Category Archives: A Dog's Life

Chloë Ramps Up Her Recovery

Chloë takes over Heidi’s ramp.

I was meaning to write sooner, but I’ve been injured. For the second time in just three months, a bad wheel was slowing me down. The first time, when we were in Canada in August, it was my right front leg with a pulled muscle that made me limp. This time, it was muscle soreness in the back left. Some days this new injury didn’t seem to bother me at all, and I continued to leap into my camp chair, but the next day I would let out an unexpected yelp of pain just by leaping off a curb to the street. I had no problems going down a flight of stairs, but there was no way I was climbing back up, not even the two little steps in front of our house. Mike and Heather dragged Heidi’s ramp out of the garage just for me. The tread on the ramp needed a little mending, but I began using it on every trip up. Not down, just up.

To prevent further damage to my leg, Heather put me on what she called “modified bed rest.”  That meant when we went out to the Olympic Peninsula for Heather’s birthday, we didn’t go on any long, up-and-down hikes in the forest, like we usually do. This time I walked only on paved or flat trails like the Olympic Discovery Trail in Sequim. When Heather and Mike hiked to the top of Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park, I stayed in the car. Fine with me, frankly.

Olympic snoozing.

When we got back home, Heather didn’t make me stay in bed all day, but I was not allowed to play ball, not even inside with Wiffie. And I wasn’t allowed to run after squirrels or chase cats, either. Our afternoon walks were shorter, too. And with so much less exercise, I was getting crabbier every day, not to mention gaining weight. I feared the dreaded word “diet” might resurface when Mike came back from his trip east.

This lingering physical malady started to change my personality as well. I got more standoffish and timid around other dogs.  I started sleeping later, whining less, declining to get into bed and take a nap with Heather. I’d rather be alone in my beds in the office or living room. When Mike got back, I let him groom me without trying to get away. If I went downstairs with him to get a biscuit, I refused to go back up on my own. Eventually Heather would relent, come downstairs, pick me up and carry me up stairs, unsure whether my leg was still bothering me or if my reluctance to climb the stairs was all in my head.  When I demanded similar service for the two steps up to her bed, she drew the line. Dammit. As long as she thought I was hurt, I planned to make the most of it, but apparently my jig is up. Heather put Heidi’s ramp back in the garage.

 

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Chloë Has a Red-Letter Day

3-Chloe On Guard

Stealth attack.

The day started off with an unexpected treat. Mike was doing his morning stretches on the living room floor and concentrating intently on counting “one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand,” so I was able to sneak up behind his head and lick his nose for several seconds before he figured out what was going on. Call me the real downward dog.

My day got even better in the early afternoon when Heather took me on a field trip to the Village, where we walked around a little and visited the office of Caroline, my personal financial adviser and sometime hotelier. My portfolio may be down these days, but Caroline always keeps lots of treats in her desk, anyway. I picked up my shares.

UPS Truck

Biscuit delivery

Then, just after Heather and I got home from the Village, what came rolling down our street? A big brown truck and my favorite UPS delivery person, Donna. More treats ensued, even though the delivery was not for us. I must remind Heather to give Donna another big box of biscuits before Christmas to keep priming the pump.

My late-afternoon walk with Heather and Mike was shorter than normal because Heather was hustling us home to greet an expected visitor. I figured it would be Charlie, so I was surprised and thrilled to see it was Lynn, my other pal and favorite dog sitter of all time (that is, most generous with the treats and cuddles). I was so happy to see Lynn that she could barely make it into the house because of my jumping. When she finally managed to sit down on the couch, I leaped onto her lap and showered her with kisses. After my initial excitement subsided,  we had a nice, long cuddle while she was talking to Heather and Mike. It was great to see her again, because nobody understands me and speaks my language like Lynn does. Oh, and she always comes with a whole bag of treats, too. High-quality treats.

3-Sheperd's Pie

Heather’s shepherd’s pie.

I suspected that Mike cut my dinner ration that evening because of the many extra treats I scarfed up all day, but I did not complain. My nose told me Heather had prepared her specialty dish, shepherd’s pie, and I would likely be getting several plates, pots and bowls to lick after their dinner. Yes, it was a red-letter day, morn ’til  night.

