Jan 312013
Living in Chicago we have developed many techniques to get us through the winter.
Lately, it’s been denial. 
We like to pretend it’s eternally summer in our front room; the flowers and bright colors seem to help. And we’ve also been doing some pup-related things around our home to keep the dreariness and slush from coming inside.
Boot Trays for Dog Boots:
Along with our wet boots we also have 8 mini-boots from the pooches. To find a way to avoid the melting snow puddles in our home, we set up a couple of boot drying trays. We learned to use black river rocks as a base; we picked up some packages from Dollar Tree. This lets the snow melt through to the bottom so our boots aren’t standing in puddles of water. The water dries up on its own, and we periodically vacuum it out.
Covered Crates:
We noticed the “Dog Bedroom” area can get a little cold and drafty, so we make sure to cover Miss M’s crate. We used to put a polar fleece over the top, but we love how our Molly Mutt Crate Cover does the double duty of looking nice and keeping her warm (we wrote more about it here). We still do put an extra polar fleece in the crate with her.
Lights on Mr. B’s Tepee
We have learned to put up with the subzero temperatures, but I think the worst part of winter is that it’s so dark. 
It’s dark for our morning walk. It’s dark for our evening walk.  It’s just so dark all the time. 
So we’ve been really into lights. We’ve decided to make things a bit more sparkly by decorating the top of Mr. B’s tepee in twinkle lights. Being a classy guy, Mr. B likes to think it’s a bit more Eiffel Tower than dorm room. He even has more photos of his new decor, here.
What are some other things everyone does to keep your home snow and slush free and warm?
Jan 242013

A lot of people have been telling us we’re brave to have so much white furniture and 2 big dogs. Here are some things we’ve learned about the relationship between the pooches and the furniture in our home.

Our No Dogs on Furniture Decision

When I first adopted Miss M, I was sure she was going to try to bully me. Especially with a face like this:

So from the beginning she was never allowed on the couch or the bed. I knew I could always allow her to come on the couch later. I also knew once she had a taste of ‘sitting on the couch’ there was no going back. Especially since this happens a lot we were ok with our decision.

Enforcing No Dogs on the Furniture

Originally our pups respected not being on the furniture.
But then the floodgate was opened.
E enjoys sitting with Mr. B on the outdoor porch sofa. So Mr. B thought he could be on any sofa.
So we tried 2 ways to change it. First we put tin foil on the couches. I’m not sure whether it’s the shininess, the sound, or the texture, but tin foil is supposed to be a dog deterrent.
The second thing we did was letting the pups think we had left. But really, I was hiding behind the kitchen counter. So when Mr. B decided he was going to go near the couch I popped up and scared him. And he hasn’t gone back on.

Keeping the Sofa Clean

Despite all of this, Miss M is quite sneaky. She has a whole sofa trilogy.
And even if the pups aren’t sitting on the sofa, they might just be using it as a pillow.
To keep the furniture clear of mud and ‘Chicago Grime’ we have this whole wiping feet routine.
We keep the grime and shedding down with this.
We’ve also had our sofas professionally cleaned. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought, and speaking with the cleaner, he told me more than I ever wanted to know about the effects of dog saliva and squirrel feces. We wrote more about it here.

So what does everyone else do. 
Are you a dogs on furniture household? Invite only? Or mean like me?

Outdoor Sofa
And carpets.

Jan 172013

One of our ongoing struggles with the pups is living in a smaller space and managing our stuff, the dog stuff, and trying to make sure our home doesn’t look too much like an aisle of Petsmart.
Even after spending time cleaning, the pups will keep taking their toys out and leave them laying around so things don’t look so clean anymore.

After trying to fight it, I realized that maybe I could find some “pretty” toys that I actually wouldn’t mind being left laying around.
Miss M is not very particular about the toys she plays with. She only likes toys to toss in the air and shove in Mr. B’s face, so I knew she would cooperate. I picked up some thicker, nicer looking fabric from Ikea and I made her some toy bones.

I’m still learning to sew, but for now they seem good enough for Miss M.
She likes carrying them around and showing them off to Mr. B:

I like that once the toys are abandoned, they actually look nice and blend in with our other pillows and decor.
Can you even see it?

Of course our favorite is still when Miss M decides to clean up after herself and put her own toys away.
Does anyone else have any cute dog toys you would recommend?
Or other ideas to keep things neat?

How we taught Miss M to put her toys away
Personalizing Mr. B’s toy bin
More Dog Organization!

Nov 082012
We’ve found a lot of people have misconceptions about having bigger dogs in the city. While we’ve realized big dogs don’t need big spaces, we’ve also learned ways to help our dogs and their stuff blend into our space. 
We have an open floor plan, so when you first walk in you might see this without realizing there is also a ‘dog bedroom’ in the room. 
Can you see the dog bedroom yet?
We decided to move the sofa up a bit to crate a type of partition with a comfortable living space and a separate dog space. So along with the console behind the sofa, we also have this:

 Miss M gets to hang out in her crate, Mr. B gets to ‘den’ in his tepee, and they have their toy bin right next to their bed. We like that it’s not noticeable, it uses wasted space, and the dogs are still involved by being in the main space.
What are some other ways you’ve learned to incorporate your pooches into your space?

P.S. And this is how we made our ‘dog closet’
P.P.S. How we personalized Mr B’s toy bin and made Miss M’s crate pretty

Nov 012012

We’ve been living in denial for too long, and with the Halloween festivities over we’ve finally accepted that it really is fall. Though with Mr B accustomed to this, the pooches weren’t too happy about the changes. Here are some changes we’ve been making for the pooches in our home with the approaching fall season.

