Category Archives: Chloë’s Excellent Adventures

Chloë Lets Her Birthday Slide

On the Spokane River, May 2017

As the calendar turned to February, things started looking up. Rain lessened, days got a bit longer, we got a new rug in the living room with more pile than the old one, so it’s better for scratching my back.  Heather’s attention to my tummy cleared up my skin rash and my diet reverted to normal, as in never enough.

I had been looking forward to celebrating my birthday (Feb. 5) in style, but it turned out to be no big deal. There were no cards, no presents, no extra treats, no fuss. Although I’m more or less at the halfway point of my canine career (in dog years, at least), I suffered through no midlife crises. At least none that I can remember.

This is the first birthday that I didn’t get together with my brothers Frank and Stanley, who are vacationing in Arizona. They got presents, according to an email Mike received from their dad Andrew. Did I mention that I got no presents, and that I have to go outside every day in Seattle’s horizontal rain and blustery cold with no raincoat or other protective gear?

In tamer times.

Instead, I’ve been cooped up and getting into still more trouble with Heather. She even yelled at me a couple of times. OK, I have to admit that sometimes I deserve it, but more often this happens because Heather continues to deny the notion that everyone was put on the planet to serve me, on my time-table. Heather maintains that I am supposed to serve her, pay attention only to her (Mike, sometimes), and always do exactly what she tells me, when she tells me. Mike, on the other hand, harbors no such delusions. Mike gets it! But Heather, she can be so–dare I say it?–stubborn!

Amidst the tall trees.

Anyway, I turned 8, and I feel and look no different, save for one random gray hair between my shoulders. During my birthday week I went for a long hike in an old-growth rain forest, I dug holes, I ran away a few times, I ignored orders, I chased a ball as long as I wanted to, I ran down our block to chase cats, I barked when the mail came and at people who park their cars in front of our house, I got into Mike and Heather’s bed whenever I could, I whined every time I got impatient, and I taught Mike a new way to play catch on the kitchen floor. So do I feel any older? Hell no. Where’s Wiffie? I’m ready to rock and roll. Check out Heather and I playing fetch in the rain forest.

 

 

 

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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 Pines for Brown

When UPS is near, the waiting is the hardest part.

With Santa Monkey and Rudolph

As much as I enjoyed this holiday season, I also noticed something different. Rudolph the Reindeer and Santa Monkey didn’t provoke the same enthusiasm I showed for them in the past. Approaching 8 years old, am  I too grown up for Santa and kisses under the mistletoe?

No, something else put the pall on my holiday: Far fewer personal encounters with UPS drivers.  In past years I’ve stalked them through Magnolia, sniffing out their trails. This season, not so much. Needless to say, “No-Presents” Heather wasn’t generating many deliveries, but that’s a given. It’s all the other deliveries to neighbors on our street that I was missing. Once the drivers get to know me, they may give me a biscuit even when the delivery is for someone else. When I  hung out in Mike’s office all day, I could hear the brown trucks two blocks away, and I could make a barking beeline to the front door in time for Mike to get me out in the street and position myself so the driver couldn’t miss seeing me.

But this past December, spending all my time downstairs in front of the fireplace in Heather’s work area, apparently Brown sound waves cannot penetrate. I don’t think UPS deliveries in our neighborhood were fewer; when my driver buddy Donna delivered a package to Heather the other day (I got two bickies!), she said she was still working extra hours well after Christmas. The Brown trucks are still rumbling by, I just can’t hear them like I used to. I can’t hear much of anything down there, especially when the fireplace blower is on. I don’t even bark anymore when Tony the mailman drops stuff through the slot in the front door.

Biscuit Delivery Machine

While I love hanging out with Heather all day, I realized that being sealed off from the outside world  on our lower level resulted in fewer treats and less love from UPS drivers. And this comes at a particularly bad time, because recently UPS drivers and the dogs who follow them have been getting positive national publicity (Huffington Post and Facebook ).  So, with my diminished exposure to the UPS drivers in our neighborhood, I don’t foresee any photo ops in my immediate future. I sense a missed opportunity to boost my brand.

Guarding the stockings.

Overall, being downstairs with Heather all day has been great. Compared to Mike’s office, it’s warmer and more comfortable, two conditions that always top my list. But it was not until the holiday season ended that I recognized the unintended consequence of my womb-like new lair. Yes, as comfortable and warm as I was, less brown made my holiday more blue.

Chloë Chills for the Holidays

Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening.

I have been so busy the past few weeks that I simply haven’t had the time to sit down and dictate any notes for Mike to type out for me. So let me recall some highlights and catch up.

Pre-holiday festivities were light this season. Mike and Heather saved money and time by merging their annual holiday office parties (one employee per office), and I was the only outside guest. What a celebration! We enjoyed some extra string cheese as hors d’oeuvres and dined on roast pork with stuffing and, of course, sautéed kale, the hip side dish of the year. Although there was no Secret Santa gift swap, I’m happy to report nobody got too drunk and made a fool of him or her self.

