Meal time used to be real simple

Meal time used to be real simple.  Kali and Kloe each ate dry food for both breakfast and dinner.  Initially Kloe got high protein puppy food and was on a slightly different dry mix than Kali.   But eventually when Kloe got old enough they were on the same food.  Back in the day meal time inventory check:  two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food.  Simple! Scoop scoop wham bam thank you dad.

Meal time used to be real simple.

Over the past year Holly and I introduced raw meat into Kali and Kloe’s diet.  We’re fortunate to have good friends who own a pet shop and are quite informed and knowledgable about canine nutrition.  Owners Dee and George made suggestions for the raw meat and over the first couple of months we experimented with different types, varying portions, etc.   Wanting to still provide good grains to the girl’s diet, and after a few calculations to consider caloric content of the dry, the raw, and each dog’s weight, we landed on a regimen of dry in the morning and raw in the evening.  The raw meat is sold frozen and we buy it in quantities of 25 one pound flat pieces.   Every two days we would put two one pound portions in the refrigerator to thaw for two day’s of meals.   So, still not too bad, right?   Not as simple as two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food but definitely worth the extra meal planning and preparation to yield a healthier diet for the girls.  Plus, they absolutely love the raw meat it keeps their weight down.  And did I mention they love it?

When Koda arrived three months ago we put her on the same dry food that Kloe and Kali eat but the large breed puppy version that is high on protein.  Then about a month ago we began giving Koda a portion of raw meat with her dinner.  She too is crazy for “the raw”.  So let’s do a another meal time inventory check at this juncture: three dogs, three bowls, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, and varying portions of raw at dinner.   And as the old television commercials for kitchen gadgets used to say, “But wait – there’s more…”

Kali is slightly overweight and we wanted to reduce her caloric intake so we introduced some variations for her.  For breakfast she gets half a cup of dry food and half a cup of scrambled egg whites.  For dinner she gets a portion of raw meat and a half cup of salt free canned green beans.   It’s getting complicated isn’t it.

Real time meal time inventory check:  three dogs, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, three bowls, varying portions of raw at dinner, scrambled eggs in the morning, canned green beens in the evenings.   Based on our highly scientific caloric calculations dog size,  age, and overall weight management goals the dry food and raw portions are different for all three pups but at least the eggs whites and green beans are the same portions for Kali.  Hurray for small victories!

Meal time used to be real simple.   But are my girls healthier and happier? Yes.  Is it worth the planning and coordination and calamity amusement of three dogs squirming at your feet during preparation?  Absolutely!

The pace of the meal

Kali and Kloe used to finish their meals at almost exactly the same time even though Kloe’s portions were bigger. Now with Koda who has relatively large portions and eats a little slower (thank you puzzle bowls),  and the variation of portions and content,  they all finish their meals at different times.  Kloe is always finished first.  Koda is second, and Kali – who has the smallest portions – finishes last.  Sometimes by a good 5 minutes after the other two.   What Golden Retriever doesn’t love food, right?  But Kali takes it to the extreme.  Kali worships her food.   To watch her eat with the deliberation and devotion one might think that meal time is a spiritual experience for her.

Before Koda, when Kali and Kloe finished at the same time, it was amusing to watch them in unison like synchronized eaters move to the other’s empty bowl and lick around the edges and grooves of the puzzle bowls.  Now that finishing times are staggered Kloe typically walks off and asks to go outside having her sisters behind to finish up.  Kloe finishes next and it’s endearing to watch her watch Kali finish.  As Kali methodically addresses the meat and green beans that remain in the bowl Koda stands or lays nearby showing respect and does not try to steal any of the food.  But she’s not shy about getting her face right next to the Kali’s bowl.

And Kali just keeps eating seemingly in food bliss methodically conducting her business while her baby sister watches.

 

Life changes

Life changes just a little bit when a puppy joins your pack.

On one hand things really shouldn’t change too much when you already have two other dogs that already dictate the flow of household.  On the other hand when those two dogs are two and a half and nine years old it’s a little bit like bringing a new born home just after all your existing kids are out of diapers.

Kali, the nine year old and Kloe the two and a half year old are pretty self sufficient and respectful of the house and our belongings.   When Koda – the puppy – came home the dog gates went up, regular trips outside for house breaking began again, sleeping in became a thing of the past, and all shoes and slippers had to be put away when they weren’t on our feet.   Is it hectic?  Duh!  Is it worth the disruption to the pack?   Absolutely!

