Doggy Blog

Dogwalking 101: Stranger Things

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First off, as a nod to my incredibly clever title, I’d like to show you a picture of one of our all star former doggos Lou.

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And then a picture of Dustin from the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things.

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SEPARATED AT BIRTH, AMIRITE? It didn’t hit me until I came up with the pun for the title but Lou blindly smiling with just his lower teeth showing is extremely Dustin from Stranger Things. No offense to Dustin. It’s a very charming look and he is a brave dude that sticks up for his friends, which is more than I can say for Lou, whose main character trait was barking at every delivery person on the block. In fact, that peccadillo of Lou’s dovetails nicely with my ACTUAL topic for today’s Dogwalking 101: dealing with strangers on the street.

People love dogs. People love petting dogs. What people often do not like is asking to pet dogs. This is often fine, but with some dogs (like good ol’ Louboy), this unwanted petting stresses them out and can result in some cacophonous barking or worse. You need to ask the person with the dog if it’s okay to pet the dog AND THEN WAIT FOR AN ANSWER BEFORE PETTING. I cannot stress this enough. Here’s an example encounter:

Stranger: “OMG your dog is so cute can I pet him?”

Me: “First of all, how dare you gender my do–”

Stranger: BEGINS PETTING DOG

As I said, with most dogs the only issue will be aggressive licking and hugging/humping, but the worst case scenario is bad enough to require a grace period between asking and petting.


While we’re on the topic, here are some stranger archetypes that I’ve come across:

  • Person dressed like your wacky aunt or uncle that always has a big bag of mysterious dog treats that they want to give your dog

  • Person that asks a strangely aggressive question about the dog, eg: “IS THAT A FUCKIN’ SHAR PEI?” (real question I’ve been asked)

  • Person with dog that they say is nice but ends up freaking out and either nipping at or humping my dog

  • Person that sees you and dog from roughly half a block away and turns on their heel and walks the other way, even if it’s a puppy or pug

  • Person jogging down the sidewalk directly at you and dog who does not waver at all and gives you a dirty look

  • Normal person (exceedingly rare)


So in closing, always remember this rhyming couplet I just thought of:

When you see a dog you haven’t met

Ask before you give a pet

Thank you and have a wonderful dog-filled afternoon!

—Sean

This One Goes Out to My Homie, Stella Bella

The world can be a dangerous place. Trust no one until they have proven themselves through belly rubs, long walks, and cuddles.
— Stella
Stella lived for soaking up some serious rays.  

Stella lived for soaking up some serious rays.  

Being a dog walker is such a fulfilling job for me. I gave up the office gig so I could be outside and around "people" I can tolerate, dogs. Dogs bring a certain energy to our lives that naturally raises our endorphins. Dogs are always happy to see you even if you scolded them five minutes ago. Dogs can show true trust and loyalty and no other dog proved that to me than Stella. 

"You guys go ahead. I'm just gonna lie here for a minute."

"You guys go ahead. I'm just gonna lie here for a minute."

Stella was a unique dog. What I mean is, she hated everyone and everything until you proved your trust to her. She would've been such a good Chicago gangster. We never had a boring walk. Here is why: as soon as I opened the door, Stella would be high-fiving me. She literally would raise her paw for me. It was our secret hand shake. She knew that it was time to go outside and pawtrol the neighborhood. Stella truly pawtroled the hood. Her idea of pawtroling is to attack anything and everything that would approach us from a bicyclist to an elderly woman carrying her groceries home. If she didn't know ya, she didn't like ya. I honestly could relate to Stella. I also don't trust many people until I get to know them. As you can imagine, this made for some very alert walks for us. No texting and walking with this fur kid. (Note: HTH does not promote texting and walking.)

Once again, Stella soaking up the sun.  

Once again, Stella soaking up the sun.  

As you may have gathered from this blog, Stella passed away recently. I walked Stella with her brother, Tucker, for over two years. On our initial meet and greet, Stella wanted nothing more than to bite my hand off, but with time and cheese, plenty of cheese, and not just any cheese, we are talking Whole Foods premier Gouda, her frosty heart melted for me. Stella and I had to have two meet and greets. She really needs to build that trust before she allows you in her gang. Once I gained her acceptance, I believe I became her favorite. 

Stella & Tucker,  Paws on Petals,  2017

Stella & Tucker, Paws on Petals, 2017

The hardest part of being a dogwalker is losing your fur friends. Unfortunately, our fur friends don't live as long as us and therefore I have seen a many of them pass in my years. I miss Stella a lot. I understood her and it breaks my heart when I walk through that door and no one is there to greet me with a high-five. Dogs can touch us and they are precious no matter how vicious they can be. Here is to Stella, one bad ass bitch who had more courage than any human I have ever met. Love ya, Bella!

