Posts Tagged ‘dog training’

The Moral Compass, Lockdown, & Covid 19

April 11, 2020

Day 12: If you’ve been reading my posts, you know I’ve been keeping a journal of this no good, incredible, surreal very bad situation. Although my book, Polyandress, is not well-edited, I address several matters of integrity. I try to act with integrity.

The dog groomers, most of whom either own or work for micro-businesses (businesses that gross under $500,000 a year) are totally freaked out. They risked a lot to buy or open businesses,for independence, and for integrity. Now, many groomers are reporting that both PETCO and PetSmart are remaining open and challenging the closing orders all over.  Jokes on them. the courts are closed, for the most part.  But how arrogant.  Clearly no integrity there.

As I stated in my last blog post, my Muse owns a small business in a small town, and he is keeping his business open.  He has told me that he is taking precautions, but I am really shocked at how busy his business remains. In my high density, inner-city neighborhood, the only people you see out—-for the most part—are people walking dogs and crazy people…and landscape businesses. I guess they feel they aren’t actually interacting with the public.  Muhammed reports to me that his business is steady all day.  I can’t bear to turn on Fox news, but I’m thinking that this is where these unconcerned idiots are getting their “facts”

Late in the afternoon, Muhammed texted me that if we don’t get together by the end of the month, we won’t be able to see each other until late May, because he is taking a hiatus.  Hiatus?  Who talks like that?  I asked him if he was going away.  He said he wasn’t.  He said he just had to refrain from sinning, and he’s Moslem and very private about his religion.

He said in his profile he was not religious, but clearly, his parents were to name him Muhammed and live in white bread Christian country. So he is taking Ramadan seriously.  30 days of no eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset.  I  remember when Baidoo( a friend from Senegal who worked at Northwestern in the library) invited me to break the fast. It had to be December or January that year. In theory, the days were shorter.  There had to be at least  8 of us in the apartment.  Some of us said it was already dark, and it was Amadou who said—- according to the chart —-it wasn’t for 10 minutes (Amadou—what a fucking mistake he was. I could throttle Baidoo for that. It was Baidoo’s revenge for me being ‘bossy’)  But I have other Moslem friends who don’t fast.  Muhammed texted that we can still talk, just not anything dirty. Well, what’s the point of that?

I respect his beliefs and this time of reflection, but sex is not a sin to me.  I have a moral compass, and this is where the rubber hits the road.  I don’t have an ‘idea’ of God.  But look here:  This man has crossed my path.  He is not a Christian. He can support himself. He seems responsible.  He knows what he wants and what he doesn’t want.  I tell him that my book, Polyandress, is really about integrity, and all the choices that involve making ethical decisions, and we are being tested now.  He keeps enticing me, and  I am a wreck…or was.  This must be how God is really manifested:  He sends you a lover but then brings pestilence to the world, and you have to make a moral choice:  do what you know has to be done to try to save the world (& yourself)  and put off personal gratification, or be drawn to the flame and quench your desires? This is really a terrible situation.

He texts me:  “I wish things were normal so you  could come over tonight.” He is playing hardball, so I text back, “Oh, my love, you have no idea the personal turmoil that this is causing me.  I am very aroused.  I am thinking you are the devil. You are tempting me and I have to be strong in a country where integrity is a joke. When I finally get to touch you I will set you right for sure.  Now my nipples are hard. Damn you!”

Day 13.  We had a pleasant conversation last night, but now, this morning, I am on Facebook, and the groomers are still in panic mode in general.  It seems the country is really divided between those of us taking this seriously, and those making excuses & using hope as an excuse to not be responsible—and those who are in total denial.  This weighs on me because Muhammed still has his store open. I texted him this morning & begged him to either close or put up a sign on the door to not admit anyone not wearing some kind of mask and not allow more than a certain # of people into the store at a time, AND to make everyone put hand sanitizer on their hands. Gloves are bullshit.  He’s in rural America & it’s now all over.  I don’t think he  ‘gets’ the  ‘moral compass’  thing.  I can’t tell.  But I put him to him straight: if he ever wants a real blow job, he has to get responsible.

He texted back that he doesn’t understand what one thing has to do with the other.  This is bad.  You can’t tell me you are taking a month for Ramadan and sex is one of the worldly sins (or whatever it is that would cause you to abstain) and think it is ok to allow your customers to believe everything is fine and nobody is in danger because of their stupidity.  The idea that he would challenge me on this makes me profoundly sad.

