Category Archives: A Dog's Life

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!

Chloë Finds Familiar Faces

Donna’s back!

Maybe things are finally loosening up. For months, the only people I saw were Mike and Heather. Caroline, David and Schatzi stopped by once. That’s about it.

Then, lo and behold, things begin to awake. Heather and I encountered my favorite UPS driver on the street one day. Donna had been away several months with an injury, but she’s finally back on our route and still carrying bickies.  I am hoping Mike and Heather keep ordering a lot of stuff online.

Then my favorite house cleaners, Jeré and Channon, made their return, and believe me, as someone who’s down on the floor of this house a lot, their return came not a moment too soon. Heather is a meticulous cleaner, I  have observed over the past several weeks, but she’s not a professional like Jeré and Channon are. They know all the secrets. And beyond that, not only did I get my usual quota of treats from them while they were here, but they also left a few extra ones to make up for the times they couldn’t come since February.

Chloë ‘s pals return from pandemic leave.

There were a couple of other returns of note.  I finally got to see my old pal Penny, who has been quarantined at her house since returning from Florida in March. Now she has a little dog named Phoebe living with her until she goes to New York in another week or so. All that flying! I’ll miss seeing all my Syracuse friends this summer, but you’re not getting me on an airplane any time soon.

The owl returns.

Another return was the threatening barred owl to her favorite local haunts among the tall trees of Discovery Park.  She has stalked us for several years, and this time she swooped down on Heather and me when we got a little too close to her youngster, perched on an overhanging branch nearby. There have been many other owl sightings in the area, but we’ve seen her just one other time, and Junior wasn’t visible. We’ll keep looking, though.

Chloë Sharpens Her Throwing Skills

As the quarantine unfolded over the past three months, you may recall that I  have been forced to take most of my fetch game inside the house for workouts with Mike. Well, all that off-season conditioning followed me outside when my Spring Training 2.0 ramped up. As you’ll see by watching my recent workout video below,  I’ve really improved my control. Watch especially for my monster curve; I put quite the 6-to-12 break on ol’ Uncle Charlie!  In fact, my ol’ throwing partner Charlie would be quite impressed.

Heather at first didn’t like the part of the game when she would throw the ball and I catch it and roll it back to her instead of running all the way back to her and dropping it at her feet. But you can see from her enthusiasm in the video that she finally came around on this, conceding the diminished running to my advancing age, and also impressed with my skill and dexterity at both ends of the court. As you can see, I’ve grown adept at catching the ball on the run, I go back on the deep ball like Willie Mays, I can dig it out of the dirt like Don Mattingly, I’m as quick to the ball as Charlie Hustle and now I’ve added a devastating yakker to my repertoire. A five-tool player for sure.

We also had some visitors to the house last week. George and Debbie from Juneau came over one afternoon to take a walk in the park and have a drink on the back yard deck (six feet apart and me in my bed in the middle). And my doggie pal Schatzi spent the night with us,. Even though she’s more than a year old, Schatzi still does puppy things and demands constant attention from me or whatever humans are around. After we do a little get-reacquainted running around and I see what toys she brought with her, I’ve had enough, but she doesn’t ick up on my non-verbal  message. So I’m getting back at her here by divulging that on this visit to our house she whined in her crate at night, woke everybody up at 5 a.m., barked whenever she wasn’t getting enough attention and peed on the downstairs carpet. Sorry to bring it up, but listen, girl, you can only get by on cute for so long.

Schatzi, Lamby, Chloë and Heather chillin’.

Chloë Volunteers Again

Seward statue tourists.

We drove over to Volunteer Park again this week to meet up with George and Debbie. This time we walked around a lot longer than we did last time, so George must be feeling OK so far, which also makes me feel good.

Since the park roads are closed off to cars these days, we could walk around the hills unhindered but for occasional bicycles. We looked into he windows of the Conservatory, which is also closed of course.  Then we paid our respects to the statue of William Seward, the famed fellow Central New Yorker (from Auburn, near Syracuse, like Mike and Heather) the guy who purchased Alaska for the United States when he was Secretary of State after the Civil War. A century later, George and Debbie took advantage of that prescient maneuver and moved up to that goregous part of the county.

Volunteer Park Rhodies

All the rhododendrons were in full bloom, so we strolled around not only within the park but also in the surrounding neighborhood, which is full of stately old homes and well-tended gardens. All of that was fine, but for me it paled in comparison to what was the unquestioned highlight of the afternoon: As we walked back into the park to find a picnic table for chatting, I discovered a hole in a tree that had been the site of recent squirrel activity, although not nearly recently enough for me to let out my corner-the-critter wail.

I just hope George and Debbie will be staying in for Seattle another week, because I believe another return trip to investigate Volunteer Park is warranted.

Treasure hunt

Chloë Enjoys a Quiet Week

On the lawn at Volunteer Park

I’ve got to admit, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with something exciting or clever to report about this week, and I’m having a hard time.  Except for taking different walking routes in the park, every day was pretty much the same.

Let’s see. Schatzi came over for a visit one afternoon, but I was less than excited about that. Her desire to be in my face all the time was wearing a bit thin. Luckily, Heather and I tired her with lots of walking, and she conked out from dinner until when Caroline picked her up.

Heather, Mike and I did meet my Juneau friends George and Debbie in Volunteer Park one afternoon. That park has beautiful landscaping and lots of squirrels, but we only walked on trails for 15 minutes or so before the four of them found a picnic table and sat down for more chatting. I seized the opportunity to revel in one of my favorite things, sunning on a grassy lawn.  My own yard has no lawn, ahem, so I have to take advantage of every opportunity I get.

Who was that masked man?

That trip to Capitol Hill  was the only time I went anywhere in the car all week. When Mike and Heather drove to Ballard to pick up groceries, I stayed home, and it’s just as well. When Mike wades into public as the Orange Bandit, I don’t want to be seen anywhere near him.