Category Archives: National Tour

Chloë Finally Conquers a Cat

Cat lair territory.

In our summer neighborhood, cats were everywhere. I was forced to remain on constant vigil lest they overrun us. Two lived in the house right next door, an orange one and a gray one. They taunted me by sunbathing in their driveway. Sometimes they hid inside the flower beds in MY back yard, right in there among the purple coneflower, loosestrife, yarrow and dill. I know, because I could smell them, long after they had retreated to other lairs. There’s nothing worse than the smell of rotting cat hurl. Yuck.

Cleo and Bear get their last meal before their nemesis arrives.

 

Cleo and Bear, the cats who belong to my aunts Susie and Debby, lived on the other side of Meadowbrook, but I was constantly scheming to get a walk over there. Those cats were afraid of me. And well they should be, especially since I loudly chased after them on my most recent visit. One went upstairs and the other ran downstairs, into the basement. My outburst got them quarantined to the second floor for the rest of our visit, while I was similarly confined to my bed at the base of the stairs, from which I cast a menacing gaze upward whenever I felt their eyes upon me. The cats stayed put. In fact, I saw so little of them on this trip that I can barely recall what they look like. No matter, I still know they’re there, and I will corner them one day.

Thankfully, I found one cat in the Salt City that knew its place. I just had to look this guy firmly in the eye one time and he immediately turned to stone.

 

Who’s the boss?

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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 Loves the ‘Cuse

Wow! Rabbits and squirrels and deer galore!

Although my trip eastward was a bit harrowing at times,  as soon as we hit Syracuse my mood improved right away. As soon as we pulled into our neighborhood,  I started to whine with recollection. And when Heather put my window down, I went crazy. Syracuse, just like I pictured it.  It even smelled the same. I was happy to be there.

I was also looking forward to staying in one place for a while, too, especially now that our gracious hosts have installed air conditioning. Not having to pack up and move on every morning means everyone’s pace is a lot more relaxed. I even caught up on some sleep.

Chloe and Olivia at Lorenzo State Historic Site’s garden

Mike and Heather have already taken me to several of my favorite local spots: Mill Run Park in Manlius, the Meadowbrook Basin, the Old Erie Canal (in two separate sections), the Syracuse University campus and Oakwood Cemetery, whose abundance of wildlife (deer, squirrels, rabbits and birds) makes it my equivalent of Disney’s Adventureland. I even got to strut my stuff at the annual horse and carriage driving competition at Cazenovia’s Lorenzo State Historic Site. Mike’s and Heather’s friend Ginger watched me while they went to the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, continuing to waste valuable time with baseball fandom when they could be home or in a park tossing a ball for me. Luckily, Ginger had a Wiffle Ball in her house, and she let knock it around and gnaw on it for a while, my first near-Wiffie experience since leaving Seattle. Ginger also gave me a ride in her car to pick up her granddaughter Olivia, who was very nice to me, bestowing many treats while we were together at Ginger’s house and Lorenzo. Luckily, we just walked around in the gardens at the back of the house and avoided all the horses and crowds, which was fine with me.

Sleeping off her IPA-flavored treats

The other highlight of my first week in the Salt City was receiving a package in the mail from my good friend Charlie, who just moved back to St. Louis. It turned out to be, as I suspected, a bag of dog treats. That Charlie always comes through for me. This time he sent a 30-piece bag of “peanut butter IPA”-flavored treats from the Crafted Bone of St. Charles, MO, which is near Charlie’s new hometown. “Share the passion of craft beer with your dog,” the package said. Consisting of “spent” grains left over from the brewing process, these handmade bickies are alleged to contain no alcohol, but I ate two of them and conked right out.

Matriculating on the SU Quad

Charlie enclosed a nice, handwritten note with his gift, and Mike read it to me. “Chloe,” he wrote, “Finally an IPA for dogs. Make sure Mike and Heather don’t imbibe yours! I cannot believe how many rabbits there are in my neighborhood. You would be gone in a second. Say hi to Mike, Heather, Susie and the cats for me.”

