Doggy Blog

Dogwalking 101: Why walk dogs?

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I come to you today to argue for the benefits of the out-of-the-blue career change and the many unadvertised merits of dogwalking as a gig. I worked a nondescript office job in downtown Chicago for several years that involved: meetings, sitting at a desk, talking about the weather and/or Chicago sports teams with what were essentially strangers, and more meetings. I’m sure this rings true for many of you reading this. Not to cast judgment; if you like the office setting and you find value and fulfillment in what you do, I fully support that. I didn’t really find either at my place of employment and I was looking around for something else. Luckily I had some connections with Home Treat Home and after crunching some numbers and drumming up some freelance work, I made it work. It ended up being a great decision. If you’re looking to change careers, dogwalking is a good choice. It grants you a series of virtues that are unique to the position. AND HERE THEY ARE:

  • Exercise. Who woulda thought that walking 5-10 miles a day would be good for the body? Certainly better than sitting in a lumpy office chair for 9 hours a day.

  • Flexibility of schedule. Typically the middle of the day is busy, but other than that you can mold your daily life in any way you’d like. This makes the job great for freelancers or creatives of any stripe.

  • Navigation. I know the north side of Chicago like the back of my damn hand at this point. I can tell you how to get anywhere. I know where construction is. I know where potholes are. Hell, I know where potholes WERE.

  • Enriches city life. If you walk and bike around the city for hours every day, you will talk to people of every kind. Some of these conversations are wonderful. Some of them are mildly frightening. All of them deepen and broaden the experience of living in one of the biggest cities in the world. You will also see: great architecture; wonderful parks; the seasons change; various flora and fauna; random weather events; etc.

  • Patience. Dogs are essentially babies that can’t talk and will eat chicken bones at every opportunity. Much like what I imagine dealing with children is like, dealing with canines demands patience and understanding. They will literally do things detrimental to their own wellbeing and FUCKING LOVE DOING IT. You will want to get mad at them but they are just dogs so you must patiently help them instead.

  • The affection of dogs. This dovetails with the last point: if you treat dogs with respect, patience, and understanding, they will give you undying love, affection, and loyalty in return. That’s a damn good (and rare) deal.

  • Time management. Walking 10-18 dogs a day creates some razor thin margins timewise. Basically, dogs are giant grenades full of pee and poop and the pin gets pulled out as soon as their owner leaves for work. Luckily the time to detonation is usually several hours, but you are ever aware of that loose pin on the ground as the time ticks by. Walking dogs grants you the ability to instantly change your schedule and/or route to manage these canine bags of effluvia.

  • Time to listen. I’m a big fan of music, podcasts, and audiobooks and I have listened to thousands of hours of content while walking dogs. If you also like listening to audio, you can do so unperturbed as a dogwalker.

  • Introversion/extroversion training. Dogwalking can be as solitary or as communal as you want. You can spend the whole day silently jogging with dogs or you can meander in the park and mingle with the hoi polloi. The best part is that it’s up to you!

  • Freedom. Working off that last point, the only thing you have to do is walk the dogs you have in their desired time range. This affords a delightful sense of freedom to the day, as you are not locked in an office from 8am to 6pm. Do you need to go grocery shopping? Bring a backpack and go nuts. Do you need to pick up a last minute gift for someone’s birthday? Stop in at any store you’d like and peruse the shelves. Oh check it out a farmer’s market, you should go. Oh look it’s the tamale guy, you should totally buy a tamale. IT’S THE DAMN AMERICAN WAY BABY!

There are undoubtedly many other benefits to walking dogs, but these are the main ones for me. If you are interested in checking it out please check out our Job Opportunities page! Enjoy your weekends!


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.


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–”


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!


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!


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.



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.



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!


Dogwalking 101: Old Dogs

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Today on Dogwalking 101: a new post about old dogs. I've always had a soft spot in my heart (which actually sounds like a malady common to some older canines) for dogs that are the back nine, so to speak. I find them very similar to older human beings to be honest. Aaaaaaaaand because it's what I do, here's a bulleted list of more similiarities between old people and old dogs!

