Chloë Finds Eleven Heaven

Celebrating birthday #11 in her chair with Lamby, Ranger and Foxy.

Tampa Tom

I turned 11 years old this week. But like a fine wine (and with some fine whine), my life only gets better with age. Think of me as the Tom Brady of wirehair dachshunds, older but wiser, retaining legendary  athletic skills and getting better looking every day. My energy is constant and my coat is shiny.  I have but a few gray hairs here and there, and even that little spot between my shoulders has gotten thicker. It must be the cheese Heather has been doling out to lure me into my detested teeth-brushing every day.

Wiffie: Chloë Official Autograph Model

My routines remain the same. I still sprint after the ball whenever and wherever Heather throws it, deft at plucking it midair off the pavement or sniffing it out in the underbrush. I may stop after 15 or 20 throws instead of 100, but I’ve got other stuff to do on a walk. Sniffing out rabbits and squirrels, eating dirt, signing the guest book–important stuff! And when I get back home, I still goad Mike or Heather into tossing Wiffie around or tugging with me and Lamby, and I still leap into my camp chair with ease, albeit more of a head start. I still like to run downstairs just to roll around on the throw rug in the guest bedroom, and I still pull old toys out of their corner holding bin and strew them all over the floor just because I can. If I get the chance to do that with another dog’s toys, even better.

Awaiting bedtime snacks.

There’s no evidence of diminished brain function, either. My spirit remains as strong and stubborn as ever, and my internal clock still ticks accurately. Any time Mike or Heather forget any treat (downstairs bickie at 8:30 a.m., breakfast Greenie at 9, the 10 a.m. PBB, the 2 p.m. jerky, the post-walk, harness-off Charlee Bears or the two-part bedtime snack, my internal alarm goes off and I loudly call attention to it with a whine or two. No sundowning to worry about: Every night, when Mike says, “Let’s go to bed, Chloë!” I always know where to go, rushing right into my bedroom crate. Nobody has to draw me a map.

A last treat from Donna.

Oh, regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again–well, I’ll mention them  any time I want to! The only downside of my birthday week was finding out that Donna, my favorite UPS driver, will be leaving her delivery route to take an inside job and save her hurting knees. I respect that decision, although this will be my second heart-breaking separation from a Brown hero. Hopefully Donna’s eventual permanent replacement will be another dog lover who won’t need too much breaking in, although in this day and age I wonder how many more UPS drivers I’ll have to train. Continuity is out the window.

I know the mailman already visited on my birthday (I barked when the metal mail slot flapped, as I usually do to Heather’s chagrin)), and no birthday cards arrived with my name on them.  In fact, the only card I received came from Chewy.com. So my legions of fans will no doubt ask, Chloë, didn’t you do anything special to celebrate your birthday? No, not a thing. When you’re as young at heart as I am, every new day is its own celebration.

Chloë Starts the New Year Right

Trying out a raincoat.

What is usually a dreary month turned out to be not so bad. Rainy, of course, but I generally don’t let that slow me down. Unless it’s really pouring and windy, I’m OK with a little rain, at least once my nose is outside. There’s always lots of good smells on a rainy day. It’s those first steps toward the door that are the hardest.

So Mike and Heather borrowed a doggie raincoat from Caroline (her Schatzi has one of her own) to see if wearing one would make me more enthusiastic about getting my butt outside. After trying it a few times, however, they realized the raincoat protected my back but made no difference in keeping my chest or underneath clean, nor making me much drier when we got home. Thus the raincoat experiment ended abruptly. I have solidly established myself as real mossback, through and through.

Our mossback walks Azalea Way in the Arboretum.

We had several dry days toward the end of the month. Mostly we took our walks in Discovery Park, keeping an eye out for animal control patrols, although one afternoon we walked all the way to Magnolia Village and back, and a few times we stopped at the neighborhood grocery store or the flagpole at Fort Lawton for a deserted place to play fetch. Oh, and we returned to the Washington Park Arboretum with George and Debbie on one of their visits from Juneau. Its Winter Garden was blooming and fragrant at this time of year—and the Arboretum always has lots of squirrels!

Chloë’s new coupon toy.

I even got a couple of terrific new playthings this month. My pal Channon gave me a soft, crackly, squeaky toy when she and Jeré came to spiffy up the house. It’s supposed to be a dog-centered replica of the Bed, Bath & Beyond  coupons that come in the mail. Frankly, I could do without the bad puns, but I instantly took a liking to its texture and the various sounds emitting from within, a perfect blend of three squeaks and a crackle that go together like peanut butter and jelly.

