Category Archives: A Dog's Life

Chloë Tries a New Field

Resting with Heather between innings.

As my regular readers know well, I am a creature of habit. I like my routines. All of them.

And yet, one recent morning Heather tried to vary my routine. When we go out around 10 a.m., we’re going out to do my business, take a few sniffs around the smorgasbord by the park entrance and hurry home to get a Frozen PBB, the ultimate treat of the day. On this beautiful spring day, however, Heather wanted to look at the Olympic Mountains, and I followed reluctantly as far as the park chapel. She took in the view, I planted my feet, and we thankfully went no further. As soon as she moved an inch in a homeward direction, she had no trouble getting me to hasten down the wind to the waiting PBB. I have a schedule to maintain, after all.

Playing fetch near the stables with Heather and Charlie.

Something else is new. We have a regular circuit for playing fetch, as we need places that feature light foot traffic and limited distractions, such as rabbit holes and birds. Besides our home turf of Chloë’s Lane, we use the trail outside Capehart, the park road below the 500 area, the cemetery, the Fort Lawton flagpole and a few other locations. The list is actually longer than I thought it would be, and it’s nowhere near complete. If you’re a dog looking for open spaces, living near a 550-acre park has its advantages.

Heather is trying to usher in a new site, a field north of the Quartermaster’s Stable. It used to be a lot more overgrown than it is now, so we decided to try it out. First Mike and Heather tried throwing the ball against the side of one of the barns, but they were afraid that could damage the building, so they reversed field and started to throw away from the barn, toward the grassy area below it.

Fetch in the South Meadow.

The grass there is not as high as it is in the South Meadow, and thus far is not pockmarked with rabbit holes, making it good for fetch. On the other hand, there is a bit of low-lying blackberry stalks, as I unfortunately discovered while chasing a throw the other day. And distractions galore: In this field, I can see every movement outside the restored housing to the east, every car and truck passing on their way to or from the lighthouse and wastewater plant at the end of the road, every bird watching from a tree branch or plume of tall grass. More foot traffic than expected as well: Last week two golden retrievers swooped in at different times to overturn my water bowl and beg for my treats.

We took my pal Charlie there last Sunday, and I could tell he was not all that impressed with the new site. But that’s Charlie, who is rarely impressed with anything. Personally, I’m willing to give the horse barn site more looks this spring, as long as it doesn’t replace my required time on Chloë’s Lane. After all, Heather, Mike and I have to resume our war on Sticky Willy, the obnoxious weed that blankets the forest floor, crawls up the canopy of trees, sticks to my fur and is hard to get off. On Chloë’s Lane,  we have been trying to head it off,  but Willy is gaining, and it’s just the middle of May. This in one battle I don’t think we’re going to win, even if we upset my routines to get it done.

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Chloë Welcomes Spring

Tiptoe through Heather’s tulips.

After a long, cold, wet winter, I am really digging the warmer spring weather that finally got here.  Last week I enjoyed several longer walks with a lot of spirited fetching mixed in, punctuated by frequent stops to sample the unbeatable salad bar offerings in the South Meadow. And I could really tell that spring had sprung when all of Heather’s new tulips burst open  at the same time as the azaleas in the front yard. Heather has received many well-deserved compliments.

Ron and Cathy on a previous visit.

During our first hot spell my Alaska pals Ron and Cathy visited for a few days on their way back to Juneau. By now I have them so well-trained that I don’t even have to remind them where the downstairs treat container is. They just know. I made sure to spend a lot of time downstairs while they were here.

The Sunday after they left, Mike and Heather took me on a walk with my pal Charlie at Carkeek Park, where I have a few special places for fetch that are second only to my personal trail in Discovery Park. Unfortunately, all my favorite spots were in use when we arrived at them. Along the trail to the salmon-raising area, instead of throwing the ball I was forced to listen to a knowledgeable volunteer explain the salmon-rearing process. Heather actually fed the salmon fry right in front of me while I sat there, eyeing all the fish and starving.

Lounging in Piper’s Orchard.

Later, still brimming with my unreleased springtime energy, I dragged Charlie, Mike and Heather up and down some of the steepest trails in the park before enjoying a brief respite in the blooming fruit tree orchard another quarter-mile further up Piper’s Creek. Mike made a couple of half-hearted throws for me before deciding the tall, unmowed grass could eat my ball at any moment. Can’t say I could disagree. Anyway, we had a great walk that afternoon, and before I went back to the car Mike served me dinner al fresco, a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Chloë Goes Underground

Spring mix

Spring is my favorite season in the South Meadow of Discovery Park.  There’s lots of sweet-tasting grass on the salad bar and plenty of small critters darting about, birds as well as vermin. I love it when Heather drops my leash and sets me free to hop around the tall grasses and between the bunny holes. When there are no other people or dogs around, Heather will even  throw the ball for me for a while.

