Tag Archives: Visi-Ball

Chloë Finds Plenty to Do

Pausing In the pasture

Pausing In the pasture

Mike grumbled that it was a “lost weekend” because all of his teams lost every game they played. My view of sports is different: I’m into doing, not watching.

So while Mike lost, I found.  All kinds of great things to do just appeared under my nose. Friday we went to Heather’s office party, which was held at my regular getaway. On the way there, Mike and I stopped for a walk on the “watch out for bears” trail,  which is always fun, even when we don’t see any bears. When we got to the party, Sheila was the only other dog on the premises, and I already knew her from Heather’s office. Jaeger and his young friend Rocco, the two brown Labs, showed up later, but I knew them from the office, too, so everything felt OK. I was by far the smallest one there, but I realized that without my late friend Tara, I was the senior dog on the premises. I did my best to show the other dogs the lay of the land and keep them in line, but mostly I just left them alone and kept my nose out for falling hors d’oeuvres.

Chasing Rocco and Jaeger

Chasing Rocco and Jaeger

The next afternoon we stopped at Carkeek Park on the way home from watching the football game at Penny’s house. Our walk would have been uneventful  were it not for discovering a new variation of our fetch game. Looking for a secluded spot along the trail, we stumbled upon a large erratic, a smooth boulder that sloped upward on a diagonal, providing a great runway for my Visi-Ball and me. Heather’s throws never bounced the same way twice, and digging those errant tosses out of the thick underbrush was no little feat. See for yourself:

Sunday was unseasonably hot, and I’m glad this was the day Mike and Heather decided to meet my pal Charlie for a walk on the trail that goes along Elliott Bay. The park is a bit hazardous because of cyclists whizzing by, but it does afford great views and, on this hot day, a cooling breeze off the bay.

On the bridge

On the bridge

We also got to check out the new pedestrian bridge that crosses the highway and train tracks that divide the shoreline from the office buildings and neighborhood beyond. I wanted us to walk over to the other side of the bridge and back, but Heather told me it would take too long, and it was already getting late. Late? Late for what? Another game? I hope not. I would have rather gone home to chase Wiffie or play tug with Ropey and Mike.  Or rub my back and head on the rug! Anything but watch another game.

Chloë Greets Visitors from the East

Chloë with John and Peggy

Chloë with John and Peggy

I made some new pals last weekend, John and Peggy from Massachusetts, friends of Mike’s from long ago in Syracuse, when the all worked together. Mike actually worked? Who knew?

As soon as we picked them up at the airport I could tell they were dog people. My delicate nose detected they have a golden retriever whom they referred to often, and always in gushing terms. The way they spoke about Jake, however, I was glad they left him home. Jake is big and rambunctious, exactly the kind of dog I instinctively stay away from. Besides, with no Jake to vie for attention,  John and Peggy were all mine.

Although I got moved out of the front seat, being in the back seat of the car was OK this time, because I got to sit with Peggy and put my head in her lap while we were driving. We bonded.

Relaxing with Leoppy

Relaxing with Leoppy

They were cool to hang around with, too. They walked all around the city with me, even down to the Ballard Locks and back on a windy, rainy day when the spray was thick. Even though they didn’t have the right kind of shoes, they hung in there, even on the uphill part. Compared to their Northeast winter, I guess, this wet weekend was like being on the Riviera. We Seattlites, on the other hand, are getting real tired of it.

Despite the rain, I gave John and Peggy a few short flashes of my speed and agility in chasing Visi-Ball and Wiffie, and they appeared suitably impressed with my prowess. I’m going to put them down for a visit on my first East Coast tour, whenever that may be. Hopefully Jake will have calmed down a bit by then.

Chloë Entertains Tourists on the Boulevard

Tourists stalking Chloë on Magnolia Boulevard

Tourists on Magnolia Boulevard

I knew it was a Sunday, because in the morning I was allowed to jump into bed with Mike and Heather before breakfast and lick their plates after they ate blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and butter. Those things only happen on Sundays. After that, however, nobody paid much attention to me, which is not at all typical for a Sunday. I was not at all happy about it, either.

Mike stayed outside in the garden all day, busting his ass in the dirt and listening to yet another Mariner defeat on the radio. He was not a happy camper, either.  I hung in the office with Heather, who worked at the computer and cursed to herself all afternoon; except, guess what, I was there to hear it. No way I was going to get her way! I wouldn’t even risk asking her to take me out to pee, even though I had to. I just held it until Mike came inside. Heather made it clear to me that she couldn’t go with us, so I reluctantly went for a walk with Mike. That’s how badly I needed to pee.

