Category Archives: Holidays

Chloë Has Herself a Merry Little Christmas

Trying to look cute.

I’ve spent this month spreading lots of good cheer around the neighborhood. Even through the dreary December weather, strangers will still stop to marvel at my cuteness. They see my jaunty walk and they smile. My new orange-lighted collar has added another dimension to my appeal in this season of lights. People with young puppies try to practice their socialization skills on me, like I’m a  Santa Claus or something. Sorry, my holiday cheer extends only so far.

Chloë auditions at the Rosebud Motel.

This year we got out to check out some holiday  light displays. After touring Magnolia with Caroline and Schatzi last week, one afternoon we drove over to Queen Anne Hill to check out a replica of  the Rosebud Motel from Schitt’s Creek (Mike is a fan). Then, with a lengthy session of fetch at Carkeek Park in between, we did a motor tour of the Olympic Manor neighborhood in north Ballard that gets itself really decked out with lights for the holidays. Even I must have been amazed at this magnificent show, because I didn’t emit one whine in the entire 45 minutes Heather and Mike drove the car around the neighborhood with me in the back seat. The whole excursion barely delayed my dinner time.

Secret Christmas Tree 2020

My only holiday season disappointment was the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park. While the same tree in the South Meadow was decorated once again, the poor thing looked like it was on its last legs, a skeleton of its former self. Perhaps it was another victim of last summer’s drought and record high temperatures, although the tree right next to it seemed to have survived just fine. We’ll see what happens to it next year.

Secret Christmas Tree 2021

At home, however, my personal Christmas tree is thriving. Just check out how much this young sapling has grown in just one year! If Mike can groom this red cedar to its full maturity, a trip to the other Washington to become the National Christmas Tree at the White House is certainly possible.

Chloë’s tree 2020.

Chloë’s tree 2021,

Waiting for Santa.

My holiday season ended well. On Christmas morning I awoke to find three giant bags of high-quality treats (Snausages!!) in my stocking, courtesy of my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby, and when dinner time rolled around, turkey skin and gravy (two of my favorites!) returned to my menu. Later on, while I was asleep, all snug in my bed, about 6 inches of snow fell and it got real cold, so the snow will likely stick around for a while, a perfect way to make the season bright. I could dig it, and I did.

Digging the snow,

Chloë Talks Turkey

Smokey looking abnormally  mellow, with Chloë and Pumpkin.

Thanksgiving at my country getaway was mellow compared to past visits. Smokey is four, finally old enough to know when he needs to take his nose out of my butt and leave me alone. Pumpkin and I have always been simpatico. And the feline Mr. Fuzz didn’t show his furry face downstairs except at night, when he snuck down when the rest of us were in the bedroom with the door closed. Smokey and Pumpkin, apparently more insecure than on our past visits, had their beds moved from the living room to the floor next to where Heather was sleeping. At least this ploy kept Smokey quiet all night, rather than barking every time a  car passed or the wind stirred outside.

Sniffing out Beaver Lake

Although it rained parts of every day we were there, we did get in some good walking, once at Beaver Lake Preserve in Sammamish and on both the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, each about 10 minutes by car from the getaway. Pumpkin came with us once (she’d rather sleep) and Smokey a couple of times, until Heather got tired of him barking and lunging at every dog he sees. Smokey’s a big guy, and Heather’s arms were getting tired from yanking him back. The final straw came when Smokey tried to climb into the front seat while Heather was driving. It was a lot harder for Mike and Heather to push back Smokey than me, I’m sure, and Heather was screaming at him. After that incident, Smokey’s hiking days were over, at least for this visit.

Crossing a trestle on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.

Because we weren’t having Thanksgiving dinner at home, I had been concerned I might be shortchanged on my normally ample rations of Thanksgiving leftovers.  But I needn’t have worried. I got plenty of gravy-laden dishes and casseroles to lick on the big day, and the next day all the leftovers came back to Seattle with us. I will be feasting on chopped-up gizzard, cartilage, liver, skin and turkey meat mixed in with my kibble right through to Christmas. It’s that most wonderful time of the year.

Chloë Counts Her Blessings

A brief rest at Carkeek Park.

