Chloë Walks into a Reunion

Lawn flop.

Serendipity. How else can I explain why I turned right when we left for our afternoon walk last Sunday. Instead of heading toward the park as usual, I led the pack in the other direction and across Magnolia Boulevard, sticking to parallel streets so we didn’t have to go too steeply uphill.  It was a warm afternoon, but I found several shady patches of well-manicured lawn on which to flop, so I did.

Frank, Stanley and Chloë.

It wasn’t until we cut  down to the promenade section of the boulevard that I realized why this route was chosen. As I strode down the sidewalk of the last block to park level, I saw them on the grassy area across the street.  It had been a while, but who could forget those portly profiles? It was my brothers, Frank and Stanley.

As I hustled us over to where they were sitting, the guys tagged-teamed me, one on each side, just like they always do.  But with a burst of speed I was able to shove past them and leap at the real targets of my pent-up affection: their owners, Andrew and Tiffany. I bestowed many squeals and nose bites upon them.

Heather rubs noses with Frank.

Since the boys have been wintering in Arizona and do a lot of sailing in the summer (a tough life, eh?), it had been four years since we had seen each other. Both of them look like they’ve shed a few pounds, but their style and personalities haven’t changed. Stan’s still the instigator, while Frank likes to lay back, cuddle and pose. We tussled around for a while, but it was hot and sunny, and the boys didn’t push it too long. Hey, we’re seniors, at least according to Dr. Kimmel, who is the personal physician for all three of us.

Frank, the furry one.

After this chance occurrence, I’m hoping we can get together with my brothers again, sooner than later. They seem to be more my speed than that rambunctious puppy Schatzi, who’s going to be staying with us for the Fourth of July. I was glad to have a couple of days to rest up for her before she comes.

Chloë Activated from the Injured List

Meditating at Kubota Garden.

I am happy to report I have returned from the 10-day Injured List (IL).  According to Mike, this was formerly  called the Disabled List (DL). The new title is probably more accurate and definitely more politically correct.

The problem was somewhere in my right front leg, although without an MRI, the exact location of the tendon tear or muscle pull that caused my limp remains unknown.  “Rest and recuperation” was the prescription from Dr. Heather, who might have contributed to this predicament by running me though too many fetch repetitions the day before I started limping.

Working on a down/stay at Kubota Garden.

At first the injury didn’t appear too severe, and I gave every indication of being raring to go to chase that ol’ ball again. I was almost deemed ready to rejoin the active roster when I leaped off my camp chair one morning and landed awkwardly, straining my muscles all over again, this time more severely. Heather prescribed a total shutdown.

I was sore for several days. We went outside for peeing and pooping purposes only. Favorite toys Wiffie and Lamby were quarantined in places I couldn’t even see, and my camp chair was folded  away in a corner. My napping locations were limited to my floor-bound office and living room dog beds. And Heather’s lap, of course, or between her legs in the bedroom while she was reading or watching TV.

Yet my limp persisted. Heather was almost resigned to calling in noted “Tommy John” surgeon Dr. James Andrews (or more likely my personal physician, Dr. Kimmel), when I finally crossed the summit of recovery. The pain was gone,  and my strength and stamina gradually returned. We walked in the park for 20 minutes, a half-hour, then 45 minutes and a complete hour. After almost two weeks of rest and rehab, I was almost ready to play fetch again.

Walking narrow trail single-file.

First, however, I had to do one more endurance hike. Mike selected the hilly terrain of Kubota Garden. My pals George and Debbie came along, and while they are experienced and adept hikers from the Alaskan wilderness, George is temporarily weakened by his compromised immune system, so I was under strict orders to go slow and avoid the steepest trails, which I was able to do for the most part. Still, it turned out to be my extremely lucky day, as one trail near the park waterfall got so narrow that Mike had to duck off to the side to avoid a child coming the other way. As he moved, something or someone nudged the partially open treat bag on his hip, sending a slew of Charlee Bears and cheese hearts hurtling onto the gravel path. I couldn’t allow Mike to litter a public park like that, so I pounced, cleaning up all of the fallen treats before he even realized they were gone. It was the least I could do.

Recuperating with the pack after unexpected treat windfall.

Then it was on to the reintroduction of fetch–without spectators, of course. In Spring Training 2.0, I was only allowed to fetch on non-paved areas at first, thinking my legs would take less pounding that way. Heather had me on a strict pitch count, so she could monitor my response and recovery time. After my first session of seven throws in the meadow produced no ill effects the next morning, the number of throws increased daily.

If all goes well from here,  my favorite spot on the pavement on the hill near the Visitors Center can’t be too far into my future. It’s time to play ball!

Chloë Finds Familiar Faces

Donna’s back!

Maybe things are finally loosening up. For months, the only people I saw were Mike and Heather. Caroline, David and Schatzi stopped by once. That’s about it.