Josh

The Big Easy: Nola's Grand Adventure

I'm happy to introduce you all to Nola, one of my favorite doggos to walk. She's a fine ol' Southern belle of a black lab who, in true New Orleans fashion, loves eating green beans. 

A not very great photograph of a very great dog about to enjoy a healthy snack.

A not very great photograph of a very great dog about to enjoy a healthy snack.

To be totally honest, I've never checked to confirm if Nola's name is in any way related to the deeelightful burg of New Orleans. However, in true Doggy Blog fashion, I have constructed an elaborate narrative about Nola's early life in the antebellum South and her subsequent escape to a new life in north side Chicago. Let's dive in with a beautiful bulleted list—also in true Doggy Blog fashion!

  • 1867 AD, New Orleans, LA. Nola is enjoying life as a soothsayer in the French Quarter, trading her mystical abilities for green beans. She comes from a mysterious lineage, known for magical abilities and looong lifespans. Her business is booming in the recently upended Southern cultural and economical ecosystem, as many citizens seek a new direction in the occult. Nola, as any sound businesswoman would, expands her business into the apothecarian arts: tonic brewing, protective salt crystallization, alchemical tinctures, potion bottling, etc. Things are good.
  • 1872 AD, New Orleans, LA. Casie Blount, of the much respected and oft feared Louisiana Blounts, saunters into Nola's now well-established shop looking for a nerve tonic to soothe her jittery hysteria. Nola, aware of the import of this transaction and thus a bit nervous herself, reaches for her popular "Ms. Nola's Pacifying Potion, No. IV". Unfortunately, in her anxious stupor, she accidentally grabs "Ms. Nola's Pacifying Potion, No. III," essentially a diluted rodent poison. She accepts Ms. Blount's bag of Confederate currency and bids her adieu.
  • Later that same day. Ms. Blount, after drinking said potion, is poisoned and passes away, hand still clutching the rose-tinted bottle. A mob is formed and Ms. Nola is chased from her shop, and subsequently town. She heads north.
  • 1968 AD, Chicago, IL. Nola has wandered the continental United States for nearly 100 years, haunted by the lingering influence of the Blount family. In an effort to conceal her identity, she had become a resolute Democrat and fervent opponent of the war in Vietnam. Running in these circles had introduced Nola to many movers and shakers, many of whom  dabbled in the apothecarian arts that had brought Nola such fame and eventual misfortune. While attending a protest at the Democratic National Convention, Nola was stopped by a policeman. Upon seeing his badge and name, Nola was aghast: printed in bold, san serif font on the policeman's lapel was the name "Blount". Clearly the Blount family passed down a likeness of Nola over the last century, and the officer recognized her immediately. Nola turned to flee, reaching into her pocket for a small vial given to her by Timothy Leary, labeled "For Emergencies Only." Nola ducked down an alleyway and quaffed the black liquid. This, as you probably already guessed, transformed her into a black lab just as Officer Blount turned the corner. Blount, finding no evidence of the Louisianian soothsayer, picked up the kindly black lab and ironically adopted her.
  • 1998 AD, Chicago, IL. Over the years, she gains his trust and finally explains her side of the story to Officer Blount on his death bed. He forgives her with his last breath, and Nola feels at peace for the first time in years.
  • 2016 AD, Chicago, IL (north side). I begin walking Nola. After several walks, green beans, and head scratches, I gain her confidence and hear tell of this amazing story. And with her permission, and to ease the burden of over a century of guilt and persecution, I now share it with you.
Nola, relieved after telling me her life story after a beautiful springtime walk.

Nola, relieved after telling me her life story after a beautiful springtime walk.

And that's basically the story of Nola the sweet ol' black lab. She's a wonderful creature, wise, friendly, very stubborn in her walking tendencies and not afraid to pull a mere Yankee like me around like a kite with legs.

Here's to many more walks with Nola, a proud ol' Southern belle with a heart of gold!

Sean

As a palate cleanser after that story, here's my fave pic of Nola. She's the cutest.

As a palate cleanser after that story, here's my fave pic of Nola. She's the cutest.

We <3 Lucy

Lucy, looking like the damn MGM lion.

Lucy, looking like the damn MGM lion.

