Doggy Blog

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

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: 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.

Sean

Hercules: A Doggo Amongst Puppers

Hercules lives up to his name. As you can probably tell from the above picture. He exudes a certain strength, not only of body but also of personality. I've only been walking him for a couple weeks and he's already convinced me to buy into three pyramid schemes. When I walk into his apartment (and while dogs owning apartments is usually a joke, in this case I have it on good record that the deed for the building has Hercules' name and pawprint on it), he doesn't even bark or freak out like most (lesser) dogs would upon someone walking into their abode. Not Herc. He is such an alpha that he immediately retreats back to his post on the sectional, rolls over, and exposes his soft underbelly for admiration. If that isn't confidence, I don't know what is. He clearly determined that I was no threat from the second I walked in the door. Probably looked at my weak, anemic, pianist fingers and assumed that such weak appendages wouldn't be able to inflict any harm on his sterling canine frame.

Here are some additional true facts about this legend of a dog:

  • I swear to god that he once looked at a squirrel for too long and it burst into flames. 
  • Men want to pet him and women also want to pet him.
  • That big Pez candy lookin' thing in the above pic is a Nylabone. One of the hardest things I've ever briefly touched. Herc gnaws on it like it's a piece of damn funnel cake.
  • Also related to the above picture: he doesn't even need to focus his eyes on objects. He DOESN'T HAVE TIME AND THEY DON'T DESERVE HIS GAZE.
  • My friend, his owner (in name only, again Herc def calls the shots) tried to thin out his coat with one of them there brushes when the weather was getting warm. He ended up with a giant ball of steel wool. Herc was unchanged.
  • I think that Herc is part jackal. Maybe hyena too. He has that look to him. And he's definitely been to Africa—I've seen his passport.
    • And yes I understand that merely going to Africa as a grown dog wouldn't affect his genetic makeup—I'm implying that Herc drained a jackal and hyena of their vital humours and thus was imbued with their characteristics.
  • He winked at me once and I forgot my ATM pin number.
  • Herc is not only allowed to fly on airplanes with no legal documentation, he often fills in for the Federal Air Marshal. He's also been asked to land a few birds in particularly inclement weather.
  • His leash is made of the same material that the Navy uses to snag F16s out of the air on aircraft carriers. The difference? Herc has torn through his leash twice.
  • OH DID I FORGET TO MENTION THAT HIS COLLAR IS AN AMERICAN DAMN FLAG? Well it is. And I have it on good record that it was made from a fragment of the first American damn flag sewn by Besty damn Ross in 1802.
    • I tried to take a picture of Herc wearing this collar, but an American damn eagle swooped down and took my iPhone. Probably for the best.
  • Herc once volunteered to be a seeing eye dog last summer, but decided to cure an entire hospital ward of blindness instead.
Hercules, demonstrating his power.

Hercules, demonstrating his power.

Hercules, demonstrating his value.

Hercules, demonstrating his value.

Those are the all the secrets that I've gleaned so far from my time with Hercules. I hope to learn more. Despite all of his immensity, Herc is a down to earth pooch that seems to enjoy our walks very much. All hail Hercules, a true doggo amongst puppers!

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 Odd Couple: Ricky and Sophie

Today, continuing our series of "Return to Normalcy" posts, I bring you Ricky and Sophie!

RICKY RICKY YOU'RE SO FINE YOU'RE SO FINE YOU BLOW MY MIND HEY RICKY

RICKY RICKY YOU'RE SO FINE YOU'RE SO FINE YOU BLOW MY MIND HEY RICKY

First off, Ricky is a chow and shepherd mix. It's the first question I asked when I met him, because of his distinctive visage. The picture above doesn't really capture that as much as seeing him in person does. He has an innate "chunky fluffiness" that is hard to replicate in two dimensions. Second, Ricky is a GREAT name for a dog. You don't hear it that often, for humans or dogs, to the exent that I thought Ricky's name was Nicky when I first heard it because my brain wouldn't process it as a dog name. It just has this...ZAZZ...to it that brings a smile to my face. You know, a certain ZING. ZORK. KAPOWZA. It's that effervescent POP that makes life worth living. Also, even though this Ricky is definitely a male pupper, the name Ricky makes me think of a sassy receptionist that snaps her gum, has long red fingernails, and incessantly curls her hair with her index finger. And yes, for the thousandth time, this is how my brain decides to pass the time: constructing elaborate narratives that don't make sense in a logical way but do have a certain metaphorical ZORK to them.

SOPHIE SOPHIE YOU'RE A TROPHY YOU'RE SUCH A TROPHY YOU BLOW MY MIND

SOPHIE SOPHIE YOU'RE A TROPHY YOU'RE SUCH A TROPHY YOU BLOW MY MIND

Sophie is likewise a grand name for a doggo, especially one as sweet as Sophie is. She's a grand, ol' dame of golden retriever lineage, with a heart of gold and a nose that just won't quit. She doesn't have the walking speed that she used to, but she doesn't let that stop her. Also, when I walk in the door, Ricky will immediately accost me with a coupla yips and barks and then some hand licking and then, from some distant other room I'll hear a faint "bork bork bork" as if from some deep root cellar. This is Sophie, mustering as much guard doggery as she can and it's always the cutest thing ever. Oh, and Sophie is ABSOLUTELY massive. The pic above doesn't really do her immensity justice, I'm not entirely sure the depth of field on my iPhone camera is advanced enough yet. She's not fat—lord knows I would never call any dog (that wasn't my own) fat, and especially not a lady doggo—but just a solidly framed canine. I feel like golden retrievers range from teeny and reddish to massive and white/gold, almost as if their coloring gets diluted by their big dumb ol' bodies. Sophie is most certainly of the large white gold persuasion.

My personal favorite part of the walks is the contrast betwixt Ricky and Sophie whilst we are out walking/returning home. Ricky instantly explodes out the door and heads out the front gate whereas Sophie often turns the other way and shambles towards the back gate. They both have those leashes that you can retract and lock if you need to, which is very helpful when you have two doggos of such different velocities. To make an analogy, RIck and Soph are like their own planets, Ricky a small rocky body with unpredictable motion, a short period of revolution, and a tendency to bounce off other objects in his path. Sophie is more of a gas giant with a slow deliberate dance and resistance to the gravitational pull of any other bodies.

The best part of the walk is our return to the homestead. Both dogs are super well behaved and very routine oriented, so they stroll right up to the side door to be let in. I pop Ricky off the leash and he runs up the stairs to wait patiently at the door. Sophie, due to her age and hip problems so damn common with goldens, is unable to walk up the stairs anymore. She dutifully waits at the foot o' the staircase for me to get into squat position, pop my hands under her belly, lift her up, and ferry her up the stairs. She makes a strange noise sometimes and tends to pump her legs as we near the top, but she is surprisingly okay with the situation. I mean, who wouldn't be? I wish I had a video of this interaction, because it is probably very amusing to witness. It does add more variety to my dogwalking workout, which is good as I'm putting together the galleys for my upcoming exercise book "Dog Tired: How to Lose that Paunch Walking Pooches" (...title might need a bit of work).

To close, Ricky and Sophie are a great addition to the roster of HTH puppers. Here's a pic of Ricky enjoying a Kirkland Signature doggy treat in his secret spot (please don't share this post with him, he thinks he's invisible down there).

RICKY RICKY MUST YOU HIDE TO EAT YOUR TREAT LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS MAN

RICKY RICKY MUST YOU HIDE TO EAT YOUR TREAT LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS MAN

Sean

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 enemies...you'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.

Sean