Posts Tagged ‘HSUS’

No Bad Dogs(LOL)

July 9, 2020

Remember Barbara Woodhouse? She was a dog trainer who claimed that there were no bad dogs.I always thought her to be naive. if you work with dogs, you know there are bad dogs. People breed bad dogs because they have no integrity and are only breeding dogs to sell as livestock—just to make money off of. They are not breeding dogs to improve their line or for the betterment of any breed. If you work with dogs long enough, you learn that most are smaller dogs. Yes, some are ‘Pit Bulls’, and the aberrant dogs of other breeds (Shiba Inu, Lagotto Romagnolo, even Scottish and Sealyham Terriers), but for the most part, the ‘bad dogs’ tend to be the types of dogs people want to carry around: purse dogs. They don’t come from ethical hobby breeders, not for the most part. They come from people who are breeding dogs to sell to people with money. Those people won’t ask about genetics. The buyers just assume the breeders have integrity. By far, the worst are Boston Terriers, French Bulldog, Jack Russell terriers, Lhasa Apsos…and mixes of those breeds.

I had a client who told me, when she started making excuses for her Yorkshire Terrier being aggressive, “Don’t allow in a small dog behavior you would not tolerate in a large dog.” She was right. It’s not cute, It’s dangerous. Those little dogs have teeth, and have no bite inhibition.

All the times I have been bitten badly enough by a dog to require emergency treatment, it’s been by a small dog. Why did those dogs bite me? In a couple of cases, the dogs had become demented by disease and old age. But the other times, the dogs just didn’t like what I was doing to them— likely cutting their toenails. They were not frightened. they were telling me who the boss was.

Rarely do I groom bad dogs, but we still have a few. Just the other day, I was waiting for a dog whom I knew was bad: Charlie. Charlie is, allegedly, a ‘cav-a-poo’. That is, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel crossed with Poodle. Maybe he is. I have no idea. Charlie was allowed to be the boss by his owners, and he never liked having his feet picked up or his face f touched. I learned to work around his idiosyncrasies, but should I have had to? I put right on his grooming card several years ago: #3 muzzle. I put it on him as soon as I get him on the grooming table. I’m always as gentle as I can possibly be. It does me no good to abuse the dogs, but the problem is usually owners in denial.

Charlies’ owners are Russians. They act entitled. They don’t care whom they inconvenience. They know we want all dogs into the shop between eight and nine in the morning, but they don’t care. They think they should arrive when it’s convenient for them…or maybe not at all. They don’t care if they cost us money.

Due to circumstances, my boss/coworker and I decided we have nothing to lose by raising his price a bit over 10%. We are fed up with accomodating people who think we should b pay them for the privilege of playing with their dogs. That’s not what we do.

It’s not lost on me that I make a living cutting dog hair when I have lived in countries where most people could not afford to buy a decent pair of shoes. Can you imagine explaining to normal people in Africa that people pay you to give dogs haircuts? I don’t even get into the fact that most of these dog owners have college loan debt, and really can’t afford the service I provide, but that’s capitalism.

Then, there are people in the pet industry deciding we should now call dog owners  …pet parents. I swear, the world—or at least the United States, has gone mad.


This —-from my sister. Ut didn’t reallyhappen to her. I want to preface this by saying I think the citronella collars are very humane. The dog corects himself, and usually, it takes just 1 poof of citronella, and they get the idea:

The neighbors had been complaining that my dogs have been barking non-stop. I hate the electric zapping bark collars so I purchased humane citronella collars. When a dog barks, it shoots a blast of citronella under their nose, and apparently, they don’t like it.
This evening I was getting the collar ready and filled it with the citronella liquid. And that’s where my evening should have ended. But no, it’s me, and I begin to become curious as to “how” the collars actually work.
So I’m standing by my back door “barking” at my dog’s collar. Nothing happens. I make sure it’s turned on, check the fill level, and go through the “getting started” checklist one more time. Again, I bark. Nothing happens. Now I’m not quite sure, why I had this next thought, but I did…I put the collar on. I seriously extended the band and fit the growl box against my throat and barked. Apparently, the collar only works if it feels vibrations because I immediately received a blast of citronella to the face.
I began coughing, which only caused the collar to continue squirting bug spray over and over into my nasal cavity. I’m now on my hands and knees in my back yard, trying to breathe, and to make matters worse, the dogs are barking. So between coughing and yelling at them to stop, I’ve emptied over a dozen blasts of citronella to my face. During all of this ruckus, I’m trying to undo the clasp of the collar, which has somehow managed to weld shut during this whole fiasco.
I finally get the collar off and threw, yes I threw that inhumane thing across the yard, and lay in the grass sucking in the humid evening air. In the middle of thinking this is probably the dumbest thing I’ve done in a while, I hear laughter. MY NEIGHBOR SAW THE WHOLE THING! He was laughing so damn hard, he couldn’t breathe. Between gasps, he tells me, “I was gonna come help, but every time I started to come over, you’d set it off again, and then I would start laughing and couldn’t make it.” So now, not only are my eyes red, but my face and ears are too. After checking to make sure I was ok, we parted ways and I went in to shower so I wouldn’t smell like ode de’ Tiki Torch.
Lesson learned: next time (yes, there will always be a next time with me) make sure that:
1. Don’t fill the collar before trying to set it off.
2. Remember your neighbor is not a good source of help in a comedy crisis situation.
On the plus side, I won’t have a mosquito problem for a few days!

More on Puppy Mills…and the Unfair Attack on Joan Huber

December 16, 2017

I m revising/editing this post as I have gotten more information, and it is only fair to address the issues.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog called, “What is a Puppy Mill?” & cited a well known commercial breeder whom I felt was NOT a puppy mill:  Joan Huber of Blythewood Miniature Schnauzers.  It is not clear how many dogs she kept in her kennel before a deranged ‘animal rights’ idiot decided to  turn her in to authorities for running a puppy mill (and, with apparently no actual evidence—cropping her own dogs ears—-a violation of law because she is not a licensed veterinarian).  We have several issues that have to be addressed.  Actually, it was not 1 ‘AR’ person, but several past employees who turned her in to the  Montgomery County SPCA over multiple issues.

1.Joan Huber is NOT a hobby breeder.  Her business is  breeding and selling Miniature Schnauzers.  She is not selling entire litters for resale.  However, she has a market for her dogs.  I have mixed feelings about people breeding pets like livestock, but the fact is that even  many  hobby breeders don’t keep housedogs—their dogs are not pets, but without people like Joan Huber,  there probably won’t be many well bred—meaning  Miniature Schnauzers free of genetic defects available in even  five years. Why?  The  old  hobbyists/fanciers are dying out, and it is too hard to  get a Miniature Schnauzer ready to show. This is true of many terriers.  Too much work, no money to be made and lots of money to be lost on an indulgence.  You  need an ‘economy of  scale’ these days to  have a ‘breeding program’.  We may not like it that we see these breeding dogs as being in ‘dog jail’—but  not liking it is an emotional response.  I have worked in many kennels, and the dogs are just fine. Happy, engaged in life, and more so than many pet dogs.  She apparently had  41 dogs in her kennel(including over a dozen stud dogs), and was of the mindset that nothing was amiss.

2.  When I was barely a teenager, in the 1960s, a neighbor who knew I had an interest in purebred dogs and showing, invited me in to  watch him crop a puppy’s ears.  He sedated the puppy,  drew a line where he wanted to cut, and sutured the ears.  It was gross and fascinating. Why did he do it & not pay a veterinarian?  It was not to save money.  It was because he didn’t want the dog’s ears butchered.  Now we know, it is an unnecessary surgery, but  the dogs are not in pain.  It doesn’t affect their behavior, and  are we going to call this  a crime, but still allow  idiots who  don’t know how to use either shock or prong collars—-both of which DO CAUSE PAIN—-to continue to buy these items and cause dogs constant pain?

3.  Who should decide what is humane?  Do we let  so-called ‘animal rights’ do-gooders who have never trained a dog, or think  keeping pets should be illegal as it exploits them, to make rules?  Or how about  the many  veterinarians trained as agricultural vets, to influence what is cruel or what is kind. As it is, the veterinary profession makes a lot of money  off ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal,  DECLAWING CATS,  making deals with pet shops to  vaccinate puppy mill bred dogs,   and over vaccinate out pets by law.  Thus, the fancy  has decided  our pet dogs should not have rights—totally on the other end of the spectrum.

