Category Archives: A Dog's Life

Chloë Ramps It Up

Chloë’s newly carpeted ramp.

I have two neighborhood news items to report.

First and foremost is the upgrade Mike gave to my front-door ramp. I have been using the ramp ever since the “bed rest” period I endured last fall, when my back legs were tender and I limped and avoided stairs. I adopted the ramp without hesitation, naturally prancing up and down without a thought of using the steps anymore. Even though it’s only two steps, this will be good practice for the longer, steeper ramps (to Mike’s and Heather’s bed and the car) that will no doubt enter my future.

Plush resurfacing.

However, after another rainy winter of wear and tear, the ramp’s original grainy surface was literally falling to pieces. So with a little online research, Mike and Heather went to Lowe’s and returned with a piece of indoor-outdoor carpet that fit the ramp perfectly and easily glued into place. Mission accomplished! I especially like the two-toned surface and the softer texture beneath my toes that the new carpet provides. Mike did OK, for once.

My other good news on the block was the permanent exit of my frequent feline foil, Fred. Apparently Frederika ruined one too many window and door screens, and recently she left several rabbit and bird carcasses on the welcome mat. Her owners, with help from another neighbor, found a shelter that would take Fred, and she was gone.

One less bell to answer…

Frankly, I  hope Fred never finds her way back here, and that the other black cat who was so enamored of Fred (feelings not reciprocated) won’t be lounging in the ground cover in our neighbors’ gardens anymore. Nobody will miss them, There are enough dogs peeing everywhere around our block to keep the rodents in check, and we can leave the cats and bunnies for the coyotes.


Chloë Reviews Her Positions

Schatzi and Chloë tussle over stock options.

With spring comes my annual strategy session with my personal financial advisor and sometime hotelier, Caroline. As a senior dog well-versed in the intricacies of investing, I’ve been trying to impart some of my seasoned understanding to Caroline’s Schatzi, so I encouraged the young Schatz to tag along with Caroline that morning and attend my session. Mike and Heather were allowed to come, too, but just for backup and in case I needed to take notes.

Naptime on Wall Street.

While Caroline and her associate Rory discussed my investment positions and streamed impressive graphs and tables onto a large TV on the wall, Schatzi and I tussled, sniffed each other’s butts and eventually retired to opposite ends of the conference table for a well-earned nap. And why not? Obviously, no snacks would be falling on the floor during this session. I’ll have to remember to return for the next open house with catered hors d’oeuvres.

When everyone finally got up to leave, Caroline transferred her computer to the floor, so Schatzi and I could take a closer look at the changes and projections for my portfolio in the short- and long-term. Fortunately, I find this financial stuff easier to understand than the NFL salary cap.

Schatzi and Chloë gain valuable financial insight.

It was a productive meeting. Everything Caroline went over reinforced the analysis I had previously imparted to Schatzi: Don’t worry, stay the course. I certainly realize no one is immune from rampant inflation. Believe me, when every visit to the vet costs more than it used to, and a box of  Vita Bones  at Fred Meyer zooms from $2.39 to $4.29, I hear about it!

I resist panicking, however. I advised Schatzi to adhere to one of Warren Buffett’s favorite theories: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Schatzi seemed to grasp the concept.

Chloë Gets Auntsy

Backseat drivers.

The recent visit of my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby was wonderful. They immediately picked up my cues on where my downstairs treats are located, and it had been years since I got this much constant attention. The best part was having company in the back seat of Heather’s car whenever we drove somewhere. Rather than my recent hesitancy about getting into the car and regular whining while in it, there was zero whining when I had my choice of two laps to lie on. Maybe they can come along with us when we drive across Canada to Syracuse this summer.

Pausing at Kubota Garden.

We took Susie and Debby on walks at Shilshole Marina, the Washington Park Arboretum, the Centennial Park trail past the grain elevator, Kubota Garden and around our Magnolia neighborhood to check out all the blooming rhododendrons. One evening my pals Caroline and Schatzi came over for dinner, but that was the extent of the partying. Other than that, the weather was cold and it rained a lot, so everybody did a lot of sitting around in the living room, talking and watching movies or slide shows of old family photos. Everybody in my pack was in one room, just the way I like it. That was my idea of a perfect vacation. I hope my aunts felt the same.

Chloë welcomes Susie and Debby to Seattle.


Chloë Finds a New Neighborhood Landmark

Resting before dinner.

