Category Archives: Getaway

Chloë Lives with a Cat

Where's Pumpkin?

Pumpkin perched atop her toys.

Heather, Mike and I headed out to my “getaway” in the Cascade foothills for the first time in a long while. Maybe we all needed some separation after my dog mentor Tara died, or maybe it’s just coincidence and Tara’s owners haven’t needed us for house- and horse-sitting. I do miss Tara, but so far this time in her house has been a lot less stressful for me: No growling every time I drag something out of the toy pile, and no pilfering of Heather’s attention and sometimes even my treats. So now there is no hindrance to making Mike throw stuffed toys around the living room for me to chase, catch and throttle until their stuffing spews forth. That’s when Heather jumps in for damage control.

That little mop Pumpkin is still around, but she’s so docile that I feel and sometimes act like the big, badass alpha dog of the house. Pumpkin does cute really well, but she is pretty much clueless about anything else. Any dog that has no interest in treats is clueless in my book. On the other hand, more for me.

Pny time

Pony time

We’re out here for almost two weeks, and I had a great time when we first arrived. We had great weather, and we went on several long hikes in places with lots of wildlife to sniff after.  I  also played fetch with Heather something like 75 times in a row on the huge lawn, and did a lot of munching of grass, or as Mike refers to it, my salad bar. I particularly enjoy the long blades in the fenced-in pasture, even more so because Mike hates to chase after me when I go in there, so I do it every chance I get. At the end of one walk I thought about checking out a pony in a field, but when we went across the road to visit we realized the pony was behind an electric fence, and I wanted no part of that. Besides, I can get as close as I want to real horses back at my getaway any old time I want to. It’s just that I don’t want to, ever. That barn is still a place I prefer to avoid. It’s loud, dark and scary in there.

Lounging by the pool

Lounging by the pool

In fact, apparently one of the barn cats hated living there so much that he wormed his way into becoming a house cat. I kind of sensed that he was around, but in my first week here I’ve only had one brief encounter with Mister Fuzz. Heather quickly got between us before I could do any damage. Even so, the incident allowed me to certify the existence of Mister Fuzz, who until then had been only a faint scent and a big rumor to me. Now I knew for sure that he was upstairs, and even in what rooms he liked to hang in.

Stairway barrier

Stairway barrier

All of a sudden, going upstairs to flush him out became a much higher priority for me. Heather was forced to erect a barricade of throw pillows at the base of the stairs to keep me on the first floor, but I’ve already breached it once, so it’s hardly insurmountable. For our remaining time here on this trip, it will be my job to get around it and stalk Mister Fuzz. In our tete-a-tete, he looked huge, and as a barn cat he must be tough enough, even if he does seem to be hiding out silently most of the time. 

Well, if Mister Fuzz is as smart as I think he is, he’ll just stay under a bed and out of my way. Otherwise, fur will fly. I guarantee it.

Chloë Finds Plenty to Do

Pausing In the pasture

Pausing In the pasture

Mike grumbled that it was a “lost weekend” because all of his teams lost every game they played. My view of sports is different: I’m into doing, not watching.

So while Mike lost, I found.  All kinds of great things to do just appeared under my nose. Friday we went to Heather’s office party, which was held at my regular getaway. On the way there, Mike and I stopped for a walk on the “watch out for bears” trail,  which is always fun, even when we don’t see any bears. When we got to the party, Sheila was the only other dog on the premises, and I already knew her from Heather’s office. Jaeger and his young friend Rocco, the two brown Labs, showed up later, but I knew them from the office, too, so everything felt OK. I was by far the smallest one there, but I realized that without my late friend Tara, I was the senior dog on the premises. I did my best to show the other dogs the lay of the land and keep them in line, but mostly I just left them alone and kept my nose out for falling hors d’oeuvres.

Chasing Rocco and Jaeger

Chasing Rocco and Jaeger

The next afternoon we stopped at Carkeek Park on the way home from watching the football game at Penny’s house. Our walk would have been uneventful  were it not for discovering a new variation of our fetch game. Looking for a secluded spot along the trail, we stumbled upon a large erratic, a smooth boulder that sloped upward on a diagonal, providing a great runway for my Visi-Ball and me. Heather’s throws never bounced the same way twice, and digging those errant tosses out of the thick underbrush was no little feat. See for yourself:

Sunday was unseasonably hot, and I’m glad this was the day Mike and Heather decided to meet my pal Charlie for a walk on the trail that goes along Elliott Bay. The park is a bit hazardous because of cyclists whizzing by, but it does afford great views and, on this hot day, a cooling breeze off the bay.

