Category Archives: Chloë’s Excellent Adventures

Chloë Explores a Fallen Tree

Assessing the damage.

January is definitely the dullest month around here. Hardly any UPS deliveries, for starters. And it’s fairly dreary every day. Everywhere is brown and muddy, since the forest usually doesn’t show its first signs of life until the middle of the month. It’s either overcast or rainy nearly every day. I get Heather and Mike out of a walk regardless of the weather, but we walk so early in the afternoon that when we get home I have much too much time to kill until dinner. By the time meal time finally rolls around, I’m in a deep sleep in my chair, not really wanting to be disturbed. What else is there to do but sleep? Mike will play fetch or tug for only so long, and then I’m on my own. I don’t play solitaire. I don’t watch TV or listen to music. I can’t read. Might as well get some rest.

Inspecting the job

January weather had been much warmer than normal, but it has been especially windy. We lost power twice at our house. And every time we went to Chloë’s Lane for fetch, Heather had to police the trail first to remove any wind-blown debris that might impede my mad dashes after the ball.

The strongest windstorm of the month toppled a giant Sycamore tree in the park, probably planted when the park was developed as an army base in the early 1900s. I investigated the scene later that same day, and I immediately determined the tree would be a public hazard if left there on the parade ground in its current state. Someone could be poked in the eye from one of those smaller branches. Mike said he thought it would lie there forever, as so many other fallen trees that weren’t blocking a trail.

Lo and behold! The following morning, the sun came out for the first of five days in a row. After so many days of wind and gloom, the pastel sunsets and afterglow behind the Olympic Mountains was spectacular. And within those few days, the outer extremities of that tree were cut off and removed . In my lifetime (almost nine years!), nothing else in the park had been accomplished as quickly. While nobody among us knows when (or if) the remaining pieces of the tree will be removed, the parade ground is already pretty much back to usual. Fetch is back in season, as long as the dog police don’t drive up or the next windstorm brings down another elderly Sycamore.

Fetching on the parade ground

 

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Chloë Finds Christmas Secrets

Secret tree

The first time I found the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park, just Heather and I were walking. Mike must have been at some appointment or other. It was in a fairly out-of-the-way location in the South Meadow, not far from the wooded area called Spruce Island. We had to traverse some narrow trails to get there. It was still light out, so at first we saw only its colored ornaments. Upon closer inspection, we saw it also had a string of colored lights powered by two solar collection discs wired to the trunk of the 6-foot tree. It’s actually more visible at night, when its sparkling lights can be seen from paved park road above. A sign at the base of the tree begs for benevolence toward the clearly illegal decoration and solicits comments about it. I did my part for Secret Christmas Tree preservation, leaving as quickly as possible after the photo because the recently clipped blackberry branches were doing a number on my feet.

Ouch! Those thorns !

Other than that, we enjoyed a quiet Christmas at home. My pal Charlie came over for dinner, and I hung out with him in the living room watching LeBron James while Mike and Heather were busy getting the various dishes on the table. Outside in the rain, Mike roasted beef, which usually means good things for me later. However, while I got plenty of dishes to lick after they ate dinner, I was distressed to learn that neither of those delicious rib bones from the roast were coming my way. As a recent visit to my dentist-veterinarian for a six-month, post-surgery checkup again illustrated, last spring’s root canal and the titanium crown protecting it preclude real bones from touching my lips forever. The best I can hope for from Christmas dinner will be some quality trimmings and some tasty bone broth. That and dental chews are my new normal.

Personal delivery for Chloë?

My only Christmas presents came from my old reliables. My  Syracuse aunts and my pal Charlie both came through with  treats and a ball, while Mike and Heather gave me a brand-new orange SU collar, just in time for the big bowl game (which we’re watching at Penny’s house). But the highlight of the gift-giving season was not a present, but rather when Donna, my favorite UPS driver, pulled her big brown truck into our next-door neighbor’s driveway. I figured she had done that because Heather’s car was in our driveway, but no, her delivery was really for the kids next door. I had to settle for Donna’s treats, but it was very exciting while it lasted. My frenzied barking to get out of the house got every dog in the neighborhood going. Sorry about that.

