Tag Archives: Discovery Park

Chloë Changes Trails

Old trail closed…

One of my favorite spots for fetch was ruled off-limits recently, but it was for a good cause. As part of the reclamation of the former Capehart military housing site and contiguous areas in Discovery Park, the long straightaway above the Loop Trail that ran parallel to the chain-link fence that surrounded the site was removed. Large tree stumps, mulch and new plantings now cover the trail where my fetch court was. The fencing is gone, except at either end of the former trail. This was because after eight years of fenced-in recovery, a 27-acre Northwest native mixed forest has been attached to the existing city park. Last week, unannounced, new trails opened traversing the site. Finally, some new territory to explore.

No more fetch here.

Capehart site in 2011

We tried out these new Capehart thoroughfares a few times in the week that they opened. I generally liked them, although I do fondly recall the days of my puppyhood, when this area was still a devastated no-man’s land. With structures gone but infrastructure remaining, the deserted streets were great for fetch, rabbits were plentiful, and I could roam far and wide on my own, since the whole area was fenced in. Walking through there now, you would never know that a village stood here just eight years ago.

Serious business

Last week when I walked through Capehart, Heather kept me firmly tethered. Signs every 10 feet or so reminded scofflaws like me to stay on the trails and off the fragile, recently replanted grounds around them. Heather has thus far been determined to keep me a “green dog,” at least when we’re on these trails around Capehart. I’m willing to play along, at least at the beginning. After all, I want to be a good role model.

…new trail opened.

Good dog, green dog.

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Chloë Shows Her Frustration

Dog police have returned to park.

Uh-oh. The dog police have returned to Discovery Park, and Heather is mad about it. She got really angry when she saw the officer drove his SUV across the parade ground and through the meadow. She got even madder a couple of weeks later, when we saw his vehicle parked on the park road where we first came into the park and later cruised all the way up to where we were playing fetch at the entrance to Chloë’s Lane. We suspected he had tailed us. Luckily, Mike saw him coming and started humming the theme music to Law & Order, so Heather had time to stop throwing the ball, grab my leash and pretend to be compliant. He turned his SUV around without getting out to speak to us, so he must have known better than to tangle with Heather.

The Rock

Anyhow, we’ve been trying to be a lot more careful about where and when I’m allowed to run free (with leash still attached to my harness, of course). Sometimes on the weekend we drive to more distant locations, such as the North Creek Trail in Mill Creek and Carkeek Park, where there are many different trails for variety and usually places we can  throw the ball around in peace, including the Rock, where the caroms are crazy, and the fish hatchery trail, where there is a long, secluded straightaway that’s ideal for ball chasing.

My favorite game these days is “monkey in the middle,” where I’m the monkey. In this game I chase throws from both ends, turn around and do it again, so the running never stops. Well, at least until I can’t corral a skipping throw or I catch up to the ball but it doesn’t want stop. Can you imagine the nerve of that ball? Ignoring me? That’s when I have to let out the Bark of Frustration!

 

True, most of the time the Bark of Frustration doesn’t slow the ball down, but it always makes me feel better.

Atop a rebuilt wall in Fort Lawton Cemetery.

Chloë Explores a Fallen Tree

Assessing the damage.

January is definitely the dullest month around here. Hardly any UPS deliveries, for starters. And it’s fairly dreary every day. Everywhere is brown and muddy, since the forest usually doesn’t show its first signs of life until the middle of the month. It’s either overcast or rainy nearly every day. I get Heather and Mike out of a walk regardless of the weather, but we walk so early in the afternoon that when we get home I have much too much time to kill until dinner. By the time meal time finally rolls around, I’m in a deep sleep in my chair, not really wanting to be disturbed. What else is there to do but sleep? Mike will play fetch or tug for only so long, and then I’m on my own. I don’t play solitaire. I don’t watch TV or listen to music. I can’t read. Might as well get some rest.

Inspecting the job

January weather had been much warmer than normal, but it has been especially windy. We lost power twice at our house. And every time we went to Chloë’s Lane for fetch, Heather had to police the trail first to remove any wind-blown debris that might impede my mad dashes after the ball.

The strongest windstorm of the month toppled a giant Sycamore tree in the park, probably planted when the park was developed as an army base in the early 1900s. I investigated the scene later that same day, and I immediately determined the tree would be a public hazard if left there on the parade ground in its current state. Someone could be poked in the eye from one of those smaller branches. Mike said he thought it would lie there forever, as so many other fallen trees that weren’t blocking a trail.

