Friday, February 28, 2014

CSI: Two Pitties in the City

Since we have two mischievous pooches, some days we find ourselves coming back to a type of mysterious "crime scene".
Requiring us to become unintentional Crime Scene Investigators (CSI's).
Though my PhD is in neuroscience, one of the first things I did after leaving academia to become a high school teacher in the city, was to develop a Forensic Science elective.
The same observational, analytical thinking and reasoning skills that I teach my students are the ones A and I use to determine 'house crimes' committed by our pooches.
When we come home, we often walk around looking for places that are warm to the touch identifying where the pooches were laying right before we entered the door. 
My blood spatter unit comes in handy when we are trying to identify who made the accident on our living room rug.
We examine to see if the pee pattern is consistent with the passive drop peeing created by Miss M's accidents or does the pee exhibit evidence of medium velocity impact spatter that is more consistent with Mr. B's accidents.
Lately the crime of choice has been the old sleep on the sofa gig.
Taking a magnifying glass, we collect hair evidence with transparent tape and examine the cuticles of individual hairs with a modified iPhone camera microscope. 
Since Miss M has some massive paws, we measure the width of the paw prints left on the couch. Sometimes we are lucky to find drool marks and we use this to determine the length of jowl.  
One time we even found this...
Any guesses of who it was?

That other experiment
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

DoggyStyle: Mopping a Dog Home (The One That Finally Works!)

Despite what a lot of people think, my apartment was actually much dirtier when I didn't own dogs.
I've realized that part of it is having more self-awareness to prevent messes, then just finding cleaning products you actually enjoy using.
Our elusive product was finding a mop that was actually easy to use. We had high hopes for the Dyson Hard DC56, but it ended up being hard to use.
Though we think we found something that works:
Miss M is skeptical of mops
We decided to try the Twist and Shout mop which seems to have all of the solutions that people complain about in a mop. It has an extra-plush microfiber head which is easy to slide along the floor and it doesn't need a lot of arm strength. It is circular and it has a swivel head which makes it easy to fit into angles and crevices. With the microfiber head it can be used as a dry mop to dust the floor, but it really gets fancy when it's used as a wet mop. It has a lever and comes with a special bucket where the mop actually spins to wring all of the water out. With a couple of pushes it becomes super-dry, which is really important for hardwood floors. 
They recommend watching the Youtube video to make sure you know how to spin it correctly--basically just make sure that it's upright and none of the strings are hanging out of the bucket--but it is really easy to use.
I like that you don't need to use special formula or wipes, and the mop head can be put in the laundry. If you need to buy replacement mop heads they are only about $5 each.
Out of all of the Swiffers, sponge mops, Martha Stewart mops, general cleaning mops, and the fancy Dyson,  this has been the easiest, and most "fun" mop to use. Even though I wasn't singing and dancing like the commercial.
                                                                          Miss M wrings out the mop
The only thing I didn't like was that you need to use the specific bucket it comes with and that bucket can be large and hard to store. Beyond that, I think our search is over and we have found the mop that makes mopping fun.

I've also been hearing a couple of different things about caring for hardwood floors.
I've heard that you should really just use a dry mop, and only use a very dry wet-mop with vinegar and water on rare occasions.
What is everyone else doing for your hardwood floors?

The well-scented dog home.
Being preventative.
How we make cleaning fun.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter Walks: Different Types of Winter

We've been talking a lot about how need to take our daily walks even in the winter, but now we're realizing there are different types of winter walking.
We've had winter snow walking.
Winter South Pole temperatures walking.
And now cold, icy walking.
We may not be battling the frigid temperatures or snow banks, but it's that in-between time where the paths have iced over, making every step treacherous, and most sidewalks into one-way walking paths.
Much to Miss M's disappointment, our fingers are too cold to make it a treat-eating walk.
So we went out on a different type of winter.
Miss M was told she looked like a Princess in her furry-hooded pink coat.
A child announced with glee that she was wearing the same coat as our Mr. B.

How they dress for cold weather.
And us.
One day.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pooches: Do Your Dogs Do Dinner?