As my regular Chase bank brank was closed, I went to the Chase bank by Loyola, which is within walking distance, to make a deposit. Nobody was on the street.  All the retail stores and restaurants are closed. Some fast food places, the White Hen & 7-11 are open.  Then I went back online, and the groomers in rural America—especially the mobile groomers, are acting like this is no big deal & it’s business as usual.  They are not experiencing this epidemic as dramatically as the rest of us are.

 

Day 14 

A nice day, but what’s the point?  The country is really divided, and pretty much between those of us who know Trump made a bad situation worse and

those of us who don’t understand epidemic.  Some dog groomers are posting they are out in their mobile grooming vans, busy beyond belief. Muhammed’s store is very busy.  I think next week when it’s Easter, people there will still be in denial…going to churches, or family events. Then, about 2 weeks later I believe there will be a spike.  We are never going to get through this s long as this is happening. It’s amazing I haven’t killed Kunihiro.  He’s taken to ‘cooking’.  Usually,

it’s ramen or pasta, and an elaborate sauce to go over the noodles.  He accused me of spitting on him  when I was talking.  Sometimes….  I remembered when he first came to live with me when his English was still so rudimentary.  I wanted to know what his interests were, so I could help him learn (In the early 1980s, I coordinated an ESL program for Literacy Volunteers of Chicago, and we used Paolo Frieri’s ‘LIteracy in 30 hours’ as a guide to teaching).  This was before I understood that Kunihiro had a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.  He liked cars, so I had him listen to Car Talk.  There was an ad in the paper for a video called ‘Big Trucks’. It was obviously aimed at kids, but it was a video of earth moving vehicles used in road construction:  big big tall wheels, like over  2 stories tall, and in the video, it showed explosions for blasting rock.  I bought it for him and he just thought it was great.  He was laughing and he said to me, “You really know me.”  That made me feel good.  Now 20 years later, social distancing in our house, because I spit when I speak. You know something? Fuck YOU.

Day 15  My Muse, Muhammed, is very stressed out, he has told me he has been working alone because one employee is sheltering until this is over, and another apparently is very ill.  My state senator, Kelly Cassidy,  emailed a map where all Illinois cases are.  In my zip code (mind you, the geographic area is only about 1-mile square, along Lake Michigan) there are 69 confirmed cases.  Out in Sycamore, where Muhammed is—-the map says not showing known cases due to privacy concerns, so it must be a small number, but having talked to a client yesterday,  she brought it closer to home. Her veterinarian died last week of Covid19, and someone in her dog training class was hospitalized. 

I continue to contact dog clubs.  I have gotten some terse emails back, and unfortunately, many emails bounce back because dog clubs don’t keep their websites up to date.  I had seen a post on Facebook that was addressing that the AKC had FIRED la all their field representatives. Not laid them off—fired!  Ok, there are no dog shows…but why not just lay them off?  Have they really inspected all the USDA  commercial kennels out there? The AKC is so mismanaged.  Really a shame, But also a shame that these dog fanciers aren’t keeping their websites current nor are they paying for Google ad words.  Unless you know the specific name of the club you are looking for, it is difficult to find a local club on Google, One parent club member did ask me how I found her, and I told her I used the AKC dog club website, But how many people actually looking for a pure breed would know how to do that? 

From the Museum of Erotic Art in Barcelona Spain

There are reports that in the black neighborhoods in Chicago, on the south and west sides, people are contracting the disease and dying in droves. Could it be more compromised health? Who knows? 

Day 16  It’s Tuesday, and the first really warm day we’ve had this year.  A bit humid.  I took the dogs for a walk and cleaned up the yard a bit.  I have to send out more marketing letters and pull myself together.  Cook County jail is releasing inmates just to stop the spread of disease. This guy, with previous felony convictions for robbery, assault & weapons charges complains  (to a reporter) that inmates are scared!  LOL—not my issue.  Don’t commit the crime if you can’t do the time.

I called my friend Karen, who is a bit more religious than I am and told her of my dilemma. The way I  put it was that the coincidences between my character Daler Singh and this guy Muhammed are too amazing.  I have to meet him. She doesn’t think God works this way.  Neither do I, but look at how it is.   Karen is a head hunter for investment firms, and she says more brokers are willing to meet others to discuss changing jobs because bonuses are not being paid out & they’re not making money except for the contrarian investors.  Well, of course. Several times I have told people during downturns (The Reagan trickle-down years were a time)  that if they had $2000 to buy some real estate. Even if it was in a slum, they’d build equity.  Now is 1 of those times.  But fuck that.  I want to be with a man who is hard all the time.

