Archive for the ‘corporate pet stores’ Category

No Bad Dogs(LOL)

July 9, 2020

Remember Barbara Woodhouse? She was a dog trainer who claimed that there were no bad dogs.I always thought her to be naive. if you work with dogs, you know there are bad dogs. People breed bad dogs because they have no integrity and are only breeding dogs to sell as livestock—just to make money off of. They are not breeding dogs to improve their line or for the betterment of any breed. If you work with dogs long enough, you learn that most are smaller dogs. Yes, some are ‘Pit Bulls’, and the aberrant dogs of other breeds (Shiba Inu, Lagotto Romagnolo, even Scottish and Sealyham Terriers), but for the most part, the ‘bad dogs’ tend to be the types of dogs people want to carry around: purse dogs. They don’t come from ethical hobby breeders, not for the most part. They come from people who are breeding dogs to sell to people with money. Those people won’t ask about genetics. The buyers just assume the breeders have integrity. By far, the worst are Boston Terriers, French Bulldog, Jack Russell terriers, Lhasa Apsos…and mixes of those breeds.

I had a client who told me, when she started making excuses for her Yorkshire Terrier being aggressive, “Don’t allow in a small dog behavior you would not tolerate in a large dog.” She was right. It’s not cute, It’s dangerous. Those little dogs have teeth, and have no bite inhibition.

All the times I have been bitten badly enough by a dog to require emergency treatment, it’s been by a small dog. Why did those dogs bite me? In a couple of cases, the dogs had become demented by disease and old age. But the other times, the dogs just didn’t like what I was doing to them— likely cutting their toenails. They were not frightened. they were telling me who the boss was.

Rarely do I groom bad dogs, but we still have a few. Just the other day, I was waiting for a dog whom I knew was bad: Charlie. Charlie is, allegedly, a ‘cav-a-poo’. That is, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel crossed with Poodle. Maybe he is. I have no idea. Charlie was allowed to be the boss by his owners, and he never liked having his feet picked up or his face f touched. I learned to work around his idiosyncrasies, but should I have had to? I put right on his grooming card several years ago: #3 muzzle. I put it on him as soon as I get him on the grooming table. I’m always as gentle as I can possibly be. It does me no good to abuse the dogs, but the problem is usually owners in denial.

Charlies’ owners are Russians. They act entitled. They don’t care whom they inconvenience. They know we want all dogs into the shop between eight and nine in the morning, but they don’t care. They think they should arrive when it’s convenient for them…or maybe not at all. They don’t care if they cost us money.

Due to circumstances, my boss/coworker and I decided we have nothing to lose by raising his price a bit over 10%. We are fed up with accomodating people who think we should b pay them for the privilege of playing with their dogs. That’s not what we do.

It’s not lost on me that I make a living cutting dog hair when I have lived in countries where most people could not afford to buy a decent pair of shoes. Can you imagine explaining to normal people in Africa that people pay you to give dogs haircuts? I don’t even get into the fact that most of these dog owners have college loan debt, and really can’t afford the service I provide, but that’s capitalism.

Then, there are people in the pet industry deciding we should now call dog owners  …pet parents. I swear, the world—or at least the United States, has gone mad.

*********

This —-from my sister. Ut didn’t reallyhappen to her. I want to preface this by saying I think the citronella collars are very humane. The dog corects himself, and usually, it takes just 1 poof of citronella, and they get the idea:

The neighbors had been complaining that my dogs have been barking non-stop. I hate the electric zapping bark collars so I purchased humane citronella collars. When a dog barks, it shoots a blast of citronella under their nose, and apparently, they don’t like it.
This evening I was getting the collar ready and filled it with the citronella liquid. And that’s where my evening should have ended. But no, it’s me, and I begin to become curious as to “how” the collars actually work.
So I’m standing by my back door “barking” at my dog’s collar. Nothing happens. I make sure it’s turned on, check the fill level, and go through the “getting started” checklist one more time. Again, I bark. Nothing happens. Now I’m not quite sure, why I had this next thought, but I did…I put the collar on. I seriously extended the band and fit the growl box against my throat and barked. Apparently, the collar only works if it feels vibrations because I immediately received a blast of citronella to the face.
I began coughing, which only caused the collar to continue squirting bug spray over and over into my nasal cavity. I’m now on my hands and knees in my back yard, trying to breathe, and to make matters worse, the dogs are barking. So between coughing and yelling at them to stop, I’ve emptied over a dozen blasts of citronella to my face. During all of this ruckus, I’m trying to undo the clasp of the collar, which has somehow managed to weld shut during this whole fiasco.
I finally get the collar off and threw, yes I threw that inhumane thing across the yard, and lay in the grass sucking in the humid evening air. In the middle of thinking this is probably the dumbest thing I’ve done in a while, I hear laughter. MY NEIGHBOR SAW THE WHOLE THING! He was laughing so damn hard, he couldn’t breathe. Between gasps, he tells me, “I was gonna come help, but every time I started to come over, you’d set it off again, and then I would start laughing and couldn’t make it.” So now, not only are my eyes red, but my face and ears are too. After checking to make sure I was ok, we parted ways and I went in to shower so I wouldn’t smell like ode de’ Tiki Torch.
Lesson learned: next time (yes, there will always be a next time with me) make sure that:
1. Don’t fill the collar before trying to set it off.
2. Remember your neighbor is not a good source of help in a comedy crisis situation.
On the plus side, I won’t have a mosquito problem for a few days!
 

