Posts Tagged ‘scams’

Dog Grooming Terminology…and the State of the Industry

July 17, 2015
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.

Should dog groomers be licensed?  If so—who makes the rules?

In case you didn’t know from reading past blog posts, I  generally work as an independent contractor.  Often, taxes are taken out of my paycheck (& I feel this is a good thing, as I pay less per cent FICA—or Social Security), but my hours are not regular, and often I don’t know what I am doing day-to-day.  Doe a very long time, grooming terminology was pretty standard.  If I made a mistake—it was leaving a dog’s hair too long—and it could always be cut shorter.

Often I’ve had employers/contractors lie to me about how booked they are and how much work I can expect (and how much income I can expect to make).  This has been happening much more often in the past 10 years as  the hobbyists/fanciers who originally owned dog businesses retire, and the  ‘slack’ is taken up by people  who just want to own a pet business (who are not groomers), or  people being taught at dog grooming schools—who think they really know how to groom.

Some DO know how to groom—at least they can  scissor evenly. But do they know the nuances of the breeds?  Or,  that if you clip a double coated dog you might cause clipper alopecia? How about that it’s not how much suds you get —but the agitation of active ingredients of shampoo against the dog’s hair?  Do they know that neither hair—nor water—in the dogs ears cause ear infections, but it  is  a synergy of  bacteria, yeast, and stress that  are the cause of most ear infections?  Ah, no.  Nor do these newbies know anything about animal behavior. They are not fanciers from way back who  took delight in communicating with their pet dogs. Many I have met decided to groom  because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives and they ‘loved dogs’, or (more recently) a dog groomer  injured their dog, so they decided they’d do it better….yet…

These newer groomers (who’ve been taught  in the past 10 or so years), who  claim they  run  their businesses so they are safe, or are better at  styling, or do a better job brushing dogs—-do they really offer a better outcome in terms of safety  for dogs or quality of work?

I recently worked for a very skilled groomer who  graduated from a grooming school and never worked for anyone but herself.  That was a red flag to me, because we learn so much from each other.   Upon graduating grooming school, she immediately bought a mobile  grooming van, and was successful.  I’ve had several mobile groomers tell me their clients are not so concerned about styling.  They are  concerned about convenience only. It so happened that this particular groomer I was working for  was very conscientious.  However, she thought that everyone who ever learned to groom learned the same terminology, the same methods, the same styling  practices, but worse, now that she was in a shop (rather than in the van), it was safe to allow all the dogs to run loose in the shop.  It was not safe, for  individual dogs, and  this was for many reasons.  In any case, she thought we should be licensed as it would be safer for  dogs. Really?

Her dog was  killed when it hung itself  jumping out of the tub…and although she has signs that say: DO NOT LEAVE DOGS IN TUB UNATTENDED, her bather regularly does this.   The owner is too busy to notice.   So, she allows  two practices  that are not safe for  pet dogs.

This business owner complained about how much shampoo her groomers were using.  It could be very irritating  to a dog’s skin to use concentrated shampoo…but she was not making sure the shampoo was being diluted to the ration the manufacturer suggested.  I  guess that as long as the groomers made the dogs look good, it was not enough of an issue to  solve.

When I  was taught to groom dog…every dog was a poodle.  Maybe  one out of 50 dogs a miniature Schnauzer or a Cocker Spaniel.  We never saw Maltese or Yorkies, and there were no Shih Tzu or Bichons because they were not yet recognized breeds by the AKC.  So how did we learn these  other breeds?  By either apprenticing with hobby breeders or professional AKC handlers, or going to grooming seminars which the kennel clubs held.

There were no ‘bath & tidy’ groomings, but what started happening was that dog groomers offered the service of a bath which included the ‘tidy’: which was—for every shop I ever worked in…besides the bath—the ears and nails, the sanitary trim (including hair in pads of feet), and scissoring up to  first joint:  the hock or pastern!  Now, they are calling any  ‘off’ breed  grooming—which—in the past—you would never use a clipper blade on the body (unless the owner specifically asked)—-a bath & tidy.  For us old timers—this was a full  Golden Retriever (or Collie, or Pekingese) grooming.  I was rudely told  that I didn’t know how to groom because of how I interpreted instructions!

So, how are we going to legislate this?  If the shop owner discounts how unsafe it is to allow a pack of dogs—a new mix  of dogs —including intact dogs—every day—that doesn’t know each other, to socialize, but they are not licensed as a dog daycare center—-so nobody is actively watching  dogs to make sure nobody is bullying another dog,  or checking to make sure  the dogs socializing are inoculated against kennel cough (or don’t  have  giardia or other type of parasite ), is YOUR PET any safer than if the  shop and groomers are  licensed?  As an aside—best practice in dog daycare is :  no intact dogs, and  one ‘handler’ for every 12 dogs. In Illinois,  15 dogs per handler  are allowed…but the law is not enforced.

Who should set the guidelines to license groomers?  The veterinarians,  who’ve mandated that dogs should get a rabies shot every year (when their immunity is probably good for  at least  five, if not 10 years)? The veterinarians who suggest putting a harness on a dog so he doesn’t suffer a collapsed trachea rather than telling the owner to teach the dog not to pull on the  leash?  Groomers who are politically connected, but may not be able to tell a Lhasa Apso from a Shih Tzu, or a Welsh Terrier from a Lakeland?

I worry about all this.  I was told I was not a good groomer  because I didn’t know a ‘bath & tidy’ on a Golden Retriever was actually really a full groom.   I was accused  of not  cleaning a Portuguese Water Dog’s ears out (after a breeder told me to NOT pull all the hair out as it night irritate the ears more than leaving some hair in), and for not  deshedding a nervous dog who clearly was flight shedding…because the instructions did NOT include a deshedding treatment.  I can’t tell you how many groomers have laughed at me about this (not believing that it happens frequently)!

I worked  briefly for a groomer who tethered all dogs to grooming tables, which resulted in  a lot of  anxiety, pooping, and  leash chewing. She discounted that dogs  are stressed when tethered, and she just didn’t want to buy more crates. In addition, she sold  harnesses, so  dogs could pull their owners around.  No collars, only harnesses (not realizing that after this cute fluffy dog dies the owner will have had enough of a dog being in charge of them, but thinking there is no alternative, and not getting another dog.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry.   One groomer whom I respect  said that designer dogs are a fad (but will ethical hobby breeders…breeding for the betterment of their breeds, be able to maintain a gene pool?).  That as dogs get injured in poorly run shops, those shops will go out of business.  I wish I could be so optimistic.

So…it Boils Down to This: Who is a pet

January 15, 2015


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

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

I have been active in my semi retirement on  trying to address  pet over population and  the view of what is humane,  and one of the things I do is flag animal sales on Craigslist. Bottom line is, the people selling puppies  on CL don’t think they are breeders.   But  it’s not just a Craigslist thing.  The ‘conventional wisdom is that   the backyard breeders don’t think of themselves as ‘breeders’ contributing to pet over population.

