Chloë Compares Her Chefs

Winterized crate

The temperature will dip into the low thirties this week, meaning it’s about time for Heather  to put a heavier blanket over my crate at night. If I get chilly, I might whine and wake them up. Nobody wants that.

It’s been pretty low-key around here, although I saw some old friends during the past week. No, not dog friends like Willy, Scott’s new dog, who did come over to our house for a football game last week. There were sad faces in the house that morning, but not on Willy, who got a walk with Heather and then sat on Mike’s lap for the whole second half, looking quite content. While that was going on, I went into the office with Heather, got into my bed and ignored the whole thing.

Along Capehart trail.

Much more exciting was seeing my friend Andy, who is dogless since his Spiff died a few years ago. He’s always glad to see me, and he gave me several total body rubs when we ran into him on the Capehart trail in the park. No treats, of course. Andy strikes me as a diet-conscious kinda guy, like my best pal Charlie is. That’s OK, let them be lean. That means more for me, just not anything coming from them.

I also saw my pals from Juneau, George and Debbie, with George returning to Seattle for further chemotherapy treatments. We walked for about 40 minutes in Volunteer Park, where I had to be tightly leashed at all times, thanks to its high pedestrian use and overflowing squirrel population. I could tell there would be no ball-throwing amid the tall trees of this park. Mostly I walked with Heather and Debbie, since Mike and George are both recuperating, and they have to walk like slow old men. Well, older than they really are, I guess.

Heather creates dinner etouffee for the attentive diner as Lamby looks on.

I noticed Mike has picked up his pace a little in the past few days, but he still walks with a leaden gait, and Heather is still doing all the stuff that Mike did to take care of me, such as feeding me, taking me for most walks and grooming, to name but a few. This substitution has had both pluses and minuses for me. Heather is much stricter than Mike, whether it comes to discipline or measuring out the amount of food she dispenses. Mike is less demanding on me, and when it comes to mixing my food, he goes with his gut, which usually limits the size of mine. Heather’s preparation tastes just as good, and there’s sometimes more of it.

But Heather has been much more thorough when it comes to brushing my teeth and grooming me than Mike is. She pushes that toothbrush hard into all quadrants of my mouth, and after a brief break for play with Lamby or Wiffie, we sit down on the kitchen floor and she flips me into her lap so she can brush under my legs and over my tummy. Mike never did that; I wouldn’t have begun to let him get away with it. But I gladly do it for Heather. Not only is she nicer, smarter and better-looking, but there’s something even more important: She bribes me with chunks of Trader Joe’s cheddar cheese sticks. Be advised, Mike. I always respond well to cheese.

Tuck at the keyboard.

Before signing off, I want to give a brief shout-out to a loyal reader and aspiring blogger in Syracuse named Tuck, even though he is a cat. I know from experience how hard it can be to get established in the writing business when you’re inexperienced and unpublished, and nobody takes you seriously when you say, “But please, sir, I really want to be a writer!” So take heart, Tuck! Keep on increasing your vocabulary, keepoing your nails sharp and polishing your craft; someday, maybe you, too, can become a literary giant in the competitive animal blogging field like I am. Good luck.

Chloë Changes Seasons

A foggy day on the Parade Ground.

One day it was summer and then, all of a sudden, fall was upon us. The afternoons grew shorter. The air felt crisper. The sweet smell of rotting leaves wafted from the forest floor. Then the south wind picked up. And sure enough, it started to rain, followed by a couple of days of pea-soup fog. Heather turned the heat on in the house.

I also knew it must be fall when my nose got covered by spider webs instead of those pesky geranium burrs. I just see lower webs in the tall grass when I’m chasing after a ball; the better action is usually a bit over my head, fortunately.

Hello, Spidey! Aunt Susie is looking for you!

But the way I really can tell it’s fall is when I notice a rise in rodent activity in the park and in our neighborhood, sometimes right around our house! Although I haven’t actually seen a mouse, vole, rat, rabbit, raccoon or squirrel in our yard in a while, I can smell them when I go outside in the morning, so I know they’re around. I’ve even seen Mike stuff poison pellets, chicken wire and steel wool down suspicious holes. It’s an annual chore.

