Kali crossed the bridge over a year ago and there is not a day that ends where I haven’t thought about her at least once. I find myself day dreaming about her. At night she is often in my dreams. Her name comes off my lips at times when I am speaking to one of her sissies. Sometimes I call out to her for no reason in particular other than to beckon her sweet spirit. And I will speak softly to her when I see a picture of her on my computer or in a photo frame.
I miss her desperately. Not in a deliberating way, or even in a sad way. But in a way that stops me in my tracks and takes my breath away as I realize what an incredible relationship we had and what a very special dog Kali was. Her history is storied having been rescued in Taiwan and flying across the world into our arms in the SF Bay Area. Two years later we moved to the Sierra Nevada Foothills and she was an instant local. Nothing ever phased her. She adapted within minutes to any new environment or situation. And like a true Golden she loved all people almost as much as she loved food. 🙂
Recently a picture came up in my Facebook Memories. A photo from four years ago. In the photo Kali, Kloe, Koda, and Holly were all lying on the floor sleeping. Everyone was tired from a day of playing off and on in the snow. What struck me about this photo was that as they slept on the floor Kloe, Koda, and Holly each had their heads resting against Kali. She was our anchor. She was our energy. She was our heartbeat. Kali was and remains the pulse of The Golden K!
Kali, anchoring a power nap after a day in the snow. February 5, 2019
Kali was the first and oldest. She had a storied history long before Kloe joined the pack. Kloe always looked up to Kali and considered Kali the alpha until the day Kali crossed the bridge. Koda, the youngest, has always been a loud mouth gregarious. From the day she joined the pack at 4 months old, Koda demanded vocally and physically the attention of everyone in the room and general vicinity. So with Koda, Kloe usually has no choice but to play second banana. And I think for the most part that’s ok with Kloe.
Kloe The Puppy
Kloe was 7 weeks old when we met her and her litter mates. There was “Green”, “Purple”, and “Red” as designated by the color of their ribbon collars. We sat on the lawn in the yard of the rescue group’s organizer watching the puppies romp around. We picked them up, sat them on our laps, and interacted with them in our effort to see which one would be right for us. OK, full disclosure: I laid on the grass and let them encouraged the puppies to crawl on top of me and smother me with golden love!
After about an hour we decided that “Red” was the one for us. We liked her her confidence and calm demeanor. At only seven weeks she seemed interested in more than just her siblings and these new human visitors as we observed her looking beyond her immediate surroundings with a serious and quizzical look. And, she had a little pouty face that I fell in love with! We decided Red’s name would be Kloe. Two weeks later we went back to pick her up and bring her home. That was almost seven years ago.
Kloe The Lover
There is a saying, “I’m a lover (not a fighter). That’s Kloe!
Approaching seven years this Spring, Kloe has been a full fledged Golden Retriever adult dog for over three years. She has always been rather serious and never displayed some of the goofy and silly attributes that make many Goldens so fun and entertaining. That’s not to say Kloe doesn’t have fun. It’s just she approaches things with purpose. Whether it’s catching a ball, engaging in play with her sister Koda, or mealtime. Kloe is also very earnest; especially when meeting new people. She tries her best not to get too excited as we remind her not to jump). She’ll place herself in a sit at her new friend’s side looking up at them the entire time while her tail wags excitedly. She lets out deep groans as if to say “I just met you but I love you so much!”
Kloe Our Protector
Kloe, even as a 6 month old puppy, has always had a very deep bark. As docile as she is Kloe’s bark is a force to be reckoned with. If Koda’s high pitched bark is the “alarm” then Kloe’s bark is the ancient battle horn calling the troops into formation and ready to charge! The alarm sounds, the battle horn blows, and she is off to defend the Golden K with little sister Koda along side as her squire. Kloe typically starts out her day by smelling most of the front and back areas of our home along the fence lines. She methodically, much to the chagrin of her less interested sister, inspects every inch assessing what critter may have been there the night before. When she finally arrives back at the kitchen door for her breakfast meal I sarcastically ask her if the perimeter is secure and she nods affirmatively looks up at me expressionless and sits and waits for breakfast.
