Archive for the ‘Neopolitan Mastiffs’ Category

Why I Joined a Kennel Club

December 10, 2015
This is a display of rosettes at the American Whippet Club Specialty , 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

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

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

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

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

Lies Dog Breeders Tell

November 27, 2015

I’ve worked in the  pet industry over 40 years, and the reason I am a hobbyist/fancier is that  for the most part, there is integrity in the sport of people showing dogs. The fact is that many breeders are proud that their dogs can do what they were originally bred to do, as well as being physically beautiful.  They are proud that their dogs don’t carry genetic structural defects…or if they do,  want you to know what they are doing to eliminate them, and will ask you to participate.

However, not everyone breeding dogs is honest or ethical.  Unfortunately, ‘due to the economy’,more and more  breeders are breeding to sell a product, not to improve their line or for the betterment of the breed.  Actually,  dog breeders, as I’ve described them, are becoming pretty rare.

The reason is…in the USA, our economy is pretty much based on speculation on land.  We like to  convince ourselves that  it’s high wages that make everything expensive, but no, it’s the cost we pay to live where we live.  I know some people who live in less urban areas don’t believe this, but people who live in high rise condos pay $100–400 extra a month for a parking space.

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.

When I was growing up, in the 1950s and ’60s, land was not yet wildly speculated on, and a good portion of the population (black and Latino people, as well as women) were bared from certain educational opportunities, jobs, and  even owning a home in  many locations.    A certain per centage of people could keep  five or six breeding bitches (and possibly a male) and afford to go to dog shows and pay for veterinary care, and have a litter every so often.

Real estate started to heat up in the early 1970s.  In fact, I convinced my then husband that we should marry (easier for ME to get a mortgage that way) so we wouldn’t be forced out of th neighborhood we lived in.  This was at the end of the Nixon era, when inflation was starting to get out of control…and then OPEC  decided the price of energy for us.  Also, many white people might not remember this, but anti-discrimination laws were passed.  Still, we had a vibrant middle class, and anyone not  paying off student loans or medical bills was ok…but we were all starting to slide if we didn’t have rich parents.

When it comes to purebred dogs, the American Kennel Club sure hasn’t helped by talking out of both sides of its collective mouth. The old white male field trial guys who control th AKC want everyone to know that AKC  guarantees ‘purebred’…though they  whisper to buy from a breeder as though all breeders are the same.  On the AKC registration  certificate you get, it says that  a ‘third party transfer’ (that would be a pet shop or broker selling you a dog someone else bred) is illegal, but that is never enforced, and the AKC delegates—the inspectors that make sure dogs shows are fair, who also inspect puppy mills, tell us that the AKC doesn’t  do business with anyone purposely mixing breeds, but we know the same people breeding English Bulldogs are breeding LabraDoodles and Cavashons

So…now we have a  group of people—‘backyard breeders’— who may or may not know each other, taking advantage of this confusion. They are breeding dogs, and claiming they are not breeders. They own the mommy dogs, and whelp the litters, but they will try to convince you they are not breeders.  It might be because  the humane activists will try to convince you that all breeders are evil and adding to pet  over population, and by these people declaring they are not breeders, they are not responsible for pet over population.   Following me?  Because it is these very people who  are the exact people  adding to the problem.  They do not take any responsibility for the dogs they breed.  Once the sale is made…you are on your own.

What else do they say?  If you  ask about genetic defects, they will tell you the parent dogs are healthy, and even give you a health certificate that  states the health of the pup is guaranteed for  30 days.  This begs the question, because  many blind, deaf, and/or crippled dogs are otherwise ‘healthy’, and these types of handicaps often don’t show up until the dog is at least a year old.

Another one:  These dogs come from champion bloodlines.  Unless you  know pedigrees, and  all the dogs for at least  three generations on that pedigree have the same word in their names, there is no bloodline.   Also, we now know that many people who established a bloodline in their breed had their hearts broken when  the type of testing for genetic defects became available, and they found that many of their breeding dogs were afflicted.  But more—you can’t have it both ways and say you ‘just want a pet’ but be  impressed by champion bloodlines.  My first Afghan Hound had the most impressive pedigree anyone would want to see, but I don’t think his parents were show quality, and he certainly wasn’t.  Even show dogs   produce dogs that  won’t become champions due to structural issues.  When it comes to designer dogs—dogs that don’t breed true, all the champion bs means NOTHING.  You want to see OFA (hips, knees, elbows), CERF (eyes), and BAER tests for  both parent dogs.