In addition,  irresponsible  stories like the feature National Public Radio recently ran on the ‘shortage’ in some area of adoptable dogs, is just appalling.  Granted,  in some  enclaves,  pet owners are more responsible and fewer dogs are dumped, but if you regard the country as a whole,  we will have too many areas where  people are uneducated,and have a totally different mindset about being socially responsible.  Hell, when a well educated (she had a Ph. D.) woman can cart around an unlocked  gun in her purse, and go shopping with a toddler, and think that is perfectly OK…and her community  regards this  accidental shooting by the toddler as  an unavoidable tragedy, we are not on the same page about anything.

This is a sample of a Craigslist post :

“I’m looking to rehome my puppy to a loving family. Jax is a 12 week old Chihuahua/Shih Tzu mix. He loves to snuggle and play and is as cute as can be. He will come with his carrier, jacket, puppy food, food/water bowl, training pads, new harness, leash, and collar. It’s heartbreaking to see him go but I just don’t have time in my schedule to care for this sweet little pup. Asking 370 OBO. Please only contact me if you are very interested as he needs to find a loving home soon. Thank you!”


So here we are—a puppy just into the teething stage.  My guess is she went to a pet shop/puppy mill outlet, and bought the pup and all the  junk (harness!  Ugh!!!), and  now is bored with the dog.  & why would this pup need a jacket?  So all the crap alone is probably over $300.  Or did she get the dog for free, had the stuff (or got it  deeply discounted), and is actually a puppy broker?  No matter.  There is way too much of   these idiots  buying and attempting to flip puppies  on Craigslist, as well as the backyard breeders.

Using Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas he  discussed in his book, The Tipping Point, we need respected change agents to address that this behavior is unacceptable. The people these idiots respect are veterinarians.

I have stated that all the activists who are currently railing against breeders—and they include the ethical hobby breeders who DO screen puppy buyers, do refuse to sell, and do take back dogs they sell, are not the problem.  Since the idiots are  dealing with  livestock breeders and brokers that they believe love animals, it is up to us to get to the next professional they will see—the veterinarian—and demand they address genetic issues, breed problems, not  spew out the hybrid vigor bs  regarding the designer dogs,and  promote spay/neuter at a mature age, and  being responsible for the pet.

While I am horrified that so many pet dogs become incontinent  due to  sloppy spay/neuters (which is why  they should really be done by shelter veterinarians who have lots of experience), I am more horrified by the many ‘accidental’ breeders who make excuses &  have convinced themselves they should not be responsible.

How would I address this? Several ways:

1.  pass a state law that mandates that anyone posting puppies, kittens, or rabbits for sale in Illinois (my state) have to  have their  litters individually microchipped before offering them for sale… if they did end up in a shelter, we’d know who to fine (yes—the breeders should have to pay—but pet owners  could have the chip changed to their contact information );

2. This would be enforced by  humane societies being licensed to train  volunteer investigators to contact people posting ads in newspapers and on Craigslist—and informing every licensed veterinarian in the state to make sure their clients  know the law;

3.People would also have to  ‘register’ every litter they bred with the state department of agriculture—pay a $50 fee. this is not a lot of money in relation to what hobby breeders spend on doing genetic testing, and paying for  showing their animals.

I believe that within  two years of such a law being enacted, we cut the number of dumped pets significantly.  I feel this way because most backyard breeders would either do a better job of screening  buyers, or they’d just  say the hell with it and stop breeding.

We would need all the humane societies and rescues on board, and we’d probably have to convince the  hobby breeders who breed for the betterment of their breed, but I don’t think this would be difficult.


New Year, New Challenges…

January 2, 2015
Dazzle, JC (Dazzle) Saluki,  on the left, Bebop Whippet, on the right.

Dazzle, JC (Dazzle) Saluki, on the left, Bebop Whippet, on the right.

What an interesting year it has been for me.  Mixed bag.  The week of Thanksgiving, I lost my very dear friend Janie Wondergem to lung cancer.  Then, the week before Christmas, Jerry Schinberg, who founded the  first grooming contest in the country, died.  These people are my contemporaries.   Were it not for Jerry, i would neve have met Romaine Michelle—the  top groomer in the country for years. Gives one pause, as they say.

If it’s at all possible, I learned last year to be more skeptical about any job offer.  I have blogged ( about a year and a half ago…) that I quit working for Pet Care Plus because the owner, Jennifer Stavrianos was not only NOT AT ALL ENGAGED IN DOG CARE AT HER DOG CARE BUSINESS, but she hated the environment of  this business so much she refused to believe anything her managers were telling her, and wouldn’t vheck anything out herelf.  (This is not uncommon  with  pet stores and dog daycare/boarding businesses….more and more, they are being operated by business people with no interest in having a relationship with a dog, the fancy , animal husbandry, or animal welfare).   Because she didn’t like the way  the Force dryer looked (it looks like a vacuum cleaner, which, basically, it is), she put it up in the ceiling where I could not turn it on 1 switch at a time and let it power up, but had to  turn it on by a wall switch–  not how it was designed to be used.  She did this because her  ‘fenemy’ and competitor had done it—but she didn’t ask how the competitor had done it, or why.  She refused to believe it was unsafe, and that  it was blowing fuses even over night.  My roommate, a forensic  engineer, who investigates fires and explosions, told me to bring my personal effects home because there was going to be a fire.   The dogs were alone at night. Nobody was on site.  By the time anyone  would hear a smoke alarm, the dogs would all be asphyxiated.   Just for the record, I would never board my  pet at a facility where there was not somebody on site 24 hours.  However, this is very common, You  can’t just assume  that people who operate  pet service businesses really love pets enough to have integrity.  I quit, she hired 2 people to replace me, one whom she fired for being  clueless, the other quit because she wasn’t making enough money.    She  asked me to return—full time 6 months later (she cultivated me for about  two months).  I was working else where making  triple the money, but the commute was  three hours. I had negotiated  for a 5% raise in my commission and a parking place.  She then ‘forgot’ to tell her management staff  of these details, creating a lot of friction.   She never gave me  a written agreement.

She appointed an assistant manager to be a business manager, and to oversee the build out of a new facility, someone with less than a year  experience at her job, and no actual kennel experience at any other  pet business.     A contractor joked that she didn’t  know what  B was paid to do, and compared her to  George Costanza on Seingelf.  By the time  Stavrianos finally took me to see the build out, all the infrastructure issues were behind finished walls. I told her that her architect ripped her off.   He just manipulated a CAD design.  it was the same design—right down to many of the wall colors, I had seen at another facility I had worked in!  That angered her.  Her newly hired general manager (by now, it was July)  who had no pet industry service  experience, just retail, agreed with me,  and Stavrianos told him not only to find excuses to suspend me, but  to build a case to fire me,  and that she intended to fire all staff after the New Year.  Why?  Who knows, as she  didn’t know any of the procedures that were involved in  boarding dogs in her own kennel.  She had never taught any staff. All her staff  was originally’ inherited ‘ from another business, and they  trained other employees.   Illinois is a  fire at will state.  Technically, she doesn’t need an excuse. I told my  manager we were losing our organizational memory. Stavrianos found out about this because, although I had sent the email to the manager, she decided, after hiring him in July, to request he take a 50% pay cut in October. He quit, she intercepted the email I sent to him, and decided I had created a hostile work environment.  It might have been a coincidence that her customer service manager quit a week before, then the manager.  So , since Illinois is a fire at will state, it was my word against hers, and  we are still fighting over whether I am entitled to unemployment compensation. The manager  who quit knew that  Stavrianos was having  some sort of neurological problems because  she kept forgetting conversations  that there were witnesses too, as well as written phone texts she had sent!