Fetch in the meadow

Hole in one

But one day the ball bounced far off the trail into a field pock-marked with holes. I did take off after it, but only until a more exciting scent came along.  Still, when Heather kept yelling at me to “bring it,” I did find the ball, but it was stuck in a hole, about three inches below grass level. That’s what I kept trying to tell Heather, but she wasn’t interested in listening to me, and she wasn’t leaving until I found that damn ball. She was a bit outta control, frankly. I finally got Mike to carefully inspect the right area, and in a cluster of three holes that were close to one another, he finally found the ball wedged inside the third one he looked into. Way to go, Mike.

For me, it was peaches and cream. It should be a while before Heather dares to deride my tracking prowess again.

A defiant Chloë and her ball: Look out below.

 

Chloë Expands Sculpture Collection

Chloë’s outdoor sculpture park

My interest in art has been well documented in many previous  posts, and I have high standards. When I noticed one of the items in my outdoor sculpture park, the wind spinner, was getting faded and tattered, I sent Mike to the Internet to find a suitable replacement. Lo and behold, Mike came through. Even Heather was pleasantly surprised that Mike didn’t select the cheapest one he could find. He got quality, at least at the outset.

Tiptoe through the tulips.

We installed the new dachshund whirlygig without ceremony, bumping its patched-up predecessor to the back yard, where the cats hang out. The new one is much cooler. It’s a lot bigger, and with every shift of wind it spins in two directions–legs  in one direction while the whole body spins in another . From some angles, it actually looks like it has taken full flight over the potted plant.

A mighty leap

What really won my admiration is how the sculptor captured  the way a dachshund’s ears flap up while in full stride. Something like this.

Chloë in full fetch mode.

Chloë Weighs In

Chloë gets physical.

I had my annual physical with my personal physician last week, and the results were both good and bad. Good news first: I am finally getting some medicines to control my two recurring maladies, ear infection (left ear worse) and skin rash. Dr. Kimmel prescribed antibiotic pills, gook for my ears, shampoo for my skin, the whole works. Hopefully this will get rid of this once and for all. If not, well, at least Heather gives me extra cheese treats after every treatment, so it’s not all bad.

Speaking of food, I got even better news from Dr. Kimmel. After I weighed in at a mere 16.95 pounds, well below my target weight of 18.5, which is exactly what I weighed a year ago. That means what Heather, Caroline, Charlie, Lynn and other people who really care about me have been saying for months was true: I am too skinny!!! That mean Mike is starving me, and Dr. Kimmel had the perfect prescription for that: “Bring Chloë’s morning meal to 3/4 cup while she is active to help maintain her weight.” It’s written right there in black and white under “Notes to Owner.” Got that, Mike?

Dining festival on tap.

So I’m going to get more food! When I heard that, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

So  after all that good news, what could be so bad? Well, after eight straight years of praising my exemplary dental hygiene, Dr. Kimmel discovered something no amount of brushing could have prevented: I chipped a tooth. (I can’t imagine how that happened! A bone? A stick? A plastic food container?) Unfortunately, this upper molar is one of the most important ones for chewing, which I’m planning to do a lot more of since my rations have increased. I’m going to need that tooth in the future, too, anticipating lots of joyful gnawing to come. I wouldn’t want to be without one of my major tools.

Being careful with chipped tooth.

The chipped tooth surprised Mike, whose attentiveness to my dental hygiene has impressed my doctor at every previous checkup. In his defense, the tooth was too far in the back of my mouth for him to see it, and if the exposed area was the source of  any pain, I wasn’t showing it.  Apparently dogs don’t complain about pain, facing it stoically to avoid showing weakness to predators and the rest of their pack. I’m not sure this veterinary truism applies to me, however, since I squeal like crazy if someone steps on my tail, I complain about almost everything and I whine every time I don’t get my way. It’s always easy to know where I stand.

Anyway, since the interior of the chipped tooth is exposed and possibly infected, treatment is required. The question was whether to try to save the tooth by doing a root canal operation and perhaps putting a cap on it later, or to extract it. The extraction, while less expensive, is more dangerous, as it could lead to bone loss in my jaw if the tooth’s roots are deep. Mike and Heather decided the root canal was the clear choice, so in a couple of weeks we’ll meet my doggie dentist and schedule the procedure. I foresee a lot of cheese after this one.

Please, sir, I want some more!

Meanwhile, I’m not having any trouble scarfing down the humongous bowls of food Mike is plopping down in front of me twice a day in an attempt to put some weight on this frail body of mine. I predict, however, that as soon as I get back to my target weight, Mike will cut back on this current largess, so I’ve got to enjoy every one of these lumberjack meals to the fullest. So far I seem to be doing a good job of it, judging from the changes in my daily bodily functions. Ironically, at the same time the size of the poop bags is shrinking, the frequency and size of my poop is expanding. Something’s got to give.

