Category Archives: Milestones

Chloë Goes Yard

A perfect spot for fetch?

I found a great new location for playing fetch. Increases in park use and various critter distractions have put a severe crimp in my favorite game. It has gotten hard to find a secluded place where I can just concentrate on the ball. That’s why the park’s maintenance yard driveway was such a find. I can’t believe we haven’t used it before.

It’s in a relatively low-traffic area and fenced in on two sides, should I entertain any thought of escape. It has enough slope to allow me to catch Heather’s throw and roll it back to her from my selected location. At the hour we walk in the late afternoon, nobody is ever working there, so we’re not going to be chased away. And for ball security, Mike can stand in front of the fence and kick away any loose throws trying to sneak through underneath it.

Delivering a strike.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened twice already. The first time, I am forced to admit, it was my fault. Mike had not yet assumed his assigned post, so when I pounced upon Heather’s hard, skipping throw, I knocked it forward and under the fence into the maintenance yard, where it continued to roll until it came to rest on the far side of the lot.  It was fenced in.

Don’t do me like that!

The next morning Heather and I walked back there, and the gate was open. At first I didn’t see my ball, but once we walked around the yard a bit I found it under a parked dump truck. I carried it home in triumph.

That’s why we decided to station Mike in front of the fence the next time. And indeed, that’s what we did when we returned there a few days later. Mike dutifully stood in front of the fence at the point of the tallest gap at the bottom, ready to block any throw that managed to get past me. With Heather throwing from the bottom of the hill, I would touch the ball before she released it and race uphill after it, often catching up to it and grasping it mid-bounce. I then turned and carried it back to Heather, dropping it neatly at her feet so we can do it again, or else pausing mid-hill, dropping the ball and letting it roll downhill to her waiting hands. When I get into a rhythm, I am world-class.

Fenced in.

Things were going so well that Mike decided to take out his camera to document my achievements. And thus he had the camera up to his face, paying attention to my movements, when Heather’s next throw sailed past me and skittered under the fence and into the maintenance yard.

Heather and I went back again the next morning, and for a second time I managed to find it and carry it back home. I still think the maintenance driveway is a good location for fetch;  if I can only get Mike to concentrate on just one thing at a time, we’ll be fine.

The winning team.

Chloë Hits Double Figures

It’s hard to believe, I know, but I celebrated my 10th birthday this week. Ten years! It seems like only yesterday that I was rolling around with Frank, Stanley and the rest of my littermates up in Monroe, WA. I wonder what has become of them all. I never hear from anybody anymore; the rest of my Cousins’ Club must have marked me lousy.

Chloë (center) and two of her sisters, 4 weeks old.

So at 10, I’m still feeling—and often behaving—pretty puppy-like. I’m as stubborn as ever, and as apt to take off after a squirrel or scarf up mud from the ground as I’ve ever been. I’m spry enough to jump in and out of my camp chair several times a day and play fetch for 50 or more throws at a time—if I happen to be in the mood and there are no interesting distractions nearby, that is. My weight holds steady at a solid 20 pounds, which means Mike can’t cut my daily rations even though he’ like to. I have a few gray hairs, sure, but none around my muzzle yet. And that spot between my shoulders where I seem to be losing some hair? No problem; if it gets any worse, Mike will give me a combover when he grooms me before dinner.

Chloë at 10.

Although I received no birthday cake and nary a  card in the mail, I did enjoy a little recognition that day. Mike and Heather’s friend Kevin from Syracuse sent Mike an email: “I see on my calendar that Wednesday is Chloë’s birthday. When I mentioned it to my cat Tucker, he yawned, wondering why anyone would celebrate the birth of a dog. But tell her that I wish her a happy birthday.”  What a magnanimous guy! I might have to pay Tucker a visit this summer and give him a growl.

