The Conch

It’s been a lot of fun and a great learning experience having Piper with us for the past week.  It’s reinforced my belief that in spite of Kali’s anxiety around, and aggression towards, unknown dogs she can be a loving friend and step sibling given the chance to assimilate.  It’s reminded me that having a young dog of only a year is a lot different than having a mature dog of five or six years old.

Piper is such a sweet little girl.  In only a week I’ve come to know her tendencies, her routine, and her fears.  She is a tenacious play fighter and she’s brought Kali out of her shell who bobs and weavers her way around Piper’s sneak attacks and puppy kamikaze forays into the unknown of Kali’s size, weight, and larger teeth. We’ve always assumed that Kali had at least a litter or two.  Her behavior around Piper reinforces that assumption. When Piper deploys her kamikaze attacks Kali will counter attacks a little bit but mostly lays on her back and keeps Piper’s advances at bay like a mother bitch does with her pups all too eager with way too much energy ripping at at all parts of mom’s body.  When “mother” Kali has had enough she exerts her size ad maturity and let’s Piper know she’s done and Piper (usually) respects the gesture and goes back to the “lie in wait” position planning her next attack.

After only a week Piper has several nick-names because that’s what I do…  She has very quickly become Pipes, Pipes o’Peach, Pay the Piper, and Hey ‘da Pipe. It’s been interesting to see Kali have such a keen interest in her toys.   During wrestle-mania in addition to Kali fending off Pipers sharp teeth and relentless and tireless advances she is always looking for a toy to grab.  When Kali first came home and would wrangle for toys with Smokey we began referring to the toys as the “conch” like the conch in the classic story “Lord Of the Flies”.  In that story the conch represented a certain power and commanded respect from the others in the tribe.

Lord of the Flies Conch

Lord of the Flies Conch

Kali is clearly not a fighter, but willing to if she needs to, but more interested in having a position of power and her toys seem to represent that position even if it’s just me rough-housing with her she will gravitate towards a toy to pick up in order to gain the upper hand.  So I guess its not surprising to see her take a passionate possessiveness with her toys since Pipes has been with us. Piper is with us for another week and we’re going to miss her when she goes.  I think Kali will too.

Ready for battle

Ready for battle



My Conch!

My Conch!

Cuddle Time

Cuddle Time


As expected Kali and Piper quickly established territories, roles, and generally worked things out. My prediction of kissy-face by the end of the first day fell a little short but they were co-existing nicely, mostly calm and relaxed, both seemingly comfortable with the situation.

What’s a Piper?

In my last post I wrote about our friends Stephanie and Dillip who would be on vacation for two weeks.  Holly and I offered to take care of their one year-old Australian Shepherd, Piper, while they were gone.  Even with Kali’s anxiety around other dogs I was confident that she would adjust and quickly accept – perhaps even enjoy – having Piper around for a couple of weeks.



Steph and Dillip dropped off Piper with the car seat, crib, diaper bag, doctor’s phone numbers, and blankie (their going to make great parents!…) and were off to the airport for India via Dubai.  Holly and I decided to stay a lot closer to home and went to the backyard to hang out with Kali and Piper.

The two meet and greet “play” dates for Kali and Piper we had over the past couple of weeks definately made a difference.  Even though Kali was not totally on board with things yet I could tell that she was familiar enough with Piper to know 1) she wasn’t a threat and that 2) that she wasn’t going to go away.  So after a couple of minutes of posturing and barking – much like she did at the start of their meet and greets – Kali settled down at my feet and watched as Piper began to explore the yard.  There were a few more intermittent barks especially when Piper picked up a few of Kali’s toys but overall it was pretty non-evenful as hoped and we went about our day.

Inside the house Kali would give Piper an occasional face-woof if Piper got too close.  So Piper was very reserved at first and found safe haven underneath the dining room table.  Then she discovered the toy box.

It was fun to watch Kali watching Piper pulling out toy after toy and taking them to her new den underneath the table.  At one point Kali had enough, got up and took a toy from Piper, which prompted Piper to try to get it back from Kali, which led to running and barking in the house, which led to me  pushing them out into the yard, which led to more running and – wait for it – Kali playing with Piper.

I finally got my kid to go under the Gymboree parachute!   I realized I had a BIG smile on my face as I watched Kali chase after Piper with a playful bark. It was a “I’m bigger than you and and older and I’m gonna prove it to you” bark. Then Piper would stop, hunker down, pop up and begin chasing (herding?) Kali barking, “Yeah, but I’m way faster than you are, and I’m younger, and I can do this for hours.”  When Kali got tired and seemed to lose interest in the game Piper would go nip her in the butt and the game would start over again.  Very cool for this Dad to see his girl having fun whether she wanted to or not.  🙂    Yes, I realize this is normal behavior for most dogs so what’s the big deal, right?

