Life With The Red Girls

It’s been almost a year since Kali crossed over the bridge. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, reminisce, or just flat out miss her. I find myself looking at photos of her more often and for longer periods of time. I’m finding that the longer she is gone the more I miss her. I long for her smell. I miss our nightly cuddles before lights out. Full disclosure: Kali was a great “spooner” and I miss spooning with her as she lay on the floor at the foot of our bed! I miss the subtleties of her body movement. Like when I’d call her. Her eyes would fix on mine and then her head would tilt slightly down and to the left as she started walking towards me.

Even in her final days, which were spent mostly sleeping, Kali was up for spending the morning with me in my office which is located across the driveway from the house. As I headed towards the door she seemed almost puppy-like following me out and galloping towards my office sometimes skidding and slipping making a soft landing near the door. As I walked towards her she would look up from a spread eagle position seeming to say, “Oops, I slipped”. This always made me laugh out loud and my heart swelled with love to see her so animated. I have so many fond and funny memories it would be impossible to enumerate them. But this one would be towards the top of the list!

I feel the absence of Kali’s presence some days more than others. Although Holly loved her deeply I don’t think she feels the loss in the same way I do. How could she? Kali was “my dog” and was always with me. She was always at my feet. Even when I wasn’t home she was with me laying by the door that I went through when I left expecting me to return through that same door. And when I did she’d be there waiting. Kali’s level of dedication was unwavering and humbling. I wrote a post about this a year after Kali joined the pack. It spoke of a real life dog named Hachiko and how like him Kali would probably wait forever for me to come home.

When Kali passed, the sub-title of this blog became “Life At The Golden K Without Kali”. Life has gone without Kali. She will always be special and this blog will always be her legacy. She inspired this blog the day after she arrived from Taiwan in 2014 and went on to inspire me in so many ways. Our home is Tuolumne is called The Golden K for Kali initially and then later to include her two sisters Kloe and Koda. But life has also gone on with Kloe and Koda, our “Red Girls”. The Golden K torch was passed down from Kali when she crossed the bridge. Kloe and Koda are learning to be good stewards of Kali’s legacy. And like me they each learned a lot from her!

But recently I realized that after almost a year without Kali it’s time to look back less and forward more often. Posting about Kali over the past year has been cathartic. She will never ever be forgotten or have any less of my heart or mind. But it is with a nod to Kloe and Koda that the sub-title of this blog will now be, “Life With The Red Girls”. There will certainly be more posts about Kali in the future. But this is the time of the Red Girls and that will be the focus of future posts. After all, they are pretty darn special too!

One of my favorite photos of my Golden Kali!
The Red Girls, Kloe and Koda

Walking With Kali

I miss my walks with Kali. There are times when I find myself missing the days when it was just Kali and I. Kali and I and our Creek Trail.

We still lived in the Bay Area town of Livermore when Kali joined the pack. There was a trail through the neighborhood that ran along a small creek and a local 9 hole golf course. The trail head was at the end of our street. Kali and I walked that trail almost every day and it became a very special place for us.

I don’t miss the Bay Area for a second. But I do miss our Creek Trail and our daily walks along it!

Kali and I got to know each other on our Creek Trail. She was great on a leash except when other dogs passed by which made her nervous. We eventually worked through that issue. In retrospect it was one of many ways that we gained a deeper understanding of one another. The pace of our walks was great. She was a little prissy and had a cute lightness to her walk. I recall one time taking her for a walk with a friend and my friend says, “look – she prances”. So although not athletic she was very light on her feet. Like a dancer…

I think what I miss most about our walks are the long talks Kali and I had along the way. Under all circumstances Kali and I were in regular communication with each other; especially during the first several months and especially when we walked. I used words and gestures. Kali used her eyes and body language and sometimes a grunt or a small bark. We learned each other and learned from each other. Over the years I realized that I learned much more from Kali than she from me. She was a great teacher!

Sometimes we walked in silence. Walks where we were just together. Words, gestures, or body language wasn’t necessary. I loved those times when our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We walked in total peace, as one, and side by side.

