Chloë Sleeps Away

Chloë guards the front door.

After a few practice runs, the next time I visited Caroline’s house, she wasn’t even there when I arrived. Mike and Heather seemed very harried when they left, but their departure never bothered me. I just relaxed and hung out with her beau David until Caroline got home. I already knew where the toys were, so I just helped myself, laid down and chilled. When Caroline walked in the door, I gave her an energetic, wiggling greeting, and she was happy to see me, too. The next morning she gave me a Frozen PBB right on schedule, and I relaxed even further, realizing she had been adequately briefed on all essential procedures.

I quickly settled into a different routine. Every morning I got to play Dawn Patrol in Caroline’s back yard, which is fully fenced-in and has a lawn as well as garden beds. Caroline just opened the back door, let me out and watched me as I wandered the perimeter, checking for intruders. Luckily I didn’t find any, or else I might have tried to test the fencing with my superior tunneling skills. Something to think about next time!

Sidewalk sniffing.

Caroline and I took short walks to the small parks in her neighborhood, and on the weekend, when the weather improved, we went to Discovery Park. But I always stayed on a leash, and we did no throwing whatsoever. The most exciting thing we did was a field trip into Magnolia Village, where Caroline works. Now, I’ve been there many, many times before, but always with Mike and Heather, and usually we’re hurrying to get someplace (like to get my nails clipped or visiting the store with cheese hearts),  or I’m trying to avoid greeting other dogs at the Farmers’ Market.

Eyeing the wares at Vixen.

Walking through the village with Caroline was different. Few people here know Heather or Mike (who’s apparently only a celebrity in one place in the whole universe), but everybody in Magnolia knows Caroline. They stopped to chat her up, ask what breed of dog I am and, of course, tell her how cute I am. If Mike had been thinking in my best interest, he would have given Caroline some of my business cards to pass out to these new admirers. It must have slipped his mind. Anyway, Caroline and I  paused in front of the Petit Pierre French bakery so I could peruse crumbs on the sidewalk, and then we spent a little girl-time shopping at Vixen Day Spa and Boutique. Looking around the store for tchotchkes was fun, even if I didn’t buy anything — and maybe because I didn’t break anything.

High on grass.

We had fun at Caroline’s house, too. She is considering installing artificial turf in her back yard, and a couple of men came over to measure and leave samples. I quality tested the products for comfort, but not for what the trade calls “absorb-ability,” if you catch my stream of consciousness. My verdict: Both samples looked good, but both still looked fake up close. They also felt a little prickly on my skin; even though my new friend David said my thick fur made me look like a “dachshund in a gorilla suit,” I can be very sensitive, you know.

Caroline kept texting Mike about how good I was behaving, saying I’m “a little Angel” and attaching a special emoji to illustrate, and that she and David would be lonely when I left. I got to like David as much as I liked Caroline, and I even squeezed out some longing whimpers when he spent the night on his boat. They were both easy to live with, always happy to be greeted at the front door and happy to have me around. I did my part by sparing them any loud and prolonged barking, and I didn’t even do much whining, except when food was not on the table fast enough. I’m told this is a common problem in these resort settings, not to mention what I have to deal with at home. I’ll continue to save my most obnoxious whining for Mike’s ears only.

More birthday treats.

When Caroline stayed home to work one morning and slid my travel crate back into its case, I figured it was about time to go home. But when Caroline opened the door and Heather and Mike were there, I just went nuts. I tackled Mike multiple times, squealed in delight and even emitted some primal whimpers of delight that Heather maintained she had never heard from me before. She thought I was so happy to see Mike because I had missed him so much, but that was silly. What made me so happy was knowing Mike brought back the birthday presents I had been promised by aunts Susie and Debby. When those treats are gone, however, I would be just happy to go back to Caroline’s house, my favorite home away from home.


Chloë Collects Belated Presents

Well centered.

Surprise, surprise. My disclosure that I received no presents on my recent 8th birthday produced little response from my faithful readers. In fact, I am aware of only three protests lodged: from my longtime pal Charlie, from my Syracuse aunts, and from most loyal reader and longtime sitter, Lynn.

All of them have come through with gifts. Unfortunately, I have to wait to get the ones promised by aunts Susie and Debby until Mike and Heather bring them back from their next trip to Syracuse. That could take months, for all I know. By that time, my aunts’ new kittens may have eaten my treats. Can’t trust cats.

Easy to chew

I got excited when Mike told me Charlie had something for me, but my enthusiasm dissolved when I found out what it was:  A bag of balls. Racquet balls, that is, the kind I chew into little, bitty edible pieces. No way Mike and Heather will let that bag into the house. Thanks a heap, Charlie.

