Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Breech of Trust......

Anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes working a horse in an English saddle knows that it is essential to wear breeches when riding.
Anyone who has ever shopped for a pair of breeches soon discovers that they are the single most unflattering piece of clothing they will ever own. Those tall slender people who can wear anything right off the rack may do okay breech shopping. But if you're anything close to a plus size, things get ugly fast. Being a short fat woman I've learned this quickly. I need something that, while maybe not my best wardrobe piece, at least looks Not Bad. Something that allows freedom in the saddle, doesn't scare the horses, give me more dimples than a 5 pound tub of cottage cheese, or let me jiggle more than Jello.

Then I discovered Aanstadt Das breeches. Made by a woman named Sonya who realizes riders come in all shapes and sizes. A design that flatters and fits, and no more camel toes. A genuine deerskin leather seat, and priced less than the higher end manufacturers fake leather seats. Sizing to fit everyone, and if you still couldn't find your size in her generous range of choices, she'd custom make them for you. Classic and fun colors. Even better, she had a "recycling" program. When your breeches wore out, you could send them in and she'd take the seat off and put them on a new pair, at a reduced price. Alterations and repairs were reasonable. I was in heaven and a loyal customer for many years.
Several years ago, I mailed in a pair of breeches for recycling with a check to cover the cost plus postage. My breeches were received and the check was cashed. A few months later I got a call from an employee to "tell our preferred customers about our specials." I ordered 2 new pair, paid with a credit card and told her to just send them with the recycled breeches when they were done.
Over the next several months I made several phone calls to find out where the hell my breeches were. And I always got a new employee, and was told that the last person I spoke to was "fired for stealing." Too late to have my bank or credit card company help me, I tried a threatening letter and the police. And more than 7 years later I'm still out my money and my breeches.

Unfortunately, as I have found out, my experience with this company isn't unique. Look up "Aanstadt Das" on any horse message board and you'll find a ton of people who were similarly taken. There's always some excuse why Sonya can't deliver your breeches. Personal problems. Bad business partners. Thieving employees. Always a promise to deliver the breeches, never an offer of a refund. Second verse, same as the first.

A couple of years ago, Sonya and Aanstadt Das resurfaced with an ebay store. She listed a used pair of her breeches, worn by a well known Mrs. Clinician at an exorbitant price. Those who have met her thought the cheese had finally slid off the cracker. But it was a brilliant business move, and her ebay store has done well. Burned former customers felt safe since the purchase fell under the rules of ebay.And it seemed okay for awhile. The negative feedback is the same old story. Currently, the store is empty.

Sonya's taking her stuff to the trade shows and has a booth at the Horse Expo. I was recently made aware of someone who took some breeches to be repaired at the Expo, and she ordered some more while she was there. 7 months later, she's out her money and her breeches. The name of the company that her card was run on was not Aanstadt Das. The last known address for Aanstadt Das is not the correct one, and hasn't been since April of 2010, according to the Better Business Bureau, who unsurprisingly has given this business a rating of F. Yet she can still get a booth at the Horse Expo.
So, if you absolutely must have a pair of Aanstadt Das breeches (and I totally get it, the damned things are like crack), only purchase what is there on hand. Do not leave any repairs there, and definitely do not make a prepaid order. If you get sucked in and order anyway, be aware of the time limit for a chargeback, and make sure you take care of it before your money is lost. Don't fall for empty promises that don't deliver.
If you get ripped off by any vendor at a trade show, be sure and make the trade show organizers aware of the issue you're having. They need to be made aware of the kind of people they're selling booth space to.

If you're looking for breeches of similar design and quality, try Equissentials. I ordered a custom pair of breeches from them at a trade show and got my breeches in the time they promised them. Hot Damn, what a concept!. They also offer a recycling program, even with breeches from another company. This company is a class act.

*Note: I do not, and have never, been an employee of either company mentioned here. But I've been a customer of both.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Color Me Impressed!

A few months ago we had a new client come in with a large (100 lb) dog that she had just adopted from a shelter. This was a young dog but no longer a puppy age wise. She didn't have any real history on this dog, but it was clear that he lacked any socialization skills, and possibly had been in an institution type setting for some time.
This dog was one huge ball of reaction. We are equipped to deal with out of control dogs, but when they are very large, it's nothing short of a train wreck. Before she left, I gave her some pointers about the equipment she was using (she had small dog stuff) and suggested working with a trainer. Then I put the office back together and hoped that the dog would have a long run of good health, or at least not be booked to come in on my shift.
Today, she had to bring him back in for some ear problems. I was extremely impressed with what I saw. He'd been through an obedience course. He was still obviously very stressed, especially since we were slammed and there were a ton of dogs in the office, and she did put his muzzle on for the exam, but he was much, much better.
The root of misbehavior in most dogs is fear, and lack of direction and reinforcement on how to behave. The vet's office is a high stress situation for any dog. My own dogs don't like coming to work with me, even if they aren't getting a procedure. Training and reinforcement give the dog the tools to deal with stressful situations, whether it be encountering other animals or going to the vet's office.
I think that training should be a part of the expenses set aside when getting a new dog. There's something available for every budget. The key to successful training is lots of repetition and practice, it does no good to take the dog to the weekly classes if follow up isn't done at home. I've seen my share of aggressive and vicious dogs come in. These are not trained guard dogs, but dogs who have been so starved for socialization that they have become a liability to their owners, who are afraid to deal with them. What I don't understand is why. Why take in an animal that is supposed to be your friend and companion, then not give it the necessary attention to truly enjoy the friendship? Why spend years tiptoeing around a vicious animal when the shelters are full of friendly ones needing a home?
Sure, there are truly vicious dogs that are not trainable, and should be put down. But there are many who, had they been given some training and proper reinforcement, would have never had reached the point where they were unmanageable. When I first saw this dog, he was on the on the border and going in the wrong direction. Thanks to the past (and future) hard work of his owners, his life is truly turning around. They have, in the purest sense of the word, saved him.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's a Tie!

