Friday, February 26, 2010

Pooches: Miss. M Wants

When we were away in San Francisco, my mother and my brother watched both Miss. M and Mr. B. We had our concerns, because they are big dogs and since my brother was leaving for home (New York) when he leaves, my mom would have to walk both dogs. Apparently they weren't too hard to handle, my mom was able to walk and feed them without much issue. In addition, they found out that the pooches love Asian pear apples. My brother recorded this video of Ms. M wanting the plate of Asian pear apples with his iPhone. Check out her eyes:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pooches: Clues from a Past Life

Both Miss M. and Mr. B. were adopted. They spent their formative years in other homes before they came to us. Mr. B. was actually a fancy purebred pooch, complete with papers, who lived in an irresponsible home. He was not neutered and left to roam free through the streets of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Each time he was picked up, the owners were fined. They finally accumulated enough fines that they decided to surrender him to the City Pound. Luckily, the kind people from Kalamazoo Animal Rescue found him and we were fortunate enough to adopt him and bring him into our home. Now the only wilderness he gets to experience is outdoor dining on our back deck:
Miss M. on the other hand was a complete mystery. Before she joined us she was a smelly dog, plagued by mange, who had been living on the mean streets of Chicago. She was 25 pounds lighter than she is now; you could see every rib. Here is her profile from Petfinder. She doesn't even look like the same dog:
Miss M. was picked up by Animal Care and Control, the Chicago city pound, which is severely underfunded and forced to euthanize 18,000 pets a year. Poor Miss M. didn't even make it to the adoption floor. She was in the "Rescue Only" group, and she had to hope a rescue group would come. Luckily for her, the amazing people from New Leash on Life whisked her away just as the pound had put a date on the calendar for her to be euthanized.
I always wondered about Miss M's story, and how she ended up on the streets. She actually gave me some clues that helped me piece together her former life. I think she was owned by a big guy because When we would go on walks, she would get super-excited whenever she saw big men. She would dash towards them, wiggling and "smiling" like this:
She would also try to sit in our laps, which being a big dog she probably would only be able to do with a big man. Miss M. also knew another language. When people passed speaking she would get super excited. I even asked a child to tell her to "sit" in another language and she did. She also let me know she was fed food from a can opener. Whenever she heard me using our handheld can opener she would come running, start twirling and begging for food. I think she was mainly an indoor, or at least basement/garage dog. I adopted her when she was 1 1/2- 2 years old, and I could tell she had never seen snow before; she absolutely freaked out the first time she saw snow.
I could tell she was never abused, but I was still curious about how she ended up on the streets. Do other adopted dogs give behavior clues about their past lives?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chicagoing: Family Walk

On Sunday mornings we've starting taking "family walks" where we all walk together to our favorite bakery. La Farine makes the most amazing ciabatta bread; they are the supplier for many of the top restaurants in Chicago. We've been picking up some rolls, their amazing homemade caramelized onion and spicy cheese spreads, and some sweets from their rotating selection. It makes us feel quite European enjoying a Sunday continental breakfast complete with strawberries and orange juice.
Mr. B. enjoys the walks because he gets to help out. He brings his backpack so he's able to carry our groceries home. Here he is proudly carrying the goods:
This walk detours from our typical route, and I was thinking about all the things I notice, and how it must be so different from the what the pooches see at their level. As I was walking, I was noticing
Free Internet at one of our favorite pizza places:
A plethora of huge churches:

Fine details on buildings from 1905:And tagging on new construction:From the pooches' perspective I imagine they were seeing:
Huge toys they can't reach:
Mysteries on fire hydrants:
Remnants of dogs who passed by here first:Fine smells on buildings from 1905:E's shoes and Mr B's buttock:Crowds waiting for brunch meaning opportunities to be petted.Discovering freshly baked bread at eye-level.What else do you think they're really seeing that we're all missing?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pooches: Mr. B in Trouble

Most of the times our pooches are well behaved, but sometimes they act out and do bad things. When we got home the other day, we found Mr. B cowering in his tent and we found this on our rug...We've been picking up our neighbor's mail for him while he was out of time and we have been putting them on this ledge. Mr. B must have climbed the ledge and grabbed the letter on top, which luckily happened to be junk mail and chewed it. When we got home, he was hiding in his teepee, noticeably stressed out.We could not stay mad at him because of his puppy dog eyes.
Here is Mr. B checking out his deed after we called him out of his tent:Then he realizes that this is a set up and runs away to his tent:Then he sits in his teepee showing signs of stress, like sticking out his tongue.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Schwang Manor: More Dog Rugs

With a couple of extra days off this weekend, we were able to conclude our search for more dog resistant rugs and finish some other things around the house. We just had a West Elm store open in Chicago so we made our way over to check out their rugs firsthand. Between the bike, the dogs and snow our sunny orange entryway runner wasn't looking too bright anymore: We traded it out for the Andalusia rug in espresso. The 2x7 rug was around $130, including tax, and it's good quality that feels good underfoot and still looks nice in our main room. Plus the brown hides any dirt. Miss M. was quick to claim it as her own perfecting her"downward dog" yoga pose:We were also having some problems in the back entryway with the snow coming into the house and getting the wood floors wet. Before only one dog was able to come in and wipe their feet. But for only $15 we were able to pick up the extra-long Ikea Halsted doormat so both dogs can hang out with room to spare. It's more industrial-feeling, made to be a doormat, but I like the simple, modern look. It's a little smaller than our space, and is still curling a bit at the edges, but for $15 it does the job perfectly. Miss M has to break it in with even another rendition of her "downward dog":We still didn't pick up anything for the bedroom. I feel like it looks a bit bare, and it would be nice to have something underfoot, and yet another space for Miss M. to practice yoga:I have been eyeing the Pebble Rug in slate to go with our gray bedroom walls. It's super soft and I like the texture. Here is how it looked in the store:After just being a floor sample some of the strands were starting to separate, so I can''t imagine it would hold up well to the pooches or Miss M's dagger-like claws. Maybe we should just stick with the hardwood?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pooches: Support Bully Breeds and vote for Dexter!

Dexter's owner wrote this amazing post about how even when our dogs do horrible things, it's really because they love us (it's much funnier, and touching when you read it directly on her blog). This week Dexter is entered in Bissell's MVP photo contest. The contest runs throughout the year and you vote for the dog of your choice during the voting period. The top dogs of the week enter a semi-finals where they have a chance to win their picture on a Bissell product box and $10, 000 to the organization of their choice--Dexter's organization is Bad Rap pitbull rescue. With all the national negativity for bully breeds, I think it would be so great if we could get national attention and force a big company to acknowledge pitties as family dogs. Please take just a couple of minutes to register and vote for Dexter; you can find his entry here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pooches: Snow Fishing

Chicago finally got hit with our big snowstorm and the pooches are having a fantastic time frolicking in the drifts. While a snow-covered city can be so beautiful, we still have to face the fact that it is a city. All the food, rubbish, and miscellaneous items that normally litter the ground are just temporarily covered up with snow.
Since Miss M. is extremely food motivated, she figured this out quite quickly. On one of our first ventures out, she dug into a drift and pulled out a half-eaten Gyro. Probably a relic from someone who was eating one mid-blizzard.
Another time she dug in and pulled out a dead rat. The tail was swinging from her mouth and I was pulling on the back of her neck trying to get her to drop it. Ordinarily I stick my hand in her mouth to pull things out, but not this time. We stood at a standstill for several minutes doing her signature over-attention stare:
After several minutes of waiting, she finally dropped it. Now we just keep an extra lookout in case one of the pooches goes in for a dive. Has anyone else been having these types of problems?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Commuting: Blizzard? What blizzard?!

Just like any other day, I biked to work through our supposed blizzard. I guess I overestimated how plowed the roads would be, and I had to walk the bike to the alley with Mr. B watching like always. Here are some pictures of my commute. It really wasn't that bad, the only hard part was the handling and that was on packed snow that was lightly driven on. It was the grooves of the tire tracks that made handling difficult, but the parts that were not driven on or had heavier traffic was a lot easier to bike on. I got to test out my new toe clip covers or toe cozys from Bike Cozy and they really work. My Vans were nice and dry when I got to work and back at home.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicago Marathon: My New Training Partner

So, last year I retired from marathon running. I had run a marathon each year for the past 6 years, and I felt it was becoming too repetitive. I was running the same route, prepping for the same races, and I was so unenthusiastic that I actually forgot to bring my timing chip to the marathon. I spent last summer retired, hanging out and eating empty calories. While I did enjoy my short-lived retirement, ala Lance Armstrong, I have decided to make a comeback and I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10. To keep things fresh, I will have a new running partner. See, I originally wanted to adopt a dog to run with me, but then I ended up with this one:

The most she has ever run is 2 blocks. The first block she thought it was a game and she started playing tug with the leash. The second block she just stopped and wouldn't move. It was like one of those cartoons where you're tugging at a mule and they don't budge. Mr. B. on the other hand loves to run. We even nicknamed him "Hot Wheels" because it looks like he has little spinning legs. Just check him out in action here. I only plan on bringing Mr. B. on the shorter 3-5 mile runs, and only when there's no ice or snow. I want to make sure I'm being really safe and not doing anything that could hurt his joints or ACL. I intend on starting really slow, only a mile or less at first, to make sure he's conditioned, but I'm not sure if there are any other precautions I should take. Does anyone have thoughts on safely running with dogs?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pooches: Mr. B vs cats

Whenever Mr. B comes across a cat, he starts jumping around, whimpering, crying, and pulling at the leash. Even after the cat has long passed, he will continue to look around for it. We cannot tell if he wants to hug the cat or crush the cat. When we adopted Mr. B, we were told that he used to live with cats and a friend of ours, who happens to be a cat lover, tells us that dogs that used to live with cats now think that their best friend, the cat, is dead and believes it's their friend whenever they see another cat. Last summer, Mr. B had a run in with a feral cat. This cat was guarding our gate and we couldn't get in. Mr. B started whimpering and lunging at the cat and while I'm holding Mr. B the cat came right up to Mr. B and took a swipe at him. Eventually, our neighbor lead the cat away from our gate, but she was clawed in the process. Mr. B starts hopping like a marionette and whimpering whenever he sees this cat from our front windows. A calls him Captain Ahab who keeps looking for his Moby Dick, the cat. So one day when I was watching a video on Youtube about two cats talking, Mr. B started running around looking for the cats. Here is a reenactment of that event:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Schwang Manor: Lazy Sunday

This past Sunday was another Superbowl Sunday without the Bears, but we decided to stay at home to hang out with the pooches and do some work. We usually leave the house to be more productive, but since we were going to a friend's place to watch the game, we decided to do our work at home. While A was reviewing her videos for her National Board application, I was just sitting around and enjoying this lazy Sunday like the pooches. Having the sun out felt really nice and every so often the pooches would raise their heads, yawn and go back to sleep. Even the guys in the alley were out enjoying the sun and some pregame conversation. Both the pooches would watch them intently wishing they could live the same nomadic life of the alley guys. I love lazy Sundays.
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