I have been offered  several jobs, but  when  doing the test dogs, I was learning that most  businesses offering me job were owned by people who  are new to the industry, and really didn’t care if an employee could make a living wage.   They really didn’t have enough business to hire me even part time, and were in denial. They are destined to get people right out of grooming school who can only shave dogs.   One still owes me $200 (Bella’s in Bolingbrook—I have a case with the ill. Dept of labor).  It’s sad that the industry is really facing a decline, but  all industries go through cycles.  I mean, video rental (Blockbuster) lasted  about 20 years, then Netflix came along, then  even Netflix started offering streaming, and there are no more blacksmiths.

I am lucky that I have enough income coming in from other sources that I don’t have to take just any job, and  can manage to piece an income together.  I also have the free time now to be a court advocate for animals in the court system, and possibly be of service to other nonprofit groups, and possibly do more consulting.  I am optimistic.

A bummer lurks on the horizon in the fact that my old Whippet, Bebop, whom I got  from  Whippet Rescue before there was WRAP, is now 15.  He had an episode  of vestibular disease, as well as a benign but rapidly  growing tumor.  He had the tumor for over a year, and it finally got larger than his head and burst.  We didn’t take it off when it was small because  I didn’t want him to go through the trauma of surgery, and we both thought he’d die first.  The  veterinarians were able to remove it, and his quality of life is better, but he is having cognitive issues.  He is now blind, deaf, and  very stiff.  Glucosamine chondroitin helps, but the Sam-e did not.  He has become  incontinent, but my roommate is quite helpful, and loves the little guy.  In fact, Bebop had come to live with me and Dazzle (now gone 2 years) just a few months before  Kunihiro arrived.  It would be much easier if it weren’t so cold.  I absolutely must put his coat on him.  He’s still eating, and if he hears anyone going to the kitchen, he will trot across the apartment to see if there is a dish on the floor.  It is what it is. Every day is a gift. As long as he is still eating, and seems to have some cognition,he has a right to his life.  Sometimes, it seems to others who don’t know your dog that your dog looks awful or in pain, but you know your own dog.

I’ve had tenants  break a lease unexpectedly when  one  lost a job. This is always a pain in the neck, and I had to replace the clothes dryer and a ceiling fan. When I got the  credit card bills, I looked at the amounts owed, and exclaimed, “What did I buy?” Kunihiro laughed and said he often feels the same way.

Berbop on Santa's lap, with Dash

Berbop on Santa’s lap, with Dash

My real indulgence has been dog training. Dash is much different than Bebop. Bebop, while very brave,  was a tough guy, and I never felt he was perfected enough to  compete in obedience with (although he probably was…I just couldn’t find a class that offered AKC novice ).  Dash got his Canine Good citizenship in ’13, and  his  Junior Courser title this past Spring, and  in early November ’14, got his Beginner Novice and Rally Novice titles at the same trial!  I was very pleased.  The thing is, he doesn’t own the venue for any performance, and is very well-behaved at dog  shows and obedience trials.  He believes he owned all the  concrete from my house to about a mile around it, and gives every dog the stink eye (if it isn’t another sight hound) and is crazy reactive.  he will  just go berserk, then sit and look at me for  two seconds, and resume being crazy,m sit, look at me, resume—you get the picture. . Sort of embarrassing, but that just means I have to keep him under control and remind him acting the tough guy fool is inappropriate.

Are we making progress on the humane issues that I think are important?  Hard to say.  I had a nice chat with Beverly Isla, who may or may not edit it for a webcast.  One thing I always do is remind people  there are  small  things they can do that have a big impact.  I subscribe to a feed, Flagging Animal Sales on Craigslist, which has over 5600 members.  It used to be that  four or five different isps could get a post flagged off, but now it seems it is taking more than 10.  We just have to get more people flagging. In any case, there is an American Bulldog breeder—a backyard breeder, very arrogant, who has litter after litter and posts  on Craigslist to sell. Seems that one of us called the guy, paid him a visit, found out he lived in the city limits of Waukegan, Illinois , was running this as a business, and the police confiscated his litter.  Hope the word spreads.  The  backyard breeders and mini puppy mills have libeled  and harassed me and my employers, and I am sure most of the dogs in animal shelters come from these types of breeders—as there is a lot of evidence they are coming neither from commercial puppy mills nor hobby breeders. If we could pass a law in Illinois mandating the microchipping of every  dog and cat, we could find out more about who is  abandoning  pets people get bored with (nobody who loves a pet  is moving into housing that doesn’t allow pets. That’s an excuse. Nor is anyone getting a job).We just have to make it crystal clear to everyone breeding for fun and profit that they are responsible. They should be funding the animal shelters—not me.

Family issues—I will be glogging n a few weeks about the  dynamics among my sisters, etc.  Amusing and aggravating at the same time…but my  parents raised us to be contentious.

I thank my long term subscribers to this blog.  You need to know that my blogs on prong collars and housebreaking difficult dogs are the most  clicked dog blogs, and the  blog on the Murdoch map of Africa is a close 3rd.  The one I did on fake animal rescues is getting read more and more.  Social media is helping get the word out that there is a community that  won’t allow inventors in the pet industry and  unethical breeders set the tone.

Even if you pay for Dog Grooming School…you Can’t be A Groomer if….

October 31, 2014
The trim is a 'Town and Country'.  I wanted to do a classic 'Dutch', but the owner was a retired groomer , herself, and this was what she wanted.  Note the balance, that her pants are not 'falling off'.

The trim is a ‘Town and Country’. I wanted to do a classic ‘Dutch’, but the owner was a retired groomer , herself, and this was what she wanted. Note the balance, that her pants are not ‘falling off’.

This is making me a little ill.  I am finding more and more  people  are going to dog grooming schools, even though they have never even brushed their own dogs, or offered to help bathe dogs at a charity dog wash.  They are  choosing this because they want to ‘work with animals’, but never bothered to learn anything about dog training, animal behavior, or the breeds. They are doing this because they don’t know what to do with their lives, so this idea is as good as any.  They take business away from the rest of us. They injure dogs. They make all of us look like dimwits.  So, if you’ve come across this blog and are thinking of  paying to learn to groom let me tell you this:

1.There is more money in TEACHING DOG GROOMING than in actually grooming…which is why so many people start schools.  yes, there are some state regulation  or vocational schools, but  they are hardly enforced unless the regulators get a lot of complaints.  let the buyer (of vocational education) beware!

2.  If you are afraid of getting bitten, or don’t want to learn to humanely   be in control of the dog, this is not for you.  I rarely get bit, but it does happen…mostly  by scared dogs, rarely by  outright mean dogs.  In fact, there are very few mean dogs.  Most have been put in a position of being in control by a weak or stupid owner, and the dogs don’t know what to do.

