Thursday, June 30, 2011

Walking the Path

While I take Maisie to the dog park for her off-leash romps, the fenced in "Puptown" area is actually just a small section of the much larger Margate Park (for some reason considered part of Lincoln Park, can any Chicagoans explain that to me?) which is located right at the end of my block.  When the weather is as beautiful as it was yesterday, Maisie and I often go for a stroll after work on the path that runs alongside it.

It gets us out of our everyday routine and gives Maisie the opportunity to sniff some new spots.

The park includes a fieldhouse that offers classes and a fitness center...or so I hear!

There is a (slightly rusty) sign out front detailing some of the building's history.

And a colorful mural decorates the wall on one side.

We also saw an unusual garden set back a bit from the path itself.

Although Maisie is very dog-selective when on leash (she snapped at a Doberman at the beginning of our walk, lest I forget), she took a shine to a couple of rat terriers we encountered (and almost got peed on).

One dog was named Jim and the other Jack.  Their owner was a tattooed woman I'd estimate to be in her late 50's...she said they were named after her favorite bartender and favorite drink!  

Maisie loved being outside in the sunshine...

In fact, she had so much fun walking the path that she had to stop and do her happy dance in the grass!

If you have not yet "liked" us on Facebook, please do!  You'll know right away when there's a new blog post, and the Facebook page features extra photos to help satisfy your Maisie fix even more often!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pretty Much Wordless Wednesday

Why "Crazy Maisie" continues to deserve her name...Exhibit A:
(click to enlarge if you want to view the insanity more closely and clearly)

If you have not yet "liked" us on Facebook, what are ya waiting for?  You'll know right away when there's a new blog post, and the Facebook page features extra photos to help satisfy your Maisie fix even more often!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Morning Maisie

Since yesterday's video was sort of a downer, I thought I'd post a more cheerful one today.  Sorry again for the dim lighting (the "motion picture" mode on my camera records in a darker setting for some reason), I hope you can still see it.  Anyway, here's part of Maisie's waking up routine this morning.  I helped a little bit.

While I always try to show both sides of Maisie - the good and the bad - she usually is a pretty happy pup!

If you have not yet "liked" us on Facebook, please do!   You'll know right away when there's a new blog post, and the Facebook page features extra photos to help you get your Maisie fix even more often!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Busy Weekend = Guilt

This weekend was Gay Pride here in Chicago and since approximately 95% of my friends are gay, that meant a lot of activities.  My friend Curtis and I spent Friday night grilling, watching an interesting documentary about Joan Rivers and celebrating gay marriage becoming legal in New York.  Maisie hung out with us throughout.  Saturday afternoon, I took her to the dog park for some exercise before I went to a BBQ.  She was home alone in the crate for five hours or so (about the maximum time I feel comfortable leaving her).

Sunday morning, I put on my sparkly rainbow heart t-shirt and headed to the Pride parade with a bunch of friends.  Pride is one of my favorite events of the whole summer, but too loud and crowded for Maisie to accompany me.  The weather was unexpectedly beautiful, which made the day even more fabulous.

I knew I'd be gone most of the day, so I arranged for the dog walker to come take Maisie out to the park halfway through her crate time.  But I felt terribly guilty regardless, because Maisie shakes and pants and generally freaks out when that crate door closes.  Here she is this morning, with me sitting right next to her:

The noise you hear is the bottom of the crate vibrating against the floor from her shaking (and maybe also the sound of my heart breaking just a little bit).  So what's a girl to do?  Maisie already takes Clomicalm for separation anxiety and in addition to that, I utilize all the tricks I know.  I leave her with treats and a Kong stuffed with frozen deliciousness (plus either some Composure liquid or "Tranquility" drops).  I line the crate with comfy blankets (frequently torn and/or partially eaten by the time I return).  I have a radio playing NPR next to the crate and a Dog Appeasing Pheremone diffuser plugged into the nearest outlet.  

