Archive for the ‘Boston Terriers’ Category

The Newest Scam: Pretrained Puppies

September 20, 2019

My Saluki as a young dog.Sold as a pet, he finished his AKC championship in fewer than 10 shows.His breeder trained him—& didn’t charge for the training!

Anyone working in service in the pet industry knows…’the fancy ‘ is dying. there are fewer and fewer ETHICAL HOBBY BREEDERS, BREEDING FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THEIR BREEDS.  Often, you have to be on a waiting list  if you want a puppy.  Thus, what is happening is that our clientswho had previously  chosen and owned purebred dogs are buying—-for way too much money—mixed breed ‘designer’ dogs (meaning a mix of 2 breeds) or, trusting  very well produced websites that claim they work with ‘reputable ‘ breeders & will choose a dog for you…without ever meeting you—just what you tell them in an email or on the phone

When I worked in Africa,  the country I was in was, essentially, a dictatorship.  it was a single party system.  One day, the ‘life president’ gave a speech, and of course,the next day it was reported in the  (state owned) newspaper how well-received the speech was to the crowd in the stadium.  I was talking  about it with my co-workers, and they said, “Well Robyn, notice there are no photos of the crowds in the stands.”   You had to read between the lines.

I bring this up because some clients, very nice people, older, no kids, recently bought a dog from a website: http://www.snakerivercanine.com.  They had had two Miniature Schnauzers in a row. The last one had kidney failure (not uncommon in the breed, possibly genetic…), but they kept him alive  for years. They spent a lot of money on veterinary care & there was no doubt they loved him.

I knew that ultimately, they would want to get another Schnauzer puppy, but we got out of touch.  I thought they might call me for a referral to a breeder, but the fact is that not only are local breeders  getting old and no longer breeding, one of the most well known breeders in the country, Joan Huber, who really bred some outstanding dogs, got shut down for  cropping her own dogs ears.  She was arrogant, and invited the wrong people to work for her.  She essentially was a commercial breeder.  However, that’s how it is now. If you want a Miniature Schnauzer that looks and acts like a Miniature Schnauzer, you could have done a lot worse than Blythewood, her kennel. You could have gotten a dog from the so-caled ‘reputable breeders’ that Snake River buys from to resell. How do I know?  Go to their website.  I’ve worked with really reputable breeders for years. so many different bloodlines—and these people have studied their breeds.  You  go to a dog show, and  all  the Miniature Schnauzers are. 13.5 inch dogs —extremely uniform in size—salt and pepper color (sometimes solid black, or black & silver).  & that is the breed.

So, how is it the  Snake River dogs are  parti-colored, liver colored, and even blue eyed?  Well, my client says he got papers, and they are AKC.  & his veterinarian  told him the AKC wouldn’t accept the registration if they weren’t purebred. Huh?  The reason so many dog clubs and truly ethical hobby breeders are taking their stud books back is because the AKC doesn’t enforce their studbooks.   they wil register a camel if you have the papers & submit the fees. They do not sue breeders who breed  mixes and claim they are purebreds. There is no way a purebred Miniature Schanuzer could be liver colored, parti-colored. or have blue eyes unless another breed was in the mix. The odds of  so many  of these livestock/commercial breeders having dogs of these off colors with blue eyes is about a billion to one.

We’re seeing Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, and Pomeranians  with these colors, including merling.  Breeds that for decades (keep in mind, these breeds have been breeding ‘true’ for between 100 and 200 years)—‘rare’, and ‘exotic’ colors. These dogs, no matter what the ‘papers’ say—are not purebred dogs. Those registration papers are only as honest as the breeders.

So, what these sellers do, as you will see from the  website, is buy puppies and ‘train’ them for you.  As we were discussing…aside from housebreaking, leash training, and possibly the ‘sit’, what can these  women be  training for….$6000?

Last year, a client asked us how much we would charge for  housebreaking a puppy. I had no idea. I said $200. What an idiot I am!

Go  back to the Snake Rive website. These women are very good with prose. Still, if you don’t know Schnauzers, you’d think these women have integrity.

I pointed out to my client.  While I am happy they love their puppy,  these women are not honest. They are excellent marketers. They are…Christians (we are Jewish). They believe, I am totally sure…that because Jesus Christ is their savior, they are imperfect people, and even if they lie and cheat people, as long as they ask Jesus for forgeiveness, they will go to Heaven.

They consider those of us with our own ‘moral compass’ to be heathens and a threat.  I sure hope I am a threat.  I am just not as good at ripping people off.

 

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What Does ‘Socialization’ of Dogs Mean?

September 7, 2019

Recently, I’ve been fostering  a dog for a breed specific rescue. The dogs—all purebred, were taken from a hoarding situation. We really don’t know that much about them, but what we do know is from our experiences working with all sorts of dogs.

Many of the dogs were injured in dog fights. Some needed stiches. We think they might have been fighting over bitches in season, or possibly food. They are –or were—all ‘skittish’:  they constantly look behind them  when they were walked. They’d try to hide under furniture or cower in crates. Yet, they all were leash trained, all were housebroken, and none of the dogs is a fear-biter.

It seems to me, these dogs were not  abused in the sense they were brutalized or beaten. They were neglected and hadn’t been exposed to  stimulation from the outside world.  Adding to their trauma was how they were captured and moved.

I have worked in kennels that housed  retired racing Greyhounds waiting for pet homes.  For some reason, the ‘do-gooders’ seem to think these dogs were abused.  Clearly, when you compare them to, say, Pit Bulls taken from open admissions shelters, they haven’t been.  All are calm in the kennels, They don’t generally react to  other dogs barking at them.  They approach strangers with their tails wagging, They never bark franticly.  They walk calmly on leashes without pulling.  Most are even houebroken!  It’s clear that most retired Greyhounds were handled in a loving, responsible manner.  Yet, the do-gooders, with no personal evidence, promote the idea that  these dogs are not well cared for, and if they don’t run, they will be killed. Since the 1960s, because I’ve had pet Whippets (we’ve run non-paramutuel races—no betting), I’ve known NGA Greyhound breeders who always tried to give away  dogs that were duds on the track. But those so-called ‘humane activists’ kept writing that these dogs could not be pets! Yes, they’ll chase and kill a small animal…even a small dog. Lots of dogs—even  those cute Yorkies—will do that.  I’d rather take a chance on a Greyhound than a Cocker Spaniel! Ask any dog groomer.