Another one:  You can’t see either parent dog….often, the sire of the litter is off being shown. The dam (the mommy) is probably  a wreck, but be very cautious .  Often times, mommy is not friendly with strangers…which also means the pups may not be.

So, here’s the deal.  If the person  who offers puppies doesn’t start asking you a bunch of questions about how you were referred to her, where you live, if you own  or rent, who all you live with, if you’ve had any experience with her breed, and how you plan to take car of and train this pup if you work outside your home all day…this means they are breeding and/or selling pets like livestock. They  can’t be trusted to say anything remotely truthful.  And, yeah, it’s harder and harder to find an ethical hobby breeder of any breed, but you can ask groomers and trainers for referrals, contact a (breed) club of America, and be a little skeptical using the internet.  You want a companion who will be with you for 12 years or more.  Don’t fall for the marketing.  use some sense.


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.



Are we Making a Dent in Puppy Mills?

June 5, 2015
My last Saluki, Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC.  His breeder  hung on to him, thinking he was not show quality, waiting for the right home to come along.

My last Saluki, Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC. His breeder hung on to him, thinking he was not show quality, waiting for the right home to come along.

On Facebook, we recently learned that a couple of pet stores—puppy mill outlets—were planning a fundraiser at an area restaurant— so they could pay their legal bills!  for real.  They  claim that (we activists) are putting them out of a legitimate business…and puppy buyers will be forced to  go to the suburbs to buy pups. Really?

Or, maybe…just maybe…they will be forced to do some research and seek out hobby breeders.  Or check out the hundreds of dogs in area shelters and breed specific rescues.  It could happen.

I wrote  to the reporter who broke the story…that the fundraiser was cancelled when Cari Meyers from The Puppy Mill Project, ans several other activists  talked to the restaurant management about what the problem REALLY is.

I have no idea where to start on this…but let me try.
I am a dog groomer.  I have been working with dogs for  over 40 years.  I learned to groom from other  dog lovers:  people who bred and showed dogs.
What I learned is that no ethical  hobby breeder, who loves dogs, sells any dog to someone else to resell. Ethical hobby breeders  want to meet  possible buyers and determine if they understand  how to take care of the pup they want.
As a teenager, I worked for this eccentric named Fred Alderman.  He was a pretty well known Afghan Hound breeder.  Lots of people didn’t like him…but if you had never owned an Afghan Hound, you had to spend a day grooming with him if you wanted 1 of his dogs.  He didn’t want to hear that you  didn’t  know how much equipment you would need, how often it needed to be done, how long it would take.  If—at the end of the day—you  didn’t want an Afghan, no harm/no foul.

I worked for a Miniature Schnauzer breeder.  In the late 1970s,  the hobby breeders were noticing that a lot of the dog they bred were  going blind at age 2 or 3.  Clearly, it was a genetic issue, and they set up a test breeding program  with  veterinary ophthalmologists, and  virtually eliminated  congenital juvenile cataracts from the breed.  Unfortunately, this was just dogs bred by hobby breeders.  People breeding dogs as livestock, for resale, and people breeding their pets didn’t even think about this, because once their pups were sold,  they  weren’t involved with them.

We were making good progress  in making purebred dogs genetically more sound, then the recession hit, and another bad dynamic:  veterinarians who  really aren’t pet lovers not discouraging  people from breeding dogs with discoverable genetic defects…and even leading  pet owners to believe that mixing breeds  resulted in ‘hybrid vigor’ (they are the same species—not hybrids—these designer dogs).

So now we have a whole segment of  pet lovers who believe a designer dog is healthier than  a purebred (not  necessarily so).

I am not the ‘adopt—don’t shop’ type, but my last 4 purebred dogs  came to me as adults from  purebred dog breeders who   are breeding for the betterment of their breeds—and who took dogs back because buyers changed their minds.  That’s what hobby breeders do. They take back their dogs because they love them.  No excuses.

Do you understand the difference? That Amish  commercial dog breeders, and/or USDA licensed breeders are breeding pets as livestock?  And ripping people off?  Every week I get  dogs in for grooming who  bought from these types—- from pet store owners, who were not  screened, were not given proper grooming or training instructions, and believe me ultimately, that all breeders are the same.

The irony is that if these jerks  really loved animals, they could change their business models and not be adding to the many adult dogs abandoned or dumped by  dissatisfied  pet buyers.  & to justify this by saying that these buyers will go to puppy mill outlets in the suburbs? Really?  I bet within a decade we have a state-wide ban on commercial breeding of pets.

