Category Archives: Hiking

Chloë Survives Her Traumatic Trip Home

Chloe returns to Seattle.

When we finally got back to Seattle, I was so happy I could hardly contain myself. I started squealing as soon as the car crossed Lake Washington. By the time we hit the Magnolia Bridge, I was out of my bed and scratching at the windows to get outside.

I could smell it. Home, home at last.

It’s not that the three of us didn’t have a great time on the way back from Syracuse. Mike and Heather seemed to enjoy themselves, and I had some fun myself (more on that next time). But for me personally, it was just one bummer after another. Nothing quite as catastrophic as gashing my snout in Utah on the trip east, but traumatic nonetheless. Let me elaborate.

Panting on the rail trail.

It started in Canada, where we went to visit Heather’s family and help her brother Robert pack up the house he sold and move to an apartment. The first night we were there, Mike dropped my cherished blue ceramic food bowl, the one my aunt Robin made, the one we left in a bathtub in Illinois Super 8 and rescued. This time the ill-fated bowl shattered into a million pieces. It will be missed; the Walmart purchase that replaced it is just not cutting it, although it has orange and blue on it. It will do until something better comes along.

More bad luck was on the way. One afternoon we went on a long, long walk along a railroad bed trail near Robert’s house. It was really, hot, and, personally, I think we walked too far. Anyway, I must have aggravated an already pulled muscle, and when we got back to the car, I was limping. So Heather ordered me shut me down for a couple of days (which meant no walks except to take care of business).  This was actually OK with me, because it was hot and humid, and I got to spend the days in the shade in front of Robert’s house, hanging out with the guys while they conducted Robert’s garage sale. Quite a cast of characters came up the driveway, believe me. So maybe my pulled muscle wasn’t such a bad thing after all, at least compared to what happened next.

Ferry Pet Kennel

Before heading west, we spent a couple of days with my aunt Robin and her significant other Barry in their downtown Toronto apartment. It’s always scary for me in the Big City, but Toronto’s mean streets were nothing compared to my trip across Lake Michigan. I wasn’t at all concerned when Heather drove me and the car onto a big boat, since I’ve been on Washington State Ferries on many occasions. But on this high-speed ferry across Lake Michigan, dogs weren’t allowed to stay in cars; something about Homeland Security, they said). So when Heather stopped on the car deck, she told me to get out of the car with her. At first I thought this meant I was going to be sitting with her and Mike on the passenger deck, but that didn’t happen. Suddenly other dogs appeared in the area, and then Heather lifted me into a wire crate stacked on top of two others, all occupied by dogs who were none too happy about it. Least of all, me. I looked to Heather for relief, but she just shoved a pillow and a PBB in the crate, closed the door and said, “It’s OK, Chloë, I’ll be back.” What? Are you kidding me? I managed to devour the PBB, but I was still screeching when Heather returned to spring me some three hours later. At that moment, I didn’t know if I could ever trust her again.

Chloë and Heather on the bridge

I managed to get over it in a few days, and Heather started being nicer to me and came to my aid several times after that. In Nebraska National Forest, the sandy soil was rife with sharp, prickly burrs that were murder on my feet, sticking to the pads and between the toes. Several times, Heather and I had to sit down on the side of the trail and pick them out, one by one, until I could walk without pain. She bailed me out again when I balked at walking across a wooden suspension bridge over the Popo Agie River, carrying me across in both directions. The next day, along the Teton River, she chased off a bigger dog we met on a walk who just wouldn’t stop sniffing my butt. He wasn’t mean, but he just refused to go home. Heather finally made me run off with Mike while she had my back and chased away the other dog. I was thankful for that.

Lassie go home.

Our trips last few days in Idaho and Eastern Washington were beautiful but smoky, and I was glad to get home a couple of days later. I couldn’t wait to see my pal Charlie, my favorite UPS driver Donna, my smorgasbord of scraps on the grass outside Discovery Park, my dog pals down the block and pretty much everything else in Seattle except the Bartons’ cats. I know they have been lurking around my house in my absence, and I cannot stand for it. I will track them down.

 

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Chloë Hits the Water

Chloe Attends Concert in Park-001

Concert on Oneida Lake

I hadn’t even caught up on recounting my adventures on the trip east when we started our way back. There’s just so much ground to cover! So for now I’ll move on to detailing what a fun time I had in Syracuse while we were there.

