Time

When Kali first joined established our pack six years ago as a rescue from Tawain she was estimated to be five-years old.  We didn’t have the pleasure of seeing her grow up from puppy-hood. We didn’t get to see her as that roly-poly ball of fur tripping over her own feet or bouncing off a ledge that was too tall to scale.   There are no memories of her at that gawky teen-ager stage.  We met Kali as an adult.  A mature dog who already had a lifetime of stories to tell if she only could.

Kloe and Koda came to us as puppies; Kloe at nine weeks and Koda at 4 months.   We have the memories (and plethora of pictures) of them going through various stages of puppy.   Golden Retrievers are slow to mature and they maintain much of that playful puppy personality until around three years old.  Many keep their puppish traits into old age.  Kloe, now four and a half, has been a full fledged adult for well over a year.  Koda at just over two is starting to outgrow some of her puppy-ness but she has a way to go…  I do hope that they are true to their breed and always have some of those goofy playful traits that are so endearing.

A day, four months, a minute, six years.  Just time, right?  And what do dogs know about time?…  I used to think that time is man-made and under our control.  And I suppose the manner that we measure time is of our own doing.  But really time is something we can’t control.  Whether it’s measured with man-made tools like clocks and calendars.   Or with nature like the cycles of the moons, colors of the seasons, or the rings of a giant sequoia tree (when measured with man-made tools) that can be over 2,500 years old.  The passing of time is inevitable, the effects of that passing of time is undeniable and reflected in our bodies.  And also in the bodies of our dogs.

We estimate Kali to be 11.  But we really don’t know anything about her life before she was rescued in Taiwan and sent to us in the U.S.   Maybe she is only eight and seems older due to a very hard life as a stray in Taiwan.  Or perhaps she is 14 which would be well above average life-span for her breed.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter because what does Kali know about time anyway.   She only knows “now”.

“Now” is getting harder for Kali.  Time has caught up with her mind.  Sometime she looks confused.  Time has caught up with her senses.   She has foggy eyes and is hard of hearing.  Time has caught up with her legs that are no longer very steady and especially wobbly on smooth surfaces.   She has always had a passionate appetite and is always ready for a meal or a snack.  That’s a reassuring sign.

Kali mostly sleeps now,  and is doing just that by my side as I write this post.  It’s typical for a senior dog to snooze away the majority of the day.  I feel that Kali has earned the right to do that.   There are occasional flashes of energy.  Like when she gallops (in-spite of her bad legs) across the driveway to my office in the morning.  When I see that goofy looking trot it fills  I laugh out loud.  It fills my heart with joy when I see some of the puppy traits she once had.  She is especially spry at meal time when she dances like Snoopy from Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts”.

So yeah, TIME.

“Lost time is never found again”  – Benjamin Franklin

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend” – Theophrastus 

“Time waits for no one” – Folklore

However time is measured – with clocks, the phases of the moon, or a lazy summer day – I hope to have much more of it with Kali by my side.

“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us”. – J.R.R. Tolkien

KALI:  YESTERDAY AND TODAY

Golden Kali – 2020

“Nala” before America

 

Father Time

Mother Nature cycles through the seasons and in many ways repeats her actions:  Hot, cold, wet, dry, etc.  Father Time however moves in only one constant direction – forward. When we’re young we have our entire lives ahead of us.  As we get older we begin to rationalize our age.   Middle age is when we’re in our fifties and sixties, right?   If so then I guess we live until we’re 100 or 120?  A great example comes from my favorite all time movie “On Golden Pond” with Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. Norman is turning 80 and his wife Ethel tries to convince him that he’s middle aged…  Umm yeah.

In many ways it is not different for our pups.  Kali is eight and a half years old.   Kloe is 19 months old.   By the time Kloe was six months old she was the same size as Kali in length, height and weight – 60 pounds. By the time Kloe was nine months she weighed 80 pounds and was head and shoulders taller and longer than her “big” sister Kali.  The average life span of a Golden is twelve years.   This puts Kali in the latter stages of middle age and entering her “golden” years.   Pun intended but still so true.

Kloe, the young whipper-snapper, has her entire life – God willing – ahead of her.  She’s young, strong, fast, agile, and – God help us – is still a puppy.  Kali has slowed, exhibits a bit of a struggle getting up and down, and is entering the “granny” stage of her life.

So picture Kloe as the young strong footballer on the field with an opponent (Kali) five times her age.   If the opponent is lucky and agile enough to get out of the way in time Kloe will pass by and easily score a goal.   If opponent Kali is not able to get out of the way she will be bowled over not knowing what hit her.  And this is the routine with my girls.  Kloe vs. Kali with the rope toy (weapon) of Kloe’s choice as she blind sides Kali slamming the toy into Kali’s face (even if Kali is sleeping) prompting grandma Kali to rise to the occasion and play-fight back.

But here’s the thing.  When the battle is over it’s is almost always Kali that ends up with the rope toy in her possession.   Under a paw or literally under her body as if to say, “yes Kloe you knocked me around quite a bit with your weight and age advantage but look who ended up with the prize”.  Ah, experience does count for something…

There are times when I have to step in and break up the battle.  Those times when granny has had enough and locks her eyes on mine as if to say, “help me….”.   And then sometimes just when I think Kali has had enough and will retreat she goes to the toy box, grabs a rope toy, and is now the aggressor and re-engages with Kloe on the battle field.  The battle field of the living room, family room, kitchen, or wherever my feet are at the time.

So as I consider my girls’ future, I rationalize my Golden Kali’s age and convince myself (for the moment) that she is just “middle aged”.   I look at Kloe see the future and I know that one day she too will be the granny and there will be a new whipper-snapper at her heels.  A new young buck more agile and stronger who calls out to her and invites her to wrestle and play rough even though Kloe may be more content sleeping, like her big sister Kali was back in the day.

And although Father Time moves only one direction, forward, it won’t stop me – when the time comes – from looking back.  Looking back and remembering how my Golden Kali, taught her wee little 80 pound sister Kloe how to be a great big sister.