Archive for the ‘dpg breeding’ Category

Neglect of Owners Duties

October 16, 2015
 I have friends who believe I play with dogs all day.  What follows is  a draft of an article I wanted to  get published in a pet industry magazine, but the editors of several felt it was to controversial:

This is a section of the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act. You see there is a lengthy section on tethering. What I am going to address is section (3).

(510 ILCS 70/3) (from Ch. 8, par. 703)
Sec. 3. Owner’s duties.
(a) Each owner shall provide for each of his or her animals:
(1) a sufficient quantity of good quality, wholesome

food and water;
(2) adequate shelter and protection from the weather;
(3) veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering;

(4) humane care and treatment.
(b) To lawfully tether a dog outdoors, an owner must ensure that the dog:
(1) does not suffer from a condition that is known,

by that person, to be exacerbated by tethering;
(2) is tethered in a manner that will prevent it from

becoming entangled with other tethered dogs;
(3) is not tethered with a lead that (i) exceeds

one-eighth of the dog’s body weight or (ii) is a tow chain or a log chain;
(4) is tethered with a lead that measures, when

rounded to the nearest whole foot, at least 10 feet in length;
(5) is tethered with a properly fitting harness or

collar other than the lead or a pinch, prong, or choke-type collar; and
(6) is not tethered in a manner that will allow it

to reach within the property of another person, a public walkway, or a road.
(c) Subsection (b) of this Section shall not be construed to prohibit:
(1) a person from walking a dog with a hand-held

(2) conduct that is directly related to the

cultivating of agricultural products, including shepherding or herding cattle or livestock, if the restraint is reasonably necessary for the safety of the dog;
(3) the tethering of a dog while at an organized and

lawful animal function, such as hunting, obedience training, performance and conformance events, or law enforcement training, or while in the pursuit of working or competing in those endeavors; or
(4) a dog restrained in compliance with the

requirements of a camping or recreational area as defined by a federal, State, or local authority or jurisdiction.
(d) A person convicted of violating subsection (a) of this Section is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of subsection (a) of this Section is a Class 4 felony with every day that a violation continues constituting a separate offense. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, upon conviction for violating subsection (a) of this Section, the court may order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo any treatment at the convicted person’s expense that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation. If the convicted person is a juvenile or a companion animal hoarder, the court must order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo treatment that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation.
(e) A person convicted of violating subsection (b) of this Section is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
(f) As used in this Section, “tether” means to restrain by tying to an object or structure, including, without limitation, a house, tree, fence, post, garage, shed, or clothes line at a person’s residence or business, by any means, including, without limitation, a chain, rope, cord, leash, or running line.
(Source: P.A. 98-101, eff. 1-1-14.)

I think most of us wonder what we can do about the violation of section (3): veterinary care to prevent suffering.

When I first started my grooming career in the early 1970s, I worked for a dog groomer who would give her clients an ‘ultimatum’ after she told them twice the dog needed veterinary attention: no new appointment until the dog’s medical issue had been dealt with. Twice I remember, it was dogs with bad teeth. Once it was a runny eye (related to teeth).   After veterinary treatment (teeth being pulled), the dogs immediately gained weight and seemed livelier. THEY WERE NO LONGER IN PAIN.

We were not the only game in town. These clients could have gone elsewhere. They didn’t.

Unfortunately, I know too many groomers who will tell a client once, then ignore the issue because they are afraid they are going to lose the client (as though no other groomer is going to mention that the dog has an ear infection so bad that pus is coming out and the skin had necrosis. Disgusting, aggravating, infuriating.

I am a volunteer for a wonderful organization founded by a couple of dog trainers. The organization is . It was founded to address animal cruelty and its effects on our community. We provide dog training classes in under-served communities, work with kids (and adults) in the justice system, and we volunteer as advocates for animals in the court system.

Setting this program up took years. We had to find friendly police, judges, and prosecutors who could understand that cruelty and violence towards humans often starts with animal cruelty.
We had to explain the laws, and how to interpret and enforce the laws. We had to get prosecutors to take animal crime seriously…and we continue having problems with police not gathering adequate evidence.

However, we do get people charged, and prosecuted.   We do get people to show up in court on behalf of the animals. We wear court advocate badges, and we make sure the judges know we are there.

Generally, the charge of ‘neglect of owners duties’ is an added charge, to dog fighting, other cruelty, or hoarding.  Recently, however, a veterinarian had a client charged. An older couple brought a dog into his animal hospital in a buggy. Not sure why they brought the dog in, but the dog was wearing a diaper which hadn’t been changed in….nobody knows how long, The dog, of course, had feces burning his skin.

My gut reaction to hearing this was, ARE THEY STUPID? But how many clients do we see with feces stuck to the dog, or eyes sealed shut, or necrotic ears? Dogs with rotting teeth? It’s not just puppy mills, and we know it. I’ve had dogs come in with maggots.

We are afraid to turn these people in to local humane officers, aren’t we? I have told clients that there dog is in pain. I’ve suggested they contact local animal shelters which I know will treat dogs at a very reduced cost if money is the issue. You know there has to be a psychological problem on the part of the owner when, six months later, they bring the dog back to you, and the dog is still in horrendous condition.