But the biggest surprise (and best gifts) came from my old pal Lynn, who arrived  unexpectedly on a weekday afternoon and in good spirits. When she walked in the front door I leaped at her from all the way across the room and showered her with squeals and kisses. Since she was using a cane to walk, I no doubt put her life in jeopardy, but Lynn didn’t seem to care. I sat with her the whole time she was here having tea with Heather, and she lavished much attention upon me. And even better, she came bearing gifts.

Birthday bounty

Luckily, I didn’t even have to unwrap them; Lynn had done it for me. We opened the bag of Fruitables Deliciously Healthy Dog Treats right away. I like the blueberry ones over the pumpkin, but both flavors clearly beat the ordinary egg, beef and cheese Vita Bones that Mike feeds me. Not that I’m knocking the Vita Bones, which seem just fine when there are no premium brands around.

Another treat Lynn gave me we had to put away for a while, because it’s kind of like a bone that I will have to consume under constant surveillance. This handcrafted Himalayan Dog Chew, according to the package, is “the original hard smoked cheese chew, 100 percent natural with no additives or binders” and lactose-free. “Chew it until small enough to swallow,” instructions say, “then soak in warm water for five minutes and microwave for 45 seconds, cool for two minutes, and it turns into a ‘homemade puff.'”  We’ll report back on this item when tests are complete later this spring.

Chloe shares her chair with Lamb Chop.

I guess Lynn must have really, really missed me, since she gave me a third present, a stuffed lamb from the Charming Scrunch Bunch that is both a squeaky toy and a tug toy. I call it Lamb Chop (my homage to Shari Lewis), and so far Lamb Chop is, just as the package says,”one tough toy.” I have been giving it a workout, either by myself or in combat with Mike, who has mastered the art of tugging and squeaking at the same time—and with little or no training from me! Lamb Chop has, at least temporarily, taken over from Wiffie for the go-to toy whenever we come in from a walk. I always need something to stretch me out before I dine.

So thanks, Lynn, for all of these wonderful gifts, and, more importantly, for coming over to see me. You are this dog’s best friend. At the moment, of course.


Chloë Gets Ready for a Sleepover

Exchanging financial secrets.

I thought it was a bit odd that I was spending a lot of time lately with my friend Caroline, who is of course doubles as the only financial adviser I have ever known. Caroline has handled all my business affairs since I was a tiny pup, and was also the person who gave me my very first toy, Sharkey. I don’t pay much attention to Sharkey anymore, but I keep him around on my toy pillow because he’s special to me.

I remember going for walks with Caroline when I was still a puppy and she had two dachshunds of her own. The only times I’ve seen her more recently have been on visits to her office, where there are always lots of treats. About a month ago, however, I started seeing her more often. First Heather and I went over to her house, which is not far away from ours, and we all took a walk together. Then we went inside her house, and I sniffed all around inside and in the back yard.  Caroline gave me the tour and pointed out where she kept important things like dog treats and toys. Can’t hurt to know, I figured, but I didn’t think much more about it.

Wylie and Chloë face off in the park.

A few days later, Mike drove me over to Caroline’s house again. I knew immediately where I was, and  I started my “can’t wait” whine as soon as the car pulled in the driveway. I ran inside and dashed for the same crinkly-sounding toy I had played with briefly on my previous visit.  When Mike left, I wasn’t even aware he was gone, so engrossed was I in chomping on that crinkly toy. Mike must have been gone a while, though, because before he returned I managed to chew through part of it, and believe me, this was some tough plastic.

A few days later, we met again. Heather, Mike and I joined Caroline and her friend David at my regular park for another walk. This time Caroline brought Wylie, a 2-year-old miniature dachshund she was taking care of while his owners were away. I’m usually not too interested in meeting other dogs, especially young ones, but Wylie seemed OK, for some reason. He kind of reminded me of my brothers Frank and Stanley, without their heft. Wylie and I even danced around a little in the South Meadow in some chase-and-tackle games, like I used to do with my bros. I know better than to tangle with them now, but Wylie was more my size. I could dominate.

It was about halfway through this walk when I noticed that David was holding onto Wylie’s leash, and Caroline was holding onto mine. It was like she was getting used to it, and getting used to how I behaved on a walk in comparison to her own Pinot and Ida. That’s when I started putting two and two together.

Putting two and two together.

