Friday, December 20, 2013

Pooches: Miss M as "Elf on a Shelf"

As we're getting ready for our break, we couldn't resist re-sharing this holiday-themed post:
Maybe we're behind the times, but it was only last year that we learned about the phenomenon that is "Elf on a Shelf".
The elf is a little figurine that parents hide around the house. Its location changes every day, so you never know where it is. So not only is it spying on the kids...but each night it goes and tattles to Santa if the kids have been naughty.
When I first heard this it sounded kind of frightening, until I realized how poor Mr. B has been living with his very own Elf on a Shelf:
Just like the elf, Miss M can pop up anywhere:
She will uncomfortably watch you:
And she has no problem tattling:
Does anyone else unknowingly have an "Pup on a Shelf" in your house?

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more updates during our holiday.
Did you know Miss M and Mr B are sharing their thoughts on Twitter?

The true story.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DoggyStyle: Beauty Products I Share With My Dog

Miss M has developed a routine where each morning, after she has eaten breakfast, she peers her little round head around the bathroom door trying to figure out how humans get ready in the morning.
She was quick to go just beyond a little peek, and she now fully joins me, laying on the bathmat, as I get ready. E and I joke that maybe she is just trying to tell us she has bedhead and she wants her little bald head combed too.
Or maybe she is mocking my use of make-up : "I don't think you should bother. You are a lost cause. As said with full Miss M knowingness.
Beyond these jokes, I realized there are actually some 'beauty products' that I did buy that I do share with the pups.

Virgin Coconut Oil:
After seeing how my pinterest feed was filled with the many uses for virgin coconut oil, I wanted to try for myself, and I've actually been using it to deep-condition my hair.
It was only soon after that I realized how we can also use it for the pups. It can be eaten which is supposed to help digestion and maintain a well-conditioned coat (similar to the fish oil they use), and it can be used externally for dry skin, chapped noses, and itchy spots. The only problem is that they love the taste so much, Miss M will chase Mr. B just so she can lick it off of him.

Bag Balm:
Thanks to these types of walks, my lips have become beyond chapped in the winter. Several years ago I picked up a jar of this Vermont's Original Bag Balm from Walgreens which has become the only type of chapstick I will use. It's thick like vaseline, but it's not as sticky.
I quickly learned this is also good for the pups if they chapped paw pads. We used to use coconut oil for their feet, but they liked the taste of coconut oil so much, they kept licking it off. This has no odor, so they don't lick their feet.

I've always been aware of wearing hats and using sunscreen for myself, but it took me awhile to realize our pups can get sunburns too, especially where they have white patches, thinning fur, or even on their noses. Since they can't wear their hats in the summer, I started carrying sunscreen with me on outings to remember to apply it to our whole little family. We avoid anything with zinc (which could be toxic if ingested) and we like to use sunscreen formulated for babies.

After getting some embarrassingly random bloody noses from all the dry air, we decided to get a humidifier for our bedroom. It has also helped E's sinuses and my dry throat.
We learned the humidifier also has benefits for the pups by keeping their skin moisturized which helps with itchiness.

Pinterest fails.
On Winterizing your pup
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Daily Walk in 10 Pictures for 12.18.13

It is amazing how much can change in a week.
It was just last week that the pooches left the house in a hoodie and a snood to go on a two mile walk.
Now the pooches have to get all bundled up and they are unwilling to go more than a few blocks from the warmth of our home. Before it would take a minute or two to get everyone ready for our walk and now it takes several minutes getting the pooches bundled up, putting on their boots or applying musher's paw and for us to put on our winter walking gear and crampons onto our boots for a walk that does not go more than a few blocks.
Miss M likes to make sure her displeasure of hopping over snow mounds and walking in negative wind chill weather is well known. Both Miss M and Mr. B are so excited to get out of the cold that they will run at full sprint along our last block home.

Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pooches: On Party-Training

We always think it's funny that some people who read our blog believe that our dogs can do no wrong.
This is definitely far from the truth.
Much like the Von Trapp family, the pooches and I live by A's strict set of rules in our home. We have to be really strict about enforcing the rules so they are well-behaved in our home.
But I tend to break the outdoor furniture rule.
Knowing how food-motivated our pups are, we have a lot of rules about food.
The pups must perform a trick to get any type of treat.
They are not allowed to eat people food from the table.
To prevent scrounging, we also don't allow them to eat any of their dog treats if we happen to drop them and they fall on the sidewalk during our walks.
We thought that these were good rules, then we realized this makes them even more excited when someone breaks these rules for them.
It first started when we brought the pooches to one of my Family Parties.
Miss M's crazy-eyes emerge at the mere glimpse of food
My family thought the pups were so cute, they spent the entire night feeding them Korean BBQ, turkey, apples and Asian Pear from the table. Miss M realized all she had to do was look at someone and they would feed her. She didn't even need to perform a trick.
We think this ranks as their best night ever.
Though it all came to a close when Miss M decided to forgo the looking at someone and she just decided to feed herself.
By sticking her head in an entire bowl of potato salad.
Unfortunately, the pups are now conditioned to think that all parties are similar free-for-alls. And if people are not cooperating with Miss M's demands, she will become very vocal.
Remember that smashing-entrance we described when the pups' attended their black-tie party?
And it has become nearly impossible for them to be well-mannered at our Family Parties anymore.
So Miss M is not invited. And Mr. B is not invited by association.
We wonder if all of our rules and training as been a disservice in this type of situation.
There are a few dogs in our extended family who have all have been allowed to eat table scraps and they seem to do just fine at family parties.
On the other hand Miss M cannot contain her excitement, which eventually excites Mr. B.
How do you balance enforcing the rules when other people don't? And how to you re-condition once the rules have been broken?

How they do at home.
Pitbulls in Party Hats!

Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Monday, December 16, 2013

SociaBulls: Because we Don't Want to Do this Alone

It's hard to believe that these photos were taken just the other week, considering a half-foot of snow now blankets Chicago changing how we dress (pups & people), where we go, and most willing our pups are to take bathroom breaks.
 Even after a huge coldsnap, with several single digit and subzero days, our walks are still filling with so many pups out with their people.
 As we were all being pummeled by the wind before the group started walking, one member told me that even though it's completely freezing outside she likes coming on the walks because she doesn't want to do this alone.
Since most of us in the city don't have backyards, we need to walk our pups any way.
Anyone else have any advice for getting up and walking your dog even in the worst weather?

This is another reason we come out.
Plus, who wouldn't want to see this?

Check our Two Pitties in the City Facebook page for further comments.
To learn more about our group, join our Chicago SociaBulls page for more photos and updates. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Miss Goofus and Mr. Gallant Part III: Dating Edition

We always joke how much our pups are like another set of commonly-mistaken-for twins-but-have-different-personalities duo: Goofus and Gallant. Much like Gallant, Mr. B is polite and respectful, while Miss M is like Goofus....and is not.
Let the pups show you what we mean:

Mr. B is an avid listener who enjoys hearing what his dates have to say:
Meanwhile, Miss M lets her date know she is talks too much:
Mr. B makes an effort to have a good time and enjoy the activities his date has planned:
While Miss M makes it obvious when she's not having a good time:
Mr. B is grateful for a nice night out and he gives appropriate G-rated smooches:
While Miss M not only does not return the kiss:
But she secretly sneaks some swigs from her date's drink:
In case you missed it:
Earlier Goofus and Gallant posts Part I and Part II.

Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

DoggyStyle: On Leash Modifications for Better Walks

I've heard that City Moms take great care in choosing their strollers, often considering it like their SUV: equipped to hold and store everything they need for their walks and journeys.
And just like our pups go for so many daily walks, our leash has taken on the same importance. Through our daily walks through days like this or like this, these are some modifications we've made to make our walks easier:

Miss M is upset we are not getting her best angle
We added a circular key ring to the leash handle and we were able to clip on our poo bag dispenser and an extra carabiner. We can use the carabiner to hold extra things like our dog treat bag, extra keys, or citronella. Though it sounds excessive, it's not bulky because I use the double-elbow hand hold that I wrote about here. 

Safety Measures:
It's funny how we all put so much trust in the little latch that clips the leash to the collar, but through our own experiences, and talking to several of our friends, we have learned how that little clip can fail. Sometimes it just wears out and doesn't clip as well, or if your pup rolls or snags it against a chair or table it could come unclipped. It has happened to us once with Mr B (he really wanted to meet a giant poodle), once with Miss M (we didn't even know it was unclipped until we looked behind us and we couldn't understand how Miss M was lagging so far behind) and a funny story from a friend (their pup came unclipped, rushed into a grocery store and was frolicking in the bread aisle). Since then, we learned to thread a carabiner through the base of the clasp serving as a second connector to the collar. We wrote more about it, here and this is what it looks like.

