Peace Out

“Peace begins with a smile”.
– Mother Teresa

What a peaceful day we had.

While running an errand with Kali by my side it was striking how many people spontaneously smiled when they saw her.  Walking up and down the aisles at Orchard Supply Hardware I couldn’t help but notice that whoever we passed would look at her and smile.  Sometimes they would say something like “what a pretty dog”, or “what a handsome owner she has”.  Wait.  Strike that last part about the “owner”.  Make no mistake;  all eyes were on Kali and not on Dad who out grew out his handsome stage (if there ever was one)years a go . Sometimes the people would just smile and continue on with their shopping seemingly happier for their brief encounter with Kali.  I was very proud of my pretty girl who was so well-behaved by my side, never pulling on her leash and willingly stopping and moving along as I shopped.

I mentioned in my last post that Kali is “in training”.   So yes, it helped to have a pocket full of training treats to keep her attention on me.  But that’s part of the process, conditioning, and training that will make her an even happier and confident dog.   Kali needs to know that when we go out and about she is safe, that I am her protector, and that no harm will come to her.  Kali has a very calm nervous system and other than when encountering her fellow canines, which we’re working on, she doesn’t get very distracted or stressed.

It all starts with a smile

It all starts with a smile

So today was a big win for Kali who enriched the lives of  so many people in just a short amount of time.  There was the three-year old girl who was so fixated on Kali. I stopped and asked the mom if her daughter would like to pet her but the little girl was a little scared so we moved on.   A few minutes later I came across them again and the mom said her  daughter was ready to pet Kali.  Kali was more than happy to accommodate the request and the little girl was thrilled and so was her mom, a deaf women who signed “thank you” to me.  There was the elderly gentleman in a wheel chair who was on oxygen and commented how much he loved dogs.  Kali and I paused in the aisle next to him, he patted her head and said, “goldens are the best”.   And then there was  the young lady who worked as a checker who greeted Kali while we were in line to check out.  She petted Kali and Kali almost immediately laid down on the checker’s feet, shared a doggie smile, and took in the love.  At that moment in time the checker was at peace.

Therefore, Give peace a chance. Peace be with you.  Peace and love.  Peaceful Easy Feeling.  Peace Train.

As Mother Teresa said, peace begins with a smile.  And so it did today for me, my pretty girl, and many of those who encountered a beautiful golden retriever named Kali.

Peace out.

Pay Me!

It took me about 15 minutes to stop being mad. Then I pouted for a few hours. Then I was over it.

Kali on the other hand was over it as soon as her morning meal was served and with no residual pouting. Like most mornings after she eats she approached me like Oliver Twist approached Mr. Bumble in the workhouse and – with her eyes – said, “please sir, I want some more”. But no display of anger or seemingly any memory of the argument that had happened less than 30 minutes before.

It started much like all our other early morning walks which goes something like this. I get up around 6:00 AM and Kali follows me downstairs. She goes outside and does her business (which involves creating yellow spots on the lawn), she comes back in, we go upstairs to get her little brother Smokey from my daughters bedroom, and we return downstairs to prepare….. “THE FOOD”. Then the dancing begins, the grunting, the pleading, the heavy breathing, and the desperate eyes fixed on my every move. THE FOOD is prepared, the two bowls placed next to each other just outside the kitchen door, and Kali and Smokey chow down now oblivious to my existence. I’m ok with it…

Maybe it was because this particular morning we didn’t get Smokey up, I didn’t prepare THE FOOD, and I changed up the routine. Or not. But on this particular morning I thought it would be fun for me and Kali to walk before THE FOOD. Get a head start on the day. Burn some calories before the meal. Carpe Diem! Right?

So off we go. A beautiful summer morning in Northern California. Clear skies, warm air, and, at 6:00 AM, the streets and trails practically to ourselves.

About five minutes into our early morning walk Kali stops and sits. “Come on Kali, walk. Let’s go”. Nothing. “Kali, come on, walk“. Nope. Her eyes tell me, ” I want food and I know you have some in your pocket”. Kali is in “training” and along our walks we do training and she gets “paid” for good performance.

Me: “KALI – let’s go, WALK”.
Kali: “Pay me”.
Me: “I’m not paying you to sit”.
Kali: “Pay me”.
Me: “No, follow the rules and you get paid”.
Kali: “Pay me or I won’t move”.
Me: “This is extortion. We’re going home”.

Somehow we make it home without biting each other. I try to rise above the anger and am marginally successful. Kali looks at me adoringly with unconditional love. I feel small. Great – now besides anger and frustration I get to add guilt to the range of emotions I’m experiencing.

We go upstairs to get Smokey. I prepare THE FOOD. The dogs eat side by side in harmony. The dogs come back in and cuddle and play kissy-face. I drink my coffee and pout.

Kissey Face


Me: “Kali, I didn’t get what I wanted out of our walk this morning. I got up extra early, I didn’t get Smokey up specifically because I wanted you and me to have a special morning, just you and me on the trail on a beautiful summer morning. I’m so happy you are in my life. I know I can’t fully appreciate the challenges of transitioning as a stray and coming half way around the world. I need to be patient with you like you are with me. I need to work for you as hard as you are working for me.

Kali: “Pay me”.

I love this dog!

Back Yard Buddies

My beautiful wife Holly with our Golden Kali

My beautiful wife Holly with our Golden Kali

During most of Spring and Summer I spend a lot of time in the backyard doing light yard work and relaxing.  When Bailey passed away five years ago I lost my Back Yard Buddy.  The canine “helper”  who followed me around the yard providing encouragement and periodic diversion to throw a ball or dispense some praise and love.  I love my yard and besides my wife Holly there was no one I wanted to share it with more than Bailey.  I’ve really missed that interaction over the years.

