Doggy Blog

Adventures in Dogsitting: Oscar

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Oscar is the perfect dog to kick off the first Adventures in Dogsitting. Not only am I dogsitting him right now (he’s currently sitting on a chair staring intently at the wall), but he has a whole host of other positive characteristics. He’s FRIENDLY. He’s SOFT. He’s (fairly) WELL BEHAVED. And he’s a PUGGLE (which makes him adorable and hilarious in both appearance and mannerisms). Oscar and I have been hanging out for quite a while now, and I have to tell you: it’s been a delight. I know you probably think I say that about every dog. And in fact, I do. Because dogs are rad.

What we will be doing here today is GRADING Oscar’s performance as a dogsittee in several categories that I will be making up as I go. Without further ado, THE CATEGORIES:


FOODING AND DRINKING

GRADE: A

Oscar is OBSESSED with food. Some confluence of traits from his pug lineage and beagle lineage have led to an undying wish to consume all food and treats forever and always. If Oscar is hiding somewhere when I show up to walk him, all I have to do is place my hand lightly on the treat bag and he will bound down the stairs. If I have my hand closed when he sees me, he gets up on his hind legs and lunges. This is probably my fault. I encourage it due to the cuteness, you see. However, he has no time for his water dish. Part of this I get. I mean water takes up premium bellyspace that could be used to store more food. I have outsmarted him on this front, as I sneak water into his system by disguising it under…FOOOOOOOD. He now happily inhales his food like a teenager eating a bowl of cereal.

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WALKING AND TALKING

GRADE: A-

Oscar happily bounds along the sidewalk like a tiny, very hairy, child at the zoo. Just zooming along, not a care in the world, not really aware of where he’s going or how much space he takes up. It’s lovely to see such a carefree attitude in today’s world. The beagle in him requires that he stop to smell everything always, so we don’t really ever go too far on our walks, despite them taking a long time. And, related to the previous category, he will eat anything that resembles food that he comes across on our walks.

He’s pretty well behaved on our walks, though he does seem to have some…grudges? Vendettas? He barks and howls and bays at very specific dogs that we come across on our walks, specifically one white standard poodle. He absolutely loses his mind if we walk past this dog, even if we’re across the street. No idea what that dog did to Oscar, but it must have been badddd news. Poodles always look like they think they’re better than you anyways, so maybe Oscar is in the right here.


SLEEPING AND DREAMING

GRADE: A-

Oscar loves to sleep. Oscar loves to sleep on top of you. Oscar loves to sleep on top of your face and chest and barring that your legs and if that doesn’t work maybe just by your legs please. This is, of course, adorable BUT not always welcome. He is an incredibly soft dog, but he does have a certain HEFT to him, which isn’t nice when it is centered entirely on one’s sternum and neck. Also, due to him eating primarily freeze dried pellets of meat and meat ephemera, his breath stanks. And he’s always yawning or licking his own nose or licking my nose, so his mouth is OPEN all the time. Just wafting that fog.

And he definitely has wild dreams. He does that lil wee pseudo barking that most dogs do when they’re sleeping, but he also has a good amount of leg movement sometimes. To the point where he’s woken himself up before. Hilarious stuff.


HANGING AND CHILLING

GRADE: A+

This is Oscar’s strong suit. He loves to hang out on the couch and watch Ozark. He loves to sit at your feet and listen to Ozark. He loves to sit by you on the couch and lick his own foot. He loves to sit over in a chair and stair at the wall. As long as you’re around, he’s happy as hell. As I mentioned before, he’s extremely soft so he fits right in when you’re lounging on the couch. He’s sorta like a sentient armrest. I’m not sure if he took in the finer points of the money laundering/drug dealing noir of Ozark but he certainly didn’t complain. If you want a companion that will sit on and about your lap and just haaaaaaaaaaang for as long as you want, you should seek out a puggle.


 Oscar, presumably looking at a treat in my hand.

Oscar, presumably looking at a treat in my hand.


OVERALL GRADE: A

Was it ever in doubt?

—Sean

HTH is High on Denver.

HTH Chicago has hit the five year mark and we are shaking things up by expanding to the Mile High City. "What the woof! Why Denver?" you might be thinking. I chose Denver because of the boom that has reinvented my old hometown. Denver is not the sleepy, Rocky Mountain town it once was. It's waking up! It has been howling for me and all scents point West for the next wild adventure.

Some of you may have noticed that I have been traveling to Denver a lot and have seen posts on social media about being there. This has been in the making for about a year now and I am excited about my new venture. 

