Category Archives: Vacations

Chloë Vacations by the Shore

Along the Thornton-Cookstown Trail, Innisfil, ON

The last legs of our cross-Canada trip came at a slower pace. After skirting the northern shores of Lakes Superior and Huron (lots of trees) in a series of one-night stops, we landed for two nights in one place and four nights in the next. We had a whole apartment near Heather’s sister Alison’s house. The place was OK, since the wooden stairs to the bedroom was so slippery that Heather  had to  carry me up and down like I was Queen Nefertiti. (Heather slipped once, though, which wasn’t so funny.) One day many people from Heather’s family came over, which was cool with me because there were a lot of leftovers and more plates to lick, not to mention random chips falling on the floor.

Lakeside fetching, Cobourg, ON

My visit to meet Alison’s new puppy Sadie didn’t go nearly as well. She was only six months old and not very socialized to other dogs, so she was all over me and didn’t know how to set limits. After we rolled around for a minute and she wouldn’t back off, cooler heads decided to keep us apart on this trip; Sadie was in the yard and I was in the house, or vice-versa. That worked a lot better. It was pretty hot while we were there, too, so we took our daily walks mostly around the neighborhood in the early morning, but we did get to complete another leg of the Thornton-Cookstown Trans-Canada Trail before we left. We still have a ways to go.

With Aunt Robin

Our final stop before reaching Syracuse rated No. 1 on my list of favorite places on this journey to the East. We stayed at a house being rented by Heather’s sister, my Aunt Robin, and her partner Barry in Cobourg, Ontario, about an hour east of Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario. Thankfully, there was a fence and tall hedge between their back yard and the beach, so I wasn’t constantly subjected to the sight and sound of waves lapping up the shoreline. Ever since Heather took me down to the beach on Puget Sound during a storm many years ago, just the thought of  water rushing toward me gives me the creeps. Rivers and boats are OK, but not lakes and oceans.

Heather throws, Chloë fetches.

Other than that big lake in front of it, this house had everything I’m looking for in a quality back yard It was totally fenced in, mostly flat and full of lush, green lawn and pockmarked with the dens of squirrels and chipmunks. For me, this was like going to a relaxing health spa with unlimited buffets dining and top-line entertainment. I got to chase my ball  for the first time since we left Seattle, and I was allowed off leash to explore the yard and flop anywhere I wanted to — at least until I dug a hole in the middle of the lawn while in pursuit of a burrowing chipmunk. Aunt Robin wasn’t smiling when she took a shovelful of dirt from a garden and filled in the hole I dug. I was on a strict “no dig” policy after that.

Frozen PBB, side view

Frankly, I could have stayed there in that back yard for the rest of the summer, but duty called: We had to get back to the good ol’ U.S.A. Each one of us had discovered something we missed. For Mike, it was ESPN. For Heather, it was a good cup of coffee and NCIS marathons. And for me, Peanut Butter Boneys that are frozen in a hollow marrow bone instead of the tiny plastic cups I’ve been getting on the road. I want my PBB!

Chloë Gets Ready to Roll

Packed for the trip.

The past few weeks were hectic, with packing, route planning and getting the house and yard ready for our prolonged absence during our drive to the East Coast and back. With that in mind, I made sure to pee in each corner of of my domain, trying to give all cats and raccoons a remembrance of my presence  while I’m gone. Unfortunately, Mike’s repeated attempts to get his sprinkler coverage right no doubt washed away all of my best intentions.

Schatzi’s new dining spot.

Despite the bustle, the pack was able to get over to Caroline’s and Schatzi’s house to see their brand-new kitchen renovation before we hit the road. Details were not completely finished when we visited, but everything had been installed except the kitchen sink, so Schatzi and I might have to clean all the dishes. The new floor and cabinets are very modern-looking and sleek, but for me the highlight is certainly Schatzi’s built-in feeding station, which is strategically located a just few inches off the ground, so it’s at the right hright for her to chow downwhile more importantly holding the bowls in place to achieve total licking-the-bowl perfection. I’m sure she’ll really enjoy her kibble, yogurt and sardines! I only wish there were a couple of additional bowl portals for guests, like a motel’s breakfast buffet with side-by-side chafing dishes. I guess I’ll still have to eat off the floor when I’m vacationing over there.