In 2016 we moved to Tuolumne City; a rural community in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Our walks became different. We would walk on dirt and gravel roads under majestic pine and oak trees. Homes were not side by side in this neighborhood. Instead they were set back off the road on parcels of two to three acres or more. Wildlife was much more evident. On the Creek Trail we regularly saw geese and ducks. Along our new walking venue we would encounter black tail deers, wild turkeys, and farm animals: pigs, goats and horses and cows. One would think that all the new sights, and especially the smells, would have been like a smorgasbord for Kali. But just as when Kali arrived in Livermore from Taiwan -and immediately assimilated- she seemed to do the same in Tuolumne. She pranced along our walks with a calm demeanor as if she had lived here all her life.

As the years passed Kali and I walked less and less – both in frequency and distance. Her legs were no longer very strong and her hip displaysia became more of a factor. Kali was always eager to have out and about time with me (and I with her) so she of course jumped (figuratively not literally cause remember her hips πŸ™‚ ) at the chance to go on walks. But the pace became slower, there were more stops along the way and I often had to coax her to move along.

Eventually the walks stopped completely and Kali began sleeping much of the day. We always found time to be together just to the two of us. During those times we talked and reminisced about our Creek Trail. And sometimes we just sat in silence. And our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We were together and at peace.

From the day Kali came into my life, whether we were walking along our Creek Trail in Livermore, navigating the rural roads around the Golden K, or just sitting in silence on the deck looking out at a warm evening sky, my Golden Kali and I were always been in sync. Same cadence and same rhythm. And same heartbeat.

KALI AND OUR CREEK TRAIL, LIVERMORE CA

Smiles

I wonder if dogs can recognize smiles.

I’m sure the answer, or a scientific opinion, is in one of the many books I have about canine behavior and development. But rather than scouring those books for corroborative information I turned to the source of all knowledge: Google. Or as Holly calls it, “Uncle Google”. I firmly believe that one can find any answer they want – correct or otherwise – by searching the internet. Of course we all have our reliable sites that we trust, or search engines that may return more mainstream information than others. But bottom line if one digs deep enough one can find a plethora of information to support their opinion or beliefs.

So now realizing that Uncle Google is not a reliable source for something as important as learning if dogs can recognize smiles I turned to the real experts. My girls Kloe and Koda.

I sat them down in front of me and began the conversation…

“Girls, I need your help. I’m trying to figure out if you can recognize smiles and know what they mean”. The girls sit patiently waiting for a biscuit that doesn’t come. “Girls, please pay attention.” Koda lies down but continues to pay attention. Kloe is looking out the window for a ball. “Kloe – watch!” She does.

I go on to describe the smile to them. “Girls, as humans we smile in many ways for many reasons. We smile when something is funny; that smile may be accompanied by laughter. We smile at the end of movie with a happy ending or when the hero prevails. You’ve seen me do that, right? Sometimes we smile when we feel sorry or bad for someone; a smile that says, ” I feel bad for you and wish I could help”. At this point I’ve totally lost Koda who wonders off to the kitchen. Kloe stays close still believing there is a biscuit in her future.

I give one last example. I say, “And of course humans smile just at the site of puppies, or even the thought of puppies!” Kloe seems to be thinking back to the last time we brought a puppy home (Koda) and is reticent at the mention of puppies. Koda, who must have continued to listen from the kitchen, comes running over and again is sitting in front of me with full attention. A giant thought bubble appears over her head that says, “Puppies? Did you say Puppies? Because the other day Mom told me that I needed a puppy to keep me busy and to play with when Kloe didn’t want to play. Did you say Puppy? Are you really going to get me a puppy??”

I now realize this is an exercise in futility. The girls are staying nearby only because they think I have biscuits in my pocket. [Full disclosure – I may have promised a treat at some point to hold their attention]. I consider getting up, giving them a biscuit, and returning to Uncle Google if he will still have me. But I decide to try an experiment to see of dogs can recognize a smile.

“Ok girls” I say. “Sit down here together”. I return to my chair about 10 feet away. I stare at the girls. They stare back at me. I wait a moment for dramatic pause. And then, I smile. A big ear to ear smile. They run to me in unison and eagerly lick my face and my giant smile.

And there it is. The proof. Dogs do recognize smiles! My highly scientific experiment in a controlled setting with documented parameters and standardized measurements proves that dogs do recognize smiles!