  • Cataracts. Both tend to have some ocular issues, and this milky white devil blotch is often one of them. HOWEVER, whereas I've seen tons of elderly folks with those dope megashades post–cataract surgery, I've never seen a dog with them on. And that's a damn shame, because it would be the coolest thing ever.
  • White hair. This is a no brainer: old people have white hair and old dogs have white snouts and faces. I assume this happens in both human beings and dogs because all the things they've experienced in life have burned out the part of their heads that is responsible for dyeing their hair before it erupts from their skull.
  • Slow roll. Neither of them are ever in a hurry to get anywhere. If something is cool, they've already checked it out—and if they haven't, who cares anyways it probably wasn't that cool anyways. This aloof attitude bestows an innate confidence and respectability to their presence. Think about it, who do you respect more: the snot nosed child/puppy that skitters up to you in total manic episode mode OR the smooth old person/doggo that lazily scoots up to you like you mean NOTHING to them?
  • Distrust of strangers. This dovetails with the Slow roll concept: if they've met you already, you're probably cool, and if they haven't who caaaaaaaaares. This is why both old dogs and your grandpa bark at people from the front porch. (Note: the Cataract point from earlier might also have something to do with this, 'cause when you can't see someone, you sure as hell won't recognize them.)
  • Cannot drive well. Self-explanatory.
  • Retired. I suppose this applies to dogs of all age ranges as none of them were ever employed, but old dogs really EMBODY the jobless life. Lots of naps. Lots of snoring. That's (hopefully) all retirement is.
  • Listen to the radio and cable news. The dog side of this theory is one that I've been working on for a while: no one listens/watches more radio/cable news than dogs that are left at home during the day. People leave the radio/TV on for their pets to create the illusion that the dog has a robust social life hanging out with the disembodied voice of Terry Gross or Sean Hannity (depending on the household). The sheer amount of content the pups must absorb during the day is astounding. There's a good chance that housedogs were more informed than most of the general electorate this last election. AND THEY PROBABLY UNDERSTOOD THE RHETORIC OF THE LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE TOO, EH?

Well then. Those are the most salient examples of similarities between old people and old dogs. I think we've all learned a lot here! To be serious though, there is a special place in Heaven for people who adopt older dogs from shelters. Or even volunteer their time at shelters to play with the older dogs. They're not hard to find there, as the vast majority of unadopted doggos skew older. So get out there this weekend and go nuzzle some snow-capped dogears or accept a weird smelling face lick from a pale-snouted pooch.


Dogwalking 101: Who Does That?

Happy Friday everyone. I hope you're ready for some prime, dry-aged, coffee-rubbed, pan seared complaining about the public at large this morning. One thing I didn't expect about taking a dogwalking job was the sheer exposure to the mass of humanity and its discontents that I'd experience every single day whilst out and about. To be fair, I'm not talking about the interactions that I have with living, breathing people. Those are typically fine, except for the man that screamed obscenities at me for coasting my bike up the apron onto the sidewalk within 15 feet of him, but he probably just confused me for his mother or something. In fact, and I'm sure that I'm preaching to the dog choir (patent pending) here, but walking with a pooch definitely gives you some kind of charisma advantage over the dogless. People willingly come up to you smiling and happy, and while they often talk directly to the dog and not to you, it is nice to feel like that much vaunted MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY trope that every politican talks about but never really shows any example of (Did y'all know that Chicago Alderman make 6 figures a year in a position that was initially intended to be a side job? That doesn't sound like the Windy City Politics I know!) Conversely, having a pup tethered to you obviates the need for mindless BS small talk about the weather or sports, which pleases me greatly as a prominent critic of that national pasttime.

A picture of Ricky to break up the wall of text, unrelated to the topic at hand. However, full blog post to come on Ricky and his sister Sophie soon.

A picture of Ricky to break up the wall of text, unrelated to the topic at hand. However, full blog post to come on Ricky and his sister Sophie soon.

