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.

 

Chloë Rides a Perfect Storm of Holiday Cheer

Prowling for tasty morsels.

Prowling for tasty morsels.

I know I’m prone to complaining, but sometimes I am forced to admit I lead a pretty charmed life. Consider these examples. Just days after Mike put me on a special pre-holiday diet, and barely one hour after he had deftly steered me away from the latest feast our  generous neighbor had laid out along Wendy* Way, a stranger approached us on the sidewalk near the park entrance. She was a catering worker looking for an event at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center at the other end of the park, and she asked Mike if he could point her in the right direction. That was all the break I needed.

As Mike launched into a lengthy and no doubt confusing description of her easiest route through the darkening park, his attention was diverted sufficiently that I was able to maneuver him and myself into prime position for grabbing a piece of toast and a good hunk of lemon chiffon cake. My good friend Wendy* (not her real name) really has a good eye for baked goods.

Mike was about to give the young lady one of his park maps when she waved him off and rushed through the park gate perusing her phone. That was OK, since I had pretty much eaten my fill by then, and dinner was less than an hour away.

Besides, another perfect storm was brewing. Just a few days later, Mike was doing a good job of not letting me anywhere near the freshly served smorgasbord along Wendy* Way. That is, until he saw a stranger with two big dogs about to cross the street and into our path. Wanting to avoid the fearsome threesome, Mike reluctantly gave in and let me turn left over to the Wendy Way side of the park gate. The way the scraps were scattered all over the sidewalk and grass, he could not possibly divert me from them all. I nabbed some Italian bread and cheese on the way through.

Chasing down brown.l

Chasing down brown.l

And wait, there’s more. Not wanting to make an about-face and walk down Wendy* Way a second time, Mike marched us right up to the stop sign at the corner, and there, just two houses down Magnolia Boulevard, was my favorite big brown truck. Excited, I pulled Mike toward it like a sled dog, but as we got close my heart sank. The truck was parked for a delivery, but it wasn’t my pal Donna who got out with the package. Still, this new UPS guy smiled at me as he returned to the truck, making me think he might give me something anyway, when I noticed he was not alone. Then Donna emerged from the back of the truck with a wide smile and big hello for me, and two biscuits to boot. I’m hoping to see a lot more of her before the holiday rush subsides.  More deliveries means more treats, so I’m good for business.

Order restored!

Order restored!

Maybe there’s something to this notion of holiday magic after all. A few days ago I came back to the house after a whole day of being out, either on a walk in the park or a trip in the car. As I searched every room to see what may have fallen on the floor while I was gone, I noticed that the new, big, tall bed had miraculously shrunk back to its normal size, making it a lot easier for me to get in and out. I still can’t figure out what happened to shrink it, but it was a great Christmas present for my middle-aged knees and spinal column every time I forget that there’s “NO JUMPING.” Thank you, Macy’s, for putting things back the way they was.

Close quarters for Santa

Close quarters for Santa

In fact, I would be fine if the lowered mattress height turns out to be my only holiday gift this year.  Not that I don’t appreciate gifts, particularly the edible kind. I’m just being realistic. I can see with my very own eyes that my stocking has already been hung by the chimney with care. But I’m not at all sure Old Saint Nick will be able to squeeze his fat, jolly self between the chimney and the couch in order to fill it. The new living room alignment may be good for watching TV, but turning the back of your couch on Santa can’t be a good idea.

 

Chloë Gains at Home

Shortcut

Shortcut

Mike and Heather went somewhere again, this time sneaking out one morning while I was busy eating my breakfast. What seemed like many, many days later they came back a lot browner. I’m not sure where they went, although I detected the taste of sea salt when I was biting Mike’s nose after he came through the front door. You’d think they would have sent me a postcard or brought me a souvenir, but no. What am I supposed to do with a piece of coral or coffee beans?

Aiming high.

Aiming high.

No big deal. Lynn showed up a couple of hours after they left and stayed with me until they came back.  I had fun with Lynn, who knows the way to my heart is through my stomach and likes to snuggle besides. Lynn did a good job of making me get in and out of the new towering bed in the proper manner, using the steps instead of jumping. Lucky for me, Lynn used treats to bribe me over to the corner where the steps are. I’m not turning down any treats, but I’m not dumb. After a couple of ill-thought-out attempts, I could see for myself that the steps, and not the bone-jarring leap, was the only safe and sane way to go.

