Category Archives: A Dog's Life

Chloë Watches the River Flow

Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

Traveling can be hard work. Up early, long drives, dusty walks, being carted in and out of the car three or four times a day, and the absolute worst of all, stairs. Going up and down long stairways with slick treads is cruel and unusual punishment for any dog, let alone a senior dog like me. I managed to have a good trip home anyway.

On the first leg we wove through a region called the Pennsylvania Wilds, mountainous, heavily wooded land in northern Pennsylvania. There were great trails and spectacular views, including a walk on a former railroad trestle called the Kinzua Bridge. I was brave, although I tried not to look down.

Kinzua Bridge.

We spent a couple of days exploring the Kinzua (pronounced Kin-zoo, a Seneca term meaning “fish on spear”) region with our friend Rudy. As our tour guide, Rudy got to sit in the front, and I sat in the back with Mike. I would have preferred Heather with me, but this was better than nothing, and Mike always lets me sit in his lap.

Surveying the Chautauqua lakefront.

One day Rudy guided us through the Chautauqua Institution, about 45 minutes away. I liked its narrow streets and historical atmosphere, and most of all its lush, green lawns and perennial gardens. When we got back to Warren there was a cookout on the Allegheny River in front of Rudy’s house. As I lay in my bed by the river, keeping close watch on everything, I saw a blue heron fishing on the opposite bank and several fish scooping up the bugs floating on the surface. No deer or beaver, they must have known I was around.

River watch on the Allegheny.

After we left Rudy (and what happens in Warren, stays in Warren), we hit the turnpikes and motored through the Midwest toward Seattle. As soon as Mike gets the photos edited, I’ll recount some of those highlights. It’s hard to find good help these days.

Chloë Recaps Her CNY Tour

At the Hansen farm in Madison County.

It was great to be back in Central New York after almost three years! I had a lot of fun, visited many old friends and made a few new ones, and I have never seen more squirrels in one place before in my long and fateful life. But I have to admit it wasn’t all wine and roses.

One day I bolted out the open front door of our temporary home, zoomed down the driveway and sprinted across the street to chase one of those squirrels, and Heather went ballistic on me. Plus a couple of times when I pulled soggy tissues out of the bathroom garbage and strewed them across the floor also earned me stern scolding and temporary confinement. Very temporary, I should add. I survived.

On Skaneateles Lake.

On the other hand, positive highlights of my last few weeks in Syracuse were many, just like the first few weeks. I got to chase rabbits on Mark and Carole Hansen’s farm and lounge on Amy Flemming’s new dock at her Skaneateles Lake camp (and zip down and up all those stairs from the house to the lake with no problems or heavy breathing, unlike some other people). I got to visit my aunts Susie and Debby several times, corralling their cats upstairs where they didn’t dare come down from, and even managed to steal one of their cat toys as a prize for my ride back to Seattle–a little souvenir to remember them by. That’s why I squealed like a banshee every time we pulled up outside their house. And while I didn’t get to meet Kevin Corbett’s cat Tucker, Kevin sent me a football-shaped toy that I put to immediate use as a Wiffie substitute for the rest of my Salt City stay.

Meeting with Franklin.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to chase Tucker next summer. In the meantime, I met a polite young dachshund puppy named Franklin, just 6 months old, and a graybeard golden Lab named Abby who is just about the same age as me. I considered playing around with Abby at her camp until I realized that it was vast Lake Ontario slamming those waves on the other side of the rocks. As longtime readers know, I have a deep aversion to waves. I don’t even have to see them; just hearing them slosh against the shore is enough to alert me to pull my leash in the opposite direction.

Meeting at Mexico Point.

While those waves were a bit unnerving, it was balanced out by the absolute No. 1 highlight of the whole trip so far. Since my Aunt Debby drove us up to Steve, Kristin and Abby Swift’s camp at Mexico Point in my Aunt Susie’s car, I got to sit in the back seat with my favorite couple! Packmates Mike and Heather let me sit on their laps going and coming home, and they rolled down the back windows whenever I wanted to sniff the countryside. When I needed to snuggle away my trauma on the way home, Heather reluctantly obliged.  What more could I ask for? I just hope this bodes well for the long trip back to Seattle. Westward ho!

Lap dog.

Chloë Has a Capital Experience

Hanging with Nipper in Albany.

