TPLO

Golden Kali followers may recall my last post where I described our three year old Kloe’s condition: two torn CCL’s (cranial cruciate ligament) that after three months did not heal on their own as we had hoped.   The TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) surgery took place this past Wednesday and everything went as planned.  No surprises, no complications, and a prognosis of full recovery over the next few months.

With surgery behind us the recovery period begins and Kloe’s condition should get better every day.  The hardest part now may be keeping Kloe’s activity level to almost zero for the next four weeks.   She will begin feeling better and stronger each day.  After about four weeks we can begin to introduce more structured and supervised activities but no running, jumping, or play for at least 8 weeks or longer.  Aside from a swelling and the trauma of surgery, where a semi-circle of the tibia is sawed, rotated, and secured back in place with an orthopedic plate, Kloe’s knees after four days are probably feeling better than they were before the surgery.   For those interested in more info on the TPLO procedure you can get it here.

Dropping Kloe off Wednesday morning for the surgery was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  During the days leading up to surgery both Holly and I were stressed, worried, and didn’t sleep well.  We trust our vet Dr. Tanya Jackson without reservation.  The surgeon she recommended, Dr. Justin Uhl, has a lot of expertise with the TPLO procedure.  Plus Dr. Jackson would be assisting him and by Kloe’s side the entire time.  Still, when I worry about things outside my control I go to that dark place of unfounded fears.

What if the saw cuts through the bone got botched? What if Kloe had a problem with the anesthesia and didn’t wake up?  What if during surgery there was an emergency like a major fire or earthquake and the building had to be evacuated?  What if a giant fissure opened in the earth and the building, Kloe, and the doctors fell to the earth’s core of molten lava where evil monsters prey on canines?  What if!

I kept mostly busy Wednesday but found myself looking at the clock periodically. The surgery was to take place about 1:00 and take up to two hours.   At 12:30 I told myself that Kloe was probably sedated by now and therefore not too aware of things.  At 1:15 I told myself that she was now under anesthesia so not awake or scared.  At 2:45 I told myself they were probably sticking her up.  At 3:30 the phone rang and it was Dr. Uhl.

Dr. Uhl told me that Kloe was starting to wake up and that the surgery  went just fine.   I asked him if she would fully recover and he said she would and be able to resume normal activities in a few months so long as we took good care during the recovery period.  I wanted to ask him if there had a been any natural disaster warnings or if he had noticed a fissure opening in the earth’s crust but I though better of it and simply thanked him and hung up.

Dr. Jackson is the best.  Around 9:00 that evening she called to give us an update.  She was still at the office and had been sitting with Kloe for quite some time.  She told us Kloe was looking more like her normal self, and staring into the doc’s eyes and pulling the doc closer to her with her paw.  That’s our Kloe.

Kloe has been home since Thursday afternoon and recovery is going very well and has been a model patient.  Each day the redness and swelling diminishes and her spirits elevate.  She is starting to get up on her own and taking a few steps without assistance.

So, day four.   We’ve got a long way to go but we will go as far and as long to get our Kloe healthy and back on her CCL’s, or feet as the case may be.

CCL

The past three months have been challenging for our pack.  Especially for Kloe!

Three months ago she was diagnosed with a partial tear of her right cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).  This is analigous to the ACL in humans. Since this was a partial tear the prescribed treatment from our vet was almost zero activity except to pee and poop and monitor for improvement.  After about six weeks of getting better she came up lame on the left leg and – yep – she tore the left CCL.  So just as she was improving on the right to the point where short walks on flat ground would be ok she was back to square one!

Now after three months there has been limited improvement and after in depth consultations with her vet we have scheduled her for a tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO) which is a surgery performed on dogs to stabilize the stifle joint after ruptures of the cranial cruciate ligament.

