Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pooches: Debutante

Many people have commented how nice and charming Miss M is, but what you are actually seeing is the 'after effect'. When I first adopted Miss M I could have sworn she had been 'raised by wolves'. She didn't understand how to sit still; she would bound around my tiny apartment and during every walk she would jump up and try to yank the leash out of my hand--and sometimes she even succeeded.I wish I had started this blog back then so everyone could really see how far she's come, to even be able to do all this and even become CGC certified.
Along the way, I learned some tricks to deal with an over-excited dog and teach her manners and charm.
1) We have a go-to calming position
Miss M just loves life and part of her problem was she would just get over-excited by everything causing her to jump around and play with the leash. We learned a couple of positions to help her calm down and refocus. One class taught us to hold her from the chest and let her legs dangle in the air until she's calm:
This was much easier when I first got her, but now that she's pushing 80 lbs this is a bit harder. We also use a calm laying position.
Now that I've taught her the command 'dead dog' she can do this on cue. She will lay like this and get positive reinforcement until she is calm and ready to refocus.
2)We treated all of our walks like training exercises
I would bring treats and she would need to listen as I randomly asked her to sit and lay. This taught her to listen and wait for commands. It also showed her that walks are for training, and not a time to leap around and meet other dogs and people.
3) We tried new things
Since Miss M isn't fearful, I was always taking her out to different places around Chicago to try new things and be among different types of people. This helped keep her world big as she learned to adapt to all kinds of situations. I did make sure to tire her out before going to the festivals, or being among big crowds, but eventually she learned how civilized dogs act and was successfully integrated into society. How has everyone else dealt with difficult situations integrating your dogs?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chicagoing: Graffiti Wall Art

Living in an urban area, we get to see all kinds of 'art' just by going on our daily walks.It's almost like going to an outdoor gallery as new things are popping up all the time.
When most people think of graffiti, they think of vandalism and gang tagging:
The gangs will write all kinds of cryptic messages to eachother staking out their claim to show they're in the area; it's kind of like how our dogs pee in certain spots. Some of our students, involved in this type of activity, actually tag at school, so I've even learned to decipher some of the 'code':
Given all this "conversation", it's actually illegal to buy or own spray paint within Chicago city limits. We also have the graffiti blasters who will promptly remove this kind of writing.
At the same time, we also have graffiti crews which are still illegal, but view graffiti as an art form. They go out and tag, and even get some really high up or unexpected places:
It's fun to have things pop up in unexpected, 'ugly' areas. Like this random octopus in the middle of an alley:
Or a random zombie. Miss M should look over her shoulder:
But beyond all the illegal activity, many people do recognize graffiti as an art form and they've created 'permission walls' where people can legally create street art to liven up the neighborhood.
 And graffiti has also become a marketing strategy. Back when I worked in advertising, we had a whole graffiti campaign to advertise gum to a teen audience. It works because you don't realize it's advertising. Here is some kind of alcohol advertising:
Our area still has some old vintage ads on the sides of buildings, so you can tell it's not such a new idea:
And of course, some Blackhawk pride:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lazy Wednesday in 10 Pictures

In preparation for Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to show our favorite past time here in Schwang manor, lazing around the house. During the day, we get a lot of sunlight in our front room, so it is the perfectly lighting for taking an afternoon nap. Though Mr. B is usually the pillow, sometimes, though quite rare, there is a role reversal.
Ms. M could rest her head on most anything, but her favorite head rest, other than Mr. B is this orange ottoman.
Mr. B tries his best to separate himself from Ms. M and he goes to extremes such as placing two ottomans between him and Ms. M.
After the sun goes down, Mr. B loves to lay by himself in Ms. M's crate, but he soon finds that he has company.  
Eventually Ms. M finds a comfortable spot and Mr. B is trapped for a good part of the night.
Sometimes he finds himself getting pushed out of the crate.
Other times, the bed gets pushed around such that they have a little fort.

 Though he tries to escape the clutches of Ms. M by running to his tepee, soon enough Ms. M has found a way to make that space her own as well.
At the end of the night, Ms. M had enough and heads off to the "nest" waiting for her pillow to join her.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cafe Schwang: Cooked Pumpkin

 Pumpkin is the miracle dog food; canned pumpkin has the amazing dual ability to combat diarrhea or clear up constipation. We always keep a can on hand to spoon out as needed. While the pooches always get their pumpkin from a can, they were kind of curious about these white pumpkins we set up for Halloween:
And I had never even thought about cooking a real pumpkin until I heard this amazing recipe from NPR; a pumpkin stuffed with bread and cheese and all things good.
During the interview the host actually stopped, with dead air, to gasp for breath because her first bite was so amazing. When I saw a friend's Facebook page saying she made it, I knew I had to give it a try. I really don't know how to cook, but this was surprisingly easy. We bought mini pumpkin pie pumpkins and you just toss in stale bread, cheeses, bacon, herbs and bake it for about 2 hours. The only change I would make is not to salt the pumpkin per the recipe; the bacon and cheese already have enough salt. It was amazingly good, simple, and will become our go-to holiday dish.
Of course, we didn't feed this one to the pooches. Though I thought I saw Miss M trying to get some ideas about the mini-pumpkin decor:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pooches: Ms. M the Meal Inspector

Like most dogs, Ms. M is extremely food motivated. Mr. B is also food motivated, but Ms. M takes the food motivation to another level. Ms. M is actually the food police in our place.
She has to inspect any and all food dishes that are within smelling distance.
Sometimes she feels the need to verify her suspicions by licking the food.
In the morning, she will make sure that we are awake for her breakfast. Sometimes she will give us subtle reminders by slamming into our bed and sticking her face on the bed.
Other times, her stomach would growl so loud that it would wake us up immediately from a deep sleep. When we are in the kitchen getting her food ready, she likes to monitor to ensure that she gets a fair amount of food as compared to Mr. B.
If we make her go to bed, she will keep a close eye on us to make sure that food is properly distributed.
Though we have showcased their dinner antics before. In this video, you can see that both pooches are quite subdued when it comes to getting dinner.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pooches: Miss M is Foiled Again

Our dogs are not allowed on the furniture. And they know this. Sometimes we invite Miss M on the couch, just to see what she'll do, and she won't accept our offer because she knows it's a trap. She even puts on this big show about how much she loves to lay on her floor pillow:
Yet, every so often Miss M gets this urge to lay on the couch. As we documented before, she has a whole process so she won't get caught. She sleeps with one eye open:
Hears us coming up the stairs:
Decides on her escape route:
And pretends she was laying in the bed the whole time:
I think it shows intelligence that she is going through such planning not to get caught.Though the other day, the retreat did not go as expected:
As she was leaping away, the pillow got stuck on her collar.
She tried to act like nothing was wrong, and ate her dinner as normal:
So now we're back to foil on the couch. Or at least until Miss M can scheme a new plan:
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