Feeling very proud of myself and satisfied with my results I sit back to revel in the moment with my girls. They stare at me and both now have thought bubbles over their heads:

Kloe: “Where’s my biscuit?”

Koda: “Where’s my puppy?”

These girls of mine. How they make me smile!

No animals – specifically Kloe and Koda – were harmed during this highly scientific experiment in canine behavior. πŸ™‚

All In – Happy Gotcha Day Koda

Koda, Koda, Koda!

This week marks four years since Koda joined our pack. She was four months old when we welcomed her and she came in with guns-a-blazing! Koda very quickly made her presence known. I remember driving her home in my truck and pulling up to our property. She was just 90 minutes separated from her two litter mates who had not been adopted yet. Koda hopped out of the truck and followed me through the gate where her new sisters were “waiting”. Koda 18 pounds at the time was greatly over matched by her new sisters – Kali at 60 pounds an Kloe at 80. There was about five minutes when Koda seemed a little intimidated and she acquiesced to the “big girls”. But she quickly made herself at home and began romping around the yard chasing and being chased by Kloe. Kali went off to sleep and resent the new whippersnapper that dad had just brought into the family without her permission.

The aforementioned five minutes of being intimidated was the last time I ever saw Koda be intimidated by anybody or anything.

Koda is a tough pup who initially made up for her size with loads of attitude.

It was immediately evident how vocal Koda was. Tilting her head slightly down, butt up in the air, and a mouthed puffed up with air she exclaims, “A roo roo roo”. This was just day one/hour two and she had already established her spot in the pack. She was not be the oldest or the biggest or in charge of anything but she always made here needs, wants, and opinions known! To this day Koda speaks her mind and always gets her point across to her intended audience and anyone else who will listen. As if they have a choice… If she could speak english she’d use what might be considered “salty language”.

Early on there were some very touch and go periods.

Holly: “Get that dog out of my house. Send her back”!

Me: She is such a loving girl. She’s doing so much better. I just need a little more time to work with her.”

Koda: (Looking directly at Holly) “A roo roo roo! Roo roo rooooo….”

Me : (Turning to Koda and under my breath) “Koda – work with me here.”

Koda: (Thought bubble over her head) “Hey – where did mom go?”

And so it went.

Koda has matured and has (mostly) learned to temper her enthusiasm. She is lovingly referred by a close friend who also has Golden Retrievers, as my “wild child”. A spot on characterization! But Koda has learned to be a (mostly) respectful and responsible member of the pack. She is very smart and learns things the first time. Whether she chooses to adhere to the learning is another matter. But she does learn it and then makes her choices. I (mostly) respect that.

Did you notice all the “mostly’s” in the previous paragraph? So yeah lot’s of mostly’s. But the all-ins” far outnumber and outweigh those mostlys.

Koda is all in on Loyalty. She is all in on loving her pack members. She is all in on recall – where ever she is, if I call she comes.

Koda was all in on Kali, her Sissy Mama. During the last year or so of Kali’s life when she had a hard time getting around Koda looked after Kali. A great example was a time when Kali got stuck in a corner of the property and couldn’t get up. Koda came running up to us barking and alternating looks from us to where she wanted us to go. We followed her and found Kali OK but stuck in a small hole and unable to get up. Talk about a Lassie and a “Timmy’s stuck in the well moment”… wow!

Koda is all in on being Kloe’s wingman. Kloe, “Protector Of The Golden K” – often sees, smells, or hears potential bad guys. Bad guys like cats, deer, squirrels, someone walking along the road at the bottom of our property, and so on. If Kloe stands up and barks, Koda does too; even though she doesn’t know what she’s barking at. She looks to Kloe for her cues. If Kloe takes off running in the bad guys direction Koda follows even thought she has no idea where she’s going. To Koda, if Kloe is barking, upset, or on the prowl Koda is by her side to provide all necessary back up. Koda is definitely all in on Kloe.

I’m so happy to Koda in my life and part of our pack. My sweet “Koda Koda Koda”, my “Sugar Beats”, my “Kodachrome”, my “Kode-Red”. Oh, yeah and full disclosure of another often used nick name for Koda: “Damn it Koda!” πŸ™‚

Happy Gotcha day sweet Koda. Dad will always be all in on you!

