Recently in Rocco Category

Q: Hello, Love reading your blog. I'm about to pull the trigger on getting a Frenchie. One question I have for you is do they have a bad body odor? I live in a high rise in Manhattan and the windows doesn't open. Do you think that's a problem?

A: Nope none at all actually. Very clean. Just bathe once a month.

Q: Hi just read your article which is very informative. We are thinking of getting a French bulldog puppy, both me & my husband work, I do 4 days a week & locally so can call home at some point in the day (I'm a community midwife).

One problem if it is one, we have a siamese cat. They by nature are very territorial, I know most cats are, but siamese very much so. We are a bit anxious that we'll upset the cat too much, or it'll pick on the puppy, or both!
Just wondering if you've any advice on this, or just in general?

A: The key to cats is to introduce a new pet slowly. The first step would be finding a place where you can keep the puppy & the cat so they can see & smell each other and not interact - like using a crate for crate training the puppy, and the cat can inspect and smell this new creature that invaded "their home". I would do this for the first five days. Otherwise, keep them away from each other, with the puppy in their own room and the cat in theirs. After day 5, then I would look to introduce them by allowing your cat to roam freely and the puppy & you to be side-by-side at all times. With Rocco I used to keep a leash on him inside the house, and tie it to my belt. When I would stand up to get something to eat - he would follow me. When I would sit down, he was next to me. This helped to bond us & also helps so you can "watch him like a hawk" during the potty training / house breaking phase.

I would expect the cat would just leave your new puppy alone, but having a water bottle handy can help. If your cat gets too frisky a few squirts could do the trick to teach the cat not to be "too fresh" with the puppy. I would expect in about 10 days they will be happy (or tolerant!) of each other.

Rocco's Facebook Page

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When I adopted Rocco three years ago, I knew he was a special little pup. Who doesn't like puppies - they get stopped on the street all the time.

As he got older, the requests didn't stop - in fact I rarely take a walk along Washington Street and don't hear someone squealing "OH MY GAWD" when they see Rocco and other Frenchie owners of course would remark that he's pretty cute and where I got him.

I got lucky. My sister actually found Rocco online from a hobbyist breeder who doesn't breed anymore. It's too bad, had I known that Rocco was going to be this cute I would have bred him. But alas, unless I get him cloned there won't be any future prodigy.

I liked taking funny pictures of Rocco and would share them on Facebook. I didn't want my "main" account to be "All-Rocco-All-The-Time" so I created a page for him. Invited a few friends to it who I thought would like to see more pictures of Rocco and would post from time to time.

100 became 200. 200 became 300. And his popularity grew.

Rocco's page is almost at 3,000 likes (at the time of this writing). It's not quite the level of celebrities, but I find it funny that he has such an audience. Sure, some people who joined probably are bots. But its still fun to have an interactive audience. I kind of wonder how this website would have done had I started it when Facebook was popular. I don't update it as much as I used to since most of my days are on Facebook or Reddit now - and reposting the interesting articles to my main Facebook account.

But if you like French Bulldogs and my man Rocco, feel free to check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/roccothebulldog. I'm thinking he must be the most popular dogs in Hoboken. ;)

Operation: Bad Dog Owner

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Ask anyone in Hoboken what is their biggest pet peeve behind lack of parking or potholes and you probably will hear about dog owners who aren't picking up after their dog. Its disgusting to walk down the street and see brown bombs all over the sidewalk. As a dog owner, it pisses me off when I notice dog owners that aren't cleaning up after their dogs "do their business".

When you walk dogs in your neighborhood, often you meet other dog owners and get to know them. Some you know by name. Some you know just by their dogs name. While there are others that you haven't met, but have seen them walk their dog often enough that you recognize them.

One owner, in particular, got my attention. After walking Rocco for the last three years, I notice that there was one dog owner who consistently was not picking up after their dog. This wasn't a once or twice thing, but it was Every. Single. Time. Every time I saw him walk his dog, he would let the dog poop - and then sort of do a quick "is anyone watching me" look to the left or the right and walk away.

At first I was going to say something. If you know me well enough i'm not someone that minces words, nor do I have a very good filter. This isn't the first time I confronted a bad dog owner. In fact, I remember once before I confronted someone else about not picking up after their dog - and they went so far to accuse me of needing glasses. I remember another time the guy was going to punch me that he was so angry that I caught him.

Perhaps third time is a charm, so I didn't say anything - I let my government do the work. I'm friendly with a few of the hardworking people in city hall, so I reached out to them and asked their advice. I first thought calling the police would be the logical step. Maybe they could do an undercover sting operation! This was met by laughter and correction - that I should contact the health department.

It turns out that by using Hoboken311: http://www.hobokennj.org/311/, I was able to report what I saw. I had a pretty detailed account of the guy who was letting his dog poop all over the place, he had a regular morning routine which was right outside his building. I knew what he looked like and knew what kind of dog he had. I basically wrote all the details in a request.

My honest thought was that no one would really do anything. I mean, how often do you really see the "little guys" get anyone to notice them in City Hall? I'm not some big campaign contributor or own a big business in town. I'm just a regular guy who gets easily annoyed at the double parked cars outside of Piccolo's. But that's a story for another day.

Imagine my surprise when I received this email only a few days later (with some details left out):

"Please be advised that earlier this morning, beginning at 6:45am, our Office conducted a surveillance of the area described in your complaint (Hoboken Health Department Complaint #[redacted]) in which the individual you described in your e-mail, was found in violation of 93-16 of the Code of the City of Hoboken (not picking up dog feces) and has been issued a summons to appear in Hoboken Municipal Court, on [redacted].

Director Pellegrini and myself would like to again thank you for taking the time to send the detailed information that you did which led to the catching of this individual in the act of creating a public health nuisance.

Frank Sasso"

Wait, what? It worked? This town isn't perfect. There's always going to be someone who is going to complain about everything City Hall does - and rarely do you ever hear someone complimenting City Hall on a good job. This is just an example that sometimes government works, and that Hoboken311 is a pretty nifty site.

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Got this email from a reader:

Hi!

I love your blog! Sounds like your dog is similar to my frenchie. She just turned 3 months! We started with wee wee pads and now walks. She goes outside with us in morning and walker who is her trainer for an hour and then me again after work and at night but she holds her bladder till she gets inside and goes on wee wee pad! We started crating her cuz she went on wee wee pad a lot. She had some accidents especially with loose stool although its getting a bit better but still won't go outside! And also does the planting thing where I literally have to drag her!! Also has been having on and off diareah and a bit of throw up so just switched her to merrick. She is eating duck now I heard a lot of frenchies have problems with chicken. She is still having some diareah, she just changed foods, but no throw up. Mostly we wanna potty train her to go outside and hold bladder but she barely walks (one block maybe with tugs to get through it) and won't go potty outside! Any help would be appreciated!!

Thank you!!!!

Here's my reply:

At 3 months you pup can basically 'hold it' for 1-2 hours per month old. So, ideally, your dog needs a walk every 4-6 hours.

My suggestion would be - when you take your dog outside, bring a wee wee pad. Teach your dog to pee outside on the pad. Do not have any more wee-wee pads inside. Do not bring the dog back inside until they go pee this could take 30 minutes or so. If they hold it - and you go inside and they pee on the carpet or hardwood, you scoop them up and go back outside for another 30 minutes.

At 3 months old, they don't walk very far. Their little legs can only go a block or two. She will get better at it.

As for food, they shouldn't have loose stool. Some foods with Rocco were too rich. Rocco eats Acana. They are grain free, and he likes all of them - currently he eats Pacifica. No problems with loose stool.

Frenchie Potty Training - Again!

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Hey, I just read your post on google. I just recently got my Frenchie and she is a doll and I love her to pieces but her potty training is bothering me. She knows when she pees on the carpet it's bad and she's not supposed to but it's like she hates going outside. I've had her for 3 days now and I have literally brought her outside 30 times and even walked her to get her to pee but she has not done it outside yet. I will bring her inside then 30 minutes later she'll find somewhere to go and then when I say no she knows immediately she wasn't supposed to and will run and hide then peak around the corner at me to see if I'm still mad. Anytime she gets up and starts sniffing I will say want to go potty? And I will bring her outside but she'll sniff Around and then just sit down then ill walk her around and she'll walk fine and ill stop hoping shell pee then she'll just sit back down again. So I bring her inside and watch her and she'll never go then just squat and per 20 minutes later. I live in an apartment so when I take her out she must be on a leash and I live on the 2nd flight so I have no backyard. Should I start doing puppy pads or crate bcus she acts like she gets distracted and I live right in the city and people are always outside. Thank you!

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I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that its only been THREE days.