Have nose, will travel.

There was one piece of concerning news for me before we hit the road. At my last vet visit about two weeks ago, I tipped the scales at 22.1 pounds, approaching my all-time highest weight, which has been creeping upward since Heather took over my feeding chores.  On our past journeys across the continent, for me it’s been all sympathy, extra treats and an occasional cup of ice cream. However, between the frequent tugs on my leash and admonitions of “MUTE” when I do too much whining in the car and a potential reduction of my rations and treats, this year’s ride may be much more bumpy. We’ll see!

Chloë Trades Vacations

Chloë and Schatzi ready to walk.

I am strongly pack-oriented. Whenever my pack is not all together, preferably in the same room, I am on edge. So in that respect, the pandemic has been good for me, since until recently my pack had not missed a single night together since early March 2019. That’s a long time. even for me. When on a Sunday morning, Heather and Mike hustled me and all my gear into the car and deposited me at Schatzi‘s house, I was ready for a vacation.

Pre-dinner snooze in the library.

Just the week before, my pal Schatzi spent several days at our house. I therefore deduced that our respective owners have finally shed their travel fears and are sticking their toes in warmer waters, leaving us behind. For me, having Schatzi around is like a vacation, since she’s always the one drawing Heather’s scolding while I get a temporary free pass. Schatzi celebrated her third birthday while she was with us, with Caroline leaving her special birthday presents but no cake or burgers. Schatzi can still get in my face more than I would like her to, but at least she’s smart enough to back off when I tell her.

Scattering of Schatzi’s toys.

As soon as I got on Schatzi’s turf, I searched for and recovered the squeaky bone toy from her birthday gift, which I had commandeered and since missed every second since she took it home with her (the nerve!). But I didn’t stop there, eventually scattering and discarding most of Schatzi’s largely ignored menagerie all over Caroline’s living room. That was fun!

Fetch in back yard.

During my stay we also played ball in Schatzi’s fenced-in back yard. That is, Caroline threw the ball, I chased the ball, and Schatzi chased me. Schatzi has yet to comprehend the “pick up the ball and bring it back” part of the game. But I did enjoy the freedom of a fenced yard and a lawn. We have neither at our house.

Slumber party at Schatzi’s house.

While long overdue, my vacation was low-key. Mostly I laid around with Schatzi, trading beds every once in a while, going out for walks together and sometimes with Marley from across the street, but mostly sleeping and waiting for Mike and Heather to get back from wherever they went (they claimed to have sent me a postcard, but if they did, it arrived at Schatzi’s house after I came home). Rather than feel ignored, however, I went absolutely nuts, with at least 10 minutes of jumping and squealing, when they walked through the door. My pack was back.

Chloë Takes a Short Vacation

Roll Call: Smokey (front), Chloë and Pumpkin.

When we drove out to my Cascade foothills Getaway last week, it was the first time we’ve spent the night away from home in 400 days, as well as our longest car ride in that time: a whole 28 miles door to door. But for a few moments, at least, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel dipped down to the level of  I-90, with Mount Rainier and the North Cascades shimmering over the lake on a cloudless afternoon.

I love going out there, although sometimes spending 10 days fending off the advances of the adolescent Smokey is not exactly my idea of a vacation. Him constantly barking at dogs in TV commercials is bad enough, but I’m starting to get a vibe that there’s something a little kinky going on here in the wild, wild West (I’ve seen all those smarmy families in the modern Westerns on TV). Smokey not only hounded me every minute I was there, trying to sniff my butt or butt in on my food (much better than his, I can say from experience), but he also stalked poor little Pumpkin, and worse–at least twice a day, he snuck up behind her and started to hump her, stopping only when Heather started screaming at him. And here’s the kicker: Smokey squats when he pees, while Pumpkin lifts her leg every time. Definitely something amiss here.

