Category Archives: Chloë’s Excellent Adventures

Chloë Has a Crowning Achievement

I realize I have been laggard in reporting on the second phase of my oral surgery, but the news was good. My personal dentist, Dr. Evan Crocker, did a masterful job when installing a shiny new titanium crown over the chipped tooth that resulted in last month’s root canal procedure. Check it out here in these photos, graciously provided by the Mercer Island Vetinerary Clinic, as I am unlikely to slow down enough to show it to you myself. You have to fold back my upper lip pretty far to get a good view.

My new crown on the top row.

A close-up view. What a shine!

Unfortunately, Dr. Crocker also discovered a little growth on the gum line beneath the crown that he missed the last time, so he cut it out and sent it out for biopsy, just to make sure it’s benign. We await the results, but nobody seems too worried about it. Besides, if I have to go back to Mercer Island before my six-month checkup, I’ll get to see all my new good buddies there, including Justin, the nice guy with shiny blue nail polish that goes well with my shiny new crown.

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Chloë Hits Her Target

Figure 1: Chloe Weight Chart May 2018

As we all knew would happen, my food honeymoon is over. After nine glorious weeks of uber-rations, I reached my target weight (18.5 pounds) at my most recent vet visit, when I weighed in at 18.69 pounds. That visit was the one after the last one on the accompanying chart (Figure 1). On that very day, twirling his imaginary handlebar mustache like the mean Simon Legree we know him to be, Mike immediately cut me back to his unilaterally imposed and strictly observed meager limits. Oh, the agony of it all! The only saving grace right now is the extra broth Mike is adding to all my meals, since I have to eat softened kibble until Dr. Crocker installs the cap on my recently root-canaled chipped tooth. (Meaning more sedation and great dreams to come, no doubt!)

Double dose of goo.

While I was sad when my bulk-up menu ended, I will always savor the glorious nine weeks that it was! I gained almost two pounds in nothing flat. I can see how some members of the dachshund breed can get precipitously porky. Not me. . .at least not as long as Mike and Heather are paying attention, anyway. I’d settle for some middle ground.

I also had a great visit with my buddy Lynn, who came over for some play and cuddles one evening when Mike and Heather went out to watch the first-place Seattle Mariners. I always go absolutely nuts when Lynn comes over. She really knows how to talk “dog talk” in a higher pitch, if you know what I mean.  When she’s around I always get plenty of attention, plenty of play and plenty of treats. Heather even moved my big, round toy pillow back to the middle of the living room, so Lynn and I could get at them easier while she was here. So we did a lot of playing, upstairs and downstairs, too. But the best parts of Lynn’s visit were cuddling on the couch, jumping up on her lap and biting her nose. Every time I look in her eyes, it’s true love. Thanks for coming over, Lynn!

Big, round toy pillow makes brief reappearance.

The downside of the week was yet another ear infection, this time in my “good ” right ear. Heather and Dr. Kimmel each took a bunch of ugly black goo out of my ear and squirted some soothing white goo in.  I don’t like it one bit; when Heather says the word “ears,” I run. But after this now-daily ordeal is done, Heather gives me cheese. Not the little bits of chopped-up mozzarella sticks Mike gives me, but thick pieces of smoked Gouda. Less goo, more Gouda, dat’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! For that level of payoff, sign me up for an ear massage every day.

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 Tries a New Field

Resting with Heather between innings.

As my regular readers know well, I am a creature of habit. I like my routines. All of them.

And yet, one recent morning Heather tried to vary my routine. When we go out around 10 a.m., we’re going out to do my business, take a few sniffs around the smorgasbord by the park entrance and hurry home to get a Frozen PBB, the ultimate treat of the day. On this beautiful spring day, however, Heather wanted to look at the Olympic Mountains, and I followed reluctantly as far as the park chapel. She took in the view, I planted my feet, and we thankfully went no further. As soon as she moved an inch in a homeward direction, she had no trouble getting me to hasten down the wind to the waiting PBB. I have a schedule to maintain, after all.

