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Chloë Gains at Home

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Mike and Heather went somewhere again, this time sneaking out one morning while I was busy eating my breakfast. What seemed like many, many days later they came back a lot browner. I’m not sure where they went, although I detected the taste of sea salt when I was biting Mike’s nose after he came through the front door. You’d think they would have sent me a postcard or brought me a souvenir, but no. What am I supposed to do with a piece of coral or coffee beans?

Aiming high.

Aiming high.

No big deal. Lynn showed up a couple of hours after they left and stayed with me until they came back.  I had fun with Lynn, who knows the way to my heart is through my stomach and likes to snuggle besides. Lynn did a good job of making me get in and out of the new towering bed in the proper manner, using the steps instead of jumping. Lucky for me, Lynn used treats to bribe me over to the corner where the steps are. I’m not turning down any treats, but I’m not dumb. After a couple of ill-thought-out attempts, I could see for myself that the steps, and not the bone-jarring leap, was the only safe and sane way to go.

Chloë's "oeuvre"

Chloë’s “oeuvre”

Charlie and Jill took me for some long walks, but I still had a lot of pent-up energy every evening when Lynn got home from work, so I made her throw Wiffie around the living room or help me play with my toys. In one game, Lynn called out the name of a toy, and I  would search for it in my toy pile. The Cow was one of my favorites with Lynn, who remembered it was a gift from my good friend Charlie. Every time Lynn called out, “Charlie’s Cow,” I raced to the front door, assuming Lynn was telling me Charlie was coming in. She did that on three separate occasions over a 2-hour period, apparently never figuring out that Charlie wasn’t really there.  Oh, well, I just played along.

We had a little excitement on one of the days Charlie did appear. When he arrived, I managed to squeeze out the front door, zip down the street and turn into the Bartons’ driveway and fenced back yard. This was just like it happened once last summer, so this time Charlie knew exactly where I was headed, and two people on the street verified my whereabouts. When Charlie first called me, of course, I just looked at him with indifference and held my ground. Then he yelled “Treat Party!!!”  and I was compelled to come a-running. With ol’ Charlie, treat parties are few and far between! I couldn’t afford to have him change his mind. Or worse, lie about throwing me a treat party. Luckily, Charlie gave me treats this one time.

Knows what's coming.

Knows what’s coming.

There was, alas, a sad bi-product of all the treating that I enjoyed when Mike and Heather (a.k.a. Ms. Grim) were away. When I had my follow-up visit with Dr. Sherrie Crow at the Elliott Bay Animal Hospital, there was some bad news. While it was great to learn my skin rash and ear infection have cleared up and that the doctor thinks hair may again grow in the currently bald spot on top of my head, we also found out that  the trim, muscular body that weighed in at 18.6 pounds in the vet’s lobby on Nov. 17 had gained a full pound only three weeks later. A full pound! That’s about 5 percent of my body weight, a noted Seattle statistician observed. And as Dr. Crow wrote in her ominous official visit report: “Chloë is at the top of her ideal weight range.”

Uh-oh. I’m afraid I know what’s coming next, and that’s not good. Mike will be on the warpath. And during the normally festive holiday season, no less. Sigh. It will be hard to cut back on my eating, but my past transgressions will still have been worth it. Just like love, diet’s just a four-letter word.

Chloë Marks Her Spot

The Spot Revealed

The spot revealed.

It was about time to address the elephant in the room. Mike first noticed the tiny bump on my head way back in the spring, shortly after my annual physical exam. Since my personal physician (Dr. Aimee Kimmel) has just examined and drained two less visible lumps on my side, Mike decided to just keep an eye on this new one, about the size of a pimple. I Mike didn’t feel around for it, he wouldn’t even have known it was there.

Months passed. The tiny lump on my head got bigger, but not much. Then Mike read a book (try not to laugh) called Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. It’s a novel about a dachshund named Lily. The “octopus” is a tumor that grows on her head. It’s a metaphor, but  Mike took it literally. He checked my lump every day. When he got back from his trip to see his mom, he decided it was big enough to take me to the vet, especially after the lump broke one day during grooming and some gook came out. Nurse Heather made it stop, but off to the vet I went.

In the tub.

In the tub.

Mike looked nervous, so I had to sit on his lap in the waiting room to calm him down. Dr. Kimmel was on maternity leave (what nerve!), so Dr. Crow examined me and set Mike’s mind at rest. It was only another  subcutaneous cyst, like the other ones. The doctor drained it, but warned that it might come back. That means, of course, that my otherwise perfect countenance may forever be marred by a small bald spot on my head. My choices appear to be either a comb-over (too vain) or to just tell anyone who asks (and few would be so forward as to bring it up) that it’s just a visual balance to my naturally bald ears. Perhaps the hair will grow back and cover the spot, but that will probably  be too much to ask for. As long as the lump doesn’t devour me or the spot get much bigger, I can live with it. I’m still cute enough, believe me. I’ve been practicing, just in case.