Its all about the altitude. The energy of a quickly growing city is the fuel I need to start the HTH expansion. After great success in Chicago, thank you everyone, I am ready for a new challenge. HTH Chicago will remain strong and will have the great customer service you have come to expect and appreciate. You all have help make my dreams come true. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for five successful years! It means everything to me. Please refer us to your friends and family in Denver and Chicago.

FINN the dog, and SEAN the human

Struggled a bit with the title on this one. There are somehow too many and too few puns with the name Finn, who just happens to be the pooch I'm focusing on today. In fact, I'll give you a glimpse into just how much work goes into writing one of these with a list of other considered titles:

  • First to FINNish, last to start
  • Nice dogs FINNish last
  • A fight to the FINNish
  • FINNishing touches
  • FINN de siècle
  • FINNcredible edible egg
  • FINNstagram

Yes, those are all amazing titles that would surely have elicited a chuckle (or a groan, we do not discriminate over here), but ultimately I decided on the Adventure Time–themed title you see above. This is partly because Adventure Time contains one of the only Finns in popular culture (other than a minor character in noted Birmingham crime drama Peaky Blinders) and also because Adventure Time is fantastic and you should be watching it.

 Actual photo of me (right) and every dog (left) after hanging out all afternoon.

Actual photo of me (right) and every dog (left) after hanging out all afternoon.

Full disclosure: in the show, FINN is the human with the white hat and JAKE is the yellow dog. I figured that since we're all friends here, I would be fine to take some creative liberties. 


That being said, Finn is a doggo that most embodies the frenetic enthusiasm typically present in a Saturday morning children's cartoon. When you walk in the door he is nowhere to be found, but that doesn't last long. Once you round the corner to the living room, he attempts to not only leap into your arms, but often times over your head. He then literally spins his way back towards the door and eagerly waits for his leash to be laid upon his scruffy dome. Often times he makes a face like this:

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This inimitable verve continues as we make our way outside, ready to take on the day and probably pee on some of it (him not me). Finn is not a large dog, but he has the core strength of a musk ox on amphetamine. Not to say he's a bad walker, I just think 90% of his brain is a kind of pulsing yellow glow of pure zeal for the outdoors and he just NEEDS to smell every blade of grass and try to EAT every leaf and then PEE on every blade of grass and leaf too. I do not blame him for this and in fact I am profoundly jealous.

This is not to say Finn does not have his quiet moments:

 Finn, contemplating the ineluctable modality of the visible. With a leaf in his beard.

Finn, contemplating the ineluctable modality of the visible. With a leaf in his beard.


Perhaps this is becoming a bit of a cliché at this point (it is DEFINITELY a cliché) but Finn LOVES to charge at squirrels. This is common to pretty much every canine I've walked, with the exception of some older dogs who just can't be bothered. However, I find that it is EXTREMELY prevalent amongst those doggos and puppers of the terrier variety. This makes sense, as terriers were bred to seek and destroy any and all rodentia. It is purely a human bias that allows us to see rats as horribly disgusting pests that carry plague and squirrels as friendly tree dwellers who just can't seem to remember where they hid that last walnut. Squirrels are tree rats with fluffy tails. Dogs see past the tails. Dogs know that they're the same. Dogs know that the only reason that squirrels haven't caused the modern black plague is because they just haven't gotten their grubby little hands on the right pathogen yet. Dogs know that the day will come when the squirrels turn. Dogs know,  man. And they're practicing, staying ever vigilant for that day. Finn is a proud member of this vanguard, and he knows that the only reason he hasn't caught one of those evil squirrels is because I'm holding him back. But someday that leash won't be there.

 "Those squirrels are walkin' on my grass"

"Those squirrels are walkin' on my grass"

 "SQUIRRELS. GET OFF MY GRASS."

"SQUIRRELS. GET OFF MY GRASS."


Once again, the Doggy Blog has gotten away from me.

We can boil this whole post down into 4 main points:

  • Dogs are great.
  • Finn is great.
  • Adventure Time is great.
  • Fuck squirrels.

—Sean

PUTTIN' ON THE FITZ

After a much too long hiatus, the Doggy Blog is back in action. We're not going to bore you with a long explanation about our absence, but rest assured it involved traveling to far-fetched and exotic locales to interview the local canine culture. We met Standard Poodles sipping mai-tais in Hawaii. We gazed intently at Shar-Peis modeling vintage leather jackets in Madrid. We tried to keep up with some Cocker Spaniels singing karaoke in Tokyo. And we chased after Dachshunds riding motorbikes in Morocco. It was chaos. And it was worth it. 


