Thursday, June 28, 2012

Two Weekends Ago...

Badger and Mushroom attended a play group we found on Meetup! Llamaentity was apprehensive at first, since we had both agreed not to take the dogs to a dog park for reasons best summed up by this post by A Heartbeat at My Feet. But I maintained that the play group would be different, and in the end, my excitement won out over Llamaentity's fear, and off we went.


It was a smashing success! Some aspects that worked out particularly well for us were:
  • Supervision - The play group was held at a doggy daycare facility, and quite a few staff members were onsite. Before we could enter the play area, we had to give them proof that our dogs were vaccinated. Additionally, all of the other dog owners were very attentive.
  • Size - The facility had two indoor play areas and one outdoor area. Each area was no larger than twice the size of my living room (without the furniture). Badger and Mushroom are both runners, but the small area didn't give them a chance to run away, as a larger area would have.
  • The Dogs - A lot of the attendees were regulars, and their dogs were familiar with and comfortable around each other. Also, most of the dogs were quite a bit larger than Badger, and Mushroom was the smallest dog in the group. All but one of our dog-owning friends have small dogs, so we've been hesitant to set up play dates, since our dogs are very energetic.
If I recall correctly, this horse mastiff weighs 150 lbs

I guess she really is cross-eyed...

Badger found plenty of soft toys to destroy

"Outta my way!"

The play group meets monthly, so hopefully we'll be able to make it back next month! Also, I've decided to split the play group recap into two posts, so tomorrow's post will be on what I learned about Badger and Mushroom and what we ought to work on before going back.

What are some of your favorite places for socializing your dogs and why?

Credit for all photos goes to Best Friends Pet Care.

I Love You, You Love Me

I'm not so great at sticking with blogs. In fact, this blog was originally supposed to be a video game blog, but it was resurrected as a dog blog when we started the process of adopting Mushroom. So I was definitely surprised when we were given the Liebster Award by not one, but TWO blogs: Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses AND The Rufus Way!

This award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers to get them some recognition and make them feel loved. (I'm too lazy to run it through Google Translate, but according to Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses, "liebster" is German for "dearest" or "loved".) The rules are as follows:
  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
  2. Reveal your five picks (with less than 200 readers) and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite up-and-coming bloggers and keep it going!
 So thanks again to both Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses and The Rufus Way for thinking of our little blog!

And... here are my 5 picks:
 (I attempted to pick smaller blogs who haven't gotten the award before, but I apologize if I failed on either of those counts.)

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog! Here's a little teaser for tomorrow's post (oops, it's past midnight, so technically the 2nd post of today):

The awkward kid at the middle school dance

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rail Trail Tips

Yesterday we wrote about walking the dogs on the rail trail over the weekend. Here is a list of tips for rail trail first-timers (aka "what we wish we'd done"):

Mom always said hindsight is 20/20

DO - Go when it's less busy - after a rain, at dawn or dusk, or on a weekday. Sunny weekend afternoons are guaranteed to be a busy time.

DO - Go for a short walk, especially if it's hot outside. Badger and Mushroom did fine with an hour-long walk on Saturday, when we went right after a rain, but they were pretty tired after an hour-long walk in the sun on Sunday.

DO - Bring water for yourself and your dog.

DO - Give your dog distance from "scary" things: bikers, rollerbladers, other dogs, etc. Be aware of when people are approaching, especially from behind, and step to the side or even off the trail if necessary.

DO - Bring lots of high-value treats!

DO - Bring poop bags and clean up after your dog.

"I can't poop if you're looking at me!"

What do you think of these tips? Anything you would add? Anything you disagree with?

Also, we were thinking about putting a backpack on Badger and having him carry water, but we didn't want him to overheat. Any advice on whether dog backpacks are okay in the summer?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Recap

I am covered in mosquito bites. We decided to take the dogs for a hike on Saturday, but after an hour of internet research, I still didn't know what insect repellent we could use that wouldn't be harmful to our dogs. So we went sans-repellent. HUGE mistake.

After about 10 minutes of being swarmed by mosquitos, we gave up and headed to the rail trail instead. This is a paved pedestrian/bike/etc (no motorized vehicles) trail that was built on an unused train track. Since it had recently rained, and the ground was still wet, we mostly had the trail to ourselves. The trail wound through town, introducing us to shops we had never seen before - mostly law offices and doctors' offices, but also a pizza and gelato shop that I promised Llamaentity we'd try out sometime.