Another highlight of my Syracuse stay was our side trip to Albany. I had previously stayed with my pals Nick and Lorrie Mazza and their border collie Skippy when they lived near Rochester, but Skippy and I didn’t have that much interaction.  We were both youngerand more high-strung then. In Skippy’s new digs in Albany, we hit it off right away. And that was a good thing, because we had a 45-minute car ride together in the back seat to Grafton Lakes State Park as soon as we got there.

The park was fun. Skippy and I got pieces of hot dogs and rolls, and when Mike and Lorrie paddled around a lake in kayaks, Heather, Nick, Skippy and I hiked halfway around it. That was quite far enough on a 90-degree day.

The next day was cooler, and Nick took us on a driving tour of downtown Albany. We saw the Hudson riverfront, the South Mall of government buildings and the statehouse, but the governor was unfortunately not around to greet me. We also passed a large statue depicting the RCA mascot Nipper, sitting high atop a warehouse not far from the Hudson River. Impressive, but seeing it did not inspire me to heed my masters’ voices any better or more often.

Downtown Albany is dripping with history, rich with the red brick and narrow-street feel of colonial cities like Baltimore, Boston or Philadelphia. Heather had never been to the capital of New York State before, and she was favorably impressed. I thought it was much neater than Olympia!

We capped off our capital excursion with a walk around the Olmstead-designed Washington Park, where among other things I was introduced to Moses, who paused above me to part the Red Sea while I was lying there. I thought he was OK, but it was nowhere close to meeting Joe Whiting!

Meeting Moses in Albany’s Washington Park

After the auto tour, we went back to Skippy’s house and got ready to leave, but not before Skippy and I sniffed our goodbyes to each other on his front lawn, and I thanked him for his hospitality. We promised to get together again next summer. 

That’s all for now. I’ve got many more highlights to get to, but right now I’ve got to get back to packing for the trip back to Seattle. I have called dibs on the front seat, for what it’s worth.

Chloë looking up to her new pal Skippy.

 

 

 

Chloë Meets Two CNY Icons

Letting it all hang out.

After being stuck in my own Seattle neighborhood for almost all of the past two summers, it’s been fun to get outside and sniff some country air again. I went along on short trips to Tuscarora Lake and several other places in Madison County, the Adirondacks, the Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario and Albany (via Route 20), rolling through a lot of New York countryside with my nose out the rear window. Ah, warm, humid air with gentle touches of ragweed and cow manure. This must be heaven.

Domeward bound.

But eau de Central New York was but one of the highlights of my stay so far. I  also had the good fortune to be in the presence of  two icons of Central New York sports and entertainment.

First came a visit to the mecca of Syracuse University Athletics, the Dome . (I am certain the next time my pal Penny comes over to watch an SU football game in Seattle, she will be jealous of this photo.) The day I visited, signage for the former Carrier Dome was gone, but signage for the recently renamed JMA Wireless Dome had not yet been installed. So there’s still time to reconsider. Chloë Dome has a better ring to it, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, no Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deal was offered to me while I visited the campus. Maybe next year.

Joe Whiting

I had more positive feedback when I met Joe Whiting, still and always the king of Syracuse rock and roll vocalists. Mike and Heather took me to see his band play in Chapman Park on the shores of Oneida Lake in Bridgeport, a beautiful spot where I was allowed to hang out on the lawn and listen as long as I was on a leash. Between sets, Joe came over to say hello. He leaned down and petted me, and revealed that he reads my blog! I almost fainted, but luckily I regained my composure and wagged my tale in gratitude, although I was too shy to ask for an autograph or for him to pose for a selfie with me. Only after he returned to the stage was I able to relax on the lawn and enjoy the second set.

Hanging out at the rock show.

Wow! It’s just starting to sink in that a charter member of rock royalty actually touched my head! This will truly be a moment and a summer I’ll never forget. 

Chloë Tackles the Towpath

Relaxing on the cool hardwood.

My stay in Syracuse has gone great so far. We’ve done a lot of visiting, making up for missing the past two years, I guess. Seems like we’re always getting back in the car and going somewhere. One night after dinner I’d had enough and stayed home. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to lie back and stay in one place and relax. I really like the house where we’re staying, too. It has a back yard with lawn and shade, so I can lounge outdoors tied up to a tree with a long rope whenever I want to, and when it’s too hot I can retreat to the kitchen, where I can find a cool spot on the wood floor in the direct line of the air-conditioning vent.

Relaxing on Ivy’s porch.

