can find it (the refrigerator door?).  I have a client who is an old lady with no living relatives.  And it happened.  One day, another neighbor  knocked on my door and asked me if I could take Punkin.  If I hadn’t, Chicago Animal Care & Control would have gotten her. Certainly, a ‘no-kill’ group would have snatched her up immediately…but this would not be so true for most dogs owned by older folks.  They would  be euthanized within days.  I  am working on getting an ordinance passed in my state to  direct landlords who rent to people with no ‘next-of-kin’ or emergency contacts to ask how they want their  pets dealt with.  If you want to be that person,  go for it.

9.  You vote with your pocketbook. Please don’t  financially support  businesses or nonprofits that work against your best interests.  When you  buy anything at a pet shop that sells animals, you support  breeding and selling pets as livestock.  Is that what you really want to do?  Do you want  to  trust a veterinarian  who doesn’t respect your pet?  Are you aware that the Humane Society of the United States is an advocacy group, and  doesn’t run any animal shelters?  Do you know that  few ‘No-Kill’ shelters  take owner surrendered pets, and often go out of your area to ‘rescue’ dogs bred by puppy mills because they are more easily placed?  Lots of dog lovers don’t know this.

As a person who loves animals, you have an opportunity to offer more service than any retail pet or chain store.  Sometimes, it’s a bow or a scarf.  More often, it’s that you had a conversation with the pet owner, and they know you care.

So…it Boils Down to This: Who is a pet

January 15, 2015

 

Bred by backyard breeder. This is a  Shih Tzu---Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

Bred by backyard breeder. This is a
Shih Tzu—Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

I have been active in my semi retirement on  trying to address  pet over population and  the view of what is humane,  and one of the things I do is flag animal sales on Craigslist. Bottom line is, the people selling puppies  on CL don’t think they are breeders.   But  it’s not just a Craigslist thing.  The ‘conventional wisdom is that   the backyard breeders don’t think of themselves as ‘breeders’ contributing to pet over population.

In addition,  irresponsible  stories like the feature National Public Radio recently ran on the ‘shortage’ in some area of adoptable dogs, is just appalling.  Granted,  in some  enclaves,  pet owners are more responsible and fewer dogs are dumped, but if you regard the country as a whole,  we will have too many areas where  people are uneducated,and have a totally different mindset about being socially responsible.  Hell, when a well educated (she had a Ph. D.) woman can cart around an unlocked  gun in her purse, and go shopping with a toddler, and think that is perfectly OK…and her community  regards this  accidental shooting by the toddler as  an unavoidable tragedy, we are not on the same page about anything.

This is a sample of a Craigslist post :

“I’m looking to rehome my puppy to a loving family. Jax is a 12 week old Chihuahua/Shih Tzu mix. He loves to snuggle and play and is as cute as can be. He will come with his carrier, jacket, puppy food, food/water bowl, training pads, new harness, leash, and collar. It’s heartbreaking to see him go but I just don’t have time in my schedule to care for this sweet little pup. Asking 370 OBO. Please only contact me if you are very interested as he needs to find a loving home soon. Thank you!”

 

So here we are—a puppy just into the teething stage.  My guess is she went to a pet shop/puppy mill outlet, and bought the pup and all the  junk (harness!  Ugh!!!), and  now is bored with the dog.  & why would this pup need a jacket?  So all the crap alone is probably over $300.  Or did she get the dog for free, had the stuff (or got it  deeply discounted), and is actually a puppy broker?  No matter.  There is way too much of   these idiots  buying and attempting to flip puppies  on Craigslist, as well as the backyard breeders.

Using Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas he  discussed in his book, The Tipping Point, we need respected change agents to address that this behavior is unacceptable. The people these idiots respect are veterinarians.

I have stated that all the activists who are currently railing against breeders—and they include the ethical hobby breeders who DO screen puppy buyers, do refuse to sell, and do take back dogs they sell, are not the problem.  Since the idiots are  dealing with  livestock breeders and brokers that they believe love animals, it is up to us to get to the next professional they will see—the veterinarian—and demand they address genetic issues, breed problems, not  spew out the hybrid vigor bs  regarding the designer dogs,and  promote spay/neuter at a mature age, and  being responsible for the pet.

