Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pooches: Laughing Pitbulls

I don't understand why people still think pitties are so vicious; I think they laugh more than any other breed of dog I've met.
Like this dog Rocky, who was lost in Humboldt Park, was still able to laugh about it.
This pittie mix from the Mercury Canine Cruise.
And of course Mr. B:
Even when he's woken from a nap ...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dog Training: Yikes! Our Safety Recall Word

My biggest fear is that something will happen where Mr. B and Miss M. get loose and in their excitement run away.
Luckily for us, we learned a "secret recall word" in our training class. Basically, we just have to call this word and our dogs will come running right back to us.
We had to spend several months embedding the word. It started out that we would call the word, followed by come, and when the dogs came running they would be greeted with the most delicious foods ever: tuna, sausage, and cheese. We also make sure to praise them heavily. Miss M. will even bolt from a deep sleep on the other end of the house when she hears this word; it's all about the tuna.
And this word can't be taken lightly. It's only to be used in severe emergencies to get the pooches out of danger.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pooches: Mr. B as furniture

When we got Ms. M her very own dog, we thought that she really wanted a companion, soon did we realize that all she wanted was her own mobile furniture. Poor Mr. B, rarely does he get to lay out without someone trying to use him as her pillow,
and headrest, can this be comfortable for Ms. M...
or even a chair.
We tried to get Mr. B to do the same to Ms. M, but he was not going anywhere near her. None of these shots were staged and even though Mr. B looks completely miserable in some of the pictures, he doesn't move and takes the abuse from Ms. M.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pooches: Mr. B gets caught

When we are gone, Mr. B gets to run free throughout the house, because he would destroy his crate and hurt himself whenever we locked him in a crate. One day we came home to what looked like a train wreck. The crate was folded in half and his face had cuts everywhere. So from that day on, we left the crate unlocked whenever we left, which eventually turned in the teepee. The funny thing is that Mr. B knows that he is not supposed to be running around free, so he runs back to his teepee whenever he hears us coming and acts as if he's been there the whole time. However, sometimes he is in such a deep slumber that we catch him running back to his teepee.
The moment we leave and Mr. B has finished eating his Kong, he strolls down the hall and lays out on "the nest" in our bedroom.

The bad thing is that he always have to keep one ear open.If he hears us coming up the stairs, he pops out into the hall and gets ready to make a run for it.

There have been times we see his little buttocks running away when we come up the back stairs.

However, if he is in deep slumber and we enter through the front, we see him running towards us. He keeps his head down as he passes us, I think he believes that if he doesn't see us then se don't see him.

Though sometimes he looks back at us to see if we don't see him, even though he is running right past us.

Then he proceeds to run into his teepee.

Then he yawns from the stress and lays down as if he's been there the whole time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Daily Walk: Winter Solstice

This is what it looks like when we go on our morning walk:And this is what it looks like when we go on our evening walk:
It has been the darkness, much more than the cold or snow, that has made this winter so miserable. The streets are empty, rats feel free to cross to at will, and Miss M. takes photos that look like she has laser beams shooting out of her eyeballs.
Luckily for us all, it is winter solstice; it can't get any darker than it already is.And even though we have a long 4 more months of Chicago winter, I'm optimistic the sunlit days will be back soon:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Doggystyle: Cold-weather gear

