Velociraptors

Sometimes our walks are peaceful and sometimes they’re challenging. And sometimes they’re a little scary.

There’s a dog park along our route that Kali is getting more and more comfortable passing without getting stressed when she sees other dogs inside  romping or coming towards the low cyclone fence to get a closer look.  We pass the park walking along the adjacent trail path.   Although Kali is not ready to enter the fenced dog area she is getting more and more comfortable seeing the other dogs and she can sit and watch from a distance without getting stressed.  We’ve come a long way since last May and I feel like she’s finally turned the corner and on the way to being able to one day happily interact with dogs other than brother Smokey.

And then came the “Velociraptors”!   Three of them.   All seeming to move in premeditated – no, instinctive – harmony.  The way these dogs charged the perimeter of the park reminded me of the Velociraptors in the movie Jurassic Park.  They were beautiful specimens; short hair with long snouts, about 70 or 80 pounds, sleek, agile, and very muscular.  For what soon became an obvious reason, these Velociraptors all wore brightly neon colored muzzles.

"Ok boys - get your muzzles so we can go to the park..."

“Ok boys – get your muzzles so we can go to the park…”

There are two areas of the dog park adjacent to one another but separated by the same type of fence that surrounds the perimeter.  As we passed by the first area Kali and I saw one of our familiar trail families with their three dogs.  Kali watched them throwing tennis balls and we waved and passed by uneventfully.  Then as we moved on we became startled.  We we saw two brightly colored muzzled dogs charging the fence that separated us.  I looked around to see where their owner was but no one was around.  I braced myself to protect Kali from the Velociraptors because it was becoming clear that they might  jump the fence. At the speed they were running their  intent seemed clear:  take no prisoners.  I quickened our pace and then saw a third dog sprinting to “defend” his fellow Velociraptors who by now had reached the perimeter of the park.  Finally I see two humans – about 100 yards away – casually chatting and heading towards the fenced area.

They had let the dogs off leash in the main park and the dogs ran freely towards the open gated fenced area.  Directly towards Kali and I.  The humans seemed oblivious, or perhaps indifferent, to the aggressive demeanor of their dogs.  Kali and I had no choice but to keep walking as the dinos , who thankfully didn’t jump, tracked us along the fence line barking and gnashing with bulging eyes.  KALI WAS GOING NUTS!  I didn’t try to  control her barking and lunging as I would under other circumstances.  Of course she was defensive. Of course she was scared.  Of course she was ready to protect me and fight for her life.  Of course they would have eaten her and most of me in the process…

The owners arrived at the gate but don’t call off the dogs nor even slightly acknowledge me with a wave of “sorry”, or “Hi – sorry about that, we’re working on this behavior”.  Nothing.

Kali and I walked on but the rest of the walk sucked.  That’s my own fault for letting this experience get to me.  But I was really pissed-off at the “owners” of the Velociraptors.  I was also pissed off at myself for being judgmental.  Kali has a few issues so who was I to judge.  BUT, I am in total control of Kali when we’re in public.  The Velociraptor mommies were not in control of their three brightly neon colored muzzled flesh-eaters.

So we continued our walk – me pissed off and Kali stressed.  We circled around to the other side of the creek that runs between the trail loop.  We looked across at the Velociraptors and their human mommies.  As soon as they saw us  they charged the fence – the dogs, not the mommies.  Nope -the  mommies were still pretty oblivious that the breeder they acquired these dogs from referred to his kennel as “Jurassic Park – Home Of Prehistoric DNA”.  We were about two hundred yards away. separated by the creek and they still charged at us.  WOW!

Kali barks. I have her sit and look over at the park.  I stare at the Velociraptors’ mommies and feel a bit guilty for how proud I am of Kali who is now calmly looking at me while their out of control dogs chew on the chain link fence in trying to get out.

I felt bad for these dogs and wondered how they got this way – nature or nurture?  Probably a bit of both.  But I felt worse for Kali and I wonder, that as far as Kali has come,  do these events set her back in her trust of other dogs.  She seems to shake them off quicker than I do.  She comes home and sleeps soundly.  Meanwhile,  I sit and stew and research Velociraptors.

Smokey

The first meeting between Smokey and Kali took place the morning after Kali arrived in America.   It didn’t go too well.  There was lots of barking by both dogs, some enthusiastic teeth gnashing and growling from Smokey, and a lot of nervous panting and confusion from Kali.   In retrospect I didn’t prepare for or handle the first meeting very well and I would (will?) do it different the next time around.  In spite of my clumsiness in handling the introduction by the end of the day Smokey and Kali were co-habitating very nicely and after just a few days they were eating side by side and laying in the sun together.

Smokey was about eight weeks old when my daughter brought him home almost three years ago.  Less than three  pounds he looked like a miniature Ewok.

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Smokey the Mini-Ewok tipping the scales at a robust 2 lbs. 12 oz.  