Christmas presence

 

Chloë Reviews Her Portfolio

Chloë and Caroline track stock prices online.

My personal financial planner (and sometime hotelier) Caroline changed firms and Magnolia offices last month, and Mike and Heather finally got around to taking me to inspect her new digs. As far as I’m concerned, the new location could not possibly be better: It’s in the heart of Magnolia Village, in the same parking lot as Bartell Drugs and conveniently next door to Pet Pros, where I frequently stock up on mini cheese and salmon hearts at the help-yourself treat bar. Caroline gave us a short tour of the new layout and introduced us to everybody who was working there, which gave me the opportunity to give a good sniff-over to each and every office and conference room. It was not until I got into Caroline’s private office that I found the specific cabinet I was looking for. And let me tell you: While the name of the brokerage may have changed, the quality and quantity of the treats Caroline keeps for her doggie clients has not diminished.

Chloë joins the powerhouse financial round table.

Caroline then went over my retirement portfolio with me and Heather (Mike, unfortunately, is not financially astute enough to participate), suggesting how I might re-balance my holdings to achieve greater security and long-term growth. Made sense to me! As long as I was allowed to stay close to the treat cabinet, I was all ears. When Caroline talks, I listen, especially when I’m staying at her house and she controls the treats. The only “insider” information I really need is how to open that special cabinet that pays great dividends.

Chloë Inspects Brown’s Belly

Every time my ultra-sensitive dog ears hear a UPS truck coming up our one-way street, I go nuts. Springing from bed or chair, I sprint to the front door, barking uncontrollably. Mike, who startles easily, jerks to attention. Heather yells at me to keep quiet. I could care less. I have to get outside to greet Donna, my favorite uniformed agent of a large, multinational corporation, who occasionally brings us stuff and gives me biscuits even when she doesn’t.

Waiting for brown

Usually when we meet, Donna is out of her big, brown truck with a package, so we greet each other at street level. But one day when I dragged Heather outside, Donna had parked her truck down our block and paused to eat her lunch, so she was sitting inside. Heather let me hop right up into the cab, and after Donna and I said our hellos, I investigated the back of the truck, where all the packages were stacked on shelves that went all the way to the roof. Frankly, not nearly as exciting as the vast emporium of treats I had imagined. Getting treats from Donna on the sidewalk is definitely more exciting than that. Nevertheless, when I had the opportunity to hop inside for a second look, I seized it gladly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t vastly more interesting the second time through.

Chloë gets a peek inside.

Now, of course, the busy season for package deliveries has arrived. Donna now has an assistant who helps carry packages to houses from the truck. But more often than not, when a brown truck comes up our street, it’s not Donna’s. I hate it when that happens! These extra-shift drivers never try to cultivate relationships with the customers and their canine companions. Come on guys, it’s a relationship business! Throw the dogs a bone or two. It’s that most wonderful time of the year!

Oh, well. The new drivers make me appreciate Donna even more. I’m going to have to get Heather to give her a better holiday gift this year. Just put it on my tab.

 

Chloë Ramps Up Her Recovery

Chloë takes over Heidi’s ramp.

I was meaning to write sooner, but I’ve been injured. For the second time in just three months, a bad wheel was slowing me down. The first time, when we were in Canada in August, it was my right front leg with a pulled muscle that made me limp. This time, it was muscle soreness in the back left. Some days this new injury didn’t seem to bother me at all, and I continued to leap into my camp chair, but the next day I would let out an unexpected yelp of pain just by leaping off a curb to the street. I had no problems going down a flight of stairs, but there was no way I was climbing back up, not even the two little steps in front of our house. Mike and Heather dragged Heidi’s ramp out of the garage just for me. The tread on the ramp needed a little mending, but I began using it on every trip up. Not down, just up.