The First Fourth…

…without Kali.

It was the evening of May 24, 2014 when I met that special girl from Taiwan. The door opened, our eyes met, and we instantly fell in love. Well, at least I was immediately taken back and infatuated with her. It took only minutes for that infatuation to turn to love. And we rode off into the sunset to Livermore, CA. and the rest as they say…. well you know.

That girl was Kali.

Long time followers of Golden Kali know that Kali is a rescue from Taiwan. Holly, my daughter Jessi, and I drove to the airport in San Francisco in great anticipation of meeting Kali, then known as Nala. We had only seen pictures and read her bio as we waited for about two months until her Taiwanese caregivers had her in perfect condition to come to America and join our family. Health, happy, and full of love.

I’ve written often about that evening at the airport when Kali and I met. How fate seemed to bring us together. If there really are matches made in heaven this would have been one! There was one special moment that stood out that I am reminded of every Fourth of July.

Kali arrived from Taiwan wearing a brown scarf with markings that were similar to mandarin characters. Once she was uncrated, leashed, and had time to get her land legs we prepared to drive home. A volunteer from the local rescue group, True Love Rescue, stopped us and took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf that bore images of Stars and Stripes and the America Flag. It was a symbolic gesture of Kali’s transition from Taiwan to American where she became a true American Girl.

Kali wore the scarf for the first day home and then I took it off and stored it. I brought the scarf out several weeks later on the Fourth of July. That was 2014. Kali wore the scarf for the day and I again put it away. Since that time the scarf only comes out on the Fourth of July and Kali wears it for the day.

Except this year. This is the first Fourth without Kali.

There will always be two holidays that are special for me and Kali. I will always miss her just a little more on those days than others. One is Memorial Weekend. It was Memorial weekend in 2014 that we picked up Kali from SFO. That will forever be her gotcha day. The other is Fourth of July. The Fourth because of our ritual of taking out the scarf with stars and stripes, adorning it around my beautiful girls golden neck, and seeing her wear it for the day and evening.

So on this first Fourth without Kali, and for the Fourth’s to follow, the stars and stripes scarf will be worn by Kloe. This morning I pulled out the scarf and put it on Kloe, second in line of succession after Kali at the Golden K. Like Kali, she’ll wear it for the day and evening and in the morning it will be put away for another year.

Kloe may never know or appreciate the symbolism of wearing the scarf annually on the Fourth. Certainly she will never know the practical aspect of being a stray in Taiwan, going through rehab with the Taiwanese rescue group angels, or getting on a plane with 23 other Goldens and traveling across the world into the unknown. But I know that Kloe’s Sissy-Mama Kali would appreciate knowing the symbolism of the scarf and her transition from Taiwan to America will live on through her sister Kloe.

Happy Fourth Kali. For the first time in eight years as I write this Fourth of July post you are not laying at my feet. You can no longer warm my feet but will always warm my heart as I sit and write about you, for you, and with you close by in spirit.

Kloe sporting the special stars and stripes scarf handed down to her by Kali.

Golden Kali, July 4, 2015.

Sissy Mama

As Kali grew older I began referring to her, in relationship to her two sisters Kloe and Koda, as Sissy Mama. None of my girls were blood related but they were and are sisters (sissies) no less. So we would always refer to them as sissies. “Koda, where is your sissy”. Or, “Kloe, go get your sissies for dinner”. Yes we well I speak to them as though they are my kids. Because they are!

But Kali was much older and she became the Sissy Mama.

Six years shouldn’t seem so long ago. But if I think in “dog years” it is quite some time. Like six years ago when we brought Kloe home as a nine-week old puppy. That was a long time ago. Looking at her now, as she sleeps by my feet (filling in the empty space Kali left under my feet when she crossed the bridge), it’s hard to think that Kloe was ever a wee pup of 16 pounds. Green, fearless, and ripe for schooling by an older dog. Enter Kali.

Since Kali has been gone I find myself looking at pictures of her from over the years. Like today when I came across some pictures and videos of the first day we brought Kloe home. After the initial few minutes, when Kali made it very clear that Kloe was not welcome in her house, she quickly warmed up to Kloe and was every bit the surrogate mama we hoped she would be.