If any doubt remained in my mind, events of the next week erased it. On Friday afternoon, Mike and Heather bundled up my travel crate and packed up my food, treats, pillows and camp chair into the car, just like we did every night when we drove to Syracuse last summer. This time we only got as far as Caroline’s house, where they brought all that stuff inside and said a quick goodbye, leaving me there with Caroline, David and a recently scalped Wheaton terrier named Marley, who lives across the street. I ignored them all and crawled into my bed, comfortably situated near the front door and beside a heating vent, and started gnawing on the crinkly toy again.  And I was gnawing on it again when Mike and Heather picked me up the next day. At least I think it was the next day; I was having so much fun that it really didn’t matter. It was just like going to sleep-away camp!

Keeping all that training in mind, I suspect I will be heading back to Caroline’s house again soon, probably for a longer stay this time, days or perhaps even weeks. Heather had told Mike she was waking up at night, worrying about leaving me with anyone except my good pal and usual sitter Lynn. Truthfully, all of the separation anxiety is hers, and hers alone. I know I’ll be happy with Caroline and, frankly, with anyone willing to provide a warm bed, fresh toys and plenty of high-grade treats. Don’t cry for me, Argentina—or you either, Heather.



Chloë Lets Her Birthday Slide

On the Spokane River, May 2017

As the calendar turned to February, things started looking up. Rain lessened, days got a bit longer, we got a new rug in the living room with more pile than the old one, so it’s better for scratching my back.  Heather’s attention to my tummy cleared up my skin rash and my diet reverted to normal, as in never enough.

I had been looking forward to celebrating my birthday (Feb. 5) in style, but it turned out to be no big deal. There were no cards, no presents, no extra treats, no fuss. Although I’m more or less at the halfway point of my canine career (in dog years, at least), I suffered through no midlife crises. At least none that I can remember.

This is the first birthday that I didn’t get together with my brothers Frank and Stanley, who are vacationing in Arizona. They got presents, according to an email Mike received from their dad Andrew. Did I mention that I got no presents, and that I have to go outside every day in Seattle’s horizontal rain and blustery cold with no raincoat or other protective gear?

In tamer times.

Instead, I’ve been cooped up and getting into still more trouble with Heather. She even yelled at me a couple of times. OK, I have to admit that sometimes I deserve it, but more often this happens because Heather continues to deny the notion that everyone was put on the planet to serve me, on my time-table. Heather maintains that I am supposed to serve her, pay attention only to her (Mike, sometimes), and always do exactly what she tells me, when she tells me. Mike, on the other hand, harbors no such delusions. Mike gets it! But Heather, she can be so–dare I say it?–stubborn!

Amidst the tall trees.

Anyway, I turned 8, and I feel and look no different, save for one random gray hair between my shoulders. During my birthday week I went for a long hike in an old-growth rain forest, I dug holes, I ran away a few times, I ignored orders, I chased a ball as long as I wanted to, I ran down our block to chase cats, I barked when the mail came and at people who park their cars in front of our house, I got into Mike and Heather’s bed whenever I could, I whined every time I got impatient, and I taught Mike a new way to play catch on the kitchen floor. So do I feel any older? Hell no. Where’s Wiffie? I’m ready to rock and roll. Check out Heather and I playing fetch in the rain forest.





Chloë Survives a Tough 10 Days

Chloë went thataway.

The wet weather has continued, curtailing many of our afternoon walks, which makes everyone a little cranky. One recent walk on a moderately rainy day, however, turned longer than anticipated when I split from my pack (Heather, Mike and my pal Charlie) for a little jaunt on my own. The problem was that we were at an unfamiliar location, Paradise Valley Conservation Area in Maltby (Snohomish County), and it was almost dark. We went there in the late afternoon after a basketball game, and we were almost back to the parking lot when I picked up a scent and took off, broadcasting my shrill “I’m gonna git you!!” bark all over the forest at the top of my lungs. Ignoring Heather’s calls, I barked for a long time before finally giving it up and returning. Heather was none too pleased. No Treat Party for me. But despite that and my supposed pal Charlie’s repeated interrogation, I have still not divulged who or what I was after. Nor will I! My lips are sealed.

Being interrogated after recapture.

Luckily, Heather’s ire was tempered by two uncharacteristic (for me) doggie illnesses, one right after the other, so she was also taking close care of me. I didn’t first consider the two related, but come to as I think of it, I am turning 8 next week, and perhaps this taut, lithe body is starting to break down. It’s something to consider, I suppose, although neither one of these short discomforts seemed to deter me from running full tilt when playing fetch and chasing squirrels, nor did either curb my appetite. In fact, since the cure for my gastrointestinal situation was a diet of ground beef and rice for several days, my appetite was more voracious than ever, if that’s possible.