 

Chloë Takes a Puppy to School

Mr. Fuzz

I was excited to to return to my mountain getaway in east King County last week. As soon as we exited I-90 and climbed into to the foothills, I knew where we were going, back to the palace of wall-to-wall carpet and lawns galore. It’s my absolutely favorite place to play fetch, 50 or more throws at each session. And I love being the undisputed leader of the pack with Pumpkin, the little dog who lives there, and the mysterious Mr. Fuzz, the bushy cat who mostly stays upstairs when I’m around. They know their place.

Smokey

Unfortunately, sometime after our last visit, Smokey showed up. About 8 months old when we arrived, Smokey is the successor to Tara, the brilliant Aussie who showed me the ropes out here when I was a but a wee pup. Supposedly it was my turn to pass some wisdom on to Smokey, except for one thing: Smokey just didn’t want to listen. Every single time he could, he just wanted to bite me on the ears or stick his nose up my butt, like I was going to smell different every time. Heather yelled, “Leave!” and “No” more than I’ve ever heard them yelled before, even in my own frolicking puppyhood. Heather was worn out after a week of grappling on the other end of a leash with Smokey, a strong and growing boy.

Chloe and Smokey rest on the trail.

Heather said Smokey hadn’t been out much beyond the grounds of his home property. He didn’t know anything about taking a walk, so we taught him how to do it, and we walked on the Preston-Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Valley trails. By the end of our time there, he was getting better at following the pack, although he kept trying to pick up large sticks at the end instead of in the middle, and he turned out to be a serial pooper, meaning he took several long strides between each deposit, so it was hard to know when he was done and harder to find those nuggets when he was. Heather needed a lot of bags. And she also had to teach Smokey about how to ride in the back of the car, although it took a lot of pushing and shoving from Heather and Mike in the front seat to keep him there. On the plus side, since Smokey had to be by himself in the back seat tied to my harness, I finally regained my rightful place in the front seat in Mike’s lap. Good timing, too; in this comfortable spot I could lay my head down, close my eyes, and not think about the twisty roads we were driving on, which make me queasy.

Chloë smugly watches Smokey suffer in Heather’s Boot Camp.

Heather tried valiantly to teach Smokey better manners, but even a week in Heather’s infamous Boot Camp could not make much difference. Hopefully Smokey will grow out of his rambunctiousness and be a nice guy to be around, but at this time he’s still a work in progress. While we were in the house, he mostly had to stay in his exercise pen in the living room, just to keep him out of everyone’s face and give Pumpkin and I some respite from his constant advances. We all felt sorry for Pumpkin, because when no one is around to tell Smokey “no,” he will hound her constantly and drive her into her crate or onto seats of chairs that are pushed in under the dining room table, where she crawls up in her little lair and hopes he doesn’t find her.

Status reclaimed.

Anyway, I missed out on the other Big Excitement of our week at the getaway. I was inside the house with Mike in the middle of the afternoon when Heather took Pumpkin and Smokey outside for some exercise. She threw the ball for Smokey (and he was making some progress on bringing it back!) while Pumpkin ran unleashed in in the horse ring until Heather saw a cougar standing at the edge of the property, on a trail that goes into the state forest land out back. She yanked on Smokey’s leash, called Pumpkin to come and hightailed it with them to the house, while the cougar hightailed it in the opposite direction.

It was a good thing that I didn’t happen to be out there fetching my ball on the back lawn when that big cat appeared. Everyone knows how much I love to chase cats. It could have been good practice for the Bartons’ cats down the street., and no one doubts I would have been deterred by its size.

Chloe on Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Although I missed that opportunity, and sometimes Smokey got to be a bit intimidating, it was a worthwhile time out there. It made Heather appreciate much more just what a good dog I am. And as I always like to say, better him than me.

 

Chloë Gets a Treat on the Road

Lobbying for the front.

Lest any readers think my whole summer vacation was one long bummer, let me confess that I had a great time overall, and that the high points far outweighed the bad. For every gushing wound and terrifying voyage I endured, there were many wonderful wilderness walks and a bevy of ice-cream treats.  I did my share of whining from my perch in the back seat of the car, but I also interacted with strangers, hung out with other dogs and even got to chase a few cats. Although my perpetual quest to regain my rightful place in the front seat was still unsuccessful, I did get to spend all day, every day together with my pack-mates Mike and Heather, which doesn’t particular happen as much when we’re home.

