Category Archives: Chloë’s Excellent Adventures

Chloë Takes a Field Trip

Tiring day for Schatzi.

My pal Schatzi stayed with us last weekend, and this time was much more fun than the last. That’s when I was on “bed rest,” and Schatzi had to pretty much leave me alone. Now that I’m fully recovered (and as demanding as ever), this time we were allowed to tussle. So we did, at least until I growled to let her know when I had enough. Schatzi  has calmed down a little, but she’s still a bit more energetic than my recently recovered bones allow. She gets the message.

A weekend with Heather is good training for Schatzi.  (“Tully Obedience Camp” is what Schatzi’s owner Caroline calls it.)  Saturday was a big day for her. In the morning, my pal Penny and her pack came over to watch a Syracuse football game, which usually makes all the people grumpy. We girls just hung out on the couch, chatted and hoped some food would fall on the floor.

Schatzi, Chloë and Penny root on the Orange.

Reining in the girls on a misty afternoon.

Mercifully, the football game ended early in the day. After Penny left, Heather hustled Schatzi and me into the back seat of her car, and we drove all the way out to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail on what turnd out to be a rain-free but misty afternoon. This being Schatzi’s first visit to these rural environs, we walked all the way from the Lake Alice Road parking lot to the north end of the trail, 1.8 miles each way. Schatzi admitted this was definitely the farthest she had ever walked in one day in her life, but she did OK. I didn’t have to worry about her pouncing on me when we got home, though. She was plum tuckered out.

Trail dogs.

On the drive home, Mike and Heather stopped briefly at my country “getaway” for instruction on some recently installed kitchen appliances. We will be returning here for a longer stay in the near future, but on this rapidly darkening afternoon Schatzi and I stayed in the car, swapping beds in the back seat and curling up for the ride back to Seattle. We both slept well that night.

Chloë Gets Collared

Aglow in the dark.

When Daylight Saving Time ends, the days grow shorter quickly here in the Pacific Northwest. My morning walks can start in darkness, and in the afternoon we often return home with the streetlights on. One morning a car roared up our block way too fast, and it came within inches of my tail as I innocently sniffed along the parking strip across the street from our house. With the dark days already upon us, Heather decided we needed to throw some light on the situation. So she had Mike order me one of these illuminated Blazin’ Safety Collars. Now I glow in the dark.

Moon over Seattle.

My collar is orange, of course. Heather only puts it around my neck when it’s dark outside, and she usually doesn’t bother taking my regular Syracuse collar off. The new one can be set to have a steady glow or flash at two different speeds, but we’ve only stuck to the steady glow so far. Don’t want to get too radical now.

As you can see, the normally reliable Mike has yet to master the nuances of night photography with his cell phone, and thus the images I’m including here are hardly up to my normal high standards. He’ll better up his game, or he’ll find out he can be replaced.

Mike shows off Chloë’s new collar: Who’s leading whom?

Chloë Makes Her Comeback

Wiffie baffles in storage.

Mike usually stuffs old towels under the living room furniture to prevent Wiffie from rolling underneath and causing him to get down on his hands and knees to pull Wiffie out. When those baffles came out of the closet and resumed their respective positions on the floor, I knew my month of “bed rest” was over.

And so I have enthusiastically reembraced playing tug of war with Lamby, and as soon as Wiffie hit the floor, I took off  after it and went flying into the kitchen, barking like a banshee. I also enjoyed knocking Wiffie into a corner and barking at it, daring it to try to get past me. No way, Wiff.

 

Fetch along the creek trail in Carkeek.

Our daily walks gradually ramped back up to an hour or more, and there has been some moderate reintroduction of fetch–kind of like pitch counts in baseball.  A few times we went to Carkeek Park, which has some of my favorite locations for chasing my ball. The trail that runs parallel to the small creek leading to the salmon hatchery is perfect, because it’s fine gravel, secluded, straight and flat, with the creek on one side and a steep slope on the other to confine me and my ball. After about 10 or 15 throws there, I felt I was getting my legs back under me. But the most recent time we went there, lots of people and other dogs were around, mostly to watch mature salmon flop up the creek to return to their original spawning ground and die, which doesn’t seem like the most fun thing to do on a fall afternoon. Instead, Heather, Mike and I ambled up the trails to the Rock, where I chased caroms for a good half-hour. I’m definitely all the way back.

