Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Badger shows off his new cow-themed collar

Mushroom shows off... her eye booger? Poor Mushroom

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston, you're my home

Badger and Mushroom's Patriot's Day photo from last year
We're okay. Thank you for all the love you've sent toward our city.

Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. If you are searching for a way to help, we recommend TUGG's Boston Marathon Fundraiser because our friend knows someone who works there and can verify that 100% of the donations will be going to help folks affected by the bombing.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Badger might only weigh 18 lbs

Badger is an oddly-shaped dog. He has long, spindly legs, a big square head, an underbite, and a narrow but deep chest. It's this last feature that makes it difficult to find harnesses and other wearable equipment to fit him.

Last year we purchased an Outward Hound backpack on Doggy Loot. We picked the medium size, which is said to fit dogs from 18 to 50 lbs and with a girth of 26"-32". For almost a year, the backpack hung in our closet, until this past weekend.

I loaded the backpack with one water bottle in each side pocket and tried my best to convince Badger that it was a good thing by clicking and feeding him kibble mixed with hot dogs. He wasn't entirely convinced, but he let me strap the thing to his back, and...

It was too big.

Wait, what?

Despite Badger weighing about 43 lbs, I had to tighten all the straps completely. Even so, the chest strap is a little too loose, and the strap that's supposed to go around his waist dangles uselessly without even touching him. The only strap that fit was the one that went behind his front legs.

We took him out for a walk anyway, and although the backpack stayed on, we had to adjust it about every 10 minutes because it would slip to one side or the other.

It also made sloshing noises as he walked

I'm quite confused about why the backpack doesn't fit, because Badger is squarely within the range for a size medium. I'm considering buying a small backpack to see if it fits, even though the sizing chart recommends that for dogs under 18 lbs and with a girth less than 25". Could it be that Badger has been cheating on his weigh-ins and only weighs 18 lbs?

Is your dog hard-to-fit? Have you experienced sizing issues with backpacks or any other dog gear?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A video of Badger being Badger

Reasons we love Badger (not a comprehensive list):
  • He can fit objects the size of his head into his mouth and then chew them like bubblegum. The object shown in the video is the Linkables orb toy. We put a biscuit just larger than the opening into the orb. 
  • He somehow understands the concept of gravity.
  • He never gives up. If you watch until the end, he actually manages to get part of the treat out.
  • He is really entertaining to watch!

What has your dog done that you've found entertaining?

Monday, April 8, 2013

How about those resolutions?

My new year's resolution this year was to take each dog for a separate, 30+ minute walk per day. I even bought a wall calendar and asked L to give me a sticker for each day I did this. Let's check in and see how I'm doing...

Those stickers look lonely

Not so well. That's not to say we haven't been doing anything with the dogs. It's just that most days, they only get short walks, or I only take one dog out for a long walk or adventure. (No half-stickers here.) And I know it's affected Badger and Mushroom, since they're doing more zoomies. But now that it's officially, totally spring (ie: the snow has melted, and it's no longer dark by 3 PM), it's time to kick my butt back into gear and get with the program! And what better motivation is there than buying things?

Um, how about us?

We've had a few problems with our dogs' leashes - the D-ring on their Gentle Leaders would slip through the small hole where the hook opens/closes, and suddenly we'd have an off-leash dog. So we took a hint from Pitlandia and bought the Ruffwear Flat Out leash. In addition to a hook that closes completely, it also has a traffic handle and a hands-free option. The traffic handle has been helpful for keeping the dogs close when passing other people, though Mushroom is so short that I have to bend over a little to use it. I tried out the hands-free waist loop for the first time this morning and have been entertaining the possibility of using it to take Badger running on the nearby bike trail. (Or maybe briskly walking. I'm not really the running type.)

Badger is the prancing type (seriously, he prances when he walks)

Let's hope that the improvement in weather and equipment helps motivate me to stick with my resolution!

Mushroom attempts to guilt-trip me

How have you done on your new year's resolutions?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Blooper Friday

I could really use a weekend! This is how I feel right about now...