3.  The dog’s neck is very sensitive.  Next to the nose, genitals, and  eyes, the most sensitive part of the body. This is why we use collars.  You will find a lot of owners using harnesses, which give you  almost no control over a dog so it’s important for you to be confident and know how to control the dog;

4.Dogs HATE being patted on the head.  They tolerate it, but it is demeaning and not rewarding.  They like their chests patted, and their ears rubbed;

5.  Making eye contact is not staring a dog down.  It’s not being aggressive, it’s communicating that you want interaction;

6.  Your confidence in handling will calm down a scared dog;

7.  If the dog has a name, use it.  That’s social communication, too.  Shocking the number of pet store  or grooming managers don’t know the name of the dog they want you to groom.    It’s disrespectful to the dog;

8.  The floor is the dog’s territory.  You are at a disadvantage if you  groom the dog on the floor.  Maybe you’ve trained your dogs at home, but this won’t work for the pets you groom every few weeks.  This is why we have grooming tables, It’s not just for you to save your back, but to change the dynamic and have the dog in your court;

9.  Try not to hurt the dog, but you have to win the battle if there is going to be a struggle.  Put your hands on the dog’s withers (shoulders), behind the neck. This lets the dog know you are superior.  It’s often calming. I ask people who  hold a dog for me to do toenails to  put a hand on the withers, but they often try to embrace the dog. That doesn’t work;

10.  If the dog is resistant to brushing, it might be a 2 person job for a while: one to brush,  one to help restrain the dog (and this is why we use grooming arms and nooses—it’s a third arm);

11.  For the long-haired, drape coated dog, it’s best to teach them to lie down, but for the double coated or clipped dogs,  there is no reason for the dog  to NOT stand on the table.  A  word about the Groomer’s Helper :  Yes, some dogs are spinners, but my experience, over 40 years, has been that less than 1% of the dogs  will be that active on the table that they have to be double tied.  If you have to use the groomer’s helper on every dog, there is something wrong.  It’s either your method of communication with the dog, or your clientele.  I can see  shelter dogs or even farm dogs resisting being handled, but if all your client dogs are pet dogs and spoiled—I hope you are charging for it.  These dogs will take longer to groom;

12. Biters:  I groom a few dogs who don’t like me. A couple are brain damaged.  Some have been hurt by a groomer.  I use plastic basket muzzles.  The dog can still open his mouth and he won’t panic if he can’t hyperventilate. But what about the brachycephalic (Bulldog type) with no muzzle to put a muzzle on?  That’s always a 2 person job:  1 to  hold a towel over the dog’s head, the other to cut toenails. or clean ears.  Why owners allow a dog to be so resistant and out of control for routine grooming is beyond me, but if they’d rather  be irresponsible, they have to pay for it, too.

13. You have chosen a profession that deals with people’s pets.  Think about how you feel about your own pets. Think about your children.  If you don’t have the  capacity, for any reason, to control most dogs, and shape their behavior so you can groom the average pet dog in about an hour, you will never make a living at this.  You are not going to learn everything you need to know about dogs in a class, or from a book. most of us learn from each other.  You need to associate with  hobbyists and fanciers who  show and train dogs.  These are the people who will mentor yu once yu ar graduated from class.

Changes in Local pet Businesses, for Better or Worse

October 10, 2014
These are our pets!

These are our pets!

I originally published remarks about some businesses  in 2009–, because I was so outraged by how several local businesses treated dogs.  Some things have changed, and  since  people Google businesses, I  felt  everyone  was owed an update.

You just can’t assume that people in the pet industry really love pets and really care for them.  I get so many hits on this particular blog, which I posted in 2009, that I decided to re-edit and update it.   It has to do with people  who are active in the pet industry.  Believe me, they are not all pet lovers. They are not pet haters…but because they make their livings from either breeding or caring for pets, the public  thinks they do love pets more then the pet owners love their pets.  Some of the ‘integrity challenged’ seems to have a lot of time on their hands to just be evil.

There is now a  Facebook site called  Flagging Animal Sales on Craigslist.    We have a network of people around the country. Some may even be dog breeders…but they are not selling on CL, which prohibits animal sales.We repost the links (to the animal selling posts)on our feeds, and ask people to flag.  I am not sure how effective we are, but  we may be.  I get fewer emails from  animal sellers, but  people seem to be joining our ranks.  For those who do not know, California prohibits internet sales of pets. That’s where Craigslist is housed.  Craig and  the  founders felt that the site should be for older pets, so they wouldn’t have to compete with baby animals for homes.  Unfortunately, the ‘law of the commons’ relies on integrity—and  animal sellers generally have none, You will rarely find ethical hobby breeders posts. yes, sometimes, some hobby breeder  doesn’t read the rules,  but  most would be horrified to use a free website—as it attracts the wrong kind of potential owner.

I had reported people leaving fake reviews on a PETFINDER site, and the response from Jamie Cook at Discovery Channel/  I had asked them to  either remove the negative comments on my  site, “Robyn’s Groom Room”—as they are libelous—because  the people who posted them are not my clients & never have been—they are irresponsible breeders libeling me, & this is how  Cook responded:

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to remove the ratings posted for your grooming service.  One of the many features that our directory offers is the opportunity for users to post ratings, both good and bad, about the businesses with which they have had experiences. We don’t censor these ratings as that negates the purpose of offering them. If we remove negative ratings for businesses then we are not portraying an objective and well rounded service for visitors.

“We highly encourage you to have clients who are happy with your office and the services they received  post their own positive ratings. Simply have them click the following link, then click on the Rate it! link and enter their comments:

“The other option would be to remove your listing completely from the Local Services & Supplies Directory. This would remove all information about your business, including any ratings that have been submitted, so any users who are looking for a groomer in your area would not see your information. If you would like to go with this option please let me know and I will remove your listing immediately.”

That’s right.  He totally ignored what I told him.  I told him to ask the people who libeled me for veterinary receipts.  Yes—several claimed I injured their dogs!  I told him, since I  don’t take new clients who live over  5 miles from me, unless they mail me a deposit  (because they tend to not show up), to ask these people where they lived.  I asked him to  ask them what colors my grooming room  are (people have commented on my color choices—so they don’t forget it).  But nothing—no response.  Petfinder is going about happily believing  every  poster has a bit of integrity.  I shudder to think how many rescues that post are actually  puppy mill outlets—but I guess we’ll never know.  They clearly don’t do any ‘due diligence’—relying on the integrity of any poster.  The update on this is that we keep finding  ‘fake’ dog rescues…where people get  dogs to rehome, often doing no health check, and not screening adopters.  Neither PETFINDER nor do any due diligence. that’s the way it is,  let the buyer (or adoptor) beware….  As of 2014, no more businesses can post, They’ve closed this part of Petfinder.  I guess they realized what I said was true..