New ball on the block.

And then, to top it off, I found myself a new Chuck-it! ball! Well, it’s not actually new, but new to me, and I did find it myself, on the sidewalk right outside our house. Finders keepers, I said. Some other dog may have dropped it on the way to the park, but thems the breaks. It was mine now, and for the rest of the month it became my go-to fetch ball. But it’s not hollow like my usual Chuck-it! Whistler balls, so this one is a bit heavier to carry around in my mouth, and heavier for Heather to throw. In fact, her back and her throwing-arm shoulder are starting to bother her, but so far not enough to send her to the IL (that’s the Injured List, for non- baseball fans). Luckily, whenever I get tired of carrying the ball around, Heather is always there to pick it up and carry it for me.

I’m grateful for that, too. Good caddies are hard to find.

Chloë Wraps Up 2020

Walking in Discovery Park.

2020 was a tough year for most, but for me, it was a year of change. Early on, Mike and Heather left me with Schatzi for a week, and then we were supposed to be off on the road again, heading eastward to Syracuse. But when they got back to Seattle, things had changed. Since then we rarely went anywhere but Discovery Park, and Mike and Heather wore these scary face masks every second we were outside. It was much harder for dogs to socialize, too, because nobody wanted to get too close. We didn’t go to visit anybody, and nobody yisited our house, either, except for a couple of summer football games and briefly when Schatzi’s mom Caroline and the kids who live next door came over briefly. Pretty boring overall.

Symbol of 2020.

This cloistered existence was only the beginning of change for me. I knew Mike’s leg pain was really killing him, because he always walked far behind Heather and me in the afternoon and often woke me at night with his moans and groans. I guess I didn’t know how bad it was, however,, because early one morning Mike went away for a few days in a hospital. When he came back, I wasn’t allowed to jump on him  and he stayed in bed a lot.

All this changed my life even more. When Mike returned home, he still had a lot of healing to do, so Heather permanently took over all my feeding, grooming, tooth-brushing, walking, throwing and vet visits. Mike continued to walk with us every afternoon, but he walked very slowly and for not as long, and he used a cane. As weeks went on, he could walk longer and farther, but the speed of his walking was taking longer to return. By the end of our walks, he’s moving slowly, but his overall pace is still improving.

Chloë cane do.

Not surprisingly, the three of us adjusted. All those care tasks still get done, although Heather has her own way of doing them. And in most cases, her way is better than Mike’s way, at least as far as I’m concerned. I know she takes my daily ritual of tooth-brushing and grooming before dinner a lot more seriously than Mike ever did. That’s because Heather would never let herself do “C” work on anything; Mike was dedicated, but ultimately more lenient with me. So I put up with Heather’s diligence on my mouth and coat because I know I’m getting a lot more cheese and kibble out of her than I ever got from Mike. And there’s more good news: Earlier this week I tipped the scale at my vet at a svelte 20.5 pounds (down from 21.1 six weeks ago), so Heather’s extra rations can continue unabated. It’s like an unexpected stimulus check.

As the calendar turned to 2021, Heather, Mike and I were walking about an hour a day around Discovery Park, mostly on paved walkways that pass one or more of my favorite fetch locations, where we linger and throw if passersby are infrequent. Mike’s leg doesn’t hurt him anymore, and he recently ditched his cane. But when he starts to get tired toward the end, he still walks quite a ways behind Heather and me. Maybe in 2021 he can catch up and walk with us, which would mean he’s feeling that much better. That will be be fine by me, as long as Heather stays in charge and the cheese sticks keep on coming.

Chloë Counts Her Blessings

A brief rest at Carkeek Park.

It was mostly a quiet holiday season, but it had its moments.  There was lots more  turkey in my meals, for starters. There were a couple of trips to Carkeek Park on sunny days when we could see the mountains and fetch my ball from caroms off the Rock. And I enjoyed brief visits from Caroline, my personal financial advisor, and Ty, Isla and Micah, the kids who live on either side of our house. 

