Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pooches: The Curse of Too Much Information

 When I adopted Miss M, my first dog on my own as an adult, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right. For every scrape or miscoloring I would scour the Internet to see if it was actually a sign of something worse. And I think it was really through these searches that I started learning too much. For each symptom, I would diagnose some terrible disease and usually wind up at the vet just for peace of mind.
 The other day, Miss M gulped water too quickly and for several hours afterwards she kept heaving and retching. I recently learned about the horror of bloat, and I immediately thought she was in the early stages. I consulted my trusty Internet that said a tell-tale sign was if her stomach looked bigger and taunt. Though it was hard to tell because Miss M always looks like this:
She was acting normally otherwise, but I just wanted to be extra sure. Being a Sunday afternoon, the only peace of mind could be found at the Emergency Vet Clinic. And after bringing the too energetic Miss M in, they too confirmed that she was ok.
I’m starting to wonder if too much information can be detrimental. Growing up, we didn’t know nearly as much about dog health and nutrition, and our dogs always lived happy, healthy long lives. Was it just luck? To what degree can knowing more really be that much more beneficial?

Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Be a Tourist with Your Dog Series: Molly in Anchorage, Alaska

We are so excited to start our Tourist with Your Dog Series with the incredibly adorable Molly and her family. Molly, who also happens to be Miss M's doppleganger, lives with a very sweet, young couple in Anchorage, Alaska. We've always been so curious about Alaska, so we love seeing this sneak peek into their lives and seeing everything there is to do with pooches in Alaska.

 Take a Hike:
One of Alaska's most attractive qualities is the rugged terrain and breathtaking scenery. One of the best ways to experience Alaska's great outdoors, and get a workout for yourself and pooch, is to take a hike.  A place we enjoy going is Flattop, it provides many options to accommodate a range of fitness levels.  If you just feel like hanging out and enjoying the scenery you can take a short walk to a platform the looks over all of Anchorage, if you prefer a more strenuous activity you can summit the relatively small mountain in about 45 minutes.

Explore Local Events and Outdoor Markets:
A fun way to check out local Alaska businesses and talent is to attend a first Friday art-walk.  Like the name implies this event happens every first Friday of the month, and it involves a bunch of local shops and businesses in the downtown area displaying new local talent or art and providing snacks, music and occasionally samples of products.  Pooches are welcome though we were the only couple with a dog when we went, we didn't care though because Molly got tons of attention and some people even shared their snacks with her. 
The Saturday Farmer's Market is another great event to check out with your pooch.  It boasts over 300 vendors and since all the shops are set up under tents it is easy to bring your pooch in with you or ask for a sit stay and then browse while still having your leash in hand.
 Take a Roadtrip:
We highly recommend packing up the car and taking a road trip.  This past weekend we headed to Homer for Molly's first camping trip.  From Anchorage the trip is about 230 miles one way, you just get on the Seward highway for about 80 miles then take the Homer exit onto the Sterling highway for the rest of the trip.  The four hour car ride is nothing short of breathtaking, there are continuous views of the mountains as well as gushing rivers.  We recommend traveling during the day, we didn't get into Homer til about midnight and the last hour of our drive we saw 29 moose and had a close call with one crossing the road right in front of us.
 We kept track of all the wildlife we saw and by the end of the trip our totals were: 29 moose, 7 dead bunnies, 2 live bunnies, 1 fox, 2 dead porcupine and about 15 eagles.  For a two day trip I would call that A LOT of wildlife.
 We camped right along the spit, it was a short walk to the "beach" and bathrooms.  We advise to camp a bit further away where you can set your tent up on grass or fine gravel, the sand was not the optimal conditions for camping- it got EVERYWHERE.
As far as traveling with our pooch we were pleasantly surprised with how smoothly it went.  We packed our Outward Hound 2-in-1 traveling bowls which was super handy because they zip together to form a mini-cooler that was able to fit 8 cups of Mollys food in one part and her toys, treats and rawhides in the other compartment, plus they are collapsible and waterproof.  Molly snuggled in the tent with us at night and provided us with loads of entertainment during the day.
Local Dog Parks:
 Anchorage boasts several ample sized dog parks for pooches.  Our favorite is the off-leash University Lake park because it is so big and open which makes it easy to avoid any negative experiences and never gets crowded, plus there is a long loop around the lake that is the perfect "walk" distance.  We also get lots of positive attention and feedback from people about our sweet, rescue bully.
We also enjoy venturing to the downtown park that is dog friendly as long as they are leashed.  There is a long strip of fields where you might find kids playing ulitmate frisbee, people flying kites or just having a picnic, we would reccommend bringing along a blanket and basket and go the picnic route, it makes for a great way to people watch and hang out with your pooch.
 You can read more about Molly and her Alaskan adventures on her blog here, and let them know what you think in the comments section, and/or on our Facebook page.
 We think it's so interesting to see the attractions in everyone's hometown, get travel ideas, learn the local insider tips, and see what to do with pooches. Plus, we will be donating $100 to the rescue of choice for the "winner" and $50 to the second winner. We would love to see your towns and hear your tips, and you can read more about the "contest" here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

