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.

 

Road Trip

“Road Trip”!

That’s all the girls (Kali and Kloe) had to hear.   They ran to the rack where there leashes are hung, strung them in their mouths, and headed off to the garage ready to spryly jump into the back of the Subaru Outback.  Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration…  In the spirit of full transparency I have to tell you that Kloe has acquired car-ride anxiety and has to be coaxed (usually) lifted into the car against her will.  And Kali’s old and dysplasia-ridden hips don’t allow her to make the leap, although the desire is there…

Kennedy Meadows, located in the Northern CA Sierra mountains is only an hour from the Golden K and that was our destination this past Friday.  We packed a lunch for us and snacks for the girls and were ready to head out to the high Sierra’s, away from the heat and smoke from the Ferguson fire that has been blowing our way for the past several days.  Holly tried to convince Kloe that jumping into the back of the car would yield her many high value treats but she wasn’t having any of it.   In frustration, I picked up 80 pounds of an uncooperative Golden Retriever (which is more like a 100 pounds when she is in that state of mind) and threw her gently lifted her into the car.   One down…

I then instructed Kali, as I always do, with an “up” pointing to the back of the car.   On queue Kali lifts one paw onto the bumper with shaky hips.  Her eagerness and willingness says yes, but her body says no.  She looks at me and I help her complete the task and give her a assist and lift her into the car.  The girls sit and face us as the hatchback  closes.  Time travelers on their way to Kennedy Meadows.

We’ve been meaning to address Kloe’s newfound anxiety of car-rids, so a we made a detour in town to Dusty’s Den.  Dusty’s is a local pet store and emporium owned by our friends Deborah and George.  So we make a quick stop to pick up some CBD oil in the hopes that this will be the elixir Kloe needs to help take the edge off of her car-ride anxiety.  We’re in and out within minutes with “the stuff” 🙂 and head on up the hill to Kennedy Meadows.

As Golden Kali readers may be aware California is on fire.  Sad and scary for all our rural communities is the fact that the forest is overgrown, global warming is a fact, and our resources are over taxed and understaffed.  One of the newest fires to break out is the Donnel fire, about 10 minutes south of Kennedy Meadows.  This fire started Thursday, the day before our road trip, and we passed by as it was about 350 acres. The smoke was in view from the ridge of Highway 108 as we passed by without threat to the road or various campgrounds and US forest land cabins.  [As of this post the fire has grown to 8000 acres, and destroyed many historical buildings.]

Kennedy Meadows is a special place.  Nestled high in the Sierras it’s the place so many of us Bay Area natives would go to when we were young adults to get away from the “city” and experience nature.  The Stanislaus river, the Sonora pass who’s summit tops 9000 feet and leads into the real high country of Bridgeport and beyond, and the majesty of Mother Nature is magnificent.  And there we were.

We unloaded the girls and started off on a short hike to the river where the girls could cool off and wade in the river.  We passed a few other hikers, some with dogs, and we were so proud of our girls who were interested, polite, and well behaved even when other dogs barked at them.  Kali has come such a long way from the Taiwanese rescue who was so anxious around other dogs when she first arrived in America four years ago.  And Kloe, now two and half, has learned not to pull when we encounter another person or dog, but instead postures herself  to greet them and engage.   We are very proud of our girls…

While at the river Kali got her leg caught in some rocks and came up limping.  The unfounded worries that I am prone to immediately assessed that Kali would not be able to walk the half mile back to car and that I would have to carry her 60+ pounds the entire way on by shoulders.  Holly quickly spoke up and said, “if you try to carry her the whole way who will carry you?”.  It was a good point.  As Kali limped I encouraged bribed her with high value treats to keep her walking all the way inspire of my worry that her leg was hurt and walking was making it worse.  [Update:  her leg was fine and  she was faking in order to get the HVT’s].

We made it back to the car, my pocket now empty of treats, and had lunch.  Kloe eagerly jumped out of the car and settled next to Holly’s sandwich chair.  Kali elected to remain in the car in an effort to perpetuate the injured leg drama.  We ate our lunch, drank a beer, fed the girls some of our watermelon (they love watermelon!) and sat in the quiet of the forest in awe of the beauty of the high country.

