Life Without Kali

And then there were two…..

In the end it was not as hard a decision to make as I thought it would be. Not easy, but not hard because it was the right thing to do. This past Saturday my sweet Golden Kali took her final breath as she lay next to Holly and I in our home. It was very peaceful and she left this world with dignity and grace.

I’ve been preparing for this moment for quite some time as I’ve watched Kali age rapidly over the past year.

Kali had begun slowing down significantly over the past year with decreasing mobility.   It was mostly her rear legs and hips.  She started having problems getting up and down and staying on her feet several months ago.  When she did get up she would often times fall.   Cataracts clouded her eyes and the poor vision often left her confused as to her where-abouts.  Her appetite did remain strong and she enjoyed being with me on the days I worked from home.   But more recently she seemed confused and while in no visible pain, she was uncomfortable and restless when she wasn’t sleeping.  

After a nudge from a dear friend, and deep soul searching and discussion the day after Christmas with Holly, I decided to follow the advice I have given so many other dog owners when I hear of a situation with their senior dog.  And that is, “one of the last and greatest gifts we give our dogs is to take them out of their pain and let them go”.  While I don’t believe Kali was in any real pain her tank was empty and her eyes told me it was time to let her go.  So I did.

This past Saturday, New Years Day 2022, our vet Tanya, who has become as much a friend as she is the vet for our three girls, came to our home to administer to Kali. Tanya, Holly, and I sat with Kali who was very relaxed as the three of us just chatted and loved on her.   Tanya administered a sedative and we continued to just be with Kali as she got sleepy.  I whispered a lot of sweet nothings in her ear. So pretty much business as usual in that regard. 🙂  Eventually Tanya gave Kali the injection that put Kali down. I watched her eyes close and felt her take her final breath. As Kali left I harkened our Creek Trail in Livermore where we got to know each other so well in the days and weeks after she arrived from Taiwan.  Kali left this world on our collective terms and I am so grateful for that. I know other dogs and doggie parents don’t always have that grace.

It’s hard to believe that Kali is gone.  I think things may set in and maybe I’ll have a few moments in the days to come.  But for now, like Kali, I am at peace.

Footnote: The Golden Kali Blog was started on May 25th, 2014 the day after Kali arrived from Taiwan. The tag line of this blog at that time was “Kali’s New Life In America”. Two years later we moved to the Sierra Nevada Foothills and the tag line changed to “Kali’s New Life In The Mountains”. The Golden Kali Blog will live on and the tag line, at least for the coming weeks and months, will now be “Life At The Golden K Without Kali”. * The Golden K is what we call our home as a tribute originally to Kali herself and now to her and her two sisters Kloe and Koda.

Kali in her younger days

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! 🙂 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.

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

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.

One Lovely Blog Award

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A few days ago one of our favorite bloggers, Miss Harper Lee, nominated Golden Kali for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Miss Harper Lee is a beautiful Golden Retriever who, with help from her human mom writes a fun, informative, and entertaining blog site called thek9harperlee. Click here to go to their About page and learn more about the site which at times is like a travel log for dogs as they spend lots of time traveling around New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Thank you so much Miss Harper Lee and everyone at  thek9harperlee for thinking of us and for enjoying our blog site enough to feel we merit this nomination.  OK, now onto the fine print 🙂 …

One of the guidelines is to list seven facts about yourself, or in our case about Golden Kali.  Another element is to nominate up to 15 other bloggers for this award.  We’ll start with the seven facts and then follow with our nominees.  The full list of award participation guidelines are listed at the end of this post.