Playing fetch at the Rock.

With the days getting shorter, we’ve started walking a little earlier in the afternoon, and maybe that’s a good thing. Coyote sightings from all over the neighborhood have become a daily occurrence, especially in the early morning and at dusk. We hear them howling at night and have seen them several times in the park. One morning Heather and I saw two of them walking towards us from down our block. When they saw us coming, they darted into the Bartons’ back yard–with any luck, they were after Fred, my nemesis neighborhood cat. Anyway, these days Heather keeps me on a tight leash and throws the ball only in open, controllable locations. Not a bad idea at all. Let the coyotes eat salmon.

Coyote ambling along Magnolia Boulevard.

 

Chloë Goes on “Bed Rest”

Therapeutic massage.

Turned out all that slow walking I was doing the past couple of months might have been more than my natural dachshund stubbornness. Heather and Mike increasingly observed my back legs shaking when I was standing still, and sometimes limping during and after a rousing game of fetch. When Schatzi stayed at my house back in August, my discomfort boiled over. I tried to ignore her, but I had to nip at her a few times to let her know in no uncertain terms there would be no unbridled wrassling on this particular visit. I needed to take it easy.

Bed rest.

Heather called the veterinary  about an examination, but since my personal physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel, was not available until the middle of September, Heather put me on “bed rest” for a five days. That meant no hijinks with Schatzi, no chasing my ball, no knocking Wiffie under the furniture, no tug of war with Lamby, no jumping in or out of my camp chair, no going downstairs and, most importantly, no long walks. Every day, just a few brief excursions outside for a pee and a 10-minute (tops) afternoon stroll just to get some fresh air and take care of business. When I finally saw Dr. Kimmel, she endorsed Heather’s prescription and extended it for another month. If this were baseball, that’s like being moved from the 10-day to 60-day IL (injured list). That’s a long time.

Rest in another bed.

Despite my relative lack of activity, so far my treatment hasn’t included special hospital rations – that is, portion reduction in my meals or snacks. Heather has been holding steady in that department, thankfully, although I will approach my next weigh-in at the vet with some trepidation. Other aspects of the plan aren’t so bad. For instance, since I’m not allowed to go downstairs, Heather moved my downstairs crate into the living room, so I can still get inside it for my morning biscuit. I immediately liked running up and down the short ramp they put over the steps by the front door. And, while I have missed the long walks and especially playing fetch, I do have to admit that these short afternoon walks are surprisingly to my liking. Every day, I have been prancing along enthusiastically, eliciting many smiles and comments on my gait from admiring passersby, and more-than-happy to be getting home for dinner that much quicker.

Wiffie under-furniture baffles in storage.

Rest and medication seem to be working, too. Heather noted just yesterday that I am showing more energy and more power in my stride. Sometimes I forget that I’m supposed to be taking it easy, and I jump out of a chair to the floor without help or coax Mike into having a brief tug  of war with me and Lamby. Heather has kept a watchful eye on me, and she scolds us before things can get out of hand, shutting me down but deflecting the responsibility: “No throwing!” she yells. “Dr. Kimmel says NO!” Doctor’s orders! End of story.

Chloë Walks Behind

Walkabout.

I just don’t like anyone or anything walking behind me. Makes me nervous. I slow down, slink to the side of the trail, plop on the ground, avert my eyes from whatever’s sneaking up on me. I don’t like surprises. I let them pass, and then I’ll start walking again. That’s just the way I am.

While this has always been among my idiosyncrasies, during the recent stays of my house guests Willy and Schatzi, this reaction became more frequent. That’s because whenever I go for a walk with another dog, I can’t be the one leading the way. If I did, there would be someone behind me. And I couldn’t tolerate that.

Schatzi gets groomed during her recent spa visit.

So when Mike was holding my leash, Heather walked ahead with Willy or Schatzi. Those younger dogs are faster walkers than I am, anyway. Since neither Mike nor I walk very fast these days, Heather and the other dog sometimes got too far ahead, so I couldn’t see them. I didn’t like that, either.