An Extra Grip:
Sometimes leashes can become slippery. Or cause rope burn.
To get an extra grip on the leash I originally used a leash with an extra loop at the end that acted like an extra handle, though I found Miss M found that extra loop very tempting to play with as we were walking. One of our dog walkers taught as a different trick: you can get an extra grip on any leash by tying a knot in various places to get more control.
Especially important if Mr. B is having one of those days where he doesn't understand the meaning of  'a walk'.

Mr. B is happy to match his person
Just like buying fun new gym clothes gives you extra incentive to go to the gym, I found using cute leash sets give me that extra push to enjoy our dog walks even when the weather isn't enjoyable. We have been using matching leash and collar sets from both Sirius Republic and Silly Buddy. They both handmade all of their collars and leashes so sizes are customizable. We like using the wide martingale and matching leash. Sometimes we even coordinate by the seasons.

We are liking this length now.
We also carry these on our walks.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Things to Do in Chicago with Dogs: Miss M and Mr B Attend the Houndstooth Ball

While the pups have made their way around the city as downtown dogs, walking in parades, and even via boat, one thing still on their bucket list was attending a formal party. Luckily for them, One Tail at a Time rescue holds their annual Houndstooth Ball fundraiser: a dog-friendly cocktail party complete with open bar, silent auction and photo booth.
The pups were excited to 'suit up' and make their big debut for a good cause. Like many a socialite, Miss M made sure to make a smashing entrance: bullfrogging her way through the entrance pulling E behind like her he was on a skateboard.
While it took Miss M some time to contain her excitement, she was eventually able to calm down and pose for photos. She did give out many extra-excited smooches, likely a plot to knock peoples' beers out of their hands so she could sneak a sip (It worked! Three times!).
It was fun being able to dress up, see if our Mr. B could pull off a top hat, and seeing so many other pups in their finery like our friends Eddie, Chicklet, and Detective Munch. 
Our secret to finding 'formal wear' for our big pups: we shop in the human kids' section. 
Miss M is wearing a little girl's tutu and flower headband (designed by Target!) and a tiara from a party store. Mr. B has a costume stove pipe hat, and he borrowed his black bow-tie from E.
We sew an elastic band as a strap to secure the hat and tiara so the pups don't have any wardrobe malfunctions.
One Tail did a really, really good job putting the event together, and we all had such a great time. 
Even Miss M who spent the entire next day looking like this


Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pooches: Our Dog Training Essentials for a Polite Dog

While I always had dogs growing up, Miss M was the first dog I ever had on my own. I was a bit nervous to have my own dog, especially after being led towards a misguided Wiki-article predicting 
all types of dire traits. While these types of blanket statements are never true, it did scare me into becoming over-prepared and developing a solid training plan once Miss M came into my apartment. 
Vintage Miss M came to me as an excited, stubborn pup who knew what she wanted...and she wanted it now. While she will always have an over-the-top personality, we were able to develop some routines to help her make better decisions and become a polite dog.
We know all dogs are different, but these are some things that worked for us:

Start out Hard Because There's No Going Back
A friend of mine used to joke that I treated Miss M like she was in boot camp. Sure she had a lot of rules, but I also knew it was easier to set up a lot of rules up front because it would be harder to go back and have her un-learn a behavior. One of my biggest things was not letting Miss M on the sofa. I knew I could one day choose to allow her on the furniture in the future, but if I started out by letting her sit on the furniture I could never change my mind since it would be that much harder to train her to stay off.

We were also very strict about following the 'Nothing in Life is Free' principle. Miss M learned to work for every privilege. She wasn't allowed to just eat dinner, but she had to go to her bed, lay and wait as the food was placed before her. She wasn't allowed to eat until I gave her the command. She also learned to be in a down-stay before putting the collar on for walks, and she would never just get a treat but she would have to perform some kind of trick for it. (When she was newer it would start with just a sit, but it would work up to a wave, and eventually this!)
I can see how this looks intense to an on-looker, but Miss M could get very excited and these rules helped her learn patience, self-discipline, and understanding our routine. Now it has become automatic where sit has become the pups' default behavior.