It has been a cold and rainy spring. Flannel sheets still adorn Mike and Heather’s bed, and I have been taking full advantage of that warmth when I burrow in next to Heather every morning while Mike exercises. I am definitely getting the better of that deal.

My dachshund pal  Schatzi was over here a lot, since her kitchen is being renovated. Schatzi can’t be trusted over there because she tried to rip down plastic sheathing that the contractor had installed. This week Schatzi and Caroline moved into an Air B’n’B in Magnolia while the kitchen’s being finished. Schatzi gets her own built-in feeding station in the remodel. I can’t wait to try it out!

Fetching at the water tower.

Heather, Mike and I have been doing a lot of walking around the neighborhood instead of into the park. That way I can take advantage of lying prone in all the lush lawns, and Mike and Heather can admire the landscaping and the bountiful rhododendrons blooming everywhere. On some days we wind up by the water tower, usually another favorite location for ball-throwing and retrieving. but I wasn’t too interested in throwing the ball there recently; too many distractions.

Free treats? Sign me up!

Anyway, one day on our way home, we passed something much more interesting than my ball: A homeowner had installed one of those Free Library kiosks near his sidewalk, except instead of books this station dispensed free dog biscuits. I marked the spot in my mental GPS,  so I can return frequently.

Aunts Susie and Debby are coming this week, our first overnight guests since the last time Juneau George and Debbie stayed here pre-pandemic. It will be good to have family around again, although I’ll have to train them about where the downstairs treats are kept. I hope my training methods are still as sharp after the long layoff.

Chloë Takes a Hike

Fit as a fiddle.

My annual physical confirmed what I already knew: The doctor confirmed my weight held steady at 21 pounds (the most important thing!), my teeth looked great, and none of my lumps were dangerous. But Dr. Kimmel, my personal physician, also detected for the first time a slight murmur in my heartbeat, which she said was not a concern right now but a possible red flag for the future. She recommended further testing with canine cardiology experts, the nearest one in Tacoma. Unfortunately, the earliest appointment I could get is in October. There must be a lot of these canine cardiology concerns going around.

In the meantime, nothing much is going to change in my behavior or my life before the exam, unless I start to slow down noticeably or start coughing during or after vigorous exercise. Whining doesn’t seem to count, or I’d have been shut down long ago.

Middle Fork Snoqualmie River in early April.

With the weather warming up a bit, one Saturday we drove to the foothills and took an early-spring hike on the new Oxbow Loop Trail trail along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. While this is only 40 miles from Seattle, it was far enough into the wilderness that there was no cell phone service, which is wilderness enough for us.

Current events.

River walks are my favorite. While any puddle large enough to generate a ripple scares the bejesus out of me, rivers are my friends, no matter how fast the current may be roaring by. Excavating mud and moving stones along a river bed is one of my favorite sports.

On this trip, I investigated the Middle Fork closely in several spots until the trail veered away from the riverbed and into the moss-covered forest surrounding Oxbow Lake, which was once part of the river.. Plenty of good smells out there in early spring, but it was also a lot of up-and-down walking, so I was pooped by the time we got back to the parking lot. Heather kept me moving along at a good clip.

Keeping up the pace.

Resting after a walk in the woods.

Luckily, there was a bench nearby where I was able to relax and unwind a bit before the drive back home. Right after receiving my “look forward to getting in the car” treat from Mike, I snuggled up in my bed in the back seat. I slept all the way back to Magnolia with nary a cough or whine.

Chloë Trades Vacations

Chloë and Schatzi ready to walk.

I am strongly pack-oriented. Whenever my pack is not all together, preferably in the same room, I am on edge. So in that respect, the pandemic has been good for me, since until recently my pack had not missed a single night together since early March 2019. That’s a long time. even for me. When on a Sunday morning, Heather and Mike hustled me and all my gear into the car and deposited me at Schatzi‘s house, I was ready for a vacation.

Pre-dinner snooze in the library.

Just the week before, my pal Schatzi spent several days at our house. I therefore deduced that our respective owners have finally shed their travel fears and are sticking their toes in warmer waters, leaving us behind. For me, having Schatzi around is like a vacation, since she’s always the one drawing Heather’s scolding while I get a temporary free pass. Schatzi celebrated her third birthday while she was with us, with Caroline leaving her special birthday presents but no cake or burgers. Schatzi can still get in my face more than I would like her to, but at least she’s smart enough to back off when I tell her.

Scattering of Schatzi’s toys.

