The Golden K

The Golden K, the history, and how Kali brought us to this place.

Long time followers of Golden Kali may remember that Kali was a rescue from Taiwan. I remember vividly sitting with her in the back yard of our home in Livermore the morning after we picked her up from the airport in San Francisco. Kali assimilated so quickly into her new environment. It had been less than 24 hours and here she was sitting calmly and seemingly very content at my feet as I started this blog. That was almost seven years ago.

The name for the blog was an easy pick. It would be about Kali’s new life in America. She is a Golden Retriever. So as I set up the WordPress site my fingers quickly, and without hesitation, typed Golden Kali into the title field for the site.

At the time I had no idea Kali would be such a big influence on our lives and our future.

A few weeks later Holly, Kali, and I were sitting in the same spot of our yard enjoying a nice Summer evening. Holly told me she wanted to start camping again. She said wouldn’t it be great, now as mostly empty nesters, to get away just the three of us – Holly, Kali, and I – and take some road trips. I agreed and said that was not going to do tent camping again; my back was too old for that. So we decided to start looking for small trailers we could pull behind our SUV.

Fast forward a couple of months and we take a visit to our friends vacation home at Pine Mountain Lake in Groveland, CA. It was a nice weekend, Kali’s first road trip, and she did just fine. Holly and I were like first time parents and we packed everything under the sun that we thought Kali would need. Her crate, food, treats, toys, blankets, leashes, and I’m sure items I am now forgetting. Of course Kali needed none of it including the crate. All she needed was to be with us.

A few weeks later, again sitting in the yard, Holly says to me, “I don’t want a camper anymore”. I asked her why. She said she wanted a vacation home! OK….. I can switch gears pretty quickly. Now instead of researching camper options I start looking at properties in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. A home comes up that I instantly fall in love with. I showed Holly and said, “Look, I found our our home. Not a vacation home but a full time home”. Holly laughed and said she wasn’t moving but she wouldn’t mind taking a road trip to see the home. Cutting to the chase, and after looking at more homes in Tuolumne County over the next couple of months, we closed escrow on that very home I saw online that evening in the back yard. One of the many selling points of the home was it was five acres and had plenty of room for Kali to roam and also be safe with various fences and gates that allowed us to give her a lot of room or just a little depending on circumstances. This was the end of 2015 and we prepared to move.

My romantic vision of living in the mountains included having a name for our home and surrounding property. This was important to me.

Like with this blog it didn’t take long for me to realize that the name of our new home would be The Golden K in honor of my beautiful Kali.

And the “K’s” just kept on coming…. A few weeks before we moved we adopted a new 9 week old Golden Retriever puppy and named her Kloe. It had to be a K name, right? And then a couple of years later we adopted another Golden Retriever, this time a 4 month old. We named her Koda. It is safe to say that the Golden K is full of beautiful Golden K’s! And Kali started it all!

Five years in Taiwan, two years in Livermore, and five years (and counting) in Tuolumne, my Golden Kali has been on a great journey and I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last seven years with her. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if not for Kali, there would not be a Golden K, a Kloe, or a Koda. How can one dog have so much influence over the lives of her humans? How can one dog can bring so much joy and happiness into the lives of two people who were otherwise already very happy with their lives?

I guess when that one dog is my Golden Kali it’s as natural as taking that 12 hour flight from Taiwan and straight into my heart.

Kali on move in day five years ago at The Golden K
The Golden K at night

Time Moves Faster For Kali

The canine stages from puppyhood to adolescent to adult and finally senior is very much like us humans. I’m sure there is a more scientific and accurate manner in which to define stages of life for both canine and humans. And there are probably more than four stages. But this not a scientific blog. This is a blog about Kali, her sisters, and our collective life in the mountains. So I’m gonna stick with these four stages that serve my purposes in this post.

As a father I’ve watched all three of my children through the first three stages; baby/toddler, adolescence, and now adulthood. I observed my mother go through the last two stages: adult to senior. When she was in the senior stage she initially was quite healthy. She had her physical and mental facilities intact and was capable of caring for herself. Then, over time, her health declined and she began requiring increased help to get around. She began losing her cognitive ability. Eventually she was diagnosed with and ended up dying from dementia.

Hang in there. I’m getting to the part about dogs now… ūüôā

What stage are my girls in? Koda at two and half is my adolescent and Kloe at almost five is my adult. Kali at almost 12 is my senior. But wait a second. When Kali joined the pack seven years ago she was an adult. And so was I. I felt as though we were contemporaries. My best friend was the same age as me and we’d share a long life and grow old together. But now Kali is a senior and I’m still an adult (although my wife might argue otherwise at times…). The average life expectancy for humans in the United States is 78 years. The average life expectancy for a Golden Retriever is around 12 years. Time moves faster for Kali and at times it makes me sad.

