Chocko gets to work.

Last week Doodlebug challenged us to work!  Well, we are not ones to step down from a challenge, so we took his orders very seriously.  We used his magical formula:

Change enviroment: check

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Exposure to a Challenge: Check

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and Active training: Check!

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We headed just down the road to Fort McHenry (remember when we took Bodie this time last year?) which is a wonderful place for us to visit.  The #1 reason?  No off-leash dogs!  Baltimore city is pretty notorious for off-leash dogs in the wonderful public parks (which we tend to avoid…sad face…due to all the unwelcome approaches), but since Fort McHenry is a National Monument, there are actual Park Rangers, which take the leash laws pretty seriously.  So, we realized we need to get here more often.  I’m embarrassed to say this was Chocko’s first visit, but it certainly won’t be his last!

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We knew just being in a new place would provide many challenges, and though we didn’t have any dog on dog interactions, (I think it would have been too much for him this first trip anyway) we had some unexpected (but welcomed) challenges!

First, that Kite!  A bright pink thing that whizzed in the sky, bombed the ground and made very odd noises… Chocko was very distracted and confused by it.

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Here he is, in a deep trance, staring at the pink whizzer.

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We also had obstacles such as….water!  I never would have imagined how distracted this guy would be by the splashing waves along the seawall.

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We embraced these two unexpected challenges and were able to work through them and get him to focus on me (still working on the ‘watch’ command) and walk with a loose leash.  Though it wasn’t immediate, we did succeed!

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Focusing with the splashing water in the background

Here he is doing a down stay (the down is quite difficult for this guy, as you can see from the awkward pose) with the kite in the distance.

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And a few prettier stays 🙂

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We incorporated all the elements and had an awesomely successful trip!  Chocko was praised with treats, love and playtime in between and during training commands and challenges.

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And how do we know just how successful it was?  By his epic sun-spot nap, of course!

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Thanks for the challenge, Dude!  We’re looking forward to many more walks at the Fort to practice in the near future!

Coming clean: Chocko appreciates his personal space

So remember a few weeks back, I told you all we had some announcements?  Well, we’ve told you about how temporary fostering went (2 thumbs and 4 paws up!) and about how much time Chocko’s been spending at the gym, but there’s still a few things we’ve been holding back!

Today we’re coming clean about Chocko’s personal space.  I’ve been meaning to post about this for abouuuuuut 4 or 5 months…oops?  I guess I was hesitant because, well, let’s be real…I didn’t want him to have ‘issues’ and I was in DE-NI-AL about his leash reactivity. As you know, Knox was pretty much a roll-with-the-punches guy and nothing really rustled his feathers…like at all.  I was thankful.  And spoiled.  I knew there were ‘reactive’ dogs, picky dogs, dogs that needed special accomodations…I never imagined I’d own one.  Well, I do.  And he’s awesome.  He just…likes his personal space when he’s out on walks.  I’m ok with that, most days.

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A few weeks ago our virtual buddies over at Love & a 6 Foot Leash posted a PSA about dogs who have preferences; both Sir Chick and the ‘Dude, renowned Wonderdogs, admitted their limits, so figured it was about time to do the same over here!

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Now we didn’t know Chocko was leash reactive at first.  And he’s only reactive sometimes.  He doesn’t make any loud noises, scary barks, or show teeth.  Which tends to deceive walkers, thinking he’s all approachable and wants to say hi.  Well, I learned that is not the case.  We adopted him in July, and it took a little while for his ‘reactivity’ to really show up, by October, it was clear to me that Chocko had a serious pet peeve:

Face to Face on leash greetings (the kind we run into kinda all the time turning a city block)  are his least favorite thing EVA.  You could see how a girl could be confused though, right?  I mean check him out below.  This picture was from October, at BARCstoberfest.  A crazy crowded scene full of dogs, and he does great in those settings.  He then ran with a MABB foster (Julius, who has since been adopted) in his first 5k, also kicking butt!  The day went off without a hitch.