Because I keep a reminder calendar, I’ve started noting on my calendar when I hope to see the dog again. If the dog doesn’t come in, I contact humane officers to do a well-being check. I am nearing retirement and don’t really care if I anger someone who doesn’t have the integrity to euthanize a dog in pain if they won’t have a veterinarian treat the dog. I’d like to know if any groomers have had any other solutions.



The Puppy Bites…and who is Supposed to Give the New Owner Good Information to Stop it?

September 10, 2015

Bop & Daz 005 (Small)I am by no means an ‘expert’ dog trainer.  While I have been paid to train dogs in basic obedience, as well as  for dealing with common behavior issues, I’ve made most of my living grooming dogs, not training.  I’ve put AKC titles on several dogs, and take pride in the accomplishment, but I often refer dog owners to more experienced trainers.

However….I haven’t see this issue addressed, and it needs addressing.  I checked a number of websites (I have links to 2 at the bottom of this post) that specifically address puppy biting, and the methods to stop the biting.  A few sites also address the need for puppies to teeth, and the need for an outlet to their energy.  Most puppies are biting because they were used to playing with their siblings in a litter of pups, and now don’t have that interaction.  You can give them a toy or a bone…but something else is going on:  they are establishing their relationship with YOU, as they would another dog.    Some dogs are just tough little mothas!  You can’t have biting!

You have to  establish that you are in control and   the ‘larger, more experienced dog’ (as it were) by your body language.  However, if you’ve never owned a  puppy before, how do you do this?  Recently, I have encountered  two new puppy owners who were told by the shelters they got the dogs from to sign up for training classes!  Of course that’s a good idea….but  what about  what you are supposed to do right now?  What’s implied is to allow the pup to continue unacceptable behavior until you actually go to classes (or keep the dog crated and away from social interaction), and  both those responses  only cause more problems.

What I’ve been telling people to  do is, first, not give the pup an opportunity to bite.  You have to pick the pup up, groom the pup, and  carry the pup, and give the pup a toy or bone (nylabones are popular) to bite on.  It is important to hold and carry the pup while it is small  so the pup  has the experience of YOU being in control.  MAKE SURE YOU SUPPORT THE DOG’S RUMP, AND PUT A HAND ON THE DOG’S SHOULDERS (WITHERS). The second thing I tell people is, after a 15 minute (or so) play session, when the pup is tired out, to  put the dog in a sitting position (by pressing lightly on the dog’s shoulders), and have the dog make eye contact with you.   Put a finger at the dog’s temple and then at your temple and say, “Watch me.”  This is so important. It only takes a few seconds, you do this 2 or 3 times a day, and you  start to get your pup’s attention.  All the while you are praising the dog for eliminating outside (and teaching the dog to eliminate on command), walk on a leash, come when called.  There are so many good dog training books out there.  My favorites are, “How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend,” by the Monks of New Skete, and “Good Owners, Great Dogs,” by Kilcommons and Wilson.  The Dog Training for Dummies Book is also easy to understand.

I  am a member of North Shore Dog Training Club, one of the oldest in the USA, where many professional trainers train their dogs.  They start when the pups are barely weaned, so by the time the  pups are  six months old, they are  reliably responsive to commands and excellent pets.  This is not rocket science, and it is not magic;  it’s what we know about animal behavior and it is not a secret.
Any  dog breeder/seller/rescue that  does not give out this information is irresponsible.  This is why replacing  commercially bred (puppy mill) dogs with shelter dogs in pet shops—-without training pet shop personnel in what questions to ask of would-be dog owners, doesn’t solve the problem. ;


Book Review: The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale or Rescue and Redemption, by Jim Gorant

September 4, 2015

I am not a Pit Bull fancier, but  I bathe enough of them to know that, for the most part, they are  good dogs, and make good pets.  I am just not attracted to the breed.  I am attracted to the long-legged, wire coated terriers (particularly Airedales), but I’ve worked with enough  dogs, including a lot of terriers, that I wouldn’t suggest most terriers  to families with small children. that said, I would not suggest  any of the toy breeds, herding breeds,  shiba Inu, or  Afghans or Salukis.  I didn’t really want to learn any more about  this case.

I volunteer as a court  advocate for  an organization  (Safe Humane Chicago) that makes sure  dog fighters, abusers, hoarders and wannabees are prosecuted, and  justice is served.  I, too, thought  all dogs that were used or kept for dog fighting should be euthanized….until I learned that  dogs being kept for evidence were being exercised while they awaited their fates.  More, they were being exercised with other dogs, and  taught basic obedience…and amazingly, over 70% of dogs confiscated are placeable as pets!  Sure , some might try to fight other dogs—but that’s true of dogs (even Whippets…& watch out for the Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs!!!).  Dogs ARE social animals, and even many that are bred  specifically for fighting are wash outs.

A friend gave me this book, and it’s a good read, especially if you want to know how cases are developed, and how to evaluate dogs.  If it weren’t for some of the investigators needing places to put  the live dogs, they  would have all been euthanized.

