Nov 022012
 
Still daylight, the pooches race to the evening parade

Remember how we said Halloween lasts an entire week in Chicago? This year’s final Halloween event for the pooches was attending (and walking in!) the Northalsted Halloween Parade on Halloween evening. This adult-themed costume extravaganza throughout the Boystown neighborhood featuring: Miss Foozi, fire juggling, character bands, crazy costumes that you thought you’d only see on TV…and a pet parade to start it off!
We have heard that watching videos of pets actually improves productivity, so check out  Mr. B’s eyeview video camera meeting people and walking in the Halloween parade.

Also:
Oct 312012
 

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?

Also:
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?

Sep 052012
 

Despite the impression many people might have of Chicago, we are a city of plentiful parks, green space, and an active Park District.
Besides having vibrant parks in each neighborhood, they’ve also started a summer movie series in each of the local parks where you can pack up a blanket and picnic dinner and enjoy an alfresco movie screening.
The added bonus for us is that these are dog-friendly family events. We even met up with our friend prettyZoe from Two Kitties, one Pittie.

We enjoyed tacos from nearby Big Star, with the pooches laying around on big blankets. We have found the secret to appeasing Miss M is to bring our comforter blanket which makes her feel like she has the privilege of laying on a bed.
They showed the movie Hugo, which was extra fun to watch outside. The only confusing part was when the dog in the film was barking.

We also had the chance to meet a friend who knew the pooches. Thanks for saying hi! We’d love to meet your pup too!

In Case you Missed It: Dog-friendly picnic blankets
Building our own Alfresco Movie Theatre
Deja-vu

Aug 292012
 

While many people think there aren’t many activities to do with big pooches, we’ve been able to find a lot of things we can all enjoy as a family. Last weekend we took the pooches out for a newer festival in west Logan Square: Taste of Latin America. Because loving food is something we all have in common.

The festival had a huge variety of local restaurants including food from: Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Belize, Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Which gave us a lot to try.  We had everything from Cemitas Pueblas to Sweet Bread to Agua Frescas (Hibiscus and Tamarind!), Arepas, Panades, and Platanos. Plus some jarritos, churros and coconut ices.

We had come in the afternoon, and we liked it so much we came back for dinner (we were so full the first time around and there were still things we wanted to try!).
The afternoon was a bit empty with no lines, but things were a lot more crowded in the evening which can be hard for the pooches. E stayed with them on a curb while I got the food. This actually helped them meet more people.

It has also been really fun running into people who know the pooches from the blog. We’ve been meeting so many people lately; thanks for saying hi!

Also: Our Facebook photo of Mr. B after his first taste of Chirozo
How to Prepare Your Dog for a Street Festival
More Diversity

Aug 272012
 

While we had a whole slew of activities we were excited for this summer, we’re suddenly scrambling to soak up the nice weather and do everything before this happens again.
Sure, camping might be a stretch, but we did just have some interesting questions about how to make camping trips with dogs more successful, and it reminded us how our first outing together as a family–with both pooches–was a camping trip.

We are definitely not experts, and we would love to hear everyone’s successful camping tips, but here are some things that have worked for us:

Accommodations for All:
We wanted to find a way to keep things somewhat clean and allow the pooches to have their own space, so we decided on a tent with a vestibule. We liked that this offered a covered, rain-free place where we could remove our shoes and wipe down the pooches (without getting wet or bitten up) while keeping the inside of our tent fairly clean and bug-free. We also liked that this offered the pooches a way to be somewhat independent and come and go as they please to stay out of the sun or away from mosquitos. Our tent is the Big Agnes Big House 4.

Glamping:

Sure, Miss M doesn’t like her bare body to touch the ground, but we found extra benefits to bringing the pooches beds and mats. We had extra mats scattered throughout the campsite which helped the pooches understand designated places where they could sit still and relax. This also helped keep the pooches a bit cleaner as they weren’t laying directly in dirt. We also brought the pooches’ beds from home so they understood where they were supposed to lay in the tent itself.

Packing for Pooches:

We pack a specific duffel bag for the pooches to make their stuff easier to find. We include wiping cloths and a towel to keep us all a little less muddy. We bring their food in individual baggies or tupperware pre-portioned for the day (thanks to Reggie’s great tip!). We bring long-leashes for the dogs and attach them to the picnic table at our campsite so they have some freedom but are still in a safe distance. We also bring a chew so they have something to do when we’re setting up the tent.

These are some things that work for us, but we would like to hear how everyone else successfully camps with their dogs.. especially if you have safe advice for keeping the mosquitos off of Miss M’s belly.

