Chloë Turns Over a New Cat

With George and Debbie at the other SU.

I matriculated at another university this week. After my previous studies at such vaunted institutions of higher learning as Syracuse University, the University of Western Ontario and Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, my march through Seattle University was a walk in the park. It wasn’t nearly as hard to get into as the other SU; all we had to do was drive across town, find a free parking space and walk across the street. No problem.

Heather, Mike and I went over to the campus to do some social distancing with my Juneau pals George and Debbie. With the campus closed because of the coronavirus, there’s nobody around except landscapers and dog walkers. I investigated some of the walkways with Mike and Heather, but when we found the Alaskans everyone sat down far apart at picnic tables. Everybody but I wore a mask, and it was a good thing I didn’t have one. It was a sunny afternoon, and I was hot enough as it was. After sniffing in vain for crumbs in the picnic area, I made myself at home underneath a table until they were done talking. I overheard that George had to go to the hospital the very next day, which didn’t sound good, so I’m hoping he’s going to be OK.

I did get a bit of good news this week: my nemesis Ted, the Bartons’ black cat, is gone.

I sensed he hadn’t been around lately. I’ve been seeing a lot more of a fuzzy gray cat that I chased under a parked car one morning around 6. That cat wouldn’t be so bold if Ted were still roaming the block. Ted was tough.

“Ted went to the shelter (Heather explained to me that this phrase is really a euphemism) because he was driving us CRAZY, and I decided I was just too old for that crap,” Ted’s female owner Carol wrote in an email to Heather, without providing further detail. “So Chloe can only look forward to making friends with Fred—ha!”

Fred,  short for Frederika, is Ted’s white-footed sister. Up til now, she is rarely seen, and fleet of foot when she is. The presence of the new fuzzy cat is likely to keep the timid Fred around her house, in my opinion.

The other cats on the block are house cats that I never see. With Ted gone, I’ve got things pretty well under control, at least until the squirrels, mice, rats and  raccoons take over.

 

 

Chloë Relaxes the Rules

Dog walk on the rooftop deck.

Quarantine marches on, pretty much every day the same. My big highlight of the week was when Heather spilled yogurt on the kitchen floor and I got to lick it up. That’s what passes for excitement these days.

Maybe things are loosening up somewhat. While my favorite ladies Jeré and Channon, our house cleaners, haven’t returned yet, apparently some other restrictions will be easing. More parks will be opening, so maybe we’ll be able to take a drive and walk somewhere other than Discovery Park.  I know Mike is worried about never driving his car, and I’m looking forward to a changes of scents as well as seasons, so it would be a win-win situation.

I enjoyed a bit more social interaction already. One day we went for a walk with my friends from Juneau, George and Debbie, who are staying in Seattle while George goes to doctors and gets treatments. It was a sunny afternoon, but instead of going to a park, we walked near their apartment building, crossing city streets and sidewalks that were mostly empty, and then through tunnels, across bridges and down stairways amid tall buildings downtown. Places like this are normally crowded,  not my cup of tea, but in today’s world we were the only ones there.

View west from rooftop deck.

Then we went back to the rooftop deck of the building where George and Debbie are living, and I tried out the private pet walkway on the east side. That was fun, but then all there was to do was lie around in the sun while the four of them chit-chatted away about such scintillating topics as how many new tricks  George’s dog Yankee has learned lately. (Playing dead? Big deal! What has he written?)  They even took off their face masks to drink beer. and I’m calling them out for doing it.

Chloë and Schatzi devour Frozen PBBs in their respective beds.

Later in the week, even though Heather was already aware that social distancing is in force for dogs as well as people, my young friend Schatzi paid us a visit.  Caroline didn’t come into our house when she dropped her off, but Schatzi stayed several hours, and as soon as  she hit the door, social distancing went out the window. Mike was downstairs exercising when she arrived, but he came running up because he mistook the pounding of our eight tiny paws on the floor for an earthquake. I let her go for a while, but soon set limits so I could get Schatzi  interested in more important stuff, like scarfing up frozen PBBs (I let her have a small one), napping in camp chairs, napping in bed with Heather, and going for a long walk in the park. Although Schatzi didn’t even stay for dinner, I’m sure she was tuckered out when she got home. So was I.

 

Chloë Ascends Her Throne

Preparing the site.