The Moral Compass, Lockdown, & Covid 19

April 11, 2020

Day 12: If you’ve been reading my posts, you know I’ve been keeping a journal of this no good, incredible, surreal very bad situation. Although my book, Polyandress, is not well-edited, I address several matters of integrity. I try to act with integrity.

The dog groomers, most of whom either own or work for micro-businesses (businesses that gross under $500,000 a year) are totally freaked out. They risked a lot to buy or open businesses,for independence, and for integrity. Now, many groomers are reporting that both PETCO and PetSmart are remaining open and challenging the closing orders all over.  Jokes on them. the courts are closed, for the most part.  But how arrogant.  Clearly no integrity there.

As I stated in my last blog post, my Muse owns a small business in a small town, and he is keeping his business open.  He has told me that he is taking precautions, but I am really shocked at how busy his business remains. In my high density, inner-city neighborhood, the only people you see out—-for the most part—are people walking dogs and crazy people…and landscape businesses. I guess they feel they aren’t actually interacting with the public.  Muhammed reports to me that his business is steady all day.  I can’t bear to turn on Fox news, but I’m thinking that this is where these unconcerned idiots are getting their “facts”

Late in the afternoon, Muhammed texted me that if we don’t get together by the end of the month, we won’t be able to see each other until late May, because he is taking a hiatus.  Hiatus?  Who talks like that?  I asked him if he was going away.  He said he wasn’t.  He said he just had to refrain from sinning, and he’s Moslem and very private about his religion.

He said in his profile he was not religious, but clearly, his parents were to name him Muhammed and live in white bread Christian country. So he is taking Ramadan seriously.  30 days of no eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset.  I  remember when Baidoo( a friend from Senegal who worked at Northwestern in the library) invited me to break the fast. It had to be December or January that year. In theory, the days were shorter.  There had to be at least  8 of us in the apartment.  Some of us said it was already dark, and it was Amadou who said—- according to the chart —-it wasn’t for 10 minutes (Amadou—what a fucking mistake he was. I could throttle Baidoo for that. It was Baidoo’s revenge for me being ‘bossy’)  But I have other Moslem friends who don’t fast.  Muhammed texted that we can still talk, just not anything dirty. Well, what’s the point of that?

I respect his beliefs and this time of reflection, but sex is not a sin to me.  I have a moral compass, and this is where the rubber hits the road.  I don’t have an ‘idea’ of God.  But look here:  This man has crossed my path.  He is not a Christian. He can support himself. He seems responsible.  He knows what he wants and what he doesn’t want.  I tell him that my book, Polyandress, is really about integrity, and all the choices that involve making ethical decisions, and we are being tested now.  He keeps enticing me, and  I am a wreck…or was.  This must be how God is really manifested:  He sends you a lover but then brings pestilence to the world, and you have to make a moral choice:  do what you know has to be done to try to save the world (& yourself)  and put off personal gratification, or be drawn to the flame and quench your desires? This is really a terrible situation.

He texts me:  “I wish things were normal so you  could come over tonight.” He is playing hardball, so I text back, “Oh, my love, you have no idea the personal turmoil that this is causing me.  I am very aroused.  I am thinking you are the devil. You are tempting me and I have to be strong in a country where integrity is a joke. When I finally get to touch you I will set you right for sure.  Now my nipples are hard. Damn you!”

Day 13.  We had a pleasant conversation last night, but now, this morning, I am on Facebook, and the groomers are still in panic mode in general.  It seems the country is really divided between those of us taking this seriously, and those making excuses & using hope as an excuse to not be responsible—and those who are in total denial.  This weighs on me because Muhammed still has his store open. I texted him this morning & begged him to either close or put up a sign on the door to not admit anyone not wearing some kind of mask and not allow more than a certain # of people into the store at a time, AND to make everyone put hand sanitizer on their hands. Gloves are bullshit.  He’s in rural America & it’s now all over.  I don’t think he  ‘gets’ the  ‘moral compass’  thing.  I can’t tell.  But I put him to him straight: if he ever wants a real blow job, he has to get responsible.

