Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Busy puppy

Sunbathing Seven

It's such hard work when you're a celebrity puppy. The pupperazzi are hiding around every corner and you have to put in an appearance at all the notable events. Seven-Five has been working the scene at adoption events, on TV and even at fundraisers, doling out kisses and hugs to all of One Tail at a Time's Team Trivia supporters.

Seven at Team Trivia

In between all the schmoozing, she found time to get spayed, have an appointment with the specialists at CVES and meet with Robin from Paws to Embrace to get fitted for a leg brace. Phew. The consensus is that she will likely need an operation to fuse her wrist when she is fully grown. In the meantime, the brace will give her added stability and hopefully help prevent any other problems.

Of course, Seven has no idea why we're such fusspots because all she wants to do is play. In keeping with her movie star lifestyle, she made a video journal of the fun she gets up to in her spare time.

It's a bit long but don't miss the end - although I caught it on my iPhone (no, Miss Moviestar Seven does not approve of my quality control) it's pretty adorable...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Adopt-a-Bill: Blake

Blake's rescue in New Jersey has the following to say about him:

"Blake is a three year old American Bulldog/Pit Bull Terrier mix, who looks more like a cow than a dog. He was found as a stray in Manhattan and brought to the shelter, and we were contacted when this poor boy was showing signs of depression after being in his cage for about a month.

Blake is an AWESOME dog! He is fun, playful, and obedient. He can sit and give you his paw, and he adores toys. Be prepared to buy strong toys, though, because he loves to rip them apart in about 5 seconds flat. Blake is a big mush - he loves to crawl into his foster mom's lap and sleep under the covers on her bed. He happily gives kisses to everyone that comes into the house! Although he is gentle he is very strong and therefore we would not recommend a home with small children. Blake loves the other dogs in his foster home and plays wonderfully with them. His foster mom gave him a much needed bath and he was very stoic - he didn't seem to like it too much but he constantly reassured her that he was OK by licking her face throughout the whole ordeal.

Blake weighs about 55 pounds, but he is VERY thin and you can actually see his hip bones and back bone in his pictures. He should probably weigh about 70 pounds, and his foster family is feeding him three times a day to fatten him up. He has a gorgeous white coat with black spots and the most beautiful eyes we have ever seen. Blake his housetrained, crate trained, up to date on all his shots, neutered, and microchipped. All he needs now is a family to call his own!"

It sounds like all this guy needs is a snuggly bed and some extra kibble. If you're interested in learning more visit the Shelter Survivors Website or email

The Adopt-a-Bill series highlights adoptable dogs from across the country that look like our very own Bilbo. Unless otherwise noted I have no personal experience with any of the rescue organizations featured. Always do your own research to ensure you go through a reputable rescue when searching for the perfect new family member.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Celebrity Puppy

We're still alive around here but it's been a heck of a month and it looks like it's going to keep up for another week or so yet. However, it doesn't seem fair to leave you hanging without a cute puppy fix so click HERE for Seven-Five's fifteen minutes of fame (well, more like four) on WGN news yesterday!

And for those of you who haven't followed her antics on facebook, check out her playdate with two-legged Fifty:

I've got some adorably cute video of her and Billy's games which I'll try and edit this week, but we'll be back regularly once I've got through a rather intense bout of last minute house-guests, taxes, concerts, new job-starting, closet reorganization, multiple baby-quilt making and driving tests!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Adopt-a-Bill: Boomer

Look at that handsome boy! This big guy is two years old and quite the softy. He's a little shy at first but always very sweet and he loves everybody.

Boomer is available for adoption from the Tri-Lakes Humane Society in Missouri. His sister Bella is at the same shelter and though they can be adopted separately, she would love to come along for the ride when her brother finds a forever home.

The Adopt-a-Bill series highlights adoptable dogs from across the country that look like our very own Bilbo. Unless otherwise noted I have no personal experience with any of the rescue organizations featured. Always do your own research to ensure you go through a reputable rescue when searching for the perfect new family member.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Puppy Dilemma

Puppy Seven

Hmmm, the big one is asleep, what shall I do with him?

Puppy Seven

I could lie on him.

Puppy Seven

I could play with him.

Puppy Seven

Or we could snuggle in the sunshine.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Photo: Life With Alfred

Seven wanted me to hand over the blog to her for Puppytalk but I suggested she might find it a bit tricky to type with her front paws. She's agreed to let me write today's post as long as she can chip in from time to time.

