Posts Tagged ‘AKC’

When it Comes to Whippets, Even Breeders do Rescue

April 28, 2017

Venus was a a dog who lost her home at age 7—& her breeder took her back.

I try to support open admissions animal shelters, because I love all pets, and because of how capitalism has evolved, stupid people breed too many pets with no regard  for whether there are  good homes for them.  Now, there is statistical evidence of a ‘dog shortage’—and the reason we in the USA  import  puppies from foreign puppy mills (A/K/A commercial breeders) is because  the AKC claims breeders aren’t breeding enough dogs!

So—the wrong conclusion has been reached on both sides of this.  How can there be a dog shortage so bad that we have to import dogs…when so many dogs are  languishing (or killed) in shelters? Because Americans don’t want the dogs  in shelters—that backyard breeders have bred. They want baby dogs….puppies, and  of specific morphologies…not a mature, neurotic (due to being in a shelter) Pit Bull.

I, myself, prefer a mature dog to a puppy, because I got over the fantasy of  living with a puppy decades ago.  I haven’t had a puppy in over 30 years.  I’ve gotten several dogs via breed specific rescues, which referred me to hobby breeder when there were no dogs locally in rescue.

I know that this is not unusual, because I  compete in obedience and rally, and ask people how they got their  dogs. I also recently returned from the American Whippet Club Specialty, where I had a very interesting conversation with a hobby breeder who supports rescue.

What started the conversation was that  someone was holding a Whippet with  two blue eyes.  In our breed standard, even 1 blue eye, or diluted pigment, are disqualifying faults. Why?  This dilution is color linked to blindness and/or deafness…much as merling is in so many other breeds. When I see on Craigslist that  someone is selling ‘rare’ merle colored dogs, I know they are ignorant or in denial—and so are the buyers.  In any case, for whatever reason—-whether the breeder or the first buyer dumped the dog, it was in a shelter.  Apparently, the dog was posted on PETFINDER, and the shelter SHIPPED THE DOG to people in another state where the new ‘owner’   decided, for whatever reason…they did not want the dog, and she was put into a local shelter…. where the breeder I talked to, got her.   Got that? The rescue shipped the dog to someone they never met. The breeder was not going to breed the dog…she was going to keep the dog until she found a home for the dog, which she did.  Why would she do that? Because she loves Whippets and wanted to help this Whippet. She is not the only  one.   We all do what we can. We help each other sell puppies (I  am not a breeder, I have no puppies, but I can refer you to people).  This is 1 reason  I try to be active in events with other  dog lovers:  we  network, we shave information, and we try to help dogs.

Thus, when I hear all the ‘no-kill do-gooders’ bash breeders, it’s another group I will not support.
They are bashing the fancy, not the people causing the problem:  the backyard breeders.  They are all over Craigslist, and the dogs they sell (and the ones they can’t manage to sell are in our shelters.  Many designer dogs.  No ethical hobby breeder is breeding ‘Chiweenies’:  they all come from  backyard breeders & puppy mills. yet the  rescue people  never bother the source of the problem.

Does a Dog Really Need Coat Conditioner?

April 14, 2017

Jennie, a Soft-coatd Wheaten Terrier, needed more than a bath.

I was  going to address this topic from a different perspective, but I’ve had this debate with a couple of dog groomers whom I respect. They insist on using coat conditioner/creme rinse on all dogs.  I do not…and here’s why:

  1.  Coat ‘conditioner’—what is it?  it is  a product to seal moisture into the coat.  While it’s true some dogs desperately need this…it just makes the dog harder to dry;
  2. Why would a  smooth coated dog  like a Lab or Pit Bull need conditioner?   By the time the cuticle  separates due to being too dry, the hair has shed out.   If your shampoo is mild enough—and these days  all shampoos have ‘conditioners’ or ‘softeners’ in their formulas,  you are just going to  rinse it all off. What most of these dogs actually need is a skin conditioner—which can be applied and left on after the bath;
  3.   If you are going to say that it’s to seal the cuticle of the coat—& that is what I want a conditioner to do—–I  usually put on a leave-in conditioner—or a coat polish…during my drying process. Saves time, saves the product.

Too many of us fall for the marketing.   Advertisers are still promoting copious  shampoo lather. Lather is SALT—sodium:  it dries your skin and hair, and can make you itchy. Same for the dog.  Lather is not good. I want my shampoo to lather up just enough so I know I have it on the dog, and I can see the dog needs rinsing…and that’s the problem with conditioner:  it’s difficult to rinse out.  You leave  it on a dark dog—and you see film.  The dog is not only not clean, it will attract more dirt. That makes no sense.