He texted back that he doesn’t understand what one thing has to do with the other.  This is bad.  You can’t tell me you are taking a month for Ramadan and sex is one of the worldly sins (or whatever it is that would cause you to abstain) and think it is ok to allow your customers to believe everything is fine and nobody is in danger because of their stupidity.  The idea that he would challenge me on this makes me profoundly sad.

As my regular Chase bank brank was closed, I went to the Chase bank by Loyola, which is within walking distance, to make a deposit. Nobody was on the street.  All the retail stores and restaurants are closed. Some fast food places, the White Hen & 7-11 are open.  Then I went back online, and the groomers in rural America—especially the mobile groomers, are acting like this is no big deal & it’s business as usual.  They are not experiencing this epidemic as dramatically as the rest of us are.

 

Day 14 

A nice day, but what’s the point?  The country is really divided, and pretty much between those of us who know Trump made a bad situation worse and

those of us who don’t understand epidemic.  Some dog groomers are posting they are out in their mobile grooming vans, busy beyond belief. Muhammed’s store is very busy.  I think next week when it’s Easter, people there will still be in denial…going to churches, or family events. Then, about 2 weeks later I believe there will be a spike.  We are never going to get through this s long as this is happening. It’s amazing I haven’t killed Kunihiro.  He’s taken to ‘cooking’.  Usually,

it’s ramen or pasta, and an elaborate sauce to go over the noodles.  He accused me of spitting on him  when I was talking.  Sometimes….  I remembered when he first came to live with me when his English was still so rudimentary.  I wanted to know what his interests were, so I could help him learn (In the early 1980s, I coordinated an ESL program for Literacy Volunteers of Chicago, and we used Paolo Frieri’s ‘LIteracy in 30 hours’ as a guide to teaching).  This was before I understood that Kunihiro had a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.  He liked cars, so I had him listen to Car Talk.  There was an ad in the paper for a video called ‘Big Trucks’. It was obviously aimed at kids, but it was a video of earth moving vehicles used in road construction:  big big tall wheels, like over  2 stories tall, and in the video, it showed explosions for blasting rock.  I bought it for him and he just thought it was great.  He was laughing and he said to me, “You really know me.”  That made me feel good.  Now 20 years later, social distancing in our house, because I spit when I speak. You know something? Fuck YOU.

Day 15  My Muse, Muhammed, is very stressed out, he has told me he has been working alone because one employee is sheltering until this is over, and another apparently is very ill.  My state senator, Kelly Cassidy,  emailed a map where all Illinois cases are.  In my zip code (mind you, the geographic area is only about 1-mile square, along Lake Michigan) there are 69 confirmed cases.  Out in Sycamore, where Muhammed is—-the map says not showing known cases due to privacy concerns, so it must be a small number, but having talked to a client yesterday,  she brought it closer to home. Her veterinarian died last week of Covid19, and someone in her dog training class was hospitalized. 

I continue to contact dog clubs.  I have gotten some terse emails back, and unfortunately, many emails bounce back because dog clubs don’t keep their websites up to date.  I had seen a post on Facebook that was addressing that the AKC had FIRED la all their field representatives. Not laid them off—fired!  Ok, there are no dog shows…but why not just lay them off?  Have they really inspected all the USDA  commercial kennels out there? The AKC is so mismanaged.  Really a shame, But also a shame that these dog fanciers aren’t keeping their websites current nor are they paying for Google ad words.  Unless you know the specific name of the club you are looking for, it is difficult to find a local club on Google, One parent club member did ask me how I found her, and I told her I used the AKC dog club website, But how many people actually looking for a pure breed would know how to do that? 

From the Museum of Erotic Art in Barcelona Spain

There are reports that in the black neighborhoods in Chicago, on the south and west sides, people are contracting the disease and dying in droves. Could it be more compromised health? Who knows? 

Day 16  It’s Tuesday, and the first really warm day we’ve had this year.  A bit humid.  I took the dogs for a walk and cleaned up the yard a bit.  I have to send out more marketing letters and pull myself together.  Cook County jail is releasing inmates just to stop the spread of disease. This guy, with previous felony convictions for robbery, assault & weapons charges complains  (to a reporter) that inmates are scared!  LOL—not my issue.  Don’t commit the crime if you can’t do the time.

I called my friend Karen, who is a bit more religious than I am and told her of my dilemma. The way I  put it was that the coincidences between my character Daler Singh and this guy Muhammed are too amazing.  I have to meet him. She doesn’t think God works this way.  Neither do I, but look at how it is.   Karen is a head hunter for investment firms, and she says more brokers are willing to meet others to discuss changing jobs because bonuses are not being paid out & they’re not making money except for the contrarian investors.  Well, of course. Several times I have told people during downturns (The Reagan trickle-down years were a time)  that if they had $2000 to buy some real estate. Even if it was in a slum, they’d build equity.  Now is 1 of those times.  But fuck that.  I want to be with a man who is hard all the time.