There are two words we're not allowed to say in our home: breakfast and dinner. 
The mere mention of these events brings out the stallion-dancing, twirling, and crazy eyes.
The pups awaken with excitement to have breakfast as their first meal of the day, and during the week they are fed "dinner" by their dogwalker when they go on their walk.
So maybe it's really more of a lunch.
Though on weekends, often a mere hour after eating, the pups start hinting that it is time for dinner.
The follow us around the house. Staring. Peeking around corners. Leaping in excitement if we seem to be heading in the direction of the kitchen.
Sometimes we feed them dinner just to make them leave us alone. 
Which I guess would be considered brunch.
Though sometimes the pooches forget that they ate so early, and around their really dinner-time they start doing all the stalking all over again. Which can be quite unnerving when your dog looks like this:
But when we really thought about it, I'm not sure why we even separated their food into two meals anyway. Maybe we could just feed them everything at breakfast and eliminate all the madness.
I guess it might be easier during the work-week since we can't take them out to go to the bathroom as often and dividing the meals works better with our walking schedule.
So of course we're curious.... 
Does your dog eat breakfast and dinner? Or do you just serve one meal? Or does anyone get fancy with a brunch?

Now you can see why this changed our lives.
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Monday, February 24, 2014

SociaBulls: On SociaBulls Style

Someone was just commenting that it was only recently that it became more common to see large dogs in coats. 
Though with so many short-haired, cold-prone dogs, it has become the norm among our SociaBulls group.  Each with their own trendsetting style:
with scarves and snoods
bright colors
fashionable families
Even leg warmers...
I think seeing all the cool gear the other pups wear, gives us ideas for our own gear.
In your areas, is it the norm or unusual to see pups in gear?

And here and here.
To learn more about our group, join our Chicago SociaBulls Facebook page for more photos and updates

Thursday, February 20, 2014

DoggyStyle: Review of Hurtta Slush Combat Suit (and a GIVEAWAY! CLOSED)

While I thought we were already quite experienced with cold weather, after experiencing the #5 snowiest winter in Chicago's recorded history, and living through temperatures rivaling those of the South Pole (twice!!) we are now rethinking some of the different types of gear we might need for our daily winter walks. 
We were super-excited when Fit for a Pit --an online store carrying specific products for often hard-to-fit pit bull-type dogs--asked if we wanted to try out a slush suit from the Hurtta line of products.
Hurtta is a company in Finland designing gear for active and working dogs. They really put a lot of thought into the details to make sure their gear is comfortable and practical for dogs on the go.
Seeing we were now facing everything from extreme cold to melting grime, we decided to try the Hurrta Slush Combat Suit which offers full-body coverage.
At first we were a bit confused that this coat doesn't come with any padding; it's made from a thick,  windbreaker material that you would find on a human coat. Then we understood this gives it the versatility: for extra warmth you can layer with a hoodie underneath and the windbreaker material is airtight to keep things warm.
Or for those days that it is really too warm for a thick coat, but the streets are filled with "Chicago Grime", it can be worn on its own so you don't need to give your pup a bath each time they come back inside.
The suits feel substantial and sturdy and comparable to a high-quality coat you would buy for a human. They also have all types of little details to allow you to individualize the fit for your dog and really work for active running and playing. We like that they have a full zipper and button closures to make sure there are no wardrobe malfunction; they even have a drawstring at the waist to adjust to your individual dog so they won't pee on the suit.
Even the legs have two levels of snaps to make sure the suits stay up for your pups' specific legs; you can see how we were able to adjust them for Miss M's lanky legs and Mr. B's T-rex stubby legs.
You can also make them look like harem pants!
The neck also comes all the way up and has a drawstring to keep snow out. Though we kind of like the 'popped up' look that reminds us a bit of the "Sprockets" skit.
The coats are a bit confusing to put on at first since they unzip all the way flat and your pup needs to stay still long enough to allow you to put each front leg in the sleeve. It still takes me awhile to figure out how to put them on. Hurtta did add a little snap at the top to help it stay in place while you add the back legs. It has been a bit time-consuming as we're getting the hang of how to put on the coats, but I think it definitely saves time that now all the dirt stays on the suit and we don't need to clean the slush and mud off of our dogs when we come back inside.
Since the coats are full-coverage, it initially took them a bit longer to get used to wearing them, much like when they first tried wearing boots. Miss M spent some time doing the awkward duck walk...which happened to be especially entertaining while being done in 'harem pants'.
These coats do run a bit pricy, but they seem to be well-made and the equivalent of a high-quality human jacket and I can see them lasting for the lifetime of the dog.
I also keep thinking how these could double as really funny Halloween costumes. Maybe they could go as Breaking Bad? Or the Village People?
Fit for a Pit has kindly offered to give away one Hurrta Slush Combat Suit to one lucky pup.
There are two ways to enter, and each person can enter two times.
Let us know: What would your pup enjoy doing with the Hurrta Slush Combat Suit? 