Playing fetch near the stables with Heather and Charlie.

Something else is new. We have a regular circuit for playing fetch, as we need places that feature light foot traffic and limited distractions, such as rabbit holes and birds. Besides our home turf of Chloë’s Lane, we use the trail outside Capehart, the park road below the 500 area, the cemetery, the Fort Lawton flagpole and a few other locations. The list is actually longer than I thought it would be, and it’s nowhere near complete. If you’re a dog looking for open spaces, living near a 550-acre park has its advantages.

Heather is trying to usher in a new site, a field north of the Quartermaster’s Stable. It used to be a lot more overgrown than it is now, so we decided to try it out. First Mike and Heather tried throwing the ball against the side of one of the barns, but they were afraid that could damage the building, so they reversed field and started to throw away from the barn, toward the grassy area below it.

Fetch in the South Meadow.

The grass there is not as high as it is in the South Meadow, and thus far is not pockmarked with rabbit holes, making it good for fetch. On the other hand, there is a bit of low-lying blackberry stalks, as I unfortunately discovered while chasing a throw the other day. And distractions galore: In this field, I can see every movement outside the restored housing to the east, every car and truck passing on their way to or from the lighthouse and wastewater plant at the end of the road, every bird watching from a tree branch or plume of tall grass. More foot traffic than expected as well: Last week two golden retrievers swooped in at different times to overturn my water bowl and beg for my treats.

We took my pal Charlie there last Sunday, and I could tell he was not all that impressed with the new site. But that’s Charlie, who is rarely impressed with anything. Personally, I’m willing to give the horse barn site more looks this spring, as long as it doesn’t replace my required time on Chloë’s Lane. After all, Heather, Mike and I have to resume our war on Sticky Willy, the obnoxious weed that blankets the forest floor, crawls up the canopy of trees, sticks to my fur and is hard to get off. On Chloë’s Lane,  we have been trying to head it off,  but Willy is gaining, and it’s just the middle of May. This in one battle I don’t think we’re going to win, even if we upset my routines to get it done.

Chloë Welcomes Spring

Tiptoe through Heather’s tulips.

After a long, cold, wet winter, I am really digging the warmer spring weather that finally got here.  Last week I enjoyed several longer walks with a lot of spirited fetching mixed in, punctuated by frequent stops to sample the unbeatable salad bar offerings in the South Meadow. And I could really tell that spring had sprung when all of Heather’s new tulips burst open  at the same time as the azaleas in the front yard. Heather has received many well-deserved compliments.

Ron and Cathy on a previous visit.

During our first hot spell my Alaska pals Ron and Cathy visited for a few days on their way back to Juneau. By now I have them so well-trained that I don’t even have to remind them where the downstairs treat container is. They just know. I made sure to spend a lot of time downstairs while they were here.

The Sunday after they left, Mike and Heather took me on a walk with my pal Charlie at Carkeek Park, where I have a few special places for fetch that are second only to my personal trail in Discovery Park. Unfortunately, all my favorite spots were in use when we arrived at them. Along the trail to the salmon-raising area, instead of throwing the ball I was forced to listen to a knowledgeable volunteer explain the salmon-rearing process. Heather actually fed the salmon fry right in front of me while I sat there, eyeing all the fish and starving.

Lounging in Piper’s Orchard.

Later, still brimming with my unreleased springtime energy, I dragged Charlie, Mike and Heather up and down some of the steepest trails in the park before enjoying a brief respite in the blooming fruit tree orchard another quarter-mile further up Piper’s Creek. Mike made a couple of half-hearted throws for me before deciding the tall, unmowed grass could eat my ball at any moment. Can’t say I could disagree. Anyway, we had a great walk that afternoon, and before I went back to the car Mike served me dinner al fresco, a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Chloë Goes Underground

Spring mix

Spring is my favorite season in the South Meadow of Discovery Park.  There’s lots of sweet-tasting grass on the salad bar and plenty of small critters darting about, birds as well as vermin. I love it when Heather drops my leash and sets me free to hop around the tall grasses and between the bunny holes. When there are no other people or dogs around, Heather will even  throw the ball for me for a while.

