Archive for May, 2015

Small Dogs As Pets

May 29, 2015
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  am writing this because I often notice that people post on Craigslist looking for a small dog  that is good with kids.  Frankly, as a group, most  small dogs are NOT good with kids unless they are raised with kids and  even then, we are lucky that domestic dogs have been bred with bite inhibition.

I love small dogs.  They are  cute.  Stephen Jay Gould has said we  are  attracted to them because they look like infants, and it is part of evolutionary biology to be attracted to them.  So, what we are actually attracted to is the idea, or, really—the fantasy—of what we  want these little dogs to be.  Lots of people are lucky, they get small Poodles, Pugs, Bostons, and Frenchies, Beagles, Miniature Schnauzers, Maltese, Shih Tzu and Cairn Terriers, and  in spite of how their kids behave around the dogs, the dogs are very patient and put up with a lot of abuse.  However, we also see many Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Scotties, Cocker Spaniels,  Corgis, Dachshunds,Lhasa Apsos,and Jack Russell terriers looking for new homes because they are  not child tolerant. That’s really the norm.  At least these owners are honest.  Most are not.

Many of the breed specific rescues will not adopt  out a dog of this size to families with children under a certain age.  Often, it’s because they don’t know the history of the dog.  Just as often, they know why dogs get returned:  frightened dogs  defending themselves against a well-meaning but poorly supervised child.

The trim is a 'Town and Country'.  I wanted to do a classic 'Dutch', but the owner was a retired groomer , herself, and this was what she wanted.  Note the balance, that her pants are not 'falling off'.

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We still have too many people who think dogs are dogs,and they are going to get Lassie. That’s just not how it is.  There are over 400 known breeds that have bred true (predictably) for  over 10 generations. We are not talking about designer dogs that people breed as cash crops. We are talking about breeds with personality profiles that people know and understand.  Very few of these small dogs have been bred with bite inhibition: they’ve been bred to be feisty.  It’s  generally the larger breeds, which have nothing to be afraid of (whom people are afraid of due to their size or their head shapes) that are the gentler ones.

Plus, because most people breeding dogs don’t think of themselves as breeders, so  ignore the negatives, they are breeding dogs with genetic health defects:  luxated patellas, congenital juvenile cataracts,and liver shunt.  These defects can be corrected so the dogs ar not in pain…but why would you buy a dog that you need to spend several thousand dollars on just so he can live a normal life?  that’s what you ar risking when  yu don’t go to either a hobby breeder who breeds for the betterment of the breed, or a breed specific rescue.  You’re gambling that  the cute puppy will be genetically sound and a good pet.

Finally,I  have to say that if you are not very diligent, they can be difficult to housebreak—especially the very small purse dogs. My blog on housebreaking difficult dogs gets a lot of hits every week.  These small dogs have very small bladders. they can only hold urine for several hours.  that’s something to keep in mind.

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Didn’t I Already pay This Bill?

May 22, 2015

We’ve got a problem here in Illinois.  It’s unfunded pension funds.  In a nutshell, what happened was that tax money collected that was supposed to be earmarked for the pension funds was diverted to  the minutiae  that politicians often finagle for:  plug budget holes left by corporate tax breaks, funding of special pork projects, ‘expenses’ for legislators for whatever…and this has been going on about 20 years.  In addition to diverting funds collected,  the powers that be–apparently innumerate,  made  deals with hedge funds &  bond sales men, being promised a level of  return that not only didn’t stay flat, got to be negative due to fees…and now, we—again—have to pay.

Why do we have to pay again?  Because  public employees were promised pensions.  I don’t have a pension.  I’ve been self-employed most of my life, and I knew I’d have to take care of ME (again—why I  never had children), so I saved and invested.
But  these public employees were promised a pension…and…because they never paid into Social Security— they have no back-up.

Don’t get me wrong;  I do not feel ‘sorry’ for them that they made life choices to indulge themselves and not save  for the future. We don’t really know that.  They were told that if they worked at least a certain #  of years (is it 20?) they’d get a pension from the state.

