Posts Tagged ‘American Kennel Club’

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.

“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.

Where do I get Good Dog Grooming Instructions?

June 10, 2016
Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

Purebred Bedlington.

I am on a number of Facebook feeds aimed at  dog groomers.  Novice groomers, who have either been trained by vocational schools or by the major pet chains, are always  posting that they have a (name a breed) coming in, and they have never groomed one. What should they do?  My gut reaction is to tell the dog owner they never have groomed their breed.  Then, what often happens is that the groomer does a horrible job because she  either doesn’t have the sense to look up  information on-line and/or her scissoring really IS generic. It makes all of us groomers look like we have no integrity, and integrity is so important.

I was  ‘lucky’ to start grooming dogs as a teenager, when  everyone involved in the grooming industry was a groomer showing dogs, or training for competition.  Competition means  setting goals and being judged by your peers.  Thus, there were plenty of  people to learn from.  Charlie Praeger, who originated the Groom-Rite brand (the first portable tables and stand dog  hair dryers) taught my boss how to broom Bedlington Terriers.  I  then went to work for a woman whose mother (Edith Tisch) raised Bedlingtons , and sent HER to Jack Funk to learn Bedlingtons.  This was a coincidence, and  from  that experience, I determined that Bedlingtons Terriers were probably not my breed.  However, I learned to groom Bedlingtons and met other terrier  exhibitors and learned the nuances of the other terrier breeds.  I  worked for Airedale and Soft -coated Wheaten Terrier breeder Jocelyn Slatin,  and, in the early 1970s,  many of our  grooming clients came from over 30 miles away because they didn’t want their Airedales  looking like Miniature Schnauzers.  One  of my clients gave me a ‘Terrier Type” (magazine) filled with photos of Scotties. another gave me a grooming chart for Wheatens.  I managed to collect a lot of grooming information from the parent clubs, and I observed exhibitors  preparing their dogs for competition at dog shows.  By watching breed judging I saw what exhibitors saw as their best.  After judging, I’d ask  exhibitors for tips on grooming their breeds.   There are  several  good grooming books available.  Everyone should have a copy of Melissa ver Plank’s , Notes From the Grooming Table, as it can be very helpful if you have a general  idea in your mind’s eye, but  just don’t know how to get there. I also have a copy of Eileen Geeson’s Ultimate Dog Grooming.  This is generally a good book, but we have so many better tools now than when she wrote the book, and  she  uses a pin brush where most of us would use a slicker.  The  best thing about this book is that is  gives information on a lot of rare breeds.

In the past several years, I’ve had my integrity questioned by  groomers with a lot less  experience than I have, and by dog owners and business owners who seem to think that if I don’t automatically assume  the  pet owner wants the dog as short as possible (i.e.: shaved), I am not giving  good value.  I find this particularly true regarding  Pomeranians and designer dogs.  Many of these people have  gone to a pet store chain for grooming and gotten back a shaved dog (even though the dog was not matted), and I’ve had to explain that if they want this, I will do it, but that I was taught to  do what is best for the dog.

What follows are some links from  parent club websites.  Actually,  all the information is rudimentary.  It’s best to be mentored by fanciers who really love their breeds.

Grooming

http://www.lagottous.com/Grooming (not much specific info here….but maybe for the best!)

http://www.bedlingtonamerica.com/grooming/index.htm

http://www.puliclub.org/GroomingGuide1993Bowley.pdf

What is a Puppy Mill? Is That the Question?

April 21, 2016

In Chicago, and many cities around the country,  pet loving activists are  enacting laws to prevent or stop the pet shop sales of commercially bred—a/k/a puppy mill—bred dogs.

The common thinking, and it is pretty accurate, is that dogs sold in pet shops come from commercial breeders. They are only bred , as livestock, to sell. There is no regard for the health or temperament—or genetic soundness—of the parent dogs.  What happens to dogs not sold? They are  either  returned to use for breeding, euthanized, or dumped in  animal shelters—usually in rural locations.

