Chloë Pokes the Yule Log

Chloë and her tree.

Happy New Year! First of all, I apologize for not having posted in so long. Everyone gets busy around the holidays, I guess. Even Mike, my ghostwriter, was busy, although after he hung decorations in the living room and a string of lights outside the front door, I’m not sure exactly what he did for the rest of the month. His agenda certainly didn’t include buying gifts for me. Mike has taken Heather’s “no presents” rule far too seriously, in my opinion.

Checking under the Secret Christmas Tree for treats.

Our holiday season began with a few snowy days and an awful ice storm that made our street so treacherous that I was forced to go out the back door and pee in the back yard.  Then things warmed up and by Christmas our normal winter rain patterns returned (not as bad as California, thank goodness!). While we never took a drive to look at holiday light displays, we did trek to find the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park, relocated from its previous location to a slightly more accessible one,with a healthier specimen to decorate.

Christmas Monkeys

As far as my personal gifts, my house cleaning good buddy Jeré brought me another Christmas Monkey, so now JP (last year’s model) has company. The new guy squeaks loudly and has a very grabbable head, and so has become a popular fetch toy for me. He’ll stay in the living room with JP and my other frequent flyers. while Rudolph and the stuffed Christmas moose return to their crate in the garage until next Thanksgiving.

Lamby and Li’l Lamby

My Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby came through for me as usual, with two bags of edible delights and a couple of small tokens of their esteem: Li’l Lamby and Whitey Troll.

The Li’l Lamby got here not a moment too soon, as the open gash on Big Lamby‘s neck is expanding, with her innards are being increasingly exposed. I may need to convince Mike to get me a new Lamby soon, but until he gets off his ass and delivers, Li’l Lamby will alleviate some of the pressure.

The Whitey Troll (pictured below) was presumably intended as a replacement for the Troll that I appropriated from my aunts’ cats last summer. But as soon as Whitey Troll arrived, I realized he would be better as part of a matched set. I immediately began giving him the same haircut I had previously bestowed upon his predecessor, leaving a trail of thin white fibers around the house. Now I keep both trolls around to occasionally pummel and throw around on the floor. They remind me just how much I despise cats. Any and all cats.

Whitey Troll: Arrived with a flowing mane.

The two Trolls after repeated visits to the renowned hairdresser Madame Chloë.

Anyway, it was a pretty quiet holiday for the three of us. We saw no overnight visitors nor dinner guests, just did a lot of TV-watching, turkey-eating and plate-licking, in that order. On Christmas morning, we sat on the living room floor under the TV Yule Log, eating cookies and jerky treats from my aunts. And on New Year’s Eve, we really whooped it up, drinking Prosecco from Costco and making it all the way to midnight in Times Square ( 9 p.m Pacific time) before fading. Gotta rest up for the rest of the year, you know.

Unwrapping gifts under the Yule Log.

 

Dachshund cookie from Aunt Susie, minus tail.

Raucous New Year’s Eve.

 

Chloë Admits She Was Naughty, Not Nice

Berry Ball

A couple of posts ago I introduced readers to my two newest favorite toys, the Troll and the Berry Ball. At that time, we couldn’t remember where the Berry Ball came from, or how long it had been in the house. Luckily, two of my regular readers (shall I refer to them as the Chloëttes?) helped me figure it out.

First, reader Ruth showed us where it came from: Chewy.com. My Berry Ball is actually a Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Raspberry Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy! It is touted as indestructible, and so far it has been that. It is also supposed to emit a minty scent to dogs, and that’s for me to know and you to find out, if you dare. But–there’s always a but–while it has holes at both ends and the larger one (“the Treat-Spot”) is “perfect for stuffing,”  that’s not likely. The larger hole is so tiny that getting any treat into or out of it would be exceedingly difficult for man or beast. Its Chewy web page also claims, “This toy delivers 100 percent of a dog’s daily requirement of rompoflavin, chompohydrates, and dietary fun.” The jury is still out on that one, although gnawing it has been my primary Berry Ball activity.

Chloë and Schatzi.

Even if I don’t use it as a treat dispenser, Berry Ball remains my favorite toy, dependably fetched first thing in the morning and chased spiritedly before every meal. But learning it was purchased via Chewy.com didn’t explain how Berry Ball ended up in my living room. Then reader Caroline–my pal Schatzi’s owner, my sometime innkeeper and personal financial adviser– chimed in that such a toy was part of the famed and much lusted after Schatzi Collection. And since my young pal  had stayed a few nights with us shortly after we returned to Seattle from our summer trip, the initial arrival of the Berry Ball into my domain was clear. Schatzi brought it, and while she was there I stole it from her to keep as my own. I had plenty of toys of my own, but I wanted hers. It made me happy.