So, while the situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better in a hurry, Kunihiro went to the grocery store this morning.  He didn’t even ask me if we needed anything, he just went—and for the most part, buying more of what we already had. With that, he’s exposed, because he wasn’t wearing a mask. This is the first time he went out in 2 weeks. So, I am going to try to see  Muhammed on Sunday. We’ll see how it goes.  I really want to see him, but he wants me to come in the evening, not during the day. He doesn’t want me to spend the night.  You wouldn’t think you would have to negotiate a romance, but apparently, you do.  I told him 7:p.m. was too late, as my round trip would be 3 hours, and I had, when he first contacted me, addressed the time and distance. He said it was no problem for him.  Well, it is a problem for me.  You couldn’t possibly be that good a lay for it to be worth 3 hours in the car for what?  15 minutes of ‘fun’.  Please.  don’t flatter yourself.   I didn’t want our first time together to be chaperoned by Kunihiro and 3 dogs.  And I told him that I understood and respected his boundaries, and I’ll see how it goes. I also reminded him, again, that the reason I have not been in a relationship for over 20 years is that the last guy put up so many boundaries, and the sex was never good enough to have to deal with such a lack of respect and I would not tolerate it again. That I couldn’t imagine the sex being worth it.  I sure hope that’s a dagger to the heart.  He has said he wants consistency.  Just like my character Daler Singh:  he doesn’t want to have to get used to a woman or have a woman get used to him.  He wants a woman to know him. Well, of course, most women want that in a partner, too;  a man who knows what she likes,  but I’ve known too many men who then want to sleep alone.  No cuddling, Fuck you all. Day 17  Since October, I’ve been seeing this holistic doctor, Meena Malhotra, and within the first few days being on her vitamins, my bursitis disappeared.  The problem is that she has a concierge practice, and this is NOT covered by Medicare.  I took over $7000 out of my Health Savings Account, and I DO feel much better. I’ve lost a bit over 20  pounds and about  20% of my body fat.  The problem is, my ‘membership ‘ is up, and I can’t pay $600 a month to feel better.  The vitamins alone are almost $300 a month. That’s insane.  I paid an embarrassing amount of money also to increase my sexual pleasure (when you are old, your hormones just disappear), and I really have to assess or reassess my priorities.  Of course, this situation can’t go on forever.  By the end of the month (especially if the hyper-Christian conservative idiots all gather in Church for Easter  and then congregate with their families) we should have thinned the herd sufficiently, with a roll-out of testing, to get back to ‘normal’—-or at least the new normal.

Day 18... Thursday, I think.  Am I being productive? Creative?  Muhammed has given me a lot to think about.  Not on purpose, of course. I doubt he is that self-aware.  We actually had a text ‘discussion’ (oh, the modern world) about…body hair.  He texted me that he was ready for me on Sunday (listen—if we have Covid19, we have it, and will cross the next bridge when we come to it, but I have not been within 6 feet of even 50 people in the last 3 weeks.  Him?  Fewer than 5 reported cases in his rural community… but I digress… I texted him to not shave (I  like a guy with facial hair. Like someone told Freddie Mercurty, I don’t date a guy who doesn’t have a mustache….).  He told me he had shaved his body.  OMG…why?  He said he sweats a lot,  it’s for hygiene, …and girls like it.  Not this girl. This girl wants her sex partner to look, feel, and smell like an adult.    How often do I turn to Freddie dancing around with light on his chest hair? (FYI—a good glimpse :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCbxTTW_B0A   2:01—2:05 & 4:54—5:00, 5: 50—5:24).  This sort of confirms for me that not only has he been consorting with  Christian white girls,  but girls who don’t want to be with an adult.  So I put it to him plain:  I am making a lot of compromises to be with him under his terms, and for me, his body hair adds to my sexual experience.  I can’t believe we have to address this, but this is NOT a romance. This is a planned sexual encounter.  I guess I will have to spell that out for him, too. He has set the terms and I have acquiesced to his terms.  He keeps talking of love. He wants to be loved.   Maybe no other sexual partner has ever verbalized why she was unhappy, why she left, but I have no problem with this.  I have sought out, by elimination and not being overly descriptive in my profile online that I didn’t want a Christian—not only for the baggage that comes along with asking a deity for forgiveness but because I didn’t want a pasty European guy. But I also, in so many words, wanted a  partner who had experienced what I had experienced in society:  being another.