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

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

I get  all the pet industry publications:  Pet Business, Pet Age, Pet Manufacturing News, and they all are reporting that commercial breeders are on the decline. Some of the reasons are that  that fewer pet shops are  buying their dogs to resell.  Sure, there’s still Petland, Furry Babbies, Happiness is Pets, and others, but, for the most part,  more pet shop owners are seeing the writing on the wall. They  know that  people who come into their pet shops to impulsively buy a dog, haven’t put much thought into it, and the pup will be abused or neglected.  Better to send people looking for puppies and kittens to animal shelters or  hobby breeders…or just allow the shelters to bring in animals and do the screening of adopters themselves (and just make money off the supplies these pet owners will buy).

I support rescue.  I have owned puppies, and have worked for kennels taking care of puppies, and for me, an older dog is best.  My last 5 dogs were  older dogs that the breeders had either  just kept…or taken back when the people they sold the dog to could not keep them.  This is what ethical hobby breeders—who love their dogs, do. They are responsible for their dogs from ‘cradle to grave’.  In fact, some  parent clubs, notably the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, mandate their club members  do this. This is why you don’t see a lot of ‘rare’ breeds in  shelters—or on Craigslist.  These breeders are not desperate to dump dogs.   They wouldn’t be breeding dogs if they had to offload dogs to iffy homes. &—this is why  hobby breeders are on the decline.  It is  too expensive, and aggravating, to breed good dogs.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder...& I got her.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder…& I got her.

Oh sure,  what’s considered ethical varies from breed to breed.  Who knew what a Shiba Inu, a Havanese, or a Cane Corso were 20 year ago?  The breeders of those breeds just assumed that the people they sold to were buying pets…or, nobody ever addressed to the hobby breeders what could happen if they sold dog without neutering  or co-ownership contracts.  Now, we see those breeds more often on Craigslist, and don’t get me started about designer mixes.

I am opposed to puppy mills, but it seems that the AKC is working against us.  Why is that? Well, of course, they make money off of registrations, no matter who breeds the dogs….but what is a puppy mill?  There are people with 2 or 3 bitches who breed them to death, and post on Craigslist constantly…but they don’t have kennel buildings, so nobody considers them puppy mills. Yet—-it is exactly those breeders whose dogs end up in shelters and rescues. Why? They don’t ask who  lives in the household and to meet them all, if the buyer owns or rents, if he works all day, what will be his arrangements to housebreak and train a puppy,  if he knows how much annual shots  or frequent grooming costs.  In fact,ironically, it is the African scammers posting Bulldogs, Siberian Huskies, and Yorkies who ask those questions!

Now, on the surface, this breeder looks like a puppy mill : http://www.blythewoodschnauzers.com/  Go to the website. Joan Huber has  at least 14 stud dogs. So, at a minimum, you know she has to have at least 14  breeding bitches , and I am sure she has more.  Joan Huber is a well known  professional handler. She has been in dogs over 60 years!  There is no indication she is selling  litters for resale, but she would not have to.  She has enough of a market, due to her reputation, to sell all the dogs she breeds.  She  is a member of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, and I am sure she  adhere to their code of ethics, as I know people who know her.  The problem would be if she sells an unspayed bitch to someone less ethical than she is…& then Blythewood will be behind the names of many puppy mill  dogs.  At one time, seeing this happen, many Min. Schnauzer breeders started doing early (before age of 6 months) spay/neuter.  This can lead to  urinary incontinence.  But what can you do when buyers lie?  I doubt Ms. Huber has a personal relationship with all her dogs, but I also doubt they are living in squalor, as she does receive puppy buyers to her kennel. This is how kennels used to be—as few  people were showing their pet dogs prior to the 1960s.  BLYTHEWOOD IS NOT CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROBLEM!

My point is, the wording has to be  addressed in these laws,and  those promoting  humane care really have to understand if what they are  fighting for will make a difference in how many  pets are raised, and then are abused and/or abandoned.  When the ‘no-kill’ shelters in Illinois  ignore the dogs bred by the many backyard breeders which end up at Chicago Animal Care & Control—because they are mostly pit bulls or pit mixes (and they don’t want only these types of dogs on their websites), and go out of state to get the  dogs the puppies  mills and backyard breeders dump in Kentucky, Iowa, or  wherever….they are not solving the problem, and, in fact, keeping  bad breeders in business.  Yet these  do-gooders have the nerve to tell me that all breeders are bad breeders. The do-gooders are not rescuing pariah dogs—-they are actually solving the bad breeders’ problem of surplus dogs, and  making it difficult for ethical breeders.  I don’t want the hillbillies, meth addicts, and  low life scum deciding what kind of dog I should own—and I feel bad for the dogs thy breed, but this is not solving the problem.