It was mostly a quiet holiday season, but it had its moments.  There was lots more  turkey in my meals, for starters. There were a couple of trips to Carkeek Park on sunny days when we could see the mountains and fetch my ball from caroms off the Rock. And I enjoyed brief visits from Caroline, my personal financial advisor, and Ty, Isla and Micah, the kids who live on either side of our house. 

Of course, visits from those four coincided with a day-long visit from my little pal Schatzi, still sticking her nose into my business every chance she got. Why all those kids like Schatzi better than they like me remains a mystery to me. Their attitude changes, however, when we walk around the neighborhood or in the park with Heather leading and the kids holding onto the leashes. Then I am much more desirable to them, because when they are holding the other end of the leash I do what they want me to, unlike nose-to-the-ground Schatzi who constantly pulls them in all directions. But their warm feelings last only as long as we’re walking. When we get back, Schatzi gets all their squeals and attention. As far as I’m concerned, she can have it, frankly. I’m better than I used to be, but kids are still not high on my list.

Chuckit Ultra Ball Small (2 Pack)Oh, I also don’t want to neglect mentioning the fabulous gifts I found when Mike emptied my stocking on the living room floor the afternoon of Christmas Day! I found several different kinds of treats from Mike and Heather, my Syracuse aunts and Caroline, plus a set of two orange Chuckit! balls from Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby. Even though these Chuckit! balls are the smaller size that Mike hates (because I enjoy pushing them under furniture or gnawing on them instead of bringing them back when he tosses them), I just starred at them sitting on a shelf in the living room and whined until he took both out of their packaging and rolled them along the floor for me to chase. Too bad, Mike, I am into it! Sometimes I get both of the new balls and Wiffie rolling around at the same time, which really makes Mike crazy. What fun!

Chloë pauses with Ranger the Reindeer.

The other unexpected gift I got for Christmas came from Ranger, a bernadoodle puppy who arrived about a year ago to live down our block in the house where MacDuff and MacKenzie used to live, next door to Jane and Merrie. It’s a stuffed reindeer toy that squeaks in three places, and it immediately became my chosen partner for tug, replacing Lamby as my favorite victim for a full-throttle fling. Heather named it Ranger the Reindeer, after the dog who gave it to me. That Ranger is friendly enough, but he’s already too big for me to play with, so when Mike or Heather stop outside his fence to say hi and talk to him, I just sniff the lawn and pretend to look the other way.

Anyway, I loved his gift, and I couldn’t wait to start tossing it around the living room. But my toy reindeer sprung a small hole in his belly when Mike took out one of those pesky plastic fasteners, and he needed immediate medical attention. Luckily, Ranger’s fur was a close color match to masking tape that Mike had bought to cover up a spot on his car. Heather taped up Ranger right away, and soon he was good as new, ready to be throttled and hidden from Schatzi when she came over to play. I get first dibs.

Sharing the chair with Ranger the Reindeer.

More good news for Ranger the Reindeer:  He fits comfortably into one of the drink holders on my personal camp chair, and thus he will remain visible far into the new year, long after the other holiday decorations are packed in their plastic crate and exiled to the garage. For the rest of us, there will be brighter days ahead.

Chloë Starts a New Holiday Tradition

Sniffing out the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park.

‘Tis the season, all right. In our house, we have been reviving and expanding all of our holiday traditions. The big plastic storage bin that holds all the lights, ornaments and puppets came out of the garage while we were still eating Thanksgiving turkey. Not only are the mantelpiece and shutters aglow, but this year the trellises on either side of the front door have lights. A winter wonderland, indeed.

We were all happy to see Discovery Park’s Secret Christmas Tree return to the South Meadow to further brighten the pandemic pall. The tree, decorated with ornaments and a string of colored lights powered by a solar battery, first appeared two Decembers ago. Last year, some Scrooge must have cancelled it.

Chloë’s tree in its natural habitat..

News media report that sales of live Christmas trees are booming this year, as people seek a little joy, solace and tradition in these gloomy times. And so I decided to dig up my own living tree, choosing a tiny cedar sapling that must have been blown by the wind into a nesting place in our front yard. After diligently tending it through the growing season, I had Mike dig it up, pot it and bring it inside to add to our holiday display.

That smiling elf penguin moved right in with the tree, and  Mike promised to get a string of lights for it once it’s a little bigger. The tree will move in its pot into the portable greenhouse outside the kitchen door for the winter, and Mike will replant it outside in the spring.

