Deer Diary

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” 
― Dorothy from the Wizard Of Oz


As you can imagine when you live on five acres in the mountains you experience a lot of wildlife.  One of the most prominent members of that wildlife group is a family of deer that come to “visit” two or three times a day.  The previous owner of the property put out food for the deer a couple of times a day to mitigate them eating the flowers and shrubs from the garden adjacent to the back patio area.  We’ve maintained that practice for the same reason and, for us suburbanites, it’s very cool to have deer in your “backyard”.

Although technically illegal to feed the deer the mix we provide is healthy and not enough to make them dependent on only this “snack” they get a couple of times a day.

The deer are relatively calm but we respect the fact that they are wild and although we can get within 20 or 30 feet of them as we go about our business if they are near we don’t push that limit and we don’t let the dogs out if the deer are present.

Sometime in the first week Kali spied one of the deer through the door in the back side of the house.  I wasn’t surprised she barked.  After all there was a wild animal threatening her new homestead.  She was doing her job, right?  And then it was very cute how little Kloe, who could have cared less about a 250 pound buck foraging less than 30 feet from the back door, chimed with a woof as if to say, “yeah – what my big sister said”.

The dogs still send out an occasional message through the windows to the deer and the deer simply stare back into the house as if to say, “feed me”.

And this is our new way of life at the Golden K with dogs and deer and co-existance with nature.


What the…? Does that dog have antlers?!?

The Golden K


“The mountains are calling and I must go.” 
― John Muir

As some followers of Golden Kali know, Holly, Kali Kloe and I recently  relocated to the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  Last September a home in the mountains called us and, like John Muir, we decided we must go.   After a long process of buying and selling homes, preparing for the move, and finally executing on the plan we arrived in Tuolumne CA at our new home that sits on five acres under a forest of pines and oak trees.

We call our new home The Golden K in honor of our Golden Kali who we’ve learned so much from, and for Kloe who represents the brightest of futures for all of us through her unbridled enthusiasm for life.

And so a new blog was born that’s called “The Golden K”.  Kali, Kloe, Holly, and I hope you’ll stop by from time to time to check in on our family’s new adventure and read about my romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

Check us out here:  About the Golden K  and


Our drive way leading to the Golden K

The Golden K Begins Now

When I was in my early twenties I spent a night at the house of a friend’s parents in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, CA.  I had been to Tahoe plenty of times as a kid on vacation with my parents and was familiar with the sights and smells and always enjoyed our vacations in rental homes and cabins.   But this specific trip to the mountains as a young man had an impact on me.  The clean crisp morning and night air, the smell of the pines, and the beautiful scenery resonated at an emotional level.  I told myself that one day I would live in the mountains.

Fast forward many  years and now after 30+ years of happy marriage, a successful professional life, and having raised three children with my wife Holly, as empty nesters we find ourselves living in the Sierra Nevada Foothills in a town called Tuolumne.  A dream come true ?  Fate?  Maybe a little of both.  A close friend of mine asked me how we found this home that sits on five acres covered with pines, oaks, and cedars.  My answer was simple:  I didn’t find the home, it found me and I call it “The Golden K”.


Two years ago Holly and I adopted a Golden Retriever from a rescue group in Northern CA, called True Love Rescue. This dedicated  group of volunteers parter with rescue groups in Taiwan to rescue and rehabilitate (mostly) Golden Retrievers and connect them with qualified and dedicated families in Northern CA.   We named our rescue Kali.
Within days (hours?) of joining our family Kali adjusted to our home, our lifestyle, and her new environment.  It was and is a remarkable example of how adaptable dogs are when placed in a loving environment and given the opportunity to serve and please.  Over the past two years our lives have become as much about Kali’s life as our own.  Kali’s needs have become intertwined and harmonized with our own.  Dog lovers reading this will understand how enriching and rewarding it can be to have a intimate and close relationship with a canine companion.
As we began getting serious about moving we decided that once we were settled in our new home we would adopt another Golden.  True to Holly and my nature we jumped the gun, accelerated plans, and adopted Kloe – another Golden and this time a puppy – three weeks before our move date.  Some would say were were crazy to undertake moving a household from suburbia to the mountains at the same time we were socializing and house breaking a nine week old puppy.  But thats how we roll.  When Holly and I are on the same page -which is most of the time – we’re a force to be reckoned with.
When romanticizing the idea of living in the mountains I wanted needed to personalize our mountain retreat and home with a name.  It didn’t take long before coming up with the Golden K as a tribute to Kali who has shaped our lives in so many positive ways over the past two plus years.  And also for puppy Kloe who has the unbridled passion and enthusiasm for life that one would expect from a puppy.  Kloe like her big sister Kali has quickly become another critical fiber in the  fabric of our lives.  Our new lives and my romantic perspective of life at 310o feet.


Since the week we brought Kali home a little over two years ago our walks along the creek trail and neighborhood was a special time for her and I.  Our bonding time.  Our golden  one on one time.  A time to talk about world events, to argue, and to simply appreciate one another’s company.

Since moving to the mountains the routine is different and I miss the walks.  I think Kali does too.

Don’t get me wrong.  We love our new home, the rural surroundings, the mountain air (for me) new smells (for Kali), the wildlife, and the slower pace of life.  But we miss our walks.

