Remembering Bailey

I was cleaning out some files today and came across a few small pages from a notebook that I immediately recognized.  The pages were dated 3/27/20o9 the day after Bailey, our first Golden Retriever, was put down.   The notes were made after my morning run (wow – I was still running back in “those days”) and recorded my experience during that particular run.

I’m transcribing the notes verbatim here (with a few clarifications in brackets) not as a way to say, “oh poor me – I still miss him so much” (although I do!) but because I know many Golden Kali followers may have lost a beloved pet at some point and probably have their own stories and experiences to share.  In the end what I experienced during this particular run was incredibly cathartic and helped with my grieving process.

By the way the trail I was running on is the trail that would five years later become Kali’s “Creek Trail” that we shared so many great times walking along before moving out of the area.

So here it is….

Went for a run along the golf course – normal path. Went all the ay to the end.  Felt very strong not he way out and for most the the run.  The conditioning is evident.  Should try to expand the distance over time = much of the challenge is mental.

I thought about Bailey throughout much of the run. I sobbed from time to time as I kept “seeing” him on the table [at the vet] getting the injection.  His eyes – I hope he knew as he went down forever that what we did was out of love.

On the way back [way back home on my run] I was in a pretty good zone.  An upbeat song was on the iPod and I was gliding along at a good clip.   I pictured Bailey running freely at full stride like he did from time to time after a cat in the neighborhood.  I saw him in a field of green with blue skies – much like the weather today.  It was like a daytime dream almost – maybe the endorphins (?)  but I was watching, not controlling the vision as you would with a thought. It was more like a dream…

I saw Bailey running, running and then he jumped up into my dad’s arms [my dad had passed away about 15 years before].  Bailey was so happy!  My dad was happy. I said out loud, “you found him! Bailey you found Papa [Papa is what my kids called my dad].  

I started crying and I was so happy. I was so happy for Bailey.  the “dream” started to fade a little but I could still see him and replayed it in my head several times the rest of the way home.  It was a good release and I hope it last and helps how lonely the house felt this morning.

To this day I still miss Bailey.  He was a birthday present for my son when he turned 10 and as the years passed when my son went to College Bailey and I became very close.  He was a great friend and companion at a time that my kids were growing and moving on with their lives.  My kids always came home but Bailey never actually left – he was always with me and remains so to this day.


Bailey in his senior years.  To this day this picture remains the desktop image on my computer.


Kids – they grow up so fast….

…and even faster when they’re dogs.

The photo below was taken a few days ago.  We use puzzle bowls to slow down meal time for these two food hounds we call Kali and Kloe.  The bowls have a pattern with varying shapes and depths.  It’s a great way to avoid bloating and extend by several minutes  one of  their absolute favorite activity of the day.

Kloe’s bowl is the green one that she’s standing next to.  Kloe recently graduated from a very simple puzzle bowl – four big sections – to the green one that used to be Kali’s.  Even when you’re a pup if you’ve got an older sibling you get hand me downs, right?  The first few days I’d had to help Kloe with the last few pieces of kibble or veggies but she quickly learned that if the crevice where the food was sitting is a bit too deep for her tongue that she could push the food to a more shallow area and gobble it up.  It still takes her several minutes to finish eating but that’s the point.

Kali’s got the new orange bowl with slightly more difficult terrain.   It has deeper crevices and the design is more challenging.  If you look closely in the photo you can see that there is a small piece of apple that she couldn’t get out.  She had resigned herself not completely solving the puzzle during this particular meal and after an extended attempt to get her tongue to do the job she laid down to lament her failure.

Kali and Kloe are very respectful of one another at meal time.  When Kloe was very young she made the mistake of trying to get a piece of kibble out of Kali’s bowl while Kali was eating.  Kloe wasn’t much more than 9 weeks old and as gentle as Kali had been with her, and continues to be now, Kali made sure that Kloe never did that again.  A stern growl and nip to Kloe’s ear drew a little blood and high pitched yelps and the lesson was served.  Kali has been a great teacher and this was a tough but important lesson for Kloe at an early age.