We enjoyed our rail trail walk so much that we headed back on Sunday. This time, the trail was a lot more crowded. The first time a biker passed us, Mushroom pushed me off the trail in her attempt to get away from it. Keep in mind that Mushroom weighs 34 lbs. We spent the rest of our walk giving the dogs treats whenever something "scary" passed us. Hopefully we'll go back to the rail trail often enough to desensitize them to the following list of "scary" things:

-Bikers towing buggies
-Elliptical bikes*
-Cross-country skiing rollerbladers*

*We've never seen these except for on the rail trail, and to be honest, they scare us a little too.

Because we didn't get any pictures of our dogs on our weekend adventures, here are some pictures of them standing around in grass.

How's the weather down there, Mushroom?

Badger shows off the patch of fur on his butt that stands straight up

What bug spray do you use when you hike or camp with your dog? (Both on yourself and on your dog.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Keeping Cool: Frozen Kongs

This week I'm continuing with last week's theme about some of the things we've done to keep our dogs cool. Check out the previous posts about ice cubes and crates if you missed them. If you have any additional ideas, please share in the comments!

We recently bought two Kong Extremes from DoggyLoot, which brings the total number of Kongs in our household to 4 (not counting the Kong Genius). While Badger and Mushroom can clear a Kong of dry kibble in a couple of minutes, a frozen Kong is a different beast.

Here's how we make our frozen Kongs:

  1. Stuff a little bit of cream cheese in the hole in the bottom. This prevents any liquid from leaking out.
  2. Turn the Kong large-end-up and place it in a plastic cup. This helps keep the Kong upright while it's in the freezer.
  3. Put a scoop of peanut butter in the bottom of the Kong. Badger and Mushroom love peanut butter, and I want them to play with their Kongs for as long as possible.
  4. Fill the Kong to about 3/4"-1" from the opening with dry kibble. If I want to make it particularly tricky, I soak the kibble in water first for a few minutes.
  5. Top off the Kong with a scoop of canned pumpkin.
  6. Stick it in the freezer and wait!
Kongs chillin'

 A frozen Kong with dry kibble can keep Badger and Mushroom busy for 10 minutes. If we use pre-soaked kibble, they'll be busy for up to an hour. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd make frozen Kongs for them every night.

The other dog's Kong is always tastier, even if Mushroom can barely get her mouth around the XL Kong

Do you have any Kong recipes?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Keeping Cool: Crates

This week I'm writing about some of the things we've done to keep our dogs cool. If you missed it, check out Tuesday's post about ice cubes. If you have any additional ideas, please share in the comments!

Badger can be stubborn about going into his crate, especially for bedtime. Sometimes he waits until we show him that we have a treat. So imagine our surprise when one day, he decided to hang out in his open crate!

It's actually been happening more and more. After a rowdy play session, Mushroom will lie down under the table like a piggy. About half the time, Badger lies down next to her (but not touching). The other half of the time, he heads for a crate. He even took a little nap in Mushroom's open crate last weekend.

We think the reason behind his newfound love for crates is the temperature. Our apartment has wall-to-wall carpeting, except for the kitchen (where the dogs are not allowed) and the bathrooms (where the dogs will go only if we're in there). Badger and Mushroom's crates are plastic airline crates with no pillows or blankets. It's probably cooler to lie down in a crate than it is to lie down on the carpet.

Coolest room in the apartment

I've read a lot about people who have wood floors getting rugs to give dogs a comfortable place to lie down. Is there anyone who has carpeted floors who has a cool patch of ground for their dogs?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Keeping Cool: Ice Cubes

Summer is just around the corner! This week I'll be writing about some of the things we've done to keep our dogs cool. If you have any additional ideas, please share in the comments.

Badger and Mushroom have very different tolerances when it comes to temperature. Badger has a medium-length coat that got quite fluffy during the winter. The only time he's been visibly cold was when we took him for a walk in single-digit temperatures.

In contrast, Mushroom shivered so much when we first adopted her (in the middle of New England winter) that we got her a coat. The guideline we use is that if I can't be outside in shorts (around 50F), Mushroom needs her coat. In the summer-like weather we've been having, this translates to a comfortable Mushroom and a Badger who can't seem to stay cool.

When I first tried putting ice cubes in Badger's water, I was thinking they'd keep his water cold. Instead, Badger fished out the ice cube (spilling half his water in the process) and took it over to his bed. This wonderful combination of pure joy and brain freeze happened:

Do your dogs like ice cubes?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Go Celtics!

We've previously posted about watching sports with Badger and Mushroom. Badger will actually look at the screen (it really makes us wonder what he's thinking), while Mushroom prefers to chew on her antler. Here's video evidence!