Category Archives: Holidays

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.

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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.

Chloë Celebrates a Best-Ever Holiday

I needn’t have worried about the tight quarters in front of our fireplace for stocking-filling. Santa came through just fine for me. In fact, I had already enjoyed two special events by the time the big day arrived.

Re-gifted her toys.

Re-gifted her toys.

Mike and I were just walking down our block one day, minding our own business, when Merrie’s mom Jane came running out of her house and calling to Mike. She wanted to re-gift me with two brand-new toys that had been given to her Basset hound Merrie. She was certain Merrie would chew them. Being somewhat of an expert on toy-chewing myself, however, I doubt that scenario, but are you kidding? I wasn’t saying no. Although Mike told Jane that if I wasn’t interested in the toys, he would drop them off at the Seattle Animal Shelter, by the time we got back to our house, I had already knocked them out of Mike’s hands, scooped them up and claimed them as my own. I was so excited.

Soft green boney

Soft green boney

I immediately adopted both. One is a small orange bear that I have so far been unable to silence from its squeaking, despite my many efforts. The other is a fabric-covered green bone that has “Been there chewed that” stitched on one side. This one was easy to quiet and thus far has become a popular participant in indoor fetch sessions. Sometimes the soft green bone even supplies a good target for some tug-o-war with Mike. Heather doesn’t do tug-o-war. I haven’t named the orange bear or the green bone yet, but I’m working on it.

My good fortune continued. A couple of evenings later, my new UPS delivery person Donna came to my own front door! I heard her truck come down the block and park, and as Mike looked out the window to verify my warning, Donna was actually bounding down our walk, delivering a package for Heather and biscuits right to my doorstep. She gave me two, my first personal double-biscuit delivery since my favorite Mr. Brown Kevin left the route a bit more than a year ago.

Chanukah gelt for Chloë.

Chloë surveys her Chanukah gelt.

Come Christmas morning, my stocking was full. I got Paul Newman’s personal dog treats from Charlie and all-natural chewies from my aunts Susie and Debby. Mike gave me lots of extra treats all day, a rarity for that tightwad. And Heather, who stayed home from work all week (in a sneak preview of what this “retirement” thing might be like), gave me one “Get Out of Jail Free” card for when I get in trouble on her watch and took me on several long walks in the park, just the two of us, followed by some power-napping. With all of this loot coming on top of the comfy new mattress in the bedroom that has now returned to easy dachshund accessibility, my stocking haul was more than I could possibly ask for.

It was nice to have my pack all together and under the same roof all day. Over two days of the Christmas weekend, the three of us (along with my pal Charlie on Christmas Day) hiked to six of my favorite fetch locations in the park, pausing for some spirited throw-and-return at each stop. The six were Chloë’s Lane, the Hill Below the 500 Area, Behind the Visitors Center, the Cemetery, the South Meadow and the Capehart Fence. I just hope Animal Control Officers aren’t faithful readers of my blog. The potential for drone surveillance worries me.

That’s why I’ve decided to lie low ’til 2017. Happy New Year.

 

Chloë Rides a Perfect Storm of Holiday Cheer

Prowling for tasty morsels.

Prowling for tasty morsels.

I know I’m prone to complaining, but sometimes I am forced to admit I lead a pretty charmed life. Consider these examples. Just days after Mike put me on a special pre-holiday diet, and barely one hour after he had deftly steered me away from the latest feast our  generous neighbor had laid out along Wendy* Way, a stranger approached us on the sidewalk near the park entrance. She was a catering worker looking for an event at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center at the other end of the park, and she asked Mike if he could point her in the right direction. That was all the break I needed.

As Mike launched into a lengthy and no doubt confusing description of her easiest route through the darkening park, his attention was diverted sufficiently that I was able to maneuver him and myself into prime position for grabbing a piece of toast and a good hunk of lemon chiffon cake. My good friend Wendy* (not her real name) really has a good eye for baked goods.

Mike was about to give the young lady one of his park maps when she waved him off and rushed through the park gate perusing her phone. That was OK, since I had pretty much eaten my fill by then, and dinner was less than an hour away.

Besides, another perfect storm was brewing. Just a few days later, Mike was doing a good job of not letting me anywhere near the freshly served smorgasbord along Wendy* Way. That is, until he saw a stranger with two big dogs about to cross the street and into our path. Wanting to avoid the fearsome threesome, Mike reluctantly gave in and let me turn left over to the Wendy Way side of the park gate. The way the scraps were scattered all over the sidewalk and grass, he could not possibly divert me from them all. I nabbed some Italian bread and cheese on the way through.