The Troll

 

But today I am remorseful. Such  a dereliction of decency on my part would be bad enough, but this was second theft–from another dog, no less! It inspired me revisit my earlier appropriation of the Troll, the cat toy I picked up at my aunts’ house in Syracuse last summer, took across the country with me and treasured ever since. At first, I was pleased with myself for capturing that prize from those two scaredy-cats, but in retrospect I realized this incident was just my first step in a spiral of lies and criminal behavior. I am ashamed of myself, and unless I can nip this behavior in the bud, I could be a raging kleptomaniac by the time I’m 13. And I can’t have that; I consider myself basically a good, moral dog.

Luckily, this recent deluge of self-awareness came at a fortuitous time, right before Christmas, when everybody (well, Mike and Heather, my Syracuse aunts and my cleaning friend Jere) is making a list and checking it twice, letting Santa know who’s been naughty or nice. Admitting my past sins now should put me put me in much better position for the near future. Santa’s coming and my stocking by the fireplace looks like it’s filled. I can hope.

Chloë Climbs the Highest Mountain (on an Island)

Washington Park, Anacortes.

Just before Thanksgiving, Mike, Heather and I spent a couple of days in Anacortes WA, about 90 minutes north of Seattle near the San Juan Islands. We lucked out with a stretch of dry, sunny weather during a protracted spell of cold and wet. I had a good time exploring, but those are some challenging trails on that craggy coastline, with lots of up-and-down sections and bounding over rocks and roots required. It gets a bit tiring for an old broad like me, and several days to recover once getting home. Still beats being left behind, however.

Guemes Mountain summit with Mount Baker in the distance.

The highlight of the trip was climbing all the way to the summit of Guemes Mountain, where we had a fantastic view of Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands. True, this highest point on Guemes Island is “only” 688 feet above sea level, but it was still a mile and a half each way to get there, plus all the different trails we walked on at the summit in order to get different views. Besides, in my book, a mountain is a mountain. QED.

We were only away from home a couple of days, but when we got there I was glad to be back, snuggled into my bed and spending the whole day napping near the front door, where I can hear everything that happens and bark when necessary. While I was gone, my posse kept watch and generally did a good job.

Keeping her bed warm.

 

 

Chloë Shows Off Her New Favorite Toys

The Troll, captured in Syracuse.

After all these years (coming up to my bat mitzvah soon!), as far as my toys go, one thing is clear: What’s here today may be gone tomorrow, relegated to the toy bins instead of out on the floor. When it comes to favorites, I tend to be monogamous for a while, never taking a new favorite toy out of my mouth or letting it out of my sight. Then I’ll drop it like a hot potato as soon as something prettier comes along. Remember Foxy? Lamby? Even the first Wiffie? While I loved them all dearly and deeply at the time, now they are more like faded memories from high school. Nostalgic, but it’s time for me to move on. Since returning from the East, I found new loves, dual objects of my deepest affection. Let me tell you about them!

The first one is a real prize. I call him the Troll. True, the Troll may not look like much. I’ve gnawed off quite a bit of his once-bounteous blue coif, which didn’t help his sex appeal. But I love him anyway, because he is the bounty I snatched from my Syracuse aunts’s kitties (Cleo and Bear) last summer. The aunts thought they had hidden away all their cats’s food and toys before I got there that night, but nobody but a cat gets as low to the ground as I do. And thus I discovered my little Troll under a couch (since replaced) in the living room. Generous ladies that they are, the aunts said I could keep it, and quite surprisingly Heather allowed it! Now the Troll is camping out with me in Seattle. Every time I pick him up, it reminds me of how I kept those kitties at bay all summer, and that memory brings me joy once again.

The Berry Ball

But even my dear Troll cannot compete with the allure of the Berry Ball, a rubbery, dimpled sphere that I put into my mouth almost the minute I walked in the door from the trip and have barely removed since. Nobody remembers where the Berry Ball came from, but it quickly became the toy that I live for. I like to chase it around the house, catch its caroms, retrieve it for another toss, to gnaw on it,  push it along the floor with my nose or even to just to lie down and look at it. I don’t sleep with it (yet), but I seek it out as soon as I get up in the morning, remembering exactly where I left it and panicking if it’s not there. It’s just my light, bright, soft, cuddly, unpredictable, bouncy, Berry Ball.

 

Mike and Heather wonder how long this will last. I say, just enjoy the ride.

Chloë Faces Fall

Schatzi gets a belly rub.

It didn’t take long after our summer-long trip trip for us to get back into the swing of things. Just a few days after our return, Schatzi came over for a short stay. I was excited to see her at first, and she seemed a bit more grown up since springtime. Aftr the initial thrill, however, she started to bug me. She still aggravated Heather when we walked together, and I don’t like to see Heather get cranky. Besides, Schatzi was horning in on my affection time, and I couldn’t allow too much of that.