So, while the situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better in a hurry, Kunihiro went to the grocery store this morning.  He didn’t even ask me if we needed anything, he just went—and for the most part, buying more of what we already had. With that, he’s exposed, because he wasn’t wearing a mask. This is the first time he went out in 2 weeks. So, I am going to try to see  Muhammed on Sunday. We’ll see how it goes.  I really want to see him, but he wants me to come in the evening, not during the day. He doesn’t want me to spend the night.  You wouldn’t think you would have to negotiate a romance, but apparently, you do.  I told him 7:p.m. was too late, as my round trip would be 3 hours, and I had, when he first contacted me, addressed the time and distance. He said it was no problem for him.  Well, it is a problem for me.  You couldn’t possibly be that good a lay for it to be worth 3 hours in the car for what?  15 minutes of ‘fun’.  Please.  don’t flatter yourself.   I didn’t want our first time together to be chaperoned by Kunihiro and 3 dogs.  And I told him that I understood and respected his boundaries, and I’ll see how it goes. I also reminded him, again, that the reason I have not been in a relationship for over 20 years is that the last guy put up so many boundaries, and the sex was never good enough to have to deal with such a lack of respect and I would not tolerate it again. That I couldn’t imagine the sex being worth it.  I sure hope that’s a dagger to the heart.  He has said he wants consistency.  Just like my character Daler Singh:  he doesn’t want to have to get used to a woman or have a woman get used to him.  He wants a woman to know him. Well, of course, most women want that in a partner, too;  a man who knows what she likes,  but I’ve known too many men who then want to sleep alone.  No cuddling, Fuck you all. Day 17  Since October, I’ve been seeing this holistic doctor, Meena Malhotra, and within the first few days being on her vitamins, my bursitis disappeared.  The problem is that she has a concierge practice, and this is NOT covered by Medicare.  I took over $7000 out of my Health Savings Account, and I DO feel much better. I’ve lost a bit over 20  pounds and about  20% of my body fat.  The problem is, my ‘membership ‘ is up, and I can’t pay $600 a month to feel better.  The vitamins alone are almost $300 a month. That’s insane.  I paid an embarrassing amount of money also to increase my sexual pleasure (when you are old, your hormones just disappear), and I really have to assess or reassess my priorities.  Of course, this situation can’t go on forever.  By the end of the month (especially if the hyper-Christian conservative idiots all gather in Church for Easter  and then congregate with their families) we should have thinned the herd sufficiently, with a roll-out of testing, to get back to ‘normal’—-or at least the new normal.

Day 18... Thursday, I think.  Am I being productive? Creative?  Muhammed has given me a lot to think about.  Not on purpose, of course. I doubt he is that self-aware.  We actually had a text ‘discussion’ (oh, the modern world) about…body hair.  He texted me that he was ready for me on Sunday (listen—if we have Covid19, we have it, and will cross the next bridge when we come to it, but I have not been within 6 feet of even 50 people in the last 3 weeks.  Him?  Fewer than 5 reported cases in his rural community… but I digress… I texted him to not shave (I  like a guy with facial hair. Like someone told Freddie Mercurty, I don’t date a guy who doesn’t have a mustache….).  He told me he had shaved his body.  OMG…why?  He said he sweats a lot,  it’s for hygiene, …and girls like it.  Not this girl. This girl wants her sex partner to look, feel, and smell like an adult.    How often do I turn to Freddie dancing around with light on his chest hair? (FYI—a good glimpse :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCbxTTW_B0A   2:01—2:05 & 4:54—5:00, 5: 50—5:24).  This sort of confirms for me that not only has he been consorting with  Christian white girls,  but girls who don’t want to be with an adult.  So I put it to him plain:  I am making a lot of compromises to be with him under his terms, and for me, his body hair adds to my sexual experience.  I can’t believe we have to address this, but this is NOT a romance. This is a planned sexual encounter.  I guess I will have to spell that out for him, too. He has set the terms and I have acquiesced to his terms.  He keeps talking of love. He wants to be loved.   Maybe no other sexual partner has ever verbalized why she was unhappy, why she left, but I have no problem with this.  I have sought out, by elimination and not being overly descriptive in my profile online that I didn’t want a Christian—not only for the baggage that comes along with asking a deity for forgiveness but because I didn’t want a pasty European guy. But I also, in so many words, wanted a  partner who had experienced what I had experienced in society:  being another.