Day 19. What did I do today? I did some more marketing. this takes time because, as I’ve said, the club links to the AKC website are for the most part, not good. I then did some laundry and went for a bike ride. It looks like it may snow Sunday night, Muhammed suggested possibly getting together tomorrow instead. However, now it looks like he has to work. He has to work tonight. I imagine it’s a before Easter rush. I have no idea. Yesterday he actually texted me (talk about surreal: I was standing in line outside at Trader Hoe’s waiting to get in, the whole social distancing ting. Lots of the stores are not letting a lot of people in at 1 time) asking me if I shaved my armpits and legs, because ai told him I had never shaved my pubic hair, Ever. He expressed that it was probably a generational thing. Really? are girls now shaving their pubic hair to look underage for men? I know women get Brasilians, but is that what girls do? I find this so hard to believe. In fact, there is a Facebook group for people who love seeing the sexy photos of Freddie Mercury, not just with his Persian python, but the many videos of him half-naked with his chest hair. More surface area to feel. Pheromones. Muhammed wanted to know why. i said he liked big boobs, and I like body hair on a man. Tomorrow is day 20, but i will go with this now.

An Emotional Support Animal is NOT A Service Dog

March 6, 2020

Dazzle, JC (Dazzle) Saluki, on the left, Bebop Whippet, on the right. Bred by hobby breeders for the betterment of their breeds.Not emotional support animals, but keep me mentally stable.

I just had a big ‘tif’ on a grooming related FB site. Someone new posted a photo of a poodle mix she thinks is a purebred dog (it’s merle–no way can the dog be purebred—the coloring has never appeared in the breed), but THEN she says she got the dog to be a SERVICE ANIMAL! When I asked what service the dog is trained to perform, others on the site got angry & said I had no right to ask. But by law, I DO. Turns out the dog is an ’emotional support animal’. Not a service dog. So if any of you are seeing a therapist who panders to the self-indulgent neurotics who want to manipulate the rest of us into indulging them, you might want to rethink how valuable the therapy you are getting really is. I know what it is to be mentally ill, but I also know what integrity is.

‘Emotional Support Animals’ are a new construct. They didn’t exist even 10 years ago. However, because psychologists are giving people permission to have them—a walking security blanket—now they are a thing. Based on a letter the ‘patient’ carries around, the ‘patient’ feels entitled to take a(usually untrained) dog anywhere most dogs are not allowed….unless they are bona fide TRAINED service dogs.

As a dog lover, and as someone who has been afflicted with mental illness (I may still be…who knows? You have to talk to me…but I digress…), it really irks me when I am out with my two trained dogs, and someone with an out of control dog allows that dog to harass my dogs. I also don’t like being molested by untrained dogs. I spend more time intimately involved with dogs than a lot of people ( hey—I shave a lot of penises), and I can usually control most dogs in my own environment. When a dog is in his own environment, the dynamic changes. Passing off untrained dogs as service animals is dangerous and unethical. We’re not talking PTSD, we’re talking entitled.

But there’s another problem: psychologists who know nothing about dogs, and don’t really care, are pandering. It used to be you’d go for therapy, and if you didn’t feel emotionally stronger in a few weeks, you’d change therapists. You would not ask for permission to indulge yourself. Psychologists are not medical doctors. They can’t prescribe drugs. They essentially use talk therapy and behavior modification and may consult with a psychiatrist, to help their clients achieve mental stability. They don’t prescribe security blankets. Why would they think a pet will automatically make you feel more emotionally…stable? Will it? What it does is forestall dealing with issues. The irony is that if these emotionally unstable people actually trained the dog they have…actually spent time getting used to being in charge and confident, not only would they have a stable, well-behaved dog, they’d be more confident, and their emotional issues may dissipate—- but the psychologists  can’t have that happen, can they?

Comments
Robyn Michaels

 

Preface to Polyandress

January 23, 2020

From the Museum of Erotic Art in Barcelona Spain

What do purebred dogs have to do with erotic romance?  Nothing.  It’s just that  one of my characters thinks he wants to breed dogs.

