Category Archives: Chloë’s Toys

Chloë Perfects Her Inside Game

Our heroine

It’s harder to get enough exercise in these days of quarantine. My games of fetch have been at a minimum; it’s hard to find a space without people, big dogs, little kids, runners or bikes whizzing by. Over Easter weekend, the mayor closed the park entirely. We were forced to walk along Magnolia Boulevard and around the neighborhood, and  fetch opportunities shrank  faster than Trump’s approval rating. Don’t get me started down that road.

Luckily, I  can always entice Mike into indoor playtime. Heather not so much, but Mike is easy. Whenever I get tired of sleeping, throttling Lamby in the living room or mining for crumbs on the dining room rug, I  sit in front of  Mike and make little whining noises until he succumbs and follows me into the kitchen, where he sits on the floor and tosses Wiffie at me so I can work on my inside game.  I call it “catch and release.” Catchy, eh?

Quarantined or not, I’ve got to stay in shape. After turning 10 years old in February, my weight has been creeping up again, and Mike threatened to put me on the dreaded diet. It was a good thing that last week  was my annual physical with Dr. Aimee Kimmel,  my longtime personal physician. After the exam, she assured Heather that my weight gain was OK. “Overall, she is doing great!” Dr. Kimmel wrote in her report.· “She is a little ball of muscle at 21.0 pounds.” Couldn’t have phrased it better myself! Mike might plan to economize on my daily rations, but even a tyrant like him wouldn’t ignore the science-driven advice of his top medical expert—nobody could be that dumb.

Dr. Kimmel on a previous visit.

The rest of my annual physical was pretty routine, but it was different, too, and not just because Elliott Bay Animal Hospital officially designated me a “senior patient.” Because of virus-prevention, Heather had to wait in the car in the parking lot while I went inside for my exam and other assorted stuff like nail-trimming and anal gland extraction (I’ll spare you the details).

After about a half-hour of examining and some shots, I got to take a break outside and meet Heather for a half-hour walk around the neighborhood. Then it was back inside for more shots. I was hoping all this variation from my normal going-to-the-vet procedures would result in extra treats for me, but I was disappointed. Maybe next time will be better, however. As a senior patient, they want to see me again in six months for additional blood work. I see every appointment as another opportunity to cash in on canine Social Security.

Chloë Shelters in Place

I know it was just a week or so ago that I was complaining that Mike and Heather went away and left me back in Seattle. Now I’m afraid that if they didn’t have to take me out three or four times a day, they would never leave the house again.

No parking in park.

After our governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” mandate, things really quieted down around here. With cold, dreary weather and the park closing its parking lots, the number of people inside dwindled considerably. I did my daily walk with Mike and Heather, but I had to stay leashed most of the time, and whenever we encountered people or dogs on the trail, I was directed as far away from them as possible.  It’s a different world. Until recently, I thought Social Distancing, Six Feet of Separation, Self-Quarantine and Pandemic were the names of hard rock bands.

Luckily, sheltering in place has been OK for me so far. Both Mike and Heather are always home, meaning I’m much more likely to achieve my prime goal of having my whole pack in the same room, and I’ve also  enjoyed a marked increase in nap time with Heather. The treats I expect at 7, 9 and 10 a.m.,, 2 p.m, and bedtimes have not been quarantined. My long afternoon walks have not been shortened, although there has been a dearth of ball-chasing. Frankly, it hasn’t bothered me. I’ve found carrying my ball around in my mouth to be much more rewarding.

Snoozing with Lamby

Best of all, my favorite toy Lamby is back after being missing for almost a week. Turned out that Lamby was hiding inside my travel crate ever since it was packed up over at Schatzi’s house. Mike finally found Lamby when he unpacked my crate to set it up downstairs, several days after I came home. It’s a wonder Lamby didn’t die of suffocation, thirst or starvation after being stuffed flatter than an airline carry-on for several days. That Lamby’s tougher than she looks!

Lamby shows off her scar.

That’s why I really enjoy the challenge of throttling Lamby, grabbing her by the nose and throat and tossing her around. Unfortunately, one day in my enthusiasm I opened a seam that attached poor Lamby’s neck to her head, allowing her cotton stuffing to spew forth all over the dining room and sending Lamby to the toy hospital. Since all elective surgery had been cancelled, Mike had to take matters into his own hands, and managed to restuff and restitch Lamby all by himself. A true jack of all trades.

There’s no telling now how long this “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” policy is going to last. As long as my treat supply holds out, I’m on board with it.

Chloë and Lamby shelter in place.

Chloë Loves the Snow

Poised for the next throw.

We finally got some snow this week. Areas at higher elevations got a lot of it, but here at sea level we only got enough to coat the trees, meadows and parade ground in the park one afternoon. There was just enough  snow for kids to sled down the hill below the chapel (a must to avoid, as far as I’m concerned) and just enough for me to lose my ball several times. But hey, we still have that same blue ball today, so it wasn’t lost for too long before it was found. Digging around for it in the snow was fun, too,  so we all enjoyed our snowy walk until I took off into a deep thicket and got my leash caught on blackberry stalks, something that hadn’t happened to me in years. After much futile calling, Heather finally found me, waded in and untangled me. That was the end of my snow day freedom. It was fun while it lasted.