To prevent further damage to my leg, Heather put me on what she called “modified bed rest.”  That meant when we went out to the Olympic Peninsula for Heather’s birthday, we didn’t go on any long, up-and-down hikes in the forest, like we usually do. This time I walked only on paved or flat trails like the Olympic Discovery Trail in Sequim. When Heather and Mike hiked to the top of Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park, I stayed in the car. Fine with me, frankly.

Olympic snoozing.

When we got back home, Heather didn’t make me stay in bed all day, but I was not allowed to play ball, not even inside with Wiffie. And I wasn’t allowed to run after squirrels or chase cats, either. Our afternoon walks were shorter, too. And with so much less exercise, I was getting crabbier every day, not to mention gaining weight. I feared the dreaded word “diet” might resurface when Mike came back from his trip east.

This lingering physical malady started to change my personality as well. I got more standoffish and timid around other dogs.  I started sleeping later, whining less, declining to get into bed and take a nap with Heather. I’d rather be alone in my beds in the office or living room. When Mike got back, I let him groom me without trying to get away. If I went downstairs with him to get a biscuit, I refused to go back up on my own. Eventually Heather would relent, come downstairs, pick me up and carry me up stairs, unsure whether my leg was still bothering me or if my reluctance to climb the stairs was all in my head.  When I demanded similar service for the two steps up to her bed, she drew the line. Dammit. As long as she thought I was hurt, I planned to make the most of it, but apparently my jig is up. Heather put Heidi’s ramp back in the garage.

 

Chloë Takes a Puppy to School

Mr. Fuzz

I was excited to to return to my mountain getaway in east King County last week. As soon as we exited I-90 and climbed into to the foothills, I knew where we were going, back to the palace of wall-to-wall carpet and lawns galore. It’s my absolutely favorite place to play fetch, 50 or more throws at each session. And I love being the undisputed leader of the pack with Pumpkin, the little dog who lives there, and the mysterious Mr. Fuzz, the bushy cat who mostly stays upstairs when I’m around. They know their place.

Smokey

Unfortunately, sometime after our last visit, Smokey showed up. About 8 months old when we arrived, Smokey is the successor to Tara, the brilliant Aussie who showed me the ropes out here when I was a but a wee pup. Supposedly it was my turn to pass some wisdom on to Smokey, except for one thing: Smokey just didn’t want to listen. Every single time he could, he just wanted to bite me on the ears or stick his nose up my butt, like I was going to smell different every time. Heather yelled, “Leave!” and “No” more than I’ve ever heard them yelled before, even in my own frolicking puppyhood. Heather was worn out after a week of grappling on the other end of a leash with Smokey, a strong and growing boy.

Chloe and Smokey rest on the trail.

Heather said Smokey hadn’t been out much beyond the grounds of his home property. He didn’t know anything about taking a walk, so we taught him how to do it, and we walked on the Preston-Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Valley trails. By the end of our time there, he was getting better at following the pack, although he kept trying to pick up large sticks at the end instead of in the middle, and he turned out to be a serial pooper, meaning he took several long strides between each deposit, so it was hard to know when he was done and harder to find those nuggets when he was. Heather needed a lot of bags. And she also had to teach Smokey about how to ride in the back of the car, although it took a lot of pushing and shoving from Heather and Mike in the front seat to keep him there. On the plus side, since Smokey had to be by himself in the back seat tied to my harness, I finally regained my rightful place in the front seat in Mike’s lap. Good timing, too; in this comfortable spot I could lay my head down, close my eyes, and not think about the twisty roads we were driving on, which make me queasy.

Chloë smugly watches Smokey suffer in Heather’s Boot Camp.