I had taken a grooming job for a  business, because I saw the potential….  and  the location was somewhat close to  some of my former grooming clients, and  the owners of the business lied to me.  Of course, I was able to determine that they lied to me right away.  The business is Yuppy Puppy, Inc., in Lake Bluff, Illinois.  They  originally set it up to do dog daycare, but realizing they could not make  enough money doing that, they also do overnight boarding. They are licensed to keep up to 85 dogs overnight.  Licensed?  By The Illinois Department of Agriculture, of course.  The laws pertaining to dog boarding, dog daycare—indeed, even puppy mills—-are so poorly written, that unless the building is dangerous for humans to occupy—you get a license.  That’s how it is in Illinois.

The business is  (was) owned by the Whitakers:  Peter, the father, & Lucy & Simon, the son & daughter. Thing is—Lucy got married & moved out of state, & Simon is about to do so.  This leaves Peter, who clearly  isn’t  really a dog enthusiast. He is a businessman.

Update—very important!  This business was sold several months ago  (early 2014)to Walter Puterbaugh, and he has made phenomenal changes!  I stopped by the business as I  check Yelp! reviews, and  a change of ownership was indicated.  Walter and his fiance, Janae,  obviously know way more about dogs that the Whitakers ever cared to learn.  They have done an amazing build out that will alleviate a lot of stress on the dogs.  If you are looking for dog daycare  in the northern suburbs of Chicago, I urge you to check them out. Granted, they are still totally indoors, but the set-up is so much  better!  Only the name is the same.

I’ve never been overly fond of  the concept of dog daycare, but  having worked in some  outstanding kennels (check out Pawsatively Heaven Pet Resort in Chicago Ridge, Ill., or Paradise for Paws, in Schiller Park, ILL), I’ve softened.  Some dogs  have a lot of energy, and love being part of a pack.  I see dogs playing together all the time.

I have been working for the same employer for  about three years.  We recently moved the  operations to a new building.  There are some very nice aspects to  this, and in some ways it is better (for the humans, at least), but I am not sure it is better for the dogs.  Our indoor floors are shiny and slippery, and our outdoor play area is mush smaller.  We no longer have a huge pool, which was a big selling point in the old building.  The fact is that most of the large dogs don’t really  run around that much—but they might if their footing was more solid and they had more space.

One guy I had worked for briefly and blogged about, Vaughan Neita, “A Doggie Business,” is OUT OF BUSINESS.  He was charged with ‘neglect of owners duties’  ( animal cruelty) and word spread.  You can Google him, the links are still up.

Plus, a bit of unhappiness….a business I worked for on contract for several years, recently suffered very bad local attention. They were “The Hungry Pup,” and changed their name several years ago to “Follow Your Nose.”  They offer natural dog foods, dog walking, and overnight pet sitting.  I had trouble working for them because they  would not address their web marketing, nor procedures so I would know  several days in advance what I was doing—or even if I had any work (grooming), but I had to give Dave Gulyas credit for being able to schedule so many dog walkers.  I mostly did over night pet sitting.  Problems started to arise when  more and more people  started asking for ‘vacation care’ rather than overnight pet sitting—because they didn’t want to pay extra to have someone stay in the house.  I didn’t think the Gulyas’ should allow this, because there was no way the last walk would  occur after 9 p.m.  and the first walk would be before 8 a.m.—and that is too long an interval for most dogs. But also, what kept the dog walkers honest changed:  When the Gulyas’ started the business, everyone had a landline at home. so, when you arrived to walk a dog, you’d call in to  Dave (a computer would take the call), and 20 minutes later, after the walk, you’d call in to say you were leaving, You had to wait 20 minutes  for the interval, you may as well walk the dog.  I don’t want to get into the complications of getting a dog suited up, the keys, possibly cleaning up, or the dog not eliminating on the walk. The point is, you called in from the client’s phone.   As people  got rid of their land lines, you’d supposedly call in from your cell, but I knew the Gulyas’ were not keeping track, and often, I’d be the next walker and see the previous walker hadn’t shown up!  Well, it came to a head, recently.    A dog walking client didn’t want to pay for overnight pet sitting.  He set up a ‘nanny-cam‘ that was  set to alert him (on his cell phone) to movement in his home—and he discovered  the interval was 18 hours.  A walker  had not shown up.    Worse, when he did, he  dismantled the nanny cam!  The Gulyas definitely know who did this, and I would sue the evil eunuch for  sabotaging my small business if this was my employee.     Frankly, several friends and I wondered why he didn’t keep the dogs in exercise pets, which  would have given the dogs a bit more room, but that’s another issue.   I am sure he  alerted the Gulyas’, but what can they do?  That’s the problem with running a dog walking business:  you rely on the integrity of the employees….and, unfortunately, the people who are doing this often are doing this because they can’t get other work.  What this client DID was contact local news media…and this was definitely not good for a business that was already marginal.  I often referred people looking for dog walkers to  this business, as I really trust Dave & Ramie…but the fact of the matter is, unless you can learn from the business owner how you can be assured your dog will be walked….look for as many options as you can, including friends and neighbors who live close by.  or, if it is  a occaisional thing,  get your dog used to dog daycare…or at least day-boarding.  For those who own dog walking businesses—if you change the walker’s routes every day, the statistical odds of all your walkers being  immature, self-centered assholes are  slimmer.   Labor intensive?  Overkill?  These are peoples’ pets.  They may be spoiled, out of control, hard to handle, but  I know hiring a dog walker may be a last resort before abandoning a pet. Actually spot checking the walkers you hire helps.  I understand people wanting the same walker, and  dogs being familiar with who is coming in (believe me—none of these dogs is a watch dog), but  face it—-most people have less integrity than you have, not more.


The Craigslist ‘Rehoming’ Scam

January 4, 2014

I support a small nonprofit that  works to put puppy mills out of business by educating the public about pet shops, and where they get their puppies.  While the pet shops might  claim to buy only from  USDA licensed breeders, or family breeders, the  industry people claim to not understand  that the issue is that ethical hobby breeders who love their dogs do NOT sell to  third parties to resell.  The breeders who loved their dogs want to meet you in person (or have someone they know vouch for your integrity and character), and they  don’t allow third parties to act as middlemen.

More and more, we find that  municipalities are responding to the grassroots efforts of citizens to ban the sales of dogs and cats in pet shops for this reason.  The pet industry, via their lobbying group—Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—PIJAC—has chosen to ignore this reason & instead respond that they are working with breeders to produce more genetically sound  and healthy puppies—but this begs the issue of  sellers not  screening buyers, refusing to sell to  buyers, and  not suggesting the buyer do further research.

What is coming  to take the place  of  the  retail pet stores  are  backyard breeders:    the owner of  one or two (of six or eight…) fertile bitches, and/or a stud dog, who claims to NOT be  breeders because they  don’t own 20 dogs, or don’t have a separate kennel building, or are not making a living  breeding dogs. They are not  breeding for the betterment of their breed, or to improve their line. They are breeding for fun AND profit.  They aren’t making enough to live on, but that is NOT the issue.  According to  pet registries, department of agriculture  inspectors, and  veterinarians, if you own the mother animal,the dam YOU are the breeder.  There seems to be some statistical evidence (I got this years ago from an American Humane Association report) that  most dogs in shelters do NOT come from hobby breeders breeding for the betterment of their breeds, nor were they coming, until recently, from puppy mills (I have written how some ‘rescues’ get   dogs from pounds in areas where  puppy mills dump unsold puppies).  Most dogs in shelters come from  dogs bought from some  friend, neighbor, or  jerk on the internet selling puppies.  Then the dog becomes inconvenient.  Just because you see them for sale, it does not mean they all get sold.

