The Outdoor Bath Tub

Of the many canine friendly amenities at Kali’s new mountain house there is one that will make both our lives easier about once a month.  The outdoor bath tub.  The previous owners were dog lovers like us.  They had three of their own and many things in and around the house were very clearly designed to be dog friendly and safe.

The tub was pretty dirty from winter and not being used for some time and I finally got around to cleaning it today. The out door bath tub is located adjacent to the stand alone garage up the hill from the house.   I headed up the to garage with some cleaning supplies and Kali followed along.

I was only planning on cleaning the tub – not Kali.  But that all changed as I as I finished cleaning and looked over to my right to see Kali laying down in a large puddle of mud.  It’s been pretty hot the past several days and I’m sure the cool muddy water felt very good to her.  I look over at Kali and start to laugh.  Kali looks up and smiles as if to say, “Hey Dad – this is great!  A girl needs spa treatment every now and then and this mineral laced mud and mountain water will do wonders for my skin and completion.”

So what better way to christen the outdoor bath tub than on a warm Sunday afternoon enjoying Kali’s new life in the mountains.

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The tub and Kali’s “mineral springs” to the right

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I love this place

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Can I get a Pedi next?

Sometimes Life’s A Grind

It’s been eight months since the grooming mishap when I cut Kali’s dew claw too close and she ended up needing minor surgery to repair it; actually to remove it because it was cracked and kept bleeding.  I spent days kicking myself at the time for hurting her and since then I’ve been very reluctant to have another go at it trimming nails.  Surely Kali would pick up on my reluctance and anxiety if i was to try again so I’ve put it off.

When Kali had a professional teeth cleaning a few months ago the vet trimmed her dew claws since she was out for the count during the cleaning.  Recently I’ve noticed that they have been growing very fast and I knew I would need to do something soon.  This morning she spent about 20 minutes nibbling on her paws; specifically her dew claws.  They were obviously bothering her and I had put off doing anything too long.  They were pretty long and beginning to curl.   My bad…

At the time of her surgery to correct my blunder my vet suggested I look into getting a nail grinder and begin to slowly get Kali accustomed to the sound of the grinder while working my way up to actually using it on her nails. I never got around to doing this -until this morning.  Before heading to the pet store I did some reading on line to get a basic idea of what was available.  The clerks at the pet store I go to are very educated on the products they sell and I trust them.  A simple “starter” model was suggested, I paid the clerk, and was on my way home to begin what I thought would be a days-long process to get Kali used to the sound of the grinder.  I figured that I would have to slowly graduate up to holding her paw in my hand while the grinder was turning, and then finally actually using it.

I purposely didn’t take Kali with me to the pet store this morning because she gets a little antsy if I stand around talking to the clerks too long and I had a lot of questions about the grinders and proper technique.  When I arrived home Kali was immediately interested in the bag I had in my hand.  She came up to me, nudged the bag, smelled it, and decided that it might be food, or have something to do with food because her nose told her it was from the pet store.  I seized the opportunity to reward her for her interest and gave her a couple of biscuits while making a big deal out of the bag.   Kali stayed by my side as I took the grinder out of the packaging.  The grinder was seated in that very annoying rigid plastic clam shell packaging that has absolutely no effective method to open without using a chain saw unless you have grizzly bear paws for hands.  If I ever meet the person who came up with that packaging idea I will punch him or her straight in the face.  But I digress…

As I struggle and complain about the packaging Kali remains fixed on the grinder, now even more sure that it will lead to food.  I continued to reward her with a couple of more biscuits while I inserted the batteries.

I went to the refrigerator and pulled out the high value treats I keep in a jar; small pieces of beef and chicken rolls that I cut into bite-size pieces.  If I didn’t have Kali’s full attention before I certainly did now!  I sat down with the open jar on the table, the grinder in my hand, and Kali in front of me.  OK, I thought – let’s see how she does with the sound…  I turn on the grinder keeping it a fair distance from Kali as I hand her a treat. She  doesn’t flinch other than to flick her eyes back at the jar on the table.  Smokey on the other hand is a bit skittish with anything that sounds even remotely like the vacuum cleaner (at only 11 pounds you can’t blame him!) and he goes running under the table seeking quick shelter from the noise.  The difference in focus  for Kali and Smokey at this juncture was not surprising.   Kali’s only interest is the jar of treats and how she can get more.  Smokey was interested in not getting vacuumed up….

