Boomer

On the day after we moved to the mountains I met a dog named Boomer.  This  dog sauntered up the long driveway to our house like he owned the place.  As a suburbanite transplant who just moved to a rural area I thought, “uh-oh” how many dogs run around freely in the surrounding areas that will be coming onto our property?”  I shooed Boomer away not knowing what to expect.  Would he charge?  Would he bark and take an aggressive stance?   But Boomer, who’s name I didn’t know at the time,  gave me a sad little look as he jogged back down the driveway and out of sight.

The next time I encountered Boomer was a few days later when I took Kali out for her first walk in our new “neighborhood”.  The neighborhood is comprised of mostly five acre parcels with an eclectic mix of homes,  many set back away from the road and out of sight.  As Kali and I walked and explored I noticed Boomer, whose name I still didn’t know,  following us but keeping his distance.   I posted it about it a the time expressing moderate concern about safety and how walks might be significantly different from our old creek trail in Livermore.    Boomer stopped when I looked back at him and he remained still as Kali and I moved on.   As we headed back home Boomer was still in the same place and as we got closer I realized it was the same dog that walked up our driveway a few days earlier.  As Kali and I passed by he kept his distance and eventually ran off with the same sad little look he gave when when he jogged down our driveway.

It turns out that Boomer is a very friendly and sweet dog.  With his black and white speckles and round body shape and short legs he looks like a cartoon dog.

 

Boomer the cartoon dog

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While there are many dogs in the area I’ve never seen another dog walking around freely like Boomer does.  Most families here have at least one dog, many have more, and they seem to fall into one of two categories.   One, they are like our girls who stay within fenced areas or inside the house. Or two, they roam their fenceless property freely and only occasionally come out to the edge of their property line as we walk by but not onto the road where we walk.  They seem to know their limits and what their job is.

With the exception of one or two instances I’ve never seen anyone else walk their dogs.  I can’t blame them as we live on a mountain and it’s usually uphill both ways….  But we walk our girls almost every day.  Often Boomer will join us skipping along in front by several yards and then scurrying back to wait while we catch up.  It used to concern me that Boomer was out and about by himself all the time; and without a collar.  But he seems very capable and comfortable and knows his limits.  I’ve never seen him near the main road where cars travel and he seems to know where everyone else lives and takes care to help them find their way.

On a recent walk Boomer led Kali and I back home.  He was a little ahead of us and he stopped in front of our gate that leads up to our property.  Boomer seemed to know that’s the gate we use to go back home from our walks although it is not the same gate we use when start our walk.  Boomer stopped and waited.  As we approached and headed into the gate he ran on up the hill back to his house, probably feeling satisfied that he got us home safely.   He is truly a great escort and I now laugh at how I could have been concerned the first day I saw this sweet guy saunter up our driveway who only wanted to welcome us to his neighborhood.

Boomer leading the way back home

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Boomer the real dog

 

 

Sticks

Kloe has never met a stick she didn’t like.

Like all puppies Kloe loved to chew and to this day is still a voracious chewer.  She was nine weeks old when she joined our pack and spent just two weeks in our home in Livermore, CA before we moved to The Golden K, our new home in the mountains.   Our Livermore home was a typical suburban home on a small suburban lot with a compliment of small suburban sticks.   Kloe had no problems finding these tiny sticks and she eagerly gnawed away at them.  We were initially concerned that being so small and young she would swallow too much of the bark and wood shavings she tore off with her razor-like puppy teeth.  But she was never interested in eating the shavings.  Instead she would chew the small sticks into pieces and spit them out in a tidy pile next to her.   She quickly gained our confidence that she wouldn’t eat an entire tree while we weren’t watching.

Being the stick lover that she is you can imagine Kloe’s excitement when we moved to The Golden K on five acres in the foothills covered with oak, cedar, and pine trees.   The amount of sticks now available to her was not simply incremental it was exponential.  It must have been like if I had moved from a home that had a modest wine rack holding six bottles of middle shelf wine to a mansion with a huge wine cellar holding hundreds of bottles of the finest wines money could buy.  Or, more likely, that’s just me projecting and in reality Kloe probably didn’t notice or comprehend the plethora of sticks now available to her and only focused on the stick “at hand” at any given moment.

These days the sticks, like Kloe, are much bigger and she still hasn’t met one she doesn’t like.

One down a million to go….

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Father Time

Mother Nature cycles through the seasons and in many ways repeats her actions:  Hot, cold, wet, dry, etc.  Father Time however moves in only one constant direction – forward. When we’re young we have our entire lives ahead of us.  As we get older we begin to rationalize our age.   Middle age is when we’re in our fifties and sixties, right?   If so then I guess we live until we’re 100 or 120?  A great example comes from my favorite all time movie “On Golden Pond” with Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. Norman is turning 80 and his wife Ethel tries to convince him that he’s middle aged…  Umm yeah.

