Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pooches: On the State of the Dog-Rental Market

One of the questions we are asked most often is where to find rentals for large dogs (and pit bulls!) in the city.
I was a renter when I first adopted Miss M 8 years ago. At the time I was living in a 3-flat where the owner lived on the top floor. While my lease didn't allow dogs, the landlord didn't like going to the trouble of finding new renters so he decided I could have a dog in my unit.
He wasn't very happy to hear I was interested in a pit bull-type dog, and he said he would need to "interview" her before I could commit to adopting. Luckily, Miss M was able to fly through her interview sans songs. 
When we moved, I used Craigslist to look for dog-friendly rentals. Most of the listings I found were size-restrictive but did not restrict based on breed. Miss M and I were able to find the perfect bachelorette-pad in a Mayberry-esque area of Lincoln Square. We lived in a 7-unit building where nearly everyone had some type of pet, including: an Akita, 3 Labs, and a blind Cocker Spaniel.
We are in the fortunate situation where we have owned our homes for the past 6 years, so it has never been an issue for us, so when people ask I know we really aren't up to date with the rental market.
Though lately it seems like it is just hard to rent overall. We have heard horror stories of rents being increased hundreds of dollars, apartments sold without warning, and apartments renting in a matter of hours. With such rental demand, it seems like the easier choice for landlords is to just choose tenants without pets.

So we are curious to know what's really going on out there.
How tough is the rental market for dogs? And for dogs that might fall under the breed-restricted list?
How did you find your place? And how tough was it?
Are there certain areas or types of buildings that are easier to rent?
Has anyone had success with pet resumes? Or needed to focus on the "mix" part of your dog?
What advice would you have for people looking to rent?

On making living with dogs a positive experience for shared-wall neighbors.
And these secrets. And these answers.
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Monday, September 15, 2014

SociaBulls: On Not "Graduating"

Lately, we've been hearing so many great stories about our SociaBulls members' experiences.
About pups who are using their experiences from the group to gain more focus on daily walks.
About pooches who are becoming more accustomed to walking closely with other dogs.
And about shy dogs who are able to walk near people in the company of other dogs. These owners keep coming to the group because they are  so proud of the positive changes they've seen in their pups.
At the same time, I was just talking to another member about why all types of dogs come and if there is ever a time when they seem to overcome what they came to work on and have "graduated" from the walks.
After thinking about our own experiences, and talking to many of our other members, we've realized even as our pups improve there are still so many reasons the walks can be beneficial.

Pups Love Socialization and Stimulation:
One of the biggest benefits we've noticed from the group is that it gives our dogs a different way to socialize. We know that not every dog is able to, or enjoys, physical interaction when socializing with other dogs. Group walking is a comfortable way for all types of dogs to socialize.
We also like how it's  both physically and mentally stimulating and a good way to keep your pups' experiences well-rounded.

We're All Always in Training:
I know there are a lot of obstacles we've overcame, but I can't say that we have ever "graduated" from training overall. I have noticed that once I think our pups are successful in one area we tend to be more lenient, but by not practicing and using what we've learned they tend to fall back into bad habits.
We love how SociaBulls walks are a scheduled way for us to remember to follow our good habits. We love using it to work on check-in's, self-control (that would be Miss M always diving for the goose poo!), and focus (we're looking at you Mr. B always begging other people for their treats).

The Importance of Supportive Communities:
Back when I first adopted Miss M, I didn't really have other dog friends and I know it really would have helped to be part of a supportive community. From being able to talk about dog coats that fit, recommendations for dog boarding, and little issues we notice, it has been amazing to hear the recommendations from so many of our SociaBulls friends. We also like that we have met such a diverse group of people, we probably wouldn't have been able to meet, and we are all brought together through our love of dogs.

The inside stories (follow the link at the bottom) about why so many of our pups walk.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pooches: Do Your Pups Sleep in Your Bed?

