Category Archives: Chloë’s Toys

Chloë Pokes the Yule Log

Chloë and her tree.

Happy New Year! First of all, I apologize for not having posted in so long. Everyone gets busy around the holidays, I guess. Even Mike, my ghostwriter, was busy, although after he hung decorations in the living room and a string of lights outside the front door, I’m not sure exactly what he did for the rest of the month. His agenda certainly didn’t include buying gifts for me. Mike has taken Heather’s “no presents” rule far too seriously, in my opinion.

Checking under the Secret Christmas Tree for treats.

Our holiday season began with a few snowy days and an awful ice storm that made our street so treacherous that I was forced to go out the back door and pee in the back yard.  Then things warmed up and by Christmas our normal winter rain patterns returned (not as bad as California, thank goodness!). While we never took a drive to look at holiday light displays, we did trek to find the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park, relocated from its previous location to a slightly more accessible one,with a healthier specimen to decorate.

Christmas Monkeys

As far as my personal gifts, my house cleaning good buddy Jeré brought me another Christmas Monkey, so now JP (last year’s model) has company. The new guy squeaks loudly and has a very grabbable head, and so has become a popular fetch toy for me. He’ll stay in the living room with JP and my other frequent flyers. while Rudolph and the stuffed Christmas moose return to their crate in the garage until next Thanksgiving.

Lamby and Li’l Lamby

My Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby came through for me as usual, with two bags of edible delights and a couple of small tokens of their esteem: Li’l Lamby and Whitey Troll.

The Li’l Lamby got here not a moment too soon, as the open gash on Big Lamby‘s neck is expanding, with her innards are being increasingly exposed. I may need to convince Mike to get me a new Lamby soon, but until he gets off his ass and delivers, Li’l Lamby will alleviate some of the pressure.

The Whitey Troll (pictured below) was presumably intended as a replacement for the Troll that I appropriated from my aunts’ cats last summer. But as soon as Whitey Troll arrived, I realized he would be better as part of a matched set. I immediately began giving him the same haircut I had previously bestowed upon his predecessor, leaving a trail of thin white fibers around the house. Now I keep both trolls around to occasionally pummel and throw around on the floor. They remind me just how much I despise cats. Any and all cats.

Whitey Troll: Arrived with a flowing mane.

The two Trolls after repeated visits to the renowned hairdresser Madame Chloë.

Anyway, it was a pretty quiet holiday for the three of us. We saw no overnight visitors nor dinner guests, just did a lot of TV-watching, turkey-eating and plate-licking, in that order. On Christmas morning, we sat on the living room floor under the TV Yule Log, eating cookies and jerky treats from my aunts. And on New Year’s Eve, we really whooped it up, drinking Prosecco from Costco and making it all the way to midnight in Times Square ( 9 p.m Pacific time) before fading. Gotta rest up for the rest of the year, you know.

Unwrapping gifts under the Yule Log.

 

Dachshund cookie from Aunt Susie, minus tail.

Raucous New Year’s Eve.

 

Chloë Admits She Was Naughty, Not Nice

Berry Ball

A couple of posts ago I introduced readers to my two newest favorite toys, the Troll and the Berry Ball. At that time, we couldn’t remember where the Berry Ball came from, or how long it had been in the house. Luckily, two of my regular readers (shall I refer to them as the Chloëttes?) helped me figure it out.

First, reader Ruth showed us where it came from: Chewy.com. My Berry Ball is actually a Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Raspberry Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy! It is touted as indestructible, and so far it has been that. It is also supposed to emit a minty scent to dogs, and that’s for me to know and you to find out, if you dare. But–there’s always a but–while it has holes at both ends and the larger one (“the Treat-Spot”) is “perfect for stuffing,”  that’s not likely. The larger hole is so tiny that getting any treat into or out of it would be exceedingly difficult for man or beast. Its Chewy web page also claims, “This toy delivers 100 percent of a dog’s daily requirement of rompoflavin, chompohydrates, and dietary fun.” The jury is still out on that one, although gnawing it has been my primary Berry Ball activity.