The wording should be that if a pet shop sells any mammal (why would a dog’s life be worth more than a bunny or a guinea pig…or hamster or mouse…) they must either breed them themselves or they must  come from a bona fide shelter or rescue.   The owners and managers will say they did not come from mills or commercial breeders…but families breeding their pets. Uh-huh.    If that were so, they would not sell  them all to resell. Pets are not a 4-H project. & then, if these  do-gooders want to start making a dent….start calling and arranging visits to everyone posting a baby animal on Craigslist.  Make an appointment, and flag the post, and ask these people directly—why  did they breed the litter,  what does the fee include, will they take it back if you can’t keep it? who should be responsible for it if they won’t be….and why are they ignoring Craigslist rules in regard to animal sales?

 

You Can Affect Public Policy

April 7, 2016

In my city (Chicago), an activist ( Cari Meyers/The Puppy Mill Project) managed to get support of some politicians (Susana Mendoza, City Clerk, and John Fritchy, Cook County Board Member)  and they managed,  a  little over a year ago, to  have a law passed banning the sales  of commercially bred puppies in city pet shops.  That is the gist of the law.  I am not sure if it is worded that…if a pet shop sells puppies and kittens, they must be sourced from bona fide shelters and rescues, or  if it just says….they can’t be bought from puppy mills.

I didn’t think I would see this come to pass in my lifetime, and many  humane activists were thrilled.  However, the law has been challenged in court and is not being enforced.  Is it the wording?  Because….there is no  definition of what a puppy mill is.  Most of us feel  a puppy mill  is anyone breeding pets just for resale, and not for the betterment of a breed or to improve a bloodline.  Some feel it is over  a certain # of breeding animals on site.

The reality is that the pet shops claim they are buying  animals from families, not commercial breeders (you’d really have to go into their records to check….and really, what kind of family is always having baby animals for sale if it is not a BUSINESS?).   1 huge lying scofflaw, Lane Boron,  has the audacity to be posting he has for sale a French Bulldog puppy from a rescue, neutering included.  Couldn’t possibly be true.

Obviously, we need a better law.  But before I get into what a better law might be, let me tell you how I found all this out.  I kept contacting Susana Mendoza, as it is her office which is supposed to send out inspectors to  shut these businesses down.  However, she would not take the report directly at her office. She insisted I call 311, the city  information/non-emergency line.  So…that’s what I did. the operators had no idea what I was talking about, and they  asked for all sorts of information (name of business, address,and phone number) and… a couple of weeks later I got a call from Chicago Animal Care  and Control.  Seems the city sent the complaint to them.  This was NOT a cruelty complaint, as I explained to the  CACC inspector who called. This was a BUSINESS VIOLATION complaint.    He told me, however, he was  going to inspect, but he didn’t know what the law was. So, I again, called   Susana Mendoza’s office, and  one of her staff people  filled me in on status.  Well, that’s fine, but we have another problem—being the city workers don’t know their jobs. The staff person told me to call my alderman. Really?  Like he gives a rat’s ass?  He doesn’t even own a pet.

Dash was returned to his breeder, Linda Larsen, because he chased the cat. I was lucky to get him. This is us at an obedience trial.

Dash was returned to his breeder, Linda Larsen, because he chased the cat. I was lucky to get him. This is us at an obedience trial.

So, we are in limbo on this….but this  is how the whole issue of puppy mills stands right now:  more and more pet shops around the country are seeing  that the activists are right.   I know this because I  susbscribe to several pet industry publications.  Pet stores might be able to source  healthy,well bred puppies from Hunte Corp, but bottom line is, no matter how physiologically healthy these pups are, they  are stressed out, not socialized, and they are still being sold as livestock to anyone with a credit card.  Ethical hobby breeders who love their dogs  do not sell for resale. It doesn’t happen.  In fact, there are many breeders who are  thisclose to being puppy mills, as they are commercial breeders….but they  would never think of selling for resale: they still want to meet the buyers—even if it is just over the internet—and they still want the dog back no matter how old it is if the buyer no longer wants it.  AND—-many of the  puppy mills are closing.  The breeders are retiring, they are being raided (even though we have yet to have a president appoint a USDA director who will enforce the laws we have), and, thanks to  social media, we can  probably get them closed down in the next several years.