Road kill.

I had not been able to nab anything myself, however, and it was starting to wear on me, another uncomfortable feeling to digest in these uncertain, unprecedented times. But my fortune turned instantly on an ordinary, once-around-the-block, 10 o’clock walk with Heather on Sunday morning, I saw it zip across the sidewalk, not three feet in front of me. Without hesitation, I lunged and caught it just before it hit the ground cover, my teeth piercing the rat’s flesh so swiftly and so strongly that it died instantly. I felt so powerful, like I was immune to the coronavirus! There was no need for me to pick it up and throttle it until its neck broke, like I practice every day at home with Lamby. Quite satisfied and proud of myself, as soon as Heather ordered me to “Drop It!” I complied, and I pranced home with a big grin on my face. I’d much rather have Mike return to the scene to document my deed where it happened than carry it home to him as a surprise gift. No way I was going to keep that disgusting, furry thing in my mouth that long.

Compatriot?

Besides, hunting season isn’t over yet. That same morning, Heather and I saw the rotting carcass of another rat on the same stretch of sidewalk where I killed mine, so there must be a whole pack of them around, too many for Fred and the other neighborhood cats to keep up with, that’s for sure.

Now every time Heather and I walk down that block, I’m on high alert. Bring it on, rodents, bring it on.

 

Chloë Cleans Lamby’s Clock

Groom gloom.

Not much is happening around here. Although Mike is getting steadily more mobile after his surgery, Heather is still doing most of the stuff Mike usually does, like the cooking, wiping down the tiles after a shower and taking care of me. Generally speaking, Heather’s doing a great job, although sometimes she goes a bit overboard on the grooming part, clipping my beard and turning me over onto her lap to brush my belly. That’s above and beyond, if you ask me. I never thought you’d hear me say this, but when is Mike coming back, anyway?

Still, I have managed to retain my good humor and jaunty countenance throughout, and if I ever get a little blue, I can always take it out on Lamby.

Resting with Lamby.

Look, I am not normally violent. In fact, whenever I encounter a new and larger dog on our walks, I am much more likely to cower behind Mike’s or Heather’s legs than I am to challenge the opposition. Small dogs, too, for that matter.

But when it comes to Lamby, well, that’s another story.

I like Lamby, I really do. Whenever there’s a choice of toys scattered around the room, I always go for Lamby. Sometimes I’d even prefer a good tug of Lamby with Mike even to knocking Wiffie around the kitchen and living room. As long as I get to latch my teeth onto Lamby’s smirky smile, I’m happy. And when Mike finally relinquishes his hold on the squeaky handle located below Lamby’s butt, I like to grab tighter on Lamby’s muzzle, shake her body up and down and smash her to the floor repeatedly, like a matador cracking a bullwhip back and forth. Whap, Lamby! Whap! Whap!

After early surgery.

My frequent mistreatment of Lamby is the main reason why, many times since my pal Lynn graciously bestowed Lamby upon me oh so many years ago, that Heather has had to wash Lamby in futile attempts to restore her original skin color, if not its luster. Sadly, it was not to be. The same could be said, alas, of Mike’s attempts at plastic surgery on Lamby’s scarred face with only a needle and thread, on neither of which has he achieved any degree of mastery. Lamby’s wounds were always easily reopened, and her stuffing began oozing out all over the living room rug.

Lamby II (left) & Lamby I: Who’s smiling now?.

It may have been this housekeeping aspect that prioritized the project, but I suspect it was really Mike’s aim of getting over the $49 level for free shipping on Chewy.com that finally sparked their action. In any event, one day a second Lamby arrived on my doorstep, hidden away in a box under an array of dog food, vitamins and treats. At first, Heather put both Lambys in my bed; to ease the transition, I supposed. But she needn’t have bothered. The new Lamby and its clean, soft, unpockmarked face were too strong a temptation; virgin territory, so to speak. I couldn’t wait to get my teeth around her nose and throttle her until the smile was wiped off her face and she squeaked in submission.

My original Lamby has been temporarily retired, perhaps to be sent to a spa in Florida for some rest, rehabilitation and Botox treatments, to return again with a bit less grit and stronger stitches around her nose, mouth and forehead. You can never tell if one day she might again be the fairest Lamby in all the land.