Chloë and Schatzi.

Even if I don’t use it as a treat dispenser, Berry Ball remains my favorite toy, dependably fetched first thing in the morning and chased spiritedly before every meal. But learning it was purchased via Chewy.com didn’t explain how Berry Ball ended up in my living room. Then reader Caroline–my pal Schatzi’s owner, my sometime innkeeper and personal financial adviser– chimed in that such a toy was part of the famed and much lusted after Schatzi Collection. And since my young pal  had stayed a few nights with us shortly after we returned to Seattle from our summer trip, the initial arrival of the Berry Ball into my domain was clear. Schatzi brought it, and while she was there I stole it from her to keep as my own. I had plenty of toys of my own, but I wanted hers. It made me happy.

The Troll

 

But today I am remorseful. Such  a dereliction of decency on my part would be bad enough, but this was second theft–from another dog, no less! It inspired me revisit my earlier appropriation of the Troll, the cat toy I picked up at my aunts’ house in Syracuse last summer, took across the country with me and treasured ever since. At first, I was pleased with myself for capturing that prize from those two scaredy-cats, but in retrospect I realized this incident was just my first step in a spiral of lies and criminal behavior. I am ashamed of myself, and unless I can nip this behavior in the bud, I could be a raging kleptomaniac by the time I’m 13. And I can’t have that; I consider myself basically a good, moral dog.

Luckily, this recent deluge of self-awareness came at a fortuitous time, right before Christmas, when everybody (well, Mike and Heather, my Syracuse aunts and my cleaning friend Jere) is making a list and checking it twice, letting Santa know who’s been naughty or nice. Admitting my past sins now should put me put me in much better position for the near future. Santa’s coming and my stocking by the fireplace looks like it’s filled. I can hope.

Chloë Shows Off Her New Favorite Toys

The Troll, captured in Syracuse.

After all these years (coming up to my bat mitzvah soon!), as far as my toys go, one thing is clear: What’s here today may be gone tomorrow, relegated to the toy bins instead of out on the floor. When it comes to favorites, I tend to be monogamous for a while, never taking a new favorite toy out of my mouth or letting it out of my sight. Then I’ll drop it like a hot potato as soon as something prettier comes along. Remember Foxy? Lamby? Even the first Wiffie? While I loved them all dearly and deeply at the time, now they are more like faded memories from high school. Nostalgic, but it’s time for me to move on. Since returning from the East, I found new loves, dual objects of my deepest affection. Let me tell you about them!

The first one is a real prize. I call him the Troll. True, the Troll may not look like much. I’ve gnawed off quite a bit of his once-bounteous blue coif, which didn’t help his sex appeal. But I love him anyway, because he is the bounty I snatched from my Syracuse aunts’s kitties (Cleo and Bear) last summer. The aunts thought they had hidden away all their cats’s food and toys before I got there that night, but nobody but a cat gets as low to the ground as I do. And thus I discovered my little Troll under a couch (since replaced) in the living room. Generous ladies that they are, the aunts said I could keep it, and quite surprisingly Heather allowed it! Now the Troll is camping out with me in Seattle. Every time I pick him up, it reminds me of how I kept those kitties at bay all summer, and that memory brings me joy once again.

The Berry Ball

But even my dear Troll cannot compete with the allure of the Berry Ball, a rubbery, dimpled sphere that I put into my mouth almost the minute I walked in the door from the trip and have barely removed since. Nobody remembers where the Berry Ball came from, but it quickly became the toy that I live for. I like to chase it around the house, catch its caroms, retrieve it for another toss, to gnaw on it,  push it along the floor with my nose or even to just to lie down and look at it. I don’t sleep with it (yet), but I seek it out as soon as I get up in the morning, remembering exactly where I left it and panicking if it’s not there. It’s just my light, bright, soft, cuddly, unpredictable, bouncy, Berry Ball.

