Category Archives: A Dog's Life

Chloë Goes on “Bed Rest”

Therapeutic massage.

Turned out all that slow walking I was doing the past couple of months might have been more than my natural dachshund stubbornness. Heather and Mike increasingly observed my back legs shaking when I was standing still, and sometimes limping during and after a rousing game of fetch. When Schatzi stayed at my house back in August, my discomfort boiled over. I tried to ignore her, but I had to nip at her a few times to let her know in no uncertain terms there would be no unbridled wrassling on this particular visit. I needed to take it easy.

Bed rest.

Heather called the veterinary  about an examination, but since my personal physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel, was not available until the middle of September, Heather put me on “bed rest” for a five days. That meant no hijinks with Schatzi, no chasing my ball, no knocking Wiffie under the furniture, no tug of war with Lamby, no jumping in or out of my camp chair, no going downstairs and, most importantly, no long walks. Every day, just a few brief excursions outside for a pee and a 10-minute (tops) afternoon stroll just to get some fresh air and take care of business. When I finally saw Dr. Kimmel, she endorsed Heather’s prescription and extended it for another month. If this were baseball, that’s like being moved from the 10-day to 60-day IL (injured list). That’s a long time.

Rest in another bed.

Despite my relative lack of activity, so far my treatment hasn’t included special hospital rations – that is, portion reduction in my meals or snacks. Heather has been holding steady in that department, thankfully, although I will approach my next weigh-in at the vet with some trepidation. Other aspects of the plan aren’t so bad. For instance, since I’m not allowed to go downstairs, Heather moved my downstairs crate into the living room, so I can still get inside it for my morning biscuit. I immediately liked running up and down the short ramp they put over the steps by the front door. And, while I have missed the long walks and especially playing fetch, I do have to admit that these short afternoon walks are surprisingly to my liking. Every day, I have been prancing along enthusiastically, eliciting many smiles and comments on my gait from admiring passersby, and more-than-happy to be getting home for dinner that much quicker.

Wiffie under-furniture baffles in storage.

Rest and medication seem to be working, too. Heather noted just yesterday that I am showing more energy and more power in my stride. Sometimes I forget that I’m supposed to be taking it easy, and I jump out of a chair to the floor without help or coax Mike into having a brief tug  of war with me and Lamby. Heather has kept a watchful eye on me, and she scolds us before things can get out of hand, shutting me down but deflecting the responsibility: “No throwing!” she yells. “Dr. Kimmel says NO!” Doctor’s orders! End of story.

Chloë Walks Behind

Walkabout.

I just don’t like anyone or anything walking behind me. Makes me nervous. I slow down, slink to the side of the trail, plop on the ground, avert my eyes from whatever’s sneaking up on me. I don’t like surprises. I let them pass, and then I’ll start walking again. That’s just the way I am.

While this has always been among my idiosyncrasies, during the recent stays of my house guests Willy and Schatzi, this reaction became more frequent. That’s because whenever I go for a walk with another dog, I can’t be the one leading the way. If I did, there would be someone behind me. And I couldn’t tolerate that.

Schatzi gets groomed during her recent spa visit.

So when Mike was holding my leash, Heather walked ahead with Willy or Schatzi. Those younger dogs are faster walkers than I am, anyway. Since neither Mike nor I walk very fast these days, Heather and the other dog sometimes got too far ahead, so I couldn’t see them. I didn’t like that, either.

After first Willy and then Schatzi left our house, we reverted to our walking ways since last September, when Mike had back surgery and ceded the leash and other care responsibilities to Heather while he was rehabbing, which must still be in progress, since Heather has shown no signs of relinquishing the reins.

Staying ahead of the curve.

As far as our daily walks go, that means Heather leashing me to her belt with a carabiner and dragging me along at the speed she desires, not the slowpoke pace Mike lets me get away with. Thus she and I usually walk a good 25 yards ahead of Mike, still clicking along valiantly with his trekking poles. That’s enough distance that I can accept Mike walking behind me. But I wouldn’t want him to get any closer.

