Does Kali Know It’s Christmas?

In 1984 a group of musical artists organized by Bob Geldof came together to record a song Geldof had written called “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.  It was written and recorded to bring awareness to a famine occurring in Ethiopia.

The spirit and intentions of the song, performance, and related revenue donated to the cause  was noble and righteous.   It marked a trend of social responsibility from artists wanting to make a difference in the world.  This has been carried on over the years by many others with events like Willie Nelsons’ Farm Aid benefiting farmers with financial challenges and Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Concert that benefits individuals with severe speech and physical impairments.

I thought about the song earlier today when I watched Kali sleeping after a long walk (in the cold and rain – poor me, right?).  It’s Christmas Eve but what the heck does she care.  She’s warm, fed, loved, and rescued. It’s just another day in paradise and for that I am grateful.   It makes me feel good to know that this beautiful soul will be safe and loved for the rest of her life.  It also pains me to know there are so many dogs that aren’t as fortunate as Kali as they wait to be rescued – both figuratively and literally – but may never be.

So on this Christmas Eve does Kali know it’s Christmas?  Of course not. Tomorrow family will be over and we’ll open gifts, eat, drink, reminisce, honor those that have passed before us (I miss you Dad!) and be merry.  But before all of that Kali and I will get up about 6:30, she’ll eat breakfast, she’ll watch me drink coffee and read the paper, she’ll beg while I prepare my breakfast (but retreat to her “spot” when asked), complain that we haven’t gone for our walk yet, go for a walk, return home to a warm bed, nap, and on and on and on like every other day.  So will she know it’s Christmas?  Nope.

And that’s just fine for both of us.

Having said all of that, I think if Kali had a concept of Christmas she would wish each and every one of you a very merry and blessed Christmas.



My favorite picture of my Kali.  She rarely smiles but when she does it’s Golden.



Sometimes Life’s A Grind

It’s been eight months since the grooming mishap when I cut Kali’s dew claw too close and she ended up needing minor surgery to repair it; actually to remove it because it was cracked and kept bleeding.  I spent days kicking myself at the time for hurting her and since then I’ve been very reluctant to have another go at it trimming nails.  Surely Kali would pick up on my reluctance and anxiety if i was to try again so I’ve put it off.

When Kali had a professional teeth cleaning a few months ago the vet trimmed her dew claws since she was out for the count during the cleaning.  Recently I’ve noticed that they have been growing very fast and I knew I would need to do something soon.  This morning she spent about 20 minutes nibbling on her paws; specifically her dew claws.  They were obviously bothering her and I had put off doing anything too long.  They were pretty long and beginning to curl.   My bad…

At the time of her surgery to correct my blunder my vet suggested I look into getting a nail grinder and begin to slowly get Kali accustomed to the sound of the grinder while working my way up to actually using it on her nails. I never got around to doing this -until this morning.  Before heading to the pet store I did some reading on line to get a basic idea of what was available.  The clerks at the pet store I go to are very educated on the products they sell and I trust them.  A simple “starter” model was suggested, I paid the clerk, and was on my way home to begin what I thought would be a days-long process to get Kali used to the sound of the grinder.  I figured that I would have to slowly graduate up to holding her paw in my hand while the grinder was turning, and then finally actually using it.

I purposely didn’t take Kali with me to the pet store this morning because she gets a little antsy if I stand around talking to the clerks too long and I had a lot of questions about the grinders and proper technique.  When I arrived home Kali was immediately interested in the bag I had in my hand.  She came up to me, nudged the bag, smelled it, and decided that it might be food, or have something to do with food because her nose told her it was from the pet store.  I seized the opportunity to reward her for her interest and gave her a couple of biscuits while making a big deal out of the bag.   Kali stayed by my side as I took the grinder out of the packaging.  The grinder was seated in that very annoying rigid plastic clam shell packaging that has absolutely no effective method to open without using a chain saw unless you have grizzly bear paws for hands.  If I ever meet the person who came up with that packaging idea I will punch him or her straight in the face.  But I digress…

As I struggle and complain about the packaging Kali remains fixed on the grinder, now even more sure that it will lead to food.  I continued to reward her with a couple of more biscuits while I inserted the batteries.

I went to the refrigerator and pulled out the high value treats I keep in a jar; small pieces of beef and chicken rolls that I cut into bite-size pieces.  If I didn’t have Kali’s full attention before I certainly did now!  I sat down with the open jar on the table, the grinder in my hand, and Kali in front of me.  OK, I thought – let’s see how she does with the sound…  I turn on the grinder keeping it a fair distance from Kali as I hand her a treat. She  doesn’t flinch other than to flick her eyes back at the jar on the table.  Smokey on the other hand is a bit skittish with anything that sounds even remotely like the vacuum cleaner (at only 11 pounds you can’t blame him!) and he goes running under the table seeking quick shelter from the noise.  The difference in focus  for Kali and Smokey at this juncture was not surprising.   Kali’s only interest is the jar of treats and how she can get more.  Smokey was interested in not getting vacuumed up….


