Category Archives: Vacations

Chloë Ramps Up Her Recovery

Chloë takes over Heidi’s ramp.

I was meaning to write sooner, but I’ve been injured. For the second time in just three months, a bad wheel was slowing me down. The first time, when we were in Canada in August, it was my right front leg with a pulled muscle that made me limp. This time, it was muscle soreness in the back left. Some days this new injury didn’t seem to bother me at all, and I continued to leap into my camp chair, but the next day I would let out an unexpected yelp of pain just by leaping off a curb to the street. I had no problems going down a flight of stairs, but there was no way I was climbing back up, not even the two little steps in front of our house. Mike and Heather dragged Heidi’s ramp out of the garage just for me. The tread on the ramp needed a little mending, but I began using it on every trip up. Not down, just up.

To prevent further damage to my leg, Heather put me on what she called “modified bed rest.”  That meant when we went out to the Olympic Peninsula for Heather’s birthday, we didn’t go on any long, up-and-down hikes in the forest, like we usually do. This time I walked only on paved or flat trails like the Olympic Discovery Trail in Sequim. When Heather and Mike hiked to the top of Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park, I stayed in the car. Fine with me, frankly.

Olympic snoozing.

When we got back home, Heather didn’t make me stay in bed all day, but I was not allowed to play ball, not even inside with Wiffie. And I wasn’t allowed to run after squirrels or chase cats, either. Our afternoon walks were shorter, too. And with so much less exercise, I was getting crabbier every day, not to mention gaining weight. I feared the dreaded word “diet” might resurface when Mike came back from his trip east.

This lingering physical malady started to change my personality as well. I got more standoffish and timid around other dogs.  I started sleeping later, whining less, declining to get into bed and take a nap with Heather. I’d rather be alone in my beds in the office or living room. When Mike got back, I let him groom me without trying to get away. If I went downstairs with him to get a biscuit, I refused to go back up on my own. Eventually Heather would relent, come downstairs, pick me up and carry me up stairs, unsure whether my leg was still bothering me or if my reluctance to climb the stairs was all in my head.  When I demanded similar service for the two steps up to her bed, she drew the line. Dammit. As long as she thought I was hurt, I planned to make the most of it, but apparently my jig is up. Heather put Heidi’s ramp back in the garage.

 

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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 Finds the First Cut Is the Deepest

Tony Grove Lake Northern Utah-001

Tony Grove Lake, northern Utah, near site where Chloë’s facial laceration occurred.

When it came to getting ready for a cross-country trip, things went a lot smoother the second time around. Heather increased the storage space beneath my bed, and they knew from last year’s photographs exactly how to pack the rear section most efficiently. As soon as we rolled out of Seattle, everyone settled easily into her or his appointed roles: Heather the Driver, Mike the Navigator, Chloë the Queen.

From my backseat throne I could see everything, coming and going. Only on the straightaway interstates did I let myself doze off. All local streets, scenic drives and curvy roads demanded my constant attention. I quickly discovered that by whining whenever I wanted something, I could mandate the pace of our daily progress and dictate the behavior of Driver and Navigator alike. When they started to reach back to poke me for whining, I learned to flee to the far corner behind the driver’s seat as soon as the Navigator looked back at me, knowing he would have to undo his seat belt, get up from his perfectly positioned back cushion, rise and turn his whole body around in order to make contact with me. Not worth his effort, so I win again. And whine again.

Chloe Crawling into Front Seat

My throne is nice, but I really should be in the front seat.

We took a different route this time, further south than last year, which meant more hot weather. Too hot. In Utah it was 102 degrees, and there wasn’t a lot of shade, either. Nice breeze, though! In Washington, D.C., and Syracuse, the temperature hit the high 90s, but it felt like 200 because of the stifling humidity. Sometimes we took our long walk of the day in the morning, trying to beat the heat. Through it all, I soldiered on. “She’s a trooper,” Heather said often. Good thing Mike brought along plenty of beef jerky and made Frozen PBBs on the road this time, because I was deserving of lots of treats.

Were my sterling behavior not enough for praise, I won additional points by remaining calm after cutting the side of my face in a sniffing incident near Bear Lake in northeastern Utah. Whatever the source of the laceration, it was rapidly discovered because of the blood dripping from my snout onto the sidewalk amidst the interpretive signage. Nurse Heather did an excellent job under fire by stopping the bleeding and applying antibiotic ointment on the wound. A scab formed quickly that I proudly wore all the way to Syracuse. You can see it to the right of my nose in the photo above. Thankfully, it just fell off by itself one night before I started to pick at it. I’ll no doubt have a scar on my snout, but the hair is already growing back and should mostly cover it. My pristine countenance will continue unmarred.