In many ways it is not different for our pups.  Kali is eight and a half years old.   Kloe is 19 months old.   By the time Kloe was six months old she was the same size as Kali in length, height and weight – 60 pounds. By the time Kloe was nine months she weighed 80 pounds and was head and shoulders taller and longer than her “big” sister Kali.  The average life span of a Golden is twelve years.   This puts Kali in the latter stages of middle age and entering her “golden” years.   Pun intended but still so true.

Kloe, the young whipper-snapper, has her entire life – God willing – ahead of her.  She’s young, strong, fast, agile, and – God help us – is still a puppy.  Kali has slowed, exhibits a bit of a struggle getting up and down, and is entering the “granny” stage of her life.

So picture Kloe as the young strong footballer on the field with an opponent (Kali) five times her age.   If the opponent is lucky and agile enough to get out of the way in time Kloe will pass by and easily score a goal.   If opponent Kali is not able to get out of the way she will be bowled over not knowing what hit her.  And this is the routine with my girls.  Kloe vs. Kali with the rope toy (weapon) of Kloe’s choice as she blind sides Kali slamming the toy into Kali’s face (even if Kali is sleeping) prompting grandma Kali to rise to the occasion and play-fight back.

But here’s the thing.  When the battle is over it’s is almost always Kali that ends up with the rope toy in her possession.   Under a paw or literally under her body as if to say, “yes Kloe you knocked me around quite a bit with your weight and age advantage but look who ended up with the prize”.  Ah, experience does count for something…

There are times when I have to step in and break up the battle.  Those times when granny has had enough and locks her eyes on mine as if to say, “help me….”.   And then sometimes just when I think Kali has had enough and will retreat she goes to the toy box, grabs a rope toy, and is now the aggressor and re-engages with Kloe on the battle field.  The battle field of the living room, family room, kitchen, or wherever my feet are at the time.

So as I consider my girls’ future, I rationalize my Golden Kali’s age and convince myself (for the moment) that she is just “middle aged”.   I look at Kloe see the future and I know that one day she too will be the granny and there will be a new whipper-snapper at her heels.  A new young buck more agile and stronger who calls out to her and invites her to wrestle and play rough even though Kloe may be more content sleeping, like her big sister Kali was back in the day.

And although Father Time moves only one direction, forward, it won’t stop me – when the time comes – from looking back.  Looking back and remembering how my Golden Kali, taught her wee little 80 pound sister Kloe how to be a great big sister.

 

 

Long Running Story

Kali’s new life in America and the mountains is now a long running story.

As most owners of a rescue pet know it’s the pet that usually rescues us and provides us with a more enriched life.  So often it is the pet, in my case Kali, who teaches us new ways to love, re-calibrates our priorities, and shows us that the simplest things in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

It’s been three and half years since Kali rescued me. I vividly remember the moment her crate was opened and she was released to us at SFO after a 12 hour flight from Taiwan.  The bond was instant and was fortified on the drive home and in the ensuing days and weeks.

So while Kali’s adventure is a long running one she herself rarely runs…. or trots, or gallops.  Kali is rarely in a hurry to get anywhere except to her food bowl and even then doesn’t run although she does display a remarkable ability to pirouette, bounce, and hop.   A main reason for the lack of speed are her hips which, typical of Goldens, are not in great shape.  She has dysplasia in one hip and the other, while not diagnosed, is not much better.

So on the rare occasion Kali does “run” it makes me laugh and smile.   It’s not the fact that she’s “running”  but that it is so darn cute.  Because even when Kali is moving fast (for her) it’s not very graceful.  If you saw Kali “run” (note the quote marks around the word run and running in the proceeding sentences when referring to Kali) it would not inspire images of racehorses, jack rabbits, or world class athletes.  When Kloe runs it might but not Kali.  Kali’s motion when moving fast is as much up and down as it is forward.   You might say that she runs with her entire body, head to tail, perhaps to compensate for those wonky hips of hers.

Picture a long wavelength and you will get an idea of how Kali runs; it takes a lot of up and down to move forward just a little bit…

Kali’s “running” motion

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There is a gate that leads out of our patio onto the driveway and surrounding land.   This is the gate Kali and I usually leave from to go on our walks or across to my office.  For Kali walks translate to treats.  My office sometimes translates to a bully stick to chew on or at the least a respite from her sister Kloe’s antics and chance to have dad all to herself.  There is also an area nearby my office where raccoons and other critters have made a “deposit” the previous night.   Much to my chagrin Kali loves to forage for those deposits…

More often than not when we go out the gate Kali begins running with her up and down and up and down motion.  As she “runs” she turns back to me with a smile on her face as if to say, “look at me, I’m running – can you believe it?” Or maybe it’s to say, “C’mon, I’ll show you where all the critters pooped last night.”  Whatever it is it makes me smile and laugh out loud as Kali reminds me that the simplest things in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

And it’s these moments that I am most grateful to have been rescued by my Golden Kali.

