Category Archives: Chloë’s Excellent Adventures

Chloë Turns Out the Lights

Chloë waits out the blackout.

Between earlier sundowns and rotten weather, it was hard to get in a good walk the past week or so. With wind and rain lashing with regularity, our usual hour-plus sessions of walking and playing fetch in the park have been severely curtailed. The worst came one afternoon when it was so windy that Heather decided we would walk no further than me finding a convenient place to do my business.  But before we even got out the front door, the lights and computers around the house all flashed a couple of times and died. It was almost dark  outside when it happened, and within 20 minutes we plunged into total darkness. Heather dug out all the candles, and Mike wondered if it would  last as long as the Great Blackout of 1965.

We made do. Mike brought out his Costco emergency flashlights and Heather lit enough candles to read by. She brought camp chairs into the kitchen, and all three of us sat around in a circle.  While Heather read, Mike got out his iPod, put on headphones and listened to Little Feat play “Tripe Face Boogie” and other favorite selections. Mike took some bread out of the freezer so he could make tuna and cheese sandwiches, and then announced he was bored.  After an hour or so, they were longing for TV and wondering how far they’d have to drive to get takeout. There were many, many more episodes of Hawaii Five-O and Charlie Rose to watch on the DVR.

Heather reads by candlelight.

I fell asleep in my chair and stayed there until dinner time. Because the microwave wasn’t working, Mike had to serve my dinner cold, but hell, I survived. After all, in a disaster protocol like this everybody has to sacrifice. Here I was, enjoying a gourmet meal served to me by my personal valet inside a small, romantically-lit room, with my entire pack surrounding me. I might have died  and gone to heaven.

Unfortunately, after four hours or so, the lights came back on. So did the TV, the phone and the internet. No longer was I the sole center of attention. Worst of all, we weren’t all in the same room all the time.

Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted.

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Chloë Spurns Treats

My longtime readers might be shocked by that headline. After all, I boast quite a reputation for my voracious gourmand appetite, known for never meeting a food scrap in the road that I didn’t like. Alas, I have to admit the headline is true, I did turn down treats last Sunday, even some high-quality ones. I claim extenuating circumstances, however.

Chloë’s tempations

Here’s what happened. Mike, Heather and I went for our regular Sunday jaunt with my pal Charlie. One of the reasons Charlie is such a good pal is because he brings me his used racquet balls, softer and smaller than the balls Heather and Mike throw for me. I love them because it’s easy to gnaw on them. So I do gnaw on them, incessantly, until they break. Then it’s lots of fun to chew on the bigger pieces to break them up further, and eventually into pieces small enough to swallow. That’s where Mike and Heather seem to draw the line.

Last Sunday, when Charlie brought along two racquet balls for me to chase, I was still gnawing on one when we got home, and I refused to take it out of my mouth. Heather couldn’t pry it out or get me to let it go. When she tried to trade me Charlee Bears for the ball, I scoffed. Mike upped the ante with salmon hearts and mini-bones in addition to Charlee Bears, all to no avail. Only when Heather produced a Frozen PBB and put it right under my nose did my jaw slacken a little, enough that Heather could yank the ball out of my clinch.

Waiting to play fetch

I fooled her, though: I still had a small part of the ball in my mouth, and I quickly tucked it under my belly as I began eagerly licking the Frozen PBB. As soon as Heather looked away, however, I got cocky. I stopped licking the PBB and placed the hidden piece of racquet ball back into gnawing position in my mouth. I might have gotten away with both of them were it not for the thwack of the rubber bending between my teeth. This time Heather pounced and held my jaw open while Mike pried the hunk of ball out and threw it away. That’s OK, though. My pal Charlie always says he has “plenty” more racquet balls to bring over.

Besides, while I  lost that particular ball, I still had the PBB, which was a nice consolation prize. With order restored, I could turn my nose up at a quality treat for only so long.

 

Chloë Abandons One Bed for Another

Two girls in bed.

This photo gives a good indication of what Heather’s “change in schedule” (we can’t really call it retirement!) means to me: more TV watching in bed and nap time! When Heather does “go to work,” it’s downstairs in the house, not driving away in the car. Now I can be with her all day, most of the time with the fireplace on, an added bonus. So  depending on my mood and temperature, I can choose to lay in my camp chair or on the rug in front of the fireplace and in either location be perfectly content all day, or at least until Heather’s cursing and yelling at herself wakes me up. She can really rile herself up, so it’s good that I’m there as a calming influence.

I haven’t abandoned the upstairs office bed entirely. It’s still my preferred spot for licking a Frozen PBB clean, and sometimes I like to go in there in the morning, when Heather is using the office computer. But as far as when Mike is in there? Not so much, except in the infrequent occasions when Heather is at a meeting or out of town. And at breakfast and dinner time, of course. That goes without saying.

The empty nest.