Sheltering in place provides ample time for do-it-yourself home improvement projects. That’s why Mike volunteered to create a perch for me in the front yard.  Until then, when Heather wanted to tie me up ioutside, she would put the bed on the sidewalk, where I could be a nuisance when anyone came by, or in the garden, where plants got ruined, which made Mike unhappy. We don’t want to make Mike unhappy.

Removable weatherproof floor.

My perfect site would give me a good view of the street, ample shade and enough distance from the sidewalk that I couldn’t physically threaten innocent passersby, man nor beast. So Mike selected a site above the rockery next to the driveway, a bit above sidewalk level. The maple tree above supplies a thick canopy from April through October and doubles as the anchor for a rope attached to my harness to refrain me from taking off after the Bartons’ cats. I guess I could still try to lunge at a toddler on the sidewalk, but I wouldn’t get very far, and there’s a wrought iron fence in between. And no, I’m not dumb enough to try to jump off the rockery into the driveway, which would no doubt leave me dangling amid the crocosmia.

Her favorite bed fits perfectly.

Mike prepared the site by transplanting a couple of perennial geraniums, digging out roots and dirt in the vacated area and ringing the circumference with rocks and bricks. He then filled the center with gravel for drainage and to level it off.

A thick plywood board became the removable floor. Mike lined one side with the shiny plastic packaging that protected the new TV, and then he wrapped it tightly with heavy-duty plastic that originally came around an area rug. After centering the weatherproofed board within the ring of rock and brick, Mike deftly placed my long-treasured Peanut bed over the board, and Heather led me through the garden to my new throne, where I immediately turned around  in a circle twice, made myself comfortable and began my reign.

Silent sentinel.

First impression: positive!  I’ve got my own water bowl and a great view of the street down as far as the Bartons’ house, so I know whenever a UPS truck, a mailman, dogs or cats are coming my way. I’ve been an effective sentinel, too. Not one cat has tried to pass while I’ve been sitting there. Unless the geraniums encroach my bed completely, I should be good here at least until the heat of summer. If the southern exposure makes this spot too hot for me, I’m sure Mike can attach some kind of pull-up screen to the maple tree. It’s the least he could do.

Chloë on Her Throne

 

Chloë Perfects Her Inside Game

Our heroine

It’s harder to get enough exercise in these days of quarantine. My games of fetch have been at a minimum; it’s hard to find a space without people, big dogs, little kids, runners or bikes whizzing by. Over Easter weekend, the mayor closed the park entirely. We were forced to walk along Magnolia Boulevard and around the neighborhood, and  fetch opportunities shrank  faster than Trump’s approval rating. Don’t get me started down that road.

Luckily, I  can always entice Mike into indoor playtime. Heather not so much, but Mike is easy. Whenever I get tired of sleeping, throttling Lamby in the living room or mining for crumbs on the dining room rug, I  sit in front of  Mike and make little whining noises until he succumbs and follows me into the kitchen, where he sits on the floor and tosses Wiffie at me so I can work on my inside game.  I call it “catch and release.” Catchy, eh?

Quarantined or not, I’ve got to stay in shape. After turning 10 years old in February, my weight has been creeping up again, and Mike threatened to put me on the dreaded diet. It was a good thing that last week  was my annual physical with Dr. Aimee Kimmel,  my longtime personal physician. After the exam, she assured Heather that my weight gain was OK. “Overall, she is doing great!” Dr. Kimmel wrote in her report.· “She is a little ball of muscle at 21.0 pounds.” Couldn’t have phrased it better myself! Mike might plan to economize on my daily rations, but even a tyrant like him wouldn’t ignore the science-driven advice of his top medical expert—nobody could be that dumb.

Dr. Kimmel on a previous visit.

The rest of my annual physical was pretty routine, but it was different, too, and not just because Elliott Bay Animal Hospital officially designated me a “senior patient.” Because of virus-prevention, Heather had to wait in the car in the parking lot while I went inside for my exam and other assorted stuff like nail-trimming and anal gland extraction (I’ll spare you the details).

After about a half-hour of examining and some shots, I got to take a break outside and meet Heather for a half-hour walk around the neighborhood. Then it was back inside for more shots. I was hoping all this variation from my normal going-to-the-vet procedures would result in extra treats for me, but I was disappointed. Maybe next time will be better, however. As a senior patient, they want to see me again in six months for additional blood work. I see every appointment as another opportunity to cash in on canine Social Security.