Chasing down brown.l

Chasing down brown.l

And wait, there’s more. Not wanting to make an about-face and walk down Wendy* Way a second time, Mike marched us right up to the stop sign at the corner, and there, just two houses down Magnolia Boulevard, was my favorite big brown truck. Excited, I pulled Mike toward it like a sled dog, but as we got close my heart sank. The truck was parked for a delivery, but it wasn’t my pal Donna who got out with the package. Still, this new UPS guy smiled at me as he returned to the truck, making me think he might give me something anyway, when I noticed he was not alone. Then Donna emerged from the back of the truck with a wide smile and big hello for me, and two biscuits to boot. I’m hoping to see a lot more of her before the holiday rush subsides.  More deliveries means more treats, so I’m good for business.

Order restored!

Order restored!

Maybe there’s something to this notion of holiday magic after all. A few days ago I came back to the house after a whole day of being out, either on a walk in the park or a trip in the car. As I searched every room to see what may have fallen on the floor while I was gone, I noticed that the new, big, tall bed had miraculously shrunk back to its normal size, making it a lot easier for me to get in and out. I still can’t figure out what happened to shrink it, but it was a great Christmas present for my middle-aged knees and spinal column every time I forget that there’s “NO JUMPING.” Thank you, Macy’s, for putting things back the way they was.

Close quarters for Santa

Close quarters for Santa

In fact, I would be fine if the lowered mattress height turns out to be my only holiday gift this year.  Not that I don’t appreciate gifts, particularly the edible kind. I’m just being realistic. I can see with my very own eyes that my stocking has already been hung by the chimney with care. But I’m not at all sure Old Saint Nick will be able to squeeze his fat, jolly self between the chimney and the couch in order to fill it. The new living room alignment may be good for watching TV, but turning the back of your couch on Santa can’t be a good idea.

 

Chloë Counts Her Blessings

Even though my UPS-delivered bickies were down this holiday season, the results in other areas were very favorable overall.

Aunts Susie and Debby from Syracuse came through again, this time with a whole selection of delectable treats. And my good friend Charlie came over for Christmas dinner, bringing me even more presents. If only Mike weren’t rationing them out so slowly, I would be able to really enjoy all my holiday loot. But around here, they always make me work for treats, dammit.

Like this: Before letting me enjoy the treats from my stocking, they buried all the good stuff deep inside and made me find it!  I had to worm my way all the way to the toes to get anything.

Putting herself into it.

Putting herself into it.

Don’t worry, I found them, and my Syracuse aunts sent me a fine selection of jerky logs, snausages and steak-shaped  items. Thank you, aunts, you know I love meat products of all kinds and descriptions.

Holiday treats from the Cuse.

Holiday charcuterie from the Cuse.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries

But I appreciate balance, too, which is why I’m thankful that Mike includes some raw vegetables in every one of my meals, and my vegetarian pal Charlie always finds the healthiest veggie treats for me.This time he gave me dried sweet potatoes cut like crinkly french fries. I love eating vegetables, too. In fact, I love pretty much anything that’s edible when I really think about it. Those sweet potatoes go down about as quickly as anything that’s meat-flavored. Or cheese, for that matter. Dairy products? Of course! And sweets, sweets are good.

Aunt Susie also sent some of her famous holiday cookies, but these were for Heather and Mike. Mostly Mike, based on what I’ve observed. I’ve seen him sneak into the kitchen at night and sneak a couple of Susie’s cookies into the bedroom after Heather is snoring sleeping. I couldn’t test any of these cookies, I was told, because they all had chocolate in them, and chocolate is not good for dogs. (By the way, I’d like to see some documented proof of this. This could be urban legend, for all I know, and I would have missed out on a lot of potential good stuff. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about hot fudge sundaes.)

Dachshund Cookie

Broken dachshund cookie mostly pieced together

Aunt Susie wanted us to know that some of the cookies were shaped like dachshunds instead of the traditional Christmas tree. It was hard to tell at first, because every dachshund cookie broke into pieces during shipping — via USPS, of course. I’d be remiss if I did not point out to Aunt Susie that had she chosen UPS as her carrier, the dachshund cookies would have arrived intact and the real dachshund on the premises might have had the lagniappe of having a large brown bickie delivered to the front door along with her aunts’s gracious holiday gifts. On the other hand, most of the people who saw the dachshund cookie thought it looked like  a Springer spaniel.