Consider it done on the human side, Charlie, but Susie’s and Debby’s cats have yet to show their faces in my presence. I’m not giving up, though. Every time we leave the house I try to guide our walk in that direction, hoping somebody will be home to let me in.  I’m looking forward to making visual contact one of these days. After that, fur will fly.

 

Chloë Views Life on the Road

Backseat driver

I barely had a chance to catch my breath and collect my thoughts on our trip East. Heather, Mike and I rolled through more than 4,000 miles in 15 days, and I was on high alert for almost all of them. From my perch high above the back seat of the car I could see in all directions, and I would not allow myself to close my eyes for an instant. Something bad could happen if I didn’t pay attention. But after about 10 days, it got stressful. My eyelids began to droop, and I whined more frequently, for no apparent reason. Heather’s patience wore thin. I got yelled at and poked more than once.

Good dog hunting, Havre MT

I’m not complaining, however, because the good parts still outweighed the trials. I got extra treats, the new trails w walked were great (except for mosquitoes), and each night in my crate I slept like a log. But for me, the best part of the trip was chasing prairie dogs in various locales across the plains. Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan…all of them featured fine furry friends for me to stalk and hustle after, even with Heather restraining me with a tight leash. It’s like the moment I saw my first prairie dog, I reverted to total hound dog mode. My ON switch got hit, and hit HARD!!! This contributed to my general edginess.

Demonstrating at the border, Waterton Lakes, AB

I was so glad to finally get back to Syracuse. When we drove through the neighborhood to pick up a house key from my Aunt Susie, Heather rolled down my window in the back seat and I damn near jumped out, so excited was I. Only the strap from my harness and Mike’s outstretched hand prevented me from flying away.

Waiting for a train, East Glacier Park, MT

There’s no doubt that Heather will use this time in Syracuse to get serious about addressing what she sees as my escalating behavioral problems (that is, my demanding whine). She’ll make Mike be serious about it, too. (“We must be consistent!” she’ll say.) While that might not sound like a recipe for a fun vacation, at least we get to stay in one place for a while, and for that I am grateful. Life on the road was getting tiresome.

 

Chloë Gets a Treat on the Road

Lobbying for the front.

Lest any readers think my whole summer vacation was one long bummer, let me confess that I had a great time overall, and that the high points far outweighed the bad. For every gushing wound and terrifying voyage I endured, there were many wonderful wilderness walks and a bevy of ice-cream treats.  I did my share of whining from my perch in the back seat of the car, but I also interacted with strangers, hung out with other dogs and even got to chase a few cats. Although my perpetual quest to regain my rightful place in the front seat was still unsuccessful, I did get to spend all day, every day together with my pack-mates Mike and Heather, which doesn’t particular happen as much when we’re home.

That’s why I like hotels, too. When we stay in a hotel, all three of us are always together in the same room, unless somebody’s taking a shower. I still have to sleep in my create, of course, just like I do at home, but in the morning I can always manage to whine my way onto a mattress (always on a towel, of course). Plus, in a hotel all the people we meet in the lobbies and elevators say how cute and well-behaved I am. Which I am, as long as they don’t try to touch me.

Welcome, Chloë!

The unquestioned highlight of the whole trip was my stay at the Travelodge in Grand Island, Nebraska, on the way home. In the past two summers of driving to the East Coast and back, the nice people at this particular hotel are the only ones who gave me a welcome gift when I checked in. Not free breakfast, strong wi-fi, shampoo and soap, but a welcome gift just for me, the pet to be named later. The best thing we got at any other hotel was a $10 pet fee (only once).

And what a gift the Travelodge provided! Inside a distinctive royal blue bag (that Mike kept as a trash bag for his car) was a smaller plastic bag filled with an array of biscuits (that Mike doled out to me all too slowly). Also in the blue bag was something else that looked like it could be food, but it turned out to be a toy shaped like a Chinese food takeout container. Inside the container were three dumplings, each of them a small, fabric-skinned, squeaky toy. It didn’t take me long to rip open the velcro strip on top of the container, pull out the dumplings and start tossing those them around the hotel room, all while emitting continuous squeals of joy and writhing around on the carpet. I couldn’t have been happier/

Thus my official Trip Advisor review for the Travelodge by Wyndham Grand Island: My best hotel stay ever. Five stars!