Little Koda, now five and a half months old and 36 pounds is tenacious with attitude.

This is not a great combination when we need an immediate behavior correction.  But I think in the long run it will serve her well once she learns how to pick her battles.   She is quite vocal tells us in no uncertain terms that she is not pleased to know that she cannot jump on visitors or the furniture.  A little yelp or “Roo roo roo” as she begrudgingly adheres to our request to behave is not uncommon.

For now (and hopefully not forever) Koda is binary.  She is either on or off.  When on, her energy level is 11 on a scale of 10.  During play Kloe will wrap her entire mouth around Koda’s head to demonstrate her dominence and deliver a lesson.   Koda will momentarily acquiesce to Kloe’s reminder of who is bigger and stronger before immediately striking back with her own gnashing teeth never for a moment acknowledging the 45 pound advantage Kloe has on her.  Kloe does shoulder rolls landing on Koda like a greco wrestler pinning her down only for Koda to reemerge and perform the same move on Kloe.

Much to Koda’s chagrin Kali is not interested in any type of play with her.  At nine years old and visibly much slower than she was only a year ago Kali prefers sleeping to almost all activities other than eating.  I’ve seen Koda sneak attack a sleeping Kali landing on her back and riding her like a bronco as Kali gets up trying to toss her off while she moves off to another corner of the room to sleep.  Koda used to sass back Kali just like she does to us when being told no.  “Yelp! Roo roo roo…!  Play with me…”  To Koda’s credit she now (mostly) understands that Kali is the big sister she sleeps next to when she is in the off position. Kloe, although sometimes a reluctant participant, is the big sister used for rough play when Koda is in the on position.

It’s striking how the dynamics of a family can change so dramatically when that newborn baby puppy comes home.   I think it rocked Kali and Kloe’s world a bit to have a new little sister that seems to get more attention and more treats.   I’ve been caught off guard from time to time realizing that Koda is not Kloe and training may be more challenging and that different techniques may need to be deployed.  These pups are not plug and play.  But I like it that way.  Like people, dogs are unique and don’t fit into the same mold as the previous puppy.  Life would be boring if all of your dogs had the same personality and demeanor.   It might be easier but so much less “fun”.

So is it hectic?  You bet.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

So yeah, life changes just a little bit when a puppy joins your pack.

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Left to right Kloe, Koda, and Kali

 

Leader Of Our Pack

For two and a half years Kloe was the “baby”.   The youngest of two pups in the house.  As  she grew from 16 to 80 pounds she remained the baby in the overall pecking order of the pack.  Kali welcomed and embraced Kloe from the start and played a big role in Kloe’s successful assimilation into the pack.  Kloe looked up to her big sister and would run to her when scared, cuddle with her when sleepy or cold, and was always subservient to her Kali, although Kali only showed love and never any attempt to dominate or control Kloe.

Golden’s Retriever’s are a breed that retain a puppy-like personality for a long time.  Many never totally lose the playful and whimsical demeanor that puppies exhibit.     With the recent arrival of the new “baby” Koda it’s been interesting to watch Kloe quickly evolve into a more senior member of the pack.  An adult member of the pack.  In fact Kloe has become the protector of the Golden K Pack.

Besides there being a puppy in the house there is another dynamic that is contributing to this emerging maturity in Kloe.   Kali, once very vibrant and alert, is aging.   At nine and a half she sleeps most of the day and has lost some of her vibrance.  The sparkle in her eyes is fading. She walks slower often needing to be coaxed along the way when out for our short excursions.

Although there has never been an true four-legged alpha in our pack if there was one Kloe would be it.   Kali is old and slowing.  Koda is young and immature. At 80 pounds Kloe is large for a Female Golden retriever.  She is bigger, stronger, faster, more alert, and has keener senses than Kali and Koda.  It seems to me that she instinctively realizes this especially now within the context of living with a smaller puppy and a weaker senior. This is not to say that Kloe does, or has any interest in, physically dominating either of her sisters. Although she does seem to take some pleasure of throwing Koda down on the ground or wrapping her entire jaw around Koda’s head when Koda doesn’t get “the message” that enough is enough…  But that’s another subject and post about “Kloe the Teacher” for another day.

