Chloë Celebrates Her Birthday Quietly

On the trail with Frank and Stan.

On the trail with Frank and Stan.

I got together with my brothers Frank and Stanley last weekend for our annual birthday visit. We turned 7 on Feb. 6. Although we hadn’t seen each other in a whole year, after an initial rush that lasted about 30 seconds, it wasn’t all that exciting. I was more excited to see their owners, Tiffany and Andrew, than I was to see the boys. I’d rather chase rabbits, or at least a ball. The boys don’t appear too wild about seeing me, either. Stan has gotten especially standoffish, the Greta Garbo of the wirehair breed. Too good for the rest of us? Someday it will catch up with him, and he’ll be a bitter old man.

Stan: He vants to be alone.

Stan turns his back: He vants to be alone.

Frank? Frank has still to meet a camera he didn’t like.

Furry Frank

Furry Frank

My actual birthday passed with little fanfare. It was a snow day, so Heather worked at home, and school was closed, so she took the kids next door to the park. Too much commotion for me. I stayed home with Mike and whined until Heather came back. But with our routines subsequently thrown off, it was almost dinner time before my birthday was even acknowledged, and even then it was only matter-of-factly noted, not celebrated boisterously with videographed ceremonies as in past years. No birthday cards, no presents. Not a Mushabellie or special food treat in sight.

Junior senior?

Junior senior?

Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement that, at 7, my puppyhood is finally over. Mike has already noted to Heather that the dog food packaging reads “active, 1-6” and “senior, 7 & up.” I can see the handwriting on the bag. I’ve crossed the line: I’m officially a junior senior. I foresee more fiber in my future.

Frankly, I think the food I’m getting right now is fine already, so I wouldn’t change a thing. Except to get more of it, of course.

Chloë Rates Salad Bars

Off the beach at Golden Gardens

Off the beach at Golden Gardens

It was slim pickins along the Wendy* Way buffet line last week, but as the same crusty lettuce pieces rotted away on the grass I managed to find some substitute rations. I snagged a slimy apple core one day near Chloë’s Lane, and on another day the loop trail featured a pleasant subtrail off popcorn, five kernels in all, conveniently located in my homeward direction so I could find them without losing any time.

One day last weekend was warm and sunny, and we walked along Shilshole Marina and the beach at Golden Gardens, but not on it, unwilling to risk the fines (Heather) and the dangerous waves of Puget Sound (me). I made sure we stayed far away from the water as possible so that the sloshing of sound on shore wouldn’t bother me.

Salad bar is open.

Salad bar is open.

The next day, when we walked with my pal Charlie, it was cold and cloudy with a few showers, but I enjoyed the long walk anyway. We did lots of throwing the ball, and when we walked through the South Meadow the first signs of spring were evident. For me that means the opening of my favorite of the many canine salad bars of Puget Sound. I am indeed lucky to have a meadow full of my favorite variety of grass practically right outside my door. I don’t know if it’s the late-afternoon sunshine or the moisture-laden wind, but something makes the grass from the area known as Bird Alley extremely sweet, and I dig it. Until, of course, Heather figures out that I’ve stopped following her and in favor of a lengthy stop at the salad bar. This time she stormed back to get me and threaten me with her impending retirement “boot camp” that is intended to improve my overall obedience and pave the way for me to become a certified service dog.

Frankly, I’d rather just do what I want to do: chase balls, cats, rabbits and squirrels, followed by eating and sleeping. We’ll see how far Heather’s plan goes. I am sure this retirement thing is going to be a big adjustment for all of us, but we’ll have fun working our way through it.

Chloë Makes Strides with Brown

Biscuit Delivery Machine

Biscuit Delivery Machine

My new favorite UPS driver, Donna, visited my house twice last week. Like right to the front door. One time she left a biscuit on top of the package she left outside, thinking no one was home. We must have been downstairs, I guess, for me not to have heard her coming. When she heard me barking inside, and Mike finally got the door open and me outside on a leash, she came back and gave me a big greeting and biscuit No. 2. She even sat down on the steps for a few seconds to talk to me! I’m in love. My former favorite Mr. UPS, Kevin, was great with the biscuits, but he was a taciturn, John Wayne-type. The most endearing thing he ever said to me was, “Here, Killer.” He always called me Killer. Donna actually knows my name.

