Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I think retractable leashes should be outlawed.

I've been saying this for years.  I HATE retractable leashes. 

I have a friend that is a bit offended by this.  I guess there are people that know how to use them, or have dogs that are under control enough that they could use them.  Maybe there should be a class on how to use them.

What's the big deal, you may ask?  Perhaps you haven't seen what I see nearly every day.

Retractable  leashes are simple to use, right?  You just hold on to the handle and ZINGggg  (that's the sound it makes, in case you've never used one)... your dog can run out to the end, much farther than the boring, old fashioned, six foot leash.  Then, if your dog comes back towards you, it retracts back into the handle.. pretty slick feature... or so you think. 

Why the strange dislike of such an incredible invention?   If you really want to know, keep reading.   If not, maybe go check your facebook page, or do some online shopping.

 Most dogs are not under control.  At all.  So, giving them 30 odd FEET of leash, instead of the average 6, really doesn't work too well.  We have dogs come into our clinic on them all the time .  The dogs run everywhere, behind the counter, up to other dogs, etc.  No control, at all.  When I taught puppy class, people tried to use them to train their dogs.  Really?  We finally had to ban them from class.  It just wasn't working.

But, they have a LOCK on them, you say!!  A LOCK! So the dog doesn't have to have the full 30 feet!  Yeah, no one I know uses that lock.  In fact, when I am trying to avert a dogfight after being handed one of these leashes, I've locked them for the client, who then acts very offended that their baby cannot get any freedom when I do that.  It's immediately unlocked.  Who cares if your 8 month old Pug just ran up to a very large Pit Bull mix who doesn't like other dogs??  He needs his freedom!

At the very least I'd like to put a limit on the amount of retractable leashes one person can handle at a time.  I'd like that limit to be ONE (1).  We have one client who brings in 3.. wow, that's a handful.  She's actually one of the best retractable leash wranglers we see, but still there are some times when the dogs are so tangled up, it takes a while for us to get them separated. 

Dogs also get loose alot on these leashes.  They learn how to run as fast as they can to the end of them, then the large handle pops out of the unsuspecting owner's hand and it goes flying.  Then we have a dog running with a large plastic leash handle bang, bang, banging behind them, which makes them run all the faster. 

The other problem with these gems, and the reason I feel a class is in order to own one, is a simple one.  These leashes only retract if the dog actually comes  towards you.  If you in fact want your dog to come away from whatever danger the dog has decided to visit while on his leash, you have to get them to come to you.  So you have to walk towards the dog, and lock it, then walk towards them and lock it, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It's kind like reeling in a fish, but harder.  The average person has no concept of how to do this, so it never goes well.  It's hard enough to do this with one dog, but try doing it with two or three unruly dogs.  Now, that's entertaining.

Ever had a rope burn?  Well, see what happens if you (or worse yet, your child) grabs on to the cord part of the leash as the dog takes off.  Ouch.  Unsteady on your feet?  Some dogs will wrap the leash around and around their owners legs, and we have to help them out of it.  It's a sure fire way to break a hip, so please don't let Grandma use one.  They also tangle in dog's legs.  It's a great way for them to get hurt as well.

I have hated these leashes for a very long time, but recently J was told a story that made me swear them off forever.  She met a person who had actually lost part of their finger to a retractable leash.  She somehow got her finger tangled in the cord, and her very large Lab took off after something, and  part of her finger actually was pulled off!!  Yikes, that is insane! 

Yes, I know the main company known for making these leashes no longer uses the cord, and now have a "tape" type leash instead.  I wonder just how many people lost their fingers before that happened?  Pretty scary. 

Don't be offended by this post if you have no problems with your retractable leash and think it's the best thing since sliced bread, it just means your dog is actually trained.  I just don't get to see trained dogs very often.  This is possibly why I am so bitter.  I bet I'll find some readers that agree with me. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Things that made me smile, laugh and cry.

