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Just A Dog

Rhodesian RIdgeback, blog, adventure, travel, marking our territory

For the past five years, five days a week, I’ve written about dogs. About the love, loss, joys and frustrations we experience with our pups.

To commandeer the famous Lou Holtz phrase, I believe that for those who know dogs, no explanation is necessary. And for those who don’t know dogs, no explanation will suffice.

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Night Moves

It’s no secret Montrose Dog Beach is our favorite spot in Chicago. But at our old apartment it was a bit of an operation to get to the beach. I’d have to block out time for travel, try to avoid traffic and cross my fingers I could find parking when we got home.

But now that we live within walking distance of the beach?Montrose dog beach, chicago, rhodesian ridgeback, marking our territory, puppy

We can hop over anytime!

Since we moved we’ve had the opportunity to visit our favorite place at a new time – sunset. It’s been fun to see the beach in a new light.

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There’s a whole new crowd of pups for Penny to romp with

Montrose dog beach, chicago, rhodesian ridgeback, marking our territory, puppy

And a whole new crowd of people for Eko to butter-up

Montrose dog beach, chicago, rhodesian ridgeback, marking our territory, puppy

Sunset dips in the lake are the perfect way for my she-wolf to cool off after a hot day

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And I’ve noticed Eko has an extra pep in his step with the cooler night-time temperatures

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Best of all is Emily can now come to the beach with us more often

Montrose dog beach, chicago, rhodesian ridgeback, marking our territory, puppy

The sun sets, Eko soars and we head home

More friends, more beach time, more Emily – I think the pups and I are going to settle into this new routine just fine!

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!

The Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Cities

Vacations are adventures and there’s no better adventure companion than a pup. That’s why an increasing number of people decide to bring their pup along for the ride on the next family vacation.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the best pet-friendly cities across the country with Eko by my side. The good news is that no matter where you live there’s likely an awesome pet-friendly vacation city not too far away.

With summer vacation season getting into swing, I wanted to share a few of my favorite dog-friendly destinations. (You can find more photos/info from our trip to each city by clicking on that city’s header)

Austin, Texas 

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Our visit to Austin gave us plenty of reasons to smile

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And there were delicious treats for all species at Decker Creek Bed and Breakfast (and Biscuit) 

Whatever your speed, Austin has a scene for you and your pup. Zilker Park features both off-leash areas and leashed walking paths. If you’re feeling bold, you can also rent a canoe with your pup at Zilker and explore the river. Or take a short ride out of the city to run on some beautiful off-leash trails.

After a day of fun, grab dinner at any one of Austin’s many pet-friendly patios on 6th Street.

San Diego, California 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

Hang twenty!

Beach bums, look no further than San Diego for the best dog-friendly vacation. We found a very reasonably priced rental house a few blocks from the dog beach. Forget walks around the block, Eko got to hit the beach three times a day.

And no, surfing with your pup is not a requirement, but it is a whole lot of fun. Wherever you visit, I also recommend looking up local event listings, that’s how Eko got to try lure coursing while in San Diego.

Charleston, South Carolina 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

Paddling for two 

Charleston is a gorgeous city to walk through. So much so that Eko and I went on walking tours both during the day and at night. In between we stayed at a beautiful pet-friendly B&B, went on a plantation tour and went for a little kayak trip up the coast.

San Francisco, California 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

Dog-park with a view

It’s tough to beat the view from San Francisco’s dog park/beach nestled in between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. When you’re done playing, hop aboard one of the famous (and dog-friendly) trolleys for a ride.

Packed with dog-friendly destinations both within the city and amazing hikes just outside it, San Francisco offers plenty of fun for a pup.

Portland, Maine 

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The food at Inn by the Sea in Maine is so good for all species that I wasn’t sure which treat was mine

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

Traveling with your dog isn’t just for the summer. Eko and I visited Maine in December and it was one of our best stops of the year

St. Louis, Missouri 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

Living like a King in St. Louis

When it comes to dog-friendly events, St. Louis can’t be beat. Both the Beggin’ Pet Parade and the St. Louis Cardinals “Pooches in the Park” are worth trips of their own. Toss in a trip to the Arch, a comfy stay at the Cheshire Inn and you have yourself a great vacation.

New Orleans, Louisiana 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

My Mardi Gras companion

Eko and I spent Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so the city was rocking. But we also stuck around afterward and really got to enjoy the quieter sides of the city too. Strutting down Bourbon Street with your pup during the day is fun, but don’t forget to check out the Garden District for some great dog-friendly dining.

