This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Mars Candy Company. Copied and pasted from the Terrierman's FaceBook post


The Mars candy and food company is the largest owner of veterinary services in the U.S.
Mars secured this position in 2017 when they bought VCA, the second largest veterinary health service provider in the U.S., for $9.1 billion.
From the 2017 press release:
“Mars, Incorporated and VCA Inc. (NASDAQ: WOOF) today announced that they have entered an agreement under which Mars will acquire all of the outstanding shares of VCA for $93 per share, or a total value of approximately $9.1 billion including $1.4 billion in outstanding debt. The transaction price represents a premium of approximately 41 percent over VCA's 30-day volume weighted average price on January 6, 2017, and a premium of approximately 31 percent over VCA's closing price on January 6, 2017. The agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
“VCA joins Mars Petcare, one of the world's leading pet care providers. Pet care has been an important part of Mars for over 80 years. The transaction reaffirms Mars' commitment to the pet care industry and the veterinary profession, and once completed will help drive Mars Petcare's purpose to create A Better World for Pets. Mars Petcare's portfolio of Veterinary Services businesses includes BANFIELD® Pet Hospital, BLUEPEARL® and PET PARTNERS™. Together with VCA, these businesses will provide an unprecedented level of access to high quality veterinary care for pets, from wellness and prevention to primary, emergency and specialty care. Mars Petcare is already an industry leader in pet nutrition with global brands that include ROYAL CANIN®, PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®. Mars has a growing business in pet DNA testing through the WISDOM PANEL®, and in 2015 also acquired pet technology provider WHISTLE.”
What's this mean for pet care? Consolidation in the health care arena always means more pressure to engage in fraud through upcoding, price-gouging, bill-padding, and medically unnecessary goods and services. The patient (human, canine, or feline), takes a back seat to the bottom line, and procedure manuals are written to maximize revenue by cutting actual services while increasing the costs and number of billed activities.
The pressure of Wall Street (NASDAQ: WOOF) will drive up prices across the veterinary sphere, while also lowering the confidence people will have about the quality of care and information they are getting from their own veterinarians.
The parallel here is with human health care, where the rise of industrialized medicine driven by doctor kickbacks, off-label marketing, bill-padding, upcoding, and price-gouging is king. The difference; unlike in human health care, there are no federal rules prohibiting such activity for dogs and cats, and because the damages are small (because dogs and cats are simple property), there will be almost no legal representation for consumers given the hind leg.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

It's a Partnership!

If your dog's not behaving call Ain't Misbehavin'...
A canine academy for all your training needs


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Can My Dogs Read My Mind?
An Old Lady’s Mental Meanderings

For a while now I have noticed that my dogs seem to know what I am thinking. I leave my house almost every day without taking them with me. I go to work, I go shopping, I go to run errands. They know the drill and are quietly settled on their various beds without any expectation of coming along for the ride.  But whenever I plan to take them out, whether to go on a neighborhood walk, or a car ride to hike the State Park or a quick romp to my neighborhood makeshift dog park they seem to know in advance. Their excitement is hard to miss as they circle around the door while doing a little happy dance. Same thing happens when it comes to food.  They show little interest when I’m preparing food for myself, maybe some curiosity, but that’s all. But when I am preparing their food, which is entirely human grade food which I might be eating myself or go to the fridge to take out their container of homemade food they’re at my side even before I reach the refrigerator.  Maybe it’s the time of day. Afterall, dogs are creatures of habit so I must be giving them some clues, right? So far perfectly normal.
But one day not too long ago I noticed something strange. I was sitting at my table finishing a mug of morning coffee, and realizing that my day was free, I thought it be a perfect day to take the dogs hiking. Mind you, I was sitting in my pj’s and robe looking at my laptop, as I do every morning. I had not even finished thinking this through when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the dogs became quite aroused and started circling and prancing at the door as they do when we’re about to go out. At first I was annoyed for they were disturbing my quiet and peaceful morning ritual. I, of course, put an end to the mayhem and once they were settled I sat back down to think about what had just occurred. My annoyance quickly turned to bafflement and wonder as I played out the scene again and again in my mind. I was certain that I provided no clues, but maybe I did so unconsciously. I decided to do a little experimentation.
Over the next few weeks I randomly and deliberately focused my thoughts on doing an outside activity with the dogs. I might do so while washing dishes, putting on makeup, making up the bed or any other mundane everyday activity. I noticed that if I simply thought the idea of taking them out nothing unusual happened but if I began to visualize our excursion they would respond as if we were about to leave. I did the same with food. Without thinking of them I would take out cold cuts or cheese for myself. No reaction other than maybe a quick glance in my direction. But if, while still seated I thought, (while visualizing), about giving them the very same food, they were at my feet sitting patiently waiting for their helpings. Be it with food or trips away from home I had to visualize the activity for them to respond. Thoughts alone provoked no reaction. I started to visualize going to bed at different times of the day and sure enough they would get up and walk to the bedroom. Is it some sort of mental telepathy? I have no idea. I’d like to believe that our bond is so strong that they can understand the pictures in my head. Or maybe I project an emotional response to my visualizations that they respond to. Anyhow, for whatever it means or if it means nothing at all, it’s just another reason why I am so enamored with all things dog.