How our Outdoor Couch is Stored as a Dog Bed:

While we spent all summer lounging in our outdoor room, with the cold weather approaching we need to take our couch pillows in so they don’t mildew. Which also causes problems because we have limited storage space. So, we learned to store the extra cushions in their Molly Mutt beds.  Even though we have a waterproof liner, we also put an extra trash bag around the cushions just to make sure there aren’t any accidents. And the pooches get an extra firm bed.

Making the Hardwood Floors Warmer:

Knowing how our short-haired pooches tend to get a bit colder, we like adding extra sherpa around the house for the pooches to perch on.  We like that it camouflages as regular home decor, while providing an extra bed for the pups.

Switching to Our ‘Fall Leashes’

Just like I take the time to trade out my summer and winter wardrobes, we’ve started doing the same with the pooches. While we love our his & her matching collar and leash sets, it can be just as much fun to be fall inspired. Miss M chose a dark purple “Purple Swirly” and Mr. B went a bit collegiate with the “Brown Argyle” (it’s even the finest bit corduroy!) from Sirius Republic.  I think having fun collars and leashes even makes walks like this that much better.

What are some other changes you make in your home with the seasons?

Since we’ll be indoors all winter, we’ll be doing a lot of this.
Using our rugs as training tools

Oct 042012

My apartment was actually much dirtier when I didn’t own dogs or have rugs. E is only confessing to me now that he dreaded coming over to my place where things seemed a little extra dusty and the hardwood floor had an extra film. Having the pooches has given me an extra awareness of cleaning, and I think our home is even cleaner because of our two extra furry family members.

My biggest cleaning push has been considering how to keep our rugs clean with the pups. We love having rugs as a place for the pups to lay, and as extra consideration for our neighbors, and after many discussions and trial and error, these are some easy things we’ve learned to about having rugs with dogs:

Let the Machine Do the Cleaning:

For spot cleaning, I still love my Natures Miracle which actually uses enzymes to break down dirt and odors. Though sometimes it is just more cumbersome to sit with a roll of paper towels and blot and spray for an hour. We ended up buying the Bissell SpotBot Pet Deep Cleaner.  You put it over the stain and just let it run and scrub on its own. The only problem is it does leave circular, super-clean, spots in the middle of your rug. Eventually you are able to vacuum them out.

The ‘Disposable’ Rug:

It was actually on a search for a square-shaped rug that we discovered  FLOR tiles. We love that you can use the individual tiles to configure your own rug shape and create your own pattern. The best part is they are super durable, but something does happen all you have to do is replace an individual tile instead of the entire rug. We like FLOR’s toy poodle which we use under our table and in Mr. B’s tepee.
Buy a Vacuum You Love to Use

I know this might sound impossible, but if vacuuming is something you already dread it will be even worse if you’re trying to vacuum with something heavy and hard to use. Our vacuum is lightweight, maneuverable, and it has easy to use attachments. Plus it has extra strong suction for any pet hair that rolls into crevices. We are lucky enough to have bought the Dyson DC15 Animal (which we bought as a prior model, though I think you can get substantial savings using the 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon) though we rationalize that so many people spend a lot of money on home-cleaning services that we actually save money by buying quality products and doing the cleaning on our own. It has made any stray hair clean up much easier.
What has everyone else found to make cleaning easier? And I’ve always wanted to hear thoughts on the Rooma…does anyone have one?

PS.This is what we figured out about our couch/upholstery cleaning

And, Eliminating shedding

Aug 302012

We used to feel guilty that our dogs didn’t have a backyard, but then we realized our dogs have something else. They are “Deck Dogs”.

Since half of our year is spent like this, we make sure to spend as much time as possible outdoors. What was once a smallish deck has now become an alfresco dining room/ herb gardenoutdoor lounge /movie theatre.  Which also happens to be very pooch-friendly.
The pooches love sitting in our isolated area outdoors among the floor pillows (Glamping!), among the flowers and foliage, and the perfect views to see what the neighbors are up to.

Though we did find one small way to improve.
We recently discovered this magic mesh instant screen door which makes the pooches’ indecisiveness less annoying. The screen is split, and held together by a magnet so it closes behind them without letting in any bugs, and they don’t need to depend on us to keep opening and closing the screen door. It’s also helpful for us when we’re carrying plates off food outside and we don’t have a free hand to open the door.

What other ways do you make your outdoor space dog-friendly?
Making a Dog-Friendly Deck
Why it’s ok Our Dogs Don’t Have a Backyard

Aug 162012

A couple of weekends ago, we participated in our friends’, a Yellow Brickhome, yard sale. That lead to us donating many of our belongings, multiple trips to Ikea and the paint store and hours painting and remodeling the office.

The office has quickly become the favorite hang out of Mr. B. It has become our sanctuary away from the “ladies”. He loves the calming vinyl toys and blue walls, and I love the calming skateboards and bike.

Do you have specific places in your home your dog calls his own?

Aug 022012

We were just talking to some of our dog friends the other day who mentioned they made the mistake of having dark floors with a white dog. Everything is just much more noticeable, and it would have made sense to have lighter floors to disguise the lighter dog hair.

I had never thought about it before…or did I? Looking around, it seems everything is a bit brown and white, just like Miss M:

While we just happened to make our bedroom gray and white ala Mr. B:

Could I have subconsciously decorated like our dogs?
Does anyone else have decor that looks like your pooch? Was it deliberate, or subconscious?
Also…easy ways to keep your home clean even with big pooches.

Jul 192012

Back when we were bachelorettes together, Miss M and I started a weekly tradition of going to the Farmer’s Market each Saturday morning. We have been seeing the same Farmer for the last 5 years (he still remembers Miss M from the ‘old days’) and we always come home with armloads of flowers.
I always like how they smell, but then I noticed Miss M really taking ownership of our choices:

 And making sure they are perfectly arranged.

Is it possible Miss M can really appreciate flowers?