What we are not addressing are the  breeders taking their place:  the backyard breeders which are  smaller puppy mills. They are all over  Craigslist, E-Bay, Amazon, and a few other selling sites.  Sometimes they post in  newspapers, but the internet is the new way to sell.  We have to get  them. Their dogs may or may not be  better cared for, but, because of their selling practices, these are the dogs that end up in animal shelters.  If we want this to be a NO-KILL NATION, we have to make sure there are fewer dogs.  To do that, we have to let these breeders know that we are on to them, and we intend to make them responsible.

So, I am drafting a law.  However, I have to get  politicians to  promote this law, and I have to get  activists—or at least people concerned about  humane treatment of animals and pet surplus—to  advocate for this law.

I am not a political science major, but I have seen what social media has  done in the past several years.  Sea World  is  going to stop breeding whales (and may shut down altogether) due to negative publicity.  Ringling Brothers circus is retiring its elephants,  people know it is gauche to wear fur, to buy products tested on animals, and  to give a live animal as a gift.  More people understand that people who   are habitually violent most likely started by being cruel to animals and they see the link.  Because so many of us have posted about these issues on Facebook, we are getting across.

Don’t Make Her Look Like Anything (or, the ‘Puppy Trim’)

April 1, 2016

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

When I learned to groom dogs, in the late 1960’s, virtually every dog that came into a grooming shop was a Poodle.  Most of the other breeds that were popular at the time (Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, Yorkies) went back to their breeders for grooming.  Or, if the shop was owned by a hobby breeder or dog show handler, we saw those breeds.

It was so rare to see a badly matted dog when I started grooming, because  the breeders made it very clear to pet lovers  what they had to do, how often the dog would need professional grooming, and there  was  no other option, You  did what you had to do.

When did things change?  Well,  hobby breeders assumed that everyone buying a pet had integrity, and, if you  sold a dog as a pet, it would not be bred.  It just took a few unethical people who wanted to ‘make their investment back’, and  that’s how it started.  These pet breeders did not consider themselves breeders ( they still don’t) and did not pay any of that knowledge forward.  They did not give  housebreaking, feeding, or grooming instructions.

It took  probably another 20 years or so before ethical hobby breeders started selling pets either on co-ownership of with a contract stipulating that the pet was to be neutered–or at least not bred.  This is why you don’t see the  more rare breeds in shelters or  pet shops:  the breeders hold them close.  With many breeds, you will never see an ad for puppies for sale anywhere. So, how do you find them?  Through the  breed parent clubs.  You have to network.  & this is why, after the Obamas got Bo, their Portuguese Water Dog, the market wasn’t inundated with Porties.  The breeders made sure that nobody who wasn’t concerned about the future of the breed got a breedable dog.

When I started grooming, there were no  Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers, Bichons, or Shih Tzu.  No Cavalier King Charles Spaniels , no cockapoos, no Doodles.  By the time I had been grooming over 20 years, these were the dominant dogs in my grooming shop…and it got to the point that I rarely saw a purebred Poodle.  I bought a client base from a groomer who had a reputation for  grooming  drape coated dogs and Wheatens, and at  one time, I had over 40  clients with Wheatens.  I had maybe  two clients who wanted their Wheatens to look like Wheatens, but most didn’t like the forelock.  They didn’t want  their  dogs to look like the breed they were.

Why did these people get Wheatens?  They didn’t want a poodle, because they heard they were too high strung.  However, they didn’t know enough about dogs, and to  think that a Wheaten would be less high strung  (meaning nervous, hyper active, noisy), was, to me, just  bizarre.  The  the other factors were that Wheaton were  not too big, not too small, and didn’t shed.

Jennie, after a hair vut. Sh's a Soft-coated Wheaten, would yu know it?

Jennie, after a hair cut. She’s a Soft-coated Wheaten, would you know it?