Then, lo and behold, things begin to awake. Heather and I encountered my favorite UPS driver on the street one day. Donna had been away several months with an injury, but she’s finally back on our route and still carrying bickies.  I am hoping Mike and Heather keep ordering a lot of stuff online.

Then my favorite house cleaners, Jeré and Channon, made their return, and believe me, as someone who’s down on the floor of this house a lot, their return came not a moment too soon. Heather is a meticulous cleaner, I  have observed over the past several weeks, but she’s not a professional like Jeré and Channon are. They know all the secrets. And beyond that, not only did I get my usual quota of treats from them while they were here, but they also left a few extra ones to make up for the times they couldn’t come since February.

Chloë ‘s pals return from pandemic leave.

There were a couple of other returns of note.  I finally got to see my old pal Penny, who has been quarantined at her house since returning from Florida in March. Now she has a little dog named Phoebe living with her until she goes to New York in another week or so. All that flying! I’ll miss seeing all my Syracuse friends this summer, but you’re not getting me on an airplane any time soon.

The owl returns.

Another return was the threatening barred owl to her favorite local haunts among the tall trees of Discovery Park.  She has stalked us for several years, and this time she swooped down on Heather and me when we got a little too close to her youngster, perched on an overhanging branch nearby. There have been many other owl sightings in the area, but we’ve seen her just one other time, and Junior wasn’t visible. We’ll keep looking, though.

Chloë Sharpens Her Throwing Skills

As the quarantine unfolded over the past three months, you may recall that I  have been forced to take most of my fetch game inside the house for workouts with Mike. Well, all that off-season conditioning followed me outside when my Spring Training 2.0 ramped up. As you’ll see by watching my recent workout video below,  I’ve really improved my control. Watch especially for my monster curve; I put quite the 6-to-12 break on ol’ Uncle Charlie!  In fact, my ol’ throwing partner Charlie would be quite impressed.

Heather at first didn’t like the part of the game when she would throw the ball and I catch it and roll it back to her instead of running all the way back to her and dropping it at her feet. But you can see from her enthusiasm in the video that she finally came around on this, conceding the diminished running to my advancing age, and also impressed with my skill and dexterity at both ends of the court. As you can see, I’ve grown adept at catching the ball on the run, I go back on the deep ball like Willie Mays, I can dig it out of the dirt like Don Mattingly, I’m as quick to the ball as Charlie Hustle and now I’ve added a devastating yakker to my repertoire. A five-tool player for sure.

We also had some visitors to the house last week. George and Debbie from Juneau came over one afternoon to take a walk in the park and have a drink on the back yard deck (six feet apart and me in my bed in the middle). And my doggie pal Schatzi spent the night with us,. Even though she’s more than a year old, Schatzi still does puppy things and demands constant attention from me or whatever humans are around. After we do a little get-reacquainted running around and I see what toys she brought with her, I’ve had enough, but she doesn’t ick up on my non-verbal  message. So I’m getting back at her here by divulging that on this visit to our house she whined in her crate at night, woke everybody up at 5 a.m., barked whenever she wasn’t getting enough attention and peed on the downstairs carpet. Sorry to bring it up, but listen, girl, you can only get by on cute for so long.

Schatzi, Lamby, Chloë and Heather chillin’.

Chloë Volunteers Again

Seward statue tourists.

We drove over to Volunteer Park again this week to meet up with George and Debbie. This time we walked around a lot longer than we did last time, so George must be feeling OK so far, which also makes me feel good.

Since the park roads are closed off to cars these days, we could walk around the hills unhindered but for occasional bicycles. We looked into he windows of the Conservatory, which is also closed of course.  Then we paid our respects to the statue of William Seward, the famed fellow Central New Yorker (from Auburn, near Syracuse, like Mike and Heather) the guy who purchased Alaska for the United States when he was Secretary of State after the Civil War. A century later, George and Debbie took advantage of that prescient maneuver and moved up to that goregous part of the county.

Volunteer Park Rhodies

All the rhododendrons were in full bloom, so we strolled around not only within the park but also in the surrounding neighborhood, which is full of stately old homes and well-tended gardens. All of that was fine, but for me it paled in comparison to what was the unquestioned highlight of the afternoon: As we walked back into the park to find a picnic table for chatting, I discovered a hole in a tree that had been the site of recent squirrel activity, although not nearly recently enough for me to let out my corner-the-critter wail.

I just hope George and Debbie will be staying in for Seattle another week, because I believe another return trip to investigate Volunteer Park is warranted.

Treasure hunt

Chloë Enjoys a Quiet Week

On the lawn at Volunteer Park

I’ve got to admit, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with something exciting or clever to report about this week, and I’m having a hard time.  Except for taking different walking routes in the park, every day was pretty much the same.

