Chloë Spreads Holiday Cheer

Sammy and Chloë

Just a day after Mike and Heather returned from their trip, my aunt Sammy came to visit. She was here to listen to some poet she follows, so we didn’t get to hang out with her as much as I usual. But her visit still paid off, as she and Heather made a macaroni and cheese recipe that provided excellent plate-licking material for a good week after she left. I would have preferred an encore, but she left anyway.

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Mike finally got around to hauling up the holiday decorations from the garage, and he was very proud of himself for expanding the number of lights and areas covered. Heather installed permanent hooks for our stockings under the mantel, so they will hold more weight, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned. However, seeing my favorite singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer hanging high in a corner where I couldn’t get close enough to lust after it did not sit well with me. I gave the decorations a big yawn (see photo).

Stocking up on rawhide

My mood brightened on Christmas Day, especially when my stocking was unloaded (on the couch no less, where I am never allowed except on very special occasions) with assorted treats and toys from my Syracuse aunts Susie and Debby, including rawhide sticks that look and taste like candy canes. I haven’t had much rawhide since my titanium crown was installed, so I particularly treasured these treats. After I unloaded my stocking it was Heather’s turn, and she got several different kinds of chocolate, which of course she won’t be sharing with me because chocolate can be deadly to dogs. Even I know that!

Content of Mike’s stocking

Finally, it was Mike’s turn, and guess what was in his stocking? Nothing but coal! Two lumps! I guess we know who hadn’t been nice enough to the girls around here.

My best gift this Christmas came from my new best dog friend Schatzi, who came over to visit on Christmas Eve and brought me a holiday gingerbread house stuffed with squeaky toys: a gingerbread man, a Christmas tree and a candy cane. It’s lots of fun to pull all the squeaky toys out of the gingerbread house and leave them around the floor so Mike can lean down, grumble, pick them up and stuff them inside the little house again. The house is good for tugging, too, and I’m making sure that Mike knows it.

Chloe Inspects gift from Schatzi.

Anyhow, Schatzi has her own gingerbread house over at her place, so we quickly got bored with my present and started wrestling instead. I’ll get back to the present it when she goes home.

 

 

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 Changes Her Bed

The audition: Head on bookcase, old bed close by.

My peanut bed, a.k.a “the little girl” bed, was getting pretty frayed on the bottom. It’s almost 10 years old, and so am I! It’s time we move to the next facet of our lives. Sleep will be even more important for us seniors!

When Schatzi stayed with us  few weeks ago, I really liked her bed, and when I stayed at Charlie’s house in August, I really liked Logan’s bed, and he wasn’t even there. They smelled good, and they were comfortable, so I just made myself at home.

So when Heather and Mike were food shopping at Fred Meyer the other day and walked past a giant display of dog beds on sale, Heather didn’t hesitate. It wasn’t quite what she was looking for, but it was close enough. She went for a blue one.

Eyeing the bedding improvements: bed cover and pillow.

She flopped it on the living room floor in the spot where my old bed used to be. The peanut bed moved around the corner, a couple of feet away, for two weeks, so I still had a choice. Just in case the new one wasn’t to my liking, I could always go back to what I knew.

So I tried it out. The blue bed was much roomier than my peanut bed and had higher pillows around the edge, but it didn’t get my nose quite high enough, and I started to use the adjacent bookcase as a pillow. In addition, the plush interior cushioning felt just a little too warm on my body. I briefly considered going back to the peanut bed.

All ready for a power nap.

That’s when Heather swooped in. She put a pillowcase over the bottom cushion, so the temperature inside the bed became just right. She put another pillowcase over a small camp pillow retrieved from a closet downstairs to make a new headrest for me. A couple of photos in the bookcase had to be displaced, but I didn’t know those people, so it was no skin off my nose.

Now I am extremely happy with my new accommodation, and really proud of Heather, the way she swung into action and demonstrated her hidden homemaking skills. Way to go, Heath! And since around here  we never like to throw anything away, Heather applied some new silver duct tape on the bottom of the peanut bed and placed it on the back seat of her car, where the two of us can roll on together for years to come.

Chloë Entertains Her Pals

Chloë (center) with her pal Charlie

I spent  most of the fall settling back into my old routines after the three-month journey to the East and back. I played a lot of Wiffie with Mike and fetch with Heather, although she declared my favorite spot, Chloë’s Lane, off limits after I ran away into the dense underbrush in pursuit of rabbits once too often.  I can’t blame her, but it’s just the hound in me.

So instead of visiting friends and being catered to, I’ve been the one playing host the past few weeks. First we had a long weekend visit from my best pal Charlie, who came all the way from St. Louis just to see me and eat some of Seattle’s best pizza. Charlie arrived just after Halloween, which may explain whey he dressed like some kind of black-clad commando when we took a walk in Discovery Park. When Mike took our picture, we blended well together.

Schatzi in her car seat

I also spent a lot of time with Schatzi, the dachshund puppy who belongs to Caroline, my personal financial adviser and sometime hotelier. Schatzi got a lot longer over the three months I was away, and each week she’s putting on  weight. Eventually she’ll weigh more than I do, but for now, I’m the alpha dog and plan to keep it that way. She gets in my face a lot, but I can still flip her over by her nose if she gets too bothersome.

Over the fall we took several long walks with Schatzi. When we went to the military cemetery I tried showing her how to fetch, but mostly she wanted to chase me, not the ball. We’ll work on it some more next time.

 

Dachshund Wrestling Federation.

Amazingly, since I generally don’t want to be around other dogs, especially puppies, I really like Schatzi. Two weeks ago Caroline and David dropped her off at our house with her crate and food, and she stayed with us for a whole weekend. Even though Schatzi arrived with one front paw bandaged because of a nail-clipping accident, we had a lot of fun hanging out, walking in the park and wrestling in the living room. Plus, she brought her own treats and dog bed with her, and I liked them all. Sure, she pooped in the house once and whined a bit at night, but as far as I’m concerned, Schatzi can stay with us anytime. I’m looking forward to a lot more of this.

 

 

 

 

 

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.