[VIDEO] Penny’s First Summer at the Dog Beach

We did our best to hold on, but now I have to admit summer has come and gone. And what a summer it was!

Hope you and your pets enjoyed the summer. Now it’s time to look for Penny’s first leaf pile to romp in!

What do pets think about?

We’ve all be there, sitting at a desk, looking off into the distance, trying to figure something out. A problem, a schedule, or maybe just considering where to grab lunch. In any case, we all know what that look means when we see someone else staring out into space.

Well every once in a while I catch one of my pups with the exact same look.


Is Eko pondering  life’s mysteries or just thinking about how he can make dinner arrive early

Even better is when I see the moment one of the dogs transitions from an outward activity to an internal self-examination. Penny will often go from chomping on a bone to slowly stopping until she just sits there with “the look.”


“Why are we all here?”

And I’m not sure why, but it seems that regardless of species, when you’re lost in thought you always tilt your head down.


“Am I saving enough for retirement?”

It’s not just at home – even when we’re at the beach I’ve caught Penny or Eko pondering some deep question. Occasionally they’ll both just stop and stare into the distance like they’re considering some great mystery together.


“Whenever we get in that car with Will it takes us to this beach. You don’t think Will controls the car do you?”

In truth I can only guess at what Penny might be thinking about when she goes from a full sprint to a dead stop at the beach and stares off for a minute.


“Did I leave the oven on?”

But what I don’t have to guess at how hilarious it is when one of the pups shocks the other out of that deep thoughtfulness.


Eko surprised Penny, who reared up and promptly fell on her butt!

What I wouldn’t give to find out what our pets think about! Well, when they’re not thinking about food that is. Any guesses?

Clocks are for people without pets

Were the world ending, the city of Chicago in flames, the zombie apocalypse underway – at five o’clock sharp my apartment would look exactly like this. 17.1

“The world is ending? That’s nice, we’re still hungry.”

Of course the stomach clock is only one of the many bio-clocks in a pet’s arsenal. There is the bladder-clock, the time-for-a-walk clock, and the I-know-someone-I-love-is-coming-home-from-work clock. Just to name a few. As always, my personal favorite is the pet-sundial clock.  Now that we’ve lived in this apartment for a few months the dogs have the sundial mastered.


The sun first comes in through the window by my desk. It’s not a ton of light, so the first pup to snag the futon usually hogs it all


But don’t fear, pup #2 gets better sunlight when the sun makes its way around to the kitchen window


In the early afternoon, a building blocks most of the light, but Eko knows he can steal a small sliver of sun on the small couch


Midafternoon brings two perfect sunbathing spots. Eko generally snags the best spot…


But Penny gets to enjoy the very last rays of the day

Show me where my pups are and I can always tell you what time of day it is. Well, almost always. Cloudy days are a bit more trouble, though I do enjoy watching the dogs look for where the sun is supposed to be.


“I know I left it here yesterday…”

Speaking of which, what did the Romans do on cloudy days? Thankfully my two sundials have their stomach clock to ensure they never miss a meal, rain or shine.

I’m sure I missed some. So tell me, what kinds of clocks do your pets have?

What does a dog look like?

If an alien were to walk through an Earth museum and see the skeleton of a Boston Terrier labeled “Dog” and then see the skeleton of a Great Dane labeled “Dog,” they would probably think someone from the museum’s labeling department needs to be fired.

If you were the human tour guide in the Earth museum, how would you describe what a dog is? Four legs and a tail? Of course, but it gets a bit more complicated after that. I’ve found that even dogs have a tough time figuring out what a dog looks like!

“Oh please, Will, don’t make me laugh. How could I not know what a dog looks like?”

For the first few months of Penny’s life, it was easy – all the dogs she saw looked exactly the same. So much so that when she first met Eko she tried to breastfeed from him!

But over the last few months Penny has learned that dogs come in all shapes and sizes. One of her first lessons was figuring out that small dogs exist and that they’re not prey.