4.  Is all this an  ‘either/or’ situation?  Go on Craigslist any day, particularly the pet section, in any city, and you will find backyard breeders selling puppies on a site which has rules  prohibiting the sale of puppies.  Craigslist relies on the public, the community —to ‘flag off’ sellers.  Yet,  so many people have no idea how to find a well -bred—meaning healthy AND  predictable–purebred dog.  The issue in this case is tht  the backyard breeders are dishonest and unethical…but are they inhumane?

5.  Can ‘the fancy’—-those of us who  promote the predictability of purebred dogs, quit defending selling  entire litters for  resale, in defense of being able to not be regulated?

6.This is how the public sees us all:

As someone  who  supports  prosecution of  crimes against animals, being a  donor to Safe Humane Chicago, I don’t understand  how  Joan’s litter could be ‘adopted out’ & her bitch spayed without due process.   Apparently ther was due process, but her lawyer could not defend her and she did not deny cropping her puppies’ ears!   In Chicago,  dogs  that have been abused are held ass evidence until the defendant relinquishes  ownership. We’ve had some dogs held for almost  two years as the owners deny a crime was committed, and get continuance after continuance.  Something is seriously wrong, and  now I understand anyone with a grudge can report any of us, any time, whether  the facts are true or not, and cost us all a fortune.  Sort of disgusting that  the  do-gooder didn’t get a job working for one of the many bona fide puppy mills out there.  this is why i contributed to Joan’s defense.   I hope you will, too.


“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.

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.

Book Review: The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale or Rescue and Redemption, by Jim Gorant

September 4, 2015

I am not a Pit Bull fancier, but  I bathe enough of them to know that, for the most part, they are  good dogs, and make good pets.  I am just not attracted to the breed.  I am attracted to the long-legged, wire coated terriers (particularly Airedales), but I’ve worked with enough  dogs, including a lot of terriers, that I wouldn’t suggest most terriers  to families with small children. that said, I would not suggest  any of the toy breeds, herding breeds,  shiba Inu, or  Afghans or Salukis.  I didn’t really want to learn any more about  this case.

I volunteer as a court  advocate for  an organization  (Safe Humane Chicago) that makes sure  dog fighters, abusers, hoarders and wannabees are prosecuted, and  justice is served.  I, too, thought  all dogs that were used or kept for dog fighting should be euthanized….until I learned that  dogs being kept for evidence were being exercised while they awaited their fates.  More, they were being exercised with other dogs, and  taught basic obedience…and amazingly, over 70% of dogs confiscated are placeable as pets!  Sure , some might try to fight other dogs—but that’s true of dogs (even Whippets…& watch out for the Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs!!!).  Dogs ARE social animals, and even many that are bred  specifically for fighting are wash outs.

A friend gave me this book, and it’s a good read, especially if you want to know how cases are developed, and how to evaluate dogs.  If it weren’t for some of the investigators needing places to put  the live dogs, they  would have all been euthanized.

The first part of the book is about gathering evidence and witnesses..against all odds, because Vick was a local boy who was considered a success, and generous (indeed— as he explained,  he grew up in a culture of violence and dog fighting, and  didn’t think of it as wrong…and if you are outraged by this—and eat animal flesh, YOU are in denial about your own contribution to cruelty).  In fact, after Vick’s conviction, one  of the investigators was fired–essentially for being so good at investigating this case (he was told this).

This is for real:  Wayne Pacelle of  the HSUS claimed—without evaluation—that all the dogs were vicious. He later recanted, but  also claimed Vick understood that this was a terrible crime. To this day, Vick only admits crossing state lines, not what he did was  horrible—but that’s football players….  Yet that is not what happened…partly because they were needed as evidence.The dogs were evaluated by  several experienced dog  trainers ( and how they did this is detailed in the book), and most were saved.
Most of the books is about how rescuers evaluated the dogs, got the dogs, and trained the dogs. This is a great story and should be better known than it is.

This is  a great  book  for anyone interested in dogs, humane care,  anyone who feels there should be a breed ban, and anyone who is a pit Bull fancier.  Along with this, I’d also suggest Malcolm Gladwell’s essay, “Troublemakers.”

Keep in mind that when a journalist writes a story, s/he  is reporting facts, colored by his/her own cultural background. Also,  the editors do further damage.  Now that we have the internet, we can  get a lot more information, and should not accept every story as truth.  Lots of kids get bitten by dogs.  They get bitten by Pit Bulls because there are a lot of pit bulls….and that is reported more than kids getting bitten by labs, or small dogs.

