Archive for the ‘integrity’ Category

Spoiler Alert!

January 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Skirt Free Zone

January 21, 2019

We are a Skirt-Free Zone

I always wonder  why groomers started putting ‘skirts’ on dogs.

When I started grooming…every dog was a Poodle in some sort of traditional Poodle trim.  Rarely did we groom cocker spaniels or even Miniature Schnauzers. Where did those dogs  go to be groomed?  Back to the breeders.   I was ‘lucky’ to  work for a groomer whose mother raised Bedlington Terriers.  At the time, The Collar and Leash was the only dog grooming shop in the metro Chicago area to groom Bedlingtons.  They didn’t get skirts, so why was my boss putting a cocker skirt on…Miniature Schnauzers?  Her response was that  owners liked it.  Never mind that we were not totally dematting these dogs.

When I got my own grooming shop, I started having conversations with  dog owners—especially about the skirts.    I was seeing  a lot of Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus groomed like cockers with the hula skirts.  What kind of sense does that make?I understand that you don’t want to see daylight under a  Sealyham or Scottish Terrier, but  we are talking about pet dogs here. Why would you leave more hair on a pet dog than you would on a show dog?

If you look at  photos  of Airedale Terriers and  Miniature Schnauzers, the only time you really  see a skirt is if the brisket (chest) does not come down to the elbows.  To correct the fault of ‘weediness’, the groomer is giving the illusion of a chest.  If  the  chest hair—or skirt—is left longer than the elbows, the dog is going to look longer in body.  Very few people  want their square dogs to look long in body.  Also, look where the skirt starts on the terriers.  It does not start on the body several inches above the elbow.  It starts at the elbow!

The skirt does NOT make the dog look ‘flashier’.  It is going to be mopping the floor.  Worse, all those dogs wearing harnesses (you know, the collapsed trachea… or what the idiots  at the pet stores are selling so owns can be kind to their dogs… )  are going to be matting up because of the friction of the hair moving against the harness.

For those rare clients who are married to the hair, what I generally do  is a #5 or #7 on the body, and   blend the ‘skirt’ with a #1 or #0 attachment.  I also start the skirt at the elbow.  Why?  If I start it higher on the body, it will make the dog look very wide.  If you think you are camouflaging a fat dog, you aren’t.

I also don’t leave false skirts. Why?  The short hairs will weave into the long hair as they grow.  Have you not noticed that even that false skirt is always matted?  It is because of the ‘friction’/static electricity of movement, and the  short hair weaving into the long hair.

So, what about those owners married to the hair, who insist you  leave it long?  I learned from  groomers who were keeping dogs in specials  (show) coats:  the dogs must come in every  two weeks for a bath and brush out.  No compromise on the grooming interval.

For those pandering to  eccentrics and  American Cocker Spaniel owners:  don’t complain.  You have a choice.

There Really Were Musicians

December 22, 2018

In the early  1960s, right up through the 1970s  in Chicago, WLS-AM and WCFL-AM both  ran top 40 formats.  Who decided what got onto the radio?  ‘Advance’ men, who brought single  records  around to what were known as ‘Disk Jockeys’.  Dick Clark and American Bandstand were on TV.  After the Beatles (who, lets face it, were so different from any other pop group) my youth were the days of bubble gum rock.  Does anyone remember  “Sugar Sugar’ by the Archies?  Here’s an earworm for you:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9nE2spOw_o.   Thanks , Don Kirshner.   Also an invention of marketing: the Monkees  Thank  Neil Diamond for, “I’m a Believer.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ePXck9H1pI.  Who sang it  better, tho? :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2MLlZKarM.  1966. The Monkees are actually not playing instruments in this video.

