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

I’m still kicking myself

I’m still kicking myself.  Holly told me to let it go but my nature is to continue kicking myself until I correct the mistake I made.  Sometimes it takes longer than I’d like but I usually find a way to fix “it” whatever it happens to be…  And I will this time too!

Kali’s nails never need clipping because our daily walks seem to keep them short.  They pretty much always look the same.  Neatly manicured by mother nature.  Except for her dew claws.  These tend to get long and I know when they begin to bother Kali because she’ll start to chew on them.  So last week when I saw her chewing on them I took a look and sure enough they looked like little hooks and in need of a trim.  I’ve trimmed them a few times and although it’s not a favorite grooming activity of Kali’s (to say the least) she usually reluctantly complies and I’m able to get off a quick snip without any problems.

But not last week.  Last week Kali squirmed away just as I was pressing down on the handle of the clippers and I immediately knew that I had hurt her.  I caught the nail too close to the quick.  There was a bit of blood and probably a bit of pain for Kali.  Holly helped and as I held Kali still Holly quickly cauterized the nail with styptic powder and wrapped the area with a sterile bandage and gauze.

Kali was fine but I wasn’t.  I walked around the kitchen saying, “#%&!!…”.  Holly:  “Stop it, she’l be fine.  It happens”.  Me:  “&*%$#!!”.

I went over to Kali who was now laying down and settled.   “I’m so sorry Kali.  I’m so sorry I hurt you”.  Kali didn’t seem to be in any pain and other than being a little confused about the bandage on her paw everything was fine.  But not for me.  I wasn’t fine and I’m still kicking myself.

The next morning I was surprised to find the paw quite swollen but during the course of the morning the swelling resolved and everything seemed fine.   Kali let me hold her paw and squeeze it gently.  There was no apparent pain.  The nail was black but there was no bleeding so I didn’t re-bandage it.   Then a couple of days later Kali was running in the yard and I saw her pull up and come hobbling back towards the house.  The nail was bleeding again.  We bandaged it and again the next day it was fine.  Yesterday on our walk I noticed it bleeding.  When we got home I did a closer inspection and could see that the nail was split – much like a hangnail – and the quick was exposed.  Great – more kicking myself and some silent #%$^@!!”s.  Kali walked on it fine but when I touched the “hangnail” she didn’t like that at all.  When I moved the small piece it clearly hurt her.

Kali tried her best to be a good soldier; she knew what I wanted.  I wanted her to hold still while I washed and bandaged her paw.  But she was too scared and her instincts overrode the desire to obey.  It was an interesting dynamic seeing in her eyes both acknowledgement of what I wanted and also the fear of being hurt.

It took about 15 biscuits and some magician-like maneuvers to get it cleaned and re-bandaged.   I soaked it for a few minutes in a pan of warm water, dried it off, and put on a new sterile bandage wrapped with gauze.  Kali gave the bandage a cursory lick but for the most part ignored it and went off to sleep in the sun while I scoured “source of all truth” (the internet)  to gather more information about cracked dew claws.

Like most things you read about on the internet, and in life,  there are many versions of the truth.  But I did gather enough reasonable information to feel as though I had done the right thing by wrapping Kali’s dew claw up and keeping it clean.   It was quite interesting to read comments in forums from many dog owners that suggest the dew claw should be removed completely in order to avoid the problem in the first place. Many owners advocate amputation when the dog is spayed or put out for some other reason.   I’m no expert but that seems rather excessive and not something I would ever consider unless it became medically necessity.  There were many countering opinions that suggested that dog’s need this appendage to help them maneuver when running and turning quickly as well as helping to hold things still such as a bone or Kong toy.  That seemed much more reasonable to me.

Kali’s is no pain and walks just fine but clearly something needs to be done.  So to be sure I’ll take her to the vet to get a professional assessment and to see if the nail needs to be clipped completely off in order to grow back properly or what the best treatment may be.  I’m hoping the prognosis is that it will resolve itself without medical intervention but I’m not very optimistic. I’ll know later today after we see the vet.

One thing I do know for sure is that it will be difficult for me to trim Kali’s dew claws in the future.   We’ll get past this and then I will begin a regimen of touching her toes and nails without involving clippers in order to get Kali used to it and to regain her confidence in me.  It’s really something I should have done in the first place. I should have been regluarly touching her toes and nails and lavishing her with treats to reinforce her allowing me to do so before I ever attempted to clip the first time. Had I done so she wouldn’t have pulled away last week.  There would be no cracked dew claw and no drama for my Golden Kali girl.

Like the old saying goes “should’ve, would’ve could’ve”.  I knew better and ignored it.   And for that, I’m still kicking myself.

Give me more biscuits or I'll pull off the bandage  :)

Give me more biscuits or I’ll pull off the bandage 🙂


Tragedy Barely Averted

What a scare Kali and I had this morning! By chance we found ourselves in the middle of an incredibly frightening event. We saw a young chocolate lab come within inches of tragedy.  

Our walk started out pleasantly uneventful.

