Jan 222013
 

Here in Chicago we’ve gotten by with an extremely mild winter; we’ve even had less snow than Dallas! So this week’s subzero temperatures have hit us all hard.
I think a lot of Chicagoans have learned to do it right because we are out there along with our pups on our daily walks. And we’ve gotten a lot of tips from our SociaBulls group.
Here are some things we’ve learned about keeping our pups extra warm:

Layers:

We have been noticing how all the urban Chicago teenagers ‘layer up’ with cold weather, so we’ve done the same thing with our pooches. We’ve been layering their hoodies under their coats. We even have some urban puffy coats we just received from RC Pet Products. The pooches are wearing the Skyline Puffy Vest. We like how the hoodies cover the under-area the coats don’t reach.


Covering Up:

We like covering up the pooches’ bare neck area with snoods. I don’t know how much of a difference it does make, but it seems like the metal tags and parts of their collar can get very cold against their necks. Plus, the snoods do cheer us up on these dreary winter days.
Our pooches have colored fleece snoods (also shown here) from Sirius Republic.
And we have knit snoods–that make them look like animals–from Snug-A-Bull.


Dog Footwear:

We get a lot of questions about what we use to keep our pups’ feet warm. In our experiences we haven’t had to put on boots because their feet get cold on the pavement, but we do use boots when they are walking on snow-covered sidewalks. Snow will begin collecting on their feet, sometimes becoming ice-like between their toes. They also find the salt scattered on the sidewalks to be painful. We have tried using doggie boots, but it was too difficult for our pooches to keep on, so we just went with the PAWs disposable reusable boots.  We also like these boots for the muddy spring thaw walks when unmentionables start melting out from the snow. We wrote more about our quest for the perfect dog boot, here. 


We also heard a good question about knowing when your dog has had enough of the cold and when you know whether it’s time to bring them back in.
For us, our pups will cut the walks short on their own and start pulling in the direction of home.
How does your pooch tell you when they’re too cold?


Also:
Miss M and Mr. B do the dog-boot dance
What to do inside when it’s too cold outside
What we hope was only once in a lifetime.

Dec 212012
 

While we originally started our blog to show our families that we weren’t crazy for adopting pit bull-type dogs, we love how it has helped us meet an amazing community of like-minded dog owners. We were extra excited when our friend at Our Waldo Bungie coordinated a Pittie Posse Secret Santa gift exchange among some fellow bloggers (2nd annual!).
The exchange includes 10 pitbull-based blogs, including: Pittieful Love, Love and a Six-Foot Leash, That Touch of Pit, Two Grad Students and a Pittie, Kate with a Camera, Our Waldo Bungie, Peace, Love, Fostering, A Heartbeat at my Feet, Two Kitties One Pittie, and us!
The pups were extra excited when this Pittie Posse Package arrived in the mail. Of course, Miss M needed to investigate:

We were so excited to see our Secret Santa was none other than Heartbeat at my Feet out in Nashville. They are the cutest family sharing adventures in volunteering and fostering. Their current foster Cooper is one smiley pup who is unbelievably currently still available (hint, hint).

We were floored to find this handpainted gift of our pups. The photos don’t even do it justice:

They commissioned this ornament from a woman, Lori Wegenka, who paints them in her craft room in her spare time, and rents space at this local shop in Tennessee. It is based on a photo from our blog, here. 
How cool is that?

As if that wasn’t enough, they also included a slew of pitbull stickers and treats for the pups. The best part is the proceeds from the treats benefit Animal Rescue Corp’s latest rescue: Operation Broken Chain. You can read more about this amazing effort here.
We were so excited to receive such an amazing gift. Thank you so much, Heartbeat at my Feet!

Meanwhile…we sent out a package to one of Miss M’s crushes, way out in Baltimore.
Check out handsome Chocko from Pittieful Love to see what we sent them (this is a hint!) and follow the Pittie Posse chain.

We are so excited for the upcoming holiday and break, and while we may slow down our regular posts, we will keep regular updates on our Facebook Page. Besides posting things we don’t get to on our blog– like this never before seen photo of Mr. B laying on Miss M!–we have an exciting and unanticipated reveal we will be able to share on our Facebook page in a few days.
We hope everyone has a great holiday!