I thought the Who’s Tommy was revolutionary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyNGQ2wUSVM  So  was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDmRkwLJRig&list=PLErbDSFLGR5wkpqDDd3kYUhPFKNEhCAl5&index=1   Were either of those rock albums in the classic sense?
Most of my music listening was in the car in the 1970’s going to  & from work. Barry Manilow, a commercial songwriter,  had a number of hit songs in the 1970s, .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ziLFzfWusw .  Then disco was becoming huge. To me, that was mostly  a drum kit in a box. I’m not a dancer.  Except for the BeeGees, I hardly paid attention, and then only because my sister thought they were great.   But what can you tell about musicianship by songs on the radio?  We all know that producers get a lot of credit because they make music.  The sound quality on radio is always compromised.  It was 1977  when I heard Steely Dan & couldn’t get enough of  Deacon Blues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ziLFzfWusw And everyone was listening to AJA:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG2seugAgnU  . Steely Dan—the group that was not a group: Fagin and Becker WERE interested in actual music. Did anyone actually care that they weren’t a ‘group’? They  bring a big band with them. Summerfest in Milwaukee in 2007  was incredible.  Hearing the crowd actually quietly singing along to Aja: mindblowing.  I saw them twice at Ravinia. Too bad so many ‘fans’  can’t sit in a venue seat for an hour ( ‘1st Merit Bank ‘pavilion’ —–what pavilion?  Had it rained, we would have all been  goners… in 2016.  –they allow drinks to be sold by walking vendors throughout the concert!  Like at a ball game!  So it disintegrated into vendors & drunks running all over).


That’s why I didn’t & still don’t go to rock concerts The money and the crowds.   More important,  when you go to a concert in a stadium, you hear sound system, not the actual music.    I went to  small clubs and heard John Mayall with Sugarcane Harris—live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xrPJxDs-X8

  I gradually drifted to jazz, and I loved going to small clubs and hearing big bands.  I heard  Woody Herman & the Thundering Herd a couple of times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUivj0WXaDU .  I heard Lionel Hampton live, and Gary Burton several times.  In a small room, you really hear the music.  So, even though I heard Queen songs on the radio and found them to be compelling (how can you not listen to Bohemian Rhapsody?), I liked the music, but wasn’t into the show.  They weren’t jazz, weren’t actually heavy metal.  Glam rock?  Not interested.  They sounded produced.  Yet, how often have so many of us heard songs by Queen, and  said, “Who is that?”  In the USA, at least since the  mid 1990s, you could not go to a basketball game & not hear “We Will Rock You,” or “We Are the Champions.”  And the past several month I have heard  three Queen songs in  three different advertisements.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfmrHTdXgK4 .  There are enough videos on line where you can  see actual performances, and learn about Freddie Mercury’s  life of excess. Queen were not just serious musicians, they were  serious performers and appreciated  that Freddie could not just sing, but put on a show that entranced people.  But the music…can you top this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v15oIktGJOo&t=16s ?    Or, how about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWTRuyWwCRs  . No synthesizers….all May, Taylor , and Deacon backing Freddie on piano. This is also Freddie Mercury: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7icIbZYvEtk.  Yep…same guy who jumped around in a catsuit.  He wrote that.  He also wrote & performed this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA2IRoPFIn0  What  a musician, What a stage presence. 

Well have to give Brian May and Roger Taylor the benefit of the doubt with choosing  Adam Lambert as a lead singer.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHTalNt_TAw.  Especially since they are still choosing to tour and do stadium shows. At least this isn’t …the Archies.

Book Reviews: Lower River by Paul Theroux & 3 Cups of Tea by David Oliver Relin & Greg Mortenson

November 2, 2018

I love Paul Theroux as a writer, and he served  in Peace Corps in Malawi (where I also served about 40 years after him). Thus, I was interested in  this book, which is a bit of a horror story,  His main character, after a divorce and selling his business, chooses to go back to the village he served in  to  support the school he helped build.  Unfortunately, it is merely a shell, & other misfortunes befall the guy.  I know it is fiction, but I also know the story is plausible.  If you’ve never ben to Malawi, his description is accurate.

I recently picked up “Three Cups of Tea,” as it is ubiquitous in the book bins &  resale stores.  For those who don’t know the gist, Mortenson, who was actually raised in Tanzania, became a mountain climber, attempting K2,  and got lost.  A villager in a very remote area in Pakistan found him, and he promised to build  the village a school. That he did.    He networked among other climbers to help find  donors and sponsors,  and in the end, in the  1990s, Th Central Asia Institute (https://centralasiainstitute.org) was founded.  Now, their board is mostly Asians who oversee fundraising  and project development.  You can go on Wikipedia and learn Mortenson was charged with mismanaging funds and taking liberties with the truth.