But nothing really helps.  The Thundershirt makes a very slight difference, but not a significant one (and unfortunately, the dog walker forgot to put it back on her after the park yesterday).  

It can be difficult for me to enjoy myself when I am out with friends, because part of me is always worrying about Maisie.  For a long time, I tried to never crate her two days in a row but eventually started feeling my life was so restricted by her needs and issues that it wasn't fair to either of us (especially once I began to feel a bit resentful towards my poor, scared dog).  I am now crating her more often when necessary and keep reminding myself that her fear is not a life-threatening condition.  I took the day off from work today and I'm looking forward to cashing in a massage gift certificate that I received for my birthday, and to maybe make a Whole Foods run.  But that also means today will mark one of the only times Maisie has ever been left in the crate for any period of time three days in a row.  Although I will only be gone for maybe three hours max, I still feel incredibly guilty.  Hoping I'll be able to fully appreciate the massage anyway!

If you have not yet "liked" us on Facebook, I sure hope you will!   You'll know right away when there's a new blog post, and the Facebook page features extra photos to help you get your Maisie fix even more often!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Find your Own Fun

In Maisie's world, something as small (and seemingly un-treat like) as a fish oil capsule can be cause for celebration and even inspire a short rendition of the "treat dance."  Such was the case in my living room last night...sorry for the dim lighting, hope you can still enjoy the video!

I'm sure there's some kind of life lesson to be learned here, right?

If you have not yet "liked" us on Facebook, I sure hope you will!   You'll know right away when there's a new blog post, and the Facebook page features extra photos to help you get your Maisie fix even more often!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Baby Gates

Sometimes, Maisie needs to be in, not able to roam freely.  When that's the case, I often rely on baby gates.  They have been a vital part of bringing Maisie to work, where we have a fairly open design with cubicle walls but no office doors.  The gate at work confines Maisie to my area so she can't bug my co-worker (and more importantly, keeps her away from the UPS, FedEx and water delivery people).

The gate at work is a very nice, hands-free model with a foot pedal to open/close it.

Although Maisie is not thrilled about it being there (and it won't be there much longer, since I'll be working from home soon), she's gotten used to it and understands that she is not allowed to cross the threshold of the gate unless someone opens it for her.

I use another pressure-mounted gate at home to block off the staircase, though it's not such a fancy model.  I live in a coach house with no screen door and no interior hallway, so I need to restrict Maisie to the staircase landing when greeting visitors (or paying the pizza delivery guy) or she could easily run out the front door and take off.  Because of our somewhat unique living situation, the gate at home is essential.

It definitely has some signs of wear...I have learned that although the gate is strong enough to withstand a frustrated little pit bull, the same cannot necessarily be said for a drunk, stumbling gay man.  It still works though, and gives Maisie a good opportunity to practice her "wait" command right after I open it.

I also like having the option of keeping Maisie downstairs (or upstairs) with me when I want to keep an eye on her or prevent her from doing who knows what on the other floor without me there.  But I usually let her come and go as she pleases while I get ready for work, after she's had her morning walk and breakfast.

Again, even though she is accustomed to it by now, she doesn't really appreciate the presence of the gate.  Sometimes she expresses her displeasure by showing me her "sad prisoner" face, which (unfortunately for her) I actually find kind of cute and amusing!

If you have not yet "liked" us on Facebook, I sure hope you will!   You'll know right away when there's a new blog post, and the Facebook page features extra photos to help you get your Maisie fix even more often!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hangin' in the 'Burbs

To celebrate Father's Day, Maisie and I went to see my parents out in the suburbs.  Since Maisie has uh, marked her territory on their carpet in the past, I was nervous she might have another "accident."  She actually behaved like a perfect little lady this time, though precautions had already been taken.

First, I got Maisie groomed the day before to reduce her seasonal shedding and to present her in the best (aka cutest and cleanest) light possible.  Next, my mother used a blanket to cover the nice couch in the "living room," which in reality is a room in which we do no living at all as it is primarily for guests...real guests that is, as opposed to me or my brother.  Maisie loves that couch because she usually gets it all to herself.

