About Will (MarkingOurTerritory.com)

Adventures with Eko and Penny, two romping Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Happy National Dog Show Day!

Thanksgiving is the best holiday. No presents but your presence and no responsibilities other than to enjoy yourself.

Before you dig into your turkey, be sure to tune into the National Dog Show on NBC. It comes on immediately following the Macy’s Parade. And for my money the parade of pups is far more entertaining.

Many moons ago Eko and I attended the show in person. It was one of the best parts of our trip together

The overwhelming love and care the entrants give to their dogs is uplifting. Even though it kind of looks like these corgis are at the gallows, I promise they were well pampered

I love the National Dog Show because it offers the opportunity to  a variety of incredible pups. Even Eko had to do a double take to make sure some of the entrants were dogs and not rugs

Will a Rhodesian Ridgeback bring home the trophy this year!? (Spoiler: No way, they never win) We’re excited to watch either way

Tune in for guaranteed smiles and plenty of “awwws”

Oh yeah, and happy Thanksgiving, too!

[VIDEO] Why I’m Grateful For My Dogs

I have so much to be thankful for in my life. I’m thankful for my pups, but I’m even more appreciative of their reminder to always show gratitude for the present moment.

Since we’ll all be stuffing turkeys tomorrow and trying to stuff our waists in our pants on Friday, I thought I’d share this week’s video early. Safe travels to all those on their way today.

Prepping A Couple Turkeys

Alright team, we’re hosting Thanksgiving in Chicago for the first time ever. Emily’s parents are staying with us and my mom will also be in town. Everyone arrives tomorrow so we need to be totally prepared by the end of the day.

Kitchen prep work: check!

Clean house: check!

Bathed, teeth brushed: check!

Testing comfiness of the guest bed: check!

Hey, wait a minute. You guys aren’t allowed up there…

Not even with those eyes. Dogs off the bed: check!

As hosts, Eko provides the class while Penny provides the humor

The checklist is complete. Can’t wait to welcome family to our home for the holiday. Our two turkeys are prepped and ready to go.

There’s only one thing we can’t prepare for…

The terror of walking past this inflatable

Guess we’ll just have to walk the other way until Christmas decorations go up.

Learn To Love Your Pet

Last week I spent a lot of time thinking about my brother and the love he’s shared with his dogs. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I’ve started to consider the same love and gratitude I have for my pups.

But I quickly realized that love is not the same. The journey I’ve shared with each of my dogs is unique and so too is the love.

With Eko, the love is that of “firsts.” I had family dogs growing up, but Eko was my first dog as an adult.
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We showered the little charmer with constant love and affection

And when we hit the road for a trip around the country, Eko was my constant companion.

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Over the course of that year, Eko and I both grew up

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Eko, my loyal guardian

When I first thought of getting a second dog, I imagined it as getting a second Eko. The math seemed simple, I would love the new dog exactly as I loved Eko and I’d have twice the love.

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At first it was easy. I simply showered my squishable pup with all the love I could

But the obvious quickly became…well, obvious.

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This little squirt isn’t Eko. She’s Penny!

I think it’s important to say there was a period where I did not feel attached to Penny like I was to Eko. I felt guilty at the time but I now see why the comparison was unfair. I had years of experience with Eko, but I barely knew my new puppy.

The love we share with our pets is not a guarantee. It’s the culmination of the effort and time we share with them. As I put in that effort and time with Penny my love and appreciation for her matured.

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The little stinker really grew on us both

These days, I’m just as head over heels for Penny as I am for Eko. Not because my dream of having two Ekos came true, but because it didn’t. I appreciate and love them both as individuals.

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Eko the Regal

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And Penny… The Karate Kid

This week I’m grateful for the reminder that love must be earned and learned anew each day. I’m also thankful for all the differences between Eko and Penny.

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Their contrasting personalities make life interesting and fun!

I don’t think the idea of “learning to love” is often discussed in regards to pets, so I’d be interested to hear from you guys.

Does anyone else have an experience where you needed more time/effort in order to bond with your pet?

[VIDEO] Loving a Dog After Losing a Dog

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day my brother lost Dutch, the dog he loved with all his heart.

I’ve written about James and Dutch a number of times, but those are just words. In the past year James has lived the loving lessons he learned from his decade with Dutch.

This is why despite the cost, we love. Not because we have enough time, but because we don’t.


On Losing A Dog – One Year Later

Tomorrow marks exactly one year since my brother lost Dutch, his beloved German Shorthaired Pointer. 

At the time, I wrote about the incredible bond Dutch and James shared

I ended that post with this thought:

“Today we cry and howl. Tomorrow we wake up and change the world the same way Dutch did – one small act of selfless love at a time.”