Dancing with my dumpling.

Since we returned to Seattle, I have still been carrying my Chinese food container around the house and making Mike throw the little dumplings from the front door all the way into the kitchen, so I can run after them, chase them down and bring them back for more tosses. These once-plush white toys got so dirty that Heather has already washed them once, and then they got dirty all over again. Just the way I like them.

Chloë Survives Her Traumatic Trip Home

Chloe returns to Seattle.

When we finally got back to Seattle, I was so happy I could hardly contain myself. I started squealing as soon as the car crossed Lake Washington. By the time we hit the Magnolia Bridge, I was out of my bed and scratching at the windows to get outside.

I could smell it. Home, home at last.

It’s not that the three of us didn’t have a great time on the way back from Syracuse. Mike and Heather seemed to enjoy themselves, and I had some fun myself (more on that next time). But for me personally, it was just one bummer after another. Nothing quite as catastrophic as gashing my snout in Utah on the trip east, but traumatic nonetheless. Let me elaborate.

Panting on the rail trail.

It started in Canada, where we went to visit Heather’s family and help her brother Robert pack up the house he sold and move to an apartment. The first night we were there, Mike dropped my cherished blue ceramic food bowl, the one my aunt Robin made, the one we left in a bathtub in Illinois Super 8 and rescued. This time the ill-fated bowl shattered into a million pieces. It will be missed; the Walmart purchase that replaced it is just not cutting it, although it has orange and blue on it. It will do until something better comes along.

More bad luck was on the way. One afternoon we went on a long, long walk along a railroad bed trail near Robert’s house. It was really, hot, and, personally, I think we walked too far. Anyway, I must have aggravated an already pulled muscle, and when we got back to the car, I was limping. So Heather ordered me shut me down for a couple of days (which meant no walks except to take care of business).  This was actually OK with me, because it was hot and humid, and I got to spend the days in the shade in front of Robert’s house, hanging out with the guys while they conducted Robert’s garage sale. Quite a cast of characters came up the driveway, believe me. So maybe my pulled muscle wasn’t such a bad thing after all, at least compared to what happened next.

Ferry Pet Kennel

Before heading west, we spent a couple of days with my aunt Robin and her significant other Barry in their downtown Toronto apartment. It’s always scary for me in the Big City, but Toronto’s mean streets were nothing compared to my trip across Lake Michigan. I wasn’t at all concerned when Heather drove me and the car onto a big boat, since I’ve been on Washington State Ferries on many occasions. But on this high-speed ferry across Lake Michigan, dogs weren’t allowed to stay in cars; something about Homeland Security, they said). So when Heather stopped on the car deck, she told me to get out of the car with her. At first I thought this meant I was going to be sitting with her and Mike on the passenger deck, but that didn’t happen. Suddenly other dogs appeared in the area, and then Heather lifted me into a wire crate stacked on top of two others, all occupied by dogs who were none too happy about it. Least of all, me. I looked to Heather for relief, but she just shoved a pillow and a PBB in the crate, closed the door and said, “It’s OK, Chloë, I’ll be back.” What? Are you kidding me? I managed to devour the PBB, but I was still screeching when Heather returned to spring me some three hours later. At that moment, I didn’t know if I could ever trust her again.

Chloë and Heather on the bridge

I managed to get over it in a few days, and Heather started being nicer to me and came to my aid several times after that. In Nebraska National Forest, the sandy soil was rife with sharp, prickly burrs that were murder on my feet, sticking to the pads and between the toes. Several times, Heather and I had to sit down on the side of the trail and pick them out, one by one, until I could walk without pain. She bailed me out again when I balked at walking across a wooden suspension bridge over the Popo Agie River, carrying me across in both directions. The next day, along the Teton River, she chased off a bigger dog we met on a walk who just wouldn’t stop sniffing my butt. He wasn’t mean, but he just refused to go home. Heather finally made me run off with Mike while she had my back and chased away the other dog. I was thankful for that.

