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?

Also:
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?

Also:
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.

Also:
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.

Also:
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?

Also:
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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pooches: On Dog Beds for Older Dogs

One thing we're constantly obsessed with is finding dog bed options for the pups.
While it used to be about finding a bed they wouldn't chew up, they couldn't pee through, and didn't make us feel like we're living in an aisle of Petsmart, now that our dogs are getting older, we're thinking we need to get a bed with more secure support.
We've been using this Molly Mutt stuff sack which we've always liked because it's easy to wash and has a somewhat waterproof lining, but since we stuff it ourselves I don't think it's that comfortable for aging bones. We also had some memory foam beds from Target, but after 5 years they just don't seem very comfortable anymore.
And while these rugs
and these floor pillows
were nice for our small space and open floor plan, we would like to get something with more support and perhaps some type of built in pillow. 
We feel okay about making an investment in a more supportive bed to keep them comfortable as they age, and we would love to hear your advice.
E has been looking at this plush Orvis bed and I was curious about the Nest or Napper from Jax and Bones.

Has anyone tried these beds? What is everyone else using?
And does anyone have recommendations about supportive dog beds to keep dogs comfortable as they age?

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Best of Both Worlds

When A first suggested that we sell our condo for a single family home, I was adamantly opposed to the idea of leaving the comfortable life of our home and neighborhood. I didn't think it was possible, but I absolutely love our new neighborhood and I cannot imagine going back to our old life.
We are a short walk from the hustle and bustle of all the action, where the pooches can meet new people, say hi to their old friends and catch up on any treats they might have missed.
Luckily for the pooches, we moved even closer to their favorite treat spots.
When we want a bit of nature, we are a short walk from this immense 219 acre park that have something going on almost every night. On any given night you will find people engaged in a whole host of activities such as fishing, jogging, walking, couples sitting by the lagoons, fans cheering at soccer games and little league games to name a few.
Even though we have been here less than a month, we have become great friends with all of our neighbors. Everyone has been so welcoming and we are excited to be part of this our new neighborhood.
It is safe to say that I was wrong and A was right. We truly love our new home and neighborhood. Also it doesn't hurt that we have our own outdoor sanctuary and
 the pooches even have their own designated outdoor seating area.
Stay tuned as we continue to explore our neighborhood and turn our house into our forever home.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pooches: Adding a Foster Dog to Your Home

Our new foster dog Feeney is the 7th foster dog we've had along with our own two pups. Though it's been awhile since we've had a foster (remember this little guy?), as we've jumped back into fostering there were a couple of things we needed to be reminded of ourselves.
While our Facebook page has been filled with photos of the pups holding hands and sharing beds, we've actually put a lot of thought and work into making sure all of the pups are comfortable in our home.

Introductions for a Good Match
While our own dogs are very tolerant, we know that not all dogs that need fostering are a good match of our family. Being older, our dogs aren't as interested in romping so we know it would be frustrating for them to have a dog that incessantly wants to play. We also know Miss M doesn't know a lot about personal space so the foster would need to be submissive. We love working with Miss M's rescue group, New Leash on Life Chicago, because they really work to match fosters with the personalities of resident dogs so fostering is a good experience for everyone involved.
Once they have a foster that seems like it might be a good fit with our pups and home, we do proper dog introductions. We watch their introductions to see if anyone is over-interested in anyone else, if the new dog wants to play beyond comfort levels and if they listen to corrections from a dog that doesn't want to play. We do the introductions on neutral space before introducing the dog to our home.
As the foster dog stays with us, we also use our family walks and tandem walking as a way for our pups to continue their socialization with one another.

Hide Your Toys, Hide Your Shoes, Hide Your Dinner
We are so used to the habits of our own dogs that sometimes we forget that other dogs don't have the same manners. The first day we had our very first foster dog, we left a marinating salmon on our kitchen counter. While our own dogs would never dare go near food left unattended on a coffee table, we were surprised to see our new foster pup jumped up on the counter and was eating our dinner.
We've since realized that we just need to remove all temptation as the new fosters become accustomed to living in our home.
We also make sure to hide all of the toys so we can sense if the new dog has resource guarding, and to make sure they don't take Mr. B's stuffies.
After we get to know the new dog, and knowing our own dogs' toy interests, we are able to introduce chew toys under supervision.

Have a Set Routine
We know things can be new and exciting for the foster dog, so we try to keep things calm and normal with our own pups. Our dogs have a set routine where they know where to line up and wait for dinner (and the foster is fed in a separate area to avoid any potential resource guarding), the sitting and check-in behaviors on walks,  and expectations in the home. This helps the foster adjust by using our own dogs as mentors.
We have noticed foster dog Feeney has learned to sit at corners along with our own dogs, and when our pups head to bed for the night, Feeney puts himself to sleep in his crate.

We are definitely not experts, but these are some things that have worked for us.
What are some must-do things you do when integrating foster dogs or even having dog visitors in your home?

Also:
Remember this hilarious tandem walk?
And how Miss M made her mini-me?
Check our Facebook page for more photos and story lines beyond the blog.
Contact New Leash on Life Chicago if you are interested in meeting foster dog Feeney, or becoming a foster for a dog who needs a home.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pooches: On How they Roll

One thing we were most excited about when we moved was to allow our City Dogs their very own piece of lawn. We had visions of them frolicking and romping, but as we reported before, they have just been doing a lot of this:
And this:
Though in one bit of progress, Foster Dog Feeney decided to use the lawn to roll:
So Mr B decided to roll too:
Meanwhile, Miss M held close to her concrete step judgmentally watching her 2 pet dogs making fools of themselves.

Also:
Or is it just Judgmental Resting Face?
About Miss M's very own pet dog.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Meet Our New Foster: Feeney (The Cartoon Dog!)

They're with the band.
While our pooches have already played foster-siblings to many pups while living in our 2-bedroom, one thing we were most excited about when moving into our own house was that it would give us the opportunity to foster more often.
As the pups have settled into their new routine, we have been able to welcome a new foster dog into our home. Meet Feeney:
Feeney is a show-stoppingly gorgeous pup who was waiting patiently at the city shelter. He was left behind by his owner who was moving. Despite having much of his head, neck, and back legs covered in mange, being uncomfortably itchy, and undergoing a bout of pneumonia, his sweet personality still shone through and he was swooped up by Miss M's rescue organization: New Leash on Life Chicago.
While we have only had the big guy for a few days, we can't believe how utterly perfect he is.
We think of him as a "Cartoon Dog".
With his comically large, round head, and little arched eye-brows we think he looks like the pit bull-version of Winnie the Pooh.
Not to mention his impeccably amazing manners. He fits in perfectly with our pups, or he would be fine being an only dog.
He even met Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel while we were out at a festival and Rahm even made a point to say what a great pup he is.
Stay tuned as we learn more about our "Cartoon Dog" Feeney.
If you are interested in learning more about Feeney, other available pups, or supporting the work of his (and Miss M's!) all-volunteer rescue group check out the New Leash on Life Chicago Facebook page, here. 

Also:
Do you remember the first?
The littlest. And biggest.
The one who was a Superhero? And a Bachelor.
And the one who was barely here.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog
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