I've promised it, now here it is: The First Annual Cranky CatWrangler Ass Clown of the Year Awards! Since I can't pick a single one, this dubious honor is shared among a few:

This piece of shit- I'm not going to retype the experience again, since I only get more angry.

The freebie: I've seen more than a few tricks to try to get out of paying the bill, but this woman has turned it into an art form. She brought her cat in for vaccines. A few days later the cat is sick with a urinary blockage, which isn't uncommon in cats, especially male. The cat needed to be hospitalized, and because of her finances, we agreed to let her pay by post dated checks, since she was an old client and in need. First, she insisted that the vaccines caused the problem, which is not the case. Then she faked a heart attack in our waiting room. When that didn't work, a few days later she requested copies of her pet's file. When she came to pick them up, she informed me that she was turning us in to the state veterinary board. I happily supplied our license number. Since we still didn't take the bait and give her free services, she stopped payment on the checks she wrote us. We are in the process of prosecuting her. The sad outcome of this is that we have stopped a 30 year policy of accepting post dated checks for services, which hurts our honest clients.

The psycho: This idiot literally flipped out when informed he'd need to pay for his cat's second vaccine. I've had people get truly upset over their pet's condition, but his actions were so over the top over something simple as a vaccine. He was screaming in our faces, and it got worse when I asked him to either calm down or leave. I started to call the police and he was screaming at me to bring them on. Note: if a business owner asks you to leave and you refuse, it is a trespass, and the police can and will remove you. This man is dangerous and needs either confinement or medication. I feel sorry for his cat.

Well there you have it. The competition was fierce. It's a new year, and one that I'm sure will bring ass clownery to new levels. If life were fair, their prize would be to spend an hour in a small room with hellcat after he's had a full meal and a tube of laxative. But I'll have to settle for wishing for the best for their pets.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Farewell Uncle Mike

An old fashioned word usually only seen in novels, but if I had to describe Uncle Mike in one word, this would be the one I'd use.
Uncle Mike is my husband's uncle, his mother's brother. A tall man in a family of short round people, he stood out, not just because of his height. I never got to see Uncle Mike at his own home. My impressions of him were at family gatherings. I'm sure there was a serious, studious side to him. He was after all, a husband, father and step father. He was a pilot, a job that was serious business, and one that requires intelligence. To me, an earthbound homebody with a cynical view of life, there was always an aura of electricity that surrounded Uncle Mike. He'd appear, bringing air and light with him. The feeling you get when you plug in the lights to a Christmas tree, when you throw open the windows to sun after days of rain, like dancing when no one was watching. His magical quality made him fascinating to children, and nobody was a stranger for long when he was around. He moved with the grace of a tap dancer, quick and precise. Then he'd breeze out just as quickly, off on another adventure.

After three tours of duty in Vietnam, Uncle Mike unwittingly brought back something nobody expected: many years later he was diagnosed with leukemia, from the exposure to Agent Orange when he was serving his country. He was able to beat the odds, not only surviving but living as the quintessential Uncle Mike long past the doctors predictions. Unfortunately, his body rejected the second bone marrow infusion and he lost the battle.
On behalf of his family and friends, I would like to thank the bone marrow donor for making it possible for us to be able to enjoy Uncle Mike for awhile longer. This was the greatest gift we could ask for.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

A day late and a dollar short, but I do hope this new year brings better things for everyone.
I just didn't feel Christmas at all last month. Not that I'm one of those excessively cheery people, but I do usually get into the holiday spirit. But the season fell flat for me this time, as I think it did for a lot of people.
On the job front it has been particularly stressful. At some point in time, all of the heater/air conditioning units were vandalized. The landlords insurance finally approved new units. It was a warm day when the units were put on the roof, with the heating company planning on coming in later in the week to wire them in. Unfortunately, we had a series of heavy rainstorms before that could happen.
A week before Christmas, the boss man's wife passed away after a long illness. So for 3 days we had another vet working with us. This vet was used to a much nicer practice, and ours seemed even more ghetto than before with it being so cold and the fact that the roof leaks to the point where it was actually raining inside the building. What little traffic we had were in and out, nobody wanted to leave their pet in such a cold office, and I don't blame them. It was cold, wet and bleak, and nobody wanted to be there. Boss Man is back at work, but he is even more isolated than usual. I can totally understand and sympathize, but I can't get rid of the feeling that everything is in a state of flux right now, and I have to ride it out and see what happens. A huge shout out of gratitude to the people who installed the heating units. The first chance they got, which was Christmas eve, they were up on our roof hooking us up with heat!
On the home front, my husband's uncle lost his battle with leukemia the day after Christmas. I'll have a post up to honor him in a day or two. We already miss him. The constant rain has kept me from doing anything with my horses, which is a necessity for my sanity. We haven't had enough dry days between storms to get them out, a major bummer. I did have the farrier out, and discovered my young horse had chewed off a significant amount of my gelding's tail! No wonder he's grumpy. I was able to wash off his muddy legs and tail yesterday and I trimmed some of it up. Thankfully it has time to grow back before summer!
I had planned more posts between Christmas and the New Year, especially the individual ass clown awards, but life events got in the way. The Twilight Zone Marathon on SyFy channel precludes everything as it is a once a year event.
Happy New Year!