Chloë Gets Bored

Looking for squirrels in all the wrong places.

I wish I had something more exciting to tell you, but I don’t. This shelter-in-place thing has limitations. Afternoon naps are nice, but how many Law & Order and NCIS reruns can I stand? I’d like some more action!

Mike and Heather never take me anywhere anymore. One day we drove to Carkeek Park, and for an exciting half-hour I could fetch my ball caroming off the Rock. That was fun. Other than that, every day it’s back and forth into the park across the street. Same old, same old.

Video chatting in the office.

MI realize that they try to take me on a different route every day, but there’s only so much they can do.  I’ve been walking these grounds for 10 years,  so I already know what it smells like, by heart. The big excitement of the past two weeks, other than checking culverts for squirrels, was walking the road from the park entrance to the parking lot, now closed off to cars. By the third time we did it, it was already no big deal.

When the social highlight of the week is sitting in front of the computer for a video chat with Heather’s family, you get the drift. My life has gotten boring. While they chattered away, all I could do was dream. Wake me up when this is over.

Resting with Lamby.

 

Chloë Shelters in Place

I know it was just a week or so ago that I was complaining that Mike and Heather went away and left me back in Seattle. Now I’m afraid that if they didn’t have to take me out three or four times a day, they would never leave the house again.

No parking in park.

After our governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” mandate, things really quieted down around here. With cold, dreary weather and the park closing its parking lots, the number of people inside dwindled considerably. I did my daily walk with Mike and Heather, but I had to stay leashed most of the time, and whenever we encountered people or dogs on the trail, I was directed as far away from them as possible.  It’s a different world. Until recently, I thought Social Distancing, Six Feet of Separation, Self-Quarantine and Pandemic were the names of hard rock bands.

Luckily, sheltering in place has been OK for me so far. Both Mike and Heather are always home, meaning I’m much more likely to achieve my prime goal of having my whole pack in the same room, and I’ve also  enjoyed a marked increase in nap time with Heather. The treats I expect at 7, 9 and 10 a.m.,, 2 p.m, and bedtimes have not been quarantined. My long afternoon walks have not been shortened, although there has been a dearth of ball-chasing. Frankly, it hasn’t bothered me. I’ve found carrying my ball around in my mouth to be much more rewarding.

Snoozing with Lamby

Best of all, my favorite toy Lamby is back after being missing for almost a week. Turned out that Lamby was hiding inside my travel crate ever since it was packed up over at Schatzi’s house. Mike finally found Lamby when he unpacked my crate to set it up downstairs, several days after I came home. It’s a wonder Lamby didn’t die of suffocation, thirst or starvation after being stuffed flatter than an airline carry-on for several days. That Lamby’s tougher than she looks!

Lamby shows off her scar.

That’s why I really enjoy the challenge of throttling Lamby, grabbing her by the nose and throat and tossing her around. Unfortunately, one day in my enthusiasm I opened a seam that attached poor Lamby’s neck to her head, allowing her cotton stuffing to spew forth all over the dining room and sending Lamby to the toy hospital. Since all elective surgery had been cancelled, Mike had to take matters into his own hands, and managed to restuff and restitch Lamby all by himself. A true jack of all trades.

There’s no telling now how long this “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” policy is going to last. As long as my treat supply holds out, I’m on board with it.

Chloë and Lamby shelter in place.

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 Injured in the Line of Duty

Returning to the scene of the crime.

I could tell from well down the hill that this dog would be trouble. I tried to pull Mike in another direction, but we were on a narrow trail near the top of the South Meadow, and the dog was standing right next to our path. His person sat to his left, holding his leash.  He wasn’t that big, but I wanted no part of him, going as far to my left as I could, so Mike was between me and the other dog. He was actually cute, in a Benji kind of way, and Mike thought he was harmless, so he spoke to the dog, told him we were nice guys, and extended his palm for sniffing.