Kloe Our Conscience
When I look at Kloe I see honesty. I see compassion. I see a peace maker. Sure, these are human traits but why not also true for dogs? Kloe’s eyes tell the truth. Her body language adapts to the people around her. And when confronted with the choice to share or fight for what is hers (a ball, a bone, or a stick) she will usually acquiesce to the perpetrator (Koda). Admittedly I’d prefer to see her stand up for herself more but that’s Kloe; always willing to stand down to keep the peace.
Although the youngest member of the pack Koda has never taken a back seat. She can be pushy when she wants attention. She can be loud when she has a point to make. She has always been willing eager to stand her ground. The first thing to understand about Koda is that she is competitive!
Kloe was just two and a half when Koda at four months joined the Golden K Pack. Koda never really considered Kloe a surrogate mom and Kloe didn’t spend much energy schooling Koda. I think part of the reason for this is that Kali was oldest. Kali was nine and Kloe still looked up to her as the alpha and mother figure she had always been since Kloe was 9 weeks old.
At first Kali wanted little to do with Koda. When Koda was first introduced to her new sisters, Kali gave out a little woof, briefly sniffed her and walked off and seemed to say, “Oh no no no. You take that whipper snapper away. Things were just fine – perfect in fact – when it was just Kloe and I”.
From day one Koda stood her ground, was first in line for treats, and first one out the door when it opened. She pushed herself in front of her two older sissies and had no idea how much smaller she was than them. In Koda’s mind she was the biggest and the alpha. If there was something to be won she was the one!
For Kloe’s part and upon meeting Koda she gave her the once over and expressed some physical dominance as she sized up the newest family member. And for a few minutes it seemed as though Koda would acquiesce to Kloe being older, and much larger. Koda was 22 pounds and Kloe was 75! And here is the second thing to understand about Koda: she’s is tenacious!
From the first day home Koda never backed down to Kloe. They played chase and Koda kept up. The wrestled and at first Kloe was gentle fully aware of her size advantage. As an older and bigger dog when Kloe had enough she tried to let Koda know with a firm gesture like a take down or firm mouth on the neck. But Koda wouldn’t let up. A less tenacious pup would acquiesce until the older dog was once again ready to play. Not Koda! She was like a heat seeking missile with endless fuel. Throw her down and she got back up. Throw her down again and she got up again this time with more determination. And on and on…. Her competitive nature coupled with tenacity made her a formidable playmate for Kloe even with the weight and experience differential. Kloe was never mom in Koda’s eyes. She was her big sissy and she was determined prove herself. Wrestling matches usually ended up in a tie, which was saying quite a lot for Koda.
Koda has a high pitched bark. Koda has a guttural play-growl. Koda puffs up her mouth with air and vocalizes, “A roo-roo-roo…” The third thing you need to understand about Koda is that she is a very good communicator. Because the high pitched bark is startling it would be easy to think that Koda is just being annoying. But I’ve learned that when she barks there’s a reason. For example if she is outside and wants to come in she barks at the door. Contrast this to Kloe who, when outside and wants to come in will sit in front of the door or window until she’s noticed. When Koda is inside and Kloe is outside if Koda sees Kloe at the door or window she’ll bark to let us know that Kloe wants to come in. If there is a toy under a table or chair that Koda can’t get to, and she needs help, she’ll come up to us with a combination of the guttural growl and her “Roo-roo”, tail flapping and butt swirling around. We’ve learned that this means she needs help with something. We’ll ask her to show us and she will take us to what she needs help with.
A couple of years ago, when Kali was still with us but becoming more and more feeble, Holly and I were sitting on the deck relaxing. Koda came up from a part of the property that was mostly out of sight. She was growling and a “roo-roo-rooing” and very earnest about needing our help. “What Koda, what is it?'” I said as I stood up and followed her. Koda led me to Kali who had become stuck in a hole in the ground and couldn’t get up.