Not all Pit Bulls are killers. The irony is that many are ‘non-social’ because they’ve been taken from their dams  when they are barely weaned. The backyard breeders of Pits  want to GET RID OF THEM ASAP, so they don’t allow dogs to learn to be dogs and negotiate how to get along with their littermates. That’s the reason so man Pits (& other popular breeds) are nonsocial.

I work for several hobby breeders, and they  do what they think is right in terms of socialization for their puppies. They usually have TV or radio on.  They run the vacuum cleaner around them. They get the pups being used to getting brushed, having their toenails trimmed, and bathed.  What they usually don’t do is take them out to get used to street sounds.

I got my first puppy when he was three-months-old.  I started walking him all over, and allowing people to touch him.     He was an Afghan Hound, and they usually grow out of their puppy personalities when they are a little over a year, and start becoming aloof.  He was aloof!  However,he was never fearful.

My foster dog is adjusting to all the city sounds.  She had, apparently some training, because she responds to the typical obedience commands that pet dogs are often taught.  As we work with her, she will gain more of an attention span, and gain confidence, and not be so skittish.

When we go to dog training classes, we see many puppies.  Decades ago,  for some reason (because we didn’t really understand how animals learn)  pet owners were encouraged  to wait until a dog was at least a year old before beginning training.   These days, we know that as soon as the dog has gotten immunizations,  the dog can join others in training classes. The dog trained young doesn’t have a chance to develop bad habits.  We call this behavior shaping, and it works.

Socialization  is  the  dog being comfortable with other friendly dogs,  being responsive to the humans  the dog lives with, and  being comfortable in his environment. That’s what we mean when a dog is socialized.

 

Spoiler Alert!

January 27, 2019

As a dog groomer who often suggests training to our clients, I hear it all the time: “We took Fluffy to training classes but it didn’t do any good. We have no control over her.”

the dog is wearing a harness of course, but that’s not the only reasdon they have no control.

Most of us know the reasons, but for those who don’t, they are:

  • Not practicing what they’ve learned in class enouhg;
  • wrong techniques that get to be a habit;
  • everyone in the household not being on the same page;
  • the spoiler.

When we offer group dog training, we should start with a disclaimer about why what they are experiencing in class won’t work, and how they can remedy the issues they will face.We need to address what to do and what not to do.

An analogy I started using is an experience I had recently getting physical therapy. The therapist has you go through various exercises. You have to do them at home, every day. Paying a therapist once or twice a week won’t help you heal.

Similarly, if you don’t re-enforce what you’re learning in class, coming to class is a waste of money.

We want people to have healthy relationships with their dogs. The reason we teach what we teach is because they are exercises people will find very useful at home, In fact, I’ve started also teaching ‘turn around’ as well as giving instructions to dog owner so they can teach their dogs to eliminate on command.

Personally, I don’t care if your dog is under control until I meet you on the street, or come to your home. But you spent money to get schooled, so you may as well get something out of it.

Also, there are several right ways of getting a dog under control, but a bunch of wrong ways. I am from a generation where we thought tricking a dog and causing pain got the message across. I’ve trained my last several dogs using positive re-enforcement, and high value treats to motivate them. That, and repetition, worked. Sometimes dogs aren’t motivated by treats or praise. In that case, you may have to seek an animal behaviorist, but the positive re-enforcement method has worked statistically so many times, I strongly encourage you to use it.

Also, once you get the behavior you want, either move on to another part of training or stop…and go back after at least half an hour. Don’t bore your dog. But don’t stop, either, until you get an increment. Always stop on a positive note, If you are losing patience, it’s not the dog’s fault. go back later.

Now we get to why training usually fails: the madhouse you live in. it would be funny were it not so tragic. Everyone has to want the dog to succeed. if you have one person who doesn’t, this is not going to work. So sorry, but you may need family counseling—or coaching, if you can’t figure this out on your own. Do you have a child with emotional issues? Someone jealous of the dog? Someone who doesn’t like the dog? Like a spouse? Someone who thinks they want the dog to love them best? That lets me segue into…who is the Spoiler?

Been there, done that….I’ve lived with a Spoiler for over a decade. He loves the dogs, but he refuses to do what he needs to do to get the dogs under control. At least they aren’t too large for him to handle…but what if they were? At least they don’t try to actually control him…but what if they did? Were this a serious problem for me, we probably wouldn’t be living together. That said, I’ve seen marriages break up over this: dogs that wouldn’t allow a spouse in the bed, dogs that wouldn’t allow the kids to tough them, yet the adult owners kept the dogs around. Those behaviors are inexcusable, and obviously a symptom of a bad dynamic that comes out when a dog enters the picture.

Most of us dog trainers are not life coaches because we aren’t licensed psychologists. That said, we are really good ar understanding nonverbal communication. If you aren’t getting results practicing daily with your dog, you might want to invite a dog trainer over to your household to get an idea of what is going on.

Why I Have Chosen to Join a Kennel Club

December 28, 2017

My Saluki as a young dog.Sold as a pet, he finished his AKC championship in fewer than 10 shows.

Why would a  person who doesn’t have a dog to show join a kennel club?  Good question!    It’s not  like I don’t have enough on my plate.  It’s because I want to support …purebred dogs.

At one time, I did have a dog to show, and  I was a member of  kennel club to meet  others who had dogs to show, possibly to network to expand my  dog grooming business, and to learn more about dogs.  I was a member  of the Goldcoast Kennel Club for several years, but a  lot  of life events, including divorce, moving, and  going to graduate school  made me lose interest.

I first became interested in showing dogs when I was learning about  breeds and  what breeders look for in making their dogs into champions.  My first ‘show’ dog, an Afghan Hound, wasn’t really a show dog, but I didn’t know that.   I was only  12  when I got him. He had a magnificent pedigree.  This is how I learned that you don’t breed pedigrees…you breed dogs.

