What’s new?

People often ask me, “what’s new”. I guess sometimes they’re sincerely interested and other times it’s just something to say; something to stimulate conversation. My response is usually something like, “nothing really and I’m ok with it”. I’m a creature of habit – admittedly  too much – and I don’t need a lot of new things in my life to make me happy.   I have a blessed life and I’m thankful for those blessings.  I think that’s probably how it is for Kali too.

Over the past year however Kail has had a litany of “new”.

Here is a brief recap:

Living in Taiwan, at some point Kali was a stray and on her own for an unknown time.  Someone took her to a shelter.  Thank God Taiwan Pawprint Dog-Friendly Society (TPDS) rescued her in February from the shelter because she would have very likely been euthanized within a week. She went into foster care with TPDS who in May deemed her healthy and ready for adoption in  America.  After a very long day that included a 14 hour plane ride with 23 other Goldens Kali landed in the US.   We met her at the airport and brought her home.  For the next couple of months there was a lot new for Kali:  new smells, new sights, new bed.  New canine step brother (little 10 pound Smokey), new human brothers and sisters, new parents, new rules.  New EVERYTHING.

But lately, not so much.  And I think this is a good thing for Kali who after a year (or more) of turmoil, change, and “new” has finally not had a lot of change in her life or routine.  If asked today what’s new Kali would – like me – be able to say “nothing really and I’m ok with it”.  Or as my elderly mother says when asked what’s new, “same old, same old”.

Dogs don’t need much. They don’t need constant change.  They don’t need “new”.   Mostly they just need us, our love, and our assurances that we’ll still be there for them tomorrow and for the rest of their lives.  With a  woof, a wag, and watchful eyes they willingly hand us their heart and soul and only ask the same in return from us.  We comply and this is good.

American Poet Mary Oliver beautifully captures this sentiment in her poem, “Little Dogs Rhapsody In The Night”, which I share with you here.


He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough
he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

Tell me you love me, he says.

Tell me again.

Could there be a sweeter arrangement?
Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell.”

Mary Oliver, American Poet


A Mother Just Knows…

Shortly after we adopted Kali my wife Holly says, “I think she’s had a litter”.  It had never crossed my mind but Holly’s point was that Kali was a stray and it was very likely she had a litter or two.  We really don’t know how long Kali was a stray or what her history is  before being rescued.  For all we know a loving family cared for her and she had a wonderful life for four and a half years.  Maybe she was accidentally separated from her family and at some point picked up by a good Samaritan who took her to the shelter where TPDS  (Taiwan Pawprint Dog-Friendly Society) rescued her.  But this isn’t likely given what we know about so many other sad stories of animals rescued by TPDS.

All we really know about Kali is that in February of 2014 she was rescued by TPDS, cared for and prepared for adoption in the US through RTLF (Rescued Love From Taiwan). The paperwork I received indicates that she was spayed in March of 2014.  In some cases there are clear physical signs of a dog having had litters. Those signs are not strikingly clear with Kali.  Holly’s assertion was not based on physical evidence.  It was in part logic but more so that Holly is a mom and – I guess – “a mother just knows”.

Recently  Holly and I were watching a nature documentary.  One of those productions that have beautiful cinematography and are usually narrated by an actor with a deep baritone voice or british accent.   There is a certain paradoxical dynamic when watching these documentaries. One tends to root for the mother lion when shown with her cubs who are crying and hungry.  Then later, when the same mother lion is seen chasing a young antelope who became separated from their herd you root for the antelope to get away.   At times we’ve wondered aloud if Kali as a stray did have a litter what it was like for her and her pups.  To what ends did she go to keep them fed, safe, and out of harms way.  Holly says that Kali would have made a great mother.  I’m not sure what she’s basing this on but again I chalk it up to Holly’s experience as  a mother and the fact that “a mother just knows”…

So as Holly and I sit watching the documentary a mother Polar Bear emerges from her winter den followed by two adorable cubs.   A few seconds later we notice Kali, sitting at our feet, staring intently at the TV.  She’s never done this before. As we watch the cubs barking and frolicking down the snow Kali’s sits up and directly faces the TV.  Her head is slightly tilted and her eyes following  the cubs as they move around the screen.  She gets up and walks closer to the TV monitor and now has her nose almost to the screen –   Kali’s eyes on the bear cubs and ours fixed on Kali.  Holly and I are totally enjoying this moment.

Bear Cubs With Mom

Bear Cubs With Mom

All of a sudden a bark comes from Smokey who heard something outside.  The spell is broken.  Kali’s attention turns from the bear cubs to brother Smokey and what he’s up to.  Holly and I look at each other and comment to each other “how cool was that!”

What was it that got Kali’s attention?  I’ve heard of other pet owners saying how their pets watch TV but Kali never has.  Holly is sure that the barking of the bear cubs is what got Kali’s attention.  She says it brought back a memory of a time in Taiwan when as a stray Kali had a litter and cared for her pups just like she was seeing the mama bear do it on the TV.  At first I thought that was a bit of a stretch.  But then I remembered, Holly is a mom and “a mother just knows”.

And I guess, so does Kali.

A mother just knows

A mother just knows