Day 19. What did I do today? I did some more marketing. this takes time because, as I’ve said, the club links to the AKC website are for the most part, not good. I then did some laundry and went for a bike ride. It looks like it may snow Sunday night, Muhammed suggested possibly getting together tomorrow instead. However, now it looks like he has to work. He has to work tonight. I imagine it’s a before Easter rush. I have no idea. Yesterday he actually texted me (talk about surreal: I was standing in line outside at Trader Hoe’s waiting to get in, the whole social distancing ting. Lots of the stores are not letting a lot of people in at 1 time) asking me if I shaved my armpits and legs, because ai told him I had never shaved my pubic hair, Ever. He expressed that it was probably a generational thing. Really? are girls now shaving their pubic hair to look underage for men? I know women get Brasilians, but is that what girls do? I find this so hard to believe. In fact, there is a Facebook group for people who love seeing the sexy photos of Freddie Mercury, not just with his Persian python, but the many videos of him half-naked with his chest hair. More surface area to feel. Pheromones. Muhammed wanted to know why. i said he liked big boobs, and I like body hair on a man. Tomorrow is day 20, but i will go with this now.

Preface to Polyandress

January 23, 2020

From the Museum of Erotic Art in Barcelona Spain

What do purebred dogs have to do with erotic romance?  Nothing.  It’s just that  one of my characters thinks he wants to breed dogs.

Draft for cover of Polyandress

Lots of people I know think dog breeders are evil.  Funny thing:  the BACKYARD BREEDERS are totally off the hook for responsibility. People who breed their pets for ‘fun & profit’, who sell to anyone with cash,  and don’t screen buyers to determine if they are ready for the dog they want..are filling our shelters.  The ‘do-gooders’ promoting ‘no-kill’ don’t count them as breeders. They are actually demonizing responsible breeders instead and are letting the bad ones totally off the hook.

They retort that no breeder is responsible. These people who influence ‘conventional wisdom‘ know nothing about animal husbandry, genetics. or animal behavior. Also, they don’t know the facts. They have a cartoonish, anthropomorphic view of animals. They hew a party line.

The facts are that over 90% of dogs in shelters were bred by backyard ‘I’m-not-a-breeder’ breeders, who deny they are breeders because they don’t have five breedable bitches, or they don’t have a kennel building, or they aren’t living off their dogs. In urban areas, most are Pit Bulls, or Pit-x, but some areas have a lot of Chihuahuas, Beagles, or shepherd type farm dogs, We’re not seeing rare breeds in shelters unless a dog has been lost. Let me take that back. Now we are seeing more Cane Corso in my metro area. I guess the foundation breeders didn’t make it clear to buyers that they should not be breeding if they weren’t going to be responsible for what they breed.

No matter. When you own the mommy animal at the time she gives birth, you are THE BREEDER.

They’ve also spread this idea that dogs are just bred for their beauty (conformation) and can’t do what they were bred d to do. That is laughably untrue.

We are ‘the fancy‘. That’s what purebred dog lovers—fanciers—call ourselves.  I’ve worked for hobby breeders for over 50 years. Most I work for are extremely concerned about genetic defects and strive to breed genetically sound dogs that can do what they were originally bred to do, and more. We call obedience, rally, agility, racing, lure coursing, hunting, dock diving, nose work, barn hunt, etc.: performance.

More important, these breeders love their dogs. They network to find homes for older dogs, often support their breed-specific rescue if a dog ends up in a shelter & the breeder can’t be found, and they will take back dogs they’ve sold if the buyer can’t keep the dog. They do not want to lose track of the dogs they’ve bred. This is why you don’t see rare breeds such as Glen of Imaal Terries, Borzoi, Clumber Spaniels,  in shelters. The breeders take them back. They also make clear to buyers why pet dogs should not be bred.

The do-gooders blame the hobby breeders, demonizing them for the situation the backyard breeders have caused.  We are losing breeds. I wonder if Bedlington Terriers or Affenpinschers have viable gene pools.

The reason I am a purebred dog fancier is predictability. A breed is considered a breed by the bona fide registry organization when the fanciers have a breed standard describing the physical dog, and dogs that breed true for three generations. With a degree of statistical certainty (with a standard deviation, I’m sure), you can tell what size, coat type, and temperament a purebred dog will have.

This is not so with mixed breeds/designer dogs. It would be amusing if it wasn’t infuriating how many grooming clients groomers have who bought ‘designer’ Poodle crosses and are disappointed with the size and coat type of the dog. If you would not buy a purebred Poodle, why would you pay more for a Poodle mix? I think the doodle breeders’ marketing must be very good. That and people don’t spend enough time researching a purchase.

Rarely do hobby breeders reach out to the public. They have too much conventional wisdom to dispel in a short amount of time. Veterinarians, who should know better, are not helping, either.

Now, due to ‘the economy’, where land rents might eat up over 50% of a household’s income, coupled with credit card debt and outstanding student loans, few people can even afford to own a dog, let alone breed them.

Ethical breeders are dying of old age. Younger people don’t have the time, money, or interest in breeding quality dogs. A veterinary dental for a dog hovers around $400 in my neck of the woods. The last thing people who have a lot of debt need is a high maintenance breed of dog, but pet buyers are naive and emotional.