A picture of Kali not running…

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Golden Kali

California Burns

I’ve been trying to post all week and each time I’ve attempted to I find myself for a loss of words.   Well, at least a loss of significant words.

Many thriving communities have been devastated by the numerous wildfires throughout California.  Musing about Kali’s latest adventure or Kloe’s enthusiastic antics are insignificant when compared to the total devastation of  once thriving communities.   Posting  a cute picture of my pups romping around the homestead or cuddling before bed feels like an inappropriate action to take while the news in the background reports stories of people who lost their home or worse, their life.

The Golden K is over a hundred and fifty miles away from the fires raging in Sonoma and Napa counties so we are quite safe, at least from these fires.  I have many friends and colleagues that have been affected in these beautiful wine country towns and cities scattered throughout those counties.  Many evacuated early in the week and the fate of their homes is still in question. Some already know that their home is gone.

The winds have died down in Sonoma and Napa and finally there is some containment in these fires that have scorched over 150,000 acres which translates into 234 square miles.  To put that in perspective the area burned in those counties is greater than the size of San Jose, Denver, and New Orleans or Chicago (to pick just a few major cities).

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So I sit here and write with Kali safely asleep and my heart breaks thinking about the lost, confused, and scared pets and live stock who are affected.  Surely many have died as a result of the fires.   My closest friend and family who live a few miles away from Santa Rosa were able to return to their home today.  They are out of danger.  For that I am very thankful. But am keenly aware of the fact that thousands upon thousands of others have no home to return to and worse, some lost their lives trying to escape danger in a fateful early morning of Monday October 9.

This week many of us in the Golden State, especially those who are directly affected, are reminded of what we already knew:  most possessions, even a home, can be replaced.  But a life cannot.

Our heartfelt prayers to all of California from Kali, Kloe, Holly, and Michael.  Alive,  safe, and grateful for our blessings at The Golden K.

 

Play Ball!

The regular season of Major League Baseball ends this Sunday and moves into the playoffs.  My San Francisco Giants had one of the worst seasons in the Clubs 100+ years history.  But even in the down years baseball is never very far from my heart.   And any ball is never very far from Kloe’s mouth.

I always wanted a dog that would fetch.  One that would chase the ball down with the passion of Willie Mays making an over the shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series.   A dog that would love to play ball.  Bailey had no interest in playing ball choosing instead to chase squirrels and birds.  I thought Kali might have been a ball chaser but it didn’t take her long to find out that the ball was not food and therefore why exert any energy running to it and – God forbid – pick it up and bring it back to me!

So this may fall into the category of be careful of what you wish for.

Kloe loves the ball.   Kloe is never far from a ball.   Kloe sleeps with her ball.  Kloe drinks with her ball.  Kloe can play fetch for as long as your arm can muster up another throw.  Hey she’s 18 months old, is strong as an ox, impervious to fatigue, and frankly has a little tunnel vision (the ball).

So I muse about being careful what you wish for but really I think it is pretty cool that I finally have a dog that will “Play ball”.

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Somebody PLEASE throw the ball for me!

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Really?

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Kloeville

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“I can do this forever Mom”

Swim Time At The Lake

It was almost as though the water took the weight of the world off my eight year old Kali.  Well, I guess in some ways it did because when you’re paddling and floating the water is absorbing much of your weight instead of your joints and bones.

And so it was for Kali this afternoon at the lake.

With summer winding down we wanted to get the girls back up to the lake for another romp in the water while the weather was still reasonably warm.  I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the cold freezing snow melt later this year but Holly and I would!  Kloe loves the water and we knew that she would have no problem getting in the deep stuff so we were prepared this time with the long 30 foot leash.   We’re not yet comfortable letting either of the dogs, especially our little dare devil Kloe, into the Lake without a “safety net”.

Kloe had a blast, as expected, swimming out to retrieve the sticks we threw in the water.   This was the first time she really had an opportunity to outright swim without her legs touching the bottom of the lake and it was fun to see her eyes when she realized she was floating and then started paddling.   She did get a little more reserved the deeper out she got.   This actually made me feel relieved because one, she knows her limits to a degree, and two, I wouldn’t have to reel her in like a Marlin.  On the other hand if squirrels could swim and happened to be in the lake all bets would be off and I’m pretty sure Kloe would hyperplane towards the dastardly swimming vermin.

But Kali was really the surprise star of the afternoon.

Kali had been hanging around in the shallow water as Kloe swam out to retrieve sticks.  We gave Kloe a break and put the long leash on Kali just for grins.   Before we knew it she was romping and stomping in the water.   I threw a stick as a joke but the joke was on me.  Kali dove into the water, swam out to the stick, grabbed it, and brought it back and dropped it.   I threw it again and she repeated the exercise.