The first part of the book is about gathering evidence and witnesses..against all odds, because Vick was a local boy who was considered a success, and generous (indeed— as he explained,  he grew up in a culture of violence and dog fighting, and  didn’t think of it as wrong…and if you are outraged by this—and eat animal flesh, YOU are in denial about your own contribution to cruelty).  In fact, after Vick’s conviction, one  of the investigators was fired–essentially for being so good at investigating this case (he was told this).

This is for real:  Wayne Pacelle of  the HSUS claimed—without evaluation—that all the dogs were vicious. He later recanted, but  also claimed Vick understood that this was a terrible crime. To this day, Vick only admits crossing state lines, not what he did was  horrible—but that’s football players….  Yet that is not what happened…partly because they were needed as evidence.The dogs were evaluated by  several experienced dog  trainers ( and how they did this is detailed in the book), and most were saved.
Most of the books is about how rescuers evaluated the dogs, got the dogs, and trained the dogs. This is a great story and should be better known than it is.

This is  a great  book  for anyone interested in dogs, humane care,  anyone who feels there should be a breed ban, and anyone who is a pit Bull fancier.  Along with this, I’d also suggest Malcolm Gladwell’s essay, “Troublemakers.”

Keep in mind that when a journalist writes a story, s/he  is reporting facts, colored by his/her own cultural background. Also,  the editors do further damage.  Now that we have the internet, we can  get a lot more information, and should not accept every story as truth.  Lots of kids get bitten by dogs.  They get bitten by Pit Bulls because there are a lot of pit bulls….and that is reported more than kids getting bitten by labs, or small dogs.

I am  sort of surprised that Michael Vick still has a career, but obviously, his  football playing skills made so much money for the teams he played for, they overlooked this chapter of his life, as they  tend to  make excuses for much of the bad behavior of players.

In the end. only a few dogs were found to be not ‘dog-friendly’, and  less than 5% were found to be not people safe.  That could be any breed.

The Coat Change…and matting

August 27, 2015
This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

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

Any groomer who has been grooming for any length of time has seen it.  It is the cute, fluffy  puppy that the owners bought—usually on impulse—because it is cute and fluffy.  I always ask the new owners if the person who sold or gave them this dog showed them how to brush it.  I tell them the coat is very fine now, but when the dog gets to be about  six months old, more or less, they are going to wake up one morning and the dog will be matted.  It’s a given.  They often want me to give the dog a haircut just because they think the dog needs one.

Why  will the dog mat?  COAT CHANGE: the fine puppy coat will start to become stronger, thicker adult coat.  The puppy coat is very dry,and the cuticle of the hair will be open….and that’s how it starts. The static electricity of living, the cuticle of the hair being open, ‘locking’ into other hair cuticles and closing…. With many Afghan Hounds, you could see the adult coat at the roots of the puppy coat:  the puppy fuzz at the ends of a stronger, thicker shaft adult silk coat.  With some dogs, they suddenly lose a lot of hair—almost like a skin disease, and the new coat grows in.   It happens when the dog reaches sexual maturity (so, if the dog was neutered before reaching sexual maturity, you really don’t know what you are going to end up with—-but usually a blend of puppy  and adult coat).

What causes the matting?  Again….dirt, moisture,  and static electricity.  I cover this in my blog on  getting to a ‘specials’ (show ) coat,  People who want their dogs to have dramatic coats are willing to work through this.  unfortunately,  most pet owners try bargaining, anger, and denial before they reach acceptance.

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.

Some breeds, like Bedlington Terriers , Maltese, and Afghan Hounds, have very thin skin.  It is really  easy to cut or tear the skin if mats are too close or tight.  Years ago, I had a large number of Old English Sheepdog clients who rarely ever made it out of the coat change. The breeders in my area would keep the pups in coat as long as they could, and when the coat started changing, shaved the dogs down and didn’t show the dogs until they were over  two-years-old (it takes that long to grow a coat back to it’s full length in a large breed).


So, how do we deal with this?  When puppy owners come in for first grooms, I usually do a sanitary trim and ‘neaten’ the coat, but I also show them how to brush the dog with a slicker, metal comb, and  my curved rake.  I tell them to enjoy the coat while they can, because the dog will change coats and mat overnight. I tell them the mats will start behind and under the ears, under the chin, between the front legs and in the armpits (another  excellent reason to avoid harnesses…which will cause friction against the  hair and static), around the tail, and at the wrists (hocks and pasterns) and spread from these areas.  I tell them if they just brush over the top and don’t get down to the skin—or wash the dog without brushing it, I will definitely have to shave  the dog. Brush layer by layer….from the skin out….  and I show them what I mean.  I advise against using a thinning shears at this stage, because the short hairs weave into the long hairs (also the reason you get  matted ears when you just  neaten the tips), but to  put the dog on a schedule and if they do nothing else, brush and comb through these specific trouble spots…and if the hair flies around  or they need to wash their hands after brushing the dog…the dog needs a bath.  I advise DILUTING the dog shampoo in a shampoo or dishwashing liquid bottle, and brushing the shampoo through the hair—particularly the trouble spots.