On the bridge

On the bridge

We also got to check out the new pedestrian bridge that crosses the highway and train tracks that divide the shoreline from the office buildings and neighborhood beyond. I wanted us to walk over to the other side of the bridge and back, but Heather told me it would take too long, and it was already getting late. Late? Late for what? Another game? I hope not. I would have rather gone home to chase Wiffie or play tug with Ropey and Mike.  Or rub my back and head on the rug! Anything but watch another game.

Chloë Loses Another Mentor

Mike recalled that Tara was a puppy, just a little ball of fur, when he moved to Seattle in September 1998. He and Heather first met her during a party at Tara’s owners’ ranch, the place that would later become my personal vacation getaway whenever we go out there to take care of her and the horses. For me, Tara was the first dog beyond my own family (Frank and Stanley, et. al.) that I ever knew. Just a couple of weeks after Mike and Heather brought me home, all three of us stayed at Tara’s house for several days. I was young and tiny (see photo in slide show below), but I learned a lot that week, especially to stay out of Tara’s way when she gave me the Stink Eye.  In the overall scheme of things, that was a good thing to learn.

My friend was old and pretty gimpy when she died, but spunky and grumpy to the end. No matter how many times I tried to be nice to her and follow her butt around, she never stopped giving me that menacing growl whenever I got too close to her or to a toy she wanted (she didn’t really want it, only that I shouldn’t have it). After all, this was her house, she was the boss, and don’t anyone forget it. Regardless, I learned from, loved and respected Tara, and now I’m going to miss her a lot.

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On the other hand, all sentimentality aside, I hope they don’t pack away her Rattling Santa toy.

Chloë and Rattling Santa

Chloë and Rattling Santa

 

Chloë Unearths Some Treats

No snoozing

No snoozing

Mike hit the road again to move his mom, meaning another stint at Heather’s office for me. Going to work with Heather always tires me out, because I don’t sleep all day like I do at home with Mike (until the mail slot clangs or UPS truck arrives). Perched on my chair behind Heather’s desk, however, I must be on guard all the time. People keep coming in to see her or leave things on her desk, even when she’s not there. Ergo, no snoozing allowed.

But everybody at Heather’s office seems to loves having me around. Sometimes they don’t come into Heather’s office to visit Heather, they come in to visit me– even people who work on the second floor! Cassandra, who seems to be in charge of everything in the office, must really like me, because she sent me about a dozen of the pumpkin treats she bakes for her own collie, Jasper. Spoilsport Mike cut each little pie into four pieces and put most of them in the freezer before he left, so Heather could dole out just a few at a time while he was away. I was hoping Heather would forget and give me all of them at once, but she  just forgot to take them out of the freezer in the first place, damn it.

Dachshund mobile

Dachshund mobile

Mike left me another gift before he left:  A dachshund mobile in the front yard. He and Heather like it. Me? I see a red dog, and I want to paint it black. I guess Mike wants to make it easier for the tourist bus drivers to pick out our house when they roll by, like having a map to the home of a Hollywood star.

Routing for field mice

Routing for field mice

A few days after Mike got back we spent a long weekend at my getaway home in eastern King County, taking care of the horses and dogs, old Tara and sedate Pumpkin. It wasn’t warm enough to lay out by the pool,  but Heather, Mike and I went on a long walk on Tiger Mountain, I chased mice in the horse pastures, and I almost got to scarf down part of an old bird carcass before Mike got it away from me. That’s why I like it out there: lots of stuff to sink your nose into.

Since the other two dogs can’t do much of anything active, I have to make my own fun.  On our last day there, however, I could tell Heather wasn’t feeling well, so I made it my duty to climb into a comfortable resting place between her legs and the back of the couch, under a couple of blankets, to make sure she was warm enough. Sometimes chillin’ works just fine for me.

2-Napping with Heather and Pumpkin

Chloë (left), napping with Heather and Pumpkin: Goodnight, you moonlight ladies.