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“How can you hand me a treat if one hand is on my paw and your other hand is on the device that you think frightens me?

I continued to turn on and off the grinder while rewarding Kali for her calm demeanor and focus.  I wasn’t planning on putting the grinder anywhere near her paws, let alone dew claws, for the first few sessions but things were going very well.  So after a quick trim of the hairs around her dew claws I had Kali take a full down position with me also sitting on the ground.  I held her dew claw in my left hand and gave her a treat.  With her paw still in my hand I turned on the grinder and while it whirred I gave her a treat.  She was loving life at this point.  “What paw?”, she seemed to say.  I positioned her claw next to the grinder and gently pushed it towards the spinning grinder pad.  With a puff of smoke the dew claw was reduced by about an eight of an inch.  After more treats and more grinding the claw was back to an acceptable length. I moved on to the other paw and after only a matter of minutes we were done.

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“Keep that treat jar nearby and you can do whatever you want with my paws…”

Kali was an absolute angel. I was very proud of her and proud of myself for knowing her tendencies, when to push a bit and when to back off.  Today worked out great for both of us and although the dew claws are not quite as short as I’d like I didn’t want to push my luck.  I wanted to end on a positive note and so we did.  We’ll have have another session in the next day or so to finish up.

Do any of you use nail grinders on your pups?  I’d love to hear about how it works for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducks Like Rain!

It’s still too early to expect it.  All we can do is hope it eventually arrives.  If it doesn’t get here soon we are in deep trouble.  Especially our farmers, our ranchers, and our eco-systems.  Yes, I’m talking about rain – or lack of it – out here in “droughtville”.

“They” say El-Nino is coming.  I hope whomever they are know what they’re talking about!  I’ve never been a fan of rain but lately I find myself praying for it!  Many of my neighbors are replacing lawns with drought resistant plants, rocks, stones, and cement.  Yuck!  Suburbia is all about green lawns, lush parks, and strip malls.  Ok scratch the strip malls;  we could definitely do without any, or at least with less, strip malls. But I’m holding out one more year and, at least for now, the lawns are staying.  I’m giving the grass enough water to keep them alive but not so much as to exceed our mandatory reduction percentages.  My five minute showers in the morning have been pared down to two minutes and I’ve allocated that water to my lawn.  Well at least that’s my rationalization…

Meanwhile, we did get some rain this past week.  It wasn’t much but it was rain.  A steady drizzle.  Precipitation.  Whatever – we’ll take it.  Even with that little sprinkling the yards around the neighborhood seemed to come alive.  More importantly it surely helped the firefighters around the state battling a number of record setting wildfires.  The drought resistant plants could give a hoot but the rocks and stones sure looked pretty when they were wet!

Even our creek and pond seemed to come alive.  The water levels with even this little bit of rain seemed to rise a couple of feet.  This morning along our walk the duck’s seemed happier.  Seriously.  They were swimming and preening with newfound gusto.

There was a male in the middle of the pond quacking loudly and proudly as if to say, “Ducks like rain!”.

The duck caught Kali’s attention for several seconds and I believe I saw her smile as if to say, “Hey feathered friend – I’m happy for you”.  I smiled too.  Seeing the pond and creek looking a little bit like it’s old self made me happy.  And for a few seconds on this glorious sunny and warm morning time stopped and it was just me, Kali, and mother nature enjoying a moment.

It's nice to see the water levels higher - at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

It’s nice to see the water levels higher – at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

I guess Kali and I got a little too close for Mr. Heron’s comfort and he flew off to the other side of the creek.  Have a great day BH, enjoy the water and sun.

If you’ve made it this far down the page and post congratulations!  Your reward is the full lyrics of “Ducks Like Rain”.

DUCKS LIKE RAIN by Franciscus Henri

Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack! Quack! Quack!