I am  sort of surprised that Michael Vick still has a career, but obviously, his  football playing skills made so much money for the teams he played for, they overlooked this chapter of his life, as they  tend to  make excuses for much of the bad behavior of players.

In the end. only a few dogs were found to be not ‘dog-friendly’, and  less than 5% were found to be not people safe.  That could be any breed.

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?

And they also deny that this is typical:

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 :    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.

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:

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:, 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.



Stuff I Tell my Pet Owning Clients

January 23, 2015


An eexample fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

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

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!

How do you  get new grooming clients?  Most of mine have  either come from seeing a dog I groomed, and talking with the owner, or often something I’ve said to a dog owner who repeated it to another dog owner.  For example,  as I get to know my clients, I always ask how the dog is at home, and, in so many words, if the owner is happy with the dog’s behavior.  The short conversation—about if the dog has a cat friend, or us a devil or angel,  gives me an idea of  whether the owner will keep the dog. It also  gives me a chance to address  other issues.  One big issue is the dog pulling on the leash.  Unfortunately, most of my clients have  frequented pet stores  staffed by retailers who know NOTHING about the products they sell, and whether the products are dangerous or appropriate. As a result,  almost all the small dogs I’ve been grooming went from wearing collars to harnesses in a matter of several years.  Trending…please….

Anybody who knows me, knows I hate them. Only Guide Dogs and sled dogs  should be wearing harnesses.  You can’t control a dog that wears a harness. Yes, I understand that many people don’t want to control their dog, an I understand the VETERINARIAN  told them  to get a harness (collapsed tracheas—of course) rather than reshape the dog’s behavior.  Paired with a Flexi, you’ve lost  all control. Dangerous not just on icy walks, but if you encounter  someone who  has their pooch similarly decked out—and they (the  walker) are on a cell phone or otherwise not paying attention to the end of the leash—dangerous.

As I don’t sell any products. I remind  my clients I  don’t benefit economically, I am telling them what is real. Well,  sort of a miracle has occured.  Am I really that persuasive?  Just about every dog owner I’ve talked to went out and bought  a martingale for their dog—and a  six foot leash!  & they tell me their dogs have stopped pulling! Can you imagine?

Why would I care?  I care because I love dogs. When pet owners are not happy with their dogs, they don’t bond with their dogs. They might find homes for their dogs, and I’ve lost a client.  This is why YOU should also care. Nobody leaves a dog groomer just because she charges too much:  they leave because they  don’t feel they are getting service. The big box stores will be able to under cut you on everything.  You have to keep seeking knowledge about dogs and expressing an interest in your clients’ dogs.

What else do I tell my clients?

1.  Let me show you  how to brush this dog with a slicker brush…and you are going to need a comb.  I  often get clients because the last groomer  shaved the dog.  Sometimes,you have to shave the dog.  I ask if the client bathed this dog without brushing it, and I ask them to show me their brush.  90% of the time it is one of those horrible  pins on 1 side, bristles on the other—-worthless.  Lots of people don’t know  that matting is caused by static electricity.  I use The Stuff or Ice on Ice in the shop, but  you can now get smoothing products at a lot of drugstores—and it doesn’t take much Dimethicone  to  get the tangles out.  I explain why having the dog up off the floor is important, and why  it might be a 2 person job—but once a week, 5 minutes is all it usually will take…and I remind them if they have to wash their hands after brushing the dog, the dog needs a bath….and I brush they shampoo through the coat.  Who is going to do  this?  The pet owner who doesn’t want his dog shaved.  More important, the pet owner knows I showed him what to do, and he didn’t do it, and I am trying my best.

2.  Get a doubled edged thinning shears! How often do I get a dog in who needed a haircut  3 weeks ago? So the owner cut the hair around the eyes.  Sometimes I can fix this…but not always. Since they are  going to cut anyways, I advise them to get a double edge thinning shears. They are less likely top make a big booboo.  They always laugh.  I like the Oster & Master Equipment  (PetEdge) curved grooming rakes, too, especially for  Goldens & collie types.

3.  Get the dog used to being handled. So many of my clients are mature adults with no kids. The dog is just there, or  sitting on Mom’s lap.  When I get them on the table, they become passive resisters.  You know the type—they won’t stand up, and they pull back.  It used to be  that obedience classes taught the basic ‘stand for examination’, but those kinds of classes are harder to find.  If you can find conformation classes, they are much more informal,but the dog will get used to walking on a leash and being handled. This really helps with shy dogs.

