Tag Archives: Discovery Park

Chloë Continues Her Comeback

Morning treat in downstairs crate.

It was way back on Sept. 13 that Dr. Aimee Kimmel, my personal physician, prescribed a regimen of drugs and bed rest (i.e, no exercise) to improve my increasing episodes of rear-leg instability. Ever since, my recovery has been steady. After a month of short walks for pooping purposes only, Heather started to gently increase my workload. Gradually favorite toys such as Lamby and Wiffie came out of the closet, the length of  afternoon walks increased, and off-leash sessions of fetch crept back into the picture. I handled them all with no problem.

I was still a bit shaky on stairs, however. At home, the door to the downstairs staircase was always kept shut, and Heather moved my downstairs crate upstairs, near the dining room table. That way I didn’t have to go downstairs and then back up the same stairs before leaping into the crate and awaiting my rightful morning treat. By moving my crate, we could go through the whole ritual on one floor while I recuperated.

Heading up the stairs.

But for almost two months, I stayed off the stairs because  of a combination of prescription and personal confidence.  I wasn’t sure I could do it. Finally, Heather decided the time was right, opened the door to the stairs and ordered me down for the morning treat. I galloped down and back up the stairs with no problems. The next day, my downstairs crate moved back to its regular location, where it’s supposed to be.

Near the top.

Chloë’s stairway to heaven.

Still, a few challenges remain before I’ll consider myself totally “back.” There’s the two-step approach to Heather’s side of the bed; something about the angle of the approach makes me hesitant to make the leap. I’ve wound up an awkward half-step from the top of the mattress once too often.

This week, however, Mike, Heather and I took a walk with Caroline and Schatzi around their part of the Magnolia neighborhood, and at one point I had to go down a park staircase that was long and dark enough that it made Mike nervous for me. I handled it with no problem or hesitation. Maybe by spring I’ll be ready to tackle the one in Discovery Park again.

Discovery Park staircase awaits.

Chloë Makes Her Comeback

Wiffie baffles in storage.

Mike usually stuffs old towels under the living room furniture to prevent Wiffie from rolling underneath and causing him to get down on his hands and knees to pull Wiffie out. When those baffles came out of the closet and resumed their respective positions on the floor, I knew my month of “bed rest” was over.

And so I have enthusiastically reembraced playing tug of war with Lamby, and as soon as Wiffie hit the floor, I took off  after it and went flying into the kitchen, barking like a banshee. I also enjoyed knocking Wiffie into a corner and barking at it, daring it to try to get past me. No way, Wiff.

 

Fetch along the creek trail in Carkeek.

Our daily walks gradually ramped back up to an hour or more, and there has been some moderate reintroduction of fetch–kind of like pitch counts in baseball.  A few times we went to Carkeek Park, which has some of my favorite locations for chasing my ball. The trail that runs parallel to the small creek leading to the salmon hatchery is perfect, because it’s fine gravel, secluded, straight and flat, with the creek on one side and a steep slope on the other to confine me and my ball. After about 10 or 15 throws there, I felt I was getting my legs back under me. But the most recent time we went there, lots of people and other dogs were around, mostly to watch mature salmon flop up the creek to return to their original spawning ground and die, which doesn’t seem like the most fun thing to do on a fall afternoon. Instead, Heather, Mike and I ambled up the trails to the Rock, where I chased caroms for a good half-hour. I’m definitely all the way back.

Playing fetch at the Rock.

With the days getting shorter, we’ve started walking a little earlier in the afternoon, and maybe that’s a good thing. Coyote sightings from all over the neighborhood have become a daily occurrence, especially in the early morning and at dusk. We hear them howling at night and have seen them several times in the park. One morning Heather and I saw two of them walking towards us from down our block. When they saw us coming, they darted into the Bartons’ back yard–with any luck, they were after Fred, my nemesis neighborhood cat. Anyway, these days Heather keeps me on a tight leash and throws the ball only in open, controllable locations. Not a bad idea at all. Let the coyotes eat salmon.

