Chicago Life and Style.

Your Home. Your Life. Your Style

Month: February, 2012

Dogs, dogs and more dogs

It’s dog show season again and I’m getting excited! I love dogs. I think dogs are the best thing ever. I really, really, really love them. I used to be an adoption counselor for a local dog rescue here in Chicago and I loved helping people find new family members and helping them learn how to acclimate to each other. As I write this, I’m struck by the similarity to what I did in the dog rescue and what I do helping people find their next home, a recurring theme about what makes life satisfying for me.

My specialty in the rescue was the tough to place, big and/or scary dogs. I might not be Cesar Milan but I’m pretty darn good. I remember one of my pups looking for a home, a Tosa Inu, a Japanese Mastiff. He was so freakin’ handsome I kept threatening to put him in a suit and take him to dinner. So, yes, I am a crazy dog person. BUT, I am also a super responsible and reasonable dog person.  I expect excellent behavior, respect and manners from all the living things in my life- children, dogs, adults, whatever.Both my kids piled in my lap, all 230lbs of them. This is the dog that’s scared to let strangers touch him. 🙂

My current rescue, a 180lb English Mastiff grew up pretty isolated in the country without much socialization and was terrified of absolutely everything when he came to live with me in the city. He has come a really long way but is still very hesitant to let strangers touch him.  His family he can’t get close enough to, he just has some pretty strong boundaries when it comes to strangers. He won’t act out if people don’t respect his boundaries, but he might try and climb into my arms to escape—which, at 180lbs, presents a bit of a problem as you can imagine.  Respecting boundaries is extremely important to me and while I can’t teach every person I see how to be better with dogs (or people) it is worth a moment of everyone’s time to learn enough to be safe—and teach our children how to be safe around strange dogs.  Here is a super easy to digest, lighthearted diagram of what to do and not to do when meeting dogs.

For anyone who shares me love of dogs or is curious about them, there are a ton of good resources out there. My favorite is which does a nice job giving you the details about breeds and characteristics which will help you decide if a particular pup is a good fit for your family. Obviously, I want everyone to rescue instead of go to a breeder, but even mixed mutts display the characteristics of their different breed combos.  Take your time to do the research and you’ll be happier with your pup. Of course, computer research isn’t nearly as satisfying as going out and meeting the pups!  And you are in luck.  The International Kennel Club of Chicago will be at McCormick Place February 24-26th. It’s a fun, inexpensive way to spend a day and there ARE rescues as well as breeders there.  If you prefer to learn about the breeds from your couch—or just want to look, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show kicks off Monday and welcomes 6 newly admitted breeds—American English coonhound, Cesky Terrier, Entlebucher mountain dog, Norwegian lundehund, Finnish lapphund and the Xoloitzcuintli (formerly and commonly known as the Mexican hairless).

Another unique find for Valentines and every other day!

Anyone who knows me knows I love to find unique things–gifts, furniture, art etc.  Another thing I love is my job–and that’s because in addition to seeing an unending array of homes and style, I get to meet tons of new people all the time. Making someone feel special is all about paying attention to the little things–that goes for gift giving AND finding them the right home and since everyone IS unique, we all like things that fit us in our own special way.

Today I had one of those moments when all the unrelated parts of the universe came together to provide me with a really awesome idea delivered by a client. Let me tell you about my brother-in-law. He’s a super charming, fun entreprenuer who actually went to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America)  in between his last acquisitions because he likes cooking that much. This is a guy that likes the finer things in life and knows all about them.  But, let’s face it, all guys want to be manly men at times and so he added camo and hunting to his repertoire.  Of course, tailgating is one of the perfect activities for him, combining food and drink with a manly sport.  Here’s where the great idea comes in. Wine Botas–and here is the local seller WineBotas.

Now, there is a definite chance you aren’t familiar with them, or at least didn’t know what they are called. You’ve undoubtedly seen them in movies featuring medieval monks and the like. Essentially, its a soft leather carrier made specifically for wine, liquor etc. They hold the equivalent of 1.33 bottles of wine.  Can you imagine how much more convenient it would be to strap this baby on at a tailgate instead of finding a pocket for a flask? And let’s be honest, flasks are too small anyway. 🙂  That hunting trip is another great time have this puppy on under the camo! Or on a bike, or horseback ride, or hike- the uses are endless!

For the rest of us, it’s a perfect solution for picnics at the park and lakefront–no worries about sneaking glass in and one less thing to have to carry/pack. I love the convenience factor and I love how unique it is.  Remember my bro-in law? Well, it just so happens he and my sister are traveling to Tuscany this summer–this Bota folds small and light and will be a perfect traveling companion for them!!

So, Valentines day is right around the corner–and so is Spring believe it or not–the owner assures me that if you are quick, he can get you your Bota in time for Vday.  Something this unique says all the things the Hallmark cards say but does it with style–and wine!!!  For those that don’t imbibe, it works just as well with water or any liquid so I can’t think of a single person that wouldn’t think this is an awesome gift.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!