That’s why I like hotels, too. When we stay in a hotel, all three of us are always together in the same room, unless somebody’s taking a shower. I still have to sleep in my create, of course, just like I do at home, but in the morning I can always manage to whine my way onto a mattress (always on a towel, of course). Plus, in a hotel all the people we meet in the lobbies and elevators say how cute and well-behaved I am. Which I am, as long as they don’t try to touch me.

Welcome, Chloë!

The unquestioned highlight of the whole trip was my stay at the Travelodge in Grand Island, Nebraska, on the way home. In the past two summers of driving to the East Coast and back, the nice people at this particular hotel are the only ones who gave me a welcome gift when I checked in. Not free breakfast, strong wi-fi, shampoo and soap, but a welcome gift just for me, the pet to be named later. The best thing we got at any other hotel was a $10 pet fee (only once).

And what a gift the Travelodge provided! Inside a distinctive royal blue bag (that Mike kept as a trash bag for his car) was a smaller plastic bag filled with an array of biscuits (that Mike doled out to me all too slowly). Also in the blue bag was something else that looked like it could be food, but it turned out to be a toy shaped like a Chinese food takeout container. Inside the container were three dumplings, each of them a small, fabric-skinned, squeaky toy. It didn’t take me long to rip open the velcro strip on top of the container, pull out the dumplings and start tossing those them around the hotel room, all while emitting continuous squeals of joy and writhing around on the carpet. I couldn’t have been happier/

Thus my official Trip Advisor review for the Travelodge by Wyndham Grand Island: My best hotel stay ever. Five stars!

Dancing with my dumpling.

Since we returned to Seattle, I have still been carrying my Chinese food container around the house and making Mike throw the little dumplings from the front door all the way into the kitchen, so I can run after them, chase them down and bring them back for more tosses. These once-plush white toys got so dirty that Heather has already washed them once, and then they got dirty all over again. Just the way I like them.

Chloë Survives Her Traumatic Trip Home

Chloe returns to Seattle.

When we finally got back to Seattle, I was so happy I could hardly contain myself. I started squealing as soon as the car crossed Lake Washington. By the time we hit the Magnolia Bridge, I was out of my bed and scratching at the windows to get outside.

I could smell it. Home, home at last.

It’s not that the three of us didn’t have a great time on the way back from Syracuse. Mike and Heather seemed to enjoy themselves, and I had some fun myself (more on that next time). But for me personally, it was just one bummer after another. Nothing quite as catastrophic as gashing my snout in Utah on the trip east, but traumatic nonetheless. Let me elaborate.

Panting on the rail trail.

It started in Canada, where we went to visit Heather’s family and help her brother Robert pack up the house he sold and move to an apartment. The first night we were there, Mike dropped my cherished blue ceramic food bowl, the one my aunt Robin made, the one we left in a bathtub in Illinois Super 8 and rescued. This time the ill-fated bowl shattered into a million pieces. It will be missed; the Walmart purchase that replaced it is just not cutting it, although it has orange and blue on it. It will do until something better comes along.

More bad luck was on the way. One afternoon we went on a long, long walk along a railroad bed trail near Robert’s house. It was really, hot, and, personally, I think we walked too far. Anyway, I must have aggravated an already pulled muscle, and when we got back to the car, I was limping. So Heather ordered me shut me down for a couple of days (which meant no walks except to take care of business).  This was actually OK with me, because it was hot and humid, and I got to spend the days in the shade in front of Robert’s house, hanging out with the guys while they conducted Robert’s garage sale. Quite a cast of characters came up the driveway, believe me. So maybe my pulled muscle wasn’t such a bad thing after all, at least compared to what happened next.