So now Kloe is the protector.   Where Kali once took the lead in calling out perceived danger or intruders Kloe takes the lead.   I see Kloe alert and viggilent at times outside while her sisters sleep in the sun.  If there’s a need to sound the alarm she does so and leads the charge running while her muscles ripple through her body like a thoroughbred horse.  Kali hangs back offering high pitched barks of encouragement and Koda bounces along side of Kloe trying keep up not really knowing what’s happening or where they’re going.

Maybe it’s just me projecting but in Kloe I see a more mature and wiser dog.  Kloe will always have a fun and spirited side to her.  She will always go to Kloeville; that figurative place when she lies on her back and stares up at nothing in particular.  She will always throw her shoulder on the ground and wriggle her way between my legs with her butt up in the air and then roll on her back and push off with her legs doing her version of the doggie-back-stroke.  But there has been a change.

It seems to me that Kloe now realizes that her stature in the pack is different.  She realizes that there are two weaker members of the pack that make her stand out physically and in some ways mentally.  Kloe relates to Holly and I in different ways now that Koda is here.  If Kloe observes Koda doing something that is not allowed Kloe looks to Holly or I to correct her.  As much as Koda tries to engage Kali in play Kali has no interest in rough housing with her and if engaged tries to get out of the fray.  Recently I watched that dynamic unfold when Kali became annoyed after Koda ran to her and jumped on her head trying to play.  Kloe came running over put herself between Koda and Kali and wrapped her jaw around Koda’s leg to move her way from Kali as if to say, “leave it”.

In some ways it’s sad to see my “little” baby Kloe grow up into adult hood.  But it’s also warming and makes me proud to watch that 16 pound nine-week old pup we brought home two and a half years ago mature into a fine young lady.  And  lately I’m sure I see something different in Kloe’s eyes. I see less wonderment of the world around her and more of a familiarity with that world and her role in it as a leader of our pack.

 

Number Three

Why this yearning for dogs?… Maybe it’s the endless feed of Golden Retriever puppy pictures served up in a Facebook group I belong to.  Or perhaps it’s because of an Instagram account I follow that posts nothing but Golden Retriever puppy pictures.  Or maybe, and most likely, it’s a life force that pulses through my body physically, spiritually, and emotionally.   Something in me that guides me and defines me all at the same time.   I joke that if I have the chance to hang out with people or dogs I choose dogs.  I guess its not completely a joke.  I gravitate towards dogs over people if there is a pup anywhere I am.  I consider myself to be a very social person so it’s not that I shy away from people.  I enjoy people.  It’s just that if there is a dog around it usually commands my attention.  If there is more than one dog more of my attention (and joy).

So I guess it was inevitable that we would eventually add a third dog to our pack.   This morning I picked up “Koda” from True Love Rescue (TLR).  TLR is a wonderful rescue group in Northern California.  It’s the same group that brought us Kali and Kloe.  And yeah, it’s a “K” thing with the girl’s names and we call our mountain home The Golden K where it’s mostly about the pups.

As with many things in our  life Holly and I don’t hesitate once we’re ready to do something; buy a car, buy a house, move from the Bay Area to the mountains, and adopt another pup.  It was just four days ago that we decided the time was right, especially when we learned that there were two pups remaining from a rescued litter.  We called the organizer, told her we wanted to adopt “purple” (the color of the pup’s collar in the picture) and here we four days later with our new pup Koda.  The big girls, Kali and Kloe, were very welcoming and there was no drama when I introduced them to Koda.  Kali was mostly indifferent but polite and accepting.  Kloe, as she is with most new dogs she meets of any age or size, immediately engaged with Koda, with puppy poses, and sniffs of all the usual body parts.  Kloe followed Koda around as she explored her new surroundings and ultimately they engaged in some light play.  Kloe restrained herself appropriately and was instinctively aware of the 60 pound size difference between her and Koda.  I was proud of the the big girls and I know they’ll both be great role models and teachers for Koda in the weeks, months, and years to come.

So yes, number three was inevitable.  I can only ignore the aforementioned life force and pulse in me for so long.  As I end the post I reflect on some of the things I know about dogs in general and especially my girls.  They can lower my blood pressure simply by being nearby.  They can calm me after a difficult day or negative experience.  They can lick my tears away when I cry, and make me laugh when I’m sad.   Sure they can try my patience at times but their patience with me is unlimited.  And the unconditional love they have for me is humbling and consistently challenges me to be a better person.

I  look down and see that all three are now all asleep at my feet.  And for this moment in time I am harmonized with the world, The Golden K, and my girls.