Chloë's "oeuvre"

Chloë’s “oeuvre”

Charlie and Jill took me for some long walks, but I still had a lot of pent-up energy every evening when Lynn got home from work, so I made her throw Wiffie around the living room or help me play with my toys. In one game, Lynn called out the name of a toy, and I  would search for it in my toy pile. The Cow was one of my favorites with Lynn, who remembered it was a gift from my good friend Charlie. Every time Lynn called out, “Charlie’s Cow,” I raced to the front door, assuming Lynn was telling me Charlie was coming in. She did that on three separate occasions over a 2-hour period, apparently never figuring out that Charlie wasn’t really there.  Oh, well, I just played along.

We had a little excitement on one of the days Charlie did appear. When he arrived, I managed to squeeze out the front door, zip down the street and turn into the Bartons’ driveway and fenced back yard. This was just like it happened once last summer, so this time Charlie knew exactly where I was headed, and two people on the street verified my whereabouts. When Charlie first called me, of course, I just looked at him with indifference and held my ground. Then he yelled “Treat Party!!!”  and I was compelled to come a-running. With ol’ Charlie, treat parties are few and far between! I couldn’t afford to have him change his mind. Or worse, lie about throwing me a treat party. Luckily, Charlie gave me treats this one time.

Knows what's coming.

Knows what’s coming.

There was, alas, a sad bi-product of all the treating that I enjoyed when Mike and Heather (a.k.a. Ms. Grim) were away. When I had my follow-up visit with Dr. Sherrie Crow at the Elliott Bay Animal Hospital, there was some bad news. While it was great to learn my skin rash and ear infection have cleared up and that the doctor thinks hair may again grow in the currently bald spot on top of my head, we also found out that  the trim, muscular body that weighed in at 18.6 pounds in the vet’s lobby on Nov. 17 had gained a full pound only three weeks later. A full pound! That’s about 5 percent of my body weight, a noted Seattle statistician observed. And as Dr. Crow wrote in her ominous official visit report: “Chloë is at the top of her ideal weight range.”

Uh-oh. I’m afraid I know what’s coming next, and that’s not good. Mike will be on the warpath. And during the normally festive holiday season, no less. Sigh. It will be hard to cut back on my eating, but my past transgressions will still have been worth it. Just like love, diet’s just a four-letter word.

Chloë Scales New Heights

New mattress, new problem

New mattress, new problem

After talking about it for months, Mike and Heather finally got a new mattress. Good for them, but did they think about me? They may be more comfortable, but do I get to sleep in it any more often? No, I don’t. And that’s not the worst part.

This mattress is thicker than the last one. That means it’s higher off the floor. And that means I need to be an Olympic high jumper to get up there, whereas I could vault from floor to bed top from a sitting position, no problem, on the old one. Since the new mattress arrived before Thanksgiving, I have gone splat against the side of the damn thing on several occasions. Even eating several cases of Wheaties (which wouldn’t be so bad as long as it they were covered with milk and bananas) won’t get me enough boost to make it over the top. I doubt even performance-enhancing drugs would do the trick.

Solution: Proper positioning.

Solution: Proper positioning.

Even using my personal Stairway to Heaven is not as easy as it used to be. The top step of my unit now leaves me several inches short of the goal. Luckily, Heather figured out how to re-position the steps (two inches from the side of the bed and even with the foot) to give me the maximum efficiency for speed and angle. I can make it to the top of the bed with ease, but I still need to get a running start. Getting down from the new mattress via the steps is a breeze, as long as I can stay clear of Heather’s dresser when I hit the floor.

But getting down is still the tricky part. I am not supposed to jump off the new bed directly to the floor, ever, because landing hard like that is going to eventually be bad for my delicate dachshund back. Why didn’t Mike think about this inherent danger to me before he brought this new mattress into MY bedroom?

Victory achieved.

Victory achieved.

So far, I’m coping. I’ve heard NO JUMPING more times in the past couple of weeks than I have in the rest of my time on earth combined. Heather, especially, and even my good friend Lynn when she came over to stay with me last week, have kept harping on it, trying to make me learn. We’ll see if this loud, Trumpian campaign works, or if somebody comes up with a better solution. In the meantime, I know I can get away with bed-jumping on Mike’s watch, since he never pays attention to anything. Yahoo, I’m flying, just like Peter Pan!

 

 

Chloë Marks Her Spot

The Spot Revealed

The spot revealed.

It was about time to address the elephant in the room. Mike first noticed the tiny bump on my head way back in the spring, shortly after my annual physical exam. Since my personal physician (Dr. Aimee Kimmel) has just examined and drained two less visible lumps on my side, Mike decided to just keep an eye on this new one, about the size of a pimple. I Mike didn’t feel around for it, he wouldn’t even have known it was there.

