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.

Chloë Counts Her Blessings

A brief rest at Carkeek Park.

It was mostly a quiet holiday season, but it had its moments.  There was lots more  turkey in my meals, for starters. There were a couple of trips to Carkeek Park on sunny days when we could see the mountains and fetch my ball from caroms off the Rock. And I enjoyed brief visits from Caroline, my personal financial advisor, and Ty, Isla and Micah, the kids who live on either side of our house. 

Of course, visits from those four coincided with a day-long visit from my little pal Schatzi, still sticking her nose into my business every chance she got. Why all those kids like Schatzi better than they like me remains a mystery to me. Their attitude changes, however, when we walk around the neighborhood or in the park with Heather leading and the kids holding onto the leashes. Then I am much more desirable to them, because when they are holding the other end of the leash I do what they want me to, unlike nose-to-the-ground Schatzi who constantly pulls them in all directions. But their warm feelings last only as long as we’re walking. When we get back, Schatzi gets all their squeals and attention. As far as I’m concerned, she can have it, frankly. I’m better than I used to be, but kids are still not high on my list.

Chuckit Ultra Ball Small (2 Pack)Oh, I also don’t want to neglect mentioning the fabulous gifts I found when Mike emptied my stocking on the living room floor the afternoon of Christmas Day! I found several different kinds of treats from Mike and Heather, my Syracuse aunts and Caroline, plus a set of two orange Chuckit! balls from Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby. Even though these Chuckit! balls are the smaller size that Mike hates (because I enjoy pushing them under furniture or gnawing on them instead of bringing them back when he tosses them), I just starred at them sitting on a shelf in the living room and whined until he took both out of their packaging and rolled them along the floor for me to chase. Too bad, Mike, I am into it! Sometimes I get both of the new balls and Wiffie rolling around at the same time, which really makes Mike crazy. What fun!

Chloë pauses with Ranger the Reindeer.

The other unexpected gift I got for Christmas came from Ranger, a bernadoodle puppy who arrived about a year ago to live down our block in the house where MacDuff and MacKenzie used to live, next door to Jane and Merrie. It’s a stuffed reindeer toy that squeaks in three places, and it immediately became my chosen partner for tug, replacing Lamby as my favorite victim for a full-throttle fling. Heather named it Ranger the Reindeer, after the dog who gave it to me. That Ranger is friendly enough, but he’s already too big for me to play with, so when Mike or Heather stop outside his fence to say hi and talk to him, I just sniff the lawn and pretend to look the other way.

Anyway, I loved his gift, and I couldn’t wait to start tossing it around the living room. But my toy reindeer sprung a small hole in his belly when Mike took out one of those pesky plastic fasteners, and he needed immediate medical attention. Luckily, Ranger’s fur was a close color match to masking tape that Mike had bought to cover up a spot on his car. Heather taped up Ranger right away, and soon he was good as new, ready to be throttled and hidden from Schatzi when she came over to play. I get first dibs.

Sharing the chair with Ranger the Reindeer.

More good news for Ranger the Reindeer:  He fits comfortably into one of the drink holders on my personal camp chair, and thus he will remain visible far into the new year, long after the other holiday decorations are packed in their plastic crate and exiled to the garage. For the rest of us, there will be brighter days ahead.

Chloë Starts a New Holiday Tradition

Sniffing out the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park.

‘Tis the season, all right. In our house, we have been reviving and expanding all of our holiday traditions. The big plastic storage bin that holds all the lights, ornaments and puppets came out of the garage while we were still eating Thanksgiving turkey. Not only are the mantelpiece and shutters aglow, but this year the trellises on either side of the front door have lights. A winter wonderland, indeed.

We were all happy to see Discovery Park’s Secret Christmas Tree return to the South Meadow to further brighten the pandemic pall. The tree, decorated with ornaments and a string of colored lights powered by a solar battery, first appeared two Decembers ago. Last year, some Scrooge must have cancelled it.

Chloë’s tree in its natural habitat..

News media report that sales of live Christmas trees are booming this year, as people seek a little joy, solace and tradition in these gloomy times. And so I decided to dig up my own living tree, choosing a tiny cedar sapling that must have been blown by the wind into a nesting place in our front yard. After diligently tending it through the growing season, I had Mike dig it up, pot it and bring it inside to add to our holiday display.

That smiling elf penguin moved right in with the tree, and  Mike promised to get a string of lights for it once it’s a little bigger. The tree will move in its pot into the portable greenhouse outside the kitchen door for the winter, and Mike will replant it outside in the spring.

First ornament.

Now that Mike has mounted my favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer puppet on top of a cabinet where I cannot hope to reach it, my live Christmas tree will be my new favorite holiday tradition. Well, my favorite right after that special moment of opening all the goodies that fall out of my stocking on Christmas morning, that is. I can smell that there’s already something inside my stocking that’s been hung by the chimney with care, but I have been on my best behavior in order not to spoil any surprises that might be planned. While I’m not expecting anything close to a new car with a big red bow or anything else that I see advertised on TV at this time of year, a couple of biscuits and a tasty rawhide chewy would be nice.

Holiday mantel with Chloë’s tree (on right) and stocking (lower center).

Chloë Goes Cold Turkey

Chloë with her new best friend.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I was disappointed, of course, when I found out my pal Charlie wouldn’t be coming to our Thanksgiving dinner this year, as his cauliflower parmesan has been a Turkey Day tradition, and always a tasty leftover whenever I got to lick the remains of a plate or casserole dish of it. Other than Heather’s special no-sausage stuffing for vegetarian Charlie (which leaves out the best parts, as far as I’m concerned) and pie, Charlie’s own dish was his main attraction. This year Charlie had to eat his cauliflower parmesan alone in St. Louis, so there must have been leftovers. I hope he’ll send me some via UPS. since my driver biscuit deliveries could use a holiday boost.

While missing the cauliflower parmesan, I was still able to enjoy the spoils of Mike and Heather’s annual turkey feast. For me, it’s actually a month-long celebration that starts on Thanksgiving and continues through Christmas and the New Year, ending only when the last remnants of turkey broth and giblets disappear from my kibble. And  a plethora of gravy-covered plates to be licked in between.

Cauliflower Parmesan by Charlie (file photo).

So how much do I love turkey? Let me count the ways! I crave dark meat most, because it’s the moistest, and I’m partial to the fattier thigh meat than the drier leg. On the other paw, I would gladly take either. Breast meat is OK, too, but if it’s been warmed up too many times before it gets to me, it can become stringy and stick in between my teeth. Bones, of course, are off  my menu, but gristle and cartilage can be tasty. Mike tries to remove as much congealed fat as possible before I get it, dammit, but when it comes to skin, he filters out only the fattiest  specimens. There’s no doubt that the fatty and flavorful skin is my favorite part, particularly after being gently roasted with Mike’s secret turkey paste slathered all over it.

Beyond plate-licking, I didn’t get any major windfall of turkey in my diet last week, just a steady stream mixed in with my regular fare, and I expect it will continue for the next several weeks. If I’m lucky, though,right after Mike and Heather’s first holiday meal I may get a few real pieces as a treat with dinner or instead of my usual 2 o’clock jerky. I just have to be careful when all the treats and the enhanced diet together get a little too rich even for me.  Onc year I wound up having a poop the next day that was so rank that after Heather picked it and had to carry it home, she didn’t want to have anything to do with me for a day and a half.

I learned my lesson. With apologies to John Lennon, I deduced that cold turkey/ can leave me/ (pause) with the runs.