I will add that many of the  rescues  are just as bad:  adopting out dogs with questionable temperaments and not being honest about grooming and training needs…but at least they aren’t breeding dogs.

I wish we could hold the shelters and rescues accountable for adopting out dogs that look cute, but are actually a danger to public health, but that  is another issue.  The American Kennel Club is defending the very bad breeders.  We must hold them accountable, and out veterinarians accountable as well.

Leashed dogs, tethered dogs

April 17, 2015

Dazincoat   I live in  the inner city. What that means is that I live in close proximity to a lot of other people who are not my relatives.  I choose to live this way.  There are a lot of positive aspects to living in a population dense area:  we have  public transportation steps from my  back door.  We have so many restaurants, including ethnic restaurants.  So many resale stores (which  I love), and cultural events: movies, plays, lectures, comedy.

What we also have is…people …who are in denial about how much control they have over their dogs, and how this impacts their neighbors.

I have to admit, I have, at times, been less than considerate.  I have  gone out early in the morning, or to a remote spot in the park, and had my dog harass picnickers, or  other dogs.  I have gotten control of my dogs as quickly as possible, but I knew I was in the wrong and apologized.  Once,  one of my dogs got out of a fenced area and started harassing another dog.  My idiot dog was missing teeth, so he was just harassing and possibly in danger when he did this, but I had put both dogs in a dangerous situation.

You know the response people give when their dog menaces you: “He’s just playing!  He will not bite your dog!”  That’s really not a good response if my dogs are leashed and yours is not. The dynamic of leashed dogs is they–instinctively— protect themselves/the person they are tethered to. They don’t even think. They immediately go into defense mode.  That means YOUR DOG is in danger.  If you can’t get control of your dog, then I have to work harder to control and calm my dog. I am working on it. He  is a dog in training, YOUR DOG is clearly not.

This is the problem with dog ownership in the USA: unless you get your dog  from an ethical hobby breeder, breeding for the betterment of the breed, OR a very well run animal shelter or rescue, your dog  most likely did not come with handling instructions.  You are left to your own devices and common sense, but most people don’t think that deeply about their pets and safety.  Who is to inform them  if these pet owners think what they are doing makes sense?

In Illinois, it is now illegal to tether a dog outside.  Too many dogs  are sitting ducks to  wild animals and uncontrolled dogs. They get  wound up in their lines/ropes/tethers.    I  was surprised this law passed, but it did.

I  recently worked  for a dog grooming business where the owner didn’t have a clue about safety and dog behavior—and her method of restraint was tying up dogs rather than crating the dogs. Why? She  was thinking of a crate as a dog jail rather than as a den.  She really thought she was being more humane.  She could not see—because she had never trained a dog or worked with a dog trainer—-that  she was actually enhancing the stress of dogs coming in for grooming.  Granted, they  didn’t have their owners to  protect, but that’s only part of the stress.

Not only that, but  she promoted harnesses, not just because she didn’t know any better, but because she discounted that people could not control their dogs on harness, and she felt that people didn’t want to restrain dogs.  I  am not sure how this  whole way of thinking—feeling guilty about being in control of your dog—started, but you can’t confuse people with the facts.

I’m not sure how much of a difference knowing about this will make to  most people, but I see that more and more people are  opening dog care businesses without knowing anything about  dog psychology, or dynamics.    This is capitalism.  GDazincoatood luck to us all.

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.

So…it Boils Down to This: Who is a pet

January 15, 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?

I have been active in my semi retirement on  trying to address  pet over population and  the view of what is humane,  and one of the things I do is flag animal sales on Craigslist. Bottom line is, the people selling puppies  on CL don’t think they are breeders.   But  it’s not just a Craigslist thing.  The ‘conventional wisdom is that   the backyard breeders don’t think of themselves as ‘breeders’ contributing to pet over population.

In addition,  irresponsible  stories like the feature National Public Radio recently ran on the ‘shortage’ in some area of adoptable dogs, is just appalling.  Granted,  in some  enclaves,  pet owners are more responsible and fewer dogs are dumped, but if you regard the country as a whole,  we will have too many areas where  people are uneducated,and have a totally different mindset about being socially responsible.  Hell, when a well educated (she had a Ph. D.) woman can cart around an unlocked  gun in her purse, and go shopping with a toddler, and think that is perfectly OK…and her community  regards this  accidental shooting by the toddler as  an unavoidable tragedy, we are not on the same page about anything.