My first dog show was the Skokie Valley Kennel Club show in October, 1967. I entered my young dog in Novice, as we were both novices, and he was  just over a year old.  He got a blue ribbon (he was the only dog in his class) and my mother had it framed.  I still have it.  He never became a champion, but I was learning.

About a yer after getting the Afghan, we got a Miniature Schnauzer from a very well known Schnauzer breeder. This breeder taught me how to hand strip a dog.  He also didn’t turn out as I had hoped, but I was still learning.

I became active in a breed club:  The Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago.  This was in the 1970s, and Afghan Hounds suddenly got popular because of the culture of the time.  We’d have educational programs at meetings, but mostly what we did at meetings was plan matches and dog shows.  Our events were well attended.  I thought my fellow club members were all dog lovers, but what I learned was that, when push came to shove, not all of us were on the same page. This was because I was very interested in  Afghan Rescue.  Some breeders  took their dogs back if they sold them to people who decided they did not want the dog any more, but more were really backyard breeders…hoping to play the dog show game on a grand scale, but not willing to be responsible for all the dogs they bred.  One member  actually said to me, “If you sell a toaster, and the  buyer decides he doesn’t want it anymore, you don’t take it back, do you?”   I saw the mindset of  many people who were breeding dogs, making some money, but not caring about the dogs they bred.  This shocked and demoralized me.

I got involved in lure coursing, and  my dog turned out to be amazing at it, but the club was ambivalent, and my interests drifted to other areas.

So now this is about 40 years later, and I am  a witness to  the end of purebred dogs.  There are several factors  affecting  dynamics.  The ‘fancy’—that is, the people who were breeding dogs, are aging out.Their kids never were really interested.  It costs too much.  Our costs of living went up exponentially, we  had the ‘great recession’ when  not just the  real estate industry collapsed, but those fiduciaries (LOL) we trusted with out savings invested in smoke and mirrors, and a lot of people lost a lot of money.  Also, partly due to the internet, and partly due to us training most veterinarians as ‘agricultural veterinarians’  mixed breeds and ‘rescues’ are more popular than purebred dogs.  We’ve all heard, “Don’t shop, adopt,”  never mind that backyard breeders bred all the dogs & cats abandoned in shelters.  And the whole ‘hybrid vigor’ excuse for breeding a Poodle to just about any other breed.

I’d hate to have the fancy die out.  While my breed (Whippets) are not really in trouble, there are many ‘rare ‘ breeds without a gene pool, and some very popular breeds—-like French Bulldogs, Cockers and Bichon Frise with horrible genetic issues and most of their gene pools  consisting of puppy mill bred dogs—-bred as livestock to sell.

As someone who doesn’t breed dogs…what can I possibly  do to ‘add value’ to the sport of dogs?We can find more ways to  make entry fees cheaper, or find ways to  include more pet owners.  We can  offer more  activities and opportunities to compete, and we can  do more to educate the public about why we care for the breeds we love, and why planned breeding  not only makes future generations of dogs more genetically sound, but  addresses the unwanted pet problem.

California law 485 Banning Sales of Puppies….Controversial?

August 1, 2017

When I started exploring  owning a dog, and learning about the breeds, and what a responsible dog breeder does, I also learned what  irresponsible breeders do. This was in the 1960s.

Ethics   and integrity were not always  factors in breeding dogs, because  ‘way back then’, there was no  testing for genetic defects in dogs.  Some of the  larger puppy mills started operations then…with a mission to provide a reasonably priced  puppy to whomever wanted one…via mass producing them.  Hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, other genetic defects wer considered…bad luck.  It was the  ethical hobby breeders— people who really loved their dogs, who decided to  look for scientific reasons dogs had crippling problems.  they also realized that not everyone who wanted a dog of th8ir breed should have one.

 

My Saluki as a young dog.  Not a cuddler.

Currently, the American Kennel Club claims that ethical hobby breeders are not meeting the demand  for puppies. Could this be true? Well, yes, but just because there is a demand, does that mean every consumer who demands a puppy of a certain breed should be allowed to own one?

The problem with pet stores and 3rd party sellers is they do not screen buyers for suitability. I have posted this fact a few times, but as a teenager, I worked for the Afghan Hound Breeder Fredric Mark Alderman, and  he did not sell you an Afghan Hound puppy (if you had never owned a long haired dog) until you had spent an afternoon grooming with him.  He didn’t want to hear any excuses about you not understanding how much equipment you needed, how often it needed to be done, how long it would take, or that you would keep the dog shaved.

I also know other breeders  who will ask if you own your own home with a fenced yard, and if you work all day, how will you housebreak a puppy?  Or,  when will you have time to groom a dog or train it?  And…  can I meet your children?  No giving a dog as a gift—bring them by for us to meet.

Yet the editors of the magazines aimed at dog show exhibitors and judges—not really breeders or exhibitors themselves, have fallen for  what the AKC old men & lobbyists are telling us:  if we don’t fight this—the restriction on selling pets breeds as livestock commodities in  pet shops—they won’t allow us to breed dogs at all.  There is a solution, but we all have to get on board.

I am a fancier with an education in urban planning.  I know that most fanciers/hobby breeders don’t have more than 1 litter a year.  If you have  more dogs and can afford to breed more and keep more…you need more space outside a high density urban area….a place  zoned for more than three dogs.  That should not be a problem.
There  are people who keep  three or more dogs in small condos .   Some people think that is crazy—but the fact is that  those dogs have more freedom of movement that dogs in many kennels. Great Danes and Mastiffs do not require that much exercise or room—they are sleepers.    Thinking that is a problem is not understanding dogs—but having a fantasy notion of what  dogs need.  That has nothing to do with  having a breeding operation in a small, enclosed space where you share dwelling walls with another household.  Tht’s a long way from your one litter—even maybe  two litters some years of toy breeds….and having a business breeding and selling  through third parties—-and not taking responsibility who they sell to.

Several issues being addresses are : 1. That the breeders/sellers  (of dogs to pet stores/3rd parties) do no screening of buyers, who often  are disappointed with their dogs and dump them;

2.That these dogs are the ones filling our shelters.