Chloe on Chair

Morning nap in hotel chair.

There were other traumatic experiences on the trip, but I’ll save some tales for another day. On the plus side, I enjoyed improved accommodations throughout the trip, mostly thanks to my pal Charlie cluing in Mike that LaQuinta Inns are dog-friendly with no fee. Mike liked that part a lot. I still slept in my travel crate every night, but in the morning Heather was a little more lenient about my napping arrangements than she had been last year.We’ll see how it goes on the way back.

 

 

Chloë Sleeps Away

Chloë guards the front door.

After a few practice runs, the next time I visited Caroline’s house, she wasn’t even there when I arrived. Mike and Heather seemed very harried when they left, but their departure never bothered me. I just relaxed and hung out with her beau David until Caroline got home. I already knew where the toys were, so I just helped myself, laid down and chilled. When Caroline walked in the door, I gave her an energetic, wiggling greeting, and she was happy to see me, too. The next morning she gave me a Frozen PBB right on schedule, and I relaxed even further, realizing she had been adequately briefed on all essential procedures.

I quickly settled into a different routine. Every morning I got to play Dawn Patrol in Caroline’s back yard, which is fully fenced-in and has a lawn as well as garden beds. Caroline just opened the back door, let me out and watched me as I wandered the perimeter, checking for intruders. Luckily I didn’t find any, or else I might have tried to test the fencing with my superior tunneling skills. Something to think about next time!

Sidewalk sniffing.

Caroline and I took short walks to the small parks in her neighborhood, and on the weekend, when the weather improved, we went to Discovery Park. But I always stayed on a leash, and we did no throwing whatsoever. The most exciting thing we did was a field trip into Magnolia Village, where Caroline works. Now, I’ve been there many, many times before, but always with Mike and Heather, and usually we’re hurrying to get someplace (like to get my nails clipped or visiting the store with cheese hearts),  or I’m trying to avoid greeting other dogs at the Farmers’ Market.

Eyeing the wares at Vixen.

Walking through the village with Caroline was different. Few people here know Heather or Mike (who’s apparently only a celebrity in one place in the whole universe), but everybody in Magnolia knows Caroline. They stopped to chat her up, ask what breed of dog I am and, of course, tell her how cute I am. If Mike had been thinking in my best interest, he would have given Caroline some of my business cards to pass out to these new admirers. It must have slipped his mind. Anyway, Caroline and I  paused in front of the Petit Pierre French bakery so I could peruse crumbs on the sidewalk, and then we spent a little girl-time shopping at Vixen Day Spa and Boutique. Looking around the store for tchotchkes was fun, even if I didn’t buy anything — and maybe because I didn’t break anything.

High on grass.

We had fun at Caroline’s house, too. She is considering installing artificial turf in her back yard, and a couple of men came over to measure and leave samples. I quality tested the products for comfort, but not for what the trade calls “absorb-ability,” if you catch my stream of consciousness. My verdict: Both samples looked good, but both still looked fake up close. They also felt a little prickly on my skin; even though my new friend David said my thick fur made me look like a “dachshund in a gorilla suit,” I can be very sensitive, you know.

Caroline kept texting Mike about how good I was behaving, saying I’m “a little Angel” and attaching a special emoji to illustrate, and that she and David would be lonely when I left. I got to like David as much as I liked Caroline, and I even squeezed out some longing whimpers when he spent the night on his boat. They were both easy to live with, always happy to be greeted at the front door and happy to have me around. I did my part by sparing them any loud and prolonged barking, and I didn’t even do much whining, except when food was not on the table fast enough. I’m told this is a common problem in these resort settings, not to mention what I have to deal with at home. I’ll continue to save my most obnoxious whining for Mike’s ears only.

More birthday treats.

When Caroline stayed home to work one morning and slid my travel crate back into its case, I figured it was about time to go home. But when Caroline opened the door and Heather and Mike were there, I just went nuts. I tackled Mike multiple times, squealed in delight and even emitted some primal whimpers of delight that Heather maintained she had never heard from me before. She thought I was so happy to see Mike because I had missed him so much, but that was silly. What made me so happy was knowing Mike brought back the birthday presents I had been promised by aunts Susie and Debby. When those treats are gone, however, I would be just happy to go back to Caroline’s house, my favorite home away from home.

Chloë Journeys to the East and Back

On the Kootenai River, Idaho

So, did ya miss me?

