Category Archives: Hiking

Chloë Waltzes Through Spring

Guitar in tree

Ah, it’s finally spring, my favorite time of year. Warmer weather means better sleeping (not too hot, not too cold), tulips to knock over in the garden, colorful, green-on-green landscapes and the sweetest grass of the year, even on days when it isn’t 4/20 (I prefer the edibles!).

I’ve seen some neat things on our spring walks, too. In Discovery Park, my everyday trek, one afternoon we came upon an impromptu art installation. Some aspiring Christo had tied an old, string-less and gaily painted acoustic guitar to a tree limb near the bluff. When a breeze blew wind off the Sound, the guitar spun on the rope it hung by, twisting around and around until the rope was so taut that the guitar paused for a moment and reversed direction, spinning the other way until the twisted rope was once again ready to change direction. And so it went, round and round, for several days, until (I suspect) the rope broke, sending guitar to ground. It unfortunately disappeared before I had the chance to give it a good sniff to determine its origin. While park authorities discourage such artistic expression, I personally hope the artist has more outdoor art in store.

Resting in Arboretum gazebo

Springtime encouraged us to go further afield for Sunday walks with Charlie. We visited the Washington Park Arboretum, which is one of my favorite spots, even though I rarely get to play ball there. It has lots of neat things to smell, however, and usually many squirrels running around to grab my attention. While I enjoyed all the spring blossoms this time, I did wish Mike, Heather and my good pal Charlie allowed me off leash to chase the squirrels for just a few minutes. Maybe next time.

The following Sunday we visited Woodland Park, where I had not been so long that I barely remembered it. Even though it’s surrounded by traffic, this park had more squirrels and rabbits than I had ever seen in one place before. It also had a big dog park that I managed to navigate around relatively unnoticed by other dogs, as well as the official Seattle Rose Garden, which looked like a great spot to play fetch. Unfortunately, there were just too many people around, even without a rose to be seen.

Seattle Rose Garden reflecting pool

Nice lawn, though. I can see us coming back in June to stop and smell the roses.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chloë Changes Trails

Old trail closed…

One of my favorite spots for fetch was ruled off-limits recently, but it was for a good cause. As part of the reclamation of the former Capehart military housing site and contiguous areas in Discovery Park, the long straightaway above the Loop Trail that ran parallel to the chain-link fence that surrounded the site was removed. Large tree stumps, mulch and new plantings now cover the trail where my fetch court was. The fencing is gone, except at either end of the former trail. This was because after eight years of fenced-in recovery, a 27-acre Northwest native mixed forest has been attached to the existing city park. Last week, unannounced, new trails opened traversing the site. Finally, some new territory to explore.

No more fetch here.

Capehart site in 2011

We tried out these new Capehart thoroughfares a few times in the week that they opened. I generally liked them, although I do fondly recall the days of my puppyhood, when this area was still a devastated no-man’s land. With structures gone but infrastructure remaining, the deserted streets were great for fetch, rabbits were plentiful, and I could roam far and wide on my own, since the whole area was fenced in. Walking through there now, you would never know that a village stood here just eight years ago.

Serious business

Last week when I walked through Capehart, Heather kept me firmly tethered. Signs every 10 feet or so reminded scofflaws like me to stay on the trails and off the fragile, recently replanted grounds around them. Heather has thus far been determined to keep me a “green dog,” at least when we’re on these trails around Capehart. I’m willing to play along, at least at the beginning. After all, I want to be a good role model.

…new trail opened.

Good dog, green dog.

Chloë Does Dirt

 

Fort Lawton Cemetery

Last weekend my pack walked to the Fort Lawton military cemetery with my pal Charlie, who hadn’t been there in quite a while. It’s a traditional fave spot for playing fetch, due to its enclosed nature, traffic-free roads and few pedestrians save other dog walkers. The cemetery has been renovated over the past couple of years, most recently with pressure-washed gravestones, refurbished curbs and plantings, updated irrigation, historical panels and walls rebuilt with original stone. It has been such a beautiful restoration that Heather doesn’t want me to run around the grounds unabated anymore. That means no squirrels and no fetch? Why do we come here? The scenery?

Atop a wall in Fort Lawton Cemetery.

We’ll see how long Heather’s new rule lasts, but it was definitely in force the day Charlie came with us. I didn’t even get in one throw while we were there. Maybe that’s why I look so perturbed in this photo. 