My Aunt Susie in Syracuse sent her regards via telephone, and contributed all the gourmet chewy treats I enjoyed all week. There was also a nice voice mail from Yankee, the doodle dog who belongs to my pal Juneau George. I want to get up to Alaska to visit him before I’m deemed “too old to travel” or some other nonsense.

Unwrapping her present.

Even Mike and “No Presents” Heather came through. They gave me extra treats all day, and after my cheese-laden dinner that evening they delivered the piece de resistance: a double-barrel gift of a Racket Raccoon Mushabelly AND a gourmet dog chew  stick made from 100 percent, open-pasture, grass-fed beefhide. The chewy treat was tempting, but there was no doubt which one I squealed for: There is nothing like a fresh Mushabelly.

Although this Racket Raccoon Mushabelly was hard to get out of his box, Heather finally helped me extricate him, and when we hit the floor together Mike started his stopwatch to see how long it would take me to break Mr. Racket Raccoon.

 

Beefhide tastes so good!

Luckily for you, my faithful readers, I won’t subject you to every second of my tussle with the aptly named Racket. Mike soon realized that Racket shut up whenever I wasn’t applying constant pressure to his belly, so he stuck the chewy stick in my mouth and earned a respite for the six minutes or so it took me to grind up and inhale the gourmet chew. I must admit I enjoyed it, and I would have gladly gobbled down a second and third, but when none was offered I turned my attention back to Racket and proceeded to throttle him but good.  It didn’t take long. By the 27 minute and 43 second mark on Mike’s stopwatch, I had Racket’s innards scattered around the living room rug, his infernal voice box silent by his side.

Throttling Racket Raccoon; Innards to the left of me, voice box on the right, stuck in the middle with Chlo,

Mike dutifully picked up Racket’s innards and stuffed them back inside his torso, and the next morning Heather sewed up him back together and gave him to me, alleviating much of my angst over his disappearance. I chased Racket around the house, just like I do with Lamby and Wiffie, but without his constant cackle his appeal to me will soon wear off, just like it did with all my previous Mushabellies after I silenced them. I never pull any of them out of my toy boxes anymore.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to wait until my buddy Penny returns from Florida in March. She always has some fresh Mushabellies at her house.

 

 

Chloë Bids Adieu to Her Favorite Doubles Partner

With Charlie at Seward Park

The mini-vacation at my Getaway was a gentle way of easing into the deep disappointment I felt upon my return. We got home on a Saturday evening, which meant we were back in time to go on our regular Sunday afternoon walk with my best pal Charlie. But Sunday afternoon came and went, and no Charlie. That’s when Mike and Heather broke the news: Charlie had moved back to St. Louis. I had lost my best pal and, even worse, my best fetch partner. Charlie,with plenty of baseball experience, really knows how to throw. And while Charlie always boasted about never giving me treats, he was great about buying them for me. Mike always buys treats from places like Fred Meyer and Petco; Charlie only shops at places like Whole Foods and doggie boutiques. Real class!

Chloë and Charlie

Another old friend, my sometime sitter Lynn, came by to see me the other day, and I went bonkers for her. Lynn’s great for cuddling, treats and deep intellectual talks, but she’s not going to take me on long walks and play fetch with me for a half-hour like Charlie did. Mike and Heather explained why Charlie had to go back to the land of heat and humidity, so I understand it, but it’s still hard to accept that I’m going to be stuck with just Mike and Heather every Sunday.

Now I feel badly that on my last walk with Charlie we hadn’t even started to play fetch when Heather shut it down because I bolted right into the bushes after a squirrel I’ve been stalking for weeks. If I had only known it was the last time, I would have been a better dog.

Sorry, Charlie. See ya, ’til we meet again.

 

Chloë Matriculates

Practice makes perfect.

Shortly before the spring quarter classes ended, Mike, Heather and I  had the chance to walk around campus at the University of Washington, and I managed to soak up enough atmosphere to earn my advanced degree in fetchology.

Here’s an excerpt of my thesis presentation.

