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?

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?

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?

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.

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. 

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

Monday, August 4, 2014

Win a Date with Your Do: Mercury Canine Cruise GIVEAWAY--CLOSED

Once August hits, we always have a constant awareness of how the summer is winding down and we make a mad scramble to make our "best of" summer list. This usually involves becoming playing "Tourist in Your Own City" to really appreciate everything our city has to offer.
The can't miss thing we always tell out-of-town visitors is to take one of the architectural river cruises. Which luckily for us, is also dog-friendly with the Mercury Canine Cruise tour.
This 90-minute cruise takes pups and their people down the Chicago River, before entering Lake Michigan and passing by Navy Pier.
This has become one of our summer traditions where we are able to see the amazing architecture of our city from a different view while the pups get to stick their heads out the window in a different way.
Our first trip we were a bit wary about how the pups might react to being in such tight quarters with so many other pups. The nice thing is that it is nothing like the Chicago CTA where you are all crammed in and sharing a seat with strangers, but every time we've gone all of the dogs and their families have gotten their own benches.
These cruises run every Sunday morning through September 28. It seems like it has gotten more popular in the last year, so we recommend calling ahead to make sure you get a space.
While this has become one of our favorite summer traditions, we were excited when the Mercury Canine Cruise invited the pups as their guests and are generously giving away Canine Cruise tickets to 2 lucky dog families.
Each of the winners will receive tickets for 2 humans and 2 pups. Winners will be able to choose the date of your cruise, though we would love to coordinate and meet up if it works out!
Why would you be interested on going on the Mercury Canine Cruise in Chicago with your pup?
Congratulations to our two winners for the Mercury, Chicago's Skyline Cruiseline Canine Cruise chosen via random number generator. 1) Murray who will be doing his favorite things "sitting with mom and dad, exploring Chicago, cruising, and being near the water!" and 2) Rosa who now has an excuse to wear the cutest pink life jacket with white polka dots. Please email or message us with details on how to get your tickets!

1) Let us know by commenting on our blog post here

2) You can also enter by posting a photo on our Facebook page of your pooch and letting us know why you would be interested in going on the Canine Cruise together. (Remember, we always love seeing photos of your pooches!)

3) Winners will be chosen at random using a random number generator

-You have two chances to win by commenting once on the blog and posting a photo once on our Facebook page.
-We will use a random number generator to randomly choose 1 winner from blog comments and 1 winner from the Facebook page.
-You have until Thursday at Midnight (EST) to post your comment or photo
-Check our
Facebook page and blog this Friday for the announcement of winners. If you are a winner, please contact us, so we can get your information. It is up to the winners to contact us to claim your prize.
-Winners must come to Chicago to attend the cruise

Good luck everyone!

Some of our past cruise adventures here and here.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and storylines beyond the blog.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pooches: On Miss M vs. The Lawn

When I first wanted to adopt a dog, I had this idea we would spend a lot of time hanging out together in the (human) park.
I would bring a blanket. We would sit together as I read a book.
I would even use her as a pillow.
Though we all know how different the life we envision with our dogs can be.
Because out of all of the strange things I've discovered about Miss M, she absolutely hates sitting in parks. And she seems to really hate lawns.
I used to think it was just a fluke. 
Like that time we went to listen to a concert in the park and she got so frustrated she started trying to grab her own leash and simultaneously eat my picnic blanket. 
So I had to tackle her. 
And I was laying on top of my kicking dog just as a new co-worker was walking by (and recognized me).
Or maybe how every time we tried to sit in the park for an extended amount of time it ended this way.
I realized one way to work around this was to get an extra-large picnic blanket. If she didn't realize the lawn was there, she could actually enjoy sitting in the park:
Until she realized she was actually sitting on the lawn.
At which point, she tries to eat it.
Note the lawn coming out of Miss M's mouth ala Huck Finn
Now that we have our own lawn, Miss M has gone beyond just grazing and she is actually biting chunks out of the lawn and eating dirt.

Are there other dogs out there who hate the lawn? Or is this just another case of Miss M being Miss M?

So it's not just this?
Our favorite picnic blankets
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

City Dog: On Why Our Pooches Don't Need Backyards

Living in the city, it can be a rare thing to have a backyard. Most of us lack even a small patch of grass and spend our time taking our pups on several daily walks.
Of course we all gather together to lament and collectively dream of the time where we might have that elusive backyard where we can just open the door and our pups will frolic away into the grass, all without us even having to put on shoes (or a bathrobe!).

