Archive for the ‘Saluki’ Category

Career Goals? or Maybe Bucket List

July 1, 2016
Fahs and me completing his Rally Novice title. Gosh, I love doing things with my dogs!

Dash and me completing his Rally Novice title. Gosh, I love doing things with my dogs!

A prospective  employer asked, after I had told him I had titled  dogs in obedience, rally, lure coursing and conformation, had published in the  pet industry,and  won and placed in grooming contests…what my career goals are.

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer and lived overseas…in  Africa.   I, with  a few others, got  household recycling instituted in Chicago.  I’ve sold my art.  I would like to continue to compete in rally and obedience…and lure coursing if I acquire a young enough dog. Frankly, I’ve met my career goals.  I keep thinking of selling the house (due to property taxes) and buying a small kennel. Again, it is a ‘quality of life’ issue.

I currently work  for a business where the people are nice, for the  most part, but the set up for grooming is less than ideal.  I can live with that, but there are some irritants that cause me to keep my eyes open for a better situation.  The commute, while not terrible, is long.  One of the employees  does little things  to sabotage my work and make my day longer. They  continue to  put stressed out boarding dogs in my work area, and we have a very high ‘no-show’ rate  for grooming.  I don’t really have an ally or advocate at work.

I love  the job tasks of grooming dogs, but I am getting too old to put up with  confusion and pettiness.

I don’t know if this is a career goal, but if I had a husband to  keep me  in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed, I’d go to the American Whippet Club and Saluki Club of America  specialties every year.  So many great dog activities, and fellow dog lovers.

I’d travel more.  I haven’t really been to Europe yet (except for stop overs),  or Costa Rico  or Panama, and I still have a lot to see in southeast Asia.

I’d volunteer more with  few groups I support.  I’d continue to work with dogs.  I’d get together with friends more.  There’s not much different I would do.

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

June 24, 2016
My Saluki as a young dog.Sold as a pet, he finished his AKC championship in fewer than 10 shows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is the fancy in trouble?

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

So, what can we do to save the fancy?

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

The California Girl

January 8, 2016

I come from long lived people.
Well, not my mother’s father.  He died in his fifties of kidney disease, years before there was dialysis, or transplants.  I still don’t understand how healthy people suddenly get a malady, but I know it happens.  I believe that with my grandfather, he was probably exposed to solvents, because he was a metal recycler.  But who knows.

My mother died of lung cancer  in her mid forties. No mystery there.  She had smoked for  about 30 years.

My father’s father died  of leukemia in his mid seventies.  However, my grandmother lived into her early nineties, or so I believe.  My father cut her off for nastiness, and she never bothered to maintain a relationship with any of her grandchildren.  Her son, my father, is now  89.

Back on my mother’s side, her mother, my grandmother, lived into her mid nineties, even  surviving a bout of late onset breast cancer (in her  late eighties).  He sister also lived to her late eighties, although she chose to be an invalid for the last  twenty or so years of her life.  She really didn’t want to move or have physical therapy.  She just wanted to watch TV.

I mention all of this because I am now in my sixties, and I lost a dear friend just over a year ago, also in her early sixties. It happened so fast, and she knew it would.

Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

We had met about  fifteen years earlier at the International Dog Show in Chicago—one of the last benched shows. I  was at the bench, with Dazzle, my Saluki, whom his breeder bemusedly told me I could show.  Janie also had a Saluki.  She was not showing  her dog, but we talked a little, and she  gave me her number and told me to call her if I wanted to get together.

I blogged about her last year.  I never thought she’d get her dog under control, as he was  quite lag and exuberant.  I don’t think Janie was even  five feet tall.  She had  grown up in California,  was a nurse, and had come to the Chicago area  because her husband had gotten a job.  Fred was her second husband.  She had married young, had a daughter, and the first husband ended up in jail.

Janie had had another  Saluki, Zephyr, and  she was just enchanted by the breed.  I am not sure how she found the breeder of the third and fourth Salukis (they were never healthy…never gained weight, and never got along), but  she was always trying to find a veterinarian who could find out  why  they never thrived.  I felt so bad for her, when first Reggie died.  She had

Reggie Wondergem, doing the scent articles at an obedience trial.