On this day Kloe kept her distance and eventually sauntered over to the orange bowl and I snapped the photo as these two went nose to nose in a dinner time stare down.  They stayed in this stare down for several seconds until I – the diplomat that I am – dislodged the apple chip and gave a small piece to each of them.

Kloe has been in our pack for two months.  She was just nine weeks old when we brought her home.  It’s been so great to see her grow and mature.  Much of the maturity can be attributed to Holly’s daily training sessions and to Kali’s mentoring.

The video below the photo was taken when Kloe was about 10 weeks old and right before we moved from our home in Livermore to Tuolumne.  The video shows a small pup – not even half her size now – with the same tenacious and playful personality that I have come to adore.

Kids – they grow up so fast!


Dinner time stare down at the Golden K Corral

Living Amongst Beauty and Nature

After two months living in the Foothills the Black Tailed Deer have become an extended part of our Golden K family. The most prominent are three bucks who come down twice a day; first thing in the morning and again in the late afternoon.  Because we’re silly humans (and suburbanite transplants still giddy at the fact that the deer come to “visit”)  we named the three bucks within the first few days of moving in.

The smallest and presumably youngest of the three bucks is called Kicker because of his propensity to kick the other two out of the way.  We call the medium size buck Buddy after a friend with the same nickname who is a very slow and deliberate person.  He never seems to be in a hurray to get anywhere.  The first few times we watched this buck he seemed to lallygag his way down and back up the hill, taking his time and stopping often to just look around.  And so he quickly became Buddy.  Finally there’s Scratcher who is the largest of the three.  He’s named Scratcher because he scratches his back and butt much more than the other deer.  All three bucks have beautiful antlers but Scratcher’s are the largest and most magnificent.

It’s been interesting to see how comfortable these creatures have become with us.  I’m sure it helps that they know we put out Dry Cob – a mixture of Corn, Oats and Barley typically used for horses – in their trough twice a day.  But as the days have passed they are quite comfortable holding their ground as I walk up to the fill the trough.   In some cases I have to shoo them up the hill a ways to give me space.  I don’t want to be “that suburbanite who moved to the mountains and got his ass kicked by a deer because he got too close..”  Especially as their testosterone levels begin to rise in preparation for rutting season.

More recently a doe has been coming down with the bucks.  She keeps her distance from them, is more skittish of us, and rarely get’s a chance to eat.  Occasionally after the bucks have had their fill and moved on we’ll go out to put out a scoop of cob for the doe who has kept her distance from us but has also kept her eye on us.  She’ll soon come down to eat.  Oddly, we haven’t named the doe perhaps because she’s not a regular at this point.

At this point I can’t imagine the fascination with wildlife and nature ever waning.  I wake up each morning and go to bed each night in amazement.  It’s am incredible experience to step outside shortly after dawn to let the dogs out and take in a deep breath and smell the clean air an scents from the pines.  Similarly when I head inside for the the evening the air is cool once again and I find myself taking another deep breath this time as a way to say thank you for these blessings and that Holly and I are able to live amongst so much beauty and nature.



The Outdoor Bath Tub

Of the many canine friendly amenities at Kali’s new mountain house there is one that will make both our lives easier about once a month.  The outdoor bath tub.  The previous owners were dog lovers like us.  They had three of their own and many things in and around the house were very clearly designed to be dog friendly and safe.

The tub was pretty dirty from winter and not being used for some time and I finally got around to cleaning it today. The out door bath tub is located adjacent to the stand alone garage up the hill from the house.   I headed up the to garage with some cleaning supplies and Kali followed along.

I was only planning on cleaning the tub – not Kali.  But that all changed as I as I finished cleaning and looked over to my right to see Kali laying down in a large puddle of mud.  It’s been pretty hot the past several days and I’m sure the cool muddy water felt very good to her.  I look over at Kali and start to laugh.  Kali looks up and smiles as if to say, “Hey Dad – this is great!  A girl needs spa treatment every now and then and this mineral laced mud and mountain water will do wonders for my skin and completion.”

So what better way to christen the outdoor bath tub than on a warm Sunday afternoon enjoying Kali’s new life in the mountains.


The tub and Kali’s “mineral springs” to the right


I love this place


Can I get a Pedi next?