 

 

Chloë Plays Nurse

As you might already know, Mike had surgery on his back a couple of weeks ago, and since he got home things have still been a little out of whack with my routine. This had both good and bad points, as far as I am concerned.

Bride does groom.

Heather took over pretty much all of my care. She did all my walks and made all my meals, and that part was good, because we walked less, threw the ball more, and I got more food in my bowl. Heather even took me downstairs every morning to get my “When Mike goes downstairs to exercise” treat, even though Mike was not exercising. Mike might have become entirely superfluous if not for him doling out treats now and then, as when Heather and I came back from a walk and played “harness off,” or before I sprint from the kitchen to bed. And he was still good for providing a comfortable sleeping spot between his legs on a fleece blanket. in the morning, a highly coveted location.

Mike, of course, normally gives me a hard time with my daily grooming, but I expected more kindness (or at least indifference) when Heather took over. No such luck! She still made me slink reluctantly into the kitchen for my teeth-brushing every evening before dinner, dammit. And when we got to grooming my furry body, she went far beyond anything Mike ever tried. She brushed me for a long, long time, and soon she was pulling out scissors to clip off some errant shock of fur on my beard, legs or underbelly. I almost wished that Mike were back!

Poised for action.

Then I looked at Mike, siting in his  living room recliner, watching sports on TV day and night, masked up and brandishing his cane like a weapon, and I eventually came to my senses. Nah, better stick with Heather.

Last week Mike started walking with us again, even though it’s at a slower slower  pace than we usually do. When Heather and I get too far ahead, we do an about-face and walk back toward Mike;, and when reach him, we turn around and repeat. This was bor-ing. To register my disgust, I did a dachshund flop in my tracks and whined for the good ol’ days. Heather ignored me.

Hopefully Mike will be back at full speed again soon. Meanwhile, I decided all that extra grooming wasn’t so bad after all, when several people stopped Heather to comment on my cuteness, my happy-go-lucky strut or my generally attractive appearance.  This kind of thing used to happen all the time when I was younger, and then these compliments thinned out. Apparently getting a new hairdresser really paid off.

Chloë checks her patient.

 

Chloë Only Gets in the Way

Solo walking in the park with Heather.

I’ll keep this brief.

Last week, Mike went away for a couple of days to an undisclosed (at least to me) location. It was still dark outside the morning Heather when took him in the car, but that was OK with me, as I received the first of several Kong Wobblers to knock around and get treats from that I got every day he was gone. Heather just had to leave me with my Wobbler home alone for a couple of hours each afternoon for three days when she went to visit Mike. When she came home, we went for long walks in the park with lots of throwing the ball. I survived.

Running from the Devil

On the fourth day, Mike returned, but some things were different. I wasn’t allowed to jump up on him when he came into the house, reserving my kisses and nose-biting until he was officially prone in bed. Heather continued to take care of all my walking, my feeding and even my pleas for indoor playing with Lamby and Wiffie, which she normally ignores. As usual when Heather is in charge, I suffered through a lot more discipline and command tone, but also enjoyed more food and treats than Mike ordinarily dispenses. So all that was good.

Getting out of the way.

Don’t tread on me!

The only problem came when Mike started to get out of bed and move around the house. He was always pushing this wheeled contraption around, and I frequently found myself running away or hiding under the dining room table in order to stay safely out of its path. I felt like I was one of those Japanese people fleeing Godzilla in the original version. YIKES! This part was scary.

Luckily, this scare lasted only a few days before Mike replaced the steel contraption with a smaller but harder metal stick that has a curved, rubber handle and tip. He hasn’t poked me with it (yet), but I’m still trying to stay out of his way, so far successfully. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Chloë Sniffs a New Career

Her nose knows.

Hey, I’m a German dog, right?!! And sniffing is my thing (along with fetch). I even went to a special nose-training class to sharpen my skills.

