Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Family Walk: By the Numbers

While I originally thought it would be hard to have dogs without a backyard, we have realized that our walks help us create better connections with our pups and spend more quality time together as a family.
Here are some fun facts about an average family walk 'by the numbers':

Number of Miles Walked: About 3

Most Common Things People Said About the Pooches: 
"They are so beautiful!"
"They are so cute!"
"Look, they're posing for the camera."
"What kind of dogs are they?"
"Can I pet them?"

Most Common Incorrect Questions Asked about the Pooches: 
"Are they twins?"
"Are they brothers"?

Number of People We Met Who Recognized the Dogs from Online: Three. Thanks for saying hi!

Number of Coats Worn: Zero! After one of the toughest winters ever, we finally deserved it.
Number of Hats Worn: One, shared between Mr. B and E.

Number of Grown Men Making Kissy-Noises at Miss M: Two! One was so enamored with "the dog with the beautiful brown-striped fur". The second man was waiting at the bus-stop and thought making kiss-noises would attract Miss M.
She was not impressed. 

Number of Stores/Restaurants Actually Leaving Dog Treats Outside: 4

Number of Stores/Restaurants Mr. B Anticipated Leaving Dog Treats Outside: 7!  Mr. B seems to remember all the places where the treats are normally kept. If the treats aren't in their proper location, he will stare uncomfortably at whichever person just happens to be standing there in the expectation that they are holding the treat for him.

Like dating.
Next time.
Oh, Mr. B!
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CItyDog: The 'Unspoken World' of City Dog Poo

I thought I had researched enough for what to expect when I first adopted Miss M, but right after her Adoption Counselor drove away and we were left alone for our first walk together, I realized there was something I hadn't anticipated. Walking Miss M in one hand, and carrying my hand-held purse in the other, I felt at a loss when Miss M had diarrhea 'sprinkler-style' across the sidewalk and I couldn't figure out how to handle an excited dog, hold my purse, and clean up the poo that went everywhere.
While most people aren't really talking about it, our most-asked email questions are about the bathroom habits of City Dogs. We wrote about how city dogs manage bathroom breaks in this post here, and this is Part II about some things I've learned the hard way.

Poo Pick-up Techniques and Trustworthy Poo Bags
I've learned the hard way how important it is to have our dogs in a reliable sit-stay while picking up their poo.
 It could get messy.
I try to carry a cross-body bag, and if I have a shoulder-bad I need to anticipate it potentially falling into the poo if I lean over to pick it up. Scarves, leashes, and cameras also have the potential to fall into the poo if you are not planning well.
I know a lot of people save plastic bags from grocery stores to use as poo bags, but this turned out really badly for me. The grocery store bags can have all kinds of holes in them which is not a risk you want to take when picking up poo. A lot of the time we are picking up loose poo on the cement which can also break the bag and cause all kinds of messes.
We trust the Earth Rated poo bags which we get on Amazon and are supposed to be biodegradable. We decided to 'save' our grocery store plastic bags by just bringing our own reusable bags to the grocery store.

City Trashcans
Even though there are tons of alleys lined with trashcans, I plan my daily walks strategically to only throw my poo bags in certain trashcans.
I will never forget the story our friends told us of the time they went to throw out some trash and when they opened the bin a city rat jumped out, landed on the girl and ricocheted off of her onto the guy. Now I only use trashcans that are already opened, and when I throw the bag in the trash I run far away in case it has disturbed a 'jumping rat' who might be inside.
People can also be really possessive about their trashcans and I have a couple of friends who have gotten yelled at for throwing poo bags in trashcans in the alley. People become territorial because there is only so much room in each trashcan and sometimes the trash can get filled up before it gets picked up which creates all kinds of messes in the alley. There are also people who go digging through the trash and when they do that they leave the trash allover the ground which becomes really gross. And it attracts even more of the football-sized city rats.

Unattended Poo
I think one of the reason's people in the city generally don't like dogs is because so many people don't clean up their poo. It really is everywhere. And it makes me angry with these dog owners as well.
Besides being gross, dog poo is considered a delicacy for rats. It draws all the rats to the yard. And these are big, football-sized city rats.
I've noticed a couple of trends with people not picking up their poo. Some people think it's ok because it's in their own yard. I've seen owners with smaller dogs not pick it up because maybe they think it's so small it won't make a difference?
I've also noticed it's a big trend among off-leash dog walkers to not pick up after their dog. A lot of the time they will walk way ahead of their dog, so maybe they can pretend they can't see their dog poo-ing so they aren't responsible. I'm also guessing if they forget to bring a leash they are not going to remember to bring a poo bag.
There are also the people who think poo has the some properties as snow and they are exempt from picking it up if they just leave it in the snow. Which makes it worse when it all melts into a big poo-grime puddle in the Spring.

False Accusations
If you have a female dog that squats down to pee, some people might think your dog is actually poo-ing and accuse you of not cleaning up after your dog. I didn't understand this at first when one girl yelled at me and told me I needed to clean up my poo. We've realized it's beneficial to carry our filled up poo bags and throw them out at the end of our walk so people don't think we are the ones leaving the poo behind.