Coyote ambling along Magnolia Boulevard.

 

Chloë Admires Her Pelts

Lounging with Ranger the Reindeer.

Lots of bunnies in Discovery Park at this time of year. Babies from the longtime inhabitants, and usually a few new arrivals from Easter-gift discards. All those newcomers are easier to catch than the regulars, who are less reckless and more cunning. I haven’t actually seen any of these newbies yet, but I know they’re around. I can smell them. On our afternoon walks, my usual passion for fetch wanes when so many distractions fill the air.

As far as hunting expeditions go, getting into trouble with Heather last week didn’t help my prospects. She has been keeping me on a tight leash, sometimes tied to her belt, like we’re hiking a national forest trail or something. It’s my sentence for running away from her on successive days on the Parade Ground, galloping toward some perceived threat and barking loudly. The “threats” were actually a German shorthair pointer running along with its master who paid no attention to me, and an elderly woman with a floppy, wide-brimmed hat and a cane who was not at all pleased. Both times, Heather screamed at me to me to come back, and I ignored her, compounding her wrath. Mike wasn’t walking close to us either time, which may have made me a bit over-protective, I guess. Or else I was just being my nervous dachshund self.

Hanging around Chloë’s trophy case. (l.to r.) Lamby, Ranger and Foxy.

Since then, my fetch opportunities are severely limited to areas and situations that can be tightly controlled. The wide expanse of the Parade Ground is strictly off limits. And the chances of me being off leash long enough to track a rabbit became even more a longshot.

I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with the pelts already hanging in my trophy case:  Lamby, Ranger and Foxy, each ready to be yanked down for a good throttle. That’s always fun, right up there with rolling around on a rug as a way to let off some steam.

Chloë Joins the Culvert Club

Checking out a culvert.

We’re still a few weeks away from astronomical spring on the calendar, but the TV weatherperson said meteorological spring began March 1, and that’s good enough for me.

Indian plum.

This week, signs of spring were everywhere. The plum tree next door emerged in  full bloom. On our walks, Mike pointed out new growth on evergreen trees and young leaves and flowers on shrubs and ground covers. Heather’s snowdrops provided a bumper crop in our front yard, with crocus and hyacinth following soon after. Our back yard featured Lenten roses and fragrant sarcococca, with the currants not far behind.

Heather’s snowdrop crop.

Chloë checks another culvert.

That’s all fine, but to me they were no better than secondary attractions. I preferred the walks that took us downhill towards the Discovery Park Visitors Center, where the former military base’s  inner roads and drainage are more prevalent, and the water flows downhill through culverts below or ditches next to the trails. I’m always interested in sticking my nose where it don’t belong, and all of these dark places smell particularly attractive come spring. I can sometimes access six or eight of them in one circuit. When it comes to spring, that’s what I’m talking ’bout!

 

Chloë Revels in Snow Daze

Finally, Seattle got its first snow of the winter. Temperatures had been so mild that I had almost given up hope. I love playing in the snow, and snow smells great, too, for some reason (maybe it insulates all  those aromas). We don’t see a lot of snow here, and when it does snow it’s either a dusting that disappears quickly or a slushy mess that turns into ice overnight. This time the snow started Friday evening and lasted until Sunday, was lighter than usual, and the air stayed cold. I got two full days of opportunities to burst through snowbanks, bark at skiers and run around uncontrollably. What fun!

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What was not nearly as much fun was getting all those ice balls off my four legs and chest when I got home. Since I would not ever sit still long enough to have them melt off by themselves into a towel wrapped around me, Heather put me in a towel on her lap and went at them with a combination of brushes and combs. I forbade Mike from taking my picture in this compromised position. By the time this ordeal was over, I was due several extra Charlee Bears.