Although Koda competes for my attention when Kloe is nearby and always wants the toy or bone that Kloe has, she transcends that behavior when it comes to family. And that is the fourth thing to understand about Koda: she is loyal! Kloe is our sentry and protector. If there is a perceived or imagined predator nearby Kloe will sound the alarm with her very deep bark. Wherever Koda may be at that time she jumps up and follows Kloe off into “battle”; many times without any specific knowledge of what the alarm is about. For Koda if Sissy is on the move so is she. As competitive as Koda is she takes her cues from Kloe. If Kloe goes outside Koda follows. If Koda wants to go outside and Kloe doesn’t follow Koda stays inside.
When I call Koda she comes. No matter where I am she follows my voice and comes to see what I want or need. Of all my girls past and present Koda has the best recall. To a large degree that is training. But I also believe a big part of it is loyalty. Koda and I have a bond and we are loyal to each other.
I think the reason for that, although not always but now for sure, I understand Koda.
It’s been almost a year since Kali crossed over the bridge. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, reminisce, or just flat out miss her. I find myself looking at photos of her more often and for longer periods of time. I’m finding that the longer she is gone the more I miss her. I long for her smell. I miss our nightly cuddles before lights out. Full disclosure: Kali was a great “spooner” and I miss spooning with her as she lay on the floor at the foot of our bed! I miss the subtleties of her body movement. Like when I’d call her. Her eyes would fix on mine and then her head would tilt slightly down and to the left as she started walking towards me.
Even in her final days, which were spent mostly sleeping, Kali was up for spending the morning with me in my office which is located across the driveway from the house. As I headed towards the door she seemed almost puppy-like following me out and galloping towards my office sometimes skidding and slipping making a soft landing near the door. As I walked towards her she would look up from a spread eagle position seeming to say, “Oops, I slipped”. This always made me laugh out loud and my heart swelled with love to see her so animated. I have so many fond and funny memories it would be impossible to enumerate them. But this one would be towards the top of the list!
I feel the absence of Kali’s presence some days more than others. Although Holly loved her deeply I don’t think she feels the loss in the same way I do. How could she? Kali was “my dog” and was always with me. She was always at my feet. Even when I wasn’t home she was with me laying by the door that I went through when I left expecting me to return through that same door. And when I did she’d be there waiting. Kali’s level of dedication was unwavering and humbling. I wrote a post about this a year after Kali joined the pack. It spoke of a real life dog named Hachiko and how like him Kali would probably wait forever for me to come home.
When Kali passed, the sub-title of this blog became “Life At The Golden K Without Kali”. Life has gone without Kali. She will always be special and this blog will always be her legacy. She inspired this blog the day after she arrived from Taiwan in 2014 and went on to inspire me in so many ways. Our home is Tuolumne is called The Golden K for Kali initially and then later to include her two sisters Kloe and Koda. But life has also gone on with Kloe and Koda, our “Red Girls”. The Golden K torch was passed down from Kali when she crossed the bridge. Kloe and Koda are learning to be good stewards of Kali’s legacy. And like me they each learned a lot from her!
But recently I realized that after almost a year without Kali it’s time to look back less and forward more often. Posting about Kali over the past year has been cathartic. She will never ever be forgotten or have any less of my heart or mind. But it is with a nod to Kloe and Koda that the sub-title of this blog will now be, “Life With The Red Girls”. There will certainly be more posts about Kali in the future. But this is the time of the Red Girls and that will be the focus of future posts. After all, they are pretty darn special too!
I miss my walks with Kali. There are times when I find myself missing the days when it was just Kali and I. Kali and I and our Creek Trail.
We still lived in the Bay Area town of Livermore when Kali joined the pack. There was a trail through the neighborhood that ran along a small creek and a local 9 hole golf course. The trail head was at the end of our street. Kali and I walked that trail almost every day and it became a very special place for us.
I don’t miss the Bay Area for a second. But I do miss our Creek Trail and our daily walks along it!
