Chloë Stares Down Danger

Chloë rests after her ordeal.

In my previous post, I summarized the highlights of my most recent visit to my foothills getaway, but I later realized I overlooked a few minor details. That I almost died, for instance.

And no, it wasn’t a passing coyote, bobcat or cougar that nearly did me in. It was a piece of knotted rawhide. Mike pulled it out of storage to give to me on the drive out to the getaway, hoping it would keep me occupied in the car. I ignored it, however, and continued to do so until Smokey feigned interest in it, just a couple of days before our departure. That piqued my curiosity and possessiveness, so I started gnawing on it in the kitchen. Lo and behold, it wasn’t bad! Soon I had chewed it into a tiny, sodden nugget, and when Smokey passed by, I was not going to let him get it away from me. So I swallowed it.

Pepe in his paddock.

Heather leaped into action when I started braying like Pepe the Burro, choking and heaving. Foaming at the mouth, too. Heather was simultaneously screaming at Mike, “She’s going to die!,” trying to pry my clench jaw open so she could get her fingers down my throat, and applying a doggie Heimlich Maneuver to my midsection. Finally, enough of it either went down or came up that I could catch my breath. In a minute or so I was fine, except for all the rawhide-infused spittle hanging from my face, nose, mouth and ears. Yes, for just one fleeting instant, I was not pretty.

Getting a bath: Rock me on the water.

When things finally calmed down and everyone relaxed, we all agreed it was Mike’s fault, for giving me the rawhide in the first place. Let’s hope he learned his lesson

I recovered with a Spa Day. After my morning nap, Heather gave me a warm bath in the upstairs laundry room (Mr. Fuzz hid under a bed). Then Mike got out the scissors and trimmed my beard, which was matted together in long strands as a result of yesterday’s episode. I was on my best behavior for the rest of our stay.

Chloë’s lair.

That attitude more or less evaporated as soon as we returned home, however. It didn’t take more than a day until I sprinted away from Heather’s ball toss on the Parade Ground to chase a rabbit into the South Meadow and a dense thicket of blackberry.  I liked it in there: It had lots of tunnels and nooks and crannies to explore, as long as I didn’t get my leash opr harness stuck. That’s just part of the challenge! Anyway, Heather and Mike searched the area and called for me for a while, and they even clearly sighted me a couple of times. I ignored them; the thicket was more fun. So Mike limped home to get flashlights and lopping shears. He was already on the way back to the thicket when I finally came prancing out with a triumphant smile on my face. It was getting close to dinner time.

The following week I snuck out the front door and bolted down the street to the Bartons’ back yard. I’ll just never learn. Like “Secret Agent Man,” I live a life of danger!

Chloë Takes a Short Vacation

Roll Call: Smokey (front), Chloë and Pumpkin.

When we drove out to my Cascade foothills Getaway last week, it was the first time we’ve spent the night away from home in 400 days, as well as our longest car ride in that time: a whole 28 miles door to door. But for a few moments, at least, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel dipped down to the level of  I-90, with Mount Rainier and the North Cascades shimmering over the lake on a cloudless afternoon.

I love going out there, although sometimes spending 10 days fending off the advances of the adolescent Smokey is not exactly my idea of a vacation. Him constantly barking at dogs in TV commercials is bad enough, but I’m starting to get a vibe that there’s something a little kinky going on here in the wild, wild West (I’ve seen all those smarmy families in the modern Westerns on TV). Smokey not only hounded me every minute I was there, trying to sniff my butt or butt in on my food (much better than his, I can say from experience), but he also stalked poor little Pumpkin, and worse–at least twice a day, he snuck up behind her and started to hump her, stopping only when Heather started screaming at him. And here’s the kicker: Smokey squats when he pees, while Pumpkin lifts her leg every time. Definitely something amiss here.

The pack leads Heather.

The two of them were a pain when we took them on our daily walks, too. Heather took their leashes, while Mike had me, and I tried to pull him along as fast as his bum foot allowed. Smokey and Pumpkin made Heather deal with lots of pooping and stopping to sniff every leaf and rock, like they had never smelled one before.  Boring. Then one afternoon we drove to a different park for a walk, but Smokey started barking at another dog while we were still in the parking lot. Heather hustled everybody back into the car because she couldn’t trust Smokey where there were too many distractions. So we drove to another place, a logging road where there would be no people or dogs to provoke Smokey. Unfortunately, about 20 minutes uphill Smokey found a fresh animal scent to follow and yanked Heather right into the woods after it. That killed this spot as a walk location, too.

