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[VIDEO] You Can’t Stop Penny. You Can Only Hope To Contain Her.


So here’s my question. Do you still call it “zoomies” if she’s been operating at this speed for three straight years?

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A New Crop of Friends

Every winter, even a mild one like this, it seems the city goes into hibernation.

And each spring, the first warm rays of spring begin to coax us back outdoors

This pup, like any true Chicagoan, is leery winter may return

Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to seeing more of our four-legged pals at the beach as the weather continues to turn.

Penny’s looking forward to showing off her Winston Churchill impression

One of the best parts of spring is that in addition to our old pals, we get to meet a totally new crop of friends. And if we’re really lucky, we get to meet them on their first ever trip to the beach.

This little guy had the whole beach in “awww”

I caught this joyful face right before our spotted pal plowed directly into Penny. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

This warm weather might not be here to stay just yet, but our new pals certainly are!

Balance of Power

Eko and Penny engaged in a little sibling rivalry this weekend.Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, chicago, puppy, adventure

“Hey, Penny. Bet I can balance more treats on my nose than you can. Winner keeps the treats.”

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“Treats? You’re one!”

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“We’ll start easy.”

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“No sweat, bro.”

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“How about three?”

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“All too easy.”

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“Alright, punk. Try five on for size.”

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“I’ll do you one better.”

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“You’ve had your fun. Ten is the new mark.”

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“TEN!?” *gulp*

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Better luck next year, Pen.

Although the game was set with high-stakes, for the sake of all our sanity Eko wisely shared his winnings with Penny.

The real victory was showing Penny that an old dog still has a few things to teach her!

My Rules for the Dog Park

It may come as surprise to many, but there is a strong contingent of dog owners who loathe dog parks. And it may come as an even bigger surprise hearing it from me, but they have a lot of good points.

I’ve visited dog parks of all shapes and sizes across the country and seen plenty of things which could discourage a person from visiting. I’ve seen everything from unsocialized dogs fighting (luckily without serious harm) to a family deciding the dog beach was the perfect spot for a picnic. (Hint: It’s not!)

Dog parks are inherently risky. In that sense, I consider visiting them a lot like driving a car. In both cases I’m making a calculated risk involving circumstances both in and out of my control. And in both cases there are a number of things I can do to improve my likelihood of a safe and successful trip.

Here are a few rules I’ve come up with for the dog park:
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1. Avoid peak hours

Immediately after business hours, weekend afternoons and holidays are all high-traffic times for dog parks. Visiting the park during quieter hours ensures there’s plenty of space for all the pups and it’s easier to keep an eye on everyone.

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2. Know your dogs better than they know themselves

I know every nuance and subtlety of Eko’s and Penny’s body language. This allows me to quickly gauge and predict behavior. Often when Penny charges, like in the above photo, Eko lets her pass by. But that little tongue lick let me know he was about to engage and wrestle.

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Penny knew it too and she made a hasty retreat!

I always keep a close eye on my pups to make sure they’re happy, relaxed and comfortable.

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3. Actively supervise play

It might be a beach, but the dog park is no place for setting up a picnic or reading a good book. Active supervision ensures the beach stays fun for everyone. It’s also key to stopping problems before they start. If I notice Penny wants to play tug with an unwilling partner, I make her disengage and we head to another part of the park.

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4. Speak up!

I can’t count how many fearful eyes I’ve seen when Eko bounds over to say hello to someone’s tiny dog. I know he’s a gentle giant, but others certainly don’t. I’ve found it very helpful to speak up about my dogs’ personalities to others. “Don’t worry, he’s gentle” helps ease tension, and “She loves to play tag, is that okay?” is a simple way to test the waters.

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5. Expect the unexpected

No matter how many times dogs play together, there’s always a chance something changes. In the above case, Penny was quite shocked to learn Doc was the one instigating a wrestle. Like the Boy Scouts, I try to be prepared for anything.

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6. Always be ready to leave

The most important command I have at the dog park is “Ready to go?” I only use it at dog parks and it simply means we’re leaving. Now. When the pups hear the command they both come right to me (took a bit of time to train Penny!)

Whether we’ve had our fun for the day, or I’m concerned about my pups’ safety for the slightest reason, I’m always ready to leave the beach on a moment’s notice.

The above rules, together with standard common-sense, help keep the dog park a safe, fun and invaluable resource for my pups. Dog parks are certainly not necessary for all dogs, but my two couldn’t do without them. There’s no other place in the city for these two to get the off-leash exercise they need to stay healthy and happy.

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Quite happy indeed!

For those of you who also visit dog parks, do you have any rules/tips for making the experience fun for you and your dog?

The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together

I know I’m very lucky Eko and Penny get along so well, but I think to a certain extent I’ve taken for granted why they get along so well. Sure, Eko’s patient. And yes, Penny has an infectious puppy charm. But I don’t think either one of those things best explains how these two stay close.

I think a better explanation is that Eko and Penny bring out the best in each other through play. After a couple days of avoiding Penny when I first brought her home, Eko just couldn’t resist romping with the little ball of energy. And the two have been romping ever since.
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Even with a full beach of dogs to choose from, Penny will beg for Eko to play with her

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While Eko may shrug off offers from other pups, he never turns down an invitation from his sister

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Nothing makes Penny smile quite like trying to keep up with Eko

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And nothing makes Eko bounce around like a puppy more than having Penny hot on his tail

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I love all our time at the beach, but nothing makes me happier than when I see these two playing together

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Clearly nothing makes them happier either!

