Category Archives: Vacations

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.

Chloë Gets Some Balls

Toy relocation plan unfolds.

I spent the rest of my most recent staycation with Lynn resting up for my highly anticipated Heather Boot Camp and doing some minor interior decorating, moving my toys around the house and just leaving them there. No Mike around to pick them up for me. In fact, when Lynn was downstairs doing laundry one night, I brought almost all my toys down there one at a time, playing for a while with each new one, then maybe going back to the first or third one for a few minutes before taking a well deserved nap on a pile of soft toys. When I awoke and Lynn was preoccupied with something, I discovered the laundry room waste can was vulnerable, so I tipped it over and pulled out a big ball of dryer lint and some tissues, something the super-vigilant Heather would have headed off at the pass. What fun I have when Lynn’s around, and she lets me sleep with her, too. I’m a good bed warmer.

With my pal Charlie

I also had a couple of great walks with my good pal Charlie. He cleaned out his racquetball bag and brought some old balls over for me. I love these balls, because they are softer than my usual ones and small enough for gnawing, Mike likes them not so much, since I am loath to relinquish them. So Charlie and I decided not to tell Mike about the balls. Charlie let me parade around the park with one in my mouth, and when we hit my lane he pulled a few more out of his pocket and we had a great game of fetch, with me bringing the balls back every time and dropping them at Charlie’s feet on command. When we left, I insisted on carrying one of the balls all the way home, but Charlie left a couple at the top of the lane for next time, or perhaps for another dog who wandered down Chloë’s Lane in need of a racquetball. What a guy.

First Heather came home, and I was still a like antsy and off my routine until Mike finally showed up several days later. It was fun as usual with him gone, but I am definitely happiest when the whole pack is back together.

Chloë Finds a New Hero

Waiting for Jane.

Thank heavens, I got a reprieve on the start of Heather’s boot camp. One day she retired, and the next day she and Mike were gone for a while, which was plenty OK with me. Instead of 30-minute down-stays on the floor, I get 30-minute cuddles with my pal Lynn on a couch or in bed. Maybe they should go away more often. (Just kidding, guys!)

There were some surprises on this mostly uneventful staycation at home with Lynn. When Lynn went to work, instead of Jill coming through the front door to take me out for my mid-day walk, in came Jane, my down-the-block neighbor Merrie the Basset hound’s owner. I know Jane is really nice and always talks to me, so I was very glad to see her, especially since she didn’t bring Merrie along. As my readers well know, I do better with one-on-one relationships. So every day around noon, I took Jane for a walk around the neighborhood, sniffing my way along the sidewalks and hydrants and pulling her along. Jane said that seeing me strut down the street reminded her of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, the same rhythm and determination. I can dig it; after all, we’re all just “Stayin’ Alive.” On the other hand, all she has to compare me with is the slow-moving Merrie.

It was pretty rainy, and most days I got bored with the neighborhood walk after a half-hour or so and made it clear to Jane that I wanted to go home, walking her briskly until we got there. Then I would bolt inside and run to the kitchen, where Lynn left the Kong Wobbler sitting on the counter. I’d do my usual adorable dance, and Jane would set the Kong on the floor before departing, leaving me happily pushing it around and knocking out its treats. One time Jane even found the Kong when Lynn couldn’t. And for a game-saving catch like that, Jane will forever be my hero.

The next week Jill returned for my mid-day walk, and Lynn kept telling me that Heather was coming back any day. By mid-week, however, I was just treating that information like it was more of that fake news. When she gets here, she gets here. I am ready for boot camp. Bring it on.

Chloë Gains at Home

Shortcut

Shortcut

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.