This is a sample of a Craigslist post :

“I’m looking to rehome my puppy to a loving family. Jax is a 12 week old Chihuahua/Shih Tzu mix. He loves to snuggle and play and is as cute as can be. He will come with his carrier, jacket, puppy food, food/water bowl, training pads, new harness, leash, and collar. It’s heartbreaking to see him go but I just don’t have time in my schedule to care for this sweet little pup. Asking 370 OBO. Please only contact me if you are very interested as he needs to find a loving home soon. Thank you!”


So here we are—a puppy just into the teething stage.  My guess is she went to a pet shop/puppy mill outlet, and bought the pup and all the  junk (harness!  Ugh!!!), and  now is bored with the dog.  & why would this pup need a jacket?  So all the crap alone is probably over $300.  Or did she get the dog for free, had the stuff (or got it  deeply discounted), and is actually a puppy broker?  No matter.  There is way too much of   these idiots  buying and attempting to flip puppies  on Craigslist, as well as the backyard breeders.

Using Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas he  discussed in his book, The Tipping Point, we need respected change agents to address that this behavior is unacceptable. The people these idiots respect are veterinarians.

I have stated that all the activists who are currently railing against breeders—and they include the ethical hobby breeders who DO screen puppy buyers, do refuse to sell, and do take back dogs they sell, are not the problem.  Since the idiots are  dealing with  livestock breeders and brokers that they believe love animals, it is up to us to get to the next professional they will see—the veterinarian—and demand they address genetic issues, breed problems, not  spew out the hybrid vigor bs  regarding the designer dogs,and  promote spay/neuter at a mature age, and  being responsible for the pet.

While I am horrified that so many pet dogs become incontinent  due to  sloppy spay/neuters (which is why  they should really be done by shelter veterinarians who have lots of experience), I am more horrified by the many ‘accidental’ breeders who make excuses &  have convinced themselves they should not be responsible.

How would I address this? Several ways:

1.  pass a state law that mandates that anyone posting puppies, kittens, or rabbits for sale in Illinois (my state) have to  have their  litters individually microchipped before offering them for sale… if they did end up in a shelter, we’d know who to fine (yes—the breeders should have to pay—but pet owners  could have the chip changed to their contact information );

2. This would be enforced by  humane societies being licensed to train  volunteer investigators to contact people posting ads in newspapers and on Craigslist—and informing every licensed veterinarian in the state to make sure their clients  know the law;

3.People would also have to  ‘register’ every litter they bred with the state department of agriculture—pay a $50 fee. this is not a lot of money in relation to what hobby breeders spend on doing genetic testing, and paying for  showing their animals.

I believe that within  two years of such a law being enacted, we cut the number of dumped pets significantly.  I feel this way because most backyard breeders would either do a better job of screening  buyers, or they’d just  say the hell with it and stop breeding.

We would need all the humane societies and rescues on board, and we’d probably have to convince the  hobby breeders who breed for the betterment of their breed, but I don’t think this would be difficult.


Boerboels—& the ‘New’ AKC Breeds

January 9, 2015

Link to Boerboel photos:http://

The AKC has  recently recognized some breeds that have been around for decades, if not centuries.  They are ‘new’ to  the public that thinks of a dog as a dog.  The reason they were not recognized before now is that there were not enough  fanciers organized into a sponsoring parent club, who sponsored a stud book.

It’s difficult to get a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.  You have to get along with your fellow hobbyists/fanciers/breeders and  work to promote the betterment of the breed.  This is why  labradoodles are not a recognized breed  yet. Also, they don’t ‘breed true’.  That means, when you have puppies, they all look  like the same breed.

As it is, we have plenty of breeds, like Fox Terriers and Dachshunds, where you can  breed any variety to each other—of the same breed…and this is why you get  smooths and wires in the same litter.  In some breeds, like Ibizen/Podengos, it doesn’t matter.  However, if you  really want to know what you are getting, you don’t mix varieties even if it is allowed (because you won’t know what you are getting!).

In any case, Bill Hageman of the Chicago Tribune did a feature on the new AKC breeds, one of which is the Boerboel. THIS IS NOT A PET DOG.

Beorboels are large dogs,. They are bred to be confident and  aggressive.  They were bred in South Africa to  give lions a run for their money.  I am not making this up. You can research the breed.  They were never kept as house pets.

A lot of people really don’t understand that some dogs just don’t make good pets.  Or, they have so many temperament and genetic issues (Shiba Inu, Shar Pei, Bulldogs) that  people shouldn’t even attempt to think they will get lucky.  With a BoerBoel—a type of mastiff, you won’t get lucky.  If you need a guard dog—this is the dog.  If you want the dog to double as a pet for children…particularly in an urban environment…please…no.