That’s a lot of acronyms and tongue twisting words!  There is also a lot of fear and worry.  But there is also a fair amount of optimism that it is a pathway to get Kloe back to Kloe.  A specimen of athleticism, muscle, and strength who used to run like a gazelle.

For the past three months Kloe has not been allowed to do much of anything as we were in our zero activity mode.   Now it will be another three months of the same zero activity.  Surgery is scheduled for the end of this month (August 28th) and then recovery and more rest time of 6 to 8 weeks after that (for starters..).

Rest rest rest! After all this is all over with Kloe is going to be the most rested dog on the planet!

Kloe’s eyes are often sad these days as she looks out the window longing to be out on her own.   She perks up when we pick up the leash because she knows that means we are taking her outside.  Sometimes to do her “business”.   But sometimes to just sit on the deck or patio where she can smell whiffs of squirrels, cats, and other critters in the air.  While sitting I see her eyes darting back and forth surveying what used to be her domain.  Her world where she was free to run, jump, chase, and wrestle.   But more recently a world she can’t be fully part of.  It’s sad for me and we’ve both adjusted but I don’t want either of us to let this be the new normal.  She’s much too young at three years old to make this her new normal!

I’ve resisted the temptation to go into the nitty gritty details about Kloe’s early symptoms,   information about the TPLO surgery, or about other alternatives that were considered.  Because this is not a medical or science blog.  It’s a blog about my three girls Kali, Kloe, and Koda, and our collective life and experiences living in the mountains.  But if any readers are interested in the details of the injury, or once the surgery takes place the surgery itself and subsequent recovery period,  please feel free to comment here to this post or email me at mike@goldenk.net.   I am not an expert by any means but I expect I will learn a lot over the coming weeks and I would be happy to share those learnings and related experiences with anyone who is interested.

Meanwhile, your well wishes, prayers, good vibes, chants, indigenous dances, or any other ways that you can send positive energy towards my sweet girl Kloe will be appreciated.

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Kloe during healthier days.

Our sweet Kloe last week

Our sweet Kloe last week

The Fifth 4th

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Not because of any great traditions or specific memories but because its been one of those holidays where I feel ok not doing much and not feeling guilty about it.  As a kid the long July days made it hard to wait for fireworks.  It seemed as though it would never get dark.  I have many fond memories of when our kids were young.  There was the annual neighborhood bike parade where the kids would decorate their bikes in red and blue streamers, flags, and whatever else they could come up with.  Usually a block party took place later in the day and was followed by volleyball and later fireworks.  But more recently, as in the past five years, the 4th has a much more special meaning for me.

Kali arrived from Taiwan on May 24, 2014.   She quickly assimilated into our family as in almost instantly.   The morning after she arrived I began this Golden Kali blog which at the time had the tag line, “Kali’s New Life in America”.  Kali arrived wearing a brown scarf that was put on her at some point before boarding the plane in Taiwan for the trip to America.  After greeting her at the airport, taking care of a few formalities, and letting her get her land legs back we headed home to Livermore.  But before we did one of the rescue group volunteers took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf that had red, white, and blue stars and strips.  It was quite symbolic and a touching gesture that Kali was now an American.

So back to the 4th…   Although Kali arrived on a Memorial Day weekend because of this scarf it’s been the 4th of July that marks another year of her life in America.   Much of Kali’s life, and mine, has been chronicled in this blog over the past five years.  In a 2015 post called Tradition I wrote about how a new tradition began where on the 4th I put that red white and blue scarf on Kali and she wears it for the day.   This scarf for Kali and I stands for her journey from Taiwan to America and her her new chance at a good life in a furever home.  As important, when I hang the scarf around Kali’s neck, I do it as a tribute to all the rescue groups volunteers in both Taiwan and the US who have done so much good for so many Golden Retrievers like Kali.  For them I will always be grateful!

