Category Archives: Advice from Chloë

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.

 

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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.

 

Chloë Survives a Tough 10 Days

Chloë went thataway.

The wet weather has continued, curtailing many of our afternoon walks, which makes everyone a little cranky. One recent walk on a moderately rainy day, however, turned longer than anticipated when I split from my pack (Heather, Mike and my pal Charlie) for a little jaunt on my own. The problem was that we were at an unfamiliar location, Paradise Valley Conservation Area in Maltby (Snohomish County), and it was almost dark. We went there in the late afternoon after a basketball game, and we were almost back to the parking lot when I picked up a scent and took off, broadcasting my shrill “I’m gonna git you!!” bark all over the forest at the top of my lungs. Ignoring Heather’s calls, I barked for a long time before finally giving it up and returning. Heather was none too pleased. No Treat Party for me. But despite that and my supposed pal Charlie’s repeated interrogation, I have still not divulged who or what I was after. Nor will I! My lips are sealed.

Being interrogated after recapture.

Luckily, Heather’s ire was tempered by two uncharacteristic (for me) doggie illnesses, one right after the other, so she was also taking close care of me. I didn’t first consider the two related, but come to as I think of it, I am turning 8 next week, and perhaps this taut, lithe body is starting to break down. It’s something to consider, I suppose, although neither one of these short discomforts seemed to deter me from running full tilt when playing fetch and chasing squirrels, nor did either curb my appetite. In fact, since the cure for my gastrointestinal situation was a diet of ground beef and rice for several days, my appetite was more voracious than ever, if that’s possible.

Anyhow, I’m fine now. Although I gradually moved back to my regular diet with no ground beef, I’m glad my stomach ‘s not making those gurgling sounds anymore. And Heather’s diligent care of the skin rash on the inside of my thighs with ointment and shampoo appears to have ended that problem, at least for now.

Still spry at 8.

I really wouldn’t have bothered mentioning either of these ailments except for Mike’s research into a cure for my G.I. distress. Since my previous health in this area has been stellar (Mike attributes this to the pinch of yogurt he adds to each of my meals), it had been a long time since Mike had been forced to confront this particular canine dilemma. His quest for details on ingredients and proportions for my special diet led him to the American Kennel Club’s helpful web page on this topic. I’ve got my AKC papers , so I know the AKC‘s word is the gospel on all things canine. But lo and behold, besides the sought-after recipe for ground beef and rice, Mike also stumbled upon this infographic from Purina that he now feels compelled to share with my loyal readers. He said he longed to be in the agency creative meetings that developed this concept, with special praise for the expressive eyes on each pile.

Infographic from Purina

 

Chloë Sends Holiday Greetings

A wirehair wiener dog plows through with gifts..

 

Dachshund through the snow

Demanding that we play,

O’er the fields we throw

Laughing all the way.

Treats below my tree

Make my spirits bright

What fun to be home in my bed

With a PBB tonight!

Well, that’s about as creative as I get this week. Mike and Heather have settled into a long winter’s nap, and I am left, snug in my crate, to ruminate about everything.

While I’m doing that, I wish happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year to all.

Chloë Decries Being Cute

Harry Bliss comic 2017.

Beyond “what kind of dog is that?” the most common comment I heard from strangers on our trip across the country last summer was, “Your dog is soooo cute!”

I am flattered, but I don’t want to be labeled one-dimensional, known only for my looks. There’s so much more to me than that, don’t you think? My exemplary behavior, for example. And my athletic abilities, of course. Not to mention my humility and my many years of service to humanity and the canine world.

Cutest of them all?

All this praise leaves me tired, however. Who needs the aggravation? The people have spoken. We’ll just stick with cute for now.

Chloë Lists Everything She Knows

Down and stay.

This started out as some instructions to my sitters and walkers, but as Heather gears up for training intended to turn me into a service animal, she asked Mike to update this list to more fully acknowledge the tremendous breadth of my understanding of human talk after a mere seven years of practice. It does not include this various barks, whines, whimpers and howls that I use in response. That’s a longer story for another day.

So here’s what Mike wrote down:

What Chloë Knows

First and foremost, what any dachshund knows is how to be stubborn, so make sure she knows you’re the boss! When you want her to do something, don’t yell, it won’t do any good. Just use your best command tone and hope for the best.

All commands work best when you say her name first, to get her attention, as in “Chloë, sit.”

Chloe’s Vocabulary

No!  This one word delivered sternly will make her cease all kinds of bad behavior.

Sit.  She will sit at the spot she is. Make a fist, hold at your shoulder height, say “Chloë, sit.”

Down. Raise your hand above your head and say, “Chloë, down!”. She will lie down on that spot. Make sure she has her butt on the ground.

Wait. She will stop and stand in place and wait for instructions. (Always make her wait before crossing the street.)

Stay. Raise hand to shoulder level in a Stop! pose; she will stay…at least until distracted.

Come. If she does not come, move a few feet, turn perpendicular to her, lean forward slightly and rotate your hands in a circular motion. When she comes, praise her and give her a treat.

Touch. She will come and touch your outstretched hand. Make her come all the way and touch your hand with her nose.

Treat Party! Chloë’s ultimate bribe. Use sparingly, and only when she is highly distracted or on the loose. Yell it repeatedly, and pay off with at least three treats when she arrives.