Of course, visits from those four coincided with a day-long visit from my little pal Schatzi, still sticking her nose into my business every chance she got. Why all those kids like Schatzi better than they like me remains a mystery to me. Their attitude changes, however, when we walk around the neighborhood or in the park with Heather leading and the kids holding onto the leashes. Then I am much more desirable to them, because when they are holding the other end of the leash I do what they want me to, unlike nose-to-the-ground Schatzi who constantly pulls them in all directions. But their warm feelings last only as long as we’re walking. When we get back, Schatzi gets all their squeals and attention. As far as I’m concerned, she can have it, frankly. I’m better than I used to be, but kids are still not high on my list.

Chuckit Ultra Ball Small (2 Pack)Oh, I also don’t want to neglect mentioning the fabulous gifts I found when Mike emptied my stocking on the living room floor the afternoon of Christmas Day! I found several different kinds of treats from Mike and Heather, my Syracuse aunts and Caroline, plus a set of two orange Chuckit! balls from Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby. Even though these Chuckit! balls are the smaller size that Mike hates (because I enjoy pushing them under furniture or gnawing on them instead of bringing them back when he tosses them), I just starred at them sitting on a shelf in the living room and whined until he took both out of their packaging and rolled them along the floor for me to chase. Too bad, Mike, I am into it! Sometimes I get both of the new balls and Wiffie rolling around at the same time, which really makes Mike crazy. What fun!

Chloë pauses with Ranger the Reindeer.

The other unexpected gift I got for Christmas came from Ranger, a bernadoodle puppy who arrived about a year ago to live down our block in the house where MacDuff and MacKenzie used to live, next door to Jane and Merrie. It’s a stuffed reindeer toy that squeaks in three places, and it immediately became my chosen partner for tug, replacing Lamby as my favorite victim for a full-throttle fling. Heather named it Ranger the Reindeer, after the dog who gave it to me. That Ranger is friendly enough, but he’s already too big for me to play with, so when Mike or Heather stop outside his fence to say hi and talk to him, I just sniff the lawn and pretend to look the other way.

Anyway, I loved his gift, and I couldn’t wait to start tossing it around the living room. But my toy reindeer sprung a small hole in his belly when Mike took out one of those pesky plastic fasteners, and he needed immediate medical attention. Luckily, Ranger’s fur was a close color match to masking tape that Mike had bought to cover up a spot on his car. Heather taped up Ranger right away, and soon he was good as new, ready to be throttled and hidden from Schatzi when she came over to play. I get first dibs.

Sharing the chair with Ranger the Reindeer.

More good news for Ranger the Reindeer:  He fits comfortably into one of the drink holders on my personal camp chair, and thus he will remain visible far into the new year, long after the other holiday decorations are packed in their plastic crate and exiled to the garage. For the rest of us, there will be brighter days ahead.

Chloë Starts a New Holiday Tradition

Sniffing out the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park.

‘Tis the season, all right. In our house, we have been reviving and expanding all of our holiday traditions. The big plastic storage bin that holds all the lights, ornaments and puppets came out of the garage while we were still eating Thanksgiving turkey. Not only are the mantelpiece and shutters aglow, but this year the trellises on either side of the front door have lights. A winter wonderland, indeed.

We were all happy to see Discovery Park’s Secret Christmas Tree return to the South Meadow to further brighten the pandemic pall. The tree, decorated with ornaments and a string of colored lights powered by a solar battery, first appeared two Decembers ago. Last year, some Scrooge must have cancelled it.

Chloë’s tree in its natural habitat..

News media report that sales of live Christmas trees are booming this year, as people seek a little joy, solace and tradition in these gloomy times. And so I decided to dig up my own living tree, choosing a tiny cedar sapling that must have been blown by the wind into a nesting place in our front yard. After diligently tending it through the growing season, I had Mike dig it up, pot it and bring it inside to add to our holiday display.

That smiling elf penguin moved right in with the tree, and  Mike promised to get a string of lights for it once it’s a little bigger. The tree will move in its pot into the portable greenhouse outside the kitchen door for the winter, and Mike will replant it outside in the spring.

First ornament.

Now that Mike has mounted my favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer puppet on top of a cabinet where I cannot hope to reach it, my live Christmas tree will be my new favorite holiday tradition. Well, my favorite right after that special moment of opening all the goodies that fall out of my stocking on Christmas morning, that is. I can smell that there’s already something inside my stocking that’s been hung by the chimney with care, but I have been on my best behavior in order not to spoil any surprises that might be planned. While I’m not expecting anything close to a new car with a big red bow or anything else that I see advertised on TV at this time of year, a couple of biscuits and a tasty rawhide chewy would be nice.

