Chloë Finally Conquers a Cat

Cat lair territory.

In our summer neighborhood, cats were everywhere. I was forced to remain on constant vigil lest they overrun us. Two lived in the house right next door, an orange one and a gray one. They taunted me by sunbathing in their driveway. Sometimes they hid inside the flower beds in MY back yard, right in there among the purple coneflower, loosestrife, yarrow and dill. I know, because I could smell them, long after they had retreated to other lairs. There’s nothing worse than the smell of rotting cat hurl. Yuck.

Cleo and Bear get their last meal before their nemesis arrives.

 

Cleo and Bear, the cats who belong to my aunts Susie and Debby, lived on the other side of Meadowbrook, but I was constantly scheming to get a walk over there. Those cats were afraid of me. And well they should be, especially since I loudly chased after them on my most recent visit. One went upstairs and the other ran downstairs, into the basement. My outburst got them quarantined to the second floor for the rest of our visit, while I was similarly confined to my bed at the base of the stairs, from which I cast a menacing gaze upward whenever I felt their eyes upon me. The cats stayed put. In fact, I saw so little of them on this trip that I can barely recall what they look like. No matter, I still know they’re there, and I will corner them one day.

Thankfully, I found one cat in the Salt City that knew its place. I just had to look this guy firmly in the eye one time and he immediately turned to stone.

 

Who’s the boss?

Chloë Dives into Water Sports

Not comfortable enough!

The traveling part of our cross-country trip can be tough on all of us. Mike’s legs and butt hurt from sleeping in so many different beds. Heather gets rankled when damn New York drivers cut her off or, even worse, tailgate her car on city streets even when she’s already doing over the speed limit! And I get irritated every time something disrupts my daily routine so I don’t get treats on time, which has happened far too often for my liking.

One routine we followed at home in Seattle was Heather cleaning my ears every single week in order to ward off my too-frequent ear infections. The trip interrupted  our habit, however. Sure enough, soon after arriving in Syracuse I found myself in the Jamesville clinic of Dr. Gary Rothman, the vet Mike and Heather used when they lived in Syracuse way back in the last century. In fact, they were still in the clinic’s computer system, and everyone who treated me there seemed very impressed that we had such a low client number (from 26 years and two dogs ago). Anyway, the medicine that Heather dutifully squeezed into my left ear twice a day seemed to do the trick, and all the yucky stuff and the itching went away almost immediately. We will do better on the trip back, Heather vowed.

Anyway, I felt much better by the time we went to Brantingham Lake to visit my Alaska pals Debbie and Juneau George and the rest of Debbie’s family. Her brother Jaimo took us on a long, slow boat ride around the whole lake and the next day on a long car ride on forest roads. I got to sit on Heather’s lap the whole way in the car and most of the time on the boat ride, so I was happy, even when I had to pee real bad and there was no stopping.

I reciprocated those favors by showing everybody how to get to a nearby place called Shingle Mill Falls that I had discovered the day before. No waves or lapping water there, so I was able to walk both up and downstream with ease, leaping between the rocks and changing the course of Otter Creek by digging new channels in several locations. 

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Lest anyone think I went overboard with this newfound devotion to water sports, a few days later I respectfully declined to be lured down the steps into Tuscarora Lake for a swim, nor did I jump into a motorboat with Mike and Heather to make a beeline across the lake to a concert on the opposite shore. I was perfectly happy to snooze in the car for a couple of hours and rest up for the next phase of my exciting vacation.

Chloë Loves the ‘Cuse

Wow! Rabbits and squirrels and deer galore!

Although my trip eastward was a bit harrowing at times,  as soon as we hit Syracuse my mood improved right away. As soon as we pulled into our neighborhood,  I started to whine with recollection. And when Heather put my window down, I went crazy. Syracuse, just like I pictured it.  It even smelled the same. I was happy to be there.

I was also looking forward to staying in one place for a while, too, especially now that our gracious hosts have installed air conditioning. Not having to pack up and move on every morning means everyone’s pace is a lot more relaxed. I even caught up on some sleep.

Chloe and Olivia at Lorenzo State Historic Site’s garden

Mike and Heather have already taken me to several of my favorite local spots: Mill Run Park in Manlius, the Meadowbrook Basin, the Old Erie Canal (in two separate sections), the Syracuse University campus and Oakwood Cemetery, whose abundance of wildlife (deer, squirrels, rabbits and birds) makes it my equivalent of Disney’s Adventureland. I even got to strut my stuff at the annual horse and carriage driving competition at Cazenovia’s Lorenzo State Historic Site. Mike’s and Heather’s friend Ginger watched me while they went to the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, continuing to waste valuable time with baseball fandom when they could be home or in a park tossing a ball for me. Luckily, Ginger had a Wiffle Ball in her house, and she let knock it around and gnaw on it for a while, my first near-Wiffie experience since leaving Seattle. Ginger also gave me a ride in her car to pick up her granddaughter Olivia, who was very nice to me, bestowing many treats while we were together at Ginger’s house and Lorenzo. Luckily, we just walked around in the gardens at the back of the house and avoided all the horses and crowds, which was fine with me.

Sleeping off her IPA-flavored treats

The other highlight of my first week in the Salt City was receiving a package in the mail from my good friend Charlie, who just moved back to St. Louis. It turned out to be, as I suspected, a bag of dog treats. That Charlie always comes through for me. This time he sent a 30-piece bag of “peanut butter IPA”-flavored treats from the Crafted Bone of St. Charles, MO, which is near Charlie’s new hometown. “Share the passion of craft beer with your dog,” the package said. Consisting of “spent” grains left over from the brewing process, these handmade bickies are alleged to contain no alcohol, but I ate two of them and conked right out.