Thank goodness it's Friday. Viv and I might do another reactive dog walk with Mushroom and Lilee this weekend. What are your plans?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cameras: Convenience vs Quality

It's been a while since we've used the DSLR camera that we bought in November. A lot of times, we look over at Badger and Mushroom and find that they're doing something cute. If we get up to go grab the DSLR, the dogs will follow us and ruin the moment we wanted to capture. So instead, we grab our cell phones and snap a picture of dogs with glowing eyes.

Mushroom is only snuggling because she wants Badger's toy

If we lie down on the couch, Badger likes to sneeze in our faces

Badger ignored the sweet potato fries... for long enough to snap a picture

As the weather warms up and daylight hours continue to lengthen, we'll try to take more pictures of the dogs outside using the DSLR. However, this would also mean having one more thing to juggle on our walks, when we already have to deal with treats, leashes, poop bags, and car harnesses and water if we're going outside of our apartment complex.

We always see beautiful pictures on other blogs, so what's your advice for:
Keeping your DSLR camera handy for cute moments?
Juggling your DSLR and everything else on walks?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Badger's Easter Egg Hunt

On Saturday, Badger and I went to Petco for a doggy Easter egg hunt. The store had advertised their event as an Easter egg hunt for both dogs and kids, so I didn't know what to expect in terms of the number of people or dogs or how well-behaved the kids would be. Erring on the side of caution, Badger wore his head collar, and I brought a clicker and a bag of kibble mixed with vienna sausages.

Luckily, the store was almost empty, and we ended up not even using the head collar. We saw maybe 4 or 5 other dogs there, and, as expected, Badger didn't pay them too much attention. Sometimes he gets a little stare-y at small dogs, but I (and the vienna sausages) even managed to keep Badger calm while he got stared down by a tiny cocker spaniel. We wandered around the store for about half an hour, practicing some basic commands and finding two treat-filled eggs.

The hardest part for Badger was greeting people. He was way too excited - all bouncy and wriggly and kissy. This is something that we've needed to practice for a while. I say "we" because I need to practice being firm with other people, especially dog lovers, and explain that Badger should be calm before receiving any attention.

There was one time that Badger didn't heed his "leave it" command. He picked a toy from the shelf and proceeded to slobber on it so much that I felt the need to buy it. This was our cue to leave, since Badger only had eyes for his new toy. We were handed two bags of Easter goodies on our way out.

Free Easter goodies from the snack bar at Petco

Badger and Mushroom wear seat belt harnesses when in the car, so imagine my surprise when I pulled into my garage and saw a naked Badger sitting on the floor behind the driver's seat. I'll really have to remember to tighten that harness the next time we go out.

Badger is not here. Only Houdini

Badger then proudly carried his new toy from the car back to our apartment, Mr. B-style. Unlike Mr. B, he then destroyed it in approximately a minute.

Badger and his toy, in happier times (ie: before we went inside)

Mushroom didn't get to go on the Easter egg hunt because we want to set her up for success, and she's not quite ready for a store full of dogs and kids. I stuffed some of the treats from the goodie bags into our acorn for her. She's not the most adept at food toys, so she actually gave up and took a nap instead of getting all the treats out. Overall, we ended up with two full, sleepy dogs, so I'd consider it a success.

Om nom nomzzzzz...

Did you and your dog(s) have any special Easter adventures?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Great Blizzard of 2013

This week we're catching up on all the posts we didn't do over the winter!

The great blizzard of 2013 had Massachusetts under a state of emergency. The governor passed a law making it illegal for anyone (other than cops, ambulances, etc) to be driving during the blizzard. So for 3 days, everyone was basically under house arrest. A few of my northern-bred friends were disappointed that there wasn't MORE snow, but there was more than enough to make us very thankful for our garage parking.

We got more than a laying-down dog worth of snow!

Badger loves snow, so we expected him to have a blast. True to form, he romped around, jumping in every snowbank, until his paws froze and we were able to convince him to come back inside.

Can I stay out and play some more?

Mushroom was ready to go inside the second she stepped out the door.