So shame on me for underestimating my (aging) Golden Kali who seemed years younger as soon as her fur hit the water and her feet began to paddle.  Most days with Kali are a joy but today will stand out for many months to come.

She won’t get a lot of points for style or grace but I give her a 10.0 for effort and heart. Good girl old lady!

Kloe

The inspiration for this blog has always been Kali.  The story of a boy – a very OLD boy – and his dog.  The story of Kali’s life and that “boy” since she landed at SFO from Taiwan three and a half years ago. It was and is Kali’s new life in America and subsequently after the move to the Sierra Nevada Foothills, Kali’s new life in the Mountains.

Since then Kloe joined the pack and although the blog’s name will always be Golden Kali, Kloe has also become part of the fabric of our pack.  It is Kloe who will carry the legacy of Golden Kali, who is seven years her senior, into the future.

So it is with that in mind that I post these few pictures, some of my favorites, of our 80 pound puppy we call Kloe who inspires me just as much as Kali.

Sugar Lips

I’m a nicknamer.    I don’t know why but I’ve always given nicknames.  I call my oldest son Pop.  He’s 33 and I started calling him that when he was less than six months old.   It stuck.  There’s variations of the nick name as well like Popadoo, Popadoo-ron-ron, and Popodopolis  My other son I used to call Goosey-Goose’ because he was always bumping into things as a baby and getting goose eggs on his head.  This one did not stick which was probably good.  My daughter is Sweetie Girl, Holly is Hollis Marie, and so on and so on.

All the nicknames are organic; they just happen.  They just come out of my mouth without much thought (as do a lot of things I say!) and sometimes they stick and sometimes they don’t.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that “the girls” (Kali and Kloe) have nicknames.

Kali:   Kalis Marie (precarious because of the aforementioned Hollis Marie), Kal, Kalidonia, Fat Girl (sorry Kali), Kalifornia, and Sweetie Girl (yes, same as my daughter).

Kloe: Klois Marie (there’s a theme here), Kloe Bowie, Sweets (which always followed by me saying, “mind if I call you sweets”, and  Klo Klo.

The names are always organic except for one that I now have for Kloe:  Sugar Lips.

Some time ago Holly was teasing me saying that I have all these nick names for the girls.  So I say, “like what”.  And she goes on to name a few and throws in Sugar Lips for Kloe which I had never used before.  I said,  “I don’t call Kloe Sugar Lips….   until now”.

“Hey Sugar Lips” is now my usual response to Kloe when she comes to greet me.   Her lips and kisses are indeed very sweet so long as I don’t think about all the foraging she has been doing around the Golden K but that’s a post for another day.

So yeah, Sugar Lips.   What nick names do you have for your pups?

Sugar Lips Chillin’ on the deck of the Golden K

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Moments In The Sun (with our girls)

We took the girls for a drive and picnic up to the lake today and were pleasantly surprised when we found an area of the beach where dogs were allowed.  During past visits, due to signs all along the beach telling us “no dogs”, we were not aware that there was a section of the beach where dogs were ok.  Today as we strolled around the camp sites and trails we decided to go towards the beach and walk as close as we could with the girls.   I spotted a sign that said “Dog Area” with an arrow pointing down the trail.   Sure enough as we walked a little further we saw lots of dogs on the beach.  So we headed down.

Kloe loves water and although we’ve not taken her to a beach before I was pretty darn sure she was going to go nuts (nuts in the best way possible) when she hit the water.   My only regret is that we didn’t have the long leash so she was restricted to the shore with me holding on to the lease for dear life because this dog is so strong she would have pulled me under like a hungry great white shark with a baby seal in it’s jaws.

So we did the best we could with what we had and what we had was a ton-o-fun!

It was so fun to see Kloe jumping and splashing in the cool water.   The other dogs in the area were very dignified boring simply standing in the water paw deep or laying next to their owners in the sand.   I imagine had we planned for it and brought our beach chairs Kloe would have eventually laid down next to us and chilled out like the boring dogs.  But during the time we were there she was entertainment for all the beachgoers along this 50 yard stretch of lake shore. It was fun to see the smiles on the faces of young and old alike as Kloe did her thing in the water.   Kali even got in the game prancing knee deep in the water, smiling, and more than tolerating her little sister’s antics, seemingly very proud to be part of this pack.

As we all walked back to the car and our picnic lunch Holly and I were grateful for this beautiful day, our girls Kali and Kloe, and certain that we would be back very soon with the long leashes, beach chairs, and cameras ready to capture more of these beautiful moments in the sun with our girls.

Moments in the sun with the girls

 

Next time we bring the long leash for sure!

Girls at the lake