First ornament.

Now that Mike has mounted my favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer puppet on top of a cabinet where I cannot hope to reach it, my live Christmas tree will be my new favorite holiday tradition. Well, my favorite right after that special moment of opening all the goodies that fall out of my stocking on Christmas morning, that is. I can smell that there’s already something inside my stocking that’s been hung by the chimney with care, but I have been on my best behavior in order not to spoil any surprises that might be planned. While I’m not expecting anything close to a new car with a big red bow or anything else that I see advertised on TV at this time of year, a couple of biscuits and a tasty rawhide chewy would be nice.

Holiday mantel with Chloë’s tree (on right) and stocking (lower center).

Chloë Goes Cold Turkey

Chloë with her new best friend.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I was disappointed, of course, when I found out my pal Charlie wouldn’t be coming to our Thanksgiving dinner this year, as his cauliflower parmesan has been a Turkey Day tradition, and always a tasty leftover whenever I got to lick the remains of a plate or casserole dish of it. Other than Heather’s special no-sausage stuffing for vegetarian Charlie (which leaves out the best parts, as far as I’m concerned) and pie, Charlie’s own dish was his main attraction. This year Charlie had to eat his cauliflower parmesan alone in St. Louis, so there must have been leftovers. I hope he’ll send me some via UPS. since my driver biscuit deliveries could use a holiday boost.

While missing the cauliflower parmesan, I was still able to enjoy the spoils of Mike and Heather’s annual turkey feast. For me, it’s actually a month-long celebration that starts on Thanksgiving and continues through Christmas and the New Year, ending only when the last remnants of turkey broth and giblets disappear from my kibble. And  a plethora of gravy-covered plates to be licked in between.

Cauliflower Parmesan by Charlie (file photo).

So how much do I love turkey? Let me count the ways! I crave dark meat most, because it’s the moistest, and I’m partial to the fattier thigh meat than the drier leg. On the other paw, I would gladly take either. Breast meat is OK, too, but if it’s been warmed up too many times before it gets to me, it can become stringy and stick in between my teeth. Bones, of course, are off  my menu, but gristle and cartilage can be tasty. Mike tries to remove as much congealed fat as possible before I get it, dammit, but when it comes to skin, he filters out only the fattiest  specimens. There’s no doubt that the fatty and flavorful skin is my favorite part, particularly after being gently roasted with Mike’s secret turkey paste slathered all over it.

Beyond plate-licking, I didn’t get any major windfall of turkey in my diet last week, just a steady stream mixed in with my regular fare, and I expect it will continue for the next several weeks. If I’m lucky, though,right after Mike and Heather’s first holiday meal I may get a few real pieces as a treat with dinner or instead of my usual 2 o’clock jerky. I just have to be careful when all the treats and the enhanced diet together get a little too rich even for me.  Onc year I wound up having a poop the next day that was so rank that after Heather picked it and had to carry it home, she didn’t want to have anything to do with me for a day and a half.

I learned my lesson. With apologies to John Lennon, I deduced that cold turkey/ can leave me/ (pause) with the runs. 

 

Chloë Squeaks Through the New Year

Chloë with her treasure

I’ve always been pretty good at finding other dogs’ balls out on the trail, but normally the tattered tennis balls I rerieve with don’t in any way measure up to the higher-quality balls I have, let alone all the ones that I’ve lost. That is, the balls that Mike and Heather lost and I was unable to find. But  a few days after Christmas, I hit pay dirt. Coming home from a walk with Heather, I spied a spanking new, blue-and-orange sphere that must have been in the holiday stocking of some other neighborhood hound. In the true spirit of Christmas, I scarfed it up and carried it home.

I was SO proud of my find, in fact, that I ran inside to show it to Mike, who unexpectedly decided it was small enough to play with inside the house. What fun! When I’m not happily gnawing on it, I’m parading it around the house to show it off or, even better, pushing it under some piece of furniture where I can’t retrieve myself it with my paws or snout. That’s when I get Mike. He’s always so pleased to get it for me.

