Category Archives: Chloë’s Excellent Adventures

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.

 

 

Chloe Faces Fuzz

Mike, Heather and I spent another week out at my foothills Getaway, but I never did find the orange ball I lost the first week. No big deal, I reasoned. That ball was starting to get a little soft and squishy, anyway, not bouncing as high or far as it used to, and much easier to gnaw. I was sure Mike and Heather will just get me a new one when we got home, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

Mr. Fuzz

Still, I didn’t get to play a lot of fetch on the lawn the second week. Too many distractions. For the most part, I was on a leash or tied to something for the remainder of our stay. I had run away and ignored her commands so frequently that Heather’s coyote-anxiety was at all-time high while her tolerance of me was at an all-time low. Even inside the house she tethered me to a chair or a table, fearful that I would break loose and eat Pumpkin’s food or, worse yet, chase the cat Mr. Fuzz under a bed and start screeching at him. Does Heather forget I’m a dachshund? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Besides, Mr. Fuzz tricked me. He deliberately left some of his cat food upstairs on the bathroom floor just where I could find it if I sneaked upstairs, which I did. His food tasted pretty good at the time, but it gave me diarrhea for days afterward, each time further reminding Heather that I had been a bad, bad dog. Oh well, live and learn.

Chloë and Pumpkin vie for position.

By the end of our second week at the Getaway, Mr. Fuzz got bolder and started coming downstairs for visits, even during the day. I only got to chase him once, though, when I was briefly left unattended while Mike was exercising and Heather was doing laundry, or maybe the other way around. Anyway, besides that brief encounter on the second floor, Fuzz and I kept our distance. And the next time I got upstairs, Fuzz had already eaten most of his food. Smarter guy than I gave him credit for.

Chloe and Pumpkin April 2017

Pumpkin tried again to be my pal, which was OK, as long as she understands her place in my pack. It was not OK, for instance, for her to instigate playful chasing with me out on the forest trails. I’m the one in charge of that, and everything else, for that matter. I did let her sit in the back seat of Heather’s car with me, but I made her get in first, so she can check it for danger and then stay out of my way. Most importantly, I made it clear to Pumpkin that her place was definitely NOT on the couch or bed spread out on top of or tightly beside Heather. That’s MY place. Pumpkin got the message.

Portage survivors.

One more thing: While Pumpkin was always happy to go hiking with us, on more than one occasion she showed what a wuss she is. Sometimes Heather had to carry Pumpkin through the swampy sections of the trail when Pumpkin refused to wade through on her own. To Pumpkin’s credit, she was getting much better about being comfortable outside after she two weeks of walking with us to toughen her up. I hope Pumpkin ventures out more in the real world when I’m not around to lead her.

Meanwhile, All Clear, Mr. Fuzz! You can come downstairs now. I’m leaving Pumpkin in charge until I come back.

Mr. Fuzz spies from landing

 

Chloë Screws Up Her Training

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

Boot Camp with Heather had been going so well. When we arrived for a two-week stay at my Cascade foothills Getaway, she voiced her amazement at how well I was complying with all of her increasingly difficult commands. On more than one occasion, I heard her tell Mike that I was doing “fantastic.” That was her word, not mine.

And then things got a bit out of hand.  I got out there in the country with my pal Pumpkin and the sweet spring grass and lots of wild smells, and I just lost control. On four straight days, Heather let me off my leash and I ran away from her, at four different locations for four different reasons. She would call me back, and sometimes I would even stop and look at her.  And run.

Shooting range

The first time I was chasing the orange ball that Mike had tossed along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and it took a bad hop and flew over the embankment right into the local gun club’s shooting range.  When I skidded down after it, I caught my leash on a bush, and both I and the ball needed assistance. But as Heather slid down to get me, I extricated myself and ran back uphill to Mike, who was trying to keep Pumpkin from following Heather down. I dropped the ball in the process, but Heather was able to get it. No harm, no foul, right? I might have gotten away with it if it only happened once. Unfortunately, no.

Heather shows the dogs where the ball flew over embankment.

Charlie was with us for the next incident. He drove out to visit on a Sunday, and we took him for a walk on a different branch of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I was leading the pack on the way back to the car when I caught a fresh scent of fox or weasel and took off on a small game trail that ran under some barbed-wire fencing and Posted signs. This sliver of a trail led to a much wider one some 20 feet below, which then wound further into farmers’ fields and ultimately toward the busy highway beyond them. Heather and Charlie kept calling me to return, but I ignored them, put my nose down to the ground and scurried another few yards in the opposite direction. At one point I bounded toward the highway, but soon reversed course and headed steadily back to the main trail, where Mike stood waiting at my original point of egress. This time Heather ordered Mike to keep me leashed up for the rest of our walk.

Wanted: Chloë’s missing ball

But did anybody learn anything from this? Apparently not, because on the following day, in between the heavy rains and hailstones I endured, I split again on yet another section of the Sno Valley Trail. (Heather likes this former railroad bed trail because it’s flat, and I like because it has lots of small critters lurking about.) This time I ran circles around a muddy field before returning to Mike and his waiting leash, again the prescribed punishment from Staff Sergeant Heather, who was amused by my recent performances. She was even less pleased the following day, when she and I were playing fetch on the back lawn, for both of us by far the most favorite activity on the Getaway agenda. She threw the ball, I retrieved it, and then I ran right past her and all the way down to the landscapers’ garage down the hill, ball in mouth – until a big dog named Coconut who lives there intercepted me and chased me back towards the Getaway house. Heather was made when she came to get me, and she was even more so when she saw the ball was no longer in my grip.

