Category Archives: Chloë’s Toys

Chloë Counts Her Blessings

A brief rest at Carkeek Park.

It was mostly a quiet holiday season, but it had its moments.  There was lots more  turkey in my meals, for starters. There were a couple of trips to Carkeek Park on sunny days when we could see the mountains and fetch my ball from caroms off the Rock. And I enjoyed brief visits from Caroline, my personal financial advisor, and Ty, Isla and Micah, the kids who live on either side of our house. 

Of course, visits from those four coincided with a day-long visit from my little pal Schatzi, still sticking her nose into my business every chance she got. Why all those kids like Schatzi better than they like me remains a mystery to me. Their attitude changes, however, when we walk around the neighborhood or in the park with Heather leading and the kids holding onto the leashes. Then I am much more desirable to them, because when they are holding the other end of the leash I do what they want me to, unlike nose-to-the-ground Schatzi who constantly pulls them in all directions. But their warm feelings last only as long as we’re walking. When we get back, Schatzi gets all their squeals and attention. As far as I’m concerned, she can have it, frankly. I’m better than I used to be, but kids are still not high on my list.

Chuckit Ultra Ball Small (2 Pack)Oh, I also don’t want to neglect mentioning the fabulous gifts I found when Mike emptied my stocking on the living room floor the afternoon of Christmas Day! I found several different kinds of treats from Mike and Heather, my Syracuse aunts and Caroline, plus a set of two orange Chuckit! balls from Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby. Even though these Chuckit! balls are the smaller size that Mike hates (because I enjoy pushing them under furniture or gnawing on them instead of bringing them back when he tosses them), I just starred at them sitting on a shelf in the living room and whined until he took both out of their packaging and rolled them along the floor for me to chase. Too bad, Mike, I am into it! Sometimes I get both of the new balls and Wiffie rolling around at the same time, which really makes Mike crazy. What fun!

Chloë pauses with Ranger the Reindeer.

The other unexpected gift I got for Christmas came from Ranger, a bernadoodle puppy who arrived about a year ago to live down our block in the house where MacDuff and MacKenzie used to live, next door to Jane and Merrie. It’s a stuffed reindeer toy that squeaks in three places, and it immediately became my chosen partner for tug, replacing Lamby as my favorite victim for a full-throttle fling. Heather named it Ranger the Reindeer, after the dog who gave it to me. That Ranger is friendly enough, but he’s already too big for me to play with, so when Mike or Heather stop outside his fence to say hi and talk to him, I just sniff the lawn and pretend to look the other way.

Anyway, I loved his gift, and I couldn’t wait to start tossing it around the living room. But my toy reindeer sprung a small hole in his belly when Mike took out one of those pesky plastic fasteners, and he needed immediate medical attention. Luckily, Ranger’s fur was a close color match to masking tape that Mike had bought to cover up a spot on his car. Heather taped up Ranger right away, and soon he was good as new, ready to be throttled and hidden from Schatzi when she came over to play. I get first dibs.

Sharing the chair with Ranger the Reindeer.

More good news for Ranger the Reindeer:  He fits comfortably into one of the drink holders on my personal camp chair, and thus he will remain visible far into the new year, long after the other holiday decorations are packed in their plastic crate and exiled to the garage. For the rest of us, there will be brighter days ahead.

Chloë Starts a New Holiday Tradition

Sniffing out the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park.

‘Tis the season, all right. In our house, we have been reviving and expanding all of our holiday traditions. The big plastic storage bin that holds all the lights, ornaments and puppets came out of the garage while we were still eating Thanksgiving turkey. Not only are the mantelpiece and shutters aglow, but this year the trellises on either side of the front door have lights. A winter wonderland, indeed.

We were all happy to see Discovery Park’s Secret Christmas Tree return to the South Meadow to further brighten the pandemic pall. The tree, decorated with ornaments and a string of colored lights powered by a solar battery, first appeared two Decembers ago. Last year, some Scrooge must have cancelled it.

Chloë’s tree in its natural habitat..

News media report that sales of live Christmas trees are booming this year, as people seek a little joy, solace and tradition in these gloomy times. And so I decided to dig up my own living tree, choosing a tiny cedar sapling that must have been blown by the wind into a nesting place in our front yard. After diligently tending it through the growing season, I had Mike dig it up, pot it and bring it inside to add to our holiday display.