Nom nom nom
Photo: Life With Alfred

If you follow our facebook page then you already know that she and Billy hit it off straight away. For all his quirks, I'm always very proud of the way he deals with our fosters. Whether they're shy or rambunctious, he usually hits the right tone with them. In this case, he tumble plays without getting too rough and shows plenty of patience if little shark teeth latch onto his jowls when he's trying to snooze. ["Ha ha, didya see! My whole head fits in the big goober's mouth" - Seven]

Puppy kisses
Photo: Life With Alfred

I've never had a puppy in the house before so I have to keep my wits about me ["Mom is so mean, she wants to keep all the chewy toys to herself - even the really nommy ones like shooos and computer why-ers" - Seven]. Luckily puppy kisses and hilarious Billy-Seven playtimes make up for the extra work and 'accidents' in the house.

Photo: Life With Alfred

The biggest challenge is trying to balance play with keeping her restricted. It would be great to take her out and about to socialize her, or let her tumble around with Billy until they're both worn out. However,  she needs to take it easy so as not to exacerbate the problems with her front legs. ["Okay, these silly peoples just don't understand. I mean, I feel sorry for the big one having four boring matching paws but seriously, I can beat him up the stairs if foster-momma would just put me down" - Seven]

She has an appointment scheduled this week to meet with a specialist so we'll soon know more about the next steps to making life a little easier for her.

What's up?

If you'd like to support Seven-Five's rehabilitation, please consider donating to Dutch's Fund, One Tail at a Time's fund for dogs with special medical needs. Click HERE for more information and to donate now.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Big News!

It's been a year of rather significant changes around here and quite a wild ride at times. Now the dust has settled I'm so thrilled to share my 2012 developments.

1. My new office mate

Snoozy pup

You may have noticed me mentioning working from home on and off for some months now, but it wasn't until early this year that I made the conscious decision not to take another full-time arts position and to continue consulting. It was a scary step in some ways but it opened me up to all sort of new possibilities - see below - and I'm enjoying the flexibility to try new projects, not to mention having a cuddly office mate. I'll be posting pics of my new office soon too - the result of the painting project I hinted at a couple of weeks ago.

2. My new venture


Taking some time off from the frantic grind that is arts administration enabled me to rediscover my creativity, albeit in an unfamiliar outlet. I blogged a little about this in my handmade holiday series before Christmas, but I didn't want crafty ramblings to overtake the doggy theme of this blog so you can hop over to Daisy Aslett to read about my new creative adventures. I'd love it if you'd join me there from time to time, though I've got some dog-related crafts coming up which I'll share here too. It's in the early stages yet, but my Etsy store is up and running too, and you'll hear more about that when I post the designs that I'm currently working on (of course, if you like my Daisy Aslett facebook page you'll get early notice!).

3. My most exciting news...

Summer dog!

I saved the best for last!!!!!! Yes, it is definitely worthy of six exclamation points. I'm beyond thrilled to announce that I'll soon be starting a new part-time position as Development Director for One Tail at a Time. If you've read more than a couple of posts on this blog then you already know how much this organization means to me and can guess at how excited I am. I can't wait to tell you more so please check back next week when I'll tell you all about my journey to getting involved with OTAT.

P.S. The Puppy has arrived! There's a video on my facebook page but I think this is more than enough exciting news for today so you'll just have to wait until next week for puppy blog updates.

Adopt-a-Bill: Gemma

After a bit of a rough time, the beautiful Gemma is still working to put on weight to get up to her ideal of around 55lbs. However that doesn't hold her back and she's an active girl who loves a bit of snuggle downtime too. Gemma is great with kids and it sounds like she hasn't met a person she didn't adore.

You really have to look twice to see that it isn't Bilbo in this picture!

Gemma is available through The Buster Foundation in Michigan where she's taking obedience classes while waiting for her forever family.

The Adopt-a-Bill series highlights adoptable dogs from across the country that look like our very own Bilbo. Unless otherwise noted I have no personal experience with any of the rescue organizations featured. Always do your own research to ensure you go through a reputable rescue when searching for the perfect new family member.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I can haz puppy?

Disclaimer: In Black & White is not responsible for any crazy behavior resulting from cute puppy overload. Readers proceed at their own risk.

There I was on Sunday morning, totally exhausted and mildly grumpy about having to get up so early for work when all of a sudden these two cute puppy pictures pop up on my phone!

Kelly & Seven-Five

It was "Big Pull" day and the super-duper Alive/ One Tail at a Time tag team was spending the day at Animal Welfare League's intake facility and CACC saving dogs in memory of rescue advocate Josh Bouton.

Photo by Sparenga Photography

With Nala-Bean's paperwork all finalized, Bill and I were open for business again and I'd already committed us to taking a foster as soon as a suitable match popped up in intake. Knowing that I was probably going to be taking a Big Pull dog, Billy's favorite Aunt started dangling tantalizing puppy pics in front of me and I was smitten.