So on this fifth 4th the tradition continues.  This morning I took out the scarf and placed it around Kali’s neck and we went for a brief walk.  She’s twice as old (ten) as she was when she arrived and the tradition of the scarf becomes more meaningful with each year.  She doesn’t want to walk as far, uphill is not her friend, and there are may signs of her slowing and aging.  I don’t like to think about it but there will be a 4th of July when Kali is no longer with me.  Not physically.  But in spirit I know she will never leave my side.  And this scarf, her journey, and her time in America will be with her and I forever.

Happy fifth 4th Kali.  Thank you Rescued Love From Taiwan and True Love Rescue for brining Kali into our lives.

Cheers from The Golden K!

Left: Kali on her second 4th.   Center:  Kali, cousin Ben, and sister Kloe last year, her fourth 4th.  Right:  Kali this year, her fifth 4th.

Sex?

Sorry… this post, as all others, will be rated G for Golden….

When I was very young I used to think that dogs were boys and cats were girls.  Not the human type of boys and girls but that dogs represented the boys in the pet category and cats represented the girls.  I was too young to take this misconception further and think that dogs and cats mated and both dogs (boys) and cats (girls) would come from the same litter.  But in my little kid mind dogs were boys and cats were girls.

During that time in my life my family didn’t have any pets.  But our close family friends had both a dog (Skeeter) and a cat (Yum-Yum).  Our friends had two boys, we lived three houses away on the same block in San Francisco, and we were very close friends. We spent  most of our free time together, usually at their house.

Skeeter was usually hanging around us when we were playing and often times we would incorporate him into our play when we built forts, dug holes, captured bugs and all the other usual little boy stuff that little boys do.   Skeeter was one of the guys!

Yum-Yum on the other had was rarely around and when she was, she was aloof.  She wasn’t interested in playing our boy games like Skeeter.  Yum-Yum would also lay in wait for me and take a swat at me with her claws from time to time.

To a four year old it was pretty clear, based on these behaviors, that Skeeter was a boy and Yum-Yum was a girl.

At some point in my young life I realized that there were both boy dogs and girl dogs and same for cats.  Probably around the same time I realized that Santa Clause  [SPOILER ALERT!] was not real.

This recollection is prominent in my mind because I realized recently that when I’m out with one of my three girls and we encounter someone we haven’t met before they are addressed in boy terms.  “Hey Buddy”. “What a good boy”. “Oh, he’s such a good looking boy”.  And so on….

When I look at my girls I don’t see anything “boy” about them.  Not in their body, in their face, or in their disposition.  OK, well maybe Koda’s disposition is a bit testosterone-laden male adolescent-like enthusiastic.  But really they are all girl.  When I see other pups for the first time I usually have a good idea of whether it’s a boy or girl.  Although I’m not always correct I am correct much of the time and I don’t even have to look down or under at their, well the umm..  Hmm – well you know what I mean.

So back to the title of this post.  What sex is your pup and does your pup ever get mistaken for the opposite sex?

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Who could possibly mistake my beautiful girly girls for boys?

A Gental Soul

This past week marks five years since my gentle soul Golden Kali joined our family.  May 24 is Kali’s “Gotcha Day”.  Long time followers of the Golden Kali Blog may remember that Kali was originally rescued in Taiwan.   After receiving a few months of loving care and rehabilitation from her Taiwanese foster care givers she flew to America with 23 other Golden Retriever rescues, landed at SFO, and pranced straight into our hearts.  For newer followers this very first post from five years ago will provide you with some historical context:  Kali’s New Life In America Begins.

Kali very quickly turned our family into a pack inspiring us and shaping our lives in ways I never imagined.  Her sweet and gentle disposition was evident from the very start.  That first night home, unsure of what to expect I tethered her to the foot of my bed post when we went to bed.  I remember being gently nuzzled by a wet nose in the wee hours of the morning by this loving girl.  I took her outside to pee and we returned to the bedroom and she willingly settled down by the side of my bed and immediately settled down for the rest of the night.  By the next evening she had earned full run of the house and has never ever displayed anything other than respect and appreciation for her surroundings and our belongings.

