Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pooches: Preventative Grooming

A lot of people don't want to have dogs because they think they're too dirty. With our two big dogs we have mostly white furniture, but we maintain a clean home with some preventative measures. We keep shedding at a minimum by using fish oil to keep their fur healthy and less likely to fall out. I also make sure to take the dogs outside and give them frequent brushing to eliminate this shedding inside. I actually prefer this Kong Zoom Groom brush to the furminator because it covers more surface area, but it still can get to the undercoat. Plus, it can double as a dogtoy...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chicagoing: Block Party with Zombie Sightings

The pooches were so excited to be invited to our friend S's block party. Despite being a huge city, groups of neighbors do ban together to block off the street for an afternoon of drinking, grilling, and hanging out with the neighbors. Our friend S lives on a popular street in Bucktown; his family has owned their house for over 50 years. We took the pooches and spent the afternoon, and well into the night, hanging out, listening to the live band, and playing that beanbag game. The pooches had a great time being petted, meeting other dogs, and begging for food.
But no matter how cute they looked, the dogs didn't get any of the food.
Here is Mr. B with his new friend Zeus.
On our walk home, we actually had a run-in with hundreds of zombies. We walked smack into the Thriller Zombie Walk which had a thousand people dressed as zombies dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller Album. The parade accompanied us on our walk home, down Damen and through the streets of Division stopping traffic on both sides

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chicagoing: Wicker Park Fest

This past Sunday we ventured out to Wicker Park Fest with the pooches. The pooches were a huge hit. They got a lot of pets and kisses from other patrons of the festival. The festival was not too crowded and we got to hear a lot of good bands and eat some pretty good food. We especially liked the limeade from Adobo Grill. A friend of ours wrote on Facebook that he went Saturday night and that it was like a rave. The festival moved from Damen to Milwaukee Ave, which seems to be the better street to have the festival.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chicagoing: Restaurant Dining with Pooches

After surviving our 8 month winters, Chicagoans make the best of the nice weather we do have. This means many, many alfresco dining options. It's rare to walk down a street in Chicago without stumbling on a nice sidewalk patio. And these patios have it all: food, people watching, nice flowers, and pooches. By law, all the outdoor cafes need to have flower boxes decorating the fences. It's nice to see so much greenery in the city: Also by law, they passed an ordinance that dogs are allowed to eat with their owners on the patio. This is great because we can spend the day with the pooches and when we're hungry just drop in for some food. And even though dogs are allowed, there are some variances among the different restaurants. Some allow the dogs to come in the gated area, while other restaurants require the dogs to be on the outside of the fence. The dogs are only allowed to drink water; they cannot be served food, and they cannot sit on the chairs. We always make sure to ask before we bring the pooches, but usually we've had good experiences. We usually frequent Macs where the servers are really nice to the pooches. Mr. B. loves dining outside. He usually just sits there. Miss M., on the other hand, sometimes gets bored. Usually we have to plan ahead and bring a kong or chew toy for her...kind of like a pacifier.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pooches:Trupanion Pet Insurance

Oh the joy of pet insurance, well not exactly. So in an earlier post, we wrote about the joys of being an Embrace Pet Insurance customer, but how quickly this changed in a year. In the past year of having Embrace Pet Insurance for Mr. B, we only filed one claim, which was not reimbursed due to the deductible and the fact that they only reimburse 80% of the vet bill. When it came time to renew, they raised their rates almost 41%. Our premium for Mr. B went from $451 to $635 in one year. They told us in an email that this was due to inflation of veterinary medical costs, but upon further review we discovered that our premium also increased due to Mr. B's age. If we continued with Embrace, the call center representative told us to expect a 20% increase in our premium next year and a smaller percent increase in our premium every year after until Mr. B reaches the age of 10. We calculated that at this rate our premium with Embrace will be over a $1000. We asked them to do some estimates for the next 6 years for us, but we have yet to receive this email. So we went back to square one to look for another pet insurance company. These were things we had to consider when looking at different companies. 1. We looked at the reviews on Pet Insurance Review and further investigated the top five reviews, excluding Embrace. We looked for the more recent reviews and read the ones with older dogs and if there were any premium increases.
2. Are there premium increases with our pet's age? This was an important consideration since Mr. B is 6 years old, which is the age when most pet insurances increase their premiums.
3. Again, we looked at the deductible and the amount paid of the actual veterinary bill.
4. We examined per incident limit, limit per year and any exclusions such as hereditary or congenital disorder (we found that most pet insurance companies are all the same regarding exclusions).

Why we chose Trupanion?
Mainly because they do not raise premiums due to pet aging. Though, they only offer the $20,000 limit with no limits per year, claim, illness, procedure, or condition, we hope and believe that he will never exceed this limit in his lifetime (knock on wood). They have very flexible deductible options and they cover 90% of the veterinary bill arising from injury or illness. Our premium is very reasonable and we have the peace of mind that we will not see a 41% premium increase again, but maybe a 6-10% due to inflation of veterinary medicine costs.

Things to think about regarding Trupanion:
They do not cover the veterinary exam fee, so we will need to pay our deductible, plus our vet's exam fee, which is $75, plus 10% of the rest of the bill. This plan is mainly to safeguard against injuries or illnesses. Also if Mr. B's medical costs exceeds the $20,000 limit, we would have to start a new policy and all of his illnesses and injuries will be considered a preexisting condition. Finally, there is a 5 day waiting period for injuries and a 30 day waiting period for illnesses.

