Doggy Blog

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

Baxter Crazy

Hello all! Apologies for the hiatus! We have returned after a wee summer break in which we slaved over analytics and dog metrics in order to bring you the best possible Doggy Blog. As I said in a previous post, we've covered over 20 of your furry friends since rebooting the blog last fall and we wanted to use that milestone to reflect and figure out where to go from here. Ultimately, we decided to continue giving you the highest quality, dutifully researched, and of course 100% true stories about your puppers and doggos. And yes, before you flood our inbox with electronic mail, we will continue posting our uber popular Dogwalking 101 columns as well. You can also look forward to meeting some members of the Home Treat Away Team, dogs that we don't personally work with but still respect and aspire to rub the bellies of. Oh and lest we forget, there will be some Cameows from the glorious felines in our lives (#catsarepetstoo).

Phew, now that that's all taken care of we can check out a dog that I was SURE that I had covered before but apparently not. Due to my faulty memory, you are in for an ABSOLUTE treat today:

 Not the type of whimsical creature you'd want to meet down a dark alley.

Not the type of whimsical creature you'd want to meet down a dark alley.


This is Baxter. A marvelous creature made of whimsy. He doesn't walk so much as he floats across the sidewalk. This may be due to potent magic bestowed on all creatures touched by the fey or because his mass is so low as to not be affected by the unflagging pull of gravity. I'm leaning towards the "touched by the fey" angle because of his heritage. He is, perhaps obviously, a teacup Yorkshire terrier. Yorkshire is a region of England. England is well known to contain pockets of great ancestral mysticism. Further, the name Baxter has very old Anglo-Saxon and Scottish roots, and I'm pretty sure when you combine those two regions a dragon battling a wizard pops out. Pretty damn magical. (I've also heard tell that Baxter means "baker" but that does not fit my narrative here so I'm completely ignoring it.)


 Baxter, after changing his coloring through illusory magic.

Baxter, after changing his coloring through illusory magic.


So we've determined that Baxter is a being from another plane. BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Well I'll tell you what it means, in a convenient listicle detailing REAL THINGS that HAVE HAPPENED on our walks together:

  • Baxter once vanished, only to return seconds later with a bag of precious jewels. We were strolling down a street in BEAUTIFUL Edgewater Glen (a made up neighborhood, but a very nice made up neighborhood) when I was distracted by a dragonfly shimmering in the sunshine. When my attention returned to Baxter he was gone, my leash laying limply on the pavement. Then the sound of a slide whistle burped out into the tranquil afternoon and Baxter was back. With a small burlap bag filled to bursting with emeralds, rubies, and garnets. A tiny crown sat cockeyed on his teeny head. I looked around to see if anyone else had seen us, then put the crown in the bag and the bag in my backpack. I ushered Baxter upstairs. I'm pretty sure that he apparated that dragonfly too.
  • He made a bird burst into blue flames by looking at it. You can sort of tell the power of Baxter's gaze from that first picture, but the picture doesn't compare ONE IOTA to what it's like in person. He once winked at me and I felt compelled to go buy a pound and a half of ham and feed it to him slice by slice. Luckily, my willpower won out. The bird wasn't quite as lucky. It was ANOTHER gorgeous afternoon in Chicago and we were on a real banger of a stroll. Then: a mourning dove's distinctive "coo" rang out. Baxter's attention immediately turned to the nearest treetop. Seconds later, a bird shaped ball of blue flame appeared about 35 feet up. Seconds after that, it was gone. I again looked around and quickly ushered Baxter back to his keep.
  • He recited "Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" by WB Yeats to me on a particularly melancholy, rainy walk. It was one of those typical summer days where it rains on and off for about 14 hours. Walking dogs is always a real treat, but in the rain the fun is a bit dampened (ha). My umbrella was getting battered about by the wind and rain and I won't lie to you, spirits were low. Baxter, unbelievably dry despite the monsoon besetting our walk, looked at me. His tongue, normally lolling out of his mouth rolled right back in and he cleared his throat. Before I knew what was happening, he was reciting the poem in pitch perfect English. Upon hearing "...But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams." a single tear fell down my cheek and the rain stopped. I stood flabbergasted. We hurried inside.

 Baxter, compelling Eleanor to hold him.

Baxter, compelling Eleanor to hold him.

 The face of true power.

The face of true power.


I know this all may seem far-fetched. But sometimes, when confronted with stories of eldritch power, one must drop all preconceived notions of natural law and accept the inevitable. I for one celebrate Baxter as a true spiritual guardian. Also, and please don't tell him I said this, but he is cute as a damn button. Here's to you Baxter, long may you watch over this mortal plane!