Reggie Wondergem, doing the scent articles at an obedience trial.

worked with him, to engage his brain, as well as to title him (he was probably the only Saluki attaining a U.D. in the last decade), then Khan, then Ivory.  But she planned next to get  a Saluki  from both obedience and conformation lines, and she got Ari.

Janie did dog boarding in her house, and some grooming as well.  She took on some tough cases: poorly bred  puppy mill dogs that people had bought or rescued.  She really educated herself about dog behavior, and helped a lot of her clients, and made a decent living.  I really admired her and how she ran her business and kept learning about dogs.  That’s what we had in common.  At one point, before we really knew each other,we were thinking of going into business together, but she didn’t trust the people I was buying the business from, and I understood. It was a stressful time for us, but we  got through it.

We had other interests.  Investing, lure coursing.  We both commiserated about trying to refinance our homes( being  independent contractors). Even though she had enough money to pay off her mortgage, no bank would lend to her because both she and her husband were self-employed.  Go figure (especially when they were financing people who clearly weren’t creditable!).

When she was diagnosed with lung cancer, I couldn’t believe it.  She hadn’t smoked in 30 years.   Nor could I believe she was having such a hard time getting treated.  Apparently, she was stage  four when she was diagnosed.  I wondered how that could be, that she had no symptoms for so long, then suddenly a small cough.  In less than six months, she was gone. She knew she might have a stroke, from the  medicines she was taking, and she did,and I am horrified that her last week on earth was so frightening.

Janie was  very disgusted with  the political system, and  has thinking of moving to Canada. As it was, her husband wanted to move back to California, and he did.

Janie did not have a funeral.  She was not religious.   I believe she was cremated, but she had so many friends.  They all asked about her when I  saw them at our dog training club.  I miss her very much. U guess that is the true memorial.

 

So, where do you see yourself in five years?

December 19, 2015

bewaresignSince I failed to marry someone to keep me in the style to which I wanted to become accustomed….I know the only way I would be ‘independently wealthy’ is to sell my house within the next year and move to a cheaper place.  Cheaper meaning a place with lower or no property taxes, as my property taxes are now higher than the mortgage!  Really. We pay about $400 a month  in property taxes (more or less, with exemptions), and  Mayor Rahm,instead of promoting the tax on  investment trades, is closing our public schools and laying off teachers (all the while with evidence that the charter schools are not providing a better  education product for our students) & lets not forget Barbara Byrd Bennet, who  ripped off the students not just  for her outrageous salary, but for $20 mil in  a skim for her ‘consulting firm’!  & lets not forget payouts for  bad police behavior.  Yeah yeah yeah—this has been going on since at least Daley, if not before, but it’s now over the top.

At one time, I saw myself owning a boarding kennel and showing dogs, but it really took Enron, 911, and the financial crash of 2008 (read Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short” if you’re unclear about  this), to dash that. In fact, I had learned about  the craziness of land speculation  when I was in grad school, but we all had to be in denial  or we  would have  given up.  In any case, that  was  one of the first nails in the coffin of ‘the fancy’, which I have blogged about ad nauseam.   Many of my naive kennel club members really believe we have to support AKC lobbying efforts on behalf of commercial breeders, as this affects all breeders. But come on—can we not come up with  a number of dogs a dog lover can keep  and have a relationship with?  Sure, some puppy mills, like Blythewood, breed excellent dogs….but is Joan Huber or her staff actually screening buyers….or do they  just think that anyone who would pay that much will automatically provide a good home?  I am sure she doesn’t care if less honorable  puppy mill breeders buy from her.  I am sure the explanation is that ‘at least they are buying genetically sound dogs to breed.’

I love grooming dogs, but I can see what’s happening, too. Fewer people  care if the  dog  actually looks good, and fewer people are training their dogs anything.  Fewer people are middle class.  I’ve been working at businesses in upscale areas, where  people can afford the service, but more and more are getting mixed breed dogs—and they are not rescues.  They are still believing the marketing.   It’s very discouraging, because many of these mixed breed ‘designer dogs’   you can’t make look good. Their coats are just impossible. I may spend more time training my own dogs .