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks llike the rainy weather,
Water running off their feathers,
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle,
Water knee-deep in the puddle,
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…

The Merry Old Land Of Oz

Did Kali and I mention that Smokey was back?  We may not have even mentioned that he ever left.   He was gone for about three months while his mom (my daughter) was living somewhere else.  Smokey decided he missed Kali too much so he moved back in and brought my daughter with him.  Yes parents of adult children, you know how that one goes….  😉

Upon his arrival he gave Kali the once over and decided she was a mess and needed a little grooming which he would do himself.   It looked a bit like the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the cowardly lion finally make it to the Emerald City.  Upon entering the city and stating their desire to meet with the great Wizard the residents decide Dorothy and crew first need to be spiffied up a bit.  They proceed to clean then up in grand fashion while singing,

Rub, rub here, Rub, rub there whether you’re tin or brass
That’s how we keep you in repair, In the Merry Old Land of Oz

– From The Merry Old Land Of Oz 

And this is pretty much what Smokey did when he re-entered his merry old land of Kali.

“Sniff sniff here, lick lick there, I’ll give the softest nibble
That’s how I keep you looking good and ready for your dinner kibble”

– From Smokey’s thought bubble

(Yes, very corny!  But don’t blame me; Smokey’s responsible for the contents of his thought bubbles.)

I’m still kicking myself

I’m still kicking myself.  Holly told me to let it go but my nature is to continue kicking myself until I correct the mistake I made.  Sometimes it takes longer than I’d like but I usually find a way to fix “it” whatever it happens to be…  And I will this time too!

Kali’s nails never need clipping because our daily walks seem to keep them short.  They pretty much always look the same.  Neatly manicured by mother nature.  Except for her dew claws.  These tend to get long and I know when they begin to bother Kali because she’ll start to chew on them.  So last week when I saw her chewing on them I took a look and sure enough they looked like little hooks and in need of a trim.  I’ve trimmed them a few times and although it’s not a favorite grooming activity of Kali’s (to say the least) she usually reluctantly complies and I’m able to get off a quick snip without any problems.

But not last week.  Last week Kali squirmed away just as I was pressing down on the handle of the clippers and I immediately knew that I had hurt her.  I caught the nail too close to the quick.  There was a bit of blood and probably a bit of pain for Kali.  Holly helped and as I held Kali still Holly quickly cauterized the nail with styptic powder and wrapped the area with a sterile bandage and gauze.

Kali was fine but I wasn’t.  I walked around the kitchen saying, “#%&!!…”.  Holly:  “Stop it, she’l be fine.  It happens”.  Me:  “&*%$#!!”.

I went over to Kali who was now laying down and settled.   “I’m so sorry Kali.  I’m so sorry I hurt you”.  Kali didn’t seem to be in any pain and other than being a little confused about the bandage on her paw everything was fine.  But not for me.  I wasn’t fine and I’m still kicking myself.

The next morning I was surprised to find the paw quite swollen but during the course of the morning the swelling resolved and everything seemed fine.   Kali let me hold her paw and squeeze it gently.  There was no apparent pain.  The nail was black but there was no bleeding so I didn’t re-bandage it.   Then a couple of days later Kali was running in the yard and I saw her pull up and come hobbling back towards the house.  The nail was bleeding again.  We bandaged it and again the next day it was fine.  Yesterday on our walk I noticed it bleeding.  When we got home I did a closer inspection and could see that the nail was split – much like a hangnail – and the quick was exposed.  Great – more kicking myself and some silent #%$^@!!”s.  Kali walked on it fine but when I touched the “hangnail” she didn’t like that at all.  When I moved the small piece it clearly hurt her.

Kali tried her best to be a good soldier; she knew what I wanted.  I wanted her to hold still while I washed and bandaged her paw.  But she was too scared and her instincts overrode the desire to obey.  It was an interesting dynamic seeing in her eyes both acknowledgement of what I wanted and also the fear of being hurt.

It took about 15 biscuits and some magician-like maneuvers to get it cleaned and re-bandaged.   I soaked it for a few minutes in a pan of warm water, dried it off, and put on a new sterile bandage wrapped with gauze.  Kali gave the bandage a cursory lick but for the most part ignored it and went off to sleep in the sun while I scoured “source of all truth” (the internet)  to gather more information about cracked dew claws.