That move backfired, however, as the dog lunged at Mike and barked. I yanked Mike in the opposite direction to save him (and get out of the way myself), but as I dug in my paws, a sharp shard of rock shot up into the bottom of my foot and up between my toes. While the barking dog’s owner mumbled apologies, I hustled Mike up the trail to where it intersects with the paved park road. Only when I knew we were in the clear did the pain hit me, and from that point I limped home, hurting every time I put my front right foot down. Mike stopped to check my paw a couple of times, but there wasn’t much he could see or do. I stumbled home.

It’s the right front, doc.

Heather tried to remove the shard using her high-powered flashlight and  tweezers, but to no avail. When she still couldn’t get it out the next morning, it was off to see Dr. Kimmel, my personal physician. After she examined my paw, she sent me right to the dreaded Back Room, where all the really nasty stuff takes place. Plied with many treats, however, I held my squeals to a minimum, and the sharp little prick finally came out, making me feel better immediately.

Luckily, I didn’t need stitches or even a bandage. The only special instruction Dr. Kimmel gave Heather was to cover my paw when we walked in the park, so dirt didn’t get up between my toes. Heather disdained bandaging it, opting instead for fastening an old sock from her rag bin around my right front paw with rubber bands. I wore it on our walks for three days, but on the third day it fell off and dropped somewhere along our path. Maybe some dorky rodent found it and used it for nesting material, but I didn’t care. I was about done with it, anyway.

 

Chloë Makes a Getaway

Reflecting on her recent birthday.

Mike and Heather took me out to my foothills getaway last week, but I could tell from the get-go that things would not be the same on this trip. I knew it as soon as it took so long to get there, since roads were washed out by recent rains and nobody remembered to tell us about it. Heather had to backtrack and take additional winding roads to get us there. My stomach was a bit upset when we finally arrived, and then things got even worse.

Mister Fuzz on the prowl.

Nobody consulted me about the major renovations going on inside, but renovations are well underway, and all of the bedrooms and bathrooms but one are in the midst of a major overhaul. That meant that all of us had to sleep in the same bedroom. And by ALL of us, I mean Mike, Heather, me, Smokey and Pumpkin , the two dogs who live there, and the cat, Mister Fuzz. (Luckily, Pepe the fat burro wasn’t in there with us.) True, I did have my own travel crate to myself, but I was constantly uncomfortable sleeping in such proximity to Mister Fuzz, who parked himself under the bed , not six feet away, and pretty much refused to come out as long as anyone was in the room.  Over the weekend, I had a few long-distance face-offs with Fuzz when he  dared to venture downstairs to eat, but we never tangled the whole time. Judging from how huge he has gotten, that was probably a good idea., but I felt yucky enough to be so near him at night.

Smokey likes to watch.

But Fuzz was much less a bother to me than that buttinski Australian shepherd Smokey, who was constantly in my face all weekend and doesn’t at all understand the word “No!” from man nor beast. I know he’s still a puppy, OK, but I began thinking he’s just not that smart.  He he barked at the TV screen whenever the Allstate commercial with Tina Fey and the Mayhem guy (Dean Gerard Winters) acting like he’s a Saint Bernard puppy was on. I kind of understood him barking at the real pug that appears in the commercial, but mostly he barked at the actor barking like a dog. Maybe Smokey identified with what the dog character labels “lack of impulse control.” I feel sorry for Pumpkin, who has to put up with Smokey’s goofball behavior every day.

The other thing about Smokey—and I really hate bringing this up—is his pooping prowess. Smokey rings a bell when he has to go out. Cute, very cute. What’s not so cute is how much Smokey poops: It could be three or four times on each walk, with three or four puny poops each time, one at a time, usually with a few steps in between. I kid you not. And poor Heather, walking behind him with multiple poop bags, trying to keep track of where his last deposit landed while bending down to scoop the previous one. On our last long walk of the weekend on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, my pity for Heather intensified, as poop got caught in Smokey’s ample butt fur and Heather tried to clean it off with a handful of fallen leaf residue. I tried to get Mike to take a picture, but he declined.

Birthday treats for Chloë.