Third, I always bring a blanket or towel (or in this case, a bathmat) as a "home base" for Maisie.  She is trained to "go to your bed" when necessary...for example, if she begs for food when friends are over, becomes too riled up during a Mr. Peepers play session, or gets overly excited when the dog walker arrives at the office.  It's a very handy command, and I used it with the mat yesterday as we were eating appetizers on the (other) couch in the family room and when I just wanted her to lie quietly nearby.  Finally, I brought an antler along to keep Maisie occupied and provide an appropriate chewing outlet should she get bored.

The bathmat served its purpose quite nicely, though it was too small to completely contain Maisie all stretched out in frog mode!

It wasn't long before my brother beckoned her onto the couch next to him for some pets and scritches.

A little later, my mother and I took Maisie on a leisurely half hour stroll around the neighborhood while my dad and brother watched baseball, then the humans gathered around the dining room table for dinner.  Maisie took full advantage of the newly vacated couch and hunkered down for a post-walk snooze.

All in all, it was a very successful parental visit with no negative incidents whatsoever.  Could it be that Maisie really is becoming a better behaved dog on a fairly consistent basis?  Or is this all just part of her evil plan to make me let my guard down?  Only time will tell...

Edited to add: Maisie totally snapped and lunged at some random guy when I turned my back to close my umbrella as we entered the office building this morning.  So while she has definitely shown improvement, her behavior is still somewhat unpredictable and she can't be trusted 100% (at least, not around strange men).  Disappointing.  :(

If you have not yet "liked" us on Facebook, I sure hope you will!   You'll know right away when there's a new blog post, and the Facebook page will feature extra photos to help you get your Maisie fix even more often!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

You Could "Like" Us! Really "Like" Us!

It seems to be the thing to do in our little blog community, so I too have started a Facebook page for my blog.  The page will feature extra snapshots of life with Maisie not shown on the blog.  Please, go "like" us there to help Maisie and I continue our quest to dominate and conquer this kooky world of social media!  ;)
"How about you finish working on that and start working on my breakfast?"

p.s. happy Father's Day to all the Pet Dads out there!

Friday, June 17, 2011

And the Winners Are...

Now that Reader Appreciation Week has ended (though I still really, really appreciate you), I put together an Excel spreadsheet listing the screen names of all the commenters and followers from the past week.
I wasn't sure at first how to choose the winners purely at random out of the 81 entries, so I did a little research and discovered that if you add a second column with a "randomizing" formula (=RAND() for my fellow Excel nerds) then do a data sort by that column, Excel will convert the formula to an arbitrary number and sort in a completely random way.

So I decided that the first three names to appear after sorting in that fashion would be the lucky winners of the contest and receive one large deer antler each.  And the winners are:

Congratulations to Two Grad Students and a Pittie, In Black and White, and Patty!  Please email me at with your full name and address, and I will get your antler in the mail ASAP.

To everyone else who left comments this week because of the contest (especially those who became followers), thank you so much for participating...I hope you'll all keep reading and commenting!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I have noticed that certain actions of mine trigger the same response in Maisie every time.  Not just things like putting on her leash then getting my keys, which leads her to sit on the bottom step by the door and wait fo me to take her out...I consider that more of a routine.

But for example, when we're in the office Maisie jumps up ready to go whenever I put on lip balm (I do tend to do it before leaving, but also at other times during the day).  When I'm dressed and she hears the freezer door open, she often refuses to come downstairs because she knows I'm probably getting a frozen stuffed Kong to placate Her Highness while I'm gone.  And I've already mentioned how she hides under the desk when she hears the shower.

In the morning, she heads into her crate awaiting breakfast as soon as I turn on the espresso machine.

