Tag Archives: cats and dogs

Chloë Remembers a Cat

Spanky takes over Mike’s pillow on an earlier Syracuse visit.

My Syracuse aunts, Susie and Debby, lost their cat Spanky last week. Well, they didn’t lose him, exactly, because they know where he is. He has been sick for a long time, and he finally went to that big Bidawee Home in the sky.

It makes me sad. Even though Spanky was nothing but mean to me when we finally met in Syracuse last summer, I can empathize with my aunts. I know they’re really hurting inside, because I know how much they loved him. And while it’s true that the old, nasty Spanky snarled, hissed, and threw his claws at me every time our paths crossed,  now I kind of miss those little tête-à-têtes. They invigorated me, and aroused my own animal instincts.

Spanky, September 2017

Once I got back to Seattle, I started to pay my own little homage to Spanky. In Syracuse, the cat would hang out under Debby’s car in the driveway, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on me. I quickly developed the habit of looking under Debby’s car every time I walked past, just in case he was there. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been checking underneath the Bartons’ cars for their two black cats, Ted and Fred, so I can root them out and chase them back into the hedges where they belong. Every time I crouch and stare under those cars, I think of Spanky and smile. Then I get back to barking and taking off after the damn black cats.

Tracking the Bartons’ cats: The waiting is the hardest part.

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Chloë Raids the Kitty Clubhouse

Adversary

A Chloë adversary

The cats down the street are bugging me again. I know they have been wandering around my yard, leaving their scent and occasionally their poops around our property. It’s mostly Ted and Fred, the Bartons’ cats, but recently another black-and-white cat has joined the brigade. Sometimes they even hang out together, waiting for an unsuspecting vole or small bird to flit by. Cats are mean. I hate them. But now that I know where they hide, I will get them.

1-Kitty ClubhouseThey hang out between two hedges, boxwood on one side and rhododendrons on the other, between the Bartons’ house and the one between ours and the Bartons, where the phantom French bulldog Scout lives (we hardly ever see her, so she’s a phantom to me). The sidewalk entry point to the kitties’ lair is well hidden, but I nosed it out. Now I check it a few times every day. Can’t be too careful, you know.

I’ve seen the cats scurry  into that hole many times. And even if they’re not home when I stick my nose in to check, I can tell that they have been, and even how long they’ve been gone. My nose is smart that way. So even though I see no cats when I look, it’s always worth another try. If Mike didn’t have that leash so tight, I’d have seen if there was another exit point further into the hedge. Mike has thus far refused to cooperate.

Chloë investigates.

Chloë investigates.

Those damn kitties wanted me to stay out of their hedge. So they hung out a sign, thinking it would scare me and keep me away.

Kitty Clubhouse Sign

Kitty Clubhouse Sign: “DOGS: DO NOT ENTER, ESPECIALLY CHLOE!! “

My compliance is not likely. At least, not as long as my nose stays unmarked by kitty claws.

Chloë emerges from Kitty Clubhouse.

Emerging from the Kitty Clubhouse.

Nobody tells a dachshund what to do. Least of all a cat.

 

Chloë Makes the Fuzz Fly

Record-setting

Record-setting fetching  on the lawn.

I had a crazy time out at my Getaway this last time. Mike went to Syracuse about halfway, through, which really turned it into a holiday for me. Luckily, he prepared meals for Heather and me before he left, so neither of us starved. So he is good for something.

The highlight of my time together with Heather was setting (and resetting several times) the world dachshund record for fetching a ball thrown by hand (no plastic ball-flingers or jai alai cestas allowed!). The last count I remember was 180 straight, with only brief water breaks. After that many throws, I can barely remember anything, and I don’t think we rely on Heather to count anything greater than pi. Regardless of the number, Heather is a real trooper for throwing that ball so much, and I appreciate her effort. Both of us were sore for a couple of days afterwards.

The Pump on her perch

The Pump on her perch

Docile Pumpkin and I got along fine, although it is getting a little disconcerting when she keeps sniffing my butt and peeing on the same exact spot where I did. That little mop must think she owns the place or something. But she’s benign.

Stairway barrier

Staircase barrier

I can’t say the same about Mister Fuzz. That damn cat tried sneaking down the back spiral staircase one day when Mike was still around. I caught his eye when he was about halfway down, and he wisely retreated. He wasn’t so lucky the next time, when Mike was doing laundry on the second floor and left the main staircase barrier down for a minutes. I cornered Fuzz under a bed and barked up a storm until Mike collared me and dragged me back downstairs.

Mister Fuzz

Mister Fuzz

After Mike left, however, the cat was out of the bag, so to speak. Fuzz and I faced off about a half-dozen times more, and I chased him under the bed every time. Fuzz has yet to take a swipe at me, by the way. He just runs and hides. Advantage, Chloë.

Poor Mister Fuzz doesn’t seem such a bad guy.  It’s just too bad he’s a cat. Sure hope he likes it upstairs.