I pity the employees who  just couldn’t take it anymore, or were otherwise dicked around, and  left those jobs.  Hopefully, they found other jobs  where the employers took out  Social Security.  But whatever. Our beef shouldn’t be with these employees (even if we do feel they are  over paid, underworked, and don’t deliver real service).  Our beef is with the politicians…but also the newspapers which endorsed them for election and re-election.

That’s right. The Chicago Tribune ran an editorial in the Sunday paper telling us citizens to look in the mirror if  we wanted someone to blame. Moi?  Why?  Did YOU—Chicago  Tribune—- and just about every other media outlet  not only  tell us we were irresponsible if we didn’t vote—and then ENDORSE these very politicians who voted to give themselves pay raises and divert the  tax money  from the pension funds?  We expected a free press  to be honest and give us information—not take the wrong side!

So  now our taxes—both income and property—will have to go up to make up for the shortfall…yet you all (politicians, the media…) still support  sports teams and artists (movie producers, festivals) with tax breaks, citing an amorphous economic multiplier!  chutzpah!

My only choice is to sell my home and move to a state that is better managed. but then, there is the issue of potable water.  We’ve known this was coming for over 50 years—yet our legislators have voted to allow fracking rather than give more tax incentives to renewable energy sources!

We citizens are a bunch of chumps.

Dog Flu Hits Metro Chicago Hard.

May 15, 2015

Although you’d think we’ d be at the tail end of this epidemic, we  have been hit by  ‘dog flu’ since  the end of March.  Some of the kennels and  dog day-care businesses shut down, but most did not,  people are not going to dog parks (at least the ones who have actually known of a dog that  got the dog flu), but many still are.

Our  dog training club, Northshore Dog Training Club, one of the oldest in the country,  halted classes for 4 weeks, as our facility was closed for disinfecting.

The fear has  also affected dog groomers. while I tell my clients that they should really worry only if their dogs have a compromised immune system, I have enough clients  with  frail dogs that I’ve advised them to wait.

I do have 1 client whose dog got flu. he attends dog daycare  several days a week.  however, being a relatively healthy, young dog, he recovered quickly.

the dogs who’ve really suffered are the dogs in  shelters.  Obviously, they are all under stress, and  when one dog gets it, it  infects others quickly.

I will say this:  as I wrote about the American Whippet Club Specialty, there have been no reports of any of those dogs getting sick.  Obviously, being in  performance condition makes a difference.

We know some veterinarians are now getting the vaccine.  We also know that it is an evolving virus,  so the vaccine may not be effective in several months.

It’s silent  spring.

Why I Still use a Flip Phone ( and what this has to do with not having children…)

May 8, 2015

I was raised middle class in a suburb of Chicago.  My father  had a college degree and owned a business.  My mother had some college, and was proficient  in bookkeeping.  She was also good with managing a budget.  I learned how to manage  my money  from her.  I know this is a really important, and a fundamental reason some people remain poor, some who were not poor  sink into poverty, and  why, without luck, once you are poor, you never climb back into the middle class.

I left home when I turned 18, and things were going pretty well until the 1973 oil embargo and the rise of OPEC.  I can’t blame my ‘poverty’ on just that, but it’s a factor for many  American ‘baby boomers’.

My mother taught me that  all my  living expenses should be met by 1 week’s wages. Everything else I made I could spend, save, or invest.  I was really too young to understand investing.  Part of that  was that my parents trusted insurance…and insurance is not transparent.  It’s  one thing to have life insurance to take care of your kids. It’s quite another to think that an annuity will support you after you retire if you don’t know what it is invested in.

In any case,  due to  the OPEC oil embargo, the price of a gallon of gas, at 28c( there was a gas war that lasted  almost a year in the southern Wisconsin area) jumped to 50c overnight…and it just kept going up.  Actually, when you  think if it, this was over 40 years ago—and the idea that gas is not now $10 a gallon (as it is in the REST OF THE WORLD) is remarkable. The one  thing that Democrats and Republicans keep agreeing on is price supports for the fossil fuel industry.  It shouldn’t have taken  over 30 years for cars to achieve  30 miles per gallon.

Energy costs are one influence on earnings and spendable income.  The other is real estate speculation.  The  one factor  that pushed me to convince my boyfriend/fiance to marry  me(1977) was  that I could see real estate was getting expensive, and if we didn’t get married and buy a home, we would be priced out of the neighborhood we wanted to live in.

