Kali and Kloe

Koda has been a great addition to our family. It’s hard to believe it’s been over three years since we adopted her at four months old. She and Kloe are almost always together and have grown to be good companions even though there is some sibling rivalry from time to time. It’s heartening to know that since only two years separate them they should have many more years together as they grow older.

But before there was Koda there was just Kali and Kloe.

Kali was seven years old when Kloe joined our pack at just nine weeks old. Kali was just the right age and had an ideal temperament for bringing a puppy into the family. She quickly accepted the new little whippersnapper and become a surrogate mother during Kloe’s formative years. They became great companions to one another. Kali was still young enough to have interest in playing. At first very gentle and then as Kloe grew larger and stronger more vigorous. It didn’t take Kloe long to become larger and stronger than Kali. By 9 months old she was 75 pounds surpassing Kali’s 60. As Kloe got older they became more of equals, never any competition or rivalry as there is at times between Koda and Kloe. Even as Kloe grew older and larger she continued to seek comfort from Kali as she did when she was a wee pup. I know that Kali enjoyed having a companion in Kloe and they were never far apart from one another.

Kali has slowed way down over the past year or so. She has wobbly legs, poor eyesight, hearing loss, and she doesn’t seem to have a good sense of smell any longer. Other than that she’s fantastic! ūüôā It’s become harder and harder for her to get around and at 12 plus years now she mostly sleeps. She’s earned it and she maintains a very special spot in my heart and in my day to day life.

Recently I pulled up some old photos of when it was just Kali and Kloe. It was fun to look back a photos of Kloe at 15 or 20 pounds laying on big sister Kali and then seeing photos from over the years with Kloe still using Kali as a pillow. And the photos of just the two of them hanging out together sometimes being a little goofy. Although the pack dynamics have changed over the past few years with the addition of Koda and with Kali aging, it continues to make me happy to know there is still a special bond between Kali and Kloe!

Kids and Dogs

Kids

I’ve always likened having dogs to having children. We do so many things for our dogs that we do or did for our kids. We feed them, educate them, entertain, love, discipline, and so on. We even refer to them as our kids, our fur-babies, or in my case as “the girls”. Our human children are all gown and have been out of the house for many years. There are many things I don’t know about their day to day lives. When they were very young I observed and knew every small detail of their lives. As they grew older I saw less and eventually knew less. Which is the way it should be. I know as I grew older into a young adult and beyond my parents knew less and less of the details of my life. I needed them less. They were glad I was independent. I feel the same way about my grown children.

My kids many years ago. Left to right Michael (now 34), Jessi (now 30), and Jonathan (now 37). Wow! In some ways I wish they could have stayed just like in this photo forever. But time marches on. They are independent with full and robust lives of their own.

Dogs

But with our dogs it’s a little different. They never become independent in the way our children do. They rely on us their entire lives for their care and well being. While there are many similarities between a puppy and a human baby, the baby grows to be a toddler and beyond and they puppy grows to be like a toddler and mostly plateaus there. As dogs mature and age we continue to not only know, but also mostly control all the details of our their lives. When they eat we know it. When they walk we know it. When they find themselves into some sort of trouble or problem we not only know it but also correct it. Our dogs become moderately independent for short amounts of time but they can’t be (or shouldn’t be) left overnight by themselves. And as they grow older, like my 12 year old Kali, they need us more and more.

My “girls” a few hours ago. Left to right Koda (3.5 years, Kali (12 years), and Kloe (5 .5 years). Koda has finally matured into a toddler, Kali’s hips and eyes are deteriorating, and Kloe’s muzzle is graying. Like their human siblings they also have a full and robust life but rely on Holly and I to make sure of that. They are very dependent and we are ok with that.

So having dogs is like having kids but way different.

The Golden Kali Blog

Newer followers of Golden Kali can get caught up to speed about each of my girls here:

Thanks to everyone who follows Golden Kali! We’ve been away for a while busy with pack life but will be posting much more often. Tells us what you think about the Golden Kali blog and what questions or interests you may have about life in the mountains with three Golden Retrievers.

Why Do I Have Three Dogs?

After Koda joined our pack a couple of years ago someone asked me why I had three dogs. ¬† I said, “because my wife won’t let me have four”. ¬†Boom –¬†Rim shot!¬† I wasn’t the one who thought of that answer. I had seen it somewhere else; maybe on a tee-shirt or a Facebook meme. ¬† But I am pretty sure that if I seriously suggested getting a fourth pup my wife would present me with an ultimatum. ¬†That’s not to say that Holly doesn’t love our three girls as much as I do or that I want another dog. ¬† I’ve also had the question about what it’s like to have more than one dog, or as in my case, three.