Be Consistent
While Miss M was learning all of these routines, the biggest thing I needed to do was to be consistent. Sure, it was tempting to save time by just giving her dinner, throwing a leash on her if I was in a hurry, and giving her a treat just because she looked cute, but having a familiar routine is extremely important for dogs and not following the pattern could cause set-backs. 
We also make sure to consistently practice their training in new situations.

Using "Wait Time"
This is one of the biggest things I learned from teaching that I'm able to use on the pups. The idea behind wait time in the classroom is that after you ask a question you need to stop and wait to allow students to process what is being asked. Sometimes it seems like an uncomfortable amount of time and it's so tempting to just ask the question again, or rephrase it. Though I've learned if I do wait, even if it seems like a long time, I will always have a student answer or at least ask for clarification.
I started doing this with the pups when I give them commands. If they aren't responding immediately, it can be so tempting to repeat the command which will actually teach the pups not to listen to me the first time. So if I wait, it may seem like a long time but they will process, make a decision, and learn what I'm asking from them.
Notice how this video would have turned out differently if Mr. B was allowed wait time.

Having Role-Models
When we adopted Mr. B he was already 5 years old. We joke that he just came to us this way, but when we first met the big guy he was devouring baseball mitts in a single sitting and barking at anything that moved. We know dogs learn from each other and if they see a dog being rewarded for a behavior they may learn to do that behavior also. Seeing how Miss M would go to her bed when it was time for dinner and how she would wait nicely before walks, Mr. B learned these same behaviors. It has also worked with some of our foster dogs. Here is our very first foster dog, Wilma, during one of her first weeks with us. I never taught her this directly--and I don't think she would even stay on her own--but she would follow the behavior of both of our pups. (The pups are so close because none of the dogs are resource guarders).
What are some other things you consider essential in your training?

The command that changed our lives
Crowd Pleasers!
Living with a Circus Dog

Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.

Monday, December 9, 2013

SociaBulls: On Local Like-Minded Dog People

I always felt a bit isolated when I first adopted Miss M.
She was the first dog I had that I was raising on my own, and I often doubted my own abilities to care for her.
I didn't know what to do when she would play tug of war with the leash (especially because we had to go on so many walks each day!). I thought I had broken her when I discovered her paws were cracked and irritated from the ice, and I never know what walking equipment worked best and I was constantly trying new things looking for that magic tool.
I wasn't sure where to find people who had been through this too.
So one of my not-spoken-about-alot reasons for starting our Chicago SociaBulls group was to begin creating this community. We had started meeting so many great dog people out-and-about, many of them would stop us because they knew our dogs from our blog, and I wanted a way to continue these connections.
Since then, our group has become an amazing resource. We are all facing the same Chicago-specific dog situations, as well as discussions on food allergies, snow boots, and the latest in walking gear. Plus, we all actually love hearing one another's dog stories.
We feel very lucky to have our group as a resource, what are some other ways you connect with local like-minded dog people?

If you want your own...
About the dogs in our Group!
Who we really are

Check our Two Pitties in the City Facebook page for further comments.
To learn more about our group, join our Chicago SociaBulls page for more photos and updates. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pooches: On Smiling Pooches

When I was first thinking of adopting a dog, I thought I had to know the type of dog I wanted ahead of time. 
I spent a lot of time perusing profiles on Petfinder, I would accompany my friend to the dog park where I would 'window shop' different types of pups, and I would spend my spare time incessantly browsing Happy Ending photos. It was only after seeing a Happy Ending photo of a widely-smiling pup that I realized what I wanted: a dog who could smile.
So naturally, I ended up with a pup like Miss M:
Who even stuns Mr B with her perpetual frown:
Luckily, I did get that smiling pooch. Mr B is the perfect anecdote with his wide-faced grin:
That can even make a grumpy-looking pup like Miss M show her biggest smile:
Do you have a smiling pup? Show us your smiling pup by posting on our Facebook page.

Behind-the-Scenes Secret
I never knew I wanted a pit bull.

PS. Did you know Miss M and Mr B have broken their silence and they're sharing their thoughts on Twitter?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...