When the  economy in the USA started  getting bad  around 2004, and  people started losing jobs (ENRON, 9/11, and  housing costs  getting out of control), people started looking for ways to  make extra income.  Raising pets for fun and profit appealed to many.  After all, they don’t have to  directly pay the expense of housing or euthanizing surplus animals.  It’s us do-gooders who pay for that.

In the metro Chicagoland area, although we  have  shelters  and rescues paying lip service to making  Chicago a NO KILL city, we find they are not taking every adoptable (meaning healthy and with good  temperament) dog into their  programs—because  most are Pit Bulls.  What they  are doing is IMPORTING purebred and designer dogs from other states pounds and shelters, because they know there is a market for them  here.  I feel it is  disingenuous and shows a  lack of integrity to  do this—but that’s me.

In any case, these backyard breeders, who might have—in the past—sold via an ad in the paper or to local pet shops.. are now selling on the internet.  Internet sales of pets are illegal.  It is illegal to take a credit card and ship a pet  to  God-knows-where,  sight unseen.  It is a USDA unfunded mandate, and  prohibited by California law, where Craigslist physically resides.

The  people breeding  pets ‘for fun and profit’ (not to improve their bloodlines or for the betterment if their breeds) know this. They know the law is not enforced, and they know how to respond to skeptics who may ask why they are posting puppies for sale, since it is against the law. Many will say they are not breeders. They have this  one pet dog, so the law doesn’t apply to them.  Many will say they have just one puppy, and either found a job, lost a job, have to move, or the child is allergic. When asked why they don’t return the pup to the breeder, they will respond that they breeder will not take the dog back.    Possible….but more likely they don’t even have  the pup, and are partnering with an unethical backyard breeder (or puppy mill) & will get the pup  when you make an appointment to see it. My sister  was recently taken this way, although I begged her to NOT look on Craigslist for a puppy.  Does it have luxated patellas or liver shunt?  Time will tell.

Recently, among the fake rescues, which claim they ‘rescued’ an entire litter of (name your purebred or designer dogs), are the unaffiliated rescuers who network with each other.  Usually one in the  network is a bona fide , state licensed non-profit rescue.  One  ‘rescuer’ got custody of 20  older breeding dogs, mostly Yorkies, Maltese, and the various designer dog crosses, that she let her rescue network know were available for free.  People remembering how Oprah Winfrey was able to put in an order for 2 BROWN COCKER SPANIEL PUPS to a local ‘no-kill’ group (PAWS Chicago),  are gleeful.  What am I missing? The puppy mills these old dogs came from are still in business. They have NOT been shut down.  They didn’t have to pay to euthanize older dogs, or spend time  doing so;  all these old puppy mill breeders WILL need dentistry, and probably treatment for either liver shunt or luxated patellas, possibly heartworm;  the costs will be more than what any of these ‘rescuers’ would have paid for a dog from an ethical hobby breeder—who would NEVER  give even 1 dog to someone else  to ‘place’.  We warn people about puppy mill dogs, and health issues…but it’s ok if you get them for free & are rich enough to deal with their health issues?  And allow the breeders to remain in business?  I don’t think so…but  this is how it is.

No Integrity Needed: It’s a ‘capoodle’, a designer pup…and lies the pet industry perpetrates…

October 3, 2013
This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu--- can you guess what they call it?

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu— can you guess what they call it?

I can’t say this enough, it is a terrible industry.  They  fight the  Endangered Species Act, and promote animals as pets that do not do well in captivity,
They constantly give  absolutely WRONG care instructions for birds & herps, the thinking being that if your animal dies, they will sell you another one.  & I have a few choice words for the puppy sellers….

The dog in the photo to the left is a Bull-Shit, no joke,   A Pit Bull—Shih Tzu Mix. In this case, it  was  an imbecile owner with 2 intact dogs.  However, I have  dogs come in for grooming that are sold as Bandogs’, ‘HavaShih, and ‘Caboodle’ (Cavalier—Poodle cross), Cavashon (Cavalier-Bichon), Chiweenies (Chihuahua-Dachshund), Bugs (Boston Terrier-Pug) blah blah blah…  & these buyers really think they got something rare—not a mixed breed dog!!

I had a dog come in for grooming  this week…. this is  typical…. the owner told our staff it was a Miniature Australian Shepherd.  This is a pure breed, true.    The dog she brought in for grooming, however, was some sort of spaniel–shetland sheepdog mix, by the look of her. She was NOT a purebred anything.  But the owner told us she got registration papers for this dog! What happened (I’ve seen this before):  the pet shop gets several litters of puppies, and the  registration papers for all of them in an envelope…. and as long as they get an AKC (or APRI, or CKC) registrations for every pup, they  don’t really know  and don’t really care which papers go to which dog, or even if all the dogs are purebred! They know nobody will challenge them. You ask for registration papers, and they give you ‘papers’.  Worse, now that the American Kennel Club allows  mixed breeders to  compete in performance events, the pet shops sell mixed breeds as ‘AKC registerable’!

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

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

The pet stores love  buyers.  Right from the get go,it’s clear that people who go into pet shops looking for a puppy haven’t got a clue about how to find a healthy, well bred puppy.  It is illegal to sell puppies in the internet in the USA. The law is not enforced, but how can you tell the difference between a puppy mill and a hobby breeder breeding for the betterment of the breed? I always warn people that  very few breeders offer  more than 1 or 2 breeds, and they will show you photos of the dogs winning the awards. They will also mention the genetic testing they do. But puppy mills steal photos all the time.

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!

Getting back to pet shops…so you buy a puppy, and you need a couple of  bowls for food & water, a crate,  toys, a brush….& nobody gives you any instructions on housebreaking, or mentions what grooming will cost ( unless you ask), but the worst thing is…they always sell the puppy buyers WRONG BRUSH!  It has pins on one side, bristles on the other. and is WORTHLESS for most types of dogs. The correct brush for most dogs is a slicker brush!  But , for some reason, nobody who works in a pet store that sells puppies or kittens  knows how to use one of those, either!  It’s so frustrating!  Anybody with 2 hands can learn to brush a dog in a matter of minutes!  Why would  pet shop  owners– and  managers, who profess to love animals, be too lazy to learn how to brush a dog, and teach their staff?  Why would they continued to sell the wrong items to pet owners?  There is no reason   to NOT  do the right thing except a lack of integrity and a total disregard for  pet owners.  The irony is…people really think that  businesses that sell animals are operated by animal lovers, and want to do right by them!  Who should teach a pet owner how to brush a  dog (or cat)  if not the seller?  & that is why  you  have to think:  if the breeder of this  animal didn’t love it enough to want to meet ME, and make sure I was the right owner for this pet…did they really care about the pets they are breeding—like livestock?  If they don’t care, who can I go to for  help, even mentoring? And that is the value of the hobby breeder…and the reason you don’t see  Gordon Setters, Briards, Sussex Spaniels, Salukis, or Lakeland Terriers in pet shops..  It is also the reason you now see Brussels Griffons, Papillons, FRENCH BULLDOGS, and so many formerly ‘rare’ breeds in pet shops:  it took 1 naive  hobby breeder to sell a breedable bitch and an intact male to  someone with no integrity, who only wanted to make  money breeding dogs.