By the time we finally got outside, the wind had picked up, and I knew the park would be chilly even on this sunny afternoon. So I guided Mike over to Magnolia Boulevard and set a quick, steady pace towards the south side of the bluff, where you can see downtown Seattle, the harbor and, on a clear day, distant Mount Rainier.  There are some wide, grassy areas over there that provide excellent terrain for chasing my ball for a while before circling back towards home.

Mike and I had  been playing fetch on the lawn, and I wasn’t paying much attention when a tour bus parked along the street. I had dropped my ball in the grass and was busy sampling the local salad bar when I noticed tourists getting off the bus and walking toward me, taking pictures and videos they could share with their friends and family from Nebraska or Japan. I immediately realized that my exploits in the realm of catch and fetch have received widespread exposure on the Internet, so they must have traveled to Seattle to meet me, witness my athletic prowess firsthand and perhaps go home with an autographed Visi-Ball or paw print souvenir. The Tours Northwest website touts “scenic Magnolia Bluff with its stunning homes and views” as the reason for bringing them here, but I know these tourists were really looking for Chloë the Magnificent.

While I can understand such adulation,  I was still shy with these strangers, as usual. Mike didn’t want me to scare them and create a scene, so  he put me into a down- stay at his feet, and I watched them silently from a distance until they gave up on observing my fetch repertoire  and re-boarded the minibus. I was a bit let down at the time, but in retrospect I agree that it was better to leave them wanting more.



After the bus pulled away, Mike flipped my ball downhill, and I took off in hot pursuit, catching up to it on the first high bounce and banging my teeth against it, which knocked it skyward until it landed in the thicket that rings the lower perimeter of the mowed area. Mike investigated, quickly discovered that mowing stopped at that point for a reason (thick vines and steep drop-off)  and aborted his search. Another Visi-Ball gone in a sudden, untimely manner. I have a feeling we’ll be ordering a few more soon.

Chloë,  Queen of the Visi-Ball

Chloë, Queen of the Visi-Ball

Chloë Knows What Brown Does for Her

One day last summer when Mike and Heather were away, my good friend Lynn was accompanying me on an evening walk down our street when I stopped in my tracks and cocked my head, like I do when I catch a whiff of Coon Cat, Beau or Mittens, but not this time. No, it was the UPS truck, and it was stopped around the corner on the street next to the park. I know its sound anytime, anywhere. But I just couldn’t pull Lynn around the corner fast enough to catch it before it drove away.

Napping one afternoon

Napping one afternoon

A few weeks ago Heather was off from work for a holiday, and we were napping in the afternoon when I heard the UPS truck rolling up our street. I barked, jumped down, ran to the front door and raised a holy ruckus.  Mike knows this routine well, but Heather didn’t quite know what to make of it when I burst forth from under the covers. The mailman dropping the mail through the door slot usually gets just one bark, but when my UPS  Guy comes down the street he gets a nonstop burst of barking and squealing. Mike knows he has to leash me up, get the front door open and hang on as I bolt for the brown truck. If I can get out there and be seen before the UPS Guy gets back into his truck and leaves, he’ll take a huge Milk Bone dog biscuit out of his shirt pocket and toss it on the ground in front of me.  He’s the best.

It’s not always bickies and roses, though. On the day described above, Heather didn’t get me out of the house fast enough (like napping is  more important than the UPS truck? Please!), and the UPS truck pulled away without my guy seeing me.  But that’s OK–he’s makes up for it by leaving a treat outside my door when we aren’t home, even if his delivery isn’t for us. It’s happened more than once.

Even worse, if you can believe it:  Sometimes I actually see a UPS truck that has a different driver. When I rush up to the truck and get a cold stare, I don’t take it well. But the absolute worst is when a FedEx truck tries to fool me. Unlike all the garbage trucks and recycling trucks and the landscapers who bring noisy tools in their noisy trucks,  FedEX trucks sound similar to UPS. One day I was so sure it was my UPS guy that I made my usual ruckus, and when Mike hustled me out the front door, I saw the truck was white, not brown. I was crushed. Thankfully, FedEx doesn’t come around very often. Seattle is a UPS town.