Stop taking pictures and open the door already!

Did you enjoy the long, snowy winter like Badger, or are you more than ready for spring like Mushroom?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Badger Watches the Puppy Bowl

It's spring, and we're out of hibernation! This week we are catching up by posting about what we did over the winter.

I barely even remember the Super Bowl this year. All I remember is that the Patriots weren't in it, and the lights went out for a very long time.

The Puppy Bowl was more memorable because Badger totally got into it! We've posted before that Badger sometimes watches TV with us, but this time he was running around and wagging his tail. Take a look for yourself:

Mushroom, of course, napped through both the Puppy Bowl and the Super Bowl. She did manage to steal some leftover bean dip afterward, though.

Being guilty is delicious

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hi, we're back!

It's spring(-ish), and we're coming out of hibernation! We actually did do some cool things over the winter (pun not intended), so we'll spend this week catching up.

Mushroom in her adventuring gear

Mushroom and I met up with fellow reactive dog Lilee and her owner Viv. We went for a walk around the park, where we passed several other dogs with varying degrees of success. At the lower end of the spectrum, we did meet one large off-leash dog, which we all but ran away from. Luckily, it didn't come too close, and the incident was probably scarier for the humans than for the dogs. Still, it would be nice if people respected leash laws more or at least had the foresight to leash their dogs when approaching another dog.

Mushroom's worst moment came when a woman walked by with a little dog on a flexi-lead. She barked, jumped, did the whole reactive dog dance. In retrospect, Viv and I could have picked a better stakeout location because I'm not sure Mushroom and Lilee, from their low vantage point, could see the other dog approaching until it was about 15 feet away.

Other than those two experiences, we had a good walk. The dogs they did not react to included: a big black Lab that passed by twice (Mushroom responded to clicks and treats the 2nd time around), a yellow or white dog that we followed around the park (they probably thought we were weirdos), a beagle that stared at our dogs from across a narrow street, and a German Shepherd that didn't even bother to look at us. Mushroom and Lilee also sat calmly while a man walked by with a roller suitcase that looked vaguely dog-like from a distance.

After the walk, we went back to Viv's house to relax. I kept Mushroom on-leash because Lilee didn't like her getting too close (she would scurry away). Lilee wasn't as interested in treats as she was in not letting Mushroom sniff her, so it was difficult to get them both in the same frame. Mushroom, on the other hand, was pretty good about giving Lilee her space, so long as we kept the treats coming. In the future, we plan on taking Mushroom and Lilee for more walks together and possibly using clicker training to convince Lilee that being near Mushroom is a good thing.

Mushroom: What other dog? I just want my treat!
Lilee: Let's just be long-distance friends

Want more pictures and stories about Lilee? Check out Viv's new blog: Life with Viv and Lilee!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Old is Mushroom?

The short answer: No one will ever know.

Mushroom: International Dog of Mystery

The long answer: We asked our vet earlier this month when we took her in for her shots. He said that while it was possible to tell a dog's age by their teeth as a puppy, the older a dog gets, the wider the range of ages. So the earliest estimate is usually the most accurate.

The earliest estimate of Mushroom's age came from a shelter in North Carolina and listed her birthday as October of 2010. Her intake date was sometime around June 2011. In November of 2011, she was rescued and arrived at her foster home in New Hampshire. Her foster mom estimated her birthday as February 18, 2011, and that is the date that is listed at the vet's office.

Based on the fact that Mushroom has had a litter, presumably before she entered the shelter, and the assumption that shelter workers would know the difference between a 4-month-old puppy and an 8-month-old puppy, it seems that the most believable estimate is that Mushroom was born around October 2010.

The vet also said, though, that it was rare to see a dog going grey at the age of 2 - his own dog started graying at 5. Add to that our personal observation that Mushroom is significantly calmer now than when she first entered our home, and the sometimes-true myth that dogs "click" into a calmer mode when they turn 3, and she may be even older than the shelter estimate.

