Friday, May 31, 2013

Pooches: The One Where Miss M Breaks Through the 4th Wall

It used to be that Miss M was just one of the "stars" of our blog. But since she started getting recognized out on the street, she has started trying to take more creative control of what we write and document.
It started quite slowly, much like Jim from The Office who is forever giving side-glances to the camera,   she was slyly breaking through that 4th wall to give her own creative input to our photos. Sometimes, instead of posing, she would blow kisses to the camera:
And behind-the-scenes she was always pressuring her co-star Mr. B to get camera ready:
Until she outright began giving us artistic photo direction:
Quick to show her anger when we didn't take her advice:
And even showing her extreme displeasure with some of our post ideas, in her own melodramatic way:
Were there any clues we should have caught that she had begun taking her "fame" too seriously?

Paparazzi! Even in the winter.
Not really smiling.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

DoggyStyle: Portable Dog Raingear

When I first moved to the city, I didn't realize how important it was to always plan ahead for the weather. Since we walk everywhere, there's always the chance that the seemingly nice weather could erupt into a thunderstorm. I learned this the hard way when I thought it was ok to make the 3 block trek from the train to my office and I ended up completely soaked and huddled up to a space heater for the entire work day. I've learned to carry a mini-umbrella in my purse, and we were looking for some similar accommodations for the pups.
Since we don't have a yard, and our pups depend on daily walks for potty breaks, we quickly learned it's easier to toss a raincoat on Miss M then wait with her as she circles and paces because the rain distracts her from her potty duties. Our pups have been wearing these Sunshower raincoats from Ruffwear (unfortunately discontinued!) though they can be bulky and cumbersome to bring along with us if rain is only in the forecast.
After a few outings that started sunny then opened into a downpour with all of us huddled under a little awning, we spied the Packable Pet Poncho from RC Pet Products.We liked that they were lightweight and tiny enough to carry with us all the time in our bag.
The raincoats are a thinner material than our other raincoats which is a plus during the warmer weather, but also causes them to fold up in the wind. Without a lining they also have a bit more static cling to the dogs' fur. Though, this is the payoff for being able to have something lightweight that we can carry at all times. They come in the tiniest of pouches where you can just tuck the coat in until it's ready to use. They come in a variety of colors (we were excited to have matching yellow slickers) and we like that it has a big hood to keep the rain out of their eyes.
Our pooches--they are about 65 lbs--ended up taking the XL. It fits well around their necks and bellies, but falls a bit short of fully covering their behinds. There is a huge size difference between the XL and the XXL which we originally tried. While the XXL did cover more area, it was huge and difficult for the pups to walk in. The XXL seemed to fit a much taller and thicker dog, the coat would be roomy on a large Rottweiler, so I imagine there is probably also a large discrepancy between the Large and XL.
We have yet to try them in a huge downpour, and we will probably still use our sturdier coats when we leave the house in the rain, but we're excited to have this option of an easy-to-carry option for those unexpected downpours.

Do other dogs wear raincoats? What type of raincoat do you use? And has anyone else tried this style?

What we do inside when we can't go outside.
How we're always prepared.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dog Gear: Mr. B's Camera

Now that warmer weather and longer walks are upon us, we think it is time for Mr. B to document his walks again. We decided to compile a few of Mr. B's favorite things to do to commemorate his summer photo series.
Mr. B started his photography career with the Uncle Milton Pet's Eye View camera which eventually succumbed to the early bad battery issue that lead to it's many bad reviews online. However, Mr. B was able to get some nice photos with the Pet's Eye View as shown below with Mr. B's captions.

"Taking Da Selfie"
"Hanging with Da Muppet"
Then Mr. B upgraded to the Go Pro Hero 2 so he could take videos as well as higher resolution photos. Here are a few of his favorites from the past couple years.
 "Playing Ball"
 "Street Festivals with Da Muppet" 
 "Hanging Out at Wicker Park"
 "Visiting Stores"
  "Al Fresco Dining"
 "Dog Napping before Da Pride Parade"
 "Meeting Fans at Da Pride Parade"
 "Warm SociaBulls Walk"
 "Hanging Out at More Stores"
 "Seeing People Dressed Up"
"Night Walks"
We how what we see is so different than what Mr. B sees.
Which is your favorite of Mr. B's photos?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pooches: Do You Allow Your Pooches on the Furniture?