While I am horrified that so many pet dogs become incontinent  due to  sloppy spay/neuters (which is why  they should really be done by shelter veterinarians who have lots of experience), I am more horrified by the many ‘accidental’ breeders who make excuses &  have convinced themselves they should not be responsible.

How would I address this? Several ways:

1.  pass a state law that mandates that anyone posting puppies, kittens, or rabbits for sale in Illinois (my state) have to  have their  litters individually microchipped before offering them for sale… if they did end up in a shelter, we’d know who to fine (yes—the breeders should have to pay—but pet owners  could have the chip changed to their contact information );

2. This would be enforced by  humane societies being licensed to train  volunteer investigators to contact people posting ads in newspapers and on Craigslist—and informing every licensed veterinarian in the state to make sure their clients  know the law;

3.People would also have to  ‘register’ every litter they bred with the state department of agriculture—pay a $50 fee. this is not a lot of money in relation to what hobby breeders spend on doing genetic testing, and paying for  showing their animals.

I believe that within  two years of such a law being enacted, we cut the number of dumped pets significantly.  I feel this way because most backyard breeders would either do a better job of screening  buyers, or they’d just  say the hell with it and stop breeding.

We would need all the humane societies and rescues on board, and we’d probably have to convince the  hobby breeders who breed for the betterment of their breed, but I don’t think this would be difficult.

 

Boerboels—& the ‘New’ AKC Breeds

January 9, 2015

Link to Boerboel photos:http://https://www.google.com/search?q=boerboel+photos&biw=1156&bih=748&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=9jyvVKr5CcOzyATU84LwDA&ved=0CB0QsAQ

The AKC has  recently recognized some breeds that have been around for decades, if not centuries.  They are ‘new’ to  the public that thinks of a dog as a dog.  The reason they were not recognized before now is that there were not enough  fanciers organized into a sponsoring parent club, who sponsored a stud book.

It’s difficult to get a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.  You have to get along with your fellow hobbyists/fanciers/breeders and  work to promote the betterment of the breed.  This is why  labradoodles are not a recognized breed  yet. Also, they don’t ‘breed true’.  That means, when you have puppies, they all look  like the same breed.

As it is, we have plenty of breeds, like Fox Terriers and Dachshunds, where you can  breed any variety to each other—of the same breed…and this is why you get  smooths and wires in the same litter.  In some breeds, like Ibizen/Podengos, it doesn’t matter.  However, if you  really want to know what you are getting, you don’t mix varieties even if it is allowed (because you won’t know what you are getting!).

In any case, Bill Hageman of the Chicago Tribune did a feature on the new AKC breeds, one of which is the Boerboel. THIS IS NOT A PET DOG.

Beorboels are large dogs,. They are bred to be confident and  aggressive.  They were bred in South Africa to  give lions a run for their money.  I am not making this up. You can research the breed.  They were never kept as house pets.

A lot of people really don’t understand that some dogs just don’t make good pets.  Or, they have so many temperament and genetic issues (Shiba Inu, Shar Pei, Bulldogs) that  people shouldn’t even attempt to think they will get lucky.  With a BoerBoel—a type of mastiff, you won’t get lucky.  If you need a guard dog—this is the dog.  If you want the dog to double as a pet for children…particularly in an urban environment…please…no.

I wrote to members of the American Boerboel Club, and this is what I said:

This is probably ‘none of my business’ as I am not a BoerBoel  fancier, but I am a purebred dog fancier, an exhibitor, groomer, amateur trainer, and involved in humane activities.
There was a  feature article in the Chicago Tribune about the new AKC breeds, and  I may be too late, but I STRONGLY urge you all to copy what the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America does, and NEVER sell a breedable (meaning intact) dog to any new fancier who:
1. Has never exhibited a dog to a title;
2. Is interested in breeding, but is not interested in  either conformation or performance;
3. Can’t get referrals from other  hobbyists/fanciers.