In fact, I was about to forget about Mike entirely when he went away for a week to visit his mom, the first time in almost a year that we’ve been separated for even a day. That’s when I realized that not only did I miss Mike, but that I needed him. If just Heather took care of me all the time, I would never get away with anything, at least not to the extent I do with Mike. He’s so easy, it’s like having three cupcakes on your non-conference schedule. Heather is tougher, more like playing Alabama every week. Come back, Mike, all is forgiven. Besides, who else can I get to do my typing?

 

Chloë Gets Wet in the Woods

Chloë’s favorite brand

It’s getting on toward mid-October already, but it still feels like Indian Summer to me, bright and clear in the afternoons and turning quickly crisp when the sun dips down. Perfect weather for chasing after my whistling balls. Last week I knocked a blue one over a bluff in the park that was so steep that Mike and Heather wouldn’t let me chase down the cliff after it. I knew where it was, too, but getting to it would have posed some problems, I admit, and it was a long, long way down. Luckily, Mike knew where to find another ball in a box in the garage, an orange one at that.

Drenched

I’ve also been gnawing away at two green racquet balls that my pal Charlie brought along last weekend when we drove out to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail for a Sunday hike. We walked almost two hours, an hour and a half in glorious fall weather and the last half hour in a sudden, unexpected and torrential downpour.  Huge by Washington standards, Central New York thunderstorm-level heavy but cold and piercing, including some hail. Charlie and Heather had been throwing for me when the deluge began, even as parts of the sky remained blue and the forest floor was flooded with sunshine. Mike kept saying the rain was going to stop any second, but it was still pouring when we finally reached the car and hopped in.

Since everyone was soaking wet, they scrapped their plans for dining on the way home and headed back to the city for towels, dry clothes and pizza. I got extra cheese on my own dinner and later licked plates when they were done with the pizza. All in all, another great Sunday, despite the rain.

Chloë Journeys to the East and Back

On the Kootenai River, Idaho

So, did ya miss me?

I do apologize to my loyal readers for not writing in such a long time, not even a postcard. Sorry, but life on the road turned out to be more time-consuming than I had originally anticipated. As we traveled from place to place,  we usually rode all day in the car, and at night Mike was too busy putting together the next day’s itinerary to sit down for an hour and listen to my prattling. Reluctantly, I deferred. Besides, I was having too good a time.

Mike, Heather and I left Seattle on June 15 and didn’t get back home until Aug. 23 – 10, 939 miles, 20 states and provinces and 69 days later. Quite the journey! While I can’t deny that I endured some minor hardships along the way, I had a blast. I had never dreamed there were so many neat places and people to see and sniff beyond my Magnolia neighborhood.

Although this extended road trip upset my normal routine, I got treated so well that I was able to settle into a new routine after only a day or two.  In the car, I had the back seat all to myself, and from my propped-up perch I could keep track of everything going on inside and outside. I happily report that Heather never fell asleep at the wheel once, while navigator Mike dozed off more times than I did. Good thing he wasn’t driving. In case of a sudden jolt, I was strapped to a harness so I couldn’t fly through a window, but I could still move around as much as I needed to, which wasn’t much. Any time I needed anything, such as a cold drink, a Frozen PBB, a pit stop or a treat, all I had to do was whine a couple of times. It drove Mike and Heather nuts, but it got results. “Stifle!” Heather would bark at me, applying a sternly worded reprimand. It worked – until the next time, that is.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

After a day of driving, every afternoon the three of us  took a long walk, and we visited some incredible locations. We didn’t do a lot of ball-throwing on these walks, because Mike and Heather were afraid of me running off. Right, like I would have the nerve to do something like that so far from the security of home. Not me; the pack was all I had. So I stuck close to the pack when we hiked in forests from Washington to New York and back. I really enjoyed all the places we walked, even when they turned into harrowing experiences. Once Mike got us lost at dusk, deep in a Ohio forest preserve. Another time Heather carried me down and back up several flights of metal-grated stairs to the base of a waterfall on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The steps had a sharp surface that hurt my feet.

While I never had to sleep in a tent, thank god, my travel crate was wedged in next to the air conditioner in many a cheap motel room. And there were other minor tribulations as well, such as navigating my way around a couple of cats (I got along with docile Dinah, faced off with snarling Spanky, who stalked me for my whole time in Syracuse). I sniffed out and chased after wild animals (deer, elk, prairie dogs, chipmunks and buffalo), managed to ignore many dogs, backed away from many children who wanted to pet me, and turned my back on too many strangers who gushed about my cuteness or my breed, usually guessing incorrectly. “Wirehair dachshund, but not a textbook wirehair,” Heather replied every time, often providing further information on the three dachshund coats and apologizing because I wasn’t a better illustration of my breed. Thankfully, no one demanded to see my papers, not even on any of my border crossings into Canada and back.