Today is the last school day before winter break. Both E and I started teaching at new high schools in the city this year, so it has been a bit more stressful than usual; this break will be a welcome reprieve. We're gearing up to do a lot more "Chicagoing" and making sure we're all adequately attired for the cold weather.
People don't believe dogs get cold, but being a short-haired breed, the cold can be brutal for the pooches. Miss M. especially hates the cold and wears her coat at all times. Much like their rain gear, the pooches also wear Ruffwear cold-weather coats. We really like these coats because they are good quality, and we know we'll have them for awhile. Plus, they are one of the only brands we've found that will fit the pooches big pittie chests.
While the pooches are decked out, I've discovered the importance of good mittens for our walks. Chicago weather can be brutal, and the absolute worst is removing my mitten to get a poo bag. Right now I have been wearing these glittens--they're mittens that fold back to expose my fingers. These are a good compromise for not removing my whole glove, though my fingers do get cold. At one point I had found gloves with textured fingertips that could remove a poo bag without removing your glove. I bought these as a gift for my then dogwalker. Now I wish I had a pair also--does anyone know where you might be able to find these?
I also found the perfect winter-weather boot: Merrell's Spire Peak Waterproof boot. These are the perfect mix of functionality, comfort, and style. They're actually classy enough to make you feel put together during this terrible winter season, but they feel like you're wearing sneakers. I was even lucky enough to have discovered them on Piperlime and I got them, essentially free, using our Citibank rewards points.
On top of that, I have JCrew's Double-cloth lady day coat with Thinsulate lining. The extra lining under the wool is perfect for the weather, and they coat is versatile enough to wear dressed up or down. When I moved to the city, nearly 10 years ago, I bought a JCrew wool coat, and it is such good quality I still have it. The best part is each year JCrew offers 30% of their coats, and you can add an additional 10% if you sign up for their credit card.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pooches: The Saga of Miss M and the Sofa

Miss M. just loves sleeping with pillows. And despite all the different pillows and beds we buy her, they just aren't good enough. Being a bully, she is always trying to get more. And this more includes something off limits: the sofa.
Since we lived in our old place, Miss M. always wanted to sleep on the sofa. She would never do it while I was home, but when I was gone she would sneak onto the sofa, and somehow make it back to her bed by the time I was actually in the door. The following is a reenactment of what I think happened.
She would sleep on the couch, but always with one eye open in case I came home:
She would hear my footsteps on the stairs:
Decide on her "usual plan":
Gracefully leap of the couch like a gazelle:
And pretend she had been sleeping in her bed the whole time:
She did leave behind telltale brindle hair, paw indentations, and mussed pillows, so I always knew she was on the couch.
Much like the roadrunner and coyote, I went to great lengths to try tricking her. I left a blanket on the sofa and slept underneath planning to jump up and scare her. She never came. I later found out while I spent the night on the sofa trying to trick her, Miss M. was cozily sleeping in my bed.
Since we've lived here Miss M. has been abiding by the rules...until recently. Miss M. is always in our room in the morning when we wake up, but we started finding the telltale brindle hair on the sofa. Somehow she was sneaking away in the middle of the night, sleeping on the couch, and returning before we woke up.
She likes using the sofa pillows as head pillows, so we even made a special trip to Ikea to get her some pillows. That worked for awhile, but within weeks the brindle hair was back on the sofa.
I read somewhere that if you want to keep cats off your sofa, you could put pieces of tin foil on the cushions. We decided to try it for Miss M. The first night we had the tin foil, I actually heard her leaving the room, her nails slowly clicking down the hall, then silence. A couple of minutes later I heard her clipping back to our bedroom; she had been foiled.The foil has been working for the last several weeks, but you never know what Miss M. is going to do next. She might just learn to use her claw for a hook and move the foil herself.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chicagoing: Our Chicago Neighborhood

Looking through some of our non-winter weather photos, I was reminded how much we love our neighborhood.
Exploring my neighborhood sometimes feels like a mini-vacation. We are less than 2 miles from the heart of downtown--think Michigan Avenue and The American Girl doll store--but right in the mix of three distinct cultures. Just steps from our home it's like walking through a quaint historic town.
With cheerily painted houses:
Huge historic churches:
And flower-strewn porches:Now if you go in the other direction, you'll be transported into a more vibrant area.
With artist commissioned "permission walls".
Fruits and vegetables right at your doorstep:Impromptu wildflowers:Amazing taquerias:And colorful cowboy stores:And somehow, intertwined among it all, you'll find the other Chicago culture of daily drink specials:Bikes as transport:And loads of outdoor dining options:It's this diversity that makes our neighborhood so interesting. And we're lucky enough to have the pooches which allow us to stop and talk to different neighbors so it feels even more like a community.
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