Another friend, much older,  convinced is to  look at multi-unit housing, so we’d have some income while my husband was in school.  This was in the mid 1970’s,  and it was very  good advice.  Although we were ultimately divorced, owning a  two-flat and having equity in real estate allowed me to keep up a lifestyle.

I made several good decisions:  by learning to groom dogs, I had a somewhat marketable skill, so I was able to pay cash for my undergraduate degree (also, because I had the income from the  two flat paying the mortgage),  so I never  incurred debt for my education, and because  my rental unit covered the mortgage and taxes, I had a bit of freedom to explore all options.  Also, by not  having children I could not afford, I  didn’t have  other little lives to think about.  Dogs are cheaper.

Thankfully,  I am not a slave to fashion.  Unfortunately, technology  has become unavoidable.  I would prefer to  not have a cell phone, truth be told. Everyone expects you to be available all the time, and they get really intrusive when you are not.  Because people expect you to have a cell phone,  I have one…but now people expect you to have a SMART PHONE…and I just don’t want to pay for the data plan.  So, I am putting it off.

I will have the mortgage paid off in a few years, and there will be no other debts.  As my accountant says, I have not borrowed a lifestyle I can’t afford.  My biggest indulgences are dog training classes and performance events.  I’d rather have the experiences than things.  I know I will have to  get a smart phjone at some point…but that is another day.

The American Whippet Club Specialty

May 1, 2015
Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

 

My dogs are my pets.  When I was  a pre-teen, my dream was to  own a  boarding kennel, and train, groom, and show dogs, Life happened while I was making other plans, and I never  got that kennel.

I thought my first Afghan Hound was a show dog, and he wasn’t.  I  had hoped that my  2nd Afghan Hound would be a show dog, but it was obvious  even as a puppy that she had serious faults, and I had bought her too young.  I did manage to  get her  ASFA Field Championship, and an AKC  Companion Dog title.

My next show dog was a Whippet.  I think he got  nine single points, but no majors.  He also attained a Companion Dog title, and his ASFA Field Champion title.  In  fact, he won a  best in field..  Then I got divorced, went to college, kept going to college, then Peace Corps, and  I had too much going on to think of showing a dog.  I got a retired champion Saluki from Bill and Cindy Brown (well known Saluki fanciers, who  knew me from my  field trialing days), ans when that dog died of cancer, I got a mature pup that Nancy Badra was keeping  until she found a  home for him, that she didn’t think was  show quality.  I thought he was much better quality than what I saw being shown.  he was a little slab sided, and had a ‘gay’ tail, but  was very sound and had a lovely head. With very limited showing (I mean,  learning to pick judges and know which  dog shows were expected to be majors), I don’t think I spent $500 getting Dazzle his  AKC championship.

Dazzle died  2 years ago at age 15, and I got Dash, the Whippet,  from Linda Larsen, of Plumcreek (a well-known breeder of Whippets for over 40 years).  He came to me neutered, and that was fine—except we all wonder why he was neutered.  It’s a well known fact that dogs get sold, become champions,  the co-owners (or spouses) have a disagreement, and  great dogs get given away or neutered.  I have to mention this because the American Whippet Club has classes at their  Specialty ( a specialty means  one breed only) for altered dogs.

Plumbreek I'm Goin' Out tonight, CGC, BN, RN. SC

Plumbreek I’m Goin’ Out tonight, CGC, BN, RN. SC

In fact, the American Whippet Club has  Rally,  Lure coursing,  a triathlon ( the dog has to be entered in  lure-coursing and  an obedience class, then  an informal conformation judging is done), and  dog show classes for  racing dogs, lure-coursing dogs, and yes—even altered dogs.

This was a great dog show.I’ve  attended many specialty shows, and,except for awards, most are  not any more special than fun matches.  some clubs are so small, and the entry so meager, the club can barely afford to put on a show, what with paying  for judges, the venue, and ribbons.

