Monday, November 28, 2016

Pooches: Miss M is Sneaky

You know all of those photos we have of the pups sleeping together cosily in the same bed?
There is a bit of behind-the-scenes that you may not have realized.
So something that looks like this:
Really started out like this:
Miss M has a way of finding any bit of space and squeezing in to make it look like she was always there.
Like this sweet scene of them sharing a pillow cheek to jowl:
 Is really a photo that started out with this solo pillow user:
What seems like tandem laying:
Started like this. Notice Miss M in action and Mr B's pained expression.

Also:
Remember where it all started?
Or her plan here. (I forgot how hilarious this one was!)
Beauty sleep!
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Two Dogs and a Little Baby: Bringing Home a New Baby

The biggest question we've been getting lately, is how the pups are doing with the (not so new anymore) baby.
We also weren't sure what to expect when we added Baby K to the mix.
Now that Baby K is a whopping 9+ months old, we've seen a couple of stages of interactions.
This is what it was like in the early days.

On Bringing Baby Home:
Even before doing introductions between the pups and Baby K, our trainer told us it was important to set the tone and think about how we would greet the dogs after having spent all that time in the hospital. I would probably smell strange to them, and it could be simultaneously confusing and exciting to have us show up again after leaving so suddenly.
We decided I would come in first, and I would have a high value treat. E would follow with the baby.
As it turns out, the pups weren't concerned that we'd been gone so long or smelled different. They just saw the treat and took off. I guess it was that high value! (We chose pig ears).
It wasn't until later that night that they even realized we had someone new in the house.

Early Introductions:
I pups didn't realize anything new was in the house until the middle of the night.
Like the 3:00am middle of the night where all normal people (and dogs!) are sleeping, but it's Baby prime hour.
For crying.
And not communicating why they are crying.
I was with Baby K in his room when I heard footsteps. I figured it was E, but instead it was Miss M (oddly walking human-like) peeking around the corner and and staring wide-eyed at us.
I could just imagine her saying "Excuse me. My name is Miss M. I am the Mayor of this house. You may be new here, but this is a quiet house. And you are not being quiet."
The first few nights Miss M would come in like this and stare scoldingly.
Which evolved to her literally following my every move. She would sit next to me when I was feeding Baby K at night. She would follow me to the bathroom and wait outside. I felt really bad when I had to run downstairs to get something because she would follow me up and down.

Meeting the Pups:
This was the first time Baby K saw Miss M's gargoyle face.
Just kidding! This was the first time Baby K farted. (Not kidding!)

Being Creature-Like:

I think all dogs don't know what to think of new babies. Between the way they cry and their weird movements.
They must think they are creatures.
Even we think Baby K is like a creature.
The first time Baby K was on his stomach doing tummy-time Miss M tried to poke him in the rear because she still couldn't figure out what he was.
Mr B spent a lot of time retreating backwards because he couldn't figure out what Baby K was.
Since the pups were so perplexed, we were always very aware of holding him up higher and making him seem human-like.
We also very closely monitored any interactions if Baby K was practicing his tummy time on the blanket, and taught the pups to stay off his blanket.

We know all babies and dogs are different. What are some other experiences people had when bringing home baby?

Also:
Being Pregnant with Pooches.

Monday, November 21, 2016

DoggyStyle: P.L.A.Y Dog Bed (The One You Always See them In)


It was about 2 years ago when we first moved into our new space that we started our search for sturdier, more comfortable dog beds for our aging pups.
While we used to get away with floor pillows and fluffy rugs,  we want to give them options that offer more support.

We had a lot of people recommend the P.L.A.Y dog bed which we were lucky enough to snag with a really good Black Friday deal...two years ago.

So just in case anyone has been looking at these beds, and if they have an upcoming sale this weekend, here are our thoughts after having the bed for 2 years.

We bought the Urban Denim Lounge Bed in size Large.
Each of our pups weighs 60-something pounds.

What We Like:
1) We like that it is comfortable for one pup:
Or two:
In multiple configurations:

2) We have it in our main living space, so we like that it's nice enough to blend in with our home.

3) We like that it has a bolster-type headrest, but it still has a walk-in cutout so the pups don't have to be climbing into their beds as their joints become more stiff.

What We Didn't Like:
1) It has become squished in the past two years.
You can see from some of the earlier photos that it started out really stiff, but has been starting to squish down and lose its firmness. I'm not sure if it's a matter of needing to fluff up the padding, or to be fair, if it is a result of 130+ pounds of pooches laying in it.
2) This style is difficult to wash.
We also have this style in the Orvis dog beds, and you need to take out all of the bolsters separately so it does take time to clean it and put it back together.
3) It shows dog hair really easily.
Sure, we know that it's a dog bed, but since it's in the middle of our living space we at least try to keep the illusion that we have the dog hair under control. The color we chose, and the material make the dog hair (or is it baboon hair?) really stand out.