To add to the confusion, the reason that Mushroom's foster mom estimated her to be younger was because she came from the South, where heartworm is widespread, and was only in the early stages of heartworm. So if she is significantly older, it may mean that she was previously someone's pet, even though the shelter took her in as a stray.

If only dogs could talk.

She'd just pester us with requests for food all the time

What do you wonder about your dog's past?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mushroom's Gotcha Day

We're sharing Mushroom's gotcha day story as part of the Ray-Ray Gotcha Day blog hop!

Around this time last year, we started looking for a second dog to add to our family. We made a list of traits we were looking for:
  • Female
  • Adult
  • Good with dogs
  • Larger than Badger (not actually possible because of apartment rules)
  • Pit bull-type but not listed as such (apartment rules, again)
  • No major medical issues
  • No bite history

Armed with this checklist, we browsed Petfinder. The first dog we were interested in didn't get along with other dogs, so we were immediately turned down. The second dog we were interested in was a little brown dog named Samantha. Samantha was a little on the young side, but we went ahead and e-mailed her foster mom. This is the reply we got:

Thank you for your interest in Samantha.  She is a sweetheart!  She is still available for adoption.  She is currently staying at my home in foster, so will be able to tell you all about her and answer any questions  you may have.
Looking forward to chatting more about the gal.  You can mail me back or call.  I am at work during the day tomorrow, but should be free after 5 PM.

Samantha sticking her tongue out at her foster home

Our first meeting between Badger and Samantha didn't go as well as we'd hoped. Samantha barked at him from a distance. After a few walk-bys, we brought the two dogs together, and she swatted him in the face. She jumped all over the humans in her attempt to get treats. Her foster mom told me how only one other family had been interested in Samantha, but they backed out, saying she looked too much like a pit bull.

When we went home, L and I had a long discussion about whether Samantha was the right fit or whether we wanted to meet more dogs. We finally decided to go forward with adopting Samantha (who we renamed Mushroom). She arrived at our apartment one day before Super Bowl Sunday. However, I continued to have second thoughts throughout our one-month foster-to-adopt period. 

The very first picture of Badger and Mushroom together

Looking back, I sure am glad we adopted Mushroom. Because of her, we were forced to learn more about dog behavior, from leash reactivity to appropriate play. Because of her, Badger was forced to learn calmer behavior and the "leave it" command. She loves everyone she meets, and they all love her back.

Mush-dog, we're glad we took a chance on you.

Also check out Badger's story here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Power Chewers: Supervision and Sizing Up

Despite being a petite pocket pittie mix, Badger is a power chewer. When he chews on stuffies, we blink, and he's already eating stuffing. One time, he cracked an antler in half, lengthwise (and ate all the marrow, making himself sick). Another time, he chewed through to the hollow center of a Nylabone we thought was solid. Over Christmas, we had a problem with Badger quickly eating the marrow out of a deer antler and then crunching the rest of the antler into splinters.

This means that we have to keep a close eye on him whenever he is playing with his toys. We also have to inspect his toys frequently to make sure he won't bite off any large parts and eat them. And when a toy starts to show signs of wear, whether it be a stuffy with a hole in it or an antler with a large piece of exposed marrow, we retire it or relegate it to "Mushroom only".

When we choose toys for Badger, we tend to "size up". We almost always buy a size larger than the one that Badger's weight falls in. (For example, Badger uses an XL Kong made for dogs in the 60-90 lb weight range, and he weighs just under 45 lbs.)

We were eager to try out moose antlers from Acadia Antlers because their website says that moose is the hardest antler. We purchased two of their XL antlers (for 70+ lb dogs), and the owner, Carol, even allowed us to specify tynes as opposed to splits.

Not to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty awesome

So far, the moose antlers have held up much better than the deer antlers have. They've held up so well, in fact, that poor Mushroom hasn't been able to make a dent in hers. She'll just lie forlornly next to Badger and clean up any marrow crumbs he leaves behind. We do have a stash of "Mushroom only" toys, but as we're transitioning to having both dogs out together, they now spend more time in the closet.

Excuse me, I can't even fit my mouth around this

Do you have a power chewer? What toys do you give him/her?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Is Mushroom Secretly an Elderbull?