Draft for cover of Polyandress

Lots of people I know think dog breeders are evil.  Funny thing:  the BACKYARD BREEDERS are totally off the hook for responsibility. People who breed their pets for ‘fun & profit’, who sell to anyone with cash,  and don’t screen buyers to determine if they are ready for the dog they want..are filling our shelters.  The ‘do-gooders’ promoting ‘no-kill’ don’t count them as breeders. They are actually demonizing responsible breeders instead and are letting the bad ones totally off the hook.

They retort that no breeder is responsible. These people who influence ‘conventional wisdom‘ know nothing about animal husbandry, genetics. or animal behavior. Also, they don’t know the facts. They have a cartoonish, anthropomorphic view of animals. They hew a party line.

The facts are that over 90% of dogs in shelters were bred by backyard ‘I’m-not-a-breeder’ breeders, who deny they are breeders because they don’t have five breedable bitches, or they don’t have a kennel building, or they aren’t living off their dogs. In urban areas, most are Pit Bulls, or Pit-x, but some areas have a lot of Chihuahuas, Beagles, or shepherd type farm dogs, We’re not seeing rare breeds in shelters unless a dog has been lost. Let me take that back. Now we are seeing more Cane Corso in my metro area. I guess the foundation breeders didn’t make it clear to buyers that they should not be breeding if they weren’t going to be responsible for what they breed.

No matter. When you own the mommy animal at the time she gives birth, you are THE BREEDER.

They’ve also spread this idea that dogs are just bred for their beauty (conformation) and can’t do what they were bred d to do. That is laughably untrue.

We are ‘the fancy‘. That’s what purebred dog lovers—fanciers—call ourselves.  I’ve worked for hobby breeders for over 50 years. Most I work for are extremely concerned about genetic defects and strive to breed genetically sound dogs that can do what they were originally bred to do, and more. We call obedience, rally, agility, racing, lure coursing, hunting, dock diving, nose work, barn hunt, etc.: performance.

More important, these breeders love their dogs. They network to find homes for older dogs, often support their breed-specific rescue if a dog ends up in a shelter & the breeder can’t be found, and they will take back dogs they’ve sold if the buyer can’t keep the dog. They do not want to lose track of the dogs they’ve bred. This is why you don’t see rare breeds such as Glen of Imaal Terries, Borzoi, Clumber Spaniels,  in shelters. The breeders take them back. They also make clear to buyers why pet dogs should not be bred.

The do-gooders blame the hobby breeders, demonizing them for the situation the backyard breeders have caused.  We are losing breeds. I wonder if Bedlington Terriers or Affenpinschers have viable gene pools.

The reason I am a purebred dog fancier is predictability. A breed is considered a breed by the bona fide registry organization when the fanciers have a breed standard describing the physical dog, and dogs that breed true for three generations. With a degree of statistical certainty (with a standard deviation, I’m sure), you can tell what size, coat type, and temperament a purebred dog will have.

This is not so with mixed breeds/designer dogs. It would be amusing if it wasn’t infuriating how many grooming clients groomers have who bought ‘designer’ Poodle crosses and are disappointed with the size and coat type of the dog. If you would not buy a purebred Poodle, why would you pay more for a Poodle mix? I think the doodle breeders’ marketing must be very good. That and people don’t spend enough time researching a purchase.

Rarely do hobby breeders reach out to the public. They have too much conventional wisdom to dispel in a short amount of time. Veterinarians, who should know better, are not helping, either.

Now, due to ‘the economy’, where land rents might eat up over 50% of a household’s income, coupled with credit card debt and outstanding student loans, few people can even afford to own a dog, let alone breed them.

Ethical breeders are dying of old age. Younger people don’t have the time, money, or interest in breeding quality dogs. A veterinary dental for a dog hovers around $400 in my neck of the woods. The last thing people who have a lot of debt need is a high maintenance breed of dog, but pet buyers are naive and emotional.

When people try to guilt me about being a purebred dog fancier, I remind them that all dogs come from breeders, and I don’t want ignorant, dimwitted backyard breeders choosing the type of dog I should own. Humans ‘invented’ over 400 breeds for various reasons. it’s fine if you want to take any random dog, but we will not make a dent in irresponsible behavior; i.e. backyard breeders, if we ignore that they are the elephant in the room.

OK. So..what does that have to do with erotica? Nothing. But if I made one of the characters a dog fancier, and she explained why integrity is important, and she enjoys having mind-blowing sex…would you read that?