Kali and I got to know each other on our Creek Trail. She was great on a leash except when other dogs passed by which made her nervous. We eventually worked through that issue. In retrospect it was one of many ways that we gained a deeper understanding of one another. The pace of our walks was great. She was a little prissy and had a cute lightness to her walk. I recall one time taking her for a walk with a friend and my friend says, “look – she prances”. So although not athletic she was very light on her feet. Like a dancer…
I think what I miss most about our walks are the long talks Kali and I had along the way. Under all circumstances Kali and I were in regular communication with each other; especially during the first several months and especially when we walked. I used words and gestures. Kali used her eyes and body language and sometimes a grunt or a small bark. We learned each other and learned from each other. Over the years I realized that I learned much more from Kali than she from me. She was a great teacher!
Sometimes we walked in silence. Walks where we were justtogether. Words, gestures, or body language wasn’t necessary. I loved those times when our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We walked in total peace, as one, and side by side.
In 2016 we moved to Tuolumne City; a rural community in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Our walks became different. We would walk on dirt and gravel roads under majestic pine and oak trees. Homes were not side by side in this neighborhood. Instead they were set back off the road on parcels of two to three acres or more. Wildlife was much more evident. On the Creek Trail we regularly saw geese and ducks. Along our new walking venue we would encounter black tail deers, wild turkeys, and farm animals: pigs, goats and horses and cows. One would think that all the new sights, and especially the smells, would have been like a smorgasbord for Kali. But just as when Kali arrived in Livermore from Taiwan -and immediately assimilated- she seemed to do the same in Tuolumne. She pranced along our walks with a calm demeanor as if she had lived here all her life.
As the years passed Kali and I walked less and less – both in frequency and distance. Her legs were no longer very strong and her hip displaysia became more of a factor. Kali was always eager to have out and about time with me (and I with her) so she of course jumped (figuratively not literally cause remember her hips 🙂 ) at the chance to go on walks. But the pace became slower, there were more stops along the way and I often had to coax her to move along.
Eventually the walks stopped completely and Kali began sleeping much of the day. We always found time to be together just to the two of us. During those times we talked and reminisced about our Creek Trail. And sometimes we just sat in silence. And our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We were together and at peace.
From the day Kali came into my life, whether we were walking along our Creek Trail in Livermore, navigating the rural roads around the Golden K, or just sitting in silence on the deck looking out at a warm evening sky, my Golden Kali and I were always been in sync. Same cadence and same rhythm. And same heartbeat.
This week marks four years since Koda joined our pack. She was four months old when we welcomed her and she came in with guns-a-blazing! Koda very quickly made her presence known. I remember driving her home in my truck and pulling up to our property. She was just 90 minutes separated from her two litter mates who had not been adopted yet. Koda hopped out of the truck and followed me through the gate where her new sisters were “waiting”. Koda 18 pounds at the time was greatly over matched by her new sisters – Kali at 60 pounds an Kloe at 80. There was about five minutes when Koda seemed a little intimidated and she acquiesced to the “big girls”. But she quickly made herself at home and began romping around the yard chasing and being chased by Kloe. Kali went off to sleep and resent the new whippersnapper that dad had just brought into the family without her permission.
The aforementioned five minutes of being intimidated was the last time I ever saw Koda be intimidated by anybody or anything.
Koda is a tough pup who initially made up for her size with loads of attitude.
It was immediately evident how vocal Koda was. Tilting her head slightly down, butt up in the air, and a mouthed puffed up with air she exclaims, “A roo roo roo”. This was just day one/hour two and she had already established her spot in the pack. She was not be the oldest or the biggest or in charge of anything but she always made here needs, wants, and opinions known! To this day Koda speaks her mind and always gets her point across to her intended audience and anyone else who will listen. As if they have a choice… If she could speak english she’d use what might be considered “salty language”.
Early on there were some very touch and go periods.
Holly: “Get that dog out of my house. Send her back”!
Me: She is such a loving girl. She’s doing so much better. I just need a little more time to work with her.”
Me : (Turning to Koda and under my breath) “Koda – work with me here.”
Koda: (Thought bubble over her head) “Hey – where did mom go?”
And so it went.
Koda has matured and has (mostly) learned to temper her enthusiasm. She is lovingly referred by a close friend who also has Golden Retrievers, as my “wild child”. A spot on characterization! But Koda has learned to be a (mostly) respectful and responsible member of the pack. She is very smart and learns things the first time. Whether she chooses to adhere to the learning is another matter. But she does learn it and then makes her choices. I (mostly) respect that.
