Category Archives: A Dog's Life

Chloë Retraces Her Family’s Roots

Could it really be 20 years?

At Redmond apartment complex

At Redmond apartment complex

Yes, long before I plopped down in the Puget Sound and found myself a home in Seattle, Heather took up residence in a second-floor apartment in suburban Redmond on the other side of Lake Washington, not far from the burgeoning campus of the new software giant Microsoft. It was there in February 1997, while Mike was on mid-winter visit from Syracuse, that he and Heather finally tied the knot after a blissful decade of what used to be called “living in sin” and/or “needing somebody to vouch for me so I can hang onto my Green Card.” As their only child (so to speak), I am so glad they finally made things legal, because if they hadn’t, who knows? Mike might have stayed in Syracuse for the rest of his life, and I might not be here in Seattle talking to you today.

From what I’ve been told, their wedding was quite the affair. The mystic ceremony took place at the King Country District Court in Redmond, right next to the public library, but only the judge heard after all the contentious civil cases and the court’s clerk and stenographer took pity on  Mike and Heather and volunteered to be their witnesses. The judge did his thing, Mike and Heather exchanged plastic spider rings, and they retired to the luxurious Redmond condo for leftover burritos and beer.

Down at the court house.

Down at the court house.

So last Saturday, in the rain , the three of us retraced the steps of that fateful day. First we took a side trip to a furniture store (I think they are planning to get me an ottoman so I can be rolled around room to room). Then we hiked along a greenbelt trail where they used to take my esteemed predecessor, Heidi. Parts of this walk were OK, but I wound up feeling sorry for Heidi. I mean, it had no stretches of secluded trail where I could walk off leash, no fields for chasing my orange ball, no trails that weren’t paved or planked like a boardwalk. I’m sure Heidi liked Discovery Park a whole lot better when Mike and Heather moved over to the other side of the pond in 1999.

Still, our walk had plenty of nostalgia value, as did our stops at their apartment, the courthouse and their favorite Redmond Italian restaurant. While they had dinner, I had to wait in the car, of course, although I did score a leftover lamb shank for later. For the next anniversary, I’d prefer they pick German cuisine.

Mike keeps promising Heather there will be another anniversary surprise, but nothing had arrived yet when I told Mike to roll the presses anyway. We’ll have something to look forward to next week.

Chloë Takes in the View

Olympics from Richmond Beach Park

Olympics from Richmond Beach Park

Finally, maybe the winter is over. Sure, it rained a lot this past week, but it was warm rain. Snowdrops and crocus have emerged, and all my salad bars are ripening. It’s not Arizona, but it’s not that bad.

In fact, the previous weekend was sunny both days. Sunday was gorgeous. Mike, Heather and I picked up Charlie and drive to my dog pal Penny’s neighborhood in Richmond Beach, even though we knew Penny wasn’t home, still in Florida for the winter. Why did we go there anyway? It was the just the right place at the right time, I guess, with apologies due to Dr. John. We walked all around the park, from top to bottom to top again, and I liked the place fine until it came to the beach part. Even then, I was OK walking in the dunes as long as I didn’t have to get too close to those monster waves. Even when Charlie threw my ball away from the water, he couldn’t coax me out onto the sand to chase it.

Fetch on the lawn

Fetch on the lawn

I much preferred the upper elevations of this park, which offer 180-degree views of the Olympic Mountains and an expansive lawn area for me to chase my ball, even when there were other dogs and people around. To guard against potential distractions, Heather stationed herself at one end of the lawn, and Charlie stood on the other while I played dachshund in the middle.

Later, after many, many throws. I rested on the grass, something I never get to do at home. Maybe I can convince Mike to put in a lawn in our yard if I promise to graze enough to keep it well-trimmed.

Resting on the lawn between throws.

Resting on the lawn between throws.

 

Chloë Celebrates Her Birthday Quietly

On the trail with Frank and Stan.

On the trail with Frank and Stan.