 

I was proud to do so well in quickly adapting to a new campus setting. All those Huskies on campus have nothing on me. They bowed down to me and the orange Syracuse collar I wear around my neck. I bow to no one.

Chloë Collects Belated Presents

Well centered.

Surprise, surprise. My disclosure that I received no presents on my recent 8th birthday produced little response from my faithful readers. In fact, I am aware of only three protests lodged: from my longtime pal Charlie, from my Syracuse aunts, and from most loyal reader and longtime sitter, Lynn.

All of them have come through with gifts. Unfortunately, I have to wait to get the ones promised by aunts Susie and Debby until Mike and Heather bring them back from their next trip to Syracuse. That could take months, for all I know. By that time, my aunts’ new kittens may have eaten my treats. Can’t trust cats.

Easy to chew

I got excited when Mike told me Charlie had something for me, but my enthusiasm dissolved when I found out what it was:  A bag of balls. Racquet balls, that is, the kind I chew into little, bitty edible pieces. No way Mike and Heather will let that bag into the house. Thanks a heap, Charlie.

But the biggest surprise (and best gifts) came from my old pal Lynn, who arrived  unexpectedly on a weekday afternoon and in good spirits. When she walked in the front door I leaped at her from all the way across the room and showered her with squeals and kisses. Since she was using a cane to walk, I no doubt put her life in jeopardy, but Lynn didn’t seem to care. I sat with her the whole time she was here having tea with Heather, and she lavished much attention upon me. And even better, she came bearing gifts.

Birthday bounty

Luckily, I didn’t even have to unwrap them; Lynn had done it for me. We opened the bag of Fruitables Deliciously Healthy Dog Treats right away. I like the blueberry ones over the pumpkin, but both flavors clearly beat the ordinary egg, beef and cheese Vita Bones that Mike feeds me. Not that I’m knocking the Vita Bones, which seem just fine when there are no premium brands around.

Another treat Lynn gave me we had to put away for a while, because it’s kind of like a bone that I will have to consume under constant surveillance. This handcrafted Himalayan Dog Chew, according to the package, is “the original hard smoked cheese chew, 100 percent natural with no additives or binders” and lactose-free. “Chew it until small enough to swallow,” instructions say, “then soak in warm water for five minutes and microwave for 45 seconds, cool for two minutes, and it turns into a ‘homemade puff.'”  We’ll report back on this item when tests are complete later this spring.

Chloe shares her chair with Lamb Chop.

I guess Lynn must have really, really missed me, since she gave me a third present, a stuffed lamb from the Charming Scrunch Bunch that is both a squeaky toy and a tug toy. I call it Lamb Chop (my homage to Shari Lewis), and so far Lamb Chop is, just as the package says,”one tough toy.” I have been giving it a workout, either by myself or in combat with Mike, who has mastered the art of tugging and squeaking at the same time—and with little or no training from me! Lamb Chop has, at least temporarily, taken over from Wiffie for the go-to toy whenever we come in from a walk. I always need something to stretch me out before I dine.

So thanks, Lynn, for all of these wonderful gifts, and, more importantly, for coming over to see me. You are this dog’s best friend. At the moment, of course.

 

Chloë Scales New Heights

New mattress, new problem

New mattress, new problem

After talking about it for months, Mike and Heather finally got a new mattress. Good for them, but did they think about me? They may be more comfortable, but do I get to sleep in it any more often? No, I don’t. And that’s not the worst part.

This mattress is thicker than the last one. That means it’s higher off the floor. And that means I need to be an Olympic high jumper to get up there, whereas I could vault from floor to bed top from a sitting position, no problem, on the old one. Since the new mattress arrived before Thanksgiving, I have gone splat against the side of the damn thing on several occasions. Even eating several cases of Wheaties (which wouldn’t be so bad as long as it they were covered with milk and bananas) won’t get me enough boost to make it over the top. I doubt even performance-enhancing drugs would do the trick.