4.  Please don’t put  a sweater on the dog—get a decent dog coat . Sweaters are a joke.   If it is really that cold, the dog needs a coat.   And  why  shave a dog to put a coat on it?  Another question…is the dog cold?  I have 2 Whippets: 1 dog who shivers looking out the window.  The other goes out in all sorts of weather & never seems to get cold.  A swearer is a fashion statement—and when you pull it off a non-shed dog, hello static—and matting.  What’s the point?

5.  Enroll your oldest kid  (& the dog) in an obedience class…and get one of the great books on dog training.  I have seen kids as young as 4 do amazing things with dogs. How can that be?  They don’t carry a lot of baggage about how to communicate with the dog.  They speak directly to the dog, and they expect results. They just need mentoring.  Dog training classes are an excellent family experience.  Plus, there are so many really good books out there.  I always recommend “How to be Yor dog’s Best Friend,” by the Monks of New Skete;  Good Owners, Great Dogs, by Kilcommons and Wilson; Dog Training for Dummies…and there are now many good YouTube Videos.  Training a dog gives a child experience in exercising patience and leadership.

6. You don’t want that smell from the shampoo to last more than a day.  I love the scent of the Pina Colada.  I Love the Nature’s Specialties LavaDerm,  and I really loved the Bark 2 Basics Almond.   Unfortunately,  1 of the dogs I used the Almond on…her owner was allergic to almonds and she almost went into allergic shock.  I am not making this up. Phthalates….have been linked to carcinogens.  If it last more than a day, it might have bonded to your dog’s coat and skin.  Better to use   a spray cologne which is much lighter and will evaporate.

7.  Let me know if you need training or grooming help…& if you know of people who can’t have pets but want to help them.  I am involved in  many animal welfare  groups, which always need volunteers. Safe Humane Chicago always needs  people who can go to court as advocates for animals in the court system.  In less than 10 years, they’ve made a huge difference in how animal crimes are prosecuted, and the judges welcome us.  Many groups need help with marketing or fund raising. some of the shelters need dog walkers and socializers.  If we can’t spread this information around, who can?

8. Put some emergency  plan for your pet somewhere most people can find it (the refrigerator door?).  I have a client who is an old lady with no living relatives.  And it happened.  One day, another neighbor  knocked on my door and asked me if I could take Punkin.  If I hadn’t, Chicago Animal Care & Control would have gotten her. Certainly, a ‘no-kill’ group would have snatched her up immediately…but this would not be so true for most dogs owned by older folks.  They would  be euthanized within days.  I  am working on getting an ordinance passed in my state to  direct landlords who rent to people with no ‘next-of-kin’ or emergency contacts to ask how they want their  pets dealt with.  If you want to be that person,  go for it.

9.  You vote with your pocketbook. Please don’t  financially support  businesses or nonprofits that work against your best interests.  When you  buy anything at a pet shop that sells animals, you support  breeding and selling pets as livestock.  Is that what you really want to do?  Do you want  to  trust a veterinarian  who doesn’t respect your pet?  Are you aware that the Humane Society of the United States is an advocacy group, and  doesn’t run any animal shelters?  Do you know that  few ‘No-Kill’ shelters  take owner surrendered pets, and often go out of your area to ‘rescue’ dogs bred by puppy mills because they are more easily placed?  Lots of dog lovers don’t know this.

As a person who loves animals, you have an opportunity to offer more service than any retail pet or chain store.  Sometimes, it’s a bow or a scarf.  More often, it’s that you had a conversation with the pet owner, and they know you care.

Why Mandatory Spay/Neuter will not Solve the Problem

April 25, 2012

There is statistical evidence that  the animal shelters andf humane groups  had gotten the message out in a ‘good economy’ (1980s—2000): it is NOT a good idea to breed your pet dog for fun and/or profit.  hveing your pet fixed is a good idea for the health of your dog as well as the well being of your community.

In fact, most of the  dogs & cats in animal shelters are not from either commercial (puppy mill) breeders, or ethical hobby breeders—but the idiots breeding for fun & profit;  the backyard breeders:  witness the number of Pit Bulls in shelters—more than any other breed.

