Running with Squirrels

fostering dogs that need it most

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

McMuffin’s favorite part about hiking

Yesterday, we wrote about how fun it is to hike with Reese and McMuffin.  All four of us had an awesome time and McMuffin told us her absolute favorite part about hiking once we got home.

And it is … drumroll … lovin’ from momma along the way!

Exercising with your dog: Part 2

Previously, we wrote the first post in a series related to exercising with your dog.

Today, we continue this series with another of our favorite ways to get out and bond with our pups … hiking!

Hiking is a great activity to get you out of the house and enjoying nature.  It’s amazing how relaxing it is to reconnect with the outdoors and let your mind wander while you trek through the trees.  But you know what makes hiking even more fun?  Bringing along your furry friends!

Hiking is a great dog activity for a number of reasons.  First, prior to being domesticated, dogs were accustomed to roaming large areas in search of food, and walking in an organized pack helped them build a sense of community amongst their fellow comrades.  This activity of walking long distances makes a dog feel like they are performing a valuable task and builds a very powerful connection with the people they work with on their walks.  Second, hiking is a great way to both mentally and physically exercise your pet.  The monotonous routine of walking along flat asphalt is certainly better than nothing, however, once you get your dog out into unfamiliar terrain with hills, rocks, and branches you can see an immediate change.  Rather than casually strolling along, they begin to engage in the activity.  This is a great way to stimulate their senses.  Combining this new terrain with all the foreign smells they must investigate provides a great opportunity for your dog to stay mentally and physically fit.  Not to mention, walking on the softer dirt paths is a great change of pace for their paw pads.

Just remember to bring plenty of water to make sure everyone is well hydrated!  It is also a good idea to take a break once in a while to allow your pups to catch their breath, especially if this is your first time hiking with them.  You may be surprised how much more tiring a short amount of hiking is to them compared to their usual walks around the concrete jungle.

We also like to outfit them with their own hiking packs.  For some reason it really makes them feel like they are on an important mission … and it also minimizes the stuff foster mom and dad have to carry!  Be careful not to load too much in their packs and we recommend practicing in smaller sessions to get them used to the feeling of walking around with them on.  Start out with empty packs for little strolls around the block and build up slowly.

Even if you live in an urban area, spend a few minutes online to see if there are any parks or trails near you.  You may be surprised to find a few spots that are closer than you thought.

Another great idea is to find out if there are any dog hiking groups in your area.  This is a perfect way to learn about new trails and work on dog socialization.  A few great groups that we have heard of are Hike-a-Bull in California, SociaBulls in Chicago, and Pittie Trails in Maryland.

Stay tuned tomorrow to hear about McMuffin’s favorite part of the hike!

Teaching by doing

McMuffin has a little bit of a phobia when it comes to being confined to her crate.  For many years, when her people left the house she was in charge of making sure there wasn’t any funny business going on in their absence.  Over time, McMuffin became somewhat of an expert and when she came into our home she absolutely did not understand how we could leave the house and not ask her to monitor the situation.  When we explained that she should just hang out in her crate while we were gone, she was not impressed with this arrangement.

After a few short trial periods, we decided to let her roam the house while we are gone.  It has worked out great so far, however, we are still working on teaching McMuffin that being in her crate for a little while is a good thing.  She isn’t buying it.

Lucky for us, foster brother Reese is an expert at speaking pibble and has volunteered to help.  He has agreed to show McMuffin that crates are actually pretty cool and fun to nap in.  Here he is dutifully showing her how to conquer her fear …

Unfortunately, McMuffin doesn’t seem too interested in learning this lesson and prefers to observe from a more familiar, comfortable location …

Smushed or comfortably resting on top?

There is a great debate ongoing here at Rancho Foster.  The topic … how to utilize a pillow for optimal snooze comfort.  Reese and McMuffin have completely different approaches to their pillow placement and can’t seem to agree one way or the other.  We have done our best to moderate the debate by weighing a number of factors in an effort to come to a scientific conclusion.