We always think it's funny when people ask whether our pups sleep in our bed with us.
Because if you have ever seen how Miss M sleeps like this:
and especially this:
there is no way we are voluntarily inviting her into our bed. 
And poor Mr. B always loses by default.
At the same time, we know plenty of people who routinely have their pups in their bed.
One of our friends hilariously told us they weren't sure they could adopt a second dog because there wouldn't be enough room in the bed for everyone.
So we're curious, do your pups sleep in your bed?

Twin dog beds!
What we're hoping for soon.

Check our Facebook page for more photos and story lines beyond the blog.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Things to do in Chicago with Dogs: Best Summer Activities with Dogs

While we have been a bit quiet on the blog lately, along with our whirlwind of a summer selling, buying a home,  and moving, we really were out there with our pups taking advantage of everything summer has to offer.
We've been way behind on posting and sharing our photos, but as we were sorting through everything  we found these 5 highlights of our favorite dog-friendly summer activities.

Gay Pride Parade
Chicago's Gay Pride Parade has always been the highlight of our summer. We love that the entire community comes out to celebrate ideas of equality and gay rights with a multi-mile parade and celebration complete with thumping music, beads and feathers.
The pups join the crowds bedecked in rainbow beads, tiaras (Miss M!) and cowboy hats (Mr. B!) and also make quite the impression showing how pit bull-type dogs are just like any other dog.
One of our favorite videos ever was showing all the people the pups met from their view in this first video in the post here. 
And Miss M's tiara debut.

Taste of Latin America
While a lot of people seem to think Taste of Chicago is one of the best events in the city (though once you live here you realize it really isn't) we think Taste of Latin America is the best food festival we've been to yet. This is a new-to-the-city festival that we first found out two years ago, and I was beyond disappointed when it was cancelled last year. This year we were excited to go with all 3 pups who had an amazing time meeting people, and staring at the food we ate. We even had our Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut in front of us at one of the booths and he only turned to ask "Are the dogs enjoying this festival?" (huh?)
Though I think they enjoyed the tasting a bit more here.

Shakespeare in the Park
We were able to make it out to this year's Shakespeare in the Park at our very own brand new neighborhood park. This year they brought out A Midsummer Night's Dream and though we came late and were a bit further from the stage it was nice to be able to sit outside with so many other people enjoying the play. I think it was Foster Dog Feeney's first cultural experience.
And Mr. B was still laughing about how he unexpectedly got to be part of the play last year.

Renegade Craft Fair
We know summer has really come to an end when it's Renegade Craft Fair (which annually coincides with the first Bears game of the season!). It's the weekend when a slew of Etsy-vendors converge on our city stretching out for a half-mile (on both sides!). We ran into a series of SociaBulls members, a couple of people who knew the pups from the Internet (thanks for saying hi!), and we got to see the booth of the talented and creative La Familia Green who uses her own pups as inspiration to create clever cards for your favorite pet-lover.
And in case you were ever wondering, here Miss M shares what Renegade looks like from a dog's view.

Ubiquitous Neighborhood Street Fest 
I'm not really sure which of the neighborhood festivals this was at, but it seems to have everything Chicagoans have come to expect from most street festivals.
Mr B as one of the bros? Check.
Our dogs participating in a random hook-up? Check.
Pigs in strollers? Check.
And drinking a beer? Just kidding...our pups only eat dog ice-cream.

So these were all the things we were doing when we weren't here at the computer.
Anyone else have any summer highlights with your pups?

Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DoggyStyle: On Entryway Makeovers

Miss M is shocked speechless during the final reveal
While we have been lucky enough to know our friend over at Yellow Brick Home for the past few years (remember how their pup Jack was one of the first SociaBulls members?) we were even luckier that when we moved into our new home we became real-life neighbors. 
In the entire city of Chicago we now live mere blocks away where impromptu dinners and rendezvous (Miss M considers Jack among one of her favorite boyfriends) have become a reality.
We are always marveling at Scott and Kim's creativity, and we were beyond excited when they offered to help us makeover our entryway.
With all of our daily walks with the pups, our entryway is key. We need it to hold our slew of dog supplies: leashes, towels, dog raincoats, and towels. As well as being a place for us to shed our coats and take off our shoes. 
We were always focusing on the functional, and we never thought an entryway could actually be beautiful. 
Until they made it that way.
We are still shocked and excited each day to come home to the amazing transformation. We can't believe we actually get to live here!
And you can see how it turned out on the Yellow Brick Home blog, here.