When people try to guilt me about being a purebred dog fancier, I remind them that all dogs come from breeders, and I don’t want ignorant, dimwitted backyard breeders choosing the type of dog I should own. Humans ‘invented’ over 400 breeds for various reasons. it’s fine if you want to take any random dog, but we will not make a dent in irresponsible behavior; i.e. backyard breeders, if we ignore that they are the elephant in the room.

OK. So..what does that have to do with erotica? Nothing. But if I made one of the characters a dog fancier, and she explained why integrity is important, and she enjoys having mind-blowing sex…would you read that?

I rest my case.

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.

 

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.

“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.

A Very Sad State of Affairs in the Pet Industry

May 27, 2016

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’ve been told I should not ‘name names’ as it is preventing me from getting jobs….but since I am near  retirement…well…if you are in the metro Chicago area and are looking to board your  dog, contact me, first. There are some good kennels, run by dog lovers who’ve bothered to learn about animal behavior (dog behavior, specifically), and train dogs.  Unfortunately, many   dog kennels are  owned or managed by people  who have had management experienced, have owned a pet dog, and know NOTHING about dog behavior or what causes stress or injury. They don’t care to learn, either.

I have a friend, a past co-worker, who  took a job at a facility  on the north side  of Chicago. in fact, the owners, two men who  own a pet dog, and got tired of what they were doing (and had the capital), offered me a grooming job right before I went on vacation…to start upon my return.  While I was gone, they fired a groomer who was about to leave on her own, and immediately hired another ‘groomer’…because they couldn’t wait for me.  Why not? Well, obviously, neither guy  knew how to brush or bathe a dog, so they needed someone’s labor to make money.

I was  a bit disappointed, but not too disappointed.  They really needed more equipment, and I knew they knew nothing about dogs. This always frightens me because they also hire people to work for them who know nothing about dogs.  Yes, that’s right.  These guys, the owners, don’t want to actually  be in the room with the dogs themselves, all day. No, they want to own a ‘dog business’.

So it happened they hired my friend, who does act with integrity, and  she  found that they allowed another employee to put an electronic shock collar  on a dog (maybe more than 1).  Now, if  a person has a pack of dogs, and introduces a new dog to the pack, and  there is a fight, the new dog is not allowed to enter the pack.    That is, people with integrity know this. The people who want to make money  who won’t refuse a dog, apparently shock it.

Not all day care facilities do this.  Many use a water spray bottle (or pistol) to spray a dog  looking funny at another dog.  But face it:  the odds of a fight breaking out when you have more than 3 ‘unrelated’ (meaning living in the same household) dogs together is high.  Of course,an intact dog increases the odds, but  neutering is not a panacea.

So, my friend quit, and it looks like I dodged a bullet.  However, since, again, the  people I work for   just  three days a week don’t have enough work  for me to make a living, I have to keep looking for more work.  What I am finding is a lot of businesses  owned by people who want to own a pet business….and don’t want direct contact with dogs. they don’t want

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.

to be in a room all day with dogs.
They have never trained a dog and proudly let everyone know how spoiled their own dogs are.  They do not invest in  equipment, and want you to overcome the laws of physics, and they also  don’t want you to form a relationship with THEIR clients.

You shouldn’t choose a pet car business just because the location is convenient, but I guess anyone who thinks their dog gets exercise  just because they pay for ‘dog daycare’ is kidding themselves.  Most dogs go home tired from stress, not from  actual exercise.

I have an acquaintance who is trying to change this:  she offers  training of kennel personnel, and seminars, but this will not solve the problem of people in the pet industry  making money  off pets, but  not caring enough to work directly with them.

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.

What is a Puppy Mill? Is That the Question?

April 21, 2016

In Chicago, and many cities around the country,  pet loving activists are  enacting laws to prevent or stop the pet shop sales of commercially bred—a/k/a puppy mill—bred dogs.

The common thinking, and it is pretty accurate, is that dogs sold in pet shops come from commercial breeders. They are only bred , as livestock, to sell. There is no regard for the health or temperament—or genetic soundness—of the parent dogs.  What happens to dogs not sold? They are  either  returned to use for breeding, euthanized, or dumped in  animal shelters—usually in rural locations.

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 get  all the pet industry publications:  Pet Business, Pet Age, Pet Manufacturing News, and they all are reporting that commercial breeders are on the decline. Some of the reasons are that  that fewer pet shops are  buying their dogs to resell.  Sure, there’s still Petland, Furry Babbies, Happiness is Pets, and others, but, for the most part,  more pet shop owners are seeing the writing on the wall. They  know that  people who come into their pet shops to impulsively buy a dog, haven’t put much thought into it, and the pup will be abused or neglected.  Better to send people looking for puppies and kittens to animal shelters or  hobby breeders…or just allow the shelters to bring in animals and do the screening of adopters themselves (and just make money off the supplies these pet owners will buy).

