Road Trip with Kali

Kali doesn’t get out to often these days.  At ten and a half she prefers instead to sleep much of the day and inside the house given the choice. After all these years she’s earned it.  Until recently Kloe was also house bound for much of the year due to her injury and then post surgery recovery period.   So for several months it’s mostly been just Koda who gets to get out of the house and accompany us on various errands and car rides.

Kloe is mostly cleared now for normal activities after her surgery so she has been getting out and walking more and coming along for various excursions.   Today we decided to head out to a favorite spot of ours to get our growler filled with apple cider and to enjoy the relatively mild day.  Our routine, now that Kloe is back on her feet so to speak, is to take the “red girls” with us when we go out and about.  Red girls being Kloe and Koda. Kali, the blondie or cream girl, typically stays behind content to sleep in peace without her sisters (or us) milling around and interrupting her daytime slumbers.

So we “geared” Kloe and Koda up with their harnesses and leashes, filled our pockets with treats, and headed towards the door to leave.  As I glanced back at Kali she flashed me sad eyes as if to say, “Can I go? I promise not to be any trouble and I’ll do my best to keep up with the younger Red Girls as we walk around even though my legs aren’t as strong as they used to be.  Can I go?”

I smiled at Kali and then hollered down to Holly who had already gone down the stairs to the garage,  “Road trip! Kali’s coming along.”

And for the first time in a long time we packed up all three girls into the car and headed out for a road trip with Kali and her posse.   It sure felt great to all be together on a short trip to one of our favorite places on a beautiful Fall day with our beautiful girls!

img_7766

ROADTRIP! Kali and her posse of red girls.

img_7770

Holly and “the girls”.

Kloeville

I’m a worrier and also an optimist and worry and hope have been omnipresent since Kloe’s Bi-Lateral Tibia Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) just over ten weeks ago.

It was sometime in April when we learned that Kloe had a torn CCL and then a few weeks later when she tore the other CCL.  Because both tears were partial our vet suggested a wait and see approach.  Wait and see if they heal on their own.   This meant that Kloe would have to be held to almost zero activity in order to give these ligaments a chance to heal.  They  didn’t.

After four months of watching an waiting it was clear that surgery would be necessary in order for Kloe to return to normal activities and a normal of life.  Our vet recommended the TPLO.  Kloe is only three and a half and god willing has many more years of running, jumping, wrestling, and frolicking to experience.  Without surgery she wouldn’t have that.  At least not without pain.

Now, after ten weeks post surgery and observing daily improvement in Kloe,  I have even more hope and reassurances although the worry is still there in the background.

The TPLO surgery is invasive and includes cutting a semi circle through the tibia and then repositioning the bone with a plate and screws.

We have the most fantastic vet and her guidance throughout the past six months has been invaluable.   She told us to begin taking Kloe on short walks on flat ground at four weeks.  Apparently this stimulates healing process in the bones.  At eight weeks we began walks of increasing distance and also began a little up hill walking and a few stairs.  The idea is to go slow enough to be safe but also to begin introducing normal activities.   Most recently in the past few days we have allowed Kloe to be outside off leash under our supervision.

Play with sister Koda (the 18 month old) is still supervised and broken up when it get’s too rough or extends too long.  But play has begun again and both Kloe and Koda are enjoying that to say the least.

It makes us so happy to see Kloe happy again.  To see her smiling again.  To see her go to Kloeville which is lying on her back with a ball in her mouth and just staring into the sky.  Kloeville!   Kloe’s old playful personality has reemerged and Puppy Poses are frequent.

Dogs mostly live in the here an now.  But if Kloe could remember or realize all she’s been through in the past six months she would be very proud of herself for how far she has come.  I know I am!

KLOEVILLE

 

A Model Patient

It’s been three weeks since Kloe had her Bi-lateral TPLO surgery.   She is doing fantastic!  She is feeling so good that the hard part now will be to keep her on a short leash  – figuratively and literally – for at least another month or so.

The first few days home Kloe mostly slept and soaked up the love and attention that we gave her almost 24 x 7 staying within feet away to make sure there were no mishaps.  We’re fortunate that we have a one bedroom apartment under our home that has ground level access and a small patio area.  The apartment is used for friends and family when they visit the Golden K.  But for the first ten days post surgery it was Kloe’s convalescent home staffed primarily by Holly who did what she is so good at – taking care of her family.  I spelled Holly from time to time but it was mostly Holly who monitored Kloe during the critical first several days, administering medicine and changing bandages when needed.   Holly created a safe and comfortable environment for Kloe setting up a day bed in the main living area of the apartment and a nighttime bed in the bedroom where Holly could sleep on the floor next to Kloe.