Christmas Eve brought two storms to town, the first of the snow variety (very rare in temperate Seattle) and the second a visit from Heather’s sister Sammy, who is a whirlwind all her own. I mean she’s a perpetually high-energy person, at least compared to the slow and dour pace I normally seen from the people around this house, unless Mike gets excited during a Syracuse basketball game or Heather starts ranting at the PBS Newshour.

Winter wonderland on Christmas morning.

The festive Sammy is often whistling or singing around the house, and this time she apparently infected Mike with the musical bug. On Christmas Day she and Mike belted out a duet of “Winter Wonderland” on the telephone to Mike’s Mom Rosalie and my aunts Susie and Debby in Syracuse. Luckily, the You Tube cameras were not rolling at the time, but I got to see it live and in person. I wasn’t sure whether to cry or laugh, so I did a little of both. There were no encores.

We did get quite a bit of snow on Christmas Eve and Day, and I really enjoyed frolicking on the slippery trails and through the meadows in the park. Snow lasted in our back yard and in the park for a few days, but the sidewalks were pretty clear before Heather was able to shovel the whole neighborhood. I could see she was disappointed about that. Several nights of turkey, potatoes, stuffing and gravy alleviated her anxiety. I got to lick plates!

3-Chloe Gets New Ball

Santa brought Chloë a new ball.

As far as gifts go, Susie and Debby sent me excellent treats (some that taste like meat loaf, one of my favorites!), and a mouth-sized, gnaw-able ball that I immediately adopted as an alternative to Wiffie for inside-the-house throwing. I like the size and feel of the new ball in my mouth, but pawing it against the floor doesn’t put any backspin on the ball, like I can do with the Wiffie.  Therefore, within a few days of Christmas, Wiffie reclaimed his Interior Top Ball position, and deservedly so.

It’s a good thing Susie and Debby came through with their gifts, because nobody else did. Not my so-called friends (and you know who you are!) and not even Mike and Heather, my alleged caregivers. Apparently they couldn’t even find a special treat or a Mushabelly in the house to put in my stocking. Maybe this retirement thing brings an austerity budget along with it. They better make it up to me for my birthday in February.

4-Chloe and Yule Log on TV-002

Chloë lounges in front of the Yule Log..

Anyway, I survived this holiday disappointment, and on the first weekend after New Year’s we headed out to my foothills getaway for a few days to recharge the batteries. I always have a good time out there, even if I do have to share Heather’s affections with the resident dog Pumpkin. I cut the Pump some slack because she idolizes me so much.  Therefore, I don’t mind that Pumpkin goes on walks with us and naps on Heather’s other flank on the couch. But I’m not as liberal with my feelings for the cat Mr. Fuzz, who wisely stayed upstairs during this entire visit, or the latest arrival in the affection sweepstakes: Pepe, a donkey. Luckily, Pepe stayed in the barn, where I don’t go unless forced, so I missed meeting him this time, but I feared his presence nonetheless after Heather described him to Mike and me as “cute.” Hey, I’m the cute one around here, and I don’t want Heather or anyone else to forget it for an instant. #MeToo!

 

Chloë Fans Family Flames

Sitting guard at Heather’s office before dogs were banned.

Frankly, I’m confused about how this so-called retirement thing is supposed to work. I expected a lot more napping (with Heather) and mapping (as in Mike planning trips and us hitting the road together). Instead, Heather spent a lot of time downstairs this fall, sitting at a table in front of a couple of computer screens, while I lounged nearby. Sometimes she yelled loudly at herself, and  she talked to herself frequently, but I managed to tune her out and doze in front of the fireplace or in a camp chair near her desk. In fact, the fall routine was a lot like going to Heather’s office, back in the good old days when I was allowed to go there, except we had a fireplace and we don’t have to get in her car to drive there. We just have to go downstairs. And there’s never a stream of people coming through the door, asking Heather questions and saying hi to me. There’s only Mike, heading out to the garage to do whatever it is he does out there.

Tug o’ War

I’m not complaining, though. Compared to the boot camp regimen Heather had threatened, Heather has been fairly easy on me, once we got over a little rough spot. While Mike was away in October, Heather got mad at me for disobeying her by repeatedly scarfing up food scraps from the street and from the Wendy*s Way smorgasbord outside the park, as well as for not peeing when she told me to. I thought she went a bit overboard on that last one. Not peeing just to be stubborn? Please.

Anyway, when Mike returned, Heather began a short Reign of Terror, when she wouldn’t look at or talk to me and had Mike do everything related to me. But that lasted only a day or two. Then we were BFFs again, although for a while she forbade me from visiting the smorgasbord. Even that edict has been relaxed of late, however; I got myself some Swiss cheese over there just yesterday.

Afternoon delight

As the holidays approach, the pace of Heather’s work schedule has slacked off somewhat. We’ve watched a lot more TV in bed, which is always good. We sneaked in a few afternoon naps, too. And the weather has been beautiful, sunny and crystal clear every day. That always puts everyone in a better mood. Last weekend Santa Monkey, Rudolf and my stocking all arrived in the living room, and the real Santa will be showing up soon, preceded, I hope, by plenty of UPS deliveries.

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.

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.