Factor #1:  Shortest time from laying down to sleeping.

This one goes to McMuffin … her technique yields the quickest transition from initial resting of the head to sleep, by far.

Factor #2:  Deepest sleep.

Reese wins this one in a close competition … although it takes him a little longer to get situated, once he has found the right pillow placement there is no interrupting his state of snooziness.

Factor #3:  Funniest snoring noises.

Reese takes this one in a total landslide … the snoring induced by his smushed technique is unrivaled by any other pillow placement.

Factor #4:  Minimizing drool.

McMuffin takes the cake … her position results in a nearly drool free post-nap pillow, which can’t be said for the drooly evidence left by Reese after his deep slumber.

So, as you can see, it came out in a tie.  But in reality, we decided everyone wins when naps and pillows are involved.  Mostly because it usually means foster mom or dad walk into a room and are lured in for a little relaxing pittie snuggle no matter what technique is on display.

Ode to Linus

Remember Linus?  The guy with the blanket?

Well, it turns out “The Zoo” really likes his style.  So much so, they have been auditioning to play his role in the upcoming canine remake of the classic Charlie Brown series.

chompin’ some cubes

Turns out there is a second thing about icy snow that McMuffin likes!

All you can eat ice cubes! Bring on the buffet!

Brain freeze!

But be careful McMuffin … remember what we told you about yellow snow!

Uh oh ... gross ... I don't feel so good.

one cool thing about icy snow

McMuffin certainly isn’t the biggest fan of this icy snow we have covering the ground.  First, it is way cold on her little paws when she has to go out in the morning.  Second, it means she can’t play fetch with her lacrosse ball because it is impossible to find.  Third, no romping around in the backyard with her buddy Reese because the ice cuts their feet when they run fast.  So really, is there anything to like about this cold, slippery stuff?

McMuffin, forever the optimist, has decided there is!  Because you can’t tell what is under the icy snow anyway, she can pee wherever she wants outside … even if it is on the deck right outside the door!

Thanks for moving the loo closer to the door!

Foster mom, foster dad, and foster brother Reese aren’t very enthusiastic about this new discovery … but have to admit it is kinda funny.  Here’s to a few cleansing rain storms in the near future!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the thrilling, must see sequel to this adventure …

So close you can almost taste it

Ahh … the life of a dog.  Lounging on the couch, having live-in chefs to prepare all your meals, plenty of time to relax outside and daydream in the sun without a care in the world … until … the couch steals your bone.  And when it happens … your world is rocked.

Crap ... Mom ... Dad ... the couch stole our bone again!

At this point Reese’s instincts kick in and he knows that the only way to solve this problem is to take matters into his own paws and devise a plan whine like a little baby until someone gets it out for him.

McMuffin, on the other hand, is super-smart and likes to solve puzzles.  First, she surveys the situation from all angles.

ohmmmm ... come to McMuffin!

Her psychic powers are still a work in progress, so sometimes she has to resort to some good ol’ fashioned hard work.

Come on Reese ... give me a push you lazy bum ... I'm almost there!

And with a little teamwork, they are usually able to outsmart the couch and reclaim their prized bone.  And if not … at least the couch provides a nice cozy place for them to relax until Reese’s method works!

Kreativ Blogger Award!

We were super-pumped to get a shout out from our friend at Peace, Love & Fostering when they passed on the Kreativ Blogger Award to us!  We’ve had a ton of fun following her fostering adventures (go check our her current foster Comeback Kid Baxter, we’ve met him and he is a PERFECT pup!) and especially admire her work as a fundraiser and donor to one of the local humane societies.

The way this award works is that we have to write ten new tidbits about ourselves and then pass the award along.  Since we are new to the blogging world, we think this is a really great way to introduce ourselves outside of the dog fostering theme.  Here goes!

1.  We were recently married this summer at Sugarloaf Mountain.  We were so lucky to be surrounded by our family and friends on a beautiful summer evening!

