Category Archives: Vacations

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.

 

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Chloe Enjoys Her Spring Break

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I just got back from a wonderful spring vacation. Mike and Heather took off to a wedding back east, and I got to stay with three of my favorite people, Caroline, David and Charlie. Caroline and David had to go out of town that last few days my guys were away, so my longtime walking and throwing partner Charlie volunteered to step into the void. I had never stayed with Charlie before, and I know he’s stingy with treats, but I figured it would be better than sleep-away doggie jail, so I went along with the idea.

I visited Caroline and David first. There were a few whimpers of disappointment when Heather and Mike first left, but I settled in nicely as soon as I verified the whereabouts of all my all of my favorite toys from my last stay. Caroline and David are getting a dachshund puppy in May, so she’s stocking up on new stuff. I helped them break in her new Chuckit! launcher in the back yard and at Ella Bailey Park, which is just down the block and up a flight of stairs. Caroline didn’t want me running away, so she did not fling it as hard or as far as Heather or Charlie do, but her arm was getting sore. I had more fun with David, playing ball and running around in the fenced back yard.

But I was excited when Charlie came to Caroline’s house, hauled away all my luggage and food and took me with him in his car! I had been to Charlie’s apartment before, but staying with him was a new adventure. Although he didn’t give me nearly enough treats, forgot to hand over my usual 10 a.m. Frozen PBB and ran out of my veggies, eggs AND broth on the last day, I still  had fun. Charlie took me on at least three walks a day, he gave me extra bananasto make up for the lack of veggies, and he didn’t make me sleep in my crate. I slept on in my bed or on my pillows every night, and sometimes Charlie let me hop into his bed. It used to be Mike and Heather’s futon, so it still smelled vaguely like them.  Since it wasn’t too high off the floor and there was plenty of room, I made myself comfortable..

The most excitement I had with Charlie was walking through the area near his apartment building where a giant crane fell, killing four people. We were there barely an hour before it happened., and that near-brush with death in the city was a lot scarier than any danger posed by various mules, bears or cougars out at my foothills getaway!  I decided I prefer to live out in the residential neighborhoods, where the buildings aren’t as tall and fewer people and bicycles use the sidewalks. I like my space, please.

On the last two days I stayed with Charlie, I went to work with him. He hustled me into his car and we drove to to the car dealership where he’s in charge of advertising. He brought my small peanut bed into his office, and I just slept in that or on the floor next to his desk all day, dozing and catching some rays, always on my best behavior. Charlie said that unless someone walked into his office and saw me, nobody would have known I was there. I had been hoping to work myself into some marketing campaign as a dealer mascot, or even  help the salesmen improve their closing strategies for new-car sales, but that did not materialize. I’ll just have to wait until next time, since I’m sure my exemplary behavior earned me a return visit. I’m confident that with more practice and coaching, Charlie will be able to minimize his shortcomings in hospitality.

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Chloë Vacations in Style

Taking it easy.

One evening before dinner, Mike and Heather packed up all my traveling stuff  and, without any warning, herded me into the car. We drove off with me in the back seat, whining in trepidation. I feared the worst. That is, until the car stopped in front of a house I recognized immediately: I was going to the vet for an operation, I was going on another vacation with my friends Caroline and David . My whimpers instantly modulated from mournful to excited. So was I at all nervous to be abandoned? Hell, no! As soon as Mike and Heather shut the door, I settled in. This was like a spa week for me.

Dozing on the couch.

This time I didn’t get to visit Caroline’s new financial planning office, but she came home to check on me several times a day. One day David stayed home and I got to watch him do some engineering. Since David and Caroline are expecting to get a dachshund puppy of their own later this spring, he seemed to want to be my pal so he could practice. We got along great. One night I even jumped up on the couch and put my head on his lap. He didn’t chase me away, which I took it as a good sign. I’m hoping that if I’m nice to him, maybe after they get their puppy he’ll invite me onto his boat. I’ve never been on a boat, so the puppy and I could get our inaugural sea legs together. Assuming there are no waves involved, of course.

Waiting for a treat.

Even though Heather made me leave my indoor plastic ball Wiffie at home, I got plenty of exercise over there, inside and out. We had so many games of “chase the muddy ball” in the back yard that Caroline’s arm got sore. We sometimes took walks with Marley. a dog who lives across the street. Marley and I got along fine, and he was nice enough, but mostly I treated him like any other dog: I chose to ignore him. Most of the time Caroline and I walked over the to  city park near the end of her street, which has a nice view but doesn’t have real trails like there are in my own park. For a longer trip, we walked along Magnolia Boulevard, next to the Sound. It wasn’t Chloe’s Lane, but it was OK.

Caroline kept telling me how much of an angel I am, which is always nice to hear, so I actually tried to be on my best behavior for her most of the time. She knew that Heather always calls me “Chloë TULLY,” when she’s scolding me, which  seems to me happens way too often. In the week or so I stayed with Caroline, she only had to say it a few times, no doubt when I was being a little too stubborn or spoiled for my own good. Her delivery lacked Heather’s pointed emphasis, I might add.

Pulling a donut out of the mug.

My favorite part of this stay was the quality of Caroline’s dog toys. She let me play with a stuffed alligator and a big, soft coffee mug that had fabric donuts inside that I had to pull out. It was kind of like my toy Chinese food takeout container with dumplings, except much better: bigger, plusher, more colorful and much more fun. And that pretty much summed up my whole time at Caroline’s: Similar to the high-quality treatment I get from Mike and Heather, only better. This was too much fun.

Even so, I got very excited when Mike and Heather returned to pick me up. When they rang the doorbell and entered I ran around in circles and squealed with glee, but Heather still refused to bend down to let me jump into her face. Even though she was happy to see me, she doesn’t want to encourage such excited behavior. Mike, on the other hand, had no compunctions, so when he stooped down to my level I tackled him, licking his face and biting his nose for quite a while before I settled down.

When we finally drove back to our house, before I went inside I inspected the whole block, both sides of the street, to make sure no new cats had moved in while I was away. I was thrilled to report the coast was clear.

With a stuffed gator.

 

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.

 

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.