All in all, we are pretty happy with our choice to go with Trupanion for Mr. B and hopefully, we will not be looking for a new pet insurance for several years.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicagoing: West Fest Neighborhood Festival

Here are the pooches enjoying the festivities at West Fest in West Town. This is a great festival, not just because it's in our own hood, but because it really does have something for everyone. It has really good in dependant bands and DJ's for the beer-goer, it has booths, baths and freebies for the pooches, and it has a separate kids section complete with jumping castle, crafts, live music stage, and pony rides. Yes, those are ponies in the middle of Chicago Avenue.Our favorite dog store, Doggystyle, was a sponsor giving out "doggybags" with tons of treats, a FirstAid kit, and tips on keeping your urban dog healthy in the city. They also had a $10 charity dogwash with proceeds going to Greyhounds Only and Alive animal rescues. Mr. B. sat nicely for his bath. Miss M. was too busy trying to drink the water.
The Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue was another sponsor, so there were plenty of pitties roaming around. The pooches were even able to splash around in the water with some pitties they knew from the neighborhood. The pooches were offered lots of treats, received lots of attention, and this was the 3rd best day ever of Miss M's life.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Schwang Swag: Bern Nina Helmet

Ms. M is modeling A's new helmet, the Bern Nina in pink. Since A has a really small head, we had to look at Jr./Kids helmets. She really liked the look of the helmet, especially the snap on visor. The chin strap can be easily adjusted and it has 7 vents to help keep her head cool. What is really nice is that there are a lot of upgrades like the grey knit with ear flaps that can be snapped into the helmet to keep her ears warm in the winter.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chicagoing: Drag Queen Bingo Fundraiser

The other night we made our way up to Hamburger Mary's for a drag queen bingo fundraiser to support Miss M's rescue group. Every Monday night Hamburger Mary's has a bingo night, hosted by Velicity Metropolis, to support a local charity. We were more then happy to support New Leash on Life and meet several of their volunteers who still knew Miss. M.
With all the proceeds going to New Leash on Life, we bought several bingo cards. And this was much different then the grade school bingo I remembered; Velicity Metropolis made it so much fun with lots of R rated jokes.
We decided to sit outside since it was such a nice night. They have a loudspeaker set up so you can still be part of the bingo. It can get pretty crazy inside. We were happy with the burgers; they were huge with choices of unusual toppings. Plus, they have some pretty good drinks. And at the end of the night they give you your bill in a sparkly slipper. It was a fun time and we'll probably head back for New Leash on Life's next fundraiser.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chicagoing: Wicker Park Farmer's Market and Brun-uusto Cheese

Ever since my days back in Nebraska, I have always loved going to Farmer's Markets. Luckily for me, there is a Farmer's Market nearly every day in one of the Chicago neighborhoods. We live closest to the Wicker Park market, so on Sunday mornings we round up the pooches and head out. The good thing about this market is that it is very dog friendly. The booths are spaced out well so the dogs can walk without getting tempted by any of the goods; we can also rest in the park or sit by the fountain. Lots of people come over to pet the dogs, which makes them happy. Check out these smiling faces:
On the other hand, I don't find a lot of selection at this market. I usually go to the markets to pick up flowers; however, at this market there is only one vendor with more expensive and lesser quality flowers. The one redeeming thing of this whole market is The Cheeseman. He brings his cheese all the way from Wisconsin, and it's usually pretty amazing.
Today we bought a raw milk cheddar spread--perfect for the Millennium Park Concert Series--and the Brun-uusto baked cheese with jalapenos. This cheese is actually a Finnish Juustalepia, or bread cheese. As you bake it, it develops a bread-like crust; it tastes amazing! So even though the market is lacking in several areas, we will be returning to get pets for the pooches and pick up more Brun-uusto.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chicagoing: Our Personal Fireworks Show

One of the best parts of living in a mixed neighborhood is a lot of our neighbors are really into fireworks, the big, fancy ones. Late into the night, we were able to sit in the comfort of our living room and watch fireworks from all angles. This happened both July 4th, and July 5th.
Miss M. isn't bothered by the fireworks. She'll watch the lights for awhile, then she settles in for a siesta.Mr. B., on the other hand, is terrified. He jumps at every noise and has been following us around all weekend. I expect the neighborhood to stop shooting fireworks within the next week or so when Mr. B's life can get back to normal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pooches: Teeth Cleaning

Although we work really hard to take care of the pooches, one of the biggest things we forget about is to take care of their teeth. Dog tooth disease is one of the most common issues facing pets, and it can become the most costly. Professional veterinary teeth cleaning is expensive, and often painful, so it's best to start dental care often and early. So far, during our veterinary exams, the pooches teeth have been ok. To keep it up, we have gotten some chew toys which are abrasive and help keep their teeth clean. We also picked up some delicious beef-flavored toothpaste which can be used in the groves of certain toys, or with a direct brushing. Before brushing your dogs' teeth, start by using gloves and massaging the gums and teeth with the toothpaste. This will allow the dogs to get used to having their teeth touched, especially since their gums and teeth will be sensitive. Eventually you can work up to brushing their teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush--they make them especially for dogs. It took awhile, but now the pooches are used to it. Although, Miss M. still tries to chew on the brush as she's getting her cleaning.
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