What really messes with my sunny demeanor are the artifacts that these nameless souls leave behind. I've always found litter disgusting, but now that I see it everywhere every day I have become some kind of ecologically minded Rush Limbaugh—but you know, cursing and frothing at the mouth in my head instead of on the airwaves. Here's a neatly formatted bulleted list of the top discarded items that cause me apoplectic full body shivers and shakes while I'm out walking the dogs of Chicago:

  • Broken glass. Honestly, the animals that break glass all over the sidewalk and adjacent grass need to stop yesterday. I understand that it's likely the people doing this are not in their right mind, but it's just so god damn dangerous for doggo feet. What must happen is that people on their morning commutes find a big pile of broken glass outside their apartments and then they dutifully footsweep it all onto the small rectangle of grass allotted to them for recreation by God Emperor Rahm Emanuel. They smile to themselves at a job well done and zoom off to their finance job. Then I come along a couple of hours later to walk through the veritable minefield left behind by some late night boozehounds and some early morning misguided good Samaritans. It doesn't help that many bottles are as green as the god damn grass they now rest on, shattered and sharp. I always see these borosilicate caltrops before treading upon them and have successfully avoided all incidents thus far and will continue to do so.
  • Dog waste. I always knew that there were scummy folks that didn't pick up after their dogs but I am absolutely floored at the sheer number of dogpies that I see every day. It's not like you're walking your dog miles and miles from your home in the land of your sworn're messing up your own god damn neighborhood. YOU'RE LITERALLY SHITTING WHERE YOU EAT. It also takes like 5 seconds to completely solve this problem, even less with the vessels from our friends at Poop Bags! Not to mention dog waste feeds rats, which I think everyone agrees are probably the most repulsive creatures on this plane of existence (which is a shame, since they're super impressive and hearty and essentially just night squirrels without fuzzy tails—dibs on calling rats "night squirrels" BTW). Oh and not to mention, dog waste can ALSO FEED YOUR WEIRDO DOGGO IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL. AND YOU LET THAT DOG LICK YOUR FACE. Pick up after your pets people.
    • Dog waste, already in a bag. Seriously people? This is like getting to mile 26 of a marathon and then wandering off into the woods to die. You're so damn close to something great, and then you just have to ruin everything. This is arguably worse than not picking up after your dog at all because it belies an awareness of the problem and then just a complete lack of responsibility. If you just leave the #2 au naturale there's a small chance you didn't notice what your dog was up to (although they LITERALLY make eye contact and make an expression like they're in a school play and just forgot all their lines so I don't buy that shit). But if you bag it up and then just leave it like a teeny tiny garbage bag for the sanitation professionals you're just a dumb jerk and you can lose my number.
  • Chicken bones. I've been over this one before, but if you've ever walked a pupper by a Jewel Osco you've had your shoulder wrenched out of socket by a possessed canine in search of deep fried wing marrow. Many people figure that since dogs have loved ones since time immemorial, this is a fine lil treat. I ASSURE YOU IT IS NOT. Deep frying the wing causes the bone to shatter when chewed and if your dog's tummy gets a hold of one you will be in a whole mess of trouble. So if you're someone who likes to enjoy a mass market grocery story chicken wing, please dispose of your leftover bones in the trash. Actually, just place the entire meal in the trash before eating it. There's better chicken in Chicago at commensurate prices—don't you like yourself?!
  • Deceased birds and rodentia. This one is a bit morbid, but absolutely occurs in any city center. Also, this one isn't really anyone's fault per se, but it still is a bit shivery to come across. If you've spent any real time walking the neighborhoods of Chicago, you've seen your share of birds that are no more, run over night squirrels, fallen day squirrels, and the like. While confronting death like this often gives humans pause and forces them to reflect on the precarious tightrope we all walk betwixt this world and the spirit realm, dogs think, in all caps, "WHAT IS THAT CAN I EAT THAT I'M GOING TO TRY TO EAT THAT". Bless their hearts. And then gently pull them away from their supposed bounty, because you don't know what kind of exotic flu or novel viral infection might reside in that mess.
Here's Sophie to break up more textwalls. Look for a blog on her and Ricky on Monday.

Here's Sophie to break up more textwalls. Look for a blog on her and Ricky on Monday.

These are the heavy hitters of left behind items on the streets of Chicago that mess with my typically rosy days spent dogwalking. There are probably more, but these are the ones that spring to mind. I hope everyone has a great weekend, full of high rate Chicago chicken and bereft of night squirrels.



Dogwalking 101: The Humble Fanny Pack

The fanny pack is an essential tool in the warm weather dogwalker's toolkit. In the colder months, one can put the myriad keys, bags, notecards, sunglasses, treats, etc. in one's jacket pockets. This is not the case in the warm and humid Chicago spring and summer, where wearing a jacket would essentially put you in the same camp perspirationally as a college wrestler trying to suck down those last five pounds. The fanny pack frees you to shed those pesky outer layers AND gives you 4-6 external pockets of various sizes. Now, that is VALUE.

