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…

What’s The Poop?

I guess that every blog about dogs eventually comes down to this topic.


Ever since Kloe joined the pack there seems to be an abundance of poop.  Of course I expected the volume to increase (by 2) with two dogs but there defiantly seems to be an exponential affect with two dogs that make having two seem more like four.

To illustrate my point I’ll use last Friday morning as an example.  We have a large part of our property – around 50 yards long by 30 yards wide –  that is mostly for the dogs to roam and poop. We call it The Pen…. Kloe hangs out there sometimes to dig, find pine cones to chew on, and dart to and fro’ like the Tasmanian Devil (think Looney Tunes) when she’s tired of terrorizing Kali and needs to burn off some of her Golden puppy energy. For the most part the dogs know that when they “gotta go” that is where they gotta go.

It had been a few days since I picked up poop so there were numerous poopertunities for me to use the new scooper I had purchased the previous day.  I was pretty thorough and I’m certain that I captured every “dog pile” (Ok, I’ll slow down on the puns but hey – it’s a post about poop!) that my two sweet girls had left or me.

The very next  morning I wondered by The Pen and decided to go down to see what the poop was ((last pun – I promise).  I grabbed my new scooper and expected to find find three to four poopertunities (it doesn’t count because I already used it) to scoop. One scoop, two scoop, three scoop four.  Five scoop six scoop, seven poop more?!?  What the….? I stopped counting at 10 and it had been only 24 hours since my last endeavor in The Pen.

I know my dogs poop routine probable better that I should.  Kloe “goes” first thing in the morning when she gets up, after lunch, and usually one other time during the afternoon.  Kali goes during our morning walk and maybe one other random time during the day.  That adds up to four or five poops per canine pack members per day.  So why was there over 10 poopertunities for me Saturday morning??  I cannot say but I’m pretty sure there are other dogs jumping over the five foot cyclone fence that surrounds the Pen.

You might say, “but Michael, it would take a pretty athletic dog to jump a five foot fence and why would they do that just to poop and then jump out?”  And if you did say that I in turn would ask you how two dogs can poop over 10 times in a 24 hour period?

So that’s the poop.


Part of The Pen.  Look closely – I’m sure you’ll find some “buried treasures”…

Cheez-It, Dogs, and Dishwashers

Buying appliances can be a long endeavor with so many models, features, brands, and price ranges.  I’m always reminded when shopping for things of something my friend Bob, said a few years ago.  He said, “Mike – you can’t just go by Cheez-It any more.  There’s low fat Cheez-It, wheat Cheez-It, low sodium, white cheese, spicy, etc.  You can’t just go and buy Cheez-Its any more.”  And Bob was and is right.  It’s that way with everything.  We live in a world with infinite choices.  I’m not complaining, just saying’…

So there we were at Lowe’s shopping for dishwashers.  Holly, me, Kali, and Kloe.  Full disclosure – Holly had done the research on what we might want before our trek to Lowe’s but we still had questions and knew that if we chose to buy there it would take some time.

We spent about 45 minutes looking at dishwashers, getting our questions answered, making the decision, and going through the purchase process about delivery information, extended warranty details,  installation, etc.  Throughout the entire process our girls – Kloe and Kali- were so patient laying on the ground next to us and charming all the shoppers who passed by.  Yes, there were some treats involved every now and then.  Occasionally Kali would let out a short bark to get my attention and remind me that there were treats in my pocket.  And once or twice Kloe stood up and repositioned herself in a way that she tied Holly’s legs up in a square knot.

But all in all our girls were so well behaved for such an extended period of time you would have thought they had been promised filet mignon for dinner.  But there were no steaks offered.  There were no brand new squeaky toys.  There were just a few biscuits and our sweet girls lying by mom an dad’s feet while we purchased a box of Cheez-it Dishwasher.


Too many choices:  you can’t just go and buy a box of Cheez-It these days.




