Category Archives: Chloë’s Toys

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.

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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 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.

 

Chloë Resumes Her Routine

Wiffie: Chloë Official Autograph Model

Waiting for Wiffie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It didn’t take me long to get back into the swing of things at home after my lengthy road trip. As soon as the front door swung open, I pounced right into my toy pile to grab the thing I missed most on the journey: Wiffie!  I’ve been batting that plastic ball around the first floor like crazy, irritating Mike every time I knock it under the couch or someplace else where he has to get down on the floor to free it. It’s fun to drive Mike nuts, and not too hard, either.

Needless to say, it took Mike less than an hour before he unwittingly left the front door open and unguarded, allowing me to escape down the street to renew my futile pursuit of the Bartons’ cats.  A lot of good they are: While we were away, they presumably enjoyed the run of our yard without me to get after them, and they might have done us some good by guarding the premises. Fat chance. Instead, they sat back and let a mouse into my garage, where it devoured a 4.5-pound bag of my Hill’s Science Diet dog food and apparently ate itself to death. Those cats are worthless.

Frozen PBB., fully loaded.

Anyway, being back has many other advantages. Every morning now  I am able to score a full-sized Frozen PBB, not one of the small, travel-size ones that Mike was passing off to me on the trip. That’s good! On the other hand, the leftovers buffet generally laid out on the grass outside the park entrance, a.k.a. Wendy* (not her real name) Way, has been spotty since my return, just a few random bread crusts. Maybe the crows are getting to it first,  since I haven’t been around  all summer to keep them at bay. All I know is that I haven’t seen a good leftover on the smorgasbord since I’ve been back. I just hope Wendy* (not her real name) is eating OK these days. I’m worried about her.

Let’s see, what else is new? I still bark every day when the U.S. mail comes through the slot and do a loud, whiny dance whenever I hear a UPS truck. I was overjoyed to find my favorite driver Donna is back on our route, although she seems to have more days off and dole out smaller biscuits than previous driver Kevin did. Now, I really like Donna, but I’m just saying, Kevin’s biscuits were bigger, much bigger. I’ll have to make my displeasure known without risking alienating Donna. I’ll have to proceed with some of that subtle, Trumpian diplomacy.

Mr. Owl is back

With Heather home every day now, I’ve been doing much more walking and playing a lot of fetch with Heather all week long and with my pal Charlie on Sundays. Lately, we’ve been throwing more on the hill by the park Visitors’ Center, next to the fence outside the Capehart area, or in the military cemetery rather than on my regular course on Chloë’s Lane. Part of the cause is that the lane is pretty well covered with fallen leaves now, making a lost ball more likely. The other reason is that the mean old owl has returned to stalk me again. We all felt his gaze on our necks last week, and there it was above us, perched in a tree above the lane. The way it looked at us creeped us out, so we left. We haven’t seen it since, but we’re always on the lookout. Better safe than sorry!

 

Chloë Redecorates

New layout in living room

So far, not much has changed since Heather retired. Except that now I hang out with her all day, usually downstairs with the fireplace on. After Mike gives me my breakfast and my morning treats, I pretty much abandon Mike for the rest of the day. What good is he until dinner time? Heather’s surroundings are much warmer.

Heather has also done a lot of rearranging of furniture in the living room. It’s almost like checkers with heavier pieces. I’m not so sure I like the current arrangement, with the couch in front of the window. Somehow it’s not as easy for me to jump up on the couch, for one thing. Must be the angle. And all those little scatter rugs on the hardwood floor make it slippery. Even worse, for a couple of days, Heather removed my huge round bed, filled with my toys,from the living room. Out! Entirely! Thankfully, Mike and my best pal Charlie intervened on my behalf,  pointing out I need it as a place to rub my back. and they seem to have talked her out of it, at least for now.

Bed remains, for now.

My biggest complaint remains: This layout is not at all conducive to playing Wiffie. With the entry bench he used for tossing now facing away from the kitchen, Mike no longer has a straight shot across the room, and he has not yet found a comfortable spot for a launching pad. Since I want Mike to be remain engaged in playing Wiffie with me, I will be pushing Heather to follow through on her announced plan to get some different rugs and furniture in the living room that will address these shortcomings as well as improving comfort.  If the changes come to pass, I would even be willing to renegotiate this whole bed thing. Let’s see what any new rugs look like first. In the meantime, as long as thoughts of Asian rugs and swivel recliners keep her mind off ramping up my boot camp, I’ll be on board with any plan that keeps Wiffie in play.