Seven Facts About Golden Kali (getting to know Kali)

  1. Kali is a rescue from Taiwan who shared a commercial airline flight to America with 23 other Golden Retreiver rescues in May of 2014.  She was approximately five years old when she arrived.  No, we did not have to learn to speak Taiwanese (everyone asks when they hear about where she came from).   And we didn’t have to because Kali spoke the universal language of love (and food, see fact #2).
  2. Kali loves food.  Hey, what Golden Retriever worth their two coats of fur doesn’t?   You may have seen that video that went viral of an obedience contest where dogs are recalled at a distance by their owners.  They have to trot past lots of treats and food and go quickly and directly to the owner when called.  At the end of the video a Golden Retriever zig zags all over scooping up food as fast as possible while the song Yakety Sax plays (you may know it as the Benny Hill theme).  The Golden is eating everything in site much to the dismay of the owner, a young girl who is quite embarrassed.  This would be Kali.
  3. Kali doesn’t walk –  she prances.  It may be an artifact of her bad hips but nonetheless she prances which generates a lot of smiles and comments when we are out and about in town.  There have been countless times someone who meets Kali for the first time says, “oh look – she prances!”.   When she runs she does an exaggerated version of the prance that looks like a steam ship (slow) on stormy seas (very bouncy).  For every 60 pounds of energy exerted when running Kali goes about three feet.   It is not very efficient but it is so very cute and makes me smile and LOL each time I see her do that.  Which is usually on the way back from morning “business” as she heads to the kitchen for breakfast.   Again, see fact #2.
  4. Kali has a little sister named Kloe.  When we brought Kloe home, also a Golden, Retriever, she was just nine weeks old.  Upon meeting Kloe, Kali made it very clear that she was not in favor of this addition to the pack.  As soon as the shock wore off Kali looked to me as if to say, “oh no.  No, no, no.  You take that puppy back where you got it.” But little Kloe possessed magical powers over even this larger and older dog.  Kloe cast a love spell upon Kali and by that evening the two of them were spooning and cuddling.  Kali, who we think may have been a breeder in Taiwan before she was stray, became a loving and caring surrogate mom for this little 15 pound pup. Kloe is now 80 pounds (compared to Kali’s 60) and still likes to cuddle with big sissy Kali.
  5. The tagline of this blog site used to be “Kali’s new life in America.  Then in 2016 Kali moved from San Francisco East Bay suburbia with Kloe, Holly and I to the Sierra Nevada Foothills.   Kali now lives on five acres under the pines, oaks, and cedars.   When we moved the new tagline became “Kali’s new life in the mountains”.
  6. Kali does not play fetch.  From day one she made it very clear to me, much to my chagrin, that if I wanted the ball retreived I should go get it myself.  Initially she would run after the ball and sniff at it, look back at me, and then wonder off to smell other things.  After several weeks of effort (on my part not hers) I accepted her logical reasoning to not throw the ball if I just wanted her to bring it back.  With that logic I guess Kali would also choose not to snow ski if given the opportunity….
  7. Kali recently received the American Kennel Club’s “Good Citizen Certificate”.   To receive this distinction Kali had to perform 10 basic activities ranging from sit and stay, to recall at a distance, to remaining calm during distractions, heel while walking amongst a group of strangers, etc.  She had to receive 10 out of 10 in order to pass.   To top it off there could be no treats involved during the testing.  Yikes!   See fact # 2…    We are very proud of this certificate because of the work Kali put in over the years to be that good very good canine citizen.

Golden Kali relaxing at home

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Now for our nominees for the One Lovely Blog Award.  Click the links below to go to the sites’s “About” page.

And now finally for the full set of rules should the nominees above choose to participate:

  • Thank the person (or dog) that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Display the award on your post.
  • List seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate up to 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

 

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Good Citizens

“The family that obeys together stays together”.   At least that’s what we say around the Golden K.  OK, we might not actually say that but maybe we’ll start.

Earlier this Spring Kloe participated in an obedience training program conducted by a local group affiliated with the American Kennel Club.  Since the time Kloe was a pup Holly (mostly) and I had been working 1:1 with Kloe using the training skills we learned from a private trainer we hired when Kali first arrived from Taiwan.  We felt Kloe needed more socialization and structure so Holly enrolled her in the program.  Kali had been getting a little sloppy I had become sloppy with Kali so I decided to enroll her too so that we could all go through the program as a united pack.  The family that trains together remains together.  Maybe we’ll start using that phrase too…

Both girls flew through the program with flying colors.   Eventually…

When we arrived for the first session our “girls” entered the building with guns-a-blazing!  They announced their arrival with a lot of robust barking.  Kali: “Who are all these dogs and why don’t they run away when I bark at them?” Kloe:  “Who are all these dogs and why won’t you let me off my leash so I can go play with them?”  All the other dogs: “Who are those two loud mouths?”

