Category Archives: Financial Services

Chloë Searches for a Brown Christmas

Training my new UPS driver is not going so well. When first I met the new guy, Craig, he seemed friendly enough, but he gave me only one bickie, no matter how many times I chased his truck down the block and stared at him. Plus, since our meeting occurred down the block in front of Merrie’s house, I’m not sure that he knows in which house I live. In fact, since that day, we’ve had at least two UPS deliveries to our front door, both apparently coming when Mike wasn’t home, since he did not personally witnessed any of my trademark obsessive-berserk UPS truck reaction, sometimes referred to as “Chloë’s going brown on us again.” Multiple deliveries with no bickies left on top of the package can’t be totally chalked up to wind gusts. Clearly, this new guy doesn’t get it yet. I resolved to do something about that.

On the Boulevard

On the Boulevard

At least every other day, when Mike and I went out for our afternoon walk, I steered Mike away from the park and southward through the streets of Magnolia, tracking the scent of brown trucks. One day along Magnolia Boulevard I spied one, driven not by my new friend Craig but another driver, one who I’ve met and received treats from. On this day, she had a helper, and she sent him to our side of the street with a package, so I dragged Mike back several houses to the spot where he would cross the sidewalk. He saw me and smiled—and he was still smiling when he climbed back into the brown truck alongside the driver. She checked behind her for oncoming cars, released the brake, merged into the traffic lane and pulled around the corner, never making eye contact with a dumbfounded dachshund on the sidewalk across from her.

Dravus tower

Dravus tower

When I sense brown trucks are in the neighborhood, I usually try to steer Mike up to the water tower on Dravus, where a couple of UPS routes seem to cross. The brown truck fumes linger around there, for some reason, because we’ve had multiple visits lately without actually seeing a brown truck in the vicinity. The last time I plowed right past the water tower without stopping, descending the hill on the other side and hustling pasts the play fields in the valley. Unfortunately, at that point we got caught in a sudden, heavy downpour of rain, freezing rain and sleet. Mike and I were drenched, and a long way from home.

That’s when my instincts kicked in. Before we reached Magnolia Village, I guided us on a serpentine course through the Pop Mounger Pool, Catherine Blaine School, the Magnolia Community Center and the Magnolia Playfields, and then past the Chase bank, the fire station, the automobile repair garage, the bus stop and the dry cleaner, right to the door of my Edward Jones broker Caroline. It made sense: It was a familiar place where it was dry and where I am always treated like a queen (meaning lots of high-quality treats). Only then did I find out the real reason I had been lured so strongly over the mountains (well, over the big hill where the water tower is) and through a fierce storm to this particular place: Caroline told Mike that Kevin, my recently retired UPS Guy, had actually been in her office recently as her client, and that he looked great. Good for him, I thought, but what about me and other Magnolia dogs, the ones he left behind with no bickies?

So close and yet so far...

So close and yet so far…

But as the dark days of December wore on, I began to accept my fate. Brown trucks drove up our street, stopped right outside our door, and I slept right through. On walks, I saw brown trucks turning left and let Mike steer me to the right. Finally, on the day before Christmas Eve, I saw that same brown truck on Magnolia Boulevard. For two blocks, I pulled Mike toward it, and then directly into the paths of both the driver and her assistant as they hurried to make deliveries, neither making any contact with my pleading eyes. They must received a directive from headquarters, I figured, pressure from above to speed deliveries along, with no time for socializing. Amazon and other mega-clients demand it, or they might decide to buy some planes and trucks and deliver the boxes themselves.

But I digress. After I failed to get noticed in two more passes of the brown truck, I sat down on the sidewalk and stared back at it forlornly, waiting helplessly for a driver to provide some hint of recognition, disappointed when nothing came my way. When Mike told me to “leave it” and to follow him away from the truck, I didn’t argue. I realized that my  puppy-hood was really over. I didn’t believe in my own personal Santa Claus anymore, and I worried it would be a blue Christmas without him.

 

 

Chloë Makes Sense of Investing

Chloë soaks up advice from her broker

Chloë soaks up advice from her broker.

When we drive to Magnolia Village on a Saturday morning, it’s usually to walk through the farmers’ market,  which is not my favorite thing to do (too crowded for my taste). But last week Mike and Heather had a different market to deal with, something they called the stock market. They had an appointment with my friend Caroline, who has two dachshunds of her own. She was going to give them information about retirement, which as I understand is something that happens in the distant future that allows Heather to stay home every day. This sounds good to me; I hate to see Heather spending time on weekends pouring over patient report forms when the two of us should be napping or throwing my ball around.

At the Edward Jones office, Caroline’s dog Ida greeted me with a bark and a growl, so we retreated to separate corners while Caroline explained things to Heather and got her feedback. Mike just nodded once in a while. As best as I could decode their conversation, Caroline told them they will definitely be able to afford to buy me gourmet-level biscuits exclusively for the rest of my life and then some. (Apparently it’s the calories, not the price, that keep Mike from giving me gourmet treats already. Yeah, right.)