After first Willy and then Schatzi left our house, we reverted to our walking ways since last September, when Mike had back surgery and ceded the leash and other care responsibilities to Heather while he was rehabbing, which must still be in progress, since Heather has shown no signs of relinquishing the reins.

Staying ahead of the curve.

As far as our daily walks go, that means Heather leashing me to her belt with a carabiner and dragging me along at the speed she desires, not the slowpoke pace Mike lets me get away with. Thus she and I usually walk a good 25 yards ahead of Mike, still clicking along valiantly with his trekking poles. That’s enough distance that I can accept Mike walking behind me. But I wouldn’t want him to get any closer.

Chloë Aids a Friend

Scott and Mike (top row) with Willy and Chloë.

I have been getting an inordinate amount of compliments from strangers on my walks lately. People saying how “cute” I am is (of course!), the most common, but it’s hardly the only one. Many people admire my joyful walk (although they don’t see me when I’m dragging my ass along or flopping entirely). Last week, an Asian woman started making funny faces and waving at me from 15 feet away, and continued  to turn around and do 15 feet past. Then a runner stopped to ask what breed I  was and said I reminded him of a wolf.  A fox, maybe. But a wolf?

I attribute all this notoriety to having walked in tandem for the past two weeks with Willy, a small, pudgy, scruffy-looking dog of terrier and other indeterminate breeds. In comparison, I must have looked good.

Willy

Willy came to stay with us when my good friend Scott, who I’ve known since my own puppyhood, died suddenly. In fact, I think me sitting beside Scott on our couch during Syracuse football games was part of the reason Scott adopted Willy last summer. He wanted a dog of his own to cuddle with, and Willy likes to be petted, even more than eating. That priority is far from the only thing Willy and I don’t have in common.

Walking the dogs.

But I went out of my way to be nice to Willy while he was here. He arrived the day Scott died, along with Scott’s niece Caitlin, who lived with them. Caitlin stayed with us about a week and then flew back east for the funeral, leaving Willy at our house. We all took good care of Willy while she was away, especially Heather, who was looking out for him 24 hours a day. The first night Caitlin was gone, Willy still wanted to sleep downstairs by the bed she had been using, but Heather left the lights on for him, just in case he wanted to come upstairs to sleep. By the second night, he did, and his bed stayed right below Heather’s the whole time.

Willy on the trail.

Even though Willy disrupted my routine and horned in on Heather’s affection, I never got snippy with him. We didn’t really pal around like I do with Schatzi, though. There was no wrestling or running after balls together. Mostly I just left him alone and let him do what he wanted (be next to Heather). I even left his food alone, except one day when I scarfed up a rawhide chewy he had walked away from. Mike and Heather had to corner me  by the fireplace to get it back. What ever happened to finder’s keepers?

Willy’s bed was next to Heather’s.

Caitlin and her mother (Scott’s sister) picked up Willy a couple of nights ago on the way back to Scott’s house in Snohomish to pack and get it ready to sell. Eventually they will drive back to Virginia, where Willy will be the second dog in the house again, but much better off to deal with another new environment after two weeks of boot camp with Heather. She didn’t love him to death like Caitlin does, but she pay him lots of attention, groomed him, took him on lots of long walks (sometimes we went 75 minutes or more) and let him sleep wherever he wanted, including on the couch and even under their bed. I survived. As long as Willy stayed out of their bed, he could sleep wherever he wanted. That bed is my spot, and I’m still top dog around here.

 

Chloë Gets High

Along the Mount Baker Highway,

You saw the headline, and I know what you were probably thinking: Nasty Mike blew smoke from some of that wacky tabacky stuff  up my ultra-sensitive nose and I started hallucinating. But you would be wrong about that!

No, the headline refers to our first real road trip since we returned from Syracuse in September 2019. This was only three days, but when Heather was driving she kept telling me this trip was practice for another possible trip to Syracuse, that wonderful place where there’s air conditioning throughout the house and nice people dote on me 24/7. Well, we’re not there yet, and Heather’s message to me was clear: Keep up that whining from the back seat and you won’t be coming with us. She sounded like she meant business, too. I whined nonetheless.

