Category Archives: Vacations

Chloë Gains at Home



Mike and Heather went somewhere again, this time sneaking out one morning while I was busy eating my breakfast. What seemed like many, many days later they came back a lot browner. I’m not sure where they went, although I detected the taste of sea salt when I was biting Mike’s nose after he came through the front door. You’d think they would have sent me a postcard or brought me a souvenir, but no. What am I supposed to do with a piece of coral or coffee beans?

Aiming high.

Aiming high.

No big deal. Lynn showed up a couple of hours after they left and stayed with me until they came back.  I had fun with Lynn, who knows the way to my heart is through my stomach and likes to snuggle besides. Lynn did a good job of making me get in and out of the new towering bed in the proper manner, using the steps instead of jumping. Lucky for me, Lynn used treats to bribe me over to the corner where the steps are. I’m not turning down any treats, but I’m not dumb. After a couple of ill-thought-out attempts, I could see for myself that the steps, and not the bone-jarring leap, was the only safe and sane way to go.

Chloë's "oeuvre"

Chloë’s “oeuvre”

Charlie and Jill took me for some long walks, but I still had a lot of pent-up energy every evening when Lynn got home from work, so I made her throw Wiffie around the living room or help me play with my toys. In one game, Lynn called out the name of a toy, and I  would search for it in my toy pile. The Cow was one of my favorites with Lynn, who remembered it was a gift from my good friend Charlie. Every time Lynn called out, “Charlie’s Cow,” I raced to the front door, assuming Lynn was telling me Charlie was coming in. She did that on three separate occasions over a 2-hour period, apparently never figuring out that Charlie wasn’t really there.  Oh, well, I just played along.

We had a little excitement on one of the days Charlie did appear. When he arrived, I managed to squeeze out the front door, zip down the street and turn into the Bartons’ driveway and fenced back yard. This was just like it happened once last summer, so this time Charlie knew exactly where I was headed, and two people on the street verified my whereabouts. When Charlie first called me, of course, I just looked at him with indifference and held my ground. Then he yelled “Treat Party!!!”  and I was compelled to come a-running. With ol’ Charlie, treat parties are few and far between! I couldn’t afford to have him change his mind. Or worse, lie about throwing me a treat party. Luckily, Charlie gave me treats this one time.

Knows what's coming.

Knows what’s coming.

There was, alas, a sad bi-product of all the treating that I enjoyed when Mike and Heather (a.k.a. Ms. Grim) were away. When I had my follow-up visit with Dr. Sherrie Crow at the Elliott Bay Animal Hospital, there was some bad news. While it was great to learn my skin rash and ear infection have cleared up and that the doctor thinks hair may again grow in the currently bald spot on top of my head, we also found out that  the trim, muscular body that weighed in at 18.6 pounds in the vet’s lobby on Nov. 17 had gained a full pound only three weeks later. A full pound! That’s about 5 percent of my body weight, a noted Seattle statistician observed. And as Dr. Crow wrote in her ominous official visit report: “Chloë is at the top of her ideal weight range.”

Uh-oh. I’m afraid I know what’s coming next, and that’s not good. Mike will be on the warpath. And during the normally festive holiday season, no less. Sigh. It will be hard to cut back on my eating, but my past transgressions will still have been worth it. Just like love, diet’s just a four-letter word.

Chloë Takes Summertime Easy

Snoozing in bedroom

Snoozing in bedroom

I’ve been taking the summer off from writing. It’s too much like work.

The warmer weather makes me lazy, anyway. I’ve found this particular corner of Mike’s and Heather’s bed particularly appealing for afternoon napping because of the cool breezes that blow right over me on their way through the house. I’d much rather snooze here than sit across the hallway in Mike’s office in the hot afternoon sun and watch him plunk down my innermost thoughts on his keyboard. That would not be the most effective use of my time.

Besides, Mike and Heather were away for a good portion of the time since my last post, and their absence came at a good time for me. Not only did was I spoiled as usual by Team Chloë (sitter Lynn, walker Jill and best friend Charlie, who walked me both weekends and even dropped my leash and threw the ball for a while, a solo first for him), but it was also nice to get a break from Heather. She had been really tough on me for at least a week before they left, after I barked at neighbor kids again. Heather went ballistic with harsh words and many threats about what awful things would befall me after she retires from her job (not real quickly, I hoped). Heather shortened my leash, literally and figuratively, and gave Mike many orders about how to treat me, all boiling down to “when kids are outside, Chloë goes inside.” Better safe than sorry, I guess. I can blame no one but myself.