 

Mike and Heather wonder how long this will last. I say, just enjoy the ride.

Chloë Corrals Her Balls

Chloë’s new Roller.

After I received a new Kong Roller and a Big Mean Kitty as gifts for my birthday, something had to give. My attention to specific old toys normally wanes when new ones arrive, but with the recent gifts joining two Wiffies (the traditional white Wiffie and the newer, multi-holed yellow Wiffie, which is actually a pickleball that I found one day in the park) plus the two small orange rubber balls, I suddenly had too many choices. Sometimes I played with two or more simultaneously, inevitably leaving them strewn all over the first floor in places where foot-dropped, careless Mike could easily trip over them. When he inadvertently  stepped on one of the small orange balls, lurched forward and strained his already injured shoulder, Heather had seen enough.

While all the tug toys and squeaky toys and fetch toys come and go, chasing balls, inside as well as outside, has never wavered as my favorite sport. Therefore Heather couldn’t jut take away my balls, never to be seen again. The spirited  game of throw nd fetch that she and I play every morning bas become one of the highlights of our day. I especially like the part when I push the ball under a chair or cabinet and bark at it.

The Wiffie Corral at current capacity.

Instead of hiding them, Heather rounded up all the balls and herded them into a small area at the foot of the fireplace (which never gets used) and behind the couch (which rarely gets sat on). This was a stroke of absolute genius! The balls were at once accessible and yet relatively hidden away. Once the Wiffie Corral was officially designated, any errant balls I might leave behind were re-routed back to their barn. Within a day or two, I understood where to find them, and soon enough Mike and Heather were adequately trained to look for balls anywhere on the floor and put them there. And this is how it should be! As ol’ Ben Franklin said, “A place for everything, everything in its place.”

With the Wiffie Corral firmly established, my morning romp with Heather continued unabated.

Unfortunately, Heather and Mike still get aggravated whenever I push a ball under a chair or other piece of furniture and bark at it until someone  gets on hands and knees to reach underneath and retrieve it for me. It is what it is. As Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” 

Chloë Enjoys Belated Gifts

Mmm, good!

My birthday celebration may have lacked fireworks at the start, but thanks mainly to my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby, the festivities just rolled on! Two separate boxes arrived from my favorite online retailer, one containing another selection of fabulous treats (Rachael Ray Nutrish Burger Bites no less, along with two bags of another new flavor of Charlee Bears!) and the other some excellent new toys to toss around. I am going to have to be super-nice to them when they come to visit in the spring. I’m already on the lookout for spiders, ladies, so nothing to worry about!

Getting crowded in here.

One of my new toys is called Big Mean Kitty, and he is so big that I can’t get my mouth around his body. That’s OK, though because he has a head, four legs and a tail that are always available to latch onto to tug and toss  him around. The only problem with the Big Mean Kitty is that he’s so big that he’s hogging the bed for me an J.P., my new toy from Christmas. Big Mean Kitty may not be hanging out in our bed for long if J.P. complains.

Chloë’s new Roller.

My other new toy is something new, the Chuckit! Indoor Roller. It’s supposed to be for “active play that’s gentle on your home.” We’ll have to see how that second part works out. While its doughnut shape is meant for rolling on the floor, not being thrown in the air, any errant toss or bad bounce could easily divert the Roller into breaking-glass territory, since it weighs a lot more than a Krispy Kreme. Anyway, I liked the Roller immediately, and it has already moved into regular rotation on my indoor recreational activity. Just watch what I can do with it, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed!

 

 

Chloe Seeks an Omen for the New Year

Snowy walk.

