Chloë Remembers a Cat

Spanky takes over Mike’s pillow on an earlier Syracuse visit.

My Syracuse aunts, Susie and Debby, lost their cat Spanky last week. Well, they didn’t lose him, exactly, because they know where he is. He has been sick for a long time, and he finally went to that big Bidawee Home in the sky.

It makes me sad. Even though Spanky was nothing but mean to me when we finally met in Syracuse last summer, I can empathize with my aunts. I know they’re really hurting inside, because I know how much they loved him. And while it’s true that the old, nasty Spanky snarled, hissed, and threw his claws at me every time our paths crossed,  now I kind of miss those little tête-à-têtes. They invigorated me, and aroused my own animal instincts.

Spanky, September 2017

Once I got back to Seattle, I started to pay my own little homage to Spanky. In Syracuse, the cat would hang out under Debby’s car in the driveway, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on me. I quickly developed the habit of looking under Debby’s car every time I walked past, just in case he was there. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been checking underneath the Bartons’ cars for their two black cats, Ted and Fred, so I can root them out and chase them back into the hedges where they belong. Every time I crouch and stare under those cars, I think of Spanky and smile. Then I get back to barking and taking off after the damn black cats.

Tracking the Bartons’ cats: The waiting is the hardest part.

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Chloë Gets Wet in the Woods

Chloë’s favorite brand

It’s getting on toward mid-October already, but it still feels like Indian Summer to me, bright and clear in the afternoons and turning quickly crisp when the sun dips down. Perfect weather for chasing after my whistling balls. Last week I knocked a blue one over a bluff in the park that was so steep that Mike and Heather wouldn’t let me chase down the cliff after it. I knew where it was, too, but getting to it would have posed some problems, I admit, and it was a long, long way down. Luckily, Mike knew where to find another ball in a box in the garage, an orange one at that.

Drenched

I’ve also been gnawing away at two green racquet balls that my pal Charlie brought along last weekend when we drove out to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail for a Sunday hike. We walked almost two hours, an hour and a half in glorious fall weather and the last half hour in a sudden, unexpected and torrential downpour.  Huge by Washington standards, Central New York thunderstorm-level heavy but cold and piercing, including some hail. Charlie and Heather had been throwing for me when the deluge began, even as parts of the sky remained blue and the forest floor was flooded with sunshine. Mike kept saying the rain was going to stop any second, but it was still pouring when we finally reached the car and hopped in.

Since everyone was soaking wet, they scrapped their plans for dining on the way home and headed back to the city for towels, dry clothes and pizza. I got extra cheese on my own dinner and later licked plates when they were done with the pizza. All in all, another great Sunday, despite the rain.

Chloë Resumes Her Routine

Wiffie: Chloë Official Autograph Model

Waiting for Wiffie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It didn’t take me long to get back into the swing of things at home after my lengthy road trip. As soon as the front door swung open, I pounced right into my toy pile to grab the thing I missed most on the journey: Wiffie!  I’ve been batting that plastic ball around the first floor like crazy, irritating Mike every time I knock it under the couch or someplace else where he has to get down on the floor to free it. It’s fun to drive Mike nuts, and not too hard, either.

Needless to say, it took Mike less than an hour before he unwittingly left the front door open and unguarded, allowing me to escape down the street to renew my futile pursuit of the Bartons’ cats.  A lot of good they are: While we were away, they presumably enjoyed the run of our yard without me to get after them, and they might have done us some good by guarding the premises. Fat chance. Instead, they sat back and let a mouse into my garage, where it devoured a 4.5-pound bag of my Hill’s Science Diet dog food and apparently ate itself to death. Those cats are worthless.

Frozen PBB., fully loaded.

Anyway, being back has many other advantages. Every morning now  I am able to score a full-sized Frozen PBB, not one of the small, travel-size ones that Mike was passing off to me on the trip. That’s good! On the other hand, the leftovers buffet generally laid out on the grass outside the park entrance, a.k.a. Wendy* (not her real name) Way, has been spotty since my return, just a few random bread crusts. Maybe the crows are getting to it first,  since I haven’t been around  all summer to keep them at bay. All I know is that I haven’t seen a good leftover on the smorgasbord since I’ve been back. I just hope Wendy* (not her real name) is eating OK these days. I’m worried about her.