Josh, demonstrating the VALUE of the fanny pack out and about in the city.

Josh, demonstrating the VALUE of the fanny pack out and about in the city.

Full disclosure: I've been touting the VALUE of the fanny pack for years now, with varying levels of disgust from my significant other, friends, familly, clergy, etc. I believe it started on the rugby pitch, where you are forced to wear pocketless rugby shorts. This isn't much of a problem during the game, but afterwards when you're icing up your knees and drinking a covert beer on sidelines, pockets are a necessity. I took to wearing a fanny pack to rugby games probably back in 2008 and I haven't really slowed down since. I won't lie to you, dear readers, it's taken not a small amount of bravery to continue to man the battlements of Fanny Pack Castle all these years. To proudly wear the fanny pack in the dark years where it was relegated to the realm of nerdy dads and that weird kid from high school that always ran between classes was not easy. But god dammit, a man without principles isn't a man at all.

Still life with Sean's fanny pack, a prime blend of utility and flair. A bit worn down.

Still life with Sean's fanny pack, a prime blend of utility and flair. A bit worn down.

However, mine eyes have noticed a recent uptick in the number of outwardly "cool lookin'" guys and gals (sound more like an alien Sean, really) wearing the formerly maligned accessory. Dare I say, the ultimate in hipcentric pocketry is indeed becoming HIP in its own right? GUYS I CAN'T HELP MYSELF, THIS ENTIRE BLOG POST WAS DESIGNED TO MAKE THAT ONE JOKE WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE—bullllllleted list save me from myselllllllf:

Benefits of the fanny pack

  • External pockets. I know I mentioned this before, but it needs some more detail. Typically, you get one large main pocket and one smaller front pocket. These are the workhorses of the pack. They'll carry your wallet, keys, phone, notecards, a beer, etc. However, on any fanny pack that is worth its mettle you also get two smaller satellite pockets on the sides. These are the darkhorses of the FP, and can fit any number of interesting itemry. Recently I've found that if you put a roll of dog bags in one and half zip it, you can pull them out individually without the whole roll popping out. LIVING THE DREAM OVER HERE.

  • Fashion statement/creative expression. The fanny pack is like a billboard for your pelvis. It gives you another avenue to express WHO. YOU. ARE. as a person through color and assorted pins or patches. Keep it light with the pins tho, dogs hate that Hot Topic vibe (especially golden retrievers—can you imagine a less "Hot Topic" breed than the sunny golden?). We at Home Treat Home recommend you go sporty and fun with your pack: think bright colors, exotic zipper angles, slung low on the hip. However, if you're going to go utilitarian, at least add some flair.

  • Unanimous appreciation and jealousy from the public. If I'm not getting stopped whilst walking Mr. Cooper, I'm usually getting stopped by people asking where I got that fly fanny pack. They're all like, "Damn, that fanny is lookin' dope kid!" and I'm like "Thanks BRO!" even if it's a lady and then we do a three-way high five with whatever dog I'm walking and there's a freeze frame and then cue J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame" and roll credits. I would say, conservatively, this happens every single day.

  • The word "fanny". The word "fanny" is amazing. It's childish and antiquated and is probably the politest way to say "butt" (though I've heard different definitions from our friends across the pond). And you don't really ever have the chance to say it—unless you are wearing the pack that proudly displays the term like a god damn badge.

Those really cover all the bases, I think. It's hard to argue with pure utility, radiant creative expression, near-constant public adoration, and the word fanny.

Wrong kind of dog fanny pack.

Wrong kind of dog fanny pack.

We at Home Treat Home predict a bright future for the fanny pack, and are adjusting our investment portfolio accordingly. In fact, and I shouldn't even mention this, our diligent Home Treat Home technicians are busy in the lab (pun intended) working on a fanny pack just for dogs. Think of the possibilities. A world of dogs with fanny packs and wraparound sunglasses, playing volleyball on the beach and high fiving. It's almost too beautiful to imagine.

The one thing we need is a fancy name for our new creation. Please comment here or on our Facebook page with your best names for a fanny pack for dogs (not the abomination to the left here, that's the wrong kind). Happy Friday everyone, grab a fanny pack and get out there!



Dogwalking 101: Raining Cats and...

