Tag Archives: Discovery Park

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.

Chloë Blazes New Trails

It’s been fairly quiet around here.  Things get like that whenever Heather parks herself in front of a computer screen and starts pecking away at a keyboard. Then it’s my job to lie in my camp chair next to her and give her a whine or two at 10, 2 and 4:30 if she hasn’t already taken me outside for a pee and back inside for treats. I shouldn’t have to remind her, but if I didn’t whine and distract her, she might still be sitting in front of that screen at dinner time without taking a break.

Chloë stuck by 3-foot stick

Mike is much easier to move. One day when Heather was not feeling well, I allowed her to stay home, and I took a walk with just Mike and  my pal Charlie. I was chasing my ball into the bushes at the first dogleg on Chloë’s  Lane when I got stuck, somehow lodging a 3-foot-long tree branch between the side of my chest and my harness. For several minutes, I couldn’t move. Mike finally realized something was amiss, and he walked up the path to where the stick I was attached to was itself caught between some low-hanging branches of a small evergreen. First Mike extricated me from the tree, and then he had to take off my harness to free the stick. The branch had some sharp nubs on it, but I fortunately emerged unscathed.

Walking the new Capehart trail.

Springtime brings lots of little critter action in the park, however, and I have been extremely interested. Several times I have run off to chase rabbits or squirrels or voles,earning  the wrath of Heather and her vow not to let me off leash again until the end of September. That’s a long time. She’s been tying me to the belt around her waist again, trying to whip me into behavioral shape before we leave on our summer sojourn.

Listening to speeches at Capehart.

But even Heather had to be impressed with my exemplary behavior at the official opening of the new Capehart trails in Discovery Park. There was a crowd there, with food and speeches and a lot of kids and other dogs around, and I just laid calmly on the ground, taking everything in.  When Heather said I was the best dog there, she wasn’t just whistling Dixie.

Chloë Waltzes Through Spring

Guitar in tree

Ah, it’s finally spring, my favorite time of year. Warmer weather means better sleeping (not too hot, not too cold), tulips to knock over in the garden, colorful, green-on-green landscapes and the sweetest grass of the year, even on days when it isn’t 4/20 (I prefer the edibles!).

I’ve seen some neat things on our spring walks, too. In Discovery Park, my everyday trek, one afternoon we came upon an impromptu art installation. Some aspiring Christo had tied an old, string-less and gaily painted acoustic guitar to a tree limb near the bluff. When a breeze blew wind off the Sound, the guitar spun on the rope it hung by, twisting around and around until the rope was so taut that the guitar paused for a moment and reversed direction, spinning the other way until the twisted rope was once again ready to change direction. And so it went, round and round, for several days, until (I suspect) the rope broke, sending guitar to ground. It unfortunately disappeared before I had the chance to give it a good sniff to determine its origin. While park authorities discourage such artistic expression, I personally hope the artist has more outdoor art in store.

Resting in Arboretum gazebo

Springtime encouraged us to go further afield for Sunday walks with Charlie. We visited the Washington Park Arboretum, which is one of my favorite spots, even though I rarely get to play ball there. It has lots of neat things to smell, however, and usually many squirrels running around to grab my attention. While I enjoyed all the spring blossoms this time, I did wish Mike, Heather and my good pal Charlie allowed me off leash to chase the squirrels for just a few minutes. Maybe next time.

The following Sunday we visited Woodland Park, where I had not been so long that I barely remembered it. Even though it’s surrounded by traffic, this park had more squirrels and rabbits than I had ever seen in one place before. It also had a big dog park that I managed to navigate around relatively unnoticed by other dogs, as well as the official Seattle Rose Garden, which looked like a great spot to play fetch. Unfortunately, there were just too many people around, even without a rose to be seen.

Seattle Rose Garden reflecting pool

Nice lawn, though. I can see us coming back in June to stop and smell the roses.