If you doubt your shampoo has conditioner, do this:  get either Murphy Oil   soap or Dr. Bronner’s. Both are Castile soaps. They are soaps—no conditioner.  You will feel the difference not just on your hands, but on the dog, Using these product  once in a while will not hurt the dog.  Dr. Barbara Royal, the holistic veterinarian, sometimes suggests these soaps for dogs that have an extreme reaction to sodium. These are great for  after the beach, or a field trial quick bath—but so is Listerine!

All that said, conditioner is necessary to seal the cuticle of the hair and  calm the skin.  I work  in a kennel where some dog owners are  eccentric. Whenever their dog comes in for daycare,  at the end of the day, they want the dog bathed.  I use an extremely mild shampoo.  It is not a great ‘cleaner’—but it will get the stink off and not irritate the dog’s skin if used every day.  What is the ‘conditioner’ in the shampoo?  I have no idea—some sort of fatty acids, or cetyl alcohol. Just enough to not irritate the dog’s skin, but leave the hair soft.

What dogs do need conditioners? dogs with very dry coats.  However,  even if the coat is dry, and you want to seal the coat cuticle, you don’t want to SOFTEN the coat, or that will actually make it worse. That’s why you want to know that the product you are using will do what you want it to do. That involves experimentation.  I know this, because I groom Coton de Tulear… all in specials coat.

You can not imagine a coat more dry than that of a Coton (except, of course, the  designer Shih Tzu mixes bred for the  consumer market).  They are very  affected by static. The cuticle opens up if the dog runs on carpet…or merely turns around. This is especially true when the dogs are puppies going through a coat change.  the breeder and I,  with the expert advice of her (AKC professional) handler, have  used several different products.  sometimes, the dogs are  bathed more often than once a week.  The owners have taken up the carpets  and put in wood floors, and their furniture is leather.  Nothing helps…and these dogs have the ideal coat texture for  Cotons.  What  chance does a pet owner have to keep a Coton in coat? Virtually none. the breeders suggest  having the dogs trimmed down like Bichons.

Also, a  few words about deshedding treatments….  I am bringing this up because  they way they are formulated if used according to manufacturers ‘ instructions—-can be great deep conditioning treatments.  The reason for this is that they are formulated with  Vitamin E, and meant to be left on the dog’s skin for  five to 10 minutes, and make the skin more supple.  Then, you leave the conditioner on for  a few minutes as well.  By making the skin more supple,  it causes the hair about to shed out, to loosen.  It will not make a dog loose coat if the dog is not losing coat, but it will coat  every hair and  you can see the results.

Why Pet Industry ‘Professionals’ Can’t Find Groomers

July 8, 2016
You'd be lucky to find a pet groomer who can still do a classic Poodle trim.

You’d be lucky to find a pet groomer who can still do a classic Poodle trim.

I had another demoralizing experience a few weeks ago.  I guess what made it worse was that I was hoping  for  a better experience.

I’ve been looking for  part-time work because, where I work now, they can’t get me enough work.  We are working out  the ‘bugs in the system’, because  originally, they didn’t want to pay me to  groom dogs that were getting ‘just baths’.  To most groomers, it is never ‘just a bath’,  and we make money on the dogs we don’t clip, but that is not what this is about.

The kennel owner has been training dogs for over  decade, and  although she provides  dog daycare,  she is one of the few that does not run huge packs of dogs, and knows that most  dogs coming  into her business really need more training.

She told me that she knew nothing about grooming,  and didn’t even know how to bathe a dog, but that her groomer was overwhelmed—-booked at least  two weeks out (doing about 8 dogs a day), and she needed more help.   She was even thinking of quitting. The kennel owner was having a terrible time finding a groomer.  She called all the grooming schools, and people weren’t showing up for interviews, or would groom for a day and not show up again.

Her  set up was ok.  She had adequate dryers and tables, and a good tub.  She showed me her appointments,  and was, indeed, booked two weeks out.   I asked what she was charging for a small dog. She told m $45.  I said, “That is  pretty low, and you really can’t raise your prices over 10%.”  She was not averse to raising prices—or so she told me.  In fact, she wanted  to  open a school for  dog daycare providers, and asked me  if I had eve trained anyone to groom.  I told her I had, but you can’t train a person to have an aesthetic eye, and that’s the problem with  for profit  vocational schools. She, again,  told me she knew nothing about grooming, but felt she had to start looking for  people to train.   I told her I could come in on Wednesday, and to start me with  six dogs and we’d see how it goes.  The kennel was  a bit less than 30 miles from where I live, so it was nice that I could bring my dogs.

