Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Things to Do in Chicago with Dogs: Halloween Parades and Daily Walks

Ever since we've realized dressing up our dogs makes our pups more approachable, and encourages more people to come up to meet our pitbull-type dogs, Halloween has become one of our favorite holidays. Luckily for us, when you live in Chicago it lasts an entire week. And it's perfectly normal to take your dog out on a daily walk in full out costume.
Since it was colder, the pooches wore their hoodies under their outfits without ruining their costumes (remember when your parents made you wear a coat over your Halloween costume?). And Miss M succeeded in becoming the most Unhappy Butterfly....ever.
 We also stopped by Miss M's old stomping grounds where Ruff Haus was having a pet parade and party. The neighborhood is known for its Halloween festivities, and I think there were at least 40 dogs in the parade (or more?). Former foster dog Bessie Belle was even the parade leader. While she has been diagnosed with aggressive sarcoma, the big tumor has been removed and she is in good spirits and smiles. I could barely capture a photo of her because she kept trying to smooch me behind the camera.
 There were so many great pooches in costume ( I couldn't capture them all!) but there was a hipster pup complete with skinny jeans. And we did get to see former foster SuperLevi in his other alias...the most Pensive Bumblee Bee...ever.
PS. The smiley little gal in the corner with the crazy ears is Ariel from New Leash on Life, and she is totally available! She is 35 lbs full-grown, almost like a "Teacup Shepherd".
And if you were ever wondering what a dog costume parade looks like from the dog's view, documentarian Mr. B took a video with his very own camera:
How does everyone else's pups celebrate Halloween?

We love these shocked faces of passerbys checking out Mr. B's costume
Mr. B uses character study to fully wobble and walk like a turtle in this video
How much do Chicagoan's like dogs in costume?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pooches: On Dog Compliments and why Facebook Banned Me

Since we started our little blog, we are always humbled (and often blushing!) by all the nice comments and compliments our pooches receive.
At the same time, we know there are many even more amazing pooches and proud owners out there. Sometimes it does make me a bit sad, because I wish everyone had the chance to hear these types of compliments about their very own pooches.
The hardest for me is when I see the Facebook voting contests where there are some dogs who received hundreds of votes, and other dogs received only a few. I know when people put their photos up there, they have the same type of hope that people will see the special thing in their dog that they know. And it upsets me to see that not recognized.
I want everyone to get these types of compliments, so whenever I'm on a dog contest site I like to leave comments recognizing the nice attributes of each dog. And once you get started liking and commenting on the photos, you can't just like half of them, and you need to make sure everyone gets a nice comment.
Apparently, Facebook doesn't like this. And they banned me, because I left too many comments. (And now I feel like a stalker!)
We really do love seeing everyone's pooches, and we would love it if you could share photos of your pups on our Facebook page so everyone can see them! (Though we are still banned and even banned from liking and posting comments on our own page!).

Monday, October 29, 2012

SociaBulls: A Halloween-themed Walk!

With Halloween quickly approaching, and Chicago being an intense Halloween city, we had a costume-optional themed walk this weekend:
 While there are several dog-themed Halloween events that we love attending, we also know that sometimes these can get a bit chaotic with so many dogs in so little space. We love how our little walk does allow all the dogs to participate in a comfortable environment.
 We were amazed with the creativity of so many pups, and it was a sight to see so many of us walking together all decked out:
To learn more about our group, join our Chicago SociaBulls Facebook page for more photos and updates. And check out the Hikabulls page where we first learned about the benefits of group walking.

You can also read about all the different types of dogs who walk with our group and why they walk: Honor (The Gift of Learning to Relax), Maria (Not Letting Age be a Limitation)Sophie (Finding a Safe Place and Building Confidence), Torre (From Learning about Pitbulls to Developing an Ambassadog),  Estelle (Waiting to Be Noticed)Franklin (A Small Dog in a Big Dog Group)Gordon (Learning to Be Social and Have Dog Friends),  Nabi (A Shy Dog Making Sense of a "People World") Sprocket (Teaching a Dog When it's not Time to Play), Lola (Living in the City with a Dog who Fears Strangers),  Zoe (The Dog who "Loves Too Hard"),  Izzy (Being a good pitbull ambassador while working with an energetic dog) and Maize (Being social with an unsocial pup).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pooches: Photobomb Pooches

Miss M has perfected the art of posing for photos that we often have people stopping us and marveling how Miss M actually does sit and model each time I take out the camera.
Which has also caused her to become a photobomber. Any time we try to try to take out the camera we now have Miss M hopping in front and striking a pose.