And once I begin using my electric toothbrush, she goes from mellow, chilled out Maisie:
 To concerned, "is something going on I need to know about and/or will the shower be next?" Maisie:

Have you noticed any triggers in your dog?  Is there something you do that always makes him/her react in the same, but unintended way?

p.s. Don't forget this is Reader Appreciation week and you can win your pup a deer antler of his/her own!
Read Saturday's post for details (if you haven't already)...

p.p.s.  We reached our 50th follower today (I love them round numbers)!  Thanks to #50 as well as #s 1 - 49!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wistful Window Watching Wednesday

Maisie jumped up on a guest chair in my office the other day to better absorb the sunshine and breezes coming in from an open window.  We will miss this office space...

I have loved being able to bring Maisie to work with me.  Unfortunately, my boss has decided not to renew the lease since there are now only two employees here (not including Maisie, that is).  So starting mid-July, I will be working from home...meaning more, but different, Maisie time.  I will still take her to daycare once a week, but I'm worried that having less independence from me might exacerbate her separation anxiety when I do leave her home alone.  Frankly, neither of us take to change very well and this is a change that's definitely gonna take some getting used to.  For starters, I'll need to convince myself not to wear pajamas all day, every day.

I'm really hoping this job doesn't go away altogether.  But maybe when one door closes, a window opens...

p.s. Don't forget this is Reader Appreciation week and you can win your pup a deer antler of his/her own!
Read Saturday's post for details (if you haven't already)...

Monday, June 13, 2011


As regular readers know, Maisie has separation anxiety.  Recently, she has developed thunderstorm phobia as well so I decided to buy her a Thundershirt, which bills itself as "the best solution for dog anxiety."  They offer a money back guarantee, so I figured I had nothing to lose.  The theory behind it is the same as swaddling a baby...that having something wrapped tightly around the body creates a sense of security and safety.  After determining how it worked (I thought I might need a PhD at first glance), I was worried about wrapping it too tightly and inadvertently cutting off her blood flow and/or hampering her ability to breathe, but Maisie had no problem doing her usual activities while wearing it.  These activities included sleeping:

Working security:

Doing the frog:

Sleeping some more:

And just hanging out looking cute.

But the big question is...did it work???  Honestly, the jury is still out.  The Thundershirt seems to be helping maybe just a bit, Maisie is barking less (if at all) when I leave the house while she's wearing it, so I guess that's an improvement.  When I put it on her for its main intended purpose during a severe thunderstorm last week though, it appeared to have no real least, not until I added a Benadryl to the equation!

Has anyone else used a Thundershirt (or the similar Anxiety Wrap) on their dog?  If so, was your experience positive or negative?  Or did it have no impact at all?  

p.s. Don't forget this is Reader Appreciation week and you can win your pup a deer antler of his/her own!
Read Saturday's post for details (if you haven't already)...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Everybody Poops

My friend Curtis ("primary master" to Mister Peepers) alerted me to a fabulous deal on biodegradable poop bags...700 bags (plus a dispenser) for just $25.99 with free shipping.  He has used them in the past and says that although they are a bit thinner than the "name brand" bags, they are well worth the money.
But that's a lot of poop bags!  So while I did take advantage of the free shipping and bought 100 for Maisie (just $5.99), I also purchased a larger box with 880 bags ($29.99) and had them sent to a local rescue. Though I do sometimes make monetary donations to a few worthy organizations, more often I donate supplies of some sort so that my donation can immediately be put to use.  Occasionally a rescue will appeal directly to supporters for something urgent, but many of the items I've given were listed on a group's Amazon Wish List. A lot of charities post their needs that way (as one would with a gift registry) and a very nice feature is that the lists usually include a wide variety of price points.  In the past year, I've donated a Kuranda bed, water bowls, Kongs, treats, dental chews, Nature's Miracle and (not surprisingly) deer antlers.