Anyway, for the first time ever I  was happy to get away from the getaway when we packed up and left  on Monday morning, and even happier when I got home and a package arrived from Syracuse. It was actually addressed to Mike and Heather, who were celebrating an anniversary of something or other, but the same box from my aunt Susi also contained a fine selection of gourmet treats for me. I’m glad someone thinks I deserved something special for my recent 10th  birthday, and these are exactly the kind of special, expensive, calorie-laden treats that Mike and Heather would never buy for me. Thanks, aunts Susie and Debby; I’m sure these highly appreciated and anticipated treats will be doled out prudently (with Mike in charge, my heirs might be enjoying them someday—if I had any heirs, that is). And thanks also to Cleo and Bear, my aunts’ cats, who sent me a nice birthday card in the same package. I must caution them, however, that while I may have reached a certain level of detente with Mister Fuzz, when I reach Syracuse this summer I will still look forward to chasing them. Start training and be ready.

 

Chloë Hits Double Figures

It’s hard to believe, I know, but I celebrated my 10th birthday this week. Ten years! It seems like only yesterday that I was rolling around with Frank, Stanley and the rest of my littermates up in Monroe, WA. I wonder what has become of them all. I never hear from anybody anymore; the rest of my Cousins’ Club must have marked me lousy.

Chloë (center) and two of her sisters, 4 weeks old.

So at 10, I’m still feeling—and often behaving—pretty puppy-like. I’m as stubborn as ever, and as apt to take off after a squirrel or scarf up mud from the ground as I’ve ever been. I’m spry enough to jump in and out of my camp chair several times a day and play fetch for 50 or more throws at a time—if I happen to be in the mood and there are no interesting distractions nearby, that is. My weight holds steady at a solid 20 pounds, which means Mike can’t cut my daily rations even though he’ like to. I have a few gray hairs, sure, but none around my muzzle yet. And that spot between my shoulders where I seem to be losing some hair? No problem; if it gets any worse, Mike will give me a combover when he grooms me before dinner.

Chloë at 10.

Although I received no birthday cake and nary a  card in the mail, I did enjoy a little recognition that day. Mike and Heather’s friend Kevin from Syracuse sent Mike an email: “I see on my calendar that Wednesday is Chloë’s birthday. When I mentioned it to my cat Tucker, he yawned, wondering why anyone would celebrate the birth of a dog. But tell her that I wish her a happy birthday.”  What a magnanimous guy! I might have to pay Tucker a visit this summer and give him a growl.

My Aunt Susie in Syracuse sent her regards via telephone, and contributed all the gourmet chewy treats I enjoyed all week. There was also a nice voice mail from Yankee, the doodle dog who belongs to my pal Juneau George. I want to get up to Alaska to visit him before I’m deemed “too old to travel” or some other nonsense.

Unwrapping her present.

Even Mike and “No Presents” Heather came through. They gave me extra treats all day, and after my cheese-laden dinner that evening they delivered the piece de resistance: a double-barrel gift of a Racket Raccoon Mushabelly AND a gourmet dog chew  stick made from 100 percent, open-pasture, grass-fed beefhide. The chewy treat was tempting, but there was no doubt which one I squealed for: There is nothing like a fresh Mushabelly.

Although this Racket Raccoon Mushabelly was hard to get out of his box, Heather finally helped me extricate him, and when we hit the floor together Mike started his stopwatch to see how long it would take me to break Mr. Racket Raccoon.

 

Beefhide tastes so good!

Luckily for you, my faithful readers, I won’t subject you to every second of my tussle with the aptly named Racket. Mike soon realized that Racket shut up whenever I wasn’t applying constant pressure to his belly, so he stuck the chewy stick in my mouth and earned a respite for the six minutes or so it took me to grind up and inhale the gourmet chew. I must admit I enjoyed it, and I would have gladly gobbled down a second and third, but when none was offered I turned my attention back to Racket and proceeded to throttle him but good.  It didn’t take long. By the 27 minute and 43 second mark on Mike’s stopwatch, I had Racket’s innards scattered around the living room rug, his infernal voice box silent by his side.

Throttling Racket Raccoon; Innards to the left of me, voice box on the right, stuck in the middle with Chlo,

Mike dutifully picked up Racket’s innards and stuffed them back inside his torso, and the next morning Heather sewed up him back together and gave him to me, alleviating much of my angst over his disappearance. I chased Racket around the house, just like I do with Lamby and Wiffie, but without his constant cackle his appeal to me will soon wear off, just like it did with all my previous Mushabellies after I silenced them. I never pull any of them out of my toy boxes anymore.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to wait until my buddy Penny returns from Florida in March. She always has some fresh Mushabellies at her house.