Snow patch in Heather Meadows.

We stayed on Birch Bay, northwest of Bellingham and within sight of the Canadian border, which we are still not allowed to cross. This bay of Puget Sound is at sea level, more or less, lapping up on its pebbly beach just enough to scare me away (I don’t like waves). So it was not my ideal location.  But after breakfast, we got back into Heather’s car and started to climb, from farmland through the foothills and eventually to the Mount Baker Highway and the North Cascades. Because of road conditions, we couldn’t drive all the way to end, but we all got pretty high, all the way to the appropriately named Heather Meadows Visitor Center at 4400 feet. There was even snow on the ground in a lot of places!

Chloë at Picture Lake.

Chloë befriends a tourist.

We ate lunch and wandered the trails around the Visitor Center, then backtracked to Picture Lake to  take some pictures (what a concept!). I pursued a dragonfly for a while, waded in the lake for a few seconds (no waves here!), and  I even let Mike sit down and take a photo with me. After being so nice to him, I was expecting a reward, such as my own ice cream cup or riding in the front seat with him. But did he let me lie in his lap on the way down the mountain? NO! Did they stop for ice cream? NO! They only stopped for beer, and I had to stay in the car while they went inside. Not fair.

The whining will continue.

Chloë Scores Market Savvy

Heat exhaustion.

After the heat dome lifted, I spent some more time with Schatzi. She was a lot more alert on those occasions than she was the last time.

One day we met at her downtown Magnolia office. Mike and Heather were there to discuss financial stuff with Schatzi’s owner Caroline, who is also of course my own personal financial advisor. When Caroline talks, absolutely nobody listens to what E. F. Hutton has to say.

Nose for news.

When I found out Schatzi was going to be at this meeting, I figured she was there for the air conditioning. But as I wandered around the premises, checking every office and conference room for random potato chips or crackers the cleaning staff may have missed, it dawned on me that Schatzi might actually be getting the inside scoop on Wall Street from discussions she overheard in client meetings. Suddenly, I was concerned that her portfolio might outperform my own.

Searching under the mattress for stock tips.

While our people were yakking at the table above us, I investigated Schatzi’s office bed for tips, to no avail. But a couple of days later I was lucky enough to have Schatzi stay with us for a whole weekend. That’s when I was able to delve deeply into her market perspective. Not surprisingly, Schatzi is energetic and aggressive, likely to follow any scent and reluctant to let go. At age 2, she can afford to have that long-term outlook. At 11,  my investment horizon is shorter.

Schatzi and I danced around that issue one afternoon during her visit. Being a gracious host, I rolled over and let her win.

Face off.

Take down.

Pinned.

While Schatzi visited, whenever we went for walks in the park, Heather took Schatzi’s leash and Mike took mine, because Schatzi is a load to handle. It was the first time Mike had led me on a walk since we took care of  two dogs at the Getaway in April. And what do you know, I liked it! After two days of Mike, I deduced that he is not nearly as tough on me as Heather is. What can I do to bring him back?

 

Chloë Renews Her War on Cats

Staking out territory.

It’s well-known that I don’t like cats. They are mean. They are vicious. They make awful noises. I will chase one any chance I get. Lately,  however, I am under tighter watch. My opportunities have been few. Not surprisingly, during this period of decreased diligence, the cat population on our block has soared.  There are so many that I don’t even know their names, except for that damn Fred (short for Frederika) the Bartons’ cat. I don’t know whether it’s because Fred misses her brother Ted, who arrived with her but was shipped out for bad behavior a couple of years ago, or whether she’s trying to exert her resident dominance over the newcomers, who usually hide on their porches and under cars whenever Fred is around or I come prancing down the street.

Lulu’s window on the world.

I was hoping to gain support for my war against cats from the pack of new canines that have moved onto our block. New families means more kids, more names to remember and more dogs. Within the past few months, my pals April (border collie), Merrie (Basset hound) and Ranger (Bernadoodle) and I welcomed two younger Bernadoodles (Walter and Magnus) and two more doodle puppies. Now we have the Aussiedoodle pup Tucker on one side of the house and the sheepdoodle Lulu on the other. Tucker is still too little to come out and play, but Lulu let Mike rub her ears one day, and she is always looking at him through her fence portal. I think she likes him.