Dog groomers  know that the only official  puppy trim is for the Poodle. Everything else is basically cut off hair.  No style…unless the groomer decides to make it a style.    This (photo on the left)  is my default puppy trim.  Depending on how large the dog is (as I want to keep everything in proportion), and what kind of shape the dog’s hair is in (because  people ask for this haircut because they don’t want to brush the dog), I will  use a #4 on the body, and a #0 on the legs.  I always try to make the legs a bit longer so the dog does not look shaved.  When it comes to the head, I will set the length with an ‘A’ attachment, and scissor it shorter, often using a thinning shears to blend and make the  dog look more natural.  I  generally only lightly scissor the tail,and I never leave a skirt.  When we groomers started out,  every  dog that was not a poodle got a sort of  cocker spaniel trim, with the  ‘saddle’ (most of the body) trimmed short, with a long skirt.  I can’t think of any trim more impractical than leaving a skirt on a dog that is not going to be brushed until the next time we see it. But….as an apprentice groomer,  I dematted a lot of dogs with skirts. Why?  The grooming shop owners—the main groomers, weren’t doing the dematting. WE were.  Then, their clients got used to it, and of course they liked it. Then, when dogs were to badly matted, many groomers started leaving ‘false skirts’—where the chest was hollowed out, and there was long hair on the sides.  Another  stupid idea….because the short hairs  wove into the long hairs. That skirt, no matter how ‘false’, was always a mess.  Your client wants the skirt? Fine. Tell them to either brush the dog, or the dog has to come in once a week for bath & brush out.  I used to let them go for 2 weeks, but I found that the dog was  too messed up and matted after that long an interval. Would Jennie (on the left) look better with  longer hair on her legs?  Yes, she would.  However, her owner has  MS, and  he has to hire a dog walker to help him, as he is mostly paralyzed. So, I did the practical thing, and at least she’s not shaved.

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.

 

Bridging the Information Gap to End the Surplus Pet Problem

September 25, 2015
Bred by backyard breeder. This is a Shih Tzu---Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

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

I would not have learned to groom dogs—and entered the PET INDUSTRY—if I didn’t love dogs.  I  believe the late Andrew Hunte, of Hunte Corp.—the largest puppy mill in the country (although I am sure he never called his business a puppy mill, but a commercial dog breeding kennel), initially felt the same way. He died a few weeks ago, but his state-of-the-art puppy mill is not going to go out of business soon.  I bet a lot of hobby breeders wish they had a facility like Hunte Corp.

Andrew Hunte came from a family that showed dogs.  He showed dogs in his early days.  However, he had a pet shop, and of course no ethical hobby breeder would sell him puppies to resell.  They all wanted to meet the people who wanted to buy puppies.  So, in order to meet the demand for pups, initially, Hunte turned to substandard breeders—how we envision most puppy mills.  He didn’t like that, as the pups were  genetically unsound and  unhealthy.  He decided he could do better.  He did.  One of my grooming clients owns a Hunte bred Afghan Hound, which she got from PETLAND when she worked there and they couldn’t manage to sell the pup. Sesame  has gorgeous conformation.  I recognized many of the names on her pedigree…so you see, we DO know who wasn’t screening or didn’t care.

Our dirty little secret is that many of the winning breeders of conformation dogs run their own puppy mills.  They breed over 10 litters a year (many breed over 50 liters a year), and do rudimentary screening of prospective homes, if you call asking for a credit card screening.  Rarely do we see the dogs they’ve sold ending up in shelters or rescue, but the problem remains that  dollars matter more than excellent placements.

I am not defending breeding pets as livestock—but these breeders are not the problem.  Ironically, it is the smaller  puppy mills, harder to identify, which  are usually posting on Craigslist and even E-bay, which are the source of most pets ending up in shelters and rescues.

As a hobbyist/fancier, I see this as several different problems: 1. breeding dogs as a commodity and not as pets; 2.  Not screening for  good homes (buyers who  understand what they are getting into); 3. the rescue ‘community ignoring that backyard breeders are BREEDERS and not being made responsible.