Selling a dog without registration papers  is a joke.  The American Miniature Schnauzer Club participants in a test breeding program to  eliminate congenital juvenile cataracts (about 30 years ago), sold  carriers of CJC without papers to pet owners, explaining that the dogs they were getting might not be blind, but would  produce blind puppies, …& many of those buyers  didn’t care,  and either went to other breeders or found each other , and CJC is, again, a problem in the breed. So, the hobby breeders, breeding for the betterment of the breed, went to early neutering—& now this is, unfortunately, common.

I know the Cane Corso And Dogue de Bordeaux fanciers  just ignored  that this would be an issue, or didn’t care, and now we see them, purebred & mixed, on Craigslist all the time—and mixed with Pit bulls as well.
I am an advocate  for animals in the court system in Chicago–abuse, neglect, dog fighting.  Like I said, it may be too late.

You  might find the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America code of ethics to be a good model: http://www.pwdca.org/code-of-ethics
It seems simple enough, but right after the  Obamas  got  Bo, their first Portie,  we could have seen  them  in every pet shop. That didn’t happen. Why?  With such a small gene pool, the  fanciers are all of the same mindset that it is in the best interest of the breed to take it seriously.  You never see a portie in rescue. Why?  If a club member learns of this, they snatch it up.  And—if the breeder does not take the dog back (with so few breeders, this is easy to discover), the breeder is fined $500 a week until they take the dog back.  How do  they enforce this? Again, their gene pool is so small,  you won’t find people breeding to your dogs if you  don’t  respect the rules.

The  few breeders that there are,  are encouraged to continue to co-own  dogs until they are neutered, or titled. This is what 1 fancier told me.  Remember, it just takes 1 breeder to not screen for  homeowners insurance that doesn’t have breed restrictions, who doesn’t ask for evidence of a fenced yard, who doesn’t keep in touch.  Just one puppy buyer to lose a job…or a home, become a renter, or divorced, or widowed..to post on Craigslist…and  the irresponsible backyard breeders  who don’t care about hip dysplasia, other genetic issues…or good, permanent homes, to destroy your breed.

So, who the hell am I?  A purebred dog fancier who sees that the average dog owner has less integrity than I do, not more,.  I am someone who fears for the future of purebred dogs.

Remember…all it takes is one naive breeder who thinks that every  person who pursues a  breedable dog, has integrity.  Just one.

New Year, New Challenges…

January 2, 2015
Dazzle, JC (Dazzle) Saluki,  on the left, Bebop Whippet, on the right.

Dazzle, JC (Dazzle) Saluki, on the left, Bebop Whippet, on the right.

What an interesting year it has been for me.  Mixed bag.  The week of Thanksgiving, I lost my very dear friend Janie Wondergem to lung cancer.  Then, the week before Christmas, Jerry Schinberg, who founded the  first grooming contest in the country, died.  These people are my contemporaries.   Were it not for Jerry, i would neve have met Romaine Michelle—the  top groomer in the country for years. Gives one pause, as they say.