As we reloaded and headed back down the hill to the Golden K we were feeling blessed to live within the beautiful Stanislaus Forest,  worried about climate change and how fire season in California is almost year round, appreciative of the herculean fire fighters, and feeling blessed to have been rescued by our girls Kali and Kloe.

Note to self…

Note to self:  Don’t work on sprinklers and drip irrigation when your two year old pup has a 6 month old friend over to play.  Although there was plenty of dry ground available for playing chase and wrestling the water was like a magnet and these two had quite the time.

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Thought bubble over Kloe’s head:  “That was awesome!”

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Thought bubble over six month old Chewie’s head:  “Are we in trouble?”

Needless to say, baths followed and the irrigation project was put on hold for a couple of days.

Spunk

Kali got into a dog fight this past week.  On the other hand it was more of a spat between cousins than a real fight. But I saw some spunk in Kali that surprised me.  It lasted only a few seconds, and although I wasn’t happy that Kali and Jaynee “got into it” I was glad to see the spunk.

Kali and Kloe usually spend the day with our friends Marty and Jen when we’ll both will be gone for the day.  And so it was this past Thursday when we went to the Bay Area to visit my cousin.  Marty and Jen have two pups -Jaynee and Sadie – and our girls are very familiar with them and they all get along fine.

When we arrived to pick up the girls we were standing around chatting with Marty and Holly had some high value treats (HVT) in her pocket and was doling them out to the gang.  I guess these HVT’s were HV enough that they were worth fighting for.   In a flash – as it usually happens – there was a scuffle and Jaynee had gnashed teeth on Kali’s muzzle.  Kali swung around and grabbed Jaynee’s ribs with her teeth.   The fight was quickly broken up.  It was no one’s fault and, just like with kids playing together all day, the pups were all tired and a little cranky.  So no harm and no foul and Kali and Jaynee went about their business in peace probably instantly forgetting the scuffle and only concerned about whether there would be anymore HVTs doled out.  They weren’t.

So while I was not glad to see Kali and Jaynee in a conflict – I love Jaynee almost as much as my own girls – I was pleased to see that Kali at nine years old still has some spunk in her.  And after all kids will be kids and pups will be pups.   This was a scuffle between canine cousins.  They each got their licks in (no pun intended) and it was over as quickly as it started.

So yeah, Spunk.  Kali’s got Spunk.

Pictured left to right:  Cousins Jaynee, Kloe, Sadie, Kali

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Kloe, Sticks, and Balls

Sticks

Kloe loves sticks!  The bigger the better.  It still makes me laugh out loud to see her emerge from a dense part of the back yard with a stick almost as long as her.  She seems to take great joy after a storm or very windy day when new branches and sticks have fallen from the trees around the Golden K.

Here in this brief video Kloe “gets to work”.

Shortly after she proudly displays the fruit of her labor having reduced the giant stick to tooth picks.  “Look dad, I made kindling”.

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Balls

But above all Kloe loves balls and playing the game we call “drop ball”.  It’s our name for fetch because she usually has to be prompted to drop the ball.  So if we really want her to get in a good workout we use two balls.  As she returns from catching one ball the other is in our hand.  She’ll drop the one in her mouth and we immediately throw the second ball.  At 22 months and 80 pounds of pure muscle she can do 30 or 40 reps in a row without blinking an eye.

“Drop Ball”

 

And this is how we know it was a great game of Drop Ball as she finally lays down exhausted for a nap ( of course with the ball in her mouth!)img_4028-e1517175221247.jpg

Sticks

Kloe has never met a stick she didn’t like.