After spending 8+ years with the daily walk routine, we finally got lucky and since we bought our new home we earned our very mini-city yard.
While we have more deck space than proper yard, we do have a "grazing" area of grass in the back, two long gangways along the side of our house for the pups to run, and a larger grass yard is in our gated front area.
We were excited to get the pups out in their new yard to watch them frolic. Only to realize, there is no frolicking and they just do a lot of this:
Perplexed by the yard, Mr. B decides to just sit in it.
While we've been dreaming of this day ever since we've had the pups, even though we have the yard we've continued to take them on the daily walks. And after trying a little experiment of mainly staying in the yard, and now seeing it both ways, this is why we've realized pups don't really need backyards:

Walks as a Way to Maintain Training:
Even though we've had Miss M for 8 years, and Mr. B for 5 years, we've realized how important it is to be consistent with their training. We have lapsed a bit in the chaos of selling our home and moving, and especially as we we've been testing out our new yard. We've realized without our structure and routine the pups are beginning to push the limits and they aren't listening as much. We've now gone back to our daily walks as a set time where we can practice our training and maintain the consistency.

Increasing Exposure and Decreasing Boredom:
Our daily walk routine has been good for exposing the pups to all types of situations. Even if we do walk a similar route, each walk is different with sights and smells and people. We know many of you have seen the videos like this one and while all dogs are different, I think it has helped our pups succeed at these types of crowded events because they are consistently going on walks and being exposed to new things.
In the short time when we were relying mainly on time in the yard, when we finally did take the pups on a walk they were amped up, lunging across both sides of the sidewalk to smell new things, and meeting people with unexplained over-enthusiasm. We've realized how important it is to keep our walking routine to keep our pups mentally stimulated.

Improving Health:
People are usually surprised to hear that Miss M is 10 and Mr. B is 11 years old. I think one of the reasons they seem so youthful is that we are always out walking. The walks give them the mental stimulation to keep their minds alert, while it's also a good low-impact exercise to keep them in shape without a lot of strain on their joints.
Our walks also help us keep an eye on the pups to notice any conditions as they might come up. This time set-aside daily lets us immediately recognize if there are any changes in their health or anything concerning from their dog poo.
In a strange turn of events, we found that Miss M is literally grazing on our lawn and has gone beyond eating grass to eating clods of dirt (?) which will eventually get vomited up. Our walks help us keep an eye on her and keep her moving so she doesn't have time to eat the greenery.

We know all dogs and situations are different, and this is what we found works best of us.
What does everyone else think, to what degree do dogs need yard space?

What we all think about but don't talk about.
What really happens on a daily walk

Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog

Monday, July 21, 2014

SociaBulls: On Warm Weather Walking

Since we made it through this, you'd think we would be prepared for anything, though this summer has brought on new challenges with the summer heat kicking in and making walking hard for many of our pups. Our city dogs are used to walking through all types of weather and challenges, here are some things the group has been doing to keep things comfortable for everyone:

Gearing Up
We've become experts at gearing up for cold weather, and many of the pups have also found gear to help keep cool. We've tried Ruffwear's Swamp Cooler Jacket that we wrote about here which has kept our pups a bit cooler. We've heard it really helps the dark-colored dogs who normally get so hot in the sun. We also know a lot of members have been wetting the pups' bandanas to keep them a bit cooler.

Water Breaks
Our water breaks are a formality during the colder months (and during the really cold walks we skip them altogether), though they are a necessity for this warmer weather. We let the pups linger a bit longer, and in the warmer weather we might even take two water breaks.

Early and Slow
Just like when I was in marathon training and we need to plan around the heat of the day, for SociaBulls we plan our walks earlier before the heat has really reached its peak. Extra bonus: less people and dogs are out so there aren't as many encounters.
We will also choose shortened routes and make sure we aren't walking on as much hot pavement which could hurt the pups' feet.

What are some other things you do to plan for walking in warmer weather?

This is what also happens at water breaks
Join our Chicago SociaBulls Facebook page for more photos and information about group walks. And check out the Hikabull page where we first learned about the benefits of group walking.
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