If I only had another biscuit

We were at my older son Jonathan’s end of the year soccer party.  He was seven at the time and his younger brother Michael was four.  The party was at a pizza parlor with the usual array of video games peppered throughout the building.  Like most kids my boys loved video games and they would spend hours and hours (and a lot of money) playing them if we had allowed them to.  My younger son Michael was especially “passionate” about video games and could become laser locked on any given game especially if he was about to beat a “level” or the “boss”.

The soccer team and their siblings were given a small bag with eight quarters to play video games before the pizza came out and before awards were presented.  My boys quickly consumed the eight quarters and then I gave them another eight quarters each.  The end of the year party goes on and most of the kids have had enough video games and are ready for pizza.  But then there’s Michael standing in the middle of the dinning room looking quite forlorn.  Looking at no one directly he says in a most exasperated voice, “If I only had another quarter”.  All at once about ten dads reach in their pockets and offer their quarters to Michael.

So fast forward about 25 years and now this is Kali. Standing in the middle of the room saying, “If only I had another biscuit.”

Today was not much different from most days for Kali.  Get up, eat breakfast.  Go for a walk, get training treats.  Come home watch dad make his breakfast and for staying out of the kitchen, get biscuits.  Later on watch dad make his lunch and get biscuits for staying out of the kitchen again.  Later in the afternoon get a Kong filled with carrots and peanut butter just ’cause.  I think even my son Michael, at four years old as he was in that pizza parlor,  would have to agree that this is a lot of (figurative) quarters.

But there Kali is with her big brown eyes and her oh-so-optimistic outlook.  If dad’s got food there is a chance I’ll get some.  If dad has quarters in his pocket there’s a chance for one more video game.

And Kali, like Michael, is right.  There’s always another quarter. All you’ve got to have is a little moxie to ask for it, indirectly or otherwise.   I love Kali like I love my kids. But as a parent there had to be some limits.  And for Kali there needs to be limits too, right?  Michael’s sad eyes staring longingly over at the giant Atari game.  Kali’s beautiful brown eyes staring at my snack.  Arghh!…  Stay strong.  Be mature,  Be the voice of reason and discipline.  Don’t lie.  Be honest and say “yes, I do have another quarter but it is not in your best interest if I give it to you”.

Kali with her sweet brown piercing eyes and  thought bubble over her head with a small picture of my son Michael next to it, “If I only had another biscuit”.

Me with a thought bubble over my head “Kali and Michael have been spending WAY too much time together”.

If I only had another biscuit

If I only had another biscuit

Pearly Whites

Earlier this week Kali had her world rocked!  I think her brain short circuited for a short time evidenced by a few puffs of smoke billowing from her ears.

The morning started out normal enough:  rise and shine at sun-up, head downstairs and go outside to take care of “business”, dad freshens the water bowls, come back in, perform histrionics while dad fills the bowl with kibble, and eat breakfast.  But the bowl never came out and the kibble remained locked tight in the magic container.

Kali had a teeth cleaning scheduled for that morning at 8:30 am.  Because she would be receiving anesthesia she couldn’t eat anything.    So as I got my coffee and sat at the table to read the sports section all Kali could do was stare at me -indignantly- and wonder why I was not going into the closet to fill her bowl with kibble.  As I sat down I could swear her head did a few Scooby-Doo-like swivels as her lips uttered, “Wha…?”    To Kali’s credit she settled down quickly, stopped doing double takes towards the closet, and laid at my feet as I drank coffee and read the paper.

I brush Kali’s teeth regularly, often,…. I should be better about brushing Kali’s teeth.  She’s relatively tolerant of my gauze wrapped finger in her mouth mostly because it’s slathered in liver flavored tooth paste (yum, right?).  The biscuit interludes as rewards for being patient are also appreciated.   So I should be better and more disciplined about brushing Kali’s teeth.  When we changed vets earlier this year and Dr. Brenda was checking Kali’s teeth I say something like, “I’ve been brushing them often and they look pretty good, right?”.  Brenda says, “Well the front teeth look pretty good”, and then she pulls back her lips (Kali’s lips, not her own) to expose the molars and says, “but back here she has some pretty bad gingivitis.  You should get her in soon for a teeth cleaning”.  So we got her in for the cleaning last week….