We have always been a 'no dog on furniture' household. Though it seems E and I are on either side of this rule.
When Miss M first came to live with me, I was very strict with the rules. Living with a dog like this:
I knew once I let her do something, there was no going back. So I decided not to have her on the furniture and we just became used to that (with a couple of sneaks on here and there). 
When Mr. B joined us, he followed our lead and learned they had free run of all the cushions and beds on the floor. I like having our sofas just for us, and not having to worry about cleaning or buying new furniture often, especially since we learned Miss M drools in her sleep.
Though with our outdoor couch, E thinks it's ok to allow the dogs on this furniture. He thinks it's more comfortable to have them all hang out together.
Though lately, a certain Mr. B thinks going on the outdoor furniture gives him free reign to all furniture. And lately, we've noticed a couple of stubby gray and white hairs on our white couch.
I don't think the pups can distinguish between being allowed on some furniture, or only doing it some of the time, so I think they should go back to their cushions on the floor. Though E says we should just continue to let them sit on the outdoor furniture, and just use a blanket.

I'm curious about everyone else.
Do you allow your pups on the furniture? 
Can they distinguish between the types of furniture that they can go on? And how often?
Or once you go furniture, is there just no going back?


Cleaning Couches.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pooches: The Shrinking Mr. B

Without any markers to show passage of time, it seems like our pooches' signs of aging come out of nowhere. Sure we have noticed graying in Miss M's ears, but since Mr. B is already gray it's more difficult to tell. Just the other week we had to doubletake as it seemed like Mr. B was looking a bit gaunt. We didn't think much of it and just started feeding the pooches a little bit more at each meal. 
Much to their delight.
It was only after running into our friend  and his dog  that he mentioned the gauntness too and we realized that Mr. B is really getting old. Our friend reminded us of his pit bull, Ditka that lived to be 17 years old. The first thing he said he noticed when Ditka was getting older was the loss of muscle mass. Now it is impossible to notice that Mr. B is getting smaller.
And though I try with all my might to hold onto him to keep him from shrinking, I am coming to the realization that one day I will have to let him go.
Until that day, Mr. B and I will continue to have our grand adventures everyday.

The Velveteen Pitbulls
Grand Adventures
How we love them

Thursday, May 23, 2013

DoggyStyle: On Summer Gear

While our pooches spent our Chicago winter all bundled up (remember this???) they were happy to shed their layers once we finally got warmer weather. 
With their winter gear stored away, we were able to dust off our summer gear for future picnics, movies in the park, and Farmer's Markets. Here are some things our pups use in the warmer weather

We originally bought Mr. B's backpack as a training and workout tool. Mr. B used to be a crazy bulldozer sprinting on all of his walks and becoming distracted by everything around him. Once he started working with the backpack, he realized he had a 'job' to do and he became more focused. We also like the backpack helps us do things like this. And this. 

We started bringing bandanas with us so we can dip them in water so the pooches feel a bit cooler when they wear them. Plus, we love the look of dogs in bandanas. Like one of our style icons, Stickers, we're looking to develop a collection to change them up.

Summer Leashes:
Since we go on so many walks, we like to reward ourselves with some nice leash and collar sets for the pups. Kind of like rewarding yourself with some fun gym clothes for going to the gym. 
You may have noticed our pooches sporting these bright new numbers from Sirius Republic, and we're slightly addicted.
Miss M also picked up her own hot pink polka-dot collar from Silly Buddy.
What are your other must-have gear for your pup?


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Things to Do in Chicago with Dogs: Hyde Park Farmer's Market

Since we were bachelorettes together, Miss M and I always had a tradition of going to Farmer's Markets together. I go for the flowers; she goes for all of the attention. 
And after so many months of this, we were excited to get back out there when we heard about this new-to-us market in Hyde Park (managed by one of our very own SociaBulls members!).
We loved that this market was not overly packed, like some markets, which did make it very dog-friendly. There is also a large green space on the side where you can sit and eat some of the pre-made food; there was even a food demonstration when we were there.
We were also joined by some of our other SociaBulls friends: Vegas and Zoe
With the nicer weather, what types of things are you doing with your pups?