At least I’ve got another week out here at my Getaway to find that ball. Meanwhile, I figure I am on a leash for the duration of our time here, even when I’m inside the house. It’s like house arrest! And who knows how long it will last with Heather in charge? Might be forever, come to think of it.

Chloë Slims Down for Boot Camp

Exam room: The weighting is the hardest part.

With Heather officially retired and  boot camp looming, I approached my annual physical with some trepidation. After all, my most recent weigh-in last December hadn’t gone so well: an all-time high of 19.5 pounds. That explains why on our February staycation,my best friend Lynn was much stricter with portion control. But the diligence paid off: At last week’s weigh-in I has dropped a whole pound to 18.5, which Heather says is my “ideal” weight, and she should know. The vet’s assistant weighed me twice just to make sure I wasn’t cheating.

Don’t touch me there!

My regular physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel, was back from maternity leave, and even though I had no new concerns to report, Dr. Aimee made sure to poke her instruments (or fingers) through every orifice in my body. While she, as usual, praised my dental work (“Beautiful!” she exclaimed), she did chip a big hunk of tartar from my upper right molars, which are understandably hard for Mike to get with a toothbrush. “Please keep brushing her teeth daily,” the doc told Mike. “It is really helping.”

Bonding with Dr. Aimee post-exam.

On the down side, literally, was that the rash on my underside has returned (or never really left), meaning another course of little antibiotic pills that Mike sneaks into my dinner when he thinks I’m not looking. I also get weekly shampoos from my personal trainer, Heather, in which the lather has to stay on my sensitive skin for 10 minutes. Trust me, it’s a long 1o minutes for everyone.

If the treatment for this skin rash doesn’t do the job, Dr. Kimmel said, “We should discuss possible allergic causes and allergy medication.” That didn’t sound good. My brothers Frank and Stanley have been down that road, and I would rather not go anywhere that might involve giving up such favorites as chicken broth on my food or, worse yet, Frozen Peanut Butter Boneys.

That’s why I put up with this shampoo for now. The things you do for love.

 

Chloë Gets Some Balls

Toy relocation plan unfolds.

I spent the rest of my most recent staycation with Lynn resting up for my highly anticipated Heather Boot Camp and doing some minor interior decorating, moving my toys around the house and just leaving them there. No Mike around to pick them up for me. In fact, when Lynn was downstairs doing laundry one night, I brought almost all my toys down there one at a time, playing for a while with each new one, then maybe going back to the first or third one for a few minutes before taking a well deserved nap on a pile of soft toys. When I awoke and Lynn was preoccupied with something, I discovered the laundry room waste can was vulnerable, so I tipped it over and pulled out a big ball of dryer lint and some tissues, something the super-vigilant Heather would have headed off at the pass. What fun I have when Lynn’s around, and she lets me sleep with her, too. I’m a good bed warmer.

With my pal Charlie

I also had a couple of great walks with my good pal Charlie. He cleaned out his racquetball bag and brought some old balls over for me. I love these balls, because they are softer than my usual ones and small enough for gnawing, Mike likes them not so much, since I am loath to relinquish them. So Charlie and I decided not to tell Mike about the balls. Charlie let me parade around the park with one in my mouth, and when we hit my lane he pulled a few more out of his pocket and we had a great game of fetch, with me bringing the balls back every time and dropping them at Charlie’s feet on command. When we left, I insisted on carrying one of the balls all the way home, but Charlie left a couple at the top of the lane for next time, or perhaps for another dog who wandered down Chloë’s Lane in need of a racquetball. What a guy.

First Heather came home, and I was still a like antsy and off my routine until Mike finally showed up several days later. It was fun as usual with him gone, but I am definitely happiest when the whole pack is back together.

Chloë Finds a New Hero

Waiting for Jane.

Thank heavens, I got a reprieve on the start of Heather’s boot camp. One day she retired, and the next day she and Mike were gone for a while, which was plenty OK with me. Instead of 30-minute down-stays on the floor, I get 30-minute cuddles with my pal Lynn on a couch or in bed. Maybe they should go away more often. (Just kidding, guys!)

There were some surprises on this mostly uneventful staycation at home with Lynn. When Lynn went to work, instead of Jill coming through the front door to take me out for my mid-day walk, in came Jane, my down-the-block neighbor Merrie the Basset hound’s owner. I know Jane is really nice and always talks to me, so I was very glad to see her, especially since she didn’t bring Merrie along. As my readers well know, I do better with one-on-one relationships. So every day around noon, I took Jane for a walk around the neighborhood, sniffing my way along the sidewalks and hydrants and pulling her along. Jane said that seeing me strut down the street reminded her of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, the same rhythm and determination. I can dig it; after all, we’re all just “Stayin’ Alive.” On the other hand, all she has to compare me with is the slow-moving Merrie.

It was pretty rainy, and most days I got bored with the neighborhood walk after a half-hour or so and made it clear to Jane that I wanted to go home, walking her briskly until we got there. Then I would bolt inside and run to the kitchen, where Lynn left the Kong Wobbler sitting on the counter. I’d do my usual adorable dance, and Jane would set the Kong on the floor before departing, leaving me happily pushing it around and knocking out its treats. One time Jane even found the Kong when Lynn couldn’t. And for a game-saving catch like that, Jane will forever be my hero.

The next week Jill returned for my mid-day walk, and Lynn kept telling me that Heather was coming back any day. By mid-week, however, I was just treating that information like it was more of that fake news. When she gets here, she gets here. I am ready for boot camp. Bring it on.