Lo and behold! The following morning, the sun came out for the first of five days in a row. After so many days of wind and gloom, the pastel sunsets and afterglow behind the Olympic Mountains was spectacular. And within those few days, the outer extremities of that tree were cut off and removed . In my lifetime (almost nine years!), nothing else in the park had been accomplished as quickly. While nobody among us knows when (or if) the remaining pieces of the tree will be removed, the parade ground is already pretty much back to usual. Fetch is back in season, as long as the dog police don’t drive up or the next windstorm brings down another elderly Sycamore.

Fetching on the parade ground

 

Chloë Tries a New Field

Resting with Heather between innings.

As my regular readers know well, I am a creature of habit. I like my routines. All of them.

And yet, one recent morning Heather tried to vary my routine. When we go out around 10 a.m., we’re going out to do my business, take a few sniffs around the smorgasbord by the park entrance and hurry home to get a Frozen PBB, the ultimate treat of the day. On this beautiful spring day, however, Heather wanted to look at the Olympic Mountains, and I followed reluctantly as far as the park chapel. She took in the view, I planted my feet, and we thankfully went no further. As soon as she moved an inch in a homeward direction, she had no trouble getting me to hasten down the wind to the waiting PBB. I have a schedule to maintain, after all.

Playing fetch near the stables with Heather and Charlie.

Something else is new. We have a regular circuit for playing fetch, as we need places that feature light foot traffic and limited distractions, such as rabbit holes and birds. Besides our home turf of Chloë’s Lane, we use the trail outside Capehart, the park road below the 500 area, the cemetery, the Fort Lawton flagpole and a few other locations. The list is actually longer than I thought it would be, and it’s nowhere near complete. If you’re a dog looking for open spaces, living near a 550-acre park has its advantages.

Heather is trying to usher in a new site, a field north of the Quartermaster’s Stable. It used to be a lot more overgrown than it is now, so we decided to try it out. First Mike and Heather tried throwing the ball against the side of one of the barns, but they were afraid that could damage the building, so they reversed field and started to throw away from the barn, toward the grassy area below it.

Fetch in the South Meadow.

The grass there is not as high as it is in the South Meadow, and thus far is not pockmarked with rabbit holes, making it good for fetch. On the other hand, there is a bit of low-lying blackberry stalks, as I unfortunately discovered while chasing a throw the other day. And distractions galore: In this field, I can see every movement outside the restored housing to the east, every car and truck passing on their way to or from the lighthouse and wastewater plant at the end of the road, every bird watching from a tree branch or plume of tall grass. More foot traffic than expected as well: Last week two golden retrievers swooped in at different times to overturn my water bowl and beg for my treats.

We took my pal Charlie there last Sunday, and I could tell he was not all that impressed with the new site. But that’s Charlie, who is rarely impressed with anything. Personally, I’m willing to give the horse barn site more looks this spring, as long as it doesn’t replace my required time on Chloë’s Lane. After all, Heather, Mike and I have to resume our war on Sticky Willy, the obnoxious weed that blankets the forest floor, crawls up the canopy of trees, sticks to my fur and is hard to get off. On Chloë’s Lane,  we have been trying to head it off,  but Willy is gaining, and it’s just the middle of May. This in one battle I don’t think we’re going to win, even if we upset my routines to get it done.

Chloë Goes Underground

Spring mix

Spring is my favorite season in the South Meadow of Discovery Park.  There’s lots of sweet-tasting grass on the salad bar and plenty of small critters darting about, birds as well as vermin. I love it when Heather drops my leash and sets me free to hop around the tall grasses and between the bunny holes. When there are no other people or dogs around, Heather will even  throw the ball for me for a while.

Fetch in the meadow

Hole in one

But one day the ball bounced far off the trail into a field pock-marked with holes. I did take off after it, but only until a more exciting scent came along.  Still, when Heather kept yelling at me to “bring it,” I did find the ball, but it was stuck in a hole, about three inches below grass level. That’s what I kept trying to tell Heather, but she wasn’t interested in listening to me, and she wasn’t leaving until I found that damn ball. She was a bit outta control, frankly. I finally got Mike to carefully inspect the right area, and in a cluster of three holes that were close to one another, he finally found the ball wedged inside the third one he looked into. Way to go, Mike.