I do apologize to my loyal readers for not writing in such a long time, not even a postcard. Sorry, but life on the road turned out to be more time-consuming than I had originally anticipated. As we traveled from place to place,  we usually rode all day in the car, and at night Mike was too busy putting together the next day’s itinerary to sit down for an hour and listen to my prattling. Reluctantly, I deferred. Besides, I was having too good a time.

Mike, Heather and I left Seattle on June 15 and didn’t get back home until Aug. 23 – 10, 939 miles, 20 states and provinces and 69 days later. Quite the journey! While I can’t deny that I endured some minor hardships along the way, I had a blast. I had never dreamed there were so many neat places and people to see and sniff beyond my Magnolia neighborhood.

Although this extended road trip upset my normal routine, I got treated so well that I was able to settle into a new routine after only a day or two.  In the car, I had the back seat all to myself, and from my propped-up perch I could keep track of everything going on inside and outside. I happily report that Heather never fell asleep at the wheel once, while navigator Mike dozed off more times than I did. Good thing he wasn’t driving. In case of a sudden jolt, I was strapped to a harness so I couldn’t fly through a window, but I could still move around as much as I needed to, which wasn’t much. Any time I needed anything, such as a cold drink, a Frozen PBB, a pit stop or a treat, all I had to do was whine a couple of times. It drove Mike and Heather nuts, but it got results. “Stifle!” Heather would bark at me, applying a sternly worded reprimand. It worked – until the next time, that is.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

After a day of driving, every afternoon the three of us  took a long walk, and we visited some incredible locations. We didn’t do a lot of ball-throwing on these walks, because Mike and Heather were afraid of me running off. Right, like I would have the nerve to do something like that so far from the security of home. Not me; the pack was all I had. So I stuck close to the pack when we hiked in forests from Washington to New York and back. I really enjoyed all the places we walked, even when they turned into harrowing experiences. Once Mike got us lost at dusk, deep in a Ohio forest preserve. Another time Heather carried me down and back up several flights of metal-grated stairs to the base of a waterfall on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The steps had a sharp surface that hurt my feet.

While I never had to sleep in a tent, thank god, my travel crate was wedged in next to the air conditioner in many a cheap motel room. And there were other minor tribulations as well, such as navigating my way around a couple of cats (I got along with docile Dinah, faced off with snarling Spanky, who stalked me for my whole time in Syracuse). I sniffed out and chased after wild animals (deer, elk, prairie dogs, chipmunks and buffalo), managed to ignore many dogs, backed away from many children who wanted to pet me, and turned my back on too many strangers who gushed about my cuteness or my breed, usually guessing incorrectly. “Wirehair dachshund, but not a textbook wirehair,” Heather replied every time, often providing further information on the three dachshund coats and apologizing because I wasn’t a better illustration of my breed. Thankfully, no one demanded to see my papers, not even on any of my border crossings into Canada and back.

I also really enjoyed getting to meet so many of my loyal readers, and to finally give them the opportunity to press the fur with me after reading about my exploits all these years. I hope nobody was disappointed. If so, I’ll try to make it up to you next time. I’ve already overheard Heather talking about making the drive East again. Get my throne ready – with improvements, of course.

Until then, enjoy some scenes from my journey, starting with the test run through Washington state in May, followed by the trip to Syracuse and back. It’s kind of like my version of The Red Couch, starring me instead of a red couch. Enjoy it while I get Mike to take me outside to check whether there’s any new entrees on the Wendy Way* buffet table.

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Chloe Faces Fuzz

Mike, Heather and I spent another week out at my foothills Getaway, but I never did find the orange ball I lost the first week. No big deal, I reasoned. That ball was starting to get a little soft and squishy, anyway, not bouncing as high or far as it used to, and much easier to gnaw. I was sure Mike and Heather will just get me a new one when we got home, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

Mr. Fuzz

Still, I didn’t get to play a lot of fetch on the lawn the second week. Too many distractions. For the most part, I was on a leash or tied to something for the remainder of our stay. I had run away and ignored her commands so frequently that Heather’s coyote-anxiety was at all-time high while her tolerance of me was at an all-time low. Even inside the house she tethered me to a chair or a table, fearful that I would break loose and eat Pumpkin’s food or, worse yet, chase the cat Mr. Fuzz under a bed and start screeching at him. Does Heather forget I’m a dachshund? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Besides, Mr. Fuzz tricked me. He deliberately left some of his cat food upstairs on the bathroom floor just where I could find it if I sneaked upstairs, which I did. His food tasted pretty good at the time, but it gave me diarrhea for days afterward, each time further reminding Heather that I had been a bad, bad dog. Oh well, live and learn.