In full hunt mode, Penny used to dash after smaller pups


“Hey lady, I’m NOT your lunch!”

It was so funny to see how startled Penny was when a small dog barked at her. You could see the circuits fry in her brain as she looked at me dumbfounded. Penny’s been on the other side of the menu when she thought a couple Great Danes were going to eat her. Luckily Penny is a quick study and adds different types of dogs to her mental catalog.


These days, Penny goes dashing towards her big friends

Ok, so there are big and small dogs, but if only it were that easy. There are so many distinct facial/body shapes that even I have a tough time keeping them straight.


Even when they weren’t interested in her, Penny used to be fascinated with terriers, Boxers and other dogs with shorter faces

And don’t forget all the different types of coats/hair dogs can have. Penny is still learning those. The other day she was absolutely fascinated by a dog with a beautiful black coat which obscured his features.


“Will, you have to see this! THE CARPET IS ALIVE!”

Most recently, Penny met her first Basset Hound and played her usual “Excuse me, are you a dog!?” game. It starts with wide circles around the pup, working up confidence to come in for a closer look.


“Excuse me, are you a dog!?”


Penny likes to put some distance between herself and mystery creatures after checking them out, just in case they’re not dogs

I do get a kick out of watching Penny get confused, but only because I’m in the same boat. Honestly, in one sentence, I could not explain to you what a dog looks like.

So brave souls, anyone want to take a shot at this one? What does a dog look like?

Where’s the most comfortable spot in your house?

I don’t have a very big apartment, so prime real estate for dog-napping is always at a premium. Nevertheless there are a number of different places for the pups to lay their heads. Last week, amidst the mayhem of our dog hotel, Penny somehow managed to nab what seemed like the score of a lifetime.15.1

The entire futon, all to herself – what could be better?

What could prompt the other three dogs to allow little punk Penny to takeover the futon?


The chance to quietly curl up next to Emily!


Penny may be a puppy, but she’s no fool. Once she figured out where all the other dogs were she came over to join the party


“Awwww, come on Emily, there’s no room!” Eko complained


And so poor Penny was forced to sleep alone. She had the entire couch to herself, but as you can see she didn’t look too comfortable


So Em called Penny back over to join the crew. After some jostling Penny managed to find the most comfortable spot in the apartment


And what is the most comfortable spot in any home? It’s always right next to you!

While the futon and my large couch remained empty, the gang all snuggled, piled together on the small couch for the better part of an hour.

When you’re at home, how does your gang like to lounge with you?

[VIDEO] Why Blog about Pets?

Over the years I’ve had countless people ask me the “Five W’s” about Marking Our Territory. The first four are easy to answer.

Who? A knucklehead and his two dogs

What? A blog

Where? Chicago

When? Monday through Friday, rain or shine

Why? Now here’s where things get interesting. Why blog? Why about dogs? What do I hope to accomplish? I took some time recently to think about these questions and here’s what I came up with.

Thanks to everyone who passes along some of that pet-love love here in the comments, on your own blog, or out in the world!

Life as a Chicago dog-wrangler

Yesterday I unexpectedly found myself with twice as many dogs as usual. My neighbor was shocked when she walked out the front door and saw this: 

“Wait, you got more dogs!?” she stuttered

Much to my neighbor’s relief I informed her the new additions were just guests for the day. And oh what a day it was. The inmates ran the asylum, jumping and romping across every inch of my small apartment. I thought walks would be the toughest part of the day, but I never guessed how difficult getting out the door would be.

Once I said the word “outside” it was complete anarchy in front of the door

There was one quiet moment, but it wasn’t a relaxing one. Once I said the word “hungry” there was nowhere for me to escape. Literally, I was surrounded.

“There’s four of us and one of you. Don’t do anything anything stupid. Hand over our dinner.”

Walked, exercised and fed, the gang eventually settled down. When Emily came home she couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the four-dog circus and their hapless ringleader.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

Dutch and Riley go home today so I’ll be left with only two dogs to keep up with. It’s pretty much going to be a vacation!