Still Room on the Naughty List?

As a well-behaved child, I often wondered when Santa’s final Naughty and Nice lists went to print. Surely if I got into a bit of mischief when my gifts were already loaded on the sleigh Santa wouldn’t just toss my presents overboard into the Atlantic? My parents quickly put the kibosh on my logistical musings. I believe their refrain was, “There’s always time and room for one more name on the naughty list.”

Well Santa, I know you’re busy but I think I have one more name for you. Penny. Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, marking our territory, dog, photos

What? Little innocent Penny?

Yes, Penny! After we emerged from crate training, housebreaking and teething relatively unscathed I felt pretty good. So good in fact that I began to give Penny less and less crate time while I was out of the house. Recently however we’ve had a serious regression.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, marking our territory, dog, photos

Penny’s never eaten a shoe before, but I guess my slipper was too tempting

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, marking our territory, dog, photos

Over a couple days Penny completely eviscerated the blanket she never once bothered with before. How am I sure it was her you ask?

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, marking our territory, dog, photos

Just a hunch

The slipper is still usable, as is is the blanket, so I gave Penny another shot. This time she went after the ottoman.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, marking our territory, dog, photos

“What, no I didn’t? Look, there’s nothing here…”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, marking our territory, dog, photos

“Oh yeah…that.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, marking our territory, dog, photos

The joys of puppyhood

Alright, Santa, time for a confession. The name you need to add to the list isn’t Penny’s, it’s mine. I know all about developmental stages, and I know Penny is entering the punk-adolescent stage. I saw the signs but looked the other way. I’m just thankful Penny is a shredder and not an eater. Puppy adolescence means we’re back to square one in a lot of ways.  But we’re there together and we’ll have plenty of time to work on positive reinforcement techniques.

Put this one on my tab, Santa. Penny’s a nice-lister for sure.

Christmas trees are confusing

We are a bit late to the game, but yesterday I finally picked up a Christmas tree. At the cash register I noticed our reindog movement is picking up steam.

See, Santa!? The people want reindogs!

Earlier this week I wrote about what people make of the funny things dogs do, but I got a taste of my own medicine when I kicked in my front door with a tree in tow. Sure it seems like a normal activity to me but I can understand why the pups gave me strange looks.


“Hey, Will? So we happened to notice you brought a huge tree inside. You feeling ok, buddy?”


Penny flopped to the floor, completely bewildered


You could literally see the confusion on her face

Eko and Penny closely scrutinized the tree set-up and then Penny decided to do what dogs do best:


Taste everything!

After a sharp admonishment, Penny then did what dogs do not so well:


Pretend like she didn’t get caught

I snapped a quick photo with Eko and Penny in festive gear, but the pups just looked confused


“Yeah, still no idea why there is a tree inside”

At this point I realized an explanation was in order. In not so many words (and with the help of some tasty morsels) I explained that a tree inside simply means more treats. This got their attention.


“Hey Will, let’s get some more trees!”

With a bit of positive reinforcement, Penny and Eko now love our Christmas tree. I’ve found each of them sitting next to the tree, patiently hoping for an early and delicious Christmas miracle. Santa may not be around until next week, but these two have had no trouble working me over with puppy-dog eyes for a few extra treats.

What will the Neighbors Think?

When you have pets your personal definition of “normal” expands quite a bit. Recently a friend stopped by and met Eko and Penny for the first time. As we spoke he interrupted me to say, “Um, are they okay?”

The question seemed quite silly, the pups were clearly happily at play. But upon further review of the photo evidence I could see how one might not recognize the pups’ behavior as “normal” play.


I thought everyone knew this is what two happy dogs look like?


My “normal”


As the old saying goes, “Love is smacking  your big brother in the face”


“Oh what, Will? You want us to pretend to be prim and proper?”


“Hey everybody, look! I’m Will, I walk on two feet!”

I sometimes wonder what my neighbors must think when they see two large mammals battle and chase each other around my patio like nutjobs. I never really considered it anything other than normal.


“Ooh, look, the Jones’s bought new porch furniture.” 


“We’re happy, Will. Don’t worry about the Jones’s!”

I’m not particularly self-conscious (shocking, I know), but I’m now thinking about all the “normal” parts of my life with dogs and laughing at how absurd they might have once seemed to me.

I know I’m not alone here, so fess up. What normal part of your life with pets might cause others to do a double take?  

Not-So-Winter Wonderland

At this time last year our never-ending-polar-vortex winter was well underway. It would be seemingly months before we saw the sun again here in Chicago. This year however, Mother Nature offered us a bit of a mulligan in the form of a bright, balmy December.

Blue skies and warm sun in mid-December? We’ll take it!


The beach is usually a field of snow this late in the year, so we’ll savor the sand while we can


After last winter, I think we earned this reprieve


I’m looking forward to Penny’s first romp in the snow, but for now I’m quite happy to watch her run wild on the sand


And stir up all the other pups, of course 


Romping in a not-so-winter wonderland

Winter will find its way here, and when it does we’ll be ready for snowy adventures and cozy nights with blankets on the couch. But until then there;s no reason not to savor a few extra days of fall!


Whenever winter does arrive, Eko and Penny are ready for it with their synchronized snuggling technique

How’s winter in your neck of the woods?

[VIDEO] On Comet, On Cupid, On Eko and Penny?

You know what they don’t run the Iditarod with? Reindeer. And you know who has zero employees in the Armed Forces? Reindeer. So why do those guys get all the glory every Christmas? Santa, I think it’s high time you open the sleigh-pulling gig up for some competition. I have your first two applicants right here.

Queen of the Hill

These are the very unremarkable stairs at my apartment.11.1

They go up! They go down! They are stairs!

For Eko, Emily, me and most of our guests, the stairs are a forgettable incline between the front door and our unit. Penny, however, has quite the puppy-imagination and dreams the stairs are some sort of mountain kingdom she must defend.

After our walks, Eko just wants to head back up to our apartment in peace. Penny has other ideas and dashes by him in order to achieve a tactical advantage.


“Penny, are we really doing this again?”


With a sigh, Eko trots up the stairs while Penny springs her attack from the landing.



Eko good-naturedly suffers Penny’s theatrics for a short time before letting her know she’d better get her butt in gear.


“Penny, it is not wise to get between a Ridgeback and his breakfast.”


Penny flees up the stairs in haste, but by the time she gets to my door she’s regained her mettle and turns to face the invader.




The battle rages for five to ten seconds but the only casualties are a couple of shoes knocked loose


The show ends as quickly as it begins and the actors await the curtain to let them backstage

Never a dull moment with these two. Even walking up the stairs is an adventure!

Anyone else have pups who like to play king of the hill?