Monday, August 31, 2009

On Our Daily Walk: The Church Carnival

Going on our daily walk this weekend we stumbled upon this church carnival.
And it's not every day that you find a church carnival complete with midway, Ferris wheel, and dragon ride. While it was fun for us to see, it actually freaked out the pooches.
Miss M. was terrified of the spinning dragon ride. She couldn't stop staring.

And Mr. B. was ok until he saw the Shooting Pigs game. He seems to have some kind of family allegiance to pigs and he started barking at the pigs. Needless to say, it got us thrown off the midway and back to our regular walk.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Doggystyle: Update on Mr. B's Teepee

Back in July, we took a gamble on replacing Mr. B's traditional crate with a teepee. While we wouldn't recommend it for most dogs, we decided to make the switch because we never shut the crate on Mr. B's door anyway. He was merely using it for denning purposes, and we thought a teepee would be a funny, stylish upgrade.
Mr. B. took to his teepee immediately. We decided to get some dog-resistant FLOR carpet tiles because he was having some issues with his bed sliding around on the hardwood floor.
We did have 2 instances where he actually did knock the teepee over. When he heard us coming home he rushed back to pretend he had been sitting in his bed the whole time.
Here he is, feigning innocence, and pretending he is sitting in a teepee:
While Miss M was initially scared of the teepee, she has finally understood that as a new item brought into the house she must claim it. She is often found sleeping here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pooches: Mr. B the Pit Bull

While getting a lift home last night, my friend Chef P and I started talking about Mr. B and his great demeanor. We were talking about how well-behaved Mr. B is and how he is one of the most behaved dogs Chef P has ever met. We hear this quite a bit about Ms. M and Mr. B. Most people we know are pretty amazed that they are so well-trained. A worked very hard with Ms. M and they went through several years of training, but we didn't have to work that hard with Mr. B. Chef P assumed that Mr. B was already trained when we adopted him, which wasn't the case, Mr. B was actually allowed to do whatever he wanted, even roam free through the streets of Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is what landed him in the pound. When we adopted him, we set all these rules and rather than fighting them he just conformed to most of them. In his past life, he was allowed to climb onto furniture, but the moment he stepped into our house we would correct him whenever he tried to climb any furniture. Within a few days, he completely stopped climbing onto the furniture. He used to bark at every dog and person that would walk by our house and we would correct him whenever he barked and now he rarely barks and when he does, you can see him trying to catch his bark as if it was involuntary. Then there was the separation anxiety, that our trainer, Curtis Scott, fixed in 5 min. Though these are things that people would think we worked hard to correct, we believe it is just who he is and we hear this quite a bit from other pit bull owners. Pit bulls are really gentle dogs and people pleasers which is why they were nanny dogs in the past. We could tell that Mr. B would do anything to make us happy, which is a great thing and his major flaw. I can tell how easy it would be to fight Mr. B, because he would do anything for me, even if it would lead to his own death. It is such a shame that people have exploited this flaw and use pit bulls for selfish gains and choose to turn a true man's best friend into vicious animals. We love our pooches and we don't know what we would do without them. Our greatest fear is getting robbed, not because of losing our possessions, but the fear of losing our pooches, Ms. M and Mr. B and what people would do with them. After watching Marley and Me, I am so glad that our dogs were adopted and pit bulls. It was a shame that President Obama didn't adopt a pit bull from a rescue group or shelter. That would have done a lot to change the public's view of pit bulls and adopted dogs. Hopefully Ms. M and Mr. B are changing the perception of adopted pit bulls in Chicago.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pooches: The Unforeseen Dangers of Exercise

Given this incident, we made sure to take the pooches for plenty of exercise at the park this weekend. We don't encourage taking Bullies to a crowded dog park, as they will inevitably be blamed if anything goes wrong, but we do know of a "secret" dog park. Other dogs rarely go to this park so we usually have the place to ourselves. Check out the pooches in action:
While the pooches had a good time, Miss M. suffered a casualty of playing too hard. She seems to have sensitive paw pads and when she runs on the pavement too long her paws begin to tear and blister. Unfortunately for us, she was having too good a time to realize she actually hurt her foot. It wasn't until we came home and saw her limping around that we realized what happened. Our vet tech told us we could put neosporin on the wounded area, and if a flap of skin was hanging off we could very carefully cut it off. She kept trying to lick the area, but eventually she was so tired from the day's activities, she just passed out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pooches: Destruction and the Bored Dog