I’ll always remember the first visit – a meet and greet – to the vet when the vet gave Kali a few treats.  “Look”, she said.  “She takes the treats with her lips.  She’s so gentle”.  I smiled proudly (as if I had anything to do with her gentle nature) and felt immediately blessed to be in the presence of a soul so sweet as Kali.

Two years later we shook up Kali’s world by bringing home Kloe, a nine-week old Golden Retriever.  After about 10 or15 minutes of a lot of barking (“get that little dog out of here”), followed by about 30 minutes of indifference (“fine she can stay but I’m not having anything to do with her”), Kloe won Kali’s heart and they’ve been nuzzling, playing, and sleeping together ever since.   During the first several months Kali was a wonderful surrogate mom to Kloe giving her lessons only another dog can.  As Kloe grew older the relationship transitioned to sisters and to this day Kloe idolizes her big sissy Kali.

Within three weeks of bringing Kloe home we moved from the SF Bay Area to the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  We named our home The Golden K in honor of our two “K” girls.  Kali loved her new environment with so much more area to explore and smell.   Kloe followed in Kali’s every footstep and they became great companions with a common disdain for squirrels, an eventual acceptance of the black tail deers, and a love for the smell and whooshing of the tall pines.

Late last year at the insistence of Kali I finally convinced Holly that we needed another pup.  Another pup to be an active companion for Kloe now that Kali was slowing down.  And as awkward as may sound, I want to make sure that Kloe had a companion when it’s time for Kali to cross over the rainbow bridge.  I don’t like to think about that day – it scares me to think about being without Kali.  But I also don’t want to get another pup in the middle of my grief.  I love Kloe too much to let there be a time when she doesn’t have a canine companion.

So….enter Koda!.   Our third Golden K girl joined us last fall at four months old. This tenacious little fire ball joined the pack guns-a-blazing full of attitude, mischief, and, occasional mayhem.   In spite of some of her more, er, well, hmm…. let’s say challenging traits, she is a sweet and loving pup who with continued patience from the rest of the pack will turn into a lovely young lady in the months and years to come.

Through all the figurative -and actual- “planes trains and automobiles”  that Kali experienced during the  past five years she is always the same gentle soul we met on May 24, 2015.  The same gentle should who flew 6,400 miles from Taiwan to San Francisco and later drove 100 miles from suburbia to our new mountain home.  The same gentle soul who has shaped much of my life, Holly’s life, and the lives of her little sissies.

The same gentle soul who’s life in America is chronicled here in The Golden Kali Blog.

Kali the morning after she arrived from Taiwan

Kali today.  Our gentlest of souls

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe

Three years ago today the sweetest girl I could ever imagine came into our lives forever.   At nine weeks old this pouty faced Golden Retriever stole our hearts and has held them close to her own since then.  Born in Bakersfield, rescued by True Love Rescue in Lodi, Kloe made her way into our arms and home to Livermore, CA.  Three weeks later we moved to the mountains to our home we call the Golden K. Kloe of course is one of those three Golden K’s our home is named after. Kloe weighs almost 80 pounds and I am convinced that the majority of that weight is from a very large heart of gold.

We are blessed that Kloe found her way into our lives and grateful to True Love Rescue for making that a possibility.

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe!  You are forever my Klois Marie, Klo-Klo, Kloe Bowie, Sugar Lips, Sweetness, and all the other silly names I have for you.   But at the end of the day as you lay on your mat when I kiss you goodnight and I tell you to sleep tight, you are simply my beautiful girl Kloe.

Compliance Evolution

My Golden Kali has been the most loyal, trustworthy, and loving a dog one could ask for.  Compliance with rules and requests has never been an issue.  Kali has always been eager to please.  There have been times over the years where Kali comes up in conversation and someone will ask something like, ‘will she do that?’ or ‘how will you get her to sit still for that?’.  My answer has always been the same, “Kali does what I ask her to do”.   And she does. And that’s that.  Not because I’m a great trainer.  Because Kali is a great dog.