4)  It's Pricey
 I was just looking at the website to see how much it is, and it is on the pricey end for larger dogs.
We did get a really good discount when we bought it on Black Friday (it was 2 years ago, but I think we received 40% off!).

Would We Buy It Again?
From all of the dog beds that we've tried, I think our top choice would be the Orvis Deepdish Lounger one size smaller. It is pricey, but it's good for a lifetime.
We even also had the zipper break and they sent us a new cushion AND a new a new back so it would still match.

I still think that the P.L.A.Y beds are good as a next option and especially if you need to buy a second sturdy bed.

Though we always love hearing what everyone else has been using. Are there more good bed recommendations out there?

Also:
An inexpensive option
The most beautiful, but impractical bed
We had forgotten about this guy. How is it possible we haven't seen it around the house?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pooches vs Stairs Part III

A has requested that we put up more gates around the house to keep Mr. B from going up and down the stairs all the time. I was hesitant of installing any more gates, not because of the time required to install the gates or that they would clash with our decor, but that it really meant that Mr. B was too old for our stairs. We already had one gate built and installed that led to our basement, where we have the most pee-able lawn aka carpeting for Miss M.
For the rest of the house, we wanted something more discrete and out of the way, so we purchased retractable screen gates and installed them on all of our landings, except for the landing in the basement where we kept the white gate.
They are a nice deterrent and they hold up well, except Miss M was able to pull one of the mounts from the wall when she jumped on the gate. To prevent that from happening again, I screwed in all the mounts into our wall studs and used longer screws than the ones provided.
Since we are always running up and down the stairs because of Baby K, it is nice to know that we can keep Mr. B and Miss M from following us up and down the stairs.
As an added bonus, the gate upstairs actually prevents Miss M from going downstairs in the middle of the night for a potty break in our living room. Miss M can now go the entire night without any accidents in the house.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Daily Walk: Still Walking

People that do not know the pooches are always amazed to hear that Miss M is 12 years old and Mr. B is 13. We credit their health to their diet (a post for another day: we prepare their meals the night before and it takes over 10 minutes to set up and place in the refrigerator) and our long walks.
Even with the arrival of Baby K, we still get the pooches out for their daily walks. In fact, we go on extended daily walks more often now, but unlike their 5 mile walks in the past, our walks are now at most 3 miles. Like Mr. B, Baby K loves the outdoor and cannot get enough of it.
Unlike before, it takes us a lot of planning to get out the door for our walks. As we have written before, I use a baby carrier, because a stroller is just too hard to navigate through the sometimes crowded streets of Chicago with a social butterfly pulling one arm to meet every human.
Not only do we have to make sure that the water bottle and bags of treats are filled for the pooches, we now have a diaper bag to maintain and a mat to carry for impromptu picnics, movies or plays.
But once we are out the door, our walks are pretty much the same as they were in the past, only a lot slower. Miss M still meets all of her people and it seems like more people are approaching the pooches than in the past, we think Baby K is making the pooches even more approachable.
Though Miss M would rather stay at home,
We don't think Miss M could go a day without saying hi to all of her adoring fans, which can be quite exhausting.

Friday, June 3, 2016

DoggyStyle: On Getting Artificial Turf for our Dogs

One of the things we were most excited about when we were able to get a house, was having our very own mini-yard. Just the idea that the pups would be able to romp, lay, or have nighttime bathroom breaks  in our own space.
Though little did we realize that our dream of a lush grassy yard would really become a Riot-fest style mudpit.
This was one of our early photos after we moved in. Imagine this after the rain, or even a big snowmelt:
We tried to regrow it, but we realized that since the homes are so close together, and there are so many big trees, the lawn wasn't getting enough sun. It became so muddy, we just stopped using our outdoor space altogether.
We knew some people who had gotten artificial lawns, and we always thought that we would do that in the future.
But the more our yard became unusable, we decided if we were going to get it we might as well get it now so that we could actually use the yard.
We did a lot of research and investigating, and we actually ended up getting our artificial turf late last summer.
Here's a bit of a before and after photo:
It was an investment, and it took us awhile to commit. But here are some things we learned, and things we wish we had known about beforehand.