Despite this situation, we usually don't have problems leaving the pooches home alone. However, when E and I returned home from dinner the other night, we found this outside Mr. B's teepee:Curious about why he had a spatula, we investigated further and found this:
This made a little more sense. We keep this grill, which we use on the barbecue, in one of the lower cabinets. Mr. B must have smelled some of the meat remnants and dragged it out to eat. But, what was most troubling, was this:
Mr. B. had actually taken the burners from the stove and dragged them over to the table. This means Mr. B had to actually jump up and grab these heavy burners off the stove. And, he must have done this twice!
We pride our dogs on being well-trained and respectful, and we haven't really had any other incidents like this one.
Dogs become destructive when they have too much energy, or they're bored. This means we have to be more proactive helping the dogs release energy. Usually we're good about taking the dogs to doggy daycare, throwing the ball around, or going on long walks. We've actually been a bit lax about taking the dogs to daycare, and I've been going on shorter walks because of the heat.
The other thing we need to do is keep them engaged with dog toys. Usually the pooches get food-loaded kongs, which are like a puzzle, as they try to get the food out from the middle. We also need to be better about switching out the available toys, so the dogs always feel like they have something new to chew on. Even the best-behaved dogs will have relapses...after all, they are still animals. Luckily nothing was destroyed, and this was just a wake-up call for us to make sure we're still engaging our dogs adequately.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chicagoing: The Mercury Canine Cruise

This weekend E and I decided to be "Tourists in our own City" and go on a Chicago architectural river cruise. We set sail on a 90 minute tour in this boat:
River cruises are ubiquitous around the city; it's a great way to see Chicago's stunning architecture from another angle. Lucky for the pooches, Mercury Skyline Cruise line offers Sunday morning Canine Cruises so they were able to join in the fun. All kinds of big, small, fuzzy, and bully pooches boarded the boat for a 90 minute tour including the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. As far as we know, this was Miss M's and Mr. B's first nautical adventure. Mr B. thought the Captain and his jokes were hilarious.
And Miss M. had a great time sticking her head off the side of the boat and sniffing the smells of the Chicago River.
It was actually fun to go out and see all the buildings from another angle. Even though I used to work in the Wrigley Building, back in my advertising days, I never really appreciated it as an architectural masterpiece.
And we caught some glimpses of the Chicago Air & Water show.
Craving attention, as always, Miss M. made sure to introduce herself to all the other pooches and humans on the boat.
There was a huge variety of dogs, and they were all well behaved. Here's another American Bulldog wearing a hat to avoid sunburn:
One pooch got dressed up in his best sailor suit:
This little guy was visiting the city with his family...all the way from Pittsburgh! He kept coming over to say hi to Mr. B.
This big guy seemed a bit hot, but he sat nicely the whole time.
And there was another smiley pitty-mix not too far away.
It was fun for us to experience Chicago with fresh eyes, and it was great to bring the pooches along on a downtown, nautical adventure.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How we live in Memphis: Two kitties in the City

Today is my talented little sister I's birthday! E and I were lucky enough to spend time with her, and her fiance D, when we visited Memphis last month. They just bought a whole house where they live with their 2 adopted kittens. I has done an amazing job fixing up the house on a limited budget; you would never guess most of the house is furnished by Ikea and Target.
Our camera doesn't do it justice, but this is the guest bedroom where we stayed; it was decorated in light blue and silver. The light fixture and frames are from Ikea. The artwork is actually framed fabric. The nightstands are Target: Victoria Hagen collection, and she picked up the lamps from the Pottery Barn outlet in Memphis. She originally had wood cabinets, and she took them all off, sanded them, and painted them a bright white. It makes the kitchen so fresh, clean, and airy. She actually used this vase as inspiration for her living room paint color...
The paint choice was a bold move, but it really makes the place pop. Especially with all the white borders and accessories.
The taupe sofa looks great with the wall color. The "coffee table" are more tables from Target: Victoria Hagen collection. She sewed some of the pillows herself.
The red cabinet, from Ikea, houses D's extensive DVD collection. The prints are from Etsy. The little basket keeps all the kitty's toys tucked away.
She created this division to have an "office" in the area outside the living room. She keeps it bright with the yellow rug and bright white accessories.
She created this artwork herself using Wordle and Ikea frames. She used another bookcase in the bedroom to create a division. The shelves are also prime playspace for the kitties.
And her best home accessory of all, she has 2 beautiful kitties.
Her house was so beautiful and comfortable; E felt it was something out of Apartment Therapy. Happy Birthday I!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Schwang Swag: Duragear Rear Seat Cover