Like all puppies Kloe loved to chew and to this day is still a voracious chewer.  She was nine weeks old when she joined our pack and spent just two weeks in our home in Livermore, CA before we moved to The Golden K, our new home in the mountains.   Our Livermore home was a typical suburban home on a small suburban lot with a compliment of small suburban sticks.   Kloe had no problems finding these tiny sticks and she eagerly gnawed away at them.  We were initially concerned that being so small and young she would swallow too much of the bark and wood shavings she tore off with her razor-like puppy teeth.  But she was never interested in eating the shavings.  Instead she would chew the small sticks into pieces and spit them out in a tidy pile next to her.   She quickly gained our confidence that she wouldn’t eat an entire tree while we weren’t watching.

Being the stick lover that she is you can imagine Kloe’s excitement when we moved to The Golden K on five acres in the foothills covered with oak, cedar, and pine trees.   The amount of sticks now available to her was not simply incremental it was exponential.  It must have been like if I had moved from a home that had a modest wine rack holding six bottles of middle shelf wine to a mansion with a huge wine cellar holding hundreds of bottles of the finest wines money could buy.  Or, more likely, that’s just me projecting and in reality Kloe probably didn’t notice or comprehend the plethora of sticks now available to her and only focused on the stick “at hand” at any given moment.

These days the sticks, like Kloe, are much bigger and she still hasn’t met one she doesn’t like.

One down a million to go….

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Long Running Story

Kali’s new life in America and the mountains is now a long running story.

As most owners of a rescue pet know it’s the pet that usually rescues us and provides us with a more enriched life.  So often it is the pet, in my case Kali, who teaches us new ways to love, re-calibrates our priorities, and shows us that the simplest things in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

It’s been three and half years since Kali rescued me. I vividly remember the moment her crate was opened and she was released to us at SFO after a 12 hour flight from Taiwan.  The bond was instant and was fortified on the drive home and in the ensuing days and weeks.

So while Kali’s adventure is a long running one she herself rarely runs…. or trots, or gallops.  Kali is rarely in a hurry to get anywhere except to her food bowl and even then doesn’t run although she does display a remarkable ability to pirouette, bounce, and hop.   A main reason for the lack of speed are her hips which, typical of Goldens, are not in great shape.  She has dysplasia in one hip and the other, while not diagnosed, is not much better.

So on the rare occasion Kali does “run” it makes me laugh and smile.   It’s not the fact that she’s “running”  but that it is so darn cute.  Because even when Kali is moving fast (for her) it’s not very graceful.  If you saw Kali “run” (note the quote marks around the word run and running in the proceeding sentences when referring to Kali) it would not inspire images of racehorses, jack rabbits, or world class athletes.  When Kloe runs it might but not Kali.  Kali’s motion when moving fast is as much up and down as it is forward.   You might say that she runs with her entire body, head to tail, perhaps to compensate for those wonky hips of hers.

Picture a long wavelength and you will get an idea of how Kali runs; it takes a lot of up and down to move forward just a little bit…

Kali’s “running” motion

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There is a gate that leads out of our patio onto the driveway and surrounding land.   This is the gate Kali and I usually leave from to go on our walks or across to my office.  For Kali walks translate to treats.  My office sometimes translates to a bully stick to chew on or at the least a respite from her sister Kloe’s antics and chance to have dad all to herself.  There is also an area nearby my office where raccoons and other critters have made a “deposit” the previous night.   Much to my chagrin Kali loves to forage for those deposits…

More often than not when we go out the gate Kali begins running with her up and down and up and down motion.  As she “runs” she turns back to me with a smile on her face as if to say, “look at me, I’m running – can you believe it?” Or maybe it’s to say, “C’mon, I’ll show you where all the critters pooped last night.”  Whatever it is it makes me smile and laugh out loud as Kali reminds me that the simplest things in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

And it’s these moments that I am most grateful to have been rescued by my Golden Kali.

A picture of Kali not running…

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Golden Kali

Swim Time At The Lake

It was almost as though the water took the weight of the world off my eight year old Kali.  Well, I guess in some ways it did because when you’re paddling and floating the water is absorbing much of your weight instead of your joints and bones.

And so it was for Kali this afternoon at the lake.