By Monday afternoon, temperatures rose above freezing, and the snow mostly disappeared, along with the all the sledders and the many snowmen and snowwomen, some of them appropriately masked, who temporarily stood as silent sentinels on the Discovery Park Parade Ground for two brief, snowy days.

 

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 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 Finds Familiar Faces

Donna’s back!

Maybe things are finally loosening up. For months, the only people I saw were Mike and Heather. Caroline, David and Schatzi stopped by once. That’s about it.

Then, lo and behold, things begin to awake. Heather and I encountered my favorite UPS driver on the street one day. Donna had been away several months with an injury, but she’s finally back on our route and still carrying bickies.  I am hoping Mike and Heather keep ordering a lot of stuff online.

Then my favorite house cleaners, Jeré and Channon, made their return, and believe me, as someone who’s down on the floor of this house a lot, their return came not a moment too soon. Heather is a meticulous cleaner, I  have observed over the past several weeks, but she’s not a professional like Jeré and Channon are. They know all the secrets. And beyond that, not only did I get my usual quota of treats from them while they were here, but they also left a few extra ones to make up for the times they couldn’t come since February.

Chloë ‘s pals return from pandemic leave.

There were a couple of other returns of note.  I finally got to see my old pal Penny, who has been quarantined at her house since returning from Florida in March. Now she has a little dog named Phoebe living with her until she goes to New York in another week or so. All that flying! I’ll miss seeing all my Syracuse friends this summer, but you’re not getting me on an airplane any time soon.

The owl returns.

Another return was the threatening barred owl to her favorite local haunts among the tall trees of Discovery Park.  She has stalked us for several years, and this time she swooped down on Heather and me when we got a little too close to her youngster, perched on an overhanging branch nearby. There have been many other owl sightings in the area, but we’ve seen her just one other time, and Junior wasn’t visible. We’ll keep looking, though.

Chloë Loves the Snow

Poised for the next throw.

We finally got some snow this week. Areas at higher elevations got a lot of it, but here at sea level we only got enough to coat the trees, meadows and parade ground in the park one afternoon. There was just enough  snow for kids to sled down the hill below the chapel (a must to avoid, as far as I’m concerned) and just enough for me to lose my ball several times. But hey, we still have that same blue ball today, so it wasn’t lost for too long before it was found. Digging around for it in the snow was fun, too,  so we all enjoyed our snowy walk until I took off into a deep thicket and got my leash caught on blackberry stalks, something that hadn’t happened to me in years. After much futile calling, Heather finally found me, waded in and untangled me. That was the end of my snow day freedom. It was fun while it lasted.

Bringing back the ball.

Chloë of the North.

 

The next afternoon the weather changed. Suddenly the sun came out, and there was a brilliant sunset.

South Meadow, Discovery Park.

Of the winter’s toughest storm to date, all that remained in the park was this giant snowball. I surveyed it only from afar. That glow was creepy.

Giant Snowball.

 

Chloë Does a Slow Dance

Schatzi

We met up with Schatzi and Caroline again, this time in Discovery Park, just as I predicted. I showed them some less-traveled trails, and Schatzi looked like she picked up on my cues on correct walking procedures pretty quickly–until distracted, of course, which didn’t take much (and I’m one to talk, right?).

After taking a short rest from trail-walking and having a drink of water on the open field near the Environmental Learning Center, Heather finally pulled my ball out of her pack and gave me a couple of throws. Schatzi, still trying to emulate my every move, followed in swift pursuit, even though she’s still not big enough to get the ball in her mouth. As long as she wasn’t nipping at MY mouth, which did happen several times, I let her have her fun. I had fun, too, as you can see in the slow-motion video below, courtesy of Caroline. Think of it as dachshund ballet. Look at those ears go!

 

I’m hoping to squeeze in one more training session with Schatzi before I take off with Mike and Heather for our summer vacation. When I return in September and find out she’s as big as I am, I want her to remember who the alpha dog is in this relationship. I’m only going to have one more time to throw my weight around.

Resting between innings.