Like most things you read about on the internet, and in life,  there are many versions of the truth.  But I did gather enough reasonable information to feel as though I had done the right thing by wrapping Kali’s dew claw up and keeping it clean.   It was quite interesting to read comments in forums from many dog owners that suggest the dew claw should be removed completely in order to avoid the problem in the first place. Many owners advocate amputation when the dog is spayed or put out for some other reason.   I’m no expert but that seems rather excessive and not something I would ever consider unless it became medically necessity.  There were many countering opinions that suggested that dog’s need this appendage to help them maneuver when running and turning quickly as well as helping to hold things still such as a bone or Kong toy.  That seemed much more reasonable to me.

Kali’s is no pain and walks just fine but clearly something needs to be done.  So to be sure I’ll take her to the vet to get a professional assessment and to see if the nail needs to be clipped completely off in order to grow back properly or what the best treatment may be.  I’m hoping the prognosis is that it will resolve itself without medical intervention but I’m not very optimistic. I’ll know later today after we see the vet.

One thing I do know for sure is that it will be difficult for me to trim Kali’s dew claws in the future.   We’ll get past this and then I will begin a regimen of touching her toes and nails without involving clippers in order to get Kali used to it and to regain her confidence in me.  It’s really something I should have done in the first place. I should have been regluarly touching her toes and nails and lavishing her with treats to reinforce her allowing me to do so before I ever attempted to clip the first time. Had I done so she wouldn’t have pulled away last week.  There would be no cracked dew claw and no drama for my Golden Kali girl.

Like the old saying goes “should’ve, would’ve could’ve”.  I knew better and ignored it.   And for that, I’m still kicking myself.

Give me more biscuits or I'll pull off the bandage  :)

Give me more biscuits or I’ll pull off the bandage 🙂

 

Hair

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas, in my hair
A home for fleas, a hive for the buzzing bees
A nest for birds, there ain’t no words
For the beauty, splendor, the wonder of my hair

– From Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

The verse above from the 1967 Rock Musical “Hair” could have been written about Kali or any other Golden Retriever for that matter.  Kali’s hair is everywhere but that’s to be expected and accepted if you own a Golden.  There is no shortage of hair flying around the house, in the air, in the carpet, and in the corner and edges of the tiled rooms.  Especially this time of year when Kali’s body decides that two coats are a little much for the hot summer weather that will arrive soon.

I think Kali is a lot prettier when she has her full complement of two fluffy coats.  But, as I did last summer, I will probably take a lot of her undercoat off again this year with the undercoat rake.  It’s remarkable how much hair is  under there.  With only a few passes along her back and thighs I can take off a Smokey size bundle of hair.  I’ve joked about this but wouldn’t it be cool to find someone who could spin Kali’s hair into yarn and make a sweater for someone, or a blanket, or maybe one of those silly toilet paper covers that were popular in the sixties.  If you’re old enough to remember those covers congratulations. If you still have one in your bathroom please get rid of it immediately or risk arrest by the generation police.

It’s amazing how much hair is in the carpet.  We have an upright Eureka vacuum cleaner with a an easily accessible canister of about two quarts in volume.  With a pass through a few rooms the canister is full of Kali’s hair.  Should we be happy that we have such an effective vacuum cleaner or ashamed that we’ve allowed so much hair to accumulate over the past few days?

And then there’s the stairs.  The stairs are a little more challenging when it comes to vacuuming.  But wait (as they used to say in the infomercials for Ginsu Knives) there’s more!  Our upright vacuum comes with  the “Power Paw”.  This hand-held attachment is quite effective at picking up dog hair from the stairs.  It  has a rubber gasket along the underside to loosen the hair and a spinning rake to grab the hair and suck it into the two-quart canister.  And Eureka is all about pet safety.  I’m sure of this because the attachment comes with a  warning:  “Caution.  Not to be used on pets”.   Thank goodness for stopping me before I did something stupid like vacuuming Kali, or worse Smokey who could probably fit through the hose and go directly into the canister.  Tragedy avoided.  Now where did that hair dryer go?  I’m off to take a bath and want to use the hair dryer while I’m sitting in the tub…

By the way if you are old enough to remember the Ginsu Knives infomercials you’re almost as old as those readers now running to the bathroom to hide that silly toilet paper cover that their grandmother knitted for them in 1965.  But, if you were lucky enough to have purchased a set of those knives – congratulations – you’re one of about 3 million people who purchased them between 1978 and 1984 (according to Wikipedia who of course is never wrong so why shouldn’t your doctoral thesis on global warming be based on data found within those millions of wiki-pages?).

