Category Archives: Hiking

Chloë Finds America Great Again

Great Sacandaga Lake

The final afternoon walk on the Canadian leg of our coast-to-coast excursion didn’t go so well.  While the place—Lemoine Point Conservation Area outside Kingston, ON—had nice, wide trails that kept me away from its Lake Ontario waves, in the middle of a large meadow on our trek, two dogs who were both a lot bigger than me and not at all under the control of their owner leaned far over to where I was lying down on the side of the trail and lunged. Even though they were on leashes, they got pretty close to me. Luckily, Heather reacted quickly and yanked me away by my leash. When I was safely out of harm’s way, she started yelling at the dogs and their owner, who was dragging them away and muttering apologies that Heather wasn’t buying.

Actually, that owner exhibited the kind of me-first behavior usually associated with Americans, and yet here we were in Canada. Apparently bad behavior knows no boundaries.

Chloe chills by the lake,

On the other hand, after we returned to the U.S., everybody from the border patrol agents to people we meet on our walks has been so darn nice to me. Instead of motels, we stayed at the homes of several of Mike’s and Heather’s friends, and every one of them lavished praise and attention on me, telling them how physically fit and well-behaved I am. (Let’s just say I am practiced at the art of deception.)

Our first stop on this part of the trip was with the people I already know the best, my Seattle friends Mike and Carol and my dog buddy Penny, who frequently comes over to our house when everyone except us watches Syracuse games on TV.  Before we arrived at their camp on Great Sacandaga Lake, Mike and Carol were smart enough to hide all of Penny’s Mushabellies (I tend to silence them forever), but I did get to play some Wiffie (I left some pretty good tooth marks on the ball, too).

With Heather, Mike, Carol and Penny at camp.

While we were staying there, Heather went to a local pet and feed store and bought me a new toy of my own, a stuffed one with a squeaker. It was the first new toy I’ve had in quite a while, in fact. And Mike bought himself a sweatshirt and a pair of scissors at America’s first “5 and 10” in Northville, NY.  Apparently the American economy is booming.

Yes, it was great to be back in the U.S.A.

 

 

 

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Chloë Hikes Canada, Eh!

Walking in Toronto

Apparently Americans get more of everything in Canada. More poutine and Canadian bacon, for starters. And our dollar is worth about a dollar and a quarter,  making me even more priceless than I am in the USA. I was told an American mile is little more than 1.6 kilometers, but I think it must be more like 3 km, because every time I went for a walk up here, it seemed to take forever. My normal one hour afternoon walk invariably turned into an hour and 20 minutes or more. Even worse, weather reporters kept saying it was 28 or 30 degrees outside, but to me it always felt like it was 90, with the humidity making it even worse. I felt tired and worn out the entire week we were there.

Still, we did explore some areas of Ontario we hadn’t seen on our previous excursions. In Toronto we explored Taylor Creek Park, where we were able to walk on both sides of the creek and the ravine was lush and fairy quiet despite being the middle of the city. Heather wouldn’t let me near the creek, though, because she didn’t want me taking my muddy feet into her sister Robin’s swanky 13th-floor apartment. I had to be on my best behavior while we were there.

Diving into the Humber River.

Walking the plank.

Things were looser when we visited her brother Robert. The stairs to his apartment were steep and slippery, so Heather carried me up and down every time we visited there. Robert went hiking with us, and when we walked along the Humber Valley Heritage Trail, no one prevented me from getting my feet wet and muddy. After all, there were a couple of pink plastic chairs in the river already, so I figured I’d find my own spot to lie down in the water. Didn’t have time for any digging, though. I also had to climb some steep stairs that I ultimately navigated by walking up the rain gutters on the side.

The next day we had our longest hike of the week, to a place with a waterfall called the Forks of the Credit (River), where it was a hilly hour in and another hilly hour back. It must have been pretty strenuous, because we saw several people who turned back before even getting to the falls, and on the way back we passed a mountain biker who had crashed and had to be rescued by what looked like the whole fire department with an ambulance and several other emergency vehicles. We got out of there before anybody started asking questions or checking IDs.

Despite the lengthy walk and excitement, I had a red-letter day: I got many treats, a cup of vanilla ice cream from Heather, and sat on Mike’s lap in the back seat of the car for the whole trip in both directions. Much more than I would have gotten on a Sunday afternoon in the states, eh?

Chloë Dives into Water Sports

Not comfortable enough!

The traveling part of our cross-country trip can be tough on all of us. Mike’s legs and butt hurt from sleeping in so many different beds. Heather gets rankled when damn New York drivers cut her off or, even worse, tailgate her car on city streets even when she’s already doing over the speed limit! And I get irritated every time something disrupts my daily routine so I don’t get treats on time, which has happened far too often for my liking.

One routine we followed at home in Seattle was Heather cleaning my ears every single week in order to ward off my too-frequent ear infections. The trip interrupted  our habit, however. Sure enough, soon after arriving in Syracuse I found myself in the Jamesville clinic of Dr. Gary Rothman, the vet Mike and Heather used when they lived in Syracuse way back in the last century. In fact, they were still in the clinic’s computer system, and everyone who treated me there seemed very impressed that we had such a low client number (from 26 years and two dogs ago). Anyway, the medicine that Heather dutifully squeezed into my left ear twice a day seemed to do the trick, and all the yucky stuff and the itching went away almost immediately. We will do better on the trip back, Heather vowed.

Anyway, I felt much better by the time we went to Brantingham Lake to visit my Alaska pals Debbie and Juneau George and the rest of Debbie’s family. Her brother Jaimo took us on a long, slow boat ride around the whole lake and the next day on a long car ride on forest roads. I got to sit on Heather’s lap the whole way in the car and most of the time on the boat ride, so I was happy, even when I had to pee real bad and there was no stopping.

I reciprocated those favors by showing everybody how to get to a nearby place called Shingle Mill Falls that I had discovered the day before. No waves or lapping water there, so I was able to walk both up and downstream with ease, leaping between the rocks and changing the course of Otter Creek by digging new channels in several locations. 

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Lest anyone think I went overboard with this newfound devotion to water sports, a few days later I respectfully declined to be lured down the steps into Tuscarora Lake for a swim, nor did I jump into a motorboat with Mike and Heather to make a beeline across the lake to a concert on the opposite shore. I was perfectly happy to snooze in the car for a couple of hours and rest up for the next phase of my exciting vacation.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.