Let’s see. Schatzi came over for a visit one afternoon, but I was less than excited about that. Her desire to be in my face all the time was wearing a bit thin. Luckily, Heather and I tired her with lots of walking, and she conked out from dinner until when Caroline picked her up.

Heather, Mike and I did meet my Juneau friends George and Debbie in Volunteer Park one afternoon. That park has beautiful landscaping and lots of squirrels, but we only walked on trails for 15 minutes or so before the four of them found a picnic table and sat down for more chatting. I seized the opportunity to revel in one of my favorite things, sunning on a grassy lawn.  My own yard has no lawn, ahem, so I have to take advantage of every opportunity I get.

Who was that masked man?

That trip to Capitol Hill  was the only time I went anywhere in the car all week. When Mike and Heather drove to Ballard to pick up groceries, I stayed home, and it’s just as well. When Mike wades into public as the Orange Bandit, I don’t want to be seen anywhere near him.

Chloë Turns Over a New Cat

With George and Debbie at the other SU.

I matriculated at another university this week. After my previous studies at such vaunted institutions of higher learning as Syracuse University, the University of Western Ontario and Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, my march through Seattle University was a walk in the park. It wasn’t nearly as hard to get into as the other SU; all we had to do was drive across town, find a free parking space and walk across the street. No problem.

Heather, Mike and I went over to the campus to do some social distancing with my Juneau pals George and Debbie. With the campus closed because of the coronavirus, there’s nobody around except landscapers and dog walkers. I investigated some of the walkways with Mike and Heather, but when we found the Alaskans everyone sat down far apart at picnic tables. Everybody but I wore a mask, and it was a good thing I didn’t have one. It was a sunny afternoon, and I was hot enough as it was. After sniffing in vain for crumbs in the picnic area, I made myself at home underneath a table until they were done talking. I overheard that George had to go to the hospital the very next day, which didn’t sound good, so I’m hoping he’s going to be OK.

I did get a bit of good news this week: my nemesis Ted, the Bartons’ black cat, is gone.

I sensed he hadn’t been around lately. I’ve been seeing a lot more of a fuzzy gray cat that I chased under a parked car one morning around 6. That cat wouldn’t be so bold if Ted were still roaming the block. Ted was tough.

“Ted went to the shelter (Heather explained to me that this phrase is really a euphemism) because he was driving us CRAZY, and I decided I was just too old for that crap,” Ted’s female owner Carol wrote in an email to Heather, without providing further detail. “So Chloe can only look forward to making friends with Fred—ha!”

Fred,  short for Frederika, is Ted’s white-footed sister. Up til now, she is rarely seen, and fleet of foot when she is. The presence of the new fuzzy cat is likely to keep the timid Fred around her house, in my opinion.

The other cats on the block are house cats that I never see. With Ted gone, I’ve got things pretty well under control, at least until the squirrels, mice, rats and  raccoons take over.

 

 

Chloë Relaxes the Rules

Dog walk on the rooftop deck.

Quarantine marches on, pretty much every day the same. My big highlight of the week was when Heather spilled yogurt on the kitchen floor and I got to lick it up. That’s what passes for excitement these days.

Maybe things are loosening up somewhat. While my favorite ladies Jeré and Channon, our house cleaners, haven’t returned yet, apparently some other restrictions will be easing. More parks will be opening, so maybe we’ll be able to take a drive and walk somewhere other than Discovery Park.  I know Mike is worried about never driving his car, and I’m looking forward to a changes of scents as well as seasons, so it would be a win-win situation.

I enjoyed a bit more social interaction already. One day we went for a walk with my friends from Juneau, George and Debbie, who are staying in Seattle while George goes to doctors and gets treatments. It was a sunny afternoon, but instead of going to a park, we walked near their apartment building, crossing city streets and sidewalks that were mostly empty, and then through tunnels, across bridges and down stairways amid tall buildings downtown. Places like this are normally crowded,  not my cup of tea, but in today’s world we were the only ones there.

View west from rooftop deck.

Then we went back to the rooftop deck of the building where George and Debbie are living, and I tried out the private pet walkway on the east side. That was fun, but then all there was to do was lie around in the sun while the four of them chit-chatted away about such scintillating topics as how many new tricks  George’s dog Yankee has learned lately. (Playing dead? Big deal! What has he written?)  They even took off their face masks to drink beer. and I’m calling them out for doing it.

Chloë and Schatzi devour Frozen PBBs in their respective beds.

Later in the week, even though Heather was already aware that social distancing is in force for dogs as well as people, my young friend Schatzi paid us a visit.  Caroline didn’t come into our house when she dropped her off, but Schatzi stayed several hours, and as soon as  she hit the door, social distancing went out the window. Mike was downstairs exercising when she arrived, but he came running up because he mistook the pounding of our eight tiny paws on the floor for an earthquake. I let her go for a while, but soon set limits so I could get Schatzi  interested in more important stuff, like scarfing up frozen PBBs (I let her have a small one), napping in camp chairs, napping in bed with Heather, and going for a long walk in the park. Although Schatzi didn’t even stay for dinner, I’m sure she was tuckered out when she got home. So was I.