I also tell my clients to develop a system, and start brushing the dog in the same place every time. I  do the back of the back leg and work my way up…I do all ‘four sides’ of the dog’s leg, then the body from the belly/chest up, the front leg, then the other side, and the head last.  About 50% of my clients do this, and have also purchased portable grooming tables or taught their dogs to lie down for brushing.  The rest get what I can possibly do to make the dog look good and not hurt the dog…

More and more, however, people are getting Cotons  or designer dogs like ‘Cavashons’  (Cavalier/Bishon mix),  ‘Shipoos’ (shih Tzu/Poodle mix) or Teddy Bears (a Bichon/Shih Tzu mix),  which have mixes of coat textures.  Good luck to us all.  I’ve had dogs mat up immediately after brushing due to the dryness of the coat and static electricity.  The owners  complain if I clip the dog too short, but won’t do what needs to be done, and sometimes keeping the coat mat free is impossible.  This is not YOUR fault…it is the breeder’s fault.  It is a matter of integrity.

When I started grooming as a teenager, I briefly worked for a hobby breeder, Fredric Mark Alderman, who owned Dynasty Afghan Hounds.  He did not sell an Afghan Hound to a novice owner until they had spent a day grooming with him.  He didn’t want to hear that  you had no idea how long it would take, how much equipment you’d need, or how often it would need to be done.   If, at the end of the day, you decided an Afghan Hound was not for you, no harm, no foul.  His dogs were not going to end up resold, abandoned, or in puppy mills.  From him, I learned it is the responsibility of the breeder to show pet buyers basic coat care.  For some reason (due to the negative marketing by some of the well-intentioned pet rescuers), people think that if they buy a dog from someone who just bred their pet—they didn’t  enrich an evil breeder. I  was  ‘raised’ by fanciers, who led me to believe the owner of the mommy dog—whether that owner  had 1 breedable bitch or 100, was  the BREEDER  and responsible for  screening  puppy buyers and  showing them how to maintain the dog’s coat at home.  They should be held responsible for the dogs they breed, or they are as bad as any  pet store or puppy mill…and I feel the same way about rescues and shelters that don’t address coat care.  I offer to  work with rescue volunteers  placing dog that need  professional grooming.

I realize many of us did not come into the profession  because we  were  fanciers.  I learned techniques and styling from  fanciers, and use what I leaned to  make those  ‘hybrid’ (mixed breed)  ‘designer dogs’ look as good as possible considering their owners  want what they want without putting in the effort.  In doing research, I found 2 national ‘Australian Labradoodle Clubs’ (neither posting coat care information on their websites: , no breed standard or care information),  A Goldendoodle national registry:, No Cavashon club ( well, can you call a commercial website for commercial breeders a club?), and in looking for information on Teddy Bears , I came across the maltipoo website, which mostly addresses behavior issues and had NOTHING about grooming. That said…..The Poodle Club of America says NOTHING about grooming at all on their website, and suggests contacting regional clubs for more info on the breed.  The American Shih Tzu club has  several pages on grooming:  The American Maltese Association  does address grooming, but it is very general information and might not be that helpful: ;  the Bichon Frise Club of America has a very good site, with photos of grooming tools.



Why ‘They’ Can’t Find Dog Groomers

August 14, 2015
Me doing a grooming demonstration for the North Central maltese Rescue annual gathering in  southern Wisconsin. This is the largest gathering of Maltese fanciers in the country!

Me doing a grooming demonstration for the North Central maltese Rescue annual gathering in southern Wisconsin. This is the largest gathering of Maltese fanciers in the country!

I have  several friends who work as consultants in the pet industry.  They network, they market.  One has extensive experience training dogs. Another has worked in dog businesses, but she has never trained a dog,

They both see the posts on Craigslist another sites where business owners post for dogs groomers.  They are wondering why these businesses can’t find  groomers.  Here are the reasons:

1.  The most competent dog groomers may or may not have learned at dog grooming schools, but  they keep up their skills or learn new skills by  networking with other fanciers and going to dog shows.  YOU want them to work weekends, when most dog shows take place.  They can make just as much money working out of their homes;

2.  You don’t offer a living wage. The average dog groomer makes about $30,000 a year: .   This all depends on demographics, the macro economy, weather, location relative to competition, etc.  You can see from the chart that some groomers do better, but many don’t.  You can go to a community college and become a pharmacy technician and make much more with a lot less stress. So, knowing this (most people who decide to become dog groomers do NOT know this, nor do they do any research…), why are people becoming dog groomers?  They think of them selves as  unique, artistic, independent, and want to work with dogs.  The schools will ‘teach’ you,  whether you have any common sense or talent.  These are private, for profit schools.  Nobody will know until you do a ‘test’ dog for them.  The big box stores will teach you themselves.  Do you  know what a living wage is in your area, or are you living with a parent or partner who pays all your bills?