Like this photo we were trying to take of former foster dog Bella:

Or the time she just happened to appear when I was trying to take a photo of Mr B laying on his stuffie in his tepee:
Sneaking into my photo of the flowers:
But then we realized someone else has been doing a bit of photobombing of his own:
And popping up in his little green hoodie:
Has anyone else's pup perfected the art of photobombing?

In case you missed it:
Miss M models

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dog Gear: Dog Halloween Costumes for Dogs Who Hate Costumes

It wasn't until I moved to Chicago that I realized the TV shows were true; there really are places where nearly every single person (and dog!) will walk around decked out in Halloween gear like it's perfectly normal. Though a lot of people have been lamenting that they feel left out because their dogs aren't comfortable wearing clothes. Here are some things we thought of for pups who aren't comfortable in costumes:

We have found our bowtie collars appropriate for so many occasions, and we've even worked them into several of our costume ideas: here , here, and here. We have gotten our bow tie collars from Silly Buddy and Sirius Republic and we wrote more about them here.

Festive Bandanas
Modeled by adorable Adoptable Count Chocula 
We love how bandanas are an easy, inexpensive way to make pups festive. We found some Halloween-themed fabric (little black cats!) and just cut it to make a quick costume for The Count as he looks for his very own home. 

Regular Dog Gear worn Creatively
A lot of dog coats, backpacks and doggles(!) are created specifically for dogs with their comfort in mind, and these could make good creative costumes. A pup in a backpack could become a hiking adventurer, this hoodie could become Adam Sandler's Red-Hooded Sweatshirt, and Miss M could be a ski-bunny in her puffy coat. Not to imagine all the ideas you can do with these (Tom Cruise?).

Is your pup comfortable with costumes? Are they dressing up for Halloween?
This is what we will be doing for Halloween along with former foster Bessie Belle (Chicago people, you should join us!)
How to make your pup comfortable in a costume
Costume ideas for large dogs

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Daily Walk in 10 Pictures 10.24.12

Now that it is nearing winter, we try to take advantage of any hint of nice weather. This past weekend, the weather was nice enough for us to venture around our neighborhood and test out potential wide angle lenses. A is interested in adding a wide angle lens to her photography repertoire, because of its ability to really show off the pooches in their native environment.
Though we are surrounded by concrete during most of our walk, we can always find a park or two to sit at and enjoy the greenery and have an impromptu picnic. Lucky for us, two great taco places are within walking distance of these parks. So sad that we cannot walk to our favorite taco place.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

City Dog: How to Invite Dog Guests Over

The very first day I had Miss M in my home, we had a dog visitor. A small, curly-haired excitable visitor who showed up with my friend unexpectedly at the door, came in and played with all of Miss M's toys, drank her water, and ran around our small apartment. Nothing happened, but looking back I now see how it probably wasn't a good idea to have our small dog party when I had no idea of either of our dogs' triggers or comfort levels. Since I know all dogs are different, and have different tolerance and selectivity, here are some things that have worked for us to make sure all of our dogs and guests are comfortable:

Greet Your Guest Outside (For a Proper Introduction!):
The one thing I always remember from The Lost Boys was how I needed to be careful of who I "invited" into my home (no vampires yet!). Now I've learned how important it is for the resident dog to "invite" guest dogs into their home. We make sure to do a proper introduction  on neutral turf and if it goes well the pup walks back with us to our home. We make sure that our dogs lead the way, walk up the stairs first and walk in the door first. We keep the leash on the visiting dog and allow them to check out the place. We also work to keep excitement levels down and discourage any rough-housing with space.

Cleaning Up and Removing Temptation:
Sure we do a quick-clean when we invite human guests over, but I've found it even more important to do it for dog guests. Knowing all dogs have different tolerance levels, we make sure to pick up all toys, bones, food and water bowls to eliminate any chance of resource guarding.
Mr. B even helps out by hiding his beloved stuffies.