 

 

 

 

Chloë Sets New Fetch Records

We finally came home from my getaway. Being there almost two weeks took its toll on my body, so I have been resting up a bit while Mike watches baseball playoffs on TV seemingly 24 hours a day. At the getaway, I get so busy that I often don’t get my full quota of afternoon naps, so it’s good to catch up.

On the back lawn

On the back lawn

The highlight of the recent vacation was the new dachshund fetch records that I set Sunday, Oct. 4, on my getaway’s back lawn. Heather certified that I set new marks for single-session (85 throws-and-returns) and single-day (175). My two-day total of 300 has yet to be certified, but we expect official word soon.

Let’s see…what else happened on this trip? As you no doubt recall from my previous post, this time I graciously shared my getaway with the mop-like Pumpkin and Mister Fuzz, a black-and-white former barn cat.  Pumpkin turned out to be more fun than I expected. I actually grew to like her, and we even engaged in some mutual butt-sniffing before this stay was over. That’s high praise.

Mister Fuzz, however, is another story. We had but two brief encounters, as Heather expended much energy on keeping us apart. Luckily, nobody tripped on anything, and our tete a tetes were well-controlled.

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That getaway place is just too much fun! Toys, carpets, lawns, forests, even a dog companion. If I can just get that cat back into the barn where it belongs,  it would be perfect.

 

Chloë Lives with a Cat

Where's Pumpkin?

Pumpkin perched atop her toys.

Heather, Mike and I headed out to my “getaway” in the Cascade foothills for the first time in a long while. Maybe we all needed some separation after my dog mentor Tara died, or maybe it’s just coincidence and Tara’s owners haven’t needed us for house- and horse-sitting. I do miss Tara, but so far this time in her house has been a lot less stressful for me: No growling every time I drag something out of the toy pile, and no pilfering of Heather’s attention and sometimes even my treats. So now there is no hindrance to making Mike throw stuffed toys around the living room for me to chase, catch and throttle until their stuffing spews forth. That’s when Heather jumps in for damage control.

That little mop Pumpkin is still around, but she’s so docile that I feel and sometimes act like the big, badass alpha dog of the house. Pumpkin does cute really well, but she is pretty much clueless about anything else. Any dog that has no interest in treats is clueless in my book. On the other hand, more for me.

Pny time

Pony time

We’re out here for almost two weeks, and I had a great time when we first arrived. We had great weather, and we went on several long hikes in places with lots of wildlife to sniff after.  I  also played fetch with Heather something like 75 times in a row on the huge lawn, and did a lot of munching of grass, or as Mike refers to it, my salad bar. I particularly enjoy the long blades in the fenced-in pasture, even more so because Mike hates to chase after me when I go in there, so I do it every chance I get. At the end of one walk I thought about checking out a pony in a field, but when we went across the road to visit we realized the pony was behind an electric fence, and I wanted no part of that. Besides, I can get as close as I want to real horses back at my getaway any old time I want to. It’s just that I don’t want to, ever. That barn is still a place I prefer to avoid. It’s loud, dark and scary in there.

Lounging by the pool

Lounging by the pool

In fact, apparently one of the barn cats hated living there so much that he wormed his way into becoming a house cat. I kind of sensed that he was around, but in my first week here I’ve only had one brief encounter with Mister Fuzz. Heather quickly got between us before I could do any damage. Even so, the incident allowed me to certify the existence of Mister Fuzz, who until then had been only a faint scent and a big rumor to me. Now I knew for sure that he was upstairs, and even in what rooms he liked to hang in.

Stairway barrier

Stairway barrier

All of a sudden, going upstairs to flush him out became a much higher priority for me. Heather was forced to erect a barricade of throw pillows at the base of the stairs to keep me on the first floor, but I’ve already breached it once, so it’s hardly insurmountable. For our remaining time here on this trip, it will be my job to get around it and stalk Mister Fuzz. In our tete-a-tete, he looked huge, and as a barn cat he must be tough enough, even if he does seem to be hiding out silently most of the time. 

Well, if Mister Fuzz is as smart as I think he is, he’ll just stay under a bed and out of my way. Otherwise, fur will fly. I guarantee it.

Chloë Sees Orange

Roland and Heidi, 2004

Roland and Heidi in Seattle, 2004

My patience with Mike’s extended absence was wearing thin when he finally returned from the East Coast. Even though he was gone almost a month, I greeted him with gusto, having decided to cut him some slack after Heather told me Mike had stayed east so long in order to attend a memorial service for his dear friend Roland. Believe it or not, I never got the chance to meet Roland, but I heard countless tales of how much fun he was, and how he was especially devoted to his own pets (not to mention a family of threatened elephants). I know my predecessor Heidi really liked him, and that’s good enough for me.

I could tell Mike was feeling blue, so I tried hard to be extra nice to him. It worked for a few days, but then the photos you see below mysteriously appeared in my “in” box. They were apparently taken by a hidden camera in Mike’s bedroom in Syracuse, where he stayed with so-called friends. I say “so-called” because, while I’m sure they are fine, upstanding people otherwise, they have two cats, Dinah and Mingus. Dinah could care less about Mike, but master Mingus likes to sleep on Mike’s bed, or anywhere else he damn well pleases.

