The Language of Yawns

Eko and Penny are pups of many talents, but their mastery of spoken language is still a bit shaky, so I’m always fascinated by the different ways they communicate with each other. There’s a whole slew of vocalizations and a complex vocabulary of body language, but I’m most impressed by how much information is conveyed through a simple yawn.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, dogs

In this case, Penny wanted to join Eko on the futon but space was a bit tight

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, dogs

Penny announced herself with a yawn to show she came in peace


Eko’s response let Penny know he was aware of her, but had no intention of moving

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, dogs

“Ok, but I’m going to lay down…” Penny said with her meekest yawn

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, dogs

Eko didn’t agree with the plan and sprang up. Penny’s yawn turned into an apology 
Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, dogs

Penny wasn’t sorry enough not to lay down though. But two can play that game. With a huge yawn, Eko went into a barrel roll

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, dogs

Penny got out of the way just in the nick of time

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, dogs

In the end, everyone enjoyed a pleasant, if bizarre looking, nap

Nothing like talking, or yawning, through your differences. A yawn is worth a thousand words, I guess. From anxious to relaxed to perplexed to excited, a yawn can say it all.

What do your pets say to you (and to each other) when they yawn?

Happy Birthday Penny!

Well look at that, my calendar app is broken because I just got an alert that Penny turns one today.

*Checks date*

WHAT? HOW? 24.1

My little girl ain’t so little anymore

It’s true, my wild child is one year old.


It seems like just yesterday she wasn’t even as tall standing as Eko was laying down


I guess time flies when you’re stinking cute!


It’s been such a joy to watch Penny grow


From a little pup who could barely keep up


To a speed demon who matches Eko stride for stride


Oh yes, there were times she tested our patience


But it pales in comparison to all the fun and adventure we had


Penny, you’re so (relatively) mature now!

He’s normally not sappy, but even Eko got a little emotional this week about Penny’s big day.


“You may be a punk, but you’re my punk. Bring it in for a hug, sis!”

Here’s to one incredible year and hopefully many more to come. Happy birthday Penny!

What do pets think about cameras?

If I’m out with the pups it usually means I’m out with my camera too. But the dogs don’t get an explanation as to why I play peekaboo with this little black box.

They just see me sneaking around, pointing the camera and clicking away


“Any idea what that weirdo is doing down there?”

“Nope. But keep your voice down, he knows how to open the food container.”

As puppies, both Eko and Penny were very interested in the camera. They’d sniff, poke and occasionally try to taste it. As they grew they generally learned to give the sight and sound of the camera little accord.


With thousands of hours of modeling under his belt, Eko hardly notices the camera most of the time


Penny’s followed Eko’s lead and rarely gives the camera more than a glance

But there is a large exception to the rule. The exception is that the pups do know how to model. Their contract is simple: I stay, I look at you, camera clicks, I get treats.


If I ask Eko to “stay,” this modeling veteran stays like a rock and looks right as me. The camera click is positive reinforcement which he associates with the tastiest of treats 

When we’re at the park or the beach, all bets are off. The pups don’t recognize the camera (or the rule of law). It’s just straight nature photography at that point. 25.6

Wild and wonderful

But my favorite thing is that no matter what the dogs think about the camera, they don’t think a thing about the photos. So there’s no worrying about posting things like this:


I would be in big trouble if I posted a photo of Emily making that face

In sum, I think these two have neutral to positive associations with my camera. When I’m clicking away around the apartment, they pay me no mind. When I set up a photo they have positive food-associations, and when I sling the strap over my back they have positive adventure-associations.

As to why I carry the camera around? Well, I haven’t quite figured out how to explain the internet and blogs to them.

What about your pets? What kind of associations do they have with your camera?

A Dog-Friendly Guide to Spring in Chicago

70 and sunny in Chicago last week, baby! Coming in for a visit to the Windy City this spring? Great. Bring your sunscreen and shorts.

Also bring your winter jacket and boots

As it inevitably does, winter still grapples for control of the skies with spring. In Chicago that means 70 degree days followed by the heavy snowfall we received yesterday morning. The nice thing about dogs though, is that no matter which kind of “spring” day it is, it’s always beach weather.

Undeterred by the snow, I scraped off the car and we had our day at the beach.
Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, montrose dog beach

It was surreal to see summer-like waves roll up on a snow-covered shore

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, montrose dog beach

For the pups, snow just meant more fun powder to romp in

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, montrose dog beach

The sting of a spring snowstorm was significantly lessened when I watched the dogs ham it up

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, montrose dog beach

“Hey buddy, we see you taking photos. We got a blog, we’re ready for our close up.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, montrose dog beach

The day wasn’t what I would have hoped for, but it was more fun than I could have expected. The weird weather made for some fun photos

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, montrose dog beach

And a couple goofy pups

With this crazy spring weather, you just never know what you’ll see.

For example, we’re pretty sure we saw these dogs elect this wizard as their leader

So if you’re visiting Chicago with your dog in the spring, you’re going to the beach. Now as to whether you’ll need a beach umbrella or just a regular umbrella? Better pack both.

How Do Dogs Show Affection?

My post from the other week got me thinking about how dogs show affection, not for humans, but for other dogs. Penny’s affection is about as straightforward as it comes.23.1

“This is my brother, I love him.”

Couch snuggling, big tail wags and bouncing play jumps are just a few of the obvious ways Penny shows affection for Eko. On the other hand, I think Eko has a much more “rough around the edges” approach when it comes to showing affection for Penny.

As I mentioned, Eko never lays on Penny, but he is quite content to be her pillow. At this point he even leaves room on the futon where he knows she’s going to hop up. And while the pups often play together, Penny usually wants to romp with Eko long after he’s finished.


Eko could disengage entirely, but instead he lets Penny jump on him like he’s a piece of playground equipment.


Even Eko’s patience has limits though

Eko gets a nice break from Penny at the beach where she can run like a wild dog.


While Penny romps, Eko can do…whatever this is

But no matter how far she goes, Eko is Penny’s lifeguard at the beach. If he hears her yelp or thinks she’s gotten in over her head…


Big brother to the rescue!

Eko and Penny are opposite sides of the same coin. She’s cuddly and affectionate while Eko plays the tough guy with a soft heart.


Together, they’re a perfect fit

So now I’m thinking, there have to be a ton of great ways pets show affection for one another. From nuzzling to sharing toys to unique quirks, I’m sure there are plenty of ways pets take care of each other.  If you have a good story about pet-to-pet affection I’d love to hear it.