Just a few days after Schatzi left, Mike, Heather and I into Heather’s car right after breakfast and drove onto the highway. For the first few miles I thought another long trip was starting. Then I realized my bed wasn’t raised to window level, so I figured we weren’t going too far. Our destination was Summit Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, where I underwent the cardiology tests that I had conveniently put out of my mind during the whole summer trip.

Our pumpkin Chloë pauses with pumpkins on Magnolia Boulevard.

The experience wasn’t too bad for me. No sedation was required, all the staff people were very nice, and it didn’t take too long. I got treats. The doctor came out to the car to deliver the diagnosis: “Degenerative valve in heart causing murmur,” a condition not uncommon in older, smaller dogs. “No heart enlargement or visible symptoms like coughing, tired, lethargic, etc.,” the report said. “Recommended annual screening (we’ll see about that!). If heart gets enlarged, medication can slow it, but not necessary at this stage.”

Mike and his political consultant vote in bed, a Washington State tradition.

So that’s a relief. I’m feeling fine, and there’s going to be a follow-up examination after Thanksgiving with my personal physician Dr. Kimmel. We’ll  discuss my condition and general health with her and take it from there.

In the meantime, “Par-tay!” Fall colors are out in the neighborhood, although recently there has been a winter chill in the air. Baseball playoffs are finally over, thank goodness, and the colder weather means more frequent napping with Heather. Finally, all those awful political ads are over! The voting is important, however. That’s why I provided sage input to Mike and Heather while they voted in bed this week. Dogocracy lives! Joe Biden would be proud of us.

 

 

 

Chloë Rolls Home

I wanted to reiterate that I had a great time on my recent summer sojourn. But after nearly three months away, I was ready to get back inside my own crate and play with my own toys. Especially after having to endure that nearly two-hour traffic jam between the east side of Lake Washington and home. By the time we reached the Magnolia Bridge, the gateway to our neighborhood, I was ready, and I could smell something familiar in the air.

 

By the time the car rolled through Magnolia Village, up Viewmont Way and crossed Magnolia Boulevard, I could barely contain myself.

 

Traveling was fun, but it was good to be home.

 

Chloë Smells Smoke

Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Compared to our previous trips, the westward journey home was quicker and less smoky. We got all the way to the Bitterroot Valley in Montana before we could see any haze or smell  smoke in the air. The next day, however, we saw billows of smoke and flames within a couple miles of us in the Idaho panhandle, and by the time we crossed the Columbia River in Wenatchee, WA, the air was heavy with smoke. On our last day on the road, we had to detour south to I-90 when our preferred Route 2 was closed due to wildfires west of Stevens Pass. Then we ran into a huge traffic jam in Seattle before getting back to Magnolia. I was glad to finally get home and sleep in my own bed. All the toys and balls I left behind were still there. too. I had been worried.

Sniffing out Idaho.

The trip was good. Despite the dry and dusty trails and occasional slippery stairways, I started having fun as soon as I came to terms with the fact that I was not going to get back into my rightful spot in the front seat. At least on the trip back I was perched high enough in the back that I could easily get my nose (and sometimes my whole body) out the window for a good whiff of the surrounding countryside, which. I took advantage of almost every day. America has problems, but it still smelled alright to me.

Getting up close and personal with the Tetons.

 

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Chloë Watches the River Flow

Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

Traveling can be hard work. Up early, long drives, dusty walks, being carted in and out of the car three or four times a day, and the absolute worst of all, stairs. Going up and down long stairways with slick treads is cruel and unusual punishment for any dog, let alone a senior dog like me. I managed to have a good trip home anyway.

On the first leg we wove through a region called the Pennsylvania Wilds, mountainous, heavily wooded land in northern Pennsylvania. There were great trails and spectacular views, including a walk on a former railroad trestle called the Kinzua Bridge. I was brave, although I tried not to look down.

Kinzua Bridge.

We spent a couple of days exploring the Kinzua (pronounced Kin-zoo, a Seneca term meaning “fish on spear”) region with our friend Rudy. As our tour guide, Rudy got to sit in the front, and I sat in the back with Mike. I would have preferred Heather with me, but this was better than nothing, and Mike always lets me sit in his lap.

Surveying the Chautauqua lakefront.

One day Rudy guided us through the Chautauqua Institution, about 45 minutes away. I liked its narrow streets and historical atmosphere, and most of all its lush, green lawns and perennial gardens. When we got back to Warren there was a cookout on the Allegheny River in front of Rudy’s house. As I lay in my bed by the river, keeping close watch on everything, I saw a blue heron fishing on the opposite bank and several fish scooping up the bugs floating on the surface. No deer or beaver, they must have known I was around.

River watch on the Allegheny.

