Category Archives: Advice from Chloë

Chloë Wraps Up 2020

Walking in Discovery Park.

2020 was a tough year for most, but for me, it was a year of change. Early on, Mike and Heather left me with Schatzi for a week, and then we were supposed to be off on the road again, heading eastward to Syracuse. But when they got back to Seattle, things had changed. Since then we rarely went anywhere but Discovery Park, and Mike and Heather wore these scary face masks every second we were outside. It was much harder for dogs to socialize, too, because nobody wanted to get too close. We didn’t go to visit anybody, and nobody yisited our house, either, except for a couple of summer football games and briefly when Schatzi’s mom Caroline and the kids who live next door came over briefly. Pretty boring overall.

Symbol of 2020.

This cloistered existence was only the beginning of change for me. I knew Mike’s leg pain was really killing him, because he always walked far behind Heather and me in the afternoon and often woke me at night with his moans and groans. I guess I didn’t know how bad it was, however,, because early one morning Mike went away for a few days in a hospital. When he came back, I wasn’t allowed to jump on him  and he stayed in bed a lot.

All this changed my life even more. When Mike returned home, he still had a lot of healing to do, so Heather permanently took over all my feeding, grooming, tooth-brushing, walking, throwing and vet visits. Mike continued to walk with us every afternoon, but he walked very slowly and for not as long, and he used a cane. As weeks went on, he could walk longer and farther, but the speed of his walking was taking longer to return. By the end of our walks, he’s moving slowly, but his overall pace is still improving.

Chloë cane do.

Not surprisingly, the three of us adjusted. All those care tasks still get done, although Heather has her own way of doing them. And in most cases, her way is better than Mike’s way, at least as far as I’m concerned. I know she takes my daily ritual of tooth-brushing and grooming before dinner a lot more seriously than Mike ever did. That’s because Heather would never let herself do “C” work on anything; Mike was dedicated, but ultimately more lenient with me. So I put up with Heather’s diligence on my mouth and coat because I know I’m getting a lot more cheese and kibble out of her than I ever got from Mike. And there’s more good news: Earlier this week I tipped the scale at my vet at a svelte 20.5 pounds (down from 21.1 six weeks ago), so Heather’s extra rations can continue unabated. It’s like an unexpected stimulus check.

As the calendar turned to 2021, Heather, Mike and I were walking about an hour a day around Discovery Park, mostly on paved walkways that pass one or more of my favorite fetch locations, where we linger and throw if passersby are infrequent. Mike’s leg doesn’t hurt him anymore, and he recently ditched his cane. But when he starts to get tired toward the end, he still walks quite a ways behind Heather and me. Maybe in 2021 he can catch up and walk with us, which would mean he’s feeling that much better. That will be be fine by me, as long as Heather stays in charge and the cheese sticks keep on coming.

Chloë Researches Her Namesakes

Chloe O'Brian (@ChloeOBrian) | Twitter

Chloe O’Brian, inspiration for our dangerous heroine.

We drove to the Arboretum last week, one of the few times I’ve had any company in the back seat of Heather’s car. I got excited when we picked up my Juneau friends George and Debbie  to sit with me, so I could get up into George’s lap and see out the window without teetering, which is usually what I’m complaining about when I’m doing all that whining  in the car (despite much speculation otherwise). Anyway, being able to actually see where we were going, I took notice when our route took us past the Chloe Apartments, which is definitely where I want to live if we ever decide to forsake Magnolia for apartment living. I mean, they named the building after me, right? I should hope so. (Whereas, as I must explain to my younger readers,  I was named after the character Chloe O’Brian in 24, a TV show about American counter-intelligence forces from so long ago that it provides a good indicator of why I’m starting to think about senior living.)

Chloe Apartments - Building Exterior

Chloe Apartments in Seattle.

So in a rare moment when Mike wasn’t at his computer reading about sports, I decided to sneak over to the keyboard to look it up. And I liked what I saw: modern apartments with huge windows, landscaped courtyards, a rooftop deck with mountain and city views, pet-friendly with plenty of pet play spaces, and close to a Trader Joe’s, the Seattle U campus and the Arboretum. Seemed like the perfect locale for my senior years, whenever it may be that chasing after my ball loses some of its luster. I don’t want to break my plan to Mike and Heather quite yet, however, not after they spent all that time and effort replanting the rhododendrons in the front yard.

But look at my namesake apartments! I could definitely dig it!

