Chloë Hits Double Figures

It’s hard to believe, I know, but I celebrated my 10th birthday this week. Ten years! It seems like only yesterday that I was rolling around with Frank, Stanley and the rest of my littermates up in Monroe, WA. I wonder what has become of them all. I never hear from anybody anymore; the rest of my Cousins’ Club must have marked me lousy.

Chloë (center) and two of her sisters, 4 weeks old.

So at 10, I’m still feeling—and often behaving—pretty puppy-like. I’m as stubborn as ever, and as apt to take off after a squirrel or scarf up mud from the ground as I’ve ever been. I’m spry enough to jump in and out of my camp chair several times a day and play fetch for 50 or more throws at a time—if I happen to be in the mood and there are no interesting distractions nearby, that is. My weight holds steady at a solid 20 pounds, which means Mike can’t cut my daily rations even though he’ like to. I have a few gray hairs, sure, but none around my muzzle yet. And that spot between my shoulders where I seem to be losing some hair? No problem; if it gets any worse, Mike will give me a combover when he grooms me before dinner.

Chloë at 10.

Although I received no birthday cake and nary a  card in the mail, I did enjoy a little recognition that day. Mike and Heather’s friend Kevin from Syracuse sent Mike an email: “I see on my calendar that Wednesday is Chloë’s birthday. When I mentioned it to my cat Tucker, he yawned, wondering why anyone would celebrate the birth of a dog. But tell her that I wish her a happy birthday.”  What a magnanimous guy! I might have to pay Tucker a visit this summer and give him a growl.

My Aunt Susie in Syracuse sent her regards via telephone, and contributed all the gourmet chewy treats I enjoyed all week. There was also a nice voice mail from Yankee, the doodle dog who belongs to my pal Juneau George. I want to get up to Alaska to visit him before I’m deemed “too old to travel” or some other nonsense.

Unwrapping her present.

Even Mike and “No Presents” Heather came through. They gave me extra treats all day, and after my cheese-laden dinner that evening they delivered the piece de resistance: a double-barrel gift of a Racket Raccoon Mushabelly AND a gourmet dog chew  stick made from 100 percent, open-pasture, grass-fed beefhide. The chewy treat was tempting, but there was no doubt which one I squealed for: There is nothing like a fresh Mushabelly.

Although this Racket Raccoon Mushabelly was hard to get out of his box, Heather finally helped me extricate him, and when we hit the floor together Mike started his stopwatch to see how long it would take me to break Mr. Racket Raccoon.

 

Beefhide tastes so good!

Luckily for you, my faithful readers, I won’t subject you to every second of my tussle with the aptly named Racket. Mike soon realized that Racket shut up whenever I wasn’t applying constant pressure to his belly, so he stuck the chewy stick in my mouth and earned a respite for the six minutes or so it took me to grind up and inhale the gourmet chew. I must admit I enjoyed it, and I would have gladly gobbled down a second and third, but when none was offered I turned my attention back to Racket and proceeded to throttle him but good.  It didn’t take long. By the 27 minute and 43 second mark on Mike’s stopwatch, I had Racket’s innards scattered around the living room rug, his infernal voice box silent by his side.

Throttling Racket Raccoon; Innards to the left of me, voice box on the right, stuck in the middle with Chlo,

Mike dutifully picked up Racket’s innards and stuffed them back inside his torso, and the next morning Heather sewed up him back together and gave him to me, alleviating much of my angst over his disappearance. I chased Racket around the house, just like I do with Lamby and Wiffie, but without his constant cackle his appeal to me will soon wear off, just like it did with all my previous Mushabellies after I silenced them. I never pull any of them out of my toy boxes anymore.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to wait until my buddy Penny returns from Florida in March. She always has some fresh Mushabellies at her house.

 

 

Chloë Watches Some TV

Chloë’s chair

The rainy weather continued. I’m getting a little tired of it, actually. There tends to be less ball-playing and more hurried walking when it’s raining and windy outside. Heather has less patience with me, too.

I made the most of it by demanding more play time inside the house, mostly knocking Wiffie around and getting Mike to play tug  of war, with my stuffed toy Lamby as “tugee.” Getting my jaws around Lamby’s nose and throttling him good is lots of fun, and so is getting Mike to yank on the handle at Lamby’s other end and squeeze it repeatedly, making a squeaky racket to encourage my growls. Arrrrrrrr!

Resting under Lamby’s watchful eye.

There was also plenty of watching television going on this month. I got Heather to move my personal camp chair into the living room, right between Mike’s and Heather’s swivel chairs and directly in front of the TV set. I was hoping to see some Law & Order reruns or even some NCIS, but all I seemed to get were lots of basketball games and impeachment hearings, both of which seem to unleash similar loud words of disgust toward the TV screen. BORING, I say.

Watching the detectives.