How to have a successful trip to the Farmer's Market with your pup
Feeling European
She makes these decisions

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pooches: On Dog Ambassadors and Being Well-Taken Care Of

When we were walking our pups downtown during a short Staycation, I overheard a tourist commenting to his friend "It's refreshing to see dogs so well-taken care of".
Maybe he was struck by their Burberry-esque scarfs (thanks Sirius Republic!), maybe that we were all walking together in the cold Chicago weather, or maybe that we were dutifully treating our walk like a training walk and our dogs were practicing good check-ins. 
While we have done a lot of training with our dogs, we know we are lucky that our dogs can be comfortable in a variety of noisy and crowded situations. We also know people who work 10 times harder with their dogs, but some dogs are naturally shy or fearful, and they may never feel comfortable with these types of situations. It also makes us feel bad when we hear people who think they have failed because some of the issues they're working on with their dogs don't highlight them as dog ambassadors.
Knowing we're all a work-in-progress, and thinking about what this guy said, isn't part of promoting positive ownership about putting your dog in good situations and showing that they are well-taken care of?

Have you seen how our pups are dogs-in-progress too?
Our City Dog in training?
We always love these stories (and read all the way to the bottom for the full list!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

SociaBulls: Building Confidence for Both of Us

With so many of the pups on our SociaBulls walks, we often don't realize the behind-the-scenes work that went into the dogs we see. Neko is one strikingly handsome pup who has been walking with our SociaBulls group for awhile. I would always admire his laid-back manner, and I even remember on one walk a police officer who approached the group singled him out as being an example of an exceptionally well-behaved pup. 
Though as Neko's person wrote in his story, she has been struggling with some behavior that only she has experienced with him. Here is Neko's story about working as a team with your dog and understanding all dogs are a work in progress:
I've gone back and forth about wanting to share Nekos' story  for quite awhile now. I was conflicted and embarrassed that we were struggling with the same issues we faced on day 1.  It took many months for me to understand that training is a lifelong process.  Just like people, dogs constantly need challenges and positive reinforcement.
My journey with Neko has kept me busy. I was perfectly happy with my two cats, but something was missing in my home. After seeing the photos of dogs at Animal Care and Control on Facebook,  and understanding their chance of making it out, I knew I had to  get involved and do my part. I also really missed the loyalty and companionship a dog provides. I requested to foster an older lazy dog. What I got instead was an underweight  8 month old puppy bursting with energy. When it came time to update the rescue about his personality and temper, I realized I couldn't give him up. We celebrated two years last month. 

 I can't believe baby Neko could be any cuter!

If I had known in those early days before becoming a foster failure about his medical issues (early stages of renal failure), his pension for the most expensive dog foods , and fear (expressed as aggression) toward random people or dogs I may have thought a little more about what I was getting into. Giving up wasn't an option so I decided we were going to make it work.

Neko was great  on our walks the first year or so. He always had ample amounts of energy regardless of exercise. He would play with dogs he encountered and showed no signs of aggression. When he turned two that's when things started to change. Our vet said  two was when their personality really begins to show, which made me worried. I started noticing we needed help when we would get stopped frequently on our walks in the neighborhood. People would comment and say what a "beautiful/ great/gorgeous dog."  Unfortunately, this attention was followed by Neko barking uncontrollably, quickly erasing any compliment the stranger offered. Funny thing is, our wonderful dog walkers reported this was never an issue-he only did this with me. At other times, he could see a dog walking across the street, and if there were two together he would have a complete melt down complete with whining and and pulling in an effort to go meet them.
 We did private training, group classes and Sociabulls, and it would be a rare occasion that he would act up at one of these venues. Even with this training and exposure to other dogs, this would still happen on walks with just us two in our neighborhood. He could go to daycare and be fine, but he would never be an off leash dog at the beach or dog park (we've found ways around this by going very early and having a 30ft lead always attached).  I went to a well known Chicago trainer who felt he couldn't do much to help because it was all situational.  I considered sending him away to camp, but was put off by the costs and medication wasn't an option.

Eventually it dawned on me that Neko wasn't the problem, it was me! When people would stop us or dogs would walk by, I would tense up due to past experiences which translated to Neko being overly protective. This is something of a new realization, but already I have noticed a huge difference in relaxing more on our walks and training every single walk to keep him focused. I try to praise him more enthusiastically when he is demonstrating really good behavior and acknowledge whenever he checks in with me.

Socialbulls has given us the space to work on anything and everything in a community that is non judgmental, and more importantly supportive! Sure there are still occasional instances that trigger protective behavior, but SociaBulls has been tremendous in building confidence for both of us. Every day is a learning experience and the efforts I put  forth come back ten fold in sloppy kisses and an intense bond. Neko is a goofball at heart with an endless devotion any toy that comes his way. My life revolves around my furry family, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thanks to Neko and his person for sharing their story!

Plus, join our Chicago SociaBulls  Facebook page for more photos and information about group walks. And check out the Hikabulls page where we first learned about the benefits of group walking.

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