Having more than one dog definitely has it’s merits: An obvious one is that they provide companionship and security to each other when Holly and I aren’t around. ¬† More selfishly is how great I feel when my three girls are nearby and laying together fast asleep with parts of each other’s bodies on one another. ¬†Ahhh…peace.

But there are plenty things that could be considered downsides: ¬† Three times the cost of food, vet bills, pet insurance, and toys. ¬† And the exponential affect of poop. Or as I say, poop squared. ¬†I’m convinced that having three dogs yields enough poop for nine dogs!

Getting On The The Same Page

Like with human siblings there are times that my three girls are not barking off the same woof sheet.  Koda is maturing and more often she will acquiesce to the flow of the family, wait her turn, or just give me some space with one of her sisters.  But for much of her first two years she wanted demanded the attention of the entire pack during all waking hours.   She initiated commandeered rough play from her two older sisters РKoda and Kali Рthroughout much of the day. Whether they wanted to play or not.

When Kali joined the pack at five years old it was just her.  Most of my routines revolved around her.   Our walks to the Creek Trail, play time, cuddle time and so on. I have to admit I miss the times that it was just Kali and I.  We established an ever lasting bond that has transcended the passing of time and addition of siblings.   But now at 11 years, Kali has slowed down significantly and mostly sleeps the day away.  Often there are activities when she has to be left behind.  Like morning walks or an excursion beyond The Golden K like a trip to the lake.  That makes me a little sad.

Food Is The common Denominator

Regardless of age, distractions, or personalities there is one activity where The Girls are in lock step. ¬†Meal time! ¬†When breakfast and dinner preparation begin they work in harmony to get under my feet supervise and root me on. ¬†As I lift the filled bowls from the counter they move as a single unit to the designated feeding area. ¬†Their moves are so aligned and focused you’d think that Bob Fosse had choreographed it! ¬†Once bowls are on the ground they sit without prompting, collectively look adoringly in my eyes stare impatiently while waiting for the release to their bowls. ¬†Teamwork at it’s finest!

And then there were three

My Girls have distinct personalities and priorities. ¬†They were never as evident as one day shortly after Koda joined the pack as a four month old puppy. ¬† For potty training and other reasons we used gates to make sure Koda stayed in the kitchen and could not wonder too far out of our site. ¬† One afternoon The Girls were all in the kitchen as I was busy going in and out for various reasons. ¬†To get out of and back into the kitchen I would need to step over one of the gates. ¬†As went to step over the gate my shoe got stuck at the top and I fell taking the gate down with me. ¬†My knee landed hard on the gate and I laid there sightly crumbled on the ground. ¬† Here is where the The Girl’s priorities were on full display.

It all happened quickly.  As I laid on the ground in a bit of pain The Girls all rushed to my side.  But for different reasons.

Koda was first and in a flash threw her body on mine.  Her tail was wagging fast, her tongue was out, and she was very excited to see me on the floor.   Surely this was play time!  Kloe is very sensitive and intuitive.  She knew immediately that I was in pain and came to my side to comfort me.  As I lay there trying to fight Koda off,  Kloe sat by my side leaning into my body with a concerned look on her face.  And then there was Kali; last to arrive but no less passionate (about her priority).   Most dogs Рespecially Goldens Рare food motivated.  If there are levels of food motivation from one to 10 Kali would be at least 500.  These days she struggles to get up from a down position because of her bad hips.   Often times I have to help her up.  But if there is food involved Kali springs up like Tigger of Winnie The Pooh fame and is first in line.

So on this day as I lay there on the ground with the full weight of Kloe’s 75 pounds leaning into me and Koda’s paws and tongue in my face, here comes Kali. ¬† And what does Kali do? ¬†She sticks sticks her snout into my pocket because she knows that there are usually treats there.

So why do I have three dogs? ¬†Because my wife says I can’t have four!

Stay!

Most dogs know the word stay; especially when accompanied by an open hand in front of their face.  Some people, well not so much.

It’s a trying time for our global community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. ¬† The stay at home orders continue to grow state by state and, in varying degrees, Americans are heeding the advice and direction from our leaders and scientists. ¬†Privileged Americans that we are with all our civil liberties sometimes have a hard time being told what to do or when to do it. ¬†We are reluctant or even unwilling to adjust out routines for the better good of the world community. ¬† But “stay” is a very important word right now for all of us to hear, and adhere to. ¬†It’s our best chance to slow the spread of this virus.