At least I managed to get my whole pack comfortably ensconced in the same room, where I can keep one eye on them and the other on the kitchen, so I  know if any potential snacks enter the room. Or  if I felt tired,  I could just snooze until dinner was announced. Then either Mike or Heather gently slid me  off the chair and onto the floor. A stretch or two on the dining room rug and into the kitchen for grooming and dinner, followed by a return to my chair while Mike and Heather are eating.  Time enough for the PBS Newhour and another snooze before bedtime.

Chloë Loves the Snow

Poised for the next throw.

We finally got some snow this week. Areas at higher elevations got a lot of it, but here at sea level we only got enough to coat the trees, meadows and parade ground in the park one afternoon. There was just enough  snow for kids to sled down the hill below the chapel (a must to avoid, as far as I’m concerned) and just enough for me to lose my ball several times. But hey, we still have that same blue ball today, so it wasn’t lost for too long before it was found. Digging around for it in the snow was fun, too,  so we all enjoyed our snowy walk until I took off into a deep thicket and got my leash caught on blackberry stalks, something that hadn’t happened to me in years. After much futile calling, Heather finally found me, waded in and untangled me. That was the end of my snow day freedom. It was fun while it lasted.

Bringing back the ball.

Chloë of the North.

 

The next afternoon the weather changed. Suddenly the sun came out, and there was a brilliant sunset.

South Meadow, Discovery Park.

Of the winter’s toughest storm to date, all that remained in the park was this giant snowball. I surveyed it only from afar. That glow was creepy.

Giant Snowball.

 

Chloë Revisits the Rock

Fetching along the hatchery path.

Nearly every day since Christmas it’s been “raining like stink,” as Heather likes to say, but we went for a walk every afternoon anyway. Most days we walked in the park, but sometimes we walked to the library or Magnolia Village and back instead. On a couple of days we caught a break: The rain stopped or slowed to a drizzle, or the sun broke through for an hour or two. Then the wind picked up and the rain started again. Even when wasn’t  raining, the ground stayed  muddy.  The towels stationed near the front door to wipe me down when I come inside get quite a workout. So do the washing machine (for the towels) and eventually the bathtub (for me).

One day it stopped raining long enough for us to drive to Carkeek Park. I’m not sure we had been there sincelast spring, when my good pal Charlie moved to St. Louis. Not only were there good trails and new scents to explore, but we also visited two of my favorite places for fetch: the path to the salmon hatchery and “the Rock,” where Charlie and I perfected our carom toss and return.

Chloë on the Rock in better days.

They tried valiantly, but neither Heather nor Mike could execute this delicate maneuver as well as Charlie. Even though he never would never give me any treats (except of course the bagsful he gifted me at Christmas and for my birthday), I miss Charlie. He was a skilled and dependable thrower. Now, just like the Mariners, I’m stuck here in Seattle with Triple-A level hurlers. I guess I’ll have to make do.

 

Chloë Spreads Holiday Cheer

Sammy and Chloë

Just a day after Mike and Heather returned from their trip, my aunt Sammy came to visit. She was here to listen to some poet she follows, so we didn’t get to hang out with her as much as I usual. But her visit still paid off, as she and Heather made a macaroni and cheese recipe that provided excellent plate-licking material for a good week after she left. I would have preferred an encore, but she left anyway.

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Mike finally got around to hauling up the holiday decorations from the garage, and he was very proud of himself for expanding the number of lights and areas covered. Heather installed permanent hooks for our stockings under the mantel, so they will hold more weight, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned. However, seeing my favorite singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer hanging high in a corner where I couldn’t get close enough to lust after it did not sit well with me. I gave the decorations a big yawn (see photo).

Stocking up on rawhide

My mood brightened on Christmas Day, especially when my stocking was unloaded (on the couch no less, where I am never allowed except on very special occasions) with assorted treats and toys from my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby, including rawhide sticks that look and taste like candy canes. I haven’t had much rawhide since my titanium crown was installed, so I particularly treasured these treats. After I unloaded my stocking it was Heather’s turn, and she got several different kinds of chocolate, which of course she won’t be sharing with me because chocolate can be deadly to dogs. Even I know that!

Content of Mike’s stocking

Finally, it was Mike’s turn, and guess what was in his stocking? Nothing but coal! Two lumps! I guess we know who hadn’t been nice enough to the girls around here.

My best gift this Christmas came from my new best dog friend Schatzi, who came over to visit on Christmas Eve and brought me a holiday gingerbread house stuffed with squeaky toys: a gingerbread man, a Christmas tree and a candy cane. It’s lots of fun to pull all the squeaky toys out of the gingerbread house and leave them around the floor so Mike can lean down, grumble, pick them up and stuff them inside the little house again. The house is good for tugging, too, and I’m making sure that Mike knows it.

Chloe Inspects gift from Schatzi.