Later in the afternoon I go back to pick up Kali with great anticipation of what will surely be her pearly white teeth and a happy dog hungry and anxious use those pearly whites to chomp into a biscuit or two as a warm up for dinner.

Have you ever gone in for an oil change for your car and when you come back to pick it up the service advisor meets you at the door and says something like, “The front end is out of alignment and you have an emissions error on the computer.  We’ll need to do some more diagnostics to see exactly what’s needed.  It’s safe to drive for now but you’ll want to have these repairs done soon”.

Dr. Brenda comes out to greet me saying, “Everybody always get’s nervous when the vet comes out to talk to you, but don’t worry Kali is just fine”.  I have to admit that when Brenda came out I thought something was up and began processing: if something had gone bad they would have called me, Kali’s ok, but why is Brenda here and not just the tech to say thanks and see you next time?…

Brenda explained to me that the ECG picked up Arrhythmia – abnormal heart rhythm – while Kali was anesthetized. More specifically, Premature Ventricular Complexes (PVC).  PVCs, for those of you with inquiring minds, [from Wikipedia] “are characterized by a premature ventricular contraction without a preceding P wave, with a duration of more than 0.12 seconds (P waves dissociated from the QRS complex)”. OK – now I’m doing a Scooby-Doo double take, “Wha….”.

Brenda went on to say that Kali was fine throughout the procedure and never in any danger.  Her oxygen saturation was well within normal limits and she showed no signs of distress.  Still, Brenda being conservative and not wanting to take any chances will speak with a Cardiologist about Kali’s PVC. I also learned that Kali has a cracked incisor and also has a molar that is separated from the jawbone.  Yikes!  Another “procedure” that will preempt breakfast… But before the extractions we’ll need to make sure the heart is good and that the combination of anesthesia and the PVC is not a risk.  That’s where the cardiologist comes in.  Dr. Brenda says it could be nothing, or something that is very treatable, but she doesn’t like to leave anything to chance.  This is why we like Dr. Brenda and the great care Kali gets at Livermore Country Pet Hospital.

The gingivitis is probably years in the making and the problem with the molar is likely related to that.  The cracked incisor is a mystery.  Kali has never exhibited any pain or discomfort while eating but then again, she’s a Golden and she’s Kali; never complaining and always wanting to please.   She may or may not be in any pain when she eats but we may never know.  Dogs have a great way of adapting to their environment and as an owner it can be easy to become complacent.

Oh yeah, and the PVC… Dr. Brenda will be calling this week after she hears from the Cardiologist and we’ll go from there.  Meanwhile, guess who will be jumping head first into research about PVC, causes, and treatments?  On the other hand it is what it is and maybe we’ll just sit tight and wait to hear from the experts before we get too much education on something that could be nothing.  Paws crossed!

Hey - those molars look real nice now but what's up with the sweat band on your leg?

Hey – those molars look real nice now but what’s up with the sweat band on your leg?

Painters Tape

Well, I guess she’s not an angel after all…. No, not the lighted angel, Kali. The green painters tape clinging to her belly hair was all the evidence I needed.

Backing up for context…..

The day after Kali arrived in May she was checking out the house and exploring her new surroundings. Sniffing around the couch in the family room she put one paw up on the seat cushion and slithered up onto it like a snake. I gently pulled her down and said, “No, stay down Kali”, and she moved along her way sniffing and exploring. That was the end of that. Or so I thought.

