Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Love Lucy

I love her sweet nature
I love how easy she is to take for a walk
I love what a snugglebug she is

I love the pitter patter noise her paws make as she trots around the apartment
I love to see her getting braver by the day
I love her excited happy dance when she knows there's food in the offing

I love the way she tolerates Bilbo's antics
I love how little she is prancing alongside the other dogs

I love the snuffly noises she makes as she settles down to sleep
I love the sight of her wee legs waving in the air as she wriggles in the grass
I love that she snores her way through car journeys
I love to feel a gentle paw on my knee asking to be lifted up on to the couch

I'll miss Lucy but luckily for me, among the many things that I love about Lucy is what a great home she's going to. Thanks to the staff at Soggy Paws for letting her new dad know that there was a little beagle girl waiting to be the perfect new sister to a beagle brother. I know she's going to be spoiled rotten and loved as much as I could possibly wish.

Monday, June 27, 2011

For the win column

With all the sad news coming up this week, I'm so happy that I got to spend my Sunday afternoon with four happy success stories. For all the amazing rescuers out there, working against the odds in so many ways, don't forget this is what you make possible.

Clover: Dumped outside on a porch in Chicago on a freezing New Year's Eve, starving, covered in scratches and faeces. Rescued by her owner.

Billy: Headed straight to death row in a high-kill shelter without the intervention of One Tail who didn't give up until he'd finally found the perfect home.

Buster: An owner surrender who sat in a shelter for three years. Found his forever home on a cold November night when Clover chose him.

Lucy: A timid little lady who lived her life in a cage. Now learning to love everyone she meets. Currently curled up in my lap. Tomorrow making the journey to live with her new dad and beagle brother.

Go cuddle your rescue dog tonight.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Some of these are rather belated but I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to mention some of our lovely friends in the blogging community.

To begin with, here's a very tardy photo as promised of the handsome new collar that Bilbo won in Two Pitties in the Cities raffle.

I am so slow getting even this rubbishy shot up that both the pooches that benefited from the raffle have been rescued, healed up and adopted already!!! But doesn't my boy look dapper for the summer?

The other week Two Grad Students and a Pittie kindly gave us a shout-out. You should definitely pop over to their blog for some Havi cuteness - you can't have too much adorable pitty in your life!

And finally, thanks to Maisie & Me who sent Bilbo a yummy antler as part of reader appreciation week.

Even little Lucy got in on the fun when Billy went off for a snooze. Just as well he's the sharing type!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why not?

This is Lucy today.

Lucy is not a sob story. At three years old she has been removed from a bad situation with the promise that she will live out the rest of her long life with plenty of food, love, treats, cuddles and soft cushions. Lucy will never be forced to carry another litter of puppies, destined to be sent out into the world to the highest bidder with little thought as to their ultimate fate. Best Friends made that promise to Lucy when they transported her to a shelter in Chicago, One Tail at a Time made that promise to Lucy when they pulled her into their program, as her foster home I made that promise to Lucy and very soon the perfect adoptive home will come along and make that promise to Lucy. Lucy has a team on her side.

But Lucy is still just one dog among thousands. As she trotted along at my side this evening - almost perfectly leash trained in just a week - a man walked up behind us. He paused as he passed.

"She have babies?"

"Why not?"

I could have cried. I could have hit him. I spluttered and stammered and called out no, you shouldn't breed, you should adopt, she's escaped a puppy mill and will never have babies again. Ultimately, the only thing he wanted to hear was whether or not he could get a puppy from her. After the negative he just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. I wish there was a way in that 5 second conversation to share everything I've seen in shelters, everything I've read and learned and heard. I wish I spoke good enough Spanish to have reached out in his own language and explained at least a small part of what I know.

Next week I'll add a bi-lingual pamphlet to my walking supplies and I'll hand it out to every kid who asks me if Billy is a girl just because they can't see any testicles, to every lady who pulls up in her car to ask if I know anyone who wants to buy a pitbull puppy, to every family with a pregnant chihuahua running round the front yard.

For the sake of every Lucy out there I will have an answer to the question, "Why not?"

  • Because every hour in the US, more that 2,000 dogs and 3,500 cats are born compared to 415 humans.
  • Because more than 20% of the dogs in shelters are purebred.
  • Because only one in every 10 puppies finds a permanent home.
  • Because in 6 years one female dog and her offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies.
  • Because 11,000 animals die in American shelters EVERY DAY.
  • Because ultimately, the only result of indiscriminately breeding dogs in backyards or commercial mills is this

The neighborhood

Friday, June 17, 2011

Who is the cutest?