Okay. None of that happened. But we do have a BRAND NEW doggo to introduce to you from right here in plain ol' Chicago. Actually, in a bizarre twist, this lil guy resides in the same exact domicile as a previous member of the Home Treat Home pack: Sam

And that lil is Fitz the Pug. And he is just absolutely brain-meltingly delightful:

 Fitz, filling his innards with Vitamin D.

Fitz, filling his innards with Vitamin D.


Fitz is a recent addition to the Home Treat Home pack and he has been an absolute joy. And as you can probably tell from the look of mirror-shattering innocence in those mahogany pug eyes, Fitz is also a recent addition to this planet. This makes him very popular with...literally everyone and everything that we come across on our afternoon strolls. Women shriek and fall to the ground in front of him, begging to place even a hand upon Fitz's majestic coat. Since they are typically ungloved, Fitz politely refuses. Men bow before him, offering treats and often all the cash on them in an attempt to curry favor with the clear alpha on the street. Since the treats on offer are almost never wild caught Atlantic salmon, Fitz turns the other cheek. As for the cash...Fitz has been fully liquid in cryptocurrency since 2014. Children just EXPLODE into clouds of joyous confetti as he approaches.

Other animals seem to be the only creatures that excite our Fitz. This can be both positive and negative. Birds and squirrels bear the brunt of the negative attention, and are summarily charged at when sighted. As befits creatures of such low birth. One time, we even came across a particularly sluggish rabbit that Fitz nearly caught up to, but at the last moment engaged some last ditch leg muscle and rocketed to the top of a small tree. I convinced Fitz no one saw it and we both moved on.

Other dogs tend to be the recipients of Fitz's positive attention, which as you might guess, can be a bit intense at times. He's a growing pup after all! There is a sniffing out period of course, both front and rear. If the approaching dog passes the olfactory test, it is on to some light horseplay. Feints, light dressage, and high-stepping are all common here. After this, some are even lucky enough to enjoy a few moments of play with the Boy Who Will Be Pug King. The majesty is almost too much to bear.

After that, it's back to the castle for drinks and a nap. For Fitz, of course.

 Fitz, surveying his lands.

Fitz, surveying his lands.


We will be back here regularly for some more of these intimate (semi-fictional) profiles of the Home Treat Home roster, so tell your friends to join the pack for their dog to be featured! We will also have more Dogwalking 101s and a new feature (still in beta-testing) called: Adventures in Dogsitting.

Sean

Dogwalking 101: Old Tricks for New Dogs

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Today on the Doggy Blog, a ranking of the best tricks/commands that dogs can do!

  1. SIT. The command that starts it all. Without this, you don't really have a dog, just a hairy beast that lives in your house that you feed and take outside to use the bathroom. SIT is both the calming spell that you can cast on a overactive puppy AND the old wizened dog who wants a treat a lil too bad. 9/10.
  2. SHAKE. SHAKE is a bit of a novelty, but it has always been the next logical step after SIT in my mind. If you meet a dog for the first time and it can SIT and SHAKE, you have a dog smarter than some humans. Plus, nothing feels cooler than shakin' paws with a dog. 8/10
  3. HIGH FIVE. Some may consider this an elevated form of SHAKE because it's a "cooler" move than a handshake but I disagree thoroughly. The HIGH FIVE is essentially just a paw-to-hand tap that lasts a second while the SHAKE maneuver involves keeping the paw connected to the hand and then going vigorously up and down. An obvious hierarchy there. 6/10.
  4. DOWN. The evolved form of SIT. The SIT command can branch off into either SHAKE or DOWN depending on what kinda day you want to have. Feeling fun? Go with SHAKE. Want to have a more chill afternoon? Give DOWN a try. Plus DOWN allows you to go to the grand poobah of commands: ROLL OVER. 7/10.
  5. ROLL OVER. I dare you to watch a dog execute a crisp ROLL OVER and not smile. It's impossible. In fact you'll probably start merrily laughing and clapping your knee. Bonus points if your dog has a good amount of floof to him or her, because that just accents the glorious movement. And I have a strong feeling the pup likes it too, given the expression plastered on said pup's face post ROLL OVER. 10/10.
  6. WALTZ. This is what I've taken to calling the move where your pup of choice hops up and you snatch its paws out of the air and then you both do a little dance. Whenever I do this, it resembles a poor man's WALTZ. Couple steps that way, couple steps this way, all while humming in 3/4 time. It's a grand move, but ultimately not really a command and maybe not good for doglegs if performed for significant lengths of time. 4/10.
  7. FETCH. Perhaps the only command more canonical than SIT in a dog's repertoire. FETCH, SIT, naming dogs Rover, dogs enjoying bow tie shaped bones, and dogs hating cats are the top 5 dog stereotypes for sure. FETCH is a portal to hours of fun with your dog. You just pick up pretty much anything and throw it as far as you can and your pup dutifully runs and gets it and brings it back to you and drops it. Then you just repeat that for as long as you want. It's a blast. 10/10.
  8. SPEAK. Not a great command, dogs bark all the time anyways! Or they don't. Either way, avoid this one. 1/10.
  9. PLAY DEAD. The backwards reverse DOWN. This is where your dog slumps over on its side, or if you have a flexible pupper, on its back and PLAYS DEAD. Sometimes their legs stick up or out and that' cute (if not a little morbid). A cute little display to be sure, but we don't want to be pretending our dogs are deceased now do we? 5/10.
  10. KISS. A great command! In all likelihood, your dog already slobbers all over you all the time (if you're lucky) so you probably don't need it. But if you do, definitely try this one out, dog kisses are the best. 11/10.