I wrote to members of the American Boerboel Club, and this is what I said:

This is probably ‘none of my business’ as I am not a BoerBoel  fancier, but I am a purebred dog fancier, an exhibitor, groomer, amateur trainer, and involved in humane activities.
There was a  feature article in the Chicago Tribune about the new AKC breeds, and  I may be too late, but I STRONGLY urge you all to copy what the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America does, and NEVER sell a breedable (meaning intact) dog to any new fancier who:
1. Has never exhibited a dog to a title;
2. Is interested in breeding, but is not interested in  either conformation or performance;
3. Can’t get referrals from other  hobbyists/fanciers.

Selling a dog without registration papers  is a joke.  The American Miniature Schnauzer Club participants in a test breeding program to  eliminate congenital juvenile cataracts (about 30 years ago), sold  carriers of CJC without papers to pet owners, explaining that the dogs they were getting might not be blind, but would  produce blind puppies, …& many of those buyers  didn’t care,  and either went to other breeders or found each other , and CJC is, again, a problem in the breed. So, the hobby breeders, breeding for the betterment of the breed, went to early neutering—& now this is, unfortunately, common.

I know the Cane Corso And Dogue de Bordeaux fanciers  just ignored  that this would be an issue, or didn’t care, and now we see them, purebred & mixed, on Craigslist all the time—and mixed with Pit bulls as well.
I am an advocate  for animals in the court system in Chicago–abuse, neglect, dog fighting.  Like I said, it may be too late.

You  might find the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America code of ethics to be a good model:
It seems simple enough, but right after the  Obamas  got  Bo, their first Portie,  we could have seen  them  in every pet shop. That didn’t happen. Why?  With such a small gene pool, the  fanciers are all of the same mindset that it is in the best interest of the breed to take it seriously.  You never see a portie in rescue. Why?  If a club member learns of this, they snatch it up.  And—if the breeder does not take the dog back (with so few breeders, this is easy to discover), the breeder is fined $500 a week until they take the dog back.  How do  they enforce this? Again, their gene pool is so small,  you won’t find people breeding to your dogs if you  don’t  respect the rules.

The  few breeders that there are,  are encouraged to continue to co-own  dogs until they are neutered, or titled. This is what 1 fancier told me.  Remember, it just takes 1 breeder to not screen for  homeowners insurance that doesn’t have breed restrictions, who doesn’t ask for evidence of a fenced yard, who doesn’t keep in touch.  Just one puppy buyer to lose a job…or a home, become a renter, or divorced, or post on Craigslist…and  the irresponsible backyard breeders  who don’t care about hip dysplasia, other genetic issues…or good, permanent homes, to destroy your breed.

So, who the hell am I?  A purebred dog fancier who sees that the average dog owner has less integrity than I do, not more,.  I am someone who fears for the future of purebred dogs.

Remember…all it takes is one naive breeder who thinks that every  person who pursues a  breedable dog, has integrity.  Just one.

If Not us, Then Who?

December 12, 2014


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 keep writing about the pet industry being in a sorry state: so lacking in integrity, defending  inhumane  breeders (breeding pets as livestock), selling  useless or  dangerous products.  I know that there are people who agree with me.  How many who agree with me are willing to  do something about it?  How many actually spend time talking with pet owners?

I subscribe to all the free pet industry magazines:  Pet Business, PetAge, and Pet Industry News.  For years I subscribed to  The Gazette (Purebred dogs, the AKC magazine) which I learned so much from, from so many different  fanciers who wrote about  what they were learning about dogs.  Now that it is no longer in print, it is much more difficult to get information about specific breeds of dogs  if you don’t subscribe to all the Facebook feeds.

Keep in mind, that were it not for hobbyists and fanciers, there would be no  grain free dog food industry.  It wasn’t  veterinarians who  promoted  grain free foods, and  most pet store retailers were  bemused by the requests.  It was  hobby breeders suggesting to their puppy buyers, and to people they were meeting at dog training classes  and performance events  talking about  the ear infections and foot licking might be related to corn or wheat sensitivities.