I had forgotten how inseparable Kali and Kloe were when Kloe was a pup. Mostly because at only weeks and months old Kloe adored Kali and followed her everywhere she went. There were so many tender moments sleeping side by side or on top of one another. And there were periods of play when Kali exhibited great patience with her new little sissy and also delivered lessons when needed.

In retrospect I now realize that Kali became the Sissy Mama the moment we brought Kloe through the front door in Livermore at 9 weeks old on May 7, 2016.

Sissy Mama In Action

Sissy Mama Gallery

Memorial Weekend Eight

Long time followers of Golden Kali may recall that she was one of 23 Golden Retrievers that arrived at San Francisco International Airport via China Airlines on Saturday evening, May 24, 2014. Holly, my daughter, and I drove to the airport that evening and waited for her crate to be unloaded from the plane along with 23 others. We took her crate to a staging area in the parking lot and I met her for the first time as I opened the crate door, leashed her, and watched her as she took her first sniffs of America. She had been in the crate for around 14 hours and was very anxious to pee. She took care of business and sniffed around some more. We took care of some formalities with the rescue organizers and volunteers and drove home to Livermore, CA would Kali would begin her New Life in America.

Since then Memorial Weekend has very been special to me. It marked the beginning of Kali’s new life in America, a new chapter in my life, and what turned out to be a seven and a half year journey Kali and I went on together.

That was Memorial Weekend One.

Kali laid by my feet in our backyard in Livermore as I started this blog. I knew during this first weekend and during the weeks to come I would need to be watchful and present to make sure Kali was successful. The rescue group cautioned me to not go to fast and to give Kali time. They said it may take time for her to be comfortable in her new surroundings and that she may have accidents and need to learn what her boundaries were. They suggested no visitors for a few days. This was of course a reasonable expectation. After all, there would be new sounds, new smells, new people, new food, new places to sleep, and on and on… It would take Kali time to adjust and we needed to respect that and give her space and time.

Except she didn’t need it!

Kali was still on Taiwan time when she arrived and it was expected she may have problems the first few nights. Except she didn’t. She slept by my bed tethered to the leg of the bed frame that first night, Saturday. She nuzzled me around two in the morning and I took her out to pee. I brought her back to bed and re-tethered her. She slept the rest of the night and every night after. Kali was respectful of the house from the very first day. She seemed to know her limits before we even had the chance to set them. She greeted visitors with a smile and love. She chewed on her toys but never furniture, shoes, or anything that wasn’t hers. With the exception of leash aggression that I found out about when we started our daily walks, Kali was a model rescue citizen from day one!

This is Memorial Weekend Eight.

The first Memorial Weekend that Kali is not physically laying by my feet as I write this Memorial Weekend post. As the weeks and months pass I miss her more and more. I long for her smell and the feel of her fur. I miss her at night when I wake up and remember she’s not there. I miss her when I’m in my office in the morning. I miss the ritual of walking with her from the back yard gate to my office when she would happily run towards the office door. Even though her physical legs were on their figurative “last legs”. Maybe it was something about going off with Dad in the morning that gave her body some spunk. Just for those few seconds, Kali was puppy-like as she pranced across the driveway.

Life at The Golden K Without Kali

That’s been the tag line of this blog since January First of this year when Kali crossed the bridge. She did so on her terms with the grace and dignity she earned. Kali was a truly special dog who I was blessed to know and love, and to have been loved by her. Kali will always hold a piece of my heart that is hers and hers alone.

So on this Memorial Day Eight, as many of us are remembering and honoring those who gave their lives in service of our country, I am also remembering and honoring my Golden Kali.

Re-Reading Golden Kali

A friend and recent follower of this Golden Kali blog told me that she read all the posts from beginning to current. She said she wanted to really know Kali’s story so she started from the beginning. Wow – that is quite a compliment that is not lost on me! It also inspired me to do the same – go back and re-read all my posts from the beginning. The beginning was the day after Kali’s arrival from Taiwan in May of 2014.

I’m currently up to July of 2016 and as I am reading these posts two things have stood out to me.

The first is how special my relationship with Kali was (and still is even though she is gone).