2-Snow Goose Sign

The Snowgoose

When Mike and Heather came home from their trip, everything seemed back to normal, except for when I jump up on the living room couch when I think nobody’s looking. I went nuts when I saw them come through the front door, biting Mike’s nose so many times that I even drew a little blood (don’t tell Heather, please, she might euthanize me!). Even Ms. Grim (Heather) seemed glad to see me, even telling me several times how much she missed me. She has summoned me into bed for afternoon napping on several occasions. I realized I was totally back in her good graces when she left me a big wedge of her black licorice ice cream cone at Snowgoose Produce near LaConner last weekend. I didn’t even have to ask for it.

Waffle cone made on premises.

Chloë wolfs down a waffle cone made on premises at Snowgoose.

I’m trying to get more comfortable with kids, I really am. But I don’t get a lot of practice, and when I see one, I tend to get nervous and defensive and bark. It’s hard to change, but we’re working on it. I know I have the energy for it, because I’m well rested.  When your summer activity consists of afternoon naps and ice cream cones, life is good.

Chloë Chills at Home

Postcard from Hawaii

Postcard from Hawaii

Mike and Heather took off somewhere and left me home with my girlfriend Lynn, and this time it took me a few days to settle into our routine.  I did a lot of vocalizing for Lynn’s benefit, making guttural howls that sound like I’m gargling marbles. I was hoping for some sympathy and attention, but after I realized  my singing wasn’t getting me anywhere, I shelved the vibrato and let Lynn coax me into some serious snuggling instead.

Frozen PBB

Frozen PBB, end view

Lynn supplied me with a steady stream of Mike’s Milk and a frozen PBB (Peanut Butter Boney) every day when she went to work in the morning, and a few hours later my new friend Jill came in and walked me for an hour, which I quickly became the highlight of my day. That exercise was a major contributing factor in me calming down so I wouldn’t give Lynn a hard time if she wasn’t into throwing Wiffie around after work.  I was generally feeling more “chill” than  I usually am when Lynn stays with. While I still performed some degree of whimper, trill, foot stamp or dance for her from time to time, more often I rested, comfy in a pile of covers or in my bed in the office.  I was content and confident that Lynn and Jill were more than capable of attending to my many needs.

Except for ferreting out a used tube of toothpaste one day before Jill arrived, I saved up all my bad behavior for my pal Charlie when he came to take me for a walk on the weekend. When Lynn opened the door to let him in, I  car-péd the diem, so to speak (seized the day, if you can’t follow my French). In a flash, I was gone down the block, but there was no panic behind me. Both Charlie and Lynn knew my ultimate destination: The trail of Ted and Fred , the Bartons’s cats, invariably leads into their back yard two doors down, a yard enclosed by a locked chain-link fence. Mike knows the spot by the south gate where I can squeeze in and out, but it took Charlie and Lynn a while to figure it out. If Mike were there, he would have sped things along by yelling, “Treat Party!” and luring me through the gap between fence and house,  but as I know only too well, Mr. No-nonsense Charlie always prefers a stern command to make me come. He will never use treats. And that’s why, as much as I like Charlie, he can never get to be #1 in my book. As that smart-alec fish said in the Seventies  Sarkist tuna TV commercials: Sorry, Charlie.


One of the Bartons’s cats

On the other hand, Charlie’s arrival gave me the opportunity to tree Fred, the smaller of the two Barton cats, and after Charlie sprung me from the back yard, he walked me more than two miles in the park. As Charlie later told Mike and Heather, when I bolted out the door he was not worried as he had been the last time it happened to him, and “all’s well that ends well.” Who knew Charlie was a Shakespearean scholar to boot?

The other big excitement while Mike and Heather were soaking up the sun was the weird and wild Seattle weather over the last few days before they came home. When Lynn came from work one night it was so windy that our empty waste can flew 15 feet down the sidewalk, and on walks my ears were flapping in the wind like the Snoopy balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I almost got airborne. Later on a package arrived on our front porch, but I didn’t think it had come via UPS… unless my new driver Craig left my bickie without adequately securing it under the package, and a big wind gust blew it away. Personally, I thought the new U.S. Mail carrier had delivered this package, and he can be so stealth that I might have just slept through it. I guess I’ll never know.

Waiting to play catch

Waiting to play catch

My last morning with Lynn,  loud claps of thunder rang out for over an hour, so I ate my breakfast in the kitchen before even venturing outside. I am not a big fan of thunder or rain, and when Lynn finally got me to go outside, rain was coming down sideways, with swirling leaves and more thunder. As much as I felt safe with Lynn, I JUST WISHED MIKE AND HEATHER WOULD GET HOME ALREADY!