So yeah, hair. “Hair of the dog that bit you”, “lost by a hair”, “what a hairy ordeal”.  Or how about, “there was hair flying everywhere?”  Boom – that’s the one.  Kali’s hair is flying everywhere.

But far be it from us to cook up a harebrained scheme (sorry) to do something about it.  Because, after all it’s Kali hair flying around like thousands of little blessings landing on and around us all day long.

 

But wait - there's more!

But wait – there’s more!

In searching for this photo I was amazed at the plethora of pictures and apparent market for these knitted items.  I stand corrected for those of you who I've offended please accept my humble apologies.

In searching for a photo of the silly knitted TP covers I shouldn’t have been amazed (but I was) at the plethora of pictures, and apparent market, for these knitted items. For those of you who may have felt ashamed for still possessing one of these please accept my humble apologies. (But, I still do think they’re silly..)

 

Woof!

Forecast: Buzzed and Warm

What a transformation. In a matter of about an hour he went from “Tough Guy” to “Lamb Pie”.

Kali’s little bro’, Smokey got a LONG OVERDUE grooming this week.  Smokey had not had a grooming for quite some time and he needs one at least every 8 to 12 weeks.  Otherwise he quickly turns into one of those fuzzy slippers that my sister used to wear back in the sixties.  It’s an amazing transformation and this time it was even more striking.  Because we waited so long he had a lot of matting in his fur.   So this grooming turned out to be a more of a doggie buzz-cut.

SMOKEY: PRE-TRANSFORMATION

Tough Guy Smokey

Tough Guy Smokey

SMOKEY: POST-TRANSFORMATION

Lamb Pie Smokey

Lamb Pie Smokey

It could be that I’m projecting my perceptions but Smokey seems a lot calmer and mild-mannered when he looks like a little lamb. Less barking and overall less small-dog syndrome.  Although the bleating does become rather annoying (sorry!)…

Another interesting dynamic is how Kali has related to Smokey after his grooming.  Smokey is usually the one who initiates play taunting Kali to chase him using tactics like nipping at her tail and running in circles under her nose.  But this time when Smokey came home from the grooming Kali seemed intrigued.  They always greet each other when one of them comes home but this time seemed different.  Kali approached Smokey with lots of sniffing and pushed her head against his little 11 pound body.  Then, like a unbridled pony her front legs went up in the air, her tail was wagging furiously, and with a big smile on her face she seemed to say, “Hey you’re cute and you smell really good; wanna play chase?”  And of course Smokey complied running in between furniture and under tables to get away only to re-emerge and launch his signature counter attack. It’s a good thing Kali is not a border collie or Smokey would be in for a long Spring.

And talk about transformation and Spring, we went from torrential downpours in the Bay Area causing flooding in many areas to sunny and warm Spring-like weather.  We’ll have temps in the low to mid-seventies throughout the weekend and into next week.  If only I could teach Kali how to caddy could multitask with a long walk while I also play golf.

weather

There’s a pond along our walking trail with a lots of ducks, geese, and a variety of water fowl.  We’ve even seen a couple of blue heron’s.  Kali loves watching the birds and becomes especially animated when they land in the water as a flock or take back to the skies after we’ve come too close or Kali has let out a hearty woof.  Kali is a great walker and rarely tugs at the leash staying close to my side.  But as we get close to the duck pond she begins pulling and fully extends the slack in the leash while looking back at me as if to say, “Aren’t you coming?  There are birds over there in the water.  I’m a retriever; I’ve got a job to do”.

I think I’m supposed to go out there and “retrieve” one of those ducks, right?

It had been a long time since Kali and I had walked in warm weather.  Me in shorts and Kali in, well she still had two coats on but she didn’t seem to mind.  So on this Winter afternoon that felt a lot more like Spring we took an extra long route, visited the duck pond (did I have a choice?),  passed by the dog park without drama, and stopped to “smell the (figurative) roses”.  With no reason to rush home we took in the sights and smells and were very mindful our blessings on this glorious afternoon.

Sit Kali.  Sure why not.

Sit Kali. Sure why not.

 

Lie Down.  OK, glad to oblige.

Lie Down. OK, glad to oblige.