The other day I scored big. I heard the UPS truck roll up our street and stop, and this time it was downhill from our house, so I had plenty of time to get Mike outside and position myself near the truck door. My UPS Guy came down the steps from his delivery and tossed me a bickie as he climbed back into his truck. While I was still chewing, he re-emerged with a second delivery for a house across the street. What timing! By the time he got back to the truck again, I was done with the first biscuit, and he tossed me another.

Oh. My. God.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

But you know what? Something topped it the other day. Mike and I were walking in the park in the late afternoon when I thought I heard that telltale sound of my favorite truck whirring by, far  in the distance. The hell with our walk, Mike, I told him in no uncertain terms. We’ve got to get back! And sure enough, when we reached home a cardboard package sat outside our front door with a big Milk Bone on top. I chowed it down even before I heard Mike tell me that the package was also for me:  It was a box full of Visi-Balls, all ready for throwing, fetching and, invariably, losing.

Chloë catches her Visi-Ball.

Oh, well.  Losing them is OK with me, as long as Heather keeps ordering replacements, and they always arrive UPS.

Chloë Plays Fetch on a Rainy Day in the Woods

Mike’s idea of fetch is to send me repeatedly on short distances to see how many times in a row I’ll bring in back. We’ve done as many as 25, 30. And other days none, depending on my mood and degree of pent-up energy.

Heather sends me on more challenging routes,  more likely to be longer and to go off course, so I have to dive into piles of leaves or vines. Heather has a powerful arm, but she’s erratic and lacks Mike’s finesse as a slow-pitch softball pitcher and Skee-Ball devotee.

Below is an example of the paces Heather puts me through. This video was shot in October on a rainy afternoon in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. That background noise that sounds like tin foil crackling is the rain bouncing off trees. I apologize for the shaky video and botched soundtrack.  I just don’t know; I ask for Spielberg, and they send me Mike. Go figure.



Chloë Learns to Play Catch

Chloë fetches her Visi-Ball.

My ball-playing skills have evolved steadily. First I learned to chase a ball, sprinting to catch up to it but never trying to pick it up or bring it back. Then I conquered fetch, chasing the ball down, grabbing it in my mouth and bringing it back where it started. I’m even getting pretty good at dropping the ball in the vicinity of the person who threw it. I’ve been known to do it 30 times or more at a stretch.

And now, a third way to play with my ball: Catch. In this game, I chase after a thrown ball, bring it back part of the way, and then stop and “throw” it the rest of the way back. Well, I call it “throwing,” but to Felix Hernandez it probably looks more like a push and a roll. That’s why catch is much better when played on an incline, with Mike downhill from me.

Chloë eyes the catch court.

In fact, Mike has developed a catch “court” at the north end of the parade ground, on the road below the headquarters building. Mike cleared away all the brush and grass in this section of road, so he can throw the ball uphill to me, I can catch it and roll it back to him unimpeded. Then he picks it up and flips it back to me while keeping both eyes peeled for the bicyclists who come whizzing downhill. Some of those guys in Lycra and Spandex suits fly by pretty quickly, so I stay out of their way, and vice versa. We haven’t had a mishap yet.

Once I get into the groove of playing catch, it takes much less physical effort on my part than either chase or fetch do, because I do less running and more watching as the ball rolls gently downhill instead of me having to carry it to Mike. With less exertion, catch is a fun game that I’ll be able to play pretty much all my life, like people play golf. I mean, I’m pretty limber and tireless these days, but let’s face it: This won’t last forever. I’ll need a good, less demanding physical activity for my elder years. I get tired just thinking about it.

Chloë lets it fly.

These photos and video illustrate how playing catch game works. First Mike throws the ball uphill, but since he couldn’t throw the ball and take a photo at the same time, you’ll just have to imagine that part. Those who remember Mike as the erstwhile southpaw for the All-Night Egg-Plant, Smokey’s Grill, and other teams in the Syracuse City Rec Slow-Pitch Softball League can verify that Mike was quite the hurler in his day. But I digress. And so did Mike, by the way. In any case, just imagine Mike has tossed a hard grounder my way, and I have caught it, run a few feet toward him, and with a flick of my neck thrown the ball out of my mouth and in a downhill direction, like you see above.

Then the ball rolls down the hill toward Mike and stops at a barrier of grass and dirt at his feet, where he can pick it up and toss it back to me. Ad nauseum.

Chloë’s throw rolling toward home.