My Wrestling Heros

When I was nine years old my dad gave me a Christmas present that today remains one of the greatest Christmas presents I have ever received.

It was Christmas morning 1966 and we were opening our gifts in the living room.  My dad, who was the (self) designated present “giver-outer” handed me a small box.  I noticed that the “from” on the little tag said only “Dad”.  Not Santa.  Not Mom and Dad.  Just Dad. I opened the box and inside was an envelope.  In the envelope were two tickets to a wrestling match the very next day.

We lived in San Francisco near the Cow Palace.  The Cow Palace was a venue that held music events, conventions, and sporting events like basketball, boxing and wrestling.  Wrestling! When I was nine years old I loved wrestling and watched matches on TV regularly. I had my favorites – all good guys of course – like Bear Cat Wright with his signature figure four leg lock and Pepper Gomez and his patented face slap.  I was thrilled to get these tickets as a present and what made it even more special was that it was just from Dad and he and I would be going just the two of us with no girls (my mom and my sister).

As I grew older the fascination with wrestling wained as the “sport” became too glitzy.  But I’ll never forget that day, seeing all the wrestlers I had only seen on TV and spending the day with my Dad.

Fast forward (at least) a few decades and wrestling is now a big part of my life once again.  This time I’m a slightly reluctant witness.  The wrestling occurs daily and frequently.  It’s fast and furious, sometimes vicious, and usually accompanied by snarling, teeth-gnashing, and growling.  Yet these wrestlers, like those in the sixties, have a special place in my heart and my life.

In one corner hailing from Taiwan is King Kong Kali weighing in at 57 pounds of muscle and attitude.  In the other corner is newcomer Kloe the Fearless who at 35 pounds has at least 75 pounds of confidence and attitude that makes her a formidable foe for any opponent who dares to compete.

Yes, these new generation of wrestlers at my house are dogs. The matches are unscheduled and can begin at a moments notice or, which is usually the case, at the whim of Kloe who loves to terrorize her big sister Kali who (usually) accepts the match gracefully.  Kali has been a great trainer and coach for her little sissy.

But here is my issue with these wrestling matches.  They tend to happen at my feet under my desk while I’m working, or under our chairs while Holly and I are enjoying a glass of wine (or two) at the end of a busy day.  We have a large deck, a large protected wooded area for the dogs to play in, and an empty living room pending purchase of furniture.  But these impromptu matches start under our feet or quickly migrate to under feet wherever Holly and/or I are sitting.

When I was nine I would have been thrilled to have one of my wrestling heroes fighting right at my feet, although my dad may have thought otherwise.  But what could he have done, right?  If he intervened he might have found himself in a figure four leg lock from Bear Cat Wright or smashed by a belly flop from the 350 pound Haystack Calhoun.  Worse yet his head could have been slammed into the belt buckle by Ray Stevens or Pat Patterson!  Yikes.

With visions of my dad being pummeled by these 1960’s era wrestlers I think better of intervening when my two modern day canine wrestlers are engaged in head locks, muzzle guzzles, and raptor captures.  So I protect my legs, the wine on the adjacent table, and I do my best to capture as much action on my iPhone as possible.  Because these moments are precious.  Almost as precious as the tickets to the wrestling event at the Cow Palace that my dad gave me so many years ago.  My dad is gone and one day my Golden Kali and little Kloe will likely pass before me to.  But I will forever hold dear in my heart my  wrestling heroes who impacted my life at nine years old and more recently as an aging baby boomer.


Kloe’s signature tackle, ear chew, and roll move. Impressive take down move for a pup of only 4 months!

Maybe Hooterville

Three of my favorite television shows growing up had rural settings.  These 1960’s sitcoms, The Andy Griffith Show, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction,  each portrayed a simpler time with down home folksy characters that reflected much of middle America at the time.  Story lines were thin, the humor was corny (and sometimes hilarious), but the characters endeared themselves to viewers with their humble and good natured demeanor.

Tuolumne City is not a Mayberry (Andy Griffith), a Pixley (Petticoat Junction) , or even Hooterville (Green Acres).  Ok maybe a Hooterville… and that’s a good thing.

