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Living in the city with pets

This fall, Scott and I are celebrating living in Chicago for 11 years – hooray! For several of those years, we’ve had at least one big dog in our lives while also living in a small apartment and both of us working nine-to-five jobs outside of the home. We’ve since added a second dog to the mix, moved into a larger home down the block and have a baby on the way! We stay active renovating our current home, but we’re often asked how we keep our dogs, Jack and CC, active, too, especially in a densely packed city. I’d like to share with you the ways we’re mindful of the city life with pets in tow, how they stretch those puppy legs and, most importantly (in their eyes), how we reward them.

Our home is their home

We always say that, yes, you can have a home you love – no matter how small or large – with pets! When designing our home, we’re mindful of the items we bring inside. Will it be durable? Does it stand up to our busy lifestyle? Can the slobber and muddy paws be cleaned from this fabric easily? We like to set our pets up for success, and whether we’re picking out new throw pillows or planning for the back patio of our dreams, we always default to the materials and building blocks that are the most indestructible.

They run errands with us

The big box home improvement stores allow Jack and CC to roam the aisles with us, as do most small businesses. (In fact, even the most tightly packed stores have their own shop dogs!) While knocking down our own to do list, we’re socializing the dogs at the same time, and we treat every outing as a training session.

We seek out green spaces

We’re lucky enough to live a handful of blocks from one of the largest parks Chicago has to offer, and our dogs love nothing more than to roam in the grass, greet fellow park goers and nap in the sunshine. When we can, we’ll make a day of it, packing picnic lunches and extra dishes for their cold water. They come home content and exhausted, and we receive a quiet evening in return!

Tip: Even if you don’t live near a grassy open space, take an extra long stroll through tree-lined neighborhoods, and end the day at your favorite dog park.

They dine with us

Anytime the weather is above 60-degrees, Chicagoans love dining al fresco! The sidewalks are lined with small patios, and more often than not, they’re very pet friendly. The host is always the first one to bring our pups a big bowl of fresh water, and while we enjoy a slice of pizza, they like to soak in the scenery and beg for ear scratches.

Of course, what’s the point of dinner without a little dessert? Our local yogurt shop offers kiddie-sized cones, and we can’t even pass by the storefront without our two begging for their treat! After a long and well-behaved day, we’ll happily indulge them.

We bring them along to social gatherings

Chicago is famous for hosting a street festival (or two or three) every warm weather weekend, and we look at this as an opportunity to bring along the dogs and tire them out. The stimulation is another opportunity to reinforce their commands (Sit! Stay!), and with all the attention these two receive, we can literally watch them puff up their chests for their crowd!

What if you don’t have a car?

Most ride share services love toting your pets from A to B alongside you. Once the app has confirmed who will be picking us up, we’ll give the driver a quick ring and ask if they mind. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they’re thrilled to! This is a great solution during crowded public transit hours or households without a car.

We get away

This might seem counterintuitive, but every now and then, we need a break from the tightly packed homes and concrete sidewalks. Chicago is a stone’s throw from pretty sandy dunes and camping grounds, and we’ve found that Jack and CC welcome a quick weekend getaway as much as we do. Tip: Before the drive home, we like to clean debris their paw pads and check them for ticks. 

Allow them to be the stars of their show.

It might sound funny, but when we take our pups out and about, we’ll adorn them with their favorite handkerchief or special collar. CC has the sweetest flower pin, and Jack gets giddy when he sees us pull out his bow tie. They know this means they’re about to strut their stuff! In wearing these special items, they’re often approached and scratched and hugged on, and we like that this keeps comfortable around others. We do our best to treat every day as a training session, and this lets others know that we welcome their hellos.

Tip: Always speak up if you sense that your pet is uncomfortable.

Life in Chicago with two large dogs has never felt like a challenge; rather, we thrive on the bustling pace, and we find that our city has so much to offer for families with pets and children! Although our dogs like routine, we enjoy trying out new things to keep them social and active, and no one loves a doggie play date more than Jack! How do you treat your city pups?