There was a Broadway musical in the sixties, and later revived in the late nineties, called “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”. Based on the characters created by the late Charles M. Schulz from his comic strip “Peanuts” the show has a small cast and each character stands out through funny bits and great songs.  Of course one of those stand outs is Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s gregarious and fun-loving Beagle.

Sally and Snoopy from the 1998 revival of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Sally and Snoopy from the 1998 Broadway revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

A highlight of the show is when Snoopy sings Suppertime.  The bit starts out with Snoopy day dreaming about dinner and lamenting about how long it’s been since he eaten last.

“My stomach clock just went off. It’s suppertime, and Charlie Brown has forgotten to feed me. Here I lie, a withering hollow shell of a dog and there sits my supper dish … EMPTY!”

Charlie brown eventually shows up with Snoopy’s food dish and all of a sudden it’s SHOWTIME. Snoopy breaks into a vaudeville song and dance routine that always brings down the house.  The bit ends with Charlie Brown, who has been off to the side screaming, “NOW CUT THAT OUT!!!! Why can’t you eat your meal quietly and calmly like any other normal dog?” Snoopy responds dryly, “So what’s wrong with making mealtime a joyous occasion?”

And this is Kali at mealtime. The dish comes out and it is Showtime. You’d think she hadn’t eaten in days or that there was filet mignon in her bowl. Her nose goes up in the air, her toes tap on the tile of the kitchen floor, and her butt is swinging from side to side. She follows me to tub with her food and once it’s in her bowl she begins hopping up and down and heads straight to the spot where she eats. I put the bowl down and Kali sits in front of it looking directly into my eyes. Waiting. Waiting for my signal. I pause for a few seconds and then point to the dish.

I’ve thought about trying to change Kali’s behavior when  preparing her meals, but hey, what’s wrong with making mealtime a joyous occasion, right? And after all Kali does show great deference as the bowl hits the ground waiting for the OK to begin eating; as if waiting for all the other guests to sit down.

Suppertime is usually around 6:00 pm. That means that Kali begins staring at me around 5:15 and wondering if, like Charlie Brown, I’ve forgotten to feed her.  I sit, watching the evening news and Kali sits watching me watch the news.  Eventually she gives up and lies down with a sigh to wait it out.  As it get’s closer to 6:00 I get up and Showtime begins. Last night, for fun, I got up without giving any clear signal that it “was time”. Kali was lying with her head on the ground and her eyes followed me as I headed to the kitchen to get her dish. But my movement deceived her and I slyly hid her dish from view as I headed to the pantry where we store her the food . All of a sudden Kali realizes that “it’s game on”. She seemed to jump straight up from a lying position and momentarily hover in the air, eyes wide, with a thought bubble over her head that says, “Suppertime?”  And so it was.


Smokey and Kali almost always eat at the same time and usually side by side. Smokey is the antithesis of Kali at mealtime. When Smokey realizes its time to eat he calmly walks over to his mat, sits,  and quietly waits.  He seems to know it’s coming and is very willing to wait it out, however long it may take. Smokey also waits for “the signal” but even once he gets the green light he saunters over to his dish, stretches out his neck from a few feet away, takes a sniff, looks at Kali, and then slowly begins to eat. No big deal. No major production. No song and dance.

When the weather is mild Kali and Smokey will eat outside. If the weather is warm enough Kali likes to sniff around after dinner and will usually lie down on the patio taking in the smells of the mild evening.  Last night was a warm night.  I placed the food bowls on the ground and gave the signals. As always, Kali was off to the races. A bomb could drop in the yard and she would not deter from the job at hand.  Smokey, not so much.

Last night as the bowls were placed on the ground and the signals were given the neighbor’s dog presented himself on the other side of the fence. Smokey hears the dog and makes a bee-line for the fence leaving his full dish of food behind. Next to Kali. Unattended. Vulnerable… Kali is usually very respectful of Smokey’s food but a hungry girl can only have so much will-power.  There have been a couple of occasions when she attempted to “sample” a treat or meal of Smokey’s and Smokey has made it very clear this is not OK.

So Smokey heads to the fence line barking and I walk out after him to tell him this is not alright.  He agrees and as we head back to the patio where the food bowls are I see Kali’s big face in Smokey’s little bowl. All the food is gone. She takes a lap around the bowl with her tongue and then goes back to her bowl which was still about half full. It struck me as interesting that Kali wouldn’t have finished her bowl before going to Smokey’s unattended bowl. Her head is usually buried so deep in her bowl that it surprised me that she even noticed Smokey was gone. But she did and must have quickly realized that Smokey would be back soon and that she had only a small window of opportunity.

Smokey and I are now standing at his empty bowl.  He looks at the bowl and then up at me with his head cocked to one side as if to say, “what the…?” Kali’s head remains buried in her bowl but I see her eyes briefly glancing at me as if to say, “What?” I pick up Smokey’s bowl and go into the house to re-fill it. As I put Smokey’s bowl on the ground – inside the house – I had to admit that I was a little proud of Kali for her strategic thinking. Or, maybe it was instinct.

Or maybe she was just giving her little brother a lesson in priorities.


Forecast: Buzzed and Warm

What a transformation. In a matter of about an hour he went from “Tough Guy” to “Lamb Pie”.

Kali’s little bro’, Smokey got a LONG OVERDUE grooming this week.  Smokey had not had a grooming for quite some time and he needs one at least every 8 to 12 weeks.  Otherwise he quickly turns into one of those fuzzy slippers that my sister used to wear back in the sixties.  It’s an amazing transformation and this time it was even more striking.  Because we waited so long he had a lot of matting in his fur.   So this grooming turned out to be a more of a doggie buzz-cut.