Chuckit Ultra Squeaker, medium and small

My good luck only got better. When we finally got around to emptying our own Christmas stockings hanging by the fireplace, I finally got a good look at the ball that aunts Susie and Debby sent me (along with great edible gifts). It turned out to be a bigger brother of the one I had just found. It’s a Chuckit! Ultra Squeaker medium, while the one I found is a Chuckit! Ultra Squeaker small. I must confess I like them both. I can get a good gnawing grip on either one, and they are both versatile enough to use indoors or out. The best part of having two is they have different squeaks. The small one sounds like a tiny bird, the medium more like a duck. Nobody has sent me a large one to test yet, but I’m thinking crow. In this brilliant “how-to” video, I’m playing with the smaller ball.

 

The Leave-It Place

Whenever I drive Heather and/or Mike nuts with incessant squeaking and/or gnawing (which makes an obnoxious sucking sound), Heather puts the two balls in the drink holders of my personal camp chair. She calls them “the Leave-It Place,” because that’s where the balls sit when I’m supposed to leave them alone. This arrangement was OK for short stretches, as long as I got to keep a close eye on my trophies. Unfortunately, it only took me a few days to break the mesh on one of the drink holders by swatting at it from below, trying to pop the ball out. Sorry, Heather. Mike will fix it.

Chloë guards her balls.

 

 

Chloë Does Her Laundry

Sniffing out Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday, the  only day of the year when the whole pack is in the kitchen all day long. From my perch in my camp chair, I can see, hear and smell everything that’s going on when Mike and Heather put dinner together. There are always lots of pots, plates, bowls and spoons to lick, from morning til night. In the late afternoon, before dinner, Charlie usually comes over, and it’s not  even a Sunday. That’s how I know this must be some kind of a big deal, and when I realize I’ll be getting several weeks of chopped turkey gizzards and barbecued skin mixed in with my food. Yum.

This year after Thanksgiving, we had a lazy weekend. Only Scott came over to watch the football game on Saturday, which was fine with me. Since their team was winning for a change, they were too giddy to pay much attention to me. Which was fine, since it gave Heather and me a free morning to ourselves, which we took advantage of by running all my dirty toys through the washer and dryer. They made quite a racket in the dryer, but they all looked quite a bit cleaner when their click-clacking, bouncing ordeal was over. Lamby has never looked so good.

Lamby (top left) and friends return from the wash.

Chloë Pines for Brown

When UPS is near, the waiting is the hardest part.

With Santa Monkey and Rudolph

As much as I enjoyed this holiday season, I also noticed something different. Rudolph the Reindeer and Santa Monkey didn’t provoke the same enthusiasm I showed for them in the past. Approaching 8 years old, am  I too grown up for Santa and kisses under the mistletoe?

No, something else put the pall on my holiday: Far fewer personal encounters with UPS drivers.  In past years I’ve stalked them through Magnolia, sniffing out their trails. This season, not so much. Needless to say, “No-Presents” Heather wasn’t generating many deliveries, but that’s a given. It’s all the other deliveries to neighbors on our street that I was missing. Once the drivers get to know me, they may give me a biscuit even when the delivery is for someone else. When I  hung out in Mike’s office all day, I could hear the brown trucks two blocks away, and I could make a barking beeline to the front door in time for Mike to get me out in the street and position myself so the driver couldn’t miss seeing me.

But this past December, spending all my time downstairs in front of the fireplace in Heather’s work area, apparently Brown sound waves cannot penetrate. I don’t think UPS deliveries in our neighborhood were fewer; when my driver buddy Donna delivered a package to Heather the other day (I got two bickies!), she said she was still working extra hours well after Christmas. The Brown trucks are still rumbling by, I just can’t hear them like I used to. I can’t hear much of anything down there, especially when the fireplace blower is on. I don’t even bark anymore when Tony the mailman drops stuff through the slot in the front door.

Biscuit Delivery Machine

While I love hanging out with Heather all day, I realized that being sealed off from the outside world  on our lower level resulted in fewer treats and less love from UPS drivers. And this comes at a particularly bad time, because recently UPS drivers and the dogs who follow them have been getting positive national publicity (Huffington Post and Facebook ).  So, with my diminished exposure to the UPS drivers in our neighborhood, I don’t foresee any photo ops in my immediate future. I sense a missed opportunity to boost my brand.

Guarding the stockings.

Overall, being downstairs with Heather all day has been great. Compared to Mike’s office, it’s warmer and more comfortable, two conditions that always top my list. But it was not until the holiday season ended that I recognized the unintended consequence of my womb-like new lair. Yes, as comfortable and warm as I was, less brown made my holiday more blue.