 

 

Chloë Has a Ball

Throwing on Chloë’s Lane.

Why, I ask, is every lost ball my fault? Not once have I tossed a ball that went missing. OK, I admit I’ve dropped a few in the woods when something better came along, but other than that, in my view, Mike and Heather deserve the blame. They threw it, so they are responsible for losing it. End of story.

No longer as frequent a story as it once was, however.  The purple-and-white Visi-Balls I learned on are hard and yet springy, and they take crazy bounces. I’ve lost count of how many we lost in my younger days. When Mike plotted them on a map of Discovery Park, there were a lot of Xs on that paper, and that doesn’t count the ones lost in the creek at Carkeek Park, the blackberry thickets along Magnolia Boulevard and many other far-flung locations. Those balls are not coming back. But since we switched to the Chuckit Whistler balls, we hardly ever lose them. Either my senses have vastly improved with age, or these newer balls, with their softer texture and deep indentations, hold a scent better, making them easier to find. Guess that Ahimsa scent-training class paid off after all!

The new-old ball

I hadn’t used one of the purple-and-white balls in quite a while when I stumbled upon one in the woods along Chloë’s Lane while I was fetching another ball to bring back to Heather. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding stuff that lies on the ground, especially if it reeks of questionable digestibility,  but finding this particular ball made me especially proud, even though it wasn’t anything I could eat. I was so happy with my discovery that I carried triumphantly it all the way home and proudly presented it to Mike as soon as  I got through the door. Then I took it onto the living room rug and rubbed myself on it for about 10 minutes, getting its scent all over me, just in case Heather decided to break out the OxiClean to buff it up. Since we haven’t been throwing with this kind of ball for some time, Mike estimated it might have been there for a couple of years. What a find this was! For a few days, I couldn’t let it out of my sight.

Chloe cradles cherished ball.

 

Heather hasn’t cleaned my new-old ball yet, but it seemed a little shinier after I strutted  around the house with it in my mouth for a few days. So far, Mike let me keep it, and he even rolled it along the floor of the living room and kitchen, like he does with Wiffie, but I have a feeling this game will end as soon as we break something, most likely the glass doors on the dining room cabinets. Which could be any day now, come to think of it. Better enjoy this while it lasts.

Chloë Laments the Decline of the Newspaper

A pile o’ bags.

Sorry, this is not fake news.

Long before I knew him, my guy Mike was a newspaper guy. All the way back to the days he was in elementary school, Mike worked on newspapers, at least he did before he came to Seattle. Me, I haven’t had much use for newspapers since my house-breaking stage. Even that didn’t take long, as I recall it some 60 dog years later (although I sometimes tend to glorify my puppy prowess a bit).

But even I have noticed that newspapers are shrinking. While Mike notices newspapers have fewer pages, fewer writers and fewer editors, and make more mistakes, what I noticed as this shrinkage progressed was that the plastic bags that the papers arrive in have gotten progressively smaller.  This affects me because those newspaper bags enjoy a second life as conveyors of my poop, safely enclosing and transporting it from ground to garbage can or other approved receptacle. Mike and Heather always use newspaper bags for this purpose, so when Mike realized he could barely get his hand inside a recent bag arrival, we decided to conduct research. Let me lay it out for you!

Current and former Seattle Times bags, above the Sunday bag.

No room to move.

We tested Seattle Times bags from 2017 and current editions. The bag color has changed, making it easy to tell the various iterations apart. All the bags measured 21 1/2 inches long, but the width varied. The off-white Sunday bags (lowest in the photo above) held steady at 8 inches wide, but the older green bags for the daily paper were 7 inches wide, and the current orange bags (love the color, which almost matches my collar!) measures a measly 5 3/4 inches wide. That’s barely wide enough space to fit Mike’s hand in, and he’s got dainty little mitts! He complains that the current bags are barely big enough to pick up a couple of my Tootsie Roll-size nuggets and leave enough plastic to tie them closed. And nobody wants to get stuck using two bags for one deposit.

Sadly, those bigger newspapers are not coming back, and if the papers shrink much further, Mike might have to start using the billowy bags from the supermarket produce section, a decidedly less attractive alternative. But as long as the newspaper bags remain viable, , I thought it would be a good time to review Mike’s preferred method for creating poop bags out of the newspaper wrapping. Start by smoothing the bag on a flat surface to get full expansion. Then pick it up and tie a simple knot, right in the middle. Then use a scissor to  cut the bag just below the knot, creating two smaller bags that are closed at one end and open at the other.

Having a hard time figuring it out? Check out the photos.

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Before signing off, I’d like to throw a bone to Amazon honcho Jeff Bezos…his Washington Post is holding steady with the 7-inch bag, biodegradable to boot. Maybe he’ll find some spare change in his couch and buy a few more newspapers.