Jul 122010
 

We have been very lucky not only to adopt amazing dogs, but to have been able to work with outstanding rescue groups as well.We had heard of some people having problems with unreputable rescues, so we are very happy to work with groups that go above and beyond.
Miss M is part of the New Leash on Life family. This past weekend they had an “alumni reunion event” in front of Wrigley Field. We love how New Leash has events to keep in touch with past adoptees, and we really do feel like we are part of a larger family. The event asked families to bring their pooches while they had special treats and photo opportunities. It was fun to see dogs I’d seen on their adoption website living happy lives with their new families.
Another thing we like about New Leash is they work extra hard to adopt out dogs that many people consider unadoptable. They have successfully adopted out many: deaf dogs, Senior dogs, bully breeds, and “bonded pairs”. We are so happy that they rescued Miss M mere days before she was scheduled to be put down. She was a gangly, over-excited, mange-ridden dog, but we are glad they took a chance on her.
Another Chicago area rescue we really like is Wilma’s rescue group Project Rescue. They are newer on the scene and associated with our doggie daycare. They are huge pitbull advocates and have a wealth of training and expertise. They have been extremely successful with their adoptions and have had their dogs ‘flying out the door’ and being adopted into new homes. They found us the perfect foster dog match, and they’ve been doing many great fundraisers allowing them to rescue even more dogs.We also were happy to work with Kalamazoo Animal Rescue, located all the way in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to adopt Mr. B. We wanted an adult male pitbull and surprisingly couldn’t find any matches in the city. After locating him on Petfinder, his foster mom returned our request immediately, and we had several in-depth emails and phone conversations before coming out to meet him. Their rescue has so many dedicated volunteers who take multiple foster dogs into their own homes. We are still in contact with Mr. B’s foster mom.
These are just some of our experiences with local rescue groups. What are some other positive experiences you’ve had with rescues?

May 272010
 

We usually give an annual donation to our favorite rescue groups, and sometimes forget about giving other times of the year. So it’s really nice to be able to go to fundraisers, especially if it’s an activity we would do anyway.
Last week Miss M”s rescue group New Leash on Life had a “Drag Queen Bingo” fundraiser at Hamburger Mary’s in the Andersonville neighborhood. The restaurant has the bingo game each Monday night, and a different charitable organization is featured each week. More fun than your average bingo night, “Mary” makes bingo interactive and risque. What could be better than a night filled with burgers, shakes, racy jokes, dog fundraising and mid-bingo dance performances:Between all of our friends, we had about 20 bingo cards on the table. Ironically, we didn’t win a single round:New Leash on Life is especially trying to raise funds for this little pooch:Only 8 months old, she has a severe hip problems and requires serious, and expensive, surgery. The rescue group is trying to raise funds to allow her to live a happy and productive life.
We were also able to go to a Happy Hour to support Project Rescue; a group organized by our favorite doggy daycare. It was a good night going out and meeting other like-minded doglovers; we even met our dopplegangers: married teachers who owned an American Bulldog and an Am Staff.
Project Rescue is also having another fundraiser coming up that we are excited to attend. On June 5, after a large multi-rescue adoption event, they’re having a fundraiser at a bar where the volunteers work as the bartenders, and profits go to the rescue groups. I heard a rumor that dogs may be able to go too, but knowing Miss M’s drinking problem, she might have to stay behind. Though I am really excited to meet this pooch:

Apr 292010
 

Despite the fact that Chicago has a number of dog parks, we only take the pooches to these parks either very early on weekend mornings or during the middle of the day in the summer. Before we adopted Mr. B, I would spend countless hours reading blogs and other sources about responsible pit bull ownership and a number of websites such as Bad Rap and Pit Bull Rescue Central all advise against taking dogs of any breed, especially pit bulls to a dog park.

(Speaking of Pit Bull Rescue Central, they have this banner picture under breed info of a dog that looks exactly like Mr. B)Because of the information on these websites, we vowed to never take our pooches to a dog park unless it was completely empty, which is quite difficult in a city as busy as Chicago. However, we are lucky enough to have a daycare and boarding place that specializes on pit bulls and other bully breeds, Unleashed. We have been going to Unleashed ever since we adopted Mr. B and it is the only place we completely trust with our pooches. They have an enormous play space with nice soft rubber flooring which is important for Ms. M’s delicate monster paws. The pooches are well supervised and Ms. Bridgid Nolan, part owner, is usually there to recap our pooches’ day. One of the main reasons why we trust Unleashed is because of Bridgid. She is very knowledgeable, a great resource, actively involved in the rescue community and she genuinely cares about our dogs, well all dogs. Another reason is Curtis Scott, the dog trainer. We wrote our praises about him on an earlier post, he truly is a pit bull whisperer and we cannot say enough good things about him. We actually discovered Unleashed through Curtis. He leads a dog training class at Unleashed that was extremely useful. We spent months trying to teach Mr. B to lay down and after 5 minutes in his class, Mr. B was laying down like a pro as seen in this picture from class.We cannot say enough good things about Curtis, Bridgid and Unleashed. Here is a video of Mr. B and Ms. M playing at daycare.
Aug 032009
 

This weekend was none other then Halsted Market Days; the craziest streetfest/ danceparty stretching for an entire 1/2 mile through Boystown. It has lots of boys in speedos, lots of boys dancing to club music in speedos, and lots of boys playing twister in speedos.
It also turns out New Leash on Life, Miss M’s rescue group, was hosting an information/adoption event.

E and I decided to volunteer at the booth, and we were lucky enough to meet these pooches:

Arlo is only 1 year old, but he has an incredible disposition and he was calm even though it was loud and filled with lots of club music and dancing. Look how amazing his markings are.

We also met Bambino, a lazy little pug who spent the event laying in his foster dad’s arms with his tongue hanging out.

This is Fiona, a mastiff who had the unfortunate fate of having her ears cropped “homemade” in her former life.

And this little guy, Vito, who we had actually met over at Lucky Dog. He has the same eyes as Mr. B, but he’s a bit more frisky.

New Leash on Life is entirely volunteer run, so all the donations and proceeds go directly to the dogs. We were able to pick up some new shirts for ourselves, and some bandannas for the pooches to wear in next year’s Pride Parade.