Whether it’s sitting still to have her nails trimmed (I use a dremel), being poked and prodded at the vet, or sitting for a bath and brushing, Kali has always done what I’ve asked of her.  She hasn’t always liked it but she does it because I ask.

Kali, now a senior at 10 years, remains compliant and eager willing to comply.   But some things have changed; just a little bit…  I realized that there has been a compliance evolution that has gone something like this.

Kali at 5

Kali: “Hey dad, I’m right here waiting for you to tell me what to do.  Just give me the word or signal and I’m good to go”.

Me:  “Ok Kali, let’s go”.

Kali springs to her feet and leads the way trotting just in front of me to our destination.

Kali at 7

Me:  “Come on Kali, I need to go to the back yard and I want you to  come with me”.

Kali:  “Sure thing dad.  I go where you go whenever you want me to go”.

Kali gets up and prances along side of me not really knowing where she is going and not caring because she’s by my side.

Kali at 10

Now at ten Kali spends much of her day inside sleeping   She’s earned the privilege to be inside if that’s what she prefers and this is what she usually chooses.

Me:  Walking to the door, “Come on Kali.  You need to go outside and get busy” (get busy is the term we use to tell our girls to pee and poop).

Kali:  “Thanks for asking but I’m fine right here”.

Me: “Kali.  Come.  Let’s go!”

Kali:  “No, Im good”.

Me:  KALI COME.  Gosh darn it… COME!

Kali:  Slowly rising “Geesh.  You don’t have to yell.  I heard you the first time.”

Me: Thought bubble over my head, “Yeah I know you heard me so why didn’t you do it the first time?”  Second thought  bubble over my head, “Oh yeah because you’ve trained me very well”.

And so it goes these days with my Golden Kali.    Our relationship has evolved over the years and the bond and love has grown stronger each day.  The five year old vibrant rescue from Taiwan is now a stubborn old lady who remains compliant and eager to please in all ways and at all times.

It’s just takes a little longer these days.

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Kali hearing the request to “come” but knowing that there will be at least two more requests before she is expected to actually do anything

Spring Break

The Golden K finally got a few days of dry warmish weather last week.   The red clay dirt mud finally starting drying out from weeks of being covered with snow followed by a lot of rain.  The girls were mostly house bound for much of the past two months because of it and were in bad need of a Spring Break.

When there was fresh snow on the ground it was not so bad because they could play in the snow and come back to the house and only be wet.  When the snow starts melting or it rains much of the girls Golden K playground becomes red mud and that’s a whole different deal when it comes to in and out privileges.   Towels were regularly piled up around the doors leading outside for much of these past two months so that upon re-entry we could at a minimum clean the girls’ paws off.  Sometimes it required a major wiping down or trip to the bath.  So the dry sunny days were a welcome sight that I think even the girls appreciated.  After all laying in dirt is better than laying mud, right?  Even for a pup?…

So as Koda and Kloe lay in the dry dirt I snapped (clicked) a photo and they appeared to scowl at the camera (phone) as if to say, “We don’t know how long this spring-like weather will last. Please put the phone away and throw these balls for us”.  And so I did.

Two dogs, two balls, nowhere to go, and all day to get there.  After two months of snow and rain it doesn’t get better than that.

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Scowl, scowl, scowl!