Holiday mantel with Chloë’s tree (on right) and stocking (lower center).

Chloë Goes Cold Turkey

Chloë with her new best friend.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I was disappointed, of course, when I found out my pal Charlie wouldn’t be coming to our Thanksgiving dinner this year, as his cauliflower parmesan has been a Turkey Day tradition, and always a tasty leftover whenever I got to lick the remains of a plate or casserole dish of it. Other than Heather’s special no-sausage stuffing for vegetarian Charlie (which leaves out the best parts, as far as I’m concerned) and pie, Charlie’s own dish was his main attraction. This year Charlie had to eat his cauliflower parmesan alone in St. Louis, so there must have been leftovers. I hope he’ll send me some via UPS. since my driver biscuit deliveries could use a holiday boost.

While missing the cauliflower parmesan, I was still able to enjoy the spoils of Mike and Heather’s annual turkey feast. For me, it’s actually a month-long celebration that starts on Thanksgiving and continues through Christmas and the New Year, ending only when the last remnants of turkey broth and giblets disappear from my kibble. And  a plethora of gravy-covered plates to be licked in between.

Cauliflower Parmesan by Charlie (file photo).

So how much do I love turkey? Let me count the ways! I crave dark meat most, because it’s the moistest, and I’m partial to the fattier thigh meat than the drier leg. On the other paw, I would gladly take either. Breast meat is OK, too, but if it’s been warmed up too many times before it gets to me, it can become stringy and stick in between my teeth. Bones, of course, are off  my menu, but gristle and cartilage can be tasty. Mike tries to remove as much congealed fat as possible before I get it, dammit, but when it comes to skin, he filters out only the fattiest  specimens. There’s no doubt that the fatty and flavorful skin is my favorite part, particularly after being gently roasted with Mike’s secret turkey paste slathered all over it.

Beyond plate-licking, I didn’t get any major windfall of turkey in my diet last week, just a steady stream mixed in with my regular fare, and I expect it will continue for the next several weeks. If I’m lucky, though,right after Mike and Heather’s first holiday meal I may get a few real pieces as a treat with dinner or instead of my usual 2 o’clock jerky. I just have to be careful when all the treats and the enhanced diet together get a little too rich even for me.  Onc year I wound up having a poop the next day that was so rank that after Heather picked it and had to carry it home, she didn’t want to have anything to do with me for a day and a half.

I learned my lesson. With apologies to John Lennon, I deduced that cold turkey/ can leave me/ (pause) with the runs. 

 

Chloë Researches Her Namesakes

Chloe O'Brian (@ChloeOBrian) | Twitter

Chloe O’Brian, inspiration for our dangerous heroine.

We drove to the Arboretum last week, one of the few times I’ve had any company in the back seat of Heather’s car. I got excited when we picked up my Juneau friends George and Debbie  to sit with me, so I could get up into George’s lap and see out the window without teetering, which is usually what I’m complaining about when I’m doing all that whining  in the car (despite much speculation otherwise). Anyway, being able to actually see where we were going, I took notice when our route took us past the Chloe Apartments, which is definitely where I want to live if we ever decide to forsake Magnolia for apartment living. I mean, they named the building after me, right? I should hope so. (Whereas, as I must explain to my younger readers,  I was named after the character Chloe O’Brian in 24, a TV show about American counter-intelligence forces from so long ago that it provides a good indicator of why I’m starting to think about senior living.)

Chloe Apartments - Building Exterior

Chloe Apartments in Seattle.

So in a rare moment when Mike wasn’t at his computer reading about sports, I decided to sneak over to the keyboard to look it up. And I liked what I saw: modern apartments with huge windows, landscaped courtyards, a rooftop deck with mountain and city views, pet-friendly with plenty of pet play spaces, and close to a Trader Joe’s, the Seattle U campus and the Arboretum. Seemed like the perfect locale for my senior years, whenever it may be that chasing after my ball loses some of its luster. I don’t want to break my plan to Mike and Heather quite yet, however, not after they spent all that time and effort replanting the rhododendrons in the front yard.

But look at my namesake apartments! I could definitely dig it!

Chloe on Union Apartments - Rooftop Lounge
Chloe Apartments - Courtyard

Rooftop deck and courtyard at Chloe Apartments.