The only reason I  knew there was a show was because I was picking up my new dog (actually, a 7  year old bitch who was returned to the breeder), who  actually lived  close to St. Louis—but her breeder was attending the specialty in Wisconsin, so agreed to meet me there, and sent me the link  to the  premium list (the  premium list gives  one all the information about what yu need to do to enter, who the judges are, directions to the show, and  the prizes) and other  information.  In fact, the American Whippet Club gave  white  plaster Whippet Statues to club members to decorate m calling the auction of them ‘color immaterial’ (as  what our  breed standard says about judging  the  Whippet), and  bidding was allowed 1 day , on-line, where you could bid on 1 of the 50 statues.  They were all breathtaking.  Amazing the talent of club members.

 some of the rosettes for the non-regular classes. AWC2I particularly wanted to see the  triathlon winners and obedience competition.  I am so sorry I didn’t get to see the Rally competition, as I compete in Rally with Dash and there were only 2 Open dogs (jumping and Retrieving )& no  Utility (scent discrimination and other  exercises requiring a lot of focus on the part  of the dogs), but 3  owners competed in brace class, where 2 dogs are attached ad have to work together.  As you can see, above, the rosettes were really  fancy, and the trophies really worth  competing for. Even the class prizes—commemorative plates—were very nice.

There were 560 dogs entered (with 722 entries ( the Futurity dogs and veterans, as well as  dogs  doing  lure-coursing, performance, and conformation for the  Triathalon…and NO BARKING…or maybe just incidental barking.  Unlike the terriers, the Whippet owners can  walk around with their  dogs and not worry about the dogs starting a fracas with a strange dog.

There was something for everyone, and I spoke with several pet owners who lived far afield and made a point to come to the Specialty to buy stuff and just be around Whippets and other Whippet lovers.

AWC4  The ring was nicely decorated by the host committee. Dawn Carlson thought it would be a nice touch to have a lit pergola entrance and fairy lights around the ring—and it really added a bit more class to  the show.  The ballroom was large enough   to walk around and see the display of trophies,  the booths selling   martingales, jewelry, coats and dog beds, and  the raffle and silent auction to benefit WRAP: Whippet Rescue and Placement.  In fact, there were so many booths that vendors were in the hall and in an adjacent room.

WRAPAWCI do want to say more about WRAP.  My first Whippet was from a precursor to WRAP—from before the internet. As is still the case, it was very rare for a Whippet to end  up ‘displaced’. In Bebop’s case, his owner had died, and nobody in the family wanted  him.A woman in the  Whippet Club took him , but she had a dog she was racing who had been injured, and that dog and BeBop played so much that she wasn’t healing.  By that time, I had been on the waiting list for 4 years, and had gotten Dazzle, but i told her if Dazzle &  this dog got along, I’d take him, Well, they  seemed to like each other from the start.  I later met his breeder at a dog show where we were showing Dazzle and had just brought Bebop for the ride, and she sent me his pedigree.  In any case, he died several weeks ago.  U had gone to the WRAP website, but the closest dogs listed were in Minnesota, and I am in Chicago, so I networked to get  our new love, Venus…but I learned at the specialty that WRAP is getting them now and then from puppy mills in Missouri, and more recently, people who  might have started out as  hobby breeders  or even pet owners who became hoarders are being  persuaded to  give up dog,   You have to understand this is never  8 or 10 dogs, but usually 20 or more.  It happens.  I am not justifying this, but WRAP capitalizes itself  by getting support from the AWC and its members, who  understand the need to support rescue, and  to  get the dogs and board them until fosters are found  and evaluate them for health issues and suitability as pets.  The photo in this paragraph shows the silent auction table, but many breeders also donated  many exquisite items to the raffle, and there was a parade of WRAP rescues, many of which are now working as therapy dogs.I really wished as many people who crowd around the ring to watch  futurity and regular class judging had stayed to  watch the ‘parade’ of WRAP dogs, but at least they support rescue.

The culture of how people are about their dogs varies from breed to breed.  In some breeds, people are really catty,  and they seem embarrassed by the pet dogs.  This is not how it is with Whippets, and I found many  people showing dogs also had rescued dogs.  I just hate it when  people involved in rescue or animal welfare paint al breeders as greedy and not really loving dogs, because that has NOT been my experience.  The  integrity I have experienced by most whippet fanciers and breeders has made it easier for me to be as Whippet fancier.