It’s still January, of course, and after a short stretch of sunny days it turned wet for about 10 days running, And every time we walked in the rain, two things continually befuddled Heather: Why I paused at regular intervals to chow down on the long grass growing along the sides of a trail (a.k.a. “the salad bar”) and why, even more disgustingly, did I keep plastering my mouth to the ground and chomping on mud, much to her loud chagrin.

I cannot deny either act, but in my own defense I note that I’m a picky eater. Not just any old grass or dirt will do. Among the many grasses that abound in the lush Northwest, there’s one variety I particularly favor, and it’s one that’s fairly easy to find anywhere in the world, which is good for me like Starbucks is for Heather. I want dependable, not exotic. When I was back east the past two summers, I discovered some aquatic plants in streams and ponds that I liked, but that’s about the only upper-crust varieties I savor. In the realm of mud, I prefer the moister, denser Northwest varieties to the drier versions I encountered in the Rockies, the Midwest and East Coast. Throughout the land, however, my favorite treats are always the little ridges of mud that elevate slightly from the ground after boots or running shoes have trampled the squishy ground around them. Yum and um!

At the salad bar.

The way Heather shrieks at me when she catches me at the mud bar would lead many onlookers to think I had bitten a child, or worse. In the greater scheme of things, however, this behavior is no big deal: Eating grass and dirt is common among dogs. According to WikiHow, “eating dirt and grass is a form of pica, or eating things that aren’t food. In some cases, seeking pica is a reaction to a mineral deficiency in a dog’s diet or a parasite infestation, especially in puppies and young dogs. A dog may eat dirt to alleviate anemia or intestinal distress caused by eating something he shouldn’t have.” Most of the time, though, the dogs seeking pica are perfectly healthy. They just like to do it.

So nothing for me to worry about, right? Well, not exactly. Eating at the mud or salad bars could conceivably expose me to harmful bacteria, toxins and foreign objects that could make me (and Mike and Heather) pay later. Some stuff is just too large or toxic for a little pooper like me to handle.

Chloë’s favorite variety.

One thing I do want to refute, however, is the common notion that dogs eat grass just to make themselves vomit. I may gag once or twice after chowing down, but I’m not grazing with the idea of blowing my lunch later. What a waste of good food!  WebMD says that dogs eating grass is natural, and has been observed in wild dogs as well as domesticated ones. Most veterinarians consider it normal dog behavior. Still, herbicides and pesticides used on lawns can be quite toxic, especially if ingested. I’ll be confining my grazing to untamed park lands, not urban or suburban lawns.

 

Chloë Ramps Up Her Recovery

Chloë takes over Heidi’s ramp.

I was meaning to write sooner, but I’ve been injured. For the second time in just three months, a bad wheel was slowing me down. The first time, when we were in Canada in August, it was my right front leg with a pulled muscle that made me limp. This time, it was muscle soreness in the back left. Some days this new injury didn’t seem to bother me at all, and I continued to leap into my camp chair, but the next day I would let out an unexpected yelp of pain just by leaping off a curb to the street. I had no problems going down a flight of stairs, but there was no way I was climbing back up, not even the two little steps in front of our house. Mike and Heather dragged Heidi’s ramp out of the garage just for me. The tread on the ramp needed a little mending, but I began using it on every trip up. Not down, just up.

To prevent further damage to my leg, Heather put me on what she called “modified bed rest.”  That meant when we went out to the Olympic Peninsula for Heather’s birthday, we didn’t go on any long, up-and-down hikes in the forest, like we usually do. This time I walked only on paved or flat trails like the Olympic Discovery Trail in Sequim. When Heather and Mike hiked to the top of Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park, I stayed in the car. Fine with me, frankly.

Olympic snoozing.

When we got back home, Heather didn’t make me stay in bed all day, but I was not allowed to play ball, not even inside with Wiffie. And I wasn’t allowed to run after squirrels or chase cats, either. Our afternoon walks were shorter, too. And with so much less exercise, I was getting crabbier every day, not to mention gaining weight. I feared the dreaded word “diet” might resurface when Mike came back from his trip east.