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Even before Kali arrived Smokey never had problems making friends

Half Yorkshire Terrier and Half Maltese – a Morkie – Smokey is a cute little lamb-pie and tough guy all wrapped into one very intelligent dog.   Loyal protector of the pack Smokey sounds the alarm – much to my chagrin – at any sign of danger or threat.  Unfortunately his “small dog syndrome” causes him to perceive the UPS truck, any moving creature in front or in back of the house,  and any knocks on the front door threatening.  When we let him out to do his business first thing in the morning he immediately bolts to the back fence and runs the perimeter patrolling and using his nose to gather “intelligence” about what may have gone on during the night.   But for all his Napoleon Syndrome traits his enthusiastic, unbridled, and unconditional  love more than make up for it.

If someone arrives home from being out Smokey greets them with his entire body wagging.  This is not separation anxiety.   He does this regardless of whether he was home alone or home with other family members.  When one arrives home he runs up to greet you and wags his body all the while smelling your feet and legs to see where you’ve been.   One cannot have low self-esteem when around Smokey because he let’s you know how important you are to him.  He does the same thing with Kali showering her with kisses when she arrives back from her walk with me.  For Smokey, in ways different from Kali, it’s all about the pack.

Now, full-grown at 10 and a half pounds Smokey is not much bigger than Kali’s head; which he often lovingly jumps onto with his front paws when Kali is laying down.   Smokey sleeps with my daughter but on the rare times she’s not home he sleeps with my wife and I.  How is it that a ten pound dog can commandeer a queen size bed?   Smokey does have a few fetishes. He loves to nibble on toes of barefoot visitors during the summer.  He uses his incisors to chew on the hairs on my arm and face like a monkey grooming his mate ridding them of mites and parasites.

I’m not sure if this is a small dog thing or a Smokey thing but he doesn’t lift his leg to pee.  Ever.  He’ll stand there like a pointer looking off to the distance with his tail in the air and snout facing in the direction of “the hunter’s prey”.  “Ahhh…” he seems to say as he jogs back to the door taking one last glance at the perimeter of the yard.

The Smokster, Smokadoo, and “hey da Smoke” is the smallest member of the pack but I am sure has the biggest heart.

IMG_0384Tough Guy Smokey

And then the transformation…..

IMG_1673Lamb Pie Smokey right after getting groomed 

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Smokey and Panda

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Sharing some sun with KaliIMG_1381Kissy-Face with Sissy Kali

Penny bites off more than she can chew

Kali and I have been following “Marking Our Territory” for a while now. We’ve enjoyed reading about Penny and Eko and seeing the great photos their owner posts. We thought you might like this too.

Marking Our Territory

To round out the holidays we hosted our old pal Riley for a few days. Riley gets along great with my two pups, but for reasons beyond my understanding, Riley’s presence always prompts a friendly game of “Who has the biggest play bite.”
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Penny kicked off the taste-test with a  small sample of Riley’s lower cheek

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Riley tried to test her bit on Eko, but his rather large head made it difficult

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So Riley instead took Penny for a spin 

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Penny took it upon herself to show her play bite was big enough to take down Eko

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Eko felt otherwise

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“OK, NOW YOU’RE IN TROUBLE!”

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The exact moment when Penny realized she bit off more than she could chew

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“Glrggg…ok, you win, Eko!”

The lesson here? Penny is a bigmouth but Eko has a big mouth!

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Selective Goldenness

On a recent outing for errands one of our stops was the pet store.  Kali has been there dozens of times and with the exception of when she encounters another dog that gets too close she is always very well behaved.  This time was different and I realized something about Kali.  There are people she likes, people she is indifferent to, and for the first time a person she clearly did not like.

Kali loves perusing the aisles at the pet store.  What dog wouldn’t right?  She loves taking in all the smells and ‘hunting” for that occasional treat that may have dropped out of a pocket or fallen out of a box.  When we pass through the aisle that has the open boxes of various biscuits sold by the pound Kali pokes in her snout and will grab a “sample” or two.  I usually don’t do too much to stop her.  It reminds me of when I was a kid at the market with my mom and she would grab a piece of candy out of the boxes, also sold by the pound, and hand it to me.  I always thought this was so cool that my mom would “steal” a piece of candy.  She told me once when I asked her about it that it wasn’t stealing (it kind of was though), and that we did a lot of shopping at this store and the store owner was fine with it.  Sort of like when we visited the butcher shop and the butcher would give me a piece of bologna or a hot-dog.  Wow – can you imagine Kali in a butcher shop?  I can and it would be documentary worthy…

So back to the pet store… The sound of squeaking of doggie toys get Kali’s attention.  We turn around to see a taller than average women standing by a 50 gallon cardboard drum full of doggie squeaky toys.  She has one in each hand holding them over her head squeezing them.  Squeak!  Squeak!  Kali’s ears perk up and her eyes are fixed on the women.  She’s pulling on the leash and with a slight lunge let’s out a deep “Woof”.  The women is about 20 feet away from Kali staring at her and says something like, “Oh, you like the squeaky toys, don’t you”. Squeak! Kali let’s out another deep “Woof”!  I give the women a courtesy comment of “yeah – she likes the squeaky toys”, and Kali and move along our way.