And wouldn’t you know it, but the next night they arrived out of nowhere, and I greeted them at the front door with all the pent-up energy I had been holding in while I was trying to be such a good citizen for Lynn, Jill and Charlie. I jumped Mike, tackling him down to the carpet and biting his nose for several minutes. Then I ran to the office recycling bin and got a prezzie or two for Heather. She refused to get down on the floor and let me jump on her head, but later on she let me sleep with her under her blanket all night long.

Sigh. It’s like they never left.




Chloë Sees Orange

Roland and Heidi, 2004

Roland and Heidi in Seattle, 2004

My patience with Mike’s extended absence was wearing thin when he finally returned from the East Coast. Even though he was gone almost a month, I greeted him with gusto, having decided to cut him some slack after Heather told me Mike had stayed east so long in order to attend a memorial service for his dear friend Roland. Believe it or not, I never got the chance to meet Roland, but I heard countless tales of how much fun he was, and how he was especially devoted to his own pets (not to mention a family of threatened elephants). I know my predecessor Heidi really liked him, and that’s good enough for me.

I could tell Mike was feeling blue, so I tried hard to be extra nice to him. It worked for a few days, but then the photos you see below mysteriously appeared in my “in” box. They were apparently taken by a hidden camera in Mike’s bedroom in Syracuse, where he stayed with so-called friends. I say “so-called” because, while I’m sure they are fine, upstanding people otherwise, they have two cats, Dinah and Mingus. Dinah could care less about Mike, but master Mingus likes to sleep on Mike’s bed, or anywhere else he damn well pleases.

Mike and Mingus

Mike and Mingus

The first photo looked innocent enough, but the next one raised some concerns. Things seem to be getting a bit too chummy for my taste.

Whisker to whisker

Whisker to whisker

There were more photos of the two of them, but I could no longer bear to look.

The photos crushed me. Here I was in Seattle, thinking every single waking second about nothing but food, playing with my ball, and Mike all the time he’s gone, but the moment he gets out of town he starts cheating on me. With a cat, no less. And a  huge cat, at that.

I don’t know. When it comes right down to it, who needs the aggravation that true love inevitably brings? I will be better off to forget about Mike and that cat, because Mike’s intentions are crystal clear. Before you know it, he’ll be going back to Syracuse and taking care of cats. I couldn’t bear it. I’m done with him.

But oh, will I ever be able to trust again?

Chloë Misses Her Guy Again

Modeling Mike's smelly T

Oogling Mike’s smelly T

So where the heck is Mike? Heather got back from their trip to Syracuse and Ontario almost two weeks ago, and all I’ve seen of Mike is that same old stinky Bob Dylan T-shirt that he always leaves in my sleeping crate when he goes away. Like I’ve been sleeping in my crate at night anyways; Heather always lets me sleep with her when Mike’s not around. It’s almost my entitlement, like Medicare and Social Security.

Even more than sleeping arrangements, Heather’s been taking really good care of me, bringing me to work every day and playing ball with me in the morning before we go. It’s not as hot outside then. Charlie has  still come over to see me on the weekends, too. At the same time, all my creative energy is being stifled without Mike around to let the pressure out. If Mike stays away much longer, I could explode, and it would not be pretty.

Chloë chills.

Chloë chills.

That might be enough to send Heather to the end of her tether. So far, she’s coping, but there are moments. The other morning she was late for a meeting and trying to hustle me into her car when she dropped my leash for an instant. That’s all the time I needed to bolt after the Bartons’ cat Ted, whom I had sensed prowling around our front walk during my increased daytime absence. While I combed the pool area in the Barton’ s back yard, Heather phoned her office to warn them she’d be late for the meeting. When she returned, she was surprised to find me lying calmly on the next neighbor’s lawn. Her surprise quickly changed to disgust and anguish, however, when she realized I was chomping down part of a recently deceased small, furry animal, and a few plaintive “leave its” and “drop its” were not having the desired effect.  Somehow Heather managed to pry it out of my jaw, but not without pressing flesh with the deceased critter’s slimy remains.

With no time to go back inside the house to wash up, we climbed right into her car and sped to the office. Heather was still five minutes late to the meeting, but luckily the introductions had already been done by the time we got there, and she didn’t have to shake anyone’s hand with her mousey mitt.

Oh, well. It could have happened to anybody.

So where the heck is Mike, anyway?

