Monday, December 26, 2011

Being Delusional Helps

I did it. I knit seven Christmas presents and one birthday present in six and a half weeks, and I did not go crazy. (Or crazier, if you prefer.) Five of the eight came in pairs, and any sock or mitten knitter will tell you that one half of a pair counts as a finished item, so I could claim thirteen finished items. But I won't because a little bit of glory is enough, and I got all the glory I needed last night when my stepmom looked at my sister's Snuggle-Licious Snow Day Socks and said, "You made those? You've come a long way in a year." Then my brother-in-law generously offered to set me up in my very own Ebay sweatshop in which, if I understand correctly, I would do all the knitting and he would take all the profits. When I write my own knitting book, I'm going to ask him to write the blurb for the back cover because you just can't buy that kind of praise.

From left to right:
  • Brother-in-law's Cowboys scarf (Yes, it's still on the needles in this picture, which was taken Christmas Eve; I cast off Christmas Day afternoon in time to give it to him that night.)
  • Sister's Snuggle-Licious Snow Day Socks (That's my name for them. The Paton's pattern just calls them "Fair Isle Socks." Boooooooring.)
  • Cousin Lily's Christmas stocking (Mom made a coordinating stocking for Lily's sister Georgia.)
  • Mom's Snuggle-Licious Snow Day Socks
  • Miles the Boxer's Christmas stocking (I forgot to put the hanger on, but luckily noticed when I was wrapping it and took yarn and needles to Christmas dinner. I added the hanger while everyone else was opening presents. Whoops.)

At the top of the picture:
  • Stepmom's red and gray slippers
  • Dad's light brown and dark brown slippers
These slippers are what made the impressive knitted gift item total possible. They're in bulky and from cast-on to seaming and blocking, including 20 minutes of soak time, each slipper takes three hours. I did one slipper per evening every night between Tuesday and Friday of last week and only stayed up past midnight once. They are completely simple yet completely awesome slippers.

And last but not least, Mom's birthday socks:

Of which I am not a little proud.

But next year? No knitted presents. This time I'm serious.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why I WILL Take My Pets to Pet Haven Vet Clinic

Last week I wrote here about a terrible experience I had at Pet Haven, a local pet supply and grooming shop. A lot of people have commented since then, mostly with their own horror stories, but a couple of people have come to the defense of the veterinarian side, saying they are separate businesses not owned by the same people. My immediate response to that was that, given that they share a name, a building, and a communicating hallway, some type of relationship is implied. But, as I stated in the original post, I have always been very happy with the care my pets have received on the vet side and I was sorry to think that I wouldn't be able to go there anymore, so I wanted to know more.

So this afternoon I stopped in and talked with the vet clinic office manager. She assures me that the only relationship between the two businesses is that the vet side rents the clinic space from the owners of the grooming side. The grooming side has no say in the day-to-day operations on the clinic side and animals are never moved between the two facilities unless, for example, the owner specifically requests that an animal receive vaccinations on the same day the animal is groomed. In other words, when my cat goes in for surgery, all the shaving and whatnot is done on the clinic side. There is no need for me to worry that any of my animals will ever be taken next door without my knowledge or consent. And the grooming side does not profit from the clinic side other than through rent payments.

I'm still not completely comfortable with this. The vets do recommend to patients (including me) that they should run next door to pick up this or that item, and being willing to share a name and building space implies approval of the behavior going on in the grooming side. If I were the clinic owner, I would find another space, pronto, or at least brick up the communicating door and change the name.

But at this point I don't think that objection is serious enough to warrant taking my animals to a new vet clinic, at least during the remainder of my elderly cats' lifetimes. The kindness and excellent care I've invariably experienced on the clinic side makes it worth it to me to maintain that relationship, even though I'm disgusted by the next-door neighbor and will miss no opportunity to let clinic staff know I think they should move.

In the interest of full disclosure, the office manager, with whom I've been friendly for a while, did hand me a stack of coupons for Edgar's food, but not until after we'd been talking for a few minutes, and I had already said I would probably continue to use the clinic. I promise I wasn't bribed. : )

Finally, I would like to respond to one commenter who suggested that I should not have published my previous post and should instead have simply left the store and silently resolved never to shop there again because criticism in this format (or on Facebook, where the blog post was reproduced by a friend of mine) can harm the reputation of innocent people. I want that commenter and others to understand that I did not lightly decide to publish that post. Had I seen an adult treating a child in the manner that I saw Ms. Thompson treating that dog, I certainly would not have written a blog post about it. I would've just called the police! But at the time I doubted whether the police would've responded to a call of animal abuse in that context, so I believed my only option was to let my neighbors know what I had seen to try to prevent other animals from being hurt in the future. I did write the original post in anger, but I then spent several hours revising it to make sure it was scrupulously accurate, and I also asked the advice of two people I trust and respect before posting. I would also like to point out that my full name is attached to this blog. I take all responsibility for the content here. As with any content on the Internet, you, the reader, must evaluate its validity for yourself.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why I Will No Longer Shop at Pet Haven (Updated)

UPDATE, 12/16/11: Please see Why I WILL Take My Pets to Pet Haven Vet Clinic.