DoggyStyle: Sharing a House with Dogs

I'm always curious about how people share their space with dogs. Living in a 2-bedroom, we really don't have much of a choice. Our space is too small to really have "off-limit areas", so instead, we've had to get creative and find ways to integrate them into our rooms. We don't allow them on the couches, but we do toss a few floor pillows around to give them a place to hang out:
Keep dog-friendly carpets:
And we created a "dog bedroom" by pushing one couch forward a bit and putting the crates, Mr B's tepee and toy bin behind:
 Where the pooches actually enjoy hanging out:
And of course, putting "twin dog beds" in the bedroom:
Do you find it easier to create off-limit areas? Or just integrate the pooches into your space?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Daily Walk in 10 Pictures 5.25.11

Even though this past weekend was forecasted for rain, the weather was near perfect for our family walks. Mr. B really enjoyed going out and smelling the flowers and Ms. M didn't enjoy being put in time out for having tantrums whenever someone said hi.
Though A wanted to get more photos of Mr. B posing for the camera, she just couldn't get a good shot. Whenever she crouched down to take a picture, Mr. B felt it was the best time to give her smooches. So the only photos she could get clearly were distance shots.
On the other hand, Ms. M loves posing for the camera and A could always use her as a model.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Nice One

Usually when people approach us to meet the pooches, they are immediately greeted by Ms. M's eager smiling face and wiggling body. She is always so excited to meet new people that they don't even have time to ask if she is friendly before she licks the back of their hand and begins leaning on them to get petted.
On the other hand, Mr. B is more aloof. And lately people have been asking if he is unfriendly because he usually just stands over to the side.
We were kind of surprised that people would interpret this as unfriendly, especially because Mr. B usually has a big wide smile, and Miss M is prone to giving her mean-mugging face to people:

I wonder if people really do pay more attention to dogs' body language than looking at their face?
P.S. We posted on our Facebook page last night, but Bella (one of the pooches saved in Shy's honor) was officially put on petfinder and it ready for adoption!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chicagoing: Ukrainian Village Neighborhoood

 We love walking around Chicago and exploring the different neighborhoods. Somehow, all that walking seems justified when you're doing it with dogs. We happened to have amazing weather this weekend, and set out on a longer walk around Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
The neighborhood is particularly lush flowers on every porch and ivy-covered walls:
Glimpses of the past:
The main thing that stands out are the number of ornate churches and cathedrals. Like this:
And  towering over the city:
One of our favorite reasons to visit Ukrainian Village is to stop by Black Dog Gelato; their goat cheese cashew caramel gelato is strangely addictive. And we love Podhalanka, which is actually near the Polish Triangle, but has the best pierogies, borscht, and potato pancakes. It's so authentic, it's just like eating in someone's living room. But if you're with your pooches, you can take it to go and eat at the park.

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Be a Tourist with Your Dog Series, Your Help, and a Contest

We love that there are so many things to do in Chicago with our pooches, so we thought we would highlight how to be a tourist in Chicago with big dogs. At the same time, we were considering taking a vacation with the pooches, but we weren't really sure where to go and what to do.
 Then we realized: we have met so many people through our blog who not only live in interesting places, but do amazing things with their pooches in their places.
We thought it would be fun to create a series of posts where you could give us an insider's view of your city--or a road trip with your pooches--then tell us how someone can enjoy these highlights with your dog. We would make these into a weekly travel series: How to Be a Tourist with Your Dog.
  And to make it interesting, we would make it a "contest" to benefit dog rescue. We will donate $100 to the shelter/rescue group of choice for the post with the most comments. And we would donate $50 to the post with the second-highest number of comments.
We will include complete logistics below, but here's an example of what a post we would write giving an insider's view of Traveling in Chicago with a Dog:
 Exploring Downtown:
One of the biggest draws of Chicago is the amazing architecture and we always recommend visitors go on an architectural cruise along the Chicago River and along Navy Pier. Luckily for us, they actually have the Mercury Canine Cruise which is specifically for pooches and their owners. The 90 minute tour gives all the interesting history about Chicago while you hang out with your pooch. The tour departs from South Michigan Avenue which would also give you a chance to do your own walking tour and check out famous sites like the Wrigley Building and the lions at The Art Institute.
 Unfortunately, dogs aren't allowed at Millennium Park, but you can walk through Grant Park, check out Buckingham Fountain, walk along the lakefront path to check out the Museum Campus and amazing skyline views. The sunrise from Navy Pier is also amazing, and dogs are allowed at the outdoor attractions.We don't recommend being there beyond early morning; I think the true beauty of Navy Pier is when it's empty.