A few days before Kali came home we bought a crate for her with a soft bed in it. We bought it so that she would have her special place and for all the obvious reasons families provide crates for their dogs. She would go in it if asked to but never on her own. She didn’t need it or want it and she was always very respectful of the house. So after a few weeks we took it down and put it in storage. During the hot summer Kali enjoyed laying on the cool tiles in our kitchen and family room. Whether we’re home or not Kali has the run of the house and we’ve never had any reason to not trust her. Or so I thought.

Then over the weekend my bubble was burst. The jig is up. Kali was implicated in a household misdemeanor!…

Thanksgiving night we set up our Christmas tree in the living room. We have to move around furniture to accommodate placing the tree where we like it. As with most other events and changes around the house Kali was lying in the thick of the activity, unfazed, and more than willing to allow us step over her or around her. Why get up or move, right? The next day as I was coming down the stairs I see Kali slowly getting off the couch. This is a different couch than the one she slithered onto in May. That was a cold leather couch in the family room. This couch, in the living room, is a warm fabric couch and much softer than the leather one. It was a rather cute scene but I thought I better not let this become a habit. So I took her to the couch and gestured that it was not ok to be on it. This in itself is funny because several seconds had passed and Kali had no idea what I was talking about.

The next evening Holly and were going out. Kali and Smokey would have the house to themselves for a few hours. I wondered out loud to Holly if Kali would get up on the couch as she had the day before. It’s not that we really care. It’s just the principle of setting boundaries for Kali and making sure she continues to respect the house. On the other hand, and in Kali’s defense, Smokey also has the run of the house including couches and chairs and beds and anything else warm and comfy he can jump onto. When Smokey does it it’s cute and expected. When Kali does it it’s not OK. So, like I used to tell my kids when they would compare themselves to each other for some reason and say, “that’s not fair – so-and-so get’s to do it”. I would reply, “If you want to compare let’s do a thorough review and see what I should not let you do because your brother or sister doesn’t get to and it wouldn’t be fair to them”. I may need to have this conversation with Kali in the near future.

Holly, replying to my musing about Kali getting on the couch while we would be gone, says, “hey – do the tape thing that your friend Marty told you about and we’ll find out”. The “tape thing” is placing painters tape – sticky side up – on the couch so that if the dog was to get on the aforementioned couch the tape would become attached to the aforementioned dog (that’d be you Kali!). I strategically place the tape on the couch – sticky side up – and we walk out reminding Kali and Smokey to be good while we’re gone. They stare blankly back as is the norm when we leave together wondering why they can’t go too.

A few hours later when we get home Kali greets us at the door leading into the kitchen from the garage as she always does. I immediately go the couch to check the status of the tape. It’s gone. Hmm… Meanwhile Holly is laughing while Kali stands there with painters tape securely attached to the hair on her belly wagging her tail welcoming us home. Holly and I laugh because we’re not surprised and because Kali looks silly and so very guilty. Kali, continuing to wag her tail now with an increased velocity, implies that the evidence is circumstantial. She continues to welcome us home as I rip the tape away from her long hair. This of course doesn’t faze her in the least bit. Her world is good again and so is ours. The pack is reunited.

We’re all together again, at home with two couches and plenty of painters tape.

Painters Tape:  place sticky side up to gather evidence

Painters Tape: place sticky side up to gather evidence


This weekend marks six months since the grand arrival of Nala and 23 of her Taiwanese foster brothers and sisters. When I mentioned this to Kali this morning she looked at me as if to say, “who’s Nala?” and promptly went back to sleep. I nudge her and ask, “Don’t you remember being called Nala before you arrived from Taiwan in America and joined our family?”. Kali: “Zzzzzz”.

“Come on Kali – you must remember. This was a big deal for you. It was a life changing event”.

