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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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Things to do with Your Dog: Cruising in the Car

I always feel lucky to live in Chicago where a simple walk outside could mean a random encounter with a Zombie flash mob or  costumed shopping cart races.
Though when I was growing up in Nebraska, we really didn't have as much excitement.
It was really a car-culture where the biggest thing as a teenager was to drive up and down a certain street with your windows open and start having conversations with the cars driving next to you.
Which seems to be just as exciting for Miss M.
The pups love riding in the car and Miss M especially loves to feel the wind blowing in her jowls.
Seeing this gremlin-face pull up in the car next to them does really make people lower their windows and start talking to her.
We've also realized that especially if the weather is bad and we can't go for a long walk, riding in the car and letting the pups see everything pass by can be mentally stimulating and somewhat exhausting.
Are any other pups out there meeting friends on your car rides?

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pooches: Making a "Stay Space" with Verbal Command

While we've learned to live in a smaller space with our bigger pups, we've also learned this means they become involved in everything.
Which isn't always good.
Like when they really want to meet that delivery driver who is terrified of dogs. Or when they want to come investigate the glass that shattered across the floor. Or when I'm trying to mop that one area they keep walking across. Or even when something unexpected like this happened.
So, we created a "stay space" in our home where we can send the pups if they need to quickly get out of our way. Our "Go to Bed"command elicits a type of robot-like response where the pups will retreat even if there is something more interesting going on.
This is how it worked for us:

Creating the Best Place Ever:
We have mentioned before that Miss M only lives for two things: breakfast and dinner. The mere mention of these words will bring on the crazy-eyes.
Knowing how food motivated our dogs are, we made their beds the 'best places ever' by only feeding them in their beds. They also only get their kings and treats if they go to their beds. When the pups see us getting treats out, they often automatically go to their beds.
Once there, they always practice waiting and they need to "stay" before they get their treat.

Linking the Verbal Command:
Since we already had the pups going and staying, as they were running to their beds we would add the verbal command "Go to Bed" and reinforce "Yes, go to bed" once they got there.
Miss M picks up verbal cues quickly, and I think Mr. B learned just by watching Miss M.
We even had our fosters learn the command by watching our pups. You can see our pooches moving with lightning speed, and former foster dog Wilma learning, in this video at the bottom here.

Reinforcing with Random Surprises:
Since the pups get their meals in their beds we are able to reinforce the command daily. Sometimes we even leave hidden treats and toys in their beds to reinforce that the bed really is a fun place where they want to be.

The essentials.
Making the dog-area 

Friday, April 4, 2014

The SmoochaBulls

Though we often show in the videos, Miss M and Mr. B smooching new and old friends,
it is a very different story when we are alone.
Though the pooches love to smooch us whenever we are within smooching distance, I actively seek out the pooches to lay a big one on their furry heads.
Though I never had stuffed animals, I imagine that our lovable SmoochaBulls are just like stuffed animals, only alive.
While A believes that she is my most smooch able member of our household, she is unaware that when she isn't looking I'm smooching our pooches' fuzzy lunkhead, kissable little button noses and rosy cheeks. Don't tell A, but the pooches are my most SmoochaBull members of our household, especially Mr. B.
If you have SmoochaBull pooches, please share your SmoochaBull photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Daily Walk in 10 Pictures 04.02.14

Lucky for us we live in the beautiful city of Chicago. Unlucky for us we live in Chicago weather. The Irrational Optimism Art Print by Sarah L perfectly explains Chicago weather:
That one day in March came and went this past weekend and we, meaning all of Chicago, made the most of that beautiful day.
The whole city was out taking advantage of every open city space. The pooches were excited to head out sans snoods, hoodies, coats, boots, and slush suits and enjoy our city in just their birthday fur.
 They met their many fans and reluctantly sat through photo shoot after photo shoot. Even though we missed most of the Elite 8 games, we are pretty grateful that we took advantage of that one day, because we are back to another week of winter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pooches: The One Where Miss M Reveals Her Secret

Miss M heckles the camera
Growing up, my all-time favorite TV show was Mr. Ed. I dreamed that one day I would have my very own horse who would talk only to me.
Little did I realize that my chance encounter meeting Miss M at an adoption event would make this come true. And I would have my very own dog who talks only to me.
Miss M only talks behind E's back.
Just like Wilbur in the Mr. Ed series, people have never believed me. We had a couple of sitcom-like close calls where I thought people would finally hear her speak. And we've even had a couple of photos catching a quick glimpse of our conversations:
Which Miss M is quick to play off that she is just a dog:
Though having a talking dog is not always as fun as you might imagine. Usually she will tell me a recap of her day "I was laying, then I got up to scratch myself, then I went to lay again. Then I got up and I laid in the other bed. Then I got up again and I lay on Mr. B. He moved to go lay somewhere else. So I got up, and I went to another bed and I laid in it...."
Or she is complaining. Usually about how often she is about to die from starvation because she only ate an hour ago.
She really does like to complain.
After our last conversation, Miss M finally said that she was finally ready to reveal her secret, and she was ready to speak in public.
Though she had to decide on her big debut conversation. Something important that she really wanted everyone to know. 
So she decided to say.....

Where they really do talk.
For real.
For another laugh.
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