Solution: Proper positioning.

Solution: Proper positioning.

Even using my personal Stairway to Heaven is not as easy as it used to be. The top step of my unit now leaves me several inches short of the goal. Luckily, Heather figured out how to re-position the steps (two inches from the side of the bed and even with the foot) to give me the maximum efficiency for speed and angle. I can make it to the top of the bed with ease, but I still need to get a running start. Getting down from the new mattress via the steps is a breeze, as long as I can stay clear of Heather’s dresser when I hit the floor.

But getting down is still the tricky part. I am not supposed to jump off the new bed directly to the floor, ever, because landing hard like that is going to eventually be bad for my delicate dachshund back. Why didn’t Mike think about this inherent danger to me before he brought this new mattress into MY bedroom?

Victory achieved.

Victory achieved.

So far, I’m coping. I’ve heard NO JUMPING more times in the past couple of weeks than I have in the rest of my time on earth combined. Heather, especially, and even my good friend Lynn when she came over to stay with me last week, have kept harping on it, trying to make me learn. We’ll see if this loud, Trumpian campaign works, or if somebody comes up with a better solution. In the meantime, I know I can get away with bed-jumping on Mike’s watch, since he never pays attention to anything. Yahoo, I’m flying, just like Peter Pan!

 

 

Chloë Receives Birthday Gifts

I generally don’t like to make a big deal of birthdays (although if readers dig back to Februaries past, you can see some past violations!), and so I didn’t expect much at all (if anything) this year for birthday #6. But lo and behold!

In the morning, I got an extra-large Frozen PBB from Mike and a birthday greeting from my vet that even has a dachshund in it!

Dear Chloe,
Sniff Sniff…Do I smell birthday cake?
Happy Birthday!
Stay Healthy! Be Happy!
Sincerely,

Your Friends at Elliott Bay Animal Hospital /

And then…

 

Buzzie Bee, still in box

Buzzie Bee, still in box

Wow, I never expected presents like those.

Bliss didn’t last long, however. I knocked the buzzing out of Buzzie Bee in less than 20 minutes. Now I’m left with a trio of mute Mushabellies to take care of. But don’t worry; I’ll survive.

 

Chloë Gets Seasonably Wet

In my last post I groused about how early darkness threw off my routine, and I didn’t like it. This time I’ll add the other thing I hate most about fall: The weather. True, this fall has been unseasonably warm so far, but I knew that sooner or later that El Niño effect was going to kick in. Over the past couple of weeks it rained sideways a few times, and those strong winds make walking harder and the trails and sidewalks messier with fallen leaves. Even so,  once I get out in the rain, I just try to tolerate it as best I can and then dry off afterwards with vigor. At least I don’t wimp out with weird costumes like the poor dogs in this picture that one of Heather’s co-workers sent her.

2-Dachshunds in the Rain

 

Pathetic. They look silly, and what difference will these rain coats make? Unless these dachshunds were completely and tightly wrapped in plastic like sausage from Costco, there is no way the moisture and dirt from the ground isn’t clinging to their wet little bellies that hang exposed mere inches above the ground.

No clothes for me. I embrace the rain.

Rainy day hike

Rainy day hike

Fording Big Creek

Fording Big Creek

in the rain forest.

In the Quinault Rain Forest.

Mike's Tingley rubbers ad rain pants

Mike does the old soft shoe in his Tingley rubbers and rain pants

Of course, getting me dry and clean afterwards is the necessary epilogue to every rainy day walk. As I said, I don’t suit up in rain gear from head to toe like Mike does, so even after I’ve shaken myself off outside the front door, when I get inside the house I can be soaked.