Apparently dogs with only a few days of training are capable of identifying people infected with the coronavirus, according to a study by a German veterinary university. Eight dogs from Germany’s armed forces were trained for only a week and were able to accurately identify the virus with a 94% success rate, according to a pilot project led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. Researchers challenged the dogs to sniff out COVID-19 in the saliva of more than 1,000 healthy and infected people, which is certainly nothing grosser than the dead rodents I regularly scarf up on my afternoon walks. I am qualified!

Charlee smells.

“We think that this works because the metabolic processes in the body of a diseased patient are completely changed,” explained Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university, in a YouTube video about the project. “We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell.” You bet. And since I can detect a Charlee Bear or a frozen PBB from 50 yards away, I think I’m a natural.

Von Koeckritz-Blickwede said that the next step will be to train dogs to differentiate COVID samples from other diseases such as influenza. And there are other possible applications. Since a dog’s sense of smell is around 1,000 times more sensitive than humans, we might be deployed to detect infections at places such as airports, border crossings and sporting events. I foresee a second career for myself, if I ever hang up my fetch fetish.

Meanwhile, my next important job will be guarding Heather and our house while Mike spends a couple of days in the hospital to fix his back so he is able to bend down and pick up my poop without pain. Am I up for the task? Gary Larsen didn’t think so! But I’m out to prove those haters wrong.

 

 

Chloë Frees Willy

Willy in  his bed

Hosting Schatzi for a week wore me out, so I was a bit apprehensive when Heather and Mike took me to meet another dog. Our friend Scott had recently adopted his first dog, and I really didn’t know what to expect. It could be another Schatzi, in my face all the time. But I needn’t have worried; Willy turned out to be an even more docile with other dogs than I am.

Willy is around 7 years old and a terrier mix, previously owned by an elderly couple who apparently didn’t make Willy walk very much or very far. We met  Scott and Willy at the park near Scott’s house, planning to take a walk with them. We had been to this dog park section before, so we knew there are trails through a wooded off-leash area, allowing us to shun the crowded corral where dogs frolic with one another–not for anti-social types like Willy and I. Scott had warned us that Willy had been reluctant to walk with him around his neighborhood, but on these trails he kept up the pace well enough. It was poor Scott who had a hard time with his breathing, and after about 20 minutes he’d had enough. We headed over to his house, but I hope to take longer walks with both of them in the near future.

Two men and their dogs.

On this particular day, however, a shorter walk was fine with me, because that meant I was already closer getting  my dinner, which I had seen Mike preparing and packing for the cooler while I licked the breakfast plates (pancakes!). Even better, Mike forgot to bring along my tooth and hair brushes, meaning I was going to avoid the dreaded brushing and grooming routine, usually the low point of my day.

After dinner, Willy and I retired to our respective beds, blissfully ignoring each other. Based on first impressions, I think Willy and Scott, along with Scott’s niece Caitlin, a doctoral student who lives with them now, make a well-matched pack, and when the Syracuse fans gather again for football (someday!!),  Willy and I will get along fine. How Willy will do when he encounters the likes of  a Schatzi or a Penny remains to be seen.

Chloë Earns High Marks

Resting in cemetery.

It had been such a quiet summer. No traveling across the country. No long Sunday walks or playing fetch with my pal Charlie. No ear infections or other unwanted trips to the vet. Just one chance visit with my brothers Frank and Stanley, a bit less food on my plate (remember, I’m on a diet) and lots of rest.

Then Schatzi arrived.

Schatzi guards front yard.

I’ve always liked Schatzi, the pride and joy of Caroline, my personal financial adviser. And all the wrestling and running around Schatzi and I do is fun. For a while. Until it’s not.

Schatzi, only a few months past her first birthday, has yet to receive that memo. The most common refrain  of the week she stayed with us was, “Schatzi! Leave her alone!” The second most frequent was, “You’re a real trooper, Chloë,” because I was being so patient with Schatzi’s intrusions, and never attempted to rip that ever-twitching nose off her pointy little face. Let’s always remember who’s top dog around here.

Dog day afternoon.

I did observe Schatzi’s behavior toward ne improved a bit as the week wore on. Maybe some of Heather’s instruction seeped in, but more likely she got the message very time I growled or barked at her and flashed my teeth. By the time she left, we were blissfully napping together again. And in the meantime, I got high marks from Heather, a gift of a tug toy margarita. plus a few of Schatzi’s treats and a taste of the juice from her canned sardines (I’ll have Mike look into this).