If it’s at all possible, I learned last year to be more skeptical about any job offer.  I have blogged ( about a year and a half ago…) that I quit working for Pet Care Plus because the owner, Jennifer Stavrianos was not only NOT AT ALL ENGAGED IN DOG CARE AT HER DOG CARE BUSINESS, but she hated the environment of  this business so much she refused to believe anything her managers were telling her, and wouldn’t vheck anything out herelf.  (This is not uncommon  with  pet stores and dog daycare/boarding businesses….more and more, they are being operated by business people with no interest in having a relationship with a dog, the fancy , animal husbandry, or animal welfare).   Because she didn’t like the way  the Force dryer looked (it looks like a vacuum cleaner, which, basically, it is), she put it up in the ceiling where I could not turn it on 1 switch at a time and let it power up, but had to  turn it on by a wall switch–  not how it was designed to be used.  She did this because her  ‘fenemy’ and competitor had done it—but she didn’t ask how the competitor had done it, or why.  She refused to believe it was unsafe, and that  it was blowing fuses even over night.  My roommate, a forensic  engineer, who investigates fires and explosions, told me to bring my personal effects home because there was going to be a fire.   The dogs were alone at night. Nobody was on site.  By the time anyone  would hear a smoke alarm, the dogs would all be asphyxiated.   Just for the record, I would never board my  pet at a facility where there was not somebody on site 24 hours.  However, this is very common, You  can’t just assume  that people who operate  pet service businesses really love pets enough to have integrity.  I quit, she hired 2 people to replace me, one whom she fired for being  clueless, the other quit because she wasn’t making enough money.    She  asked me to return—full time 6 months later (she cultivated me for about  two months).  I was working else where making  triple the money, but the commute was  three hours. I had negotiated  for a 5% raise in my commission and a parking place.  She then ‘forgot’ to tell her management staff  of these details, creating a lot of friction.   She never gave me  a written agreement.

She appointed an assistant manager to be a business manager, and to oversee the build out of a new facility, someone with less than a year  experience at her job, and no actual kennel experience at any other  pet business.     A contractor joked that she didn’t  know what  B was paid to do, and compared her to  George Costanza on Seingelf.  By the time  Stavrianos finally took me to see the build out, all the infrastructure issues were behind finished walls. I told her that her architect ripped her off.   He just manipulated a CAD design.  it was the same design—right down to many of the wall colors, I had seen at another facility I had worked in!  That angered her.  Her newly hired general manager (by now, it was July)  who had no pet industry service  experience, just retail, agreed with me,  and Stavrianos told him not only to find excuses to suspend me, but  to build a case to fire me,  and that she intended to fire all staff after the New Year.  Why?  Who knows, as she  didn’t know any of the procedures that were involved in  boarding dogs in her own kennel.  She had never taught any staff. All her staff  was originally’ inherited ‘ from another business, and they  trained other employees.   Illinois is a  fire at will state.  Technically, she doesn’t need an excuse. I told my  manager we were losing our organizational memory. Stavrianos found out about this because, although I had sent the email to the manager, she decided, after hiring him in July, to request he take a 50% pay cut in October. He quit, she intercepted the email I sent to him, and decided I had created a hostile work environment.  It might have been a coincidence that her customer service manager quit a week before, then the manager.  So , since Illinois is a fire at will state, it was my word against hers, and  we are still fighting over whether I am entitled to unemployment compensation. The manager  who quit knew that  Stavrianos was having  some sort of neurological problems because  she kept forgetting conversations  that there were witnesses too, as well as written phone texts she had sent!

I have been offered  several jobs, but  when  doing the test dogs, I was learning that most  businesses offering me job were owned by people who  are new to the industry, and really didn’t care if an employee could make a living wage.   They really didn’t have enough business to hire me even part time, and were in denial. They are destined to get people right out of grooming school who can only shave dogs.   One still owes me $200 (Bella’s in Bolingbrook—I have a case with the ill. Dept of labor).  It’s sad that the industry is really facing a decline, but  all industries go through cycles.  I mean, video rental (Blockbuster) lasted  about 20 years, then Netflix came along, then  even Netflix started offering streaming, and there are no more blacksmiths.

I am lucky that I have enough income coming in from other sources that I don’t have to take just any job, and  can manage to piece an income together.  I also have the free time now to be a court advocate for animals in the court system, and possibly be of service to other nonprofit groups, and possibly do more consulting.  I am optimistic.