Cutest Puppy Face Ever
Photo by Sparenga Photography

I'm pretty sure that K had already earmarked this little peanut for our house but just in case I sent a text of my own to the intake coordinator so she knew that I was willing to take the puppy if, you know, I absolutely had to.

Seven-Five's little tongue!
Photo by Sparenga Photography

I'm thrilled to introduce our newest foster, Seven-Five! As you can see, the little nugget has severely deformed front legs and will almost certainly need extensive surgery and rehab but Fifty and his momma managed to inspire the crew at One Tail at a Time to give her a chance.

Seven-Five Smooches
Photo by Sparenga Photograpy

All in all, EIGHTEEN dogs were pulled into rescue on Sunday. I'd call that a pretty fantastic day's work - thank you One Tail at a Time and Alive Rescue!!!!

If you'd like to support Seven-Five's rehabilitation, please consider donating to Dutch's Fund, One Tail at a Time's fund for dogs with special medical needs. Click HERE for more information and to donate now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prepping for Visitors

With a few fosters and various visitors under our belt, I'm starting to develop a handy checklist for making sure everything runs smoothly with an ever-shifting pack. These all came into play this week when Bruce Wayne came to stay. If you're thinking about fostering for the first time, or would like to have more canine visitors, here are some preparations that have proven useful in our house:

1. Know Your Dog

Myron, Buster & Billy

If your visitor is just going to be temporary then you're not looking for the perfect fit but still keep your dog's preferences in mind when deciding who you're going to foster, dogsit or even invite to a playdate. I have a weakness for big-headed lugs but Billy often finds them intimidating and it's much easier to introduce him to smaller dogs which is why we foster the small fry. He does love to play rough so he gets to spend time with bigger dogs in more manageable small bursts of play time with friends that we trust. Of course, at 60lbs, his best buddy Buster broke the small dog rule, so never forget that each dog is an individual and let your own pup guide you to what he/she is most comfortable with.

2. Do a House Check

Sharing the couch with Buster & Clover

I have a Billy-proofing checklist when I leave him alone in the house but revisit your set up when you're adding another dog. If I have a puppy mill escapee on the way I always lift up the rug for the first week, and whenever a strange dog is coming to the house I get down on my hands and knees to look for things that Billy ignores but that could be irresistible to another dog. Knowing that Bruce has a penchant for paper, I moved a couple of files out of reach in the room that he'd be staying in. 

3. Plan for Smooth Introductions

How not to pose for a photo!

I always make sure that Billy has a good long walk before he meets a new dog. He's not territorial and tends to get less excited meeting dogs in his own backyard than out in the street so we'll occasionally do intros there but best practice is generally to meet on neutral ground. Before expecting them to settle down in the house I always go for a walk with the dogs to give them time to get bored by each other. Billy already knows Bruce but, since it was easy to organize, we did a walk earlier in the week as well to make sure his arrival at the weekend wasn't too exciting.

4. Create Space

Snuggling with foster Lucy

Perhaps your initial dog-to-dog meeting goes so smoothly it should be in a textbook. That's no guarantee that the dogs won't have a difference of opinion at some point so I always make sure that I have a way to separate them when I'm not around - even if I'm just leaving them in the apartment for a minute while I answer the front door. A crate can be your best friend but if you don't have any concerns about potty training or destructive behaviors you can also just use separate rooms. Bruce gets to hang out on the daybed in the spare room, which is also a bit quieter so that he doesn't get too wound-up by all the activity on the front street. When I'm in the apartment the scene is usually pretty snuggly but I'll use time-outs if things get a little too exciting.

5. Make Exercise Your Friend

A hot walk with Clover

We all know that a tired dog is a good dog - that's twice as true when you double the dogs! If you want peace and quiet in the house, don't skimp on the walks.

6. Remember: not everyone likes to share


You'll have seen plenty of photos like this on my blog but I NEVER assume that any dog that comes into our home is going to be willing to share. I always start off feeding the dogs separately and I reduce or completely remove the toys and chews that might be lying around the house. I'm lucky that Billy has no resource guarding issues (yep, he let the chihuahua steal his bone) but that doesn't mean that I don't keep an eye on the situation whenever high value resources are in play. That goes for attention too, so don't forget that you yourself are a resource, and a potential problem, where dogs are concerned.

Nala Bean and her protector

What tips and tricks have worked for you when opening your home to other dogs?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Adopt-a-Bill: Kilo

Those puppy-dog eyes just make me want to feed Kilo an endless stream of treats.