I'm not trying to give myself a pat on the back or anything like that.  I'm just trying to point out that while I tried to be more generous the couple times I was financially able to to do so, I still felt like I was making a difference by sending something necessary but inexpensive when I could only spare a small amount of money.  I'm certainly not always in a position to contribute, but anyone who has ever worked in rescue will tell you that every little bit really does help.  And I figure if a little good karma comes my way, maybe Maisie will stop driving me crazy by constantly unmaking my bed!
Busted AGAIN!

p.s. Don't forget this is Reader Appreciation week and you can win your pup a deer antler of his/her own!
Read yesterday's post for details (if you haven't already)...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reader Appreciation Week (aka How To Win an Antler)

We are super excited to have been selected as this week's featured blogger on Pet Blogs United!
To welcome any new readers (and in appreciation of those we already have), I've decided to run a little contest in which three lucky people will each win one large premium deer antler for their (even luckier) pup.
The antlers are all natural, long lasting and have the magical ability to make your dog sit quietly and chew.

Here's how it will work...for every comment you make on any Maisie and Me post during our featured week (today through Friday, 6/17) you'll get one chance to win.  If you become (or already are) a follower, you"ll receive an additional entry.  Please don't forget to mention your follower status (either new or existing) in the first comment you leave this week to make sure you get the extra chance to win!

"I loves me some deer antler chews!"
Next weekend, I will pick three names at random from all the entries received and post the winners here.  Good luck to everyone...and thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I think I've said before that when Maisie is on a streak of good behavior, I get lulled into a false sense of security which is later broken by some truly awful behavior that catches me off guard.  It's happened more than once, and I am suspicious that it's currently happening again.

Maisie is generally pretty leash-aggressive...on average, I'd say probably about 70% of the time. However, in the past week Maisie has encountered three four new dogs and acted extremely friendly towards all of them.  In addition to the dog who bit her last weekend, we met a very handsome pit bull and a beautiful husky mix, both newcomers to our block.  We also a ran into another dog at the pet store when we went to stock up on her food for the week. In each case, Maisie was playful, curious and non-threatening.  Hm. Suspicious.

She also has been an obedience superstar.  When we arrived home tonight, I ran her through a quick series of commands I often give when she's on the mat right inside the door and she obeyed without hesitation. First is sit/wait...

Then down...

Then frog!

And after I went upstairs, she immediately came when I called her.  Perhaps a bit too close to the camera, but nevertheless, she listened on the first try.  Verrry suspicious.

I would be so happy if Maisie had turned a corner and was showing a real sign of improvement, but I'm more inclined to believe that she is hatching some evil plan which she will spring on me without warning!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sorta Wordless Wednesday

"Oh no...I hear the shower.  That usually means my mom is going somewhere.  
With me?  Without me???  I can't be sure.  
Maybe if I stay under this desk she won't find me and I'll never have to go in that awful crate again!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pit Bull Fuel

Feeding Maisie involves a lot more than just food.  Her main meal consists of a 1/2 lb. of raw food, twice per day.  This 2 lb. container lasts (35 lb.) Maisie two days, and I usually rotate turkey, chicken, beef and duck:

She now also gets one freeze-dried raw patty per feeding after I noticed she lost a bit of weight over the winter (alternating between duck and chicken, as they crumble more easily than the beef or lamb versions).

But in addition to her actual food, Maisie receives a variety of supplements:

Besides her prescription Clomicalm for separation anxiety (which she gets twice a day), her a.m. routine also includes a glucosamine chew.  Before I started giving her these, she sometimes limped a bit after a full day of daycare but that stopped completely with the glucosamine.  And she loves the chicken-y taste!

In the evening, Maisie gets an Omega-3 acid capsule which benefits her overall health and helps keep her coat nice and shiny.  The ones I have are actually for people (Maisie and I share them) and are generously supplied by a friend who works for a pharmaceutical company, but there are plenty of pet brands too.

I also give her a probiotic at night to reduce occurrences of intestinal distress.  She still has toxic farts though.

Finally, I always sprinkle some enzyme powder (with more probiotics) over any servings of raw.  It aids digestion and and helps Maisie to better absorb all the nutrients in her food.

Phew!!!  All that stuff just to keep one little dog healthy and well-fed...

Thankfully, my own fueling routine is much least in the morning!