About 30 years ago, after Peace Corps, I was thinking of  academia, but it’s hard to  get in, except as an adjunct, and frankly, though it is hard to believe, dog groomers make more per hour!

So, I see myself now as mostly retired, maybe grooming  2 to 3 days a week,  doing volunteer work, and traveling several times a year.   I really have enjoyed the Saluki Club of America and the American Whippet Club weeks of specialties, with all their activities.  I still have not been to Central America or Hawaii.  I’ll just have to see how it goes…

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.

 

Are Salukis and Afghan Hounds the same breed of dog?

November 6, 2015
Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

Saluki: Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

Yes. They are.  Or, rather, they are the same species:  actually, a different phase of the same species.
Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzu, and Pekingese are  the same breed—-different ‘phase’, and Bichon Frise, Maltese, White Toy Poodles,  and Coton de Tulear are the same.

People—they are dogs: they are the same species.  Bulldogs and Greyhounds,  Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Boston terriers—same species.  So  how is it they BREED TRUE?

Isn’t THAT the amazing thing!  That  disparate people who fell in love with the type wanted to preserve it, and got together and agreed on the breed standards for the breed.  Acting with integrity, breeding for the type they wanted, with little variation, we got the distinct breeds we now know.

Well known sighthound  breeder (and judge) Bo Bengtson wrote an article (Dogs in Review, July 2014, Vol. 18, issue 7) comparing the  two breeds using their  modern history and  how their breed standards are written.  If you didn’t know the  breeds…would you actually be able to form a picture in your mind of what these dogs looked like just using the written description?  I don’t think so.   Neither actually addresses proportion of back skull to foreface. Also, neither addresses the actual shape of the skull of either breed.  Having  really loved Afghans  for  over  four decades (And Salukis for about  three decades), I generally think of  Afghan Hounds  has having a more ‘appley’ rounded backskull with a prominent occiput (surmounted by a topknot), where the Saluki back skull is  flatter.  Ratio of backskull to foreface is about 1 to 2.  Both breeds have  long, narrow, chiseled forefaces.  Also, Afghan Hounds  have a lower set ear—on level with the eye or even lower. Saluki ears should be at the top of the skull.  I don’t know if the Afghan  Hound fanciers  specifically chose this wording as compared to Salukis, but  a bad ear set is not a serious fault in either breed, nor is an ‘inelegant’ foreface lacking chiseling, or being overly broad.  Being a pet groomer, I’ve seen some really grotesque heads on Afghan Hounds, and same with  Salukis.  However, as the breeders making excuses say, “They don’t run on their heads.

Zulu, a black Afghan Hound

Zulu, a black Afghan Hound

Then, there is the shape of the ‘brisket, and whole front end assembly.  Both breeds call for laid back shoulders, and needing  drive, it is assumed that the  shoulder/upper arm  assembly should be well angulated.  Salukis are narrower in the chest, but  in both breeds, we want a chest coming to the elbows.  That is, a strong, deep rib cage.  The Saluki  is assumed to be narrower, but this is such a subtle thing.  Neither  breed should be weedy or slab sided, nor barrel chested.  It is easy to cover up an improper front on an Afghan Hound with a proper coat pattern.

Feet….  Since it is assumed that Afghans are the mountain  phase, the standard calls for a cat foot, large, with well arched toes….thick hair in the pads.  Unfortunately, we see a lot of Afghans with terrible feet.  Broken down, flat, small, Often, it is due to improper nutrition, exercise, even hookworms, but no excuses for a running dog.  Similarly, we see  foot faults in Salukis.  The proper foot would be a hare foot:  long, well arched toes. Someone described it to me like a snow shoe.  This would be an excellent shape for running in sand.  As an aside,  many Afghans seem to have ‘double jointed’ pasterns.  This is excellent for  running on uneven, rocky terrain.

They don’t run on their tails, either, but the ideal Afghan has a ring or curve at the end, and usually carried the tail high when moving.  The ring tail is really highly prized.  Salukis have longer, looser tails, and generally carry then lower than an Afghan.