Rewards of financial planning

Reaping the early rewards of financial planning.

When the meeting ended, Caroline gave treats to Ida and me, and Ida didn’t growl at me once.  That made everything fall into place in my mind: This investing business has its ups and downs, but if you stay calm and patient, you’ll be rewarded at the end. Makes perfect sense to me.

Chloë Has Her Coming-Out Parties

Puppy playtime at Ahimsa.

My life is all about socialization these days. There are so many things that I need to be exposed to before I’m six months old. Such as cats and dogs and rabbits and trains and boats and people of all kinds. Last week I met a cop (who was covering a suicide in Discovery Park, no less), college girls in weird costumes, a teenager with spiked hair, a garbage truck, a bus with a loud air horn and several motorcyles. And those are just a few of the ones I remember.

Memorial Day weekend was big for that kind of stuff. First off, Heather was around a lot; that was different. Normally I can count on more nap time when that happens, but on that weekend there was so much socializing that there wasn’t enough time for napping. (Maybe that’s why I’ve been a little grumpy all week.)

Chloë herds Tsavo, a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

First we went to my weekly Puppy Kindergarten class. It’s called a “class,” but they’re really not teaching me much there. Mostly it’s the teacher telling Mike and Heather and the other owners what they’re doing wrong at home, and the puppies playing.  I always get to play in the group with the puppies who are larger and more rambunctious, but it really doesn’t matter who they are, I am always the puppy in charge. I’m a benevolent despot, however, and so I allow all the puppies to receive lots of the little treats they use (the teacher gives out pieces of real chicken!). If the other pups are anything like me after one of those classes, there’s a lot of pooping going on all afternoon.

Then we went back home, where Mike and Heather had invited 10 of their SU sports-watching friends over to meet me. Well, to meet me and eat some of that slow-cooked pork that Mike was cooking. The aroma drove me crazy for the past two days.

Logan and Chloë share a quiet moment at her Pork and Puppy party.

I had never seen so many people crowd into this little house before, but everybody said that I handled it fine. Even when those kids Logan and Leah were all over me, I maintained my composure. I’m hoping to cultivate close, personal relationships that will pay off down the line in future walks and treats in sizes much larger than those tiny training bits.

The sun finally peeked out for a while on Memorial Day afternoon, and we drove to our secret playfield to meet my personal stock broker Caroline and her two dachshunds, Pinot and Ida.

Pinot

Pinot, a longtime admirer and fan of the blog, was the more fun of the two, but she’s still recovering from serious health issues, and she just can’t mix it up with me like my homeys Frank and Stan. Hey, I may be just a puppy, but I understand when to turn it down a notch. That’s the point of all this socialization stuff, right?

 Ida, though–that poor girl has some issues to work out. Caroline recently adopted her from another Magnolia family that couldn’t keep her anymore after a new baby changed their pack dynamic (I’m not dishing out  any more poop on that situation). Ida, who is about 4 years old, seems nice enough, and she’s a redhaired beauty to look at, but she’s obviously lacking in confidence and has limited social skills.

The lady Ida

I guess it’s just going to be up to me to help bring Ida out of her shell. I’m going to start slowly, but eventually I’ll have her out there butting heads with Frank and Stanley, no problem.

Not right now, though. I think I’ d rather wiggle around in my bed with the gifts I got at my Pork and Puppy party. Let’s just chill, and tackle the heavy stuff later.

Chloë shows off her party swag.

Chloë Maps Her Financial Future

Renee, Caroline Alabach’s assistant and fellow dachshund owner, and Chloë discuss bonds–the ones between people and their pets.

After starting my social rounds at the vet, there was little doubt where my next visit would be. Heather has already spoken to me about working toward my financial independence and a secure retirement, so I stopped in to see my broker, Caroline Alabach of the Magnolia Edward Jones office.

Chloë opens her gift from a posh Magnolia boutique.

Caroline already advises Heather as well as Mike’s mom Rosalie, but I’m giving my business to Caroline because she owns Pinot, the Magnolia dachshund who has been one of my blog’s biggest fans. Though we’ve yet to meet, after she sent me a plush stuffed toy and gourmet puppy treats from the swanky PJ’s Paws and Claws store, I am dying to meet her in person to thank her for the gifts and for sending me to Dr. Aimee Kimmel, my personal vet.

Caroline and Chloë discuss the word on the Street.

So while I was there Caroline put me into a couple of conservatively invested instruments for my 500-something college fund (too many numbers for a little girl to remember!) and my IRAs. Build slow, I told her, there are a lot of years ahead.  And when Chloë talks, Ed Jones listens.