Tag Archives: wirehair dachshund

Chloë Nixes the Locks

Herons roost above Ship Canal.

Last week Heather and Mike made me walk all the way down to the Ship Canal and back. The walk was OK, although I would have preferred a walk with less walking and more ball-throwing. It was the destination that I could do without.

My first objection would be the birds. The great blue herons have moved their local rookery from Kiwanis Ravine across the railroad tracks to an alder grove right next to the Ship Canal walkway. In early spring, lots of birds nest and hunt there. So graceful in the air, when roosting in the trees these heron are obnoxiously noisy and poop like crazy, making the wet walkway a slimy white mess. A lime-green rental bicycle left next to the canal looked like a ghost. Mike wanted to take a picture but didn’t want to stop to do it. Just walking through it so low to the ground made me feel creepy. From now on I’m going to call it the Shit Canal.

Digging in at the Locks

And that wasn’t the worst of this walk. After we passed the pooping birds, Heather tried to drag me closer and closer to the locks and their spillway, where water was gushing through, loudly and forcefully, a mini Niagara. I could feel the mist on my nose. I dug in. No way I was going to walk over the locks into Ballard, as I had reluctantly done many times over with just token protest. This time, there was too much rushing water.  Finally Heather relented, and I steered us uphill, away from the canal and across the footbridge over the railroad tracks.

Maybe Mike and Heather better rethink any planned summer boat rides. I don’t go near the water.

Ship Canal looking west from Locks.

 

Advertisements

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 Does Dirt

 

Fort Lawton Cemetery

Last weekend my pack walked to the Fort Lawton military cemetery with my pal Charlie, who hadn’t been there in quite a while. It’s a traditional fave spot for playing fetch, due to its enclosed nature, traffic-free roads and few pedestrians save other dog walkers. The cemetery has been renovated over the past couple of years, most recently with pressure-washed gravestones, refurbished curbs and plantings, updated irrigation, historical panels and walls rebuilt with original stone. It has been such a beautiful restoration that Heather doesn’t want me to run around the grounds unabated anymore. That means no squirrels and no fetch? Why do we come here? The scenery?

Atop a wall in Fort Lawton Cemetery.

We’ll see how long Heather’s new rule lasts, but it was definitely in force the day Charlie came with us. I didn’t even get in one throw while we were there. Maybe that’s why I look so perturbed in this photo. 

It’s still January, of course, and after a short stretch of sunny days it turned wet for about 10 days running, And every time we walked in the rain, two things continually befuddled Heather: Why I paused at regular intervals to chow down on the long grass growing along the sides of a trail (a.k.a. “the salad bar”) and why, even more disgustingly, did I keep plastering my mouth to the ground and chomping on mud, much to her loud chagrin.

I cannot deny either act, but in my own defense I note that I’m a picky eater. Not just any old grass or dirt will do. Among the many grasses that abound in the lush Northwest, there’s one variety I particularly favor, and it’s one that’s fairly easy to find anywhere in the world, which is good for me like Starbucks is for Heather. I want dependable, not exotic. When I was back east the past two summers, I discovered some aquatic plants in streams and ponds that I liked, but that’s about the only upper-crust varieties I savor. In the realm of mud, I prefer the moister, denser Northwest varieties to the drier versions I encountered in the Rockies, the Midwest and East Coast. Throughout the land, however, my favorite treats are always the little ridges of mud that elevate slightly from the ground after boots or running shoes have trampled the squishy ground around them. Yum and um!

At the salad bar.

The way Heather shrieks at me when she catches me at the mud bar would lead many onlookers to think I had bitten a child, or worse. In the greater scheme of things, however, this behavior is no big deal: Eating grass and dirt is common among dogs. According to WikiHow, “eating dirt and grass is a form of pica, or eating things that aren’t food. In some cases, seeking pica is a reaction to a mineral deficiency in a dog’s diet or a parasite infestation, especially in puppies and young dogs. A dog may eat dirt to alleviate anemia or intestinal distress caused by eating something he shouldn’t have.” Most of the time, though, the dogs seeking pica are perfectly healthy. They just like to do it.

So nothing for me to worry about, right? Well, not exactly. Eating at the mud or salad bars could conceivably expose me to harmful bacteria, toxins and foreign objects that could make me (and Mike and Heather) pay later. Some stuff is just too large or toxic for a little pooper like me to handle.

Chloë’s favorite variety.

One thing I do want to refute, however, is the common notion that dogs eat grass just to make themselves vomit. I may gag once or twice after chowing down, but I’m not grazing with the idea of blowing my lunch later. What a waste of good food!  WebMD says that dogs eating grass is natural, and has been observed in wild dogs as well as domesticated ones. Most veterinarians consider it normal dog behavior. Still, herbicides and pesticides used on lawns can be quite toxic, especially if ingested. I’ll be confining my grazing to untamed park lands, not urban or suburban lawns.