Having said that I know that many two legged pack members cannot stay. ¬†Many are healthcare professionals treating the infected and helping them to get healthy. ¬†Many are working to keep stores open so those of us who are not sick have the basic supplies we need to stay healthy. ¬†And that list goes on for those who cannot stay. ¬†But for those of you that can, please….STAY! ¬† Don’t make me put my hand in front of your face…. ūüôā

Meanwhile, life goes on without many changes for my girls. ¬†The biggest disruption for Kali, Kloe, and Koda is the wet weather we’ve had the past two weeks. ¬†It’s ¬†kept them mostly sheltering in place in the house instead of outside in the sun. ¬†Kali actually prefers to be in the house even when the weather is warm and dry. ¬†Her 11 year old bones are much more comfortable when she is asleep in front of the pellet stove or in a sun drenched area of the kitchen. ¬† She is a black belt at “down stay”.

I’m pretty sure the girls are enjoying the enhanced family time. ¬†But I wonder if there will come a point where they wish we would go just away for a while so that they could sleep in peace. ¬†The humans in this pack have been very good at stay but not so good at down-stay or sit-stay. ¬† We tend to move around a lot during the day. ¬†We’re constantly working, cleaning, and milling around. ¬† It’s not until evening that we allow ourselves to settle down and relax. ¬† I think the girls are exhausted by the end of the day from watching so much activity during what is usually their alone time.

We should also take some cues from our girls during this (hopefully) unique period of time and just settle. ¬†Those of us who remain healthy should first and foremost count our blessings. But then maybe find some sun and take a nap. ¬†Or take a long chew on a good book. ¬†Or maybe use our noses to guide us around the yard and sniff out something we have not noticed before. ¬†Because with continued adherence to stay, ¬†good science, and good leadership it won’t be long before us humans are back in full blown fetch mode.

From all of us at The Golden K we wish all of our Golden Kali followers and their families good health and good luck riding out this difficult time.

Stay! and take care,

Kali, Kloe, Koda, Michael and Holly.

Shelter In Place

Sheltering In Place Experts

A Gental Soul

This past week marks five years since my gentle soul Golden Kali joined our family.  May 24 is Kali’s “Gotcha Day”.  Long time followers of the Golden Kali Blog may remember that Kali was originally rescued in Taiwan.   After receiving a few months of loving care and rehabilitation from her Taiwanese foster care givers she flew to America with 23 other Golden Retriever rescues, landed at SFO, and pranced straight into our hearts.  For newer followers this very first post from five years ago will provide you with some historical context:  Kali’s New Life In America Begins.

Kali very quickly turned our family into a pack inspiring us and shaping our lives in ways I never imagined.  Her sweet and gentle disposition was evident from the very start.  That first night home, unsure of what to expect I tethered her to the foot of my bed post when we went to bed.  I remember being gently nuzzled by a wet nose in the wee hours of the morning by this loving girl.  I took her outside to pee and we returned to the bedroom and she willingly settled down by the side of my bed and immediately settled down for the rest of the night.  By the next evening she had earned full run of the house and has never ever displayed anything other than respect and appreciation for her surroundings and our belongings.

I’ll always remember the first visit – a meet and greet – to the vet when the vet gave Kali a few treats.  “Look”, she said.  “She takes the treats with her lips.  She’s so gentle”.  I smiled proudly (as if I had anything to do with her gentle nature) and felt immediately blessed to be in the presence of a soul so sweet as Kali.

Two years later we shook up Kali’s world by bringing home Kloe, a nine-week old Golden Retriever.  After about 10 or15 minutes of a lot of barking (“get that little dog out of here”), followed by about 30 minutes of indifference (“fine she can stay but I’m not having anything to do with her”), Kloe won Kali’s heart and they’ve been nuzzling, playing, and sleeping together ever since.   During the first several months Kali was a wonderful surrogate mom to Kloe giving her lessons only another dog can.  As Kloe grew older the relationship transitioned to sisters and to this day Kloe idolizes her big sissy Kali.

Within three weeks of bringing Kloe home we moved from the SF Bay Area to the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  We named our home The Golden K in honor of our two “K” girls.  Kali loved her new environment with so much more area to explore and smell.   Kloe followed in Kali’s every footstep and they became great companions with a common disdain for squirrels, an eventual acceptance of the black tail deers, and a love for the smell and whooshing of the tall pines.

Late last year at the insistence of Kali I finally convinced Holly that we needed another pup.  Another pup to be an active companion for Kloe now that Kali was slowing down.  And as awkward as may sound, I want to make sure that Kloe had a companion when it’s time for Kali to cross over the rainbow bridge.  I don’t like to think about that day – it scares me to think about being without Kali.  But I also don’t want to get another pup in the middle of my grief.  I love Kloe too much to let there be a time when she doesn’t have a canine companion.