We  genuine dog lovers are not reaching the pet buying public.  We have clients who tell us they adopted a dog—when they bought the dog (you adopt from a shelter or rescue…), that  they bought the dog from a REPUTABLE pet shop (no reputable pet shop sells puppies unless they bred them themselves…and if they didn’t test the parent dogs for discoverable genetic defects, they are not reputable).  Meanwhile, the American Kennel Club is waging a subtle war on the  hobby breeders because they are not breeding enough puppies. What are enough puppies? Enough for the  employees of the AKC to keep their cushy jobs, apparently.  Nobody can afford to show a dog unless they are really wealthy, and few can afford to breed dogs and keep an entire litter of  five, eight, or 12 pups until good homes come along.  It wasn’t always like this. From the 1950’s through the  turn of the century, middle class people were showing dogs.  The American economy has been destroyed by the 1%.  This is not  just my opinion—it is an economic fact.

But say you want to   live with a dog, what to do….?   If you don’t know any  dog groomers, dog trainers, or  veterinarians who know hobby  breeders, you  really have to  google local animal shelters and breed specific rescues, PETFINDER… and you have to be a little skeptical. The  rescue or shelter that only has puppies & never adult dogs—-is a front for puppy mills.  The  rescue that doesn’t do any  health or temperament screening, and doesn’t ask you  if you own or rent, who all you live with, and about your available time for a pet—is not a rescue—it is a pet brokerage, most likely getting dogs for free off Craigslist & reselling them.  If they don’t have a website, a physical address, and can’t show you an annual audit of their expenses…it’s a scam.  There are plenty of places to find dogs and puppies.  Don’t be impulsive, and  please please please don’t enrich the pet shops selling pets.  They are not your friends, and they are not the  friend of pets.

Those Middle Class Values

May 9, 2013

Middle class values: the idea that you are sure anyone decent believes the same way you do, and that OUR LEADERS  have the perfect fix to solve a problem.  The idea that all people are honest, practice the golden rule, and  don’t act irresponsibly.  That people  obey the law because it IS the law.

Registering gun owners.…to solve  shootings of innocent people.  The fact of the matter is…people who enjoy guns have justified in their minds that it is ok to kill something.  Many might never actually kill anything. They might just do target practice,  but  no matter.  Registering  people will not solve the problem. Why?  Several reasons.  Many people  who kill are already registered gun owners.  The ones who are not don’t plan to register.  Registering won’t stop them. The government is broke, and they are not going to  peruse the  sales records of  legal gun sellers, &  there are many more illegal street sales of guns, and that’s the bigger problem.  Mental health issues? Who is going to test people to make sure they are sane/sober/calm/INTELLIGENT/have self control….before they are allowed to buy a gun?  Psychologists?   You are going to trust the foxes running the henhouse who are justifying their jobs, many manipulative psychopaths themselves, to judge who is sane and who is not?  & what does that solve if the  insane can buy a gun on the street?

A  better  idea:  registering ammunition buyers only.  Taxing it extremely heavily.   Even that won’t solve the problem! But….. if ammunition is much more expensive,  and not legal to buy if you are under 30…and there  is a limit to how much you can buy, and only if the sales are very tightly regulated (like morphine), will there  be  even a dent in the problem.  Not possible? I think it depends on  your  location  and overlay of  government transparency.

Keeping drugs illegal.  We now incarcerate more people than any other country in the world.  It is an acknowledged fact that  many  people who are imprisoned  either have mental health issues and/or are functionally illiterate. They can’t make their way in middle class society.  Many of those people choose  mind altering drugs to cope with life.  There, ‘for the grace of God’,  go all of us. Yes…any one of us who has  ingested coffee, tea, chocolate, cough medicine,  beer, wine…all mind altering substances. We’ve created a class to make the ones we artificially describe as more dangerous…. illegal.

Nobody thinks being high all the time is a good idea, but jail clearly does not solve the problem.  It makes work for  law enforcement,  lawyers, and prison guards, and makes  work for  the foxes running the henhouse:  the psychologist who are drug counselors.

A better idea:  legalize drugs and  the infrastructure  to sell and regulate the  industry.  Put the cash we now put into  arresting these people trying  these people in court for a medical problem,  into counseling and education, as well as job creation.  People who work on farms  become so exhausted from the physical labor, they  just sleep at night.  Doncha think most of the families of these people would  support getting them  into a work environment?  In fact,  paying the addled to  enter programs overseas, where  there might be a language barrier might be very effective!  Plus, there are private drug treatment programs that operate this way now…in the USA…

Mandatory Spay/Neuter of pet animals.  Sounds great, but  most RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS already know the benefits of spaying or neutering their pets.  However,  the middle class has declined and the ‘working’ class is desperate for cash to support…guns and drug habits….or maybe their kids.  They don’t do any research…or rather…the ‘research’ they do amounts to seeing pets for sale on Craigslist & seeing what people are charging for the  puppies and kittens.  Doesn’t mean they get sold, but no matter.  When people can’t sell them, they give them away or dump them…even abandon them.  Heart breaking how many people move and  abandon a pet without food or water, to starve to death.  It’s illegal, but, again…the government is broke:  we can’t get  police to bring cases to states attorneys to prosecute.

For people involved in pet rescue who think mandatory spay/neuter will make a difference… this hope is based on no evidence. Only ethical hobby breeders, who breed  maybe 1 or 2 litters a year and always have a waiting list for puppies will be affected.  They are now, and there is a shortage or purebred pups available from hobby breeders. But the large breeding operations—the puppy mills…their scale is large enough!  They can pay for licensing.   But  there is statistical evidence that  most of the  pets in shelters are from neither of these sources:  they are from the ‘backyard’ breeder—the family breeding a single (or 3 or 4) pets who are under the radar.  They give their own shots (or not), don’t check for parasites, sell  on Craigslist  and other free websites, and they do no screening.  they never see a veterinarian, so you can’t rely on  veterinaqr8ians to turn them in to the government.

Were we to deputize volunteers as inspectors for licensed animal shelters  to respond to the posts, visit them,  talk to the breeders (that’s what they are) about the odds of  over half their pups winding up euthanized, and  keeping the contact information on them  and  the  facility (house? Garage?  outbuilding?)  as to cleanliness, or how often they post pets for sale, and  monitor them, we’d make a huge dent in the problem.  Penalties  could be levied and our state departments of agriculture   could either confiscate the litters, or  fine the breeders.    The breeders then know the  community is watching and might give pause to  breeding another litter for money…or at least pay the state for the privilege of not being responsible for the pets they produce, and enabling the Department of Agriculture  pay for itself.

