Kloe The Lover (not a fighter)

Kali was the first and oldest. She had a storied history long before Kloe joined the pack. Kloe always looked up to Kali and considered Kali the alpha until the day Kali crossed the bridge. Koda, the youngest, has always been a loud mouth gregarious. From the day she joined the pack at 4 months old, Koda demanded vocally and physically the attention of everyone in the room and general vicinity. So with Koda, Kloe usually has no choice but to play second banana. And I think for the most part that’s ok with Kloe.

Kloe The Puppy

Kloe was 7 weeks old when we met her and her litter mates. There was “Green”, “Purple”, and “Red” as designated by the color of their ribbon collars. We sat on the lawn in the yard of the rescue group’s organizer watching the puppies romp around. We picked them up, sat them on our laps, and interacted with them in our effort to see which one would be right for us. OK, full disclosure: I laid on the grass and let them encouraged the puppies to crawl on top of me and smother me with golden love!

After about an hour we decided that “Red” was the one for us. We liked her her confidence and calm demeanor. At only seven weeks she seemed interested in more than just her siblings and these new human visitors as we observed her looking beyond her immediate surroundings with a serious and quizzical look. And, she had a little pouty face that I fell in love with! We decided Red’s name would be Kloe. Two weeks later we went back to pick her up and bring her home. That was almost seven years ago.

Kloe The Lover

There is a saying, “I’m a lover (not a fighter). That’s Kloe!

Approaching seven years this Spring, Kloe has been a full fledged Golden Retriever adult dog for over three years. She has always been rather serious and never displayed some of the goofy and silly attributes that make many Goldens so fun and entertaining. That’s not to say Kloe doesn’t have fun. It’s just she approaches things with purpose. Whether it’s catching a ball, engaging in play with her sister Koda, or mealtime. Kloe is also very earnest; especially when meeting new people. She tries her best not to get too excited as we remind her not to jump). She’ll place herself in a sit at her new friend’s side looking up at them the entire time while her tail wags excitedly. She lets out deep groans as if to say “I just met you but I love you so much!”

Kloe Our Protector

Kloe, even as a 6 month old puppy, has always had a very deep bark. As docile as she is Kloe’s bark is a force to be reckoned with. If Koda’s high pitched bark is the “alarm” then Kloe’s bark is the ancient battle horn calling the troops into formation and ready to charge! The alarm sounds, the battle horn blows, and she is off to defend the Golden K with little sister Koda along side as her squire. Kloe typically starts out her day by smelling most of the front and back areas of our home along the fence lines. She methodically, much to the chagrin of her less interested sister, inspects every inch assessing what critter may have been there the night before. When she finally arrives back at the kitchen door for her breakfast meal I sarcastically ask her if the perimeter is secure and she nods affirmatively looks up at me expressionless and sits and waits for breakfast.

Kloe Our Conscience

When I look at Kloe I see honesty. I see compassion. I see a peace maker. Sure, these are human traits but why not also true for dogs? Kloe’s eyes tell the truth. Her body language adapts to the people around her. And when confronted with the choice to share or fight for what is hers (a ball, a bone, or a stick) she will usually acquiesce to the perpetrator (Koda). Admittedly I’d prefer to see her stand up for herself more but that’s Kloe; always willing to stand down to keep the peace.

Because remember, she’s a lover (not a fighter).

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

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.

Kloe Gotcha Day #2

How embarrassing!   I thought Kloe’s Gotcha Day was on May 9th but it is actually on May 7th – today.   Thank goodness for Facebook who reminded me this morning by showing me my post from last year. As if Kloe would know or even knows what the heck a Gotcha Day is.  But I know what it is and I’l always remember the day we brought her home from Lodi, CA where we picked her up.

She rode home to Livermore on Holly’s lap squirming a little bit but only because she wanted to play and  cuddle.   We arrived home to introduce her to Kali, her new big sissy and soon to be surrogate mother.   Kali, true to herself, barked when Kloe entered the house as if to say, “No!  I’ve been very happy here having mom and dad to myself for the past two years and I don’t need the competition of a incredibly cute puppy.   So you, missy can just go back where you came from.”

Within an hour Kloe won over Kali’s heart and they were playing and cuddling.  Kloe wanted to be wherever Kali was.   At times coaxing Kali to play tug-o-war and Kali was so respectful and cognizant that Kloe was a wee 15 pounds so taking it easy on her.  At other times when Kali was sleeping Kloe would lay on top of Kali or find a way to spoon.  Kali was so tolerant and such good big sissy.

Two weeks later we packed up 23 years of Livermore, put Kali and Kloe in the back seat of my truck and drove to our new home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  Kloe wasn’t in Suburbia long enough to get used to that so our five acres in the middle of the foothills was just another step in her brief two month life.

Fast forward two years and Kloe is a true mountain girl chasing squirrels and jack rabbits, co-existing with the black tailed deer and – being the chewer she is – loving the lifetime supply of twigs and sticks that are at her disposal.

That little 15 pound pup we brought home two years ago has grown up into a beautiful 80 pound young lady who brings endless and ongoing love and joy into our lives.

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe.  You are my sweetie girl.  You are a great companion,  You are a fantastic listener.  You are unconditional love in it’s truest form.  For that and for you I am so grateful.

Kloe:  then and now

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Birthday Girl

Kloe turned two years old today.  This sweet little puppy that we brought home almost two years ago has turned into a, well, a much bigger puppy.   She leveled off at 80 pounds at about a year old but has become stronger, faster, and has so much more endurance as a more mature pup.  Fortunately she has also learned a little more constraint and seems to be aware of her size and can be polite and gentle with fewer and few reminders.