Well, this IS a big deal for Kali.  OK…this is a big deal for ME.  And while I know it’s not supposed to be about me, this time it is.

So after almost 24 hours so far so good.  I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks with these Aussie and Taiwanese “Gal-Pals”.

Gal Pals

The Aussie and Taiwaneese  “Gal-Pals”

New Playmate for Kali

Kali’s getting a “playmate” for a couple of weeks.  Piper is an Australian Shepherd about a year old with similar anxiety issues as Kali has when around other dogs.  Hmmm, this could be a disaster in the making…  But I think it will be fine.

Piper’s mom Stephanie, is a beautiful young lady in her twenties who we’ve had the pleasure of watching grow up since she was five years old.  Her parents are some of our dearest friends.  Stephanie recently married Dillip, a fine young man, who we’ve come to know over the past year since they were married. When we learned Steph and Dillip were traveling to India for a vacation and that Piper would be staying at different places while they were gone we immediately volunteered to take her for the entire two weeks. Besides offering some stability for Piper we thought it would be good for Kali, who misses Smokey since he and my daughter moved out, to hang out with another dog for a while.  Based on our experience with how quickly Kali and Smokey adapted we are confident that the same will happen with Piper within a couple of days.

Over the past week or so we’ve had Piper over for “meet and greets” a couple of times.  Both visits lasted about an hour.  The first visit  was fairly intense and a little stressful on both dogs.  Lots of teeth gnashing, Kali barking, and Piper taking coverage under chairs in the back yard.  The second visit was a lot calmer and both dogs settled down quickly and were mostly willing to co-habitate while keeping their distance as the four of us observed sitting in the yard with them.  Kali even laid down next to Piper at one point for a few moments and seemed to relax.

Piper arrives on Saturday and will be with us for two weeks.  She is crate trained, respectful of the indoors, and very smart.  She loves to play fetch so I’m hoping to do this a lot and who knows, maybe Kali will catch on to the concept of me throwing a a ball and her running to get it and bring it back to me…  Holly and I, as are Steph and Dillip, are optimistic that both dogs will do well and have an enriching experience.  I’ve predicted that by the end of day one I’ll be texting Steph and Dillip with pictures of Kali and Piper playing kissy-face or at the least laying down and relaxing  peacefully with each other.

Stay tuned for regular updates, pictures, and assessments of what I hope is not just dog-sitting but a great experience for my Golden Kali.


Kali arrived from Taiwan Saturday evening of Memorial Day Weekend, 2014.  At the airport In Taiwan volunteers had put scarfs  with Taiwanese characters on all the dogs as they prepared them for the long plane ride to America.  When I took Kali out of her travel crate she was sporting this handsome looking scarf from Taiwan.   I walked Kali around the parking lot at SFO and once she got her land legs back one of the volunteers took off the scarf from Taiwan and replaced it with a scarf bearing the American stars and stripes  This is the scarf that Kali wore home that night.   That gesture – the switching of the scarves –  served as a great symbol of Kali’s transition from Taiwan to America.  New sights, new smells, new symbols, and new care givers.

I took the scarf off of Kali the next day.  Holly had carried the scarf with the Taiwanese characters home in her purse the night before.  She tied both scarves to Kali’s crate, which by the way she never used because she never really needed it.  The crate was folded up and put in storage a few weeks after Kali arrived once we saw that Kali was able to find our her own safe and special places around the house. She had demonstrated to us very quickly how respectful she could be of the house.

Last year on the morning of the 4th of July I untied the stars and stripes scarf from her folded up crate and put it on Kali to wear for the day.  I did the same thing this year and you can see her regally sporting it in the picture below.

Besides routine I’m also a big fan of tradition.  Years ago I made a mix tape (remember those?) of songs that seemed Americana to me.  Some Country songs, some Rock, some Jazz; an electic mix of songs that reminded me of America for one reason or another.   I play it every fourth of July.  Now, after just two 4th of July holidays with Kali her stars and stripes scarf has quickly become part of my 4th of July tradition.  It made me feel so good to see her wear it last Saturday knowing what it stands for.

And what does it stand for? Yes, perhaps the obvious patriotic things associated with our red, white, and blue stars and stripes.  But with this tradition it stands more for Kali’s journey from Taiwan to America.  It’s gratifying to know there are people whom I’ve never met half way around the world who took Kali in, cared for her, and sent her to me, on a plane, with a scarf. And once she landed other volunteers made the symbolic gesture of changing the scarves out and sending her home with us as an American dog.