Chloë Takes Pumpkin to School

Pumpkin with Tara's toys

Pumpkin with Tara’s toys

We had another guest at my getaway last weekend: Pumpkin. We didn’t know at the time what breed of dog Pumpkin is (later we found out she is a mix of Bichon Frise and Shih Tzu called Zuchon), but we had heard ahead of time that Pumpkin is a “breeder,” having lots of puppies already, including another litter since when we met her briefly last fall.

Frankly, I think popping all those pups has taken a lot out of her. Pumpkin’s about the same size as my pal Penny, so I figured we could do some chasing and wrestling around on the carpet together. But Pumpkin spent most of her time in her crate with the door shut because she always had a full bowl of kibble in it. Pumpkin didn’t eat much, and I would have been happy to help myself to her food if the door were open. You can count on it. But whenever Pumpkin ventured out  and the crate door was open, Heather always moved the food on top of the crate and out of my reach…so far, anyway. Pumpkin showed no emotion when I waltzed into her crate, sniffed around, picked up her dinosaur squeaky toy and sauntered out with it. She just watched. I am the alpha dog in this relationship.

There’s no denying Pumpkin is a cutie, and she loves getting attention. But as far as I could tell, she’s a one-trick pony. Cute is all she does. She’s not a hunter or an athlete, like me. Maybe her docile nature was a good thing, though, because Tara is really slowing down and would no doubt have gotten cranky if we had tried to have too much fun right under her nose. I compare Tara to the dowager countess on Downton Abbey.

Mike, Heather and I had a great walk in the pouring rain on Saturday afternoon, but my favorite time the whole weekend came late Sunday afternoon, the first day of Daylight Savings Time. The whole pack took a walk together, the three of us plus Tara and Pumpkin. This was just the right length of walk for Tara, who steadfastly brought up the rear. For Pumpkin it might have been the longest walk of her life. And who was out in front of this momentous procession? None other than me, the undisputed leader of the pack.  It was quite a weekend; here’s the slide show.

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Chloë Welcomes Guests to Her Getaway

Tara and Heather

Tara and Heather

Heather, Mike and I spent a whole week out at my mountain-view getaway, and it was great fun even when my pal Tara was making life difficult for me. Besides her usual growling and interference with my playtime (Mike throws ball, Chloë chases ball, Tara chases Chloë), she started making me jealous by playing up to Heather, who likes Tara a little too much for my comfort. Just check out the way Tara’s looking at her! And that’s after Heather brushed her, too, which Tara hates. Makes me sick! The things I tolerate for the sake of her age (Tara, not Heather).

It was stormy for the first few days, really stormy. The tall  trees were swaying and rain poured off the roof in sheets. But on Sunday afternoon Mike and Heather donned their rain gear and we went walking around in Fall City and by Snoqualmie Falls, which was really gushing.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

Chloe Throttles Rattling Santa

Chloë throttles Rattling Santa.

Besides that, we stuck close to the house, so I spent most of my time bugging Mike to play with me and pulling the stuffing out of Rattling Santa.

The weather got much nicer out the last couple of days we were there, and on the last day Penny and her pack came out to watch a Syracuse football game on TV. Guess what? SU lost.

Still, I got to play with Penny (when Tara would let us alone) and took everyone on a short tour of the grounds. Penny even went to see the horses up close, but I’ve been there, done that. Besides, since large dogs scare me, there’s no way I’m going near one of those horses.

Penny Meets Corrie

Penny meets Corrie

Other than in the immediate barn area, I was happy to show Penny all the piles of horse shit and the many slugs that I encounter every day on these premises while prowling for mice. (Heather, afraid of bobcat and coyote attacks, has kept me on a tight leash the whole time.) I was hoping Penny would stay for dinner and a longer walk, but she had to leave after the game to keep an eye on Stella and her pack back in the city. That’s OK. Every dog needs a job to do. I know I have mine.

Lounging on the lawn

Lounging on the lawn

Chloë Loves the Country

Chloë in front of Mount Si

Chloë in front of Mount Si

I started whimpering as soon as Mike’s car got off I-90. Mike kept telling me to hold it in, thinking that I was whining because I really needed to pee badly. No, it was just my excitement; I knew I was getting back to the land of lawn, forest and wall-to-wall carpet: my country getaway.

And what could be as rare as four days in June? These were, in my view, perfect days, when I could play with (and sometimes destroy) Tara’s toys, play endless games of fetch on the grass, go on long walks with no leash on and collapse for tender naps in the sun.