3.  The employers, especially the ‘big box’ chains, think 1 groomer is just like the next. They  know a certain  number of employees won’t show up on time,  will not follow their rules,  may not thoroughly rinse a dog , clean the dog, or dematt the dog. Some will accidentally injure a dog.  All these employers care about  are profits per square foot or per hour.  Their business model is to  be cheaper and more available than a skilled artisan, and they are banking on the average pet owner not really caring about anything else.  If you dare question a fellow worker  or their store polices  regarding being safe or inhumane, you are out.

4.  These non-grooming employers have a ‘vision’ of how they want their businesses to  appear: business like. This has nothing to do with being safe or humane,because they  know most pet owners aren’t looking that closely.

5.  Working conditions are poor.  often there is no place to park. Lighting might be bad. There is no dehumidifier, and often not enough dog dryers.  Some shops  allow dogs to run around, so the dogs are underfoot, pooping, and that is stressful.  People run in and out of your space and distract dogs.

6..  The experienced groomers know this and won’t be fooled again. they either leave the industry or groom our of their homes, getting clients by word-of-mouth.  Until the  managers and decision makers learn to respect groomers and treat groomers as skilled workers—or people stop spending money on getting dogs haircuts, there will be a mismatch.

Performance Competition: Why am I Doing This?

July 3, 2015

Dash&meNov14My mother was not a ‘dog person’.  She grew up urban, Jewish, and Jews (much like Moslems) did not own dogs—for the most part.  My father was also urban, but his father owned a pet shop for a number of years.  My father got his first dog after he married my mother, and he knew he had to train the dog.

Since my mother was not a dog person, and my father worked long hours, it was about 10 or so more years before we—-as a family—got a dog. It was a Poodle, maybe  three or four years old, that a guy was giving away because his fiance didn’t like it.  Jack was not a great dog, but he was amazingly tolerant and learned tricks quickly.  That was my first taste of dog training.

My parents had very bad luck with dogs:  being poisoned, , inept veterinary care,  but when I was 12, I was obsessed with getting a dog to show in conformation.  We  had gotten a Miniature Schnauzer after Jack died (amazing, we only had him  four years), and  he was very sweet, but I wanted an Irish Wolfhound.  My mother said that if we got another dog, it would be an Afghan Hound.  That’s how it started.

My father insisted I train the dog, and back then,  in the late 1960s, not only did you not start training a dog until it was a year old,  every dog trainer discouraged us from even attempting to train an Afghan Hound.  My father could not understand why.  Granted, they are not Golden Retrievers or Border Collies, but if the dog is not brain damaged, you can shape its behavior (at least we know that now—-about 40 years later).

Back in the 1960s, we  really didn’t know that much about how dogs learned.  My first Afghan, Khyber, did ok.  He would have been more reliable had I been a better trainer.  When I got my second Afghan Hound, Aswan, I had no choice but to learn better training methods.  She was very smart, and I had to find a way to communicate with her.  I also had to find obedience classes so she could understand that I expected her to listen to me even when there were other dogs around.  Aswan ultimately got her Companion Dog title. It took  five trials, and  she squeaked by with  a 170.5, 172, and a 184.  I  then trained her for Open.  She  knew all the exercises and was very reliable, but I got divorced and  the stress of that really prevented me from following through. Another Afghan Hound owner who got  two qualifying scores out of over 20 trials also made me stop and think about the point of gambling on a title..  All she needed was one more qualifying score, but she felt the entry fees (back in the day when they were $12)  were too expensive.

I next titled Bari, although I believe Sue Crum-Sommers handled him to two qualifying scores. Once he was fourth High in Trial.  I know it was her handling.  A good handler makes all the difference.

Then, I went to college, then graduate school, and Peace Corps,and  both Aswan and Bari had died.  My next dog, a Saluki, was  not obedience material. He hated classes, and did everything he could to let me know it. I got Dazzle, the second Saluki after Sadiq died.  He came to me obedience trained, but he was way too nervous to  compete  in obedience.  In the 14 years I owned him, I don’t think he ever sat.  He stood or laid down.  Even on most of our walks around the neighborhood, he’d turn around to see if anyone was following him.  The cowardly lion.  Bebop  came into our lives from WRAP  (whippet Rescue)  a few months after Dazzle, and he had also been obedience trained,  and was smart enough, but by that time I had bought a business, and  wouldn’t devote the time to  polishing him up for competition. Also, since he was a rescue, he wasn’t registered, so I never got that together.

Dazzle died, and we got Dash. Dash had, apparently, been  obedience trained by his former owners, and we was very attentive, so I started with a Canine Good Citizenship certificate, and  we’ve kept going.  I do it  for several reasons: the discipline—-my own discipline, to follow through.  I learn so much from people at the classes, and at the  trials.  I learned how to housebreak a difficult dog, and how to train the various tasks that look like magic to the non-dog trainers. I learned why the collar should not make a difference.  I also do it because I love communicating with my dog.  It’s such a great feeling when the dog  gets it!

When I started training, over 40 years ago, having titled an Afghan Hound in obedience gave me immediate credibility to other fanciers, as well as employers.  I got a job training dogs because the guy who hired me said that if I could train an Afghan, I could train anything. Could be true.  The sighthounds are a challenge because they’ve been bred—for centuries (over 5000 years)to think for themselves.  You really have to challenge them to get their attention.  Now, employers don’t care,and many seem to suspect that I hurt my dogs to get them to behave, because so many  groomers now don’t believe in training, breeding  for the betterment of a breed, or showing dogs. When you  compete in  performance, you are judged by your peers.  You can’t hide anything, You and the dog  are out there.