KODA

 

 

 

The Story of a man who had never seen a dog

It’s always great fun when Smokey visits.  Smokey is my daughter’s seven year old Morkie:  half Maltese and half Yorkshire Terrier.  He weighs 11 pounds.

Smokey met Kloe the first time after we moved to the mountains.  Kloe was just a few months old but already four or five times the size of Smokey.  Upon introduction Kloe became instantly enamored with Smokey.  With puppy-pose in full force Kloe invited Smokey to run, play, wrestle and good old fashioned tug-o-war.  Smokey played it cool, gave Kloe a sniff, and sauntered over to some bushes to leave some pee-mail.

Throughout that weekend Kloe would follow Smokey wherever he went.  Kloe would initiate play, Smokey would give her some sniffs and a lick on the face, and then move along his way.  When Smokey would jump on the couch to settle in for a nap Kloe would lay on the floor and stare at him. When Smokey went outside to do his business Kloe would follow in his tracks. Occasionally Smokey grew weary of Kloe’s attention and gave a snarl telling Kloe to back off.  Kloe respected that and gave him his space.  It was good that Smokey, this little miniature Ewok, established some ground rules for Kloe who is always eager and totally unaware of the size difference.

Fast forward a couple of years and things haven’t changed much.  Kloe remains enamored with Smokey who is still just 11 pounds and still holds his own navigating in and around Kloe’s 80 pounds of energy and constant motion.  Upon arriving for a visit the two of them greet one another with enthusiasm, some “kissy face” and both seem to enjoy the familiarity with one another

The Story of a man who had never seen a dog

A man had never seen a dog before arrived at our house a couple of weekends ago when  Smokey was up for a visit   This man thought Kloe and Smokey were two different species.  The man said, “which one is the dog? And if one is a dog what is that other creature?”   When I told him they were both dogs the man responded, “That can’t be true!  One is barely 10 pounds, not much bigger than a squirrel, and looks like a fur ball in the wind. The other is 10 times that size, looks like a pony, and runs swiftly like a  gazelle.  No this can’t be so. They cannot both be dogs.” The man was puzzled and interested in understanding how these two creatures could both be dogs.

I explained how dogs come in many different sizes, have varied physical attributes, and come from many different walks of life.   I told him that dogs have a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, and qualities.   I explained that although some dogs have been bred for specific purposes like hunting, or herding, or mousing they are all still dogs.  I went on to say that in spite of these different qualities and experiences, and having come from all around the world, they are still all just dogs.  Dogs who recognize each other as dogs.  Not as a different breed.  Not as a lesser or more superior beast. But as equals with a set of universal codes of communication, respect, and an natural ability to get along and co-exist in peace.

The man seemed less puzzled now and began to understand what I was saying.  The man said, “So what you’ve told me is a lesson for dogs?”.

I said no, “What I told you is a lesson for men”.

*****

Smokey arriving for a visit

 

 

 

 

Portraits

From the time I was a toddler my mom would periodically take my sister and I to have “our pictures taken”.  Formal pictures taken at a professional studio with lighting, back drops, and those “umbrella-thingies”.  Looking back it’s interesting to me, and it shows how much my mom valued capturing a moment in time of her kid’s lives, that she would spend money on professional portrait sittings when there was not a lot of extra money.  As an example when out for dinner at a restaurant my sister and I would have to share a Shirley Temple drink (7-Up and Grenadine) because my parents couldn’t afford for both of us to have one.   When ordering a hamburger we couldn’t have cheese because it was ten cents extra.  In retrospect maybe that’s why my parents could afford these expensive portraits?….

My mom passed away recently and I’ve spent many days in her home cleaning and clearing.  Although many of those portraits of my sister and I hung on the walls of her home over the years they took on more meaning and presented a stark contrast to contemporary times when the camera on our smart phones are a hundred times better than the box cameras of the day.   Our phones are probably as good or better than the large and cumbersome equipment that was in those studios that used something called film.

I have hundreds of pictures of Kali and Kloe with me at all times because they’re on my phone.  A digital version of that accordion-like deck of pictures dad’s in previous generations would pull out of their wallets to proudly show off their kids and wives in blurry and faded pictures taken with his box camera.

With this in mind I thought I should take a lesson from my mom and lose the selfies and candids and have some portraits of the girls taken.   Formal sittings (“sit, stay”) with lighting and back drops and “umbrella-thingies”.  And so I did and I proudly display them here in this post.