I got together with my brothers Frank and Stanley last weekend for our annual birthday visit. We turned 7 on Feb. 6. Although we hadn’t seen each other in a whole year, after an initial rush that lasted about 30 seconds, it wasn’t all that exciting. I was more excited to see their owners, Tiffany and Andrew, than I was to see the boys. I’d rather chase rabbits, or at least a ball. The boys don’t appear too wild about seeing me, either. Stan has gotten especially standoffish, the Greta Garbo of the wirehair breed. Too good for the rest of us? Someday it will catch up with him, and he’ll be a bitter old man.

Stan: He vants to be alone.

Stan turns his back: He vants to be alone.

Frank? Frank has still to meet a camera he didn’t like.

Furry Frank

Furry Frank

My actual birthday passed with little fanfare. It was a snow day, so Heather worked at home, and school was closed, so she took the kids next door to the park. Too much commotion for me. I stayed home with Mike and whined until Heather came back. But with our routines subsequently thrown off, it was almost dinner time before my birthday was even acknowledged, and even then it was only matter-of-factly noted, not celebrated boisterously with videographed ceremonies as in past years. No birthday cards, no presents. Not a Mushabellie or special food treat in sight.

Junior senior?

Junior senior?

Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement that, at 7, my puppyhood is finally over. Mike has already noted to Heather that the dog food packaging reads “active, 1-6” and “senior, 7 & up.” I can see the handwriting on the bag. I’ve crossed the line: I’m officially a junior senior. I foresee more fiber in my future.

Frankly, I think the food I’m getting right now is fine already, so I wouldn’t change a thing. Except to get more of it, of course.

Chloë Rates Salad Bars

Off the beach at Golden Gardens

Off the beach at Golden Gardens

It was slim pickins along the Wendy* Way buffet line last week, but as the same crusty lettuce pieces rotted away on the grass I managed to find some substitute rations. I snagged a slimy apple core one day near Chloë’s Lane, and on another day the loop trail featured a pleasant subtrail off popcorn, five kernels in all, conveniently located in my homeward direction so I could find them without losing any time.

One day last weekend was warm and sunny, and we walked along Shilshole Marina and the beach at Golden Gardens, but not on it, unwilling to risk the fines (Heather) and the dangerous waves of Puget Sound (me). I made sure we stayed far away from the water as possible so that the sloshing of sound on shore wouldn’t bother me.

Salad bar is open.

Salad bar is open.

The next day, when we walked with my pal Charlie, it was cold and cloudy with a few showers, but I enjoyed the long walk anyway. We did lots of throwing the ball, and when we walked through the South Meadow the first signs of spring were evident. For me that means the opening of my favorite of the many canine salad bars of Puget Sound. I am indeed lucky to have a meadow full of my favorite variety of grass practically right outside my door. I don’t know if it’s the late-afternoon sunshine or the moisture-laden wind, but something makes the grass from the area known as Bird Alley extremely sweet, and I dig it. Until, of course, Heather figures out that I’ve stopped following her and in favor of a lengthy stop at the salad bar. This time she stormed back to get me and threaten me with her impending retirement “boot camp” that is intended to improve my overall obedience and pave the way for me to become a certified service dog.

Frankly, I’d rather just do what I want to do: chase balls, cats, rabbits and squirrels, followed by eating and sleeping. We’ll see how far Heather’s plan goes. I am sure this retirement thing is going to be a big adjustment for all of us, but we’ll have fun working our way through it.

Chloë Makes Strides with Brown

Biscuit Delivery Machine

Biscuit Delivery Machine

My new favorite UPS driver, Donna, visited my house twice last week. Like right to the front door. One time she left a biscuit on top of the package she left outside, thinking no one was home. We must have been downstairs, I guess, for me not to have heard her coming. When she heard me barking inside, and Mike finally got the door open and me outside on a leash, she came back and gave me a big greeting and biscuit No. 2. She even sat down on the steps for a few seconds to talk to me! I’m in love. My former favorite Mr. UPS, Kevin, was great with the biscuits, but he was a taciturn, John Wayne-type. The most endearing thing he ever said to me was, “Here, Killer.” He always called me Killer. Donna actually knows my name.