I have to really think about this, because  last weekend, on Saturday, we qualified (by the  judge’s benefit of the doubt) for one obedience leg and one rally leg.  On Sunday, after  we had completed 2/3 of the rally course, and I was sure we’d qualify with a good score, I asked Dash to return to heel to the right instead of the left, and as he was correcting himself, his expression changed to f** that s**t, and he walked out of the ring.  Then, I gave him a hand and vocal signal on the stay and I  got us not qualified.  $60 down the tubes.  Well, you  win some and you lose some. That’s how it goes.  So why bother?  For me, there is nothing like knowing  I am communicating with my dog, and he understands.  I have stimulated his brain.  Also, I am with other people who feel the same way.That is the magic.

Now,  I could have  very possibly worked with the Salukis I owned, as well as BeBop the Whippet, but you have to pick your battles.  Even the late Janie Wondergemm who owned and trained TCP Crystal Payday, U.D., our last  Saluki U.D., didn’t bother with her younger Salukis.

I am somewhat disappointed that both the pet  grooming and  boarding  industries have evolved  to the point that owners and managers do NOT value what I have done, and that pet owners don’t think this is important (thank you, PIJAC—for marketing the competency of retail managers over actual pet lovers), but it is what it  is, and I hope  readers of this blog will forward it.


The American Whippet Club Specialty

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

Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Future of the Pet Grooming Industry

February 27, 2015
This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not  grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

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

I applied for a recently week at a kennel. The kennel owner was a dog trainer.  He had been trained by the police to train police dogs,and  developed his skills to train  bomb and drug sniffing dogs. That’s where he ‘came from.’  His kennel was phenomenal, and I would have loved to work for him, but he hired someone else.  I have a pretty good idea why he went with someone else and not with me.

I believe he could get the person he hired  more cheaply—at an hourly rate of pay, rather than  me, who expects commission.  He hired a guy, who can lift all the 8o pound dogs.  The biggest reason is that he doesn’t get clients who are really particular about the styling of their dogs, they just want the dogs clean and neat. They are pets.   Why hire me when you believe you can get  the same basic skills more cheaply?  If you  think you need me just in case someone with a Berger Picard or Welsh Terrier comes in, you see the value.  If you  believe the odds are that  it is not likely to happen, you go with cheaper.  I understand.

This kennel owner asked me  what I saw the future of pet grooming to be.  All I got out was, “Well, I think the designer dog craze will be over in about 10 years when people finally realize they are not getting genetically sound dogs. That  being of different breeds does NOT add hybrid vigor…” but he got busy.  Probably for the best.

The industry players are in huge denial.  It is more profitable to open a grooming school than it is to groom dogs.  When I learned to groom, 99% of the dogs we  groomed were poodles, with poodle feet and patterns. This is not longer the case. They are all getting shaved now.  If you can  shave a dog without injuring it, that is considered grooming.

We’ve come full circle.  When I started, over 40 years ago,  we’d sometimes  get a Schnauzer or  cocker spaniel to groom, but most of the owners of just about any o breed other than Poodles returned to the breeder to have the dog groomed.   They didn’t trust pet groomers.  Now, with  so many  retail chains and dog daycare businesses offering grooming, it is happening again.
A  friend took a Samoyed  she was showing to a pet groomer, and ask the groomer is she knew how to do a show grooming on a Sam.  The groomer assured my friend she knew. Maybe the dog needed some trimming around the feet and butt cheeks, but my friend got back a shaved dog—and she will never—ever trust a groomer who does not show dogs.  On Facebook feed, a groomer posted a photo of a Bedlington Terrier groomed like a Miniature Schnauzer at one of the pet shop chains.  Interesting, but I know that Bedlington’s owner will not  trust another pet groomer.

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu--- can you guess what they call it?

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu— can you guess what they call it?

So, we have that issue, and the issue of the designer dogs having to mostly be  shaved, and  the most popular breeds being dogs that do not need grooming (Bostons, Frenchies, Labrador Retrievers, Bulldogs, Boxers, and of course, Pit Bulls), and what does that leave us.

While we have some of the shelters and rescues adopting out shaggier dogs,Ii know they aren’t asking the adoptors if they understand what grooming is likely to cost & how often it needs to be done.  How ethical is that?

Then we have the basic fact that most of us—and our clients—are the 99%.  I was working in an area where I knew some of my clients were the 1% and cost was no issue, but  for most of us, our clients spend more on the dog than they  do on retirement savings (and then those very same clients  whine about being on a fixed income and not being able to afford grooming).

My personal plan  has always been to cater to that 1%.  Why  pander to those that can’t afford to pay you? How much sense does that make?A lot of them  have sense now, and either don’t own a dog, or  are going for Pit rescues.  I do not blame them.  But there are not enough groomable dogs for all the  people who want to do this for a living.  For the novice groomers who want to believe that there are jobs against all the evidence that there are not,  ask your employer  what he pays himself.