Our next stop was the office supply store.  A purchase of printer paper, pens, and labels was the goal and we quickly accomplished it.  We were on our way out when an elderly women walked into the store and immediately approached Kali.  Without pretension, introduction, or asking permission she walked up to Kali and began talking to her with pats on Kali’s head and – unless I was hearing things – quiet coos under her breath.  Kali immediately engaged with the women with her full attention and gave a full dose of her Golden love.  The women never looked up at me, totally engrossed with Kali, and after about a minute moved along her way.

This is when I realized something about Kali.  She is very selective in sharing her Goldenness.  The women at the pet store was abrasive and annoying.  Kali sensed that and responded appropriately (“Woof – stay away”.)  The women at the office supply store was soft, caring, and respectful.  Kali got that and responded with interest and compassion (“Yes, pet me and coo at me more…”).  But with Kali it’s more than instinct.  She is pretty much a one-man dog and I’m the man.  My wife Holly, my daughter (Smokey’s mom) and Smokey come next.   My two sons and their wives who visit regularly are on the fringe of the pack.

Beyond that Kali becomes very selective except with little kids.   Young children supersede the hierarchy.  Kali is always very patient and loving when we encounter the little ones.  She is welcoming and allows them make a big deal over her.  She seems to really like this attention from children and that makes me very happy and proud.

So, lady in the pet store:  Put the toys down, step from the toy bin, and chill out.  And, lady in the office supply store:  Thank you for connecting in a caring and non-threatening manner with Kali and for enriching her life.

And to Kali – thank you for selecting me as the top recipient of your awesome Goldenness.

Who is worthy of my Goldenness?

Who is worthy of my Goldenness?

Snouts and Faces Along The Trail

Not surprisingly there is a group of “regulars” Kali and I see along our walking trail.  Some with dogs, some without.  Some out for a personal stroll with a friend or spouse.  Moms and dads pushing strollers and pulling wagons.  Whatever the situation it’s always warming to make eye contact, share a smile, call out a “mornin'”, or on occasion stop for a brief chat.  As we turn the calendar to a new year I find myself grateful for these now familiar snouts and faces.  And, also very grateful for the experiences Kali and I have shared with them during the past seven months since Kali arrived in America.

We always enjoy seeing the couple that walks with three dogs at a very slow and patient pace. The pace is probably because one of the dogs is a very small Pomeranian who would have trouble keeping up with the other two larger dogs if they were at full stride.  The Pomeranian also has an aversion to the parts of the trail that are not paved.  During these stretches Dad, a robust middle aged-man who always wears shorts no matter how cold it is, carries the little guy in a pappoose slung across his chest.  Very cute.

There’s the rather serious gal who does a lot of training along the trail with her black and white Border Collie.  Her dog, like Kali, has come a long way over the months.  When we first met “Serious Sally” the Border Collie would bark and get very anxious.  Over the months I’ve seen her calm down and now both she (the dog) and Kali can pass each other with little drama.   Mom waves, usually without a smile, but with a clear acknowledgement of Kali’s progress and pride in her own dog’s development.

More recently we’ve seen a young mom almost every day who walks with her two mid-size dogs, a toddler in a stroller, and an infant in a pappoose. I assume it is an infant.   Or perhaps she is baby sitting the Pomeranian.  Mom’s dogs are well-behaved and Kali is calm as we pass by closer and closer each time – while the mom and I share a smile.  A mother just knows….  🙂

Then there’s Don.  Don lives in a home at intersecting the neighborhood that parallels the golf course’s cart trail and next to the walking trail. Many years ago when my kids were in grade school they would refer to the house as “the farmhouse” I guess because it looked like one.  Don is slight of build, looks to be in his early seventies, and dresses like an old rancher.  He’s a smoker and sits or stands outside his house smoking and looking out onto the trail and golf course.  Don is either very content to just hang out or is very bored.  We’ve chatted several times and when we pass by he seems to appreciate the “Hey Don, beautiful morning” I’ll throw out his way.  “Nice looking dog” he’ll reply.

Yes, nice looking dog.  Today as we were passing the Farmhouse I see a guy I had not seen before walking with his two Beagles. “Wow – great looking dog” he says.  I responded with “thanks”, as though I had anything to do with how pretty my Golden Kali is.  Kali gets a lot of compliments on how pretty she is.  And it is at those moments that I want to stop and tell that person all about Kali, how she came to us from Taiwan, and about all the great work Rescued Love From Taiwan is doing with many other wonderful dogs like Kali.  But, usually we don’t stop and just keep along our way grateful for each other and the familiar snouts and faces who have become friends along the trail.

Don's "Farmhouse" along our trail

Don’s “Farmhouse” along our trail

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Don’s view from the Farmhouse