Sleeping on a rock

Tanning posture

Tracking rabbits

Tracking rabbits

But I’m earning my spurs out there, too. First I flushed a huge rabbit out of one of the side beds from underneath a drooping Japanese maple. I mean HUGE! This guy made Blackie and all his pals in Discovery Park look like mice. I almost caught him, too, but Heather’s screams of  “treat party!!” sent me a pretty strong message, and I wisely decided to put on the brakes and hustle back for my bounty.

Still tracking rabbits

Still tracking rabbits

Probably a good thing, because the very next day during our walk in the state forest land out back, Heather and I saw a coyote cross the trail right in front of us. You better believe that Heather kept me on a short leash for a while after that. Mike, on the other hand,  seemed unconcerned, no doubt convinced that the coyote we saw was about as real as the rhinoceros he said he saw.

Scary things live here.

Scary things live here.

The next frontier for me to conquer is the horse barn, which continues to scare me, but even here I made good progress.  I wouldn’t go anywhere near that barn at first; after all, I could hear the loud noises inside, and I knew there must be big horses making them. Bigger than rabbits! Even when Mike, Heather and Tara all went inside the barn together and left me alone outside, I refused to cross the threshold, and Mike couldn’t drag or coax me inside. Finally, on our last day there, Heather picked me up and walked me through the center aisle all the way to the other end of the barn, and then I managed to slink back  under my own power (although  I was constantly praying that none of those horses would let go with a piercing neigh while I was inside). My prayers were answered. YES!

After my barn ordeal was over, Heather revealed that a cat lives in that barn, but it was hiding upstairs while I did my walk-through. I’m OK with that for now; this gives me something to look forward to for next time, when I’ll no doubt strut inside the barn and race right up to the loft. Watch out, kitty.

Chloë Earns More Freedom

I’ve noticed that ever since my third birthday a few weeks ago, Mike and Heather have started to trust me more, letting me wander a bit on my own without holding onto my leash. And I’ve been rewarding them by sticking pretty close by. When I decide to go off on a toot, it’s usually a brief one. I’m back to scarf up a treat or two without too much coaxing, unless I’m onto something better, such as discarded pieces of sandwich or a partial mouse carcass.

Chloë on a log

Chloë on a log 

I tend to find more of that kind of stuff in Discovery Park than I do when we’re out at my foothills getaway, where we went for a whole week.  Several times Mike took me walking without attaching a leash to my harness at all. We did a lot of walking out there, just the two of us, because Heather was mostly working and Tara, bless her grumpy heart, knows she’s too sore to come along.

Tara is really slowing down. She limps around, and her only brief spurts of energy come when she’s trying to head me off from playing with one of her toys. She gets between the toy and me and charges with a growl.  I think that’s as far as Tara would take it, but I just take a wide berth and let her think she’s still boss. Then I immediately get another toy from her endless toy pile. She can’t head me off from all of them, and as a lagniappe, I got repeated praise from Heather for treating Tara so kindly and respectfully. That’s what I call win-win.

While we were out at the Getaway we had to drive into the city and back a couple of times. I got to sit in the front seat every time, even though my seat belt is hooked up in the back seat like I’m supposed to sit there. I was happy with the front-seat arrangement, even when I had to stay in the car alone for a couple of hours while they went to a restaurant. I snoozed and survived, even though it was pouring rain outside. I was warm enough.

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

We also walked in some places I hadn’t been to before, Lake Sammamish and Cougar Mountain. Most of the trails were wide enough for ball-chasing, and Mike was into all the moss on the leaf-barren alder and maple trees, especially green at this time of year due to winter rains and popping out in intricate networks against the gray under story. We didn’t run into any bears, bobcats or cougars (always Heather’s biggest worry), but we did get to the top of the Fantastic Erratic, a large boulder in the middle of the forest.  I actually found the gently rippling Lake Sammamish a lot more erratic than that big rock.

Chloë atop the Fantastic Erratic

Chloë atop the Fantastic Erratic

Chloë Parties Hearty

Along the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.