Also:
Last year’s Pittie Posse reveal (Check out how proud Mr. B is with his gift!)
Three pitties balancing treats
The pooches balance a total of 20 treats on all of their arms!

Dec 052012
 

One thing I never expected when adopting a pit bull-type dog was that they would need to wear a coat in the winter.

The second thing I never expected was that it would be so hard to find a coat that fit.

Pitbull-type dogs tend to be ultra chesty, so it’s always been hard finding coats that can fit their chests without being too long. Finding a coat that fits tends to be one of the biggest questions among pit bull-type dog owners.

Here are some things that have worked for us:

Stick with What Fits

It’s hard finding anything in size large, but once you find a brand that fits, we make it our ‘go-to’ brand. We like Ruff Wear brand which has been able to accommodate the pooches’ large chests without being too long on their bodies. The coats also have straps which are somewhat adjustable.

When I first got Miss M, I was originally put off by the price, but I soon realized I would rather buy one   durable coat that lasts for several years then to keep buying cheaper coats that will need replacing and eventually end up costing the same.

Our pooches have had their coats for the past 4 years. The only thing is that it seems that the new coats have a bit of vanity sizing. Now our pups would take a size medium in the Ruffwear coats (they used to be a large). You can read more about how we tried on the new Ruffwear coats by clicking here.

We did have luck once finding a pink puffy coat at Old Navy that fashionista Miss M just had to have; she was part of their Old Navy Ski Team. It is more of a fun coat that she loves to wear with the hood and take funny photos, though we haven’t seen any in the stores lately.

We are also curious to hear what other brands and style coats have worked for other people.

Going Custom

We realized that sometimes it’s just easier to have things made to their exact measurements, plus with sites like Etsy, it’s become easier to connect with people who make stuff. We had custom sweaters made for the pups from Our Waldo Bungie’s sweater shop.  And of course our custom made snoods here and here.

Though one day we dream of being talented enough to make our own coats, like SociaBulls members Duke, Delilah, and Dixie. 

Alterations Needed

I have to do this a lot with my own clothes, but we learned to make some minor alterations. to give a better fit. These sweaters fit the pups in the chest, but they are so long they actually cover their bums, We have elaborately pinned the back to make them look like they fit. We have also needed to cut slits in armholes which aren’t far enough apart, and E had to sew up the stomach area on Mr. B’s jersey to make it higher so he wouldn’t pee on himself.

Our Chicago SociaBulls friend Vegas also had to slit the armholes in his new sweater.

These are some things that have worked for us.

What are your recommendations for dog coats and cold weather gear that fits?

Also:

Boots!

Our current obsession.

Remember this??

Oct 252012
 

It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that I realized the TV shows were true; there really are places where nearly every single person (and dog!) will walk around decked out in Halloween gear like it’s perfectly normal. Though a lot of people have been lamenting that they feel left out because their dogs aren’t comfortable wearing clothes. Here are some things we thought of for pups who aren’t comfortable in costumes:

Bowties

We have found our bowtie collars appropriate for so many occasions, and we’ve even worked them into several of our costume ideas: here , here, and here. We have gotten our bow tie collars from Silly Buddy and Sirius Republic and we wrote more about them here.


Festive Bandanas

Modeled by adorable Adoptable Count Chocula 
We love how bandanas are an easy, inexpensive way to make pups festive. We found some Halloween-themed fabric (little black cats!) and just cut it to make a quick costume for The Count as he looks for his very own home. 
Regular Dog Gear worn Creatively
A lot of dog coats, backpacks and doggles(!) are created specifically for dogs with their comfort in mind, and these could make good creative costumes. A pup in a backpack could become a hiking adventurer, this hoodie could become Adam Sandler’s Red-Hooded Sweatshirt, and Miss M could be a ski-bunny in her puffy coat. Not to imagine all the ideas you can do with these (Tom Cruise?).
Is your pup comfortable with costumes? Are they dressing up for Halloween?