Chloe, an adoptable Dachshund & Chihuahua Mix in Seattle, WA

Another Chloë.

Then I got to thinking about all the other Chloes I might find if I looked around. Unfortunately, a French restaurant in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood that shared my name (Chloe Bistrot) closed before I ever got the chance to enjoy any tasty leftovers from its kitchen. Further search revealed several other restaurants around the country that have copied my name without permission, as well as a restaurant chain with locations in the USA, Canada and Europe. And that’s  not all.  I also found a dachshund-chihuahua mix who’s 14 years old and looking for a home, a winery and women in pursuits from student to artist to actress to graphic designer to papermaker to hair stylist to fitness instructor to lawyer to yoga instructor to nanny to journalist to performance artist to dog walker to belly dancer.

Our heroine.

Among all these other Chloes, I may not be the sharpest pencil in the pack. But I am the only one with my own umlaut (ë).

 

Chloë Stands Her Ground

Schatzi searches faux takeout container for faux dumplings.

She was back. Schatzi, that is. And in the weeks since she’d been here (but who’s counting?), she hadn’t aged a bit! She was still  a whirling dervish of energy, barking, jumping on the furniture, taking over my bed and my chair. and getting in my face every second that she wasn’t sleeping.  In classic “the other dog’s toys are much better than mine” mode, almost all of my toys came out of their corner bins and onto the living room floor. Some had not been out of their bin in years.

Most of the time, I just let Schatzi do her thing. Whenever I had enough, I gave her a growl or a lip curl, or just stared her down. She would always back away, thank goodness.

 

Side by side by side.

Somewhere along the line, however, I had to put my paw down. Schatzi is the ultimate affection hound, demanding constant attention, but there was no way I was going to let her get more affection from Heather and Mike than I got.  I’ll allow her takeover of my dog bed and my camp chair, but I’m not budging from my space in bed between Mike’s legs on a fleece blanket. I reluctantly let Schatzi in the bed at all (I turned my nose away),  but she was not getting my personal favorite spot. And when we were sitting in front of the TV in the living room, I would let Schatzi have my usual camp chair, as long as I  got the chair closest to Heather, even if I had to crawl over a TV table to get there. Not on my watch, girlfriend.

Waiting for Heather.inside the front door.

While I was able to maintain my position in the pecking order during Schatzi’s visit, I’m not totally sure that she got the message. Not from the way she followed Heather around from room to room and whined whenever Heather went outside  without her to work in  the garden or talk to the neighbor kids. Those kids were all crazy about Schatzi, until she barked at them or pulled them along when they were trying to manage her when Heather let them hold her leash on a walk around the neighborhood. That was OK, though. Compared to Schatzi, I was easy to handle,  so the kids liked walking me, and they finally started to appreciate me a little. I got more comfortable with them as well.

Chloë with Schatzi’s toy.

Having Schatzi around was fun (and she even brought a scary Halloween tug toy that I liked a lot), but I needed a good rest after she left. Asserting yourself as the alpha dog is tiring when it’s another dog you have to dominate instead of just the usual humans.

The afternoon Schatzi left was the first one without Daylight Saving Time. That means taking an earlier afternoon walk every day, and as a result having time to get in an extended nap before dinner. I’m looking forward to sinking back into my restful winter routine.

Guard dogs relax in each other’s beds.

 

Chloë Compares Her Chefs

Winterized crate

The temperature will dip into the low thirties this week, meaning it’s about time for Heather  to put a heavier blanket over my crate at night. If I get chilly, I might whine and wake them up. Nobody wants that.

It’s been pretty low-key around here, although I saw some old friends during the past week. No, not dog friends like Willy, Scott’s new dog, who did come over to our house for a football game last week. There were sad faces in the house that morning, but not on Willy, who got a walk with Heather and then sat on Mike’s lap for the whole second half, looking quite content. While that was going on, I went into the office with Heather, got into my bed and ignored the whole thing.

Along Capehart trail.

Much more exciting was seeing my friend Andy, who is dogless since his Spiff died a few years ago. He’s always glad to see me, and he gave me several total body rubs when we ran into him on the Capehart trail in the park. No treats, of course. Andy strikes me as a diet-conscious kinda guy, like my best pal Charlie is. That’s OK, let them be lean. That means more for me, just not anything coming from them.