Bringing back the ball.

Chloë of the North.

 

The next afternoon the weather changed. Suddenly the sun came out, and there was a brilliant sunset.

South Meadow, Discovery Park.

Of the winter’s toughest storm to date, all that remained in the park was this giant snowball. I surveyed it only from afar. That glow was creepy.

Giant Snowball.

 

Chloë Spreads Holiday Cheer

Sammy and Chloë

Just a day after Mike and Heather returned from their trip, my aunt Sammy came to visit. She was here to listen to some poet she follows, so we didn’t get to hang out with her as much as I usual. But her visit still paid off, as she and Heather made a macaroni and cheese recipe that provided excellent plate-licking material for a good week after she left. I would have preferred an encore, but she left anyway.

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Mike finally got around to hauling up the holiday decorations from the garage, and he was very proud of himself for expanding the number of lights and areas covered. Heather installed permanent hooks for our stockings under the mantel, so they will hold more weight, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned. However, seeing my favorite singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer hanging high in a corner where I couldn’t get close enough to lust after it did not sit well with me. I gave the decorations a big yawn (see photo).

Stocking up on rawhide

My mood brightened on Christmas Day, especially when my stocking was unloaded (on the couch no less, where I am never allowed except on very special occasions) with assorted treats and toys from my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby, including rawhide sticks that look and taste like candy canes. I haven’t had much rawhide since my titanium crown was installed, so I particularly treasured these treats. After I unloaded my stocking it was Heather’s turn, and she got several different kinds of chocolate, which of course she won’t be sharing with me because chocolate can be deadly to dogs. Even I know that!

Content of Mike’s stocking

Finally, it was Mike’s turn, and guess what was in his stocking? Nothing but coal! Two lumps! I guess we know who hadn’t been nice enough to the girls around here.

My best gift this Christmas came from my new best dog friend Schatzi, who came over to visit on Christmas Eve and brought me a holiday gingerbread house stuffed with squeaky toys: a gingerbread man, a Christmas tree and a candy cane. It’s lots of fun to pull all the squeaky toys out of the gingerbread house and leave them around the floor so Mike can lean down, grumble, pick them up and stuff them inside the little house again. The house is good for tugging, too, and I’m making sure that Mike knows it.

Chloe Inspects gift from Schatzi.

Anyhow, Schatzi has her own gingerbread house over at her place, so we quickly got bored with my present and started wrestling instead. I’ll get back to the present it when she goes home.

 

 

Chloë Changes Her Bed

The audition: Head on bookcase, old bed close by.

My peanut bed, a.k.a “the little girl” bed, was getting pretty frayed on the bottom. It’s almost 10 years old, and so am I! It’s time we move to the next facet of our lives. Sleep will be even more important for us seniors!

When Schatzi stayed with us  few weeks ago, I really liked her bed, and when I stayed at Charlie’s house in August, I really liked Logan’s bed, and he wasn’t even there. They smelled good, and they were comfortable, so I just made myself at home.

So when Heather and Mike were food shopping at Fred Meyer the other day and walked past a giant display of dog beds on sale, Heather didn’t hesitate. It wasn’t quite what she was looking for, but it was close enough. She went for a blue one.

Eyeing the bedding improvements: bed cover and pillow.

She flopped it on the living room floor in the spot where my old bed used to be. The peanut bed moved around the corner, a couple of feet away, for two weeks, so I still had a choice. Just in case the new one wasn’t to my liking, I could always go back to what I knew.

So I tried it out. The blue bed was much roomier than my peanut bed and had higher pillows around the edge, but it didn’t get my nose quite high enough, and I started to use the adjacent bookcase as a pillow. In addition, the plush interior cushioning felt just a little too warm on my body. I briefly considered going back to the peanut bed.

All ready for a power nap.

That’s when Heather swooped in. She put a pillowcase over the bottom cushion, so the temperature inside the bed became just right. She put another pillowcase over a small camp pillow retrieved from a closet downstairs to make a new headrest for me. A couple of photos in the bookcase had to be displaced, but I didn’t know those people, so it was no skin off my nose.

Now I am extremely happy with my new accommodation, and really proud of Heather, the way she swung into action and demonstrated her hidden homemaking skills. Way to go, Heath! And since around here  we never like to throw anything away, Heather applied some new silver duct tape on the bottom of the peanut bed and placed it on the back seat of her car, where the two of us can roll on together for years to come.

