Road Trip with Kali

Kali doesn’t get out to often these days.  At ten and a half she prefers instead to sleep much of the day and inside the house given the choice. After all these years she’s earned it.  Until recently Kloe was also house bound for much of the year due to her injury and then post surgery recovery period.   So for several months it’s mostly been just Koda who gets to get out of the house and accompany us on various errands and car rides.

Kloe is mostly cleared now for normal activities after her surgery so she has been getting out and walking more and coming along for various excursions.   Today we decided to head out to a favorite spot of ours to get our growler filled with apple cider and to enjoy the relatively mild day.  Our routine, now that Kloe is back on her feet so to speak, is to take the “red girls” with us when we go out and about.  Red girls being Kloe and Koda. Kali, the blondie or cream girl, typically stays behind content to sleep in peace without her sisters (or us) milling around and interrupting her daytime slumbers.

So we “geared” Kloe and Koda up with their harnesses and leashes, filled our pockets with treats, and headed towards the door to leave.  As I glanced back at Kali she flashed me sad eyes as if to say, “Can I go? I promise not to be any trouble and I’ll do my best to keep up with the younger Red Girls as we walk around even though my legs aren’t as strong as they used to be.  Can I go?”

I smiled at Kali and then hollered down to Holly who had already gone down the stairs to the garage,  “Road trip! Kali’s coming along.”

And for the first time in a long time we packed up all three girls into the car and headed out for a road trip with Kali and her posse.   It sure felt great to all be together on a short trip to one of our favorite places on a beautiful Fall day with our beautiful girls!

img_7766

ROADTRIP! Kali and her posse of red girls.

img_7770

Holly and “the girls”.

Koda Gotcha Day

Koda’s “Gotcha Day” was this past Saturday and it came and went without fanfare or much excitement.   The same can’t be said for the first year she’s been with us.  It’s been quite the year of the puppy around the Golden K…  In many ways the Year of Koda!

We adopted Koda at 16 weeks old through the same Golden Retriever rescue group all our girls have come through.  As soon as I got her home I realized we had one tenacious pup on our hands.   Upon getting home I introduced her to our other girls who were only mildly interested.

Upon arriving home with Koda, Kali – almost ten years old at the time – had the same reaction she had when we brought Kloe home two years before: alternating looks between Koda and me, “Sniff, sniff…. WOOF, BARK, WOOF”.  Translation:  “Oh no no no.  You take that little pup right back to where you got her!  I will not stand for that in my house.”

Kloe was much more interested sniffing Koda up , down and under.  They began running and playing and it was now evident to Kali, and much to her chagrin, that this pup was here to stay.  Kali was probably thinking, “Great Kloe, we had it pretty good here just the two of us and now because of your open mindedness and welcoming demeanor this pup is probably going to stay”.  But Kali being Kali who above all is a gentle and loving soul quickly accepted Koda and has even taken on the occasional role of mom to her.

Koda was not shy about immediately exploring her new surroundings and getting in the face of her new sisters.  If her sisters tried to “school” Koda she would put her head down and her butt up in the air, puff up her mouth, and make this “aroo roo roo” sound as if to say, “bring it!”.  This has become a signature trait for this fearless little girl.

Koda’s tenacity was also immediately evident in her play, in her response to being scolded, and in her unrelenting desire to engage in rough play with her older sister Kloe.  She quickly learned and seem to accept that Kali was not going to play with her.  But as long as Kloe responded to Koda’s overtures that was fine for Koda.  As most puppies will do Koda initiated play with Kloe often by blind-siding her and jumping on her back or with a head crashing  tackle to her face.  The thing about it was that Koda at that time was just 22 pounds and Kloe was 80.  It didn’t seem to phase Koda.

Most older dogs instinctively are aware of their larger size and will go easy on a younger smaller pup.  Kloe started out this way but quickly learned that Koda was not your normal little pup who acquiesces to an older and much larger dog.  When provoked Kloe would thrash Koda around pretty good but each time Koda went back for more usually with an extended “aroo roo roo” head low to the ground and butt in the air tail ‘awagging.  “Bring it !  You’re not so big.  I can take it and give you some right back….a roo roo roo roo…”

Koda has been more challenging than her sisters ever were. Kali was a mature five year old when we adopted her and she demonstrated immediate respect for authority and her surroundings.  Kloe was a normal puppy with normal challenges but she is a rule follower by nature and therefore has always been easy to manage.  Koda on the other hand?  Well, “aroo roo roo” says it all!

“Down Koda”.  “Aroo roo roo”.   “Koda leave it!”  “Aroo roo roo, GRRRR, aroo!”.