Well known story among Chicago pet enthusiasts:  a banker & family go to Greece for the summer, & play with stray dogs on the beach, and  someone tells the banker’s wife that all the strays will be killed at the end of the tourist season.  She is horrified by this. Does she start an animal shelter in Greece?  No—-too difficult.  She starts an animal shelter in Chicago. A NO-KILL SHELTER.  But the thing is, she does not take in stray dogs or owner surrenders:  she sends out PICKERS to the  pounds & shelters that are OPEN ADMISSION & TAKE ALL  ABANDONED PETS & she has the pickers choose which ones get to be saved & not killed.  Yes, she does take the  occasional crippled dog, but most of what the pickers bring in are young dogs that will move quickly.

Her Public Relations efforts are excellent. Through vagaries, she has the public thinking  her shelter is an OPEN ADMISSIONS shelter.  Whenever they have a fund raising event, the photos of attendees (mostly with purebred dogs) are always featured.

Now…wait a doggone minute. I am a fancier of purebred dogs, and I also support shelters and rescues!  But here’s the thing:  I don’t delude myself & others into thinking this  animal welfare model is better than open admissions—& this is EXACTLY what this shelter does.

I wouldn’t even bother addressing this. She saves  dogs  and cats, and saves many that would be euthanized due to overcrowding, but she has the audacity to promote mandatory spay neuter.

Here’s the problem:  the law can not be enforced.  I don’t know about YOUR STATE, or municipality (  Michael Lewis, “California  and Bust”, but mine is broke.  It does not, as a state, enforce animal cruelty or animal housing laws, and our  anti-cruelty laws, locally, are only enforced when there is a police action.

I keep referring to Craigslist. Even though the rules are clearly posted:  NO ANIMAL SALES OR BREEDING…rehoming fee ok…& most of the community understands this as meaning trying to place a single, or maybe 2 or 3 older pets, not selling animals you bred….because CRAIGSLIST does not enforce its own rules, but instead relies on the community to enforce the rules…backyard breeders & sellers post every day.

From the end of Janurary until the end of April 2012, I flagged over 120 posts for Pit Bull puppy litters alone. This did not include the single 5, 6, 7, and 8 week old puppies, or litters of other breeds. It was only in Chicago. But clearly, these breeders will not be stopped by mandatory spay/neuter.

I have an older, champion Saluki. I never planned to breed him, but I do show him.  I am the target.  It is the responsible hobbyists & fanciers who will be forced to comply—as we will be turned in to authorities by the backyard breeders. It will look like they—the enforcers—- are doing something, enforcing the law—but the funny (not) irony is, they could go on Craigslist, pay these breeders a visit, confiscate the puppies, fine the breeders.  Problem ends in 6 months, I venture a guess.

The shelters…like the  elite one I mentioned above, could have volunteers  respond to the posts, pay a visit, turn the info into enforcement authorities.  It won’t happen.  Instead, the enforcers will request veterinary records, and contact us that way.  The veterinarian making any bit of money off the bad breeders will be turning in hobbyists & protecting their commercial clients.  The commercial clients, breeding pets as livestock, will cry out a loss of livlihood and be defended by PIJAC a(the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council lobby group).

A better idea (because, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem), is to have the breeders/SELLERS ( now, we have the pet shops that buy whole litters)  collect a neutering tax—to be refunded in part when the  puppy buyer spays/neuters his pet.  Again–easy enough to find these people: they post their puppies for sale.  You don’t collect a tax, & turn it in, YOU are fined.

O am positive the ethical hobby breeders would do this, & their buyers would not object to paying the tax….but I would bet anything  we would end the  backyard breeders income generating projects in less than 2 years.  Remeber, this has to be done on a state level.  Comments?

The bogus non-profits (Better World Books, some animal rescues, United Way…etc)

December 14, 2011

I have decided to clarify this post because I got clarification from  Better Wold Books. Please bear with me.

Someone recently posted on Craigslist( in Chicago) that he noticed a  few pet rescues seem to charge an awful lot for the pets they offer for adoption, and  their members drive around in fancy cares.  He thought they were selling dogs, and making a profit.

I replied to the guy that  I didn’t think they were making a profit.  Most likely their expenses were high, and, most likely, they were  the type of RESCUE  that is private, and picks and chooses what they rescue…and has no problem getting a high adoption fee for the dogs they adopt out.  And—the people who could afford to support these endeavors had to be upper income—the types to drive fancy cars.