Also:
This is what we will be doing for Halloween along with former foster Bessie Belle (Chicago people, you should join us!)
How to make your pup comfortable in a costume
Costume ideas for large dogs

Oct 182012
 

While I never thought I’d be one to dress up my dog, once I realized how costumes make our dogs that much more approachable, and help people understand the true nature of pit bulls, we have taken any chance we can to ‘suit up’ our pups. While there are plenty of pre-made dog costumes, we’ve realized these usually aren’t big enough or can’t accommodate how ‘busty’ our pit bull-type dogs are (we got lucky with this one turtle costume).
One easy fix we found: we shop in the kids section! Here are some things we look for to make easy dog costumes:

Wings & Tutus

We like the ‘partially-clothed’ costumes which don’t need to fit over our pooches’ chests to fit, and we have found a whole slew of wing-themed costumes in the children’s costume section. These are simple for the pooches to wear with the elastic just slipping under the arms. I have noticed that some of the kids’ wings might use ‘straps’ which aren’t as stretchy and need accommodations, so doublecheck there is plenty of space for your dog to walk. Miss M has sported many a pair of wings dressing as: an angel, a St. Patrick’s Day fairy, and the lady bug.
We have also bought a tutu in the kids’ costume section of target which can easily slip over their waist. We also loved seeing this dog-friendly tutu tutorial from Pitlandia  where they show you how to make a  dog tutu that leaves the stomach area bare so the pooches don’t get itchy.

Headbands and Tiaras

The wings usually come with some type of headbands with antennas, and we have also seen cute devil, cat, and bunny ears on headbands. The headbands can usually go on the pooches neck, in front of the color, and we secure them with elastic (but not too tight!).  We found Miss M can also wear this garland, and a tiara, and we just secure a ribbon around the bottom so it doesn’t slide off. Here she is in the tiara.

Hats

 We have discovered Mr B’s head is the same exact size as a little boy’s head. We buy him little boy hats and secure them with an elastic band that goes under the chin (not too tight!). He has worn a little boy’s fedora, top hat, and here you can see the difference as he is wearing a regular-size cowboy hat.
This year we are very excited to go to this Halloween parade at Ruff Haus with a slew of other dogs walking together in costume. Though we’re still thinking of what we should wear.
What type of Halloween things are you doing with your pooch?
Also:
-We always remember some dogs aren’t comfortable in costumes. Here is how we prepare our pooches to wear costumes. 
Oct 162012
 

A couple of months ago we wrote this post about deciding if there is ever a time to get rid of the crate. What was once an essential tool keeping Miss M safe from herself and her partying ways has become a non-essential as our pooches have made like college seniors maturing their way into Elderbull-dom and fewer parties when left home alone. Sure we all love a good game of pit bull clown car, seeing our 70 lb pups smoosh themselves into a single crate, but living in a smaller space in the city and having a huge metal crate in the middle of our living room always made me feel like I was living in an aisle of PetSmart.

Though an aisle of with adorable antics (with former fosterdog SuperLevi!)
Realizing the benefits of giving our dogs their own space, and these prime photo moments, won out and had me on the search for a way to integrate our metal monstrosity into our home. I had seen all the nice crate covers out there, but I wasn’t sure if covering the crate would be it good option, or if it would just draw attention to the huge ‘box’ in the middle of our living room. I hadn’t seen any photos of the crate covers being used in actual homes, so after speaking with the nice people over at Molly Mutt, we decided to review one in our home, and they are also giving two lucky winners a chance to win their own crate covers!
Functionality:
The cover includes straps with snaps so you can chose to roll the sides up for varying levels for coverage and visibility. The only thing we did notice was the straps are on the inside, so if you don’t roll up the side the straps will hang down. If you do roll up the side, the strap will be secured, but still on the inside, which could be extra temptation for a pup who might get bored and like to chew. If you’re pooch is known to eat beds or be destructive while in the crate, we would recommend rolling it completely up or even removing the cover while they are in the crate alone. 
Style:
I had been afraid the bright patterned color would draw attention to the crate, but I have found the dark color, and cave-like inside, makes it blend in to the point of being unnoticeable in our place. I actually struggled to find a way to make it stand out in the photograph.