A dog i groomed when I worked (frifly) for Pet Supplies Plus, The dog's owner was over joyed, but I got fired for wearing a scarf.

A dog I groomed when I worked (briefly) for Pet Supplies Plus. The dog’s owner was over joyed, but I got fired for wearing a scarf.

In any case, I showed up  at 8:00a.m., and the other groomer was already there and grooming.  She had the computer print -out of our appointments, and I saw I had  eight (not six)  dogs.  I thought that was a bit much, and the other groomer thought so, too, but, as she pointed out to me, the owner and kennel manager decided this. The other groomer always told them no more than  six and they always overbooked her.  I  asked about  the shampoo, as the owner told the groomer always  diluted shampoo first thing. Well, not exactly.  Making it up as I went wasn’t he most irritating thing.  Not being able to regulate the water tempeture was  the most irritating.  I do like to  have everything ready at the start of the day,but there were other irritations.

The other groomer had been at this job for 10 years.  I asked her why she hadn’t suggested raising prices, and she said she had, but some people refused  an increase, so the owner let them get away with the old  price—a price that hadn’t gone up in at least five years, and was low even then.  In fact, their whole fee schedule made no sense. A small dog,  full grooming, was $45, but a ‘bath & touch up was …$40?  a Siberian Husky was $45—and that is really just a bath and blow-out, but a Golden Retrieve was $35 +  $15 for the nail trim. A nail trim takes  less than  five minutes, but a Golden Retrieve bath, blow out, and  neatening will take at least as long as any small dog that needs scissoring, so….?  Yes, the groomer said, but  the kennel manager & owner—who do not do her job, told her  she wanted too much.  I knew I would have to ask for 60% to take this job.

Now, I am getting the lay of the land, and I am called down stairs to talk to a client.  The new client were referred by a relative who has their Golden Retrieve shaved, and they want their Golden Retrieve shaved like that. The  ‘new’dog is 11-years-old, and never has had a professional bath, let alone  had a clipper taken to it.  Not good.  I said to these people, “I have to be honest with you.  I am not sure I can do this, and were he my dog, I would not. It is a matter of integrity for me to tell you he will not be cooler, he will not shed less, and it will not look good.  If he’s not used to the vibration of the clipper, he might not let  me do this.”  They looked at each other and then to me, and, yes, they wanted this  11-year-old dog shaved because they liked the way the other dog looked.

So much stress.  The reception area was crowded with other  clients, so there was no sense addressing  clipper alopecia, and the  business owner’s  husband, who was at the reception desk,  did not say anything.  One of the kennel staff had to carry the dog upstairs to the grooming area (later, I heard the owner say the dog  does stairs at home, so they didn”t understand what the problem was.  What the problem was…was a scared dog).  I had to get more cooperative dogs started, so it was about noon before I could start this old dog.   He was actually in good shape, but he had no idea what was happening.  I  needed someone to hold the dog on the table, as he would not stand.  The other groomer had to text  kennel staff (there is no intercom), and a guy comes up and tells us he’s on lunch break.  Huh? So why  not send someone NOT on break?  About 20 minutes later a girl  comes up,  and I get the dog out of a kennel and have to ask her to lift the dog and hold the dog up while I do nails, sanitary, and get some hair off.  Then she  held the dog up in the tub for me (where, by the way, we never got hot water as we could not regulate the temperature), then helped me get the dog into a crate to dry.  So this dog (mind you, at the most, a $60 fee in most places, and the  business owner is charging  $50) is a two person job. The kennel is losing money on this dog.  I asked the girl to return in about 20 minutes so we can finish the dog.  Meanwhile, the kennel manager came up to ask how I am doing and if anyone is ready to go home.  I ask her to send someone up to help with this old dog, who will not stand for grooming.  After  10 minutes, the other groomer texts downstairs—again, and  about 20 minutes after that, a young man comes up.  I ask him to get the dog, and he starts futzing around with a kennel leash, so I get the dog, ask him to  put the dog on the table and hold the dog up while I shave the dog. While he’s holding the dog for me, he actually texts someone.