Again, it's been too long since my last blog post, so here is a quick recap of the highs and lows of the last few weeks.

What made me smile?  Well, lots of things, there is a reason I love my job.   1st off, there has been a huge influx of new puppies coming to me lately.  I love puppies.  They are difficult sometimes, but I love to hug them, smell their puppy breath and teach them things.  I had Shih Tzu babies, a Yorkie, a Havanese, to name a few.  It's fun to give them that first haircut, and to see the owners face, when they see the makeover. 

I had a new poodle puppy coming in with an elderly man.  He told me she "likes to nip" and he wanted me to be very careful when I groomed her.  It was her 1st groom, and he had been brushing her (YAY).  He knew what type of haircut he wanted, but he told me that I'd know better what girls need than him. :).  It was obvious this little spitfire was his pride and joy.  Before we parted ways and he left her with me.  He took me by the shoulders and looked right into my eyes, he said "if you do a good job I will give you $5 extra".  Then, he dug in his pocket and showed me the five dollar bill and said "maybe I should give it to you right now!".  I pushed away his money and told him to wait and see her haircut first.    He came to pick her up after I had left for the day, and no tip was left.  I didn't really think much of it, but I did wonder how he liked her haircut and her hot pink bows, when I came to work the next day.  I was called to the front later that morning, and there he was, with a big smile on his face and my five dollar bill.  He told me he loved the haircut and before he left, he gave me a big hug.  What a sweet guy.  I'm sure the smile never left my face the rest of the day.

Things that made me laugh?  The kid who told J that his Springer Spaniel was a "Secret Agent"!  HA!  I've no idea what that means, but it's just awesome!  Then there was the lady who has us put a mohawk on her small dog, but then wanted the beard left rounder, "so he doesn't look so mean".  Ok...

This made me laugh as well.
Check out those eyelashes!  This dog is only 8 months old!  How long will they get???

I love this one, my niece learning to groom thanks to J's incredibly patient Golden Retriever.  Love that dog!  She actually did a really good job on his feet!  Good thing she's only 11.. my knees wouldn't take kneeling on the cement for long.

Things that made me cry?

This week two clients lost very special dogs.  Both of them had been grooming clients since they were tiny pups.  One of them came for daycare every day for a year.  I hate that part of my job.  I've been grooming so long, I've seen some clients lose 2 or 3 pets now, I am privileged to have known them their whole lives. 

This also made me cry just today, but in a good way.

Good clients of mine had lost their older dog, and told me that the remaining one was having a hard time without her.  They were interested in a a certain breed, and sometimes I groom good rescue prospects for the local animal shelter, so I told her I'd keep her in mind, and let her know if any came through.

One did, he was around 5 or 6 and so incredibly sweet.  He did have some issues, he had horrible ear infections and his skin was not healthy at all.  The vet that saw him warned the shelter that his new owners would have to be made aware that these problems would likely be lifelong.  Not everyone can afford to care for a dog with chronic skin and ear problems, and not everyone is willing to deal with the constant medicating.  It made me sad that he might be overlooked at the shelter, or worse yet, go to a home that would continue neglecting him as he so obviously had been in the prior situation.

I thought about it, and decided to call my clients after all.  I told her of his problems, but also told her I wouldn't ever have considered calling her if he wasn't so sweet.  The hope was that with good care, he would become healthier to some extent.  She was excited, and said she would go over and take a look at him.  I never heard back from her, and didn't want to call and ask.  Maybe he wasn't a good fit, or maybe the state of his ears put her off. 

Today I groomed him!  The whole family loves him.  The best part?  His ears look like a normal dog's ears!!!  It's amazing, only a month later!  The vet couldn't believe it.  He does still have his skin allergies, but they are pretty minor.  I tear up just typing this.. he got a second chance with that family.  I'm so happy for them all.  As she left, she too gave me a hug, and said she couldn't thank me enough for finding them that wonderful dog.  I told her that he was really the lucky one, but I don't think she believes me.  

I love my job.