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.

Chloë Diets

At Shilshole Marina near Erikson statue.

The week started out on such a high note. The pack and I went on a long walk  with my Juneau pals Debbie and George, who had just gotten good news about his response to treatment. We walked next to the Sound through Golden Gardens Park and Shilshole Marina, but we stayed far enough away from the water that waves weren’t an issue for me. Before we left, I got a chance to relax under a bench near the statue of  the Norse explorer Leif Erikson, a big idol around these parts. If protesters decide to pull it down because of some sordid indiscretions in his past (I’ve heard he beat his dogs), I was able to get one more look.

Just two days later, however, my world came crashing down. What started out as an innocent trip to the vet to get my nails clipped and glands drained (you don’t want to know any more about this, trust me) finished as my worst nightmare. Heather had to wait in her car per the vet’s pandemic protocols, the technician who ushered me back to the car unfortunately divulged that they weighed me on the way through the lobby. He really didn’t need to do that! He could have just updated my information on the computer and not told Heather, because as soon as she got home, she told Mike. Uh-oh.

22 pounds! Less than 17 months ago, Mike, Heather and Dr. Kimmel, my personal physician, determined that my ideal weight would be 20 pounds. Unfortunately,  I blew past that point some time ago.  In this case, at least, the statistics don’t lie.

4/1/19 20.13
6/13/19 19.1
10/31/19 20.1
12/13/19 19.5
2/26/20 20.2 (high)
4/13/20 21.0 (higher)
7/14/20 22.0 (highest!)

Top selling point for Charlee Bear dog treat.

I’m sure Mike will want to put an immediate stop to this disturbing trend. He’ll no doubt institute a diet plan, and I will hate it. Regardless of the details, I already know it will mean fewer treats, less peanut butter in my Frozen PBBs and less food in my bowl at meal time.  Sure enough, the very next day I saw him use a Sharpie to draw a new line in the small blue plastic scoop he uses to dole out my kibble. Filling to that new line will barely fill a thimble. I see no way around it, either. Even if I manage to behave exceptionally well, the only rewards I’ll get will be those tiny Charlee Bears, which are OK treats but only three calories each. Mike will  starve me.

Actual size!

This will be quite a turnaround for me. During the past three summers, the pack and I drove to Syracuse and back, and I was living high on the hog each time. I had a perch in the back seat of the car where I could see everything and stick my head out the window whenever we slowed down. Wherever we stopped, there were exciting new places to sniff and every person and every dog I met doted on me. There were plenty of extra treats from family, friends and even strangers. Sometimes we stopped for ice cream, and Heather gave me a lot of hers (Mike gave me a little). This summer, I’m stuck here in COVID quarantine and on a diet. It will be a long, hot summer indeed.

Chloë Plays the Gracious Host

Schatzi stayed with us for two nights and three days.  I enjoyed engaging with Schatzi for a while, and she’s been developing sparring skills that made her a challenging foe.

But let’s face it, I’m 10 years old and she’s still a puppy, and she’s as reckless and impulsive as the maskless throngs on the beach in Florida. She hasn’t learned when to quit.

Schatzi charges: En garde!.

Office workers.

Luckily, Heather cast a careful eye on things, and was ever-mindful of keeping Schatzi at bay whenever I was being harassed unmercifully. When Schatzi finally gave in to her tiredness for brief periods, we did share some quieter moments. In the afternoons, we went downstairs to where Heather was working on her computer, and, even though it was July, we turned on the fireplace. Heavenly.

Three on a mattress.

I did exhibit some signs of jealousy when Schatzi cuddled up to Heather once too often, but I also tried to integrate the puppy into my pack. On Saturday morning, I even let Schatzi get into bed with me and Mike while he read the paper. I guess there was enough room for both of us. And despite the inconveniences, there are two big positives to having Schatzi visit. First, whenever Heather is yelling “No!” or scolding a dog, it isn’t me. Two, on the other hand,  is that I’ve never been told more often what a good girl I am for putting up with Schatzi’s constant in-your-face barrage.

Schatzi is still learning, of course, and I’m sure she’ll settle down by the time she’s oh, four or five. Later this summer, she’s coming to stay with us for a whole week, so I will have another opportunity to teach her a few life skills, such as the dachshund flop. I’m going to rest up for it.

 

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!