Let’s see, what else is new? I still bark every day when the U.S. mail comes through the slot and do a loud, whiny dance whenever I hear a UPS truck. I was overjoyed to find my favorite driver Donna is back on our route, although she seems to have more days off and dole out smaller biscuits than previous driver Kevin did. Now, I really like Donna, but I’m just saying, Kevin’s biscuits were bigger, much bigger. I’ll have to make my displeasure known without risking alienating Donna. I’ll have to proceed with some of that subtle, Trumpian diplomacy.

Mr. Owl is back

With Heather home every day now, I’ve been doing much more walking and playing a lot of fetch with Heather all week long and with my pal Charlie on Sundays. Lately, we’ve been throwing more on the hill by the park Visitors’ Center, next to the fence outside the Capehart area, or in the military cemetery rather than on my regular course on Chloë’s Lane. Part of the cause is that the lane is pretty well covered with fallen leaves now, making a lost ball more likely. The other reason is that the mean old owl has returned to stalk me again. We all felt his gaze on our necks last week, and there it was above us, perched in a tree above the lane. The way it looked at us creeped us out, so we left. We haven’t seen it since, but we’re always on the lookout. Better safe than sorry!

 

Chloë Journeys to the East and Back

On the Kootenai River, Idaho

So, did ya miss me?

I do apologize to my loyal readers for not writing in such a long time, not even a postcard. Sorry, but life on the road turned out to be more time-consuming than I had originally anticipated. As we traveled from place to place,  we usually rode all day in the car, and at night Mike was too busy putting together the next day’s itinerary to sit down for an hour and listen to my prattling. Reluctantly, I deferred. Besides, I was having too good a time.

Mike, Heather and I left Seattle on June 15 and didn’t get back home until Aug. 23 – 10, 939 miles, 20 states and provinces and 69 days later. Quite the journey! While I can’t deny that I endured some minor hardships along the way, I had a blast. I had never dreamed there were so many neat places and people to see and sniff beyond my Magnolia neighborhood.

Although this extended road trip upset my normal routine, I got treated so well that I was able to settle into a new routine after only a day or two.  In the car, I had the back seat all to myself, and from my propped-up perch I could keep track of everything going on inside and outside. I happily report that Heather never fell asleep at the wheel once, while navigator Mike dozed off more times than I did. Good thing he wasn’t driving. In case of a sudden jolt, I was strapped to a harness so I couldn’t fly through a window, but I could still move around as much as I needed to, which wasn’t much. Any time I needed anything, such as a cold drink, a Frozen PBB, a pit stop or a treat, all I had to do was whine a couple of times. It drove Mike and Heather nuts, but it got results. “Stifle!” Heather would bark at me, applying a sternly worded reprimand. It worked – until the next time, that is.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

After a day of driving, every afternoon the three of us  took a long walk, and we visited some incredible locations. We didn’t do a lot of ball-throwing on these walks, because Mike and Heather were afraid of me running off. Right, like I would have the nerve to do something like that so far from the security of home. Not me; the pack was all I had. So I stuck close to the pack when we hiked in forests from Washington to New York and back. I really enjoyed all the places we walked, even when they turned into harrowing experiences. Once Mike got us lost at dusk, deep in a Ohio forest preserve. Another time Heather carried me down and back up several flights of metal-grated stairs to the base of a waterfall on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The steps had a sharp surface that hurt my feet.

While I never had to sleep in a tent, thank god, my travel crate was wedged in next to the air conditioner in many a cheap motel room. And there were other minor tribulations as well, such as navigating my way around a couple of cats (I got along with docile Dinah, faced off with snarling Spanky, who stalked me for my whole time in Syracuse). I sniffed out and chased after wild animals (deer, elk, prairie dogs, chipmunks and buffalo), managed to ignore many dogs, backed away from many children who wanted to pet me, and turned my back on too many strangers who gushed about my cuteness or my breed, usually guessing incorrectly. “Wirehair dachshund, but not a textbook wirehair,” Heather replied every time, often providing further information on the three dachshund coats and apologizing because I wasn’t a better illustration of my breed. Thankfully, no one demanded to see my papers, not even on any of my border crossings into Canada and back.