Red Girls, Snow, and The Golden K

Snow has been falling off and on at The Golden K for a week now.   I’m amazed at how alive dogs become in the snow.   Impervious to the cold – seemingly energized by it – with the speed of a gazelle and endurance of a marathoner they run, roll, jump and chase only stopping occasionally to catch their breath.  And I believe, as they stop and look around, that they realize their world is different for the moment and they appreciates the beautiful playground that Mother Nature has created for them.   Then all at once they are off again…

Kloe and Koda – The red girls as I call them – have had a lot fun with snow play this past week.  Although The Golden K is located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills we’re just about at the snow line at 3100 feet elevation and don’t receive a lot of snow each year.   As inconvenient as it has been this past week in some ways it has also been special.  The red girls have taken advantage of the velvety layer of cold white powder sitting on top of what is usually a hard and muddy landscape this time of year.

For the past week the red girls have alternated between this:

 

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Kloe and Koda stopping to catch their breath and appreciate their velvety playground

 And this…

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Koda” “Dad you’re embarrassing me.   I’m not cold and I already shook off the snow.”                 Kloe: “It makes him feel better.  If it was mud we’d both be up in the bath right now.”

 

Our Traditional First Snow Walk

Earlier in the week we took our traditional first snow walk with the girls to the top of The Golden K.  It was a little melancholy for me because as we headed out of the immediate area of the house and headed up the hill Kali was struggling.   Kali, now almost ten with bad hips struggled in the deep snow making it too difficult for her to follow along.  She tried but as she labored to make gains up the hill to follow me I could see in her eyes that it was too much for her.   As much as I wanted her with us and as much as I know she wanted to be by my side I took her back to the house while Holly and the red girls waited at the trail head.

 

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Holly”  “If only the red girls were attached to a sled they could power me up the hill… Mush!”

Kali last year on our traditional snow walk to the top of The Golden K

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Kali:  “My hips are frozen – this feels great!”

And so it goes during winter at The Golden K.   Rain follows this snow storm and then more snow, and then more rain.  Hopefully we’ll have a few days to dry out in between all of that.  I’m convinced the earth is spinning faster with the way time flies by.  Before the girls know it they’ll be running on the hard clay ground in sunshine, sitting patiently by the BBQ for a little “sumpin’-sumpin'” and looking for shade to cool down in.  But for now we take what Mother Nature has to give and enjoy the beauty of the Golden K all dressed in white.

The red girls running, rolling, jumping and chasing. How great is it to be them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Dog Is Driving Me Nuts

This dog is driving me nuts!

As a parent of three now grown children I can tell you first that these statements are true:

Child one: “I’ follow the rules”.  

Child two: “I’m the reason for the rules”.

Child three: “The rules don’t apply to me”.

And so it seems with dogs too….

Kali is the oldest and fur-baby number one.  From day one she did was asked of her, never complained and was happy to comply.   Kloe is fur-baby number two.  Kloe was the reason for certain changes and routine in the pack as she was growing up.  Now at almost three years of age she is very much a rule follower herself but wasn’t always that way and she was definitely the reason certain controls and limits had to be put in place.

And then there is fur-baby number three: Koda.

Sigh…

At eight months old Koda is a natural at living up to the child number three statement.  The statement oozes from every single one of her 48 pounds.  Her breath in the cold frosty air whispers the statement.   Somewhere there are tee-shirts with the child number three statement on the back with a picture of Koda on the front.  Double sigh…

Koda’s tenacity, confidence, and strong will is something to behold.  I really do admire it and am so glad Koda is who she is.   Is her tenacity challenging?  Yes.  Does her strong will try my patience?   Hourly.   Can I channel her strong will into positives that will make her a tremendous adult dog.  I hope so.   Can I leverage the combination of all three to reverse the effects if global warming?   Maybe.  Ok probably not  but that is the power of Koda.

Potential song lyrics for Koda’s enshrinement into the Child Number Three Hall of Fame:

“And I love her” – Lennon and McCartney

“That’s the power of love” – Huey Lewis

“This dog is driving me nuts” – Michael Morales

Crazy, nuts, bananas – whatever.  But also, crazy with love.  Crazy with the optimism a puppy brings to one’s every day life.   Crazy fun to see her play with abandonment.

But yeah, this dog is driving me nuts!