Category Archives: Cats and Dogs

Chloë Finally Conquers a Cat

Cat lair territory.

In our summer neighborhood, cats were everywhere. I was forced to remain on constant vigil lest they overrun us. Two lived in the house right next door, an orange one and a gray one. They taunted me by sunbathing in their driveway. Sometimes they hid inside the flower beds in MY back yard, right in there among the purple coneflower, loosestrife, yarrow and dill. I know, because I could smell them, long after they had retreated to other lairs. There’s nothing worse than the smell of rotting cat hurl. Yuck.

Cleo and Bear get their last meal before their nemesis arrives.

 

Cleo and Bear, the cats who belong to my aunts Susie and Debby, lived on the other side of Meadowbrook, but I was constantly scheming to get a walk over there. Those cats were afraid of me. And well they should be, especially since I loudly chased after them on my most recent visit. One went upstairs and the other ran downstairs, into the basement. My outburst got them quarantined to the second floor for the rest of our visit, while I was similarly confined to my bed at the base of the stairs, from which I cast a menacing gaze upward whenever I felt their eyes upon me. The cats stayed put. In fact, I saw so little of them on this trip that I can barely recall what they look like. No matter, I still know they’re there, and I will corner them one day.

Thankfully, I found one cat in the Salt City that knew its place. I just had to look this guy firmly in the eye one time and he immediately turned to stone.

 

Who’s the boss?

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Chloë Blazes New Trails

It’s been fairly quiet around here.  Things get like that whenever Heather parks herself in front of a computer screen and starts pecking away at a keyboard. Then it’s my job to lie in my camp chair next to her and give her a whine or two at 10, 2 and 4:30 if she hasn’t already taken me outside for a pee and back inside for treats. I shouldn’t have to remind her, but if I didn’t whine and distract her, she might still be sitting in front of that screen at dinner time without taking a break.

Chloë stuck by 3-foot stick

Mike is much easier to move. One day when Heather was not feeling well, I allowed her to stay home, and I took a walk with just Mike and  my pal Charlie. I was chasing my ball into the bushes at the first dogleg on Chloë’s  Lane when I got stuck, somehow lodging a 3-foot-long tree branch between the side of my chest and my harness. For several minutes, I couldn’t move. Mike finally realized something was amiss, and he walked up the path to where the stick I was attached to was itself caught between some low-hanging branches of a small evergreen. First Mike extricated me from the tree, and then he had to take off my harness to free the stick. The branch had some sharp nubs on it, but I fortunately emerged unscathed.

Walking the new Capehart trail.

Springtime brings lots of little critter action in the park, however, and I have been extremely interested. Several times I have run off to chase rabbits or squirrels or voles,earning  the wrath of Heather and her vow not to let me off leash again until the end of September. That’s a long time. She’s been tying me to the belt around her waist again, trying to whip me into behavioral shape before we leave on our summer sojourn.

Listening to speeches at Capehart.

But even Heather had to be impressed with my exemplary behavior at the official opening of the new Capehart trails in Discovery Park. There was a crowd there, with food and speeches and a lot of kids and other dogs around, and I just laid calmly on the ground, taking everything in.  When Heather said I was the best dog there, she wasn’t just whistling Dixie.

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 Takes a Puppy to School

Mr. Fuzz

I was excited to to return to my mountain getaway in east King County last week. As soon as we exited I-90 and climbed into to the foothills, I knew where we were going, back to the palace of wall-to-wall carpet and lawns galore. It’s my absolutely favorite place to play fetch, 50 or more throws at each session. And I love being the undisputed leader of the pack with Pumpkin, the little dog who lives there, and the mysterious Mr. Fuzz, the bushy cat who mostly stays upstairs when I’m around. They know their place.

Smokey

Unfortunately, sometime after our last visit, Smokey showed up. About 8 months old when we arrived, Smokey is the successor to Tara, the brilliant Aussie who showed me the ropes out here when I was a but a wee pup. Supposedly it was my turn to pass some wisdom on to Smokey, except for one thing: Smokey just didn’t want to listen. Every single time he could, he just wanted to bite me on the ears or stick his nose up my butt, like I was going to smell different every time. Heather yelled, “Leave!” and “No” more than I’ve ever heard them yelled before, even in my own frolicking puppyhood. Heather was worn out after a week of grappling on the other end of a leash with Smokey, a strong and growing boy.

Chloe and Smokey rest on the trail.

Heather said Smokey hadn’t been out much beyond the grounds of his home property. He didn’t know anything about taking a walk, so we taught him how to do it, and we walked on the Preston-Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Valley trails. By the end of our time there, he was getting better at following the pack, although he kept trying to pick up large sticks at the end instead of in the middle, and he turned out to be a serial pooper, meaning he took several long strides between each deposit, so it was hard to know when he was done and harder to find those nuggets when he was. Heather needed a lot of bags. And she also had to teach Smokey about how to ride in the back of the car, although it took a lot of pushing and shoving from Heather and Mike in the front seat to keep him there. On the plus side, since Smokey had to be by himself in the back seat tied to my harness, I finally regained my rightful place in the front seat in Mike’s lap. Good timing, too; in this comfortable spot I could lay my head down, close my eyes, and not think about the twisty roads we were driving on, which make me queasy.