Lucy is a recent addition to the growing stable of stellar Home Treat Home canine talent, and we could not be happier about it. Shar Peis are not especially common, and especially not shar peis of Lucy's pedigree (she is related to a top show dog but I have been sworn to secrecy and cannot say any more about that ever). Now I should say that we don't treat our dogs like Pokémon and we love and value them all equally—but it is pretty cool to see a rare breed every once in a while. And I mean, they're undenialby cool looking. Foldy faces. Eyes hidden behind said voluminous folds. Billowing lips. Curiously flapping nose. What do the Shar Peis hide under all that extra dermis? Secrets? McGuffins? Mysterium tremendum et fascinans.

Back to reality. I actually walked Lucy several months ago when she was a puppy, but since she was literally a quarter of the size she is now, I did not recognize her when I was reacquainted last week. For hardcore Doggy Blog followers, I walked Lucy with HTH social media stalwart Captain, but before you ask I DON'T HAVE A PICTURE OF THIS BLESSED OCCASION FOR SOME REASON. Needless to say, if you can perform a mental age regression program on the picture at the top, Lucy was extremely cute as a puppy. She's still cute, but the Platonic "puppiness" has matured into that wise, all-knowing radiance that exudes from all corners of her many wrinkles.

Lucy has very little time for puny mortal concerns like leash maintenance.

Lucy has very little time for puny mortal concerns like leash maintenance.

Related to this, I have been stopped more on the street in regards to Lucy than I have with any other dog. Actually, likely every other dog I've been walking combined—if you take out Cooper from the equation. And bear in mind, I've only been walking her for a week. It's definitely the rarity and resplendence of the Shar Pei mythos that caused this spike in street questioning, but it's been fun. Here's a typical exchange:

Passerby: Hey! What kinda dog is that?
Me: A Shar Pei!
P: A sharpie? Don't smell like no sharpie...
M: No, a SHAR PEI.
P: Oh, you mean the traditional Chinese breed, whose name comes from the British translation of a Cantonese word meaning "sand skin" and whose fierce loyalty and fighting ability made them a particular favorite of Chinese emperors in the Han Dynasty?
M: ...
P: Yeah yeah, that's the one. Did you know that the Western Shar Pei looks quite different than the traditional Eastern breed? And in fact, denizens of Southern China, Hong-Kong, and Macau call the Western breed "meat mouth" or "bone mouth" to differentiate the two?
M: Please don't talk to me or my large adult canine daughter Lucy ever again.

That for sure happened. Actually a lot of that came from the extensive research (Wikipedia and Wikipedia adjacent websites) that I do on these Doggy Blogs. I also learned this fact about shar peis: 

The Shar Pei's loose skin and extremely prickly coat were originally developed to help the dogs fend off wild boar, as they were used to hunt...These enhanced traits made the Shar Pei difficult to grab and hold on to, and so that if a boar did manage to hold on, the Shar Pei would still have room to maneuver and bite back; when grabbed by any loose wrinkle, a Shar Pei can actually twist in their skin and face in their opponent's direction...they would twist in their skin to bite the assailant back.

That's amazing. Arguments about selective dog breeding aside (and there are many, many points to be made on that topic), developing excess neck and head skin to increase manuverability in an altercation is banana nuts crazy. It would be like if a boxer got really very obese, then had liposuction without any skin removal surgery in an attempt to accrue enough extra skin to be able to "twist in his skin" to counterpunch his opponent. It would be like fighting the drapes. Or a man draped in fleshy beach towels.

Well that's just too many weird words there, Sean.

Just one of the best dogheads out there. Now also featuring curly tail.

Just one of the best dogheads out there. Now also featuring curly tail.

In closing, one additional fact about Shar Peis that isn't going to rapidly devolve into analogies about morbidly obese and surgically naive boxers. Their tongues are blackish blue. Yes, like giraffes. This is the go to fact I give to passersby when they ask any question past "What kind of dog is that?" One last scenario—featuring a notably different passerby than the earlier example—before I let you go:

Passerby: So now that I've asked you what kind of dog that is, is there anything else you'd like to tell me about this incredible creature that I might not know?
Me: They have blackish blue tongues.
P: WHAT? THAT IS AMAZING.
M: I KNOW RIGHT. Apparently the Chinese believed that the fearsome hue of the tongue was enough to scare off evil spirits. Although I'm sure that that simple explanation has been watered down over the years and forced through the filter of cultural differences. What's ultimately more interesting is why a black-blue tongue would exist in the first place, genetically speaking of course. Although, why do tongues have to be pink? I guess the entire inside of the mouth is pink. Is it the high concentration of blood in the tissues of the head paired with the generally thinner/moister skin? Or maybe...
P: (walked away several minutes before)
Me to Lucy: Hmm. That genial old man must have been INFESTED with evil djinn magic. He left so early into that riveting conversation. Good work shooing him away, Luce.