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Except for maybe making the cameraman jump out of the way every time they fly by. I’m pretty sure they do it on purpose just for yucks

 Of course we love to play, but around here we also play to love!

Space Race Chase Face

Today’s post is not about putting a man on the moon. The “space race” I’m talking about is the race to close the space between Penny and her partner when playing tag at the dog beach.

And the “Chase Face?” Well those are the faces the partner makes when they realize Penny is winning the space race. Normally I catch maybe one good “chase face” photo per trip, but this week we met the best chase-facer I’ve ever seen. I just had to share some of my favorite shots of Mr. Expressive.
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Penny knew she had an enthusiastic partner to dance with

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I mean, just look at that face!

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As Penny closed in, the faces got even better

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This guy could be the lead singer in an all-dog KISS cover band

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The faces got a bit more desperate when our pal realized he couldn’t outrun Penny

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And by desperate, I mean hilarious

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But he clearly enjoyed the romp

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In between chase-faces there were plenty of big smiles

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As for Penny?

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She wore that same hunting-grin she always does when she finds a new best friend to play tag with

I was laughing too hard to catch Mr. Expressive’s real name, but I can only hope our paths cross again. You gotta love a pup with personality!

[VIDEO] Dogs, The Bounty Hunters

Montrose Dog Beach in Chicago isn’t just about romps and wrestling. For the more industrious pups, there’s a fortune to make in treasure hunting! (I expect Discovery Channel to call any day now about making this into a reality show)

A Dog for Every Occasion

Not all dogs are created equal, and that’s a great thing. Especially for a pup like Penny who has a lot of different interests. With summer in full swing, the beach is packed with dogs of every stripe. Penny, my social butterfly, makes sure to spend time with each and every one. Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, montrose dog beach, adventure

While relaxing in the shallows, Penny prefers to chat up the small pups

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But small dogs aren’t made for wild water romps

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So Penny moves on to play with the lab-mixes and other water lovers

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Back on land, the big bruisers are the most fun to wrestle with. But the big guys often lack speed, so when Penny wants to zoom…

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She chases after the best in the business – the greyhounds!

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In a sprint, Penny has no hope of catching her pal, but eventually her persistence helps her tire out the speedster

Of all these great friends, there’s one pup who holds the title of “best friend.” Tripp, a Rhodesian Ridgeback a few months older than Penny, is a sweet and playful pup who matches up with her perfectly.

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Tripp bounding full speed might scare off some other pups, but it’s Penny’s favorite sight

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In fact, you can see in Tripp’s eyes that he knows Penny’s a nut!

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The two love to bounce off each other up and down the sand

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Even Eko gets in on the romp. It’s only anecdotal evidence, but it really seems like both Eko and Penny gravitate towards playing with other Ridgebacks

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All smiles from the best pals

After a long winter when the beach was often empty, it’s great to have so many friends to hang/swim/wrestle/chase/romp with. It’s going to be an awesome, friend-filled summer!

Small Dog, Big Lesson

Penny is smack dab in the middle of her “teenage” phase. Like most teenagers, Penny believes she knows everything and she believes she’s the coolest, toughest pup on the block.Rhodesian Ridgeback, Chicago, puppy, Montrose Dog Beach, Marking Our Territory, adventure

Pure teenage self-confidence

At the dog beach, Penny’s teenage arrogance manifests as her setting the pace with her playmates. She charges, bounces, chases and struts on her terms and you better fall in line!

But like all teenagers, Penny has a lot to learn. There are some hard lessons I just can’t teach her. Luckily there are a few veterans at the dog beach to help educate my rabble rouser.

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Penny tried to goad this tiny guy into running away

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She bounced and growled and showed how big she was, but he didn’t move

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So Penny broke out her fiercest “you don’t want to mess with me” pounce-stance

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At which point the little vet marched right into the belly of the beast

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“I been dealing with young punks like you since before you were born…”

The little guy completely called Penny’s bluff and she froze. But the lesson wasn’t over, and I got to enjoy my best laugh of the day at Penny’s expense.

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“Get off my lawn you no-good teenager!”

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Penny sprinted away at full speed

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And for the rest of our time at the beach, anytime my little pal stared at Penny she turned the other way

I love Penny’s confidence and spirit, but it’s also important she minds her manners. It’s good to have tiny heroes like my pal at the dog beach to help give Penny a reality check. She’ll certainly be more careful next time she asks a small dog to play!

Share a Smile With Your Pet

It’s scientifically proven Tuesdays are the worst day of the week. Ok, so maybe that’s just my opinion but I expect science will one day prove me right. I expect the slog on Mondays, and Wednesday is humpday, but Tuesdays are a tough hustle.

Luckily on Tuesdays, or any tough day, Eko and Penny are ready to lend me a smile. There were so many smiles from our trip to Prairie Wolf Preserve last week that I didn’t have a chance to share them all. These smiles certainly helped brighten my morning so I thought I’d pay them forward.
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The faster she runs, the more she smiles

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It’s an infectious exuberance. You can’t help but smile when your pet is so happy

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Joy in motion

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When Penny smiles, I smile

I also got plenty of laughs out of our trip. Penny would disappear into the long grass and I tried to guess where she’d pop out.

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All my shots came out blurry partly because Penny was zooming so fast, but also because I was laughing so hard

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My four-legged smile-making machine

Next time you’re having trouble finding a smile I highly recommend you try making your pet smile instead. As soon as you do that, you’ll find it next to impossible not to share it with them!