I rest my case.

Why I Have Chosen to Join a Kennel Club

December 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Taking Care of a Dog for Extra Income

August 5, 2016

Notice the Afghan Hound taking her half out of the middle. What do you think the Whippets are thinking?

Notice the Afghan Hound taking her half out of the middle. What do you think the Whippets are thinking?

There are several companies that do this now.   It could be a good way to make money.  They advertise nationally, and are always looking for dog care givers.

Before you jump in, let me tell you some  stories…

  1.  Friend who traveled for work left his dog with a family many times.  This was years ago, before cell phones. Finally, the dog got out.  At least he had a collar with a rabies tag. The police picked the dog up, and tried calling my friend, but he was out of town, so  wasn’t listening to his  answering machine (this was before voice mail).  He got home, called the people who  were supposed to have his dog, and they told him the dog got out. They had his  contact info, and never  bothered to call him.  This dog was 1 day away from being euthanized;
  2. An acquaintance was doing this for a living, Didn’t ‘believe in crating’.  Took a dog out for a walk, left a large Shepherd type dog sleeping.  A  small dog went up to the sleeping dog & barked at the Shepherd. the Shepherd bit the small dog, who lost an eye;
  3. Friend was doing this in her home.  During the interview with the client, she sort of noticed that  the client REWARDED both Pugs with a treat every time they barked at him.  He left, and  she had these barking dogs all weekend. They never shut up;
  4.  Acquaintance who actually bred the dog, knew she was nervous, but had her loose in the house while boarding her for the owner.    Breeder’s husband came in and the dog ran out the door as he was coming in. They never found the dog.
  5. I agreed to take care of a client’s  dog.  I didn’t think she’d be much trouble, until I realized she would not urinate or defecate in the yard. She had to be walked.  This would not have been  problem, except that she was large, strong, and after every bunny and squirrel…and barked at strangers.

If you  don’t have any pets and work from home, and have a secured fenced area to let dogs out, or don’t mind walking a dog or two—and are strong enough to handle any size dog, none of this matters.  If you DO have other pets, don’t have a secured yard, and aren’t used to being  in control of a dog, this might be more than you signed on for.

It’s good to get the veterinarian’s contact info (as well as ‘next-of-kin’ for the dog’s owners), info  if they have pet insurance, a big deposit if they don’t.  You may be able to  find sample contracts on line—but you want details spelled out.  You’ve got to have home owners, and liability insurance (many policies won’t cover damage or loss of life). Most care givers ask owners to bring their own food supply (in fact, many boarding kennels do this now).  You absolutely have to have your pets—& the boarder, meet on NEUTRAL TERRITORY and walk in together…at least the  greeting.  You will have  ‘4 more feet of dog’.  It’s not going to be a party.

****

I am thinking of moving the  dog blogs all to another  blog:  “Married to the Hair.”  I’ve about said everything I’ve been wanting to say about dogs, and I’ve been blogging very steadily for four years.  Time  to consider other  ways to express myself.

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.

A Corporation Comes Calling

March 25, 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 wanted  to blog about something else this week, but I got contacted by  a recruiter who had seen my resume on an internet site.  Now, he thinks he needs another dog groomer at the business he manages (for the corporation), but when I asked him how far ahead his groomers were  booked….he wouldn’t give me a straight answer.

I told him—straight out—that his corporation had fired me for doing what his manager told me to do, and I doubted his corporation would allow him to hire me even part-time.  It was though he was not listening to what I was saying.  I also told him that if I worked part-time, I knew I would not make commission, and he ignored that, too.  He out and out told me I had to work weekends to make commission, and I told him I  was showing my dogs in  performance. Then, the conversation switched to  the fact that he also needed to hire a dog trainer, and blah blah blah…long story short, once I built up my classes, i would make $20 an hour.

I told him  that I wanted to go to classes myself, so that would not work. Then he told me about another location, close to where I live, that needed a grooming manager, as they had no groomer at all.

I know these guys answer to corporate. Corporate sets the prices you can charge.  That’s only  part of it.  There  is nothing to prevent them from hiring more people than needed so nobody makes commission, and their base pay is $12 an hour. Even some Walmarts are now paying that for non-skilled workers, so how can anyone think that’s fair?  Because you don’t need a college degree?  What is it that causes so many of them to re-arrange their policies and still disrespect the people making them money?

