Category Archives: National Tour

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 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?

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.