Our sweet little ball of dog has moved on to his next adventure.
He joined our family and made us a pack on May 10, 2008. He was curious about his new home at the beginning but also a bit wary of Michael. He followed Susan around like the goddess she is.
Susan found him through MSRNT, and he was the first foster for the person who brought him over to meet Susan (I was away on a business trip). He very nearly turned his foster parents into failed fosters.
He claimed the space under Susan’s desk as his safe cave where he could be near and watch over Susan as she worked at the computer, occasionally giving her toes a bit of a cleaning when he felt she needed to do something else like go for a walk or give him a treat.
He didn’t know how to be a “dog” at first. We showed him a toy on his first day with us, and he looked back at us like “what do you want me to do with that?” though it didn’t take long before he found that he liked to make his toys squeak. One time years later he caught a baby bunny in the yard and ran around with it in his mouth, squeaking loudly. When we got the bunny away from him, the bunny was physically unharmed, just terrified. Chip thought that was the best thing ever — a toy that squeaks itself.
He never tore up his toys. They were things to enjoy, not destroy, though he would eventually wear holes in them with his gentle chewing that made occasional “squeak!” noises, reminding his people that it would be OK, even more than OK, if they would play too.
He never exactly played fetch but he would joyously chase after a thrown toy and run back, squeaking it all the way and sometimes making a circuit around the living room before coming to rest near us. Once he’d had a chance to plop down on the floor at our feet, still squeaking away, we’d gently take the toy away and start the cycle again. In later years he would play tug too. We’d take one end of a toy and pull while he pulled with the other end, but it was never a test of wills, it was just sharing of a toy. He even came to like being gently dragged around a tile floor by the toy in his teeth.
He also had to learn from his pack mate Sophie that there were things to sniff on a walk. In the beginning, he’d simply trot along at our side, going where we went. After Sophie taught him about smells, it was like a whole new world opened up. As he got older he used this as a way to stop for a bit and rest. “There’s something really good here that I need to fully examine before we move on!”
Something he came to be good at on walks was telling us when he wanted to go in a different direction. He’d stop and let us get to the end of the tether, and when we looked back to see what he was doing, he’d glance in the direction he wanted to go and back at us. If we asked him what he wanted, he’d repeat the glance as though to say “I’d like to go *that* way.” If we didn’t have time or didn’t want to go that way, he’d sometimes he’d dig his heels in to say “No, really! I want to go that way!” Most walks, he’d get his way, and when we changed direction, he’d add a little extra bounce to his step. “Yay! We’re going my way this time!”
The normal crack-of-dawn walks with Michael almost never followed exactly the same path from day to day. They’d be out for 45 minutes or an hour, sometimes longer, and many of the direction changes were up to the little boy.
He liked car rides, though they did cause him some anxiety which resulted in faster breathing during the trip. He never hesitated getting in the car because he knew he’d get a treat and an adventure when we got where we were going. New sights and smells to be had. When we drove to places he’d been several times, like grandma’s house, we could tell that he recognized the route on some level because he’d start getting excited and begin squeaking as if to say “we’re almost there!”
Chip loved meeting other dogs anytime, any day and especially during a walk. He was normally a bouncy dog, but getting to meet and sniff another dog put extra bounce in his step and made his tail turn into a little propeller if he really liked the other dog, which seemed the case most of the time.
He took a bit of time to warm up to running around with a new dog, but once he did, he was perfectly happy just being in the vicinity, sniffing at different things. If the other dog(s) started running, his first reaction would be to run too, but he quickly got distracted by some smell or sight or the fact that the goddess wasn’t next to him, and he had to go find her.
When Sophie came to live with us full time, they got into a routine of getting up in the morning and having a race out the side door to see who could make it to the other end of the yard first. Once they’d settled that question, they would begin wandering the yard in different directions, looking to see if anything new had been through, before returning to the house looking for breakfast.
They were friendly to each other and generally liked each other’s company, but they weren’t exactly best buds. Chip would get jealous if we loved on Sophie for too long and insert himself between us and her, but they never fought. They also wouldn’t share a chair.
We could take Chip anywhere that would allow dogs and not worry too much about him getting into trouble. We had to keep an eye out to make sure he didn’t hoover up anything he shouldn’t have, but the biggest risk, besides other dogs, was from him staring at people at cafes and restaurants, trying to use his hypnotism ray to get another morsel. It would make dog people melt, but non-dog people were a bit weirded out. “He keeps staring at me.”
He was one of the most gentle dogs we’ve ever met. Michael is convinced that Chip recognized our hands as the same as his paws and was always very careful when taking food from us. Chip hated having his paws touched and seemed to treat our paws as he wanted his paws treated.