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So really, it just took me a little longer to realize, look into (aka research) and acknowledge that those ‘boo’ turns around the corner that leave you face to face with another dog OR the loooooong, drawn out, face to face approach (his 2nd least fav) when you can’t jump into traffic, are not his cup of tea.  Do I know what goes on in his big blocky head?  No, I don’t.  I’m not an animal behaviorist, or a trainer, or an expert.  Clearly it took me quite a bit of time, with my lack of experience, to realize my dog’s needs.  My guess?  He’s a big wus.  I think he’s super intimidated and finds the need to ‘puff’, a kind of ‘I better get that guy or he’s gonna get me’ posture.  Either way, he certainly gets his point across, a big “get the f out of my space” (sorry for the language, but he doesn’t say it gently either, and that’s exactly what words I imagine coming out of his big mouth).

Once he’s introduced, he’s golden.  A little co-walk a few feet apart, followed by allowing him to be in the rear (and sniff the air a bit) then he play bows and rolls on his back, which he does often with his pals.  It’s his magic recipe.  chocko and tyson 037 edit

Flirting with Mollygirl

Flirting with Mollygirl

gremlin ruby 014Honestly, I’ve figured out what he needs, and we’re still working on getting him to not act on his impulse, ensuring he feels comfortable (and that it’s my job to protect him, not the other way around), and hoping he trusts us not to put him in a situation that makes him feel unsafe.  Sometimes, it’s out of our hands, but luckily we’ve been able to manage ok (maybe not ideal?  But good enough).  I’ve ensured that so far, since October, he has never been able to get face to face with another dog on leash without a proper intro.  I think that’s a success.  But we get hit with the random corner turns, and those get me in a funk.  He doesn’t do ‘perfect’ and sometimes neither do I.  We are a work in progress.  Which is ultimately why we haven’t fostered full time yet.  It’s not because he’s not good with dogs in the house, it’s because I can’t walk two big dogs at one time (and remember, that’s the only way anyone gets any potty breaks or excercise since we are yard-less).  I also don’t have the luxury of walking them separately with my work schedule so, fosterless we will remain until we are a little closer to perfect.

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If your still here, thanks for reading this REALLY long post.  It feels good to come clean.  And it feels good to love my dog in all his unperfectness (and who are we kidding, in all of my unperfectness too!)

Did you know? Chocko works out.

I mean by looking at this bod, did you have any doubt?  Chocko hits the gym, and often.box

Luckily for him, he just watches us all working hard and huffing and puffing.  He just gets to stand around looking like a model athlete (body by PB Kongs?  Should we market that?)

Body By Kong

Body By Kong

gym edit“OK Dad, I’ll Watch, you lift”.

But the truth is Chocko doessss work when he goes to the gym.  He works on box jumps (they come so naturally!) and staying on top of them till he’s released.

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He also gets to socialize off-leash, in a controlled environment, with some of his buddies!  Like him, a bunch of the girls like to play rough, so when they do play, we like to practice ‘stopping them’ verbally, and putting them in a sit-stay for a time out to catch their breath.

Here he is with Chloe, working on a down-stay.  photo-2

So in actuality, he does ‘work’ when he goes to the gym, just not like us.  He mostly stands around wondering why we kill ourselves with these things calls burpees, box jumps, double unders, deadlifts, and hang cleans…amoung other things 😉

***Please excuse the quality of these photos!  Most were taken with an iphone with terrible lighting!***

Flirting with Mollygirl

Flirting with Mollygirl

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter

It’s beginning to look a lot like Winter and this boy isn’t a lover of the cold.  He gets excited and wiggly for his morning walk, as usual.  He sits down for me to put his leash on, my coat, and grab a poop bag, but then… I open to door and he does a double take.  “Do I really want to head out in the cold?” his face says.  snood

With some urging, he happily comes along, but it’s clear as day that he’d rather the sun and warmth.

Thankfully, he and Knox were the same size, so we were able to use Knox’s favorite winter coat for Chocko!  Chocko seems to enjoy wearing it just as much.

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What works for us, is that it zips along the side torso, so we don’t have to worry about big blocky heads getting in the way of a snug fit.  And speaking of snug fit, I think that’s exactly why they both loved it so much.  Knox used to get irritated by baggy clothing, but if something was night and tight on him, he didn’t mind it at all.  We think Chocko feels the same way!  So the Ruffwear Cloud Chaser is our favorite of all the coats we’ve tried so far.  It’s like a softshell tech coat, for dogs!  And it gives a bit, which is nice so you can stretch it to zip it but it goes right back to a snug fit, which we think works best from our personal experiences.

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Do your pooches wear coats?  I know we loooove seeing pics of Miss M and Mr. B over in Chicago all dressed up in warm gear.  After all, they are the cold weather experts!