Denver, Colorado 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

One day they’ll make dog-friendly tourist cut-outs for photo-ops 

Tie your shoes, adjust to the altitude and bring plenty of water. Denver is paradise for active people/dogs. Whether you prefer to stroll sprawling dog parks or want to take on a hike, Denver has it all.

Chicago, Illinois

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

The Windy City will blow your hair back!

I promise I’m not playing hometown favorite on this one. Come to Chicago in the summer (definitely not the winter) to see why life is good for Second City pups. From Montrose Beach to SeaDog boat rides, Chicago has so many great destinations and activities for people and pups together.

When you visit, look for a knucklehead and two Ridgebacks at the beach and come say hi!

For the sake of keeping this post shorter than a novel, I’ll close here. But if you and your pup are making trips to Seattle, Portland, Oregon, New York City, Washington DC, Nashville or just about any other major city, there’s so much to do and see.

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 Some of the things your pup sees may confuse him

In all my travel with Eko I’ve learned two important things. One, bringing your pup along on vacation can make the trip so much more enjoyable and memorable. Two, your attitude always matters more than your destination. No matter where we went, we always found a way to have a great trip.

If you have questions about pup-friendly travel to any of the places we’ve visited, you can ask here or shoot me an email anytime at willandeko@gmail.com

Rhodesian Ridgeback, adventure, dog-friendly, vacation, puppy

The best adventure buddy

Last summer we didn’t get to travel much since Penny was still a bit young. This summer however I’m on the lookout for a fun road trip destination. Anyone have any suggestions for us?

Spring Training at Montrose Dog Beach

The winter weather continues to yo-yo here in Chicago, and this week we have temperatures as high as 40F. The fluctuating weather gave Penny the opportunity to learn her beloved beach is not gone forever. Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendly

Just when Penny had come to terms with the fact her beach had become a tundra, she made an interesting discovery

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendly

Wait a second, there’s something under this ice…

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendly

“Eko, come look at this!!”

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendly

My little prospector struck sand-gold

Penny needs no excuse to romp, but the soft sand under her paws definitely put a little extra pep in her step

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendly

“Woohoo, the beach is back!”

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendly

Eko joined in the revelry

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendly

And the two kicked up sand as the tore down the beach

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, marking our territory, dogs, pet-friendlyIt was even warm enough for Penny to work up a panting smile

Winter undoubtedly has more frozen weather in store, but we certainly didn’t mind practicing for spring!

Trick-or-Treating: A step-by-step guide for dogs

Trick-or-treaters aren’t born, they’re made. With that in mind, Eko gave Penny a demonstration of good form for her very first Halloween.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, beach, marking our territory, adventure

“Ok, so first you run up to the house.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, beach, marking our territory, adventure

“Then you ring the bell like this and yell ‘Trick-or-treat!'”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, beach, marking our territory, adventure

“You have the yelling part down, but you should probably stand a bit further away.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, beach, marking our territory, adventure

“What? No, you are not allowed to tackle kids and take their candy!”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, beach, marking our territory, adventure

“Why not? Because how would you like it if a bigger kid tackles you and steals your candy?”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, beach, marking our territory, adventure

“No one would be crazy enough to try that? Well, you may have a point there.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, beach, marking our territory, adventure

“Ok Will, I think she’s ready!”

On second thought, maybe we’ll just hand out the candy and leave trick-or-treating to the neighborhood kids.

Chicago’s Best Dog Park (That isn’t in Chicago)

Life for an active dog in Chicago is pretty good. There’s 20+ dog parks, an awesome dog beach and plenty of dog-friendly green spaces. That said, there are just some things you can’t get in a city, and a massive dog-park with acres and acres to roam is one of those things. Luckily Chicago pups need only travel about thirty minutes outside of the city to find Prairie Wolf, a 44 acre dog preserve.

Emily and I took Eko to Prairie Wolf this past winter, but since we’ve had some balmy fall weather it seemed like the perfect weekend for another visit. We brought my brother and his pup along for the adventure as well.

The first thing we saw inside Prairie WOLF Park was this friendly…direwolf? Dog?  Bear? (Side note: anyone have a guess as to what kind of dog this is? He was larger than Eko and very unique looking)

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

The second thing we saw was the dogs take off in flight. Penny was in heaven

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

Dutch was all smiles

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

As we walked the path the pups would dive into the brush looking for mischief 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

This was my view of Penny for most of the afternoon. Then I’d lose sight of her for a second, hear a rustle and…

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

Out she’d burst from the thicket

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

With Eko hot on her heels!

At one point, the trail curves out of sight. When I turned the bend just moments after the dogs had…

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

They were going absolutely crazy in this mud pit!