Chloë Misses Her Guy

Playing fetch outside Heather's office

Playing fetch outside Heather’s office

Heather and I had a pretty good time while Mike was away visiting his mom and friends in Syracuse. I finally got to go to work at Heather’s new office, which was relatively dull. Everyone there was so busy there that they barely noticed I was around. The days I stayed home were more exciting. One day my best friend Lynn came over in the afternoon to hang out. We went for walks, had treats and went crazy, strewing toys all over the house. It’s always fun when Lynn comes by.

More excitement came on the weekend, when I stared down a raccoon in our neighbor Claire’s backyard. Claire finds great joy in feeding and observing the coons, and one showed up in the middle of the afternoon while I was waiting for Heather on Claire’s patio. When it saw me, it hopped to the top of the fence and stared at me before leaping into the yard next door. It knew better than to mess with this hound.


Purple-and-white ball

Later the same afternoon I pulled a muscle, or maybe threw out a joint, or something. Whatever happened, I limped through the latter part of my walk with Heather. My front right leg didn’t hurt exactly, but it was weak and I couldn’t put my weight on it. Then, as suddenly as it started, I was cured. I immediately wanted to chase rabbits and cats, or at least my purple-and-white ball. Heather wouldn’t let me.

Heather was worried about me until the next day, which worked to my advantage. She let me sleep with her in her bed all night, and on Monday she decided to work at home so she could take me to the vet if necessary. I was fine, however, at least from a health perspective.

Treats for Chloë

Treats for Chloë

In other ways, however, Mike’s absence meant sacrifices for Heather and me. I got no treats for waiting inside the front door to have my harness removed, for example, and no treat each morning for going downstairs to watch Mike exercise. Heather didn’t do much better with Mike gone. Although Mike left plenty of salads and casseroles for her to eat, she had nobody home to put her beer in the freezer so it would be ice-cold but not frozen when she got home from work, which is one of Mike’s more important jobs.  Too bad she doesn’t have an app for that.

Milk Bone Dental

Milk Bone Brushing Chew

Yes, I had fun while Mike was gone, but I also missed Mike badly. So when he walked into the house after coming from the airport,  I jumped him and bit his nose until he finally had to push me off his head, and as soon as he relaxed, I did it again. I think I got my point across,  too, and he’ll think twice before leaving me again. He even brought me souvenirs from his trip, gifts from my aunts Susie and Debby in Syracuse: several Milk Bone Brushing Chews  (“Tastes Like a Treat, Cleans Like a Toothbrush” —free samples from BJ’s Club in East Syracuse) and a dog-friendly cookie, shaped like a baseball, that the aunts got on a  trip to Cooperstown, N.Y.

But what’s going on? Several days have passed, and I’m still waiting for Mike to unwrap the cellophane off that cookie.

Chloë Eludes Catastrophe in the Olympics

The headline exaggerates, but only slightly. Here’s what happened.

At Murhut Falls

At Murhut Falls

Heather, Mike and I were on our annual winter trek to the Olympic Peninsula, delayed a month or so this year because they visited Syracuse in February. Going out to the OP in March turned out fine, though, since the weather was milder and the days were longer. We had one stormy day when Heather and I napped all afternoon, but also enjoyed two beautiful afternoons of sunshine for hikes into the verdant Olympic National Forest. The sun’s rays revealed wisps of moisture rising from the nurse logs and the forest floor.

With Mike on the trail

With Mike on the trail

Our first hike, to Murhut Falls, was good, but I was disappointed that Mike decided the path to the base of the falls was too difficult to try. I didn’t agree, but nobody asked me. That’s probably why, on Monday’s hike along the Big Quilcene River, I didn’t pause to ask  permission when chasing Heather’s errant throw of my purple-and-white ball off the trail and down the side of the embankment next to it.

At Heather's heel

At Heather’s heel

I knew Mike would try to prevent me from bounding down the cliff, a steep and dangerous drop to the roaring river a hundred feet below, so I ignored his yell and followed my ball, which caromed downward but luckily lodged against a fallen branch only about a dozen feet below trail level. Just as Heather started to slither down the bank in my direction for a rescue, I grabbed the ball in my mouth and plowed my way through the moss and underbrush toward the perplexed Mike, who was simultaneously angry and relieved.

Digging the river

Digging the river

Mike made me give him the ball, which he stuffed it inside his pack emphatically. Heather said that it was she who was bad, not me. I wasn’t about to argue. At any rate, there would be no more ball playing on this hike, which took us almost three hours. We did get a break in the middle, when we climbed down to the river’s edge and I tried to do a little stream remediation, to no avail. The Big Quilcene won again.

Oh, and when we got back to the car, I barked at a big German shepherd for no apparent reason. The dog might have attacked me, but seemed wimpier than I am. Once again, catastrophe averted. I lead a charmed life indeed.