Chloë Aids a Friend

Scott and Mike (top row) with Willy and Chloë.

I have been getting an inordinate amount of compliments from strangers on my walks lately. People saying how “cute” I am is (of course!), the most common, but it’s hardly the only one. Many people admire my joyful walk (although they don’t see me when I’m dragging my ass along or flopping entirely). Last week, an Asian woman started making funny faces and waving at me from 15 feet away, and continued  to turn around and do 15 feet past. Then a runner stopped to ask what breed I  was and said I reminded him of a wolf.  A fox, maybe. But a wolf?

I attribute all this notoriety to having walked in tandem for the past two weeks with Willy, a small, pudgy, scruffy-looking dog of terrier and other indeterminate breeds. In comparison, I must have looked good.

Willy

Willy came to stay with us when my good friend Scott, who I’ve known since my own puppyhood, died suddenly. In fact, I think me sitting beside Scott on our couch during Syracuse football games was part of the reason Scott adopted Willy last summer. He wanted a dog of his own to cuddle with, and Willy likes to be petted, even more than eating. That priority is far from the only thing Willy and I don’t have in common.

Walking the dogs.

But I went out of my way to be nice to Willy while he was here. He arrived the day Scott died, along with Scott’s niece Caitlin, who lived with them. Caitlin stayed with us about a week and then flew back east for the funeral, leaving Willy at our house. We all took good care of Willy while she was away, especially Heather, who was looking out for him 24 hours a day. The first night Caitlin was gone, Willy still wanted to sleep downstairs by the bed she had been using, but Heather left the lights on for him, just in case he wanted to come upstairs to sleep. By the second night, he did, and his bed stayed right below Heather’s the whole time.

Willy on the trail.

Even though Willy disrupted my routine and horned in on Heather’s affection, I never got snippy with him. We didn’t really pal around like I do with Schatzi, though. There was no wrestling or running after balls together. Mostly I just left him alone and let him do what he wanted (be next to Heather). I even left his food alone, except one day when I scarfed up a rawhide chewy he had walked away from. Mike and Heather had to corner me  by the fireplace to get it back. What ever happened to finder’s keepers?

Willy’s bed was next to Heather’s.

Caitlin and her mother (Scott’s sister) picked up Willy a couple of nights ago on the way back to Scott’s house in Snohomish to pack and get it ready to sell. Eventually they will drive back to Virginia, where Willy will be the second dog in the house again, but much better off to deal with another new environment after two weeks of boot camp with Heather. She didn’t love him to death like Caitlin does, but she pay him lots of attention, groomed him, took him on lots of long walks (sometimes we went 75 minutes or more) and let him sleep wherever he wanted, including on the couch and even under their bed. I survived. As long as Willy stayed out of their bed, he could sleep wherever he wanted. That bed is my spot, and I’m still top dog around here.

 

Chloë Gets High

Along the Mount Baker Highway,

You saw the headline, and I know what you were probably thinking: Nasty Mike blew smoke from some of that wacky tabacky stuff  up my ultra-sensitive nose and I started hallucinating. But you would be wrong about that!

No, the headline refers to our first real road trip since we returned from Syracuse in September 2019. This was only three days, but when Heather was driving she kept telling me this trip was practice for another possible trip to Syracuse, that wonderful place where there’s air conditioning throughout the house and nice people dote on me 24/7. Well, we’re not there yet, and Heather’s message to me was clear: Keep up that whining from the back seat and you won’t be coming with us. She sounded like she meant business, too. I whined nonetheless.

Snow patch in Heather Meadows.

We stayed on Birch Bay, northwest of Bellingham and within sight of the Canadian border, which we are still not allowed to cross. This bay of Puget Sound is at sea level, more or less, lapping up on its pebbly beach just enough to scare me away (I don’t like waves). So it was not my ideal location.  But after breakfast, we got back into Heather’s car and started to climb, from farmland through the foothills and eventually to the Mount Baker Highway and the North Cascades. Because of road conditions, we couldn’t drive all the way to end, but we all got pretty high, all the way to the appropriately named Heather Meadows Visitor Center at 4400 feet. There was even snow on the ground in a lot of places!