Photo courtesy of Liz Hough Photography

2.  We are both finishing up graduate school at the University of Maryland.  Foster dad is studying bioengineering and works full-time as an engineer for the Department of Defense.  Foster mom is studying school psychology and currently interning with a local county public school system.

3.  We met while studying abroad in Alcala de Henares, Spain (a small town just outside of Madrid) in 2003.

4.  Foster dad looks forward to sitting back with a delicious beer and has turned this activity into a homebrewing hobby.  His favorite beers are American IPAs but is willing to give anything a try!

5.  We are both addicted to travel.  Our most recent trip was to Belize and it was amazing!  We spent some time in the rainforest (hiking, exploring caves, a rafting down rivers) and then moved on to the beach for some relaxation.

6.  We recently moved into our first home and have spent a lot of time making it ours.  We just finished renovating our first bathroom and have fully caught the DIY bug!

7.  Foster mom believes chocolate is its own food group and can never turn down a Reese’s peanut butter cup or Lindt truffle.

8.  We both love to hike and volunteer as trail rangers with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

9.  In a previous job, foster mom had to dress up like a clown and pirate.  The things you will do to build your graduate school resume!

10.  Our favorite place for vacation is the beach in Delaware.  We have been going there with our families since we were in diapers and try to visit any chance we get.  We especially enjoy the off season when we can bring the dogs!

Photo courtesy of Liz Hough Photography

Not only are we totally new to the blog writing world … but we are also brand-new to the blog reading world and have been amazed by how many inspirational, creative, funny, and talented people that are sharing their lives in their blogs.  We started out following blogs related to our wedding planning and have since moved on to the dog fostering blog world.

A ton of our favorites have been given this award previously (duh, like I said earlier they are inspirational, creative, funny and talented!) but here are a few we enjoy and think are very deserving (apologies to any blog we left off because we thought you already got the award!):

Liz Hough Photography – By far the best photos on our blog are courtesy of her amazing work.  She has a great eye for photography and is an awesome person to work with as well.  We also think it is really cool that she spends some of her time teaching others about the world of photography!

Married with Dawgs – We are super jealous that she has been able to follow her dream and start her own business doing what she loves!  Eco-friendly and a dog-lover … what more do you need to go check out her blog?!?  Plus, their pack of pups is awesome too!

Waiting Between Trains – This is a fellow Jasmine’s House foster blog that does a fantastic job prepping their fosters for finding a forever home.  Their current foster Poppy is a total rock star and we love learning about their adventures in fostering!

Pittieful Love – A wonderful blog about their lives as pittie owners and foster parents!  They are located in the Baltimore area and have done so much great work finding deserving dogs their forever homes.  They have had some beautiful fosters pass through their doors, most recently an adorable little girl Ava!


Foster dad tricked us a few weeks ago by talking up these magical things called Bowl Games and then turning it into a totally lame photo op.  Reese and I are onto his stupid little games, and so this time when he started to get all excited about the “playoffs” we knew not to get too pumped up. Boy were we wrong …

“Playoffs” involve loading up the fireplace, cooking delicious food, and lounging on the couch … all things we love doing!  But the best part of all, we get to be the halftime entertainment!  We went out back and after a brief intro to the rules we shook paws and Reese and I played a little football of our own.  Reese won the coin toss and started with the ball … and that is when I showed them a little something.  See I just pretended to be a newbie when they were explaining the rules but the truth is I am a freaking BEAST at football.  Immediately, I stole the ball and was ready to show them my offensive playbook …


Once I had the ball I went to work …

red kong ... black kong ... sit-stay .... HIKE!

Boom … first play … triple option QB keeper for a touchdown!

Shabazz ... McMuffin in the house!

It didn’t get any easier for Reese.  I ran circles around him and won 124-0.  He didn’t even know what happened …

Wow ... she got game.

Reese is a quick learner, so who knows if I will always be able to whoop him this badly … but for now I am basking in my glory and enjoying the second half on the couch!

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