1) Let us know by commenting on our blog post here.
2) You can also enter by posting a photo on our Facebook page of your pooch and letting us know what you would do with the new coat. (Even if you just posted a photo...we really do love seeing photos of your pups so much!)

Congratulations to CT who said "My pittie (a rescue) has been fighting mange, so her fur is sparse. This suit would allow her to get outside and enjoy the Cleveland winter!". Please email us for information to claim your prize!

-You have two chances to win: commenting on the blog and posting a photo on our Facebook page
-We will use a random number generator to randomly choose one winner from total blog and Facebook comments.
-You have until Tuesday, February 25 at Midnight (EST) to post your comment or photo.
-Winners will be announced on Facebook and at the bottom of this post. Winners are responsible for contacting us to claim your prize.
-Winners must live within the contiguous United States.

Good luck everyone!

Our thoughts on these coats from Ruffwear.
These coats from RC Pet products.
These coats from Canada Pooch

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Miss M and Mr. B of Istanbul

This past week we were able to slip quietly away and take a long-awaited trip to....Istanbul!
It has been awhile since our last big trip; the main thing that makes traveling abroad very difficult is our pooches. We get pretty anxious about the pups while planning for our trip, but we have been lucky to find great people that we trust to take care of them.
Once abroad, our main issue becomes missing them. A and I have a habit where we will often see our pooches in other animals: usually it's Miss M as a goat.
Little did we realize, Istanbul is a magical place for animals where instead of seeing the standard squirrel or rat, the city is filled with a number of well-fed stray cats and dogs.
A and I walked several miles in both the European and Asian side of Istanbul and while we expected the amazing hospitality of the people, we were completely stunned by the friendliness of the stray cats and dogs. In our neighborhood, we have had terrifying encounters with feral cats and poor Mr. B has had his nose slashed by three of them.
Many of the cats reminded A of Miss M, they would beg and push boundaries to get food, pets, overall attention. One cat even jumped into A's lap while we were eating dinner.
I found this pooch that was the Mr. B of Istanbul. She came up and made me start petting her and she made sure that I kept petting her.
Unlike A, I'm not much of a traveler, but I am quickly enjoying meeting all the new people and animals, eating great food and seeing spectacular sights that every place has to offer. It will be interesting where we will end up next.

We had learned this and this from our last trip. We're excited to bring some of our new ideas back.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pooches: One Thing We Hadn't Prepared For

We always like to think we are prepared.
Between our City Dog Bags, preparing our pups to be Elderbulls, and all the work that goes into this, I thought we had this whole dog preparation thing down.
But after dodging some near-miss speeding cars, reading about random sinkholes opening up, and departing on a trip abroad, we realized there was one big thing we hadn't really prepared for:
What would happen to our dogs if something happens to both of us?
I guess I always just assumed one of our family members would be able to take them on.
But after really thinking about it, I wasn't sure who would be at the point where they could immediately add two large dogs into the mix when they already had their own pets, young kids, or lived in places that were difficult to own a pit bull-type dog...let alone two.
I know this is a big part of planning, but I feel like it is something not a lot of people plan for.
So I'm what degree have you planned for what to do with your dogs if something happens to you? If you have multiple dogs would you split them up? Do you have a back-up plan to your plan? And how do you let people know your wishes and make it "official"?