With summer winding down we wanted to get the girls back up to the lake for another romp in the water while the weather was still reasonably warm.  I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the cold freezing snow melt later this year but Holly and I would!  Kloe loves the water and we knew that she would have no problem getting in the deep stuff so we were prepared this time with the long 30 foot leash.   We’re not yet comfortable letting either of the dogs, especially our little dare devil Kloe, into the Lake without a “safety net”.

Kloe had a blast, as expected, swimming out to retrieve the sticks we threw in the water.   This was the first time she really had an opportunity to outright swim without her legs touching the bottom of the lake and it was fun to see her eyes when she realized she was floating and then started paddling.   She did get a little more reserved the deeper out she got.   This actually made me feel relieved because one, she knows her limits to a degree, and two, I wouldn’t have to reel her in like a Marlin.  On the other hand if squirrels could swim and happened to be in the lake all bets would be off and I’m pretty sure Kloe would hyperplane towards the dastardly swimming vermin.

But Kali was really the surprise star of the afternoon.

Kali had been hanging around in the shallow water as Kloe swam out to retrieve sticks.  We gave Kloe a break and put the long leash on Kali just for grins.   Before we knew it she was romping and stomping in the water.   I threw a stick as a joke but the joke was on me.  Kali dove into the water, swam out to the stick, grabbed it, and brought it back and dropped it.   I threw it again and she repeated the exercise.

So shame on me for underestimating my (aging) Golden Kali who seemed years younger as soon as her fur hit the water and her feet began to paddle.  Most days with Kali are a joy but today will stand out for many months to come.

She won’t get a lot of points for style or grace but I give her a 10.0 for effort and heart. Good girl old lady!

Kloe

The inspiration for this blog has always been Kali.  The story of a boy – a very OLD boy – and his dog.  The story of Kali’s life and that “boy” since she landed at SFO from Taiwan three and a half years ago. It was and is Kali’s new life in America and subsequently after the move to the Sierra Nevada Foothills, Kali’s new life in the Mountains.

Since then Kloe joined the pack and although the blog’s name will always be Golden Kali, Kloe has also become part of the fabric of our pack.  It is Kloe who will carry the legacy of Golden Kali, who is seven years her senior, into the future.

So it is with that in mind that I post these few pictures, some of my favorites, of our 80 pound puppy we call Kloe who inspires me just as much as Kali.

Moments In The Sun (with our girls)

We took the girls for a drive and picnic up to the lake today and were pleasantly surprised when we found an area of the beach where dogs were allowed.  During past visits, due to signs all along the beach telling us “no dogs”, we were not aware that there was a section of the beach where dogs were ok.  Today as we strolled around the camp sites and trails we decided to go towards the beach and walk as close as we could with the girls.   I spotted a sign that said “Dog Area” with an arrow pointing down the trail.   Sure enough as we walked a little further we saw lots of dogs on the beach.  So we headed down.

Kloe loves water and although we’ve not taken her to a beach before I was pretty darn sure she was going to go nuts (nuts in the best way possible) when she hit the water.   My only regret is that we didn’t have the long leash so she was restricted to the shore with me holding on to the lease for dear life because this dog is so strong she would have pulled me under like a hungry great white shark with a baby seal in it’s jaws.

So we did the best we could with what we had and what we had was a ton-o-fun!

It was so fun to see Kloe jumping and splashing in the cool water.   The other dogs in the area were very dignified boring simply standing in the water paw deep or laying next to their owners in the sand.   I imagine had we planned for it and brought our beach chairs Kloe would have eventually laid down next to us and chilled out like the boring dogs.  But during the time we were there she was entertainment for all the beachgoers along this 50 yard stretch of lake shore. It was fun to see the smiles on the faces of young and old alike as Kloe did her thing in the water.   Kali even got in the game prancing knee deep in the water, smiling, and more than tolerating her little sister’s antics, seemingly very proud to be part of this pack.

As we all walked back to the car and our picnic lunch Holly and I were grateful for this beautiful day, our girls Kali and Kloe, and certain that we would be back very soon with the long leashes, beach chairs, and cameras ready to capture more of these beautiful moments in the sun with our girls.

Moments in the sun with the girls

 

Next time we bring the long leash for sure!

Girls at the lake