Koda is still learning that every dog she meets is not instantly ready or able to play and that every stranger we meet is not a human trampoline for her personal use.  She is also slowly learning that good things happen when she is calm and obedient.  I’m growing too.  I’ve had to learn and deploy different training and management techniques.  I’ve had to develop more patience.  And, I’ve become a bit more tenacious myself in my commitment to helping Koda become the best dog she can be.

So one year down – the year of the Koda – and God willing many many more to come!

Happy Gotcha Day sweetie girl Koda!

IMG_6088

Koda First day at the Golden K

IMG_6124

Koda at about 5 months “aroo roo roo!”

 

IMG_7141

The heart of The Golden K

img_7484

Koda on her Gotcha Day

 

 

 

The Fifth 4th

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Not because of any great traditions or specific memories but because its been one of those holidays where I feel ok not doing much and not feeling guilty about it.  As a kid the long July days made it hard to wait for fireworks.  It seemed as though it would never get dark.  I have many fond memories of when our kids were young.  There was the annual neighborhood bike parade where the kids would decorate their bikes in red and blue streamers, flags, and whatever else they could come up with.  Usually a block party took place later in the day and was followed by volleyball and later fireworks.  But more recently, as in the past five years, the 4th has a much more special meaning for me.

Kali arrived from Taiwan on May 24, 2014.   She quickly assimilated into our family as in almost instantly.   The morning after she arrived I began this Golden Kali blog which at the time had the tag line, “Kali’s New Life in America”.  Kali arrived wearing a brown scarf that was put on her at some point before boarding the plane in Taiwan for the trip to America.  After greeting her at the airport, taking care of a few formalities, and letting her get her land legs back we headed home to Livermore.  But before we did one of the rescue group volunteers took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf that had red, white, and blue stars and strips.  It was quite symbolic and a touching gesture that Kali was now an American.

So back to the 4th…   Although Kali arrived on a Memorial Day weekend because of this scarf it’s been the 4th of July that marks another year of her life in America.   Much of Kali’s life, and mine, has been chronicled in this blog over the past five years.  In a 2015 post called Tradition I wrote about how a new tradition began where on the 4th I put that red white and blue scarf on Kali and she wears it for the day.   This scarf for Kali and I stands for her journey from Taiwan to America and her her new chance at a good life in a furever home.  As important, when I hang the scarf around Kali’s neck, I do it as a tribute to all the rescue groups volunteers in both Taiwan and the US who have done so much good for so many Golden Retrievers like Kali.  For them I will always be grateful!

So on this fifth 4th the tradition continues.  This morning I took out the scarf and placed it around Kali’s neck and we went for a brief walk.  She’s twice as old (ten) as she was when she arrived and the tradition of the scarf becomes more meaningful with each year.  She doesn’t want to walk as far, uphill is not her friend, and there are may signs of her slowing and aging.  I don’t like to think about it but there will be a 4th of July when Kali is no longer with me.  Not physically.  But in spirit I know she will never leave my side.  And this scarf, her journey, and her time in America will be with her and I forever.

Happy fifth 4th Kali.  Thank you Rescued Love From Taiwan and True Love Rescue for brining Kali into our lives.

Cheers from The Golden K!

Left: Kali on her second 4th.   Center:  Kali, cousin Ben, and sister Kloe last year, her fourth 4th.  Right:  Kali this year, her fifth 4th.

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

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe

Three years ago today the sweetest girl I could ever imagine came into our lives forever.   At nine weeks old this pouty faced Golden Retriever stole our hearts and has held them close to her own since then.  Born in Bakersfield, rescued by True Love Rescue in Lodi, Kloe made her way into our arms and home to Livermore, CA.  Three weeks later we moved to the mountains to our home we call the Golden K. Kloe of course is one of those three Golden K’s our home is named after. Kloe weighs almost 80 pounds and I am convinced that the majority of that weight is from a very large heart of gold.

We are blessed that Kloe found her way into our lives and grateful to True Love Rescue for making that a possibility.

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe!  You are forever my Klois Marie, Klo-Klo, Kloe Bowie, Sugar Lips, Sweetness, and all the other silly names I have for you.   But at the end of the day as you lay on your mat when I kiss you goodnight and I tell you to sleep tight, you are simply my beautiful girl Kloe.

Christmas Trees At The Golden K

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_6498

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

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.

IMG_6301

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.

 

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

fullsizeoutput_f84

KLOE

fullsizeoutput_f85

 

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

IMG_2930IMG_3059

fullsizeoutput_f31