Being the Good Host Dog
 Before we invite a guest dog over, we make sure that we do have a 'back up space' in case the chemistry isn't right. If any of the dogs are uncomfortable, we just remove our own dogs from the situation. Sure Miss M will sing and complain, but we know our guest dog is in a new environment which could be stressful to them, plus, Miss M will get over it. 

What other things have you done to successfully integrate pups into your home?


Monday, October 22, 2012

SociaBulls: On Seasonal Location Changes

As you may notice all the pooches' gear changing along with the seasons...
We also change our group walking locations seasonally.
During the summer a lot of the trails fill up with runners and bikers making spaces small and unsafe. We have been finding locations that are a bit more isolated so the pooches all have plenty of space and there isn't a chance a biker or runner might run towards them.
Though after the marathon there are fewer runners and races on the trails, and we can move our walks back to some of these locations. Though we are really enjoying how the locations do look different with the varying seasons.
To learn more about our group, join our Chicago SociaBulls Facebook page for more photos and updates. And check out the Hikabulls page where we first learned about the benefits of group walking.

You can also read about all the different types of dogs who walk with our group and why they walk: Honor (The Gift of Learning to Relax), Maria (Not Letting Age be a Limitation)Sophie (Finding a Safe Place and Building Confidence), Torre (From Learning about Pitbulls to Developing an Ambassadog),  Estelle (Waiting to Be Noticed)Franklin (A Small Dog in a Big Dog Group)Gordon (Learning to Be Social and Have Dog Friends),  Nabi (A Shy Dog Making Sense of a "People World") Sprocket (Teaching a Dog When it's not Time to Play), Lola (Living in the City with a Dog who Fears Strangers),  Zoe (The Dog who "Loves Too Hard"),  Izzy (Being a good pitbull ambassador while working with an energetic dog) and Maize (Being social with an unsocial pup).

Molly Mutt Crate Cover Winner: We loved reading the comments and hearing all the positive ways pooches and their families use crate training. Congratulations to Mr & Mrs. Nola Kisses and Taylor G and Mugsy for being the randomly selected winners for the Molly Mutt Crate Cover giveaway! Please email me your contact information, using the link on the sidebar.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Lovable Mr. B

Far too often I take my best friend Mr. B for granted, but quotes like this
remind me how lucky I am to have such a great friend.
When I'm feeling sleepy, he is there to wake me up with smooches.
When I'm feeling tired, he provides a head for my hands to rest on and a surface to soften my callouses.
When I need someone to listen, he is there with two open ears.
When I'm feeling small, he looks up at me like I'm his hero.
When I'm feeling down, he provides a comforting body to hug.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Costume Guide: Costumes for Larger Dogs

While I never thought I'd be one to dress up my dog, once I realized how costumes make our dogs that much more approachable, and help people understand the true nature of pit bulls, we have taken any chance we can to 'suit up' our pups. While there are plenty of pre-made dog costumes, we've realized these usually aren't big enough or can't accommodate how 'busty' our pit bull-type dogs are (we got lucky with this one turtle costume).
One easy fix we found: we shop in the kids section! Here are some things we look for to make easy dog costumes:

Wings & Tutus
We like the 'partially-clothed' costumes which don't need to fit over our pooches' chests to fit, and we have found a whole slew of wing-themed costumes in the children's costume section. These are simple for the pooches to wear with the elastic just slipping under the arms. I have noticed that some of the kids' wings might use 'straps' which aren't as stretchy and need accommodations, so doublecheck there is plenty of space for your dog to walk. Miss M has sported many a pair of wings dressing as: an angel, a St. Patrick's Day fairy, and the lady bug.
We have also bought a tutu in the kids' costume section of target which can easily slip over their waist. We also loved seeing this dog-friendly tutu tutorial from Pitlandia  where they show you how to make a  dog tutu that leaves the stomach area bare so the pooches don't get itchy.

Headbands and Tiaras
The wings usually come with some type of headbands with antennas, and we have also seen cute devil, cat, and bunny ears on headbands. The headbands can usually go on the pooches neck, in front of the color, and we secure them with elastic (but not too tight!).  We found Miss M can also wear this garland, and a tiara, and we just secure a ribbon around the bottom so it doesn't slide off. Here she is in the tiara.

 We have discovered Mr B's head is the same exact size as a little boy's head. We buy him little boy hats and secure them with an elastic band that goes under the chin (not too tight!). He has worn a little boy's fedora, top hat, and here you can see the difference as he is wearing a regular-size cowboy hat.