I know this might a taboo topic, but anyone else have any poo stories or tips to share?

These leash add-on's are helpful.
So are these City Dog bags.
How this command changed our lives.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

SociaBulls: The One thing We Still Don't Know

I would say our Chicago SociaBulls group is close.
We forgo sleeping in and get up early on weekends to meet.
We often drive to far, remote locations together just to walk.
And we've walked together in wind, and rain, and this.
And while we've seen each other so much and often know intimate details of a pup's diet and digestive patterns, the one thing we still don't know about each the human's names.
We are known as "Max's person", "Sophie's person", "Persephone's person" or "Hank's person".
(I get to cheat a little because I have access to all the applications and login names, but sometimes I still don't remember).
Anyone else want to confess that they have no idea of the person's name they've speaking to?

This helps.
Most Popular dog names!
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Miss Goofus and Mr. Gallant Part III: Dating Edition

We always joke how much our pups are like another set of commonly-mistaken-for twins-but-have-different-personalities duo: Goofus and Gallant. Much like Gallant, Mr. B is polite and respectful, while Miss M is like Goofus....and is not.
Let the pups show you what we mean:

Mr. B is an avid listener who enjoys hearing what his dates have to say:
Meanwhile, Miss M lets her date know she is talks too much:
Mr. B makes an effort to have a good time and enjoy the activities his date has planned:
While Miss M makes it obvious when she's not having a good time:
Mr. B is grateful for a nice night out and he gives appropriate G-rated smooches:
While Miss M not only does not return the kiss:
But she secretly sneaks some swigs from her date's drink:
In case you missed it:
Earlier Goofus and Gallant posts Part I and Part II.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pooches: Shrinking Mr. B

For Spring Break week we decided to take a bit of a break ourselves while revisiting some of our favorite posts. This was one of our most memorable and referenced posts.
Without any markers to show the passage of time, it seems like our pooches' signs of aging come out of nowhere. Sure we can have noticed graying in Miss M's ears, but since Mr. B is already gray it's more difficult to tell. Just the other week we had to doubletake as it seemed like Mr. B was looking a bit gaunt. We didn't think much of it and just started feeding the pooches a little bit more at each meal. 
Much to their delight.
It was only after running into our friend and his dog that he mentioned the gauntness too and we realized that Mr. B is really getting old. Our friend reminded us of his pit bull, Ditka, that lived to be 17 years old. The first thing he said he noticed when Ditka was getting older was the loss of muscle mass. Now it is impossible to notice that Mr. B is getting smaller.
And though I try with all my might to hold onto him to keep him from shrinking, I am coming to the realization that one day I will have to let him go.
Until that day, Mr. B and I will continue to have our grand adventures everyday.

The Velveteen Pitbulls
Grand Adventures
How we love them
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pooches: Mr B's Tepee Dilemma

For Spring Break week we decided to take a bit of a break ourselves while revisiting some of our favorite posts. This was one of our favorite posts back when Miss M didn't realize Mr B's tepee even existed.
There once was a dog named Mr. B.
Mr. B had crate anxiety, but he still liked having a place to hang out.. Now he lives in a tepee. 
He likes the tepee because he can hide all of his favorite stuffies and himself.
Since the tepee blends in so well, Miss M never even realized it existed:
Until one day she day she did realize:
 She enjoyed taking naps in the tepee:
And she moved in her girly things:
So now Mr. B is thinking of ways to take back his tepee. Does he need more 'dude-like' pillows? Should he get a sign on the front that says Mr. B? How else can he personalize his tepee?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pooches: 36 Hours in Downtown Chicago with Dogs

For Spring Break week we decided to take a bit of a break ourselves while revisiting some of our favorite posts. This is something we might actually be doing while we are on our break:
 While we love traveling, we have found everything has become twice as expensive owning dogs. Besides the cost of our own trip, boarding for two dogs can be as much as our own hotel (per night!). We've been learning more about trips to include our pups which include things we all like to do.
I recently realized the New York Times has compiled their "36 Hours in..." series into a book. 
And I thought it would be fun to make our own dog-friendly version.
Last week we wrote about 1 day in downtown Chicago with your dog.
This is our Part II.

This time leave from your hotel heading in the opposite direction down Michigan Avenue. We discovered that while Miss M can navigate things like this with ease (and in costume!)  her Kryptonite is bridges. We could only cross towards the loop by going under and walking along the river. The area is fairly empty and quiet which can be good for dogs who are scared by noises.
If you are traveling in the summer, one of our favorite experiences is the Mercury Canine Cruise   which is a dog-specific architectural tour where you can cruise with your pooch down the Chicago River and part of Lake Michigan.