Pricing (It's always changing and negotiable):
Before we started this process, we wanted to get some ballpark estimates to see how much of an investment it really was. What I didn't realize is that there are a lot of things that are negotiable and the prices were always changing.
They can only install the lawn once it has been dry for awhile. Since we had a heavy snow-melt last year, and a lot of the lawns were soggy, it was shortening the installation season.
I had spoken to one company to get estimates in the spring, but when I called them again in the summer to say we were interested, they said they wouldn't honor my original estimate and the price actually went up.
We ended up going with a different company, and a mere 2 weeks after we had our lawn installed we got an email that offered a discount to have it installed now.
If you are looking to get artificial turf, wait until the end of summer/early fall when it's slower for the companies and you can probably negotiate a better rate.
You should also ask for piecemeal pricing, even if you intend on getting everything done. We asked for pricing for the front only and back only, and they usually offer a discount if you agree to go with both.
We have a smaller space, and we were getting estimates between $7-9 per square foot.

Types of Lawn:
They send over a sales person to show you the different types of lawns they offer. Some are shorter, softer, or have different coloring to make it look like a real lawn. They will give you a couple of samples so you can see how they look in your space. I know they also have a "pet-friendly" turf that is softer and somehow the length makes picking up poo easier. We ended up going with Kentucky Blue, which isn't a specific pet-friendly style but it worked well for us.  It looks really natural, and it's funny because sometimes we'll see people walking by touching our lawn to see if it's real. Though it does look funny to have such a 'well-kept lawn' during the middle of winter.
The installation was the easiest part of the process. It only took one day, they were able to move anything we had in the space, and it was non-invasive.

What We Like:
Unlike the lawn we had before, the artificial turf drains really well, and it doesn't have any marshiness. We used to have a lot of little bugs and flies, but they don't seem to like the turf as much as natural grass (which is great for us!) and we used to have some city rats cross through our yard and it seems like they don't like the turf either and it's also more difficult to burrow in turf than natural grass.

It's easy to keep clean because it has little drainage holes and it's easy to just rinse the lawn if there is any poo reside.

It's really low maintenance and it looks natural. We don't have weeds and we don't need to spend time on our lawn anymore.

It really is like having a giant carpet outside. We can let the dogs go outside and we don't need to wipe their feet because they don't get muddy. They can also run on it without tearing divots in it.

Most importantly, the dogs can't 'graze' anymore. Whenever they found a lawn they used to spend their time like cows eating it.
Huck Finn Miss M enjoys eating our former lawn.

What we didn't like:
It is really expensive. Though we decided it was worth it for us to actually be able to use our yard, and we don't have to spend as much time and money on upkeep for our lawn.

It gets hot in the sun. We don't really go on it barefoot--it is the city and strange things migrate into yards--but it does get really hot.

The artificial turf companies were difficult to work with. I called a couple of companies and it was often hard to even get a return phone call. The first company that we received an estimate from retracted their estimate and gave us a higher cost. We decided to go with Chicago Dream Grass, which is a slightly higher cost but we thought they did a really good quality job. The group installing it was really nice and they did a great job, and Alicia was really great, but the salesperson that we had to deal with was extremely abrasive and unprofessional. I probably wouldn't recommend working with this company just because of him. It was also frustrating that they offered a discount a mere 2 weeks after we had ours installed.

Even with all of the hassle and expense, we do love it and how it has made our yard usable.

Also:
I had forgotten about this one!
Behind-the-scenes.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pooches: On What Makes a Dog Your Dog

I know sometimes-or maybe many times-we get frustrated with our pups.
Like this whole post.
Especially one morning, while I was still pregnant and carrying the pups' heavy food bowls, and nearly 12 year-old Miss M thought it would be a great idea to leap in the air and sample the food before I could even set it down.
I remember asking E if we would ever just have a normal dog.
A dog that didn't have to stare down our every move.
A dog who wouldn't cry to wake us up each morning:
A dog who didn't creep around and follow our every move.
Then, just like that moment in Big after they saw the fortune teller, it happened.
The vet told us Miss M had sprained something in her back.
But she completely changed.

She wouldn't look us in the eye.
She wouldn't respond to her name.
She didn't want to lay with Mr. B, or even come upstairs to go to bed for the night. I found her downstairs laying sprawled on the hardwood floor.
And we really knew something was wrong with her because she didn't want to eat any of her food.
In our whole 10 years together, Miss M has never rejected food.
Not even lettuce.
Her entire personality was gone. She was a complete shell of herself, and it made me understand how people know when it's time to let go of their pups.
At the time, I really thought I had lost my best friend.
Though luckily for us, it does turn out to have a happy ending.
Her back got better.
And we found out a lot of the symptoms were caused by the medication she was on.
So even when we get frustrated with some of the things she does, we realized, that's what makes Miss M, Miss M.

Also:
When I thought Miss M was ugly
Best friends.


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

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