Likability:
The pooches love that it creates a dark, den-like experience, and we even had trouble getting Mr. B to come out of the crate. During the winter we also tend to drape a blanket over Miss M’s crate when it seems extra drafty in our home. I like how the cover can keep the pooches warm, or be rolled up for ‘air-conditioning’. 
We only write about things that we honestly like, use, and would recommend, and our only regret is that it has taken us this long to discover this. We are very excited that Molly Mutt will be giving away a crate cover of choice to two(!) lucky readers! 
There are two ways to enter, and you can chose to enter both ways.
We have recognized how crate training can be an essential part of establishing boundaries, creating space, and having a happy, well-trained pup. 
How is your crate important to your pup?

1) Let us know by writing in the comments section below. 
2) Post a photo on our Facebook page letting us know how your crate is important to your pup (we always love seeing photos of your pooches!). 
Details:
-You can enter twice by commenting on the blog AND posting a photo on the facebook page. 
Winners can only win once.
-We will use a random number generator to randomly choose a winner from:
1) Overall blog comments
2) Facebook photos
-You have until Sunday at Midnight (EST) to post your comment or photo (Winners will be announced on Monday)
-Winners will be able to choose your own style and size and have your coat shipped to you from Molly Mutt
-Winners must live within the contiguous United States

Also: 
Sep 042012
 


I can never tell if our pooches are more excited about the activity, or actually riding in the car, but I do know one of Miss M’s favorite things is to watch out the window and let her jowl blow in the breeze: 

Sure it’s a generally harmless dog thing, but mostly because I’m this person I’ve realized it could be dangerous if our pooches get dirt, dust and debris in their eyes. Plus, isn’t dog gear a great way to make our pooches more approachable?  We ordered Doggles brand doggles in size large. They have one strap that fits under the chin and one that goes around the back of their head. Our pooches haven’t shown any discomfort or tried taking them off (though they are used to wearing a lot of costumes).
We think Mr. B looks a bit like Tom Cruise back in his Top Gun days (pre-couch jumping):

Though Miss M looks a bit like an SNL character:

Though she won’t let anyone tell her she’s not fashionable and thinks she looks quite fab:

Has anyone else tried Doggles or seen any pooches sporting them around town?

Also:
Other ways we stay safe in our car
Jowl-flapping

Aug 092012
 

We write a lot about daily things we do to keep our place clean with dogs and how we keep our pooches clean, but I recently realized I haven’t written much about our dog laundry routine. I actually didn’t think it was anything outstanding until my same friend who says things to give me low self-esteem said it was weird. So now I’m curious…do people have a separate system for doing dog laundry?

Can you spot the pooches hiding in our Laundry?

Laundry was actually a huge ordeal back when Miss M and I lived in our Bachelorette Pad without a washer/dryer. Miss M used to accompany me, across the street, to the Jolly Rogers Laundromat. We each had our own separate laundry bags; I had my clothes and Miss M had a tiny bag of her ‘dog laundry’ which usually included her bed cover, some towels and my bathmat. We washed our clothes separately, then headed home. Even though we’re lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in our home now, we still aren’t the type of roommates who combine loads.

My friend also thought the amount of cleaning was obsessive. I always clean the dog beds when the pooches have baths because I think it will keep them cleaner longer. And I typically clean the beds and pillows every 2 weeks.

So now that it’s out there…how does everyone else clean your dogs’ laundry? Do you keep dog laundry separate? And how often is standard for dog laundry? Is it even a big deal?

Also: More Obsessive Dog Cleaning

Jun 212012
 

I barely realized this weekend will be our highlight of the summer where the community bands together to support ideas of equality and gay rights. With all the beads, boas, and colorful costumes, even our pooches seem out of place without some type of flair.

