How Dogs Celebrate Birthdays

Today is my 30th birthday. Family and friends send good wishes, I’m given preferential treatment and this day is marked as special. Extra-special since my odometer rolls into a new decade.

And how do my dogs show proper reverence for this day?

“Birthday? *YAWN* That’s great, but I still have to poop, so wake up.”

“Are birthdays a human celebration of taking forever to feed me breakfast? Because that’s what it feels like, Will.”

“Can you take me out again? Then tuck me in? Then give me treats? Then take me out again? Then feed me? Then tuck me in? After that the day is all yours.”

Sure, all the birthday kindness from people feels great. But I also appreciate the dogs’ complete indifference to marking any day as more or less valuable than another.

It’s important to reflect on milestones and the passage of time. It is also important to remember each day and each moment are equally worthy of our effort.

Action and reflection, in balance

I’m thankful for all the people who remind me to celebrate today. And I’m thankful for the dogs who remind me to celebrate every day.

I’m also thankful for a few extra birthday treats!

I’m off to apply for my AARP card, I’ll catch you guys tomorrow!

Shark Week Audition

Eko and Penny are kitchen sharks, through and through. We never feed them from the table, but they coast around the center island, eternally hopeful of discovering an unsuspecting crumb.

We don’t countenance the behavior with any human food, but I figured there is another way to put my sharks to good use. Discovery Channel’s Shark Week always stages reenactments and they must be looking for new actors about now.

I have just the pups for the job.

Can they ominously stalk their prey? You bet.

Can they hunt with singular focus? No problem

Can they rise up with the crescendo of the JAWS theme ? Of course, they’re professionals

I mean, the realism here is second to none. Can you even tell this is not a real shark?

Ok, yeah, he may be a tad gentle, but we can work on the whole chomping thing

Not all sharks are Great Whites, so for those scenes where you need smaller sharks we’ve got you covered.


The Penny Shark hunts in shallower waters. What she lacks in size she makes up in speed 

She spies her prey

And pounces! TV viewers won’t be able to tell it’s not a real shark

The likeness is uncanny

So, Discovery Channel CEO-person, I guess there’s really only one question left at this point. When do we start?

Winter Break

We’ve had a very mild winter by Chicago standards. In years past it felt like we went weeks without seeing a blue sky or a double digit temperature.

But each year, Mother Nature gives us a winter break. A sneak-preview of the warmer and brighter days. Yesterday, February 1st, was a tropical 50 degrees. Practically shorts weather!

There’s an unwritten agreement amongst Chicago residents that on days like yesterday you get your butt outside because it might not be that warm again until June.
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Of course, we chose to spend our afternoon at Montrose Dog Beach. The place was packed like it was a mid-summer day

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Penny wasted little time making the most of the warm weather

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Normally, the shore is frozen and buried at this time of year. Penny and her Golden pals enjoyed splashing through the shallows

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But even the Goldens thought Penny was crazy for charging out into the deep water for a swim

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The sun supercharged Eko. He and Penny wrestled and romped themselves silly

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I love panting-smiles. They’re a summertime staple, but I never see them in the winter. Yesterday was a happy exception.

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We’re still hoping for one good snowstorm, but we thoroughly enjoyed our taste of spring

It seems Mother Nature beat her groundhog to the punch. Swimming in Lake Michigan on February 1st? Our bet is on an early spring.

The Art of The Dog Pile

A sleeping dog is a blissful thing.

It’s often difficult to tell where the dog ends and the furniture begins

Eko and Penny seem to be without a care in the world when they nap

But despite the carefree exterior, the pups do follow an established set of rules when napping on the couch together. I’m not quite sure how these rules were formed, but I know both parties understand and agree to the same terms.

The first rule of nap club is that rear-end to rear-end naps are always acceptable

Eko happily lets Penny use him as a pillow, but it’s a one way street. He never rests his head on her. And for some reason, they both refuse to sleep head-to-head

The trouble is that when Penny’s pillow needs to scratch his ear it clears the couch and means the nappers must adjust their arrangement

Most of this dog-pile-choreography takes care of itself, but occasionally it does require my intervention. I’ll hear a low pitched whine when the pups get “stuck” in negotiations.

They freeze in place like it’s a standoff. They’re both unsure of exactly where to go in order to meet the terms of their napping arrangement 

After a couple minutes of laughing to myself and watching their telepathic negotiations, I step in and mediate

I shepherd the pups in place and then they are once again a picture of bliss

Who knew napping could be so exhausting?

If you have multiple pets, do they have any particular terms about their sleeping arrangements?

Clothes Make The Man

We have something of a direct democracy in this household. Eko and Penny submit their votes directly to me.

Although they’re independent parties, they both usually tow the same party line – “Feed us earlier. Feed us more. Take us out ASAP. No, even more ASAP than that, hurry up!”

I think I’m an accommodating president/tyrant, but there are times when the pups don’t get what they want, exactly when they want it. For some reason, Eko likes to formally lodge his complaint of mistreatment by sitting on my clothes. Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, cute, puppy

When Eko doesn’t get dinner 30 minutes early as hoped, he huffs and puffs and pouts by laying on my gym clothes

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I’m not sure if it’s a passive-aggressive act,  or an attempt to gain my attention, or something else entirely. But I do know it’s quite deliberate

Eko is also savvy enough to know when I’m leaving on an unsanctioned trip without him.

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So when he sees me pack up for soccer he’ll nonchalantly flop on my stuff

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“Oh, yes, by all means, leave poor Eko at home and go have fun at soccer”

My favorite form of Eko’s sit-on protest is when he tries to wake me up ahead of schedule. If I admonish him for an early morning nose-poke to my face and tell him to get back to bed? Eko chooses another destination for his robust rump – my clothes.

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Trying to drop a hint?

When I do get out of bed, Eko quickly hops up and gives me his best puppy-dog eyes.

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“Sorry for waking you up, I warmed your clothes for you.”

I know “dogs sleeping on clothes” is a common behavior, but I can’t quite make sense of exactly why Eko does it.

He never does it when Emily or I are gone. He sometimes does it because he wants me to do something. Yet other times he does it because he doesn’t want me to do anything or go anywhere.

Maybe it’s a passive-aggressive pout or maybe it’s a way to muster up some attention and love from me. One thing I do know for sure is that Penny doesn’t buy the act one bit – she’s never laid on my clothes a single time.

Anyone have guesses for what motivates Eko (aside from a love of fashion)? Or if you have a fellow clothes-hound, I’d be interested to hear about when/why they like to use your wardrobe as a bed.