For me, it was peaches and cream. It should be a while before Heather dares to deride my tracking prowess again.

A defiant Chloë and her ball: Look out below.

 

Chloë Has a Ball

Throwing on Chloë’s Lane.

Why, I ask, is every lost ball my fault? Not once have I tossed a ball that went missing. OK, I admit I’ve dropped a few in the woods when something better came along, but other than that, in my view, Mike and Heather deserve the blame. They threw it, so they are responsible for losing it. End of story.

No longer as frequent a story as it once was, however.  The purple-and-white Visi-Balls I learned on are hard and yet springy, and they take crazy bounces. I’ve lost count of how many we lost in my younger days. When Mike plotted them on a map of Discovery Park, there were a lot of Xs on that paper, and that doesn’t count the ones lost in the creek at Carkeek Park, the blackberry thickets along Magnolia Boulevard and many other far-flung locations. Those balls are not coming back. But since we switched to the Chuckit Whistler balls, we hardly ever lose them. Either my senses have vastly improved with age, or these newer balls, with their softer texture and deep indentations, hold a scent better, making them easier to find. Guess that Ahimsa scent-training class paid off after all!

The new-old ball

I hadn’t used one of the purple-and-white balls in quite a while when I stumbled upon one in the woods along Chloë’s Lane while I was fetching another ball to bring back to Heather. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding stuff that lies on the ground, especially if it reeks of questionable digestibility,  but finding this particular ball made me especially proud, even though it wasn’t anything I could eat. I was so happy with my discovery that I carried triumphantly it all the way home and proudly presented it to Mike as soon as  I got through the door. Then I took it onto the living room rug and rubbed myself on it for about 10 minutes, getting its scent all over me, just in case Heather decided to break out the OxiClean to buff it up. Since we haven’t been throwing with this kind of ball for some time, Mike estimated it might have been there for a couple of years. What a find this was! For a few days, I couldn’t let it out of my sight.

Chloe cradles cherished ball.

 

Heather hasn’t cleaned my new-old ball yet, but it seemed a little shinier after I strutted  around the house with it in my mouth for a few days. So far, Mike let me keep it, and he even rolled it along the floor of the living room and kitchen, like he does with Wiffie, but I have a feeling this game will end as soon as we break something, most likely the glass doors on the dining room cabinets. Which could be any day now, come to think of it. Better enjoy this while it lasts.

Chloë Rates Salad Bars

Off the beach at Golden Gardens

Off the beach at Golden Gardens

It was slim pickins along the Wendy* Way buffet line last week, but as the same crusty lettuce pieces rotted away on the grass I managed to find some substitute rations. I snagged a slimy apple core one day near Chloë’s Lane, and on another day the loop trail featured a pleasant subtrail off popcorn, five kernels in all, conveniently located in my homeward direction so I could find them without losing any time.

One day last weekend was warm and sunny, and we walked along Shilshole Marina and the beach at Golden Gardens, but not on it, unwilling to risk the fines (Heather) and the dangerous waves of Puget Sound (me). I made sure we stayed far away from the water as possible so that the sloshing of sound on shore wouldn’t bother me.

Salad bar is open.

Salad bar is open.

The next day, when we walked with my pal Charlie, it was cold and cloudy with a few showers, but I enjoyed the long walk anyway. We did lots of throwing the ball, and when we walked through the South Meadow the first signs of spring were evident. For me that means the opening of my favorite of the many canine salad bars of Puget Sound. I am indeed lucky to have a meadow full of my favorite variety of grass practically right outside my door. I don’t know if it’s the late-afternoon sunshine or the moisture-laden wind, but something makes the grass from the area known as Bird Alley extremely sweet, and I dig it. Until, of course, Heather figures out that I’ve stopped following her and in favor of a lengthy stop at the salad bar. This time she stormed back to get me and threaten me with her impending retirement “boot camp” that is intended to improve my overall obedience and pave the way for me to become a certified service dog.

Frankly, I’d rather just do what I want to do: chase balls, cats, rabbits and squirrels, followed by eating and sleeping. We’ll see how far Heather’s plan goes. I am sure this retirement thing is going to be a big adjustment for all of us, but we’ll have fun working our way through it.