The other groomer  uses a very long blade on the other Golden, because the dog has clipper alopecia, and now has a very soft, sparse, fuzzy coat.  The long blade is not doing it for this dog, so I use a shorter blade. It looks decent, but not good.  Choppy.   Meanwhile, the other groomer tells me she actually likes grooming, she is just sick of these people. She is very disrespected.  They have not raised prices, they’ve  taken her dustpan and they don’t have a shop-vac.  Our garbage cans are way too small, and she feels she has  options to  get a job with less stress.  I tell her I can’t return unless they pay a higher  per centage, but I also asked her how often she sees the kennel owner, as the kennel owner has not come up to talk to  me or given me any paperwork.

I am finished with my  eight dogs about 2:30.  I went to reception to  tell them I am finished. The owner is in the training hall with the kennel manager and her husband.  She smiles at me but doesn’t say anything, and leaves out another door with a dog.  The husband sits down at the front desk and starts  rifling through  a drawer.  I say, “You know, Katy didn’t give me any paperwork.”

He hesitates, and finally  says, “Yes, well, we are  parting company. We didn’t like some of the things that went on here today.”  Interesting. Nobody came upstairs to say anything to me.  Except the kennel manager to ask how I was doing, and I said, “I am a bit overwhelmed.”  Several years back, I  took a job where I was told I would get seven dogs a day, but the bather would bathe my dogs.  That never happened due to  the dynamics of the shop.  Within  two weeks of my starting, a groomer who had been at the shop over  22 years came in one day and took all her stuff—-quitting, but never said anything to management…and suddenly I had nine dogs to groom a day.  I told the practice manager it was too much, and she told me to do my best. Then, I was getting  ten and 11 dogs a day, and I continued to tell her I could not do a good job on that many dogs.  I worked for about eight weeks, from 8:00 until  often after  4:30 p.m.  One day, she calls me over to tell me she has to let me go—she is getting too many complaints!  But  give me just seven dogs, and have the bather bathe my dogs?  Not happening.

So what didn’t the  owner’s husband not like? That I tried to dissuade the people with the Golden from getting the dog’s hair cut!  “Now, I know that Goldens are not supposed to be shaved, but…”   he says. It’s a money thing.  I was—again—in a no-win situation.”That dog was 11 years old!  it was a matter of integrity to  suggest they not do  this.  Did they like the way the dog looked?”  “I don’t know,” he replied.

What pisses me off was that  his wife—the kennel owner—didn’t have the integrity to tell the owners of the dog this was not ethical, and she didn’t have the integrity to talk to me about it, although she had all day. She had her husband—a person I had never met…do it.  Yet, she is going to bring integrity and professionalism  to pet services.  And she wonders why she can’t find a groomer.

We had an unpleasant email exchange, where she accused me of doing a bad job on purpose, and also claimed I cut the dog & she had to pay the veterinary bill & refund the grooming fee.  She actually never saw the dog.  she also told me  the other groomer was quitting because of an injury.  clearly, the other groomer needs a reference, and  won’t tell the owner the truth.

Here’s what another groomer blogged about, recently: https://poodlequeen.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/where-have-all-the-groomers-gone/

I can’t imagine how  someone who has never  even groomed their own dog  thinks  they will  just be able to hire a groomer, with no thought about  equipment,  how long a grooming takes, or what  a fair fee for a job is…but this is the direction  my industry is heading.

A Very Sad State of Affairs in the Pet Industry

May 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Careful! He Bites!

April 29, 2016

If you are a dog groomer, you’ve heard these words.  Thankfully, most dog owners are honest.  Some, however,  try to sugar coat  the message:  “He can be nippy…”

We’re talking pet dogs here.  Most dogs don’t just bite: they bite for a reason. Usually, it’s because the dog is in pain or is afraid of something.  If I can figure out why the dog bites, I can avoid irritating the dog, and we are all safer.  Who are the BITERS?   Generally, they are not Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, or Germans Shepherds…. mostly, they are small dogs.  Oh, sure, after over 40 years of putting  myself in harms way, I’ve been confronted by some  really untrustworthy Rottweilers, even  scared Germans Shepherd Dogs.  Mostly, though, the biters are small.  Usually they are terriers, but not always.    Most have come from backyard or commercial breeders, not hobby breeders.  Some have been hurt, but most are spoiled:  they have been rewarded for bad behavior.  For some reason, many pet owner are in denial about how dangerous a biting dog can be.

Venus was a biter. Reshaping her behavior has helped, but she has to be under control at all times.