That said, you  DO get the gist of what Mortenson did and what he was up against, and some of the history of what was going on at the time.  Both books are worth the read if you are the typical American ‘do-gooder’ type.  You learn  that nothing gets done without local ownership of the project.  You also learn that, as we Americans have allowed our government to  give foreign aid to both countries among others, and  what a waste it is.  Should we have to give up Social Security and Medicare to fund corrupt governments in the name of democracy? What a joke!  Should our military veterans have to wait over a week for care, or be homeless, so we can  give weapons and training to  militaries that rip off their citizens (and even brutalize them)?  Yet… that we do.

Both books are great reads.

Irritating issues in American Life: Problems & solutions

October 6, 2018

Is America a great country—or what?   In what country can you criticize government practices & not be thrown in jail for  being an enemy of the state?  My  current beef is about  a getting  a city sticker for my car.  See, in Illinois, you don’t just get a license plate for the car,  which is a state fee…you also have to buy a  new sticker every year.  It’s a tax. And in Chicago,  you need to pay another tax, and the city sticker is evidence you paid the tax.  In fact, they mail you a notice that you have to pay & tell you that you can either pay  for a stamp & mail it in go to a currency exchange & pay—but then you have  to bring in evidence that you have the car registered (to the state) in your name (something I  do NOT understand—who is going to pay a tax for a vehicle they don’t own?)…or you can pay online with a credit card & you don’t have to prove anything.

I opted to pay online with a credit card….but I noticed they listed a car model that wasn’t right.  I  haven’t owned the car listed in  six years.  Here, I’ve been paying for the  sticker…yes, I bet I went to the currency exchange a few tines, or I paid on line, and they had the wrong model number  (& VIN) for the car. So, I called the city clerk’s office—-where they have the computers listing all this data, and asked to have them change the incorrect information.

A snooty woman answered the phone & was clearly put out having to actually talk to a citizen.  I asked her to change the model  type in the computer.  She told me she would not do that—-that I should go to a currency exchange. Then, she read me off my license plate number. Well, that was to the old car, too. I now have a totally different plate number.  I just sighed and hung up and bought the sticker…online.  I posted this information on a social media site for our neighborhood, and most people agreed with me—just buy the sticker—& here’s why:

If the car is in an accident, the police will look for a current  license plate & sticker for that plate. They will look at the permanent VIN number for the  car. They will look to make sure I have a sticker—but they won’t bother to trace the sticker.  They only care that I have paid the tax.

Have I broken the law?  It’s just a clerical error that somebody in the city clerk’s office didn’t  take care of when I originally bought the car & had to pay to have information transferred. Their mistake, not mine.  Move on.

Our street lights were out on the street behind my house. In some places, this is an alley…because there are no residential addresses on  the street.  However, the treet does have a name and it is on official maps.  This was not an emergency, so I called 311, the non-emergency  phone number, to report it. So did several of my neighbors. After  about six weeks & at least 4 of my phone calls, I called the alderman’s office to ask why this was not being taken care of.  The answer:  since there are no actual street addresses, and although I gave the 311 operator the  block number for the  street, they could not process the request without an actual street number, so it sat there.  The  alderman’s office just called the department of electricity directly—something a citizen could not do—and in 48 hours, problem solved.  You have to wonder how much the 311 operators are paid and who trains them.

A police officr was recently convicted of 2nd degree murder for shooting a teenager 16 times.  A whole can of worms here…from  several  police cars  and at least a dozen  other police officers already on the scene, all lying in their official reports of why  the shooting was justified. The problem—for them?  Dash cam video of the whole thing—of the kid walking AWAY from the shooter—not towards him.  & why were all the police standing around? They were waiting for a …taser.  We pay our millions to families of people ‘accidentally’ shot by police…why can’t we afford to equip every police car with a taser?  And—just as important—-we know all these police lied about the incident. What do we do with them?