Chloë Finds America Great Again

Great Sacandaga Lake

The final afternoon walk on the Canadian leg of our coast-to-coast excursion didn’t go so well.  While the place—Lemoine Point Conservation Area outside Kingston, ON—had nice, wide trails that kept me away from its Lake Ontario waves, in the middle of a large meadow on our trek, two dogs who were both a lot bigger than me and not at all under the control of their owner leaned far over to where I was lying down on the side of the trail and lunged. Even though they were on leashes, they got pretty close to me. Luckily, Heather reacted quickly and yanked me away by my leash. When I was safely out of harm’s way, she started yelling at the dogs and their owner, who was dragging them away and muttering apologies that Heather wasn’t buying.

Actually, that owner exhibited the kind of me-first behavior usually associated with Americans, and yet here we were in Canada. Apparently bad behavior knows no boundaries.

Chloe chills by the lake,

On the other hand, after we returned to the U.S., everybody from the border patrol agents to people we meet on our walks has been so darn nice to me. Instead of motels, we stayed at the homes of several of Mike’s and Heather’s friends, and every one of them lavished praise and attention on me, telling them how physically fit and well-behaved I am. (Let’s just say I am practiced at the art of deception.)

Our first stop on this part of the trip was with the people I already know the best, my Seattle friends Mike and Carol and my dog buddy Penny, who frequently comes over to our house when everyone except us watches Syracuse games on TV.  Before we arrived at their camp on Great Sacandaga Lake, Mike and Carol were smart enough to hide all of Penny’s Mushabellies (I tend to silence them forever), but I did get to play some Wiffie (I left some pretty good tooth marks on the ball, too).

With Heather, Mike, Carol and Penny at camp.

While we were staying there, Heather went to a local pet and feed store and bought me a new toy of my own, a stuffed one with a squeaker. It was the first new toy I’ve had in quite a while, in fact. And Mike bought himself a sweatshirt and a pair of scissors at America’s first “5 and 10” in Northville, NY.  Apparently the American economy is booming.

Yes, it was great to be back in the U.S.A.

 

 

 

Chloë Vacations in Style

Taking it easy.

One evening before dinner, Mike and Heather packed up all my traveling stuff  and, without any warning, herded me into the car. We drove off with me in the back seat, whining in trepidation. I feared the worst. That is, until the car stopped in front of a house I recognized immediately: I was going to the vet for an operation, I was going on another vacation with my friends Caroline and David . My whimpers instantly modulated from mournful to excited. So was I at all nervous to be abandoned? Hell, no! As soon as Mike and Heather shut the door, I settled in. This was like a spa week for me.

Dozing on the couch.

This time I didn’t get to visit Caroline’s new financial planning office, but she came home to check on me several times a day. One day David stayed home and I got to watch him do some engineering. Since David and Caroline are expecting to get a dachshund puppy of their own later this spring, he seemed to want to be my pal so he could practice. We got along great. One night I even jumped up on the couch and put my head on his lap. He didn’t chase me away, which I took it as a good sign. I’m hoping that if I’m nice to him, maybe after they get their puppy he’ll invite me onto his boat. I’ve never been on a boat, so the puppy and I could get our inaugural sea legs together. Assuming there are no waves involved, of course.

Waiting for a treat.

Even though Heather made me leave my indoor plastic ball Wiffie at home, I got plenty of exercise over there, inside and out. We had so many games of “chase the muddy ball” in the back yard that Caroline’s arm got sore. We sometimes took walks with Marley. a dog who lives across the street. Marley and I got along fine, and he was nice enough, but mostly I treated him like any other dog: I chose to ignore him. Most of the time Caroline and I walked over the to  city park near the end of her street, which has a nice view but doesn’t have real trails like there are in my own park. For a longer trip, we walked along Magnolia Boulevard, next to the Sound. It wasn’t Chloe’s Lane, but it was OK.

Caroline kept telling me how much of an angel I am, which is always nice to hear, so I actually tried to be on my best behavior for her most of the time. She knew that Heather always calls me “Chloë TULLY,” when she’s scolding me, which  seems to me happens way too often. In the week or so I stayed with Caroline, she only had to say it a few times, no doubt when I was being a little too stubborn or spoiled for my own good. Her delivery lacked Heather’s pointed emphasis, I might add.

Pulling a donut out of the mug.

My favorite part of this stay was the quality of Caroline’s dog toys. She let me play with a stuffed alligator and a big, soft coffee mug that had fabric donuts inside that I had to pull out. It was kind of like my toy Chinese food takeout container with dumplings, except much better: bigger, plusher, more colorful and much more fun. And that pretty much summed up my whole time at Caroline’s: Similar to the high-quality treatment I get from Mike and Heather, only better. This was too much fun.

Even so, I got very excited when Mike and Heather returned to pick me up. When they rang the doorbell and entered I ran around in circles and squealed with glee, but Heather still refused to bend down to let me jump into her face. Even though she was happy to see me, she doesn’t want to encourage such excited behavior. Mike, on the other hand, had no compunctions, so when he stooped down to my level I tackled him, licking his face and biting his nose for quite a while before I settled down.

When we finally drove back to our house, before I went inside I inspected the whole block, both sides of the street, to make sure no new cats had moved in while I was away. I was thrilled to report the coast was clear.

With a stuffed gator.