UPDATE, 12/13/11: I have learned that there may be no financial connection between Pet Haven grooming and Pet Haven Veterinary Clinic. I will be investigating this, and will write another post if warranted. As stated in the original post, I've always been very pleased with the treatment my pets have received at the veterinary clinic, and I would be thrilled to continue using their services. However, a shared name, building, and even a communicating hallway implies some sort of relationship, and I need to understand exactly what that relationship is. I will be visiting the vet clinic either this Friday or early next week, and will update here or write a new blog post as warranted.

Original Post:

On Saturday, December 10, 2011, I stopped in at Pet Haven, a pet supply store in northwest Wichita. Although I've shopped for supplies and used their veterinary service for years and been pleased with the compassion their veterinarians show my pets, I've always known I would never take any animal of mine there for grooming. Diana Thompson, the owner who does most of the grooming, is just a little too rough with the dogs on her table. She tends to jerk them around by the leads around their necks, and I've seen her leave a dog on the table while she wanders off to have a snack. Ms. Thompson's grooming staff is none too gentle, either. I regret that in the past I've blown off the behavior I've seen. The location was just too convenient for running in to grab a sack of food or a cat toy. But after Saturday, I'm finished with Pet Haven entirely.

When I went in on Saturday morning, Ms. Thompson had a dog on the grooming table who wasn't cooperating to her satisfaction. The dog was trying to turn away and crouch low to the table to avoid her. She repeatedly used the lead around the dog's neck to yank the dog around to face her and then into a standing position, all while yelling over and over, "Stop it!" and "Stand up!" Ms. Thompson appeared to think that if she could just yell loud enough, the dog would miraculously understand the English language and be able to respond exactly as she wanted. She doesn't seem to be aware that it's particularly easy to injure a dog's neck, let alone that dogs are sentient creatures who think and feel. This dog was clearly feeling terror and pain.

Since Ms. Thompson has her grooming tables set up out in the open and was behaving in this manner in front of me and other customers, she apparently thinks that this is a normal, acceptable way to treat an animal. However, I consider her actions abusive and entirely unacceptable--and, frankly, nauseating--so I put my purchase on the counter and left. I wish I could've done something for the dog she had on the table. I won't shop there again, and I'm searching for a new veterinarian. I'll make the drive out to All Paws Pet Center for food and supplies and Brewster already gets his grooming at Rags to Ribbons in Valley Center.

This is not a personal vendetta against Ms. Thompson. I've never interacted with her other than to make purchases in her shop, and those encounters have always been amiable. (At least until Saturday, when I put my intended purchase on the counter and said in a remarkably calm voice, "I can buy this someplace else." As I walked away, she or another staff member hissed--yes, hissed--at my back.) I'm not condemning the products she sells, which I've always found to be of acceptable quality, or the veterinary care provided next door, which I've always found to be compassionate and competent.

But Pet Haven is hardly a "haven" for Ms. Thompson's grooming clients, and I will not use any of their services anymore.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dog In Need of Space

I really love the article "My Dog Is Friendly! A Public Service Announcement" and thought about printing it out to take on walks to give to overly friendly people. But it's a little long, so I wrote my own little PSA, which fits on one page and has the advantage of being personalized for Brewster's situation and Wichita city codes.

Dear Neighbor,
My dog is a Dog In Need of Space (DINOS). Please do not approach or allow your children or your dog to approach my dog. It does not matter that you are "good with dogs" or that your dog doesn't bite. My dog is aggressive when he believes he is being attacked, and it isn't safe for you or your dog to approach without my approval. My dog is a good dog. He was rescued as a stray and his behavior makes it clear that he was dumped or ran away from an abusive home where he was hit often and never socialized to strange people or dogs. I have gone through formal obedience training with him, and continue to work with him, but no amount of training will ever make him comfortable around strangers of any species. Yet when he is properly introduced and has time to get to know a new person or dog, he is the friendliest, sweetest, most loving dog you'd ever want to meet.

Even though my dog is aggressive when he feels threatened, I do have the right to walk him in public as long as he is on leash and under my control. However, no dog owner has the right to allow a dog to run off leash outside of a fenced area. It is a violation of Wichita law (City Code 6.04.040a) to allow any animal other than a cat to roam free, even if it's in your own front yard. Furthermore, if a loose dog charges my dog and my dog bites, the loose dog's owner will probably be considered to be at fault under City Code 6.04.045b.2.ii because the loose dog will be considered to have provoked my dog. This applies even if the loose dog is "friendly" and "just wants to play."

That said, I will always do anything I can to prevent my dog hurting another. I am an animal lover (otherwise I wouldn't have adopted a special-needs dog!) and I don't want your dog or my dog to get hurt. I do my best to keep my dog out of dangerous situations and away from strange dogs and people while still giving him the daily exercise and enjoyment he deserves. Please help me keep your family and my dog safe by following the law and keeping your pets under control, and by teaching your children when and when not to approach a dog. Keep in mind that my dog is certainly not the only DINOS in the neighborhood. You should never approach or allow your children or your pet to approach any dog without the owner's express permission--and even then you should carefully assess the dog's body language for yourself before approaching. 

For more information on DINOS dogs, please visit