Chloe on Union Apartments - Rooftop Lounge
Chloe Apartments - Courtyard

Rooftop deck and courtyard at Chloe Apartments.

Chloe, an adoptable Dachshund & Chihuahua Mix in Seattle, WA

Another Chloë.

Then I got to thinking about all the other Chloes I might find if I looked around. Unfortunately, a French restaurant in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood that shared my name (Chloe Bistrot) closed before I ever got the chance to enjoy any tasty leftovers from its kitchen. Further search revealed several other restaurants around the country that have copied my name without permission, as well as a restaurant chain with locations in the USA, Canada and Europe. And that’s  not all.  I also found a dachshund-chihuahua mix who’s 14 years old and looking for a home, a winery and women in pursuits from student to artist to actress to graphic designer to papermaker to hair stylist to fitness instructor to lawyer to yoga instructor to nanny to journalist to performance artist to dog walker to belly dancer.

Our heroine.

Among all these other Chloes, I may not be the sharpest pencil in the pack. But I am the only one with my own umlaut (ë).

 

Chloë Sniffs a New Career

Her nose knows.

Hey, I’m a German dog, right?!! And sniffing is my thing (along with fetch). I even went to a special nose-training class to sharpen my skills.

Apparently dogs with only a few days of training are capable of identifying people infected with the coronavirus, according to a study by a German veterinary university. Eight dogs from Germany’s armed forces were trained for only a week and were able to accurately identify the virus with a 94% success rate, according to a pilot project led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. Researchers challenged the dogs to sniff out COVID-19 in the saliva of more than 1,000 healthy and infected people, which is certainly nothing grosser than the dead rodents I regularly scarf up on my afternoon walks. I am qualified!

Charlee smells.

“We think that this works because the metabolic processes in the body of a diseased patient are completely changed,” explained Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university, in a YouTube video about the project. “We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell.” You bet. And since I can detect a Charlee Bear or a frozen PBB from 50 yards away, I think I’m a natural.

Von Koeckritz-Blickwede said that the next step will be to train dogs to differentiate COVID samples from other diseases such as influenza. And there are other possible applications. Since a dog’s sense of smell is around 1,000 times more sensitive than humans, we might be deployed to detect infections at places such as airports, border crossings and sporting events. I foresee a second career for myself, if I ever hang up my fetch fetish.

Meanwhile, my next important job will be guarding Heather and our house while Mike spends a couple of days in the hospital to fix his back so he is able to bend down and pick up my poop without pain. Am I up for the task? Gary Larsen didn’t think so! But I’m out to prove those haters wrong.

 

 

Chloë Flops on Summer Lawns

The local adage that summer in Seattle never starts until after the 4th of July was certainly the case this year, as Heather was still wearing her quilted silver vest well into the month. When the heat finally arrived, though, I didn’t like it one bit. Whenever we walked, whether in the park or in our neighborhood streets, I made a beeline for the shade. And flopped.

Chillaxin’

And if I could find a lush, cushiony lawn to flop on, all the better. I flopped again.

Lawn flop.

And when we were walking to the post office last week, I flopped several times.

The flopmeister!

That’s a long walk, especially when it’s hot outside. If this long, hot summer sticks around through September, there will be a lot of flop in my future. At least the humidity is low, or so I was promised.

 

Chloë on Guard

Chloë shows off her protective sock

The pain from my recent injury didn’t last long. As you can see from the video above, within a couple of days I ditched the protective sock (shown in the photo) and got back to running around as usual, even romping in the cemetery with my little buddy Schatzi.

Chloë hogs Schatzi’s toys.

Just a few days later, Mike and Heather went away again (!), so I went over to Schatzi’s house for another staycation. Just like last time, I took over all of her toys (hers are much better than mine), and we played a lot of Bed Bingo, when Schatzi occupies my bed and I take over hers. Observing proper social distancing, we did not sleep in the same bed together, and for the most part we dined separately, although there was one night when Schatzi tried to get at my food, and I had to growl at her.

Something was different about this visit, however. Schatzi, who just turned one year old, went into heat for the first time a few days before I got there. Since I had been spayed when I was just six months old (Heather being a  staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood), I wasn’t able to offer my young pal any first-dog advice on what to expect or how to deal with it, but I was able to perform a crucial function nonetheless: Guarding her against any slobbering male dogs who might be hanging around the property, drooling over my fruitful friend. Marley from across the street seemed to be sniffing around more than usual, but after I gave him a hard stare, he kept his distance. I must have done a good job while I was there, because when I left the premises, Schatzi’s virginity was intact. Not on my watch, boys!