I'm not entirely sure what we achieved here, but I had a great time. Hope you enjoyed this little bit of canine mirth! Enjoy your Wednesday!

Sean

Big Mack

Today is a banner day for all you Doggy Blog readers out there. Today is the day that you get to meet the radiant beam of French sunshine that is Mack. I mean, look at that damn face:

 I was holding a treat.

I was holding a treat.


Mack is but a wee boy, around 8 months old, but he OWNS his block like an old grizzled junkyard dog. Think Hercules from The Sandlot but 1/32nd the size. Someone once said that some people walk shoulders first into rooms and some people walk legs first; Mack is absolutely a shoulders first kinda dude. He PPPPPROWLS. He probably weighs 16 pounds, but he pulls on the leash like a damn ATV. It's truly a spectacle to witness his unbridled confidence on the streets. He runs into a bit of trouble around other dogs, but in that overly aggressive playful way. I think he sees other dogs as trampolines that he needs to pounce on, which is adorable but not always welcome. In true Mack fashion, it doesn't matter whether his target is a myostatin inhibited Great Dane or an anemic miniature Schnauzer, Mack wants to roughhouse either way.

In that vein, Mack also tends to get distracted by squirrels. Very distracted. We can walk by hordes of pigeons or sparrows or elderly women's ankles and Mack won't bat a wrinkly little eyelid but the SECOND a fuzzy tailed tree rat enters his vision he spazzes out completely. After a bit (and I mean A BIT) of research on the French Bulldog, this makes sense. Apparently, the French Bulldog is a mix of the English Bulldog (DUH) and "local ratters in Paris" which I take to mean terriers—although we should definitely call terriers "ratters" from now on because then they sound like punk bands (Jack Russell Ratter, Pit Bull Ratter, Yorkshire Ratter, etc). And since the squirrel is just a tree rat with a delightfully loud tail OF COURSE Mack wants to chase and dismember the thing. So far he hasn't caught one, but I can tell his hopes are high.


 Mack, after I swatted a street almond out of his mouth.

Mack, after I swatted a street almond out of his mouth.


The above picture illustrates another of Mack's traits: he likes to eat things. He is a growing boy and needs his calories. I've thwarted all of his attempts to consume street snacks, the closest call being the street almond from the picture. Thiiiiiiiiings Mack has tried to eat:

  • The aforementioned almond. I can almost forgive him for this one because almonds are packed with healthy fats, but I fear that his belly woulda been rumbly after swallowing an entire almond without chewing.
  • A dead rat. He didn't really try to EAT this so much as SMELL it. However, with his dangly jowls obscuring his mandibular intentions it's always hard to tell. As soon as I noticed what he was fixating on, I jumped up on a chair and pulled my housedress up above my knees.
  • A god damn chicken wing bone. PEOPLE. Please stop throwing these bones on the street. Dogs love them and they will absolutely ruin their wee tummies. Mack didn't get anywhere near the deep fried remnant, but he certainly wanted to.
  • A McDonalds wrapper. There was no "food" left on this per se but it was likely covered in a fine sheen of grease and meat molecules that Mack was eager to mop up with his tongue. Can't really blame him, as I said, the boy is in dire need of precious calories.
  • A yellow Starburst. A bit of a weird one. I feel like dogs like savory things almost to a fault. Typically the funkier the food item the better. A yellow Starburst seems like it would almost be inert to a dog's foodfinding senses; no gristle? no salt? no oily fat globs? But, he sniffed the hell out of it until I pulled him away.