The Loop
The Loop is the part of downtown south of the Michigan Avenue shopping area where most people work. It's encircled by our Brown Line elevated train (which runs in a loop!) which makes it especially noisy and busy if your pup can handle it.
 In the Loop you will see much of Chicago's amazing architecture, take photos outside the famous Chicago Theater signs and over the holidays you can even visit the famous Marshall Fields windows (we did!).While most visitors don't know and they spend hours waiting in line at another location, this is where you should visit Chicago's Garret's Popcorn on Jackson or Madison (yes, it really is that good!) where you will be in and out in minutes. We also like Do-Rite donuts.
We never recommend dog parking, so only do this if you're with someone else.
Dogs aren't allowed in Millennium Park, but you can sit in Grant Park, or one of the pocket parks.

Public Art
Mr. B finds his dad!
Chicago has a lot of outdoor art including a huge Picasso statue in Daley Plaza, infamous Art Institute Lions and these unusual body sculptures in Grant Park. You can hang out in any of the plazas, or grab something to eat and sit at Buckingham Fountain.

Museum Campus and Lakefront
Some of the best views of the city are walking along the Chicago lakefront and through the museum campus. The area south of the museum campus is more isolated, and it even has stairs, which are perfect for these types of Pier Picnics. Take the lakefront path back to your hotel.

What are your must-see's that you would include in your 36 Hours?

Our dogs are cultured!
City Dogs
Dogs in Hotels
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Monday, April 14, 2014

SociaBulls: The "Underground World" of Pit Bull Owners

For Spring Break week we decided to take a bit of a break ourselves while revisiting some of our favorite posts. This was one of our favorite SociaBulls posts where we expose the 'hidden underworld' of pit bull owners:
On our last walk, one of our Chicago SociaBulls friends was joking about how everyone has this vivid, distorted impression of the hidden underworld of pit bull owners.
In reality, they will probably be surprised to find's just us.
The type of people who are motivated to wake up early on cold weekends, often driving long distances, just to take a walk with like-minded owners:
The type of people who dress our pups in coats, hoodies, snoods, and sweaters just so they'll be comfortable in the cold weather:
The type of people who may not own a pit bull-type dog, but realize they're all just dogs walking together:
The type of people who are toy inventors, lawyers, military veterans, teachers, media geeks, chefs, investors, scientists, social workers, carpenters, PhD's, voters, computer nerds, new moms, recovery counselors, vegetarians, and Chicagoans...just to name a few:
Because we are Chicago SociaBulls. We are pit bull owners and allies. We are the MAJORITY.
If you haven't already, check out this great campaign from Animal Farm Foundation which inspired us and showcases all the amazing, and regular, pit bull owners across the nation. And a great write-up from one of our friends here.

So, who else is part of this 'hidden underworld'? 
We love seeing how diverse pit bull owners and allies are, how would you fill in the blank?  And will you be submitting to the project?

Another 'Where's Waldo-ish" photo from our walks here . Can you spot Miss M and Mr. B?
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Pooches: Meet Mr. "Miss M Come"

We know Mr. B is good-looking.
We know Mr. B is loyal.
But we also know Mr. B isn't so bright.
When Mr. B joined our family, we thought we could train him to be a circus dog just like Miss M.
Little did we realize, he only has the capacity to remember 1.5 tricks: "Sit", sometimes "Down", and sometimes "Wave". (Remember this video??)
The one command he still doesn't know is "Come".
During our CGC test, that was the one section he nearly failed. The first time he did it, it seemed like he tried to run right past me. So they let him try it again.
The funny thing is, he won't respond to "Come".
He won't respond to "Mr. B Come".
But...once he hears "Miss M come" he will emerge from any dark corner of our home and come racing over knowing that something good is about to happen.
So does this mean he thinks his name is "Miss M Come"? Or is he maybe a bit smarter than we think?

This is what we mean
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

DoggyStyle: Custom Chicago Cubs Hoodie and a Baseball-Tee

When you have a big dog, it's so disappointing to find that a lot of the dog gear is only made for smaller dogs.
So we learned how to make our own.
We made the wonderful discovery of iron-on decal paper back when we were making this couples costume, and now we can't find enough things to iron onto.
Mr. B is wearing a Zack and Zoey hoodie in size x-large (Thanks again Lindsay G!). Mr B. has a large logo on his back, and we put smaller logos on both sleeves so you can still see his team-spirit from the front. We detailed more of the decal process in this post. 
Miss M is trying a new-to-us "3/4 sleeve dog raglan" from American Apparel.  It's funny that the site shows them on all tiny dogs, and Miss M wears a size 2XL (but don't tell her). It was fairly inexpensive at about $13.
Not all of the American Apparel stores carry the dog gear. We found ours at the Wicker Park location, and the seem to have more of the larger sizes. They even let the pups in the store to try them on.
We aren't sure about the fit as it seems a bit Travolta-ish with the really wide neck. Though Miss M is trying to tell us it's more like Flashdance:
We haven't washed it yet, so we will update on whether it shrinks a bit or what accommodations we make to make the neck smaller so it doesn't fall down.
Any other pups out there showing their team spirit?

These retro gym-wear hoodies
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