Chloë smugly watches Smokey suffer in Heather’s Boot Camp.

Heather tried valiantly to teach Smokey better manners, but even a week in Heather’s infamous Boot Camp could not make much difference. Hopefully Smokey will grow out of his rambunctiousness and be a nice guy to be around, but at this time he’s still a work in progress. While we were in the house, he mostly had to stay in his exercise pen in the living room, just to keep him out of everyone’s face and give Pumpkin and I some respite from his constant advances. We all felt sorry for Pumpkin, because when no one is around to tell Smokey “no,” he will hound her constantly and drive her into her crate or onto seats of chairs that are pushed in under the dining room table, where she crawls up in her little lair and hopes he doesn’t find her.

Status reclaimed.

Anyway, I missed out on the other Big Excitement of our week at the getaway. I was inside the house with Mike in the middle of the afternoon when Heather took Pumpkin and Smokey outside for some exercise. She threw the ball for Smokey (and he was making some progress on bringing it back!) while Pumpkin ran unleashed in in the horse ring until Heather saw a cougar standing at the edge of the property, on a trail that goes into the state forest land out back. She yanked on Smokey’s leash, called Pumpkin to come and hightailed it with them to the house, while the cougar hightailed it in the opposite direction.

It was a good thing that I didn’t happen to be out there fetching my ball on the back lawn when that big cat appeared. Everyone knows how much I love to chase cats. It could have been good practice for the Bartons’ cats down the street., and no one doubts I would have been deterred by its size.

Chloe on Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Although I missed that opportunity, and sometimes Smokey got to be a bit intimidating, it was a worthwhile time out there. It made Heather appreciate much more just what a good dog I am. And as I always like to say, better him than me.

 

Chloë Chases Cats from Coast to Coast

animal antler big close up

Moose by Photo Collections on Pexels.com

I have encountered many kids on my current trip, and more strangers wanting to pet me and tell Mike and Heather how cute I am than I can count. I’m doing much better in these situations, moving from my usual position of hiding behind Heather’s legs all the way to fleeting tolerance of the intruders. I cannot deny all this attention is nice. And I’ve done pretty well getting along with all the dogs I met on the trip, both the ones I encountered casually on a walk or in a La Quinta (pets stay free) and the ones I’ve spent hours or even days with, such as Logan and Pippa in Washington, D.C., Abby and Nelu in Syracuse, Skippy in Avon and Cleo in Innisfil, Ontario. I even maintained my composure when I crossed paths on our trip with chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds, deer, antelopes, a moose and a porcupine, content to revel in a good whiff of their scents instead of making my normal no-holds-barred dash to the animal. tree or hole in question.

In fact, there is only one kind of person or animal guaranteed to turn me into a whirling banshee in swift pursuit: Cats.

Cleo and Bear

Cleo and Bear chow down at my aunts’ house.

I’ve read that in my hometown of Seattle, dogs outnumber children. Well, in Syracuse, the same must be true for cats. Just in the neighborhood where we stayed, I saw dozens of them on our daily walks to Barry Park or Nottingham High School, and in the cemetery when we walked there. That kind of daily cat contact is hard to avoid and easy to ignore. But three of these neighborhood cats had the audacity to treat the back yard of our temporary house as their own domain. The two that lived next door, the orange Morris and a gray one whose name I never caught, were of course impossible to get rid of. But that third one, a scrawny gray male who might have been feral, he was my enemy. I peed every place I could to show him who’s boss. Once I surprised him while he was lounging in a flower garden, but my howling and Heather’s taut grip on my rope let him get away.

Bear and Cleo in Window

Bear and Cleo watch for intruders.

But my biggest battles came at my aunts’ house. I missed not being right across the street from them, but they gave me a bag of Snausages anyway, so still got excited every time I got to see them. I didn’t so much miss Spanky, their nasty cat who died last fall (R.I.P.), who made wild snarls every time he saw me. Over the winter, aunts Susie and Debby brought home sister kittens Cleo and Bear from a lady in Eastwood who had dozens of cats living in her house (supporting my theory about cats outnumbering children in Syracuse). And as kittens, the gray-striped Cleo and the bushy black Bear, are obviously adorable. Except, of course, for one thing. They will grow up to be cats. And I must wage war on cats, anywhere and everywhere.

So far, I have met only one cat that I get along with, Stan and Laurie’s elegant Dinah. From the get-go, we earned each other’s respect, and as long as I stay away from her food dish, we’re cool. I even get to chew up one of her cat toys now and then.

Bear on Couch

Bear lounges on couch.

But Cleo and Bear, they refuse to stay out of my way, and when I chase them upstairs or chew up one of their toys, I get in trouble. Big trouble, and not with my aunts, but with Heather, the Enforcer. I get slammed into down-stay purgatory, while Cleo and Bear sit in the kitchen bay window or at the top of the stairs and laugh at me. Laughed at, by cats. I cannot abide.

We left Syracuse before I caught either one of those little rascals. They can laugh all they want to now, but like General MacArthur, I shall return. I’ve got to chase that cat out of the sink and continue my private war.

Cleo in sink

Cleo awaits a bath.

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.

 

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