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Overall, Mack is a ray of sunshine to walk. He also does this cute thing where, upon returning to his homestead, he scampers towards the gate separating the kitchen from the rest of the house and gently headbutts it open. Melts ma damn heart. Here's to you Mack, Lord of Squirrels, Starburst Enthusiast, Font of Eternal Optimism!

Happy Friday y'all!

Sean

Dogwalking 101: Things Dogs DO NOT LIKE

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Happy weekend everyone! I think this might be our very first weekend post, which is very exciting of course. As you all know, Home Treat Home works weekends/holidays/eclipses/etc. so why not post a blog on a beautiful Chicago Saturday? Today our topic is those things, big or small, that your dog just DOES NOT LIKE. Get those reading glasses on y'all:

  • FIGHTER JETS. To all you non-Chicagoan readers, this weekend is the Air and Water Show, a celebration of all things loud and obnoxious. Perhaps you enjoy this display of aeronautic mastery and that is your prerogative but you cannot deny that it is so very LOUD. And that is coming from a human being with dull ol' ears. Can you imagine the chaos that is going on in the auditory cortex of our dear beloved sweet little angel baby doggos? It's gotta be absolute bedlam in there. And they don't even have the benefit of understanding the myriad concepts of flight, the American Air Force, or god forbid the human fascination with things that GO FAST AND MAKE BIG SOUND. The closest thing to a fighter jet for a dog would probably be a greyhound or a whippet that had found and consumed its owner's entire supply of Adderall. That actually sounds way more interesting than the Air and Water Show tbh (totally kidding, we at HTH would never advocate giving dogs human prescriptions).
  • THE FOURTH OF JULY. This is tangibly related to the first item in this list. July 4th is Tax Day for dogs (I was trying to think of the most depressing "holiday" but that concept doesn't really exist). Well, it's Tax Day for dogs if the IRS came to your house, shot off a starter pistol, threw a road flare into your office, screamed "WELCOME TO HELL MOTHERFUCKER", and then continuously took your picture with an old magnesium flashbulb camera until you threw up. Nearly every dog I've met hates fireworks. To be honest, I've grown less and less impressed with them every passing year. They have a rapid diminishing of returns for entertainment after the first 30 seconds. Also, have you ever tried to take a picture of a firework? You have this spectacle in front of you and then when you look at the picture you took, it looks like someone threw a broken Lite Brite down a well. But I digress. Dogs don't hate fireworks for their lack of amusement, they hate them for the BOOM POP at the end. In fact, one of our HTH all stars, Daisy, has relegated herself to the closet since the Fourth. Breaks my damn heart. Daisy also detests the Air and Water Show. Good girl.
  • BIG OL' TRUCKS. This could be a UPS truck, a firetruck, a garbage truck, or even a dually Ford with a busted muffler. Similar to fireworks or fighter jets, it's the loud jangly noises that accompany vehicles of a certain size that bothers most dogs. I had an incident earlier this week with the Carmen Crew where all three pups lunged at an Amazon delivery van because it backfired. I love this instinct, as I also hate the abhorrent Amazon delivery service (how many boxes are you going to leave out front to be stolen/leave at my neighbors apartment/evidently drop kick into my front door before Jeff Bezos replaces you with a sentient robot named AnneAzon), but I'm not sure what the trio of doggos hoped to accomplish. You can't scare a van and the person delivering the packages had on sunglasses and Beats by Dre so they sure as hell aren't hearing any barks. Ultimately, I think this makes the case more than anything that we need electric cars immediately.

 This is Etta, a dog I do not walk but love dearly. I didn't know where else to put her.

This is Etta, a dog I do not walk but love dearly. I didn't know where else to put her.