While our pooches have become old pros at wearing costumes, we’ve learned there are levels of ‘dog flair’ for all comfort levels. With all the people, noise, excitement and heat we do want to make sure the pooches are relaxed, here are some things we’ve learned:

Special Occasion Collars and Bandanas

These are tolerable for most any dog, and they still look festive! Former foster sweet Bessie Belle was known for her collar with matching flower, and we’ve written before about our bowtie collars.

We also love how our SociaBulls friend Stickers (who also happens to be a greeting card muse!) has really made an art out of wearing bandanas. She wears them daily, and has quite the collection, and shows how simple it is to add a bit of ‘flair’.

Headbands

 We have found another quick and easy way to make a costume, without having your pooch wear a whole costume, is to use headbands. The pooches wear them behind their collar, and we secure it with a not too tight elastic or rubber band. We’ve picked up some flower headbands for Miss M in the little girls’ department, and we’ve also used this technique for her halo on Halloween and huge bow for St. Patrick’s Day.

Hats and Costumes

Since our pooches have had a lot of practice, they are actually able to wear hats and semi-costumes. We find little boys’ hats are perfect for Mr. B, and we punch holes in the sides and secure them with elastic to stay on while he walks around town (here he is at last St Pats and in a fedora that matches E’s). We buy Miss M little girl Halloween costumes that don’t involve putting things over her arms and legs. She has this tutu (we’ve been stopped on the street by little girls saying they have the same outfit) and this little girls’ fairy outfit during Halloween.

These are just some things that have worked for us. What are some other ways you’ve made your pooch festive during the holidays?

PS. In case you missed them:
Teaching Your Dog to Wear Costumes
How to Prepare to Take Your Pooch to a Parade

Jun 142012
 

The other day when I was at the Farmer’s Market, a crowd gathered around Miss M as I took her photo telling me “I can’t believe she’s actually posing”. Maybe it’s because our pooches give us such great material to work with, or because we do have so much fun walking around taking photos, but we have developed quite the collection of cameras. Here are some of the things we’re using:

Nikon DSLR

 Most of our blog photos are taken with our Nikon DSLR 7000 using a 50mm lens. We’ve learned that it’s really up to having good lenses, as most DSLR bodies will suffice, but we like having more control over the photos we’re taking for a clear image and the blurred background effect. I still have a lot to learn about photography and learning about the settings on my camera, and I’m excited to take this on as a new summer project.

 Diana F+

This is a cute ‘toy camera’ that still uses film and takes serendipitous photos that look circa 1970’s. Part of the intrigue is in the wait to get the film developed, and it’s cute enough that it also looks like an accessory; we keep ours in our City Dog Essentials bag so we can always take cool photos when we’re out and about.

You can read about it and see more of our photos here.

Lomography Fisheye Number 2

 Another film toy camera, this one has a fisheye lens to distort the view and turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Using it for the day is like living in one of those fun photo montages, with the final excitement developing your film and seeing how it turns out. You can read more about it and see more of our photos here.

GoPro HD Hero 960

 Photo Courtesy of Mr. B and his GoPro

Since we have our own cameras, Mr. B thought he should get in on the action too. The GoPro camera is typically used to get a different view of high impact sports, though we learned it works just perfect to take video from our pooches’ point of view (wouldn’t you smile big too if everyone reacted to you like that?) and you can set it to take photos every couple of seconds. Mr B has become quite the videographer on our SociaBulls walks, you can read more about Mr. B’s camera here.

i-Phone 8mm Camera App

 We used to love our Flip camera, but now that they’ve been phased out we’ve been loving the new i-Phone apps. The 8mm camera app offers a variety of settings (my favorite is 1970’s!) to make even the most commonplace video extraordinary. You can see what we mean with this movie here with SuperLevi’s big debut.

Instagram
PhotoI know I’m always a step behind the bandwagon, but I’m just starting to learn more about Instagram. Instagram is like the digital version of our Diana F+, only with instant results and more options. I’m still learning about how it works, and we’ve just starting posting some of our instagrams the on our Facebook here.

We love all the variety and fun photosharing techniques that have become so easy with social media. Just curious what everyone else has been using; is the big trend in learning real photographic techniques? The simplicity of smartphone apps? Or old school film cameras?