Kali still becomes very anxious around other dogs when we meet them along the trail. She’s getting better.  Or I guess I can say we’re getting better.  Through a considerable amount of time and training I’ve learned to help Kali stay engaged with me when we come across other dogs.  Lately she’s more inclined to maintain eye contact with me instead of focusing on the other dogs and barking at them.  Without knowing what Kali may have experienced as a homeless stray it’s hard to know exactly the reason for this anxiety.  But lately, more often than not, we’re able to move along our way with little to no barking and a lower level of anxiety.  I hope this progress will eventually lead to Kali’s ability to meet new dogs she encounters with a smile, a sniff, and new friendships.

Kali and I have a few routes we alternate between along our walking trail.  But recently part of our main and favorite route was closed off requiring us to detour onto residential streets to get home.  So today as we passed the closed off path and headed home I spied a young chocolate lab across the street.  Her owner had let her out of her car off leash as she prepared to take the dog – “Mia” – and her toddler into an area where owners often allow their dogs to roam freely along the grassland and trails.  The area is safe for the dogs as it is vast and, with the exception of the entry area, fenced off or surrounded by creeks and hills.

As the mother got out of the car Mia headed into the grassland. But then Mia saw Kali and I across the street.  Kali was focused on me – her eyes looking at my hands and eyes hopeful for a training treat.  Mia froze, barked, then bolted for Kali- heading directly across the street.

The 60 foot three-ton bus came speeding down the street, the mom looked up from her toddler and screamed at Mia to stay. Mia continued into the street with no awareness of the 6000 pound bus she was on a collision path with.  I screamed, “NO!”.  Kali barked, now aware of Mia and probably tuned into my stress level.  The bus did it’s best to slow down, breaks squealing and transmission grinding.  And then – it sounds corny but – time seemed to stop.

The bus  slowly passed  and went along its way. In the middle of the street stood Mia – unharmed.  Thank God.  Mia’s mom screamed, “Mia, no – bad! Bad Girl.  Come back here.  No!”  Kali barked.  I took a breath,  ever so thankful that Mia was OK.

I composed myself, regained Kali’s attention, and we headed home.  I couldn’t help but be a little mad at Mia’s mom.  I scolded myself for being judgmental.

And then, I thanked God again.  This time for Kali.  My beautiful girl who was safe next to me as we walked back home.   I think Kali knew I was a bit shaken from the event. She is so in tuned to me.

Kali and I walked back home in silence grateful that Mia was OK; and grateful for each other.


Kali - wondering why the path is closed

Kali – wondering why the path is closed

Doggie Cries

When my kids were younger, like a lot of dads, I traveled a lot.  At the airport I would see a toddler and immediately miss my kids who were home safe with my wife but away from me.  Our family has always been a strong unit – especially when the kids were young.  When we went out and about I felt proud and confident to have my three kids tagging along with Holly and I.  They were smart, cute, and well-behaved.  When I was away from the family unit – the pack – I was slightly less confident, homesick, and all I wanted was to get home to rejoin the pack.

Now, for the most part, my kids have moved on with their own lives and the pack has shrunk.   I miss those times when the kids were toddlers and young adolescents when we would go out as that family unit and my kid’s personalities shinned bright.  Jonathan saying something highly intelligent, Michael Brandon fluttering around happy and joyful like the Woodstock character from the comic strip Peanuts, and Jessi cute as a button saying something very funny to make us all laugh.

Having Kali join our family unit has been wonderful and helps me to remember those times when the pack members relied on Holly and I for almost everything.  I was away for a few days last week – the first time I’ve been gone since Kali arrived in May.  I begin missing my wife anytime I leave without her if I will not be returning the same day.  As I was pulling out of the driveway in my car I told her I missed her.  She said, “but I’m right here – how can you miss me?”  I gestured the space between us knowing it would  be increasing by miles and time for the next few days and then I drove off.

This time I also began missing Kali.  It was reassuring to know that she would be home with Holly the entire time I was gone but I worried she would miss me too.  Would she know I was coming back?  Would she lay awake at night howling at the moon?  Would she eat?  Would she still love me when I returned?  The answers (obvious, and in order) are:  probably didn’t cross her mind, no- that’s silly, YES!, and of course.

Three days later when I began my drive home I called my wife to let her know I would be arriving in a few hours.  She had text me earlier in the morning to say that Kali was at her feet keeping her company while she read the paper (BTW, Holly was reading, not Kali.  Just saying ’cause Kali is brilliant as we know from my last post and I didn’t want to confuse you).  Although I expected nothing different it was reassuring to know that my two best girls were side by side safe at home as I journeyed back.

When I got home I came in through the garage and as when I was just outside the door that leads into the kitchen I heard a little whimper and doggie cries on the other side of the door.  OK – full disclosure; I have to admit that it made me feel good that Kali was on the other side of that door waiting and happy with doggie tears to see me.  OK – no doggie tears but definitely doggie cries (presumably) out of joy to see me.

Oh yeah – and Smokey was there too.  No doggie cries from him but he too seemed pretty happy that the pack was once again all together.

Woof (Cheers)!