As soon as I got on Schatzi’s turf, I searched for and recovered the squeaky bone toy from her birthday gift, which I had commandeered and since missed every second since she took it home with her (the nerve!). But I didn’t stop there, eventually scattering and discarding most of Schatzi’s largely ignored menagerie all over Caroline’s living room. That was fun!

Fetch in back yard.

During my stay we also played ball in Schatzi’s fenced-in back yard. That is, Caroline threw the ball, I chased the ball, and Schatzi chased me. Schatzi has yet to comprehend the “pick up the ball and bring it back” part of the game. But I did enjoy the freedom of a fenced yard and a lawn. We have neither at our house.

Slumber party at Schatzi’s house.

While long overdue, my vacation was low-key. Mostly I laid around with Schatzi, trading beds every once in a while, going out for walks together and sometimes with Marley from across the street, but mostly sleeping and waiting for Mike and Heather to get back from wherever they went (they claimed to have sent me a postcard, but if they did, it arrived at Schatzi’s house after I came home). Rather than feel ignored, however, I went absolutely nuts, with at least 10 minutes of jumping and squealing, when they walked through the door. My pack was back.

Chloë Corrals Her Balls

Chloë’s new Roller.

After I received a new Kong Roller and a Big Mean Kitty as gifts for my birthday, something had to give. My attention to specific old toys normally wanes when new ones arrive, but with the recent gifts joining two Wiffies (the traditional white Wiffie and the newer, multi-holed yellow Wiffie, which is actually a pickleball that I found one day in the park) plus the two small orange rubber balls, I suddenly had too many choices. Sometimes I played with two or more simultaneously, inevitably leaving them strewn all over the first floor in places where foot-dropped, careless Mike could easily trip over them. When he inadvertently  stepped on one of the small orange balls, lurched forward and strained his already injured shoulder, Heather had seen enough.

While all the tug toys and squeaky toys and fetch toys come and go, chasing balls, inside as well as outside, has never wavered as my favorite sport. Therefore Heather couldn’t jut take away my balls, never to be seen again. The spirited  game of throw nd fetch that she and I play every morning bas become one of the highlights of our day. I especially like the part when I push the ball under a chair or cabinet and bark at it.

The Wiffie Corral at current capacity.

Instead of hiding them, Heather rounded up all the balls and herded them into a small area at the foot of the fireplace (which never gets used) and behind the couch (which rarely gets sat on). This was a stroke of absolute genius! The balls were at once accessible and yet relatively hidden away. Once the Wiffie Corral was officially designated, any errant balls I might leave behind were re-routed back to their barn. Within a day or two, I understood where to find them, and soon enough Mike and Heather were adequately trained to look for balls anywhere on the floor and put them there. And this is how it should be! As ol’ Ben Franklin said, “A place for everything, everything in its place.”

With the Wiffie Corral firmly established, my morning romp with Heather continued unabated.

Unfortunately, Heather and Mike still get aggravated whenever I push a ball under a chair or other piece of furniture and bark at it until someone  gets on hands and knees to reach underneath and retrieve it for me. It is what it is. As Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” 

Chloë Sees the Lions

Ballard Lions Club.

For most of February, the wintry weather, along with  Heather’s busy work schedule, has kept our afternoon walks close to home. We went to Carkeek Park a couple of times, and once in a while to Magnolia Village or the library, the grocery store , the Mount Rainier viewpoint on Magnolia Boulevard, or the maybe the Ballard Locks. That’s about it. So I was surprised on a sunny Sunday afternoon when we got in Heather’s car, drove to the locks, parked and started walking from the parking lot, along the canal and right across to Ballard over the spillway and the locks.

Retreating from the lions’ den.

I’ve been across those narrow walkways of the locks before, and in the past the crowded aisles made me nervous. In winter, however, crossing the locks wasn’t congested, and I hustled across without incident. We marched right through the botanical garden on the Ballard side and onto the Burke-Gilman Trail, where we had to dodge runners and cyclists for about 20 minutes. I figured we were headed further north to the Shilshole Bay Marina or even Golden Gardens Park, places we’ve walked before. But this time we turned off the sidewalk into the parking lot of the popular seafood restaurant Ray’s Boathouse, which seemed to be closed at the time. We walked all the way out onto the adjoining wharf, where we were finally able to see the perpetrators of the incessant honking that we hear every afternoon of late when we walk in Discovery Park, just across the canal in Magnolia. Ten or more sea lions were unleashing a constant symphony, singly and in groups of twos and threes, never stopping and louder than a visiting Schatzi when the mail carrier delivers to our house.