Chloë at Picture Lake.

Chloë befriends a tourist.

We ate lunch and wandered the trails around the Visitor Center, then backtracked to Picture Lake to  take some pictures (what a concept!). I pursued a dragonfly for a while, waded in the lake for a few seconds (no waves here!), and  I even let Mike sit down and take a photo with me. After being so nice to him, I was expecting a reward, such as my own ice cream cup or riding in the front seat with him. But did he let me lie in his lap on the way down the mountain? NO! Did they stop for ice cream? NO! They only stopped for beer, and I had to stay in the car while they went inside. Not fair.

The whining will continue.

Chloë Scores Market Savvy

Heat exhaustion.

After the heat dome lifted, I spent some more time with Schatzi. She was a lot more alert on those occasions than she was the last time.

One day we met at her downtown Magnolia office. Mike and Heather were there to discuss financial stuff with Schatzi’s owner Caroline, who is also of course my own personal financial advisor. When Caroline talks, absolutely nobody listens to what E. F. Hutton has to say.

Nose for news.

When I found out Schatzi was going to be at this meeting, I figured she was there for the air conditioning. But as I wandered around the premises, checking every office and conference room for random potato chips or crackers the cleaning staff may have missed, it dawned on me that Schatzi might actually be getting the inside scoop on Wall Street from discussions she overheard in client meetings. Suddenly, I was concerned that her portfolio might outperform my own.

Searching under the mattress for stock tips.

While our people were yakking at the table above us, I investigated Schatzi’s office bed for tips, to no avail. But a couple of days later I was lucky enough to have Schatzi stay with us for a whole weekend. That’s when I was able to delve deeply into her market perspective. Not surprisingly, Schatzi is energetic and aggressive, likely to follow any scent and reluctant to let go. At age 2, she can afford to have that long-term outlook. At 11,  my investment horizon is shorter.

Schatzi and I danced around that issue one afternoon during her visit. Being a gracious host, I rolled over and let her win.

Face off.

Take down.

Pinned.

While Schatzi visited, whenever we went for walks in the park, Heather took Schatzi’s leash and Mike took mine, because Schatzi is a load to handle. It was the first time Mike had led me on a walk since we took care of  two dogs at the Getaway in April. And what do you know, I liked it! After two days of Mike, I deduced that he is not nearly as tough on me as Heather is. What can I do to bring him back?

 

Chloë Beats the Heat

Looking for relief.

As you probably heard, we had a heat wave here in Seattle, over 100 degrees for three days in a row. Unprecedented heat! We have no air conditioning, so during the day we retreated downstairs. With the windows closed, the shades pulled down and a fan blowing, it was much cooler than upstairs, where the living room thermostat read 98. We took our late afternoon walks early in the morning, and in the evening walked to the park’s breeziest bench and sat in the shade for a while.

How hot was it? When Schatzi came over for a visit, she didn’t even think about getting in my face and goading me into wrestling with her. The two of us just staid still and laid low all day long, and Heather put ice cubes in our water. That was about it. I’d really like it if this were the only heat wave I’ll have to face this summer, but readily admit this is wishful thinking.

Letting sleeping dogs lie.

Chloë Renews Her War on Cats

Staking out territory.

It’s well-known that I don’t like cats. They are mean. They are vicious. They make awful noises. I will chase one any chance I get. Lately,  however, I am under tighter watch. My opportunities have been few. Not surprisingly, during this period of decreased diligence, the cat population on our block has soared.  There are so many that I don’t even know their names, except for that damn Fred (short for Frederika) the Bartons’ cat. I don’t know whether it’s because Fred misses her brother Ted, who arrived with her but was shipped out for bad behavior a couple of years ago, or whether she’s trying to exert her resident dominance over the newcomers, who usually hide on their porches and under cars whenever Fred is around or I come prancing down the street.