Along the Sno Valley Trail.

The number of places without distractions both at the parking lot and along the trail seemed limited, but the Snoqualmie Valley Trail always seemed to foot the bill. From our central location, we could access several  sections in 10 days without repeating our routes.

And don’t let me whine too much, because, the benefits of vacationing at my Getaway far outweigh the drawbacks. This time I got to audition my new REI camp chair, for one thing, although I do want to test it out for a couple of weeks before rendering my final verdict. Out in Fall City, the new chair was easier to leap into, but still put me safely above the Scylla and Charybdis of Smokey and the mostly upstairs cat Mr. Fuzz. I did let Pumpkin use it a couple of times when I was resting somewhere else.

Chloë’ tries her new camp chair.

Another good part of being there, of course, is that just like when my little pal Schatzi visits our house, it’s always the other dogs who are screwing up, barking unnecessarily or doing something gross, and I am looking like a descendant of a certified obedience champion (which is true!). When three’s company, I’m never the one getting yelled at.

Front seat with cushion.

But the absolute best part: Whenever Mike, Heather and the three dogs drove somewhere in Heather’s car, I got to sit in the front on Mike’s lap. True, it still wasn’t my own seat, but it was still the front seat. And I didn’t want to make Mike have to sit in the back with those two.

Chloë Gets a Clean Bill of Health

Early wakeup call.

I knew something was up one morning when the alarm on Heather’s phone awakened me, and it was still dark outside. Normally, I’m the alarm clock around here, and I’m not stirring before the sun comes up. When she served me breakfast right away, before we even went outside, I figured it out: On annual physical day, there’s no feeding within two hours of my imminent blood work and examination.

This made me nervous right away, and my anxiety escalated while I was sitting in Heather’s car in the vet’s parking lot, awaiting an assistant to snatch me up and take me into the inner sanctum, where virus protocols still forbid Heather to enter. I needn’t have bothered with all the shaking, however. My nervousness abated as soon as the vet’s assistant read the results of my weigh-in on the digital scale in the lobby. Rather than the bad news I expected, I had actually shed a whopping .12 pounds since my previous visit! With that result, I could finally be confident that Heather’s liberal dispersal of my personal stimulus treats will continue. That was a load off my mind.

Hidden camera captures previous examination with the renowned Dr. Kimmel.

And that was just the start of the good news coming post-examination from my personal physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel. Unlike those of former President Trump’s doctors, here’s a medical report you can trust. The noted dachshund veterinarian  wrote: “Chloë was 20.88 lbs today, which is stable and a great weight. Her teeth look great, and her crown/root canal appears stable.”

Moreover, after my visit she came out to the car to personally tell Heather that I am just a “mass of muscle.” There had been some concern recently about my rear right leg shaking after exercise, but Dr. Kimmel found nothing wrong back there. “There may be a bit of pain, but could also be some muscle overexertion, ” she wrote. “She did not show obvious pain, weakness or neurologic deficits on exam. If it seems to be more prominent, we could try a nerve pain medication after heavy activity.”

After reviewing my blood and stool tests, she added, “I am very happy to report that Chloë’s lab results were all excellent, which included thyroid level, kidney and liver function, electrolytes, proteins, and red/white blood cell counts. There are also no obvious reasons for her hindlimb shaking that I see on her labs. Keep up the great work on her teeth and weight! You’d never guess she’s 11!”

Chloë on the hunt.

I celebrated the good news later that afternoon by ditching Mike and Heather  to pursue rabbits and other spring rodents around the pond adjacent to one of my favorite fetch locations. After about 20 minutes or so, I let Heather catch up to me. Chasing rabbits is fun, but I knew it was almost time for the extra cheese treats and dinner. I was about to receive. Brains as well as brawn!

Chloë Admires Her Pelts

Lounging with Ranger the Reindeer.

Lots of bunnies in Discovery Park at this time of year. Babies from the longtime inhabitants, and usually a few new arrivals from Easter-gift discards. All those newcomers are easier to catch than the regulars, who are less reckless and more cunning. I haven’t actually seen any of these newbies yet, but I know they’re around. I can smell them. On our afternoon walks, my usual passion for fetch wanes when so many distractions fill the air.