Look at this picture of Mushroom, taken at her foster home over a year ago.

So comfy in my bed

Now look at this picture of Mushroom, taken around Christmas. Notice any differences?

So comfy in my sunbeam

If you answered "She's going grey", you're right. But how can this be? We were told that she was only about a year old when we adopted her.

We did some Googling and found that muzzle greying is not a reliable way of telling a dog's age. Just like people, dogs can go grey earlier due to a combination of stress (*cough* Badger) and genetics. A better indicator is whether a dog's bottom row of teeth are jagged or smooth. Jagged would indicate a younger dog, while an older dog's teeth would have smoothed out. We weren't able to get a good look at her teeth, though, because she kept trying to give kisses. Mushroom already has a vet appointment this week, so while we're there, we'll also ask them to reevaluate her age.

Has your dog started to go grey? If so, at what age?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Supporting the Team(s)

I insisted that we watch the Texans vs. Patriots game yesterday, even though I was conflicted. You see, I was born and raised in Houston, but I've spent the better part of the last decade in the Boston area.

To make things less weird when two of "our" teams are playing each other (or perhaps more weird, depending on how you see it), we assign one dog to support each team. Then, we project our thoughts onto the dogs. "Badger's pretty happy about that touchdown." We celebrate with the dog who supported the winning team, and we console the dog whose team lost. (They consist of the same thing - belly rubs and ear scratches.) So who was the winner last night?

Hey Badger, TV's the other way

I knew they'd pull it off

Do you have any sports rituals that involve your dog?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pet Bloggers Challenge 2013

We're taking the Pet Bloggers Challenge today!

1. When did you begin your blog?
Summer of 2011, but didn't start posting regularly until Jan 2012.

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?
Video games and food! But now it's all about Badger and Mushroom.

3. Is your current purpose the same? If not, what’s different?
It's a completely different blog than the one we intended to have. We had some semblance of our previous dog-less lives when we just had Badger, but once we adopted Mushroom, our lives basically became DOGS, DOGS, DOGS.

4. How often do you post?
I try to post at least twice a week.

5. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you? If you don’t publish on a schedule, why? How do you think your decision affects your audience? How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”
I wish I could publish every day, but some days I just don't have the time. I don't screen ideas, I just post whatever comes to mind, but I do try to put it in a positive light.

6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your tips for staying on top of it all.
Each post probably takes me half an hour, including taking the photos. I go through my entire blogroll almost every day, so that actually takes longer than posting. I have no tips for staying on top of anything.

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?
I consider the most successful posts the ones that get great comments.

Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?
It's quality over quantity. I enjoy reading comments about others' experiences.

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
I've already asked for help for several issues! I asked for help with Mushroom's reactivity. We've been working on it for over 6 months, and she's now completely manageable around other dogs. Lately, I've been asking about camera stuff, and I've received a lot of helpful advice on that as well.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?
For Badger and Mushroom to get their CGCs!

The first picture I ever took of Badger (June 2011)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Value of Toys

We live in a small apartment with a lot of electronic equipment, so it's important that Badger and Mushroom have something that they can chew on. Therefore, our floor is strewn with antlers, Nylabones, and Chew Gourmet bones. Walking through our living room without stubbing your toe on something is quite an achievement.

However, apparently not all chew toys are created equal. Even when I give Badger and Mushroom each an antler, they will decide that one of the antlers is clearly superior. They will race to the superior antler, knocking aside any humans or furniture in their way. If Mushroom gets it, Badger will grab another toy and chew on it enthusiastically. When Mushroom comes to check out what the big deal is, Badger will sneak behind her and grab the antler that he wanted all along. Then Mushroom will come over to the couch and sulk.

This big noggin is also full of brains and scheming

The game of finding the highest value chew toy is a funny one. On various occasions, we have confiscated toys because the dogs were getting too possessive. Immediately afterward, they would simply find a new "highest value" chew toy. Sometimes I wonder if a toy is only high value because the other dog wants it.