I also really enjoyed getting to meet so many of my loyal readers, and to finally give them the opportunity to press the fur with me after reading about my exploits all these years. I hope nobody was disappointed. If so, I’ll try to make it up to you next time. I’ve already overheard Heather talking about making the drive East again. Get my throne ready – with improvements, of course.

Until then, enjoy some scenes from my journey, starting with the test run through Washington state in May, followed by the trip to Syracuse and back. It’s kind of like my version of The Red Couch, starring me instead of a red couch. Enjoy it while I get Mike to take me outside to check whether there’s any new entrees on the Wendy Way* buffet table.

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Chloë Hits the Road

Chloe in the Absarokas

In the Absaroka Mountains, Montana-Wyoming

It’s been quite  a while since my last post, I know. And so much has happened in between. I just couldn’t find the time. It has been such a whirlwind that I’ve barely had a moment to myself to take a deep breath, shake it off and think about it. Maybe that time will come on my current trip to Canada, where Heather took me to visit her side of our family. Remarkably, this will be my first trip to Canada or anywhere else off American soil. I just hope Heather has the paperwork to get me back into the country.

Heather, Mike and I been on the road since the middle of May. First we did a practice run through central and eastern Washington, initiating me to my new harness-and-hammock setup in the back seat and seeing how things were going to fit in the car. It was hard to accept not being a front-seat dog after seven years of it, but I understand the need for safety. Besides, a lot of stuff didn’t fit and was left behind. Luckily, my blue bed, orange blanket and I made the cut.

At Letchworth State Park

At Letchworth State Park, New York

After eastern Washington and Mount Rainier, we had just a couple of weeks at home before we were off again, driving all the way back to Mike and Heather’s roots in Central New York and southern Ontario, respectively. It took us two weeks to drive from Seattle to Syracuse, because we were stopping all the time to hike and look at things. Mike and Heather were interested in the scenery, but I was more interested in the flora and fauna, which included rabbits, chipmunks, buffalo, elk, pronghorn and a whole lot of deer. I barked at the first buffalo I saw when he tried to put his head in our car window, but by the time I’d seen a couple hundred I barely raised my nose any more.

When we started out and drove on the twisting roads of America’s Scenic Byways, I was always on high alert, using my perch in the back seat to scour the roadside for the slightest sign of trouble.  Only later on, when we were driving fast and straight on the interstates,  without turning for hours at a time, could I sufficiently let my guard down to settle into gentle sleep. And it was a good thing to rest up for a couple of days, because my 11 days in New York state were tiring, with so many new places to go to and new people and dogs and cats to meet. It’s hard work to be on your best behavior all the time, and Heather is constantly on my case to toe the line and make her proud. I try to do my best

Chloe Sleeps in Car Again

How a sleeping dog lies.

Gulp. As I embark on my mission as an American envoy to the Great White North, I can feel the pressure to perform. Uh-oh, Canada, I stand on guard for thee.

Chloë Lists Everything She Knows

Down and stay.

This started out as some instructions to my sitters and walkers, but as Heather gears up for training intended to turn me into a service animal, she asked Mike to update this list to more fully acknowledge the tremendous breadth of my understanding of human talk after a mere seven years of practice. It does not include this various barks, whines, whimpers and howls that I use in response. That’s a longer story for another day.

So here’s what Mike wrote down:

What Chloë Knows

First and foremost, what any dachshund knows is how to be stubborn, so make sure she knows you’re the boss! When you want her to do something, don’t yell, it won’t do any good. Just use your best command tone and hope for the best.

All commands work best when you say her name first, to get her attention, as in “Chloë, sit.”

Chloe’s Vocabulary

No!  This one word delivered sternly will make her cease all kinds of bad behavior.

Sit.  She will sit at the spot she is. Make a fist, hold at your shoulder height, say “Chloë, sit.”

Down. Raise your hand above your head and say, “Chloë, down!”. She will lie down on that spot. Make sure she has her butt on the ground.

Wait. She will stop and stand in place and wait for instructions. (Always make her wait before crossing the street.)

Stay. Raise hand to shoulder level in a Stop! pose; she will stay…at least until distracted.

Come. If she does not come, move a few feet, turn perpendicular to her, lean forward slightly and rotate your hands in a circular motion. When she comes, praise her and give her a treat.