Shocking, but the fact of the matter is—-it costs a lot to own some breeds of dogs, and if you can’t afford the adoption fee (which goes towards the expenses of other dogs ), you most likely can’t afford to own that type of dog.  And—that  type of dog would most likely be a toy breed, a dog requiring professional grooming, or a brarcheocephalic  like a Bulldog, Boston Terrier, or Frenchie.

It got me thinking, however, about the really bogus nonprofits.  There are many.  The deal is that they are set up to not show a profit.  Or, if they do have a surplus , to show how it will be  reinvested in the mission.  They are (allegedly) open to public scrutiny (as opposed to being a closely held company answerable to nobody) but if you look closely, they are not not making a profit.

I think the colleges and universities are the biggest scams.  Don’t get me started on  special programs thought up, athletics, and  endowments. Meanwhile, people are paying higher tuitions to get an education.

One business just the other side of Kosher is Better World Wools.   As you will see from the comment, below, they are   social enterprice.  That means that, as a business, they hold themselves to  their own ethical standards.  They buy & sell used books, & what they don’t sell, they donate. Actually, many bookstores do this….but BWB is set up to take donations of books, and if you donate books to them (a  donation in kind), while you can’t take the tax write-off, you can feel good. Actually, most independet bookstores also take book donations, and spread them around. They have given books to me, to ship to community based projects in Malawi and Zambian, and  I also  take books to a project that gives books to women in prisons.    My 2 issues with BWB are:  1). Due to their huge marketing budget, they  make it impossible for small booksellers to survive—and  soon , due to this kind of practice, all we will have is chain stores in out neighborhoods.   That may be how it  (capitalism)works, but I don’t think that the people who donate books to them understand the larger picture.   Also—think about this…how socially responsible  can this business be?  We don’t know if the principals of this company  make 20 times more in wages than hourly workers. It would be interesting to find out.  I am not saying what they are doing is wrong…I just think that people who want to do good in the world  and who want to buy books should think about all the implications.

Another  rather shady outfit is The Humane Society of the United States.  Their names says they are a humane society—but they fund no shelters or rescues. They are basically a policy development/lobbying group. Granted, they are lobbying for better treatment of animals…but come on!  By misleading people into thinking they are a group that actually takes care of animals, they are draining donations away from local animal shelters that actually are physically taking care of animals. How ethical is THAT?

I met a woman who founded an organization —a non profit…which allows her to take her very well trained dogs  to local elementary schools and talk to kids about taking care of pets.  She does not charge the schools, but she solicits donations.  She  is very open about what she does, and that she has no employees but herself.  She gets some monetary donations, but  she raises money in a variety of ways, and is subject to audit by the state of Illinois.  I think it was very smart of her to  structure her ‘business’ in this way.    Very few schools are in a position to pay her, and very few teachers would take the time to  teach kindness and animal care.

I, myself, am a member of the Chicago Area Peace Corps Association. We are mostly returned  Peace Corps Volunteers…&  we say, “You never stop being a volunteer.”  We get together for monthly dinner meetings & networking (we have a listserv), we volunteer  with other social service groups, and we repackage money:  we give to partnership projects in our countries of service, and try to support other good works. We  are hopelessly inefficient and have no organizational memory.  We are what we are.

Unless you know  the missions of nonprofits, and know what they do, you really can’t address whether they are bogus or not.  Many are just small businesses with a mission—the  sfformentioned social enterprise.  But I know of at least  1 dog rescue that claims to be a registered nonprofit. The  director runs a small pet and grooming shop. Because  she  doesn’t keep good business records, she has been shut down by both the state of Illinois and the IRS several times. She also used to buy puppy mill bred dogs to resell. Somewhere along the line, she got religion, so now is attempting to work with the no-kill animal saving groups and adopt out animals.  I don’t trust her at all, but, in the general scheme of things, her operation is very small, and she tells potential adopters about the dogs’ issues (health, not being housebroken, etc).

I think we Americans have to learn to pick our battles & choose what to get out panties in a bunch about.

Don’t fall for the marketing, part 2

July 28, 2011

Because I have…disparate interests, I got invited to a party by a friend involved in another hobby of mine, and a young woman asked how I knew the hostess, and what I did for a living.

I told her I was a dog groomer, and—I get this all the time—she s got all excited and shrieked, “I love dogs!  I had a dog when I was growing up.  I’m going to get a puppy!”