Schatzi contemplates her life in her idol’s bed.

Listening intently on the trading floor.

The other highlight of my stay was going to Caroline’s financial adviser office in Magnolia Village. Everyone there is always so nice to Schatzi and me, even at this difficult, frenzied time when the stock market was crashing all around them!  Still, just by sitting in her office for a little while, I was able to pick up some valuable insight about what to do with my portfolio. Unlike certain members of the U.S. Senate,  however, I have resisted the urge to cash in on my inside knowledge. But Schatzi, with her reckless youth and feelings of  invincibility, may not be so inclined. As our illustrious president likes to say, we’ll see what happens.

Schatzi soaks in the financial news.

 

 

 

 

Chloë Does a Slow Dance

Schatzi

We met up with Schatzi and Caroline again, this time in Discovery Park, just as I predicted. I showed them some less-traveled trails, and Schatzi looked like she picked up on my cues on correct walking procedures pretty quickly–until distracted, of course, which didn’t take much (and I’m one to talk, right?).

After taking a short rest from trail-walking and having a drink of water on the open field near the Environmental Learning Center, Heather finally pulled my ball out of her pack and gave me a couple of throws. Schatzi, still trying to emulate my every move, followed in swift pursuit, even though she’s still not big enough to get the ball in her mouth. As long as she wasn’t nipping at MY mouth, which did happen several times, I let her have her fun. I had fun, too, as you can see in the slow-motion video below, courtesy of Caroline. Think of it as dachshund ballet. Look at those ears go!

 

I’m hoping to squeeze in one more training session with Schatzi before I take off with Mike and Heather for our summer vacation. When I return in September and find out she’s as big as I am, I want her to remember who the alpha dog is in this relationship. I’m only going to have one more time to throw my weight around.

Resting between innings.

Chloë Gets a New Playmate

Schatzi

Back when I was but a mere puppy, Heather and Mike took me on a couple of “play dates” with Pinot and Ida, two dachshunds who belonged to Caroline, who became my personal financial advisor and sometime hotelier. As I recall, my interaction with her dogs wasn’t exactly the nonstop frolic, tackling and tumbling that ensued when I met up with my brothers Frank and Stanley. Caroline’s dogs were both grown up, indifferent and reserved, and they weren’t all that  interested in me.

Who’s the boss?

Now, nine years later, it’s my turn to be the grownup in the room. After much searching and waiting, Schatzi finally arrived at Caroline’s house, a.k.a. my vacation getaway, and Mike, Heather and I went over there for our maiden visit last week. Schatzi, just 12 weeks old and a wrinkly nine pounds, peed submissively on the kitchen floor as soon as we walked in, which I took as a good sign that she was excited to see me and willing to do my bidding. I decided to be nice to her, within reason, as long as she follows my rules, such as me always getting first dibs on toys and treats. Schatzi indicated that she understood. I even tried to play with her, at least for a few seconds.

Schatzi gets ready for school.

I was glad to learn Caroline and David had enrolled Schatzi in the same puppy kindergarten classes that I attended, so I know she will be getting a first-class education. And since I quickly got Schatzi attuned to the Chloë World Order, I’ll make additional visits to further train her and provide the nuance that will enhance the lessons she learns at school. Certain traits such as stubbornness may be innate to dachshunds, but they must be properly nurtured and molded to be most effective. That’s where I can be especially useful to a young pup such as Schatzi. We’ll see what happens.

First face off.

Chloë Reviews Her Portfolio

Chloë and Caroline track stock prices online.

My personal financial planner (and sometime hotelier) Caroline changed firms and Magnolia offices last month, and Mike and Heather finally got around to taking me to inspect her new digs. As far as I’m concerned, the new location could not possibly be better: It’s in the heart of Magnolia Village, in the same parking lot as Bartell Drugs and conveniently next door to Pet Pros, where I frequently stock up on mini cheese and salmon hearts at the help-yourself treat bar. Caroline gave us a short tour of the new layout and introduced us to everybody who was working there, which gave me the opportunity to give a good sniff-over to each and every office and conference room. It was not until I got into Caroline’s private office that I found the specific cabinet I was looking for. And let me tell you: While the name of the brokerage may have changed, the quality and quantity of the treats Caroline keeps for her doggie clients has not diminished.