Sean

Sit On A Potato Pan, Otis

We're back! After a long hiatus! A long unexpected hiatus! Partly due to being unable to log in to Squarespace the last week, and partly due to a busier than usual schedule! But that's not important now, we have returned. I suppose I could have just made a claim that we had planned on taking a break until the summer solstice and then retroactively edited our last post to reflect that, but that wouldn't be honest would it? And when you're in the dog business, you need to be honest above all else. 'Cause the puppers can tell when you're lying. And they DO NOT like it and THEY WILL bite your feet as punishment.

I digress. Here is Otis:

 Dynamism of a dog on the floor.

Dynamism of a dog on the floor.


Otis is a black lab puppy, obviously. He is also, as I believe I've mentioned before, a being of pure light and joy. I don't have to tell you guys how awesome puppies are, but a black lab puppy is a special kind of awesome. I mean, lookit that tail! Waggin' away! A veritable blur of excited puppymotion! And those puppydog eyes! I gave him my watch right after the above picture was taken! He didn't even ask for it!

In reality, after the above picture was taken Otis likely leapt at my shins, slid down them like a fireman, and began attacking my shoes and their laces. You see, Otis is teething, which means everything is a target for his nascent chompers. Things Otis has chewed on since I've been walking him:

  • My hands. I swear to god, my hands must taste like ambrosia to the wee Otis, because he takes every opportunity to envelop my fingers/palm with his teeny lil jaws and just GNAW on them. He does have that so called "soft mouth" common to retrievers—or at least he has the notion that he should treat things in his mouth with a certain softness—so his bites are more like gentle gum smotherings punctuated by shards of pearly enamel. He has the coordination of a nearsighted middle schooler, so it's not difficult to get away from him, so the whole thing turns out to be very cute.
  • His leash. Otis's second favorite thing to chew on. I totally understand this tendency, because if my mouth was full of dental stalagmites incrementally puuuuushing their way through my soft tissue I would also enjoy chewing on woven nylon. In fact, I suppose if you asked my parents, I probably did enjoy chewing on woven nylon when I was teething. However, as a baby boy I was blessedly unleashed whereas Otis finds himself lassoed by his own chew toy, leading to hilarious slapstick routines where Otis stares down his leash, jumps at it, pulls at it with his mouth, and subsequently topples over in a way that spits in the face of my understanding of spinal structure.
  • Leaves. This is probably tied with the leash in the chewing hierarchy. Otis loves leaves. Or maybe he hates them and is trying to kill them with his gnashing teeth? Either way, he attempts to chew on every single one that we come across. I sort of wish it were autumn so I could see his wee brain meltdown at the sheer abundance of leaves. Oh man, a black lab puppy jumping in and out of piles of crunchy leaves, twisting and turning with absolute delight? Be still my heart. Perhaps I can stunt his growth so he doesn't grow until September? Just start feeding him coffee and giving him Marlboros? Probably a bad idea.
  • Other people's hands/belts/bags/clothing. This one is a bit problematic. Everyone in the universe wants to pet Otis, because he is a puppy. However, Otis wants to chew on everything in the universe. Thus, when a gaggle of kindergartners approach from the west with puppylove in their eyes, I must remain alert. For Otis will pounce upon them, covering them with puppylicks at first, but then perhaps tossing in a quick gnaw of one of the toddler's ring fingers. In my mind, this will directly result in a lawsuit, and we all know Otis doesn't have any money.
  • His actual chew toys. This is definitely at the bottom of the list. He shows little interest in the objects that were designed for his teeth to be embedded in. Why chew on a thick, knotted rope when you can attempt to separate Sean's distal phalanges from the rest of his hand? Why chew on a piece of rigid, yet flexible rubber when I can gleefully attack the straps on Sean's backpack? Why would you EVER chew on a piece of rawhide when you can wrap your teeth around Sean's keys? And so on.

 Otis in repose.

Otis in repose.

 Thinking about chewing.

Thinking about chewing.


Sometimes Otis does use his chewing for good. Like when he eats. MY GOD does he like to eat. From the second I walk in in the morning and let Otis out of his crate, he dives at my ankles and jumps at my knees eagerly awaiting his vittles. I dutifully retrieve (ha) his bowl of food, put a bit of water in it to soften up the food for his wittle mouth—although he does try to chew on MY KEYS so who knows—and then attempt to place the bowl on the floor. I try to keep Otis away from the bowl as I set it down, so he doesn't knock his head into the bottom of it and send it flying. I'm often successful. He then devours the softened wet dry food like a fuzzy black vacuum cleaner. In this state, his is ignorant of all other things happening around him. I could start firing a flare gun in the living room while reciting Alec Baldwin's monologue from Glengary Glen Ross through a megaphone and he would just solemnly continue wolfing down his food. It's amazing.