You have a puppy, this isn't Lassie. Its going to take a bit longer than three days to get used to the idea that outside = potty.

When I first had Rocco I would walk him every hour on the hour. Every. Hour. Not when he was sniffing - every single hour of a day I would take him outside for a 5 minute "walk". If he peed, I would be all "GOOD BOY GOOD BOY" and give him a treat. Also I lived in a 3rd floor walkup with no backyard when I did this. If I can do it, you can, too.

This was for the first 10 days. I know, its winter, and the weather stinks, but if you can't do hourly, how about every 2 hours?

Also if you have her in the house, tie her leash to your belt buckle. Everywhere you go - she goes. If you take a shower - she's in the crate. If you take a nap - she's in the crate. Anytime you cannot see your dog, crate your dog. You aren't hurting your dog. The crate should be out, in the open, with the door open, with toys and a nice blanket in there for her to snuggle on.

Puppy pads are a terrible idea because it makes the dog think that "potty indoors is OK!". Do not, at any cost, use a puppy pad or for the next 10 years you will have a dog that pees inside. I have seen in a hundred times.

Good luck - and lets see a picture of your doggie. I can't get enough of puppy pictures!

Sean
http://www.facebook.com/roccothebulldog

Kelly wrote:
"Hi there, I read your entire post and found it very informative so thank you for posting that.

My girlfriend and I have looked into getting a French Bulldog and love the breed. But we both have jobs where we will be gone from 8-4 mostly every day, Monday thru Friday. We are going to do our best with having people stop by during the day but will still be an issue.

We are going to walk him before and after work an obviously be with him
4:00 to bedtime.

From your experiences do you see this as being a big issue. Thank you so much for your help!!!"

Reply: "That's not an issue*, just follow these steps:

1. Get a dog walker to walk your pup twice a day for the first 3 months. Your rule of thumb should be for every month the dog is old, they can hold their bladder for 2 hours. 2 months old = 4 hours until a pee & poop is needed.

2. Once you hit the third or fourth month you should be able to tell how long your dog can 'hold it' until they need to go. Around month three four, you can start trying the dog walker once a day. I used to do Monday-Wednesday-Friday were dog walk days and Tues-Thurs was 'doggie daycare'. I'm sure they have that in your area, where dogs can get dropped off and play with other dogs all day.

3. If you follow my rules that I wrote on philly2hoboken.com about housebreaking frenchies, you won't have any problems."

Jenna wrote:
"I loved reading your post on your experience with your Frenchie so far..

I was curious more in detail about his crate training and how it went? Did he cry alot if ever? I'm going nuts because I want to get him when he starts crying but the dog trainer said no! Eventually he will get it."

Reply:

The only time when I crated him and I was in the house was when I was taking a shower. Otherwise, I would crate him when I would leave. He didn't cry.

My suggestion is to listen to the dog trainer. Women are hardwired to respond to crying - so don't feel bad. But I will tell you a story. I used to walk Rocco and he would come to a complete stop on me, to a point where he would pull on the leash and wouldn't budge. I would turn around and he would give me a "look" as if to say "I don't want to walk in THAT direction."

So I gave in. I let him change our course. It was fun at first because I felt like I was being nice to Rocco and letting him go where he wanted to go. Eventually I had to get back to the house, so I led him back towards home and he stopped. I tried to explain to him "No, no - come on boy, lets go."

And he would walk a block and stop. Walk another block and stop. Soon this became our walks with him stopping all the time. See, what I thought I was doing was "being nice" when in reality he was "training me" to stop and do what he wanted to do.

You aren't a dog owner. You aren't his mother. You are his leader. You. Need. To. Lead.

It's not fun because in a way you just want that dog to be happy and wiggly and give you millions of kisses. But being a dog owner - or a leader - means making the hard decisions that you know are best. Crate training is a hard decision that absolutely will pay off in the future. There will be a day, probably by this time next year, that you will NOT need to crate your dog. So if you think about it, you just have to put up with your hurting heart for 1 year before your dog will be good enough that they won't need a crate to "hold it".

I haven't put Rocco in a crate in 2 years now.

Good luck!

Sean
www.facebook.com/roccothebulldog

*A note on leaving dogs at home - the reason I chose a French Bulldog is that I wanted a breed that wouldn't have separation anxiety. Upon doing my research, I found that Frenchies, and bulldogs in general, are good at being at home alone during the day. Now i'm sure there's going to be some readers out there who will immediately want to email me and tell me about their Frenchie who is neurotic and can't be left alone, but I would say the majority of Frenchies are good to go alone - not every single one of them.

With that being said, I often tell people please do your research before buying a dog. This isn't a toy or something to compliment your home. Its an animal with feelings. I made sure that very early on that Rocco had a dog walker seeing him every 4 hours when he was a puppy when I was at work. I would give him daily walks until he was about 18 months old, and then cut back to a twice weekly doggie day care. I cut that back, as he got older, to once a week doggie day care (on Wednesdays). In a perfect world, he wouldn't be alone - but there's no perfect situation for most dog owner.

Some dog owners are vehement about dogs never being left alone. In this regard I would agree - depending on the breed. Unfortunately this isn't a science and you simply will have people who are going to have to agree to disagree on dogs being left alone. I think, and this is just my opinion, that it's OK to leave a dog alone in your home, once they get "old enough" for this. You wouldn't want to leave a 5 year old toddler home alone, would you? I think the same is true for French Bulldogs. Early on, they need contact with people and other dogs. But, I think as they get older and more comfortable - they are OK home alone as long as if they are raised properly.

More Advice From Me, The Rocco Whisperer

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So I get a lot of emails about French Bulldogs and their owners. I guess there must not be a lot of blogs about Frenchies and well I have no problem giving advice (when it is wanted or not...)

So here's a few emails from the mail bag, and my advice. Enjoy!

"Hi my name is Nyla and I have a french bull dog - problems that I have he's 16 months and issues I have are he walks me and stresses me out.. We can take him out for an hour and he still poops and pees in the house.. HELP ME! please haha or if you have any advice"

Answer: The problem is that your dog doesn't associate the 1 hour walk to mean he needs to pee and poop outside.

They aren't human, they don't think like we do. You think a 1 hour walk equals giving him a chance for a pee outside. He just thinks its a nice long walk.

What you need to do is the following:

1. Everytime you cannot be with him, even if you take a shower or he is out of your sight - he needs to be in a crate. Crate training is NOT cruel. Google "crate training" to learn how to make your dog love his crate. You put nice soft blanket in there - along with some toys, etc. Leave the door open at first, make it a place he wants to lie down in, like his own little cave.

2. Second step is you need to watch your dog better. The typical signs of a dog going to poop or pee is that they start to sniff around. They usually don't pee right away. As soon as you see him sniffing around like he's going to pee you need to scoop him up and take him outside for a 10 minute walk. Not 1 hour. Just 10 minutes. Make sure it is all business - you aren't out there to play, you walk him to spots on grass or by the curb to pee. If he doesn't then take him back inside. Repeat. Over and over - repeat.

3. You need to make a big deal about him peeing outside. Give him treats when he does and say GOOD DOG.

4. If he pees or poops inside, do not yell at him. He won't understand at all. He is not a human being - he's a dog. Just scoop him up and take him outside IMMEDIATELY. Don't clean it up - take him outside. 10 minute walk again. Rubbing his nose in pee or poop or yelling at the dog he will have NO IDEA what you are doing, he will just think you are angry at him for no reason.

5. Hire a dog walker if you are going to be out for longer than 7 hours. I paid a dog walker $15 a day to walk him while i'm at work, so he would stay in the crate for about 3 hours, get a walk, and then another 3 hours in the crate and I would be home to walk him. I did this for his first 30 months - and he got to a point now where I can leave him alone for 12 hours without a crate and he won't pee or poop in the house.

The main problem is that most people are lazy. They don't have (or want) to deal with having to be responsible with a dog, and it is a lot of work early on to teach a dog what to do right. Now that I did Rocco is literally a perfect dog. But there were mornings of me when he was 2 months old where I would wake up at 4am, take him out of his crate, walk him, go back to bed, wake up at 7am, walk him again. then I had the dog walker come TWICE a day to walk him and I was paying $30 a day - $150 a week - to walk my dog. It was money well spent. Trust me.

Good luck!!

Sean


"Hi! I just read your story about Rocco and how he was difficult to train on the leash. We have an almost 11 week old Frenchie female puppy and this is driving me insane! She will just stop after a few steps and won't move!
I have tried everything the trainer has told me to do, etc. she would let me just drag her everywhere if I kept going.
Any more tips?
Thanks
Jennifer"

Answer: "Your dog will grow out of it. 11 week old Frenchie is like a 3 year old baby. You can't expect their little muscles to keep up. Also she doesn't know you. More treats! Tie the leash to your belt and make her walk around with you at home. Reward with more treats."