Lulu’s window on the world.

I was hoping to gain support for my war against cats from the pack of new canines that have moved onto our block. New families means more kids, more names to remember and more dogs. Within the past few months, my pals April (border collie), Merrie (Basset hound) and Ranger (Bernadoodle) and I welcomed two younger Bernadoodles (Walter and Magnus) and two more doodle puppies. Now we have the Aussiedoodle pup Tucker on one side of the house and the sheepdoodle Lulu on the other. Tucker is still too little to come out and play, but Lulu let Mike rub her ears one day, and she is always looking at him through her fence portal. I think she likes him.

All these new dogs have been nice enough to me, but I don’t see me being able to form them into anything close to a comic. cunning, marauding pack like you see in movies. These designer breeds can shake their wang dang doodles all night long, but none has demonstrated any proclivity toward joining my quest for neighborhood dominance of the cats. I’m looking for toughness, resourcefulness and a killer instinct. I don’t see it in this bunch.

Frequent sightings all over the neighborhood.

Lo and behold, help arrived from an unlikely source. Coyotes, long a staple in Magnolia, seem to have proliferated during the pandemic, scooting onto our peninsula on the rail lines and finding plenty of inviting habitat and food sources when they got here. Once a rarity, coyote sightings at all hours of the day and night are now frequent. In fact, Heather has spied one several times on our daily walks and sternly kept me on a tight leash as we fled in the opposite direction every time.

She needn’t have been concerned that I might try to chase it like a squirrel, however.  I’m not that dumb! And remember, I’m a dog who turns her head away and pretends to be interested in trailside foliage rather than look a passing Chihuahua in the eye. I’m not running after any coyote, I’m all for them, especially after I found out they can be an ally in my feline war.

On Magnolia Nextdoor, a neighborhood blog, a women recently wrote, “At 4:40 this morning I was woken up by what sounded like a coyote killing a cat. I’m posting this in hopes that people will keep their cats indoors, especially at night, as this will be the third cat killed in a week in Magnolia by coyotes.” Aha, I thought; maybe the threat of a passing coyote could be a reason to get Fred to stop howling outside my window at night.

Unfortunately, before I ever had the chance to pen a love letter to the Wile E. Coyote we’ve seen in our personal Discovery Park habitat, Mike came upon this cautionary tale via Wikipedia: Coyotes occasionally hunt together with badgers, digging up rodents side by side and then lying together, licking each other’s faces.

No cat zone.

Gross! As a proud badger hound of the first degree, I can’t go there. Yet.

 

 

Chloë Conquers a Fear

Chloë’s Stairway to Heaven

The photo shows the steps that I use to get onto Mike and Heather’s bed. Only when invited, of course, unless it’s vacant, in which case there is nobody there to tell me NOT to be there. Mike calls them Chloë’s Stairway to Heaven.

Then, sometime this spring, these steps began to scare me. Coming off my sometime inability to leap into my camp chair, this aversion to trying my usual 3-step jaunt to the mattress soon followed. With some whining, of course, and later a reluctance to climb the stairs from the lower level. There is no problem going down, of course, because downstairs is where the treats would be. That’s what led to an obvious solution.

Trepedition

Although my recent demonstration of a weakening right hindquarter has been noted and debated internally and for the moment dismissed by a leading veterinary authority, the explanation  for my reluctant behavior has thus far been summarized with the derogatory phrase, “It’s all in her head.”

Well, now.  While I might have said in my own defense that at my advancing age I need more support, figuratively and literally. Maybe additional rugs or a reorientation of the steps could provide a more favorable angle for my approach. These little things start to matter, especially when I first get out of my crate in the morning and my old bones are creaking. It’s not like I’m seeing Mike exactly sprint out of bed in the morning to open my crate. Cut me some slack.

Taking the bait.