Adopt-a-Stray Rescue is looking for a foster or forever home for this Bilbo doppelganger. He is described as dog-friendly, house-trained and very loving. I can speak from experience that his 70lb size is just perfect for snuggling, though it can be a bit squishy when they decide they're lapdogs!

If you're in the Boston area, email to make this guy a temporary or permanent member of your home.

The Adopt-a-Bill series highlights adoptable dogs from across the country that look like our very own Bilbo. Unless otherwise noted I have no personal experience with any of the rescue organizations featured. Always do your own research to ensure you go through a reputable rescue when searching for the perfect new family member.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Adopt-a-Bill: Penelope

I realize it must be hard seeing all these smooshable photos of the handsome Billydog and knowing that the only way you could ever get your paws on him is to pry him out of my cold, dead fingers (and even then...). So, I've decided to save you a bit of legwork and find you your own Billy lookalikes available for adoption.

Check out Penelope! Oh my, this lovely 53lb girl is quite the catch.  She loves to play, gives great hugs and kisses and even has a talent for languages.

She's looking for a home without other pets but it looks like she'd be just fine with human siblings.

Penelope is available for adoption from Animal House Shelter in Huntley Illinois (which, coincidentally is the same shelter that my greatly-missed Buster boy came from).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seeing Double

A couple of days ago, Two Pitties in the City shared this ridiculously adorable photo on their facebook page.

I know most of you are familiar with the antics of this snuggly pair so you're going to wonder how the sight of these two smooshfaces could bring anything other than a smile. Unfortunately, I guess my brain hadn't turned off for the night and the photo's caption really got me thinking:

Whenever we're walking our dogs, people always ask if they're twins. They're actually different types of pitbull-type dogs, but I think they've grown to look alike just by living together.

I'm afraid it just makes me sad that, even with two such fabulous breed ambassadors, people on the street do not see past the broad "pitbull-type" look of the dogs to see just how very different they are (check out their blog for lots of great photos of this pair). Though in this case the commenters were probably delighted to meet Miss M and Mr B, can you think of any other group of dogs that we generalize about so much?

I remember taking Billy to Petco with a foster dog, Pickle (formerly Amelia). They made a wonderful, albeit exhausting duo, and people enjoyed meeting them when we were out and about.

Billy & Pickle

While we were in the checkout line, a woman asked me if they were both pitbulls. As dogs go, there weren't that many glaring similarities between Billy and Pickle. She weighed less than 40lbs, he clocks in at a solid 70+, her batty ears were always on the alert, while Billy's floppy ears and flappy jowls were a contrast to her almond eyes and more refined little snout.


Size aside, Pickle had a much more wiry physique and of course her tuxedo style markings were similar to Billy's cowspots only in their color.

Where am I going with all this? Well, while I'm definitely as guilty as the next man of doing this, does it really make sense that we label such huge swathes of the canine (and especially rescue) population with this loaded name? If that label had the same connotations as "lab-mix" or "Yorkipoo" maybe it wouldn't be such a problem, but when dogs as different as Bilbo (who we believe to be an American Bulldog) and Pickle can both be tagged with the same name, we should probably think twice before using one that can amount to a death sentence in the shelter system, exclusion from countries, cities and condos or insurance refusals.

Do I have an alternative to offer? Well, not really. Especially when I'm talking to people "in-the-know" I'm sure I'll keep using the tag (see the title of my last post, I even lumped Franklin in under the umbrella!). However, it's something to think about and I'd certainly love to see some changes in the rescue community - maybe we'll eventually just call these mystery mixed breeds "all-american-shelter-mutts."

Or maybe pooches like Miss M, Mr B and someday my Bilbo-in-training, will just change enough minds that we won't have to worry about labels or looks.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Billy and Pickle

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

City Pittie Parade

As I don't drive, Billy and I are usually constrained to walks around our neighborhood. We miss a lot of Chicago Sociabulls walks as a result so I sneaked off downtown without him this weekend to join a walk.

Walking along the lakefront

We started off at Museum Campus and walked north along the lake shore before taking a water break.

Water break

Some of the pups took the opportunity to sneak a good roll in the dirt or engage in some serious stick-deathing.

Water break

After a quick break we swung westward towards Michigan Avenue.

Michigan Ave

It was so fun seeing everybody's reactions to our impromptu parade.

Michigan Ave

All twenty-eight were amazing ambassadors for the power of responsible dog ownership. I was so impressed by how well-behaved our pack was, even with all the different idiosyncrasies of the dogs.

It was certainly a different experience for me to go to a walk without Mr Excita-Bill, and we have much to live up to on our next Sociabulls walk. We've done a lot of work recently so fingers crossed some of that pays off!

A Sociabulls dog is a happy dog!
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