Every day, Facebook is full of posts with a photo of a sad dog, and a caption, “Won’t someone save this dog from euthanasia?”  If you notice, most of these dogs are Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas if they are purebred, and  frequently they are Rottweilers and designer dogs. These dogs generally come from backyard breeders, not puppy mills. Certainly, purebreds do end up in shelters:  owners die or have some  terrible misfortune, or a dog is stolen or gets loose, but ask any shelter manager  what physical types of dogs are coming in, and  they will confirm what I am saying.

So, the fancy writes off the rescue community as PETA members and do-gooders, and the rescue community writes off all breeders as the problem, and we’re not really making much headway in solving the problem of surplus pets and who should be responsible for them.

We know that in many European countries,  getting dogs registered is strictly regulated, and there  doesn’t seem to be a surplus pet problem.  Just beyond Europe is Eastern Europe and Russia, now exporting purebreds from their puppy mills because the French bulldog, English Bulldog, Pomeranian, and Boston Terrier breeders in the USA can’t keep up with the demand for PUPPIES OF THESE BREEDS.  Personally, I really am appalled that importing pet dogs for the market, when we euthanize so many, is allowed…but the AKC will register those dogs.

I know I am naive and really want  to believe the  people who run the AKC really care about the future of purebred dogs, but I had an AKC employee tell me that if the AKC didn’t register  these dog, and stopped transferring registration of  breeding dogs sold at auction, they’d go to another registry.  My gut reaction was, So What?

Another fact that hobbyists/fanciers don’t care about is that the pet pups they sell often are not  registered.  Some think this is a good thing, especially if they know their pups carry genetic defects. Many sell at a lower fee with no papers, so the surplus pets they breed can’t be traced back to them.  Do you hear me, Beagle, Rottweiler, Cane Corso,  and German Shepherd Dog breeders?   I don’t mean to single our your breeds  (or you breeders being iffy on the integrity scale), but the last 2 Whippets I got as pets were returnees to their breeders.  A Saluki I got was being held onto as a young adult until the right home came along.  Also, have you tried to purchase a Portuguese Water Dog? With a very small gene pool, the breeders of those dogs are going to ask a lot of questions, and were able to dodge the bullet of having the breed get into the wrong hands when the Obamas got their Porties.  They took advantage of the spotlight to explain to the pet seeking public that good breeders are always responsible for the dogs they breed—even the nonshow dogs, and take them back.

Ok…back to  fixing this. I am out on the street with my Whippets all the time, and  of course,  the question most regular Americans ask is, “Are they rescues?”   This is because they look like Greyhounds, and nobody is breeding pet Greyhounds—they are all retired track dogs. I explain that they are Whippets, not Greyhounds, and that Whippet breeders are generally very responsible, and both mine were returned adult dogs…and you often have to be on a waiting list to get a Whippet puppy.  When I have the time, I also explain that  many of the people who  own racing Greyhounds  always tried to place dud racers, but most people didn’t want them as pets until the marketing was addressed…and I go on to say that most of the dogs in shelters needing rescue were bred by backyard breeders whom NOBODY  admits are breeders!  And…if I  happen to run into an adamant rescue person who feels no dog should be bred until all the dogs in shelters get homes, I tell them they are not addressing the cause of the problem, and if they alienate ME—a supporter of rescue, they are alienating a large group of people who would help them really get to the heart of the problem.

So, let me remind you—the fancy—-1. Do not shop in any store that sells any pet animals unless that store raises the animals themselves.  Ask the manager. You support cruelty of all sorts when you make excuses that a bird or rat is not worth as much as a dog.  We can’t solve the problem when we make excuses;

2. Do not do business with veterinarians who discount that you are breeding good dogs for the future of good dogs, yet profits from puppy mills and backyard breeders.  This does us no good;

3. Do not donate to humane organizations that are not local to you, and that do not accept that YOU are not the problem.  In fact, ask them what they are doing to address the problem of backyard breeders. If you are in a municipality that mandates that  pet shops only offer rescued pets, ask what they do to ensure integrity—because in the metro Chicago area,  we have Wright-Way, which ‘rescues’ puppies from rural pounds that take surplus puppy mill puppies—and they do NOT include neutering in their fees as mandated by state law!