OK… full disclosure.  These were taken with my iPhone using portrait mode.  But the sentiment remains the same.  I think mom would be proud.  Don’t you?

KALI

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KLOE

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I stand corrected.

I urged the original poster who was looking for advice to ignore the wrestle-mania advice of this so called and self-professed professional wrestler trainer.   Within moments another comment  from wrestle-mania central was directed at me telling me that I knew nothing about dog training and that the method they described was decades old and highly effective.

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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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Chewbacca

If you were expecting a post about Star Wars or the Millennium Falcon you will be disappointed.  If you were expecting a post about an adorable five month old Golden Retriever named Chewbacca you are in the right place.  Although the hair color is the same between the two aforementioned Chewbaccas, and they both go by the nickname “Chewie”, the similarities end there.

Chewie the pup came by The Golden K today for a meet and greet with my girls and will be back next month for an extended stay when we puppy sit while his mom is out of town.

Kali, as expected, was a little stand offish when Chewie arrived.  She barked a bit as if to say, “Who’s this whipper-snapper and what’s he doing in MY back yard?”  Kali is not a fan of change so when another dog enters her “space” it takes a while for her to adjust.  The same thing happened two years ago when we brought Kloe home at 9 weeks old.  Kali made it clear that she was not pleased but within an hour they were cooing, playing Tug-O-Dog, and spooning.  Today, Kloe eventually settled down and was accepting of Chewie especially when I assembled the trio for biscuits.  When Chewie returns in a few weeks I’m sure Kali will be a good pup-sitter and embrace the young Chewie just as she did with Kloe.

That is if Kloe gives her a chance!  Kloe was smitten with Chewie the moment he arrived.

Kloe has not been around a dog younger than her so I was anxious to see how she, now two years old, would play with a young pup a quarter her age and half her size.  When Kloe herself was a wee-young pup playing with Kali, Kali always used constraint and seem to instinctively know she could not use the full force of her size and mature skill set.  So I was pleased today to see Kloe exhibit similar constraint with Chewie.  When engaging with a dog she has not met before Kloe always assumes a non-threatening posture, usually in a attentive down position, waiting for the other dog to initiate play.  It was no different with Chewie.  Kloe seemed to immediately give Chewie the respect she shows older dogs and allowed him to get comfortable before assuming a puppy-pose and an invitation to play.

And play they did.  Keep away.  Chase.   Stick chewing and fetch.  Jumping, running and rolling.   So yeah – they were acting like a couple of dogs.

And I think those couple of dogs, and Kali too, are going to have a great time next month when Chewbacca comes back for an extended stay at The Golden K.

Chewbacca “Chewie”

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Kloe and Chewie acting like dogs

 

 

 

Spunk

Kali got into a dog fight this past week.  On the other hand it was more of a spat between cousins than a real fight. But I saw some spunk in Kali that surprised me.  It lasted only a few seconds, and although I wasn’t happy that Kali and Jaynee “got into it” I was glad to see the spunk.

Kali and Kloe usually spend the day with our friends Marty and Jen when we’ll both will be gone for the day.  And so it was this past Thursday when we went to the Bay Area to visit my cousin.  Marty and Jen have two pups -Jaynee and Sadie – and our girls are very familiar with them and they all get along fine.

When we arrived to pick up the girls we were standing around chatting with Marty and Holly had some high value treats (HVT) in her pocket and was doling them out to the gang.  I guess these HVT’s were HV enough that they were worth fighting for.   In a flash – as it usually happens – there was a scuffle and Jaynee had gnashed teeth on Kali’s muzzle.  Kali swung around and grabbed Jaynee’s ribs with her teeth.   The fight was quickly broken up.  It was no one’s fault and, just like with kids playing together all day, the pups were all tired and a little cranky.  So no harm and no foul and Kali and Jaynee went about their business in peace probably instantly forgetting the scuffle and only concerned about whether there would be anymore HVTs doled out.  They weren’t.

So while I was not glad to see Kali and Jaynee in a conflict – I love Jaynee almost as much as my own girls – I was pleased to see that Kali at nine years old still has some spunk in her.  And after all kids will be kids and pups will be pups.   This was a scuffle between canine cousins.  They each got their licks in (no pun intended) and it was over as quickly as it started.

So yeah, Spunk.  Kali’s got Spunk.

Pictured left to right:  Cousins Jaynee, Kloe, Sadie, Kali

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