Fetch in the meadow

Hole in one

But one day the ball bounced far off the trail into a field pock-marked with holes. I did take off after it, but only until a more exciting scent came along.  Still, when Heather kept yelling at me to “bring it,” I did find the ball, but it was stuck in a hole, about three inches below grass level. That’s what I kept trying to tell Heather, but she wasn’t interested in listening to me, and she wasn’t leaving until I found that damn ball. She was a bit outta control, frankly. I finally got Mike to carefully inspect the right area, and in a cluster of three holes that were close to one another, he finally found the ball wedged inside the third one he looked into. Way to go, Mike.

For me, it was peaches and cream. It should be a while before Heather dares to deride my tracking prowess again.

A defiant Chloë and her ball: Look out below.

 

Chloë Weighs In

Chloë gets physical.

I had my annual physical with my personal physician last week, and the results were both good and bad. Good news first: I am finally getting some medicines to control my two recurring maladies, ear infection (left ear worse) and skin rash. Dr. Kimmel prescribed antibiotic pills, gook for my ears, shampoo for my skin, the whole works. Hopefully this will get rid of this once and for all. If not, well, at least Heather gives me extra cheese treats after every treatment, so it’s not all bad.

Speaking of food, I got even better news from Dr. Kimmel. After I weighed in at a mere 16.95 pounds, well below my target weight of 18.5, which is exactly what I weighed a year ago. That means what Heather, Caroline, Charlie, Lynn and other people who really care about me have been saying for months was true: I am too skinny!!! That mean Mike is starving me, and Dr. Kimmel had the perfect prescription for that: “Bring Chloë’s morning meal to 3/4 cup while she is active to help maintain her weight.” It’s written right there in black and white under “Notes to Owner.” Got that, Mike?

Dining festival on tap.

So I’m going to get more food! When I heard that, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

So  after all that good news, what could be so bad? Well, after eight straight years of praising my exemplary dental hygiene, Dr. Kimmel discovered something no amount of brushing could have prevented: I chipped a tooth. (I can’t imagine how that happened! A bone? A stick? A plastic food container?) Unfortunately, this upper molar is one of the most important ones for chewing, which I’m planning to do a lot more of since my rations have increased. I’m going to need that tooth in the future, too, anticipating lots of joyful gnawing to come. I wouldn’t want to be without one of my major tools.

Being careful with chipped tooth.

The chipped tooth surprised Mike, whose attentiveness to my dental hygiene has impressed my doctor at every previous checkup. In his defense, the tooth was too far in the back of my mouth for him to see it, and if the exposed area was the source of  any pain, I wasn’t showing it.  Apparently dogs don’t complain about pain, facing it stoically to avoid showing weakness to predators and the rest of their pack. I’m not sure this veterinary truism applies to me, however, since I squeal like crazy if someone steps on my tail, I complain about almost everything and I whine every time I don’t get my way. It’s always easy to know where I stand.

Anyway, since the interior of the chipped tooth is exposed and possibly infected, treatment is required. The question was whether to try to save the tooth by doing a root canal operation and perhaps putting a cap on it later, or to extract it. The extraction, while less expensive, is more dangerous, as it could lead to bone loss in my jaw if the tooth’s roots are deep. Mike and Heather decided the root canal was the clear choice, so in a couple of weeks we’ll meet my doggie dentist and schedule the procedure. I foresee a lot of cheese after this one.

Please, sir, I want some more!

Meanwhile, I’m not having any trouble scarfing down the humongous bowls of food Mike is plopping down in front of me twice a day in an attempt to put some weight on this frail body of mine. I predict, however, that as soon as I get back to my target weight, Mike will cut back on this current largess, so I’ve got to enjoy every one of these lumberjack meals to the fullest. So far I seem to be doing a good job of it, judging from the changes in my daily bodily functions. Ironically, at the same time the size of the poop bags is shrinking, the frequency and size of my poop is expanding. Something’s got to give.