In my heart and soul I knew from day one that Kali was special. She was meant for me and I was meant for her! I knew it then, I know it now, and I will always know it. It was a once in a lifetime gift bestowed upon Kali and I from destiny.

Reading these posts again after so many years has reminded me in great detail of all the special moments Kali and I had together. For the first two years it was just Kali and I. We were almost always together. There were no other canine siblings and Kali had the full compliment of my attention 24/7. These early days – just her and I – established a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and love. And most importantly it established a bond that cannot be broken. I love Kloe and Koda as much as Kali but the relationships are a little different. There has never been just Kloe. There has never been just Koda. But there were two years when there was just Kali. Reading these old posts has reminded me of that special time in our lives with a renewed appreciation of what Kali meant to me and me to her.

The second thing that has stood out is the relationships and camaraderie that developed between fellow bloggers and followers of Golden Kali.

After each post I have also been reading comments made by these people many who have become friends over the years.

When my daughter was a teen-ager, in the early days of social media, she would occasionally refer to someone as her friend who she knew online from a social media site. As a parent this made me very concerned for obvious reasons. That my daughter was referring to someone as a friend who she had never met face to face or even voice to voice on the phone was a worry for me.

But later, through the Golden Kali blog, I realized that it was possible to make friends through social media. Comments resulting from blog posts created a basis for me to get to know the regular followers and vice-versa. While Kali has always been the “perfect” dog like so many rescues she had her set of challenges. I wrote about these challenges and many followers, offered empathy, advice, or simply shared a similar experience. I also followed their blogs and through ongoing dialogue and sharing of experiences – and life in general – we’ve developed friendships. For that I’m grateful.

So Kali, although physically gone, continues to very present in my life. I don’t expect that to ever change. Re-reading our story from beginning has been a great reminder (for my brain) of everything Kali means to me. This of course is something my heart always knew and will never need to be reminded of.

Except In My Dreams

My sweet Golden Kali has come to visit me several times over the past few weeks. Some of the visits have been short and some were extended stays with lots of kisses and hugs. The feel of Kali’s fur is so familiar. Her smell has been a welcome reminder that my girl is near by. I hope these special visits never end!

I’ve always been a very vivid dreamer and I remember most of my dreams in great detail; places, colors, smells, etc. After Kali passed many people suggested that she would visit me in the quiet of my dreams. I didn’t put too much thought into it at the time. The first few weeks after Kali passed were uneventful and although I missed her it wasn’t emotional. My rationale side processed Kali’s memory in a logical and matter of fact manner. My brain told me, “I did the right thing, grace and dignity, on Kali’s terms, last and greatest gift”, and so on….

But more recently, especially the past few weeks, I find myself longing for Kali. I find myself whispering her name as I think of her or see something that reminds me of her. I’ve become emotional a few times and realize that my brain had been managing the loss but now that loss has made it’s way to my heart and gut. When someone misses a family member or close friend but knows they will see them again at some point they may say, “yes, I miss him”. In their head. When that person is gone forever they also say, ” I miss him”. But now it’s in their heart and gut.

As obvious as it was that I would never see Kali again, it has now just hit me. I will never see, smell, or hug my sweet girl again. Except in my dreams.

Alexandria Horowitz is an author and professor of psychology, animal behavior, and canine cognition. I’ve read many of her books on canine behavior such as “Inside A Dog, What Dogs See, Smell, and Know”. In one of her books Ms. Horowitz was describing how dogs experience time relative to missing their owner. She talked about how (I’m paraphrasing) if the owner is gone for 20 or 30 minutes upon return the behavior of the dog may be much different than if the owner was gone for several hours. When it has been several hours the “welcoming committee” will probably be much more animated and excited upon the return of their owner. I know this is the case with my girls.

Ms. Horowitz explains this dynamic in simple terms. When the owner leaves their scent at first is very prevalent. It’s easy, especially with their keen sense of smell, for the dog to smell their owner after they’ve left the area. But as more and more time passes that scent begins to diminish and the dog’s owner begins to “fade away” creating anxiety or maybe even fear in the dog. Upon return the scent is back and all is well once again. Let the celebration begin!