  • STRANGERS. I like this instinct as well. As a child I was always taught to not talk to strangers. Since everyone is a stranger before you meet them and being a literal young lad, this meant I talked to almost no one. However, I was not kidnapped so I think that's a wash. Dogs clearly have this tendency to mistrust anyone they don't know built into their psyche BUT they also have an overwhelming desire to be fed and loved THUS making it very easy to navigate around their initial mistrust. It's why we all love dogs. This is not to say there aren't caveats to this: large men, men in uniform, disheveled looking people, mailpeople, etc. I've also found that sometimes dogs will mistrust a totally ordinary, nice looking person and I ALWAYS follow their lead and assume that person is in a cult or is a warlock or something. It's best to be careful bringin' your dog around strangers.
  • SNAKES/BIG BUGS. Whereas dogs will chase small mammals and birds to the ends of the earth, I've found that they don't like creepy crawlies. I respect this. Even Indiana Jones hated snakes. I've only come across a snake once in Chicago, a small garter snake in a bush in Uptown (so specific!), but true to form, the pupper was NOT A FAN. I tried to smooth over the situation to no avail. I've brought up cicada killer wasps on here before (NIGHTMARE FUEL) and how my boy Sam was no fan of them, however cicadas are also an issue. It's mostly their exoskeletons at this point, but boy howdy you ain't lived until you've seen a schnauzer POP UP into the VERY SKY when the wind moves a papery cicada skin. Butterflies and moths are more of a curiosity than anything else, but I've seen dogs spaz out when they land on the ol' snout.
  • NOT GETTING A TREAT WHEN THEY'RE USED TO GETTING A TREAT. I believe this one speaks for itself. Much like in a divorce, if a dog is used to a certain lifestyle one must make all efforts to continue that lifestyle. This is much less problematic with dogs than it is with divorce (that's a good turn o' phrase). However, the look on a dog's face when you're back from a walk and the treats have run dry is SA-HOUL CA-RUSHING. If I really can't find a spare treat somewhere, I usually just turn my back and run out the door to avoid literal puppy dog eyes (or an ankle bite with the hangrier puppers).

 Etta in her natural state. Such lady. Much propriety.

Etta in her natural state. Such lady. Much propriety.


I'm not sure what we've learned here, but I'm sure it's something? Anywho, get out there and enjoy this Saturday Chicago, hope I brought you some canine-related mirth!

Sean

Lolapalooza

Perhaps this title would have been more appropriate LAST week in Chicago, but here we are. Maybe this will let you live your Lollapalooza experience (read: teens with Camelbacks filled to the brim with Malibu rum and 5 Hour Energy swarming the Metra and Red Line shouting Lil Yachty songs at the police) for a little bit longer. But that is neither here nor there, we're here to introduce y'all to Lola the Jack Russell terrier:

 Lola, not a fan of the Kinks' song that bears her name. "Overplayed." she howls.

Lola, not a fan of the Kinks' song that bears her name. "Overplayed." she howls.


I started walking Lola a few weeks back and it has been a real joy so far. A lot of dogs are content to wander about without a care in the world letting their lives PASS THEM BY. Not Lola. Lola has an agenda. And while I have NO IDEA what it is, she is quite dedicated to it. I know this is true because from the moment I spring her from her apartment, Lola pulls me along as if on rails. All 13 pounds of her. Pulled down the stairs. Pulled around the corner. Pulled out the door. Pulled down the block. I've considered bringing my skateboard to more easily facilitate our journey to wherever the hell Lola is going.

This is not to say I don't have some theories...HOME TREAT HOME BULLETED LIST AFTER THE PIC BREAK!


 Chewin' on a stick.

Chewin' on a stick.

 Barkin' at a car.

Barkin' at a car.


Likely places Lola is taking me:

  • Reverend John "Jack" Russell's grave in Swimbridge, Devon. Given the alacrity with which Lola is pulling me along on our strolls, perhaps she is taking me to honor the originator of her breed: Reverend John "Jack" Russell. The Reverend, obviously as part of his church-related duties and definitely not in pursuit of killing every fox in the world in a bloodthirsty yet sporting rage, found a cute lil fox terrier one day and thought "Hey! That animal is pretty good at killing foxes. I can make that animal better at killing foxes!" AND SO HE DID and the Jack Russell was thus bred into existence! Interesting true note I just discovered: Rev Russell named this cute lil fox terrier that literally started the entire Jack Russell terrier breed "Trump". Is the universe trying to tell me something?
  • A den of foxes. I suppose this follows from the previous guess. As we humans know, it can be difficult to deviate from evolutionary programming (see: seeking out calorie laden food despite not experiencing any scarcity or having to work to find it; competing to within an inch of your life to beat your buddy in mini golf despite it having no real consequences because you JUST WANT TO EXPERIENCE SOME REAL COMPETITION, DAMMIT; etc.). Well, it's just about impossible for dogs to change their bred-in (not to be confused with inbred, though that is also rampant in the dogmunity) desires, and the guiding principle of Jack Russell terriers is to GET DEM FOXES. I'm not sure how many fox dens there are in North Side Chicago, but if there are I guarantee that Lola would find them all. Also, Wikipedia told me that Lola's short but strong legs are grand for rustlin' up foxes that have bedded down in the ground. I, like many of my generation, do not support fox hunting due to repeated viewings of Disney's The Fox and the Hound but conversely I cannot erase it from history. Luckily, Lola has funneled all of her manic fox hunting energy into...generic manic energy.
  • A den of sticks. Continuing the logical cascade, this follows from the previous post. When I said that Lola funneled her fox-murdering energy into generic energy, it's probably more accurate to say that she funneled it into stick-murdering energy". She loves sticks. Loves carrying them. Loves chewin' on 'em. Loves collectin' 'em too. Her owner informed me on our initial Meet 'n' Greet that Lola has a few sticks that she likes to pick up, carry around, and then drop back down. This has proven very true. Sometimes I wonder why dogs like sticks so much, but then I realize that when I was a child I would much rather play in a cardboard box than with any of my fancy toys. What if I were routinely walked around an environment full of cardboard boxes of all different sizes and shapes? I would absolutely stop and play with all of them. I would also likely seek out a mythical "den of cardboard boxes" much like I presume Lola is doing. Way to connect this rambling story back to the title! Here's my favorite picture of LOLA:
 That feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel when you find a good stick.

That feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel when you find a good stick.


The last thing you need to know about Lola is that she loves you and never wants you to leave. You have to sorta trick her by slooooowly meandering towards the door and then quickly dipping out and closing the door behind you. You will then hear a very sad sound: Lola rushing the door and pawing at it with her paws. I was told at our Meet 'n' Greet that every door in Lola's various apartments through the years are marred with wee claw marks from this pawing. The only solace I can take in this knowledge is that dog's memories are notoriously very short and Lola probably forgets about what she was upset about and goes back to staring out the window or napping. Please do not dispel this myth for me. Long live Lola! Queen of the Jack Russells! Friend of all sticks!

Sean

Dogwalking 101: WHAT THE HAIL

Yesterday started out like any other day. Made breakfast, checked emails, did some work, made some coffee, got my schedule together, headed out the door. Notably missing from that is "check the forecast." This is a trend that goes back to my youth: walking out the door unprepared in whatever clothes were clean at the exact moment I needed them. It has not served me tremendously well throughout the years and I have a history of showing up to school/work/graduation wet with rainwater/shivering/sweating/clothes torn from a tornado. These days I typically have an umbrella tucked into my backpack at all times BUT because I just moved apartments it is still packed away in a box somewhere. So again, I bounded out of the door unprepared, hopped on my bicycle and shot down Ashland ready to begin another day.


 Foreshadowing (forepuddling)

Foreshadowing (forepuddling)


First few walks are grand! Sunny. Hot. Maybe a few clouds in the far distance but we should be alllll good. What's that? Wind startin' up? Oh well, nothing to worry about, everyone knows dogs LOVE wind. Hmm. That wind is blowing those scattered clouds closer to me. And where they were now sits a big coaldark mass, angrily glaring at me. Cackling at my umbrellaless, jacketless existence. Daring me to continue to remain outside. A few drops of water hit my forearm. I look up. I ascribe this water to a leaky air conditioning unit despite not seeing one. My pace quickens. I bike halfway to my next house and it begins raining. No denying it now. I seek refuge under a large tree. This is fine. As long as that wind doesn't come back, I should be able to stay under here until this wee summer storm passes us by. Wind picks up. Rain intensifies. Tree cover no longer keeping me totally dry. Angry stormgod cloud laughs at my mortal frailty. Rain is coming down in diagonal sheets. At least it's a warm summer rain. What's that sound? Sounds like ball bearings are hitting the hoods of cars or something. HAIL?! It's August! Time to make a break for it. I scoot out from under the tree and head for the nearest alcove. Make it there in about 5 seconds. My back is soaked. My hat is soaked. My backpack is soaked. My spirit is dry. I survive. The rain passes after about 15 minutes. I air dry. I move on with my day.

I got caught in TWO MORE STORMS LIKE THAT YESTERDAY. I won't bore you with the details, as they were EXACTLY THE SAME experiences. The second storm broke my spirit. Getting wet and then drying off and then getting wet again is a fate worse than death. I laughed at the third storm and raised my hands to the heavens like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption.

I will say that no dogs actually got wet in the making of this Thursday afternoon. Every time I got caught in the wet, I was either heading to or heading from a pup. This is good, because a wet dog requires quite a bit of extra maintenance. Their feet are like chamois leather (which I just found out is made of a porous leather from the skin of a European goat) that absorb massive quantities of water and never quiiiiite get dry. Combine that with some wet dirt, or "mud" if you've graduated college, and you got a real mess brewin'. Luckily, we at Home Treat Home are old hands at the post-rain cleanup game so you all have nothing to worry about! Here's to a dry Friday! Although it is 58 degrees apparently so maybe I should change out of this tanktop and rugby short combo. Nah.