When I was a teenager, I worked briefly for  Afghan Hound breeder Fredric Mark Alderman. He had quick, phenomenal success with the Akaba dogs he got from Lois Boardman. His kennel name was Dynasty. He had a waiting list of people wanting  his dogs, and he had a policy: you want a Dynasty Afghan Hound, but have no experience with the breed, you spend a day grooming with him.  He didn’t want to hear that  you didn’t enjoy brushing or bathing a dog, that you didn’t know the equipment you’d need or how much time it would take up.  If that’s how you felt at the end of an afternoon with him, no harm, no foul…you didn’t get an Afghan.    Not  one other breeder in the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago did what he did.  So many of theirs ended up neglected or abused.  Not the dogs Fred bred.  I knew breeders in other breeds who had similar policies. Arlene Fenney, who bred Bearded Collies in the Chicago area, insisted that all her pet buyers buy a portable grooming table.

A blog I posted a couple of years ago “The Irony of the Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier,”  got an enormous amount of attention recently, going  from  possibly 1 viewing a week to well over 200.  I suspect a  fancier  found it, and  then sent the link to other fanciers—but I didn’t get  one comment:  I suspect they all understand why the breed got popular, and then declined in popularity.    I will address more of that in the future.

I am addressing this  topic of information in the pet industry  because of what I am dealing with  now.

I recently worked for a dog business, as many people know, owned by a business woman who thinks she is a dog lover, but who has never trained a dog, nor actually worked cleaning or  observing a playgroup in her own kennel.  She had a vision of how large she wanted her facility to appear, and how much she wanted to make, and, once again, trusted  people who  were taking her money, instead of people who knew dogs. She has asked me to never mention the name of the business in my blog because she claims I say too much negative.  If it weren’t the truth, I wouldn’t spend the time. You can’t make this stuff up.

We have had, in the 3 years since I worked for her, a 98% change in staff.   When we parted,  I had been with her longer than any other employee.  2 others who worked in the kennel had been there almost two years.  They quit within a couple of weeks after I left. With such a high turnover, organizational memory is lost.  So, new staff are constantly  doing new procedures,. reinventing the wheel,  or screwing up and having to address screw ups. The owner moved into what looks like a beautiful building  where the floors are shiny and dangerous to both humans and dogs, many dogs are afraid to walk on it. Temple Grandin addressed this in Animals in Translation, but of course, neither the owner or manager have read anything she’s written. They are business people.  The electricity is  set up in such a way that there is not enough where it is needed, and too much available where it is not.

In any case, as a groomer, who loves dogs, and loves being with the dogs, I  want my clients to be happy with their dogs. Unfortunately, for about a decade, the  pet industry—meaning retail sellers—have been bamboozling people into buying  harnesses for their dogs..and Flexi leashes.  Everyone  pays for a Flexi.  It’s hard enough to control your dogs with a harness and  six foot leash.  Harnesses are designed so the dog will not be restrained when pulling you.  I’ve addressed this before.  In any case, I am trying to get my clients to switch to Martingale collars.  This is what sighthound people  use, and more  and more hobbyists are switching from buckle collars to  Martingales because you really DO get more control—without hurting the dog!

So, I spend a lot of time talking to  my clients about their relationship with their dogs.  And I’ve gotten several good clients to switch to  Martingales over the last several months.  I’ve mentioned this to the owner and the manager.  Blah blah Blah.  Now, there is a nice looking retail space.  What do they sell?   Fancy Dog cookies.  Dog beds (at least 4 dozen in inventory).  Dog coats and toys.  NO  collars. None.  My clients—OUR CLIENTS are going elsewhere for collars.

I showed a client who owns a pet consulting business my MillerForge Curved Slicker brush,  She thought it was  amazing, it is.  I get them from   The business owner  could sell those, too…but she selling dog cookies….or rather, there is a nice display, they are not selling (nor are the dog beds).

I show my clients how to brush their dogs. This is something the breeder (yes, that includes the idiot backyard breeders who constantly post on Craigslist in every city—people who claim they are NOT breeders!) should show them how to do.  If not the breeder—all these shelters and rescues that also want good homes for  the dogs they adopt out, should   address brushing, feeding, a care schedule, what shots will cost in the future—but not a one does.  You bond with your dog  by grooming it.  These people disrespect  hobby breeders—or they throw them in with the lot of puppy mills.  You could not call Fred Alderman irresponsible.  He  was and is not breeding the dogs that wind up in shelters.

Whatever. It is up to groomers to address all these things.  Grooming, nutrition, finding a good veterinarian,  good websites and YouTube videos on dog care—particularly training.  It is up to us to  sell THE FEATURES OF THE EQUIPMENT WE USE.  The sales  clerks and managers at all these pet stores are not going to sell the dog owning public what they need.