Chloë Starts the New Year Right

Chloe with new orange bear

Chloe with new orange bear, one of her holiday haul.

Mike, Heather and I ran errands last Saturday, but between Costco and the shoe outlet we had time for an extended walk in Saint Edward State Park on Lake Washington, where we had not been in quite a while. It was great to walk in a place other than Discovery Park for a change. We have been real homebodies of late.

Anyway, Saint Edward is a good place to go because it has both trail walking and, when nobody else is around, expansive lawns for fetch. We did a little of both, walking all the way down to the lake and back up to the lawn, where we did a little throwing until I got distracted by joggers and Heather shut the game down. Mike said the landmark seminary building, badly in need of renovation on the inside, is likely going to become a hotel, which does not bode well for future fetch opportunities on this site.

Playing fetch at Saint Edward State Park

Playing fetch at Saint Edward State Park.

Park sign

Park sign

If the hotel is indeed developed, the park would still surround it, similar to the houses currently being renovated and sold in Discovery Park near our house. Hotel guests and dog walkers alike will share the trail system, and informative interpretive signage like this one on the left will continue to dot the landscape.

Our errands trip also included a brief stop at Heather’s office, at least that’s what I was told, since I was left in the car. Not allowed to go inside on a Saturday? That Heather can sometimes be just so Canadian.

Chloë Celebrates a Best-Ever Holiday

I needn’t have worried about the tight quarters in front of our fireplace for stocking-filling. Santa came through just fine for me. In fact, I had already enjoyed two special events by the time the big day arrived.

Re-gifted her toys.

Re-gifted her toys.

Mike and I were just walking down our block one day, minding our own business, when Merrie’s mom Jane came running out of her house and calling to Mike. She wanted to re-gift me with two brand-new toys that had been given to her Basset hound Merrie. She was certain Merrie would chew them. Being somewhat of an expert on toy-chewing myself, however, I doubt that scenario, but are you kidding? I wasn’t saying no. Although Mike told Jane that if I wasn’t interested in the toys, he would drop them off at the Seattle Animal Shelter, by the time we got back to our house, I had already knocked them out of Mike’s hands, scooped them up and claimed them as my own. I was so excited.

Soft green boney

Soft green boney

I immediately adopted both. One is a small orange bear that I have so far been unable to silence from its squeaking, despite my many efforts. The other is a fabric-covered green bone that has “Been there chewed that” stitched on one side. This one was easy to quiet and thus far has become a popular participant in indoor fetch sessions. Sometimes the soft green bone even supplies a good target for some tug-o-war with Mike. Heather doesn’t do tug-o-war. I haven’t named the orange bear or the green bone yet, but I’m working on it.

My good fortune continued. A couple of evenings later, my new UPS delivery person Donna came to my own front door! I heard her truck come down the block and park, and as Mike looked out the window to verify my warning, Donna was actually bounding down our walk, delivering a package for Heather and biscuits right to my doorstep. She gave me two, my first personal double-biscuit delivery since my favorite Mr. Brown Kevin left the route a bit more than a year ago.

Chanukah gelt for Chloë.

Chloë surveys her Chanukah gelt.

Come Christmas morning, my stocking was full. I got Paul Newman’s personal dog treats from Charlie and all-natural chewies from my aunts Susie and Debby. Mike gave me lots of extra treats all day, a rarity for that tightwad. And Heather, who stayed home from work all week (in a sneak preview of what this “retirement” thing might be like), gave me one “Get Out of Jail Free” card for when I get in trouble on her watch and took me on several long walks in the park, just the two of us, followed by some power-napping. With all of this loot coming on top of the comfy new mattress in the bedroom that has now returned to easy dachshund accessibility, my stocking haul was more than I could possibly ask for.

It was nice to have my pack all together and under the same roof all day. Over two days of the Christmas weekend, the three of us (along with my pal Charlie on Christmas Day) hiked to six of my favorite fetch locations in the park, pausing for some spirited throw-and-return at each stop. The six were Chloë’s Lane, the Hill Below the 500 Area, Behind the Visitors Center, the Cemetery, the South Meadow and the Capehart Fence. I just hope Animal Control Officers aren’t faithful readers of my blog. The potential for drone surveillance worries me.

That’s why I’ve decided to lie low ’til 2017. Happy New Year.