Today is the tomorrow I wrote about. This anniversary seems like a fitting day to talk about those small acts of selfless love. And there is no better way to talk about that love than the story of Doc, the senior Pointer James rescued earlier this year.

When James picked up Doc last winter, none of us was sure what to expect

Doc had an anxious energy and he was often lost in his own world

Eko and Penny would sniff at a statuesque Doc, as if looking for a button to reset the frozen pup

But there are no reset buttons. We can only make the most of the present, and both James and Doc have certainly done that. Together.

Over the past nine months James helped bring Doc to life

The jittery, nervous dog we first met has now discovered some serenity

There is no doubt in my mind how great James is for Doc and Doc is for James. It was so moving to see the two reunited after James returned from out of town.

Doc practically jumped into James’s arms with excitement 

In no uncertain terms, the love Doc and James share is a gift from Dutch. Eleven years ago there’s no way my brother would ever have agreed to adopt a nine year old dog. The fear of imminent loss would be too great.

Ten years with Dutch wasn’t enough time. But it taught James the value of a relationship is not measured in time, but in love. With Dutch’s lesson in his heart, James joyfully welcomed Doc home.

This love is Dutch’s legacy

The ache of loss always stings, but it also reminds us to earnestly share love in the present moment. Here’s to Dutch for teaching us that lesson, and here’s to Doc for showing us the value of living that lesson.

My Rules for the Dog Park (Pt. 2)

A few weeks ago I posted my rules for the dog park. These are rules which aren’t listed on any sign or in any law but which I’ve found invaluable for making the dog park safe and fun.

The post generated a lot of great discussion so I wanted to follow up with a few additional rules I forgot to include in the original list.

1. Stay away from the gate

The above photo is not from a dog park, but it’s indicative of the amped up, on-leash behavior that frequently occurs near the front gate of any dog park. Gates are natural choke points. Between the excitement of the dogs and the close confines, it can be a recipe for trouble. I like to enter the park as quickly as possible and move the dogs to play as far from the entrance as possible.

2. Spread out

Humans, wherever we go, seem to bunch up. For the same reasons as listed above, I always find my way away from the crowd. The more space the dogs have, the more likely they are to enjoy the trip. It also makes keeping an eye on everyone that much easier.

3. Be ready to get down and dirty

If you value something, do not wear it to the dog park. If you are not prepared for something to withstand a Beethoven like shake, do not bring it to the dog park. This will save you a lot of frustration/money and make it easier for you to enjoy the trip.

4. Be able to follow your dog anywhere

Related to my previous rule, this one just means be prepared to go through any terrain to keep your pup safe. If you’re on trails, be ready to go through mud. If you’re in fields, be ready to cut through deep grass. If you’re at the beach, be ready to go in the water.

I’ve fished out a couple over-ambitious pups from the water while their owners were still trying to untie their dress shoes.

5. Embrace Communism

Whatever your human political beliefs are, know that communism is the law of the land at dog parks. Assume any toys, balls and sticks you throw belong to the general population. Of course, you want to be polite and return balls to their owners. But the smart move is to bring a few cheap tennis balls rather than one prized ball.

6. Don’t expect perfection

Before I got Eko, I imagined dog parks as this blissful utopia where every pup is perfectly happy. Yeah, not so much. The personalities, energy levels and social skills of dogs vary as wildly as in humans.

Dog parks don’t offer effortless joy, but they do offer the opportunity to work for that joy. This means working on socialization, recall and general training. There will be bumps along the way for everyone, but the effort is well worth the reward.

7. Leave too early

I touched on the importance of leaving the dog park in my first post, but I don’t think it can be said enough. Exiting the dog park safely and on your terms is invaluable. It’s always better to leave too early than too late.

For my own training, I found the familiar “three-strikes” method effective. If (aka when) puppy Penny misbehaved, I gave her two corrective chances. After strike three we would immediately. Sometimes this meant our trips to the beach were about three minutes long, but overall the training worked quite well.

Conversely if I see an unsocialized dog causing problems, or someone letting their small child tease dogs with a bagel (this actually happened), we leave. Sure, those people should have left. But I always prefer to be safe than to be right.

8. Have fun!

This one seems obvious but it’s always good to remind ourselves to enjoy the time we have with our pups. And the happier we are, the more at ease our dogs are. Which is always a good thing.

One last reminder. Always bring a towel and extra poop bags. No matter what. Trust me, whenever you don’t have these things you’ll need them.

In the next few weeks I’d like to put together a short video about “Dog Park Rules” based on my two posts. If you have any ideas for additional rules I could include in the video I’d love to hear them. Thanks!