A few nights ago Kali was present in my dream all night long. I woke up several times, probably from the adrenaline rush. Each time I went back to sleep quickly and she was still there. Kali was always good at stay! Another night’s visit was more fleeting. Kali went running by me like a puppy only slowing down long enough to let me know she was there and having so much fun running. There have been several visits over the past few weeks and each time I wake up knowing that deep connection with Kali will never end, even in death.

I often joke that I am more like a dog than a person. Wishful thinking… But I can’t help but wondering if this emotional longing for Kali (versus rational “missing”) is because her scent is less and less in the house. I can no longer pick up her scent as hard as a try. In my mind’s eye I can see Kali but I can’t smell her.

Except in my dreams.

Sleep tight my sweet Golden Kali. I hope to see you tonight.

Golden Kali

A Dog Of Few Words…

When Kali first came to the U.S. from Taiwan she had a bit of an aversion to other dogs. Our regular walks took us on a trail along a creek that paralleled a nearby golf course. I quickly found that Kali grew anxious when we came across other dogs. As our steps brought us closer to them Kali would start barking. “Ruuuf, ruff!” Not aggressively but in a way that said, “hey – don’t come near me, I’m not comfortable around other dogs”. Over time we worked on this and she became more confident and could eventually pass by other dogs along our walks without much drama. That was over seven years ago.

Our home in the foothills sits up on a hill and although we are well off the road, the road is visible from our large wrap around deck. If any animals pass below on the road, (or – gasp – any of our neighbors have the audacity to walk their dogs down past our home), Kloe will sound the alarm and Koda will quickly chime in. Kloe’s bark is low and deep. She uses all 75 pounds of her body and big chest when she vocalizes. I would characterize it as a WOOF! “Wahooof, waahooof, wahooof”, followed by a low growl and then more woofs! Although Koda’s body size, shape, and weight (65 pounds) would suggest a lower vocalization it is actually quite high. “Bark bark bark bark, bark, bark” as it crescendos up and then back down in pitch. Koda looks at Kloe for reinforcement and to ask, “what are we barking at?”, as they both run down to the yard to see if they can get a closer look.

Although Kali was never too interested when her sister’s sounded the alarm she would get up (usually from a nap in the warm sun) look around, and add her two cents (barely!). Kali’s bark, especially in her senior years, turned into a bit of a “Yip”. As she was woken up by Kloe’s WOOFs and Koda’s bark-bark-bark Kali would seem a bit confused and offer a brief “Yip” or two. “Yip? Yip?” she would say as her sisters ran off to the yard below. By the time they returned Kali had usually returned to her spot in the sun and was once again fast asleep. It’s easy to sleep, even during Red Alerts, when one’s two younger sisters are on patrol!

About a year or so ago I realized I hadn’t heard Kali bark for many months or maybe even longer. For a while I used to be able to get her to vocalize before I began preparing meals for her and her sisters. As it got closer to meal time Kali would find a spot somewhere between where I was sitting and where her food was stored. She would fix a sustained stare on me as she tried to will me to my feet and over to the food bowls. When she finally wore me down I would get up and tease her a bit by telling her she had to “speak” for her food. I would put my fingers and thumb together like a puppet, and say, “Ruff, ruff!”, in a high pitch. Kali would respond, “yip, yip”, and begin dancing and prancing around the room and looking towards the food bowls and then back to me.

At some point Kali stopped vocalizing in any manner at all. I don’t remember exactly when. But she was always a good listener and never much of a talker. Other than her early time with me when we walked along the creek trail Kali was never a dog of many “words”. I can’t recall a time I ever heard her growl. If she chased birds or squirrels, which she did on occasion, she did it in silence. Before we had fencing up in the back of the house she once took off after a black tail deer. She ran after it is silence, quickly gave up, and returned to me.

Kali has been gone now for three months. I wish I could say I miss the sound of her barking but she didn’t bark much so how could I? But I do so miss her silent presence. I miss my therapy sessions with her when I would talk and she would listen. And yes I even, and perhaps mostly, miss that laser snake-eyed stare 30 minutes before dinner-time as she laid somewhere between me and the food bowls and willed me to my feet to feed her.

Kali sleeping on the deck. Kloe and Koda ready to sound the alarm at any time…