Ferry Pet Kennel

Before heading west, we spent a couple of days with my aunt Robin and her significant other Barry in their downtown Toronto apartment. It’s always scary for me in the Big City, but Toronto’s mean streets were nothing compared to my trip across Lake Michigan. I wasn’t at all concerned when Heather drove me and the car onto a big boat, since I’ve been on Washington State Ferries on many occasions. But on this high-speed ferry across Lake Michigan, dogs weren’t allowed to stay in cars; something about Homeland Security, they said). So when Heather stopped on the car deck, she told me to get out of the car with her. At first I thought this meant I was going to be sitting with her and Mike on the passenger deck, but that didn’t happen. Suddenly other dogs appeared in the area, and then Heather lifted me into a wire crate stacked on top of two others, all occupied by dogs who were none too happy about it. Least of all, me. I looked to Heather for relief, but she just shoved a pillow and a PBB in the crate, closed the door and said, “It’s OK, Chloë, I’ll be back.” What? Are you kidding me? I managed to devour the PBB, but I was still screeching when Heather returned to spring me some three hours later. At that moment, I didn’t know if I could ever trust her again.

Chloë and Heather on the bridge

I managed to get over it in a few days, and Heather started being nicer to me and came to my aid several times after that. In Nebraska National Forest, the sandy soil was rife with sharp, prickly burrs that were murder on my feet, sticking to the pads and between the toes. Several times, Heather and I had to sit down on the side of the trail and pick them out, one by one, until I could walk without pain. She bailed me out again when I balked at walking across a wooden suspension bridge over the Popo Agie River, carrying me across in both directions. The next day, along the Teton River, she chased off a bigger dog we met on a walk who just wouldn’t stop sniffing my butt. He wasn’t mean, but he just refused to go home. Heather finally made me run off with Mike while she had my back and chased away the other dog. I was thankful for that.

Lassie go home.

Our trips last few days in Idaho and Eastern Washington were beautiful but smoky, and I was glad to get home a couple of days later. I couldn’t wait to see my pal Charlie, my favorite UPS driver Donna, my smorgasbord of scraps on the grass outside Discovery Park, my dog pals down the block and pretty much everything else in Seattle except the Bartons’ cats. I know they have been lurking around my house in my absence, and I cannot stand for it. I will track them down.

 

Chloë Chases Cats from Coast to Coast

animal antler big close up

Moose by Photo Collections on Pexels.com

I have encountered many kids on my current trip, and more strangers wanting to pet me and tell Mike and Heather how cute I am than I can count. I’m doing much better in these situations, moving from my usual position of hiding behind Heather’s legs all the way to fleeting tolerance of the intruders. I cannot deny all this attention is nice. And I’ve done pretty well getting along with all the dogs I met on the trip, both the ones I encountered casually on a walk or in a La Quinta (pets stay free) and the ones I’ve spent hours or even days with, such as Logan and Pippa in Washington, D.C., Abby and Nelu in Syracuse, Skippy in Avon and Cleo in Innisfil, Ontario. I even maintained my composure when I crossed paths on our trip with chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds, deer, antelopes, a moose and a porcupine, content to revel in a good whiff of their scents instead of making my normal no-holds-barred dash to the animal. tree or hole in question.

In fact, there is only one kind of person or animal guaranteed to turn me into a whirling banshee in swift pursuit: Cats.

Cleo and Bear

Cleo and Bear chow down at my aunts’ house.

I’ve read that in my hometown of Seattle, dogs outnumber children. Well, in Syracuse, the same must be true for cats. Just in the neighborhood where we stayed, I saw dozens of them on our daily walks to Barry Park or Nottingham High School, and in the cemetery when we walked there. That kind of daily cat contact is hard to avoid and easy to ignore. But three of these neighborhood cats had the audacity to treat the back yard of our temporary house as their own domain. The two that lived next door, the orange Morris and a gray one whose name I never caught, were of course impossible to get rid of. But that third one, a scrawny gray male who might have been feral, he was my enemy. I peed every place I could to show him who’s boss. Once I surprised him while he was lounging in a flower garden, but my howling and Heather’s taut grip on my rope let him get away.

Bear and Cleo in Window

Bear and Cleo watch for intruders.

But my biggest battles came at my aunts’ house. I missed not being right across the street from them, but they gave me a bag of Snausages anyway, so still got excited every time I got to see them. I didn’t so much miss Spanky, their nasty cat who died last fall (R.I.P.), who made wild snarls every time he saw me. Over the winter, aunts Susie and Debby brought home sister kittens Cleo and Bear from a lady in Eastwood who had dozens of cats living in her house (supporting my theory about cats outnumbering children in Syracuse). And as kittens, the gray-striped Cleo and the bushy black Bear, are obviously adorable. Except, of course, for one thing. They will grow up to be cats. And I must wage war on cats, anywhere and everywhere.