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

If scientists ever discover an exact formula for happiness, I’m positive a large component of it will be mud

But not to fear, Prairie Wolf also has a large lake where the pups washed off.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

Penny and a little Yellow Lab had fun playing Clash of the Puppy Titans

Of course, after all my efforts this summer to get Eko and Penny swimming they decided to just go for it on their own in the lake.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

Although it may appear Eko is smoking a stogie, that’s just a stick

So yeah, Prairie Wolf may not be in Chicago, but if you live in Chicago you absolutely must make the short trip with your dog. Come on, just look at this smile:

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory, wolf prairie, blog

To see the pups this happy is worth every extra minute in the car, and then some

After the visit we had, you can be sure we’ll be back to Prairie Wolf soon!

A Life Lesson at the Dog Park

Now that Penny is fully vaccinated, she has the all clear to romp with other pups at our favorite spots around the city.

Woohoo!

During a recent trip to the dog park, Penny wasted no time causing a ruckus.

 

Air Penny

Like a lot of youngsters, Penny often thinks she has it all figured out. When we got to the park, aside from Eko, Penny was one of the larger pups there. Penny triumphantly ruled the roost.

But while Penny overpowered a little guy, she failed to notice a Bernese Mountain Dog’s arrival

But when she did notice him, Penny was scared stiff!

And then bolted to me for safety

Between laughing and trying to not get crushed, I couldn’t hold the camera still. Nevertheless, these blurry photos crack me up

The family of the Bernese kindly offered to move to another side of the park, but I insisted they stay. “There’s always a bigger dog” is an important lesson for Penny to learn. She can’t always just muscle her way through life, so learning to interact and play with big pups is a valuable part of her development.

Big friends are fun too

Penny and her new pal dashed up and down the park happily. With his long coat, the Bernese eventually decided it was too hot to play. He went back to his family and sat politely while Penny futilely pulled at his fur.

 

“Humans, please save me from this little monster”

At that point I intervened and saved the Bernese from Penny. There’s no pup too big to bug, but hopefully she won’t remember that lesson!

A peek into a future with two dogs

The wheels are in motion to bring home Eko’s little sister (more on that in a later post!) but I think I got an early peek into some of the fun Eko will have with a little sibling.

Spring is undoubtedly new-dog season in Chicago. We’ve seen new pups of all ages at some of our favorite haunts. Yesterday at the beach a 7-month-old pup sauntered down the beach and showed me what I hope will be a common sight in the near future.DSC05215-1

She sauntered down shoreline with the Eko’s favorite stick. Why was it his favorite? Because she had it and he didn’t. Eko wanted to change that

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He romp-bowed to try to run her off the prize

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But she dug in and snatched the stick up

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She evaded both Eko and his hired muscle, then took offDSC05221-1

The chase was on!

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The pup led Eko on a high speed pursuit up and down the beach

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Eko closed the gap…

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And finally caught his prey. Unfortunately, the pup quickly realized Eko is a big sissy and would never steal the stick from her mouth. That’s when she started teasing him

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“Nah-nahnah-nah-nah!” But the pup forgot one thing while taunting Eko…

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Her stick! Eko giddily trotted off with the whining youngster in tow. Although I was quite please with his brotherly solution to the dilemma

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Sharing is caring

If our trip to the beach is any indication, Eko and I are in for a fun summer with the newest addition to our family.

Marking Our Territory: Senior Citizens Week

Eko came down to breakfast this morning and noticed something was up.


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An extra set of bowls…

I didn’t run the plan by Eko, but I thought this week would be a good time to do some community service.  And so I invited a couple of senior citizens, my brother James and his dog Dutch, to visit for the week.

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Dutch is just a few months shy of 10 and has a distinguished George Clooney-esque beard

After college I lived with James and Dutch for a couple years so it is nice that I am finally able to return the favor and play host.  Of course that doesn’t preclude me from making jokes about them both being old men!  It’s a long ride from NJ to Chicago so we headed straight for the park to run off some energy.

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We managed to get the cousins to hold still for just long enough to get a photo


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Then they were off!  Dutch still has plenty of spring in those old bones and he bounded around the park for the better part of an hour


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A smile said that the long ride was worth it

After the park we walked over to get a closer look at the lake. Maybe a bit too close!

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Dutch was begging to jump in – he loves the water – but James wisely held onto the leash

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Nothing like soaking up the sun and enjoying the view

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Not a bad day for a couple of old fogies!

James and Dutch will be around for the week so Eko and I will get to show them all of our favorite spots.  Should be a great time, provided they can keep up!