Tough Guy Smokey

Tough Guy Smokey


Lamb Pie Smokey

Lamb Pie Smokey

It could be that I’m projecting my perceptions but Smokey seems a lot calmer and mild-mannered when he looks like a little lamb. Less barking and overall less small-dog syndrome.  Although the bleating does become rather annoying (sorry!)…

Another interesting dynamic is how Kali has related to Smokey after his grooming.  Smokey is usually the one who initiates play taunting Kali to chase him using tactics like nipping at her tail and running in circles under her nose.  But this time when Smokey came home from the grooming Kali seemed intrigued.  They always greet each other when one of them comes home but this time seemed different.  Kali approached Smokey with lots of sniffing and pushed her head against his little 11 pound body.  Then, like a unbridled pony her front legs went up in the air, her tail was wagging furiously, and with a big smile on her face she seemed to say, “Hey you’re cute and you smell really good; wanna play chase?”  And of course Smokey complied running in between furniture and under tables to get away only to re-emerge and launch his signature counter attack. It’s a good thing Kali is not a border collie or Smokey would be in for a long Spring.

And talk about transformation and Spring, we went from torrential downpours in the Bay Area causing flooding in many areas to sunny and warm Spring-like weather.  We’ll have temps in the low to mid-seventies throughout the weekend and into next week.  If only I could teach Kali how to caddy could multitask with a long walk while I also play golf.


There’s a pond along our walking trail with a lots of ducks, geese, and a variety of water fowl.  We’ve even seen a couple of blue heron’s.  Kali loves watching the birds and becomes especially animated when they land in the water as a flock or take back to the skies after we’ve come too close or Kali has let out a hearty woof.  Kali is a great walker and rarely tugs at the leash staying close to my side.  But as we get close to the duck pond she begins pulling and fully extends the slack in the leash while looking back at me as if to say, “Aren’t you coming?  There are birds over there in the water.  I’m a retriever; I’ve got a job to do”.

I think I’m supposed to go out there and “retrieve” one of those ducks, right?

It had been a long time since Kali and I had walked in warm weather.  Me in shorts and Kali in, well she still had two coats on but she didn’t seem to mind.  So on this Winter afternoon that felt a lot more like Spring we took an extra long route, visited the duck pond (did I have a choice?),  passed by the dog park without drama, and stopped to “smell the (figurative) roses”.  With no reason to rush home we took in the sights and smells and were very mindful our blessings on this glorious afternoon.

Sit Kali.  Sure why not.

Sit Kali. Sure why not.


Lie Down.  OK, glad to oblige.

Lie Down. OK, glad to oblige.

Cuddle Time


I have very fond memories of a rocking chair my wife received as a gift shortly before my first child was born 30 years ago.  The chair was oak with a wide foot print and long smooth rockers.  It was only recently that we parted with the chair after having moved it from home to home over the years.  If you could measure rocking in distance I’d have logged thousands of miles in that chair.

As a parent there’s not a better feeling than sitting in a rocker with a sleeping infant on your chest.  I spent countless hours in that rocker with my babies patting them on the back, singing softly in their ears, and holding them close to my heart.  Some of the warmest times were in the wee hours of the morning sitting with them after they had woken up crying or had just finished a night-time feeding.   I’ve never felt so secure, content, and safer than when sitting in that chair in the dark of night with one of my babies.

The  chair is gone but I think that perhaps when there is finally a grandchild in our lives we’ll have to get another one.  Since my oldest married four years ago I’ve mused about wanting a grandchild.  A couple of years ago I proclaimed to my family (only half-joking) that if I didn’t have a grandchild within a year I was going to get a puppy.  A year passed with no grandchild so a puppy it would be!…

I briefly flirted with the idea of getting a puppy but fate (and Kali) rescued me and it turned out to be Kali who helped me fulfill my proclamation.

It’s probably good that the rocker is gone.  Even thought Kali is much too big to sit on my lap I probably would give it a go and my family would then proclaim me  “off my rocker“.  So instead Kali and I have “Cuddle Time”.

Cuddle Time has become a special way for Kali and I to wind down our day.  My wife and I, creatures of habit that we are I (OK – I’m the creature of habit; my wife graciously acquiesces) have a post dinner routine which usually involves TV, my wife drawing, and me futzing on my laptop.  By this time Kali has usually positioned herself in the middle of the Family Room and is well on her way to deep sleep before we arrive and assume our positions.

Usually about an hour into our routine I’ll declare “Cuddle Time” and move from my chair to the floor in front of my chair.  Depending on the depth of sleep Kali has reached by this point it takes a little coaxing but she’ll get up and reposition herself in front of me and plop her head in my lap. I take off her collar and stroke her head.  She sleeps, and I breath.  If it had been a particularly difficult or hectic day Kali’s presence is soothing and comforting.  If it had been a great day Kali’s presence is a reminder of how blessed our lives are.  Either way it’s all good with Cuddle Time.

On second thought, when that first grandchild finally does arrive, there may not be another rocking chair.  Kali will still be too big to sit on my lap but my chest will still be just the right size for an infant. I’m sure that Kali would welcome another participant to our nightly ritual.  This  grand baby may just be lucky enough for Kali to declare “Auntie” cuddle time and let the baby lie with his or her head in Kali’s lap while Kali’s rests  in mine.

And that would be a Cuddle Time for the ages!