The brown standard.

The brown standard.

On another day the UPS truck stopped outside our house, and I hustled Mike out the door in plenty of time for the driver to see me, but when we got outside I could see the driver wasn’t Donna. Even my favorite UPS delivery person needs a day off now and then! I yanked Mike out to the street anyway, and when I stared up at the young man in the cab he got the message immediately, fumbling around on the dashboard until he found a piece of biscuit to toss my way. I pounced, Mike yelled a thank you, and I waited expectantly for the second huge biscuit that Kevin would throw my way. None was forthcoming.

Oh, well. Mike seems to be on an Amazon Prime binge, so I expect to be seeing a lot of brown delivery trucks around. Maybe next time.

Chloë Walks Far, Naps Long

West Point Lighthouse

West Point Lighthouse

Last weekend was great, beautiful and clear but cold for here, down into the 20s. I saw a lot of dogs sporting sweaters, but that’s not my style, Besides, I’d hate to make Heather do my laundry all the time.

Elliott Bay from West Point

Elliott Bay from West Point

Heather had a long weekend, four days in a row at home with me. On Friday she worked here on the dining room table while I slept in my chair next to her. It was almost like being at Heather’s real office, where as we well know dogs are no longer allowed. We made the most of those four days, taking lots of naps and extra walks together. On Sunday we trekked for two hours to the West Point lighthouse and back with Mike and my pal Charlie. Since it was such a nice day, there were more people on the beach than I’ve seen there in August. Charlie and Heather threw the ball for me a while in the fenced-in lawn area behind the lighthouse, until they got paranoid about a possible dog patrol officer siting . It proved to be a false alarm, but we hurriedly left the scene of the crime and started the steep climb back up the bluff with me on leash. Not my first choice for a hike in the woods, but I made do.

Napping on Heather's pillow

Napping on Heather’s pillow

The next day was more of the same because it was MLK Day. We took a long walk in the park and played fetch on the hill. But on Tuesday, Heather had to go back to her office, and even worse, it started raining. Feeling a little low, I spent most of the day sleeping on Heather’s pillow or in my bed next to Mike’s chair in his office, even skipping my usual afternoon pee-and-treat break when I heard rain pelting the window above me. Late in the day, I reluctantly allowed Mike to take me outside for a walk, but as soon as I handled my immediate business and checked out the Wendy* Way buffet (only lettuce remained, dammit, not even a soggy piece of toast!), I began steering Mike homeward. We were outside for barely 25 minutes, one of my shortest walks ever. Not that I let Mike off the hook. When we got home, I made him play Wiffie and tug for more than a half-hour. After all, a girl needs some exercise every day to keep herself slim and trim.

Chloë Starts the New Year Right

Chloe with new orange bear

Chloe with new orange bear, one of her holiday haul.

Mike, Heather and I ran errands last Saturday, but between Costco and the shoe outlet we had time for an extended walk in Saint Edward State Park on Lake Washington, where we had not been in quite a while. It was great to walk in a place other than Discovery Park for a change. We have been real homebodies of late.

Anyway, Saint Edward is a good place to go because it has both trail walking and, when nobody else is around, expansive lawns for fetch. We did a little of both, walking all the way down to the lake and back up to the lawn, where we did a little throwing until I got distracted by joggers and Heather shut the game down. Mike said the landmark seminary building, badly in need of renovation on the inside, is likely going to become a hotel, which does not bode well for future fetch opportunities on this site.

Playing fetch at Saint Edward State Park

Playing fetch at Saint Edward State Park.

Park sign

Park sign

If the hotel is indeed developed, the park would still surround it, similar to the houses currently being renovated and sold in Discovery Park near our house. Hotel guests and dog walkers alike will share the trail system, and informative interpretive signage like this one on the left will continue to dot the landscape.

Our errands trip also included a brief stop at Heather’s office, at least that’s what I was told, since I was left in the car. Not allowed to go inside on a Saturday? That Heather can sometimes be just so Canadian.