Chloe Under Ass

Chloe under ass

As it was, I managed to make do with the treats that I got. Even more than the food, I enjoyed having  lots of time over the holidays at home with Heather. When she’s around the house every day like she is on weekends, there is always more walking, more ball-throwing, more treating, more degrees on the thermostat and more stuff to do all day. Sometimes I am having so much fun that Mike has to literally sit on me to rein me in. I’m losing so much daytime napping that I’m spent, and I’m looking forward to going to bed early on New Year’s Eve. What the heck? See you next year.

 

 

Chloë Searches for a Brown Christmas

Training my new UPS driver is not going so well. When first I met the new guy, Craig, he seemed friendly enough, but he gave me only one bickie, no matter how many times I chased his truck down the block and stared at him. Plus, since our meeting occurred down the block in front of Merrie’s house, I’m not sure that he knows in which house I live. In fact, since that day, we’ve had at least two UPS deliveries to our front door, both apparently coming when Mike wasn’t home, since he did not personally witnessed any of my trademark obsessive-berserk UPS truck reaction, sometimes referred to as “Chloë’s going brown on us again.” Multiple deliveries with no bickies left on top of the package can’t be totally chalked up to wind gusts. Clearly, this new guy doesn’t get it yet. I resolved to do something about that.

On the Boulevard

On the Boulevard

At least every other day, when Mike and I went out for our afternoon walk, I steered Mike away from the park and southward through the streets of Magnolia, tracking the scent of brown trucks. One day along Magnolia Boulevard I spied one, driven not by my new friend Craig but another driver, one who I’ve met and received treats from. On this day, she had a helper, and she sent him to our side of the street with a package, so I dragged Mike back several houses to the spot where he would cross the sidewalk. He saw me and smiled—and he was still smiling when he climbed back into the brown truck alongside the driver. She checked behind her for oncoming cars, released the brake, merged into the traffic lane and pulled around the corner, never making eye contact with a dumbfounded dachshund on the sidewalk across from her.

Dravus tower

Dravus tower

When I sense brown trucks are in the neighborhood, I usually try to steer Mike up to the water tower on Dravus, where a couple of UPS routes seem to cross. The brown truck fumes linger around there, for some reason, because we’ve had multiple visits lately without actually seeing a brown truck in the vicinity. The last time I plowed right past the water tower without stopping, descending the hill on the other side and hustling pasts the play fields in the valley. Unfortunately, at that point we got caught in a sudden, heavy downpour of rain, freezing rain and sleet. Mike and I were drenched, and a long way from home.

That’s when my instincts kicked in. Before we reached Magnolia Village, I guided us on a serpentine course through the Pop Mounger Pool, Catherine Blaine School, the Magnolia Community Center and the Magnolia Playfields, and then past the Chase bank, the fire station, the automobile repair garage, the bus stop and the dry cleaner, right to the door of my Edward Jones broker Caroline. It made sense: It was a familiar place where it was dry and where I am always treated like a queen (meaning lots of high-quality treats). Only then did I find out the real reason I had been lured so strongly over the mountains (well, over the big hill where the water tower is) and through a fierce storm to this particular place: Caroline told Mike that Kevin, my recently retired UPS Guy, had actually been in her office recently as her client, and that he looked great. Good for him, I thought, but what about me and other Magnolia dogs, the ones he left behind with no bickies?

So close and yet so far...

So close and yet so far…

But as the dark days of December wore on, I began to accept my fate. Brown trucks drove up our street, stopped right outside our door, and I slept right through. On walks, I saw brown trucks turning left and let Mike steer me to the right. Finally, on the day before Christmas Eve, I saw that same brown truck on Magnolia Boulevard. For two blocks, I pulled Mike toward it, and then directly into the paths of both the driver and her assistant as they hurried to make deliveries, neither making any contact with my pleading eyes. They must received a directive from headquarters, I figured, pressure from above to speed deliveries along, with no time for socializing. Amazon and other mega-clients demand it, or they might decide to buy some planes and trucks and deliver the boxes themselves.

But I digress. After I failed to get noticed in two more passes of the brown truck, I sat down on the sidewalk and stared back at it forlornly, waiting helplessly for a driver to provide some hint of recognition, disappointed when nothing came my way. When Mike told me to “leave it” and to follow him away from the truck, I didn’t argue. I realized that my  puppy-hood was really over. I didn’t believe in my own personal Santa Claus anymore, and I worried it would be a blue Christmas without him.