I support rescue.  I have owned puppies, and have worked for kennels taking care of puppies, and for me, an older dog is best.  My last 5 dogs were  older dogs that the breeders had either  just kept…or taken back when the people they sold the dog to could not keep them.  This is what ethical hobby breeders—who love their dogs, do. They are responsible for their dogs from ‘cradle to grave’.  In fact, some  parent clubs, notably the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, mandate their club members  do this. This is why you don’t see a lot of ‘rare’ breeds in  shelters—or on Craigslist.  These breeders are not desperate to dump dogs.   They wouldn’t be breeding dogs if they had to offload dogs to iffy homes. &—this is why  hobby breeders are on the decline.  It is  too expensive, and aggravating, to breed good dogs.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder...& I got her.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder…& I got her.

Oh sure,  what’s considered ethical varies from breed to breed.  Who knew what a Shiba Inu, a Havanese, or a Cane Corso were 20 year ago?  The breeders of those breeds just assumed that the people they sold to were buying pets…or, nobody ever addressed to the hobby breeders what could happen if they sold dog without neutering  or co-ownership contracts.  Now, we see those breeds more often on Craigslist, and don’t get me started about designer mixes.

I am opposed to puppy mills, but it seems that the AKC is working against us.  Why is that? Well, of course, they make money off of registrations, no matter who breeds the dogs….but what is a puppy mill?  There are people with 2 or 3 bitches who breed them to death, and post on Craigslist constantly…but they don’t have kennel buildings, so nobody considers them puppy mills. Yet—-it is exactly those breeders whose dogs end up in shelters and rescues. Why? They don’t ask who  lives in the household and to meet them all, if the buyer owns or rents, if he works all day, what will be his arrangements to housebreak and train a puppy,  if he knows how much annual shots  or frequent grooming costs.  In fact,ironically, it is the African scammers posting Bulldogs, Siberian Huskies, and Yorkies who ask those questions!

Now, on the surface, this breeder looks like a puppy mill : http://www.blythewoodschnauzers.com/  Go to the website. Joan Huber has  at least 14 stud dogs. So, at a minimum, you know she has to have at least 14  breeding bitches , and I am sure she has more.  Joan Huber is a well known  professional handler. She has been in dogs over 60 years!  There is no indication she is selling  litters for resale, but she would not have to.  She has enough of a market, due to her reputation, to sell all the dogs she breeds.  She  is a member of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, and I am sure she  adhere to their code of ethics, as I know people who know her.  The problem would be if she sells an unspayed bitch to someone less ethical than she is…& then Blythewood will be behind the names of many puppy mill  dogs.  At one time, seeing this happen, many Min. Schnauzer breeders started doing early (before age of 6 months) spay/neuter.  This can lead to  urinary incontinence.  But what can you do when buyers lie?  I doubt Ms. Huber has a personal relationship with all her dogs, but I also doubt they are living in squalor, as she does receive puppy buyers to her kennel. This is how kennels used to be—as few  people were showing their pet dogs prior to the 1960s.  BLYTHEWOOD IS NOT CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROBLEM!

My point is, the wording has to be  addressed in these laws,and  those promoting  humane care really have to understand if what they are  fighting for will make a difference in how many  pets are raised, and then are abused and/or abandoned.  When the ‘no-kill’ shelters in Illinois  ignore the dogs bred by the many backyard breeders which end up at Chicago Animal Care & Control—because they are mostly pit bulls or pit mixes (and they don’t want only these types of dogs on their websites), and go out of state to get the  dogs the puppies  mills and backyard breeders dump in Kentucky, Iowa, or  wherever….they are not solving the problem, and, in fact, keeping  bad breeders in business.  Yet these  do-gooders have the nerve to tell me that all breeders are bad breeders. The do-gooders are not rescuing pariah dogs—-they are actually solving the bad breeders’ problem of surplus dogs, and  making it difficult for ethical breeders.  I don’t want the hillbillies, meth addicts, and  low life scum deciding what kind of dog I should own—and I feel bad for the dogs thy breed, but this is not solving the problem.

The wording should be that if a pet shop sells any mammal (why would a dog’s life be worth more than a bunny or a guinea pig…or hamster or mouse…) they must either breed them themselves or they must  come from a bona fide shelter or rescue.   The owners and managers will say they did not come from mills or commercial breeders…but families breeding their pets. Uh-huh.    If that were so, they would not sell  them all to resell. Pets are not a 4-H project. & then, if these  do-gooders want to start making a dent….start calling and arranging visits to everyone posting a baby animal on Craigslist.  Make an appointment, and flag the post, and ask these people directly—why  did they breed the litter,  what does the fee include, will they take it back if you can’t keep it? who should be responsible for it if they won’t be….and why are they ignoring Craigslist rules in regard to animal sales?