Lassie go home.

Our trips last few days in Idaho and Eastern Washington were beautiful but smoky, and I was glad to get home a couple of days later. I couldn’t wait to see my pal Charlie, my favorite UPS driver Donna, my smorgasbord of scraps on the grass outside Discovery Park, my dog pals down the block and pretty much everything else in Seattle except the Bartons’ cats. I know they have been lurking around my house in my absence, and I cannot stand for it. I will track them down.

 

Chloë Chases Cats from Coast to Coast

animal antler big close up

Moose by Photo Collections on Pexels.com

I have encountered many kids on my current trip, and more strangers wanting to pet me and tell Mike and Heather how cute I am than I can count. I’m doing much better in these situations, moving from my usual position of hiding behind Heather’s legs all the way to fleeting tolerance of the intruders. I cannot deny all this attention is nice. And I’ve done pretty well getting along with all the dogs I met on the trip, both the ones I encountered casually on a walk or in a La Quinta (pets stay free) and the ones I’ve spent hours or even days with, such as Logan and Pippa in Washington, D.C., Abby and Nelu in Syracuse, Skippy in Avon and Cleo in Innisfil, Ontario. I even maintained my composure when I crossed paths on our trip with chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds, deer, antelopes, a moose and a porcupine, content to revel in a good whiff of their scents instead of making my normal no-holds-barred dash to the animal. tree or hole in question.

In fact, there is only one kind of person or animal guaranteed to turn me into a whirling banshee in swift pursuit: Cats.

Cleo and Bear

Cleo and Bear chow down at my aunts’ house.

I’ve read that in my hometown of Seattle, dogs outnumber children. Well, in Syracuse, the same must be true for cats. Just in the neighborhood where we stayed, I saw dozens of them on our daily walks to Barry Park or Nottingham High School, and in the cemetery when we walked there. That kind of daily cat contact is hard to avoid and easy to ignore. But three of these neighborhood cats had the audacity to treat the back yard of our temporary house as their own domain. The two that lived next door, the orange Morris and a gray one whose name I never caught, were of course impossible to get rid of. But that third one, a scrawny gray male who might have been feral, he was my enemy. I peed every place I could to show him who’s boss. Once I surprised him while he was lounging in a flower garden, but my howling and Heather’s taut grip on my rope let him get away.

Bear and Cleo in Window

Bear and Cleo watch for intruders.

But my biggest battles came at my aunts’ house. I missed not being right across the street from them, but they gave me a bag of Snausages anyway, so still got excited every time I got to see them. I didn’t so much miss Spanky, their nasty cat who died last fall (R.I.P.), who made wild snarls every time he saw me. Over the winter, aunts Susie and Debby brought home sister kittens Cleo and Bear from a lady in Eastwood who had dozens of cats living in her house (supporting my theory about cats outnumbering children in Syracuse). And as kittens, the gray-striped Cleo and the bushy black Bear, are obviously adorable. Except, of course, for one thing. They will grow up to be cats. And I must wage war on cats, anywhere and everywhere.

So far, I have met only one cat that I get along with, Stan and Laurie’s elegant Dinah. From the get-go, we earned each other’s respect, and as long as I stay away from her food dish, we’re cool. I even get to chew up one of her cat toys now and then.

Bear on Couch

Bear lounges on couch.

But Cleo and Bear, they refuse to stay out of my way, and when I chase them upstairs or chew up one of their toys, I get in trouble. Big trouble, and not with my aunts, but with Heather, the Enforcer. I get slammed into down-stay purgatory, while Cleo and Bear sit in the kitchen bay window or at the top of the stairs and laugh at me. Laughed at, by cats. I cannot abide.

We left Syracuse before I caught either one of those little rascals. They can laugh all they want to now, but like General MacArthur, I shall return. I’ve got to chase that cat out of the sink and continue my private war.

Cleo in sink

Cleo awaits a bath.