Kali looks up at me and with her big sweet brown eyes now open wide and keenly alert. She’s sits up and stares directly into my eyes. Her breathing quickens. Her head tilts slightly When I ask again if she remembers once being Nala. Kali opens her mouth and to my amazement she speaks. I mean actually speaks words. In clear distinct voice she says, “You realize I’m a dog right? So while there may be a chance that at some emotional or instinctive level I remember this event you refer to and this thing called Nala it’s highly unlikely that I can intellectualize the experience. It’s even more unlikely that I can articulate my thoughts in a way that would be understandable to a human. I mean no disrespect and of course I love you more than you’ll ever know. But, as I said, I am a dog. You do know that right…?”

At this point this post could go in several directions. Which makes most sense to you?

The Obvious Ending
“..you do know that right?” I wake up and look over at Kali still sound asleep even thought the light is beginning to shine in though the blinds. I’ve always had very vivid dreams and can remember many of the dream’s details even weeks and months after waking up. This dream with Kali was pretty cool but honestly speaking I don’t know if would really want her to talk. I was a little intimidated by Kali’s masterful command of the language and frequent usage of five syllable words. Then there was the cleverly ironic manner in which she used those big words to tell me that it was crazy to believe she could rationalize her own emotions. And frankly, I was a little put off by her posh British accent. I mean, where the heck did that come from?

The Practical Ending
“..you do know that right?” It’s fun to muse about dogs talking but there are a lot of situations where it would be very cool to have a real conversation with your dog. What if they could understand relatively complex concepts. For example time. If only Kali could understand what I mean when I tell her, “We’ll go for our walk later.” This way she’d know that I haven’t forgotten. I can hear a rational Kali responding with something like, “Ok, I’ll take another nap and you let me know when you’re ready.”

It would also be helpful at certain times if dogs could articulate their desires and emotions with words. For example, Kali: ” I know you don’t like me eating the decorative figs that fall on the ground but if you would pick them up more regularly I wouldn’t be tempted”. I’d know that she was trying and not simply ignoring me, but it would be helpful if the figs weren’t there to tempt her.

Or, Me: “What’s bothering you? You seem a little lethargic today.” Kali: “I ate a couple of those dried up figs that you keep forgetting to pick up. Oh, yeah and I ate some of a green apple that fell on the ground this morning. My stomachs just a little upset. After I eat some grass I’ll be fine”. Worries mitigated and trip to the vet avoided.

Kali’s Ending
..you do know that right?” Then I snap out of my silly day dreaming and see Kali asleep at my feet. “Nala” I whisper. Kali looks up at me and thumps her tail on the ground. She does remember! Then I whisper, “Kali”. Same result, thump thump. “Agnes”. Again, same result.

And then it hits me. “Kali”, I say, “you respond to all the words I say. I don’t have to say walk. All I need to do is get up and put my shoes on. When we come to a street crossing I stop and you sit without me saying a word. You read my body language. When I do give a command you respond because whether you recognize the word or not you read my body language. You stare into my eyes waiting for me to tell you what I want and when I want it and you are always glad to oblige. So, I guess we do have real conversations, don’t we. Maybe it’s not so absurd after all that dogs could talk.”

Kali smiles and I see a thought bubble over her head:

“At last, he’s thinking like a dog. I’ve made good progress with my new dad over the last six months. He’s very trainable and definitely a keeper. My foster brothers and sisters would be so proud of me. I hope they’ve made as much progress with training their American families as I have with mine. Hey Dad – I’m looking at your eyes. Tell me what to do next ’cause I’m ready when you are”.

Oh yeah, all right  Take it easy baby  Make it last all night  She was an American girl - Tom Petty

Oh yeah, all right
Take it easy baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl
– Tom Petty

Dog People

It’s interesting to see dog people and non-dog people.  They’re quite different in the way they greet you when you have a dog on the end of a leash.

A dog person begins watching you – the dog actually – from afar and as you get closer the person begins to smile and make eye contact with the dog.  They subconsciously hope that the dog will notice and acknowledge them.  With a little luck the owner will stop and allow the dog to greet them.  Their jackpot is a wagging tail, a doggie smile, and sloppy lick of the hand, or face if they are so bold as to get on their knees for the greeting (as I’m inclined to do).