Thee is no evidence that the dogs in shelters are mostly from puppy mills & pet shops—or even ethical hobby breeders.  There IS evidence that most shelter dogs are from backyard breeders.   Yes, people lose puppies & dogs, and sometimes they are stolen, but  most pets in shelters  have been bred, and sold by BACKYARD BREEDERS—whom nobody  calls breeders—not the shelters, not veterinarians, not  do-gooder rescue folks. The  animal rights/’rescue community has been flim flammed into  bad mouthing  hobby breeders whose  puppies are  usually spoken for, and which  breeders  want back if the buyers won’t keep them…and so the  problem of unwanted pets  remains. They want me to take a shelter dog and claim that for every dog bred by a breeder, a shelter dog dies. Funny….you aren’t addressing the actual people breeding the dogs ending up in shelters…and I don’t want  anyone choosing what kind of dog I should love…that’s the bottom line.

Now, if it were conventional wisdom to  make it the law that anyone breeding puppies & kittens…and selling them  on any media source in your state—  have to chip every puppy or kitten they sell with their contact info, we might start making a dent.  How do we enforce this?  In Illinois, you can be trained to be a humane inspector.  Too bad  all these very large  no-kill- groups don’t pay a stipend to humane inspectors who can go visit advertisers & either chip their  livestock puppies & kittens, or  confiscate them…and havethe breeders pay a fine>  Once yo have to pay $100 for every litter, you will think twice about whether it is worth it to have so many ‘accidental ‘ litters.

The  logical  ADVOCATES for this kind of policy, and for hobby breeders…would be the  registries like the AKC & the UKC…but since they make their money from registrations—including  registrations from puppy mills—they have no incentive  to advocate for responsible policies.  I would think the parent clubs particularly would, but they seem to be afraid of the AKC.

If you are going to drink the Kool-ade and  accept that consumers have the right to buy from 3rd parties, and it is ok to sell your carefully bred puppies  to 3rd parties to resell…you may as well  just forget about testing for genetic defects and  forget about showing dogs.  It doesn’t make any sense. You will make much more money being unethical…and according to policy makers—that is ok.  Already, the top 30 breeds are  2 separate breeds—dogs bred by hobby breeders….breeding for the betterment of their breeds, and AKC/UKC/APRI /CKC registered  dogs of their breed.  As it is, there  are fewer and fewer fanciers who can afford to breed or show good dogs.  Their children have no interest.  We are going to lose breeds, but we can hasten the inevitable by  conceding to this  terrible notion that it is ok not to screen puppy buyers.

Does a Dog Really Need Coat Conditioner?

April 14, 2017

Jennie, a Soft-coatd Wheaten Terrier, needed more than a bath.

I was  going to address this topic from a different perspective, but I’ve had this debate with a couple of dog groomers whom I respect. They insist on using coat conditioner/creme rinse on all dogs.  I do not…and here’s why:

  1.  Coat ‘conditioner’—what is it?  it is  a product to seal moisture into the coat.  While it’s true some dogs desperately need this…it just makes the dog harder to dry;
  2. Why would a  smooth coated dog  like a Lab or Pit Bull need conditioner?   By the time the cuticle  separates due to being too dry, the hair has shed out.   If your shampoo is mild enough—and these days  all shampoos have ‘conditioners’ or ‘softeners’ in their formulas,  you are just going to  rinse it all off. What most of these dogs actually need is a skin conditioner—which can be applied and left on after the bath;
  3.   If you are going to say that it’s to seal the cuticle of the coat—& that is what I want a conditioner to do—–I  usually put on a leave-in conditioner—or a coat polish…during my drying process. Saves time, saves the product.

Too many of us fall for the marketing.   Advertisers are still promoting copious  shampoo lather. Lather is SALT—sodium:  it dries your skin and hair, and can make you itchy. Same for the dog.  Lather is not good. I want my shampoo to lather up just enough so I know I have it on the dog, and I can see the dog needs rinsing…and that’s the problem with conditioner:  it’s difficult to rinse out.  You leave  it on a dark dog—and you see film.  The dog is not only not clean, it will attract more dirt. That makes no sense.

If you doubt your shampoo has conditioner, do this:  get either Murphy Oil   soap or Dr. Bronner’s. Both are Castile soaps. They are soaps—no conditioner.  You will feel the difference not just on your hands, but on the dog, Using these product  once in a while will not hurt the dog.  Dr. Barbara Royal, the holistic veterinarian, sometimes suggests these soaps for dogs that have an extreme reaction to sodium. These are great for  after the beach, or a field trial quick bath—but so is Listerine!

All that said, conditioner is necessary to seal the cuticle of the hair and  calm the skin.  I work  in a kennel where some dog owners are  eccentric. Whenever their dog comes in for daycare,  at the end of the day, they want the dog bathed.  I use an extremely mild shampoo.  It is not a great ‘cleaner’—but it will get the stink off and not irritate the dog’s skin if used every day.  What is the ‘conditioner’ in the shampoo?  I have no idea—some sort of fatty acids, or cetyl alcohol. Just enough to not irritate the dog’s skin, but leave the hair soft.

What dogs do need conditioners? dogs with very dry coats.  However,  even if the coat is dry, and you want to seal the coat cuticle, you don’t want to SOFTEN the coat, or that will actually make it worse. That’s why you want to know that the product you are using will do what you want it to do. That involves experimentation.  I know this, because I groom Coton de Tulear… all in specials coat.

You can not imagine a coat more dry than that of a Coton (except, of course, the  designer Shih Tzu mixes bred for the  consumer market).  They are very  affected by static. The cuticle opens up if the dog runs on carpet…or merely turns around. This is especially true when the dogs are puppies going through a coat change.  the breeder and I,  with the expert advice of her (AKC professional) handler, have  used several different products.  sometimes, the dogs are  bathed more often than once a week.  The owners have taken up the carpets  and put in wood floors, and their furniture is leather.  Nothing helps…and these dogs have the ideal coat texture for  Cotons.  What  chance does a pet owner have to keep a Coton in coat? Virtually none. the breeders suggest  having the dogs trimmed down like Bichons.