So….enter Koda!.   Our third Golden K girl joined us last fall at four months old. This tenacious little fire ball joined the pack guns-a-blazing full of attitude, mischief, and, occasional mayhem.   In spite of some of her more, er, well, hmm…. let’s say challenging traits, she is a sweet and loving pup who with continued patience from the rest of the pack will turn into a lovely young lady in the months and years to come.

Through all the figurative -and actual- “planes trains and automobiles”  that Kali experienced during the  past five years she is always the same gentle soul we met on May 24, 2015.  The same gentle should who flew 6,400 miles from Taiwan to San Francisco and later drove 100 miles from suburbia to our new mountain home.  The same gentle soul who has shaped much of my life, Holly’s life, and the lives of her little sissies.

The same gentle soul who’s life in America is chronicled here in The Golden Kali Blog.

Kali the morning after she arrived from Taiwan

Kali today.  Our gentlest of souls

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.

Read more ›

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 Рthey 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

 

 

 

The Master Teacher

As I helped my Golden Kali with her aging hips onto the couch I cuddled her. We were alone in the family room while Holly cleaned up after dinner. Puppy Kloe was still sleeping under the dinner table.

As Kali settled onto the couch I whispered out loud into her ear. “I love you Kali, more than you can ever comprehend”.

Kali looked at me with sleepy eyes and it hit me. I paused for a moment and then I said, again out loud, “Wait – maybe you love me more than I can ever comprehend”.

And so it was. Another moment, another day, and another lesson I’ve learned from my Golden Kali.

My Golden Kali The Master Teacher.

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

Conversing With Our Eyes

“The eyes are the window to your soul.” ¬†

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It’s unclear who first said that. I know this because I waited 0.74 seconds for the Google search to return about 48,200, 000 results. I didn’t corroborate each and every 48 million results with one another. ¬†But I did spend about 15 seconds reviewing the summary of the first article and came to my conclusion that the originator of the phrase is not certain.

What is clear to me is that when I stare deeply into Kali’s dark eyes it’s like staring into a pool of dark water at dusk with glimmering and subtle refections of the setting sun. ¬† I can see her emotions and wants. ¬†Sometimes I can see her fears. ¬†But mostly I see the unconditional love and devotion that has been present since the moment we met three years ago.

So when I talk to Kali and she answers with her eyes, and I understand the answer, am I simply projecting a logical human conclusion or is she really talking to me with her eyes? ¬†I believe it is the latter. ¬†Someone who has never bonded with a dog might question my position. ¬†But that same person could be reminded of the time his ¬†significant other gave him a glance from across the room at a social event and he instantly knew what she was telling him (“I’m bored, let’s go). ¬† Or the time his son hit a walk off home run in little league and as the boy crossed home plate he his eyes met the eyes of his dad in the stands (“We did it Dad. ¬†“WE did it!”).

But even when drawing upon those memories that man may still question my position pointing out that dogs aren’t people and dogs can’t think in such complex terms. ¬† To that man I say, “adopt and love a dog and you will understand”.

So it is for Kali and I throughout the day that she answers me or she herself initiates the conversation with her eyes.

Like first thing in the morning as Kali (not so) patiently waits for me to open my eyes and then stares at me and says, “the sun is up and I’m hungry”. ¬† Or when she is so rudely awakened from a nap when her her “little” sister Kloe sneak attacks her by jumping on her to prompt play. ¬† Kali glances at me as she rises in defense and her eyes say, “Please save me.” ¬†When I give Kali a Kong filled with apples and peanut butter while lying on the ground, ¬†tongue probing the Kong for the treats, she looks up and stares directly into my eyes, “Thank you dad I love this Kong almost as much as I love you”. ¬†And of course there are the annoyed eyes as it gets close to dinner time and I get the prolonged stare, “You can tell time, right?”

One of my favorite lyrics is from “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” performed by the Counting Crows. ¬† Adam Duritz writes, “If you’ve never stared off in the distance, then your life is a shame”. ¬†That lyric really resonates with me and I might take it one step further. I suggest that if you have never stared off into the distance with your dog by your side who is also staring off into¬†the distance then your life is a shame. ¬†There is something special about being outdoors somewhere sitting side by side with your dog and looking off into the distance. ¬† A cloud formation may catch my eye and a bird or squirrel may catch Kali’s. ¬† But mostly we are just together with no particular goal in mind.

And then after a while I look into Kali’s eyes and silently say, “ready to go?”. ¬†She stares back into mine and says, “This was great but yeah, let’s go home”. ¬†¬†And so off we we go where we can continue our silent conversation with our eyes.