Though we have stuffed squeaky toys, we rarely take them out of the closet. Although Mushroom plays appropriately with them, Badger gets overly excited. One time he jumped over our couch while trying to get a squeaky toy.

He also gnaws excessively on them. As I was editing pictures for this blog post, Badger ripped open a squeaky toy and was eating the stuffing. We've tried teaching him appropriate toy playing skills, but every time we let him play with his stuffed squeaky toys, we'd have to take them away because he'd chewed a new hole in one.

I love you to pieces, squeaky shark! (Literally...)

I keep letting Badger have one last chance, but perhaps we really should write off stuffed squeaky toys for good.

What toys do your dogs like the most?

P.S. Thank you for all the suggestions on our previous post. We finally found the CD that came with our camera and installed the post-processing software. These photos were taken in RAW, and then I twiddled with some sliders.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Camera Question: Post-Processing

So far, we have not been doing any post-processing with our pictures. We shoot them in JPEG, upload to the blog, and we're done. On occasion, we'll use the camera's built-in editing tools, but as you can see from the picture below, it doesn't always work.

Red eye correction forgot about Mushroom's right eye

Do you do any post-processing on your photos? What program do you use?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How the Internet Led Us Astray

If you're like us, you ask the internet for advice on everything. What's a good pasta recipe using peas? When is the Super Bowl? How do I train my dog?

With food, of course

It turns out that last question isn't such a good one to ask the internet. There are as many dog training opinions as there are people with dogs, and not all of them will work for your dog. Today we'll be sharing the two main pieces of internet advice that have not worked for us.

Squirt your dog with a spray bottle as punishment.
We used this on Badger for about a day before we realized that he actually liked being squirted. No harm done, but definitely no problems solved either. And since we don't have any plants, we never used the spray bottle again. Instead, we've found that short time-outs are the best way to calm Badger down and "reset" his behavior.

Badger wants to make sure everyone knows this photo was staged for blog purposes

Let your dogs fight it out to decide who's "alpha".
This one is a lot more potentially dangerous, not only for the dogs, but for any power cords, furniture, and bare human feet that are in the area. We are fortunate to never have had any serious injuries, but Badger and Mushroom have moved couches, broken a laptop, and scratched up my feet (L wears socks). We still don't know who's "alpha", but we decided that having peace in our apartment was more important. We are now vigilant about preventing scuffles before they happen. Even if they're just playing, we make sure they don't get too excited.

Peace at last

We love the internet, but if we could do it all over again, we would have chosen to ignore the above advice.

Have you tried dog training advice from the internet? How did it work?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ahead of the Curve

It seems like we've been celebrating all our holidays early. We bought ourselves "Christmas presents" in November and opened them on the spot. Then, at the beginning of December, I started on my "new year's resolution" - to take the dogs for more walks. Hmm... That sounds familiar.

But this time around, I was inspired by Bird from Queer Skies Ahead, and I bought a wall calendar and some stickers as motivation. Now if only I could celebrate Groundhog Day this week and bring an early end to winter.

Groundhog? Sounds delicious!

*sniff sniff* Smells like 3 more months of winter...

Did you make any dog-themed new year's resolutions?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The First Rule of Badgershrooms

Since we stayed home for the holidays, we decided to spend the time working on getting Badger and Mushroom to coexist peacefully. L and I finally agreed upon the first rule of Badgershrooms: Don't let them get excited in the first place. It's not as easy as it sounds. Here are some changes we made:

  • Badger and Mushroom always get excited when we come home from a walk, so instead of letting them loose in the apartment, we crate them and wait for them to calm down.
  • Another difficult time is when they are released from their crates. We prepare to use body blocks or long stays if they start getting excited.
  • They also get excited if we get up and leave the room, because they want to run and follow us. We try to have one person stay in the room with the dogs.
  • Finally, if they are so excited that we cannot calm them down either verbally or with body blocks, they get a short time out in their crates.

So how did that work out for us?

Mushroom snoozes while Badger chews an antler

Badger snoozes while Mushroom uses him as a pillow

Do your dogs get overly excited? How do you calm them down?