Usually I like visiting, because everyone is always so glad to see me. One Sunday afternoon we went to Skaneateles, where we walked all the way to the end of the pier that juts into the lake, and hung out on the front porch with Kihm and Laurie Winship and their dog Ivy, who was much nicer than her predecessor ever was. She was about my size, so I let her sniff my butt for a while, and then we got along fine the rest of the day.

Chloë and Ivy.

On the boat, Seventh Lake, Fulton Chain.

On the other hand, when we drove to Seventh Lake in the  Adirondacks to visit the Backus clan, the dogs were all big guys, so I tried to steer clear of them as much as possible. I did get a fun boat ride, though, and a chance to play ball with Heather for the first time since Cobourg – until the ball rolled down the hill and into the lake once too often.

Since it has been another hot summer in Syracuse, we took many of our daily walks around the neighborhood in the morning. Heather figured out a route that crossed over the city line into DeWitt, where two dead-end streets are separated by a thin wooded area. It was kind of spooky in there for some reason. I hustled through each time.

Walking the Meadowbrook Basin trail.

Despite the heat, we managed to make it to many of my favorite Syracuse walking routes, such as Oakwood Cemetery, the playing fields and wooded moraines at Syracuse University’s Skytop, the Morningside reservoirs above Manley Field House, Barry Park and the Meadowbrook Basin, and the Old Erie Canal towpaths on both sides of the city. On the east side, we walked all the way from Butternut Creek to Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville. Not all at once, of course, but even so, at my age I still considered it an achievement. Maybe we’ll walk all the way to Rome someday, although I could do without Mike singing that damn “15 miles on the Erie Canal” song every time we go there. Bruce Springsteen he’s not. And no way I’m walking Albany to Buffalo, either.

Navigating another 15 miles on the Erie Canal.

Chloë Makes Some Progress

Washington: Backseat driver.

As regular readers may recall, I started out my cross-Canada journey not only in the back seat, but also on the hot seat, so to speak. Heather had feared my backseat whining was going to drive her nuts on the trip, and had instituted new preventative tactics: first the command, “Chloë, MUTE!” If ignored, then followed by a quick jerk on the leash attached to my harness. Eventually I got the message, at least to some extent.

Alberta: Nose out the window.

So how did we do? Well, I’m still alive, and resting comfortably in Syracuse when I wrote this. While I’ll admit that my whining didn’t cease entirely. Heather and I managed to maintain a cordial detente throughout the trip. I learned to confine my whining to moments when I was actually trying to call their attention to an immediate need, such as “Please open my window,” or “I need to pee,” or “It’s past time for my 2 o’clock treat!” Whining with purpose was allowed. At other times, I might endure a command tone “MUTE!” or even a yank or two on my leash. Sometimes I might have even deserved it. But I survived. So did Heather and Mike!

Ontario: Inching forward.

I even thrived under this duress. I had a much more relaxing time in the car this time than in our previous cross-country trips. I sat higher up in the back seat, so I could see everything, and Heather kept my window open most of the time, even when we were driving fast on highways, so I could soak in the full bouquet of the passing landscape. After Heather shortened my tether strap so I couldn’t hit the ground if I fell out (flopping against the car on a strap instead), I did my fair share of putting my front feet on the car door and sticking my head and chest out into the wind. I could also use the window as a headrest when snoozing and still keep my nose outside. Other times I liked to sleep with my head on the cushion or towel they shoved between their front seats to keep me from crawling through.

While I never advanced to my rightful place on Mike’s lap in the front seat, I made significant gains on this trip, cutting the distance to my goal significantly, as you can see from these secret dashboard cam photos!

New York State: Three for the road.

I made a lot of progress, all right. I think I’m well-situated for the return trip. I’m almost there.

Syracuse: Co-pilots.

 

 

Chloë Vacations by the Shore

Along the Thornton-Cookstown Trail, Innisfil, ON

The last legs of our cross-Canada trip came at a slower pace. After skirting the northern shores of Lakes Superior and Huron (lots of trees) in a series of one-night stops, we landed for two nights in one place and four nights in the next. We had a whole apartment near Heather’s sister Alison’s house. The place was OK, since the wooden stairs to the bedroom was so slippery that Heather  had to  carry me up and down like I was Queen Nefertiti. (Heather slipped once, though, which wasn’t so funny.) One day many people from Heather’s family came over, which was cool with me because there were a lot of leftovers and more plates to lick, not to mention random chips falling on the floor.