"Hi my name is Tina,

I recently bought a male frenchie named Ollie, he's the sweetest thing ever i love him so much, we bonded from the first minute we met each other! He's about 12 weeks now we live in an apartment in the city so i've been using wee wee pads in the house and at work(i take him to work with me during the day, i own my own salon so its easier for both of us) i dont use a crate but his room is my bedroom and hes housebroken while in the room and while at work while hes in my office which is also his room. No problem there with the wee wee pads. The problem is when i let him free in the rest off the apartment or the rest of the salon he pees and poops like a mad man. Even if he just peed on his pad and let him out the same minute he'll pee again. He also peed on my bed several times and the sofas. I think its a revenge issue not sure thats why im reaching out to you. My vet wont let me take him outside until he has all hes shots. I love him dearly and i wanna raise a good dog, im afraid im doing something wrong that will affect his future.

I would really appreciate your respond in the matter of my dear Ollie

Kind regards
Ollie's Mom"

Answer: Ok so this is easy to fix.

Stop using wee wee pads.

Dogs aren't human. They don't get what a wee wee pad is. They do know that you are associating going to the bathroom with INSIDE and he doesn't have a wee wee pad means he's free to poop where he wants.

Solution: You need to walk him more.

Again. Stop. Using. Wee Wee Pads.

You need to be a responsible dog owner. You need to walk your dog. You need to teach Ollie that OUTSIDE means bathroom. This means more work for you in the short term but a poop free dog in the long term.

First off, your dog being 12 weeks old means that his bladder is TINY. 12 weeks is 3 months, which means walks every 3 hours. Set your clock on your iPad. Every 3 hours you take Ollie outside for 10 minutes. If you can't do it, you hire a dog walker. I had a dog walker come to my house twice a day in Hoboken to walk Rocco and it cost me $30 bucks a day for the first two months. Until his bladder got bigger and he could 'hold it'.

If you can't see your dog you need to crate your dog. That's rule #2. You can't see him equals crate time. Sorry. Until you can leave him alone without pooping inside, he is on lockdown. Don't worry it isn't cruel, nor is it permanent. This is until Ollie understands outside means pooping.

That's it. Ollie will be fixed in a month. Also remember at night NO WEE WEE PADS. You gotta wake up every 4 hours or so and walk him. I used to walk Rocco at 11pm, go to sleep, wake up at 4am, walk him again, go back to sleep until 7am and walk him again. Most people won't do this simple trick - and now Rocco can last 12+ hours alone and he won't go inside because he knows that OUTSIDE means poop or pee.

Also you can take your dog outside at his age, just don't let him get near other dogs or into dog parks or other places where he can be exposed to anything. I used to take Rocco out front of my building and we would do a quick walk around the block.

Good luck

Sean

Do you have questions, email them to me at philly2hoboken AT gmail.com or join Rocco's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/roccothebulldog.

Dawn Zimmer has been put on notice.

Rocco has thrown his collar into the ring. It's a dog eat dog world, and this puppy will clean up this town, one crumb at a time (no, seriously, he will).

The campaign begins by joining the Rocco fan site:
http://www.facebook.com/roccothebulldog

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One Rocco. One Hoboken. One Dream.

The Hoboken Dog Whisperer

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Apparently my blog may not compare to other websites around town, but I keep forgetting to write about the email I get from readers who stumbled onto my website about how I would crate train Rocco and housebreak him. Also if you are interested in seeing more of Rocco his page is here: www.facebook.com/roccothebulldog

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He's been housebroken for years. Oh, sure he had his famous "accidents" when he was a puppy (sorry Randy), and has been great since he was 8-12 months.

I often get random emails from French Bulldog owners. If you want to email me, its philly2hoboken (at) gmail.com. I figure it will be fun to share with my readers my emails that I get, along with my advice.

Of course I want to clearly state for the record:

I only have Rocco as my guide, and my advice should be taken with a grain of salt. I'm not advising people about gallbladder surgery, but about how to deal with their French Bulldog pooping in their homes.

I know that some holier-than-thou expert is going to read my advice and have an opinion or their own. Feel free to email me if you must. My training came from reading books, my own experience and the wisdom of my two sisters, who will remain nameless because they said if I wrote their names on my blog they would kill me.

So. Today's letter is from "Sarah" who wrote:

"Hi we have a great puppy named Zoe;) she is 4months old and the cuties thing ever! We all adore her , lol Zoe has a very hard time being house trained.. We take her for long walks hook her up outside in the yard. Soon as she comes in she pees everywhere and poops lol. We are tring so hard with her. We give her treats when she is outside and uses the bathroom.. But for some reason she just keep going in the house. We don't want to get rid of her, but if we are not able to fix this soon she is going to have to go to another home. We are buying a new home in a few months and we cant have this issue any more. ANYTHING you could help us with will be highly appreciated ;)) thank you so much!"

After reading this letter I really hope the owners don't "get rid" of Zoe because she's not housebroken. That's so sad. But, here's what I told Sarah about how to deal with Zoe:

"Ok, here's the problem, as far as I can tell:

1. Your dog isn't associating "outside" and "inside". It's just "outside" to Zoe.
2. You hook her up outside in the yard? Frenchies really shouldn't be outside very long, especially alone. They are companion dogs, they like being near you. I hope you are outside with Zoe while she's hooked up.

OK, so how to fix it.

First off, you need to be on your dog like a hawk. LIKE. A. HAWK.

This means when Zoe is inside someone needs to be on point watching her at ALL TIMES. I used to take Rocco with me around the house, on collar, and a leash - with the leash tied to my belt. I did this for about 3 weeks.

When I had to take a shower, or a nap or I couldn't watch him like a hawk - he was in his crate. The crate was filled with his favorite bedding, and toys and was only big enough for him to sleep, not walk around. Go to a pet store with her, and someone can make sure she has the right sizes crate. It should be a crate, not a cage.

Some people think crate training is mean. It's not, especially if you make it a place that Zoe wants to sleep. So keep the crate open, and accessible. Take away all other beds and places she would sleep, and the crate should be her new "bed". It's hard, but there are books on crate training and I would suggest that you read up or just check the
internet for advice. Rocco never whined much - except when he had to pee.

So, you have the crate and your whole family is on "ZOE WATCH" for the next few days. While watching Zoe, you basically want to imagine that her bladder is the size of a thimble (well, not REALLY, but its small). If Zoe starts sniffing around, that's when she gets scooped up and taken outside.

When I first had Rocco, I used to walk him every hour on the hour. I'm not kidding. EVERY. HOUR. Now, of course this may not be realistic with your dog, but I would suggest at least every 2 hours that Zoe is getting a 10 minute walk. If you guys are at work or doing something - she should be crated, not left alone and especially not left in some kind of cage where she can walk around and poop or pee.

So you should basically have it. Zoe never leaves out of your sight. Crated when Zoe is out of your sight. Watch for signals like sniffing and scoop her up and bring her outside. If she's good for 2 hours, its "walk time" until she pees or poops and then back inside (with lots of rewards and belly rubs!). Also I used to go to sleep at 11pm, set my alarm for 4am and walk Rocco when he was about 2-3 months old. Then go back to sleep for another few hours. Zoe is 4 months so "should" be good to "hold it" for 8 hours, but since she doesn't understand inside or outside, I would suggest at night to stop any water after her final feeding (7pm?).

I know you may think it sounds like a lot, but you can do it!

It should only take you 6 weeks or so. Maybe even sooner. But the old adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" will apply here. Rocco hasn't had an accident since he was maybe 8-12 months. He's going to be three in July.

1. When you take her out it should be a "walk" not a "lets open the back door and let Zoe out". Walk away from your house, until she (at very least) pees. I had Rocco out for 30 minute walks until he peed, and then I was back inside.
2. Sleeping at night, keep her in the crate. Not your bed. You can keep the crate by your bedside. This is all dependent upon the dog, and if she barks or whines. If you give in, you're screwed for the rest of your life because Zoe will know that whining and barking means she will get her way.

Team Hike, Open Letter, Crossfit Update

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1. Team Hike! A few years ago I wrote about "Team Hike", a group of friends from college who started a hiking/camping group that I met through my buddy Matt about four years ago. The Team Hike crew also did what they called "Team Extreme", which was hiking and camping during the winter, and I decided to do this with them over the Presidents Day weekend.

This had been planned for weeks, and we had no idea what weather to expect aside from it being winter. Snow? Wind? Cold Snap? Whatever was going to happen over the weekend, unless it was a blizzard, the team was going.