Also, a  few words about deshedding treatments….  I am bringing this up because  they way they are formulated if used according to manufacturers ‘ instructions—-can be great deep conditioning treatments.  The reason for this is that they are formulated with  Vitamin E, and meant to be left on the dog’s skin for  five to 10 minutes, and make the skin more supple.  Then, you leave the conditioner on for  a few minutes as well.  By making the skin more supple,  it causes the hair about to shed out, to loosen.  It will not make a dog loose coat if the dog is not losing coat, but it will coat  every hair and  you can see the results.

Taking Care of a Dog for Extra Income

August 5, 2016

Notice the Afghan Hound taking her half out of the middle. What do you think the Whippets are thinking?

Notice the Afghan Hound taking her half out of the middle. What do you think the Whippets are thinking?

There are several companies that do this now.   It could be a good way to make money.  They advertise nationally, and are always looking for dog care givers.

Before you jump in, let me tell you some  stories…

  1.  Friend who traveled for work left his dog with a family many times.  This was years ago, before cell phones. Finally, the dog got out.  At least he had a collar with a rabies tag. The police picked the dog up, and tried calling my friend, but he was out of town, so  wasn’t listening to his  answering machine (this was before voice mail).  He got home, called the people who  were supposed to have his dog, and they told him the dog got out. They had his  contact info, and never  bothered to call him.  This dog was 1 day away from being euthanized;
  2. An acquaintance was doing this for a living, Didn’t ‘believe in crating’.  Took a dog out for a walk, left a large Shepherd type dog sleeping.  A  small dog went up to the sleeping dog & barked at the Shepherd. the Shepherd bit the small dog, who lost an eye;
  3. Friend was doing this in her home.  During the interview with the client, she sort of noticed that  the client REWARDED both Pugs with a treat every time they barked at him.  He left, and  she had these barking dogs all weekend. They never shut up;
  4.  Acquaintance who actually bred the dog, knew she was nervous, but had her loose in the house while boarding her for the owner.    Breeder’s husband came in and the dog ran out the door as he was coming in. They never found the dog.
  5. I agreed to take care of a client’s  dog.  I didn’t think she’d be much trouble, until I realized she would not urinate or defecate in the yard. She had to be walked.  This would not have been  problem, except that she was large, strong, and after every bunny and squirrel…and barked at strangers.

If you  don’t have any pets and work from home, and have a secured fenced area to let dogs out, or don’t mind walking a dog or two—and are strong enough to handle any size dog, none of this matters.  If you DO have other pets, don’t have a secured yard, and aren’t used to being  in control of a dog, this might be more than you signed on for.

It’s good to get the veterinarian’s contact info (as well as ‘next-of-kin’ for the dog’s owners), info  if they have pet insurance, a big deposit if they don’t.  You may be able to  find sample contracts on line—but you want details spelled out.  You’ve got to have home owners, and liability insurance (many policies won’t cover damage or loss of life). Most care givers ask owners to bring their own food supply (in fact, many boarding kennels do this now).  You absolutely have to have your pets—& the boarder, meet on NEUTRAL TERRITORY and walk in together…at least the  greeting.  You will have  ‘4 more feet of dog’.  It’s not going to be a party.

****

I am thinking of moving the  dog blogs all to another  blog:  “Married to the Hair.”  I’ve about said everything I’ve been wanting to say about dogs, and I’ve been blogging very steadily for four years.  Time  to consider other  ways to express myself.

“Keeping Our Boat Afloat”—or the end of the Purebred Dog Fancy

June 24, 2016

My Saluki as a young dog.Sold as a pet, he finished his AKC championship in fewer than 10 shows.

My Saluki as a young dog.Sold as a pet, he finished his AKC championship in fewer than 10 shows.

Two Northern Illinois Kennel Clubs are  sponsoring a  round table discussion about how to keep the sport of  showing dogs (I believe this would include performance) active and viable.  The session will be held Saturday, July16, after Best in Show  at Blackhawk KC.

I will not attend, because I don’t have  a dog to show. Actually, I have  one dog in Rally (and one of the clubs has no performance events), but I am glad others are as concerned as I am.

Purebred dogs are in trouble. Even discounting the physiological problems of the  brachycephalic dogs,  many breeds do not have viable gene pools.

I was going to start this rant another way, but two occurences shocked me into having to address perceptions.

I compete in Rally, with  a purebred dog.  I noticed that mixed breed dogs are listed in the catalogs as “ALL AMERICAN DOG”.  Does that mean that the Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Boston Terriers, Coonhounds, and Alaskan Malamutes are NOT “ALL AMERICAN DOGS”?  Why aren’t mixed breed dog listed as either ‘mixed breed’ or ‘unknown’? What genius thought up this slap in the face to the fancy?

I often respond to posts  on Craigslist from people looking for specific breeds (I also flag sellers…no animal sales or breeding are allowed on Craigslist—it is to rehome older pets, but this is a great example of ‘the law of the commons’ and people having no integrity).  A girl was looking for an Australian Shepherd.  I responded that, since no animal sales or breeding are allowed on CL, that she should contact  the Australian Shepherd Club of America, and be put in touch with hobby breeders.  I also told her that, since ethical hobby breeders take their dogs back (and no puppy sales are allowed on CL), that the only responses she’d get would be from commercial breeders or scammers. She responded to ME that U didn’t know what I was talking about, that she had done plenty of research, and would not buy from a breeder because they only breed for money.  I  responded that she was mistaken, that hobby breeders breed for the betterment of the breed and  do genetic testing, and where did she think purebred dogs come from, if not breeders?  She told me she knew what she was doing & to mind my own business.

So…my fellow dog purebred dog fanciers….so much for the AKC marketing, “Buy from a breeder,” as this has clearly backfired.  The  conventional wisdom is that we inbreed dogs for looks, and don’t care about soundness (yet, the designer dog breeders and their “F1 crosses” seems to make a lot of sense to those buyers who believe that crossing  two breeds eliminates genetic defects).