A non-dog person shows indifference to the animal unless they’re scared or annoyed that the owner would bring the dog into the store or wherever the encounter occurred.  Or, perhaps they’ve observed too may unattended poops on their walking trail.  The non-dog person may make eye contact with the owner  briefly and some will even force a smile as to say, “yes, I see the dog and I see that you are so proud of the animal but I’m really not interested.  Good day and good luck”.

Neither is right or wrong.  I just happen to think that the non-dog person is missing out on an encounter or relationship that could (will!) enrich their lives forever.  Yes – I’m biased.  Yes – I’m a proud Papa.  Yes, we’re blessed to have Kali in our lives and us in hers.

Kali and I meet more dog people than non-dog people.  It’s a great feeling to have someone you’ve never met before approach you with a smile and say something like, “what a beautiful dog”, or ” I had a Golden and he/she was the best dog”.  Or, a small child’s (and watchful parent’s) eyes fix on Kali praying to meet and maybe pet her.  I think children are all born dog people.  What child doesn’t love a puppy or want to hug a dog, right?  So… this means that the non-dog people were once dog people but somewhere along the way they lost that magic.

The good news for the non-dog people is that the dog loves them just as much as the dog people.  Which of course is part of that unconditional love all us dog people know so well.

Road trip!  A happy Kali ready to go out and greet the world.

Road trip! A happy Kali ready to go out and greet the world.

Our Marley Moment

It happened in a  flash of speed and might.  It caught me by total surprise.  I gasped, I scolded, and then we laughed.  Well, I didn’t laugh right away but my buddy Marty did.  I apologized and Marty laughed some more.  “Mike, it’s only wood” he said.

Holly, Kali and I had driven up that morning for an overnight visit with our friends Marty and Jen at their vacation home in Pine Mountain Lake, CA.  Although it was only a two hour drive it was the longest car trip with Kali we had taken, we would be staying overnight, and there would be another dog.  In this vacation and retirement community there are no fences separating properties so Kali would need to be tethered most of the time we were at the house.  I was a little anxious.  I wanted Kali to be a respectful guest and I wanted her to begin experiencing new and fun things away from home.  Selfishly, I was hoping she would be the perfect dog I envisioned when I began thinking about adopting many months ago.  So yes, I was anxious but optimistic.  And so was Kali.

Kali did great in the car – I wasn’t surprised. She’s a great passenger.  We had put her crate in the back of the SUV but she quickly exited and came up behind us to be close even though it was less comfortable.  Kali likes to be near us and that’s just fine with me.  We arrived at the house and were greeted by Marty, Jen, and Sadie.  Sadie, like Kali, is a sweet girl; slightly smaller and just as pretty.  They had met once before and it hadn’t gone so well because of Kali’s anxiety with other dogs (we’re working on that and she’s getting better).  Much to my pleasant surprise they quickly adjusted and Kali settled in.

We spent much of the afternoon exploring the beautiful lake property – the four humans in the front of our SUV and the two dogs in the back.  When we arrived back at the house the dogs got water and the humans got beer and wine.  Right?…  Dogs seem to love the latter part of the day when the sun begins to go down, they’ve been fed, and – like a lot of humans after a great day and meal – they can just chill and reflect on their blessings.

Kali and me cooling off at Pine Mountain Lake

Kali and me cooling off at Pine Mountain Lake

And so we did. The six of us hanging out watching the sun go down and relaxing in the warm evening weather.

Marty keeps Sadie tethered with a cable that’s attached to a hook that’s screwed into the molding on the side of the house.   The cable is light enough to be comfortable for Sadie and strong enough to keep her safe.  It’s long enough to give her full access to the garage, driveway and surrounding yard without putting her in harms way.  Sadie has adapted to this very well.  And so did Kali.