The hike itself took place near Tuxedo Park, NY, a bit over an hour's drive from Hoboken. We drove to the parking site, and hiked along the Appalachian trail, which was covered in snow, up to 8 inches deep in some places. The hike itself wasn't too bad, but the snow definitely made it harder. We hiked about two miles, found the site, which had a lean-to, and immediately started a campfire.

We had about thirteen guys on the hike, or "The Baker's Dozen" as "Gramps" (there are a lot of nicknames amongst Team Hike members) coined it. Our plan was to hike Saturday, camp Saturday night, and hike out Sunday morning. The only issue with the whole day wasn't the cold weather, but the wind. The wind itself wasn't the issue, but the campfire was swirling and blowing in all directions, which made it hard to stay warm when the smoke would blow directly in our faces, also sending ash & embers at us. As the night progressed the wind died down, but the temperature plummeted. We had lots of beer and liquor, and like any team hike we had a ton of people showing off their culinary skills and eating well wasn't an issue. I was stuffed before I turned it at 1am.

Some may ask - "How can you be in a tent when it's so cold?!"

Sure, it was cold, but actually I was in my sleeping bag, wearing a wool sweater with a few hand warmers lining the interior of the bag. By the time Matt woke me up at 7:30am, I was still happy to sleep for a few more hours. But, as we learned in the past, it's best to make an early exit and get back to Hoboken to beat any Sunday traffic.

2. Open Letter! In July 2010, I wrote an open letter to City Hall about creating an online ticket system. Imagine my surprise when I read Dawn Zimmer's State of the City speech on NJ.com and she wrote:
"Within the next several months we are implementing an online service request and complaint system. Through our web site residents will be able to submit and track all kinds of service requests, whether it's to report a pothole, graffiti, or a street that needs plowing.
This system will provide a performance measurement for my Administration, so that we can continue to increase accountability and better understand where our resources need to be directed. Residents should not need to figure out whether to email me, their council people or our directors to get a response. You should have one place to go, and you should be able to depend on a timely response.
This new system will be only the latest in our efforts to use technology to be more efficient and make services available online. As you may know, last fall our Recreation Division began accepting online registrations for recreation programs. People love this system, and it's helping us work more efficiently."

I'm not going to hold my breath to get a "Thank You" from City Hall for my suggestion. Still waiting for someone to take my next open letter ideas. From what I was told online registration for dog tags is in the works.

3. Crossfit! I'm entering week three. I can understand why they force everyone to do the fundamentals class first - no matter what your fitness level. I'm learning now that what I thought I was doing right was about 70% correct. My form was way off, and my endurance levels are low. Plus, my flexibility is in pretty bad shape, especially with my shoulders. Each class we are learning something new, and i'm also learning how weak I am. The one good thing about the classes is that they go really fast, and just at the moment you are hating the workout - it is time to leave. On an interesting side note, i'm kind of surprised about how many girls are into Crossfit. I was expecting this to be mostly guys - but in my training class alone we have 5 guys and 4 girls.

Here's the exercises we have learned in the last week:

Front Squats
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOLc4MAx23Q

Thrusters
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OhqIGYqELk

Wall Ball Shots
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TC2FmcPH64o&feature=fvsr

Overhead Squats:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjuULPqI-WY

Medicine Ball Cleans:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De0RpSAyu4g

4. Rocco! What? I haven't written about Rocco enough? Look, he's great. One funny thing about him is that when i'm watching TV, he will sit in front of me and just....stare. Here's a picture of him in action. 022311.jpg That's it. That's what he does. Sits there and doesn't move and tries his best to catch my eye. If I try to block him from seeing my eyes with my foot, he shifts slightly to the left or right to keep looking at me. As if to be using telepathy to say "YOU....MUST....PET....ME..."

Otherwise, Rocco is a great dog. Completely housebroken. Doesn't bark. Doesn't eat the furniture or my shoes. When he's unhappy, he snorts. His only downside is that he gets sick easily. If I expose him to the dog park too many days in a row, he will somehow find a way to get sick (respiratory infection & throwing up or bad diarrhea that goes on for days). Usually that means a trip to the vet and a $150 doctor's bill to fix him. This is the curse of the pure breeds.

Also everywhere I go, I still get stopped by complete strangers who fawn over him. Did I mention before buying a carabiner? I take Rocco with me anytime I need to run an errand, like going to CVS or Taco Truck or whatever. The only time I latch Rocco outside a store is when I can see him through the glass window or the door. I know there are some dog owners who completely refuse to do this - and that's their choice. At CVS, there are no windows to see Rocco, so what I do is talk to the homeless guys standing outside. I ask them if they can watch my dog, and I will pay them $1. I know most of the guys, and they are all really nice and know me by now. I go in, shop, and come outside and hand the guy $1 for watching Rocco. Everyone wins. Also, if there's no one outside CVS to watch Rocco, I wouldn't go into the store.

Plus, with Rocco I try to go to places that let dogs into their store. Hoboken Vine, for example, has always been dog-friendly, and even have treats behind the counter for dogs. Dames Coffee is also another dog-friendly business. I think I want to make a list of dog-friendly businesses in Hoboken.

Anyhow, that's all for now!

This summer Rocco has been spending four days a week at my dog walkers house. They run a small doggie day care, with about 6 other dogs, who they watch from 10am to 5pm. It costs me $20, and its a pretty good deal, when you compare prices to other day care places (a 20 minute dog walk by a normal dog walker can cost about $12-15 in Hoboken). They drive to my house, pick him up from the crate, let him run around their large house in Jersey City or take him to the dog park with the other dogs, and he is nicely tired out by the time I get home from work. I have off from work Friday this summer, and so Rocco and I hang out for three day weekends. It's a pretty good life for Rocco, who is left home alone for maybe three hours in the morning & two hours in the evening.

My schedule is fairly routine, I work from 8 to 5, get back to Hoboken by 5:30, at the gym until about 6:45, and home by 7. I let Rocco out of his crate, feed him and then enjoy the rest of my night until about 11pm, then off to bed.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

I get home the other night and let Rocco out of his crate. Normally, he gets out, stretches and walks over to the food bowl and waits for me to feed him. That night, he got out of his crate and slowly exited, moving like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz - without his oil. Rocco's movements were all herky-jerky, and when I reached towards him, he recoiled from me, like I was going to hit him. He flinched back, his eyes fluttering to a half-close and he was scared of me.

He sat there and was shivering, like he was having little seizures. I put his food bowl down, and he ignored it. This was very odd for Rocco, he loves food. Loves it. Doesn't have a food "off switch" when it comes to eating. Rocco finally sank to the ground in slow motion, his little 25 pound body quivering in pain.

My mind raced with various thoughts as to what happened to him today at the doggie day care. Did another dog attack him? Did he eat something, like a rawhide or a toy, and has blockage?

I called my dog walker and told her what Rocco was like, and she said he was very playful all day with the other dogs. So playful, in fact, that he had to be separated from the other dogs twice because he was getting too rambunctious.

Maybe Rocco was just exhausted. I know that the French Bulldogs have issues with heat & can get overheated quickly if not watched properly on a hot summer day - but the day in question was a rainy 68 degree day.

I called my vet, The Animal Infirmary of Hoboken, and asked if they were open. The said they closed at 6:45 (it was 7pm by this point) and I explained his symptoms. The Vet tech gave me two phone numbers for emergency services - a hospital in Oradell and NYC. She told me that there were three things I should look for if Rocco was in severe distress: vomiting, severe diarrhea and panting. I should observe him and take him to one of those places if he seemed to be in major pain.

So far, he didn't exhibit these symptoms.

I picked him up, and carried him over to his doggie bed. He didn't like the bed, and tried in his jerky movements to get off the bed and to the floor. He then sunk to the floor and wasn't sleeping, but was half-awake.

I called my sister, who during her teenage years worked at the Richboro Animal Hospital. In college, at the University of Delaware, she studied science, with the idea of one day possibly becoming a Veterinarian after college. She went into pharmaceutical research instead, but that's another story. Anyhow, she's our family expert when it comes to animals. I told her about Rocco, and she was under the same impression as the Vet tech - watch Rocco overnight and if he's still in the same shape in the morning, take him to the local animal hospital.

My phone rang and it was the dog walkers boyfriend, who watches the dogs also. They work as a team, with him at the house, and she does individual dog walks in Hoboken. He was very upset about hearing about Rocco, offered to drive me and Rocco to Oradell and would pay for any medical costs. I assured him that it was appreciated, but didn't think it was necessary...yet. I told him I would observe Rocco, see if he gets better or worse.