Obviously that would be Bilbo, but if there was a number one contender for runner-up most-cute-ever, it would have to be this little lady.

Someone isn't quite big enough to jump onto the couch so this is the "lift me up please" face. There seems to have been an awful lot of snuggling going on over the past couple of days. This is probably because she's worked out how to climb onto the bed and wriggle into a comfy spot.

Although seriously, who wears flannel snowflake pyjamas in June?

I didn't intend to let her sleep on the bed quite so soon but she was so comfy I didn't have the heart to kick her out into her crate. All three of us were thoroughly worn out last night so when I woke up in the morning it was to discover that none of us had moved an inch in the night.

She's definitely discovered the cuddle potential of a big foster brother, although it's bizarre how teeny tiny he can curl himself up. You wouldn't think from this picture that he weighs three and a half times what Lucy does.

I'd love to know what on earth she was thinking here. What a brave place to put her head....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don't Bully my Bilbo!

Three quarters of the way through our walk this evening's post was going to be about how gorgeous the weather was, how much I love the neighborhood park and how super-fabulous-awesome-clever my dog is.  Lucy had her trip to the vet to get spayed today. She got a clean bill of health, except for having some teeth pulled, and is pretty much zonked out (cute alert) from the residual effects of the anesthesia and pain meds.

That meant Bilbo and I were flying solo for our walk and I was excited to get out and take advantage of the (finally) beautiful evening and trot around the park with camera in hand.

 I've been so proud of his progress recently and I knew that there'd be plenty of people out and about for us to practice our training. He was such a superstar and we ran through lots of commands with dogs and people all over the place. There were even excited dogs playing fetch around the base of the hill as we sat and chilled in the sunshine.

I love the way that the park is so richly put to use. There were families playing by the lake.

While the local wildlife went happily about it's business.

All the time, in the background, we could hear the sounds of music at the Puerto Rican festival drifting across from the other side of the park. It was near idyllic.

As Bilbo continued to put his best foot forward, I decided we'd go over and check it out. As we got closer to the event and it got busier I put him through his paces to see if he was paying attention. Gold stars all round, the boyo was picture perfect. So we walked past the cop and through the gate. Bilbo was a little distracted by the noise but got straight back onto form and posed for some pictures by the stage.

Although it was rather loud there, the foot traffic was pretty low so it seemed like a good spot to start out.

We then headed over towards the stalls planning to loop through and come out the other side of the park opposite our street. As we walked, people even pointed out how well behaved he was!

Billy started to pull a little, prompted by the simultaneous stimulation of tasty smelling food and a gathering of guys who all wanted to know what kind of dog he was. However, as I was fending off their questions and getting him back to heel a big guy in black came over and told me he was park security and I couldn't have a dog at a family festival. If I were to give him the benefit of the doubt I'd say that maybe he'd missed all of Bilbo's good behavior and had just spotted a very strong, excited dog in the hands of a weedy looking chick. I think if he'd said that Bilbo had to be better behaved I would have taken it at face value and left with a cheerful vow to do better. But he didn't. He walked past the guy with the viszla to tell the bully breed to get out.

The event runs through Sunday. If any of my Chicago readers can get their paws on some non-bully breeds and go try their luck I'd be interested to know the outcome. Or maybe a breed ambassador a little further on in their training might want to see whether big square heads are the problem or just excited pups. I mentioned it on my way out to the cop at the gate and he was surprised to learn that "dogs" weren't allowed.

I'd love to say that we left with our dignity and with Bilbo proving that, whatever people may assume from his looks, he's the perfect breed ambassador.  Unfortunately my boy doesn't approve of discrimination and he's got just enough teenager in him to make sure everyone knows it. As the security guard loomed over me (seriously, heard of a little concept called personal space?) and reached the end of his lecture, Billy knocked over a trash can...

What twinkle in the eye? I'm a perfect angel!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stop and smell the roses

The One Tail summer photo contest has officially closed and there are some fabulous doggy pictures which are good for plenty of smiles on this rather grim wet Wednesday. There's even a photo of Gordon, who you may remember from this post (warning: graphic photos), who is now living it up and grinning by the lakeshore. I have no idea how the judges are going to pick just a couple of them.  Unfortunately their job is even harder because there is NO photo of Bilbo - let's face it, he's a clear winner if ever there was one.