This article and video from the Seattle Times gives you all you need to know about these California sea lions. This particular herd of the migrating species showed up at the mouth of the canal in December, and they were still hanging out and barking loudly as the calendar turned to March. Apparently they like this pier just fine. For most Magnolians living south of Discovery Park, hearing those husky honks every afternoon provides an amusing diversion. For people who live or work near the canal, however, its their personal March Madness. We can sympathize.

Nervous at the locks.

While it was nice to walk someplace different for a change, while walking back south toward the locks I realized that I still had to traverse the canal again to get back to the car. Things went smoothly on the return trip until Heather decided to stop between the locks to watch a couple of pleasure boats locking through. This imprisoned me to linger on the narrow walkway between the two locks, which left me much too much time to discover water rushing below and on both sides of me. Although this made me queasy, I was trapped on this thin island until the lock filled, allowing the boats to progress to Puget Sound level and the bar across the walkway to lift. When that finally happened, I trotted over the closed lock and the noisy spillway to the Magnolia side in record time. I had enough excitement for one afternoon.

Chloë Enjoys Belated Gifts

Mmm, good!

My birthday celebration may have lacked fireworks at the start, but thanks mainly to my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby, the festivities just rolled on! Two separate boxes arrived from my favorite online retailer, one containing another selection of fabulous treats (Rachael Ray Nutrish Burger Bites no less, along with two bags of another new flavor of Charlee Bears!) and the other some excellent new toys to toss around. I am going to have to be super-nice to them when they come to visit in the spring. I’m already on the lookout for spiders, ladies, so nothing to worry about!

Getting crowded in here.

One of my new toys is called Big Mean Kitty, and he is so big that I can’t get my mouth around his body. That’s OK, though because he has a head, four legs and a tail that are always available to latch onto to tug and toss  him around. The only problem with the Big Mean Kitty is that he’s so big that he’s hogging the bed for me an J.P., my new toy from Christmas. Big Mean Kitty may not be hanging out in our bed for long if J.P. complains.

Chloë’s new Roller.

My other new toy is something new, the Chuckit! Indoor Roller. It’s supposed to be for “active play that’s gentle on your home.” We’ll have to see how that second part works out. While its doughnut shape is meant for rolling on the floor, not being thrown in the air, any errant toss or bad bounce could easily divert the Roller into breaking-glass territory, since it weighs a lot more than a Krispy Kreme. Anyway, I liked the Roller immediately, and it has already moved into regular rotation on my indoor recreational activity. Just watch what I can do with it, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed!



Chloë Turns 12

Still smiling at 12 years old.

My 12th birthday passed with little fanfare or celebration. There was talk of a trip to Dick’s, Seattle’s homegrown hamburger stand, but that’s all it was….talk. We did take a trip to my favorite stream and “the rock” in Carkeek Park, two of my favorite fetch locations, and I got a boatload of extra treats over a two-day period, including a rare opportunity to chew on a stewed oxtail bone until I gnarled it into a mere figment of its former self. Yum.

Of course, there was a price to pay for my ingestion of all those treats. On three occasions I had to poop so badly that I just let loose on a sidewalk. Even worse, one of these came right in front of a restaurant in Magnolia Village (I won’t tell which one). Heather was mortified when that happened and spent time trying to clean up all trace. Mike, speeding ahead toward his next stop at the bank, was oblivious, as usual. This year, in fact, old Mike couldn’t remember exactly what day my birthday is, or even how old I am. For months he told everyone who asked that I was approaching my 13th birthday. not my 12th.  I feel a whole year younger already.

Citizen Chloë.

Anyway, I think I’m doing pretty good for an old broad. Just a few gray hairs, a couple of warts here and there, a few less throws per fetch session before I decide to pack it in. True, I’m not jumping as high, or as often, as I used to.  I usually let Heather or Mike lift me up into my camp chair or into their bed without protest. But just the other day, I leaped into my chair unprompted; well, somewhat prompted by the promise of cheese when I got there. Yes, I can still move along pretty well when food is involved.

Besides, if I should ever get too tired or infirm, I’ve always got Heather (Codename: Sherpa) to carry me. We had a trial run last week, using a canvas bag that my old pal Charlie gave them back in the days before I was born and newspaper promotions were common. Ah, those were the days! Or so I’m told.