Venus was a biter. Reshaping her behavior has helped, but she has to be under control at all times.

Most  domestic dogs have a bite inhibition.  Most dogs. Some have  neurological aberrations, but this is rare.  I had a very smart client who had large dogs, and she got a Yorkie. She said, “Never allow a small dog to do something you wouldn’t allow a large dog to do.”  She was right. It is not cute that the little darling pipsqueak acts ferocious. It’s dangerous.  Worse, because they do LOOK CUTE, some innocent idiot who really thinks that all dogs who look cute,are cute…is going to get bitten.

There are many things I know about dog body language and  display behavior.  Dogs do not like to be patted on the head (they’d mostly prefer to be patted on the side).  How many people  think their dog was abused because he cringes when you reach over his head?  That’s instinct…and some of these people refuse to believe a dog does not like to be patted on the head.  Dogs don’t like to be hugged, for the most part.

Most dogs don’t like to be carried. When their feet are not on a solid surface, they feel very insecure. And…they certainly don’t want to be on their backs—exposed and vulnerable—yet how many of our clients carry their dogs that way—and then attempt to hand them to you?  That’s another thing.  Dogs don’t like to be handed off—-especially not by their owner  to someone who might have made them do something they did not want to do (like behave themselves!).

I try to get all my clients to bring their dogs  to me on collars and leashes (& please–no Flexis).  I can  generally tell when a dog is fearful, and unsure.  I have to gain his confidence by showing him that I respect him, his space, and  what bothers him.  Many  hate being picked up.  In this case, I either lower the table so the dog can jump on, or I  make the leash taut to be able to pick the dog up without him being able to turn and bite me.  Many feels secure in a crate and don’t  want to come out. Yes, we know—it can be dangerous to leave  a leash on in a crate. The dog can become tangled. Sometimes, however, you have to  do this (leave it  dandling over the top of the door), so you don’t have to reach in, but can gently pull the dog out.  &, it is safer for all to  have control over the dog this way, rather than chasing the dog around.   THAT is never good.

Many HATE having their  feet messed with.  Where I work (at an animal hospital), unfortunately, for some reason, all the vet techs have been taught to lay the dog on the floor, strong arm the dog, and scare the dog when they cut the nails. Then I get the poor dog.  I would NEVER make a dog feel vulnerable on purpose.  I guess the vet techs feel that because they’ve gone to college (or have a certificate), that their way is the right way.  I know there are more humane ways of doing this.

basket muzzles come in sizes 1---10, but the dog needs a pointy face. For the flat faced dogs, a cat muzzle might do!

basket muzzles come in sizes 1—10, but the dog needs a pointy face. For the flat faced dogs, a cat muzzle might do!

Some dogs don’t like being brushed and will throw a hissy fit.  This can be overcome, but not if the owner isn’t committed.  We can’t do magic.  I have gotten severely matted dogs which I’ve had to shave, and started from ‘scratch’, and got those dogs to lay down while I  brushed their hair.  It can be done.

It is in my best interest to  reassure a dog and convince the dog that I am not going to hurt him.  However, if the dog’s owners are going to make excuses for bad behavior, I have no  problem charging extra for ‘special needs’.  I use  plastic ‘wire’ (we use them for dog racing) basket muzzles on the dogs I can’t convince to keep their teeth in their mouths. They can still open their mouths to pant (so they won’t panic and overheat), and they can still drink water through a basket muzzle.

If we say we love dogs, we have to learn to understand them.  Not only are there  some very good books with illustrations of dog behavior, you  learn this when you work with dogs and are mentored by more experienced dog professionals.  This is what separates us from the  business owner whose only experience with dogs is having owned or walked pet dogs.  It’s a little more complicated, but not so much if you really want  to understand dogs.

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?

 

It Really is Because We’re ….Girls….

September 18, 2015

Junior high school is a  really awkward time for  kids…but particularly girls.  Your hormones are  making your body change radically.  You get your period (how dramatic is that), and your intellect is maturing.  I went through a really ugly ducking stage, and kids were really mean.  Where I went to school, there was a  cool clique, and they were the worst, but I sucked it up and made it through (I also had a lot of counseling, as  I had a lot of stress and depression I could not define (hormones?), although it was mostly at home with parents and sibs).  That was over 40 years ago, and now those mean people are my ‘friends’ on Facebook.  Whatever. We’ve all matured.