But I’ve also gotten religion in these past several years,  having worked at pet shops selling animals.  I  want to ask, between the time you order  guinea pigs, gerbils, mice and bunnies (never mind the herps and birds) and the time they get to the  shop floor, how many die of stress  or injuries, and what happens to the unsold animals?  Are they children of a lesser God?  Deserving less concern?  Do I want to  work for a corporation that exists on the premise that they are selling  love, but don’t really care if pet animals are mistreated?

I was in Viet Nam a few years ago. Communist country, right?  We’ve told ourselves so many lies about Viet Nam, but what I witnesses was that so many people were entrepreneurs.  So many. I am sure there are factories in Viet Nam, but in so many cities, what I saw were  so many vendors.  They sold cloth, and notions, and clothing,  dishes, cookware, electronics, had little tearooms,  restaurants, herbal stores,beauty salons…. whatever.  I’m sure  very few of them were making any real money, but they had cell phones, and TVs…and their time was their own.  That’s so important.  They didn’t have bosses telling them to do crazy stuff, belittling them, and lying about it.  This is why groomers have said, “Take this job and shove it.”  They make less on their own, but their time is their own.

Until the corporations start treating their groomers and dog trainers at least as good as they treat all the people making rules for them…and paying them justly, they are going to continue to beg for groomers, and keep training people who don’t have a clue, don’t have an aesthetic eye,  or don’t have any interest in animal behavior.  What a business model!

A Trip to Africa Changed my Life: a continuation of the blogs on Malawi/Zambia 2016

March 11, 2016

busstation LuWhat does being a  developed country mean?  Why are some counties so poor, and others, which started on the road to development at the same time, doing so well?

These were  the questions I had when I traveled to Africa (Tanzania) for the first time, in 1985.  At the time, Tanzania had a 90+% literacy rate. So, why were there no roads, and if there was nothing to buy, why was inflation so  bad?
Being so inspired to learn the answer,  having seen people working incredibly hard with nothing to show for it, I returned to America, took College Level Examination Program Exams( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Level_Examination_Program ),  enrolled in college, and started studying Africa area studies and international development.

The indicators of ‘development’ are : a literate populace,  access to health care and communication, infrastructure to aid economic vitality, a low infant mortality rate, and an ability  for adults to return to their communities the economic investment made in them.  So, how is it that Malaysia and Thailand seem to be doing much better than, say …Greece?  Or so many countries in Africa?

central malawi2The short answer is political will.  The answer gets more complicated  because of  western (oh, hell, American and the European)aid, which  keeps  people engaged in corruption and malfeasance in power.  These are sovereign states.  We have an embarrassing track record of intervening—in fact, in assassinating, elected leaders whom  WE (face it—our tax dollars at work) felt were governing not in OUR interests.    Yet, for all the meddling we’ve done, and the billions USAID has given, we don’t have  much to show for it. We don’t have to go back forever, but just to after the end of World War II.

But this is not what this blog is about. What I learned as a Peace Corps Volunteer is that  direct aid to communities, which you can  hold accountable, spurs more development than anything USAID or ODA have ever done.

I had been donating to several groups, and I wanted to see, with my own eyes, how they were doing.  Actually,  I wanted to see what they were doing with my donations.

Zambian Children's Fund Chishawasha School outside Lusaka

Zambian Children’s Fund Chishawasha School outside Lusaka

The first  place I visited was the Chishawasha primary school  in Chishawasha, just north of Lusaka.  Kathe Padilla had seen the poverty in the region, and  also knew how AIDS had devastated families. So, she worked with a local chief to get land set aside for  housing for orphans,  and a school.  Somewhat resembling the SOS Children’s Village model, where a house mother stays with a cohort,  with the assistance of the Glassco Foundation of Canada (http://glasscofoundation.org/ZambiaMainframe.php?page=OrphanageProject.htm),  Kathe had a compound, and a primary school built.  I have been sending books, art supplies, and other miscellaneous items to Kathe, who is in Tempe, Arizona, and she sends a container about once a year.  There are supporters in other parts of the ISA and Canada.  The school is a good size, and they even have a computer lab.  Kathe is also working with the extended families of the orphans on other income generating projects.  I am lucky enough to live in Chicago, and get just about everything I send  for free.  It  costs me about $100 a cubic meter to send the boxes to Kathe and the Zambian Children’s Fund by UPS.  I actually used to send  books to Malawi via M bag, but that program no longer exists.  In any case, I was

Buildings on the Chishawasha campus

Buildings on the Chishawasha campus

delighted to see that housing in such great shape and so modern, and the compound so  beautiful.  http://www.zambianchildrensfund.org/  Also, they have so many  helpful projects to help the community with economic development.

