“R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Find out what it means to me”

Aretha Franklin

From the first day Kali arrived from Taiwan almost two years ago she has always been very respectful of the house, the yard, and our possessions.  She seemed to inherently know what was a toy and what wasn’t.  Even if they looked the same or were the same.

We have a beanie baby that we use to keep our door ajar at night.  It’s an old habit from when Panda the cat was still with us.  It kept the door from shutting all the way when the heater came on (house air flow dynamics) and gave him a way to come and go while we were sleeping.  Full transparency about that: initially it wasn’t so much because we cherished this animal and wanted him to have full access to us even when we were asleep.  It was because, well, he was a cat and he would tear up the carpet outside our bedroom door if we didn’t.  I’ve mentioned before that we’re very trainable, right?

The point about the beanie baby was that Kali has a couple of beanie babies in her toy box that she plays with from time to time.  But she never touches the beanie baby next to our bedroom door.  As I recall she picked it up one time when she first saw it, I said “no – that’s not yours” – she dropped it and it’s never been an issue since.

She has fuzzy toys she likes to chew on and some of them look a lot like socks or slippers but she’s never chewed on a slipper, shoe, or anything else that wasn’t “hers” as appealing as they may be to her.  She instinctively knows what’s hers and what’s not hers and shows proper respect.

Kali is very highly extremely food motivated.  She is “all about the food” which makes it easy to provide positive reinforcement for good behavior and obedience.  So as respectful as she is about “things” what is truly notable is how she respects Smokey’s food. She has never exhibited any food aggression even from the first week she arrived and ate side by side with Smokey.   She knows what food is hers and respects Smokey’s even when it’s left unattended.

Smokey is not so much about the food.  Mealtime for Kali is an event.  Mealtime for Smokey is about the 6th or 7th item on his daily “to-do” list.  For convenience and routine sake I feed both Kali and Smokey at the same time.  Kali never fails to do her Suppertime dance even at breakfast.   The house could literally be on fire with fire fighters spraying water and burning beams falling and Kali would stand her ground and finish her meal before reacting to the mayhem around her.  When Smokey’s bowl is put on the ground I usually have to call him over to it.   I’ll say, “come on, Smoke.  Eat up or Kali will get your food”,  even though I know she won’t.  Smokey will saunter over to the bowl, take a sniff and look around the room (what is he a cat?!), and usually walk away and return to the spot in the sun or couch he was sleeping on.  He’ll eventually go back and eat but it might be a while and long after Kali has finished her puzzle-maze filled bowl.

I used to think that Kali would eat Smokey’s food if left on the ground unattended so I would hang around until they had both finished.  She did try to eat it once and Smokey made it very clear that even though he was not interested in the food at that moment that it was his and Kali should back off, which of course she did.

Here is what I found to be a truly remarkable event.

The other morning I put the food bowls down, Kali’s first.  With the bowl in front of her she immediately goes into a sit with eyes fixed on mine.  It’s our routine and I wait four or five seconds before I say “ok” and point to the food.  I do believe that she would sit with eyes fixed on mine for 10 minutes if I made her.  I would never do that of course but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t eat until I told her it was ok no matter how long she had to wait.

Smokey’s bowl went down next a few feet away from Kali’s.  Smokey does his routine and eventually walks away from the food without eating.   I head upstairs to my office and see Kali’s eyes glancing back and forth between Smokey’s bowl of food and me.  As I head up I tell Kali to “leave it”.  She walks past the food and lies down in at the edge of the kitchen.  I know Smokey will eventually eat.   I usually check after about 10 minutes and if the food is still there I pick it up and it becomes dinner for him later that evening.

This particular morning I forgot to go back downstairs to check on whether Smokey had eaten.   About 30 minutes had passed.  I head down and I see that Kali is lying in the same spot and Smokey’s bowl is still full.  But Smokey isn’t around.   I then remembered hearing my daughter pass through the kitchen and go back to bed. I realized that Smokey had followed my daughter into her room without eating.

But as I’ve said about Kali, she is all about the food.  For her to lay there for half an hour by herself with a bowl full of food and not eat it was truly remarkable.  I couldn’t have been prouder of her at that moment.  I picked up Smokey’s bowl and opened the cookie jar and handed Kali a couple of biscuits while telling her what a good girl she was.

I only hope she had some idea of why she was being rewarded.


Love these guys!





Reluctant Participant

We used to joke about our last Golden, Bailey, that he was more like cat than a dog.  He was scared of water, hated getting his feet wet, and  would rather sit on your lap than roll around on the grass or tromp through the mud.   My kids were still kids when Bailey, a rescue from NorCal Golden Retriever Rescue, joined our family.  At 18 months he was more like a kitty happily curling up with the kids on their beds, or with the cat Panda.

baileyMBM young

My son Michael Brandon and his “Birthday Present” Bailey at 5th grade show and tell



About 6 years later Bailey and Panda Cuddle Time

When Bailey passed seven years ago I never thought another dog could capture my heart and soul like Bailey did.  Although Bailey was technically my son’s dog as the years passed Bailey and I grew closer and closer together, especially after my son went away to college.  He was my best friend and I thought he could never be replaced.

And then there was, and is, Kali.

Kali, a lot like Bailey, jumped out to me in a picture on the internet and I immediately knew she belonged with Holly and I.  My search of shelters on the (fledgling) internet in 1998 when I was looking for a dog for my son came up with Bailey.  I immediately called the number and it all worked out.  Fast forward to Kali sixteen years later and as I looked at the newly posted photos on the Rescued Love From Taiwan‘s Facebook page, I saw Kali and in a nanosecond knew we were meant for each other.  I called to Holly, “Come here, I found our dog”.  Holly looked at Kali and immediately agreed.  We called and got first in line for Kali who would travel within a couple of months from Taiwan to our home in Northern California.

And Kali is a bit, or a lot depending on how I measure, like Bailey.  Part cat part dog.  Kali is totally indifferent to water with paws seemingly impervious to water and mud but not inclined to chase squirrels, birds, or cats.  She’ll sleep in a 90 degree sun but would rather be inside on the cool tile than digging a spot in the yards cool dirt to take a nap.  I love Kali for who and what she is but I can’t help but get her to be a little more like a “dog” once in a while.

I love seeing Kali roll around in the grass when we walk on the golf course fairways adjacent to our creek trail.  But mostly I love seeing her run, gallop really.  She’s not fast, she’s a little clumsy, and with her mellow demeanor she is sometimes a reluctant participant.  But when I tell her to chase the geese she does it because she loves me and wants to make me happy.  And this is the distinction that assures us she is a dog.  Because a cat would never chase geese especially if it was your idea.