Monday, February 28, 2011

Teenage Wasteland

Every once in a while, Maisie goes through a bratty teenage stage.  She regresses obedience-wise, pees in the house, causes mild destruction and just generally gets herself into trouble.  This morning after I got out of the shower, I saw something white on the floor.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was a sock.  My sock.  Which now had a chunk missing.  I had carelessly tossed it and its mate (which survived unscathed) on the floor of my closet last night and Maisie apparently dragged it into the guest room to kill it.

And tonight, I noticed Maisie was sniffing one particular rug in the bedroom with extreme interest.  Usually that means only one thing...pee.  Sure enough, I flipped the rug over and found evidence of not one, but two separate (and highly prohibited) pees!  Which means I'm now waiting for the wash cycle to finish at 11pm on a Monday night so I can put the rug in the dryer before I go to bed.  I can't exactly ground Maisie like a teenager when she acts like this, but I can restrict her access.  So she has temporarily lost her upstairs privileges and will not be allowed in the bedroom unsupervised until she earns back my trust.  Only to lose it again, I'm sure!
"WhatEVER, mom."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Funday!

Maisie and I are lucky to live less than a block away from Puptown, one of the best dog parks in the city.  She's been a bit more timid there after the altercation a couple weeks ago, but seemed to get back in the swing of things today.  She started whimpering with excitement as soon as we got close to the entrance gate.

Sometimes she likes to have a little time to check out the scene by herself before joining in with the others.

After maybe ten minutes, Maisie began approaching and trying to play with groups of dogs.

Here she poses briefly with some other pup's drool on her face.

She also enjoys being part of the welcoming committee to greet newcomers.

It was tough to get a picture of Maisie running at full speed...she is FAST.  There were about five other dogs chasing after her at this point.

When she needs a break from being chased, she gives herself a time-out under a park bench.  In the winter, she likes to eat ice while she's under there.

The water fountain runs continuously for the dogs in the summer, but is off between October and April.  Today, a dog parent less forgetful than I am brought a jug of water to fill it up.  The dogs tend to gather around the bowl at times.

Every so often, Maisie would run up to me and kind of "check in."  She generally looks around for me periodically, just to make sure I'm still there.

For some reason, Maisie hates German Shepherds.  One trainer told me it might be because their ears are always upright, which could be interpreted as a threatening stance.  This is Otis, one of Maisie's canine enemies.  He was also at the park, so she spent some time barking at him.  Otis never stays very long because he is older and has hip dysplasia.  He seems like a very good dog.

Maisie's friend Bea was there today too and the two of them wrestled for a bit.  Bea is an adorable little pit bull...she's gotten so much bigger than when we first met her over the summer as just a tiny puppy!

So all in all, a good time was had today at Puptown.  Maisie seemed pretty happy to be there, and by the time we left we were both ready to go!
p.s.  just want to point out that any pics can be clicked on and viewed larger 
to see more detail should you so choose...but you knew that, right?  

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Three Stages of 4pm

1)  Hey, what's up?

 2)  Wait...
3)  Free!

Happy Friday, everyone!  :)

Working Class Dog

The most common question I am asked about Maisie coming to work with me (other than "how do you get any work done?") is "what does she do all day?"  I thought I'd illustrate a typical work day in the life of Maisie with a few pics (afternoon excursion with the dog walker and potential attempted attack on the UPS guy not included):

Hope everyone has as relaxing a day (in the office or not) as Maisie will!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Treat Dance!

I posted this on my Facebook page, but thought it was worth the double post.

Maisie comes to work with me three days a week.  Usually right around 4pm, she will approach my desk and give me a look.  A look that says "it's time for a treat, lady."

And what happens after the treat is given?  The Treat Dance!

Driving Miss Maisie

Nearly two weeks after the blizzard, my street looks like this:

I heard last week on the news that firefighters were digging out hydrants in case of emergency.  Guess they haven't made it to my block yet!

Some of the snow has melted since the weather was a bit warmer this weekend, leaving behind huge puddles of ice water.  It's difficult to find a place to cross the street, especially for a low to the ground pup like Maisie.  You may not be able to tell from this pic, but the water at the end of the driveway in front of my house is ankle-deep.