SPOLIER ALERT: The pups' "Bachelor/Bachelorette" Glamour Shots even got to be part of the design!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

City Dog: How Much Exercise Do Your Dogs Get?

As City Dog owners, the one thing that always comes up in conversation (usually by non-dog owners) is that dogs can't be happy living in the city.
Sure, it's usually a conversation with that one drunken guy, stumbling over, trying to explain to you that your dog isn't happy and needs to run free.
In a field.
With flowers.
It seems our pups prefer laying in the field. Without flowers.

While we just did our own little backyard vs. walking experiment, I was just thinking about how much exercise most dogs do get.
And whether anyone is really frolicking though these infinite fields on a daily basis.
Mr. B chooses levitation over frolicking.

Sure our pups aren't romping around, but we are going on daily walks a couple of times a day.
Some of our Family Walks can be as long as 5 miles.
I really think it's this low-impact, consistent exercise that has kept our pups healthy as they age, and many people can't believe our pups are really 10 and 11 years old.

We know all dogs and situations are different, but we're curious about how much exercise dogs are really getting.
How much exercise is your pup getting each day? And as long as it's exercise, does it matter if it's really a field romp or a long walk?

Because the city is our Obstacle Course
How we exercise indoors when we can't go outdoors
Making the most of our walks.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pooches: On Dogs and Cars

It usually takes us welcoming a new foster dog  into our home to realize there are some things we take for granted. 
Like knowing how to ride nicely in a car.
You may have seen these dramatic Facebook photos of Miss M getting squished since foster dog Feeney didn't know how to ride in the car.
We were trying to think back to what we did to teach our pups to ride nicely in the car. 
The pups used to be unrestrained which allowed them to go wherever they wanted in the car:
So we got them seat belts to make them stay in one place.
Our pups have been wearing seat belts for a few years, and we originally liked the Petbuckle Pet Harness, though we found that the RC Pet Products vest/harness seatbelt is actually much easier to put on them.
(Mr. B is wearing the original seatbelt and Miss M is wearing the harness vest in the photos below). The pet seat belts can be hooked through the car seatbelt, but we like using the Kwik Connect Tether to clip them in.
We love that the seat belts can keep them in place. Or in Miss M's situation, Mr. B's place:
They used to be able to freely let their jowls fly in the wind:
But when we heard how easily their eyes could be damaged by debris (and we really can't take anymore vet bills!) we got them doggles. 
Side benefit: They brighten peoples' mornings as they see them drive by.
And since the pups can get muddy paws and slobbery faces allover the car, we got this carseat cover.
We always love hearing everyone else's ideas.
What are some ways your pups learned to ride nicely in the car?

The unbelievable flapping jowl film.
Do City Dogs really need cars?
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SociaBulls: On First Walks

When I think about our SociaBulls group, sometimes I feel like we've had our little group of friends forever, and sometimes it still seems so new.
This summer we had a whole slew of new members coming for their orientations and initial dog walks. I love that we have such a diverse group of new members, and it's always interesting to hear their impressions of the group when they come on their orientation walk.
Though many people are apprehensive about bringing their pup on their first walk.
I've actually heard a couple times that people are afraid that their dog will be so ever-excited they will "break the group".  (Which has actually never happened).
I think that since we have a structure that is successful, and so many of our dogs have been walking with the group for so long, it really has become a place where new members can integrate well.
And we have a lot of people who are surprised how well their dog has done even on their first walk.