All these new dogs have been nice enough to me, but I don’t see me being able to form them into anything close to a comic. cunning, marauding pack like you see in movies. These designer breeds can shake their wang dang doodles all night long, but none has demonstrated any proclivity toward joining my quest for neighborhood dominance of the cats. I’m looking for toughness, resourcefulness and a killer instinct. I don’t see it in this bunch.

Frequent sightings all over the neighborhood.

Lo and behold, help arrived from an unlikely source. Coyotes, long a staple in Magnolia, seem to have proliferated during the pandemic, scooting onto our peninsula on the rail lines and finding plenty of inviting habitat and food sources when they got here. Once a rarity, coyote sightings at all hours of the day and night are now frequent. In fact, Heather has spied one several times on our daily walks and sternly kept me on a tight leash as we fled in the opposite direction every time.

She needn’t have been concerned that I might try to chase it like a squirrel, however.  I’m not that dumb! And remember, I’m a dog who turns her head away and pretends to be interested in trailside foliage rather than look a passing Chihuahua in the eye. I’m not running after any coyote, I’m all for them, especially after I found out they can be an ally in my feline war.

On Magnolia Nextdoor, a neighborhood blog, a women recently wrote, “At 4:40 this morning I was woken up by what sounded like a coyote killing a cat. I’m posting this in hopes that people will keep their cats indoors, especially at night, as this will be the third cat killed in a week in Magnolia by coyotes.” Aha, I thought; maybe the threat of a passing coyote could be a reason to get Fred to stop howling outside my window at night.

Unfortunately, before I ever had the chance to pen a love letter to the Wile E. Coyote we’ve seen in our personal Discovery Park habitat, Mike came upon this cautionary tale via Wikipedia: Coyotes occasionally hunt together with badgers, digging up rodents side by side and then lying together, licking each other’s faces.

No cat zone.

Gross! As a proud badger hound of the first degree, I can’t go there. Yet.

 

 

Chloë Conquers a Fear

Chloë’s Stairway to Heaven

The photo shows the steps that I use to get onto Mike and Heather’s bed. Only when invited, of course, unless it’s vacant, in which case there is nobody there to tell me NOT to be there. Mike calls them Chloë’s Stairway to Heaven.

Then, sometime this spring, these steps began to scare me. Coming off my sometime inability to leap into my camp chair, this aversion to trying my usual 3-step jaunt to the mattress soon followed. With some whining, of course, and later a reluctance to climb the stairs from the lower level. There is no problem going down, of course, because downstairs is where the treats would be. That’s what led to an obvious solution.

Trepedition

Although my recent demonstration of a weakening right hindquarter has been noted and debated internally and for the moment dismissed by a leading veterinary authority, the explanation  for my reluctant behavior has thus far been summarized with the derogatory phrase, “It’s all in her head.”

Well, now.  While I might have said in my own defense that at my advancing age I need more support, figuratively and literally. Maybe additional rugs or a reorientation of the steps could provide a more favorable angle for my approach. These little things start to matter, especially when I first get out of my crate in the morning and my old bones are creaking. It’s not like I’m seeing Mike exactly sprint out of bed in the morning to open my crate. Cut me some slack.

Taking the bait.

I have to admit, however, that as soon as a Charlee Bear landed strategically on the mattress at the top of my Stairway to Heaven, it served as an immediate enticement to challenge those scary steps to claim a rightful reward upon completion of my heroic ascent. It worked. Within a couple of days I was positioning myself for the climb as soon as I heard fingers tinkling the small cup holding the Charlees, pulling one out to be tossed onto the bed. Inhibitions melting away, I sprinted up the steps to grab my prize.

Having that soft blue fleece blanket to lie on doesn’t hurt, either. “Everybody needs a psychological boost now and then,” Heather conceded this morning, after Mike lifted me onto the bed and I nosed my way under the covers.