Note: I couldn't bring myself to complete that pun in the title. I apologize for my lack of moral fortitude in this matter.

Josh and Bernie, in WATERcolor. Get it?!

Josh and Bernie, in WATERcolor. Get it?!

Good morning everyone! If you live in Chicago, you know that it has been a rainy week so far. If you are a dog owner, you also know how much of a hassle this is when you're out walking your pup. Some dogs Greg Louganis themselves directly into the nearest (deepest) puddle. Some dogs go for a Warrior Dash through the nearest muddy patch of grass. Some dogs revel in the chaotic precipitation and throw their heads up to the heavens uttering exultant WOOFs and beckoning the gods for more sky tears.  Some dogs—and these are the smart ones—have ZERO time for the rain and get done with their business as quickly as possible to get back inside. No matter what type of dog you have, it's always gonna be a bit of a handful when it's raining. Here are some tips that we've found help out in the spring showers:

  • Umbrella. This is an absolute necessity for the walker, but with smaller dogs it can also shield a lot of the wet from them. Larger dogs often do not fit, or do not care to fit underneath the purview of the parapluie, but it can be worth a try. Also, an umbrella is just a weird looking object and I believe dogs are mystified by its workings. Use this to your advantage.
  • Raincoat. For sure for you, for the dog if possible. If you don't have a raincoat for your pup, it's a worthwhile investment. Not only is it practical, but it makes the dog look like a people. Dog lookin' like a people is always a fun. Note: This holds even if you have an umbrella. The rain will get through. It always gets through. Always.
  • Bring a towel (or paper towels if you hate the Earth). This is used to dry off the pups back, paws, back paws, head, belly, soul, etc. However, it is also useful to towel off your boots or shoes if your canine companion has done the patented "post #2 back paw shovel mud kick" and you were unfortunate enough to be in the way. Also, if you are a spectacled dogwalker like I am, you can use the towel to dry off your glasses. I know what your'e saying: "Won't that make your glasses smudgy?" Probably yes. But I tend to give up all hope in the rain, so I don't really mind. Also good if your dog wears glasses.
  • Walk at a reasonable pace and seek trees for cover. In my middle school days I recall having many discussions about whether you would get more wet if you stood still/walked slowly in a rainstorm or if you ran as fast as you could home. The thought being that if you walked slowly, your journey would be longer and thus you would collect rainwater on your person longer, but you could more easily seek shelter. If you ran, we theorized, your journey would be shorter but you would be essentially propelling yourself into more raindrops. I have no idea if that is proven out by physics, but it seemed to make sense. I was always a runner as a child, but now that I have joined the ranks of umbrellamen, I tend towards slow deliberate walks. This bears out when you have a dog. Don't try to rush through the walk, you'll get more wet, your 'brella will turn inside out, you will hit more puddles. It's a mess. Walk slow and seek trees my friends.
  • Pop your phone in a sandwich bag. This is a good tip for anytime it's raining, but GREAT for dogwalking. You can still use a touchscreen through a sandwich bag but the rain cannot use your phone to make it a useless hunk of worthless glass and aluminium. And if you're clever you can peek your headphones out of the corner and listen to cool podcasts like I do Extra tip: only listen to music or podcasts with one headphone in so you can listen for other dogs/cars/belligerent strangers.
  • Bring a waterproof backpack. This is more of a luxury item, but a very valuable one. If you've walked with us before, you know that we leave little pastel notecards with witty aphorisms and walknotes on them. These dissolve in the rain. However, they stay dry as hot sand in my waterproof bike bag. Other things that stay dry in waterproof bags: extra sweatshirt, extra jacket, towel, lembas bread, etc.
  • An item to sacrifice to Nimbus, the pagan god of storms. This is a must-have. You should bring some sort of religious idol or artifact to sacrifice to Nimbus, the pagan god of storms, to beg of him to end the rain. This item should be completely burned to ash and then thrown into the Pool of Nimbus (any random puddle).

Well those are all the tips that we at Home Treat Home have for surviving these rainy days. Stay dry friends! All hail Nimbus!





Dogwalking 101: A Day In The Life

For today's post I figured I'd walk everyone through what a normal day in the life of a Home Treat Home dogwalker. In bulleted list form. With some pictures that may or may not have anything to do with said list. Ya know, in case my prose doesn't keep your attention.

  • Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.
  • Make coffee. I don't want to sound like a Cathy cartoon, but you DON'T WANT TO SEE ME WITHOUT SOME COFFEE IN ME LOL ACK ACK ACK.
  • Prepare backpack. This usually includes my bike lock, an extra sweater if it's cold (which it ALWAYS IS), an umbrella in case it rains (which it ALWAYS DOES), my keys, some notecards, and of course some Poop Bags™.
  • Grab bicycle. I typically bike every day—I look at it as one of the perks of the job actually. Unless it's absolutely pouring (refer to second bullet for frequency of rain in Chicago recently), in which case it's foolish to ride unless you have completely laminated your body to waterproof it. At this point, I typically check my tire pressure, chain, brakes, medial fringulator, and all that bike stuff. Today I actually had a flat, so I had to waste precious minutes that could have been spent hanging out with dogs changing a lame ol' bike tire.
Cooper looking pretty god damn happy.

Cooper looking pretty god damn happy.

  • Bike to first dog's residence. Yes, I always refer to it as the dog's residence because from my perspective every dog is a bachelor or bachelorette living in their own pad, on their own, doing their thing, maybe sometimes with a canine roommate sometimes not. Also it's funnier. Today my first dog was Nola, a grand ol' dame of a black lab. I can't recall if I've written a bio about Nola yet, but I definitely need to. She KNOWS things. I'll typically get the rest of my route sorted on that first walk.
  • Leave a nice note/text owner. A hallmark of Home Treat Home's business is communication. If you're one of our clients, you already know the pastel notecards that we leave behind (or, as is true in some cases, the pastel text message that arrives on your phone after walks). If you're not a client, you should look into it. The notecards are fetching (LOLOLOL).
  • Bike to rest of dog's residences. Bet you didn't see THAT step coming! Most of my clients live in the same general area, so my route is pretty easy to plan. It's nice being able to take in a swath of the city, especially on vibrantly sunny days like this. Another perk of the job is that whilst on this journey, I meet a wide variety of mailpersons, other dogwalkers, shop owners, kids that want to pet the dogs, and of course your garden variety crazy folks that scare the dogs with their slightly tilted personality and often loud approach.
  • Lunch? Sometimes I will stop at a local eatery and grab some potables. Sometimes I eat a big enough breakfast and drink enough coffee to get me through the day. You can really slim down doing this job, what with the walking and the biking and the not eating. Another perk! Although when the dog biscuits start to smell appetizing, it's usually time to calorie up.
  • Finish day/run errands. When I've walked my last dog, I usually run a few errands since I'm already out and about. I've found that dealing with even the most menial crap of 21st century life (going to the cell phone store, the bank, grocery shopping, returning library books) is delightful when you've been imbued with the naive joy of the dogs you've walked all day. Yet another perk!
  • Bike home/write Doggy Blog posts. After I'm all done walkin' dogs, I head home full of ideas for these very posts you read. When I worked at a desk, I would often feel a sort of malaise deep in my bones at the end of the day—a gray, deadening sort of deep soul thrombosis. No real inspiration to do much after 5. Now, with the near constant exercise and the novel experiences that fill my day, I am delighted to park myself in front of my laptop and tap out these flights of fancy. WOWOWOWOW ANOTHER PERK!
Juniper, illustrating a elasticity of spine that would make all of Cirque du Soleil blush.

Juniper, illustrating a elasticity of spine that would make all of Cirque du Soleil blush.

Some notes that don't really fit in the bulleted list:

  • Headphones are a necessity. I listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks throughout the whole day. It's a great way to pass the time, but if you're pursuing this line of work definitely only listen with one headphone in so you can keep plugged into reality and the dogs. This is a good tip for any public headphone listening to be honest. You don't have to completely tune out the world to listen to some cool shit when you're walking around.
  • Water bottle! Gotta stay hydrated, y'all. The job—obviously—includes a lot of walking (often more than 8 miles a day or ~18,000 steps according to my probably not very accurate iPhone) and you're losing a lot of water. Even if it's cold.
  • Sunglasses. A must when it's sunny. A shamanic talisman summoning the sun when it's cloudy.
  • A good book. You should just always have a good book with you. Whenever you don't bring one, you end up needing one. Trust me.

Enough rambling for today! Enjoy your weekend!