Anyhow, I’m fine now. Although I gradually moved back to my regular diet with no ground beef, I’m glad my stomach ‘s not making those gurgling sounds anymore. And Heather’s diligent care of the skin rash on the inside of my thighs with ointment and shampoo appears to have ended that problem, at least for now.

Still spry at 8.

I really wouldn’t have bothered mentioning either of these ailments except for Mike’s research into a cure for my G.I. distress. Since my previous health in this area has been stellar (Mike attributes this to the pinch of yogurt he adds to each of my meals), it had been a long time since Mike had been forced to confront this particular canine dilemma. His quest for details on ingredients and proportions for my special diet led him to the American Kennel Club’s helpful web page on this topic. I’ve got my AKC papers , so I know the AKC‘s word is the gospel on all things canine. But lo and behold, besides the sought-after recipe for ground beef and rice, Mike also stumbled upon this infographic from Purina that he now feels compelled to share with my loyal readers. He said he longed to be in the agency creative meetings that developed this concept, with special praise for the expressive eyes on each pile.

Infographic from Purina



Chloë Braves Stormy Weather

Rainy day walk

Snuggled in my crate at night, with two blankets tucked in overhead like a fleece tent, I can still hear the wind and rain pelting  the bedroom window. That pinging sound is just one of the things we love about winter in Seattle.

It has rained on something like 20 of the past 21 days, with no real end in sight. One afternoon Mike opened the front door, and I took one step outside, saw the rain and sleet pounding the pavement, and wisely stepped back inside. Mike couldn’t argue. Luckily, a  half hour later it wasn’t nearly that bad, and we were able to get out for a half-hour or so. It’s rare that we can get an hour in. Last Sunday was so nasty that we didn’t even get to walk with my pal Charlie at all. Some days Heather, Mike and I managed to take advantage of a rare sun break, but most of the time Mike is forced to don his rain hat, rain coat, rain pants and galoshes and wade out the door looking like a stiff version of Gumby. I, on the other hand, get no protection from the elements, and within 10 minutes look like a wet rat. Just another of the things we love about winter in Seattle.

How many days until pitchers and catchers report?

Chloë the wet rat.


Chloë Pines for Brown

When UPS is near, the waiting is the hardest part.

With Santa Monkey and Rudolph

As much as I enjoyed this holiday season, I also noticed something different. Rudolph the Reindeer and Santa Monkey didn’t provoke the same enthusiasm I showed for them in the past. Approaching 8 years old, am  I too grown up for Santa and kisses under the mistletoe?

No, something else put the pall on my holiday: Far fewer personal encounters with UPS drivers.  In past years I’ve stalked them through Magnolia, sniffing out their trails. This season, not so much. Needless to say, “No-Presents” Heather wasn’t generating many deliveries, but that’s a given. It’s all the other deliveries to neighbors on our street that I was missing. Once the drivers get to know me, they may give me a biscuit even when the delivery is for someone else. When I  hung out in Mike’s office all day, I could hear the brown trucks two blocks away, and I could make a barking beeline to the front door in time for Mike to get me out in the street and position myself so the driver couldn’t miss seeing me.

But this past December, spending all my time downstairs in front of the fireplace in Heather’s work area, apparently Brown sound waves cannot penetrate. I don’t think UPS deliveries in our neighborhood were fewer; when my driver buddy Donna delivered a package to Heather the other day (I got two bickies!), she said she was still working extra hours well after Christmas. The Brown trucks are still rumbling by, I just can’t hear them like I used to. I can’t hear much of anything down there, especially when the fireplace blower is on. I don’t even bark anymore when Tony the mailman drops stuff through the slot in the front door.

Biscuit Delivery Machine

While I love hanging out with Heather all day, I realized that being sealed off from the outside world  on our lower level resulted in fewer treats and less love from UPS drivers. And this comes at a particularly bad time, because recently UPS drivers and the dogs who follow them have been getting positive national publicity (Huffington Post and Facebook ).  So, with my diminished exposure to the UPS drivers in our neighborhood, I don’t foresee any photo ops in my immediate future. I sense a missed opportunity to boost my brand.

Guarding the stockings.

Overall, being downstairs with Heather all day has been great. Compared to Mike’s office, it’s warmer and more comfortable, two conditions that always top my list. But it was not until the holiday season ended that I recognized the unintended consequence of my womb-like new lair. Yes, as comfortable and warm as I was, less brown made my holiday more blue.