The hobby breeders are telling the puppy buyers to return to them for grooming as so few  pet groomers have the experience or talent to groom their breeds.  I can’t blame them.  However, it is those hobby breeders who actually got our pet grooming industry started.  All those designer dogs that the puppy mills and backyard breeders are putting out  won’t keep us afloat for so many reasons, including  being poorly bred and having genetic issues, and the owners  coming to the understanding that  that fluffy fantasy puppy wasn’t as much fun to take care of as they hoped, or was way more expensive than they dreamed (I  went from having Afghan Hounds to Whippets partly because of time commitment,and partly expense).  What am I saying?  We have to  be in touch with and more friendly with hobby breeders breeding for the betterment of their breeds.  We have to join more kennel clubs.  We have to work with the  organizations that say they want permanent homes for all pets.If the business owners really cared, they  would  be more holistic about addressing  dog car to every  dog owner who walked through the dog.  They are not, and it is up to us.

A tale of 3 Purebred Dog Breeds—and How They Are Now: Miniature Schnauzers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Portuguese Water Dogs

October 24, 2014
Miniature Schnauzer before grooming

Miniature Schnauzer before grooming

Recently I read an article in a dog magazine about what happens when a dog wins Best in Show at Westminster, in New York.  First of all, for those who  don’t know, Westminster (“The Garden”)  has been considered an important show for decades because space is limited, so your dog has to qualify to enter.  The Tournament of Champions, sponsored by Eukanuba, has a similar  system.  In any case,  this is one of the few dogs shows  where the Best in Show winner makes national news, and people who are interested in getting a dog, but have no idea what they want,  say to themselves, “I never heard of a (Scottish Deerhound or Kerry Blue Terrier, or  Papillon),  why don’t I check into that.”

Very often, people looking for THAT BREED contact the owner of the Best in Show winning dog.  So, that owner/fancier has to feel prospects out, and, in many if not most cases, try to discourage them.  Why would a breeder discourage someone from wanting one of her puppies?  Good question!  It’s because hobby breeders are not breeding dogs as livestock, but for the betterment of their breed.  They know that not everyone who thinks they want one  actually understands what they are getting into.  A good breeder will tell them.  A Newfoundland breeder  addresses how most Newfies drool, how much they eat, poop, and shed, and that they must be obedience trained.

There is a culture among fanciers in every breed.  Some, like the Whippet  people, are generally very friendly towards each other.   In some breeds, however, there is a lot of gossip and slander, and you wonder how they get anything accomplished.  In some breeds,  when they recognize a problem, they band together to solve the problem.  In other breeds, denial is the rule of the day—like with deafness in Dalmatians (and Bernese Mountain Dogs, Gorden Setters—the  ‘piebald/harlequin’, merles, and black and tan pattern dogs).

Miniature Schnauzers have always been popular.   They are a small breed, but not a ‘toy’ breed. They  generally don’t shed. They are easily trained, and are known to be good with kids.  They started becoming popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  My mother said that if we got a dog, it would have to be a non-shed dog.  Her personal list was narrowed down to either a Poodle or a Schnauzer.

Back then, with so few dogs being bred, if Juvenile Cataracts (JC) were a problem, it was not recognized as genetic. According  to a well known  Miniature Schnauzer breeder, Dale Miller:
“Regarding  the JC, the big push was about 35 years ago (circa 1975), and most all AMSC members tested their dogs.  There were a couple important studs that turned out to be carriers, so that meant that the problem really spread before and during that time.  Although almost all of us still have each and every puppy checked, that particular problem has been for all intents and purposes, wiped out.  But we remain ever vigilant, as all dogs weren’t tested, and who knows when it could slip back into someone’s line.  There are other eye problems that have cropped up in the breed, PRA, Retinal dysplasia, but I have never dealt with it, and I’d say it is not very common because everyone is making every attempt to avoid it.  JC is easy, PRA is not, because it doesn’t appear until 3-5 years of age.  It’s very hard to get some people to admit to problems when they have them, which I’m sure you know.”

You might be wondering how initial testing was done.  Cooperating veterinarians (and even many breeders) found enough  blind  Min. Schnauzer bitches  to test stud dogs who were not known to be carriers.  If puppies  turned out  to be blind or going blind (they were  examined by veterinary ophthalmologists  at about 8 weeks of age), the stud was no longer used—often being sold as a pet, and the pups were  sold without AKC papers…the breeders explaining to the buyers why they were being sold without papers.  Unfortunately, not everyone cares about breeding good dogs…and many of those puppy buyers really didn’t care if their dog was blind  due to genetics, or a carrier of genetic blindness. Many of these owners  started finding each other, or contacting  American Min Schnauzer Club members to  BREED THESE DOGS!