Chloë Chills for the Holidays

Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening.

I have been so busy the past few weeks that I simply haven’t had the time to sit down and dictate any notes for Mike to type out for me. So let me recall some highlights and catch up.

Pre-holiday festivities were light this season. Mike and Heather saved money and time by merging their annual holiday office parties (one employee per office), and I was the only outside guest. What a celebration! We enjoyed some extra string cheese as hors d’oeuvres and dined on roast pork with stuffing and, of course, sautéed kale, the hip side dish of the year. Although there was no Secret Santa gift swap, I’m happy to report nobody got too drunk and made a fool of him or her self.

Christmas Eve brought two storms to town, the first of the snow variety (very rare in temperate Seattle) and the second a visit from Heather’s sister Sammy, who is a whirlwind all her own. I mean she’s a perpetually high-energy person, at least compared to the slow and dour pace I normally seen from the people around this house, unless Mike gets excited during a Syracuse basketball game or Heather starts ranting at the PBS Newshour.

Winter wonderland on Christmas morning.

The festive Sammy is often whistling or singing around the house, and this time she apparently infected Mike with the musical bug. On Christmas Day she and Mike belted out a duet of “Winter Wonderland” on the telephone to Mike’s Mom Rosalie and my aunts Susie and Debby in Syracuse. Luckily, the You Tube cameras were not rolling at the time, but I got to see it live and in person. I wasn’t sure whether to cry or laugh, so I did a little of both. There were no encores.

We did get quite a bit of snow on Christmas Eve and Day, and I really enjoyed frolicking on the slippery trails and through the meadows in the park. Snow lasted in our back yard and in the park for a few days, but the sidewalks were pretty clear before Heather was able to shovel the whole neighborhood. I could see she was disappointed about that. Several nights of turkey, potatoes, stuffing and gravy alleviated her anxiety. I got to lick plates!

3-Chloe Gets New Ball

Santa brought Chloë a new ball.

As far as gifts go, Susie and Debby sent me excellent treats (some that taste like meat loaf, one of my favorites!), and a mouth-sized, gnaw-able ball that I immediately adopted as an alternative to Wiffie for inside-the-house throwing. I like the size and feel of the new ball in my mouth, but pawing it against the floor doesn’t put any backspin on the ball, like I can do with the Wiffie.  Therefore, within a few days of Christmas, Wiffie reclaimed his Interior Top Ball position, and deservedly so.

It’s a good thing Susie and Debby came through with their gifts, because nobody else did. Not my so-called friends (and you know who you are!) and not even Mike and Heather, my alleged caregivers. Apparently they couldn’t even find a special treat or a Mushabelly in the house to put in my stocking. Maybe this retirement thing brings an austerity budget along with it. They better make it up to me for my birthday in February.

4-Chloe and Yule Log on TV-002

Chloë lounges in front of the Yule Log..

Anyway, I survived this holiday disappointment, and on the first weekend after New Year’s we headed out to my foothills getaway for a few days to recharge the batteries. I always have a good time out there, even if I do have to share Heather’s affections with the resident dog Pumpkin. I cut the Pump some slack because she idolizes me so much.  Therefore, I don’t mind that Pumpkin goes on walks with us and naps on Heather’s other flank on the couch. But I’m not as liberal with my feelings for the cat Mr. Fuzz, who wisely stayed upstairs during this entire visit, or the latest arrival in the affection sweepstakes: Pepe, a donkey. Luckily, Pepe stayed in the barn, where I don’t go unless forced, so I missed meeting him this time, but I feared his presence nonetheless after Heather described him to Mike and me as “cute.” Hey, I’m the cute one around here, and I don’t want Heather or anyone else to forget it for an instant. #MeToo!

 

Chloë Sends Holiday Greetings

A wirehair wiener dog plows through with gifts..

 

Dachshund through the snow

Demanding that we play,

O’er the fields we throw

Laughing all the way.

Treats below my tree

Make my spirits bright

What fun to be home in my bed

With a PBB tonight!

Well, that’s about as creative as I get this week. Mike and Heather have settled into a long winter’s nap, and I am left, snug in my crate, to ruminate about everything.

While I’m doing that, I wish happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year to all.