Mike and Mingus

Mike and Mingus

The first photo looked innocent enough, but the next one raised some concerns. Things seem to be getting a bit too chummy for my taste.

Whisker to whisker

Whisker to whisker

There were more photos of the two of them, but I could no longer bear to look.

The photos crushed me. Here I was in Seattle, thinking every single waking second about nothing but food, playing with my ball, and Mike all the time he’s gone, but the moment he gets out of town he starts cheating on me. With a cat, no less. And a  huge cat, at that.

I don’t know. When it comes right down to it, who needs the aggravation that true love inevitably brings? I will be better off to forget about Mike and that cat, because Mike’s intentions are crystal clear. Before you know it, he’ll be going back to Syracuse and taking care of cats. I couldn’t bear it. I’m done with him.

But oh, will I ever be able to trust again?

Chloë Patrols Her Block

Every dog needs a purpose; profound, I know, but I cannot take credit for it. My primary purpose, of course, is to make Mike and Heather happy. Frankly,  I seem to be doing pretty well at this (not to say there hasn’t been a rough patch or two).  Right now I’m thinking of “purpose” in more of an everyday way. More like a part-time job,  something to do when I’m not eating, sleeping, playing or misbehaving in some way.

Beau

Beau

I have therefore decided that my job will be to keep elephants and cats off our block, a canine Neighborhood Watch without guns. So far, keeping elephants away has not been a problem. It’s  those darn cats that pose a bigger challenge. Like English ivy and Scotch broom, there’s no way to  get rid of them.  We can only hope to contain them. Like those invasive weeds, cats have no purpose. As far as I can tell, anyway.

I am particularly concerned with three cats that live on my block.  Beau, the Bartons’ cat, lives on our side of the street, two doors down. With the house on either side of his usually vacant, Beau has been trying to expand his territory. Not so fast, my furry friend.

The Coon Cat

The Coon Cat

The other two cats, Mittens and the Coon Cat, live across the street and down the hill a little. Mittens belongs to Sandy, who is active in Seattle’s cat rescue community.  Sandy’s nice enough to me when she sees me, but I still eye her suspiciously–perhaps with good reason. And the Coon Cat, if you can believe it, lives in the same house as April, a mixed-breed dog who I see often outside our house or in the park. April’s OK, but she’s a loner, too aloof to pay me much attention. (Maybe living with a cat AND a kid have made her that way.)

So here are my duties: Early every morning (usually in the dark), then again at mid-day and once more at night,  I  conduct on-site  surveillance of every inch of sidewalk and parking strip on both sides of our block, making sure no cats have been treading illegally on our pedestrian thoroughfares. Every once in a while I actually spy one of these cats, and if I’m lucky enough to be off leash, I’ll go tearing after it, sometimes crossing the street without looking for cars, sometimes roaring into the tree-filled backyards on our side of the block. Often I bark and yelp loudly as I run, making quite a prolonged racket.  I once chased Mittens down the sidewalk from in front of Claire’s house to in front of her own, and she wound up scaring the Coon Cat, who had been lying on the sidewalk  minding his own business until Mittens ran him over. This propelled the two of them into a screeching cat ruckus that in turn startled their neighbor Trudi, who had been gardening nearby with her head down until the two shrieking cats got her attention.

Whenever something like this happens, Heather (in particular) is not pleased, and I get all the blame. Not the cats, me! She gives me one of those “Chloë Tully!!!!” yells, followed by an icy cold stare or two.  Funny, I’m always a Tully when I’m in Heather’s dog house.

Grace

Grace

Anyway, cat control is a time-consuming job. I used to be able to rely on my friends the Macs (Bichons MacKenzie and MacDuff) to help me out  in keeping the three cats at bay. But they moved to Florida last fall, and who’s going to help me now? Gracie, the elderly Basset hound? Give me a break. Grace is my special sweetheart, but she’s  not cut out for this line of work. Her purpose obviously lies elsewhere; tracking, perhaps, or just resting.

No, this responsibility is all mine, and I take it seriously. Morning and night, I require whoever is walking with me to take me all the way down to the dark five corners intersection at the far end of our block  (unless it’s raining hard, of course, when it’s OK to take care of business as quickly as possible and rush back inside). I must make absolutely sure no cats are out or even imminent.

Chloë chills.

Chloë chills.

In fact, I’m taking my cat control job SO seriously that several times recently, after Mike and I returned from an afternoon walk, I took off after cats while Mike was  spreading out my drying towel on the floor inside the door to the house. After the first couple of times,  you would really think Mike would have caught on to my plan. Sadly for Mike,  you’d be wrong.

As it is,  in my own humble opinion, my multiple daily patrols and occasional quick-strike offensives are having the desired effect. While raccoons still hang around our block in the early morning (I saw one today, in fact),  I haven’t spied one of those three cats around for days. And no elephants, either, come to think of it. As far as I’m concerned, the system is working.