“Really?  What kind of puppy?  And why a puppy?”  I asked her.

“Why not?  Puppies are so cute!”

‘Yeah, they are, but are you away from home over 8 hours a day, like, for a job?”  I asked her.

“Of course,” she responded.

“Then, how are you going to housebreak a puppy?  A puppy can only barely hold urine for about 2 hours for every month of age it is.  So, say you get a 3 month old pup.    That means the pup can only hold urine for about 6 hours at most.  Are you going to get a crate to keep the pup in & hire a dog walker, or what?”

I could see the wheels turning.  “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.  What do most people do?” she asked me.

“Well, some people hire a dog walker, or spend a lot of money sending a pup away for training for  months—which sort of counters the reason for getting a very young pup for bonding.  Smart people understand  and get an adult dog.  Others just don’t housebreak the pup, & then, when they are totally fed up, post it on Craigslist for ‘rehoming’  & say they don’t have time, or have to move, or have circumstances…& many of us have had the experience that if the dog is not totally housebroken by the age of 6 months, it may never be.”

“Really,” she responded, surprised.

“Really.  & what kind of dog?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I think a cockapoo or a Pit Bull.  I mean, a dog’s a dog, just one that needs a home” she said.

“Ah, no, a dog is not just a dog. They are not all the same.  A Pit Bull is a terrier. Bred to be bold.  A cockapoo is a mix of 2 breeds.  Much different personality.  You don’t really know the  adult personality of a dog until it matures.  Just as an example, I’ve had either Afghan Hounds or Salukis for over 40 years. They are  pretty funny puppies, but  many times, when they get to be adults, they turn out to be much more aloof and dignified and much less playful than they were as puppies.  I don’t know if you know this, but there is a temperament test, the Voolhard Test that you can give to a litter of puppies to give you some idea of what the adult personality—at least in terms of  trainability, would be like.”

“Wow. I had no idea it’s that complicated,” she said, and laughed.  I know she was still thinking  she wanted just a dog.

“It’s not that it;s complicated. It’s that dog lovers know more about dogs than we did even 30 years ago. People who want to do stuff with a dog, like hunt, or do agility, use the information.  Unfortunately, people looking for a puppy  usually go to a pet shop and trust the sellers.  People who sell dogs to make money  don’t car about any of the information.  All they care about is if your credit card will be declined.  &  even veterinarians, if they are not dog fanciers, don’t know that much about the breeds or animal behavior.”

“So, how do I find the dog I want?”  she asked.

“I know this sounds strange, but call area dog grooming shops or kennels & ask if anyone  employed there either shows dogs or knows people who show dogs or do performance events. These days, many groomers have just gone to dog grooming school and really don’t know dogs, but the old timers do.  Talk to those groomers. Talk to dog trainers. They don’t all do performance, but they know other dog people.  It’s a network. You can google  ‘dog clubs’ or ‘obedience clubs’ in your area, or AKC professional dog handlers.   Many of them don’t breed dogs, but they know people who do, and they have experience with many breeds.  You can talk to hobby breeders who show dogs.

“Don’t fall for the marketing. Not every dog that looks cute & cuddly is cute. Very few of the small ones are cuddly.  The Maltese & Shih Tzu are cuddly, and an Italian Greyhound will get under the covers with you, but Schipperkes, Dachshunds, and most terriers are not cuddly dogs.   A  Mastiff—a huge breed, will  try to sit as close to you as possible.  & remember, you won’t be getting Lassie.   They all need training.  And I have to tell you, I have gotten several purebred dogs, several that turned out to be show quality, and  all were housebroken and obedience trained, from breed rescues.  & many of the shelters have great older dogs.  The shelters don’t necessarily get  bad dogs, sick dogs, or spoiled dogs.  They get dogs because owners die, people  lose jobs, and in many cases, they did not get a dog from a hobby breeder who would take a dog back,  but from a backyard breeder or a pet shop that really doesn’t love the dogs they sell.”

“You really know  a lot. Can I call you ? Like I said, I don’t think I am ready now, but I think you can help me find what I am looking for.”

Sure, but I  have to tell you, tha, especially in this economy, it may take months to find a puppy, but  virtually all the breed rescues will have dogs.”

Did I  stop  1 person from going to a pet store?  I sure hope…