Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pooches: All My Lovin' (aka How much love is too much love?!)

Maggie and Nigel have been back on track with Brandon Fouche's methods for a few weeks now.  Basically, this includes a strict "no free lovin'" rule as well as not talking to the dogs and refraining from using their names as much as possible.  It sounds pretty simple, and it is.  But simple is not always easy.

"Don't you want to snuggle with me!?!?"
"You give me pets??"
We love to give lovin' to the pooches.  We like smooching them and cuddling with them.  However, we have found that when we don't just give out cuddles all the time, the doggies are better behaved.  They listen more and come when called more often.  We started thinking though...how much love is TOO much love?!  Is there such a thing?  Why do we give love to the pups, because they want it or because WE want to give it?!
"You called!??!"
What is your cuddle policy?  Do you rain down the love or use a Nothing in Life is Free method?


Monday, April 15, 2013

Adventures: How to Drive Cross Country with Dogs

We discovered some very helpful things that would have been helpful the FIRST time we took the pooches on a long road trip.  Traveling with Maggie to Chicago in December wasn't that big of a deal because she was just one Maggie but having BOTH Maggie and Nigel was a bit of a game changer.  Here's what we learned!
ROAD TRIP!!!
Portioning Food
Since the pooches are on a raw diet, we bring a cooler with us on our trips.  The first two big trips, I portioned out food per day and put a bunch of them in the cooler (including at least a few days for when we reached our destination).  Then, I got smarter.  Portioning out their food for each DAY was not as convenient as having it portioned for each MEAL.  This way, we could grab a container when we headed into the hotel and that made it much simpler.  When we needed to feed them before arriving at an overnight stop, this also really helped then.

Hotels
Finding pet friendly hotels was very stressful for us at first but we found three helpful things.  The first was the book DogFriendly.com's Lodging Guide for Travelers with Dogs.  Our in-laws purchased it and we borrowed it.  It was very helpful but not 100 percent accurate so in conjunction, we used Expedia's iPhone app to find good prices and see if dogs were allowed in certain hotels as well as BringFido.com.  BringFido was really great because there were reviews of hotels on there also!  You can set search filters for having 1 or 2 dogs so that's really nice too.

La Quinta Hotels are almost always dog friendly and require no extra fee.  The one we stayed at in Albuquerque, NM was AWESOME.  They had nice rooms and a great, free breakfast.  We also stayed at one in Scottsdale, AZ for the second time.  This one had a LOT of dogs checked in so not ideal for Maggie but we could get a room on the first floor (nice for not needing the dogs to ride in elevators and bring all our stuff up and down).  They have a wonderful lawn for dogs to run around and do their thang also, poop bags and separate garbage can included!!

Drury Inn Hotels also seem to not have extra fees for pooches (or weight limits).  They had a great breakfast there too!

The hardest part, for us, at the hotel was that Nigel seems to have a very strong watchdog instinct.  We got almost no sleep at a hotel in Amarillo because there was a massive gap at the bottom of the door so we could hear anyone pass by.  Nigel seemed to do better when allowed to sleep on the bed with us instead of the floor so that was good to figure out.  Because of that, we tried to book king size beds wherever we went.

Oh, and use the ice bucket (after cleaning it out!) as a water bowl to avoid having to bring in extra things with you!

In Praise of Tie-Downs
We learned about tie-downs a while ago from various fostering blogs.  They have been invaluable to us as we introduced Maggie and Nigel to one another.  They helped us keep them in one place without being able to play and sometimes, in a new hotel, the dogs are overwhelmed with excitement and want to explore and play every single second!  Typically, we would let the dogs wander the room, sniff it out, play for a few minutes (quietly) and then if they didn't relax on their own after about an hour, we would use tie-downs to help them calm down.  They relax very quickly once they know their options are chew on antlers or lie in the comfy bed.  Here's a great article from BADRAP's blog about tie-downs with a great link at the bottom to learn more.

Maggie chills out when she's on a tie-down.  This could also be because we used tie-downs in our bedroom while we get ready for work and school so she's used to relaxing.
First Floor Rooms
We found it really difficult to have to use elevators with the dogs and try to carry their stuff in too.  So we ended up asking for first floor rooms, when available.  This also meant that they could play (as long as they weren't too noisy) and not worry about being loud for the people below us. 