A bummer lurks on the horizon in the fact that my old Whippet, Bebop, whom I got  from  Whippet Rescue before there was WRAP, is now 15.  He had an episode  of vestibular disease, as well as a benign but rapidly  growing tumor.  He had the tumor for over a year, and it finally got larger than his head and burst.  We didn’t take it off when it was small because  I didn’t want him to go through the trauma of surgery, and we both thought he’d die first.  The  veterinarians were able to remove it, and his quality of life is better, but he is having cognitive issues.  He is now blind, deaf, and  very stiff.  Glucosamine chondroitin helps, but the Sam-e did not.  He has become  incontinent, but my roommate is quite helpful, and loves the little guy.  In fact, Bebop had come to live with me and Dazzle (now gone 2 years) just a few months before  Kunihiro arrived.  It would be much easier if it weren’t so cold.  I absolutely must put his coat on him.  He’s still eating, and if he hears anyone going to the kitchen, he will trot across the apartment to see if there is a dish on the floor.  It is what it is. Every day is a gift. As long as he is still eating, and seems to have some cognition,he has a right to his life.  Sometimes, it seems to others who don’t know your dog that your dog looks awful or in pain, but you know your own dog.

I’ve had tenants  break a lease unexpectedly when  one  lost a job. This is always a pain in the neck, and I had to replace the clothes dryer and a ceiling fan. When I got the  credit card bills, I looked at the amounts owed, and exclaimed, “What did I buy?” Kunihiro laughed and said he often feels the same way.

Berbop on Santa's lap, with Dash

Berbop on Santa’s lap, with Dash

My real indulgence has been dog training. Dash is much different than Bebop. Bebop, while very brave,  was a tough guy, and I never felt he was perfected enough to  compete in obedience with (although he probably was…I just couldn’t find a class that offered AKC novice ).  Dash got his Canine Good citizenship in ’13, and  his  Junior Courser title this past Spring, and  in early November ’14, got his Beginner Novice and Rally Novice titles at the same trial!  I was very pleased.  The thing is, he doesn’t own the venue for any performance, and is very well-behaved at dog  shows and obedience trials.  He believes he owned all the  concrete from my house to about a mile around it, and gives every dog the stink eye (if it isn’t another sight hound) and is crazy reactive.  he will  just go berserk, then sit and look at me for  two seconds, and resume being crazy,m sit, look at me, resume—you get the picture. . Sort of embarrassing, but that just means I have to keep him under control and remind him acting the tough guy fool is inappropriate.

Are we making progress on the humane issues that I think are important?  Hard to say.  I had a nice chat with Beverly Isla, who may or may not edit it for a webcast.  One thing I always do is remind people  there are  small  things they can do that have a big impact.  I subscribe to a feed, Flagging Animal Sales on Craigslist, which has over 5600 members.  It used to be that  four or five different isps could get a post flagged off, but now it seems it is taking more than 10.  We just have to get more people flagging. In any case, there is an American Bulldog breeder—a backyard breeder, very arrogant, who has litter after litter and posts  on Craigslist to sell. Seems that one of us called the guy, paid him a visit, found out he lived in the city limits of Waukegan, Illinois , was running this as a business, and the police confiscated his litter.  Hope the word spreads.  The  backyard breeders and mini puppy mills have libeled  and harassed me and my employers, and I am sure most of the dogs in animal shelters come from these types of breeders—as there is a lot of evidence they are coming neither from commercial puppy mills nor hobby breeders. If we could pass a law in Illinois mandating the microchipping of every  dog and cat, we could find out more about who is  abandoning  pets people get bored with (nobody who loves a pet  is moving into housing that doesn’t allow pets. That’s an excuse. Nor is anyone getting a job).We just have to make it crystal clear to everyone breeding for fun and profit that they are responsible. They should be funding the animal shelters—not me.

Family issues—I will be glogging n a few weeks about the  dynamics among my sisters, etc.  Amusing and aggravating at the same time…but my  parents raised us to be contentious.

I thank my long term subscribers to this blog.  You need to know that my blogs on prong collars and housebreaking difficult dogs are the most  clicked dog blogs, and the  blog on the Murdoch map of Africa is a close 3rd.  The one I did on fake animal rescues is getting read more and more.  Social media is helping get the word out that there is a community that  won’t allow inventors in the pet industry and  unethical breeders set the tone.