Traditions evolve and that mix tape I mentioned is actually now played digitally from my iPhone sent via bluetooth to speakers. Ahh, technology.   But the scarfs are and will remain fabric; both literally and figuratively.  Kali has memories and experiences from Taiwan I’ll never know or appreciate.  They’re as meaningful as the experiences she’s had in America and account for a large part of the fabric that makes her who’s she is.  In fact they’re probably more meaningful. Maybe the memories and instincts gained in Taiwan will fade as the years pass or maybe they’ll forever define who she is.  But make no mistake.  Kali has embraced America and all the blessings and privileges of being American (warts and all; and there are many).

Next year as the 4th of July holiday get’s close I’ll begin thinking about Kali’s scarf and my mix tape.  I’ll make a mental note about how many “4th’s” she’s been with us.  I’ll spruce up the yard for our BBQ and rationalize why it’s better to stay home than fighting the crowds at a community celebration.  I’ll take Kali for a walk sporting her scarf which will elicit smiles and compliments from those we pass along the way.   And at some point during the day I’ll sit with Kali and make a toast and give a nod of acknowledgment and thanks to the dedicated volunteers in Taiwan who made it possible for me to have a very special dog with a very special scarf.


In a moment of weakness, and just to see what would happen, I patted the top of the bed and said, “Kali- up”.  To my surprise Kali’s eyes and ears perked up and she seem interested.  She took a half step back and then lunged forward placing only her front paws on the bed.  She then made a (feeble) attempt to spring up with her hind quarters and failed miserably.  Kali is not a good jumper…  So in a second moment of weakness I lifted her butt and she was on the bed.  She settled quickly and was – as they say – out like a light.

Kali has a very comfortable bed that sits on ground next to my side of our bed.  Kali loves her bed.  If it is later than 8:00 pm Kali longs for her bed and patiently waits for us to retire up stairs so she can collapse on her comfy cushy bed totally spent from a  long day of naps in the sun and frequent trips to the kitchen to see “whaz up” each time refrigerator door opens.

So there she laid on our bed, she is immediately fast asleep, and Holly say’s, “I’m ok with it; there’s plenty of room on my side.”   She was right.  But my side, not so much.  I have to admit it was pretty cool to have Kali on the bed in between Holly and I.  She was a very good bedmate sleeping quietly with no snoring, no squirming, and no, er how do I say… Free Air Roaming Throughout (FART).  As I settled down to sleep it was reminiscent of when Panda the cat would sleep next to me and I would put my hand on his chest and feel the rumbling of his purring which was calming to me and helped me to fall asleep.  With this in mind I put my hand down to touch Kali but all I got was butt since she was facing the foot of the bed and obviously much larger than Panda.  Still it was nice to have her so near as I drifted off to sleep.

As is my usual pattern I woke up around 2:00 am and got up to drink water.  Kali is sound asleep in pretty much the same position she was at lights out four hours earlier.  But when I returned to bed there seemed to be significantly less foot room down where my legs and feet go.   I felt as though I had been on long flight, got up to use the rest room only to return to my seat and find I’d been downgraded from business class to coach.  But no worries, I suck, it up and hang one leg off the side of the bed and try to get comfortable.  After a few more minutes still awake I push Kali towards the center to make room for my legs.  This helped and we were both back to sleep within moments.

Then around 5:30 am we wake up to heavy breathing.  No, it’s to what you may be thinking (nudge nudge).  It’s our 58 pound Golden Kali panting heavily because she’s hot and probably thirsty from the long flight in business class. We’re (Holly and I) awake now and Holly “invites” Kali down to the ground  Kali looks at the floor and tries to comply but apparently the jump down is too far for her and she hesitates.  Holly ends up picking her up and sets her on the ground and Kali settles down on her own bed.  So it’ all good for about an hour until the heavy breathing begins again – this time right in my face from the side of the bed directly from Kali’s snout.

“Hey Dad”, Kali seems to say.  “Cool sleeping in the bed last night; I really liked it until it got real hot and starting panting.  By the way, your feet were pressing into my ribs most of the night until you got water at 2:00 am. When you got back to bed I sensed some resentment and maybe some regret about asking me onto your bed.  Just saying…”

So Kali and I rise at 6:30, actually later than usual, go down stairs and begin our day: we go outside to pee (Kali not me),  come inside to eat (Kali not me), drink coffee and read the sports section (me not Kali) then – depending on my work schedule – out for our walk.

So my moment of weakliness and whim yielded no harm no foul but from here on out Kali will stay on the ground floor  while Holly and I occupy the mezzanine level.   I think Kali and her sore ribs will be just fine with that.