 

Chloë Ascends Her Throne

Preparing the site.

Sheltering in place provides ample time for do-it-yourself home improvement projects. That’s why Mike volunteered to create a perch for me in the front yard.  Until then, when Heather wanted to tie me up ioutside, she would put the bed on the sidewalk, where I could be a nuisance when anyone came by, or in the garden, where plants got ruined, which made Mike unhappy. We don’t want to make Mike unhappy.

Removable weatherproof floor.

My perfect site would give me a good view of the street, ample shade and enough distance from the sidewalk that I couldn’t physically threaten innocent passersby, man nor beast. So Mike selected a site above the rockery next to the driveway, a bit above sidewalk level. The maple tree above supplies a thick canopy from April through October and doubles as the anchor for a rope attached to my harness to refrain me from taking off after the Bartons’ cats. I guess I could still try to lunge at a toddler on the sidewalk, but I wouldn’t get very far, and there’s a wrought iron fence in between. And no, I’m not dumb enough to try to jump off the rockery into the driveway, which would no doubt leave me dangling amid the crocosmia.

Her favorite bed fits perfectly.

Mike prepared the site by transplanting a couple of perennial geraniums, digging out roots and dirt in the vacated area and ringing the circumference with rocks and bricks. He then filled the center with gravel for drainage and to level it off.

A thick plywood board became the removable floor. Mike lined one side with the shiny plastic packaging that protected the new TV, and then he wrapped it tightly with heavy-duty plastic that originally came around an area rug. After centering the weatherproofed board within the ring of rock and brick, Mike deftly placed my long-treasured Peanut bed over the board, and Heather led me through the garden to my new throne, where I immediately turned around  in a circle twice, made myself comfortable and began my reign.

Silent sentinel.

First impression: positive!  I’ve got my own water bowl and a great view of the street down as far as the Bartons’ house, so I know whenever a UPS truck, a mailman, dogs or cats are coming my way. I’ve been an effective sentinel, too. Not one cat has tried to pass while I’ve been sitting there. Unless the geraniums encroach my bed completely, I should be good here at least until the heat of summer. If the southern exposure makes this spot too hot for me, I’m sure Mike can attach some kind of pull-up screen to the maple tree. It’s the least he could do.

Chloë on Her Throne

 

Chloë Perfects Her Inside Game

Our heroine

It’s harder to get enough exercise in these days of quarantine. My games of fetch have been at a minimum; it’s hard to find a space without people, big dogs, little kids, runners or bikes whizzing by. Over Easter weekend, the mayor closed the park entirely. We were forced to walk along Magnolia Boulevard and around the neighborhood, and  fetch opportunities shrank  faster than Trump’s approval rating. Don’t get me started down that road.

Luckily, I  can always entice Mike into indoor playtime. Heather not so much, but Mike is easy. Whenever I get tired of sleeping, throttling Lamby in the living room or mining for crumbs on the dining room rug, I  sit in front of  Mike and make little whining noises until he succumbs and follows me into the kitchen, where he sits on the floor and tosses Wiffie at me so I can work on my inside game.  I call it “catch and release.” Catchy, eh?

Quarantined or not, I’ve got to stay in shape. After turning 10 years old in February, my weight has been creeping up again, and Mike threatened to put me on the dreaded diet. It was a good thing that last week  was my annual physical with Dr. Aimee Kimmel,  my longtime personal physician. After the exam, she assured Heather that my weight gain was OK. “Overall, she is doing great!” Dr. Kimmel wrote in her report.· “She is a little ball of muscle at 21.0 pounds.” Couldn’t have phrased it better myself! Mike might plan to economize on my daily rations, but even a tyrant like him wouldn’t ignore the science-driven advice of his top medical expert—nobody could be that dumb.

Dr. Kimmel on a previous visit.

The rest of my annual physical was pretty routine, but it was different, too, and not just because Elliott Bay Animal Hospital officially designated me a “senior patient.” Because of virus-prevention, Heather had to wait in the car in the parking lot while I went inside for my exam and other assorted stuff like nail-trimming and anal gland extraction (I’ll spare you the details).

After about a half-hour of examining and some shots, I got to take a break outside and meet Heather for a half-hour walk around the neighborhood. Then it was back inside for more shots. I was hoping all this variation from my normal going-to-the-vet procedures would result in extra treats for me, but I was disappointed. Maybe next time will be better, however. As a senior patient, they want to see me again in six months for additional blood work. I see every appointment as another opportunity to cash in on canine Social Security.