The Petition to Cancel Dogs sold at Auctions

February 13, 2015
Bred by backyard breeder. This is a  Shih Tzu---Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

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

I was going to  post on some  inane family mishegas, but that can wait. This can not.  The age  of the average exhibitor is now over 50—well over.  Clubs can’t afford to hold dog shows any more because entries are  done. I believe  some of the  more rare breeds with no gene pool will disappear within a decade.

Due to the problem with deafness in Dalmations (hell—they are all merles!), the AKC has  allowed test breedings with pointers.

People  really believe, however, that AKC means quality. It does not. Worse, while it is supposed to mean that  the breed you are breeding is purebred (and breeds true!), the fact of the matter is that  by allowing the commercial and ‘backyard’ breeders to register  their puppies, some breeds are actually now  2 breeds: the show quality and the ‘pet’ quality.  All in the same studbook!  But you look on Craigslist—and people  proudly state that the puppies they are breeding are AKC.

While cancelling the registration of dogs sold at auctions would not immediately  end  the  puppy mill industry, people would soon understand the difference if fewer AKC dogs  were available.

Yes, this would cut into AKC revenue, but for me, the fancier, I feel  my fees are so high so the organization can provide an AKC rep free to the auctions to  facilitate the  ‘smooth transfer’ OF PETS SOLD AS LIVESTOCK.  So much for being the dogs’ champion.  How the AKC officials can  walk around in public and not resign over this…real chutzpah.

Even if you are not a purebred dog fancier, this affects you, because mixed breed dogs are not pariah dogs, they are mixes of purebred dogs.  & the fact is,  over  90% of dogs in shelters are  from not necessarily puppy mills directly, but from breeding dogs bought from puppy mills, and the backyard breeders who continue to breed these dogs.

If you love dogs, and  understand the problem of their not being enough good homes for all the dogs  produced…you will sign this and ask others to.

Andrew Hunte & Pet Business Magazine Have Some Nerve!

February 6, 2015
Me doing a grooming demonstration for the North Central maltese Rescue annual gathering in  southern Wisconsin. This is the largest gathering of Maltese fanciers in the country!

Me doing a grooming demonstration for the North Central maltese Rescue annual gathering in southern Wisconsin. This is the largest gathering of Maltese fanciers in the country!

This is the response I sent to Pet  Business magazine in response to Andrew Hunte’s op/ed, “A Dangeous Mantra”. He was responding to the trend to promote ‘Adopt, don’t shop’ regarding  the  ‘adoption’ of puppies and kittens, rather than selling them.


How irritating! Hunte’s take on what is happening in the pet industry—to retail pet stores—would be laughable had he not so much influence.

I hardly think of Hunte as an ethical dog breeder when he breeds dogs for commercial resale, and doesn’t think it is important to screen every pet buyer. Also, citing Patti Strand’s book, Hijacking the Humane Movement, doesn’t make the arguments any more credible.

When I started out working in the pet industry as a teenager, I worked for several hobby breeders. One, Fred Alderman of Dynasty Afghan Hounds, had a rule: if you had never demonstrated that you could take care of an Afghan Hound, you had to spend the day grooming with him. He kept about seven adult dogs, and he loved his dogs. He felt that good homes were important. He didn’t want you saying that you didn’t know how much equipment you would need, what it would cost, how long it would take or how often it needed to be done. If, after a day of grooming Afghan Hounds, you didn’t think the breed was for you, no harm, no foul. It was not dogs of Fred’s breeding that would up in puppy mills or abandoned in shelters..

Our issues as dog fanciers remain NOT only that commercially bred dogs are more unsound (because the breeders do not do the genetic testing), but that commercial breeders don’t care who buys their puppies. Neither the breeders nor the sellers care if buyers understand the grooming, temperament, and training needs of the dog they are purchasing. No pet shop ever turns down sales…and often they sell the wrong equipment with the dog: harnesses rather than martingale collars, and those horrible brushes that are pins on 1 side, bristles on the other. Ask any groomer: they are good for NO BREED OR COAT TYPE. Why do so many pet industry managers have so little integrity?

We are selling love and smirking at how easily pet buyers are bamboozled!

Hunte (and Strand, apparently) believes that HSUS, ASPCA, and PETA have much more influence than they do. Granted, the national nonprofits do a remarkable job of marketing themselves and fundraising, but not that many people are fooled. More people support local animal shelters, and might support these mentioned organizations for other activities and issues they promote (vivisection, factory farming, the fur industry, how zoo and circus animals are husbanded).

What NOBODY is addressing is that most of the dogs in shelters are bred by what we commonly call BACKYARD BREEDERS. We know they are not coming directly from puppy mills, nor are they coming from hobby breeders breeding for the betterment of the breed. Where do these backyard breeders get their breedable dogs? Either from retail sellers—THE PET SHOPS—-or other backyard breeders. Yet—and this is fundamentally important—-these backyard breeders are allowed to think that they are NOT breeders! Nobody addresses them about the issue of where the pets in shelters are coming from. For Hunte to state categorically that these shelter dogs are temperamentally or behaviorally damaged is specious. In fact, we have been finding that even most dogs confiscated from dog fighters are generally unwilling to fight in a pack situation in a shelter!