Chloë and Pumpkin vie for position.

By the end of our second week at the Getaway, Mr. Fuzz got bolder and started coming downstairs for visits, even during the day. I only got to chase him once, though, when I was briefly left unattended while Mike was exercising and Heather was doing laundry, or maybe the other way around. Anyway, besides that brief encounter on the second floor, Fuzz and I kept our distance. And the next time I got upstairs, Fuzz had already eaten most of his food. Smarter guy than I gave him credit for.

Chloe and Pumpkin April 2017

Pumpkin tried again to be my pal, which was OK, as long as she understands her place in my pack. It was not OK, for instance, for her to instigate playful chasing with me out on the forest trails. I’m the one in charge of that, and everything else, for that matter. I did let her sit in the back seat of Heather’s car with me, but I made her get in first, so she can check it for danger and then stay out of my way. Most importantly, I made it clear to Pumpkin that her place was definitely NOT on the couch or bed spread out on top of or tightly beside Heather. That’s MY place. Pumpkin got the message.

Portage survivors.

One more thing: While Pumpkin was always happy to go hiking with us, on more than one occasion she showed what a wuss she is. Sometimes Heather had to carry Pumpkin through the swampy sections of the trail when Pumpkin refused to wade through on her own. To Pumpkin’s credit, she was getting much better about being comfortable outside after she two weeks of walking with us to toughen her up. I hope Pumpkin ventures out more in the real world when I’m not around to lead her.

Meanwhile, All Clear, Mr. Fuzz! You can come downstairs now. I’m leaving Pumpkin in charge until I come back.

Mr. Fuzz spies from landing

 

Chloë Screws Up Her Training

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

Boot Camp with Heather had been going so well. When we arrived for a two-week stay at my Cascade foothills Getaway, she voiced her amazement at how well I was complying with all of her increasingly difficult commands. On more than one occasion, I heard her tell Mike that I was doing “fantastic.” That was her word, not mine.

And then things got a bit out of hand.  I got out there in the country with my pal Pumpkin and the sweet spring grass and lots of wild smells, and I just lost control. On four straight days, Heather let me off my leash and I ran away from her, at four different locations for four different reasons. She would call me back, and sometimes I would even stop and look at her.  And run.

Shooting range

The first time I was chasing the orange ball that Mike had tossed along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and it took a bad hop and flew over the embankment right into the local gun club’s shooting range.  When I skidded down after it, I caught my leash on a bush, and both I and the ball needed assistance. But as Heather slid down to get me, I extricated myself and ran back uphill to Mike, who was trying to keep Pumpkin from following Heather down. I dropped the ball in the process, but Heather was able to get it. No harm, no foul, right? I might have gotten away with it if it only happened once. Unfortunately, no.

Heather shows the dogs where the ball flew over embankment.

Charlie was with us for the next incident. He drove out to visit on a Sunday, and we took him for a walk on a different branch of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I was leading the pack on the way back to the car when I caught a fresh scent of fox or weasel and took off on a small game trail that ran under some barbed-wire fencing and Posted signs. This sliver of a trail led to a much wider one some 20 feet below, which then wound further into farmers’ fields and ultimately toward the busy highway beyond them. Heather and Charlie kept calling me to return, but I ignored them, put my nose down to the ground and scurried another few yards in the opposite direction. At one point I bounded toward the highway, but soon reversed course and headed steadily back to the main trail, where Mike stood waiting at my original point of egress. This time Heather ordered Mike to keep me leashed up for the rest of our walk.

Wanted: Chloë’s missing ball

But did anybody learn anything from this? Apparently not, because on the following day, in between the heavy rains and hailstones I endured, I split again on yet another section of the Sno Valley Trail. (Heather likes this former railroad bed trail because it’s flat, and I like because it has lots of small critters lurking about.) This time I ran circles around a muddy field before returning to Mike and his waiting leash, again the prescribed punishment from Staff Sergeant Heather, who was amused by my recent performances. She was even less pleased the following day, when she and I were playing fetch on the back lawn, for both of us by far the most favorite activity on the Getaway agenda. She threw the ball, I retrieved it, and then I ran right past her and all the way down to the landscapers’ garage down the hill, ball in mouth – until a big dog named Coconut who lives there intercepted me and chased me back towards the Getaway house. Heather was made when she came to get me, and she was even more so when she saw the ball was no longer in my grip.

At least I’ve got another week out here at my Getaway to find that ball. Meanwhile, I figure I am on a leash for the duration of our time here, even when I’m inside the house. It’s like house arrest! And who knows how long it will last with Heather in charge? Might be forever, come to think of it.