After a few days Kloe became more ambulatory and willing to walk the few feet to the patio to “get busy” what we call it for our girls to pee and poop.   The summer temps were very warm and Kloe relaxed next to Holly’s side on the shaded patio.   Every minute that passed Kloe’s bones were knitting back together and our vet said a little bit of walking helped that process.

After about ten days we felt Kloe was strong enough, and safe enough, to come back upstairs.  Between the car, the driveway to the upper part of our home, and me carrying a heavy 75 pound load for the last 40 feet Kloe arrived back upstairs.   We celebrated on the deck by doing what we normally do – hang out with our girls, drink wine, BBQ, and enjoy the beauty of the Golden K.  It was great to have the band pack  back together!

The five of us are together so much that ten days of fragmented family life seemed like a lifetime.  It was great for this group of habit creatures to be back in our routine, even if it meant Kloe had to be tethered while on the deck.   She also must be on leash when we take her to “get busy” (pee and poop).  The sight of a squirrel, feral cat, or other critter could cause her to take off and run and jump which for now is a major no-no.

Since then we’ve lengthened the leash a bit but Kloe can still not be outside untethered. She once again has mostly free reign inside the house but when we leave she has to be sequestered in our bedroom by herself.  We’ve come too long to risk injury or setbacks.  Our vet says that in a week we can begin taking her for short walks – five minutes – on flat ground.  What comes after that I’m not sure.

I’m trying not to get to far ahead of things but I can’t help but wonder what the signal or trigger will be for when we can let her off leash outside and let her return to “normal” activities.  The prognosis is that she will return to almost 100% of her old self with periodic spells of soreness after very active periods.  In my eye’s mind I can see her muscular athletic body running through the Golden K as she once used to.  That image makes me both very happy and also scared.  I’m a worrier and I know I will be cringing every step of her way at first but hopefully not forever.

So for now I try not to think too much about the whats and whens of Kloe returning to normal activities and just focus on how far our sweet girl has come.  She’s been a model patient, stoically accepting everything we’ve thrown at her over the past several months not least of all an invasive surgery and long recovery period where she now feels normal but cannot yet act normal.  All in good time sweet girl (the authors says for himself as much as for the patient)….

img_7482

Kloe hanging on the deck next to me while I write this post

Kloe Gotcha Day #2

How embarrassing!   I thought Kloe’s Gotcha Day was on May 9th but it is actually on May 7th – today.   Thank goodness for Facebook who reminded me this morning by showing me my post from last year. As if Kloe would know or even knows what the heck a Gotcha Day is.  But I know what it is and I’l always remember the day we brought her home from Lodi, CA where we picked her up.

She rode home to Livermore on Holly’s lap squirming a little bit but only because she wanted to play and  cuddle.   We arrived home to introduce her to Kali, her new big sissy and soon to be surrogate mother.   Kali, true to herself, barked when Kloe entered the house as if to say, “No!  I’ve been very happy here having mom and dad to myself for the past two years and I don’t need the competition of a incredibly cute puppy.   So you, missy can just go back where you came from.”

Within an hour Kloe won over Kali’s heart and they were playing and cuddling.  Kloe wanted to be wherever Kali was.   At times coaxing Kali to play tug-o-war and Kali was so respectful and cognizant that Kloe was a wee 15 pounds so taking it easy on her.  At other times when Kali was sleeping Kloe would lay on top of Kali or find a way to spoon.  Kali was so tolerant and such good big sissy.

Two weeks later we packed up 23 years of Livermore, put Kali and Kloe in the back seat of my truck and drove to our new home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  Kloe wasn’t in Suburbia long enough to get used to that so our five acres in the middle of the foothills was just another step in her brief two month life.

Fast forward two years and Kloe is a true mountain girl chasing squirrels and jack rabbits, co-existing with the black tailed deer and – being the chewer she is – loving the lifetime supply of twigs and sticks that are at her disposal.

That little 15 pound pup we brought home two years ago has grown up into a beautiful 80 pound young lady who brings endless and ongoing love and joy into our lives.

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe.  You are my sweetie girl.  You are a great companion,  You are a fantastic listener.  You are unconditional love in it’s truest form.  For that and for you I am so grateful.

Kloe:  then and now

IMG_2930IMG_3059

fullsizeoutput_f31

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.

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….

IMG_4798fullsizeoutput_edcfullsizeoutput_edd

 

 

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.