 

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 Squeaks Through the New Year

Chloë with her treasure

I’ve always been pretty good at finding other dogs’ balls out on the trail, but normally the tattered tennis balls I rerieve with don’t in any way measure up to the higher-quality balls I have, let alone all the ones that I’ve lost. That is, the balls that Mike and Heather lost and I was unable to find. But  a few days after Christmas, I hit pay dirt. Coming home from a walk with Heather, I spied a spanking new, blue-and-orange sphere that must have been in the holiday stocking of some other neighborhood hound. In the true spirit of Christmas, I scarfed it up and carried it home.

I was SO proud of my find, in fact, that I ran inside to show it to Mike, who unexpectedly decided it was small enough to play with inside the house. What fun! When I’m not happily gnawing on it, I’m parading it around the house to show it off or, even better, pushing it under some piece of furniture where I can’t retrieve myself it with my paws or snout. That’s when I get Mike. He’s always so pleased to get it for me.

Chuckit Ultra Squeaker, medium and small

My good luck only got better. When we finally got around to emptying our own Christmas stockings hanging by the fireplace, I finally got a good look at the ball that aunts Susie and Debby sent me (along with great edible gifts). It turned out to be a bigger brother of the one I had just found. It’s a Chuckit! Ultra Squeaker medium, while the one I found is a Chuckit! Ultra Squeaker small. I must confess I like them both. I can get a good gnawing grip on either one, and they are both versatile enough to use indoors or out. The best part of having two is they have different squeaks. The small one sounds like a tiny bird, the medium more like a duck. Nobody has sent me a large one to test yet, but I’m thinking crow. In this brilliant “how-to” video, I’m playing with the smaller ball.

 

The Leave-It Place

Whenever I drive Heather and/or Mike nuts with incessant squeaking and/or gnawing (which makes an obnoxious sucking sound), Heather puts the two balls in the drink holders of my personal camp chair. She calls them “the Leave-It Place,” because that’s where the balls sit when I’m supposed to leave them alone. This arrangement was OK for short stretches, as long as I got to keep a close eye on my trophies. Unfortunately, it only took me a few days to break the mesh on one of the drink holders by swatting at it from below, trying to pop the ball out. Sorry, Heather. Mike will fix it.

Chloë guards her balls.

 

 

Chloë Finds Christmas Secrets

Secret tree

The first time I found the Secret Christmas Tree in Discovery Park, just Heather and I were walking. Mike must have been at some appointment or other. It was in a fairly out-of-the-way location in the South Meadow, not far from the wooded area called Spruce Island. We had to traverse some narrow trails to get there. It was still light out, so at first we saw only its colored ornaments. Upon closer inspection, we saw it also had a string of colored lights powered by two solar collection discs wired to the trunk of the 6-foot tree. It’s actually more visible at night, when its sparkling lights can be seen from paved park road above. A sign at the base of the tree begs for benevolence toward the clearly illegal decoration and solicits comments about it. I did my part for Secret Christmas Tree preservation, leaving as quickly as possible after the photo because the recently clipped blackberry branches were doing a number on my feet.

Ouch! Those thorns !

Other than that, we enjoyed a quiet Christmas at home. My pal Charlie came over for dinner, and I hung out with him in the living room watching LeBron James while Mike and Heather were busy getting the various dishes on the table. Outside in the rain, Mike roasted beef, which usually means good things for me later. However, while I got plenty of dishes to lick after they ate dinner, I was distressed to learn that neither of those delicious rib bones from the roast were coming my way. As a recent visit to my dentist-veterinarian for a six-month, post-surgery checkup again illustrated, last spring’s root canal and the titanium crown protecting it preclude real bones from touching my lips forever. The best I can hope for from Christmas dinner will be some quality trimmings and some tasty bone broth. That and dental chews are my new normal.

Personal delivery for Chloë?

My only Christmas presents came from my old reliables. My  Syracuse aunts and my pal Charlie both came through with  treats and a ball, while Mike and Heather gave me a brand-new orange SU collar, just in time for the big bowl game (which we’re watching at Penny’s house). But the highlight of the gift-giving season was not a present, but rather when Donna, my favorite UPS driver, pulled her big brown truck into our next-door neighbor’s driveway. I figured she had done that because Heather’s car was in our driveway, but no, her delivery was really for the kids next door. I had to settle for Donna’s treats, but it was very exciting while it lasted. My frenzied barking to get out of the house got every dog in the neighborhood going. Sorry about that.

Christmas presence