I have some friends who just found out that—horrors—immigrants who are not citizens are voting in our elections.  They want this …fixed.  Here’s the problem of why it will not be fixed:  All  boards of elections are local. They get federal money filtered through the state, but they are charged with running free and fair elections….and, statistically,  for the most part they are….and that’s the best we can do. Why? They hire regular folks, like you and me—only more  addle brained, to actually sit in the polling places and run the elections.  You do get training, but it is really up to YOU to  ask what you don’t know.  Having done this for over 30 years, I try my best—-but there are usually  six other people serving with  me, and thy are all friends, are bored, and not paying attention. They do not take the  time to make sure the people they hand ballots to understand what they need to do to make their vote count.  In Chicago, we use a specific type of marker to mark paper ballots. Someone got a contract,  and that is what we do. We don’t have enough computers for everyone to vote electronically.  So, if some election judge is talking to her friend & ‘forgets’ to make sure you have a  special magic pen, yuor vote won’t count.  We also don’t generally tell people that taking a ballot is voting, and you don’t have to vote for anyone you don’t know. Don’t vote for judges if you don’t know how they judge—-this is how we get bad  judges.  But the parties don’t like this. In any case, since you can now register to vote on the same day you vote, all you have to do is show up with proof of i.d. listing your address.  You fill out a form and you can vote. Simple….except the  Secretary of State sends a postcard to everyone holding a driver’s license to tell them to vote.  & some of those people aren’t citizens.  In fact, many of those green card holders can’t even speak enough English to ask for a ballot, but they damn sure want to vote.  There is no citizenship test. You can’t ask, all you can  ask is for proof they live in the precinct at the address on their forms.  Usually, they can find at least 1 person who speaks their mother tongue to help them  sort this out.  Yes, this bothers me, but keeping it in perspective, it bothers me that  40 to 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote don’t bother.  That’s the real problem.

Refugee Children

June 22, 2018

I am generally uncomfortable around a gang of children.  I can manage  one to one conversations, but  a bunch of  kids under age 5 leaved me flummoxed.   There are a number of reasons I never had children of my own.  My parents  didn’t seem to be overly thrilled with the four of us.  I could see how much work a child would be, and what if I bore a handicapped child?  It was all I could do to keep myself afloat.  I had thought at some point I might foster, but when I looked at the economics of it, and the time constraints on all other activities, I knew I couldn’t manage this.

I was able to become a Peace Corps Volunteer because I didn’t have children.  In the country I served in, Malawi,  about 10% of the people living in country were refugees, mostly from Mozambique. And since everyone was dirt poor, it made no difference.  People farmed what they had as best they could.  I could not  imagine the strain of uprooting, the fear.  After I was out of Peace Corps, the Rwandan genocide happened, and there was ethnic cleansing in Bosnia,  I’ve met a lot of refugees.  You have to admire their determination.

But, in 2018, in the United States, the President—Trump—and the Republicans have turned desperate people into evil-doers.  I’ve met so many white Americans who think these people should ‘get in line’ & not cross ‘illegally’.  Americans  have no idea how many wealthy people ‘jump the queue’ and , while it is legal, they have often cheated people  in the countries they came from & continue to do so.

First of all, if you own a small business, you constantly meet foreigners who came ‘legally’ & overstayed their visas…who then finagle. Virtually all these people speak English and have  friends/relatives who might sponsor them, and they are mostly white, so they have a leg up.

Now, imagine you can’t read, and you don’t have access to a radio or TV…or the television stations are run by  your government.  You get all your info as either rumor or propaganda.  Men come to your community and know you are vulnerable, and they harass and threaten you and your children. Maybe your  husband has gotten into debt with them, or killed one of them, or caused 1 to lose a job. Your government won’t help you.  Worse, your government has been getting aid  from the USA (my government) to strengthen ‘civil society’ but has never been asked for an accounting.  The rumor is to go north to the USA ans ask for asylum.  You don’t know that there are ‘official crossing  points’.  You just go.  You are walking with  very young children.  Are you walking a mile?  No.  10 miles?  No.  You are walking hundreds of miles with kids, risking your lives, because  you would for sure be hurt or killed had you stayed.  You’re dealing with  finding food, a place to sleep, maybe transportation.  Gambling with the odds?  These people don’t know from the odds.  Can you imagine being this desperate?

Then, for reasons you don’t understand, you are separated from your children & told to wait.  So many Americans really believe these refugees knew they were breaking the law and would lose their kids.  Not true.  So this serves as no deterrent.