In all the madness of the past month, good sunny weather and time to take some good snaps have just not coincided. Earlier this week, I did suggest that he pose under the gorgeous June roses in the backyard, however that was obviously too girly a suggestion and he went into a tremendous sulk. What a sad looking pooch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Little Dog, Big Dog

We're just not used to little dogs around here!

Lucy is doing wonderfully well so far and I continue to be astonished by how well-adjusted she is. We went for a bath at Soggy Paws where she won everyone over with her unbearable cuteness. We saw the lovely Katie who bought her a pretty new pink harness.

The beagle nose was on overdrive and she made sure to check out everything in the store. We came home with a mini antler chew to try out in the crate. Incidentally, she improves every time she goes in and has already started to wander in from time to time without being tempted by chicken. I thought we might have some barking on our hands when I left her in there to go to work but she hasn't made a peep since Sunday night.

Being used to my big pushy boy, it was a surreal experience to walk back from the store with a little peanut on a pink leash. When we walk together, her speedy trot along beside him has made many people chuckle at how cute she is.

She's still very shy but has already warmed up enough for a bit of a snuggle.

And she's learning new things all the time.

She hadn't quite finished all of her frozen kong so Bilbo sneaked it out of the crate and showed her how to throw it around the apartment until everything falls out, at which point they teamed up to scarf up all the bits. This is why I have a steam mop.

Bilbo is working on his patience so he's learning this week too. He doesn't quite understand why she doesn't know how to play yet but I'm very proud of the way he's listening to what he's told.

Poor sausage. I couldn't help but chuckle at the way he leaps back into a bow, as if to say "But I just want to play, honest, mom!"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting to know Lucy

Well, we've discovered that crating isn't her favorite thing, though luckily she settled down once I turned the door towards my bed and got in so she knew where I was. I think we're going to have a bit of upset when I leave for work soon, but I have a stuffed kong ready to pull from the freezer with yummy yoghurt and chicken in it so hopefully the secret weapon will do the trick!

This morning's walk wore the little lady out as we went for a nice long stroll in the park. She was very brave for the most part and exceedingly tolerant of Bilbo's antics. We posed for some photos by the water

Even though Bilbo kept ruining the shots by barking at the geese she was quite happy to curl up to him and offer back up.

After all that excitement it was time for a nap but she's still wary of just falling straight asleep and spends a while swaying on the spot trying to pretend that she's still awake.

Eventually, it's just too comfortable to resist any longer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Meet Lucy!

She's a three year old beagle who has spent her life to date in a puppy mill and is now having a whale of a time learning about grass and home-cooked meals and curling up for a nap on a soft bed. She arrived in Chicago this afternoon with over 40 puppy mill rescues through Best Friend's "Pup my Ride" program.

Heather from One Tail wrote about her arrival here and it even made the news! Lucy is pretty worn out by all the hoopla and has been taking a leaf out of Bilbo's book and getting in some good nap time.

So far, I've been completely astonished by this little lady. Knowing what the worst case scenarios can be like I was secretly pretty nervous, wondering how Bilbo and I would manage with a puppy mill dog. Bilbo was a perfect gentleman of course and has been as gentle as can be with her all evening. He's always liked the little dogs best and when the stress of meeting them leashed up, head-on in the street is removed, his doggy manners are actually pretty great.

As for Lucy she's quite the social butterfly considering the situation she's come from. She's curious about everything and is already proving that the way to a beagle's heart is through her stomach. She had her nose pressed right up against my leg when I was cooking her dinner just in case I got distracted from the task at hand. She did a great job walking on her leash, tackled stairs with only a little hesitation, ate up all her food and checked out every nook and cranny of the apartment - making sure to get her little paws up on chairs to see what was going on above eye level! Bilbo is already taking on big brother status and she's quite happy to follow him around. When he barks she goes and stands by his side as if to back him up, she'll hide under his legs when she's feeling a little unsure, and she even worked out how to pee outside by going in the same spot.

I have to remind myself to let her take her time. The two things that I want to do the most right now are to throw her in the bath (stinky lady!) and to give her a big cuddle. However, I'm going to give her 24 hours to get acclimated before doing something as scary as a bath, though she did have to suffer through doggy wipes before coming inside. I imagine a good snuggle will come sooner than I think since she's already leaning in for a bit of a scratch behind the ears.

She's been giving a lot of eye contact already (maybe she just wants to keep an eye on the scary tall one...) so I imagine she's going to be very trainable as her confidence grows. She's one smart pup and we're excited to have her here!