Did you notice all the “mostly’s” in the previous paragraph? So yeah lot’s of mostly’s. But the all-ins” far outnumber and outweigh those mostlys.
Koda is all in on Loyalty. She is all in on loving her pack members. She is all in on recall – where ever she is, if I call she comes.
Koda was all in on Kali, her Sissy Mama. During the last year or so of Kali’s life when she had a hard time getting around Koda looked after Kali. A great example was a time when Kali got stuck in a corner of the property and couldn’t get up. Koda came running up to us barking and alternating looks from us to where she wanted us to go. We followed her and found Kali OK but stuck in a small hole and unable to get up. Talk about a Lassie and a “Timmy’s stuck in the well moment”… wow!
Koda is all in on being Kloe’s wingman. Kloe, “Protector Of The Golden K” – often sees, smells, or hears potential bad guys. Bad guys like cats, deer, squirrels, someone walking along the road at the bottom of our property, and so on. If Kloe stands up and barks, Koda does too; even though she doesn’t know what she’s barking at. She looks to Kloe for her cues. If Kloe takes off running in the bad guys direction Koda follows even thought she has no idea where she’s going. To Koda, if Kloe is barking, upset, or on the prowl Koda is by her side to provide all necessary back up. Koda is definitely all in on Kloe.
I’m so happy to Koda in my life and part of our pack. My sweet “Koda Koda Koda”, my “Sugar Beats”, my “Kodachrome”, my “Kode-Red”. Oh, yeah and full disclosure of another often used nick name for Koda: “Damn it Koda!” 🙂
Happy Gotcha day sweet Koda. Dad will always be all in on you!
It was the evening of May 24, 2014 when I met that special girl from Taiwan. The door opened, our eyes met, and we instantly fell in love. Well, at least I was immediately taken back and infatuated with her. It took only minutes for that infatuation to turn to love. And we rode off into the sunset to Livermore, CA. and the rest as they say…. well you know.
That girl was Kali.
Long time followers of Golden Kali know that Kali is a rescue from Taiwan. Holly, my daughter Jessi, and I drove to the airport in San Francisco in great anticipation of meeting Kali, then known as Nala. We had only seen pictures and read her bio as we waited for about two months until her Taiwanese caregivers had her in perfect condition to come to America and join our family. Health, happy, and full of love.
I’ve written often about that evening at the airport when Kali and I met. How fate seemed to bring us together. If there really are matches made in heaven this would have been one! There was one special moment that stood out that I am reminded of every Fourth of July.
Kali arrived from Taiwan wearing a brown scarf with markings that were similar to mandarin characters. Once she was uncrated, leashed, and had time to get her land legs we prepared to drive home. A volunteer from the local rescue group, True Love Rescue, stopped us and took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf that bore images of Stars and Stripes and the America Flag. It was a symbolic gesture of Kali’s transition from Taiwan to American where she became a true American Girl.
Kali wore the scarf for the first day home and then I took it off and stored it. I brought the scarf out several weeks later on the Fourth of July. That was 2014. Kali wore the scarf for the day and I again put it away. Since that time the scarf only comes out on the Fourth of July and Kali wears it for the day.
Except this year. This is the first Fourth without Kali.
There will always be two holidays that are special for me and Kali. I will always miss her just a little more on those days than others. One is Memorial Weekend. It was Memorial weekend in 2014 that we picked up Kali from SFO. That will forever be her gotcha day. The other is Fourth of July. The Fourth because of our ritual of taking out the scarf with stars and stripes, adorning it around my beautiful girls golden neck, and seeing her wear it for the day and evening.
So on this first Fourth without Kali, and for the Fourth’s to follow, the stars and stripes scarf will be worn by Kloe. This morning I pulled out the scarf and put it on Kloe, second in line of succession after Kali at the Golden K. Like Kali, she’ll wear it for the day and evening and in the morning it will be put away for another year.