Schatzi in cemetery.

Schatzi and I also had some good walks in the park, a visit to the military cemetery for some ball throwing and wrestling, and also some interesting strolls around the neighborhood. On one walk with Heather, for instance, we passed a dead rat, chatted with my friends (and our house-cleaners extraordinaire) Jeré and Channon, and found a bushy gray cat hiding under a car—all on just one lap around the block! Schatzi even ran into people who live further south on our street who recognized her when we walked by. What a celebrity.

 

When Caroline picked up Schatzi, she came inside, knelt on the living room floor and took off her mask so we could greet her properly. I jumped up to bite Caroline’s nose, but Schatzi’s leap took her a good foot higher. Schatzi hasn’t shown much interest in fetching a ball, but she seems like a natural for agility, field trials and steeplechase. If anyone asks me, I’ll recommend any activity that directs her attention and excess energy away from me.

 

Schatzi attacks Mike’s stretch.

Everything considered, Schatzi’s visit was a lot of fun, and I’ll welcome her back anytime. After all, the older she gets, the easier it should be. Right now, however, I need a nap.

 

 

Chloë Flops on Summer Lawns

The local adage that summer in Seattle never starts until after the 4th of July was certainly the case this year, as Heather was still wearing her quilted silver vest well into the month. When the heat finally arrived, though, I didn’t like it one bit. Whenever we walked, whether in the park or in our neighborhood streets, I made a beeline for the shade. And flopped.

Chillaxin’

And if I could find a lush, cushiony lawn to flop on, all the better. I flopped again.

Lawn flop.

And when we were walking to the post office last week, I flopped several times.

The flopmeister!

That’s a long walk, especially when it’s hot outside. If this long, hot summer sticks around through September, there will be a lot of flop in my future. At least the humidity is low, or so I was promised.

 

Chloë Goes Yard

A perfect spot for fetch?

I found a great new location for playing fetch. Increases in park use and various critter distractions have put a severe crimp in my favorite game. It has gotten hard to find a secluded place where I can just concentrate on the ball. That’s why the park’s maintenance yard driveway was such a find. I can’t believe we haven’t used it before.

It’s in a relatively low-traffic area and fenced in on two sides, should I entertain any thought of escape. It has enough slope to allow me to catch Heather’s throw and roll it back to her from my selected location. At the hour we walk in the late afternoon, nobody is ever working there, so we’re not going to be chased away. And for ball security, Mike can stand in front of the fence and kick away any loose throws trying to sneak through underneath it.

Delivering a strike.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened twice already. The first time, I am forced to admit, it was my fault. Mike had not yet assumed his assigned post, so when I pounced upon Heather’s hard, skipping throw, I knocked it forward and under the fence into the maintenance yard, where it continued to roll until it came to rest on the far side of the lot.  It was fenced in.

Don’t do me like that!

The next morning Heather and I walked back there, and the gate was open. At first I didn’t see my ball, but once we walked around the yard a bit I found it under a parked dump truck. I carried it home in triumph.

That’s why we decided to station Mike in front of the fence the next time. And indeed, that’s what we did when we returned there a few days later. Mike dutifully stood in front of the fence at the point of the tallest gap at the bottom, ready to block any throw that managed to get past me. With Heather throwing from the bottom of the hill, I would touch the ball before she released it and race uphill after it, often catching up to it and grasping it mid-bounce. I then turned and carried it back to Heather, dropping it neatly at her feet so we can do it again, or else pausing mid-hill, dropping the ball and letting it roll downhill to her waiting hands. When I get into a rhythm, I am world-class.

Fenced in.

Things were going so well that Mike decided to take out his camera to document my achievements. And thus he had the camera up to his face, paying attention to my movements, when Heather’s next throw sailed past me and skittered under the fence and into the maintenance yard.

Heather and I went back again the next morning, and for a second time I managed to find it and carry it back home. I still think the maintenance driveway is a good location for fetch;  if I can only get Mike to concentrate on just one thing at a time, we’ll be fine.

The winning team.