This year we are very excited to go to this Halloween parade at Ruff Haus with a slew of other dogs walking together in costume. Though we're still thinking of what we should wear.
What type of Halloween things are you doing with your pooch?

-We always remember some dogs aren't comfortable in costumes. Here is how we prepare our pooches to wear costumes. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

City Dog: On Meeting Statues

One thing we love about our daily walks is that it makes the pooches' world 'big'. Going out each day, and exploring different neighborhoods, the pooches have become familiar to the new things we might encounter: feral cats, noises from the train, and lots of drunk people at outdoor patios.
Though one thing our pooches have never gotten used to: statues. When I first adopted Miss M we used to walk by a huge lion statue that was stationed outside a martial arts studio, and normally over-confident Miss M  would cringe in fear. Not to mention the first time we walked by the statues at the Rock-n-Roll McDonald's.
So we have been practicing walking by at a distance, while letting the pooches approach in their own. 
Mr. B is so brave:
Though we did consider it a success that she was able to be "walked" by the statue.
Do other people's pups have a fear of statues? And can any Chicago people recognize where we are?

In Case you Missed It:
Incorporating Training on Daily Walks
Our Graffiti Safari

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DoggyStyle: Molly Mutt Crate Covers (and a Giveaway!)

A couple of months ago we wrote this post about deciding if there is ever a time to get rid of the crate. What was once an essential tool keeping Miss M safe from herself and her partying ways has become a non-essential as our pooches have made like college seniors maturing their way into Elderbull-dom and fewer parties when left home alone. Sure we all love a good game of pit bull clown car, seeing our 70 lb pups smoosh themselves into a single crate, but living in a smaller space in the city and having a huge metal crate in the middle of our living room always made me feel like I was living in an aisle of PetSmart.
Though an aisle of with adorable antics (with former fosterdog SuperLevi!)
Realizing the benefits of giving our dogs their own space, and these prime photo moments, won out and had me on the search for a way to integrate our metal monstrosity into our home. I had seen all the nice crate covers out there, but I wasn't sure if covering the crate would be it good option, or if it would just draw attention to the huge 'box' in the middle of our living room. I hadn't seen any photos of the crate covers being used in actual homes, so after speaking with the nice people over at Molly Mutt, we decided to review one in our home, and they are also giving two lucky winners a chance to win their own crate covers!
The cover includes straps with snaps so you can chose to roll the sides up for varying levels for coverage and visibility. The only thing we did notice was the straps are on the inside, so if you don't roll up the side the straps will hang down. If you do roll up the side, the strap will be secured, but still on the inside, which could be extra temptation for a pup who might get bored and like to chew. If you're pooch is known to eat beds or be destructive while in the crate, we would recommend rolling it completely up or even removing the cover while they are in the crate alone. 
I had been afraid the bright patterned color would draw attention to the crate, but I have found the dark color, and cave-like inside, makes it blend in to the point of being unnoticeable in our place. I actually struggled to find a way to make it stand out in the photograph.

The pooches love that it creates a dark, den-like experience, and we even had trouble getting Mr. B to come out of the crate. During the winter we also tend to drape a blanket over Miss M's crate when it seems extra drafty in our home. I like how the cover can keep the pooches warm, or be rolled up for 'air-conditioning'. 
We only write about things that we honestly like, use, and would recommend, and our only regret is that it has taken us this long to discover this. We are very excited that Molly Mutt will be giving away a crate cover of choice to two(!) lucky readers! 
There are two ways to enter, and you can chose to enter both ways.
We have recognized how crate training can be an essential part of establishing boundaries, creating space, and having a happy, well-trained pup. 
How is your crate important to your pup?

1) Let us know by writing in the comments section below. 
2) Post a photo on our Facebook page letting us know how your crate is important to your pup (we always love seeing photos of your pooches!). 

-You can enter twice by commenting on the blog AND posting a photo on the facebook page. 
-Winners can only win once.
-We will use a random number generator to randomly choose a winner from:
1) Overall blog comments
2) Facebook photos
-You have until Sunday at Midnight (EST) to post your comment or photo (Winners will be announced on Monday)
-Winners will be able to choose your own style and size and have your coat shipped to you from Molly Mutt
-Winners must live within the contiguous United States


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