Kloe may never know or appreciate the symbolism of wearing the scarf annually on the Fourth. Certainly she will never know the practical aspect of being a stray in Taiwan, going through rehab with the Taiwanese rescue group angels, or getting on a plane with 23 other Goldens and traveling across the world into the unknown. But I know that Kloe’s Sissy-Mama Kali would appreciate knowing the symbolism of the scarf and her transition from Taiwan to America will live on through her sister Kloe.
Happy Fourth Kali. For the first time in eight years as I write this Fourth of July post you are not laying at my feet. You can no longer warm my feet but will always warm my heart as I sit and write about you, for you, and with you close by in spirit.
As Kali grew older I began referring to her, in relationship to her two sisters Kloe and Koda, as Sissy Mama. None of my girls were blood related but they were and are sisters (sissies) no less. So we would always refer to them as sissies. “Koda, where is your sissy”. Or, “Kloe, go get your sissies for dinner”. Yes we well I speak to them as though they are my kids. Because they are!
But Kali was much older and she became the Sissy Mama.
Six years shouldn’t seem so long ago. But if I think in “dog years” it is quite some time. Like six years ago when we brought Kloe home as a nine-week old puppy. That was a long time ago. Looking at her now, as she sleeps by my feet (filling in the empty space Kali left under my feet when she crossed the bridge), it’s hard to think that Kloe was ever a wee pup of 16 pounds. Green, fearless, and ripe for schooling by an older dog. Enter Kali.
Since Kali has been gone I find myself looking at pictures of her from over the years. Like today when I came across some pictures and videos of the first day we brought Kloe home. After the initial few minutes, when Kali made it very clear that Kloe was not welcome in her house, she quickly warmed up to Kloe and was every bit the surrogate mama we hoped she would be.
I had forgotten how inseparable Kali and Kloe were when Kloe was a pup. Mostly because at only weeks and months old Kloe adored Kali and followed her everywhere she went. There were so many tender moments sleeping side by side or on top of one another. And there were periods of play when Kali exhibited great patience with her new little sissy and also delivered lessons when needed.
In retrospect I now realize that Kali became the Sissy Mama the moment we brought Kloe through the front door in Livermore at 9 weeks old on May 7, 2016.
Long time followers of Golden Kali may recall that she was one of 23 Golden Retrievers that arrived at San Francisco International Airport via China Airlines on Saturday evening, May 24, 2014. Holly, my daughter, and I drove to the airport that evening and waited for her crate to be unloaded from the plane along with 23 others. We took her crate to a staging area in the parking lot and I met her for the first time as I opened the crate door, leashed her, and watched her as she took her first sniffs of America. She had been in the crate for around 14 hours and was very anxious to pee. She took care of business and sniffed around some more. We took care of some formalities with the rescue organizers and volunteers and drove home to Livermore, CA would Kali would begin her New Life in America.
Since then Memorial Weekend has very been special to me. It marked the beginning of Kali’s new life in America, a new chapter in my life, and what turned out to be a seven and a half year journey Kali and I went on together.
That was Memorial Weekend One.
Kali laid by my feet in our backyard in Livermore as I started this blog. I knew during this first weekend and during the weeks to come I would need to be watchful and present to make sure Kali was successful. The rescue group cautioned me to not go to fast and to give Kali time. They said it may take time for her to be comfortable in her new surroundings and that she may have accidents and need to learn what her boundaries were. They suggested no visitors for a few days. This was of course a reasonable expectation. After all, there would be new sounds, new smells, new people, new food, new places to sleep, and on and on… It would take Kali time to adjust and we needed to respect that and give her space and time.
Except she didn’t need it!
Kali was still on Taiwan time when she arrived and it was expected she may have problems the first few nights. Except she didn’t. She slept by my bed tethered to the leg of the bed frame that first night, Saturday. She nuzzled me around two in the morning and I took her out to pee. I brought her back to bed and re-tethered her. She slept the rest of the night and every night after. Kali was respectful of the house from the very first day. She seemed to know her limits before we even had the chance to set them. She greeted visitors with a smile and love. She chewed on her toys but never furniture, shoes, or anything that wasn’t hers. With the exception of leash aggression that I found out about when we started our daily walks, Kali was a model rescue citizen from day one!