Chloë Investigates a Pipe

I have detected increased raccoon activity in my park of late. I came across a dead one near Chloë’s Lane close to my primary fetch location. I was very interested in spending some quality time with it, but as soon as Heather saw its bloated body she had other ideas. Subsequent emails and phone calls to park maintenance resulted in Rocky being buried in a shallow grave. While I have already sussed out the exact location, I haven’t had the chance to do any serious digging yet. And that’s not all; I have also noted strong raccoon scent around the Visitor Center and along the driveway behind it. All of a sudden, I had a lot more holes and tunnels to check out, sticking my nose into pipes and thickets I hadn’t been at all interested in before.

Preliminary investigation

Preliminary investigation.

A closer look

Taking a closer look

5-chloe-investigates-pipe-001

Getting very interested.

Uh-oh, I can't turn around in here.

Wait a second, I can’t turn around in here.

I didn’t find anything of interest in there, although a headlamp would have helped.  It was getting pretty dark in there when I decided to back out, figuring out that turning around would have been difficult, if not impossible. As it was, a backup camera like the one in Heather’s car would have made my exit a little easier. Maybe I’ll have Mike order me one on Amazon Prime.

Chloë Celebrates a Best-Ever Holiday

I needn’t have worried about the tight quarters in front of our fireplace for stocking-filling. Santa came through just fine for me. In fact, I had already enjoyed two special events by the time the big day arrived.

Re-gifted her toys.

Re-gifted her toys.

Mike and I were just walking down our block one day, minding our own business, when Merrie’s mom Jane came running out of her house and calling to Mike. She wanted to re-gift me with two brand-new toys that had been given to her Basset hound Merrie. She was certain Merrie would chew them. Being somewhat of an expert on toy-chewing myself, however, I doubt that scenario, but are you kidding? I wasn’t saying no. Although Mike told Jane that if I wasn’t interested in the toys, he would drop them off at the Seattle Animal Shelter, by the time we got back to our house, I had already knocked them out of Mike’s hands, scooped them up and claimed them as my own. I was so excited.

Soft green boney

Soft green boney

I immediately adopted both. One is a small orange bear that I have so far been unable to silence from its squeaking, despite my many efforts. The other is a fabric-covered green bone that has “Been there chewed that” stitched on one side. This one was easy to quiet and thus far has become a popular participant in indoor fetch sessions. Sometimes the soft green bone even supplies a good target for some tug-o-war with Mike. Heather doesn’t do tug-o-war. I haven’t named the orange bear or the green bone yet, but I’m working on it.

My good fortune continued. A couple of evenings later, my new UPS delivery person Donna came to my own front door! I heard her truck come down the block and park, and as Mike looked out the window to verify my warning, Donna was actually bounding down our walk, delivering a package for Heather and biscuits right to my doorstep. She gave me two, my first personal double-biscuit delivery since my favorite Mr. Brown Kevin left the route a bit more than a year ago.

Chanukah gelt for Chloë.

Chloë surveys her Chanukah gelt.

Come Christmas morning, my stocking was full. I got Paul Newman’s personal dog treats from Charlie and all-natural chewies from my aunts Susie and Debby. Mike gave me lots of extra treats all day, a rarity for that tightwad. And Heather, who stayed home from work all week (in a sneak preview of what this “retirement” thing might be like), gave me one “Get Out of Jail Free” card for when I get in trouble on her watch and took me on several long walks in the park, just the two of us, followed by some power-napping. With all of this loot coming on top of the comfy new mattress in the bedroom that has now returned to easy dachshund accessibility, my stocking haul was more than I could possibly ask for.

It was nice to have my pack all together and under the same roof all day. Over two days of the Christmas weekend, the three of us (along with my pal Charlie on Christmas Day) hiked to six of my favorite fetch locations in the park, pausing for some spirited throw-and-return at each stop. The six were Chloë’s Lane, the Hill Below the 500 Area, Behind the Visitors Center, the Cemetery, the South Meadow and the Capehart Fence. I just hope Animal Control Officers aren’t faithful readers of my blog. The potential for drone surveillance worries me.

That’s why I’ve decided to lie low ’til 2017. Happy New Year.