In those fictitious towns when townsfolk asked how you were doing they were sincere.  There wasn’t a rush to get anywhere, strangers were made to feel welcome, and the general store was where you went to buy “supplies”.  Dinner was called supper, your nice clothes were your “Sunday go to meetings”, and tomorrow was always at least a day away.  Parents worked hard, kids had chores, and everyone felt safe walking home in the dark from an ice cream social at the town hall.

Were these towns from my favorite shows real life in the sixties or just fond memories of the screen writers and producers?  Every American generation looks back at some point and longs for the times when they were younger, America was better, and life wasn’t so complicated.  The sixties had it’s share of turbulence and angst, especially late in the decade.  Rock and Roll had emerged as a powerful force both musically and politically.  Civil rights was at the forefront of our day to day lives and the Cold War impacted our economy and threatened our security emotionally if not physically.  Our lives were rocked  when a popular president was shot and killed in Dallas and the world watched as we grieved.

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area the complexities and struggles of the times were a daily reminder to me that I wasn’t in Pixley.  I wasn’t in Mayberry.  I was in the “big city” and even then, as a young child, I longed for a simpler life.  As a young boy I was anxious to grow up so I could fall in love, marry, and raise a family.

As I sit here at the Golden K at 3100 feet I’m humbled by the beauty around me.  The beauty of my five acres, my neighbors five acres, and the neighbor up the road’s five acres. Nestled in between all the pines and oak trees I can almost see Andy sitting on the porch across the road with Aunt Bee.  Down the road I think I hear Oliver Douglas yelling to his farm hand Abe to hitch a wagon.  And in the distance I hear the Cannonball’s whistle blow as it slows to a stop in front of the Shady Rest.

The Golden K transcends fictitious towns, turbulent times, and life’s complexities.  Up here on the hill the earth spins just a little slower.  I know Tuolumne is not a Pixley, not a Mayberry, and not a Hooterville.  OK, maybe Hooterville and how awesome is is that…

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The Cannonball on a run between Pixley and Hooterville

GK Landscape

Front “yard” of the Golden K facing North

A Long Smokey Weekend

Fire in the hills…  Wait, that’s not the smoke I’m referring to….

The familiarity was evident. Kali walked down the driveway and Smokey immediately ran up to her and smelled her face.  The normal dog greeting is usually on the opposite end but Smokey has always enjoyed “Kissy Face” with Kali often time placing his two front paws on her snout to balance while smelling the top of her head.  Kali smiled and I did too because it was great to see Kali and Smokey back to together for a few days.

When we moved to the mountains my daughter Jessi, who is Smokey’s mom, moved into an  apartment in the Bay Area.  So after living together for almost two years Smokey and Kali would not be seeing each other very often.  Jessi’s move proceeded ours by about a month and Smokey had two brief meetings with new puppy Kloe when Jessi came back home a couple of times.  During their first meeting Smokey made it clear that he didn’t approve of Kloe’s presence in his old house.  Kloe who was 10 weeks old at the time, but twice as big as Smokey,  approached Smokey who growled and went off to sleep in his crate with a big old “Who in the heck is that?!?” thought bubble over his head.  Kloe’s thought bubble was something like “But I just wanted a hug”. But the message was delivered and Kloe kept her distance Smokey’s visit and also the next one.

I was in the Bay Area for work on Thursday and picked Smokey up from my daughter on my way back to our home in Tuolumne.  Because of the dynamic with Smokey and Kloe during their two brief encounters we thought it best to be a little strategic in how we re-introduced them.  When I arrived home Holly brought Kali out first to greet Smokey.  After he had time for a little Kissy Face and to sniff around the front of the house Holly went to get Kloe.

When Kloe came down she was full of enthusiasm which goes without saying.  I think Smokey was more interested in Kloe than vice-versa.  They did a few butt sniffs and went about their own business.   As good as Kloe’s training has been going I expected some fireworks between Smokey and her.  She’s just four months old and sometimes her enthusiasm gets the best of her and that wouldn’t play well with Smokey. I knew that if Kloe tried to rough house with Smokey like she does with Kali it would be a problem.  But they’ve mostly stayed clear of one another and as much as I would love to see them interact Smokey is only 10 pounds and Kloe is too young to know to take it easy on him (like Kali takes it easy on Kloe [but not for long]…).