As far as hunting expeditions go, getting into trouble with Heather last week didn’t help my prospects. She has been keeping me on a tight leash, sometimes tied to her belt, like we’re hiking a national forest trail or something. It’s my sentence for running away from her on successive days on the Parade Ground, galloping toward some perceived threat and barking loudly. The “threats” were actually a German shorthair pointer running along with its master who paid no attention to me, and an elderly woman with a floppy, wide-brimmed hat and a cane who was not at all pleased. Both times, Heather screamed at me to me to come back, and I ignored her, compounding her wrath. Mike wasn’t walking close to us either time, which may have made me a bit over-protective, I guess. Or else I was just being my nervous dachshund self.

Hanging around Chloë’s trophy case. (l.to r.) Lamby, Ranger and Foxy.

Since then, my fetch opportunities are severely limited to areas and situations that can be tightly controlled. The wide expanse of the Parade Ground is strictly off limits. And the chances of me being off leash long enough to track a rabbit became even more a longshot.

I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with the pelts already hanging in my trophy case:  Lamby, Ranger and Foxy, each ready to be yanked down for a good throttle. That’s always fun, right up there with rolling around on a rug as a way to let off some steam.

Chloë Joins the Culvert Club

Checking out a culvert.

We’re still a few weeks away from astronomical spring on the calendar, but the TV weatherperson said meteorological spring began March 1, and that’s good enough for me.

Indian plum.

This week, signs of spring were everywhere. The plum tree next door emerged in  full bloom. On our walks, Mike pointed out new growth on evergreen trees and young leaves and flowers on shrubs and ground covers. Heather’s snowdrops provided a bumper crop in our front yard, with crocus and hyacinth following soon after. Our back yard featured Lenten roses and fragrant sarcococca, with the currants not far behind.

Heather’s snowdrop crop.

Chloë checks another culvert.

That’s all fine, but to me they were no better than secondary attractions. I preferred the walks that took us downhill towards the Discovery Park Visitors Center, where the former military base’s  inner roads and drainage are more prevalent, and the water flows downhill through culverts below or ditches next to the trails. I’m always interested in sticking my nose where it don’t belong, and all of these dark places smell particularly attractive come spring. I can sometimes access six or eight of them in one circuit. When it comes to spring, that’s what I’m talking ’bout!

 

Chloë Revels in Snow Daze

Finally, Seattle got its first snow of the winter. Temperatures had been so mild that I had almost given up hope. I love playing in the snow, and snow smells great, too, for some reason (maybe it insulates all  those aromas). We don’t see a lot of snow here, and when it does snow it’s either a dusting that disappears quickly or a slushy mess that turns into ice overnight. This time the snow started Friday evening and lasted until Sunday, was lighter than usual, and the air stayed cold. I got two full days of opportunities to burst through snowbanks, bark at skiers and run around uncontrollably. What fun!

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What was not nearly as much fun was getting all those ice balls off my four legs and chest when I got home. Since I would not ever sit still long enough to have them melt off by themselves into a towel wrapped around me, Heather put me in a towel on her lap and went at them with a combination of brushes and combs. I forbade Mike from taking my picture in this compromised position. By the time this ordeal was over, I was due several extra Charlee Bears.

By Monday afternoon, temperatures rose above freezing, and the snow mostly disappeared, along with the all the sledders and the many snowmen and snowwomen, some of them appropriately masked, who temporarily stood as silent sentinels on the Discovery Park Parade Ground for two brief, snowy days.

 

Chloë Uncovers Further Rewards

Recent birthday girl.

When you’ve been around the game as long as I have, you learn that you win some, you lose some. And thus my favorite new fetch ball, discovered in front of the house barely three weeks ago, just as suddenly vanished, the victim of an apparent miscommunication between Heather and me about who would be carrying it. But no sooner did that happen that another, more mysterious and desirable ball dropped into my life.

Here’s what it looks like.

Restore Ultimate Foot Massager

Gnarly ball.

Mike got it so he could massage the bottom of his feet. He tried to use it while watching TV, taking his shoes off and rolling this ball under and between his feet. I was having none of that. I immediately decided it  was my ball, and I’ll do what I want with it. For example, I can chew on it, I can knock it around, I can push it under the coffee table and whine until somebody gets it for me. I can sit on the floor beneath the basket where I know it’s sitting and stare up at it. Lots of neat stuff.

Water trap.

Heather acknowledged it was my ball, and she advised Mike to get himself a second massage ball. Mike’s too cheap for that, however, so he and I now share the ball. He rolls it around under his foot, and I watch intently until he flicks it across the floor and I pounce. Mike’s not allowed to throw it, because this ball is so bouncy and hard that it will break something. That’s what Heather said, anyway. We try to comply by just rolling the ball along the floor, but even then, it takes some funny bounces, like into my water bowl.