We stayed in a different house than we did last year, and I liked this one much better, even though it wasn’t across the street from my aunts Susie and Debby. This house had more rugs for lounging and rubbing my back, and four floors for roaming, including a basement and an attic. I wasn’t supposed to go into the basement, but nobody said anything about the attic, so I snooped around up there a lot, even though it was really, really hot. In fact, it was hot everywhere in this house except in the room we all slept in, where it was always a perfect 68 un-humid degrees. We spent a lot of time in that room. Everywhere else in the house was hot and sticky, and Mike and Heather complained about it a lot more than I did.

Manley Water Tower with Heather and Chloe-001

Manley water towers

Even though it was hot and humid, we took many walks in some neat places, although we often went in the morning, when it was a bit cooler. Meadowbrook Basin and Oakwood Cemetery, with their shady trails and steadily increasing squirrel and deer populations, were still my favorites. We only went to the quarry up at Skytop once this year, but we did get to Clark Reservation, where the cliffs are even taller. I climbed all the way to the top of Pulpit Rock that day, and on another day we hiked up to the water towers above Manley Field House, which are now brightly decorated with spray-paint graffiti.

Chloe at Clark Reservation

Pulpit Rock, Clark Reservation State Park

We also hiked along canals, on former rail beds and around lakes, and threw the ball in the fields behind the high school that was a few blocks away from where we were staying. I got to know the neighborhood well, both from observation and from Mike and Heather recalling instances from when they lived there 20 years ago, long before my time.

More importantly, I finally took part in some water activities besides taking a bath (ugh) and diverting rivers by digging their banks (great fun!). Normally, any slight movement in a body of water, such as a lake lapping gently on its shoreline, sends me into a tizzy. But no one had ever taken me on a boat before, and once I got on top of the water instead of next to it, I had a great time.

Brantingham Lake Chloe on Deck

All paws on deck

First I rode on my buddy David’s power boat on Tuscarora Lake when he took people water skiing. I just walked around on the deck of the boat, watching, and nobody suggested I try anything fancy, like dropping a ski or doing flips. I was good with that. And the following weekend I got a ride around the perimeter of Brantingham Lake in the Adirondacks with my pal Juneau George on a party barge. I didn’t see a lot of partying happening on the boat, but it moved so slowly that I was able to put “all paws on deck” and peer over the railing to spy on the partying on shore.

We also visited the Hansens, whose house we stayed in, while they were living in their farmhouse in Madison County. That was definitely the best spot for me. Not only did it have great scents to track and a giant lawn for fetching my ball, but it had a large pond where I could step right in from shore with no waves in sight. This is exactly the kind of water feature we need in our back yard in Seattle. I’m going to start lobbying for that as soon as I get home.

Chloe at Hansen Farm Swimming

Diving for treats in pond

Chloë Has a Ball

Throwing on Chloë’s Lane.

Why, I ask, is every lost ball my fault? Not once have I tossed a ball that went missing. OK, I admit I’ve dropped a few in the woods when something better came along, but other than that, in my view, Mike and Heather deserve the blame. They threw it, so they are responsible for losing it. End of story.

No longer as frequent a story as it once was, however.  The purple-and-white Visi-Balls I learned on are hard and yet springy, and they take crazy bounces. I’ve lost count of how many we lost in my younger days. When Mike plotted them on a map of Discovery Park, there were a lot of Xs on that paper, and that doesn’t count the ones lost in the creek at Carkeek Park, the blackberry thickets along Magnolia Boulevard and many other far-flung locations. Those balls are not coming back. But since we switched to the Chuckit Whistler balls, we hardly ever lose them. Either my senses have vastly improved with age, or these newer balls, with their softer texture and deep indentations, hold a scent better, making them easier to find. Guess that Ahimsa scent-training class paid off after all!

The new-old ball

I hadn’t used one of the purple-and-white balls in quite a while when I stumbled upon one in the woods along Chloë’s Lane while I was fetching another ball to bring back to Heather. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding stuff that lies on the ground, especially if it reeks of questionable digestibility,  but finding this particular ball made me especially proud, even though it wasn’t anything I could eat. I was so happy with my discovery that I carried triumphantly it all the way home and proudly presented it to Mike as soon as  I got through the door. Then I took it onto the living room rug and rubbed myself on it for about 10 minutes, getting its scent all over me, just in case Heather decided to break out the OxiClean to buff it up. Since we haven’t been throwing with this kind of ball for some time, Mike estimated it might have been there for a couple of years. What a find this was! For a few days, I couldn’t let it out of my sight.

Chloe cradles cherished ball.

 

Heather hasn’t cleaned my new-old ball yet, but it seemed a little shinier after I strutted  around the house with it in my mouth for a few days. So far, Mike let me keep it, and he even rolled it along the floor of the living room and kitchen, like he does with Wiffie, but I have a feeling this game will end as soon as we break something, most likely the glass doors on the dining room cabinets. Which could be any day now, come to think of it. Better enjoy this while it lasts.