Chloë joins the powerhouse financial round table.

Caroline then went over my retirement portfolio with me and Heather (Mike, unfortunately, is not financially astute enough to participate), suggesting how I might re-balance my holdings to achieve greater security and long-term growth. Made sense to me! As long as I was allowed to stay close to the treat cabinet, I was all ears. When Caroline talks, I listen, especially when I’m staying at her house and she controls the treats. The only “insider” information I really need is how to open that special cabinet that pays great dividends.

Chloë Makes a Statement

Merrie behind bars.

My good pal Charlie often brings articles for Mike and Heather to read because they are about a topic that interests them. Last week he finally gave them one that had some relevance to me. It was a column from the Wall Street Journal—on a real newsprint page, not a printout (Charlie is old school). I was immediately attracted to it because the article included a photo of a sad-eyed Basset hound who was the spitting image of my friend Merrie from down our block. Then I saw the headline, “Readers Howl Over an Insult to Canine Intelligence,” and I realized the dog in the photo couldn’t possibly be Merrie. (I like Merrie. She’s a real sweetie.)

Mike and Heather both laughed when they read the article, written by WSJ  sports columnist Jason Gay, so I made Mike read it to me one afternoon when I could pry him away from Syracuse basketball on TV. The article begins: “The new issue of the scientific journal Learning and Behavior includes a paper by researchers who studied dog intelligence—and concluded that dogs are not as smart as popularly believed. ‘There is no current case for canine exceptionalism,’ the authors wrote, a line that drew swift rebuke from the canine-loving community in letters to the esteemed journal.” His article goes on to include 11 (plus one from a cat) “letters to the editors,” each purportedly written by a dog humorously pleading its personal case for mental superiority.

Low-key approach

Really? These letter-writers show their insecurities, not their intelligence. Even if I had seen the original article in the scholarly journal, which I did not (with no pictures, not my kind of publication), I wouldn’t be tooting my own horn in rebuke or defiance. No need to bother. My blog speaks for itself.

Chloë Interprets Her Dreams

Hanging out with Mr. Monkey

Just as I am while I am awake, when asleep I am a vocal dreamer. Rare is the night that I don’t startle my crate-mate Mr. Monkey and even at times Mike and Heather with my yips, whines, low growls and, at the least, gentle snoring.

There’s no doubt that I dream. Noted pet behaviorist Patricia McConnell accepts the concept of dog dreaming, but wonders what we’re dreaming about. She argues that, like humans, dogs probably dream about recent events through a funnel of memory-processing and consolidation. “Thus, it is reasonable to speculate that our dogs are dreaming about something that might have happened during the day, but not necessarily in context. (Herding the rabbit they saw in the woods in the afternoon, but this time in a sheepdog trial in the snow under a purple sky?)” McConnell writes on her blog, The Other End of the Leash.

I bring this up now because of my recent oral surgery, for which Dr. Crocker, who otherwise seems like a nice man, had to put me under anaesthesia. See, despite the anti-anxiety medication Mike administered twice before forcing me into the car and taking me on what could have been the last ride of my life (and they didn’t even let me sit in the front seat!), I  was afraid. Not of having my tooth drilled, filed and filled. I was afraid of the nightmares I was certain to have while I was off in another dimension.

“Do dogs have nightmares?” McConnell asked in the same post. “It seems very likely. Our experiences, the biological continuum between all mammals, and the emotional content of REM dreams, suggest that they do. So many of us have seen and heard dogs growl and whine while dreaming. I’ve had clients whose dogs woke up in a panic, sometimes even running across the room and trying to hide. Science teaches us to be ‘parsimonious’ in our explanations of what we observe, and surely it is simpler to explain what we observe, and what we’ve learned about neurobiology, to assume that dogs do indeed have nightmares until evidence appears that tells us that they don’t. I wouldn’t bet on that happening, myself. But it is also probably true that most of a dog’s dreams aren’t nightmares, and are either pleasant, or just bizarre.”

I considered myself lucky when my hours of stupor produced only these wonderful thoughts.

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When I awoke, I was still a little woozy, but Mike and Heather were there to greet me and told me I had done a great job. And there was good news: Dr. Crocker managed to save my tooth with a root-canal procedure instead of extracting it. In a couple of weeks, I get to go back to finish the job, putting a permanent crown on the tooth and enjoying another few minutes of drug-induced dreaming. This time I’m looking forward to it.