After a couple of weeks both girls settled in, Kloe realized she was there to work and gave Holly her full attention for most of the 55 minute sessions. Kali was the star pupil.  I wasn’t surprised.  Most of the other dogs were pretty young because this is the class that is intended to follow the Puppy class.  At eight years old Kali was the the Geriatric Granny of the class but I was none the less proud of her. The trainers and other owners watched and smiled as Kali pranced around the room listing to and responding to my every command.  In Kali’s mind a command, regardless of who it is directed at, means a treat is not far away which has made her very trainable.

At the conclusion of the seven week course the trainer told us about an upcoming AKC Good Citizens Certification test that would be available for the members of the class.  This test is comprised of ten behaviors the dog has to demonstrate.  They are relatively basic behaviors such as sit, heel, stay, etc.  They are also tested on distractions, walking through an area crowded with people, and so on.  They must score 10 out of 10 in order to be certified.  AND, there can be no treats used or on the owners body while they are being tested.  Rutt Roh…!!

So last Sunday Kali and drove to Jamestown to take the test.  I was a little apprehensive because Kali still gets a little anxious when new dogs are around.  Kali on the other hand was Kool, Kalm, and Kollected and when it was her turn performed all ten behaviors without issue (and notably with out treats).

Kali will always be my precious Golden Kali with or without any certificates or awards.  On the one hand this test was not a big deal and changes nothing.  On the other hand this test reinforced, at least to me, three years of development anD growth for Kali and I as a team.  So I will mail the paperwork to get the official certificate from the AKC to commemorate Kali’s accomplishment.  It will be framed and proudly hung in a place of distinction at the Golden K.  For me it will mean a lot.  For Kali it may only serve as a reminder of the day she did everything asked of her, on command and as described in the AKC good citizen manual,  without receiving one treat.

This ribbon will have to do until the official certificate arrives.  I wonder where I can buy a golden frame?….

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Kloe Time

From Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge, truth, wisdom.  And all for free).

Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.  Blah blah blababdy blah…

OK , I added the blababdy blah part but whatever….

I mean after all, isn’t time somewhat arbitrary?   I imagine, and can only imagine -because my ADD impatience keeps me from reading more than the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article and even then only some of the words – that there are scientific and logical arguments that prove time to be something other than arbitrary.  If I force myself to look farther down the Wiki page I see words like “physical qualities” and “temporal measurement”.  Huh?…

The article began to catch my interest and as I read further I saw that J.M. E. McTaggart’s 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea.  Apparently old J.M.E. was a deep thinker and something called an Idealist Metaphysician.  Cool title but how much could that job pay, right??

“But wait Mike”, you might say.  “I follow this blog to read about Golden Kali, and her little sister Kloe, and to see all those cute pictures of their antics and sweetness.  If I want to read science and hear fact-based philosophical arguments I’ll get that info like everyone else does by turning to social media and reviewing the seemingly endless stream of memes that monopolizes my feed”.

OK, fair point.  So on to the real purpose of this post.

One year ago today we brought a nine-week 15 pound puppy home that we named Kloe.  Kloe doesn’t give a woof about time except if it’s time to eat, or time to walk, or time to play, or time to cuddle.  Those are concepts of time Kloe can relate to.   Kloe time.  But, in “the continued progress of existence and events” it is has been a year, and now at one year and nine-weeks old, Kloe is still very much the same exactly the same pup she was one year ago.  Except now she is 65 pounds heavier and a few feet  longer.

One year, one pup, and one heck of a lot of love and fun this sweet girl has brought into our life.  I might have remembered anyway but in the spirit of full disclosure here is the real reason I knew that it was one year ago today that we brought Kloe home:

Yep – it was in my Facebook feed: “One Year Ago  – see your memories”.  And there were two pictures of Kloe the day she came home.  I smiled, paused for a few moments to reflect, and then scrolled down through the endless stream of memes looking for fake news.