I also saw my pals from Juneau, George and Debbie, with George returning to Seattle for further chemotherapy treatments. We walked for about 40 minutes in Volunteer Park, where I had to be tightly leashed at all times, thanks to its high pedestrian use and overflowing squirrel population. I could tell there would be no ball-throwing amid the tall trees of this park. Mostly I walked with Heather and Debbie, since Mike and George are both recuperating, and they have to walk like slow old men. Well, older than they really are, I guess.

Heather creates dinner etouffee for the attentive diner as Lamby looks on.

I noticed Mike has picked up his pace a little in the past few days, but he still walks with a leaden gait, and Heather is still doing all the stuff that Mike did to take care of me, such as feeding me, taking me for most walks and grooming, to name but a few. This substitution has had both pluses and minuses for me. Heather is much stricter than Mike, whether it comes to discipline or measuring out the amount of food she dispenses. Mike is less demanding on me, and when it comes to mixing my food, he goes with his gut, which usually limits the size of mine. Heather’s preparation tastes just as good, and there’s sometimes more of it.

But Heather has been much more thorough when it comes to brushing my teeth and grooming me than Mike is. She pushes that toothbrush hard into all quadrants of my mouth, and after a brief break for play with Lamby or Wiffie, we sit down on the kitchen floor and she flips me into her lap so she can brush under my legs and over my tummy. Mike never did that; I wouldn’t have begun to let him get away with it. But I gladly do it for Heather. Not only is she nicer, smarter and better-looking, but there’s something even more important: She bribes me with chunks of Trader Joe’s cheddar cheese sticks. Be advised, Mike. I always respond well to cheese.

Tuck at the keyboard.

Before signing off, I want to give a brief shout-out to a loyal reader and aspiring blogger in Syracuse named Tuck, even though he is a cat. I know from experience how hard it can be to get established in the writing business when you’re inexperienced and unpublished, and nobody takes you seriously when you say, “But please, sir, I really want to be a writer!” So take heart, Tuck! Keep on increasing your vocabulary, keepoing your nails sharp and polishing your craft; someday, maybe you, too, can become a literary giant in the competitive animal blogging field like I am. Good luck.

Chloë Changes Seasons

A foggy day on the Parade Ground.

One day it was summer and then, all of a sudden, fall was upon us. The afternoons grew shorter. The air felt crisper. The sweet smell of rotting leaves wafted from the forest floor. Then the south wind picked up. And sure enough, it started to rain, followed by a couple of days of pea-soup fog. Heather turned the heat on in the house.

I also knew it must be fall when my nose got covered by spider webs instead of those pesky geranium burrs. I just see lower webs in the tall grass when I’m chasing after a ball; the better action is usually a bit over my head, fortunately.

Hello, Spidey! Aunt Susie is looking for you!

But the way I really can tell it’s fall is when I notice a rise in rodent activity in the park and in our neighborhood, sometimes right around our house! Although I haven’t actually seen a mouse, vole, rat, rabbit, raccoon or squirrel in our yard in a while, I can smell them when I go outside in the morning, so I know they’re around. I’ve even seen Mike stuff poison pellets, chicken wire and steel wool down suspicious holes. It’s an annual chore.

Road kill.

I had not been able to nab anything myself, however, and it was starting to wear on me, another uncomfortable feeling to digest in these uncertain, unprecedented times. But my fortune turned instantly on an ordinary, once-around-the-block, 10 o’clock walk with Heather on Sunday morning, I saw it zip across the sidewalk, not three feet in front of me. Without hesitation, I lunged and caught it just before it hit the ground cover, my teeth piercing the rat’s flesh so swiftly and so strongly that it died instantly. I felt so powerful, like I was immune to the coronavirus! There was no need for me to pick it up and throttle it until its neck broke, like I practice every day at home with Lamby. Quite satisfied and proud of myself, as soon as Heather ordered me to “Drop It!” I complied, and I pranced home with a big grin on my face. I’d much rather have Mike return to the scene to document my deed where it happened than carry it home to him as a surprise gift. No way I was going to keep that disgusting, furry thing in my mouth that long.

Compatriot?

Besides, hunting season isn’t over yet. That same morning, Heather and I saw the rotting carcass of another rat on the same stretch of sidewalk where I killed mine, so there must be a whole pack of them around, too many for Fred and the other neighborhood cats to keep up with, that’s for sure.

Now every time Heather and I walk down that block, I’m on high alert. Bring it on, rodents, bring it on.