Unfortunately, Dr. Crow didn’t stop her examination at my head. By the time I got out of there, I got some gook pressed into my ear to stop a yeast infection and a shampoo for my belly to get rid of a rash and dry, flaky skin. Who knew I was such a physical wreck when I went in there? On the other hand, it’s always good to know you don’t have brain cancer. And my weight at 18.6 pounds is still within my normal range, so I won’t have to suffer through another diet. I hate those.

Mr. Monkey

Mr. Monkey awaits his roommate’s arrival.

All the consternation was worth it, however, since I got extra treats from Mike for being good at the vet and lots of cheese from Heather for being a good girl at home in the bathtub to get shampooed. She also laundered all of the sheets and blankets in my crate to remove any pesky germs or foreign bodies that might remain and bring back the rash, which Dr. Crow thought might be related to the yeast infection. Mr. Monkey was happy to have his living space renovated at no cost, and Mike was so happy to have one less thing to worry about. A win-win for all, even if I did have to endure a visit with a new vet. With any luck, Dr. Aimee will return to her post before I do.

 

Chloë Gets a Clean Bill of Health

Chloë in doctor's waiting area under the Cat Corner.

Chloë in doctor’s waiting area.

I approached my annual physical with some trepidation. I had been trying to ignore the two little lumps on my left side, but Mike and Heather kept poking at them to make sure they were not getting any bigger. They weren’t, but still. You never know.

So Mike tore himself away from March Madness for a few minutes one afternoon and steered me in for my physical a week early, just so he could tell my personal physician, Dr. Aimee Kimmel, all about them. Then she felt the lumps, and measured them, and told her assistant to diagram their locations and note their diameters in my electronic file. But Dr. Kimmel didn’t appear too worried, saying they were probably only cysts filled with liquid and were relatively common in dogs. She told Mike she would aspirate (drain) them to make sure,  so she took me into the back lab, stuck a needle in them and squeezed out some yucky stuff. Mike was lucky they didn’t make him watch (or take pictures). I’m sure the bottoms of his feet would have felt funny.

With her personal physician

With her personal physician

So my annual physical went well overall. As usual, I drew praise for my exemplary dental hygiene and for maintaining my svelte physique. I weighed in at 19 pounds, up from 18.8 on my last visit, but Dr. Kimmel told Mike my weight was “ideal,” and as I see it, she should know. Thankfully, my full complement of Frozen Peanut Butter Boneys will continue unabated.

Vet Visit Day continued superbly even after my medical procedure. Before leaving the vet’s office, I got all kinds of treats and compliments from my doctor and staff, and even ran into two dogs in the lobby that I got reasonably friendly with. Later, when we started our walk in the park, a lovely 9-year-old dachshund named Rita crossed my path, and we socialized pleasantly and received more treats from Mike. And before the walk was over, I came upon my favorite walking-stick strollers, Brooke and Jan, who were resting on a bench. I dutifully went into a down-stay on the ground at Brooke’s feet as he gleefully doled treats from his plastic bag into my waiting mouth. I could have sat there for hours.

What a wonderful day. All that anxiety unwarranted.

Chloë Slims Down

Chloë in doctor's waiting area under the Cat Corner.

Chloë in doctor’s waiting area, guarding the Cat Corner.

I knew my annual physical was coming up as soon as Mike started cutting back my twice-daily rations. Not by a lot, just a few nuggets of kibble every time. He remembered that my personal physician told him to keep an eye on my weight when I somehow had gained a half a pound (!) the previous year, to an all-time high of almost 19 pounds. Mike wasn’t going to let that happen again.

Well, it turned out Mike went a little overboard. When I slid onto the electronic scale in the doctor’s lobby last week, the lights stopped flashing at 16,6 pounds. Mike was shocked. “Maybe her paw isn’t all the way on the scale,” the tech advised. So Mike led me off the scale, turned me around and did it again, with all paws accounted for. The digital display read 16.7. It was official: Since my last physical a year ago, I had lost 2.2 pounds.