That smiling elf penguin moved right in with the tree, and  Mike promised to get a string of lights for it once it’s a little bigger. The tree will move in its pot into the portable greenhouse outside the kitchen door for the winter, and Mike will replant it outside in the spring.

First ornament.

Now that Mike has mounted my favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer puppet on top of a cabinet where I cannot hope to reach it, my live Christmas tree will be my new favorite holiday tradition. Well, my favorite right after that special moment of opening all the goodies that fall out of my stocking on Christmas morning, that is. I can smell that there’s already something inside my stocking that’s been hung by the chimney with care, but I have been on my best behavior in order not to spoil any surprises that might be planned. While I’m not expecting anything close to a new car with a big red bow or anything else that I see advertised on TV at this time of year, a couple of biscuits and a tasty rawhide chewy would be nice.

Holiday mantel with Chloë’s tree (on right) and stocking (lower center).

Chloë Stands Her Ground

Schatzi searches faux takeout container for faux dumplings.

She was back. Schatzi, that is. And in the weeks since she’d been here (but who’s counting?), she hadn’t aged a bit! She was still  a whirling dervish of energy, barking, jumping on the furniture, taking over my bed and my chair. and getting in my face every second that she wasn’t sleeping.  In classic “the other dog’s toys are much better than mine” mode, almost all of my toys came out of their corner bins and onto the living room floor. Some had not been out of their bin in years.

Most of the time, I just let Schatzi do her thing. Whenever I had enough, I gave her a growl or a lip curl, or just stared her down. She would always back away, thank goodness.

 

Side by side by side.

Somewhere along the line, however, I had to put my paw down. Schatzi is the ultimate affection hound, demanding constant attention, but there was no way I was going to let her get more affection from Heather and Mike than I got.  I’ll allow her takeover of my dog bed and my camp chair, but I’m not budging from my space in bed between Mike’s legs on a fleece blanket. I reluctantly let Schatzi in the bed at all (I turned my nose away),  but she was not getting my personal favorite spot. And when we were sitting in front of the TV in the living room, I would let Schatzi have my usual camp chair, as long as I  got the chair closest to Heather, even if I had to crawl over a TV table to get there. Not on my watch, girlfriend.

Waiting for Heather.inside the front door.

While I was able to maintain my position in the pecking order during Schatzi’s visit, I’m not totally sure that she got the message. Not from the way she followed Heather around from room to room and whined whenever Heather went outside  without her to work in  the garden or talk to the neighbor kids. Those kids were all crazy about Schatzi, until she barked at them or pulled them along when they were trying to manage her when Heather let them hold her leash on a walk around the neighborhood. That was OK, though. Compared to Schatzi, I was easy to handle,  so the kids liked walking me, and they finally started to appreciate me a little. I got more comfortable with them as well.

Chloë with Schatzi’s toy.

Having Schatzi around was fun (and she even brought a scary Halloween tug toy that I liked a lot), but I needed a good rest after she left. Asserting yourself as the alpha dog is tiring when it’s another dog you have to dominate instead of just the usual humans.

The afternoon Schatzi left was the first one without Daylight Saving Time. That means taking an earlier afternoon walk every day, and as a result having time to get in an extended nap before dinner. I’m looking forward to sinking back into my restful winter routine.

Guard dogs relax in each other’s beds.

 

Chloë Cleans Lamby’s Clock

Groom gloom.

Not much is happening around here. Although Mike is getting steadily more mobile after his surgery, Heather is still doing most of the stuff Mike usually does, like the cooking, wiping down the tiles after a shower and taking care of me. Generally speaking, Heather’s doing a great job, although sometimes she goes a bit overboard on the grooming part, clipping my beard and turning me over onto her lap to brush my belly. That’s above and beyond, if you ask me. I never thought you’d hear me say this, but when is Mike coming back, anyway?

Still, I have managed to retain my good humor and jaunty countenance throughout, and if I ever get a little blue, I can always take it out on Lamby.

Resting with Lamby.

Look, I am not normally violent. In fact, whenever I encounter a new and larger dog on our walks, I am much more likely to cower behind Mike’s or Heather’s legs than I am to challenge the opposition. Small dogs, too, for that matter.