The pack leads Heather.

The two of them were a pain when we took them on our daily walks, too. Heather took their leashes, while Mike had me, and I tried to pull him along as fast as his bum foot allowed. Smokey and Pumpkin made Heather deal with lots of pooping and stopping to sniff every leaf and rock, like they had never smelled one before.  Boring. Then one afternoon we drove to a different park for a walk, but Smokey started barking at another dog while we were still in the parking lot. Heather hustled everybody back into the car because she couldn’t trust Smokey where there were too many distractions. So we drove to another place, a logging road where there would be no people or dogs to provoke Smokey. Unfortunately, about 20 minutes uphill Smokey found a fresh animal scent to follow and yanked Heather right into the woods after it. That killed this spot as a walk location, too.

Along the Sno Valley Trail.

The number of places without distractions both at the parking lot and along the trail seemed limited, but the Snoqualmie Valley Trail always seemed to foot the bill. From our central location, we could access several  sections in 10 days without repeating our routes.

And don’t let me whine too much, because, the benefits of vacationing at my Getaway far outweigh the drawbacks. This time I got to audition my new REI camp chair, for one thing, although I do want to test it out for a couple of weeks before rendering my final verdict. Out in Fall City, the new chair was easier to leap into, but still put me safely above the Scylla and Charybdis of Smokey and the mostly upstairs cat Mr. Fuzz. I did let Pumpkin use it a couple of times when I was resting somewhere else.

Chloë’ tries her new camp chair.

Another good part of being there, of course, is that just like when my little pal Schatzi visits our house, it’s always the other dogs who are screwing up, barking unnecessarily or doing something gross, and I am looking like a descendant of a certified obedience champion (which is true!). When three’s company, I’m never the one getting yelled at.

Front seat with cushion.

But the absolute best part: Whenever Mike, Heather and the three dogs drove somewhere in Heather’s car, I got to sit in the front on Mike’s lap. True, it still wasn’t my own seat, but it was still the front seat. And I didn’t want to make Mike have to sit in the back with those two.

Chloë Sharpens Her Throwing Skills

As the quarantine unfolded over the past three months, you may recall that I  have been forced to take most of my fetch game inside the house for workouts with Mike. Well, all that off-season conditioning followed me outside when my Spring Training 2.0 ramped up. As you’ll see by watching my recent workout video below,  I’ve really improved my control. Watch especially for my monster curve; I put quite the 6-to-12 break on ol’ Uncle Charlie!  In fact, my ol’ throwing partner Charlie would be quite impressed.

Heather at first didn’t like the part of the game when she would throw the ball and I catch it and roll it back to her instead of running all the way back to her and dropping it at her feet. But you can see from her enthusiasm in the video that she finally came around on this, conceding the diminished running to my advancing age, and also impressed with my skill and dexterity at both ends of the court. As you can see, I’ve grown adept at catching the ball on the run, I go back on the deep ball like Willie Mays, I can dig it out of the dirt like Don Mattingly, I’m as quick to the ball as Charlie Hustle and now I’ve added a devastating yakker to my repertoire. A five-tool player for sure.

We also had some visitors to the house last week. George and Debbie from Juneau came over one afternoon to take a walk in the park and have a drink on the back yard deck (six feet apart and me in my bed in the middle). And my doggie pal Schatzi spent the night with us,. Even though she’s more than a year old, Schatzi still does puppy things and demands constant attention from me or whatever humans are around. After we do a little get-reacquainted running around and I see what toys she brought with her, I’ve had enough, but she doesn’t ick up on my non-verbal  message. So I’m getting back at her here by divulging that on this visit to our house she whined in her crate at night, woke everybody up at 5 a.m., barked whenever she wasn’t getting enough attention and peed on the downstairs carpet. Sorry to bring it up, but listen, girl, you can only get by on cute for so long.

Schatzi, Lamby, Chloë and Heather chillin’.