With Dr. Kimmel, Chloë's personal physician

With Dr. Kimmel, Chloë’s personal physician

It must have been from all that exercise I get from walking and ball-playing fetch with Heather, Mike and Charlie. Dr. Kimmel’s thorough examination showed all my organs working fine and all my vitals stable, so my weight loss wasn’t the result of an undiagnosed disease. My heart, lungs and eyes were all in top shape, and my teeth were, as they always have been, “simply beautiful.” In her written report, the doctor rated my overall health an A- (the minus only because of a slight, lingering infection deep inside my left ear). Under “general appearance,” she wrote, “Cutie Pie,” and drew two cute little hearts! Moreover, her summary comments contained what was for me the most important part of the whole report: “Chloë looks great but has gotten (emphasis added) a bit too slim (when do I ever say that about a dachshund!) Let’s bump up her food by about 20 percent, goal 18 pounds.”

Got that Mike? More food! I have received new license to become the wirehair Oliver Twist. “Please, sir, I want some more,” I will whine at every opportunity. And I better get it, Mike. Doctor’s orders!

Chloë Gets Accolades from Her Doctor

I have determined that going to the vet isn’t the trauma that it’s often made out to be by pets much wimpier than I.

Elliott Bay Animal Hospital

When I go to the vet, particularly for my annual physical, I come away filled with praise and a nonstop supply of treats. Other than the anal thermometer, what’s there to be nervous about?

When Mike and I went there the other day,  I had the crucial weigh-in first. My new assistant Corrie put me on a scale recently installed in the lobby that I didn’t even have to step up onto;  it was just flat with the floor. And after I finally planted my butt down, Corrie said, “18.1 pounds, even lower than last time.” Obviously, Mike is not feeding me enough frozen PBBs.

Frozen PBB., fully stuffed.

Frozen PBB., fully stuffed.

Dr. Kimmel

Dr. Kimmel

Then Dr. Kimmel came into the exam room and got things off on the right foot by referring to me as “the healthy one in the family.” She meant that my portly brothers Frank and Stanley, also her patients,  continue to be plagued by skin problems.  Hmmm. . .maybe the broth, eggs and yogurt that Mike mixes in with my kibble every day is having positive, probiotic effects on me, as Mike’s homemade pickles do for him and Heather. I just thought all that stuff he mixed in made the dry kibble taste better, which it does. But I digress.

Dr. Kimmel examined me head to toenail (had them clipped), and she dismissed as insignificant any of the little bumps on my otherwise perfect body that Mike dutifully pointed out to her. One of the bumps turned out to be my microchip, migrated from between my shoulder blades. No big deal, apparently. She also praised my weight and overall physical condition, but she gave her greatest accolades to my dental care. “Beautiful” and “awesome” are but two of her words describing my teeth and gums. On the chart she filled out and gave Mike, under Dental Score (mild to severe), she penciled in a new category below the lowest one the chart and circled it.  In other words,  my dental health lies in previously uncharted territory.

Check out those pearly whites!

Check out those pearly whites!

Mike was so happy about my behavior and my exam results that on the way out he scooped up a handful of the fancy organic treats they leave on the counter, and he gave me a steady supply of treats for the rest of the day. If this continues, that 18.1-pound mark might soon become yet another fond memory of my youth.

Chloë Rips Up Her NCAA Tournament Bracket

Here’s all you need to know about where we stand with our respective NCAA Tournament sheets in Heather’s office pool:
Rene: 60 + 61 = 121 +  8 =  129 +  4 = 133 + 8 = 141
 (25 other names deleted for space considerations)
Chloë (the dog): 56 + 40 = 96 + 4 =100 + 4 = 104 + 0 = 104
Heather: 44 + 45 = 89 + 8 = 97 + 4 = 101 + 0 = 101
Mike: 50 + 40 = 90 + 4 = 94 + 0  =  94 + 0 = 94
Alex: 31 + 39 = 70 + 8 = 78 + 8 = 86 + 0 = 86

Chloë rips up her bracket and prepares to chew.

Notice that Mike, Heather and I all notched zeroes in the last round, meaning our sheets are finished. Kaput. I decided to rip mine into pieces and then chew on it for a while, so it wouldn’t be a total loss. It tasted kind of like crow. However, I do want to point out that I finished first in my pack, while college basketball aficionado Mike finished next to last, period. Some expert he turned out to be.

Yesterday Mike took me to the vet for my annual checkup. Everything went pretty well, except for the part where they wanted to shove a thin rod up my butt. They got it in, eventually, but it wasn’t pretty. The best part was finding out I weigh only 17.1 pounds. I keep telling Mike that he needs to feed me more, but he’s reluctant. When Dr. Aimee told him that 17 or 18 pounds was my “perfect” weight, Mike glowed. I groaned.

A good girl lies down in the vet’s waiting room.

I was proud when she praised my dental hygiene, however, and I did manage to snag several treats in the vet’s waiting room. Later on that afternoon, Mike gave me a second peanut butter boney, so maybe he plans to indulge me a little bit for a few days to bulk me up.

One can always dream!