So we’ll see how long this ball-sharing arrangement lasts. While this new ball has currently pushed all other balls, including the two that were Christmas presents from my Syracuse aunts, into the surplus toy bins, this tends to be cyclical. Only Wiffie has real staying power. Besides, Mike will no doubt lose interest, too, once he admits that, despite rolling the massage ball under his arches and the ball of his right foot twice a day, it still hurts.

Birthday munchies.

A bigger surprise this week was a belated and unexpected birthday present from my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby. Inside a big box from my new favorite online store, Chewy.com, were two bags of Charlee Bears, including a new cheesy flavor, and one bag of premium jerky. These Charlees came not a moment too soon, too: The last time Mike went to Trader Joe’s, he saw no Charlees on the shelf. Meanwhile, our favored brand has redesigned it’s packaging, making it slicker, and added to its product line. I fear the days of cheap Charlees at TJ’s may be over. I’m glad to have a good supply, just in case.

Chloë Finds Eleven Heaven

Celebrating birthday #11 in her chair with Lamby, Ranger and Foxy.

Tampa Tom

I turned 11 years old this week. But like a fine wine (and with some fine whine), my life only gets better with age. Think of me as the Tom Brady of wirehair dachshunds, older but wiser, retaining legendary  athletic skills and getting better looking every day. My energy is constant and my coat is shiny.  I have but a few gray hairs here and there, and even that little spot between my shoulders has gotten thicker. It must be the cheese Heather has been doling out to lure me into my detested teeth-brushing every day.

Wiffie: Chloë Official Autograph Model

My routines remain the same. I still sprint after the ball whenever and wherever Heather throws it, deft at plucking it midair off the pavement or sniffing it out in the underbrush. I may stop after 15 or 20 throws instead of 100, but I’ve got other stuff to do on a walk. Sniffing out rabbits and squirrels, eating dirt, signing the guest book–important stuff! And when I get back home, I still goad Mike or Heather into tossing Wiffie around or tugging with me and Lamby, and I still leap into my camp chair with ease, albeit more of a head start. I still like to run downstairs just to roll around on the throw rug in the guest bedroom, and I still pull old toys out of their corner holding bin and strew them all over the floor just because I can. If I get the chance to do that with another dog’s toys, even better.

Awaiting bedtime snacks.

There’s no evidence of diminished brain function, either. My spirit remains as strong and stubborn as ever, and my internal clock still ticks accurately. Any time Mike or Heather forget any treat (downstairs bickie at 8:30 a.m., breakfast Greenie at 9, the 10 a.m. PBB, the 2 p.m. jerky, the post-walk, harness-off Charlee Bears or the two-part bedtime snack, my internal alarm goes off and I loudly call attention to it with a whine or two. No sundowning to worry about: Every night, when Mike says, “Let’s go to bed, Chloë!” I always know where to go, rushing right into my bedroom crate. Nobody has to draw me a map.

A last treat from Donna.

Oh, regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again–well, I’ll mention them  any time I want to! The only downside of my birthday week was finding out that Donna, my favorite UPS driver, will be leaving her delivery route to take an inside job and save her hurting knees. I respect that decision, although this will be my second heart-breaking separation from a Brown hero. Hopefully Donna’s eventual permanent replacement will be another dog lover who won’t need too much breaking in, although in this day and age I wonder how many more UPS drivers I’ll have to train. Continuity is out the window.

I know the mailman already visited on my birthday (I barked when the metal mail slot flapped, as I usually do to Heather’s chagrin)), and no birthday cards arrived with my name on them.  In fact, the only card I received came from Chewy.com. So my legions of fans will no doubt ask, Chloë, didn’t you do anything special to celebrate your birthday? No, not a thing. When you’re as young at heart as I am, every new day is its own celebration.

Chloë Starts the New Year Right

Trying out a raincoat.

What is usually a dreary month turned out to be not so bad. Rainy, of course, but I generally don’t let that slow me down. Unless it’s really pouring and windy, I’m OK with a little rain, at least once my nose is outside. There’s always lots of good smells on a rainy day. It’s those first steps toward the door that are the hardest.

So Mike and Heather borrowed a doggie raincoat from Caroline (her Schatzi has one of her own) to see if wearing one would make me more enthusiastic about getting my butt outside. After trying it a few times, however, they realized the raincoat protected my back but made no difference in keeping my chest or underneath clean, nor making me much drier when we got home. Thus the raincoat experiment ended abruptly. I have solidly established myself as real mossback, through and through.