Here's what the parking lot at my office looked like this morning:

On days like today, I am extra glad to have a cover for the backseat of my car.  I received it as a birthday gift a couple years ago from friends who were sick of seeing the old sheet I was using to cover the seat previously.  This one is a hammock style, so not only does it keep wet or muddy Maisie paws from messing up the interior, it also prevents her from hitting the floor behind the front seats should I ever make a sudden stop.  

Plus it helps to keep her in the back (as opposed to climbing into the passenger seat while I'm driving).

When it gets dirty, I just throw it in the washing machine and air dry it.  The material is very sturdy, but Maisie still was able to chew through one of the velcro fasteners at some point.  I put a new piece of adhesive velcro on it and although it's not perfect, it works well enough...and had the bonus effect of making me feel oh-so-crafty!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


When you go to the dog park as often as Maisie and I do, you're bound to have a dog-on-dog altercation every once in a while.  Maisie tends to run away when other dogs get into it, but occasionally a dog sets his/her sights on Maisie.  Unfortunately, that happened this afternoon.  Right when we arrived, a pit/Rhodesian ridgeback mix acted a little aggressively towards Maisie.  Maisie picked up on it and tried to give her a wide berth for a bit. Eventually, it seemed the two had settled their differences and began playing together.

Suddenly things took a turn and the other dog started snapping at Maisie. Maisie retaliated and we had a fight on our hands.  The other dog's owner was able to grab her and they left immediately. His dog had a few cuts on her face, a worse outcome than my dog.
Maisie has a little cut near her right eye:

And a tiny scratch on her front right paw that you can really only see if you enlarge this:

Maisie seemed no worse for the wear...she is a tough little monkey.  I feel it's important to let her keep playing with other dogs and have a positive park experience after a negative incident, so today we stayed for a good 40 minutes post-altercation.  Within the first ten minutes, Maisie appeared to have forgotten all about it.  She acted as she always does...trying to get other dogs to chase her, running and wrestling and rolling in the snow.

The rest of our visit was uneventful, except when I caught her eating poop that someone had failed to pick up.  It's the most disgusting habit I can imagine and I rarely catch her in the act, but I don't know how to stop it.  Just writing this makes me queasy, especially because she licked me on the lips as I bent down to take off her leash when we got home. *blech*

Now Maisie is resting and as usual, wishing I'd get that damn camera out of her face...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Frog Dog

One of the cutest poses Maisie strikes is the "frog."

I'm not sure when she first started doing this, but my dog walker trained her to do it on command.  Now if I say "frog," she will shoot her back legs out behind her, especially if I say it while there's a treat in my hand.  But most of the time, she just does it by herself.

When she is hot, it makes sense to me that she'd stretch out like that to have as much skin exposed to the cool floor as possible.  It's not limited to indoors though.  I've seen her do it at the dog park, and she also enjoys froggin' it out on the dog cot I bought for her last summer.  I have a big deck and entertain out there a lot in warmer weather...I wanted Maisie to have a "home base" on which to lounge while my friends and I are grilling or having cocktails.  The mesh keeps air circulating so she stays cooler, and she also gets less dirty than when she lays directly on the deck.

That position looks super awkward to me, but I guess it must be comfortable for her!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nobody's Perfect

Although I obviously adore Maisie, I feel I should also try to make an effort to paint a realistic portrait of what living with her is like.  She is a dog with issues...although she's great off-leash at daycare and the dog park, she is leash aggressive and sometimes man-aggressive and I have more than once referred to her as "my cross to bear."

It may help you to understand Maisie a bit better if I share some of her history.  In the fall of '08, when she was probably not yet a year old, she and another dog were found at an abandoned house near the United Center.  Here is a picture of where they were discovered by a lovely and dedicated woman named Sue (who also started the Trio Animal Foundation).  They were near the open space at the bottom:

This is what skinny little Maisie looked like then:

After Maisie spent some time at Animal Care and Control, Sue managed to find a family to adopt her.  They named her Harley.  The husband wanted a dog to be a running partner, but something Maisie experienced in that first "lost" year of her life made her fearful of strange men.  She would not run with him and the two just did not bond.  So the family reliquished her to Playful Pets, a daycare facility that sometimes housed dogs without foster homes for a rescue called New Leash on Life Chicago (full disclosure - I was a founder of that organization, and still serving on the Board of Directors at that time).