After watching Rocco a bit, it dawned on me that with all of his playing it could be possible that his muscles were so sore that he had lactic acid built up and he was really tight. I have had the same issues in the past when I overexerted myself on the treadmill. So I tried to give him a little puppy massage as best as I could, hoping that he would get some relief from it. He enjoyed it, and would lean his head against my chest while I worked out his muscles.

It didn't provide immediate relief, but after a bit of coaxing with a cracker and some peanut butter, he did get up and was able to gingerly walk to me. After a few more tries, he was able to eat his food, and we went to bed.

The night was uneventful, and upon waking up and turning off my radio alarm - Rocco hops out of his dog bed with a "HEY DUDE, WHAT'S UP?" look. Of course dogs don't care about yesterday, they live in the moment.

I was ready to strangle and hug him at the same time. Looks like it was just sore muscles, after all.

Taco Truck Open!

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I was customer number one at the Taco Truck Store opening day. There was a line of people at the entrance and I was the first order.

What did I get? The "Seanito" of course.

Much like famous places like In-N-Out burger, who have their own "secret menus", the Taco Truck in Hoboken also has a secret menu.

The Seanito was designed by me, for people who like a rice bowl. The ingredients are: braised pork, cilantro, avocado, onions and their Mexican rice. It's great, trust me. Anyone can order it, just go up and ask.

Here's a few pictures I took of the event and I uploaded them here. Also Rocco, my wingman, was with me, so there's some pictures of him in there too. Enjoy!


Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Today marks 310 days since Rocco was born.

He's a great little guy. Very smart. A slight stubborn streak. Quiet, rarely barks. Playful with dogs and children. I would recommend the breed to anyone who has the time for a dog in their lives.

Before getting Rocco I did a lot of research on the breed, and tried my best to find answers about French Bulldogs. I wanted to know what to expect, and the best way to train my little guy. I figure I would outline some of what we went through and if you found this page as a French Bulldog owner, I hope it helps.

House Breaking: When I got Rocco, I took off a week from work. My entire week consisted of taking him out, every hour on the hour. Yes, I did this for an entire week. I would set my alarm and scoop him up, walk outside and when he went to the bathroom, I would say "Parktime. Parktime.", I didn't yell it, just quietly said it. My sister taught me this, because she trains seeing eye dogs for the same thing - teaching them that the word "Parktime" means - time to eliminate. The key was being consistent. Hourly walks. Saying "Parktime" and it did take me longer than a week, but he figured it out in about a month. Also I rewarded him with treats & petting when he would pee right after I said "Parktime".

Crate Training: My personal opinion on crate training is that no dog should be left in a crate all day. Also I think French Bulldogs have a good personality for crating. They are easy going dogs, with a low energy level. That was part of the reason why I bought my Frenchie. I knew I would be working during the week, and wanted a friend when I got home or on the weekends. Also, I could afford a dog walker. When he was a puppy I would have the walker come twice a day, so he wasn't alone for longer than 3 hours between walks. Once he reached three months I had the dog walker come once a day.

My dog walker has a "doggy day care" option, where she picks up Rocco, and drives him to her home. He hangs out at her home, with her dogs and other ones she watches, from 10am to 4pm - he was exhausted by the end of the day from all the playing. I did that after he reached three months until he was five months during the week. After he reached six months, I scaled that back a bit, so that he did the day care on Tuesday and Thursday, and got a walk once a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

At first, Rocco did pee in his crate. This was when he was six weeks old until about twelve weeks old. It didn't happen every day, but I spent a lot of days coming home from work and cleaning his crate. He eventually was able to hold it longer as he got older.

Food: Frenchies do best with all-natural foods. I fed him Wellness at first, but found that it caused a lot of gas & loose stool. I switched to Candidae, and found the Chicken & Rice did a good job with his flatulence. Be very careful when doing your dog food research. I used to think Iams (Procter & Gamble) and Science Diet (Colgate-Palmolive) were good brands until I found out they are owned by big companies, which uses filler and additives, not whole food. I measure every 3/4 cup of food that I feed Rocco. I am very judicious with the amount of "treats" he gets - and only give treats when he works for them. There's nothing worse than seeing an overfed dog.

Exercise: Rocco gets a decent clip of exercise. Daily walks during the week, and the doggy day care keep him content. On the weekends, I usually take him out for a long walk or the dog park each day. I think a Frenchie can get a solid 30 minutes to hour of exercise (which can be a long walk) or playtime (with other dogs or the owner) and be happy. A tired dog is a happy dog.

Training: I took Rocco to a dog trainer at three months. I detailed that experience in another entry which you can read in detail here. Even after that training, I still train him at least twice a week doing puppy pushups (sit, down, stand) and stay & come. Part of the training is being consistent and firm. Here's a perfect example of what I mean:

I was at the local dog park yesterday. The wind blew down branches and leaves into the park and Rocco LOVES chewing & eating branches and leaves. So when he would try to eat a branch, I would use the "Leave It" command, and if he already had it I would use the "Drop It" command. He listened. I must have used it about 30 times, but it was like a crack addict surrounded by coke rocks - he was loving all the branches. But that didn't matter, I didn't just give up or get excited. Kept on him. I watched another owner try to command her Labrador. It was useless. She had a pleading command voice, "Baxter, no! Come on Baxter! Don't eat that Baxter!". She talked to him like he was a six year old human, not a dog. I don't do that with Rocco. Firm commands, and if he doesn't listen, I will approach him and correct.

French Bulldogs have a stubborn streak. Training them takes patience and sometimes it wears on you when for the 1,000th time you say "Leave it" or "Drop It" and he doesn't listen. Happened this morning, where I said "Drop It" while he was walking & chewing on a stick. I had to stop him, reach in his mouth, and remove the small stick. He looked at me with a "It wasn't me!" look and I kept walking.

If you can't do this or won't do this the French Bulldog will walk all over you.

Sleeping Arrangements: When I am watching TV, I will invite him up to lie on my lap. Some experts may say this will send mixed signals, but I think the difference with Rocco is that he doesn't jump up on me and lie down. He will calmly sit and stare at me. This could go on for 20 minutes. Then I will pick him up and put him on my lap. He is usually asleep within 10 minutes after that.

At night Rocco sleeps on the dog bed, in my room, at the foot of my bed.

Walking issues: One of my biggest problems that Rocco and I had were issues with walking. From the first day I got him, my French Bulldog wouldn't walk more than 10 steps before just coming to a complete halt. It was almost comical, because it was almost like him being dragged down the street...then he would walk for a little while...and get dragged some more. It was very, very frustrating.

The fix was somewhat simple - you can't give in. It sounds cruel, but if you stop for your dog, that means he wins. Because then he starts to think that if he stops, you will stop. The more you stop, the more he will stop. Eventually, HE controls the walks.

I would keep walking, and praise him when he walked well. I also gave him treats when he would walk by my side. If he stopped, I would keep walking, with him resisting, down the street. It wouldn't be him getting literally dragged, but he was resisting and walking behind me. Just being consistent, he broke out of it. Today, he still occasionally just comes to a dead halt while I am walking him. I don't stop. Just keep walking and just realize this is part of being a Frenchie dog owner.

Another thing I did was early on, around the house, I would tie the leash to my belt. Everywhere I went - the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry, etc - Rocco would be leashed to me. This was also important to get him used to always walking with me.

Overheating: I haven't had a summer with Rocco yet. So I will have to write more on this later. The last warm day we had, I had him out for an extended period of time. He was breathing hard and it was different than other days. He was stopping on me much more than normal, and I actually got a bit worried and carried him to the last 1/2 block.

Snoring: My Frenchie snores a bit, but it's not as bad as I expected. I was expecting him to keep me up at night and was worried about him sleeping in my room. He's fine. When I watch TV and he sits on my lap, he snorts and snores slightly. Otherwise it isn't a big deal.

Health Problems: I was aware of health problems of purebred dogs. Early on, Rocco had lots of issues aside from the normal vaccinations. He had canine flu, kennel cough, an eye infection (twice!) and ear issues (wax). You MUST be prepared to deal with this. I bought VPI insurance, and didn't get it for minor things but for major issues. To date, I have spent a good deal of money on the vet bills (I would hazard its well over $1,000). But since he was neutered, I haven't had any issues (that's 4 months so far...)

I don't think it was anything more than a puppy & living in a city environment with many other dogs which contributed to those issues.

Walks: One thing I do, since I am living in the city, is take Rocco just about everywhere I go (unless it is a Supermarket or a Mall). Otherwise, walking about Hoboken, he goes to the stores with me. Often, I ask permission if I can bring a dog inside the store. If they don't allow it, I sometimes keep him leashed outside only when I can see him when I am inside the store. This, again, is a personal issue. I want him to get out of the house as often as possible for exercise - and not keep him trapped inside.