Lakeside fetching, Cobourg, ON

My visit to meet Alison’s new puppy Sadie didn’t go nearly as well. She was only six months old and not very socialized to other dogs, so she was all over me and didn’t know how to set limits. After we rolled around for a minute and she wouldn’t back off, cooler heads decided to keep us apart on this trip; Sadie was in the yard and I was in the house, or vice-versa. That worked a lot better. It was pretty hot while we were there, too, so we took our daily walks mostly around the neighborhood in the early morning, but we did get to complete another leg of the Thornton-Cookstown Trans-Canada Trail before we left. We still have a ways to go.

With Aunt Robin

Our final stop before reaching Syracuse rated No. 1 on my list of favorite places on this journey to the East. We stayed at a house being rented by Heather’s sister, my Aunt Robin, and her partner Barry in Cobourg, Ontario, about an hour east of Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario. Thankfully, there was a fence and tall hedge between their back yard and the beach, so I wasn’t constantly subjected to the sight and sound of waves lapping up the shoreline. Ever since Heather took me down to the beach on Puget Sound during a storm many years ago, just the thought of  water rushing toward me gives me the creeps. Rivers and boats are OK, but not lakes and oceans.

Heather throws, Chloë fetches.

Other than that big lake in front of it, this house had everything I’m looking for in a quality back yard It was totally fenced in, mostly flat and full of lush, green lawn and pockmarked with the dens of squirrels and chipmunks. For me, this was like going to a relaxing health spa with unlimited buffets dining and top-line entertainment. I got to chase my ball  for the first time since we left Seattle, and I was allowed off leash to explore the yard and flop anywhere I wanted to — at least until I dug a hole in the middle of the lawn while in pursuit of a burrowing chipmunk. Aunt Robin wasn’t smiling when she took a shovelful of dirt from a garden and filled in the hole I dug. I was on a strict “no dig” policy after that.

Frozen PBB, side view

Frankly, I could have stayed there in that back yard for the rest of the summer, but duty called: We had to get back to the good ol’ U.S.A. Each one of us had discovered something we missed. For Mike, it was ESPN. For Heather, it was a good cup of coffee and NCIS marathons. And for me, Peanut Butter Boneys that are frozen in a hollow marrow bone instead of the tiny plastic cups I’ve been getting on the road. I want my PBB!

Chloë Remembers Omak

Saskatchewan River, Medicine Hat, Alberta

Before I got too far into recounting further details of my cross-Canada trek, I didn’t want to neglect an important element of the journey that happened back in Washington, on just our second morning on the road. One of our daily rituals is stopping at a local supermarket to get ice and sometimes a few groceries for our cooler. In addition to any food Mike and Heather might need, my complete and balanced diet of meats, fish, cheese, vegetables, milk, yogurt and broth requires constant refrigeration. I won’t settle for less, even on the road.

Since yesterday’s ice is good only for watering plants, and since the plantings in supermarket parking lots can generally use a good drink, Heather looks for a parking spot along the edges, where the discharge of water from the cooler can do some good.

Police Point Park, Medicine Hat, Alberta

That morning in Omak, a small city on the banks of the Okanogan River in central Washington, Mike went into Walmart for ice and Heather drained yesterday’s ice  into some thirsty shrubbery. I sat in the shade, resting before the  long day of backseat driving that lied ahead. Then an old pickup pulled into the spot between our car and one a couples of parking spots away where a wreck of a pickup stood on  cinderblocks, and a man and a dog emerged. I can’t remember the dog’s name, but he seemed nice enough when he ambled over to sniff my butt, and his owner immediately started chatting up Heather about dachshunds and dogs in general.

Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Soon another pickup truck pulled up, and its driver beckoned Heather’s new pal to come over and take something out of his truck bed. The dog owner returned momentarily, carrying a bag of gourmet dog food (Blue Buffalo) and a Costco-sized box of large-sized Milk Bones biscuits. He threw the food bag into his truck, but before tossing in the Milk Bones he opened the box and insisted Heather take some of them (for me, not for her). Heather tried to politely refuse, but thankfully Omak Guy was having none of it. I was at their feet, salivating, emitting tiny whines and hoping for a favorable outcome. Whew! Heather took the biscuits he offered.