Thank you Facebook for bringing a very special piece of the time continuum to my news feed. 

(1) On This Day 2017-05-07 09-32-59

Thank you Kloe for all the licks, laughs, and love during the past year.

 

What is hip?

There’s a favorite song of mine by Tower Of Power called What Is Hip?  Tower of Power was a very successful soul band in the seventies and eighties and continue to tour and play their brand of soul with the same enthusiasm and “hipness” that they did when I was a teen going to their concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unfortunately Kali’s version of the song is “what is hip dysplasia?

Kali arrived in the U.S. with hip dysplasia, a common ailment with Golden Retrievers.  Also common for Golden’s is not to complain about much of anything.  So while she has always been a little slow going up the stairs and can’t jump she has gotten along pretty well.   Until recently…

Over the past few months I’ve noticed Kali slowing down.  I attributed this mostly to her getting older – she was approximately five when she arrived and is now eight.  But my overall observations and instincts suggested that it was more than that and the obvious reason was her hips.  It became really evident when she was laying on one side and wanted to turn to the other side.  She moved slow, grunted a bit, and was clearly uncomfortable making this move.

We’ve had her on Dasaquin since day one and we her dry food includes glucosamine.   While these supplements may have helped for a while it became very evident that she needed something else.

A week and a half ago Kali’s vet did a thorough check of her hips and prescribed a newly approved medicine for dogs called Galiprant.  After just a couple of doses there was striking evidence of improvement.  Kali has always pranced but now when we head out for walks she is very animated and jogs down to the edge of our property where she waits to be leashed for our walk.  She seems genuinely happy to be stretching her limbs.  What a joy this is!

So is Galiprant a miracle drug?  It may be too soon to say, and I certainly don’t want to jinx anything, but for now “what is hip dysplasia” has become “What Is Hip?” and Kali and I are both feeling a lot younger as she gallops freely around the Golden K and I reminisce about Tower Of Power.

What is hip?
Tell me, tell me if you think you know
What is hip?
If you was really hip
The passing years would show
You into a hip trip
Maybe hipper than hip
But what is hip?

Tower of Power

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Kali almost three years ago the day after coming home forever

Return of the Black Tailed Deer

Spring is in the air and the deer seem to know it.

We got to know “our” black tailed deer during the past year.  We enjoyed their visits each morning and evening as we became accustomed to mountain life and our new surroundings.  We got to know the regulars – three bucks we named Scratcher, Kicker, and Chester – and the occasional doe who would follow behind in an appropriate amount of distance based on pecking order.

In early summer we gushed when a spotted fawn accompanied a doe and the three bucks down for breakfast.  We watched in awe as the bucks antlers grew and made these mature males look all the more powerful and glorious.  We mourned the loss of Gimpy, the buck with a broken leg, who we found him dead on our property in early Fall not far from our driveway.  He was an older buck who hobbled along on a three legs for at least a few years (per the previous property owners) and apparently died of old age and not because of his injury that he seemed to manage relatively well given the circumstances.

In Fall hunting season is followed by rutting which drive the deer away from the Golden K with only an occasional visit by a stray buck.  The mostly absence of deer throughout Winter was striking and I missed them.  I wondered where they went, how they were doing, and if they would return back to the Golden K.

And then they did. Last weekend our black tailed beauties returned home in full force.

There were antler-less bucks with foreheads sporting only sockets where their magnificent antlers once were but fell off in the last month or so.  There were does, skinny and hungry and presumably preparing for birth later this spring or early summer.  And there were the yearlings.  Small and skinny but healthy “kids” who survived the winter when the majority of their peers have perished.  Fawn mortality rate runs between 50% and 70%.

So as Spring begins friends of the Golden K have returned much to our joy and anticipation.  Anticipation of more fawns, more grand buck antlers, and continued health and prosperity that all  creatures- man or beast – hope to experience and be blessed upon by Mother Nature.

It’s been almost a year since we arrived at the Golden K.  The return of the black Tailed have Deer reinforced the circle of life and most notably my romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.