I lived and lived, and although, in the dog grooming industry there is a lot of  pettiness and drama  (due mostly to immature personalities and introverts),  I never felt it was an issue until about 10 years ago.  I had closed a my business, which wasn’t losing money, but wasn’t making money, either, and I thought I could  do better. Of course, I have mixed feelings about not sticking it out another year, but the last year was flat  due a combination of  die-off of older, very steady dogs, and the impacts of 9/11 and Enron, as well as very high energy costs, rumors of the economic bubble  which came to fruition a year after I closed the business (for those who don’t quite remember, Lehman Brothers collapsed  due to them  having too much unsecured debt, which included those bundles of chopped up mortgages, and the resulting credit freeze, and the end of the Bush, jr tenure…)

In any case, by that time my  industry had started to change. As  video tapes  were replaced by CDs (and now, downloads!!!), purebred dogs were replaced by designer dogs, and retailers  saw that  big bucks could be made from  people seeking pet products…and suddenly, the businesses I  could possibly work for were not managed by dog groomers or trainers, but by  retail managers who really didn’t know that much about dogs.  Worse,  although it was not my work or skills that bothered them,  it appears it was my confidence.

When I worked for Best Friends Pet Care,  initially, thought is was me….but other female employees told me it was not me…it was the manager, Bruce Blaine.   In fact, a contract trainer, upon hearing I took the job, told my friend, “I would not want to be caught alone in the building with him.”  I should have taken that to heart.   I complained to the regional manager, and she came out to observer him, and talk to him several times…and every time he retaliated by bullying us girls. Some just quit, but I was making a lot of money, and I felt if I could avoid him, I’d be ok. The thing is…he went out of his way to bully me.  Finally, I was offered a ‘job’ elsewhere (it turned out to be  lie—but those people are out of business now, so no matter…), and I quit.  Several years later, I learned Best Friends was sold, he was demoted to kennel staff, and moved to another location—but he was not fired.  I don’t know why he was not fired.

A contract worker  who confirmed this with me told me that in HER contract, she  specifically had it stated that Bruce was not allowed to talk to her.  So… why would so many credible people not be taken seriously?  Is it really because we don’t have penises?

I also learned that Bruce  said he fired me.  That’s what the new managers told me.  I corrected them, and told them why I quit, but the damage was done.  The guy with the dick has much more credibility than a girl.

There are several major employers in our area begging for groomers.  They post on Craigslist every day, and on many of the  pages groomers check for work.  A human resources consultant  had me for a meeting and asked me why they have so much trouble finding groomers.  I told her that  at least three-quarters of those jobs don’t really exist.  They just want applicants waiting in case  some girl makes an excuse about her kid and  doesn’t show up, or she dares to tell a client her dog has a painful ear infection, so they fire her, or…my very favorite:  having you sign a bunch of papers about the rules, then having a manager tell you to break a rule (like, say, a dog coming in for grooming that doesn’t have proof of  inoculations), and  firing you for breaking the rule—even though they told you to break it.  That’s legal. It’s legal to lie to you about how much you will be paid, too.  They probably do it to guys, but since over  70% of groomers are  GIRLS , it happens to girls more often.

It’s true, and that’s why we are being told to lean in.  Men  speak with authority, and  it’s easy for them to become managers because men (and even women) like  take charge kind of people. They don’t want a woman to be bossy, but it’s ok for  man to be an asshole.  Last year  I worked for a woman who appointed weak women to manage, so she could manipulate them, and she  hired a male architect because he talked a good game, and he ripped her off royally.  Several people told her that (including men), but she  didn’t want to believe a guy she had paid and trusted had taken advantage of her.

Several women told me to just swallow this.  It happens, this is how it is in the industry, get used to it.  We women make it worse for ourselves because we are dog trainers and used to being in charge.  Men are threatened by us.  Right—and so they  have made it impossible for me to even be interviewed, yet they are still begging for women to make money for them.

That’s what it comes down to, in my industry. They don’t have the skills themselves. They don’t want to do physical labor, and  now, the industry has changed enough, that there are more mixed breed (excuse me–designer dogs like Doodles and Teddy Bears) coming in for grooming—or should we say SHAVING— than purebreds…so your TALENT isn’t really needed any more.   They can get a grooming school graduate who never even groomed or trained her own dog to work for a lower  per centage or hourly wage…and if she dare balks….there’s another one waiting.   I am sure this is true in many industries.  The  girls don’t remember feminism, or the push for  women’s rights….that was  40 years ago!    They will always think the problem is themselves.  This is true in so many industries, and so many workplaces.