On nights where I am going out to a bar or restaurant, like on a Friday or Saturday, I have been letting him stay outside the crate. So far he has been good. I tried to see if I could leave him out during the workday when he was 7 months old and he did well for about 4 weeks until I found one day that he chewed on my wood furniture. Bad, Rocco, bad. So, he's back in the crate again - we will try it again in a few months.

Once he reaches adulthood and is out of his chewing phase, I will allow him full access of the apartment and see how he adjusts.

That's about it. If you own a Frenchie and have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. I will help as best as I can.

Not So Neighborly...

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Saturday was like any other day. I woke up around 7am, to the noise of claws on hardwood floors. They make a small clicking noise, but speak volumes: "I am up and I need a walk."

Rocco was awake.

He doesn't bark or whine. He just waits and when impatient, will walk around my small bedroom.

I get up and take him out. Often, I just open my door and let him into the hallway of our condo building. I have done this many, many times and he gets to work off some extra energy when I do it. Sometimes he runs ahead of me, sniffing and exploring. Other days I will walk 100 feet to the elevator and he's still at the door, looking at me with "aren't you forgetting something" expression. I love his personality.

Later that morning I decide that I would take Rocco to the dog park, then hit Vito's deli afterwards, killing two birds with one stone: Getting Rocco some exercise and me my lunch.

I get my coat and his leash, and head to the door. I let him out the door and he dashes off, scampering down the hall, while I follow. I see him reach the elevator and I hear the "ding" of the elevator bell. I guess the elevator arrived, and I see his ears perk up with his "recognition" expression. OK, I know he saw someone and he leaves my field of vision, headed to the elevator.

I'm still walking there, expecting someone was getting off the elevator and Rocco was greeting them.

I get to the elevator and the door to the elevator is 90% closed and there's no dog and no people.

I bang on the elevator door, shouting "Open the door!" and can hear a little girls frightened voice saying, "Doggie!" and a woman's voice calmly saying, "No, that's a nice doggie."

It is my neighbor, who has a four year old girl who is basically petrified of my seven month old, 22 pound French Bulldog. A dog that doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and loves everyone. But, to a four year old girl, my dog may look menacing and now she, her mother and my leash-free dog were on an elevator together, going from the third floor to the first floor.

Not good.

I briefly thought about taking the stairs, but then wondered what will happen when they reached the ground floor. Does Rocco stay in the lobby or on the elevator?

I waited for the elevator to come back, and the elevator was empty. I go to the first floor lobby to see a man standing there, and Rocco, just sniffing around like nothing major happened. The guy says, "I don't know who's dog that is."

My neighbor wasn't there, either.

I get off, grab Rocco and leash him. Yes, I know what you are thinking - I should have leashed him and this would never have happened. Part of me knows that i'm to blame here, but another part of me wonders two things:

1. Why couldn't my neighbor have hit the "Door Open" button? She could have been distracted, but...really?

2. I recognize that her daughter doesn't like my dog, but she leave the dog in the lobby...alone? Come on. If the roles were reversed, if her daughter hopped on the elevator with me would I leave her daughter in the lobby?

Suffice to say I was fairly angry. I leave the building and see my neighbor a block away, walking with her daughter, towards Washington Street.

Again, if I leashed my dog before opening the door none of this would happened, but I still think my neighbor was in the wrong here, too - she should have at least made sure I got my dog back safely.

What do you think? Leave a comment or email me. Also if you have issues commenting, send me an email, with that error.

As a dog owner, I start to see certain aspects of our city in a new light. One of them is our parks. We have such few open space, and are lucky to have quite a few dog parks in our town. Sadly, they are often in various states of disrepair.

Our city is cash strapped. It is very hard to justify expenditures to renovate and restore our dog parks. Heck, it's very hard to even get new gravel.

Over the last two months I, and others, have been emailing Mayor Zimmer, Councilperson Cunningham, and Director Pope to ask for new gravel to be put down at our dog parks. It cost $13,000 just to re-gravel all our dog parks.

Also the design of many of these parks are in poor shape. They don't have proper drainage, which leads to runoff of dirt, gravel and dog waste into our streets and sidewalks. Hoboken411 had a nice article about the dog run at Elysian Park and their issues.

Here's my ideas for fixing the situation:

1. A dog license in Hoboken is $10.00 if spayed/neutered (proof required) or $14.00 if NOT spayed/neutered per year. That's peanuts. One drink at The W Hotel bar costs more than that. I'd just increase the license to $15 / $20, with the idea that the extra money is going towards capital improvements of our dog runs, rather than taking from the taxpayers to fund it.

2. We have to get it easier to license our dogs. As of now, dog owners have to mail the application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter proof to 124 Grand Street. In Pennsylvania, you can do this all online at http://www.padoglicense.com/, which was designed and maintained by http://www.epaymentnow.com/. How hard can this be? Have the newly installed Environmental Services Director, Jennifer Wenson Maier, contact this site and find out how much it would cost to set up a similar website in Hoboken or possibly Hudson county.

3. We need better enforcement of dog licenses in town. We need police to patrol our city parks and check dogs for licenses. Where's the incentive to GET a dog license if there are no repercussions for not having one?

4. Councilperson Cunningham, who founded the HDA, mentioned about doing advertising at the dog parks. I agree with that, and think it's a great idea. We need to approach local businesses (perhaps start a non-profit fund that is tax deductible?) for donations towards the restoration of dog parks. Also we can encourage dog owners to donate to this fund while they register their dogs online for the dog licenses.

5. We need to actively seek loans and grants that can be used towards the restoration of our dog runs.

6. We need to possibly seek out new locations for dog runs. I agree with Hoboken411 who mentioned that there was a great spot by City Hall that would be a good spot for a new dog run (again, funded by dog licenses and donations, not taxpayers).

Right now, from what I understand Director Pope was told to re-gravel the dog runs. But I hope to work with City Hall with finding a way to renovate and restore these runs for better drainage and general repairs that wouldn't affect our taxpayers and can be funded by dog licenses. In a town of 40,000 residents how many dogs do you think are here? I would hazard at least 1,000 dogs. Even if we get 50% of those people to lawfully license their dog, that's about $10,000 a year we could raise just with licenses alone, not including business donations & advertisement.

Ugh. Another year, another diet.

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Once I got my French Bulldog, Rocco, my whole world went into a tailspin.

See, i'm someone who enjoys a routine. I love it. I love the stability of my life. I enjoy eating at my same places. I do try something that's new, and if I like it, will go there a lot.

Example is Taco Truck. If you haven't tried Taco Truck in Hoboken. Oh. My. God. Beyond good to a point where I really wish more entrepreneurs would open places like this. I would go there weekly for their delicious tacos, and wonderful salsas.

Suffice to say, getting Rocco was like adopting a child. He's totally dependent upon me. My routine of coming home from work and going to Club H was out the window. My routine of eating set meals and power shakes was gone. Everything went haywire. The first month wasn't so bad. The second month, October, I figured i'd head back to the gym after the World Series. Then after that, I thought I should wait until after the holidays were over.

...and here we are 12 pounds heavier.

Not terribly bad when you think about it, and being 6'3 or so, i'm not exactly "heavyset". I did a diet last summer which slimmed me down in about 6 weeks and i'm back on it again. It's fairly simple, but also very strict.

The funny thing about diets is that we all try to come up with these Jenny Craig or Weight Watcher kind of diets which have a magic bullet theory of "do this diet and lose weight". I'm sure they work. But if you really want to lose weight, i'm no doctor, but I believe this works:

No sugar. No pasta. No dairy. No alcohol. No bread. Eat non-processed foods. Drink water. Protein with every meal. Keep your metabolism steady by eating six small meals everyday, rather than three big meals. If you don't exercise, you won't lose weight.

I also don't believe in those knuckleheads who make you think that eating 2,000 calories of crap is OK. Sure, if you go on the "Twinkie Diet", eating 13 Twinkies a day, that's 2,000 calories. You may even lose weight, but you will also lose muscle. Trust me there's no magic bullet when it comes to losing weight. Just eat right and hit the treadmill.

Oh. And here's an easy method to tell if you are exercising correctly. If you can read a magazine on an elliptical or treadmill, you aren't working out. I see these people at the gym all the time. They come in for weeks and weeks and pedal away on the elliptical, reading a magazine. La-dee-da. Nothing changes. This doesn't mean you have to hit a spin class and run for 1 hour. Not at all. But you have to move. You have to sweat a bit. And be smart about it, too. Your body adapts very quickly. If you sit on a treadmill for 1 hour running at 6.0 mph, your body will start to coast. It won't burn off the same calories if you keep adjusting your speed to keep tricking your body - or using multiple machines to hit different muscle groups.