It is the coat That makes the Afghan distinctive.  The coat is supposed to be silky—never woolly or cottony.   Also, the coat pattern is very distinctive.  We want a ‘clean’ face,.  Most Afghan puppies have ‘monkey whiskers’ that fall out when the dog matures.  The breed standards says the Afghan is neither clipped nor trimmed, but shown in a natural state.  We still see way too many stripped and trimmed Afghans. Yet, the breed standard  does not call for a severe penalty, so  apparently there is wiggle room, and in the  1960s through the 1980’s, I thought for sure we’d lose the natural saddle.

The Afghan Hound standard addresses temperament, The Afghan Hound is  ‘aloof and dignified, yet gay.’ The Saluki standard does not.  From experience, I can say they are very similar:  wary of strangers, not cuddly, intelligent.  often they can find ways to amuse themselves.  Unless you find a way to captivate them, they can be difficult to train  as they are  independent dogs.  They are  usually social with their own kind (Salukis and Afghans tend to bond with both breeds) and can’t be bothered with dogs  which aren’t sighthounds.

Focus: Getting the Dog’s Attention

October 9, 2015
Berbop on Santa's lap, with Dash

Bebop on Santa’s lap, with Dash

I see dogs with behavior problems most days of the week.  Pet dogs. Dogs that people have gotten as pets with  no plan  or strategy  to get the dog  ‘trained’.  I know the reason this happens is that  dog owners  not only get   wrong or incomplete  information from watching TV, but from the ‘experts’ who have never trained a dog, but who speak with authority, and tell these dog owners what to do.

This is more baffling and irritating (to me) because now, with the internet, you can find all sorts of good information. So, I guess people are lazy and stupid.  I can’t think of any other   explanation for dog owners allowing their dogs to be out of control.

One of my fellow dog groomers told me about a client of hers who just got a puppy.  It’s an Australian Cattle Dog puppy, and  it’s ‘already biting’ so they just keep it in the crate.  She tells me the  owners got the pup from a  Cattle Dog rescue. Really?  A puppy…and it’s already in rescue? Doesn’t that tell you that  too many people are breeding Cattle Dogs, and there are  not enough good homes?

OK, whatever.  I think this  family was expecting a Shih Tzu or Maltese pup, not a working dog, bred for generations to  chase and bite the heels of  sheep and cows.  In my last post about dog training,  I addressed spending a few minutes at a time  shaping the behavior of the dog to get the results you want.

I  offered to help the  family teach the dog to focus, and teach them how to get the dog’s attention, so they can start undoing  what  they’ve already ‘taught’ the pup, and start over….  since my co-worker is the actual contact, we’ll see how this goes…but this is what I am going to tell you all who  got pups under  six months old who are biters:

Most puppies that bite are reacting to something they fear, and are using their instincts to stop what (or who) is causing them to fear;

Or, they were bred to  bite first (react) and if you are planning on keeping this dog as a pet, you have to get his attention;

It’s up to you to make sure the  pup is getting enough exercise, enough rest, and a nutritious diet.  There ar no excuses.  if you are making excuses.  Admit you made a mistake and return the pup.  I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t go looking for another home for the dog—return it to the people who sold or gave you the pup. It is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY.

After exercizing the pup, have the dog sit, touch his temple with your finger then immediately touch your temple, causing the pup to make eye contact. Say, ‘watch me.’ IMMEDIATELY GIVE THE PUP A TREAT (the size of a cheerio.  Click with your tongue as you do this (unless you  have become very adept with a clicker). Do this several times a day.]

Start walking the dog on a leash—-with a martingale collar. NO HARNESSES. harnesses were designed so a dog can pull you, and you don’t want that.  A Martingale collar won’t choke your pup, but will restrain it.  Call  grooming shops, veterinarians, even your park district, to find out who runs dog training classes, and what they teach. You might not be the best dog trainer in the world, but the whole point of doing dog training is  bonding with your dog, and starting to communicate with and understand each other.There are also many  excellent dog training books available.  I like, “Good Owners, Great Dogs,” by Kilcommon & Wilson.

In any case, we’ve learned a lot about dog training and how dogs learn in the last several decades.  It’s all kind, and all positive.  If you don’t want to communicate with a dog, why did you get a dog?

 

Performance Competition: Why am I Doing This?

July 3, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.