Category Archives: Hiking

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.

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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.

Chloë Grooms a Protegé

Heather and her girls

Heather and her girls

When we visited my personal getaway in the Cascade foothills last weekend,  I duly noted that the current resident dog Pumpkin has started to feel at home there. Sometimes she even emerged from her two favorite spots — her crate and her giant pillow full of toys — and hung out with the rest of us.

Pumpkin has gotten consistently more comfortable and congenial since her career as a puppy breeder thankfully ended. Probably she’s not sore and worn out all the time, at least. Now she really gloms on to Heather, goes for walks with us and and gives every indication of wanting to be included in our pack. Quite surprisingly, I’m letting her in.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin

But why not? Pumpkin obviously understands that I am the Alpha dog in this group, and she seems intent on following my every lead. I’ve already taught her to sit in a chair and hang out with me when Mike and Heather have dinner. And she’s only too glad to let me have all the scraps and plates to lick.

Pumpkin seems to enjoy us, too. Just check her out on this hike in the woods beyond where she lives. She was so excited the whole way. . . I’m not sure how much that girl gets out when we’re not around.

 

Chloë and Pumpkin solve world problems on a walk in the woods

Chloë and Pumpkin pause to confer about world problems on a walk in the woods

As you can see, I am apparently Pumpkin’s idol, and frankly, she could not have picked any other dog more worthy. The bonus that she’s cute and indifferent to all the treats she’s offered is the icing on the cake.

So we’ll see where this goes. We only had about 48 hours with Pumpkin this time, too short a span to make an informed decision. Let’s try out this new relationship for a bit before I offer to let her write a guest blog post or anything. Baby steps.

 

 

Chloë Burr-ows

 

Covered with burrs.

Covered with 28 burrs.

Mike keeps muttering “brrrr,” like he’s shivering from the cold, but we’re having a typically hot August around here. No, it’s “burr” that he mutters, as he bends down to pluck another sticky, round kernel out of my fur or sometimes his own heel. These “burrs” get into my fur around my mouth, in my beard, on my chest and belly, on the underside of my ears and sometimes even inside my nose. My feet get so tangled that Mike can spend a good half hour picking them off of me before dinner. If he doesn’t do this, I will spend many slobbering hours trying to do it myself.

My Mom, Banshee: Happy Mother's Day!

My Mom, Banshee

I’m hungry, so to speed things along, mostly I let Mike do his plucking, because he’s really more skilled and efficient at getting the burrs off than my own teeth are. And some of the them stick to places that my mouth can’t get to. My “help” for Mike consists of being relatively calm and compliant, at least until the moments Mike tugs so hard  on my fur that it hurts. That’s when I let out an awful, high-pitched squeal that is no doubt my legacy from my mom, named Banshee. What a noise! You’d think Mike had stabbed me repeatedly with a serrated knife (I may have been watching too many TV cop shows with Heather).

Wild geranium seeds

Wild geranium seeds

After repeated field observation sessions, Mike determined that these tiny implements of aggravation are seeds from the weed geraniums that populate the woodlands in the park (and occasionally in our yard, until Mike pulls them). When the geranium’s flower petals drop, a pod remains that eventually opens to reveal a roughly 1/16th-inch-diameter seed. Its skin is rough and sticky, and a wirehair dachshund’s torso is low-lying fruit, providing the perfect escape vehicle for these jagged little pills. Whenever  I tear into the under story, chasing a squirrel or” burr-owing” into the weeds after a ball, running into these geranium seeds is unavoidable. They come in bunches. And no matter how many of the little suckers Mike manages to pry off me before dinner, a few invariably remain, happy to stick on me for a day or two, until they dry out and eventually fall to the floor in any room of the house. There they lie in ambush for the bottom of Mike’s unsuspecting bare feet. It’s like stepping on a sharp stone, Mike screams. Ouch.

By the way, a little girl on a bicycle yelled out thea I was very cute today! I guess I've still got "it."

By the way, today a little girl on a bicycle yelled out that I was very cute! It’s nice to know I’ve still got “it.”

The  geranium burr season is now at full swing, but the best score Mike has counted so far is a measly 28 burrs in a single  day. That just scratches the surface, so to speak. With hot weather holding and no rain in the forecast, our forest floor is about to get even drier, so  I’m confident I can pick up enough of these geranium burrs to make it really “un-burr-able” for Mike in the near future.

 

 

Chloë Sets New Fetch Records

We finally came home from my getaway. Being there almost two weeks took its toll on my body, so I have been resting up a bit while Mike watches baseball playoffs on TV seemingly 24 hours a day. At the getaway, I get so busy that I often don’t get my full quota of afternoon naps, so it’s good to catch up.

On the back lawn

On the back lawn

The highlight of the recent vacation was the new dachshund fetch records that I set Sunday, Oct. 4, on my getaway’s back lawn. Heather certified that I set new marks for single-session (85 throws-and-returns) and single-day (175). My two-day total of 300 has yet to be certified, but we expect official word soon.

Let’s see…what else happened on this trip? As you no doubt recall from my previous post, this time I graciously shared my getaway with the mop-like Pumpkin and Mister Fuzz, a black-and-white former barn cat.  Pumpkin turned out to be more fun than I expected. I actually grew to like her, and we even engaged in some mutual butt-sniffing before this stay was over. That’s high praise.

Mister Fuzz, however, is another story. We had but two brief encounters, as Heather expended much energy on keeping us apart. Luckily, nobody tripped on anything, and our tete a tetes were well-controlled.

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That getaway place is just too much fun! Toys, carpets, lawns, forests, even a dog companion. If I can just get that cat back into the barn where it belongs,  it would be perfect.