The brown standard.

The brown standard.

On another day the UPS truck stopped outside our house, and I hustled Mike out the door in plenty of time for the driver to see me, but when we got outside I could see the driver wasn’t Donna. Even my favorite UPS delivery person needs a day off now and then! I yanked Mike out to the street anyway, and when I stared up at the young man in the cab he got the message immediately, fumbling around on the dashboard until he found a piece of biscuit to toss my way. I pounced, Mike yelled a thank you, and I waited expectantly for the second huge biscuit that Kevin would throw my way. None was forthcoming.

Oh, well. Mike seems to be on an Amazon Prime binge, so I expect to be seeing a lot of brown delivery trucks around. Maybe next time.

Chloë Walks Far, Naps Long

West Point Lighthouse

West Point Lighthouse

Last weekend was great, beautiful and clear but cold for here, down into the 20s. I saw a lot of dogs sporting sweaters, but that’s not my style, Besides, I’d hate to make Heather do my laundry all the time.

Elliott Bay from West Point

Elliott Bay from West Point

Heather had a long weekend, four days in a row at home with me. On Friday she worked here on the dining room table while I slept in my chair next to her. It was almost like being at Heather’s real office, where as we well know dogs are no longer allowed. We made the most of those four days, taking lots of naps and extra walks together. On Sunday we trekked for two hours to the West Point lighthouse and back with Mike and my pal Charlie. Since it was such a nice day, there were more people on the beach than I’ve seen there in August. Charlie and Heather threw the ball for me a while in the fenced-in lawn area behind the lighthouse, until they got paranoid about a possible dog patrol officer siting . It proved to be a false alarm, but we hurriedly left the scene of the crime and started the steep climb back up the bluff with me on leash. Not my first choice for a hike in the woods, but I made do.

Napping on Heather's pillow

Napping on Heather’s pillow

The next day was more of the same because it was MLK Day. We took a long walk in the park and played fetch on the hill. But on Tuesday, Heather had to go back to her office, and even worse, it started raining. Feeling a little low, I spent most of the day sleeping on Heather’s pillow or in my bed next to Mike’s chair in his office, even skipping my usual afternoon pee-and-treat break when I heard rain pelting the window above me. Late in the day, I reluctantly allowed Mike to take me outside for a walk, but as soon as I handled my immediate business and checked out the Wendy* Way buffet (only lettuce remained, dammit, not even a soggy piece of toast!), I began steering Mike homeward. We were outside for barely 25 minutes, one of my shortest walks ever. Not that I let Mike off the hook. When we got home, I made him play Wiffie and tug for more than a half-hour. After all, a girl needs some exercise every day to keep herself slim and trim.

Chloë Starts the New Year Right

Chloe with new orange bear

Chloe with new orange bear, one of her holiday haul.

Mike, Heather and I ran errands last Saturday, but between Costco and the shoe outlet we had time for an extended walk in Saint Edward State Park on Lake Washington, where we had not been in quite a while. It was great to walk in a place other than Discovery Park for a change. We have been real homebodies of late.

Anyway, Saint Edward is a good place to go because it has both trail walking and, when nobody else is around, expansive lawns for fetch. We did a little of both, walking all the way down to the lake and back up to the lawn, where we did a little throwing until I got distracted by joggers and Heather shut the game down. Mike said the landmark seminary building, badly in need of renovation on the inside, is likely going to become a hotel, which does not bode well for future fetch opportunities on this site.

Playing fetch at Saint Edward State Park

Playing fetch at Saint Edward State Park.

Park sign

Park sign

If the hotel is indeed developed, the park would still surround it, similar to the houses currently being renovated and sold in Discovery Park near our house. Hotel guests and dog walkers alike will share the trail system, and informative interpretive signage like this one on the left will continue to dot the landscape.

Our errands trip also included a brief stop at Heather’s office, at least that’s what I was told, since I was left in the car. Not allowed to go inside on a Saturday? That Heather can sometimes be just so Canadian.