4. Ask your local animal shelters how they screen for  GOOD homes:  a. Do they ask if the pet seeker owns or rents?  b. If they want a puppy, how will they manage to housebreak it if they are gone all day (the answer is, a dog walker coming in every 3—4 hours)? c.  Do they  know that the dog will either shed or need professional grooming, and have they investigated the costs & the frequency recommended?  d.  Have they looked into  who offers dog training classes for basic obedience?  e.What if they pet has behavior issues?  Who  do they refer  puppy adopters to for FREE HELP?  Not every  behavior  issue is an obedience issue.  f. Also, do they  have the adopter sign a statement that they must return the  pup to the shelter/rescue if they can’t keep it, and not  pawn it off on Craigslist?

Of course, you can’t confuse some people with the facts.   One thing I do is volunteer as a court advocate for animals in the court system.  because, you see, it is  going to remain way too easy to get a  pet and abuse it for some time to come, and the do-gooders are so busy  getting all the pets out of shelters so they won’t be killed in the shelters….they are ignoring the fact that deranged people  sometimes adopt  pets and torture them.

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.

 

Unifying the Pet Industry: Ed Sayres, CEO of PIJAC has a ‘new’ Marketing idea

June 19, 2015
An example fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An example fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

For those who don’t know, PIJAC is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—the lobbying group for the  pet industry.  It encompasses commercial breeders, manufacturers, and retail pet shops.  Anyone in the  pet industry can join, if you want to support the status quo. This is what the pet industry doesn’t want you to see:

-if you think this video is overly sensational…do you think this was staged?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE5NFVU1a4k

And they also deny that this is typical:

http://www.montrealdogblog.com/20017/product-review-pet-shop-horrors/

PIJAC defends the bad practices of the pet industry. Although they  say they do education, what members pay them to do is lobby legislators on local, state and federal levels to  not allow those of us who object to inhumane treatment of animals to have more influence than the industry does.  They  have lobbied to make it illegal for us to  document on film inhumane treatment of animals.

This is the irony of the pet industry.  The industry sells the concept of love, care, animal husbandry, and compassion. What it does in reality is defend  worst practice and the  bad actors.  I am responding to a recent Op/Ed piece in Pet Business magazine (June 2015).  Something  people need to know  is that  Ed Sayres, the head of PIJAC, was recruited from the ASPCA :https://www.pijac.org/press/pijac-appoints-edwin-sayres-president-ceo    Yes! He was the head of the American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  a humane organization, to head a lobbying group whch, if you come down to it, has opposite intentions of a humane group.

http://www.earthintransition.org/2014/08/ed-sayres-joins-the-pet-breeding-industry/

Looks like the board of directors of the ASPCA has some explaining to do on this past hire—and I, again, want to remind people who want to help animals to not fall for marketing flim flam and  keep their donations to local groups that they can actually visit, and ask their boards  what they really do to  care for animals.

In  a recent opinion piece  in Pet Business, Sayres addresses what he—and the industry in general  as the  problem:  animal rights people. Pet Business: http://www.petbusiness.com/articles/2015-05-28/Unifying-the-Pet-Industry

When you  don’t understand who the enemy is—the opposition, as how YOU see them, and not as how they are, you are fighting an entity that does not exist.  You can’t solve the problem.  I’ve said this to animal rights activists as well.

What’s the issue? Well, the  animal rights/welfare people paint all  pet breeders with the same broad brush, and claim that because hobby breeders are selling puppies, animals in shelters are not finding homes.  This is laughable. Why? The people looking for a purebred puppy are looking for a specific type of dog of a specific age. In fact, very few  purposely bred pups from either hobby breeders or  puppy mills actually end up in shelters (the purebreds  don’t end up in shelters until they are mature, and only in  certain parts of the country do those  unsold mill bred pups wind up in shelters—I’ve written about how Wright-Way in Morton Grove, Illinois,  gets their puppies, for example.  I am sure other ‘rescues’ follow the same business model).  If you want those people  who  are searching for  a specific  puppy to consider the shelter adult dog, you had better market that shelter adult dog better.  However,  if your goal is a fantasy, you are not helping those adult shelter dogs find homes.  Also, to tell me that I could not really care about dogs as long as I support planned breeding, you clearly don’t understand the problem, and have alienated me as a supporter and donor!