Chloë Gets Wet in the Woods

Chloë’s favorite brand

It’s getting on toward mid-October already, but it still feels like Indian Summer to me, bright and clear in the afternoons and turning quickly crisp when the sun dips down. Perfect weather for chasing after my whistling balls. Last week I knocked a blue one over a bluff in the park that was so steep that Mike and Heather wouldn’t let me chase down the cliff after it. I knew where it was, too, but getting to it would have posed some problems, I admit, and it was a long, long way down. Luckily, Mike knew where to find another ball in a box in the garage, an orange one at that.

Drenched

I’ve also been gnawing away at two green racquet balls that my pal Charlie brought along last weekend when we drove out to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail for a Sunday hike. We walked almost two hours, an hour and a half in glorious fall weather and the last half hour in a sudden, unexpected and torrential downpour.  Huge by Washington standards, Central New York thunderstorm-level heavy but cold and piercing, including some hail. Charlie and Heather had been throwing for me when the deluge began, even as parts of the sky remained blue and the forest floor was flooded with sunshine. Mike kept saying the rain was going to stop any second, but it was still pouring when we finally reached the car and hopped in.

Since everyone was soaking wet, they scrapped their plans for dining on the way home and headed back to the city for towels, dry clothes and pizza. I got extra cheese on my own dinner and later licked plates when they were done with the pizza. All in all, another great Sunday, despite the rain.

Chloe Faces Fuzz

Mike, Heather and I spent another week out at my foothills Getaway, but I never did find the orange ball I lost the first week. No big deal, I reasoned. That ball was starting to get a little soft and squishy, anyway, not bouncing as high or far as it used to, and much easier to gnaw. I was sure Mike and Heather will just get me a new one when we got home, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

Mr. Fuzz

Still, I didn’t get to play a lot of fetch on the lawn the second week. Too many distractions. For the most part, I was on a leash or tied to something for the remainder of our stay. I had run away and ignored her commands so frequently that Heather’s coyote-anxiety was at all-time high while her tolerance of me was at an all-time low. Even inside the house she tethered me to a chair or a table, fearful that I would break loose and eat Pumpkin’s food or, worse yet, chase the cat Mr. Fuzz under a bed and start screeching at him. Does Heather forget I’m a dachshund? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Besides, Mr. Fuzz tricked me. He deliberately left some of his cat food upstairs on the bathroom floor just where I could find it if I sneaked upstairs, which I did. His food tasted pretty good at the time, but it gave me diarrhea for days afterward, each time further reminding Heather that I had been a bad, bad dog. Oh well, live and learn.

Chloë and Pumpkin vie for position.

By the end of our second week at the Getaway, Mr. Fuzz got bolder and started coming downstairs for visits, even during the day. I only got to chase him once, though, when I was briefly left unattended while Mike was exercising and Heather was doing laundry, or maybe the other way around. Anyway, besides that brief encounter on the second floor, Fuzz and I kept our distance. And the next time I got upstairs, Fuzz had already eaten most of his food. Smarter guy than I gave him credit for.

Chloe and Pumpkin April 2017

Pumpkin tried again to be my pal, which was OK, as long as she understands her place in my pack. It was not OK, for instance, for her to instigate playful chasing with me out on the forest trails. I’m the one in charge of that, and everything else, for that matter. I did let her sit in the back seat of Heather’s car with me, but I made her get in first, so she can check it for danger and then stay out of my way. Most importantly, I made it clear to Pumpkin that her place was definitely NOT on the couch or bed spread out on top of or tightly beside Heather. That’s MY place. Pumpkin got the message.

Portage survivors.

One more thing: While Pumpkin was always happy to go hiking with us, on more than one occasion she showed what a wuss she is. Sometimes Heather had to carry Pumpkin through the swampy sections of the trail when Pumpkin refused to wade through on her own. To Pumpkin’s credit, she was getting much better about being comfortable outside after she two weeks of walking with us to toughen her up. I hope Pumpkin ventures out more in the real world when I’m not around to lead her.

Meanwhile, All Clear, Mr. Fuzz! You can come downstairs now. I’m leaving Pumpkin in charge until I come back.

Mr. Fuzz spies from landing

 

Chloë Screws Up Her Training

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

Boot Camp with Heather had been going so well. When we arrived for a two-week stay at my Cascade foothills Getaway, she voiced her amazement at how well I was complying with all of her increasingly difficult commands. On more than one occasion, I heard her tell Mike that I was doing “fantastic.” That was her word, not mine.