This and this were a bit more lighthearted topics.
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Pooches: On Winterizing Your Dog (and Elderbull)

As we are just returning from our break, we wanted to run this guest-post again with some really great information about Winterizing your dog, especially for all of the Elderbulls out there.

Lately we've been realizing our Chicago SociaBulls Group is almost like a real-life Pinterest board; so many of our dog friends have such great snippets of information. On a recent walk, we overheard the people of Maria and former foster dog Boris (now Radar) talking about some extra things they do to prepare the pups for winter--especially since Maria is an Elderbull. Of course we were intrigued, and we begged them to share.
As long time pet owners in our Chicago tundra, here are some extra things they do to prepare their pups for the winter:
In addition to dressing dogs and people appropriately for Chicago winters, here are some winterizing tips and tricks we've learned over the years to keep our pups more comfortable during cold weather. 

- Keep their nails short to help pups maintain traction on slick surfaces 
-Trim the fur between their pads to minimize snow and ice build up between their toes 
-Use paw wax to help protect the pads of those pups who insist on going barefoot on salty, slushy and icy sidewalks. In a pinch petroleum jelly or baby oil can be used as a (slightly messy) substitute. 

In the home 
-Use humidifiers in the home to prevent dry, itchy skin. This is something many bullies are particularly prone to. 
-Adding fish body oil* to their diet may also help to keep their skin healthy in a dry environment 

Diet and Exercise 
 -Check you dog's waistline frequently to make sure that no one is getting tubby from more limited exercise or losing excessive weight due to the cold 
-Maintain a regular walking schedule. Our pups need exercise and mental stimulation regardless of the elements. 

For the Elderbulls Among us 
 At thirteen-ish, Maria's joints can be a little creaky some days. Cold weather can aggravate this, so we've developed a few different strategies to keep her feeling good:
-Better living through chemistry*. We've been using a few different joint supplements for a number of years, in order to offset the effects of aging. More recently, we've also added prescription pain-killers to our routine, and it's made a world of difference to her overall enjoyment of life. 
-Massage helps to loosen and warm up joints and helps with pain and mobility. It's also a great way to bond and get pups used to handling. 
-Warmth. Due to the layout and age of our home, finding a draft-free area for the pup's beds has been a little challenging. Instead we added an electic, pressure activated, heating pad to her bed to keep her joints toasty. Although this has been a great solution for us, we would caution that for dogs who cannot move if they get too hot (i.e. crated) or those who are prone to chewing on inappropriate objects (like electric cables) this may not be the best option. 

*Please consult with your veterinarian before starting your pet on any medication, including supplements. We are not a vet, and don't even play one on TV.

It was so great to hear what worked, plus so many things we had never thought of ourselves.
What are some extra things you do to prepare your pooches for the cold-weather?

How Elderbelle Maria doesn't let age be a limitation
Notice how all the photos of Boris/Radar show him jumping excitedly at my camera? Do you think he remembers us from these days.
When we knew Maria and Boris/Radar were destined to be
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Friday, February 14, 2014

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.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pooches: Miss M is Foiled Again

Our dogs are not allowed on the furniture. And they know this. Sometimes we invite Miss M on the couch, just to see what she'll do, and she won't accept our offer because she knows it's a trap. She even puts on this big show about how much she loves to lay on her floor pillow:
Yet, every so often Miss M gets this urge to lay on the couch. As we documented before, she has a whole process so she won't get caught. She sleeps with one eye open:
Hears us coming up the stairs:
Decides on her escape route:
And pretends she was laying in the bed the whole time:
I think it shows intelligence that she is going through such planning not to get caught.Though the other day, the retreat did not go as expected:
As she was leaping away, the pillow got stuck on her collar.
She tried to act like nothing was wrong, and ate her dinner as normal:
So now we're back to foil on the couch. Or at least until Miss M can scheme a new plan:
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