Anyhow, Schatzi has her own gingerbread house over at her place, so we quickly got bored with my present and started wrestling instead. I’ll get back to the present it when she goes home.

 

 

Chloë Stays with Her New Best Pal

Vacation greetings.

Mike and Heather went away somewhere right after Thanksgiving. I didn’t ask any questions, because my personal “staycation” was fine. They dropped me off at my new best pal Schatzi’s house, which was a lot more fun  for me than traipsing around somewhere with them. I knew I made the right choice when I saw the photo greeting they sent from whatever beach they were on. Just looking at those waves smashing onto the shoreline was enough to make me hide under a warm blanket.

Playing with Schatzi’s bear.

At Schatzi’s house, I was a lot more comfortable. I had stayed there previously, before Schatzi arrived on the scene, and as long as she continued to accept me as the boss whenever I was there, I was fine with her being around. We had lots of fun together. First of all, Schatzi had great toys, which of course she never paid any attention to until I showed an interest. It’s good for those toys to feel wanted.

Sharing Chloë’s bed

I also liked Schatzi’s bed, which I had tried when Schatzi stayed at our house a couple of weeks ago. As soon as I got to her house, I climbed right in. Schatzi then decided to lie down in the bed I brought, and we starred at each other for a while. Then we started getting into the same bed together, and juggled beds and toys for the next several days. Eventually, however, I asserted my dominance as queen of the beds. I always got first pick.

Schatzi and I also needed designated dining areas on opposite sides of a gate at the entrance to the kitchen. Schatzi caught on that I get a lot better menu (two kinds of kibble, eggs, yogurt, broth) than she does (kibble and yogurt). I can’t say as I blame her, but that’s her problem, and I’m not trading or sharing my meal with her. If that means dining in a gated community, so be it. As fast as she and I eat, it’s only a couple of minutes a day anyhow.

Designated dining areas: Two tables for one.

Another good thing about sleeping over at Schatzi’s house is that we get let out into the back yard without leashes. I’m sure that if I were left unsupervised  long enough I could find a way out, but so far somebody’s always got an eye on us, so they can see if  we are “doing our business. So I only got to sniff around inside the fence and roll around with Schatzi. Sometimes Caroline threw a ball back there, but while I chased the ball a couple of times, Schatzi only chased me. And some seagulls.

Rainy day garb didn’t go over well.

Our walks in the rain that week did not go so well. Caroline tried putting us in raincoats, but we were too embarrassed and demanded to go back inside. Then we had too much energy to burn and ran circles around the house.  We also had disagreements about access to the stairs that went to the lower level of the house, where the back yard door is. But that was minor; the only time we got into any real trouble was when Schatzi discovered the lower -hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree. When confronted with the evidence, a little paw-pointing ensued between us, but Caroline knew immediately that Schatzi was the culprit. My sole interest continues to be in Christmas cookies, not ornaments. And a few gifts would be nice, too.

 

 

 

 

Chloë Changes Her Bed

The audition: Head on bookcase, old bed close by.

My peanut bed, a.k.a “the little girl” bed, was getting pretty frayed on the bottom. It’s almost 10 years old, and so am I! It’s time we move to the next facet of our lives. Sleep will be even more important for us seniors!

When Schatzi stayed with us  few weeks ago, I really liked her bed, and when I stayed at Charlie’s house in August, I really liked Logan’s bed, and he wasn’t even there. They smelled good, and they were comfortable, so I just made myself at home.

So when Heather and Mike were food shopping at Fred Meyer the other day and walked past a giant display of dog beds on sale, Heather didn’t hesitate. It wasn’t quite what she was looking for, but it was close enough. She went for a blue one.

Eyeing the bedding improvements: bed cover and pillow.

She flopped it on the living room floor in the spot where my old bed used to be. The peanut bed moved around the corner, a couple of feet away, for two weeks, so I still had a choice. Just in case the new one wasn’t to my liking, I could always go back to what I knew.

So I tried it out. The blue bed was much roomier than my peanut bed and had higher pillows around the edge, but it didn’t get my nose quite high enough, and I started to use the adjacent bookcase as a pillow. In addition, the plush interior cushioning felt just a little too warm on my body. I briefly considered going back to the peanut bed.

All ready for a power nap.

That’s when Heather swooped in. She put a pillowcase over the bottom cushion, so the temperature inside the bed became just right. She put another pillowcase over a small camp pillow retrieved from a closet downstairs to make a new headrest for me. A couple of photos in the bookcase had to be displaced, but I didn’t know those people, so it was no skin off my nose.

Now I am extremely happy with my new accommodation, and really proud of Heather, the way she swung into action and demonstrated her hidden homemaking skills. Way to go, Heath! And since around here  we never like to throw anything away, Heather applied some new silver duct tape on the bottom of the peanut bed and placed it on the back seat of her car, where the two of us can roll on together for years to come.