Ball stops at grass barrier by Mike’s feet.

I’m getting pretty good at stopping Mike’s throws, but every once in a while I take one on the chin, so to speak. And those Visi-Balls are damn hard; if I catch one square in my mouth, it can rattle my teeth!  Therefore,  I’ve been perfecting a fielding method in which I first knock the ball down with my body, then grab it with my mouth and run it a bit closer to Mike before throwing, building some momentum. Sometimes, however, I get swept away in the moment, and I’ve just got to pluck that sphere right out of the air, like I’m a shortstop going deep into the hole. Ozzie Smith is my idol, so you guys can call me the “Wizard of Ahs.” Check out my SportsCenter style as I pull in this high bouncer and rifle a throw to home plate to nip the runner.


Anyone for a Chloë’s Catch Court Fantasy League?

Chloë Becomes a Media Celebrity for Real

First I thought that this would be a really big deal for my career development, having my videos on the website for the Visi-Ball. They are the first videos on the site, and thus are certain to set the standard for all others that follow.  In no time at all, I’m sure, my videos will go viral, and I’ll become an Internet sensation.

Chloë relaxes at home.

Then I remembered: I’m already an Internet sensation. And a published author to boot.

Meanwhile, the new Visi-Balls arrived and I started using them. These are the ones the company so graciously promised after the one I had mysteriously popped open. There were two new balls, so Mike finally trashed the broken one. A good thing, too: Although we haven’t been using the broken ball for fetch, I couldn’t help noticing it was sitting on top of the TV cabinet, and I haven’t lost my jones for gnawing on it (particularly that small inner ball).  Now it’s out of sight, out of mind. I’ve moved on.

The Visi-Ball

I’ve decided to retire the two other Visi-Balls that I’ve been using and chase my  new ones exclusively until they are either lost or destroyed, so I can report back to the company about their quality and durability. I have a feeling that if I give these new balls my personal seal of approval, it can only be a matter of time before the debut of the Chloë Autograph Model, to be followed by my first national tour. Hey, when you sleep as much as I do, it’s good to dream big.

Chloë in blue bed with bone

Chloë Destructs the Indestructible Ball

Chloë’s purple and white ball.

First I used tennis balls. Then I moved on to the blue balls, which are much bouncier. Until I gnaw them into pieces, that is. And then came the hard, bouncy, purple-and-white balls, specially made for dogs to see better, and indestructible as well. Not un-loseable, unfortunately; Mike and Heather have managed to deposit several into various holes, drains and blackberry patches, so Heather keeps buying more of them. (I, on the other hand, have never lost one.) Or destroyed one, either, until now.

The ball inside.

I’m still not sure exactly how it happened. Heather and Mike were tossing the ball for me above the park parade ground, and next thing I knew I was chasing two balls, the usual purple and white one, and a smaller one of an indeterminate color definitely NOT on any dog vision color charts. The ball that popped out of the first ball was smaller — hard, fast and exciting. The old one just sat there, spent. I chased the smaller ball, and when I got it in my mouth I liked it so much I didn’t want to let go.

Mike was afraid I’d bust it up, so he finally made me give it up, trumping the ball with a frozen PBB. But I saw where he hid it on the kitchen counter, and whenever I want to bug Mike I just sit beneath it and stare upward.

Mike, of course, saw this as an opportunity, and he sent an email to the company that makes the ball: “We’ve had several purple-and-white Visi-Balls over the past year or so. Our puppy (that would be me, Chloë ) loves it, and whenever we needed a new one, it was because we lost it, not because she destroyed it, like she had other balls. But her newest ball split open when it hit the ground.”

Chloë eyes the inside ball.

Mike was trying to be polite, so let me translate for you: Hey, don’t you guys think you should send Chloë another ball?

Mike got an email back right away: “Glad to hear your dog enjoys our Visi-Ball,” it said. “We would like to send a new complimentary ball.  I am expecting a new shipment of Visi-Balls within the next week or so and will send one for Chloë to try as soon as they arrive.”

Excellent! And were that not enough, here’s the kicker:  The email went on to ask: “Do you have any pictures of Chloë with the Visi-Ball you would like to share on our website?” Are you kidding? If Mike doesn’t already have any good ones, I’ll have him snap some more as soon as the sun comes out. Meanwhile, check out my latest video:


I already smell an endorsement deal, maybe even a Chloë autograph model Visi-Ball. Sweet.