If you look at dogs coming into shelters since the 1980s, not only are most of them Pit Bulls (or Pit mixes), the next often most represented breed types are Chihuahuas, Beagles, and ‘designer’ dogs. You never see Briards, Gordon Setters, Salukis, or Portuguese Water Dogs. Could it be that the hobby breeders, breeding for the betterment of their breeds, closely monitor (‘husband’) breedable dogs, and do a better job of screening out unsuitable potential buyers, as well as making it clear them want the dogs they’ve bred back? Could this be why, that we are now seeing more Cane Corso, Shiba Inu, and even French Bulldogs being dumped because the breeders of those breeds didn’t do as good a job husbanding?

Mr. Hunte, I also have horse in this race. I AM A PROFESSIONAL DOG GROOMER. When I learned to groom dog s over 40 years ago, everyone involved in grooming was a hobby breeder and an exhibitor/fancier. Every dog was a Poodle. There were no Bichons, Shih Tzu, or designer dogs. Americans spent a week’s pay for housing and expenses, so they could afford the luxury of a nonshed dog needing regular grooming.

Times have changed. Not only has the middle class shrunk, they now spend 3 weeks pay on living expenses, and carry an average of $5000 credit card debt as well (or more in college loans!). The most popular breeds are now smooth coated. Between the big box pet industry chains training ‘groomers’ and the fancy shrinking (because those people who were fanciers and exhibitors are no longer middle class, the average age of current exhibitors being well over 50), there are a lot more ‘groomers’ and fewer dogs to groom. I used to earn an average of $30 an hour on commission, but have recently been offered jobs by business owners who could give a rat’s ass about integrity or talent offering me $9 an hour. It doesn’t really matter. Go to a dog daycare, and you will see Labrador Retrieves ( and mixes), Boxers, Pit Bulls, Bulldogs, Bostons, Frenchies, and some Doodles and designer dogs. Not much work for me, but a goldmine for the veterinarians.

And Mr. Hunte, not all dogs will be spayed and neutered. You know that. Due to economic conditions, however, we will see a loss of breeds. I remember in the 1970s how many people were exhibiting Afghan Hounds. The loss of the breed’s popularity was an example of capitalism at its finest. However, will we miss the Bedlington Terriers, the Sussex Spaniels, and the Scottish Deerhounds? You aren’t selling them—there is no market.

The other problem is, however, that your resellers have never developed actual fanciers among the buyers.

There is enough blame to go around. It’s ironic that the American Kennel Club has spent so much time and money pandering to your fellow commercial breeders , and that they have expected the hobbyists/fanciers to pay for this in raised entry fees for performance events. I am shocked that the regional and specialty clubs have allowed the AKC to get away with this. Like it or not, we DO have to work together to change the dynamic, and blaming the humane societies for getting their message across while denying the reason this has been so easy to do won’t solve the problem.

Where do shelter dogs come from? If every puppy offered for sale in every location had to be microchipped by law (and that would include the backyard breeders posting puppies on Craigslist), we’d know where all the shelter dogs were coming from. Impossible? Not if we help the local animal shelters train humane inspectors to respond to those Craigslist posts, and demand that the state Departments of Agriculture start leveling fines against those breeders not in compliance, and whose dogs end up in shelters. Who should be responsible for dumped dogs if not the breeders? This is why Portuguese Water Dogs NEVER end up in shelters. Check out the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America code of ethics.

Want to be more credible? Train your resellers on how to screen buyers. Many animal shelters will not adopt out a dog unless they meet everyone in the household. Pets make terrible surprise gifts. Most won’t adopt to renters and neither will ethical hobby breeders—as that is the most frequent excuse people use for dumping a pet: moving to where it is not allowed. The breeders breeding for the betterment of their breeds ask people who will be home to housebreak a puppy, and state, if the owners are gone for eight hours, how do they expect the puppy to get trained? Is that fair to a puppy?

How do you choose a pet food for the puppy? It wasn’t veterinarians who developed the grain free segment of the industry, but hobbyists and fanciers who were dismissed as eccentric by their veterinarians. I have seen far fewer ear and skin issues since more people are feeding the premium foods.

What about the most effective tools for grooming, and keeping shedding down and the dog matt free? Why are sellers promoting harnesses and Flexis, when you can’t control a dog with these items. Why aren’t they promoting martingale collars and six foot leashes ( or head harnesses)? Why aren’t they sending home basic housebreaking and positive training instructions with each puppy? Who should be responsible for this information if not the sellers?

You are right about one thing: people want to know what they are getting. This is why people choose specific breeds: a somewhat predictable temperament as well as the physical traits. I don’t want idiots and thugs choosing what kind of dog I should own, which is why I choose purebreds for myself. That said, we all bear more responsibility in lessening the number of dogs that wind up in shelters. The altruistic should not be made to feel guilty, but the greedy and dishonest should be held accountable.

This link to what Best Friends says about what’s going on is right to the point: