Friday, May 28, 2010

Pooches: Family Walk

One of my favorite bike blogs, aside from Dottie's Let's Go Ride a Bike, is John Prolly's Prolly is Not Probably. I really enjoy his "A Day in 10 Photos" posts, it is very interesting to get a peek into another person's day. So here is my attempt at describing our very long family walks with 10 photos (though not from the same day). When it is warmer outside, we like to go on what we call "family walks" on the weekends with the pooches. We have three variations, the normal walk (~ 1 mile), our long walk (~2 miles) and our very long walks (~4 miles) which actually spans three neighborhoods. Chicago is such a great city, and it is even better in the spring and summer. It is so nice to see all these people out dining, drinking and just enjoying the weather.

In the city, we have all these parks and on our very long walk we can hang out at the park and either lay out on the grassor sit on the benches by the fountain. One of Ms. M's goal on the walk is to meet new people and usually while we are sitting or laying out, random people will be entranced by her wiggle and say hi.

Though we will never take our pooches to the dog park when it's crowded, it is still fun to see all the people out with their dogs at the dog park.
On the homestretch, we'll pass by about three city blocks of bars and restaurants with outdoor seating. It gives me an opportunity to check out the score to the Cubs, Bears, Bulls and/or Blackhawks game.

Since most of the outdoor dining areas at these bars and restaurants are dog friendly, there are plenty of water bowls out for the pooches

and plenty of opportunity for Ms. M to meet more new people. On the other hand, Mr. B could care less and will just walk through the crowd.

Every so often we'll see a dog tied up to a post or bike rack waiting for his/her best friend to come back.
Since we will never leave our pooches alone outside, we will usually get carryout with one of us waiting outside with the pooches. The poor small dog in this picture sat outside on alert while his owner ate inside.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pooches: "Drag Queen Bingo" and Drinking for Pooches

We usually give an annual donation to our favorite rescue groups, and sometimes forget about giving other times of the year. So it's really nice to be able to go to fundraisers, especially if it's an activity we would do anyway.
Last week Miss M"s rescue group New Leash on Life had a "Drag Queen Bingo" fundraiser at Hamburger Mary's in the Andersonville neighborhood. The restaurant has the bingo game each Monday night, and a different charitable organization is featured each week. More fun than your average bingo night, "Mary" makes bingo interactive and risque. What could be better than a night filled with burgers, shakes, racy jokes, dog fundraising and mid-bingo dance performances:Between all of our friends, we had about 20 bingo cards on the table. Ironically, we didn't win a single round:New Leash on Life is especially trying to raise funds for this little pooch:Only 8 months old, she has a severe hip problems and requires serious, and expensive, surgery. The rescue group is trying to raise funds to allow her to live a happy and productive life.
We were also able to go to a Happy Hour to support Project Rescue; a group organized by our favorite doggy daycare. It was a good night going out and meeting other like-minded doglovers; we even met our dopplegangers: married teachers who owned an American Bulldog and an Am Staff.
Project Rescue is also having another fundraiser coming up that we are excited to attend. On June 5, after a large multi-rescue adoption event, they're having a fundraiser at a bar where the volunteers work as the bartenders, and profits go to the rescue groups. I heard a rumor that dogs may be able to go too, but knowing Miss M's drinking problem, she might have to stay behind. Though I am really excited to meet this pooch:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Decor: Quest for the Perfect Dog Bed and Hardwood Floors

For the longest time I thought I wouldn't be a responsible dog parent unless I got our pooches the perfect bed. The first bed I ever got Miss M. was plush, warm, and ended up like this.
As she matured, Miss M. was able to use her beds for sleeping. I looked into a couple of options, and I actually liked this bed from Target's Boots & Barkley brand (not available online). We like it because it has this has this insert,like shredded memory foam, that actually molds to the pets' bodies. I like that the colors are simple; black 0n one side and beige on the other. When I first got this bed, they wouldn't get out of it for days.To make our house even more comfortable for the pooches, we started using oversize pillows on the floor to give them other alternatives to rest on.
The 20 inch variety is perfect for the pooches to sit and even curl up on, plus they look nice. This is Miss M's favorite place to sit in the living room:
Right now I like this one from Ikea, this from CB2, and this from West Elm. The brown and white pillow on the couch was actually a silk pillow Miss M used to sleep on, despite what you'd think of her sharp claws, it was never damaged and after a dry-cleaning I took it back.
But despite all of my searching and planning, I noticed the pooches spend an inordinate amount of time just laying on the hardwood floor:
Even with the sheepskin nearby, Miss M often prefers to lay on the floor:And Mr. B will sprawl out on the hardwood like swine:And especially when Miss M thinks this is a comfortable position:I wonder if the dog beds are really for making dogs comfortable? Or are they to make us more "comfortable" as owners?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PSA: Stolen Dogs

With all the great restaurants and shopping in Chicago, that we are "forced" to walk by each day on our daily walk, it is often tempting to leave the pooches tied up outside to grab a quick ice-cream, coffee, or even look around a store. Some places even make it really convenient to just leave your pooch:While this can be really tempting, there has been a huge problem in the city with stolen dogs. I used to be really naive to the idea that a person could actually steal a dog, but since I've lived here I've become privy to the fact that there are a couple of reasons people are taking the dogs:
1) They're stealing purebred dogs and reselling them for profit
2) People steal pitbulls for breeding or fighting
3) Any type of dog can be stolen as a "bait dog" to train a fighting dog
4) And I saw this HBO(?) special a couple of years ago where people were stealing dogs to sell for medical testing. They had this undercover camera that followed this guy who was earning $15 a head for the dogs. He was even going into people's backyards and stealing their pets.
Here are a couple of pooches I saw tied up the other day. Even though there are so many people walking by, think how easily you can grab this little guy:This dog was really sweet and trusting. It came up to us and we were petting it with no owner in sight:
And who wouldn't want this well-behaved pooch. He could be yours if you just unclip the latch and hook him onto your own leash:With our pitties, and knowing the type of terrible things that could happen if they landed in the wrong hands, we never leave them alone. Even if they're just hanging out on the deck, which is in the back and on an upper-level, we won't leave them alone. E actually had a bike stolen from the deck, left unguarded for a mere 20 minutes, so we know how stealthily predators can work.The worst part is dog thefts have gone beyond the streets. The thieves are now breaking into peoples' homes, and taking dogs as part of the "loot". There have been a couple of robberies in our area; the dogs stolen are mainly smaller purebred dogs which I'm guessing they're selling for profit. One guy was lucky enough to "rebuy" his French Bulldog on Craigslist.
This is my biggest fear; if our pitties are stolen, it can only mean terrible things. And after watching several episodes of the show It Takes a Thief--a reality show about 2 former robbers who effortlessly defy burglar alarms to rob houses--it really makes me wonder if our place is secure enough.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicagoing: Our Neighborhood

Our neighborhood has seen a lot of changes since I moved in eight years ago. The area has a mixture of folks that have grown up in this part of Chicago and others that have moved into the area to make it their home. (in front of Uprise Skateboard Shop with the skateboarder from Lupe Fiasco's Kick Push video inside checking out the pooches)
We are part of the latter group and before A and Ms. M moved in, I rarely interacted with those that grew up or lived in this neighborhood for over a decade. Actually I only talked to the three other people that lived in my building. When A and Ms. M moved in, we started meeting random dog people whenever we walked Ms. M around the neighborhood. Then the number of people we met increased almost exponentially when we adopted Mr. B. It seemed like almost everyone wanted to talk to us and ask us about our dogs. We went from only knowing four people on our street to almost everyone on our street. Now this really feels like our neighborhood, where we stop almost every block to talk to our neighbors.The great thing is that we meet people in areas that surround our neighborhood. Whenever we walk the pooches, people will stop us to ask us questions, show us pictures of their dogs (mainly pit bulls and other bullys) and even go into their house or car to bring out their dog. These areas, including our neighborhood, have a very diverse racial and socioeconomic makeup and we love the fact that because of our pooches we are meeting all sorts of people. Even though Chicago is very diverse, rarely do people venture out of their circle and we love how the pooches have introduced us to such a great group of neighborhood friends and other acquaintances throughout Chicago.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pooches: Mr. B in the Buck

It's strange that Mr. B has been part of our household for almost two years. In a blink of an eye, all that time has passed. In the beginning, we looked everywhere to find Mr. B a blue pirate skull collar to compliment Ms. M's pink pirate skull collar. Then it was getting all of Mr. B's necessary dog tags including the one for his insurance, Trupanion. Even though he doesn't need the "Adopted from Kalamazoo Animal Rescue" we keep it on him, because we are proud of the organization that rescued him. The same goes for Ms. M and her "New Leash on Life" rescue identification tag. Ms. M loves when we change out or add new tags to her collar, she loves the "bling" as A likes to put it. So whenever we see the pooches without their collars, they really do look like they are running around buck naked.Thank you so much Kalamazoo Animal Rescue and New Leash On Life for bringing two amazing pooches into our lives.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chicagoing: Suds for Strays

This past Sunday our friend K, with her rescue group Alive Rescue , had a charity dog wash at Doggystyle on Division. We try to support the dog rescues in the area, and it makes it even better when we can donate for something we would have done anyway; with all of our daily walks, the pooches were in definite need of a bath.
Since we don't have a backyard, and it would be such a hassle to wash the pooches ourselves, we typically splurge and take them for baths at Petsmart. We always imagine scenarios of what the pooches are doing during them baths. Knowing how much Miss M loves being petted, we imagined her siding up to the washer. She did plenty of that, but also spent much of the time trying to drink the water:
And looking pathetic:As always, Mr. B was a great sport both being housed down:And moved around:The pooches had a great time with all the attention, and we were happy to have clean pups and be able to support such a great rescue group. They also have a lot of great fundraising ideas coming up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pooches: Incredible Edible Kongs

Every Sunday and Wednesday night, I spend a few minutes constructing gourmet Kongs for our pooches. When A first adopted Ms. M, she would give Ms. M a Kong filled with treats to teach her to love the crate. When we adopted Mr. B, the Kong played a huge role and still does in our training. Even though Curtis Scott helped us with the isolation distress, we had to teach him to love the crate. Also, since we have two dogs one has to stay crated all day. So the Kongs have to be even bigger and better and it is a special treat for when we leave for the day. In their "real Kongs" I put part of a cheese stick, a large biscuit treat broken in half, a jerky treat broken in half, and I block the opening with a small biscuit treat covered in easy cheese. Then I freeze their Kongs for at least 12 hours. Now the pooches love when we leave. If Ms. M even gets a hint that we are changing to leave, she will run straight into her crate and wait for us to leave. She really hates it when we change our mind and decide to stay home. She will stay in her crate until we actually leave or until she gets bored which could be up to several hours. So now both pooches love going to bed as shown in the video, even when we give them what we call "fake Kongs" which are Kongs only filled with some of their favorite treats or dog food as in the video.
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