Anyhow, with that rant over, here's my diet. Also note that you need to adjust the measurements for weight. My target weight is 210....but i'm 6'3.

Meal 1: (when you wake up): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate (I use IsoPure Chocolate), 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 2: (3 hours later): 4 egg whites + 1 egg scrambled. If you want an omlete, you can add veggies here - no cheese. Also eat 1/3 cup of plain oatmeal, you can add spices like cinnamon or 1/2 packet of Splenda.

Meal 3: (3 hours later): 7 Oz Steak (Sirloin or top round) or 7 oz Chicken or Turkey or Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper) with 6 oz red potato or 6 oz sweet potato (basically 1/2 a potato, baked).

Meal 4: (3 hours later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach) or 1/3 cup of brown rice.

***This is when I go to the gym***

Meal 5: (post gym-shake): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate, 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 6: (1 hour later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach).

Workout:
Cardio - Do 30-40 minutes a day and 5 times a week. Keep your heart rate above 140 for 90% of the time (140 is 140, not 180! You want to burn fat!). Cardio can be treadmill, stationary bike, stairmaster or elliptical. To alleviate boredom, you can do 10 minutes of treadmill, stairmaster and elliptical and take a 1 min break between machines. Just keep the heart rate up!! You gotta sweat! As you get stronger, you can increase time, but don't kill yourself in week 1. 30 minutes is FINE.

Right now I have been hitting my condo gym and getting back into things with light lifting and cardio. Fortunately, Rocco is at a point where I can get home from work, walk him, and leave him alone out of his crate for an hour and he won't destroy anything. Also, to me, it is just me training him to get ready for the day (in 6 months or so) when I won't have to crate him anymore and just give him the run of the condo when i'm out.

Hopefully in a few weeks i'll get back into a semblance of a shape (round is a shape), and then back to Club H. Also part of me wants to try CrossFit Hoboken. I know a few people from the Eagles club, and it's something that I think I will like. Only problem is that I hate doing something where i'm "the new guy". Like I said, I like my routines and favorite bars because I feel comfortable in places where I feel like i'm the regular. I guess I gotta get over that someday.

Anyhow, with my diet, I started it on January 4th. My game plan is to stick to it until my birthday (Feb 12) which would be 5 weeks. Feb 12th weekend i'm allowing myself a "cheat day(s)" for alcohol and food. We will see how my strength/weight are by then and adjust the diet accordingly.

I'm not planning to stick to this diet for the rest of my life. Just a diet to get things under control, then back to my routine of gym & eating things like sugar, dairy, bread, pasta - in MODERATION. It always worked for me, because when I was going to the gym 5 days a week, I was easily burning off my empty calories.

Plus, this weekend I was taking Rocco out for L-O-N-G walks. We went for a big walk along the waterfront, up to Maxwell Place, then hit the dog park there for about 30 minutes, walked back down Hudson street and hit up Energy Kitchen for my morning egg whites and Oatmeal.

Oh, if you didn't know - all of January - everything on the breakfast menu at Energy Kitchen was $3. If you haven't tried it, I recommend the 5 egg whites on a plate and their oatmeal with cinnamon. It's fantastic and only $6!

So we live in an urban area. I take Rocco out with me for any errand I do. If i'm picking up food or going to CVS or a store. One of my main "issues" is when I want to go inside, what do I do with him?

Often, i'm lucky because I can tie him to a parking meter or street sign while I go inside a deli and order my sandwich. Yes, trust me, i'm watching him from the store. But there have been times where there isn't a convenient place to tie him up in Hoboken.

For example, Vito's Deli or Energy Kitchen.

There's no parking meters or signs, so I found some pipe that I could tie the leash to. That worked and I ordered my food and he sat there, patiently, waiting for me.

I think it would be a great thing if businesses in town could put up dog hooks for owners with pets. Simply install it outside a business, preferably in front (or under) of a window. Dog owners can walk up, hook the leash and go inside.

What can it cost, a dollar or two? Only issue is that I don't know of a real "dog hook" that can be purchased for such an idea. Plus I also don't know how local businesses really care or not about installing something like that outside their business (I did Google this a bit and found that they are popular in England). It would have to be far enough away from the door as not to impede traffic.

What are your thoughts on this? You could say "leave Rocco home", but I want my dog to get exercise as much as possible, because a tired dog is a happy dog.

Rocco Week 20

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It's been 10 weeks since his last photo shoot, look how big he is!

Rocco and I are off to visit the family in DC and Virginia over the weekend. I'm thankful for another year of my health, life and liberty in our country. I'm thankful that the voters of Hoboken came out and voted in real change into City Hall. I'm thankful for my new best friend, Rocco, and everyone who made it possible. I'm thankful for all the members of the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies club, to Paul at Mulligan's and the bartenders Tina, Will, Tommy, Jimmy, Gary and Craig.

Last but not least i'm thankful for my family and everything they do for me. Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

My Baby Boy Rocco!

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Ok, i'm kidding with that headline.

I won't be one of those gushing types who thinks their dog is a baby with fur. You know who they are. They dress up their dogs in pink colors and talk to them in a "coo-coo" squeaky voice and blow them kisses like their dog is a two year old.

But, that doesn't take away that Rocco was the best decision I have made in a long time.

I'm bad with change. I like to think things through, weigh the decisions, worry a bit about how things MAY change drastically, and then usually shelve my idea and go back thinking about it later.

Like one thing I was worried about was waking up every morning to walk him. I love to sleep. A lot. I'm the kind of person who falls asleep in cars, trains, airplanes, at the doctors office, while watching TV, I sleep in until 11am on weekends - then take another nap around 3pm that same day.

I didn't like the idea of waking up EVERY DAY at 6am to have to walk my dog.

Good news is that I got used to it. Even better news is that it actually forces me to get up, rather than hit the snooze button, and i'm getting into work on time. That's rare for me.

Plus, Rocco has been good about our morning walks. I go out, we do our business in less than 5 minutes, and he gets fed while I take a shower. He plays with his toys, I get out of the shower and he runs over to lick the water off my ankles while I towel myself dry. He's funny like that.

He only takes 10 minutes out of my mornings, and it was well worth it. What was also made things easier was our time we did with dog training.

I got him into dog training early. We have been practicing a lot, and last night we had our second class with Joana Watsky of Sit And Stay. This time it was a group lesson, held in the Elks Club on 10th and Washington. There were about 12 owners and dogs, being taught various commands by Joana. Rocco did great, he was excited to see the other dogs, but listened to me when we did our commands.

The other owners noticed he was well trained. Some were having issues with their dogs, and I told them what I did with Rocco while we trained to get past some of his walking issues or his fear of stairs.

While talking to the other owners outside, I was telling them how you have to be patient. You have to be consistent. I told them how puppies make mistakes (Sorry Randy!) and you just have to work through it. I told them that Rocco knows when it is time to pee.

I was telling this to a young couple who owned a yellow lab puppy. They looked at me incrediously, like I was lying.

I turned to Rocco and said "Park Time!", which is his command word for "It's time to pee, dude!"

Rocco sniffed for a moment and squatted on the sidewalk.

The lab owner's eyes went wide while watching Rocco and said, "NO WAY!"

After he was finished, I moved Rocco aside, and the tell tale pee spot on the sidewalk was there. I winked and said, "Like I said, he's a good boy."

Thanks to my sister Stacey for that training tip!

Rocco The Super Pup & Other Things

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rocco5.jpg

Rocco is doing great, and getting bigger, as you can see.

Lots of people have been asking me if I have any issues with him. I have zero. None. He's a perfect dog, so far. He has had his share of accidents, literally and figuratively. I handed him to a friend to hold the other night, and Rocco was nice enough to poop on him.

Welcome to puppies!

Otherwise, Rocco has been getting out, meeting new dogs and meeting strangers on the street. He's a happy go lucky guy, with a mild streak of stubbornness.

The stubbornness manifests itself in our walks. Rocco has a nice habit of coming to a halt, putting out his front paws and resisting me while on the leash. It was much, much worse when he was younger - to a point where it was impossible to go more than a block with him.

I did a lot of research online and found a few tips here and there, and eventually with a lot of patience, treats and affection, he walks much better now. He still has his moments, but our walks are night and day versus a month ago.

Aside from that, here's what else has been going on....

-Zeppelin Hall Beer Garden in Jersey City is outstanding. If you haven't been there, get a group of people and go. It is easy to get there via light rail or PATH or even a $12 taxi ride (if you have 4 people, split the cost).