Nests!
We found that building a doggie nest in the back seat of the car helped them get comfy and sleep most of the ride.  We put our smaller overnight bags between their seat and ours (both helpful for creating a bigger bench and us being able to just grab what we needed to stay overnight instead of a whole suitcase).  We put their beds and comfy blankies in the back too and they really seemed to be able to stretch out and get comfy.  And they looked adorable.
It's obviously important to squish both of our big heads into the console space.

Head pillow

Looks pretty comfy to me!
We also used their Kurgo harnesses the entire way.  I read an interesting study that says that harnesses don't actually do anything for the safety of the dog BUT it keeps them in the back seat.  Otherwise, Maggie tries to copilot and push her way into my lap.  We didn't even have Nigel's buckled in for most of a day and didn't realize it.  He was fine chillin' in the back.

Our car is now outfitted with the Kurgo bench seat cover that we got on Amazon.  Very affordable and seems to be holding up well.  We like that it's machine washable but it does seem to be a little slippery for them if they don't have their beds or blankets on top of it.

Their Stuff
Even though it was a pain, we brought their beds and blankies into the hotel room each night.  They were SO excited to sniff out each new room and figure out what was going on that we were happy to have something they knew belonged to them.  We also brought their antlers into the rooms so we could occupy them with something if they got restless.  Bully sticks would have been a good addition in case they needed something to chill out with and to wind down a little.

RUN!
We loved finding one rest area with a doggie park area because the pooches were cooped up all day in the car.  If we had been more leisurely in our drive, we would have stopped at other dog parks too just to let them frolic more.  They loved getting out to stretch their legs!

We also made sure to give them water breaks whenever we were able to, often while we were still driving.  We love our foldy bowl that we can pour their water back into their bottle with.  Sometimes, they don't like to drink in the car but Nigel tends to get dehydrated on these trips so we were extra careful this time!
I drank PLENTY of water after this break!

So happy!
We would have added those "tinting" screens to the back windows for them because when the sun shines in on the pooches for long hours at a time, they got HOT!  Otherwise, they did really well.

Anyone else planning a long trip soon!?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Adventures: Spring Break in Pictures

WOW!  Spring break was so eventful.  We drove from LA to Chicago, hung out with friends, family, and even some celebridogs!  Here is our spring break in pictures...including some adorableness of our other pittie and non-pittie pooches in our family.

Driving home is hard...it's better if you cuddle a lot.
Embarking!  And using our new Kurgo seat cover.
Squirrels!  So many squirrels out the windows!!
Killian, my mom's 80 pound lab mix.  (Okay, technically, she was my 17th birthday present but her and my mom are basically inseparable now.) 
I had the opportunity to meet my very first celebridogs, Miss M and Mr. B from Two Pitties in the City and Zoe from Two Kitties One Pittie (and their people, of course).  I went along on a Sociabulls walk to hang out with the pooches and see how they run their pack walks.  It was awesome!  Thanks for having me, Sociabulls! 
CELEBRIDOGS!  Just as sweet in person. 
Obviously, more squirrel watching. 
I HEART WINDOWS. 
Lots of snoozing happened during break.

We even made our very own Easter Egg hunt for the dogs thanks to our friends over at Pitlandia blogging about Athena's nose sniffin' game.  We celebrate Passover but the pooches LOVED their Easter game.
I FOUND THE NOMS! 
"Uhhh, how do you open this thing?!"
We got to chill with our favorite niece and nephdogs.  They're adorable and we miss them SO much when we're in LA.
Willie got his very own tie after his last grooming.
Bailee - the reason we knew pitties are the BEST.
 Our most awesome find was at mile marker 10 on I-40 E in Oklahoma.  They have a wonderful doggie park!  Two sides for big pooches and little pooches, poop bags and plenty of space to stretch some legs after a lot of driving.
 It was eventually time to drive back to LA.  More cuddling ensued.
More cuddles.

Maggie "placing" outside of POPS, a Route 66 tourist attraction
Definitely a spring break to remember!!!