And then things got a bit out of hand.  I got out there in the country with my pal Pumpkin and the sweet spring grass and lots of wild smells, and I just lost control. On four straight days, Heather let me off my leash and I ran away from her, at four different locations for four different reasons. She would call me back, and sometimes I would even stop and look at her.  And run.

Shooting range

The first time I was chasing the orange ball that Mike had tossed along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and it took a bad hop and flew over the embankment right into the local gun club’s shooting range.  When I skidded down after it, I caught my leash on a bush, and both I and the ball needed assistance. But as Heather slid down to get me, I extricated myself and ran back uphill to Mike, who was trying to keep Pumpkin from following Heather down. I dropped the ball in the process, but Heather was able to get it. No harm, no foul, right? I might have gotten away with it if it only happened once. Unfortunately, no.

Heather shows the dogs where the ball flew over embankment.

Charlie was with us for the next incident. He drove out to visit on a Sunday, and we took him for a walk on a different branch of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I was leading the pack on the way back to the car when I caught a fresh scent of fox or weasel and took off on a small game trail that ran under some barbed-wire fencing and Posted signs. This sliver of a trail led to a much wider one some 20 feet below, which then wound further into farmers’ fields and ultimately toward the busy highway beyond them. Heather and Charlie kept calling me to return, but I ignored them, put my nose down to the ground and scurried another few yards in the opposite direction. At one point I bounded toward the highway, but soon reversed course and headed steadily back to the main trail, where Mike stood waiting at my original point of egress. This time Heather ordered Mike to keep me leashed up for the rest of our walk.

Wanted: Chloë’s missing ball

But did anybody learn anything from this? Apparently not, because on the following day, in between the heavy rains and hailstones I endured, I split again on yet another section of the Sno Valley Trail. (Heather likes this former railroad bed trail because it’s flat, and I like because it has lots of small critters lurking about.) This time I ran circles around a muddy field before returning to Mike and his waiting leash, again the prescribed punishment from Staff Sergeant Heather, who was amused by my recent performances. She was even less pleased the following day, when she and I were playing fetch on the back lawn, for both of us by far the most favorite activity on the Getaway agenda. She threw the ball, I retrieved it, and then I ran right past her and all the way down to the landscapers’ garage down the hill, ball in mouth – until a big dog named Coconut who lives there intercepted me and chased me back towards the Getaway house. Heather was made when she came to get me, and she was even more so when she saw the ball was no longer in my grip.

At least I’ve got another week out here at my Getaway to find that ball. Meanwhile, I figure I am on a leash for the duration of our time here, even when I’m inside the house. It’s like house arrest! And who knows how long it will last with Heather in charge? Might be forever, come to think of it.

Chloë Walks Far, Naps Long

West Point Lighthouse

West Point Lighthouse

Last weekend was great, beautiful and clear but cold for here, down into the 20s. I saw a lot of dogs sporting sweaters, but that’s not my style, Besides, I’d hate to make Heather do my laundry all the time.

Elliott Bay from West Point

Elliott Bay from West Point

Heather had a long weekend, four days in a row at home with me. On Friday she worked here on the dining room table while I slept in my chair next to her. It was almost like being at Heather’s real office, where as we well know dogs are no longer allowed. We made the most of those four days, taking lots of naps and extra walks together. On Sunday we trekked for two hours to the West Point lighthouse and back with Mike and my pal Charlie. Since it was such a nice day, there were more people on the beach than I’ve seen there in August. Charlie and Heather threw the ball for me a while in the fenced-in lawn area behind the lighthouse, until they got paranoid about a possible dog patrol officer siting . It proved to be a false alarm, but we hurriedly left the scene of the crime and started the steep climb back up the bluff with me on leash. Not my first choice for a hike in the woods, but I made do.

Napping on Heather's pillow

Napping on Heather’s pillow

The next day was more of the same because it was MLK Day. We took a long walk in the park and played fetch on the hill. But on Tuesday, Heather had to go back to her office, and even worse, it started raining. Feeling a little low, I spent most of the day sleeping on Heather’s pillow or in my bed next to Mike’s chair in his office, even skipping my usual afternoon pee-and-treat break when I heard rain pelting the window above me. Late in the day, I reluctantly allowed Mike to take me outside for a walk, but as soon as I handled my immediate business and checked out the Wendy* Way buffet (only lettuce remained, dammit, not even a soggy piece of toast!), I began steering Mike homeward. We were outside for barely 25 minutes, one of my shortest walks ever. Not that I let Mike off the hook. When we got home, I made him play Wiffie and tug for more than a half-hour. After all, a girl needs some exercise every day to keep herself slim and trim.