Did I really just miss our SociaBulls anniversary? Can you believe this was our inaugural trek?
And I need to update this one.
Follow this strand for all SociaBulls related posts
Learn more about our SociaBulls group here, and on our Facebook page here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Things to Do in Chicago with Dogs: "Secret" Chicago Air & Water Show

The one summer event the entire city is involved in, whether we like it or not, is Chicago's Air & Water show. We can hear (and feel!) the planes arriving as early as Thursday, with glimpses of them flying over our deck.
The show is held on Saturday and Sunday featuring stunt pilots and military planes with an estimated 2 million people will flocking to the lakefront. People come complete with coolers, lawn chairs and even tents setting up as early as 6am just to claim a piece of lawn. (This was always the hardest weekend of Marathon Training with an extra long long-run and tons of people to run around).
We would never take our pups to anything so crowded.
I would never take myself to anything this crowded.
So we go on the "secret" day.
Every year they hold their practice session on Friday afternoons including the full-line up, announcer, and even food trucks.
We get all of the benefits of the full show, with plenty of lawn space to ourselves.
None of the pups are bothered by loud noises, and we were lucky it was a mild (but beautifully blue!) day. Dogs aren't allowed on the human beaches, so we just walked a bit past to the grass area with a perfect view of the planes and the Chicago skyline. The exact bend of the lakeshore path Jennifer Aniston runs along in the movie The Break-up.
The pups were all smiles enjoyed relaxing on the lawn and meeting lots of people.
Even Miss M was especially smiley.

Skyline exploration.
Feeling like Copenhagen.
And Deja Vu
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

City Dog: Learning to Walk Multiple Dogs at the Same Time

We are always talking about how walking a dog through the city can be like an obstacle course complete with excited on-coming dogs, entire discarded gyros, and ubiquitous day-drinkers who try to put  sombreros on your dog. Which can become twice as difficult if you are walking a second dog.
While I have figured out how to balance our two pups, when we add a foster dog to the mix I'm back to taking the pups on separate walks. And what was once 2-3 walks a day quickly becomes 4-6 walks. Which is basically my entire day.
As we've been fostering foster dog Feeney, things have been a bit different. Feeney is a slower walker who matches Miss M's walking style perfectly. So I've been walking them together.
And since I already know how to walk Miss M and Mr. B together, I can sometimes walk all 3 pups together.

If you haven't read this really, really good post by Willie and Nabi's person already, read it first. I've been using her advice about check-in's and perfecting the single-dog walk to walk our pups together.
These are some additional things I've learned about walking all of our pups together:

Make Every Walk a Training Walk
Even though we've had Miss M and Mr. B for so long, we learned it's important to keep consistency by treating every walk like a training walk. We have a routine where the pups know to sit when I'm locking the door, opening the gate, stopping at corners or picking up poo. We use the check-in's to make sure the dogs are still paying attention to us on each walk. I will spontaneously stop the walk and ask them for other commands ("Down", "Wave", "Shake") just to make sure that they are staying alert. This routine has helped both of our dogs recognize the routine and look to us for guidance instead of making their own decisions to jump or get excited.

Create an Order:
I've learned that each of our dogs walks better in a certain space. Miss M is slower, so she generally likes to walk on the outside. Mr. B takes the check-in's literally, so he walks next to me.
If I know something exciting is coming up (Mr. B's kryptonite is dogs barking behind windows) I will move one of the dogs to the side with me in-between them as a buffer. This way if one dog gets over-excited, this generally won't translate to the other dog because they aren't right next to each other.

Colored Leashes:
Before our pups became fashionistas, our trainer told us we should have different colored leashes on each of the dogs. This way if we saw a trigger, it's easy to hold or move that dog to another spot.

Know Your Pup & Anticipate:
Multiple-dog walking is always a work-in-progress, and I usually only do it on familiar routes where things are already familiar to the dogs and I know the route so well I can avoid most of the triggers. I've also taken our pups on so many walks that I can recognize their triggers.

This is something that will always be a work-in-progress for us.
Does anyone else have any additional ideas on how to make walking multiple dogs easier?

Walking like a city dog
How dog walking is like dating.
The odd couple.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.
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