I observe similar characteristics in Kali that I saw in my mom as her health was declining during the final stages of her life. At first walking with help, then with a walker, and eventually a wheel chair. Kali has hip dysplasia. It is increasingly hard for her to get up or lay down, she walks very slow and wobbly. Under certain circumstances I have to pick her up to get her where she needs to be. Other than for meals my mom spent her day in her chair looking at the TV and out the window. Kali spends the majority of her day sleeping and watching the world go by around her. Over time my mom forgot things, repeated herself, and eventually had limited awareness of where she was. She eventually stopped talking, only nodding her head in response to questions. Kali at times is disoriented and seems confused. She has stopped responding to commands. Her hearing is either very bad or very selective. And her eyes are clouded with cataracts that diminish her vision. My mom lost her appetite and had to be coaxed to eat. Good news here for Kali is that meal time is still her favorite time of the day and she remains very passionate about food!

My mom was 97 when she passed away far exceeding the average life expectancy. At almost 12 Kali is creeping towards the outer edge of life expectancy for Golden Retrievers. In spite of her advanced age Kali still exhibits some of the same behaviors as she did seven years ago as a much younger dog. Like the fixed stare she gives me about 30 minutes before meal time. Like head butting me as I prepare her food. And in spite of her bad legs and poor sight at times she still sits at the gate waiting for me to return home or comes looking for me in the house if I’m in another room. This is heartening and encouraging to me. It reminds me that my Kali is still in so many ways the same dog that came into my life seven years ago as an adult, as my contemporary, and as what turned out to be my best friend.

Time moves faster for Kali. I wish I could slow it down.

Adult Kali
Senior Kali

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Trees At The Golden K

This will be our third Christmas at The Golden K., our mountain home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.   When living in suburbia with our now grown children Holly and I  bought high priced Christmas Trees, usually Noble Pines, from various lots or drove miles to cut them down ourselves.  Later we invested in artificial trees that looked great until the lights started to go out after being wrapped back up and stored for a couple of years.

While packing up Suburbia three years ago we threw out the last artificial tree. ¬† When Christmas rolled around several months later, and now living in the mountains we went to a local nursery to see about buying a live tree. ¬† While looking at what was available we had a “duh” moment realizing that we have five acres full of trees. ¬†Why would we spend money on a Christmas tree when we have hundreds of trees of our own to choose from. ¬† Our pine trees are a hundred feet tall and we don’t live in altitude high enough for firs. ¬†But we do have a lot of cedars so choosing a small cedar for our Christmas tree each year from our own property has become our new tradition.

While cedars are not ideal for hanging ornaments it hasn’t mattered to us. ¬† This new tradition has become important to us as a symbol of our transition out of Suburbia and our new way of life in the mountains.

So today we headed out with the girls and a chain saw in tow to hunt for a tree.

After about 20 minutes of surveying our options we chose a tree on the edge of our property.   After giving the tree a sniff and once over the girls approved of our selection.  Good thing because it was already cut!

After some trimming of branches and securing the tree stand we were ready to trim the tree.

The girls were not to interested in helping with the trimming and almost immediately went into power nap mode. ¬†Kloe woke up briefly to “snoopervise” (thanks for the term Monika!) but it didn’t last too long.

After a couple of hours of trimming the tree was done.  The girls seemed to approve as they leaned into to get on their Christmas cheer.

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*Editors Note: ¬†The girls would have had on their Christmas scarves for this photo but that is just not possible with a six month old puppy who would rip her sister’s scarves to pieces as well as her own…..¬†

Flags, Dogs, and Wine

For all our warts I would not want to live anywhere other than this great country of ours, the US of America.

Ray Charles singing “America” in the background, Oaks and Pines swaying to the warm gentle wind, and Baseball coming on shortly. ¬† We are truly blessed at the Golden K.

Whether you stand, sit, or lie down for the flag Kloe, Kali, and cousin Ben wish you the best of bests on this Fourth Of July, Two Thousand and Eighteen.

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Long Running Story

Kali’s new life in America and the mountains is now a long running story.

As most owners of a rescue pet know it’s the pet that usually rescues us and provides us with a more enriched life. ¬†So often it is the pet, in my case Kali, who teaches us new ways to love, re-calibrates our priorities, and shows us that the simplest things in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

It’s been three and half years since Kali rescued me. I vividly remember the moment her crate was opened and she was released to us at SFO after a 12 hour flight from Taiwan. ¬†The bond was instant and was fortified on the drive home and in the ensuing days and weeks.

So while Kali’s adventure is a long running one she herself rarely runs…. or trots, or gallops. ¬†Kali is rarely in a hurry to get anywhere except to her food bowl and even then doesn’t run although she does display a remarkable ability to pirouette, bounce, and hop. ¬† A main reason for the lack of speed are her hips which, typical of Goldens, are not in great shape. ¬†She has dysplasia in one hip and the other, while not diagnosed, is not much better.