Matriculating on the SU Quad

Charlie enclosed a nice, handwritten note with his gift, and Mike read it to me. “Chloe,” he wrote, “Finally an IPA for dogs. Make sure Mike and Heather don’t imbibe yours! I cannot believe how many rabbits there are in my neighborhood. You would be gone in a second. Say hi to Mike, Heather, Susie and the cats for me.”

Consider it done on the human side, Charlie, but Susie’s and Debby’s cats have yet to show their faces in my presence. I’m not giving up, though. Every time we leave the house I try to guide our walk in that direction, hoping somebody will be home to let me in.  I’m looking forward to making visual contact one of these days. After that, fur will fly.

 

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.

 

Chloë Bids Adieu to Her Favorite Doubles Partner

With Charlie at Seward Park

The mini-vacation at my Getaway was a gentle way of easing into the deep disappointment I felt upon my return. We got home on a Saturday evening, which meant we were back in time to go on our regular Sunday afternoon walk with my best pal Charlie. But Sunday afternoon came and went, and no Charlie. That’s when Mike and Heather broke the news: Charlie had moved back to St. Louis. I had lost my best pal and, even worse, my best fetch partner. Charlie,with plenty of baseball experience, really knows how to throw. And while Charlie always boasted about never giving me treats, he was great about buying them for me. Mike always buys treats from places like Fred Meyer and Petco; Charlie only shops at places like Whole Foods and doggie boutiques. Real class!

Chloë and Charlie

Another old friend, my sometime sitter Lynn, came by to see me the other day, and I went bonkers for her. Lynn’s great for cuddling, treats and deep intellectual talks, but she’s not going to take me on long walks and play fetch with me for a half-hour like Charlie did. Mike and Heather explained why Charlie had to go back to the land of heat and humidity, so I understand it, but it’s still hard to accept that I’m going to be stuck with just Mike and Heather every Sunday.

Now I feel badly that on my last walk with Charlie we hadn’t even started to play fetch when Heather shut it down because I bolted right into the bushes after a squirrel I’ve been stalking for weeks. If I had only known it was the last time, I would have been a better dog.

Sorry, Charlie. See ya, ’til we meet again.

 

Chloë Mentors Another Pup

Schatzi

The very day after I frolicked with Schatzi, we took off for my Getaway in the Cascade foothills. I normally have a great time out there, roaming free on woodsy walks and playing fetch on the lawn.

Smokey

This time, however, because of recent rabbit and cougar sightings, I was leashed at all times and forbidden from walking into the state forest land beyond the lawn. And that wasn’t even the worst part: Smokey, the Aussie puppy who somehow moved in when I wasn’t looking, had gotten bigger and more invasive than he was the last time we stayed out there.  He wasted no time in sticking his nose in my face (and other body parts). The first thing that came to mind was, “Schatzi, I miss you!” It’s a lot more fun fooling around with a puppy I can dominate.

Awaiting dinner

Still, the good points about the latest stay more than outweighed Smokey’s antics: There was lots of grilling, which meant more meaty plates to lick. I pretty much ate like a pig, several times able to scarf up food from the bowls of Smokey, Pumpkin and the puffy black cat, Mr. Fuzz. And that cute little Pumpkin still does whatever I tell her to. Although I felt sorry for her whenever Smokey tried to harass her, I came to see where that the feisty little dog could take care of herself. She showed she knows the value of a low growl.

Sharing the front seat

 

The best part was taking Smokey and Pumpkin with us on our afternoon walks and having to drive to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail to do it. Heather decided she didn’t want all three of us dogs in the back seat, so I got to sit in the front seat, restoring the True World Order I had enjoyed originally but have been deprived of in recent years, relegated to the back seat inside a padded sling and attached to clothesline harness, all in the name of safety and proper pet etiquette.  A pox on safety and etiquette, I say!

Chloë’s view

I got to sit in front for the whole week, alternating between dozing in Mike’s lap and sitting up to stare out the front windshield to see what fast-food or ice cream places were passing, although there were not many in this neck of the woods.

Beyond regaining the front seat (I have already been warned that this special privilege will not continue on our impending road trip), the other highlight of the week was luring the increasingly social Mr. Fuzz downstairs and getting a brief chance to sniff his butt. Big surprise: He smelled like a cat.

Mr. Fuzz

I must have  pissed him off, though, because the next day when I was asleep in my camp chair in the kitchen after supper, Mr. Fuzz snuck downstairs, creeped into the kitchen behind the large center island and leaped at me in a full frontal attack. Luckily, his claws only grazed my fabric chair, and when I let out my patented chasing-squirrels bark, he hightailed it back upstairs, where he belongs. I wasn’t about to let him sniff my butt.

Pumpkin rests along the trail.

Along the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Chloë Does a Slow Dance

Schatzi

We met up with Schatzi and Caroline again, this time in Discovery Park, just as I predicted. I showed them some less-traveled trails, and Schatzi looked like she picked up on my cues on correct walking procedures pretty quickly–until distracted, of course, which didn’t take much (and I’m one to talk, right?).

After taking a short rest from trail-walking and having a drink of water on the open field near the Environmental Learning Center, Heather finally pulled my ball out of her pack and gave me a couple of throws. Schatzi, still trying to emulate my every move, followed in swift pursuit, even though she’s still not big enough to get the ball in her mouth. As long as she wasn’t nipping at MY mouth, which did happen several times, I let her have her fun. I had fun, too, as you can see in the slow-motion video below, courtesy of Caroline. Think of it as dachshund ballet. Look at those ears go!

 

I’m hoping to squeeze in one more training session with Schatzi before I take off with Mike and Heather for our summer vacation. When I return in September and find out she’s as big as I am, I want her to remember who the alpha dog is in this relationship. I’m only going to have one more time to throw my weight around.

Resting between innings.