In January of 2009, I had to put down my dog Kaya after over 16 years together.

It was a very painful time, and after less than two weeks I could no longer stand the silence and stillness of my empty apartment.  So I decided to foster and then, to foster "Harley." She'd been living at the daycare for a month at that point, with no applications to foster or adopt her.  Although (as you all know) she is very very cute and also quite smart, she is a) black and b) a pit mix, both of which greatly reduced her adoption potential.  Black dogs tend to be overlooked in favor of lighter colored dogs, and pit bulls (and pit mixes) are obviously not the easiest dogs to place.  So Maisie came home with me and with the exception of walks and eating, basically slept for two days straight.  These are two of the first pics I ever took of her:

After a month or so, I had fallen in love with her (and she with me).  I was determined to make her feel safe at last.  A month later, she was mine.  And she was Maisie.

In addition to the aforementioned fear-related aggression problems, Maisie also has horrendous separation anxiety (she's been on anti-anxiety meds for well over a year but still freaks out when left alone) and a loud, frequent bark which actually once made me lose my apartment! We've done quite a bit of training together and while there have been significant behavior improvements, she is and perhaps always will be a work in progress.  I hate to think of what Maisie's early life must have been like to make her so scared and jittery so often.  People have asked me why I went through with the adoption after knowing her issues...but we ALL have issues, myself included.  If I can't love a damaged little soul like her, why should I be deserving of love?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


"Wait" is probably the most common command I use with Maisie.  It comes in very handy when I'm about to take her for a walk but need to throw out the garbage first.  I know I can safely drop the leash while I toss the bag into the can and Maisie will sit right by my side. If I need to get something out of the trunk before we head inside, she will "wait" for me on the sidewalk next to the car while I grab it.  Or to use a recent example, I can leave the front door wide open while I salt the deck and Maisie will "wait" in the house for me.

But most often, I use "wait" at mealtimes.  I feed Maisie in her crate, and it's about the only time she doesn't mind being in there.

Once I finish preparing her food (more on that in a future post), I put the bowl down next to her and tell her to "wait."  And so Maisie waits...
And waits...

Once I went upstairs to start a load of laundry after putting Maisie's food down and forgot that she was still "waiting" to eat.  When I came back downstairs ten or fifteen minutes later, her food remained untouched.

As soon as I say "free," she devours the entire bowl in record time.

She always goes back for a few last licks of the empty bowl right before we head out for our morning walk, just to make sure she hasn't missed anything!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pooped Out

Maisie and I slept late this morning and woke to more snow.  Thankfully it was only a couple inches, and had a much lighter (meaning easier to shovel) consistency than the blizzard last week.  Since temperatures were actually a bit warmer and Maisie has had virtually no exercise all week, I decided we'd make our usual Sunday morning trip to the dog park.  We stayed about an hour and a half while she played and frolicked and ran at top speed.

Now we are very very tired and I'm planning nothing more than doing laundry and hanging out in my jingle jammies for the remainder of the day.  Maisie is happy to have some smoochy snuggle time, as always.

We heard there's a big football game today, but the thought of watching that makes us even more sleepy.

Looking forward to a new episode of Glee tonight though...and of course, the Puppy Bowl!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Maisie Loves Chrissy

Every woman living in a big city needs a gay bestie.  I am lucky enough to have a whole gaggle of gays as my main group of friends.  We all live in the Uptown neighborhood, and the few of them who live right around the corner are kind enough to come over and hang out with me and Maisie fairly frequently (thus saving me the ordeal of crating her alone in the house).  I love them all, but Maisie has her favorites and one of those is my "gay fiance" Chrissy. The feeling, I believe, is mutual.

I have learned from Chrissy that champagne is an everyday drink and not to be saved for special occasions.  To that end, over the summer I began hosting a weekly sparkling get-together (usually on Sunday nights, but lately we all meet whenever we can due to Chrissy's travel obligations).  It's been a difficult work week and a difficult weather week, so this weekend we've planned two champagne drinking sessions.  These pics are from the first one, last night.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see both the "engagement" ring I gave Chrissy (the finest cubic zirconia $20 could buy) and DeGrassi: The Next Generation on the TV in the background.  Yeah, that's how we roll.

Hope I have enough energy to do it again today!