“How can you hand me a treat if one hand is on my paw and your other hand is on the device that you think frightens me?

I continued to turn on and off the grinder while rewarding Kali for her calm demeanor and focus.  I wasn’t planning on putting the grinder anywhere near her paws, let alone dew claws, for the first few sessions but things were going very well.  So after a quick trim of the hairs around her dew claws I had Kali take a full down position with me also sitting on the ground.  I held her dew claw in my left hand and gave her a treat.  With her paw still in my hand I turned on the grinder and while it whirred I gave her a treat.  She was loving life at this point.  “What paw?”, she seemed to say.  I positioned her claw next to the grinder and gently pushed it towards the spinning grinder pad.  With a puff of smoke the dew claw was reduced by about an eight of an inch.  After more treats and more grinding the claw was back to an acceptable length. I moved on to the other paw and after only a matter of minutes we were done.


“Keep that treat jar nearby and you can do whatever you want with my paws…”

Kali was an absolute angel. I was very proud of her and proud of myself for knowing her tendencies, when to push a bit and when to back off.  Today worked out great for both of us and although the dew claws are not quite as short as I’d like I didn’t want to push my luck.  I wanted to end on a positive note and so we did.  We’ll have have another session in the next day or so to finish up.

Do any of you use nail grinders on your pups?  I’d love to hear about how it works for you.







An Uneventful Reunion

I think the earth is spinning faster.  How else do you account for the fact that Christmas is less than two weeks away and I haven’t even begun shopping for Kali Holly yet?   We got back from spending Thanksgiving with my son and his wife in Illinois, picked up Kali, and in a blink of an eye we’re looking Santa straight in the eye.  Yikes.

Kali’s six-day stay with Bucky and Callie while we were in Illinois was great.  In retrospect it was probably good for us both to have a little “away from each other time”.  After the first day I stopped texting her every hour partly because she didn’t respond but mostly because I knew she was in good hands with my dear friend Colleen and her two pups Callie and Bucky.

While I was on a plane Kali was at the park romping and wrestling with Bucky, the one year old golden lab.  While I was fighting the luggage carousel at O’hare Kali was being lavished with love from Auntie Colleen.   And while I was driving south from Chicago three hours  to Southern Illinois in the rain Kali was sleeping in front of the fireplace with Callie the 11 year old chocolate lab.  I want to be Kali!…

Holly and I had a great holiday week with my son and his wife and Kali had a great vacation with her new cousins.  The night after we arrived home I woke up and tried to be “cool” and not be all about going to pick up Kali.  At 3:30 am I asked Holly if she was ready to go get Kali.  She rolled over, punched me in the stomach and said “no, go back to sleep – it’s still night time and Auntie Colleen will kill you if you knock on her door this early”.  I tried again at 4:30, unsuccessfully,  and with a bloody nose went back to sleep now resigned to wait until first light to go get my Golden Kali.

Around 10:30 am we headed out to get Kali.  My car can go fast; real fast, but I kept it under 100 80 MPH on the 20 mile journey because I was still remaining “cool” and Holly said she would punch me in the stomach and nose again if I went any faster.

We get to Auntie Colleen’s, I knock on the door and Colleen’s husband Gary lets us in.  “They’re on a walk, come on in”.  “Wha..!  My Kali girl hasn’t been up since 3:30 waiting for me to pick her up?!?  She hasn’t been miserable without me?   Morning of day six and the day I pick her up and she’s on a “walk”?

After about 10 minutes Auntie Colleen comes in with about 220 pounds of dogs in tow; Bucky, Callie, and my Golden Kali.

I see Kali.  Kali sees me.  The moment I’ve been thinking about since I knew we’d be leaving her and more recently since 3:30 that morning.

Kali:  ” Hey Dad.  Bucky’s pretty cool and Callie has the same name as me but she spells it funny.  I’m gonna go play now.  See ya’…”

That’s it?  After six days of separation anxiety and 2000 miles all I get is a “Hi Dad”?

And that’s how it goes with kids.  And pups.

And for this uneventful reunion I am grateful to my dear friend Colleen and so proud of Kali.

But mostly proud of myself for staying in bed at 3:30, and 4:30, and for staying under 100 MPH.


New Cousins