We also decided to invest in a snood (and of course, a new seasonal collar) from our favorite doggie outfitter, Sirius Republic!  Chocko is still getting used to wearing it, but once the temps really drop, I’m sure he’ll appreciate our investment into his wardrobe… even if he doesn’t just yet 😉

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Hope everyone is staying warm and toasty!  So share with us, what’s your most essential winter wear for your pooches?

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Two weeks with Tyson

Guess who had his best buddy over for a 2 week sleepover?  Yup, Tyson was with us for almost two weeks while his humans were on their honeymoon!

So what were the boys up to?  Well they had to get all their zoomies out before Hurricane Sandy arrived, so along with their gal pal Molly, they did exactly that.

Tyson was on storm watch duty, but this was apparently exhausting.

So it was a whole lot of butt snugglin’ and hibernating when Sandy finally arrived, which was fine with us!

They graciously took turns being the butt cushion, of course.

They even got some snuggles in with the humans. 

We are thankful and happy to report that we survived Sandy with no real damage, but our hearts go out to those who suffered and lost during this terrible storm.  There are many places and people near and dear to our hearts that have suffered and we continue to keep them in our thoughts.

Weekends in review

We’ve have some fun weekends around here! Wanna see what we we’ve been up to?  Well two weekends ago Chocko was busy on Saturday cheering on the runners in the Baltimore Marathon (and half marathon, and the relay too) with his gal Chloe.

The Elite ladies!

Then on Sunday he got to attend the Purple Stride event to raise funds to fight Pancreatic Cancer.  He got to ride up and hang out with his buddy Tyson during the event.  And meet lots of people too!

On our way to Purple stride!

Tyson’s butt is the perfect pillow

They wore their purple with pride!  

He got some good snuggles in with his mama on this beautiful day – and got a ton of play time in with Tyson in the grass.

Sounds like a fun weekend right?  Well that was just the warm up!  This past weekend was Barcstoberfest (check out our visit from last year) and Chocko signed up and finished his first 5k to benefit BARCS – the shelter he was sprung from!  It was the inaugural 5k.  Chocko even got his own bib 🙂

Ready to do this!

He ran with a new friend, Julius (available for adoption through Mid Atlantic Bully Buddies) who would make someone a fabulous running partner!

I was so proud of him!  He did so good running with tons of dogs and was such a great ambassador for his breed at busy Barcstoberfest.  

I wasn’t the only one who was proud…he got some post-race love from his girlfriend Molly who came to cheer him on.

Kisses, followed by long naps!

Busy boy right?  We’re exhausted!  Don’t worry, he’ll nap enough this week for the both of us.  I just love fall, there are so many fun things going on and the weather has been per.fect.  I hope everyone is enjoying October!  Anyone doing anything fun with their pooches recently?!

Over the river and through the woods

Last Monday was a state holiday – what did that mean for us?  A group hike of course!  It was a chilly Monday, but we crammed into the car (yes, 3 humans and 3 pitbulls into a 4 door car), got some lattes, and hit the road!

We arrived at The Daniels Area of Patapsco State Park, and after a bit of “over the river” we were into the woods!

Chocko was accompanied by his good buddies, Tyson and Molly.  They romped, rolled, climbed and sniffed their way through some beautiful trails along the river.

We packed snacks, obviously (do you think we could get them to sit this still and intently in the midst of all the fall smells otherwise?)

Ty and Chock

And fit in some basic refresher training here and there…

But, since this was all about fun, we let the pups get wild and muddy in the water, and they had a messy blast!

Since it was chilly, overcast, and a Monday, we saw nobody on the trail.  It was a nice break from city life for the day and I kept asking, “Why don’t we do this more often?  No really… whyyyyy?”  I tell ya what, I cannot wait to get them back here in the warmer months!  The trail meanders along the river bank, and though it’s not exactly a challenging hike, it’s quite beautiful scenery.

“enough with the pictures, lets waaaalk”

” the leaves match my beautiful coat, mom! I think fall is my most complimentary season”

Before it gets too cold out, I hope we get another few hikes in the season!  Who knows, maybe we’ll solicit some more buddies in the Baltimore area to come along 🙂

This picture is proof that this hike effectively wore these pups out (and if you think they were this quite in the car on the way there… well that’s just ludicrous).