Smokey will be with us until Monday morning when Holly will take him back home to Jessi.  So until then we’re enjoying a long Smokey weekend with the trio in the photo below.




Lazy Day At The Golden K

It’s been five weeks since Holly, Kali, Kloe, and I moved in full time to the Golden K.  As is usually the case when one moves into a new home, as turn key as the property may be – and our was very turn key – there are things you want to do to make the home your own. So Holly and I have spent the first five weeks unpacking and organizing the house, and managing contractor activities for various repairs and improvements. I work mostly from home so in between the house and property related activities I’ve been working in my office and I make an occasional trip back down the hill to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet with clients.

Our days are busy and begin around 5:45 am when puppy Kloe needs wants to get out of bed.  Once the sun is up this four month-old Golden Retriever seems to feel it’s her personal responsibility to kick start the day.    Kali, our seven year old Golden, is much more willing to stay in bed longer but she’s all about the food and she knows that breakfast will be served shorty after Kloe and I take care of “bio-business” after a long nights rest.  So Kali eagerly follows Kloe and I out of the bedroom to seize the day albeit with markedly less enthusiasm than her little sister.

In spite of all the work associated with setting up a new home, especially coming from suburbia to the Sierra Nevada Foothills as we have, we’ve made time to explore, entertain family and friends, and hang out with the dog’s on the deck or family room.

There is still quite a lot to do.  Our blessing and curse is the we’re good at keeping our nose to the grindstone in an effort get everything done quickly whenever we embark on a new project, or in this case a new journey and new phase of our lives.  But we’ve committed to one another that this time we’ll be patient, take our time,  and within reason do things with the highest level of quality.

So on this third day of a three day Fourth of July weekend -after entertaining two of our dearest and oldest friends for the past two days – we are taking a break.  We had a slow paced morning reading on the deck  We took a quick trip with the dogs into town to re-supply.  We sit here now watching the baseball game in our new home that makes us feel like we’re on perminent vacation.  In a little while I’ll pull out the “mix tape” (now digitized) of Americana songs that I play every Fourth of July (a tradition that Kali now shares with me that you can read more about at Golden Kali).

We’ll end our day with a quiet dinner just the four of us; the dogs get kibble and we’ll have try-tip.  OK, full transparency the dogs will each get a small bit of try-tip as I take it off the BBQ.  Then perhaps a short walk around the property before bed and before launching into more work and organization tomorrow.

But for now, and for the rest of the day, we are taking our cues from Kali and Kloe and allowing ourselves A Lazy Day At The Golden K.


Hey mom and dad – if it get’s too hot to sleep outside…


…we can go inside and sleep on the cool tile.


The Third 4th

Fourth of July has always been a favorite holiday.  While I recognize it’s significance for our country for me it’s really more about communities and traditions.   Parades, BBQ’s, flags and banners.  Long warm days that end with ice cream cones and fireworks.


Kali and I have a special tradition on Fourth of July.  This tradition involves a scarf that she received when she arrived from Taiwan a little over two years ago.  She and the other 23 dogs that traveled over 6,000 miles to meet their new families at  SFO arrived sporting light brown scarves.  Upon arriving at SFO rescue group volunteers replaced the brown scarves with red, white, and blue scarves that had stars, stripes and flags peppered throughout the design.  For me this was symbolic of Kali’s New Life In America and the changes that were to come for both her and I.  I still recall vividly the moment the scarf was put on her and how I felt at that moment. I wrote about this last year in a post called Tradition.

So again this Fourth Of July weekend I have pulled out this very special scarf and placed it around Kali’s neck.  She’ll wear it throughout the weekend and we’ll be reminded that inspite of many warts the USA is a country I’m blessed and proud to live in.  But mostly I’ll be reminded of the night Kali arrived in America and changed our lives forever.


2015 Fourth Of July Portrait:  “She was an American Girl…”  – Tom Petty


2016 Fourth of July. A little more casual up her at The Golden K