I have to admit, however, that as soon as a Charlee Bear landed strategically on the mattress at the top of my Stairway to Heaven, it served as an immediate enticement to challenge those scary steps to claim a rightful reward upon completion of my heroic ascent. It worked. Within a couple of days I was positioning myself for the climb as soon as I heard fingers tinkling the small cup holding the Charlees, pulling one out to be tossed onto the bed. Inhibitions melting away, I sprinted up the steps to grab my prize.

Having that soft blue fleece blanket to lie on doesn’t hurt, either. “Everybody needs a psychological boost now and then,” Heather conceded this morning, after Mike lifted me onto the bed and I nosed my way under the covers.

Chloë Settles into Her New Chair

Chloë in her Coleman chair.

For reasons part age-related and part psychological, I needed a different chair. Although I still liked being off the floor, out of the reach of other dogs and small children, I was displaying increasing reluctance to hop up into it. Too many times did I take my usual three-step running leap only to crash chest-first into the chair itself and then to the floor. Every time it happened reinforced my belief that I couldn’t do it. I literally begged (i.e., whined) for help.

The solution, at least for now, is a new camp chair, this one with stylish coloring, a see-through mesh back and an amply-sized mesh seat that, most importantly, lies about 3.5 inches closer to the floor than its predecessor. To Mike’s liking,  it is lighter and easier to move around (Heather, of course, would prefer adding to her exercise routine by lifting the heavier chair). With the reduced distance from floor to seat, I can again navigate the leap with ease, at least when I want to. Sometimes, such as after an activity-filled day and my usual dinner smorgasbord,  it’s better to ask for help. Heather is always vigilant, and soon taught Mike to scoop me up with two hands supporting me. He came up with his “flying dog!” call all by himself.

Transition accomplished, Chloë relaxes with Ranger in her new chair,

From my perspective, this chair will do. With an additional pillow on the mesh seat,  and fleece covering when seasonally appropriate, this REI camp chair is at least as comfortable as the studier Coleman model. It has only one cupholder (plus another compartment that folds down from the arm), but this cupholder is much larger (perhaps designed for a cell phone, which is something I still don’t have, for some unknown reason). The compartment is just the right size for my Ranger the Reindeer toy, so he can guard me if I should happen to close my eyes for a few moments. Overall, I’m content with the new chair, but I’ve also been spending more time in my living room bed, a snug harbor conveniently located right at ground level, so I don’t need anyone’s help to get in. (Sometimes I  do need some coaxing, however.)

Another preferred location.

Things are OK for now, and I can happily relax at will in so many fine locations. But look, I’m not getting any younger. I can’t deny it. Somehow I see a rolling Ottoman in my future.

Chloë Dines on Waygu

George and Debbie with Chloë on an earlier visit.

My pal Juneau George visited last week, and I had to administer a bit of re-training. Although I’ve seen George frequently over the past year because he comes to Seattle for medical treatments, he and Debbie haven’t been staying with us. Now that all of them are vaccinated, George could again stay downstairs with us. Unfortunately, over all that time he had managed to forget where my downstairs treat container is located. It took me three tries before I could get him to figure out why I was sitting on the floor under a bank TV screen, staring at the shelving below it. Did he think I was I waiting for Wolf Blitzer to come on?

Waygu to go.

Anyway, George stayed with us for two nights this time, while his wife Debbie stayed in Juneau to take care of their dog, Yankee. George had recently sent Mike photos of him giving his labradoodle a double Whopper for his birthday. In my 11 years, no such luck for me. Until last week, the best treat I ever got was my own ice cream cone. Maybe George’s largesse rubbed off on Heather, however.  Our recent excursion to my Getaway had brought Mike and Heather home with a pound of chopped Waygu beef from Washington’s Snake River Farms – the kind of high-end stuff el cheapo Mike never buys. Mike grilled three fancy cheeseburgers, so they could each have one and a third would be leftovers for Heather. Before she savored her lunch the next day, however, she cut out a few pieces for me, and at dinner time she warmed them up and set them on the floor in front of me. They didn’t last long, and I knew immediately what all the fuss was about.

Thanks, Heather. And when am I going to get some more?