2021 went out with a whimper. It snowed on Christmas night and temperatures dipped into the teens, boxing in our block in snow and ice for a week. I much prefer going outside in the snow to the incessant rains we normally get here all winter, so several days of snowy walks and being home inside with the heat turned up was OK by me. Except, of course, when I get those pesky ice balls forming under my belly and in between my toes. Not a lot of fun there. It’s c-c-c-c-cold to start with, and then becomes painful when Heather picks them off my fur one by one. I’d much rather just drag my body around the living room rug and rub them off myself.

Treat bag found hanging from tree.

While I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions (eat more treats?), I was on the lookout for events that could serve as omens, good or bad, for the year to come. Like the evening at Carkeek Park, with darkness falling fast, that we had to scurry uphill to the car while  the loud howling of coyotes–several of them, it seemed–echoed behind us.  That was kind of spooky and possibly a bad omen, but a few days later I started leaning the other way. That’s when Mike recovered the red treat bag he had dropped the previous day in Discovery Park. When that happened, it seemed a Christmas miracle indeed, positively a good omen, even if it didn’t have any of my treats left inside.

Chloë’s tree, December.

After that high note, however, a couple of potential tragedies marked the beginning of the new year. First, the prompt removal of the holiday decorations in the living room (Aunt Susie dutifully polices this rule) revealed that my personal Christmas tree, nurtured for almost two years and seemingly thriving when it arrived on the mantel four weeks ago, was dried up and dying, deprived of sufficient water and accorded limited light for far too long.

Chloë’s tree, January.

Sensing my disappointment, Mike made a last-ditch effort to save my tree. He watered it, gave it more light in the kitchen, and finally transplanted it in a larger pot to the plastic greenhouse in the back yard. Until I see otherwise, I’ll take this as another positive sign. Check back in a month.

St. Francis, decapitated.

Likewise, Mike averted another back yard catastrophe. Whether the fault of the extreme weather or the clumsiness of a neighborhood cat, we awoke one morning to find our poor St. Francis statue lying on the ground, decapitated. He must have put up a fight, as the gashes on the side of his face seemed to indicate.

St. Francis in Traction.

Although this wasn’t the first time St. Francis lost his head, and this incision was much more severe, Mike decided to try to put Humpty St. Francis back together again. Bringing him to his garage emergency room workbench,  he applied liberal amounts of Gorilla Glue at the neckline and remounted Fran’s noggin at what felt like a comfortable angle, trussing it into place with a network of blue rubber bands recovered from organic broccoli crowns. After 24 hours, St. Francis wasn’t perfect, but he was back in one piece and again guarding the garden, befriending any raccoons and squirrels that pass through.

St. Francis ready to resume his duties.

Chloë and JP snuggle.

And to cap the holiday season, my good friend Jeré returned after missing her visit before Christmas, meaning I hadn’t seen her in a month, and she hadn’t been able to bestow my gifts. Not only did she give me a bag of high-quality treats (cheese, meat and salmon, my favorite), she also brought me a new squeaky toy–a monkey dressed as a Christmas elf, extremely soft and gnawable. Mike was first going to pack it away with Santa Monkey and the rest of the holiday decorations, but Heather convinced him to let me keep this elf/monkey in the living room year-round. I named him JP, short for Jeré’s Prezzie. He’s my best good omen so far for a better year ahead.

Chloë Makes Her Comeback

Wiffie baffles in storage.

Mike usually stuffs old towels under the living room furniture to prevent Wiffie from rolling underneath and causing him to get down on his hands and knees to pull Wiffie out. When those baffles came out of the closet and resumed their respective positions on the floor, I knew my month of “bed rest” was over.

And so I have enthusiastically reembraced playing tug of war with Lamby, and as soon as Wiffie hit the floor, I took off  after it and went flying into the kitchen, barking like a banshee. I also enjoyed knocking Wiffie into a corner and barking at it, daring it to try to get past me. No way, Wiff.

 

Fetch along the creek trail in Carkeek.