He also was the most patient dog in the world. He wouldn’t steal food from our plates, even if the plate was on the floor. We used to sit on the floor a lot when watching TV on Friday nights. Chip wouldn’t even take food intended for him if it was on one of our plates. In later years, we learned not to leave food on the coffee table or in a bag on the floor when we left the house, but as long as we were in the room, he would wait for permission before eating anything he thought was our food.
Chip was willing to wait for just about anything. He’d wait for walks, for treats, for bedtime, though if he had to wait too long he’d begin staring, and if the staring didn’t move us, he might resort to a gentle pawing.
He loved long belly rubs in the evening, and once he’d had his fill, he loved just being next to us on the couch with a hand resting on his side, protected by his humans.
He wasn’t a barky dog but would give adorable growls when he was happy. When Chip was overcome with happiness, he’d let out a growl-roo-roo sound when we came home from a multi-hour absence or when all three of us came in from a morning walk to say “It’s breakfast time!” He would frequently talk with little hmhmhm noises and even seemed to answer questions.
He owned a respectable assortment of sweaters knitted by Susan. He didn’t like them when we first put them on, but we think he appreciated them after he’d been in the cold for a while. Sometimes he’d be all eager for a morning walk, and we’d pull out a sweater, when he’d turn around and try to slink away. “Never mind, I don’t want a walk after all.”
He was the best model for Susan’s creations, but he really didn’t like clothes. He put up with our eccentricities, and we were always appreciative and showed that with affection and treats. He definitely preferred the treats.
He was also one of the most expressive and thoughtful dogs we’ve known. He could communicate a wide range of emotions and responses to questions from us using his eyes, ears, tail and overall posture. Things from “I’d like some of *that*” as he would glance from looking at us to the thing that he wanted, often food, to “I do *not* want that sweater on me” to “Yes, I would love to play!”
Out on the road, his world opened up and became a little scary. He didn’t like the noises the motor home made. When we started it, a high pitched beeping would begin, and that was bad, bad, bad. The other noise it would make was a loud hiss any time we set the brakes. That hiss was the same noise we would make when we wanted him to stop doing something.
Early on, we discovered that a light hiss from us would interrupt him and make him stop whatever he was doing. If he was about to hoover up something he shouldn’t and we were across the room, we could hiss and he’d stop. If we *really* wanted him to pay attention and stop what he was doing, we’d hiss more loudly.
Unfortunately, the motor home did this all the time when we were leaving a park or rolling down the road. He took to hiding under the bed in the middle where the sound of the brakes wasn’t as loud and the sound of the main engine or generator was also more tolerable. He probably thought the motor home was constantly telling him to “stop doing that!” when he was just standing around.
The shaking as we went down the road wasn’t much fun either. We tried Benadryl but had the impression that was also upsetting since it didn’t knock him out completely but made him feel “wrong.”
So he disappeared into the back and came out every once in a while to ask “are we there yet?”
If we had to leave him in the coach while we were out, he would spend much of his time keeping an eye out for our return and happily run about when we opened the door. He knew he’d get treats for watching the house, followed by a walk.
While he wasn’t fond of the coach when it was moving, he eagerly ran back in after a walk, mostly because he knew more treats were on the way or he’d be reunited with the other human if only one had gone out on the walk with him.
He looooooovvvvved the beach. He thought the sand was one of the best things in the world. And sand on a cold day? Turned him into a bouncy muppet.
Living in the city was very different. Crosswalks? Why? But oh, all the new smells.
He didn’t much care for the apartment in Portland though he did have a good window where he could watch for us when we were away. He also loved the hallway outside the apartment because he had carpet for yards that he could run on and turn on a dime!
A nearby grocery store and bread factory would let him in and invariably, the ladies would swoon over him and offer him endless treats. It only took one visit for him to learn that if we’re passing by that area, we need to go into a particular door, because, treats and pettings.
Over the course of our travels he got to visit and sniff out 24 states and meet a variety of other critters along the way. We’re convinced that while moving in the motor home was one of his least favorite things, he enjoyed the sights and smells when we landed somewhere new.
We finally landed in Asheville, where he got to make some new dog friends in the neighborhood and adopt a neighbor who began leaving a water bowl out when the weather got warm.
Our immediate neighborhood was quiet and only half occupied, so he also got to go off-leash when we weren’t on longer walks. Being unfettered always made him happier since he could be close to us but still wander about, following his nose. This worked well unless we got really boring and he decide to take himself on his own walk, thank you.
Unfortunately the combination of increasing temperatures, his age, heart condition, and arthritis slowly caught up with him. On July 13, 2020 we had to let him go onto the next adventure without us. He went at home with his humans petting him and feeding him treats until he was too sleepy to eat any more.
We love you Mr. Dog, and our world is much quieter and emptier without you.
For more of Chip see
Chip Says on Facebook