Lake of the Woods, Ontario

Even I, however, could not imagine how many of those huge biscuits he poured into the plastic bag Heather produced from the car. By the time Mike returned with the ice and some groceries, the guy and his dog had taken off. But not before leaving me enough Milk Bones to fuel my 2 o’clock treat every day for the entire trip to Syracuse and perhaps beyond. What a haul!

Besides, even when I run out of those particular Milk Bones, that incident really got my trip off on the right foot. Treats? They come and go,. But  I’ll always remember the generosity of Omak Guy.

Chloë Entertains the Tourists

Chloë and Heather hold court at Takakkaw Falls, Yoho NP.

We’re finally rolling on our cross-Canada journey. First stop was Omak in Central Washington (more on that in a later post!) before crossing the border into British Columbia. We had to surrender two Washington apples at customs, which pained me, because the nice guard would have let us eat them at the customs station, and I would have gladly complied, if given the chance and if Mike had cut them into little pieces for me. A missed opportunity.

Our first Canadian stop was Heather’s niece Rhiannon’s wedding. Not too exciting for me, however, since I had to view the festivities from my crate during the back yard ceremony and in the car during the reception that followed. And that’s too bad, since the harpist who was supposed to perform was delayed, and I could have entertained the guests instead. Another missed opportunity!!

Wipe that waterfall spray off my head, please!

As we pushed through the Canadian Rockies and the prairie provinces, however, I did get my chances to entertain. At nearly every stop when we got out of the car for a walk or an exploratory excursion, people who saw me )paused for a smile, a chuckle or a laugh. Apparently Canadians had never seen anything like me! Many stopped to comment on how cute I am (a given), my distinctive gait (some called it a “waddle,” but Heather quickly corrected them: “It’s a joyful prance!”). Sometimes they wanted to know what breed I am, and Heather gladly expounded upon the variety of dachshund available, from smooth to longhair to wirehair and piebald (kind of a pinto dachshund). They were grateful for the knowledge, even as I tried to fend off their attention, being as modest as I am! I let Heather do my talking for me.

Resting in Dauphin, Manitoba.

All this traveling is tiring, however. I don’t do much sleeping in the car, since I have to keep a constant watch for speed traps, ice cream drive-ins and the like. Or just sticking my nose, and sometimes half my body, out the rear window to soak in all that clean Canadian air and scents. Lots of fine smells in Canada, although the stench of the pulp and paper mills isn’t one of them. Besides, some of the walks that we took were long, hot and physically exhausting. My favorite day of the trip so far was a rainy day near Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, when Heather went out to do their laundry, and I stayed with Mike in the air-conditioned motel room. It was my chance to catch up on some well deserved shuteye, and I enjoyed taking full advantage. 

Chloë Gets Ready to Roll

Packed for the trip.

The past few weeks were hectic, with packing, route planning and getting the house and yard ready for our prolonged absence during our drive to the East Coast and back. With that in mind, I made sure to pee in each corner of of my domain, trying to give all cats and raccoons a remembrance of my presence  while I’m gone. Unfortunately, Mike’s repeated attempts to get his sprinkler coverage right no doubt washed away all of my best intentions.

Schatzi’s new dining spot.

Despite the bustle, the pack was able to get over to Caroline’s and Schatzi’s house to see their brand-new kitchen renovation before we hit the road. Details were not completely finished when we visited, but everything had been installed except the kitchen sink, so Schatzi and I might have to clean all the dishes. The new floor and cabinets are very modern-looking and sleek, but for me the highlight is certainly Schatzi’s built-in feeding station, which is strategically located a just few inches off the ground, so it’s at the right hright for her to chow downwhile more importantly holding the bowls in place to achieve total licking-the-bowl perfection. I’m sure she’ll really enjoy her kibble, yogurt and sardines! I only wish there were a couple of additional bowl portals for guests, like a motel’s breakfast buffet with side-by-side chafing dishes. I guess I’ll still have to eat off the floor when I’m vacationing over there.

Have nose, will travel.

There was one piece of concerning news for me before we hit the road. At my last vet visit about two weeks ago, I tipped the scales at 22.1 pounds, approaching my all-time highest weight, which has been creeping upward since Heather took over my feeding chores.  On our past journeys across the continent, for me it’s been all sympathy, extra treats and an occasional cup of ice cream. However, between the frequent tugs on my leash and admonitions of “MUTE” when I do too much whining in the car and a potential reduction of my rations and treats, this year’s ride may be much more bumpy. We’ll see!