What I would always do is ask people searching for a puppy:  why not consider an adult dog?  Particularly if they work outside the home over  six hours a day, they will never get the dog housebroken.  As to cats, there is no guarantee that a kitten will mature to be an engaged adult cat—especially if it is alone most of the day.  If the dog seeker is not addressing  coat care and  training,  they should be discouraged from choosing any pet.  Unloved/unwanted pets are dying, and it is not the fault of the pet seeker, but those many backyard breeders who are NOT being held accountable by anybody!

On the other side of the spectrum,  Mr. Sayres is also painting anyone opposed to the sale of live animals in pet stores as animal rights activists—and liars.  He didn’t call us do-gooders, vegans, or naive…but we are all  under the same umbrella. It’s as as though we should see  animal rights activists as all dues payers to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who are upholding their agenda. This is also laughable.  Can you not care about animals and not be discounted?

I see my self as a steward  for my pets.  Most people who seek a pet know they are responsible for  its care.  Most  don’t know how to find a healthy pet. It’s a fact  that many animals destined to be sold as pets die of stress and inhumane handling.  Morbidity is   a fact in the pet industry.  Animals get stressed by temperature, lack of food and water in transport, injury.  They are not humanely euthanized upon arrival, but trashed—and Sayres knows this and  PIJAC never addresses this.  Another dirty secret they (pet industry managers) never address is what happens to animal that don’t get sold. Are they sent back to the breeders?  Dumped at shelters? Killed?  I guess it depends on the individual pet store.  Because  these are issues, and because retail managers know their client base, many now don’t sell dogs or cats…but do sell  ‘lesser’ animals (rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchilla…mice & rats…then herps, birds, fish).  Do these animals deserve less consideration?  Is their pain any less when they are injured or stressed in shipment, then not humanely euthanized?

In his essay in Pet Business: http://www.petbusiness.com/articles/2015-05-28/Unifying-the-Pet-Industry, Sayres  speaks about  how poorly the American Public regards the industry.  He claims the industry  is not ‘getting the story out’ on how competent and caring  the industry is, and that a  new partnership with the PET LEADERSHIP COUNCIL will change all that.

Competency?  I think not.  This is my experience  virtually every day, as a dog groomer:  New client comes in with a small dog wearing a harness attached to a ‘Flexi’ leash.  Because a harness is designed so a dog can lead an owner without feeling physical restraint, this is exactly what the dog is doing….but doesn’t know where to go, so he is dragging the owner  all over.  The owner can’t control the dog.  Even going through an obedience training class run by a pet store (that has sold the owner the harness and Flexi), the owner has failed to get control of the dog.  While it is true that neither the collar nor the leash  trains the dog, having a proper fitting collar and a 6 foot leash make it much easier for the owner to get the dog’s attention.  However, because of the dynamics of the harness, the Flexi, poor mentoring of the  owner as amateur trainer, as well as  the  genetic temperament of most small dogs, the owner has failed to be able to communicate with the dog. The owner is disappointed, and while they  most likely will not dump the dog in a shelter (unless they move,  ‘have a lifestyle change’, get too busy. or …), they will NOT get another dog because owning one is too expensive, too much work,  not enjoyable…and the kids are gone.

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

For over a decade I have been asking  why pet shops don’t sell martingale collars instead of prong collars or harnesses, why they  don’t sell standard leashes rather than promote Flexis, why they  don’t  teach their managers and employees how to use grooming equipment and sell proper slicker brushes rather than  the double sided pin/bristle brushes,  & we can ask why  they don’t SCREEN prospective pet owners  about what their  lifestyles are like and what their expectations for a pet are.

The reason  they don’t do it  RIGHT is because they are retail managers selling products, not animal lovers, and not thinking long term.

There is another way.  Retail managers can  partner with dog clubs as they are starting to do with  animal rescues, and invite the clubs in to  talk about their breeds, and  the club members can advise retail managers about the equipment  to sell that would do the most good. And…they can stop selling pets as livestock.

Unfortunately, the plan is now to sell their competency, or rather, rebrand  their lack of competency, and to continue blaming animal rights activists for the decline of the image of the industry.

So, I have to remind PIJAC ans Ed Sayres of this.  I AM ALSO THE PET INDUSTRY, and it is embarrassing to have to tell  people that they trusted the wrong people: you.