Messy Mutts Mitt

Messy Mutts Mitt

For this extensive yet still delicate drying job, we have been auditioning the Messy Mutts Mitt so graciously donated by my Uncle Bill, a.k.a. Mr. Pickle (maybe there’s some kind of cross-marketing deal going on?). Unfortunately, unlike my longstanding endorsement of Visi-Ball and my own line of autographed Whiffies, this product and simply I haven’t clicked. The “twin-sided chenille grooming mitt” might be OK for some lap-dog or a chihuahua, but a soaking, squirming dachshund needs the old-fashioned,  two-handed, oversize-terrycloth-beach-towel approach — still the most effective drying method for the first pass, BY FAR. And since I use the front of Heather’s mother’s living-room chairs or the Oriental rugs for my self-service secondary and tertiary drying, by the time I circle back around to Mike to apply the Messy Mutts Mitt, it has been rendered totally non-essential. And the MMM is simply not large or absorbent enough to ever become my go-to equipment. Not even a Messy Mutts Mitt on each hand could top the towel.

Sorry,  Messy Mutts Mitt, no endorsement deal for me. The tried-and-true terrycloth towel prevails again.

At least the forecast for Thanksgiving weekend is dry. That will keep the carpet cleaner so it will be easier to see any random food that might fall on the floor.

 

Chloë Turns Five with Her Bros

Frank, Stanley and I quietly passed our fifth birthday in February. Sometimes when my brothers and I get together, we wonder what happened to the other two boys and three girls in our litter. Not for long, though.

We met the guys as usual near the park’s south parking lot, and the three of us sniffed butts and rubbed noses for about 15 seconds to renew acquaintances before I got a strong scent of rabbit and took off into the underbrush.

Stanley burrows

Stanley burrows

Frank and Stan were more interested in chasing their ball, anyway. Stan was still into harassing me whenever he got the chance, while Frank was his usual aloof self, considering pouncing after rodents much more fun than paying attention to his sister.

We had not seen the boys in quite a while, and I was happy to see they have slimmed down a lot. Eating a different kind of food, we heard. More exercise, too, from the look of them. They’re looking more like linebackers than offensive linemen these days. Both were decked out for the Super Bowl in Seahawks gear. Their owner-mom told Heather I would be a 2T (toddler) if they wanted to get a onesee for me. Thank goodness I didn’t see Heather running out to Fred Meyer before the game. To me, Super Sunday just means more crumbs on the floor than on a normal weekend. Crackers, cheese, that kind of stuff. Sounds super to me! My day turned out better than the game did, too.

Frank in uniform

Frank in uniform

After we took  a short walk through the meadow with the boys, they had to run off to another activity, but before they left they kinda posed for pictures. Mike tried to get the three of us together for an official fifth birthday photo, but from these shots, everyone will be able to see who pays attention to instructions and who does not. What goes on in those large heads of theirs, anyway?

Frank, Stanley and Chloe

Frank, Stanley and Chloe: Ready for action

Chloë Gets Her Own ID Card

Last week, on a really rainy day, Mike and I drove all the way up to Shoreline so he could get a new driver’s license. I waited in the damp, chilly car while Mike went inside to pay the fee and have his photo taken.

“What about me?” I thought, lying there in the front seat under a sleeping bag. And lo and behold, within a few days word came that our vet had installed a new system for communication and record-keeping. How neat is it to have all of my sensitive medical information available at the flick of Mike’s fingers! Even better: It had a template that Mike used to make me an ID card:

Chloë's ID Card

Chloë’s ID Card

Now, some might ask why a dog would need an ID card, but I see it making me seem more official, and providing me possible entry into the world of government surveillance and intrigue. Why not me?  I have watched enough episodes of The Unit and NCIS with Heather to know all the procedures and lingo needed to be a spy dog. Certainly my excellent olfactory skills give me a big nose up when it comes to tracking suspects. And I’m pretty sure there is currently no canine component to any of the three NCIS (Washington, Los Angeles, New Orleans) crews — and I should know, since I’ve sat through most of those episodes with Heather six or eight times at least.

Being a secret agent spy dog might be fun. We could use a little excitement around here that isn’t related to the Super Bowl.