And can you imagine the terror of the children—some so small they can’t speak any language?  I remember the terror and panic I experienced  several times as a child. I am in my 60s and I still remember the physical feelings.

So, in the name or ‘rule of ‘law’ we have traumatized thousands of people for no other reason than enriching a  major GOP donor who charges my government over $700 a night per person to incarcerate them.

My government is raiding  Social Security & Medicare—-monies taken out of our paychecks for  security in the future, to pay for the  lavish lifestyle and  wants of their  leader…the president…and trying to make us think this all benefits us American citizens.  We should really be ashamed that we allowed the president to lie about this.

Pick Your Battles

June 15, 2018

I have had the same roommate for  almost 20 years now, He says he is too lazy to move,  In reality, he’s in love with my dogs.  It’s  great living with trained dogs who love you back & think you are marvelous.  Sometimes you have to let them out, or feed them, or pick up poop in the yard, but not every day.

He doesn’t smoke or drink, and is very reliable  with paying the rent.  Our big issue is that he never throws anything away, and is a bit of a hoarder. You can barely walk into his  ‘bedroom’, which is now an office. So, he sleeps in the living room.  Several people have asked me why I don’t ‘make him’—-clean up, throw stuff away, etc.

I’ve weighed the pluses and minuses.  I’ve learned to pick my battles.  I’ve lived with other men. Drinkers.  Guys who I’ve given  mail to—with checks enclosed (and they’ve forgotten to mail them).  Guys who were unreliable.  I know when I’ve gotten a good one.

I  am a dog groomer, and some of my friends  do  ‘creative’ dog grooming. This involves dying dogs with vegetable dyes.  It’s messy and time consuming, Not my deal.  I am really shocked by people who get their panties in a bunch over this.  Ut does not hurt the dog.  you want to know what hurts dogs?  pinch collars. They are designed to hurt dogs.  people make excuses & say they are better than choke collars. So, what they are saying is that 1 method of hurting a dog is BETTER than another method, Really?

You know what  rankles me?  People breeding pet dogs for fun and profit, not caring about genetic defects, and selling to naive idiots who don’t know how to find a well bred dog.  Coloring dogs?  not a problem.

You know what else isn’t a problem? Which way the toilet paper hangs—over or under…or how  the dishwasher is loaded.

You know what REALLY upsets me?  A president that thinks science is hokum, and  has convinced people who should know better that he didn’t ‘drain the swamp’, but  put the swamp swelling lobbyists & the legislators they paid off into  dismantling consumer and environmental protections that benefit us all.   One who  promised better healthcare than ‘Obamacare’ but  didn’t do it.  One who makes deals with  countries so he can brand his own massage parlors &  escort services.  Who  insults our friends &  praises  torturers.

I am shocked that some many  people, who think they are patriots, and keep citing the Bill of Rights, think Trump is protecting them & their interests—-when there is clear evidence that he is not.  That is my battle.

The New Bait & Switch: Long Term Care Insurance

June 9, 2018

Insurance. Everyone loves the topic. The first thing you need to know about insurance is that the business is modeled on fear that you won’t have the money to fix something, or to live, after a disaster, and the company not paying out. That’s it, pure & simple.  The odds are, your house won’t burn down (as an ‘act of God’, like a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake are not covered unless you specifically pay for that kind of additional coverage).  You may have an accident in your car, like by sliding on ice or being  pushed by another car, but odds are  it won’t happen…but if it does…

In an ideal world, our government would offer the same kind of  insurance for citizens that  all the governments of all developed countries offer: health insurance, a decent old age pension, assistance for the elderly.

This is not the ideal world. This is America, where insurance is not considered a right, but a commodity to be  bought and sold.

I totally understand the need for home owners liability and fire insurance, as I understand the need for car insurance, but for the last several decades, the  insurance industry has been  promoting  long term care insurance.  It had been sold as an annuity:  you pay in  every year for  a certain number or years, until  you are vested, and the fee is the fee…no matter how old you get…and the benefit is locked in with the fee. For me,  It WAS  $1564.91 per year as offered by  Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, and offered, after a 90 days ‘exclusionary period ‘(where you actually had to pay  for care on your own, at a rate of well over $100 per day..), once you notified Northwestern Mutual that you needed to benefit, it started paying $220 per day for  a nursing home, There were other benefits as well if you didn’t need a nursing home, ‘but assistance’.  However, the cap on benefits— ‘defined benefit’ as they call it, for my plan, is $481,800.  That’s it.