-Phillies are unbelievable. I thought last year was magical, and figured that the Phillies would have a good year again, but wasn't expecting this. They haven't won anything, but it was a great season to watch, no matter what the outcome. Personally, i'd like to watch the Yankees vs Phillies in the World Series. Yankees are an outstanding team, and scare the hell out of me - but to be the best you have to beat the best.

-Eagles are mediocre, with flashes of greatness. The biggest issue is what we knew last year - the offensive line. Why did we lose to the Raiders? No Peters + No Andrews = No protection. Plus it doesn't help when Westbrook only touches the ball 12 times. As much as we have the offensive WRs like Maclin and Jackson - not much is going to happen if the QB doesn't have time to pass and you don't establish a run game.

-Now we skipped fall and went right to winter, I like to drink my ports and scotches. I went to a popular liquor store on Washington and checked out their prices. It's sad, really. We get raped here. Oban 14 year old was $90. I can buy it at a NYC store for $65. Ridiculous.

-Taco Truck! If you take the PATH daily, join up on their Facebook site to find out where they are. I have bought four to go dinners in two weeks. They remind me of Hoboken Eddie, when he used to have his kitchen under Sullivan's Bar on 6th Street. Eddie wasn't fancy, but he made stick to your ribs good food. Taco Truck is that kind of place. Especially that I consider most of the restaurants in Hoboken "average at best", the Taco Truck finally "GETS IT". I sincerely hope more innovative and creative restaurant owners come to our city - I think there's a huge market.

-The Madison Delivers! I hate The Madison "bar scene". Hate. Hate. Hate. The bar attracts too many pretentious regulars. I think I had dinner at The Madison once, when they first open. Don't really remember it. So, the other day i'm on the elevator with Rocco and hold the door for a delivery guy. He was from The Madison, delivering in our building. I ask if he has an extra menu, and check it out. I didn't order anything special. I tried the onion soup dumplings and a burger with fries. Impression? Holy shit. I may hate the bar scene, but I will be ordering more delivery from them in the future. Easily one of the best burgers in town - better than Five Guys (who DON'T deliver).

-Rocco tried the Hoboken Dog Wash (163 4th Street) about 3 weeks ago. 10 minutes for $15, it works like a self car wash. You have a hose with Tropiclean organic soap, and various options with rinse, conditioner, tick/flea rinse, and other options. It works great, Rocco was a good boy during the whole thing until the dryer part, and he didn't like that very much - it was too cold for him at first, until the motor heated up and warm air blew out. $15 per wash is a bit pricey.

Otherwise, not much else going on. I haven't been to the gym in 4 weeks. I feel like a sloth. I blame Rocco, but the truth is that my motivation level is very low, and spending an hour at the gym (right now) with Rocco waiting for me to get home has been disrupting everything. No excuses, but i'm hoping to get on board soon and back to Club H.

Sit & Stay Dog Training

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rocco4.JPG
After Rocco joined me in my home, one of the goals I had was to make sure that I was trained properly in obedience training.

If you scour the internet or watch TV, there's a thousand people who will give you a thousand different ways to train a dog. Everyone has got an opinion on the "right" way to train a dog, and each owner needs to figure out what is best for them and their dog.

What *I* wanted was to learn about positive reinforcement with Rocco. I asked my dog walker, Lauren (who, by the way, is excellent and if you are interested in her services, feel free to email me and I will pass along her contact info) for a reference.

She didn't hesitate and told me to use the trainer that she used on her Siberian Huskies: Joana Watsky, owner of Sit and Stay.

I called Joana, and we talked a lot on the phone. She asked me about my dog, what I was looking to achieve, and how she could help.

I already knew a lot, with thanks to my sisters for their advice, but I wanted to make sure that I was laying the proper foundation to raising a good dog now, and not trying to correct bad behavior later.

Joana explained how she worked with positive reinforcement to train puppies, and that it was never too early to teach owners these methods. Also she would cover grooming, housebreaking (with command words once outside), basic commands (sit, stand, down, "leave it"), command praise and dog psychology - plus any other questions I had.

We made an appointment, and she arrived at my home last night.

Suffice to say, I already knew a lot of what she taught me and it's a great class for a first time owner or someone, like me, who does have dog experience but is looking to fill in the gaps.

I learned a lot, especially about redirecting Rocco's love to chew everything. Often I would catch him chewing on my couch or going to a lamps electrical wire - and of course i'd say "NO". But she taught me that it's not enough to just do that, we have to say "Leave It" and then direct him to something that is positive, like a dog toy he can chew on.

She was also teaching me that while i'm teaching Rocco that i'm the "pack leader" I have to temper my love towards him. It can't just be "affection, affection, affection...then discipline". He has to earn attention through being a good puppy, not just be an owner who showers him with playtime or petting. Not letting him up on furniture or sleeping in my bed (I haven't allowed this since day 1).

There was a lot of other things she covered, including teaching Rocco "sit", "stand", "down". "Down" was a bit tricky, Rocco has a stubborn streak and didn't like "down", but her persistence and training methods did get him into a down position. Commands like "stay" and "come" would be taught at a later date when the puppy is a bit older.

By taking this class I also got 15% off her group obedience class in the future, which I will be attending when Rocco is about 6 months old. If you are like me, and live in or around Hoboken, have a dog and want to learn a few things - I highly recommend taking this class.

Rocco Week 10

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It's been now almost two weeks with my new dog, and I figure it is time for an update to those who haven't seen my updates on Facebook.

My new puppy's name is Rocco. He's a French bulldog and this week he will be 10 weeks old. I have a dog walker who sees him twice daily, and send me text messages on how he's holding up. I am doing crate training, and not using wee-pads. He's usually not alone longer than 4 hours.rocco1.jpg

The first week, he was waking up around 2-3am, and needing to be walked. The last couple of days he has slept through the night, and even this morning was fast asleep when my alarm went off at 6:45am.

He's a very smart doggie. Took only a few days to teach him to respond to "Rocco" and to learn the command "sit". I have scheduled some puppy training from Joana Watsky in a few weeks, to go over what I need to know about raising a puppy. I have been getting a ton of advice from my two sisters, also. My one sister has raised 6 seeing eye dogs, and my other sister has had about 5 different dogs over her lifetime, some rescues and some from breeders.

Rocco's a puppy, and he gets a lot of attention on walks. But, as a puppy, I can't really take him on super-far walks. Our greatest walk was walking from my condo at Newark and Willow over to Church Square Park on 4th and Willow. He had fun chasing pigeons at 7am on Sunday morning. I don't bring him into the dog run yet, because he's not done with his shots yet. He and I have been running into a few problems on walks. He's a bit stubborn, and I expected this before he arrived. We have been working through this by using some tough love (translation: I walk slow, shuffle my feet and keep my leash fixed to my side. He resists a bit, but eventually follows) and a few pieces of kibble when he walks well along side of me. Our normal early evening walk is about a good 30 minute foray, about 10 square blocks or so (maybe walk to 4th street up from Clinton to Park and then along Park back home).

I used Garden State Animal Hospital on 90th and Kennedy in North Bergen for Rocco's care. I won't use the Hoboken Animal Hospital on 6th and Washington after the whole debacle I had with my cat Honey a few years ago (long story short is my cat was misdiagnosed and it cost me $1,500 in unnecessary surgery - also I hear many stories about that particular hospital overcharging pet owners for frivolous things). Others have recommended the Animal Hospital on 6th and Grand. I have a car, and going to Garden State Animal Hospital isn't too far, and the vet there is a specialist in French Bulldogs, so I like that a lot.rocco2.jpg

He's so far been a very good boy, a few #1 accidents in the condo but I blame myself for not seeing the warning signs fast enough. I'm sure he will get the get the hang of only going outside when his puppy bladder gets bigger and his control is better. I'm taking him out every hour, and 15 minutes after meals & naps.

Every single walk I hear the "Ohhhhh myyyy Godddddd" squeal from a girl who sees Rocco. At first it was funny and I still laugh now, but there are times when i'm just hoping he can go to the bathroom, and have to wave people off. I have been up to Washington Street twice, trying to get Rocco used to people, dogs, sights and sounds. He's been doing very good.

I'm also hoping to find a grass field that is fenced in somewhere in the vicinity where I can take Rocco off leash. If you know of someplace to go (someone suggested Liberty State Park, but I read the rules and it says dogs must be kept on-leash). Have a suggestion? Email me.

Been running into another minor problem with EATING well. Since I have gotten him, my "diet" (not much of a diet, but more about eating right) has been in total flux. Far too often I forget to eat, and I weighed myself the other day and was down 4 pounds between the poor eating and numerous walks. I'm trying this week to get back on track with my diet and exercise, with the last two weeks things have been a bit out of order.

I'll see about getting some new clearer SLR pictures on here in the next week or so.

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