Months passed. The tiny lump on my head got bigger, but not much. Then Mike read a book (try not to laugh) called Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. It’s a novel about a dachshund named Lily. The “octopus” is a tumor that grows on her head. It’s a metaphor, but  Mike took it literally. He checked my lump every day. When he got back from his trip to see his mom, he decided it was big enough to take me to the vet, especially after the lump broke one day during grooming and some gook came out. Nurse Heather made it stop, but off to the vet I went.

In the tub.

In the tub.

Mike looked nervous, so I had to sit on his lap in the waiting room to calm him down. Dr. Kimmel was on maternity leave (what nerve!), so Dr. Crow examined me and set Mike’s mind at rest. It was only another  subcutaneous cyst, like the other ones. The doctor drained it, but warned that it might come back. That means, of course, that my otherwise perfect countenance may forever be marred by a small bald spot on my head. My choices appear to be either a comb-over (too vain) or to just tell anyone who asks (and few would be so forward as to bring it up) that it’s just a visual balance to my naturally bald ears. Perhaps the hair will grow back and cover the spot, but that will probably  be too much to ask for. As long as the lump doesn’t devour me or the spot get much bigger, I can live with it. I’m still cute enough, believe me. I’ve been practicing, just in case.

Unfortunately, Dr. Crow didn’t stop her examination at my head. By the time I got out of there, I got some gook pressed into my ear to stop a yeast infection and a shampoo for my belly to get rid of a rash and dry, flaky skin. Who knew I was such a physical wreck when I went in there? On the other hand, it’s always good to know you don’t have brain cancer. And my weight at 18.6 pounds is still within my normal range, so I won’t have to suffer through another diet. I hate those.

Mr. Monkey

Mr. Monkey awaits his roommate’s arrival.

All the consternation was worth it, however, since I got extra treats from Mike for being good at the vet and lots of cheese from Heather for being a good girl at home in the bathtub to get shampooed. She also laundered all of the sheets and blankets in my crate to remove any pesky germs or foreign bodies that might remain and bring back the rash, which Dr. Crow thought might be related to the yeast infection. Mr. Monkey was happy to have his living space renovated at no cost, and Mike was so happy to have one less thing to worry about. A win-win for all, even if I did have to endure a visit with a new vet. With any luck, Dr. Aimee will return to her post before I do.

 

Chloë Walks Wendy* Way

(*) “Wendy” is not her real name.

Wendy* Way

Wendy* Way

As you know, I previously named the wooded path in the park that is my #1 throw-and-fetch location Chloë’s Lane. I am now re-naming another neighborhood thoroughfare, the northern side of Emerson Avenue between Discovery Park’s southern entrance and the bus stop at the intersection with Magnolia Boulevard. Just as the City of Seattle could rename one block of Atlantic Street outside Safeco Field Edgar Martinez Drive in honor of the Mariners slugger, I am renaming this block of Emerson Avenue “Wendy* Way.”

Note: I am using an asterisk (*) here as a visual reminder that “Wendy” is NOT the real name of the person after whom I’m renaming this block. I deliberately changed her name for two reasons: 1) to protect “Wendy*s” real identity and not embarrass her. and 2) for alliteration with “Way,” a peculiarly Seattle term for streets of varying length and degree of importance. But I digress.

Walking Wendy* Way is my favorite part of any stroll. That’s because “Wendy*,” who is one of our elderly neighbors, frequently scatters food in the grassy area between the sidewalk and the park fence. I assume this is her effort to feed birds, rabbits, feral cats and raccoons that might pass by, not for foraging by local pets. However, being civic-minded, I am trying to help out “Wendy” by doing my part to gobble up as much of her deposits as I can, at the same time protecting all other local dogs from themselves and their few remaining lupine instincts. I generously leave a little lettuce behind for them.

Eggs and cheese

Eggs and cheese

Hunk of cheese

Hunk of cheese

Most of Wendy*s contributions along Wendy* Way come from the grain family: crusts of toast and French bread, sometimes a fully dressed piece of Italian sub roll or a wedge of angel cake. Yum! Once in a while, if I really get lucky, I can see the remains of a sandwich. The other day, however, Wendy* went over the top, laying out a veritable smorgasbord of hard-boiled eggs, sliced cheeses, cold cuts and a large hunk of Roquefort or Gorgonzola (Heather wouldn’t let me near it, so I cannot be certain what variety I sniffed from yards away). It was hard for me to figure out why: Wendy* was either laying out Part 1 of a pre-Thanksgiving buffet for the homeless or just clearing out her refrigerator. I doubt we will ever get to the bottom of it.

Soul searching

Searching for scraps

Wendy* doesn’t leave something out there every day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to check, just to be sure. Policing Wendy* Way has become just one more part of my daily job, with an occasional prize for the effort.