Reception at Lilongwe SPCA

Reception at Lilongwe SPCA

I then went to Malawi, and I had planned to  volunteer with the Lilongwe SPCA (http://www.lilongwespca.org/ ). However, they had just moved, and  they were still a ‘work in progress’.  One way they support themselves is by running a veterinary clinic. Thy were quite busy the day I was there.  The number of pets they have for adoption at any one time varies.  They’ve had a litter of pups for  a couple of months, and they all seem to be well socialized. The kittens they had really needed more human interaction.  I had learned about  them via  http://www.Animal-Kind.org and was able to make several donations to them via Animal-Kind. They’ve unfortunately, had a communication breakdown, but they do get a lot of local support, particularly from expats, but also, from many local Malawians.  At their new  grounds, they will be able to have many more activities, including dog training classes, and they do educational workshops all over the country.  I felt my donations were well used.  Their   new compound is so large, they will be able to house volunteers who might come from outside the country.

mcv1Finally, I went to Malawi Children’s Village in Mangochi (http://malawichildrensvillage.org/about/).  I had been supporting MCV since  inception, with cash donations and  sending books M-bag.  I was a bit disappointed to learn that the books were packed up because they were in the process of moving the library from  one  room to another, but Vincent, the assistant manager, took  us (I arrived as  a few other people were there) on  a tour  of  the grounds.  They now have a secondary school, and  vocational training in bricklaying, carpentry, vehicle repair, and  a sewing/fashion workshop.  They produce a lot of nice items there, and I was able to purchase trousers and several small bags.  They also have made uniforms for local school children.  Attached to the compound is the Open Arms orphanage, which serves infants to age 2—until they are healthy enough to

Open Arms Orphanage at Mangochi

Open Arms Orphanage at Mangochi

return to their extended families.  Many of the babies have AIDS.  In fact, as I served in Peace Corps, there was a 20—90% incidence of HIV, depending on how close you lived to the road.  What kind of difference would this make?  During times of drought and starvation, girls will prostitute themselves for food, and truckers  take advantage of being away from home.  One must keep in mind that this is a somewhat polygamous society, so there  never really was a stigma regarding multiple partners (in spite of the influence of Christianity…and for the most part, both Zambia and Malawi are  very Christian nations:  you pick and choose what works for you…and of course, Jesus forgives your sins…). Malawi Children’s Village is very well-known now, at least in central Malawi, and I found it very gratifying to see how effective the programs are.

Lilongwe bus station

Lilongwe bus station

Partly due to culture, partly due to religious faith, and partly due to access, Malawi is a very poor country.  It is difficult for me to say that  Zambians  are better off, but being closer to Zimbabwe, which  is closer to South Africa, and being a larger country, there are more of the trappings of development  (at least in terms of infrastructure) in  Zambia than there are in Malawi.  I noticed more water pumps closer to the roads in Malawi than there were 20 years ago, and there is a much greater middle class population—-at least in both Blantyre and Lilongwe.  More people are wearing shoes, everyone has a cell phone, and all the women either are relaxing their hair, having extensions put on, or are wearing wigs.  Yet,  literacy has barely improved, there is still very little access to health care, and  rally, people ar  very cynical about their governments.  This is true of both countries.

Hippo in the Zambezi River

Hippo in the Zambezi River

There is  too much cronyism and corruption in both countries. When beneficial laws are passed, they are not enforced.  Except for  the hippos I saw in the Zambesi River, and the monkeys in the park, I saw no other wildlife.  This is a tragedy.  Wildlife tourism is a major foreign exchange earner for both countries.  People who come to see wildlife  support a lot of jobs in the hospitality industry.  If word gets out that there is no wildlife to be seen,  people with money will stop coming to  these countries, and there is virtually no other industries that can  be competitively developed to  support all these people.  We —in America—think we have a refugee problem now?  If we don’t do  something to cause the non-profits now supporting wildlife and environmental conservation to  develop more effective strategies for  educating Africans about the importance of their wildlife heritage, and influencing politicians, we are going to be facing another crisis.