Then it happened.  The feat of strength.  The moment when the dog aura says “don’t underestimate my resolve”.  The Marley Moment.  

A neighbor walked by with their Golden, Jack.  Marty walked to the edge of the driveway to say hi.  Kali followed – with, let’s say “passion”.  Except the tether was too short (as designed) to get to the street.   Off in a flash she pulled the cable, the hook and a piece of the  house  with her.  A piece of the house.  My friend’s house.  Barking with tail wagging the entire way.

Marty laughed.   The neighbors smiled stating the obvious, “well, at least you know she is very strong”.

At first I thought she had pulled the hook out but upon closer examination of the situation I saw a four foot piece of siding dragging behind her into the street.

Me (sightly embarrassed): Wow Marty – I’m really sorry.

Marty:  “Mike, it’s only wood”.

Me – “Yeah but, well…..”

Kali:  “WOOF”  (Thought bubble over her head that says, “WOOF”).

Sadie: “That was pretty cool”. (Thought bubble over her head that says “that was pretty cool).

Me: “More wine!”


Pay Me!

It took me about 15 minutes to stop being mad. Then I pouted for a few hours. Then I was over it.

Kali on the other hand was over it as soon as her morning meal was served and with no residual pouting. Like most mornings after she eats she approached me like Oliver Twist approached Mr. Bumble in the workhouse and – with her eyes – said, “please sir, I want some more”. But no display of anger or seemingly any memory of the argument that had happened less than 30 minutes before.

It started much like all our other early morning walks which goes something like this. I get up around 6:00 AM and Kali follows me downstairs. She goes outside and does her business (which involves creating yellow spots on the lawn), she comes back in, we go upstairs to get her little brother Smokey from my daughters bedroom, and we return downstairs to prepare….. “THE FOOD”. Then the dancing begins, the grunting, the pleading, the heavy breathing, and the desperate eyes fixed on my every move. THE FOOD is prepared, the two bowls placed next to each other just outside the kitchen door, and Kali and Smokey chow down now oblivious to my existence. I’m ok with it…

Maybe it was because this particular morning we didn’t get Smokey up, I didn’t prepare THE FOOD, and I changed up the routine. Or not. But on this particular morning I thought it would be fun for me and Kali to walk before THE FOOD. Get a head start on the day. Burn some calories before the meal. Carpe Diem! Right?

So off we go. A beautiful summer morning in Northern California. Clear skies, warm air, and, at 6:00 AM, the streets and trails practically to ourselves.

About five minutes into our early morning walk Kali stops and sits. “Come on Kali, walk. Let’s go”. Nothing. “Kali, come on, walk“. Nope. Her eyes tell me, ” I want food and I know you have some in your pocket”. Kali is in “training” and along our walks we do training and she gets “paid” for good performance.

Me: “KALI – let’s go, WALK”.
Kali: “Pay me”.
Me: “I’m not paying you to sit”.
Kali: “Pay me”.
Me: “No, follow the rules and you get paid”.
Kali: “Pay me or I won’t move”.
Me: “This is extortion. We’re going home”.

Somehow we make it home without biting each other. I try to rise above the anger and am marginally successful. Kali looks at me adoringly with unconditional love. I feel small. Great – now besides anger and frustration I get to add guilt to the range of emotions I’m experiencing.

We go upstairs to get Smokey. I prepare THE FOOD. The dogs eat side by side in harmony. The dogs come back in and cuddle and play kissy-face. I drink my coffee and pout.

Kissey Face


Me: “Kali, I didn’t get what I wanted out of our walk this morning. I got up extra early, I didn’t get Smokey up specifically because I wanted you and me to have a special morning, just you and me on the trail on a beautiful summer morning. I’m so happy you are in my life. I know I can’t fully appreciate the challenges of transitioning as a stray and coming half way around the world. I need to be patient with you like you are with me. I need to work for you as hard as you are working for me.

Kali: “Pay me”.

I love this dog!