I think we've achieved the perfect balance of lunacy and dog backstory in this entry! Good work everyone! All praise be to Lucy, First of Her Name, the Unironed, Queen of the Wrinkled and the Draped Men, Pupleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Leashes, and Mother of Drooling!

I am so sorry for that last one.

Sean
 

 

Hanging With Mr. Cooper II

Cooper is literally a stuffed animal brought to life by some mad scientist in an attempt to confuse and delight all of humanity.

Cooper, showing off his good side.

Cooper, showing off his good side.

He is half pomeranian and half Care Bear, as far as I can tell. He is always neatly tucked away in his lil crate when I walk in, snuggled up in his lil blanket. When I loose him from his crate, he hops out and immediately begins licking my arms and face, getting progressively more and more excited. I have found that he can work himself into quite a mania, letting out some ferocious yips. I'll give him a treat or two to calm him down, hook up his harness and leash (and hilariously cute jacket if it's too cold outside) and we're on our way.

Don't let the innocent gaze fool you...

Don't let the innocent gaze fool you...

...he knows  exactly  how cute he is.

...he knows exactly how cute he is.

Once outside, people sense his presence from blocks away and are immediately drawn to him. Cooper is the ultimate proof of my theory of the inherent invisibility of the dog walker. I'm used to the fact that people will mostly address the dog when interacting on the street, but when Cooper is involved he might as well be walking by himself.

When walking other dogs, people will usually give me a cursory "Hello" or "Hi" or even just a friendly glance, but with this lil dog it's none of the above. They drop to their knees, powerless before the Platonic ideal of preciousness that is Cooper.

Their command of language fails and they are reduced to meek cooing and baby talk. I'll usually say something to break the weirdness of a total stranger talking to a dog and completely ignoring the human by saying something like "He's a cute one, eh?" or something awkward like that. This will illicit a passing grunt from the stranger, as if to say "How DARE you interrupt my daily interaction with this glowing canine form of all that is good and pure in the world."

What I'm trying to say is, people like Cooper a lot. And I like him too—and am a bit jealous of his control over humanity.

In all seriousness though, Cooper is a chill dude and I like hanging out with him. He keeps a good pace, doesn't really bark at anything, and does this amazing spin move when he's trying to figure out where to go to the bathroom. Here's to you Coop, you loveable little ragdoll you.

Sean

PS: Apologies for the obvious reference in the title, it was impossible to avoid. In fact, Josh had already written a post on Cooper in 2014 with the same title!

Loss of A BF

Farley in Chase Park. Ravenswood, Chicago

Farley in Chase Park. Ravenswood, Chicago

My best friend, Farley, was such a positive role model for me. He showed me trust and unconditional love. I will miss his whimper and tail wagging when he sees me arriving through the window. The greeting that one always hopes to receive when entering a friend's home. Our playtime in the park, where I could let him off lead to play and I knew he could be trusted, until he ran into the mud pit and wiggled like a pig in it. I'll never forget that. I will miss his run. His goofy, always made me smile, run. Playing fetch with him was a complete thrill. He always brought the ball back and would drop it at my feet. "Yes! Good Boy! You're such a good boy." I would repeat to him. At the end of all our walks, I would take a minute to pet and cuddle with him. It always calmed me. Farley was an angel in life. He will be missed and I will always have a place in my heart for him. R.I.P. My BF.

Dog's Best Friend

I love telling stories about the dogs I walk, but you may be wondering... "Who is the man behind the leash?" My name is Joshua. I started Home Treat Home, because I know what it's like having a furry loved one and not wanting to board them. The fear of them getting sick or depressed while you're on vacation. Why worry? My mission with this business is to relieve that worry and to give your pet the love and care you give them. I adore my job. My favorite part is seeing them get so excited when I enter.  So next time you decide to take a vacation or have to travel for work, contact me! I would be happy to help. What are friends for?  :-)

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Wag! You're It!

Playground rules do not apply... if you're the only ones around. Today, Stella and I had a brisk walk along Lake Michigan again. She of course was more interested in finding a stick to chew on, but her attention switched to me when I brought her to the playground. She acted like a little school girl. Wanting to chase, seek and find. We did all three. Afternoon walks are the best. The parks tend to be quieter and there is more freedom. Being able to play in a park with no other dogs or children is rare in the city, but when you do have those moments they make for a great afternoon. Stella may have won at hide-n-seek, but I won a fun afternoon with Stella Bella.

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