But when it comes to Lamby, well, that’s another story.

I like Lamby, I really do. Whenever there’s a choice of toys scattered around the room, I always go for Lamby. Sometimes I’d even prefer a good tug of Lamby with Mike even to knocking Wiffie around the kitchen and living room. As long as I get to latch my teeth onto Lamby’s smirky smile, I’m happy. And when Mike finally relinquishes his hold on the squeaky handle located below Lamby’s butt, I like to grab tighter on Lamby’s muzzle, shake her body up and down and smash her to the floor repeatedly, like a matador cracking a bullwhip back and forth. Whap, Lamby! Whap! Whap!

After early surgery.

My frequent mistreatment of Lamby is the main reason why, many times since my pal Lynn graciously bestowed Lamby upon me oh so many years ago, that Heather has had to wash Lamby in futile attempts to restore her original skin color, if not its luster. Sadly, it was not to be. The same could be said, alas, of Mike’s attempts at plastic surgery on Lamby’s scarred face with only a needle and thread, on neither of which has he achieved any degree of mastery. Lamby’s wounds were always easily reopened, and her stuffing began oozing out all over the living room rug.

Lamby II (left) & Lamby I: Who’s smiling now?.

It may have been this housekeeping aspect that prioritized the project, but I suspect it was really Mike’s aim of getting over the $49 level for free shipping on Chewy.com that finally sparked their action. In any event, one day a second Lamby arrived on my doorstep, hidden away in a box under an array of dog food, vitamins and treats. At first, Heather put both Lambys in my bed; to ease the transition, I supposed. But she needn’t have bothered. The new Lamby and its clean, soft, unpockmarked face were too strong a temptation; virgin territory, so to speak. I couldn’t wait to get my teeth around her nose and throttle her until the smile was wiped off her face and she squeaked in submission.

My original Lamby has been temporarily retired, perhaps to be sent to a spa in Florida for some rest, rehabilitation and Botox treatments, to return again with a bit less grit and stronger stitches around her nose, mouth and forehead. You can never tell if one day she might again be the fairest Lamby in all the land.

 

 

Chloë Goes Yard

A perfect spot for fetch?

I found a great new location for playing fetch. Increases in park use and various critter distractions have put a severe crimp in my favorite game. It has gotten hard to find a secluded place where I can just concentrate on the ball. That’s why the park’s maintenance yard driveway was such a find. I can’t believe we haven’t used it before.

It’s in a relatively low-traffic area and fenced in on two sides, should I entertain any thought of escape. It has enough slope to allow me to catch Heather’s throw and roll it back to her from my selected location. At the hour we walk in the late afternoon, nobody is ever working there, so we’re not going to be chased away. And for ball security, Mike can stand in front of the fence and kick away any loose throws trying to sneak through underneath it.

Delivering a strike.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened twice already. The first time, I am forced to admit, it was my fault. Mike had not yet assumed his assigned post, so when I pounced upon Heather’s hard, skipping throw, I knocked it forward and under the fence into the maintenance yard, where it continued to roll until it came to rest on the far side of the lot.  It was fenced in.

Don’t do me like that!

The next morning Heather and I walked back there, and the gate was open. At first I didn’t see my ball, but once we walked around the yard a bit I found it under a parked dump truck. I carried it home in triumph.

That’s why we decided to station Mike in front of the fence the next time. And indeed, that’s what we did when we returned there a few days later. Mike dutifully stood in front of the fence at the point of the tallest gap at the bottom, ready to block any throw that managed to get past me. With Heather throwing from the bottom of the hill, I would touch the ball before she released it and race uphill after it, often catching up to it and grasping it mid-bounce. I then turned and carried it back to Heather, dropping it neatly at her feet so we can do it again, or else pausing mid-hill, dropping the ball and letting it roll downhill to her waiting hands. When I get into a rhythm, I am world-class.

Fenced in.

Things were going so well that Mike decided to take out his camera to document my achievements. And thus he had the camera up to his face, paying attention to my movements, when Heather’s next throw sailed past me and skittered under the fence and into the maintenance yard.

Heather and I went back again the next morning, and for a second time I managed to find it and carry it back home. I still think the maintenance driveway is a good location for fetch;  if I can only get Mike to concentrate on just one thing at a time, we’ll be fine.

The winning team.

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.