 

You Can Affect Public Policy

April 7, 2016

In my city (Chicago), an activist ( Cari Meyers/The Puppy Mill Project) managed to get support of some politicians (Susana Mendoza, City Clerk, and John Fritchy, Cook County Board Member)  and they managed,  a  little over a year ago, to  have a law passed banning the sales  of commercially bred puppies in city pet shops.  That is the gist of the law.  I am not sure if it is worded that…if a pet shop sells puppies and kittens, they must be sourced from bona fide shelters and rescues, or  if it just says….they can’t be bought from puppy mills.

I didn’t think I would see this come to pass in my lifetime, and many  humane activists were thrilled.  However, the law has been challenged in court and is not being enforced.  Is it the wording?  Because….there is no  definition of what a puppy mill is.  Most of us feel  a puppy mill  is anyone breeding pets just for resale, and not for the betterment of a breed or to improve a bloodline.  Some feel it is over  a certain # of breeding animals on site.

The reality is that the pet shops claim they are buying  animals from families, not commercial breeders (you’d really have to go into their records to check….and really, what kind of family is always having baby animals for sale if it is not a BUSINESS?).   1 huge lying scofflaw, Lane Boron,  has the audacity to be posting he has for sale a French Bulldog puppy from a rescue, neutering included.  Couldn’t possibly be true.

Obviously, we need a better law.  But before I get into what a better law might be, let me tell you how I found all this out.  I kept contacting Susana Mendoza, as it is her office which is supposed to send out inspectors to  shut these businesses down.  However, she would not take the report directly at her office. She insisted I call 311, the city  information/non-emergency line.  So…that’s what I did. the operators had no idea what I was talking about, and they  asked for all sorts of information (name of business, address,and phone number) and… a couple of weeks later I got a call from Chicago Animal Care  and Control.  Seems the city sent the complaint to them.  This was NOT a cruelty complaint, as I explained to the  CACC inspector who called. This was a BUSINESS VIOLATION complaint.    He told me, however, he was  going to inspect, but he didn’t know what the law was. So, I again, called   Susana Mendoza’s office, and  one of her staff people  filled me in on status.  Well, that’s fine, but we have another problem—being the city workers don’t know their jobs. The staff person told me to call my alderman. Really?  Like he gives a rat’s ass?  He doesn’t even own a pet.

Dash was returned to his breeder, Linda Larsen, because he chased the cat. I was lucky to get him. This is us at an obedience trial.

Dash was returned to his breeder, Linda Larsen, because he chased the cat. I was lucky to get him. This is us at an obedience trial.

So, we are in limbo on this….but this  is how the whole issue of puppy mills stands right now:  more and more pet shops around the country are seeing  that the activists are right.   I know this because I  susbscribe to several pet industry publications.  Pet stores might be able to source  healthy,well bred puppies from Hunte Corp, but bottom line is, no matter how physiologically healthy these pups are, they  are stressed out, not socialized, and they are still being sold as livestock to anyone with a credit card.  Ethical hobby breeders who love their dogs  do not sell for resale. It doesn’t happen.  In fact, there are many breeders who are  thisclose to being puppy mills, as they are commercial breeders….but they  would never think of selling for resale: they still want to meet the buyers—even if it is just over the internet—and they still want the dog back no matter how old it is if the buyer no longer wants it.  AND—-many of the  puppy mills are closing.  The breeders are retiring, they are being raided (even though we have yet to have a president appoint a USDA director who will enforce the laws we have), and, thanks to  social media, we can  probably get them closed down in the next several years.

What we are not addressing are the  breeders taking their place:  the backyard breeders which are  smaller puppy mills. They are all over  Craigslist, E-Bay, Amazon, and a few other selling sites.  Sometimes they post in  newspapers, but the internet is the new way to sell.  We have to get  them. Their dogs may or may not be  better cared for, but, because of their selling practices, these are the dogs that end up in animal shelters.  If we want this to be a NO-KILL NATION, we have to make sure there are fewer dogs.  To do that, we have to let these breeders know that we are on to them, and we intend to make them responsible.

So, I am drafting a law.  However, I have to get  politicians to  promote this law, and I have to get  activists—or at least people concerned about  humane treatment of animals and pet surplus—to  advocate for this law.

I am not a political science major, but I have seen what social media has  done in the past several years.  Sea World  is  going to stop breeding whales (and may shut down altogether) due to negative publicity.  Ringling Brothers circus is retiring its elephants,  people know it is gauche to wear fur, to buy products tested on animals, and  to give a live animal as a gift.  More people understand that people who   are habitually violent most likely started by being cruel to animals and they see the link.  Because so many of us have posted about these issues on Facebook, we are getting across.