Chloë on Guard

Chloë shows off her protective sock

The pain from my recent injury didn’t last long. As you can see from the video above, within a couple of days I ditched the protective sock (shown in the photo) and got back to running around as usual, even romping in the cemetery with my little buddy Schatzi.

Chloë hogs Schatzi’s toys.

Just a few days later, Mike and Heather went away again (!), so I went over to Schatzi’s house for another staycation. Just like last time, I took over all of her toys (hers are much better than mine), and we played a lot of Bed Bingo, when Schatzi occupies my bed and I take over hers. Observing proper social distancing, we did not sleep in the same bed together, and for the most part we dined separately, although there was one night when Schatzi tried to get at my food, and I had to growl at her.

Something was different about this visit, however. Schatzi, who just turned one year old, went into heat for the first time a few days before I got there. Since I had been spayed when I was just six months old (Heather being a  staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood), I wasn’t able to offer my young pal any first-dog advice on what to expect or how to deal with it, but I was able to perform a crucial function nonetheless: Guarding her against any slobbering male dogs who might be hanging around the property, drooling over my fruitful friend. Marley from across the street seemed to be sniffing around more than usual, but after I gave him a hard stare, he kept his distance. I must have done a good job while I was there, because when I left the premises, Schatzi’s virginity was intact. Not on my watch, boys!

Schatzi contemplates her life in her idol’s bed.

Listening intently on the trading floor.

The other highlight of my stay was going to Caroline’s financial adviser office in Magnolia Village. Everyone there is always so nice to Schatzi and me, even at this difficult, frenzied time when the stock market was crashing all around them!  Still, just by sitting in her office for a little while, I was able to pick up some valuable insight about what to do with my portfolio. Unlike certain members of the U.S. Senate,  however, I have resisted the urge to cash in on my inside knowledge. But Schatzi, with her reckless youth and feelings of  invincibility, may not be so inclined. As our illustrious president likes to say, we’ll see what happens.

Schatzi soaks in the financial news.

 

 

 

 

Chloë Stays with Her New Best Pal

Vacation greetings.

Mike and Heather went away somewhere right after Thanksgiving. I didn’t ask any questions, because my personal “staycation” was fine. They dropped me off at my new best pal Schatzi’s house, which was a lot more fun  for me than traipsing around somewhere with them. I knew I made the right choice when I saw the photo greeting they sent from whatever beach they were on. Just looking at those waves smashing onto the shoreline was enough to make me hide under a warm blanket.

Playing with Schatzi’s bear.

At Schatzi’s house, I was a lot more comfortable. I had stayed there previously, before Schatzi arrived on the scene, and as long as she continued to accept me as the boss whenever I was there, I was fine with her being around. We had lots of fun together. First of all, Schatzi had great toys, which of course she never paid any attention to until I showed an interest. It’s good for those toys to feel wanted.

Sharing Chloë’s bed

I also liked Schatzi’s bed, which I had tried when Schatzi stayed at our house a couple of weeks ago. As soon as I got to her house, I climbed right in. Schatzi then decided to lie down in the bed I brought, and we starred at each other for a while. Then we started getting into the same bed together, and juggled beds and toys for the next several days. Eventually, however, I asserted my dominance as queen of the beds. I always got first pick.

Schatzi and I also needed designated dining areas on opposite sides of a gate at the entrance to the kitchen. Schatzi caught on that I get a lot better menu (two kinds of kibble, eggs, yogurt, broth) than she does (kibble and yogurt). I can’t say as I blame her, but that’s her problem, and I’m not trading or sharing my meal with her. If that means dining in a gated community, so be it. As fast as she and I eat, it’s only a couple of minutes a day anyhow.

Designated dining areas: Two tables for one.

Another good thing about sleeping over at Schatzi’s house is that we get let out into the back yard without leashes. I’m sure that if I were left unsupervised  long enough I could find a way out, but so far somebody’s always got an eye on us, so they can see if  we are “doing our business. So I only got to sniff around inside the fence and roll around with Schatzi. Sometimes Caroline threw a ball back there, but while I chased the ball a couple of times, Schatzi only chased me. And some seagulls.