Chicago Neighborhoods, Outdoor Dining, and Picnics:
We think the best part of Chicago are all the different neighborhoods which are all very distinct. Small dogs are allowed on the trains if they're in a carrier, but we've shown how you can catch a cab in the city with a pit bull, so it would be fairly easy to neighborhood hoop with your pooch. Each neighborhood has a different flavor with tons of local shops and restaurants. Never leave your dog tied up outside unattended, as it is unsafe and there have been dog thefts.
It's fun to walk through Lincoln Square and relax in the square or in Welles Park with an Apart thin-crust pizza, going to Wrigleyville to see the infamous Wrigley Field and walk along the north part of the lakefront path to see the skyline, or walking through Bucktown/Wicker Park with the many graffiti walls and picnic in Wicker Park with Big Star tacos from their take-out window.
 Chicago also has tons of outdoor dining with pooches allowed in the outdoor areas. Some restaurants have slightly different rules, they may have your pooch sit outside the gated area, so double check with the restaurant. It's always fun to get drinks outside and just people watch.

Neighborhood Festivals and Outdoor Concerts
Chicago is amazing in the summer with a neighborhood festival nearly every weekend. It's fun to be outside with other Chicagoans, in Chicago gear, listening to music and getting food from a booth. Most of the festivals are not too crowded in the daytime, but at night they might become too crowded for a dog to walk comfortably. We've found the most pit bull friendly festival to be West Fest in July. We also love taking the pooches to the Gay Pride Parade in June. Several local parks have movies in the park and Welles Park in Lincoln Square has a weekly outdoor concert series.

Exercise and Daycare
If you wanted to take some time to go inside and explore the sights on your own, you could bring your dog to doggy daycare for the day. There are several doggy day cares in the city, and you should submit paperwork, discuss policies, and make reservations in advance. We take our pooches to Unleashed which is very pit-friendly, but there are several other pit-friendly daycares in the city. We don't like to take our dogs to the Chicago dog parks, which we wrote about in detail here, but if you go early in the morning some parks aren't very busy and they could be a good way for your dog to wear off energy. There is a dog beach on the lake at Montrose, but again, we've found it could get too busy with irresponsible owners.

 So, we're really hoping that you can also submit an "insiders view" of what to do with a dog in your city, or if you have gone on an amazing roadtrip and you might have some tips.

'Contest' Logistics:
-Write a 'post' about some highlights of your city and the most interesting things to do in your city with dogs. Try to include photos you've taken showing these things, especially if your dog is included in the photo.
-If you're doing a road trip, include the route taken, interesting sites, and tips you learned about traveling with dogs.
-Email us your write-up along with 4-7 photos using the 'contact us' button on the side. Keep the write-up standard length; we might edit posts for size.
-Put "Tourist with Your Dog" in the header so it doesn't get lost in our email
-We will run the posts as a weekly series through the summer. We will try to run the posts in the order they were received, but we may change the rotation slightly to allow for geographic variation.
-I don't know how many people will submit, but we're hoping to have about 15 posts to run throughout the summer (if 15 people are interested?). We'll keep updates on our Facebook page whether we have too few or too many posts.
-At the end of the summer, or early fall, we will go back through the posts and count the number of comments on the blog and comments on the Facebook page. You can comment on both the Facebook page and the blog, but 2 comments on the blog, or Facebook page, by the same person won't count twice. We'll allow some time to elapse after the last entry to accumulate comments.
-The post with the most comments will be given a $100 donation to the shelter/animal rescue of their choice. The post with the second most comments will receive a $50 donation. We do value all the posts that will be submitted, but we thought it would be fun if there was some type of contest involved.
-Chicago people, still feel free to write posts, just include your recommendations and photos of your pooch in these locations.
I hope this covers everything. Did we leave anything out?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Biggest Fan

While listening to the Bulls game on Sunday, we heard a commercial where Derrick Rose talked about one of his greatest feeling is seeing his fans so excited to see him.After listening to this commercial, I was telling A about my fans and how my biggest fan is so excited to see me and he loses everything whenever he sees me coming around.Then again, could it be that I'm really his biggest fan?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mr. B the Photographer

Mr. B has become quite the photographer and while we are documenting his life, he is documenting us. Last year when we were downtown, A had the pooches pose in front of her old office and
Mr. B had A pose in front of where he just marked.
Now that A has her new fancy DSLR, we are posing much more often for impromptu photo shoots.
This gives Mr. B perfect time to work on his photography techniques.
Sometimes his methods are a bit unconventional, he really works hard to get the perfect shot,
like this great shot of the trees and the sky.
Not to be left out, Ms. M loves to borrow Mr. B's camera
and try her hand at taking artistic photos.
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