Midsommarfest and farmers markets

Despite the torrential rain of the past week, summer's arrival is clearly evidenced by the way outdoor festivals are springing up all over town. I spent yesterday morning at the One Tail at a Time table at Midsommarfest in Andersonville and got to hang out with this little cutie, Lokia.

She's such a sweet little peanut that I'm surprised she hasn't been adopted yet, but hopefully one of the people she charmed the pants off on Saturday will put in an application. She even won a prize for being second prettiest pup in Andersonville (Second? Ha! That lady's a winner if ever there was one) - you can just see her ribbon in the photo above as someone kindly straightens it up for her.  I'm going to guess that part of the reason she hasn't been snapped up is that she's too busy trying to love on everyone to actually stand still and have a good photo taken. Many of mine looked a bit like this one.

Now that summer's here and she'll have plenty of chances to get out and about to work her magic no doubt the perfect home will turn up.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... Bilbo woke me up this morning from the longest sleep-in I've had in ages. I was astonished to find that it was already 9:30 am! As I got myself wound up to start the day I discovered that the Fido To-Go truck was at Logan Square so I hurried Bilbo, Buster, Dogdad and myself up there, excited to get some pooch ice-cream for the dogs. Only to find that they'd already left. Bummer.

However, the farmer's market on the boulevard was in full swing so I picked up human breakfast and a couple of treats for the dogs.

Ever, the grumpy old man, Buster couldn't quite understand why I would want him to pose for a photo BEFORE pouncing on his treat...

When we got home he promptly threw it up all over my jeans.

I then spent part of the afternoon at floor level in my apartment making sure there was nothing dangerous or scary for the puppy mill pooch who is arriving in about 20 minutes! The scariest thing would probably be the size of Billy's head. He spent the afternoon following me around and nibbling at my chin, trying to work out what on earth I was doing down there.

We know it's a girl, 3-6 years old, and it will either be a beagle, shih tzu or poodle. Any guesses? I'm going to leave you in suspense now as Bilbo needs another walk before she arrives.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Stuff Bilbo eats

Discovered under the bed: the reason that Bilbo had an upset stomach last night:

Apparently vaseline is now a canine foodstuff. Does anybody else out there hear those stories about dogs with picky eating habits and just think, wow.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coming up!

Now that our season has closed at work (with a great review and a sold-out concert) I can get stuck in to the real business for the summer - lots of doggy activities!

Tomorrow I'll be at the One Tail/ Court Case Dogs booth at Andersonville's Midsommarfest hanging out with adoptable pooches. We'll be on the east side of Clark St between Berwyn and Summerdale. The weather promises to improve by midmorning and I'll be around until 1pm so if you're in the area come and say hi! One Tail will be there the whole weekend so make sure to swing by at some point for some guaranteed furry cuteness.

Since I just can't get enough of those incarcerated canines, I'll be at an event with the court case dogs again on Saturday, June 18th. Weather permitting, we'll all be mingling picnic style out in the backyard at Chicago Animal Care and Control (2741 S. Western Avenue) from 10am - 12noon. Fingers crossed there'll be some happy pooches transferring out of there to rescues. Come out and meet these great pooches and help spread the word. I wrote about the program in an earlier post and if you're interested in getting involved there's another orientation tentatively set for August 14th - email to stay updated.

I'm hoping to get some sun tomorrow afternoon so Bilbo and I can go to the park and take some photos to enter into One Tail's summer photo competition. We've only got until June 14th to get an entry in but we've got our eye on one of those doggy gift baskets or maybe even the grand prize of an ipad2. If you think your pooch can outshine the other contestants, enter quickly! Or just join in the fun by "liking" their page and voting for the people's favorite. An extra bonus of joining is that once they hit 3000 fans there's going to be a merch giveaway, which means a whole lot of Bilbo going round.

Speaking of a whole lot of Bilbo...

His carting harness finally arrived while I was in the UK and tonight was my first chance to try it out. Eventually I managed to turn this

Into this

However, most of the time Bilbo was trying to do this

Or this

Which wasn't entirely helpful. In the end I managed to get the brake rails roughly cut, although the whole thing could do with a bit of trimming and fine tuning and I need to attach some kind of loops to the cart so that I can clip on the traces. However, I think we'll be able to begin practicing pretty soon!

If you haven't guessed, this is one of the mystery projects I started way back. This one had to wait for the harness to arrive and I won't be unveiling part two fully until the landlord has finished renovating the basement and removed all of the junk from the backyard so we can use it again!

All that said, we'll have to see how much time we have on our hands/ paws because there's a new foster pup arriving from a puppy mill on Sunday!
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