After we left Rudy (and what happens in Warren, stays in Warren), we hit the turnpikes and motored through the Midwest toward Seattle. As soon as Mike gets the photos edited, I’ll recount some of those highlights. It’s hard to find good help these days.

Chloë Recaps Her CNY Tour

At the Hansen farm in Madison County.

It was great to be back in Central New York after almost three years! I had a lot of fun, visited many old friends and made a few new ones, and I have never seen more squirrels in one place before in my long and fateful life. But I have to admit it wasn’t all wine and roses.

One day I bolted out the open front door of our temporary home, zoomed down the driveway and sprinted across the street to chase one of those squirrels, and Heather went ballistic on me. Plus a couple of times when I pulled soggy tissues out of the bathroom garbage and strewed them across the floor also earned me stern scolding and temporary confinement. Very temporary, I should add. I survived.

On Skaneateles Lake.

On the other hand, positive highlights of my last few weeks in Syracuse were many, just like the first few weeks. I got to chase rabbits on Mark and Carole Hansen’s farm and lounge on Amy Flemming’s new dock at her Skaneateles Lake camp (and zip down and up all those stairs from the house to the lake with no problems or heavy breathing, unlike some other people). I got to visit my aunts Susie and Debby several times, corralling their cats upstairs where they didn’t dare come down from, and even managed to steal one of their cat toys as a prize for my ride back to Seattle–a little souvenir to remember them by. That’s why I squealed like a banshee every time we pulled up outside their house. And while I didn’t get to meet Kevin Corbett’s cat Tucker, Kevin sent me a football-shaped toy that I put to immediate use as a Wiffie substitute for the rest of my Salt City stay.

Meeting with Franklin.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to chase Tucker next summer. In the meantime, I met a polite young dachshund puppy named Franklin, just 6 months old, and a graybeard golden Lab named Abby who is just about the same age as me. I considered playing around with Abby at her camp until I realized that it was vast Lake Ontario slamming those waves on the other side of the rocks. As longtime readers know, I have a deep aversion to waves. I don’t even have to see them; just hearing them slosh against the shore is enough to alert me to pull my leash in the opposite direction.

Meeting at Mexico Point.

While those waves were a bit unnerving, it was balanced out by the absolute No. 1 highlight of the whole trip so far. Since my Aunt Debby drove us up to Steve, Kristin and Abby Swift’s camp at Mexico Point in my Aunt Susie’s car, I got to sit in the back seat with my favorite couple! Packmates Mike and Heather let me sit on their laps going and coming home, and they rolled down the back windows whenever I wanted to sniff the countryside. When I needed to snuggle away my trauma on the way home, Heather reluctantly obliged.  What more could I ask for? I just hope this bodes well for the long trip back to Seattle. Westward ho!

Lap dog.

Chloë Has a Capital Experience

Hanging with Nipper in Albany.

Another highlight of my Syracuse stay was our side trip to Albany. I had previously stayed with my pals Nick and Lorrie Mazza and their border collie Skippy when they lived near Rochester, but Skippy and I didn’t have that much interaction.  We were both youngerand more high-strung then. In Skippy’s new digs in Albany, we hit it off right away. And that was a good thing, because we had a 45-minute car ride together in the back seat to Grafton Lakes State Park as soon as we got there.

The park was fun. Skippy and I got pieces of hot dogs and rolls, and when Mike and Lorrie paddled around a lake in kayaks, Heather, Nick, Skippy and I hiked halfway around it. That was quite far enough on a 90-degree day.

The next day was cooler, and Nick took us on a driving tour of downtown Albany. We saw the Hudson riverfront, the South Mall of government buildings and the statehouse, but the governor was unfortunately not around to greet me. We also passed a large statue depicting the RCA mascot Nipper, sitting high atop a warehouse not far from the Hudson River. Impressive, but seeing it did not inspire me to heed my masters’ voices any better or more often.

Downtown Albany is dripping with history, rich with the red brick and narrow-street feel of colonial cities like Baltimore, Boston or Philadelphia. Heather had never been to the capital of New York State before, and she was favorably impressed. I thought it was much neater than Olympia!

We capped off our capital excursion with a walk around the Olmstead-designed Washington Park, where among other things I was introduced to Moses, who paused above me to part the Red Sea while I was lying there. I thought he was OK, but it was nowhere close to meeting Joe Whiting!

Meeting Moses in Albany’s Washington Park

After the auto tour, we went back to Skippy’s house and got ready to leave, but not before Skippy and I sniffed our goodbyes to each other on his front lawn, and I thanked him for his hospitality. We promised to get together again next summer. 

That’s all for now. I’ve got many more highlights to get to, but right now I’ve got to get back to packing for the trip back to Seattle. I have called dibs on the front seat, for what it’s worth.

Chloë looking up to her new pal Skippy.