It’s so great that Kali has now stepped in and filled that role so eagerly. If I’m in the yard so is she. Like Bailey, she follows me around interested to see “whats up” eventually settling in the shade somewhere close to observe my activity.

Bailey was never a digger and was totally trustworthy in the yard and respectful (or oblivious?) to my landscaping. But, if I was working in the dirt with a shovel Bailey would get inspired and go to a spot that wasn’t landscaped and begin digging. It seemed the more effort I put into making my hole for a tree or shrub the more effort Bailey put into his own digging efforts.  On hot days during his later years he especially liked to dig himself a bed in the dirt and cool off.


Bailey in his later years cooling off after digging a spot for himself in the dirt

Bailey in his later years cooling off after digging a spot for himself in the dirt

So yesterday, while I was doing some planting, much to my surprise, Kali sauntered over and “planted” herself right next to me in the dirt. This was quite the nostalgic moment for me. It reminded me of past times hanging out with Bailey who I still miss so very much.


Kali nearby while I do some planting

Kali nearby while I do some planting

It also reminded me of how blessed we are to have Kali in our life. There is such a comfortable and calm manner about Kali. She is very respectful of the house and calmly welcomes all visitors. She’s learning not to beg and is increasingly interactive and loving with her little brother Smokey, the Maltese/Yorky mix.  She is tolerant of the various critters and birds that visit the yard. Unless Smokey enlists her help to chase them away. Smokey is just ten pounds but has some swagger and hates the squirrels. So occasionally, Kali is happy to provide her powerful 58 pounds as back up to Smokey’s ten pounds of swagger.

Ten pounds of swagger

Ten pounds of swagger

Two Weeks

It’s been almost two weeks since Kali arrived and more and more of her real personality emerges every day.

She was so quiet the first few days, barely waking up if someone came to the front door.   Now, if someone knocks on the door she’ll give out a few deep and throaty woofs and run to me to open the door so she can greet our guest. The door opens and she welcomes our guest with joy and just the right amount of excitement.

Her first few walks were tentative and (now I realize) slightly stressful.  Today, because I am continuing to learn from her our walk was very calm and enjoyable for both of us in spite of the 90 degree heat.  Kali is so good on the leash, rarely pulling, and more and more during our walks the leash is loose and she adjusts her pace to mine.  When not on the trail when we come to a street I stop at the curb – she sits, looks at me (for the treat in my pocket) – and waits patiently until I begin walking to cross the street.    I look so forward to our walks and I think now, Kali does too.



Kali waiting for Dad during errands

Kali waiting for Dad during errands

Kali loves her food!   When we rise in the morning that’s her priority – breakfast.  BUT, she is so great at waiting for me to get up first,  never bothering me until I get up and she is sure that I am not returning to bed.  Even if I rustle in the early morning when the sun is coming up and the birds are chirping she won’t herself get up and begin to “nose” me like she did the first few days.  She waits patiently until she is sure I am up for good.  And then she runs to the door and heads downstairs to go out and relieve herself and get ready for BREAKFAST.


Kali’s and her  little brother – Smokey, a Maltese Terrier Yorkie mix – are interacting more and more.  Smokey is 10 pounds.  Kali is 58.  In spite of the size difference they are finding ways to interact and play.  At first Smokey was a little intimidated by Kali’s loud deep bark.  But lately not so much.  Frankly Kali’s   woof is almost powerful enough to knock Smokey over but the little guy hangs in there – even when face to face – and banters back with his yaps and paw jabs.  And the kissy-face the two of them do is so very cute and loving.  We’re very happy that now not only do “we” have Kali, in our life, but so does Smokey.

So after two weeks, and as expected, Kali continues  to bring so much happiness into our lives.  As they say, “stay tuned” -it’s only going to get better.


One week down – furever to go

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went”.

– Will Rogers,  1879 – 1935

Will Rogers was an american cowboy, comedian, humorist and actor.  Apparently he knew something about dogs!

Kali has been with us for one week and it has been like heaven. Or at least the euphoric version so many envision it to be.  A place where love is rampant,   judgmental attitudes don’t exist, and unconditional love is the norm.  Kali’s unconditional love challenges me to exhibit the same quality during stressful or frustrating encounters with my loved ones, friends, and strangers. Her eagerness to please reminds me that even the smallest of actions and gestures can make a difference in someone’s life. Her patience, as hard as it is to be patient at times (especially when food is involved), affirms her devotion, loyalty and trust. Yep, Will Rogers was a pretty smart guy.

Kali has continued to adjust very well to her new surroundings and environment. By Wednesday we could see that the jet lag was gone evidenced by her increase in energy and overall playfulness. She makes it clear when she wants to play – usually in the morning – by taunting us to chase her with her toys or play tug of war. If she doesn’t get my attention she will wrap her legs around mine and tug at my cloths. I’m going to have to change that behavior although it is so cute and loving… Kali patiently waits to get up in the morning until I do. Fortunately for her I’m an early riser.

Since Thursday Kali has been out of the house more and more and has proven to be very social. She is welcoming to everyone she encounters and is so sweet and gentle with children. She went to the vet on Thursday for a ” get acquainted” visit. She was a perfect girl and charmed the entire staff. We were very proud of our Golden Kali.  On Sunday she went to the park to watch Little League baseball.  Many of the young players came up to her after the game and she welcomed each one of them and, I believe, enriched their day with her welcoming and loving demeanor.

Kali after her first American Vet visit

Kali after her first American Vet visit

Me and Kali at the Little League game

Me and Kali at the Little League game


A well known quote by an unknown author says, “My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am’.   A good goal for all of us and one I will strive for.  It is increasingly clear that I certainly will learn more from Kali than she will learn from me.