Find. As in find the ball or find Wiffie. When said with enthusiasm, she will start looking in earnest for the ball. When she first makes visual contact, her tail with wag vigorously.

Bring it!

Bring It (the ball). She will carry the ball in her mouth to the thrower, drop it and want another throw.

Go to (Mike, Heather, Charlie, Claire, Lynn). These are people she knows by name and will run to when prompted.

With Me!!!!!. She will follow your lead on her leash, sometimes even without one. She knows how to walk on a short leash.

This way!!! When arriving at a fork in the path, to tell her which way you want her to go.

WHOA! Slow down if she’s getting too far ahead or pulling too hard on her leash. Useful on hills.

OK! Her release word, meaning it’s all right to cross the street, go through the door, run after a ball, etc. Make her stop and ask if it’s OK, and tell her OK! if it is.

Leave It!!! This will make her stop what she’s doing and focus on you, not whatever is distracting her. That can be a plant, an object, a jogger, another dog gum or a cigarette butt on the ground.

Drop It!!! In conjunction with offering her a high-grade treat, this might make her drop what’s already in her mouth, depending on how big a treasure it is. Don’t try to pry her jaw open, she’s tough.

Up! The signal it’s OK to jump up on a platform, table or into the car.

Chair! Her word for being directed to a permanent or folding chair.

Bed. Will go to the closest dog bed or crate available, sometimes reluctantly.

Steps. Will bound up or down stairways or a step stool to a bed.

Back-back-back-back. Will make her slide herself backwards on the floor in a sitting position.

Hurry up! The command to pee or poop if she needs to.

Easy, Chloë, easy. Said gently when giving her a biscuit or some other treat, so she takes it softly from the giver rather than biting at it.

Chloë, Let’s Go to Bed! Her goodnight command. From a down/stay, she will sprint to her crate.

Chloë’s Tricks

Beg. From a sit or down, she will rise up on her back legs and put her front paws up.

Dance! From a sit or down, she will rise up on her back legs and twirl around once in a circle.

Roll! From down stay will turn around on her back and stomach, sometimes not very straight. Sometimes she will do it twice in a row, back and forth.

Shake. From a sit, she will extend her paw to you if you extend a hand to her and say it.

Frankly, I’ve got a lot more tricks up my fur, but I don’t want to reveal everything at once and tip my hand.

Chloë Counts Her Blessings

Even though my UPS-delivered bickies were down this holiday season, the results in other areas were very favorable overall.

Aunts Susie and Debby from Syracuse came through again, this time with a whole selection of delectable treats. And my good friend Charlie came over for Christmas dinner, bringing me even more presents. If only Mike weren’t rationing them out so slowly, I would be able to really enjoy all my holiday loot. But around here, they always make me work for treats, dammit.

Like this: Before letting me enjoy the treats from my stocking, they buried all the good stuff deep inside and made me find it!  I had to worm my way all the way to the toes to get anything.

Putting herself into it.

Putting herself into it.

Don’t worry, I found them, and my Syracuse aunts sent me a fine selection of jerky logs, snausages and steak-shaped  items. Thank you, aunts, you know I love meat products of all kinds and descriptions.

Holiday treats from the Cuse.

Holiday charcuterie from the Cuse.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries

But I appreciate balance, too, which is why I’m thankful that Mike includes some raw vegetables in every one of my meals, and my vegetarian pal Charlie always finds the healthiest veggie treats for me.This time he gave me dried sweet potatoes cut like crinkly french fries. I love eating vegetables, too. In fact, I love pretty much anything that’s edible when I really think about it. Those sweet potatoes go down about as quickly as anything that’s meat-flavored. Or cheese, for that matter. Dairy products? Of course! And sweets, sweets are good.

Aunt Susie also sent some of her famous holiday cookies, but these were for Heather and Mike. Mostly Mike, based on what I’ve observed. I’ve seen him sneak into the kitchen at night and sneak a couple of Susie’s cookies into the bedroom after Heather is snoring sleeping. I couldn’t test any of these cookies, I was told, because they all had chocolate in them, and chocolate is not good for dogs. (By the way, I’d like to see some documented proof of this. This could be urban legend, for all I know, and I would have missed out on a lot of potential good stuff. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about hot fudge sundaes.)

Dachshund Cookie

Broken dachshund cookie mostly pieced together

Aunt Susie wanted us to know that some of the cookies were shaped like dachshunds instead of the traditional Christmas tree. It was hard to tell at first, because every dachshund cookie broke into pieces during shipping — via USPS, of course. I’d be remiss if I did not point out to Aunt Susie that had she chosen UPS as her carrier, the dachshund cookies would have arrived intact and the real dachshund on the premises might have had the lagniappe of having a large brown bickie delivered to the front door along with her aunts’s gracious holiday gifts. On the other hand, most of the people who saw the dachshund cookie thought it looked like  a Springer spaniel.

Chloe Under Ass

Chloe under ass

As it was, I managed to make do with the treats that I got. Even more than the food, I enjoyed having  lots of time over the holidays at home with Heather. When she’s around the house every day like she is on weekends, there is always more walking, more ball-throwing, more treating, more degrees on the thermostat and more stuff to do all day. Sometimes I am having so much fun that Mike has to literally sit on me to rein me in. I’m losing so much daytime napping that I’m spent, and I’m looking forward to going to bed early on New Year’s Eve. What the heck? See you next year.