It’s not for lack of a trail or roads to walk that has kept us from our ritual.  Up here in the mountains the roads go on forever and sometimes there is nothing except trees and wildlife as far as the eye can see.  And dogs.  Off leash dogs.  Dogs protecting their land and owners.  This makes sense and is normal for a rural area like ours but it’s new ground for us “city folk”.

Back in the big city of Livemore (population 85,000 compared to Tuolumne population 1,780)  we almost never encountered an off leash dog.  So even with Kali’s anxiety with dogs I knew the situation would be under control between myself and the dog’s owner during our frequent encounters along the old creek trail.  In most cases Kali had become quite comfortable and uninterested as we passed other dogs walking as we passed without incident or a woof.

As things began settling down after our move I decided it was time to get back to our daily walks.  Kali and I headed off our property to a road that goes pretty much straight up hill.  OK, that’s good exercise for both of us I thought.  “Let’s go Kali”, and off we went.  When we got to the top of the hill I looked back and there was a big dog (who I had shoo’d off  our property a couple of times and he had run off timidly).   He or she was sitting at the bend watching us from about a city block away.  I watched the dog and he watched us.  Kali sniffed and smelled enjoying herself.  I waited to see if he would follow us. He didn’t.   This big black spotted dog just sat there and watched us as I contemplated what would happen when we headed back and had an encounter.  Would he sniff Kali hello?  Would Kali get anxious and bark or lunge?  Kali and I walked on and the dog sat watching us walk away.

We went farther up another steep road enjoying the scenery looking forward to the walk back home which would be presumably all down hill.  We hadn’t gone very far but for our first exploration it was good enough and we would be able to find our way back home without having to call Holly for a search and rescue.

As we turned a bend there was that dog still sitting and waiting for us.  Kali was oblivious but I was concerned about an encounter where even if the this dog was friendly he might react if Kali barked (which was highly likely given her new surroundings).  But this time when the dog saw Kali walk in his direction he ran off timidly as he done when I shoo’d him from our property.  Kali and I walked on down the hill and within another minute or two I heard barking come from the front of a house set back from the road.  This time the dog ran out towards us.  I kept walking and braced myself for an encounter.  The dog stopped short of the road, barked a few more times, and watched us move along.  I guess he or she had done their job protecting their pack and making sure no intruders stepped onto the property.   It was interesting that Kali was not fazed by the dog’s barking; in fact I don’t think she noticed because she was too interested in all the new smells around her.

So us city folk will have to adjust to the fact that most of the dogs in this area are free to roam on their properties without the oversight of their owners.  In fact Kali does too so what am I worrying about.  While Kali doesn’t wonder our 5 acres alone I have given her the freedom to be off leash when I’m out and about tending to outside household business.  We’re far off the road and Kali tends to stay close to me and around the house which gives me confidence that she is learning her limits and is uninterested in exploring beyond her safe zone.  Our backyard has expanded immensely and Kali has for the most part complied with the limits I’ve set for her and enjoys wondering within my sight and following me around.  So I guess were not much different than the dogs and owners.

I’ve never seen a dog on the main road that turns onto our little road so its seems these dogs know their boundaries, are certainly not strays, and are just used to living in the mountains where they can enjoy more freedom.  And because their dogs I’m sure most if not all are just as loving and friendly as Kali.   Maybe Kali and can bake some biscuits and take them to the “neighborhood” dogs, introduce ourselves, and put dad’s concerns to rest.



That was one steep hill! Hey who’s that dog way back there watching us?

Farewell to the Creek Trail

It was the best of times it was the worst of times.  Wait I’m not Charles Dickens and for Kali and I it was only the best of times.  But in a way it is the tale of two cities, or towns as the case may be…

As it got closer to the day we would move I couldn’t help but think about the all the walks Kali and took along the creek trail that led to the duck pond.  We’d made that walk hundreds of times during the past two years.  And now we were taking our last walk along what had become a very special place to both of us.

We’d walk in 90 degrees and in 30 degrees; cloudy, sunny, and sometimes raining.  Almost every day we were out along the creek trail and knew it like the back of Kali’s paw.  We had long conversations, occasional disagreements, and sometimes we just walked in silence enjoying the sights, smells and each other’s company.  It was and is a relationship that transcends words.  A relationship that is about emotions and security.  A relatiohship that I value as much as even those most precious relationships with family and friends.

Our last walk along the creek trail was the day before the moving trucks arrived at our home in Livemore to take all our possessions to our new home in the mountains.  It was very melancholy.  The walk started out like any other:  Kali pooping as soon as we hit the trail, Kali smelling the same spots along the trail, and then peeing next to her favorite pee bush.   But by the time we reached the duck pond I became melancholy; perhaps even a little sad.  We stood at the pond in silence taking in the sights and sounds. There were so many things to do at home to get ready of the move and I was conflicted.  I didn’t want to leave our special spot but I knew there was way too much to do at home.  We stayed for anther few minutes,  I looked at Kali, gave her a hug and a kiss on the side of her snout and we headed back home for the last time.

Now in reflection as I sit here under the pines and oaks I know that that last walk home was not the end but the start.  A new start to a new adventure.  Kali, Holly, Kloe, and I.  There are not three other mammals I’d rather be on this journey with.

Thanks to the Creek Trail.  Thanks to the Duck Pond.  But mostly, thanks Kali for the opportunity to be on this journey with you.

We paused to reflect on the past two years and then moved onto the next phase of Golden Kali’s New Life In The Mountains