 Otis getting ready for his first day of schooooooooool!

Otis getting ready for his first day of schooooooooool!


The above picture is what happens when I put my fannypack on Otis's back so that he can have a backpack for his first day of dog school. I think it was like 95 degrees that day, so I may have been suffering from mild heatstroke. It was an adorable hyperthermic mania though! In summation, Otis is a being of pure light and joy (and teeth) and he makes me and everyone he meets feel better about their lives. Not bad for a scraggly ball of fur. Here's to you Otis!

Sean

Dogwalking 101: Everybody's Walking for the Weekend

I would apologize for that horrible pun title, but we're way past that now aren't we? Good.

Today was the first legitimate perfect summer day in Chicago. It was 80 degrees, a few clouds dotting the sky, and everyone in the world out and about. Chicago operates in a cycle of social hibernation and then overexposure. People huddle up inside under their precious snuggies and watch Netflix from around November 25th to mid March. Then, like the humble cicada, they emerge from their pits, rub the sleep from their eyes, beat their crystalline wings, and greet the world again. This escalates rapidly, and soon—especially on days like today—the streets are clogged with the tank-topped husks of the great unwashed masses. That sounded too negative. It's actually quite life affirming to see everyone out again after the long, cold winter.

But more to the point, you get to see a ton of dogs in this time of social emergence. Whereas catching a pup's on the walkabout was catch as catch can in late February, now I find myself tripping over pups on every street I walk down (not literally, of course). This is grand for the dogs, as they need butts to sniff like a trepanner needs a hole in the head. Also, you get that delightful panting smiley face that dogs do when they're a bit warm. If that doesn't brighten up your mood, I'm not sure what will.

The impetus of this rambling post is a brand new dog—in more ways than one—that I'm walking. He may enjoy the sunny weather more than any other dog. And he seems to attract the most attention from strangers of any dog I walk. His name is Otis, plz behold his glory:

 I called him a "farmer" for the entire walk because of the piece of straw in his mouth.

I called him a "farmer" for the entire walk because of the piece of straw in his mouth.

The combination of Otis and the great weather of the past couple days NEARLY caused me to cancel all my other walks/plans/friendships and never leave his side. Honestly, it was really close. The pure joy that Otis exhibits whilst frolicking outside in the sunshine changed me as a human being forever. Things I thought while watching him scoot and jump around:

  • I should immediately find and apologize to every person that I've ever said anything remotely rude, not held the door for, looked at with the side of my eyeballs, etc.
  • I should give Otis all the money in my wallet.
  • I should build a small temple devoted to Otis and amass followers to preach his gospel of innocent joy.
  • I should graffiti the sides of every building with representations of his wee face.
  • I should publish a newsletter with short fiction about Otis's life; solicit pieces from luminaries of the day.
  • Otis should be walking me.
  • I should pet his belly forever.
  • I should give him some kind of small hat.
  • I should enroll him in school and tutor him so that he graduates top of his class.
  • I should teach him how to play harmonica.
  • I should read him every Harry Potter book.

This went on for the duration of the walk. The only breaks in my mental wandering occurred when we ran into people on the street and they were compelled by Otis to pet Otis. This happened multiple times on every walk. Because of all the people that were out and about in the nice weather (good call back, Sean). Most of them just let their own dogs go so they could pet Otis. It was a good day.

 HE ONLY SITS STILL WHEN YOU'VE TIRED HIM OUT TO THE POINT OF EXHAUSTION.

HE ONLY SITS STILL WHEN YOU'VE TIRED HIM OUT TO THE POINT OF EXHAUSTION.

I am preparing a full post on Otis for the near future, but I have to take a few more pics of him. If you can believe it, he is a little rambunctious and is thus hard to follow with a camera. Have a good weekend everyone, get out there and pet some dogs!

Sean

Ellie Ellie Oxenfree

Hey...what was that? Over there. Up in the tree over there. You didn’t see that? I definitely saw it. I think I’m going to try to sprint forward as fast as I can and then stand completely still for as long as I can.
— Ellie, miniature sheltie

A dream of digging deep holes flashes through my mind. I awake. I am under a bed, lightly draped upon a pillow. Same as yesterday. I slide out onto the floor and saunter to my water dish. I look at the water for a long time, but do not drink. I walk to the living room. I look out the window and see a tree rat. I hate tree rats. I walk back to my food dish. I look at the food for a long time, but do not eat. I walk down the hallway, but my path is blocked by a large, ornate gate. Same as yesterday. I know not why, but I accept my limitations. I walk to the couch and jump up. Weary, I rest again.