Heather tried valiantly to teach Smokey better manners, but even a week in Heather’s infamous Boot Camp could not make much difference. Hopefully Smokey will grow out of his rambunctiousness and be a nice guy to be around, but at this time he’s still a work in progress. While we were in the house, he mostly had to stay in his exercise pen in the living room, just to keep him out of everyone’s face and give Pumpkin and I some respite from his constant advances. We all felt sorry for Pumpkin, because when no one is around to tell Smokey “no,” he will hound her constantly and drive her into her crate or onto seats of chairs that are pushed in under the dining room table, where she crawls up in her little lair and hopes he doesn’t find her.

Status reclaimed.

Anyway, I missed out on the other Big Excitement of our week at the getaway. I was inside the house with Mike in the middle of the afternoon when Heather took Pumpkin and Smokey outside for some exercise. She threw the ball for Smokey (and he was making some progress on bringing it back!) while Pumpkin ran unleashed in in the horse ring until Heather saw a cougar standing at the edge of the property, on a trail that goes into the state forest land out back. She yanked on Smokey’s leash, called Pumpkin to come and hightailed it with them to the house, while the cougar hightailed it in the opposite direction.

It was a good thing that I didn’t happen to be out there fetching my ball on the back lawn when that big cat appeared. Everyone knows how much I love to chase cats. It could have been good practice for the Bartons’ cats down the street., and no one doubts I would have been deterred by its size.

Chloe on Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Although I missed that opportunity, and sometimes Smokey got to be a bit intimidating, it was a worthwhile time out there. It made Heather appreciate much more just what a good dog I am. And as I always like to say, better him than me.

 

Chloë Gets a Treat on the Road

Lobbying for the front.

Lest any readers think my whole summer vacation was one long bummer, let me confess that I had a great time overall, and that the high points far outweighed the bad. For every gushing wound and terrifying voyage I endured, there were many wonderful wilderness walks and a bevy of ice-cream treats.  I did my share of whining from my perch in the back seat of the car, but I also interacted with strangers, hung out with other dogs and even got to chase a few cats. Although my perpetual quest to regain my rightful place in the front seat was still unsuccessful, I did get to spend all day, every day together with my pack-mates Mike and Heather, which doesn’t particular happen as much when we’re home.

That’s why I like hotels, too. When we stay in a hotel, all three of us are always together in the same room, unless somebody’s taking a shower. I still have to sleep in my create, of course, just like I do at home, but in the morning I can always manage to whine my way onto a mattress (always on a towel, of course). Plus, in a hotel all the people we meet in the lobbies and elevators say how cute and well-behaved I am. Which I am, as long as they don’t try to touch me.

Welcome, Chloë!

The unquestioned highlight of the whole trip was my stay at the Travelodge in Grand Island, Nebraska, on the way home. In the past two summers of driving to the East Coast and back, the nice people at this particular hotel are the only ones who gave me a welcome gift when I checked in. Not free breakfast, strong wi-fi, shampoo and soap, but a welcome gift just for me, the pet to be named later. The best thing we got at any other hotel was a $10 pet fee (only once).

And what a gift the Travelodge provided! Inside a distinctive royal blue bag (that Mike kept as a trash bag for his car) was a smaller plastic bag filled with an array of biscuits (that Mike doled out to me all too slowly). Also in the blue bag was something else that looked like it could be food, but it turned out to be a toy shaped like a Chinese food takeout container. Inside the container were three dumplings, each of them a small, fabric-skinned, squeaky toy. It didn’t take me long to rip open the velcro strip on top of the container, pull out the dumplings and start tossing those them around the hotel room, all while emitting continuous squeals of joy and writhing around on the carpet. I couldn’t have been happier/

Thus my official Trip Advisor review for the Travelodge by Wyndham Grand Island: My best hotel stay ever. Five stars!

Dancing with my dumpling.

Since we returned to Seattle, I have still been carrying my Chinese food container around the house and making Mike throw the little dumplings from the front door all the way into the kitchen, so I can run after them, chase them down and bring them back for more tosses. These once-plush white toys got so dirty that Heather has already washed them once, and then they got dirty all over again. Just the way I like them.