Our daily walks gradually ramped back up to an hour or more, and there has been some moderate reintroduction of fetch–kind of like pitch counts in baseball.  A few times we went to Carkeek Park, which has some of my favorite locations for chasing my ball. The trail that runs parallel to the small creek leading to the salmon hatchery is perfect, because it’s fine gravel, secluded, straight and flat, with the creek on one side and a steep slope on the other to confine me and my ball. After about 10 or 15 throws there, I felt I was getting my legs back under me. But the most recent time we went there, lots of people and other dogs were around, mostly to watch mature salmon flop up the creek to return to their original spawning ground and die, which doesn’t seem like the most fun thing to do on a fall afternoon. Instead, Heather, Mike and I ambled up the trails to the Rock, where I chased caroms for a good half-hour. I’m definitely all the way back.

Playing fetch at the Rock.

With the days getting shorter, we’ve started walking a little earlier in the afternoon, and maybe that’s a good thing. Coyote sightings from all over the neighborhood have become a daily occurrence, especially in the early morning and at dusk. We hear them howling at night and have seen them several times in the park. One morning Heather and I saw two of them walking towards us from down our block. When they saw us coming, they darted into the Bartons’ back yard–with any luck, they were after Fred, my nemesis neighborhood cat. Anyway, these days Heather keeps me on a tight leash and throws the ball only in open, controllable locations. Not a bad idea at all. Let the coyotes eat salmon.

Coyote ambling along Magnolia Boulevard.

 

Chloë Admires Her Pelts

Lounging with Ranger the Reindeer.

Lots of bunnies in Discovery Park at this time of year. Babies from the longtime inhabitants, and usually a few new arrivals from Easter-gift discards. All those newcomers are easier to catch than the regulars, who are less reckless and more cunning. I haven’t actually seen any of these newbies yet, but I know they’re around. I can smell them. On our afternoon walks, my usual passion for fetch wanes when so many distractions fill the air.

As far as hunting expeditions go, getting into trouble with Heather last week didn’t help my prospects. She has been keeping me on a tight leash, sometimes tied to her belt, like we’re hiking a national forest trail or something. It’s my sentence for running away from her on successive days on the Parade Ground, galloping toward some perceived threat and barking loudly. The “threats” were actually a German shorthair pointer running along with its master who paid no attention to me, and an elderly woman with a floppy, wide-brimmed hat and a cane who was not at all pleased. Both times, Heather screamed at me to me to come back, and I ignored her, compounding her wrath. Mike wasn’t walking close to us either time, which may have made me a bit over-protective, I guess. Or else I was just being my nervous dachshund self.

Hanging around Chloë’s trophy case. (l.to r.) Lamby, Ranger and Foxy.

Since then, my fetch opportunities are severely limited to areas and situations that can be tightly controlled. The wide expanse of the Parade Ground is strictly off limits. And the chances of me being off leash long enough to track a rabbit became even more a longshot.

I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with the pelts already hanging in my trophy case:  Lamby, Ranger and Foxy, each ready to be yanked down for a good throttle. That’s always fun, right up there with rolling around on a rug as a way to let off some steam.

Chloë Uncovers Further Rewards

Recent birthday girl.

When you’ve been around the game as long as I have, you learn that you win some, you lose some. And thus my favorite new fetch ball, discovered in front of the house barely three weeks ago, just as suddenly vanished, the victim of an apparent miscommunication between Heather and me about who would be carrying it. But no sooner did that happen that another, more mysterious and desirable ball dropped into my life.

Here’s what it looks like.

Restore Ultimate Foot Massager

Gnarly ball.

Mike got it so he could massage the bottom of his feet. He tried to use it while watching TV, taking his shoes off and rolling this ball under and between his feet. I was having none of that. I immediately decided it  was my ball, and I’ll do what I want with it. For example, I can chew on it, I can knock it around, I can push it under the coffee table and whine until somebody gets it for me. I can sit on the floor beneath the basket where I know it’s sitting and stare up at it. Lots of neat stuff.

Water trap.