 Me, looking for that thing I saw in that tree.

Me, looking for that thing I saw in that tree.


I snap awake. This time, the dream that dances in my mind is of the tree rat I saw before. I hate tree rats. I feel an emptiness in my home, and know that my beloved owners have left for the day. This makes me nervous, but I know they will return. I return to the window. The tree rat has fled. I know he too will return. And I will be ready.

I find one of my baubles on the floor and bat it away from me. I give chase. I bat it the other way. This is great fun! I will have great fun for hours! I have great fun for hours. I return to my post on the couch and lay my head down in a ray of sunshine. I am not the spry pup I once was—I am already 2 years old. I must conserve my energy for later, when I am loosed from my home for a blessed stroll in the realm of the tree rats. They will know my name by the end of this.

What's this? I hear a jangling at my door! I leap from the couch and position myself as close as I can to the jamb. If I could put myself inside the door, I would. Alas I cannot. The walker at the other side of the door struggles to open the locks. He always struggles. Minutes pass. The door swings open and I welcome the walker to my home in the custom of my people: I jump on his legs and offer a polite, but firm, bark. He mumbles something in what I can only assume to be pidgin English, as I never understand him. I discern "Hello" and "Ellie" but that is it. I roll my eyes and wait for my decorative mantle to be laid upon my head. My walker picks up the performative rope so that he will be able to trail behind me, at a respectful distance of course, without getting lost. We disembark.

 An example of a proud, but firm, bark.

An example of a proud, but firm, bark.


Or at least we will disembark shortly. The walker seems to struggle closing the door as well. The jangling resumes. I begin to walk down the stairs anyways. Mumbling erupts from the walkers gaping maw again. Sometimes I stop walking. Then again, sometimes I do not.

We exit my keep and begin the survey of my territory. It is a beautiful day for this. Initial observations of the land immediately outside my home turn up no tree rats. This is a very good start indeed. I exhaustively sniff at my lawns, bushes, and trees for evidence of the health of my neighborhood. I detect many different odors from many different subjects. The state of the union is very strong. Then, out of the corner of mine eye, I see a flash of blue. Could it be? Could she be back again?

My walker, his eyes covered with dark glass and oblivious to most things, clearly does not notice our fair fortune this afternoon. The lady in blue is a mere block and a half in front of us and he doesn't notice? Idiot. I begin to gallop forward. I reach the terminus of the performative rope and my progress towards the blue lady is impeded. This is a downside of the performative rope, but despite his ignorance I still would prefer not to lose my walker. He is much larger than me, and could prove useful in a pinch. We will get there soon enough. I continue my gallop in proud defiance.

We reach the blue lady and she mumbles to my walker in that same pidgin English. She gazes upon me and my chest swells. She reaches into her blue wheeled bag and reveals a beautiful, brown morsel of heaven. In her mumbling, I hear "Sit" and deign to her request—a matter of trivial importance in the face of this savory hors d'oeuvre. I devour the offering. I nod to the lady in blue and we depart again, sated and satisfied.

 My proud nod to the lady in blue.

My proud nod to the lady in blue.


We perform several ceremonial loops of my lands and before I know it, we are back at my door. The walker fumbles with the jangle, but eventually gets us back inside. He removes the decorative mantle and perfomative rope and I walk to my water dish. I walk to the opening of the hallway. The walker has set up that damn gate again. I offer a bark of disapproval, but my mind is elsewhere. Something is nagging at me. I walk to my food dish. I stare at the brown bits. Something is wrong.

The tree rats. I didn't see any of them on our walk. Where were they? The nice weather and the early arrival of the lady in blue distracted me. We always run into a few on our walks, where the hell were they today. I run to the window. My mouth falls open. There, perched in my tree are a dozen of the fiends. Staring with those beady black eyes. Their ridiculous tails mocking me. I yell out "TREEEEE RAAAAAATS!" in an attempt to rouse the attention of the walker. His large, lumbering frame will prove useful in this pinch for sure. I hear nothing. I run to the gated hallway. I see nothing. He has gone. I run to the window. The tree rats have disappeared. What are they up to?

I return to my pillow under the bed for some quiet reflection. This has been quite a day.

Sean