I have been ‘active’ in the fancy, on and off, since the late 1960s.  My  first  ‘show dog’ was an Afghan, or, rather, I should say he had a great pedigree, but  he wasn’t really show quality, and, as my parents weren’t really interested, nobody mentored me.  I went to the New York School of Dog Grooming, rather than college, because I knew I wanted to work with dogs.  I was taught by Don Doessel, who actually got Louis  and Seme Auslander started in Miniature Schnauzer.  I was later mentored by a dog groomer who learned to groom Bedlingtons from  Charlie Praeger, and Airedales from Mareth Kipp.  I have worked on and off for Dale Miller (Barclay Square Miniature Schnauzers), and  for Jocelyn Slatin (Jamboree Airedales and Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers).  I was a member of the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago in the 1970s, and really promoted the idea of rescue and breeders taking responsibility for all the dogs they breed, but I was ridiculed, so I dropped my membership.  It was all for the best.  Having Afghan Hounds, I realized there were very few good pet homes for long haired dogs, and I wasn’t going to be wealthy enough to have enough property or time to support a breeding habit.  & who wanted to associate with people who felt that once they sold a dog, their responsibility ended?  I know that  the ‘culture’ varies from breed to breed….but this is how puppy mills get dogs of your breeding:  buyer can’t  keep dog, you don’t take dog back, commercial breeder (Hunte Corp?) gets dog, & the rest is history….

It  just got to the point that I knew, if I wanted to retire with any level or  economic security, I could not afford to campaign a dog.  Where did I get my wacky ideas? From the breeders I worked for. In fact, Fred Alderman, of Dynasty Afghan Hounds, had a rule: If  you had never owned an Afghan  and wanted one of his dog, you had to spend a day grooming with him.  He didn’t  want to sell you a dog & later hear you didn’t know how much time it would take, or the equipment you would need, or how often it needed to be done.  If—after a day of grooming, you didn’t want an Afghan…no harm, no foul.  Yet, how many   ‘ethical hobby breeders’ even  tell a pet buyer what kind of brush to buy?  Or say anything about obedience training being a must?

I’ve helped a few breeders grade puppies, and judged a couple of matches, but the AKC  has no use for me. They’d  rather support a puppy mill breeder as a judge than a non-breeder who knows the standards and can interpret them.  Why?  You know why:  the  whole thing is about registering puppies.

&–what is a puppy mill?  There is a lot of disagreement on this, but—-to me—it is the breeder  breeding dogs without a thought to bettering the breed.  It doesn’t matter if they have one bitch or  1,000.  If you are not breeding for the betterment of the breed, you are part of the pet surplus problem.

I ultimately did  go to college, and I ended up with a master’s in public policy.  BFD.  I’ve also titled dogs in conformation (a Saluki whom the breeder didn’t think was show quality finished in  fewer than 10 shows), obedience (an Afghan  and a Whippet both nationally ranked), rally, and  lure coursing.  I, too, am THE FANCY.

Why is the fancy in trouble?

  1.  There is no longer a middle class.    When I started  showing dogs, as a teenager, ‘land rents ‘ were much lower.  Housing, for middle class people, was 20—25% of their take home pay.  Now, 35% is considered average.  Don’t get me started on  health care or energy costs.  You need an expendable income to be ‘in dogs’, so  how many people can afford to keep even  four breedable bitches?  & you notice, their children are not  becoming breeders;
  2. There is a huge disconnect between  fanciers and veterinarians.  Yes, some fanciers are veterinarians, but, as a dog groomer, I have worked for several animal hospitals where not  one veterinarian was a fancier. They  disrespected the fact that  many  dogs had grain sensitivities—and it is now a major segment of the pet industry.   that was us!  Us dog lovers, talking to each other at  conformation classes and shows!  We developed grain-free & specialty  dog foods—not veterinarians! They  don’t  suggest pet owners  check for  discoverable  genetic problems  before breeding their dogs, and they are the reason  people switched from dog collars to harnesses and flexis (god forbid they’d suggest—-training).  One practice I worked for  actively partnered with puppy mill outlets.  So—-why  do fanciers continue to  support veterinarians who don’t understand or respect them?
  3.   Our marketing is for shit.  Due to our integrity, we’ve supported research into genetic defects.  This is not purebred dogs—this is DOMESTIC dogs.  Yet, veterinarians will not disabuse  pet owners of the idea that  designer dogs are not HYBRIDS.  Now, for every purebred Poodle I groom, I groom over 100 designer dogs:  Doodles, Shipoos, Maltapoos, Cavashons, Bernadoodles…and Pomskys.  Pomskys!  Why not a Keeshond or Norwegian Elkhound?  & people are paying more for the mixed breeds than they would a purebred.  I  was attending   a specialty show of a breed, and at the same location. I walked into another  specialty  of another breed, just  to watch…and several people asked me what I was doing there or if I was lost!  This  was a breed I had considered owning, no more!  Also, th public doesn’t understand that most of our dogs are house pets!
  4.  We have allowed naive  ‘humane activists’ to  own and define the rhetoric. Open admissions shelters would not have to be high-kill if the ‘No-kill’ were honest.  & when you buy dogs from commercial breeders, it is not rescue.  I consider myself a humane activist, but I do not support rescues that disrespect hobby breeders.  Our dogs are not the ones that end up in animal shelters….but the only way to  prove this is to push for—on a state level–mandatory chipping of dogs & cats with the breeder’s contact info.    This could easily be done by contacting anyone who posts puppies or kittens for sale on Craigslist, EBay, or any media.  & it can be done by encouraging people to become volunteer humane inspectors.  When  the do-gooders who support  shelter pets  shout, “Adopt, don’t shop!”  they are letting all the backyard breeders off the hook—and they are the ones causing the pet surplus.  You can find them on Craigslist any day.
  5.   We do a poor job of policing ourselves.  We  all know of hobby breeders whose yards are a mess, who  don’t sell pups with contracts or  explain what grooming tools or methods are needed for the puppies they sell…and who won’t take a dog they bred back.  Remember, the Obamas got  their  two Porties who had been returned to their breeders.  When they got Porties, for once, we didn’t see a flood of Porties hitting the market. Why?  the PWD  breeders saw what happened to  other breeds, and closely hold them….and  follow through. They also explain this to pet buyers.  The culture varies from breed to breed.  I am a Saluki and Whippet fancier, and  all  our breeders (who are not mentally deranged) take their dogs back—no matter how old.  Yet, I’ve been told, that for every Shiba Inu or  Basenji that is AKC registered, statistically, one goes into rescue.

So, what can we do to save the fancy?