Rainy day garb didn’t go over well.

Our walks in the rain that week did not go so well. Caroline tried putting us in raincoats, but we were too embarrassed and demanded to go back inside. Then we had too much energy to burn and ran circles around the house.  We also had disagreements about access to the stairs that went to the lower level of the house, where the back yard door is. But that was minor; the only time we got into any real trouble was when Schatzi discovered the lower -hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree. When confronted with the evidence, a little paw-pointing ensued between us, but Caroline knew immediately that Schatzi was the culprit. My sole interest continues to be in Christmas cookies, not ornaments. And a few gifts would be nice, too.

 

 

 

 

Chloë Finds a Home on the Range

Just because I detailed some of the hazards of the road in my previous post, don’t get the idea that I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, after Heather learned to roll down my window whe we slowed down, I had all kinds of fun sticking my nose out and sniffing what this country is all about. It was interesting. One day I was herding buffalo…

Get along, li’l doggies, get along! Wind Cave National Park, SD

The next day it was cows. We rounded ’em up in the Black Hills, and not a moment too soon. Within a half hour the sky turned as black as the hills and a sudden and torrential rainstorm drove us from the road. The cattle were home by then.

Heading west, nearly every afternoon brought a spectacular sunset in the  western skies.

We drove and walked through high desert and high mountain passes. (No large lakes or ocean, though, as I refuse to walk near waves.)

I loved those wide-open spaces.  It’s nice to be home, but I’m ready to hit the road again.

Raring to roam.

 

 

Chloë Escapes Dangers on the Road

Our summer trip was fun, but it was not without a few difficult situations. And I won’t even count my continued frustration with chasing down my Syracuse aunts’ cats.

Devil’s Tower, WY

For instance, when we stayed in East Glacier, MT, for three nights, every time I stepped outside for a pee, a pack of large neighborhood dogs descended upon me, intent on sniffing my butt, or worse. Heather or Mike managed to shoo them away every time, but still. They made me nervous.

In Syracuse, things doubled down. I took two trips to the vet with an ear infection and two drenchings from thunderstorms as I waited in the car while Mike and Heather ate pork and drank beer inside.  Did I complain?  NO. Syracuse was also where I also suffered the only tick bite on the trip, leaving a large, hard bump on my chin. It got a little bigger and hurt for a week, but then it went away and I did not come down with Lyme disease, as Heather had feared.

Flooded highway in Valentine NWR, NE

On to Canada, where two large dogs leaped upon me while I was minding my own business on the side of a hiking trail. I had always been told all Canadians are nice, but those two were not at all nice. Their owner was a little cranky, too.

Danger stalked me from coast to coast. In Massachusetts, I had to survive some choppy seas on a boat ride and a nest of yellow jackets, the latter of which sent me to the doggie emergency room with multiple stings around my mouth. In Pennsylvania, gnawing on an animal carcass might have brought infection or even poison into my system; at least, that’s what Heather said, although she seems prone to voicing worst-case scenarios.

Milwaukee Railroad Trail, MT

The western part of the trip was no less stressful for me. In St. Louis, it was so hot and humid that I sometimes refused to walk. In northwestern Nebraska, standing water on the road came up as high as my window when Heather drove the car through; I thought I was in a submarine. In Montana, thunderstorms brought rain and hail so hard that we had to pull off the road for a while. When conditions died down, we went hiking on an old railroad trail with tunnels so long that they were totally dark in the middle. Bring a flashlight next time, Mike.

OK, some troubling stuff happened to me, sure, but it could have been much worse. Look on the bright side: In nearly three months on the road, I never got lost, never barked at or ran after a large animal, and never tried to bite anyone.  In addition, everyone treated me like a queen. When did you say we are leaving again?

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, WA

Chloë Visits Friends Back East

On Roaring Brook, Lowville NY.