This seemed like a decent value 10 years ago.  How did Northwestern Mutual come up with the cost of the policy? Why…they paid actuaries:  mathematicians not only trained, buy licensed by the state, to  come up with fees, costs, and what the company  would need to  still be profitable if they paid out.  Really.  I-thought—BY LAW—the contract I signed was the deal.

Apparently not.   Apparently, all those actuaries that were employed by all the companies offering  Long Term Care insurance, in a phrase, fucked up royally. They are claiming now, 13 years into my paying the locked in rate for locked in benefits, that “….thanks to medical advances, people are living longer today than ever before.  While this is something we are thankful for, it has increased the anticipated cost of future LTC claims for the industry as a whole….”  So. long story short, they want to raise the rates $380 a year, to  $1942.60 until  2021, and they the rate will be  $2460.60. They claim they don’t anticipate a rate increase after that.  Riiight—-as I have a contract that says the rate is $1564.91  PREMIUM PAYABLE FOR LIFE.  What did I miss?

More bullshit follows.  People are not living appreciably longer than they were 10 years ago when they sold me the policy.  While there is a lot of ‘fake news’ out there, you can Google life expectancy. https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html  or how about: http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=195

They are raising rates because they know nobody is going to charge them with fraud.  Or,actually,  after I complained to my state representative that the the foxes watching the henhouse at the Illinois Department of Insurance approved a rate hike of 25% for the next 3 years, and then 50%  I  got a  letter from the president & CEO explaining that they had to justify the increase to the Illinois Dept. of Insurance.  The whole point of buying the policy while I was ‘young’ (in my very late 40s) was to keep premiums low, but alas, you can’t beat the house—ever.  To make this even  crazier….insurance is based on a pyramid scam:   new policies help fund  old policies…but they are not writing any new policies, at all, at any price.  I have  very wealthy friends who would like to preserve wealth for their children in case they have to go into a nursing home, and these parents can’t buy a policy at even $20,000 a year.

What I learned was, not only is Northwestern Mutual raising their rates, but Unum, Allianz, and  several other companies are….same excuse:  “People are living longer”   and interests rates are  down..all the same  per centage. What are the odds?  Also—-very  funny—-this  insurance policy is only good in the USA.  You can’t go to Mexico, India, Viet Nam, etc, where the cost of  care is much cheaper.

Capitalism  relies on  integrity.  It relies on the concept that if  a seller says a product is a  certain price, you pay that price.  Otherwise, there is no trust. That’s what Adam Smith said in so many words.  But if Trump can change the terms of a contact when it is inconvenient for him, why not everyone?  As I said, people are not living longer. What is happening is that  the people who bought this policy are expecting it to pay out and are taking advantage of the benefit they paid for. The actuaries were wrong (and whether you like it or not,  our rates paid their salaries as well).  This is right up there with the GOP  insisting that Social Security is an entitlement after we’ve all paid for it….and they are convincing journalists to call it an entitlement.  But I digress.

So, they’ve given me 3 options:  to accept the rate increase, to continue to pay the same rate at a vastly reduced benefit, or no longer pay anc accept  the benefit of the premiums I have already paid, which are $20, 334.

I am still mulling over pros and cons of keeping this policy in force, but no matter what the law says, i…and many others I know, feel defrauded.

 

Why I Have Chosen to Join a Kennel Club

December 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Puppy Mills…and the Unfair Attack on Joan Huber

December 16, 2017

I m revising/editing this post as I have gotten more information, and it is only fair to address the issues.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog called, “What is a Puppy Mill?” & cited a well known commercial breeder whom I felt was NOT a puppy mill:  Joan Huber of Blythewood Miniature Schnauzers.  It is not clear how many dogs she kept in her kennel before a deranged ‘animal rights’ idiot decided to  turn her in to authorities for running a puppy mill (and, with apparently no actual evidence—cropping her own dogs ears—-a violation of law because she is not a licensed veterinarian).  We have several issues that have to be addressed.  Actually, it was not 1 ‘AR’ person, but several past employees who turned her in to the  Montgomery County SPCA over multiple issues.