  1.  Everyone has to be on the same page.  You have to have all your puppies on contract to be   co-owned until neutered or titled, and you  better be sure you have  the funds to  enforce a legal contract.  & if you can’t  find good homes, and know you can be selling to renters, or  people who really don’t have the time or funds to take care of a dog (or who you know plan to give your puppies as gifts), YOU are the problem.
  2.   Dog show entry fees are outrageously expensive. There was a time that I’d enter  both conformation and obedience.  Not any more.  &—the biggest insult—that Rally is considered an ‘overlay’ event with a totally different entry fee—is offensive.  Because other clubs do  it is  a terrible reason—and this is what is preventing people from  showing their dogs (even if they did have some extra cash).
  3.   Your club must sponsor events to get the public involved.  Ask a local pet shop manager if you can set up a table on weekends and do  information on various breeds and activities.  This is  how you can inform regular folks  about  what  ethical breeders do.  See the following suggestion—-pet  fanciers of your breeds  are the best marketing.
  4.   Show some respect for people like me—who are not breeders—but fanciers and pet buyers!  The Greater Chicago Whippet Club is now made up almost entirely of pet owners not showing dogs!  That’s right!  Sure, some people still race, and lure course, but of our paid up members,  I’ve been told only  one is a breeder.  Yet, we know  we have to support  hobby breeders.  In fact, the American Whippet Club events  always  attract a lot of pet owners.  We have  agility, obedience, rally, classes for spayed/neutered dogs, a parade of rescues as well as champions, and  do major  fund raising for our national networked rescue efforts.
  5. Your matches should be sweepstakes.  In fact, what’s up with an entry fee being $27, but someone offering $10 for Winner’s dog or bitch? What kind of sense does that make?   Here’s an idea:  encourage  exhibitors to bring items for a bazaar.  For every class win, give a  ticket, for Winners  and Best of Breed, etc, give more tickets, and allow people to choose their own prizes to commemorate the win!
  6. It’s time to demand that  dogs be genetically tested before they are bred. To not test, and then state you have never had a problem, is disingenuous.
  7.  The AKC needs to be confronted on how they spend out money. Who cares if those puppy mill dogs go to another registry? So what? They are not a part of our gene pools!  To stop printing the Gazette, and go in favor of licensing products (harnesses—really?  Only sled dogs and guide dogs should wear harnesses!)  Yet,  not  branding of martingales—the best collar for most pet dogs…what’s up with that? Do they even know anything about safe dog handling? It’s really a slap in the face to us all.  The AKC would not even need to change anything. All they would have to do  is do what it says on their  registration papers:  no 3rd party selling.  I can’t think of any greater disrespect to the fancy than this.  I saw in a dog magazine that someone thought the AKC should get all  money collected for entrance fees & dole it out to us. Really? The foxes guarding the henhouse haven’t done enough damage?  I have to wonder if these old white men are all just field trial people who don’t have a personal relationship with any dog!  But what are our delegates doing in New York?
  8. . I suggest every fancier get a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point” which is a great treatment of how ideas become conventional wisdom.

Careful! He Bites!

April 29, 2016

If you are a dog groomer, you’ve heard these words.  Thankfully, most dog owners are honest.  Some, however,  try to sugar coat  the message:  “He can be nippy…”

We’re talking pet dogs here.  Most dogs don’t just bite: they bite for a reason. Usually, it’s because the dog is in pain or is afraid of something.  If I can figure out why the dog bites, I can avoid irritating the dog, and we are all safer.  Who are the BITERS?   Generally, they are not Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, or Germans Shepherds…. mostly, they are small dogs.  Oh, sure, after over 40 years of putting  myself in harms way, I’ve been confronted by some  really untrustworthy Rottweilers, even  scared Germans Shepherd Dogs.  Mostly, though, the biters are small.  Usually they are terriers, but not always.    Most have come from backyard or commercial breeders, not hobby breeders.  Some have been hurt, but most are spoiled:  they have been rewarded for bad behavior.  For some reason, many pet owner are in denial about how dangerous a biting dog can be.

Venus was a biter. Reshaping her behavior has helped, but she has to be under control at all times.

Venus was a biter. Reshaping her behavior has helped, but she has to be under control at all times.

Most  domestic dogs have a bite inhibition.  Most dogs. Some have  neurological aberrations, but this is rare.  I had a very smart client who had large dogs, and she got a Yorkie. She said, “Never allow a small dog to do something you wouldn’t allow a large dog to do.”  She was right. It is not cute that the little darling pipsqueak acts ferocious. It’s dangerous.  Worse, because they do LOOK CUTE, some innocent idiot who really thinks that all dogs who look cute,are cute…is going to get bitten.

There are many things I know about dog body language and  display behavior.  Dogs do not like to be patted on the head (they’d mostly prefer to be patted on the side).  How many people  think their dog was abused because he cringes when you reach over his head?  That’s instinct…and some of these people refuse to believe a dog does not like to be patted on the head.  Dogs don’t like to be hugged, for the most part.

Most dogs don’t like to be carried. When their feet are not on a solid surface, they feel very insecure. And…they certainly don’t want to be on their backs—exposed and vulnerable—yet how many of our clients carry their dogs that way—and then attempt to hand them to you?  That’s another thing.  Dogs don’t like to be handed off—-especially not by their owner  to someone who might have made them do something they did not want to do (like behave themselves!).

I try to get all my clients to bring their dogs  to me on collars and leashes (& please–no Flexis).  I can  generally tell when a dog is fearful, and unsure.  I have to gain his confidence by showing him that I respect him, his space, and  what bothers him.  Many  hate being picked up.  In this case, I either lower the table so the dog can jump on, or I  make the leash taut to be able to pick the dog up without him being able to turn and bite me.  Many feels secure in a crate and don’t  want to come out. Yes, we know—it can be dangerous to leave  a leash on in a crate. The dog can become tangled. Sometimes, however, you have to  do this (leave it  dandling over the top of the door), so you don’t have to reach in, but can gently pull the dog out.  &, it is safer for all to  have control over the dog this way, rather than chasing the dog around.   THAT is never good.