Since our car has leather seats, we decided to not use a bed sheet like we have been using in the past and buy an actual pet seat cover. After a lot of research, it came down to the Solvit Deluxe Bench Seat Cover or the Duragear Semi-Custom Rear Seat Cover. We initially decided to go with the Solvit Deluxe Bench Seat Cover, but it was actually quite difficult to put on and it kept sliding around during testing which is bad with two big dogs that enters and exits the car by jumping onto the seat. So we decided to test out the Duragear Semi-Custom Rear Seat Cover. These seat covers are made to fit specific rear seat lengths, so we needed to make sure the size matched our car. It fits on the car like a slip cover. It was really simple to put on and it doesn't slide around. The fabric and seams appear to be quite durable and it can be machine washed and dried.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Schwang Swag: Honda CR-V Dog Friendly Car

It was actually quite a long process for us to finally buy our CR-V. We started looking at cars at the beginning of July and finally bought one at the end of July, but it really didn't have to take that long. There were a few key strategies we used to negotiate to get a great price for our car. Most of our tips came from and . We started our search on to see what others were paying for the CR-V in our area, the true market value (TMV) and the deals other people got on the car at also list any dealer or manufacturer incentives and/or dealer to manufacturer incentives and we were able to ask for quotes from multiple dealers right off the website. After we received the dealer quotes, we sent a reply to each dealer seeing if they can beat our lowest quote and asked for a list of their dealer fees and their out the door price. One thing we had to be wary of is that dealers would use their sales tax in their calculation of their out the door price. Most places in the suburbs have sales taxes well below Cook County's 9.25%. Now armed with printed out emails and such, we headed out to the dealerships with the three lowest quotes. One dealer had a very low quote, but he would only sell us the car with dealer add ons that were nice but priced way too high. We found all the same Honda OEM accessories cheaper on eBay and online Honda warehouse stores. So we took their quote for the vehicle and headed to the second dealership who matched the quote, but would not beat the quote. We really considered buying from this dealership, but we took the extra step to go to the last dealership and we're glad we did. The third dealership went another $200 below the other two dealerships' bottom line. We made sure that all the dealer fees were legit and we were on our way to owning a new car. Now onto financing. Before we went off to the dealerships, we also got quotes from different sources including Bankrate about financing, so we went to the dealerships with financing already in line. Our dealer was kind enough to beat our lowest auto rate, but tried to sell us a bunch of stuff in the process such as undercoating, extended warranty, and tire guard. The dealer even tried to entice us with a lower interest rate in exchange for one of the products. Basically, he was trying to sell us a $500 product, but would cost us the same in monthly payments because of the lower rate. This would not be beneficial if we decided to pay the car off early, because we would lose the $500 or so we would have saved on interest. So avoid buying any dealer products that will lower your rate, unless you don't plan to pay the car off early. After a whole month of searching, we got a great deal on our car, and it didn't hurt that we bought our car on the last day of the month during a dead week (the last week of July ended on a Friday).
Now onto the Honda CR-V, this car is practical when you have two large dogs. The rear has three seats, so we can buckle up both Mr. B and Ms. M with their harness and still have room for another person or animal. We had a coupe before, so now the dogs have their own windows for a breeze and scenic viewing. I really like the sunglass holder/conversation mirror, because now we can keep an eye on the dogs or rear passengers for any mischievous acts. The dual-deck cargo space allows room for plenty of cargo and the dual glove compartments give us ample space to hold all of our random items. There are plenty of cupholders, I believe four in the front and two in the middle of the passenger seats. The 60/40 split rear seat allows us to transport the dogs and haul some major cargo. The car does not get the best gas mileage, 20/27, but for its size and price the fuel economy is pretty good. Since I'm used to driving a manual sports car, I can't really comment too much on handling. It seems to corner well and have decent acceleration, so merging onto the highway is seamless. The navigation system is very helpful, especially with the backup camera, because backing into our garage can be a bit tricky. Plus there is a pc card slot behind the navigation, so we can play our music straight off of a SD card as mp3s, with the help of a pcmcia adapter. Finally the voice command system means that we never have to take our hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. We can control almost everything, including navigation, climate control, seat warmers and radio with simple voice commands. Only if this was true about the pooches. One annoying thing is the daytime running lights, but apparently they have been shown to decrease the probability of a head on crash. We are quite happy with our choice and with all the Honda OEM accessories it really is a dog friendly car.
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