This is Memorial Weekend Eight.
The first Memorial Weekend that Kali is not physically laying by my feet as I write this Memorial Weekend post. As the weeks and months pass I miss her more and more. I long for her smell and the feel of her fur. I miss her at night when I wake up and remember she’s not there. I miss her when I’m in my office in the morning. I miss the ritual of walking with her from the back yard gate to my office when she would happily run towards the office door. Even though her physical legs were on their figurative “last legs”. Maybe it was something about going off with Dad in the morning that gave her body some spunk. Just for those few seconds, Kali was puppy-like as she pranced across the driveway.
Life at The Golden K Without Kali
That’s been the tag line of this blog since January First of this year when Kali crossed the bridge. She did so on her terms with the grace and dignity she earned. Kali was a truly special dog who I was blessed to know and love, and to have been loved by her. Kali will always hold a piece of my heart that is hers and hers alone.
So on this Memorial Day Eight, as many of us are remembering and honoring those who gave their lives in service of our country, I am also remembering and honoring my Golden Kali.
My sweet Golden Kali has come to visit me several times over the past few weeks. Some of the visits have been short and some were extended stays with lots of kisses and hugs. The feel of Kali’s fur is so familiar. Her smell has been a welcome reminder that my girl is near by. I hope these special visits never end!
I’ve always been a very vivid dreamer and I remember most of my dreams in great detail; places, colors, smells, etc. After Kali passed many people suggested that she would visit me in the quiet of my dreams. I didn’t put too much thought into it at the time. The first few weeks after Kali passed were uneventful and although I missed her it wasn’t emotional. My rationale side processed Kali’s memory in a logical and matter of fact manner. My brain told me, “I did the right thing, grace and dignity, on Kali’s terms, last and greatest gift”, and so on….
But more recently, especially the past few weeks, I find myself longing for Kali. I find myself whispering her name as I think of her or see something that reminds me of her. I’ve become emotional a few times and realize that my brain had been managing the loss but now that loss has made it’s way to my heart and gut. When someone misses a family member or close friend but knows they will see them again at some point they may say, “yes, I miss him”. In their head. When that person is gone forever they also say, ” I miss him”. But now it’s in their heart and gut.
As obvious as it was that I would never see Kali again, it has now just hit me. I will never see, smell, or hug my sweet girl again. Except in my dreams.
Alexandria Horowitz is an author and professor of psychology, animal behavior, and canine cognition. I’ve read many of her books on canine behavior such as “Inside A Dog, What Dogs See, Smell, and Know”. In one of her books Ms. Horowitz was describing how dogs experience time relative to missing their owner. She talked about how (I’m paraphrasing) if the owner is gone for 20 or 30 minutes upon return the behavior of the dog may be much different than if the owner was gone for several hours. When it has been several hours the “welcoming committee” will probably be much more animated and excited upon the return of their owner. I know this is the case with my girls.
Ms. Horowitz explains this dynamic in simple terms. When the owner leaves their scent at first is very prevalent. It’s easy, especially with their keen sense of smell, for the dog to smell their owner after they’ve left the area. But as more and more time passes that scent begins to diminish and the dog’s owner begins to “fade away” creating anxiety or maybe even fear in the dog. Upon return the scent is back and all is well once again. Let the celebration begin!
A few nights ago Kali was present in my dream all night long. I woke up several times, probably from the adrenaline rush. Each time I went back to sleep quickly and she was still there. Kali was always good at stay! Another night’s visit was more fleeting. Kali went running by me like a puppy only slowing down long enough to let me know she was there and having so much fun running. There have been several visits over the past few weeks and each time I wake up knowing that deep connection with Kali will never end, even in death.
I often joke that I am more like a dog than a person. Wishful thinking… But I can’t help but wondering if this emotional longing for Kali (versus rational “missing”) is because her scent is less and less in the house. I can no longer pick up her scent as hard as a try. In my mind’s eye I can see Kali but I can’t smell her.
Except in my dreams.
Sleep tight my sweet Golden Kali. I hope to see you tonight.