So far, I have met only one cat that I get along with, Stan and Laurie’s elegant Dinah. From the get-go, we earned each other’s respect, and as long as I stay away from her food dish, we’re cool. I even get to chew up one of her cat toys now and then.

Bear on Couch

Bear lounges on couch.

But Cleo and Bear, they refuse to stay out of my way, and when I chase them upstairs or chew up one of their toys, I get in trouble. Big trouble, and not with my aunts, but with Heather, the Enforcer. I get slammed into down-stay purgatory, while Cleo and Bear sit in the kitchen bay window or at the top of the stairs and laugh at me. Laughed at, by cats. I cannot abide.

We left Syracuse before I caught either one of those little rascals. They can laugh all they want to now, but like General MacArthur, I shall return. I’ve got to chase that cat out of the sink and continue my private war.

Cleo in sink

Cleo awaits a bath.

Chloë Hits the Water

Chloe Attends Concert in Park-001

Concert on Oneida Lake

I hadn’t even caught up on recounting my adventures on the trip east when we started our way back. There’s just so much ground to cover! So for now I’ll move on to detailing what a fun time I had in Syracuse while we were there.

We stayed in a different house than we did last year, and I liked this one much better, even though it wasn’t across the street from my aunts Susie and Debby. This house had more rugs for lounging and rubbing my back, and four floors for roaming, including a basement and an attic. I wasn’t supposed to go into the basement, but nobody said anything about the attic, so I snooped around up there a lot, even though it was really, really hot. In fact, it was hot everywhere in this house except in the room we all slept in, where it was always a perfect 68 un-humid degrees. We spent a lot of time in that room. Everywhere else in the house was hot and sticky, and Mike and Heather complained about it a lot more than I did.

Manley Water Tower with Heather and Chloe-001

Manley water towers

Even though it was hot and humid, we took many walks in some neat places, although we often went in the morning, when it was a bit cooler. Meadowbrook Basin and Oakwood Cemetery, with their shady trails and steadily increasing squirrel and deer populations, were still my favorites. We only went to the quarry up at Skytop once this year, but we did get to Clark Reservation, where the cliffs are even taller. I climbed all the way to the top of Pulpit Rock that day, and on another day we hiked up to the water towers above Manley Field House, which are now brightly decorated with spray-paint graffiti.

Chloe at Clark Reservation

Pulpit Rock, Clark Reservation State Park

We also hiked along canals, on former rail beds and around lakes, and threw the ball in the fields behind the high school that was a few blocks away from where we were staying. I got to know the neighborhood well, both from observation and from Mike and Heather recalling instances from when they lived there 20 years ago, long before my time.

More importantly, I finally took part in some water activities besides taking a bath (ugh) and diverting rivers by digging their banks (great fun!). Normally, any slight movement in a body of water, such as a lake lapping gently on its shoreline, sends me into a tizzy. But no one had ever taken me on a boat before, and once I got on top of the water instead of next to it, I had a great time.

Brantingham Lake Chloe on Deck

All paws on deck

First I rode on my buddy David’s power boat on Tuscarora Lake when he took people water skiing. I just walked around on the deck of the boat, watching, and nobody suggested I try anything fancy, like dropping a ski or doing flips. I was good with that. And the following weekend I got a ride around the perimeter of Brantingham Lake in the Adirondacks with my pal Juneau George on a party barge. I didn’t see a lot of partying happening on the boat, but it moved so slowly that I was able to put “all paws on deck” and peer over the railing to spy on the partying on shore.

We also visited the Hansens, whose house we stayed in, while they were living in their farmhouse in Madison County. That was definitely the best spot for me. Not only did it have great scents to track and a giant lawn for fetching my ball, but it had a large pond where I could step right in from shore with no waves in sight. This is exactly the kind of water feature we need in our back yard in Seattle. I’m going to start lobbying for that as soon as I get home.

Chloe at Hansen Farm Swimming

Diving for treats in pond