I also really enjoyed getting to meet so many of my loyal readers, and to finally give them the opportunity to press the fur with me after reading about my exploits all these years. I hope nobody was disappointed. If so, I’ll try to make it up to you next time. I’ve already overheard Heather talking about making the drive East again. Get my throne ready – with improvements, of course.

Until then, enjoy some scenes from my journey, starting with the test run through Washington state in May, followed by the trip to Syracuse and back. It’s kind of like my version of The Red Couch, starring me instead of a red couch. Enjoy it while I get Mike to take me outside to check whether there’s any new entrees on the Wendy Way* buffet table.

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Chloë Hits the Road

Chloe in the Absarokas

In the Absaroka Mountains, Montana-Wyoming

It’s been quite  a while since my last post, I know. And so much has happened in between. I just couldn’t find the time. It has been such a whirlwind that I’ve barely had a moment to myself to take a deep breath, shake it off and think about it. Maybe that time will come on my current trip to Canada, where Heather took me to visit her side of our family. Remarkably, this will be my first trip to Canada or anywhere else off American soil. I just hope Heather has the paperwork to get me back into the country.

Heather, Mike and I been on the road since the middle of May. First we did a practice run through central and eastern Washington, initiating me to my new harness-and-hammock setup in the back seat and seeing how things were going to fit in the car. It was hard to accept not being a front-seat dog after seven years of it, but I understand the need for safety. Besides, a lot of stuff didn’t fit and was left behind. Luckily, my blue bed, orange blanket and I made the cut.

At Letchworth State Park

At Letchworth State Park, New York

After eastern Washington and Mount Rainier, we had just a couple of weeks at home before we were off again, driving all the way back to Mike and Heather’s roots in Central New York and southern Ontario, respectively. It took us two weeks to drive from Seattle to Syracuse, because we were stopping all the time to hike and look at things. Mike and Heather were interested in the scenery, but I was more interested in the flora and fauna, which included rabbits, chipmunks, buffalo, elk, pronghorn and a whole lot of deer. I barked at the first buffalo I saw when he tried to put his head in our car window, but by the time I’d seen a couple hundred I barely raised my nose any more.

When we started out and drove on the twisting roads of America’s Scenic Byways, I was always on high alert, using my perch in the back seat to scour the roadside for the slightest sign of trouble.  Only later on, when we were driving fast and straight on the interstates,  without turning for hours at a time, could I sufficiently let my guard down to settle into gentle sleep. And it was a good thing to rest up for a couple of days, because my 11 days in New York state were tiring, with so many new places to go to and new people and dogs and cats to meet. It’s hard work to be on your best behavior all the time, and Heather is constantly on my case to toe the line and make her proud. I try to do my best

Chloe Sleeps in Car Again

How a sleeping dog lies.

Gulp. As I embark on my mission as an American envoy to the Great White North, I can feel the pressure to perform. Uh-oh, Canada, I stand on guard for thee.

Chloë Confronts Change

Chloë with her new sky blue ball.

After a couple of weeks of leisure out at my Getaway, I returned to my Seattle digs ready to work. With Heather slowly settling into her new at-home routine, I see a lot more intense training in my immediate future. While I’m pretty sure I can be disciplined enough to get the job done, frankly, it’s Mike I’m worried about. He can be a bit too laissez-faire about my obedience for Heather, who stresses consistency in tone and command verbiage. Unless he tightens up his act, Mike’s going to be in for even more lectures than I will get.

As I suspected, a brand new whistling ball appeared to replace the one I lost out at my Getaway. I like it a lot, once I get past the color, this one being a shade of Carolina blue instead of my favorite orange. Beyond that, it has good bounce and a nice feel in my mouth. Even better, after a couple of weeks of carrying it around practically non-stop, it still has that “new ball” smell.

Chloë’s Lane resurfaced

While a new ball was expected, quite the opposite upon our return was that Chloë’s Lane, my favorite field of fetch, had been carpeted with a thick layer of bark mulch. Quality stuff, too. This mulching makes the course much softer and eliminates many of the embedded rocks and roots that lead to bad hops and ricochets (or wild pitches, as Heather calls them). Chloë’s Lane looks like a more formal trail, too, so I continue to be wary about any long-term development plans park management may have for my seldom-used pathway.

Chloë with Jan and Brooke, 2015

There was also a bit of sad news for me. A few days after our return, Mike and I bumped into my favorite park walkers, Jan and Brooke. After Brooke gave me several treats, as he usually does, I laid down in the grass where the couple sat on a log bench, and I listened attentively as they told us they would soon be leaving Magnolia to live on Bainbridge Island, on the other side of Puget Sound from the park. While we will still be able to wave at them across the water, our frequent meetings on these park trails will be no more. However, that won’t stop me from charging toward any people with walking sticks that I happen to see. Maybe one of those surprised strollers will get the message and hand over a treat or two. I remain ever hopeful.