Heather acknowledged it was my ball, and she advised Mike to get himself a second massage ball. Mike’s too cheap for that, however, so he and I now share the ball. He rolls it around under his foot, and I watch intently until he flicks it across the floor and I pounce. Mike’s not allowed to throw it, because this ball is so bouncy and hard that it will break something. That’s what Heather said, anyway. We try to comply by just rolling the ball along the floor, but even then, it takes some funny bounces, like into my water bowl.

So we’ll see how long this ball-sharing arrangement lasts. While this new ball has currently pushed all other balls, including the two that were Christmas presents from my Syracuse aunts, into the surplus toy bins, this tends to be cyclical. Only Wiffie has real staying power. Besides, Mike will no doubt lose interest, too, once he admits that, despite rolling the massage ball under his arches and the ball of his right foot twice a day, it still hurts.

Birthday munchies.

A bigger surprise this week was a belated and unexpected birthday present from my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby. Inside a big box from my new favorite online store, Chewy.com, were two bags of Charlee Bears, including a new cheesy flavor, and one bag of premium jerky. These Charlees came not a moment too soon, too: The last time Mike went to Trader Joe’s, he saw no Charlees on the shelf. Meanwhile, our favored brand has redesigned it’s packaging, making it slicker, and added to its product line. I fear the days of cheap Charlees at TJ’s may be over. I’m glad to have a good supply, just in case.

Chloë Starts the New Year Right

Trying out a raincoat.

What is usually a dreary month turned out to be not so bad. Rainy, of course, but I generally don’t let that slow me down. Unless it’s really pouring and windy, I’m OK with a little rain, at least once my nose is outside. There’s always lots of good smells on a rainy day. It’s those first steps toward the door that are the hardest.

So Mike and Heather borrowed a doggie raincoat from Caroline (her Schatzi has one of her own) to see if wearing one would make me more enthusiastic about getting my butt outside. After trying it a few times, however, they realized the raincoat protected my back but made no difference in keeping my chest or underneath clean, nor making me much drier when we got home. Thus the raincoat experiment ended abruptly. I have solidly established myself as real mossback, through and through.

Our mossback walks Azalea Way in the Arboretum.

We had several dry days toward the end of the month. Mostly we took our walks in Discovery Park, keeping an eye out for animal control patrols, although one afternoon we walked all the way to Magnolia Village and back, and a few times we stopped at the neighborhood grocery store or the flagpole at Fort Lawton for a deserted place to play fetch. Oh, and we returned to the Washington Park Arboretum with George and Debbie on one of their visits from Juneau. Its Winter Garden was blooming and fragrant at this time of year—and the Arboretum always has lots of squirrels!

Chloë’s new coupon toy.

I even got a couple of terrific new playthings this month. My pal Channon gave me a soft, crackly, squeaky toy when she and Jeré came to spiffy up the house. It’s supposed to be a dog-centered replica of the Bed, Bath & Beyond  coupons that come in the mail. Frankly, I could do without the bad puns, but I instantly took a liking to its texture and the various sounds emitting from within, a perfect blend of three squeaks and a crackle that go together like peanut butter and jelly.

New ball on the block.

And then, to top it off, I found myself a new Chuck-it! ball! Well, it’s not actually new, but new to me, and I did find it myself, on the sidewalk right outside our house. Finders keepers, I said. Some other dog may have dropped it on the way to the park, but thems the breaks. It was mine now, and for the rest of the month it became my go-to fetch ball. But it’s not hollow like my usual Chuck-it! Whistler balls, so this one is a bit heavier to carry around in my mouth, and heavier for Heather to throw. In fact, her back and her throwing-arm shoulder are starting to bother her, but so far not enough to send her to the IL (that’s the Injured List, for non- baseball fans). Luckily, whenever I get tired of carrying the ball around, Heather is always there to pick it up and carry it for me.

I’m grateful for that, too. Good caddies are hard to find.