Sean

 

Sam's Club

A wise man (probably) once said: never promise to post a bunch of blogs on a regular schedule on July 13th when you have to work a ton, then be out of town, then move your entire apartment, and then be out of town again 'cause that is likely impossible to do unless you have a bunch of blogs prewritten which you probably should do you should really take a marketing class shouldn't you? An aphorism that seems almost tailormade for my situation, but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears. As you may have surmised, I only listen to the wisdom of dogs and they don't care AT ALL about marketing. Aaaaaaaanyway, expect us to be on a more regular schedule now that I'm in a new apartment and will be resolutely in Chicago for the near future—if the humidity doesn't make my body melt back into the earth.

Today we are covering a NEW addition to the HTH squad: Sam the German shepherd mix.

 Sam showing off the hearty smile and askew leg that all Germans are known for.

Sam showing off the hearty smile and askew leg that all Germans are known for.


 Cicada killer? NO THANK YOU SIR.

Cicada killer? NO THANK YOU SIR.

As you may have noticed, Sam is an older gentledog. That doesn't really slow him down any though. He bounds out of his apartment with a vigor usually reserved for manic Jack Russell terriers. He pulls me over to the elevator and waits with his nose LITRALLY touching the brushed aluminium elevator doors. If he could push the button himself I know that he would. Once outside, we get to 'splorin (which is dog for "exploring"). Pretty basic walkin' stuff, although we have run into these massive cicada killer wasp/flying hellbeast things nearly every day on our walks. According to my cursory Wikipedia research, they aren't dangerous to humans buuuuuut I have a feeling that mayyyybe a cicada killer wrote that entry. Maybe a swarm of them did. Their damn thoraxes are about as big as one of my fingers so it's not outside of the realm of possibility. I guess they haven't really bothered Sam and I much, but that may be because every time we have encountered one I have gathered up my housedress and ran away cryscreaming. Other than these unfortunate encounters we have had a great time mixin' it up in the neighborhood. Sam is very fluffy and thus people want to pet him at all times. I encourage/force them to use a light hand, as Sam's leg rigidity has seen better days. It's a good time, sorta like walking the neighborhood with a foreign dignitary or something. Foreign dognitary?

 Sam, like many old humans, wondering why I'm taking a picture of him with a phone.

Sam, like many old humans, wondering why I'm taking a picture of him with a phone.

It's not all cicada killers and head pets though. The other day, as I entered Sam's place, I could tell something was amiss. Three things stuck out to me:

  • Pieces of cardboard and paper were everywhere
  • A garbage bag was flopped over
  • Sam was walking towards me with his head down, lookin' like a spittin' image of Charlie Brown but sadder.

I deduced that Sam had probably gotten into the garbage. Luckily it was mostly cardboard boxes and paper stuff and it looked like he was in "shredding mode" not "eating mode" so we were good on that front. However, there was also an empty bag of soft chew dog treats. Two scenarios flashed in my mind:

  1. Sam ventured forth into the garbage bag in an attempt to find that one last treat at the bottom of the empty bag and stopped rooting once he indeed found it to be empty.
  2. Sam devoured an entire bag of treats and then tore through the garbage in an attempt to hide his gluttonous crime.

After a FAR TOO LONG period of contemplation, I remembered that dogs have no real sense of shame and if Sam had devoured an entire bag of treats the only thing he would do afterwards is probably take a victory nap and then probably produce some victory vomit. Covering up crimes is most definitely a human thing. I cleaned up the apartment, moved the garbage bag, and told Sam that we all make mistakes.


Last story! Last week Sam and I took a different route than usual and ended up at a nice bit o' Uptown property. Sam stopped dead in his tracks and stared into the front yard. There was no squirrel, no rabbit, no other dog, no living thing in his sight line. Despite my gentle pulling and pleading, I could not get him to budge. I snapped this pic:

Can you see it? What enraptured Sam to the point of immobility? Yes. Yes it is the white plastic duck. I tried to explain to Sam that it was a false duck and it would never spring to life but it was no good. Eventually he turned to me with a mournful glance, looked back at the duck, and we slowly walked on. It was bittersweet.

To summarize: Sam is the tops, cicada killers are harmless but terrifying, garbage is a delicacy, and sometimes ducks are fake. Enjoy your Thursday!

Sean