Last Saturday turned into my red-letter day from my standpoint. Heather left the house early and Mike was in charge, which usually turns out well for me. First he took me on a short walk in the park and then we drove out into the country, way past the rock yard,  for a hike on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail. We’ve been there before, but this time we took a spur trail to the east and kept on going, past the bridge over the creek where we turned around last time. The trail eventually led to a park in the Snoqualmie Ridge development, where a kiosk had a map of the area and trail system. Mike started talking to me as he looked at the map, telling me this means there will be a lot of new trails to explore in the future. I hope this trail system doesn’t get popular; we’ve yet to see another person or dog on these trails yet, but there’s evidence mountain bikers use them, and Mike says that’s never good news for dog walking.

Rather than going home, on the way back we stopped at my sometime-weekend getaway, where Heather was already waiting for us. But instead of staying there overnight by ourselves, we just stayed for the afternoon, and a lot of other people were there, including Cindy. It was a party for all the people who work with Cindy and Heather, and I’ve met most of them at their office. But these people all brought along their spouses and kids, so there were lots of scary strangers. What might have been a formula for disaster was dissipated by the familiar locale. Whenever I felt hemmed in, I could visit the barn, dig in the field or throw around Tara’s toys. So if there were a few new people and kids around, I could have cared less. I had plenty of other stuff to do, and besides: When it came to the menu, they put out a pretty good spread. I did lots of undercover grazing.

Chloë gets a little nuts after a few drinks.

Even so, the guests were universally lavish in their praise of my behavior, making Heather very proud. Mike, on the other hand, was prouder of his black-eyed pea salad (Texas Caviar).  Men!

Personally, I think I did pretty well at this party, considering there were lots of kids and other dogs around, each of them larger than me. I didn’t go “puppy crazy” or act weird even once. True, I may have left a “stay” a little early once or twice, but heck, nobody’s perfect. Especially with so much food lying around.

And when it came to eating, I did myself proud. After a while I made sure no one was watching me and went inside the house, walked across the family room and nudged open the folding door to the closet where I knew Tara’s open food container would be. In seconds, there I was, head in container, crunching merrily… along until Cindy heard me.

Heather thanks Chloë for being a good girl.

Hey, it wasn’t like I ate every piece of kibble in there! And a good thing, too, since later my new dog friends Sheila and Jaeger and I (but not the ditzy Tara, who never stopped running around the pool and barking at the people in it)  got to split some huge chunks of salmon skin that had just come off the grill. Boy, it was gooooood, but I wolfed down as much as Mike might cut up and mix into my dry food for a month.

Little did I know at the time that I would pay for my wonton overindulgence of Tara’s food and the salmon.  Starting the next morning, my poops doubled in size for several days, and there were lots of them. Mike wasn’t too happy about this, but I’ll go on record right now that I’m always glad to sacrifice a little irregularity for an unexpected feast, no RSVP necessary.

Chloë Begins Summer in Style

Chloë in the fog.

We welcomed the summer solstice out at my country getaway. Even though it was rainy and foggy a lot of the time, I was so happy to be out there that I forgave Mike for leaving the bag of Frozen PBBs (peanut butter boneys) back home in the freezer. There was so much to do out there that I could get by without licking a PBB for a few days.

Chloë surveys the foxglove.

Mike took me on a couple of long walks on the horse trails, stopping for some extended ball-chasing. I enjoyed exploring the trails and wandering through the foxglove,  tall spires of white, purple and blue rising from a sea of green ferns and salal. A little wet here and there, but that never deters me.

Mercer Slough.

As usual, we had some field trips. We took Tara on her kind of hike: Mercer Slough, with flat trails for her gimpy gait. Then we went on a ride to pick up rocks, one of Mike’s favorite shopping destinations. Mostly we just hung out and relaxed.

Tara was snitty with me, as usual, but this time I decided to assert myself when necessary. I can be properly differential most of the time, but I’m old enough now to demand a little respect. So I growled back at her once or twice, and tossed her toys around right under her nose.

Tara’s toys recover in the infirmary.

Later on, every time she tried to herd me away from her stuff, I determined that  stronger signals were needed, so I flung the toys around the living room and went after every hole in their stitching I could find. It didn’t take long until I dispatched a few of them to the stuffed toy infirmary, where they will be slowly recovering until my next visit, which I hope will be later on this summer. I can’t wait to get back there. 

That will be when I’ll try to bring the two cats in the barn into line, or at least keep them at bay. They’d better enjoy their free rein while I’m gone, because they’re really bugging me, and I simply cannot let that continue. They are now on notice.

Napping with Heather.