Many HATE having their  feet messed with.  Where I work (at an animal hospital), unfortunately, for some reason, all the vet techs have been taught to lay the dog on the floor, strong arm the dog, and scare the dog when they cut the nails. Then I get the poor dog.  I would NEVER make a dog feel vulnerable on purpose.  I guess the vet techs feel that because they’ve gone to college (or have a certificate), that their way is the right way.  I know there are more humane ways of doing this.

basket muzzles come in sizes 1---10, but the dog needs a pointy face. For the flat faced dogs, a cat muzzle might do!

basket muzzles come in sizes 1—10, but the dog needs a pointy face. For the flat faced dogs, a cat muzzle might do!

Some dogs don’t like being brushed and will throw a hissy fit.  This can be overcome, but not if the owner isn’t committed.  We can’t do magic.  I have gotten severely matted dogs which I’ve had to shave, and started from ‘scratch’, and got those dogs to lay down while I  brushed their hair.  It can be done.

It is in my best interest to  reassure a dog and convince the dog that I am not going to hurt him.  However, if the dog’s owners are going to make excuses for bad behavior, I have no  problem charging extra for ‘special needs’.  I use  plastic ‘wire’ (we use them for dog racing) basket muzzles on the dogs I can’t convince to keep their teeth in their mouths. They can still open their mouths to pant (so they won’t panic and overheat), and they can still drink water through a basket muzzle.

If we say we love dogs, we have to learn to understand them.  Not only are there  some very good books with illustrations of dog behavior, you  learn this when you work with dogs and are mentored by more experienced dog professionals.  This is what separates us from the  business owner whose only experience with dogs is having owned or walked pet dogs.  It’s a little more complicated, but not so much if you really want  to understand dogs.

Why I Joined a Kennel Club

December 10, 2015

This is a display of rosettes at the American Whippet Club Specialty , 2015

This is a display of rosettes at the American Whippet Club Specialty , 2015

When I was thinking of breeding and showing dogs, I became a member of a kennel club.   One of my employers had been a member of the Waukesha Kennel Club in Wisconsin, and it was from those club members that she learned to groom the terriers and  many breeds we saw in our shop.  In fact, she learned to groom Bedlingtons from Charlie Prager, who invented the first portable grooming table and fluff dryer (Groom-Rite).

For a long time, I was not active in a kennel club.  I was either working my own business or  in the process of a divorce, or in school. Then I was in Peace Corps, then  re-acclamating myself to life  in the USA.  I just didn’t have ‘time’.  And how much time would it have actually taken to be a club member?  Not much, really.  In fact, it would have helped with business networking.  This is really the best reason to be a member of an all-breed  dog club, for groomers and trainers. Hobby breeders sell puppies that need services.

However, I knew from being a club member (I was a member of the Goldcoast Kennel Club in Chicago until 1987…the club has since  folded),  many of the club members were not breeders. They were  fanciers who may have shown a dog in the past, or were hoping to show a dog, but they were not active breeders.  We were all members for the same reason:  to support the fancy. That is, support people breeding dogs for the betterment of their breeds.

Vern Price, of  Crown Jewel Dalmatians, did a lot to  make the club a success.  He  instituted a 50/50 drawing for cash, and pulling a member’s name out of a hat at every meeting for a cash prize.  He made sure the club offered both obedience and conformation classes.  Vern made sure there were prizes for every dog show class at  the annual all-breed show.  Whether you  liked or hated Vern,  he made sure the club functioned.

Dazzle, JC (Dazzle) Saluki, on the left, Bebop Whippet, on the right. Bred by hobby breeders for the betterment of their breeds.

Dazzle, JC (Dazzle) Saluki, on the left, Bebop Whippet, on the right. Bred by hobby breeders for the betterment of their breeds.

When Vern died, the club started to disintegrate, and there is no longer a Goldcoast Kennel Club.  In the Chicago area, there are still about a dozen all breed clubs, but hardly any has an active membership. Worse, though, is that the specialty clubs are folding due to lack of members.  Granted, most clubs  exist at all  for breeders to promote their breeding and support their breeds.  They  have done this by holding dog shows, paying for research into health and genetic problems their breeds have, holding grooming classes, and supporting  performance training and events (agility, barn hunt, schutshund, lure coursing, etc) to keep interest in their breeds—and  individuals  competing with their breeds, alive.  Actually, the  breed club I belong to, the Greater Chicago Whippet Club—has no breeder members!  We are all  pet and racing folks who want to  socialize with other sighthound fanciers!

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.

What has been happening —and those of us who have been grooming for several decades know this—-is that the American Kennel Club, the holder of the stud books (that is, records of who got bred to who), is supporting commercial breeding of dogs in our state legislatures (and defending the right to commercially breed pet dogs), at the expense of the fancy (what purebred dog enthusiasts are called).  Many breeders have ‘aged out’ or died, or just got disgusted with the whole cultural milieu.  Their  children either  never became interested, or can’t afford to  breed dogs.  Few  people can, with the middle class actually being less than 49% or all households.  So that means than many wonderful breeds don’t have viable gene pools…and as for the popular breeds, your chances of buying a  well bred pup without being on a waiting list is slim to none.  Of course, many of us are willing to take mature dogs, but how about our clients?  So, if they want a dog of a breed, their only option  is buying commercial breeders.

Why should dog  groomers be concerned? You might think this does not matter because  you haven’t gotten a new client with a purebred dog in several years (unless you  breed your own business).  Indeed, I  work in an elite section  of the Chicago area, and  all we are seeing is designer dogs.  It’s shocking  how many people have paid so much money for these mixed breed dogs…and virtually all of them have genetic health issues, because the people breeding dogs for the market really don’t care.  Also, by the time these pet owners learn that their  dogs will need a pricey health intervention (repair of liver shunt, removal of cataracts, fixing luxated patellas)….the breeder will be gone.  This is not to say  this  does not happen in purebreds—as it does, and these mixes are not pariah dogs, but mixes of purebreds.  But I do know that members of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club virtually eliminated congenital juvenile cataracts in their members bloodlines by paying for research , test breeding, and putting in the time and heartache.

If we don’t support hobby breeders, and let our  grooming clients know there is a difference, we  won’t have a grooming industry in about 10 years…unless you’re happy with shaving down dogs.

We must work together on this.  I urge you to network, and find a dog club you can work with.