Freakenomics  subtitled “a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, (William Morrow/Harper Collins 2005) addresses , in six essays how  we Americans generally trust wrong research, and end up not solving social problems.

I’d love  to hear opinions on these ideas, and please forward the link yo your friends.

You Can’t Help Some People (Pet Care Industry, in particular.)

April 18, 2013

puli side (Small)Wow.  I am amazed at how many hits  my post on quitting my job got, but my post the week before on choosing a dog boarding  or day care facility got none (except for subscribers).  So, in  looking for a new ‘job’ this week…

I came a cross an animal hospital that needed a groomer, but  had gotten atrocious reviews  for their boarding facility.  How sad when an animal hospital employs veterinarians and  kennel staff who don’t really love animals.  You can tell by the detail of the reviews that these are not competitors, but  very sad dog owners.

A full service kennel that employs my  former boss ( who everyone has acknowledge has an anger management problem)— felt he  should have some say in whether I get hired at a different location, even though he has not been able to keep a groomer for more than a year.  They wonder why they can’t get an honest , reliable dog groomer to work for them. As a dog trainer  who had run-ins with my former boss said to me, “You do not want to work for a business like that.”

I have also spoken with my  old employer’s major competitor/frenemy, who is now totally mobile and does not have anyone grooming at her kennel. My  most recent employer  sort of modeled her build out on her frenemy’s.  However, when I went to visit the  business, I was amazed at how nice the  build-out was. It was really done by someone who  planned to work in her own business, and no expense was spared—-whereas the place I was working, … it looks nice, but is not functional.  The strangest thing happened. I went to pick up my check, and  my old ‘boss’, told me I was late  for my interview at her frenemy’s business. I denied an appointment, partly to spare her feelings, and  told her I was exploring different options—and she actually followed me over to her frenemy’s under the guise of  doing something else. & had a key to the building!  I thought she had a key to her frenemy’s business, as she was buzzed in immediately, twice!   I really can’t have my old boss coming over and harassing me whenever she is bored!

I have been working  part time at another day care business.  I like the woman who owns the daycare, but she is not dog knowledgeable, and doesn’t think treating dogs with respect is important.  I went up to the daycare room to get a dog  for grooming, & the 3  guys she had with them were  NOT playing with the dogs or interacting with them, and one had a spray bottle in his hands.  The only time you should have a spray bottle is if dogs are fighting.  Intimidating dogs  by spraying them  in the face is unethical and scary.  I saw dogs plastered against the walls, they were  so scared.   This does not make for a pleasant experience for the dogs.They go home tired, but not because they are playing all day.

I answered an ad from  the ever popular idealistic woman with no experience in the pet industry(she has never trained or groomed a dog, worked in this type of business, worked for an animal hospital or shelter) who thinks she has to hire 4 groomers  and a dog bather  before she has even done her build-out because…based on air…she is sure she will be busier than any grooming shop around.  She also does not ‘believe’ in cages.   A free for all.   I had another friend. Romaine Michelle,  respond to this woman several weeks ago, and, apparently  Romaine,  also with over 40 years experience, was as honest about  business prospects as I was, because idealist told me she got a very bad vibe from her, and she was getting a bad vibe from me,  Why?  Because we asked:

1.Where she got her equipment;

2.Who advised her on the build out;

3.Did she have a client base?

4. How a groomer was going to get paid if there was no business;

5. Why she thought she needed more than 1 groomer and a bather if  she had no client base.

Friends who have no business experience constantly ask me why I don’t open another  dog grooming business.  Here’s why:

1.  You need to find a location not only where there  aren’t many similar businesses around, but  is zoned  appropriately;

2.You need at least $5000 for equipment, and at least $5000 more for build out, and at least $5000 more  to sustain you until you build a client base.  the utility companies and the landlord don’t give credit;

3.Any blip in the economy, or more than 3 days of straight  rain will destroy your business.

How much capital do you want to risk?   Mutual funds are enough of a gamble for me.  This  woman who wanted to open a dog grooming business…even though she was not a groomer, was offended that I would not tell her everything she needed to do and that I was trying to discourage her (from spending all the money she had).  She had a decent location…and that was IT. Nothing else. I’ve ‘helped’ too many people who then went on to hire another groomer. No, thanks.

The  nice thing is, not many groomers are entering the profession.  They are good enough to work for a non-dog groomer, who really doesn’t know the difference, but  people who really care about their dogs know the difference.

Several people have asked Romaine Michelle,  who was on the original GroomTeam USA, and is a noted grooming contest winner and grooming contest judge,  and I why we don’t teach. We try, but people won’t make the commitment to learning…and you can’t teach talent.

What do you mean my ANYTIME minutes have expired

January 31, 2013

This is not just about phone service—it’s about technology being, ah, not so great.

There was a time  that I thought the idea of mobile phones was neat.  I have to admit, they are very handy in an emergency.  However, I was forced by an employer to get a mobile phone.  I was going  into clients homes,  and  had to  be able to contact my boss, who was also on the move.

I didn’t know how to choose, so I asked a bunch of people what kind of phone,  and a bunch suggested Virgin Mobile.  It’s a pay-a-you-go -plan.

Funny thing is…they give you bonus minutes, and then don’t let you use them.  So, I had to call Virgin Mobile to ask them why they weren’t rolling over my anytime minutes. confusion ensued. Finally, not admitting a problem with their software, they gave me 3 months of free service so I could use up my minutes.

I wanted to pay a credit card bill out of my back account, so I logged in. Nothing. Thinking I made a mistake, I logged in again…and again….nothing was happening.  My saved  accounts were gone!   So, I called the bank.  I got the voice mail system, so I pressed 0 to speak to a live person and…got cut off.  Tried twice more, several different phone numbers for the bank. Nothing. so I emailed them. They called back within 10 minutes.
They had UPGRADED  their system, & now, nothing worked…& I had to rebuild the account.

Several years ago, my identity was stolen.  I know  all my info was sold by a bank I had refinanced with, because the idiot who sold my  identity was using my legal name (which I use only on my mortgage & passport).  Most sickening, besides my social security number, she had my mother’s maiden name.  I found all this out because a collection agency started calling me about my past due Verizon account, & I didn’t even have a cell phone.

She had opened a Verizon Wireless account somewhere in St. Louis (but later, in Los Angeles).   I could not get  Verizon to talk to me, because the collection agency that wanted over $600 wouldn’t give me the telephone number  on the account!
So, I called the Illinois State’s Attorney—& THEY got someone from Verizon on the phone, who apologized profusely, & swore she would  call off the collection agency and report the account as fraudulent to the 3 credit bureaus.

I believe she contacted Trans Union, but , because I  am refinancing, I got Experion’s credit report. Not only were the Verizon  account & the 2 fake addresses still on my credit report, but a gas company which slammed me &  has a collection agency that also wants several hundred  dollars on my credit report.
Seems that it’s so easy to  do this. The collection agencies work for the creditors, not for the public.

I am sure everyone in America has been through this—where you spend more time on the phone or emailing  to correct bogus charges or  to get what you are entitled to, than you do in productive work…& that said, I am going  on vacation for 2 weeks.