Tag Archives: Discovery Park

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.