After nearly three months on the road, we finally got home to Seattle a couple of weeks ago. We had lots of fun, but all of us were glad to be home and sleeping in our own beds. (Not to mention being able to chase Wiffie around the house, play fetch off-leash and burrow into bed with Heather, all off limits on the trip.)

Conferring with Heather about the seating plan.

Sometimes, I admit, it was tough on me, being hustled in and out of my harness in the car four or five times a day. On the other hand, as long as we were driving, everyone in the pack was together, which is always OK with me.

On the way back to Seattle we visited a lot of Mike’s and Heather’s friends and family, which was a lot more fun than staying in hotels. Everybody we stayed with was just so nice to me, going out of his or her way to make me as comfortable as possible, which is important to me. We went on many walks to new and exciting places, too.  Sometimes things got a little too exciting, as you’ll read about below. So I wanted to take a minute to thank all of my hosts for a job well done, and I hope they will all visit me in Seattle sometime soon.

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We were on the road a long time. After leaving Syracuse, first we spent a week or so in Canada and a couple of nights with my pal Penny in the Adirondacks. Then we wound our way through New England and northern Pennsylvania. All those narrow, twisting roads we took made Heather slow down the car, which made me start to whine in the back seat. She and Mike finally figured out that I was trying to tell them to open the window in the backseat so I could sniff the countryside. That’s all l I ever wanted with my whining–unless I needed a bathroom break or a snack, of course. I only whine for good reason, and it’s always a fine whine.

Letting it all hang out the rear window.

When they moved my bed closer to the rear window, things got even better. Soon I was sticking nose, my head, my neck and eventually half my body outside the car with reckless abandon every time we slowed to 30 mph or less. In fact, a few times Mike got nervous, reached out, grabbed my harness and yanked me back into the car.

Some of my other return trip highlights included hiking in Connecticut with Scott (although I was not treated to any leftovers from their lunch at Ted’s World-Famous Steamed Cheeseburgers). In Boston, I chased geese along the Charles River Esplanade and took a ride up the North River on Gary’s boat. We anchored where the water was calm, I didn’t have to worry about waves, and I could chase sticks unencumbered.

Swimming with Jake, Massachusetts.

A couple of days later, when we visited John and Peggy in Massachusetts, I went swimming again, this time in a pond with a loveable old retriever named Jake. That was fun, and so was running around Jake’s huge, fenced-in back yard when Mike and Heather went off to a wedding. That is, I was having fun until my enthusiastic digging unearthed a nest of yellow jackets, whose stings on my snout sent me to the doggie emergency room and brought Heather and Mike scurrying back from the wedding. I was in bad shape at first (I will spare you the gory details!), but Peggy and John took good care of me, and after the doctor injected me with Benadryl, I felt fine the next morning.

Rob showed me carcasses, Pennsylvania.

From there it was back into the car for the ride home. We drove from New England to northwestern Pennsylvania, where we got a cook’s tour of Warren, Pa., from favorite son Rudy and visited his camp on the Allegheny River. Then we spent a lovely night with Denise and Rob on their bucolic farm north of Pittsburgh. Mike’s friends Dave and Wayne drove up from the Burgh to see us, and Rob cooked lasagna for everyone (I licked a few plates, so I know how good it was.) Next morning Rob took us on a tour of the property and I got to sniff some really cool animal carcasses. Of all the places we walked on the trip, this was my favorite.

At Charlie’s house, St. Louis.

My biggest surprise, though, was when we stopped for a couple of nights in St. Louis, where I enjoyed a reunion with my best pal Charlie. I knew he had moved back there from Seattle just before we left in June, but I had no idea we would be visiting him on this trip. And I was really glad to find out his house was air-conditioned, because it was hot and humid the whole time we were there. I even got to nap in Logan’s bed a few times, much to Logan’s chagrin when he came home a few weeks later.

There’s lots more to tell, but I hear Heather calling me to go for our afternoon walk, and I don’t want to keep her waiting (not prudent!). I’ll continue next time. It’s good to be back.