Horrified, the breeders started  doing early neutering,  We now know that some of these dogs would  never be physically mature without the hormones, and many would turn out to be incontinent (due to  botched operations).  The hobby breeders felt they had to  address the problem.  How are things now (2014)?  We  occasionally see  dogs as young as  three or four with a cataract.  We know this is genetic.  We also see this in other breeds (Poodles) and designer dogs.  But  we also see that there are  two types of Miniature Schnauzers:  those  ‘salt & pepper, about 13″ dogs’  that  are not quite show dogs…maybe too tall or too small, or  with bad fronts…and we see the  ones bred by  either backyard breeders or puppy mills—often parti-colored, with odd coat textures.  It’s actually 2 breeds.

I had  a friend who, in the early 1970’s,  started showing Cavalier King Charles spaniels when they were in the Miscellaneous Class.  There was a big disagreement among fanciers.  A good many did NOT want them to become an AKC breed, as they knew their popularity would explode.  Back then,  popularity was the issue, not luxated patellas, Juvenile Cataracts, heart, or brain problems.  Virtually all the  dogs were imported from England.  Because the breeders  just assumed buyers had integrity—and because these early fanciers  chose to ignore what happened in other popular breeds, puppies were sold outright with no contracts.

This is how it happens:  you buy a puppy, and you lose your job, or your  mother dies, or you get divorced.  Your life goes into upheaval, you have to move, and you can not keep the dog.  You might have tried to contact the breeder, and she didn’t return your phone call, or she moved.  You put an ad in the paper (there was no Craigslist back then…no internet), and some very nice person who had done a little research, buy your dog.  Either that person then breeds  and sells  puppies directly to pet shops, or she breeds her dog (stud owner just sees stud fee, doesn’t ask any questions)  and sells the puppies to Hunte Corps—or any other puppy mill.  & this is how puppy mills get dogs of good bloodlines.

Andrew Hunte, CEO of Hunte Corp…”the leading distributor of high quality purebred puppies to retail outlets in the US, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, and Asia…” Recently wrote (Pet Business, July 2014) that the real ramifications of the ban on live animal sales (in pet shops) will have the unintended consequences of —“well, basically, in so many words, the backyard breeders &  less scrupulous puppy mills ripping people off.  Really.  That’s what he said.  What these commercial breeders who defend the practice of breeding dogs as livestock ignore is that anyone can walk into a retail pet store (or any of these no-kill’ shelter, I might add) & if they have cash or a credit card—they get a puppy.  The other people they live with  might  not have wanted a puppy. They might be renters ignoring a lease. They might not have time for a puppy.  None of this matters.  But it does matter to the hobby breeder.  I bought a dog last year that the breeder insisted on co-owning with me…in case something should happen to ME—she wanted to be sure she had a legal claim to the dog  I bought from HER.  Do you think any pet  retailer cares this much?

This is what happened to Shih Tzu, Bichons,  virtually all the toy breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and  most recently, Neopolitan mastiffs, Dogue de Bordeaux, Cane Corso, French and English Bulldogs and Boston Terriers.

The Portuguese Water Dog Fanciers mostly came from other breeds, and they saw this.  Even with a very small gene pool (their original breeding stock came from fewer than 30 dogs, rounded up off the streets in Portugal), they didn’t want to take any chances of  people getting breedable dogs who didn’t have the welfare of the breed at heart.  You can read their code of ethics on their  website.  If you breed a Portie and sell it, and the owner no longer wants it, YOU are responsible for that dog.  If you don’t take responsibility, the club rescue committee will, and YOU will be fined. Y0u don’t comply, and nobody breeds to your dogs.  With such a small gene pool, this matters a lot.

With other rare breeds, it is more informal.  You do  sometimes hear  of sighthounds bred to dogs not of their breed (lurchers), but it is rare.  Also, you rarely find  Gordon Setter or Briard mixes.  I fear with a bad  economy in the USA, it will take just  one move or TV show featuring a rare breed, and it will be all over for that breed.
This is what happened to French Bulldogs.

So, this is how it happens that a breed you never heard of  is sudden;y available in pet stores.  If the dog does have any crippling defects, maybe the pet store will reimburse you. Maybe not.  A hobby breeder may offer another dog…it depends on your contract./ Let the buyer beware.