Touch. She will come and touch your outstretched hand. Make her come all the way and touch your hand with her nose.

Treat Party! Chloë’s ultimate bribe. Use sparingly, and only when she is highly distracted or on the loose. Yell it repeatedly, and pay off with at least three treats when she arrives.

Find. As in find the ball or find Wiffie. When said with enthusiasm, she will start looking in earnest for the ball. When she first makes visual contact, her tail with wag vigorously.

Bring it!

Bring It (the ball). She will carry the ball in her mouth to the thrower, drop it and want another throw.

Go to (Mike, Heather, Charlie, Claire, Lynn). These are people she knows by name and will run to when prompted.

With Me!!!!!. She will follow your lead on her leash, sometimes even without one. She knows how to walk on a short leash.

This way!!! When arriving at a fork in the path, to tell her which way you want her to go.

WHOA! Slow down if she’s getting too far ahead or pulling too hard on her leash. Useful on hills.

OK! Her release word, meaning it’s all right to cross the street, go through the door, run after a ball, etc. Make her stop and ask if it’s OK, and tell her OK! if it is.

Leave It!!! This will make her stop what she’s doing and focus on you, not whatever is distracting her. That can be a plant, an object, a jogger, another dog gum or a cigarette butt on the ground.

Drop It!!! In conjunction with offering her a high-grade treat, this might make her drop what’s already in her mouth, depending on how big a treasure it is. Don’t try to pry her jaw open, she’s tough.

Up! The signal it’s OK to jump up on a platform, table or into the car.

Chair! Her word for being directed to a permanent or folding chair.

Bed. Will go to the closest dog bed or crate available, sometimes reluctantly.

Steps. Will bound up or down stairways or a step stool to a bed.

Back-back-back-back. Will make her slide herself backwards on the floor in a sitting position.

Hurry up! The command to pee or poop if she needs to.

Easy, Chloë, easy. Said gently when giving her a biscuit or some other treat, so she takes it softly from the giver rather than biting at it.

Chloë, Let’s Go to Bed! Her goodnight command. From a down/stay, she will sprint to her crate.

Chloë’s Tricks

Beg. From a sit or down, she will rise up on her back legs and put her front paws up.

Dance! From a sit or down, she will rise up on her back legs and twirl around once in a circle.

Roll! From down stay will turn around on her back and stomach, sometimes not very straight. Sometimes she will do it twice in a row, back and forth.

Shake. From a sit, she will extend her paw to you if you extend a hand to her and say it.

Frankly, I’ve got a lot more tricks up my fur, but I don’t want to reveal everything at once and tip my hand.

Chloë Redecorates

New layout in living room

So far, not much has changed since Heather retired. Except that now I hang out with her all day, usually downstairs with the fireplace on. After Mike gives me my breakfast and my morning treats, I pretty much abandon Mike for the rest of the day. What good is he until dinner time? Heather’s surroundings are much warmer.

Heather has also done a lot of rearranging of furniture in the living room. It’s almost like checkers with heavier pieces. I’m not so sure I like the current arrangement, with the couch in front of the window. Somehow it’s not as easy for me to jump up on the couch, for one thing. Must be the angle. And all those little scatter rugs on the hardwood floor make it slippery. Even worse, for a couple of days, Heather removed my huge round bed, filled with my toys,from the living room. Out! Entirely! Thankfully, Mike and my best pal Charlie intervened on my behalf,  pointing out I need it as a place to rub my back. and they seem to have talked her out of it, at least for now.

Bed remains, for now.

My biggest complaint remains: This layout is not at all conducive to playing Wiffie. With the entry bench he used for tossing now facing away from the kitchen, Mike no longer has a straight shot across the room, and he has not yet found a comfortable spot for a launching pad. Since I want Mike to be remain engaged in playing Wiffie with me, I will be pushing Heather to follow through on her announced plan to get some different rugs and furniture in the living room that will address these shortcomings as well as improving comfort.  If the changes come to pass, I would even be willing to renegotiate this whole bed thing. Let’s see what any new rugs look like first. In the meantime, as long as thoughts of Asian rugs and swivel recliners keep her mind off ramping up my boot camp, I’ll be on board with any plan that keeps Wiffie in play.