1.Joan Huber is NOT a hobby breeder.  Her business is  breeding and selling Miniature Schnauzers.  She is not selling entire litters for resale.  However, she has a market for her dogs.  I have mixed feelings about people breeding pets like livestock, but the fact is that even  many  hobby breeders don’t keep housedogs—their dogs are not pets, but without people like Joan Huber,  there probably won’t be many well bred—meaning  Miniature Schnauzers free of genetic defects available in even  five years. Why?  The  old  hobbyists/fanciers are dying out, and it is too hard to  get a Miniature Schnauzer ready to show. This is true of many terriers.  Too much work, no money to be made and lots of money to be lost on an indulgence.  You  need an ‘economy of  scale’ these days to  have a ‘breeding program’.  We may not like it that we see these breeding dogs as being in ‘dog jail’—but  not liking it is an emotional response.  I have worked in many kennels, and the dogs are just fine. Happy, engaged in life, and more so than many pet dogs.  She apparently had  41 dogs in her kennel(including over a dozen stud dogs), and was of the mindset that nothing was amiss.

2.  When I was barely a teenager, in the 1960s, a neighbor who knew I had an interest in purebred dogs and showing, invited me in to  watch him crop a puppy’s ears.  He sedated the puppy,  drew a line where he wanted to cut, and sutured the ears.  It was gross and fascinating. Why did he do it & not pay a veterinarian?  It was not to save money.  It was because he didn’t want the dog’s ears butchered.  Now we know, it is an unnecessary surgery, but  the dogs are not in pain.  It doesn’t affect their behavior, and  are we going to call this  a crime, but still allow  idiots who  don’t know how to use either shock or prong collars—-both of which DO CAUSE PAIN—-to continue to buy these items and cause dogs constant pain?

3.  Who should decide what is humane?  Do we let  so-called ‘animal rights’ do-gooders who have never trained a dog, or think  keeping pets should be illegal as it exploits them, to make rules?  Or how about  the many  veterinarians trained as agricultural vets, to influence what is cruel or what is kind. As it is, the veterinary profession makes a lot of money  off ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal,  DECLAWING CATS,  making deals with pet shops to  vaccinate puppy mill bred dogs,   and over vaccinate out pets by law.  Thus, the fancy  has decided  our pet dogs should not have rights—totally on the other end of the spectrum.

4.  Is all this an  ‘either/or’ situation?  Go on Craigslist any day, particularly the pet section, in any city, and you will find backyard breeders selling puppies on a site which has rules  prohibiting the sale of puppies.  Craigslist relies on the public, the community —to ‘flag off’ sellers.  Yet,  so many people have no idea how to find a well -bred—meaning healthy AND  predictable–purebred dog.  The issue in this case is tht  the backyard breeders are dishonest and unethical…but are they inhumane?

5.  Can ‘the fancy’—-those of us who  promote the predictability of purebred dogs, quit defending selling  entire litters for  resale, in defense of being able to not be regulated?

6.This is how the public sees us all: https://www.clickorlando.com/news/41-dogs-confiscated-from-deltona-breeder-accused-of-selling-sick-puppies.

As someone  who  supports  prosecution of  crimes against animals, being a  donor to Safe Humane Chicago, I don’t understand  how  Joan’s litter could be ‘adopted out’ & her bitch spayed without due process.   Apparently ther was due process, but her lawyer could not defend her and she did not deny cropping her puppies’ ears!   In Chicago,  dogs  that have been abused are held ass evidence until the defendant relinquishes  ownership. We’ve had some dogs held for almost  two years as the owners deny a crime was committed, and get continuance after continuance.  Something is seriously wrong, and  now I understand anyone with a grudge can report any of us, any time, whether  the facts are true or not, and cost us all a fortune.  Sort of disgusting that  the  do-gooder didn’t get a job working for one of the many bona fide puppy mills out there.  this is why i contributed to Joan’s defense.   I hope you will, too.