Just as before Kali joined our pack I cannot imagine life without my sweet little girl Kloe.  She never ceases to amaze me, entertain me, and love me unconditionally.

But there will be no parties,  no special celebrattions because Kloe celebrates life each day and every day with unbridled enthusiasm and love. There will be no special gifts or meals because when you have it great – and Kloe does – how does it get better than that.  Just like Jack Johnson said in his song Banana Pancakes, “We got everything we need right here and everything we need is enough”.  And so we do.

So happy birthday little sweetie girl Kloe.  Happy birthday my Klois Marie.  Happy birthday Kloe Bowie.  And happy birthday Sugerlips!  Which ever name I call you by you always come running with a smile and usually a ball in your mouth.  Thanks for being you Kloe and for all the joy you bring into our lives!

Kloe and Smokey

Kloe was infatuated with Smokey from the first day she met him.  Smokey on the other hand was nonchalant and only mildly interested with Kloe who, even as a very young pup, was much larger than Smokey.  Smokey played it cool and if Kloe became a nuisance he let her know with a growl and snap from his tiny snout.  Kloe would acquiesce to Smoky’s body language and back off but only by inches, still so very interested in this smaller yet more mature and dominant being staring intently and seemingly willingly him to “play”.

Smokey is my daughters pup, an 11 pound half Maltese Terrier half Yorkshire Terrier – a Morkie!  When Kloe first met “the Smokster” as a young pup, she was not much bigger than him.  Now at 80 pounds Kloe is almost eight times Smokey’s size both in weight and stature yet the infatuation continues.

My daughter and Smokey paid a visit to The Golden K recently.   Kloe of course was all about Smokey.  It was nice to see that more often than not, maybe because Kloe is maturing and slightly calmer, Smokey seems to enjoy hanging with his step sister that I call Kloe Bowie Sugerlips.

Kloe and Smokey

 

Kloe, Sticks, and Balls

Sticks

Kloe loves sticks!  The bigger the better.  It still makes me laugh out loud to see her emerge from a dense part of the back yard with a stick almost as long as her.  She seems to take great joy after a storm or very windy day when new branches and sticks have fallen from the trees around the Golden K.

Here in this brief video Kloe “gets to work”.

Shortly after she proudly displays the fruit of her labor having reduced the giant stick to tooth picks.  “Look dad, I made kindling”.

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Balls

But above all Kloe loves balls and playing the game we call “drop ball”.  It’s our name for fetch because she usually has to be prompted to drop the ball.  So if we really want her to get in a good workout we use two balls.  As she returns from catching one ball the other is in our hand.  She’ll drop the one in her mouth and we immediately throw the second ball.  At 22 months and 80 pounds of pure muscle she can do 30 or 40 reps in a row without blinking an eye.

“Drop Ball”

 

And this is how we know it was a great game of Drop Ball as she finally lays down exhausted for a nap ( of course with the ball in her mouth!)img_4028-e1517175221247.jpg

If Begging Was An Olympic Sport

The sound of the chopping board to Kali and Kloe is like a bell to Pavlov’s dogs!  They rarely get something when one of us Holly is in the kitchen cooking unless it’s vegetables or fruit.  Still once they hear the sound of chopping they come running from near or far with unbridled optimism that treats are in their immediate future.

Dogs seem to instinctively know how to beg.  They sit patiently staring at their benefactor mentally urging them to “give it up” or accidentally drop something on the floor.  Kali’s begging style is generally the classic sit or sometimes lay at attention.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are coming up and if begging was an Olympic sport Kali would get a 7.5 or 8.  A  respectable score that would be based on strong conformance to standards, a low risk routine, but excellent amounts of drool.  It probably wouldn’t win her a gold or silver but overall it’s a steady and acceptable performance.

Kloe on the other hand would receive at least a 9.5 scoring low for conformity non-existent drool and very high for risk factor and style.  She would probably make the finals, albeit in quite an unconventional manner.

Captured below is Kloe being Kloe while working out at home during the off season. 

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Sticks

Kloe has never met a stick she didn’t like.

Like all puppies Kloe loved to chew and to this day is still a voracious chewer.  She was nine weeks old when she joined our pack and spent just two weeks in our home in Livermore, CA before we moved to The Golden K, our new home in the mountains.   Our Livermore home was a typical suburban home on a small suburban lot with a compliment of small suburban sticks.   Kloe had no problems finding these tiny sticks and she eagerly gnawed away at them.  We were initially concerned that being so small and young she would swallow too much of the bark and wood shavings she tore off with her razor-like puppy teeth.  But she was never interested in eating the shavings.  Instead she would chew the small sticks into pieces and spit them out in a tidy pile next to her.   She quickly gained our confidence that she wouldn’t eat an entire tree while we weren’t watching.

Being the stick lover that she is you can imagine Kloe’s excitement when we moved to The Golden K on five acres in the foothills covered with oak, cedar, and pine trees.   The amount of sticks now available to her was not simply incremental it was exponential.  It must have been like if I had moved from a home that had a modest wine rack holding six bottles of middle shelf wine to a mansion with a huge wine cellar holding hundreds of bottles of the finest wines money could buy.  Or, more likely, that’s just me projecting and in reality Kloe probably didn’t notice or comprehend the plethora of sticks now available to her and only focused on the stick “at hand” at any given moment.

These days the sticks, like Kloe, are much bigger and she still hasn’t met one she doesn’t like.

One down a million to go….

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