Our mossback walks Azalea Way in the Arboretum.

We had several dry days toward the end of the month. Mostly we took our walks in Discovery Park, keeping an eye out for animal control patrols, although one afternoon we walked all the way to Magnolia Village and back, and a few times we stopped at the neighborhood grocery store or the flagpole at Fort Lawton for a deserted place to play fetch. Oh, and we returned to the Washington Park Arboretum with George and Debbie on one of their visits from Juneau. Its Winter Garden was blooming and fragrant at this time of year—and the Arboretum always has lots of squirrels!

Chloë’s new coupon toy.

I even got a couple of terrific new playthings this month. My pal Channon gave me a soft, crackly, squeaky toy when she and Jeré came to spiffy up the house. It’s supposed to be a dog-centered replica of the Bed, Bath & Beyond  coupons that come in the mail. Frankly, I could do without the bad puns, but I instantly took a liking to its texture and the various sounds emitting from within, a perfect blend of three squeaks and a crackle that go together like peanut butter and jelly.

New ball on the block.

And then, to top it off, I found myself a new Chuck-it! ball! Well, it’s not actually new, but new to me, and I did find it myself, on the sidewalk right outside our house. Finders keepers, I said. Some other dog may have dropped it on the way to the park, but thems the breaks. It was mine now, and for the rest of the month it became my go-to fetch ball. But it’s not hollow like my usual Chuck-it! Whistler balls, so this one is a bit heavier to carry around in my mouth, and heavier for Heather to throw. In fact, her back and her throwing-arm shoulder are starting to bother her, but so far not enough to send her to the IL (that’s the Injured List, for non- baseball fans). Luckily, whenever I get tired of carrying the ball around, Heather is always there to pick it up and carry it for me.

I’m grateful for that, too. Good caddies are hard to find.

Chloë Wraps Up 2020

Walking in Discovery Park.

2020 was a tough year for most, but for me, it was a year of change. Early on, Mike and Heather left me with Schatzi for a week, and then we were supposed to be off on the road again, heading eastward to Syracuse. But when they got back to Seattle, things had changed. Since then we rarely went anywhere but Discovery Park, and Mike and Heather wore these scary face masks every second we were outside. It was much harder for dogs to socialize, too, because nobody wanted to get too close. We didn’t go to visit anybody, and nobody yisited our house, either, except for a couple of summer football games and briefly when Schatzi’s mom Caroline and the kids who live next door came over briefly. Pretty boring overall.

Symbol of 2020.

This cloistered existence was only the beginning of change for me. I knew Mike’s leg pain was really killing him, because he always walked far behind Heather and me in the afternoon and often woke me at night with his moans and groans. I guess I didn’t know how bad it was, however,, because early one morning Mike went away for a few days in a hospital. When he came back, I wasn’t allowed to jump on him  and he stayed in bed a lot.

All this changed my life even more. When Mike returned home, he still had a lot of healing to do, so Heather permanently took over all my feeding, grooming, tooth-brushing, walking, throwing and vet visits. Mike continued to walk with us every afternoon, but he walked very slowly and for not as long, and he used a cane. As weeks went on, he could walk longer and farther, but the speed of his walking was taking longer to return. By the end of our walks, he’s moving slowly, but his overall pace is still improving.

Chloë cane do.

Not surprisingly, the three of us adjusted. All those care tasks still get done, although Heather has her own way of doing them. And in most cases, her way is better than Mike’s way, at least as far as I’m concerned. I know she takes my daily ritual of tooth-brushing and grooming before dinner a lot more seriously than Mike ever did. That’s because Heather would never let herself do “C” work on anything; Mike was dedicated, but ultimately more lenient with me. So I put up with Heather’s diligence on my mouth and coat because I know I’m getting a lot more cheese and kibble out of her than I ever got from Mike. And there’s more good news: Earlier this week I tipped the scale at my vet at a svelte 20.5 pounds (down from 21.1 six weeks ago), so Heather’s extra rations can continue unabated. It’s like an unexpected stimulus check.

As the calendar turned to 2021, Heather, Mike and I were walking about an hour a day around Discovery Park, mostly on paved walkways that pass one or more of my favorite fetch locations, where we linger and throw if passersby are infrequent. Mike’s leg doesn’t hurt him anymore, and he recently ditched his cane. But when he starts to get tired toward the end, he still walks quite a ways behind Heather and me. Maybe in 2021 he can catch up and walk with us, which would mean he’s feeling that much better. That will be be fine by me, as long as Heather stays in charge and the cheese sticks keep on coming.