So on the rare occasion Kali does “run” it makes me laugh and smile. ¬† It’s not the fact that she’s “running” ¬†but that it is so darn cute. ¬†Because even when Kali is moving fast (for her) it’s not very graceful. ¬†If you saw Kali “run” (note the quote marks around the word run and running in the proceeding sentences when referring to Kali) it would not inspire images of racehorses, jack rabbits, or world class athletes. ¬†When Kloe runs it might but not Kali. ¬†Kali’s motion when moving fast is as much up and down as it is forward. ¬† You might say that she runs with her entire body, head to tail, perhaps to compensate for those wonky hips of hers.

Picture a long wavelength and you will get an idea of how Kali runs; it takes a lot of up and down to move forward just a little bit…

Kali’s “running” motion

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There is a gate that leads out of our patio onto the driveway and surrounding land. ¬† This is the gate Kali and I usually leave from to go on our walks or across to my office. ¬†For Kali walks translate to treats. ¬†My office sometimes translates to a bully stick to chew on or at the least a respite from her sister Kloe’s antics and chance to have dad all to herself. ¬†There is also an area nearby my office where raccoons and other critters have made a “deposit” the previous night. ¬† Much to my chagrin Kali loves to forage for those deposits…

More often than not when we go out the gate Kali begins running with her up and down and up and down motion. ¬†As she “runs” she turns back to me with a smile on her face as if to say, “look at me, I’m running – can you believe it?” Or maybe it’s to say, “C’mon, I’ll show you where all the critters pooped last night.” ¬†Whatever it is it makes me smile and laugh out loud as Kali reminds me that the simplest things¬†in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

And it’s these moments that I am most grateful to have been rescued by my Golden Kali.

A picture of Kali not running…

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Golden Kali

Hurricane Harvey

As we sit here in the relative safety of The Golden K we are thinking about the impending impacts of Hurricane Harvey that, as of the writing of this post, will hit shore within the hour. ¬†Our thoughts are with Kali’s followers and anyone else who is or will be in harms way.

Prayers, positive vibes, good thoughts, well wishes Р however you want to phrase it Рwe are sending all of them your way.

Its times like this that our country can show it’s greatness, resolve, and unity by helping one another regardless of race, religion, political affiliations, or sexual identity.

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
And try to love one another right now

-Jesse Colin Young

Kali and Kloe praying for the safety of Gulf Coasters.    Let us know how you are.

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The Golden K is Back

A couple of months ago I decided to merge my other blog site called The Golden K with this Golden Kali site. ¬†The merging of the K’s was a failed experiment. You can read about it here: ¬†The Golden K Is Back.

Kali in her infinte wisdom has asked me to revive the blog site called The Golden K in order to make a clear distinction between her beauty and that of our home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills that we call The Golden K.

In case there is any confusion you can find us in these three places in the blogosphere:

Kali and I send our best wishes and a heartfelt thanks for following us.

Golden Kali

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The Fourth 4th

Happy fourth 4th my Golden Kali!

When Kali arrived from Taiwan in 2014 she arrived with a brown scarf.  At the airport one of the volunteers that was assisting with her transition to our care took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf with red, white, and blue markings that represented the American flag.   Kali was now an “American Girl”.

So beginning with that 2014 4th of July it became a tradition for Kali to don that same scarf and take a photo.  A photo that represents our collective patriotism but more importantly our thanks to the Taiwanese care givers who rescued Kali and sent her to America and to me.  Thank you Jade Lo and team.  Kali and I salute you and honor you for your the work you and your team do for so many dogs in need.

Happy fourth 4TH KALI!

Happy Birthday America from Golden Kali at The Golden K

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My Golden Therapy

When I turn into the driveway of the Golden K, my body tingles with anticipation of seeing “my girls” who will greet me at the gate or inside the house.

If they’re outside Kali and Kloe will trot to the rod iron gate at the first sound of my truck rolling up the Golden K driveway. ¬†They watch me pull into the car port with their tails wagging and anticipating our physical and verbal greeting ritual.

If they’re inside the house I can usually see them through the windows of the doors. ¬†Kali is usually sleeping right by the door and Kloe somewhere near Holly. As the door to the kitchen opens Kali springs to her feet and Kloe runs in to join us. ¬†Kloe’s a little pushy and will always come to the front of the greeting line while Kali hangs back and patiently waits for her turn.The anticipation and intensity of the ritual increases the longer the time I’ve been away.

Lately I’ve been away a lot and for longer than usual periods…

Recently, both my mother and sister have been very sick. ¬†It’s been a difficult few weeks and the seven hour round trip to and from the SF Bay Area to help with their care during this period took me away from my girls for several long days and a few over nighters. ¬†The worry took an emotional tole and the hours driving, often in heavy traffic getting into or out of the West Bay, has been fatiguing.

But when I arrive back home and pull into the driveway the tingling begins and it slowly becomes better because of the healing powers of dogs.   In my case two very special, sweet, and tender dogs that in many ways define the Golden K.

Kali and Kloe.  My girls, my medicine, and my therapy.  My Golden therapy.

The driveway leading to The Golden K and my Golden Therapy

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The Girls¬†chilling’ in the back of my truck

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