This lingering physical malady started to change my personality as well. I got more standoffish and timid around other dogs.  I started sleeping later, whining less, declining to get into bed and take a nap with Heather. I’d rather be alone in my beds in the office or living room. When Mike got back, I let him groom me without trying to get away. If I went downstairs with him to get a biscuit, I refused to go back up on my own. Eventually Heather would relent, come downstairs, pick me up and carry me up stairs, unsure whether my leg was still bothering me or if my reluctance to climb the stairs was all in my head.  When I demanded similar service for the two steps up to her bed, she drew the line. Dammit. As long as she thought I was hurt, I planned to make the most of it, but apparently my jig is up. Heather put Heidi’s ramp back in the garage.

 

Chloë Takes a Puppy to School

Mr. Fuzz

I was excited to to return to my mountain getaway in east King County last week. As soon as we exited I-90 and climbed into to the foothills, I knew where we were going, back to the palace of wall-to-wall carpet and lawns galore. It’s my absolutely favorite place to play fetch, 50 or more throws at each session. And I love being the undisputed leader of the pack with Pumpkin, the little dog who lives there, and the mysterious Mr. Fuzz, the bushy cat who mostly stays upstairs when I’m around. They know their place.

Smokey

Unfortunately, sometime after our last visit, Smokey showed up. About 8 months old when we arrived, Smokey is the successor to Tara, the brilliant Aussie who showed me the ropes out here when I was a but a wee pup. Supposedly it was my turn to pass some wisdom on to Smokey, except for one thing: Smokey just didn’t want to listen. Every single time he could, he just wanted to bite me on the ears or stick his nose up my butt, like I was going to smell different every time. Heather yelled, “Leave!” and “No” more than I’ve ever heard them yelled before, even in my own frolicking puppyhood. Heather was worn out after a week of grappling on the other end of a leash with Smokey, a strong and growing boy.

Chloe and Smokey rest on the trail.

Heather said Smokey hadn’t been out much beyond the grounds of his home property. He didn’t know anything about taking a walk, so we taught him how to do it, and we walked on the Preston-Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Valley trails. By the end of our time there, he was getting better at following the pack, although he kept trying to pick up large sticks at the end instead of in the middle, and he turned out to be a serial pooper, meaning he took several long strides between each deposit, so it was hard to know when he was done and harder to find those nuggets when he was. Heather needed a lot of bags. And she also had to teach Smokey about how to ride in the back of the car, although it took a lot of pushing and shoving from Heather and Mike in the front seat to keep him there. On the plus side, since Smokey had to be by himself in the back seat tied to my harness, I finally regained my rightful place in the front seat in Mike’s lap. Good timing, too; in this comfortable spot I could lay my head down, close my eyes, and not think about the twisty roads we were driving on, which make me queasy.

Chloë smugly watches Smokey suffer in Heather’s Boot Camp.

Heather tried valiantly to teach Smokey better manners, but even a week in Heather’s infamous Boot Camp could not make much difference. Hopefully Smokey will grow out of his rambunctiousness and be a nice guy to be around, but at this time he’s still a work in progress. While we were in the house, he mostly had to stay in his exercise pen in the living room, just to keep him out of everyone’s face and give Pumpkin and I some respite from his constant advances. We all felt sorry for Pumpkin, because when no one is around to tell Smokey “no,” he will hound her constantly and drive her into her crate or onto seats of chairs that are pushed in under the dining room table, where she crawls up in her little lair and hopes he doesn’t find her.

Status reclaimed.

Anyway, I missed out on the other Big Excitement of our week at the getaway. I was inside the house with Mike in the middle of the afternoon when Heather took Pumpkin and Smokey outside for some exercise. She threw the ball for Smokey (and he was making some progress on bringing it back!) while Pumpkin ran unleashed in in the horse ring until Heather saw a cougar standing at the edge of the property, on a trail that goes into the state forest land out back. She yanked on Smokey’s leash, called Pumpkin to come and hightailed it with them to the house, while the cougar hightailed it in the opposite direction.

It was a good thing that I didn’t happen to be out there fetching my ball on the back lawn when that big cat appeared. Everyone knows how much I love to chase cats. It could have been good practice for the Bartons’ cats down the street., and no one doubts I would have been deterred by its size.

Chloe on Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Although I missed that opportunity, and sometimes Smokey got to be a bit intimidating, it was a worthwhile time out there. It made Heather appreciate much more just what a good dog I am. And as I always like to say, better him than me.

 

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.

 

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