 

 

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

images-2

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…

IMG_4133

Golden Kali

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Day.  A holiday in the United States to honor those who died while serving in the armed services.  Before I launch into the main topic of this blog let me say thank you to all those and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our country.  I hope it was a justified and last resort decision by our government to put you in harms way.

Memorial Weekend.  The unofficial start of Summer.  Warm weather, BBQ’s, and frosty adult beverages.  A time to strip off layers and lather up in sunscreen.   A time when Rock and Roll gives way to Country music and Jazz moves aside for Bluegrass.   At least on my play lists…

There is certainly room for both perspectives on a long three-day weekend.  We can simultaneously pay tribute to those  who have passed during dark times while enjoying the brightness and warmth of the sun in the present.

Around the Golden K there’s other reasons for gratitude and remembrance.  Events that have greatly shaped this latest phase of mine and Holly’s life.

It was three years ago this Memorial weekend that Golden Kali’s foster care givers drove her and 22 other rescued Golden Retrievers to the airport in Taiwan.  The care givers stayed with the Goldens cooing and petting while waiting in the terminal until the last possible moment before placing them in a travel crates for the 12 hour flight to SFO.  Meanwhile, Holly and I and our daughter were driving from Livermore to SFO in great anticipation of meeting Kali and welcoming her into our family.  The plane landed and eventually the 23 Golden Beauties were wheeled in their travel crates into the terminal and united with their new families for a second and well deserved chance at forever happiness.

It was just one year ago this Memorial weekend that Holly and I closed the door behind us in Livermore and drove away to our new home in the mountains.  After 23 years of raising three kids in Livermore we sold our home, packed up our belongings and drove away.  But not before taking one last walk around the empty house, mostly in silence, remembering both the good and challenging times with a melancholy fitting for a major life changing event.  As we walked out we paused and hugged, choked back a few tears, closed the door, and drove away.

When we drove away Kali  – our Golden Treasure – was there by our side as she had been for the past two years.  But now there was also Kloe.  Kloe – the ten week old precious puppy we adopted just a week before the big move.   Some would call it crazy to adopt a puppy before making a major life change.   But thats how we roll and we considered ourselves blessed to have this little girl at Kali’s side as we drove into the future.

Our home in the mountains is called The Golden K.  A year ago we were mesmerized to be living in the middle of the Stanislaus forest under pines, oaks, and cedars.  A year later the magic remains.  Except this year the boxes are unpacked and we sit and relax on the patio looking up at the pines, cedars, and oaks reflecting on a year of great change and good fortune.  I look down at my feet and see my  rock, my girl, my Golden Kali who’s been by my side every day all day for the past three years.  Next to Kali is Kloe who a year ago was 15 pounds and now weighs in at 80.  Still very much a puppy and so very much a part of the fabric of our lives.

So it’s It’s Memorial Weekend 2017 and we are so blessed here.  Here at The Golden K with our two girls and a romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

Warm sunny greetings to all  from Kali and Kloe @ The Golden K

 

And so it goes with my Golden Kali…

Me:  “C’mon Kali, do something”.

Kali:  “I am.  I’m sleeping”

Me: “No I mean, romp, play, give me some fodder for a blog post”.

Kali:  “OK, post about this nap I’m taking and wake me when there is a biscuit in your hand with my name on it”.

Me:  [sigh…]

And so it goes with my Golden Kali.  Since the day Kali arrived in America almost three years ago she has been low key and very content to just hang and be with me and observe the world around her.

So this past weekend, after a few days of steady snow, when we took Kali and Kloe for a walk up to the back section of the Golden K I was smiling to see Kali exhibit a little bit of puppy in her.  I’m still very much a kid at heart and it was great to see my Golden Kali, who is just about my contemporary in dog years, act a little bit like a pup as we romped through the snow.

As we got off the path that circles the inner section of the property around the house and began “off roading” to the deeper snow Kali began acting like,  well acting like a dog.  She  romped, she pranced, and she threw herself down on the snow and seemed to make a snow angel, although in reality it was probably something dead she smelled and wanted to roll around on it as she loves to do…

Kali is about eight and I find myself doing the “numbers game” and thinking ahead to the day when Kali will be gone.  I know there are still – God willing – four or five years until that inevitable day arrives.  For Kali, like with my human kids, I would not ask her be something she is not or doesn’t want to be.  She doesn’t have to fetch, she doesn’t have to romp, and if she prefers to nap and just observe this is ok with me because she usually chooses to do these things at my feet, by my side, as a truly loving and devoted companion.

But when she does choose to romp and play, as she did this past weekend in the snow, I will cherish it and be happy for her because I see that she too is very happy to be alive with her pack at the Golden K.

Kali’s Romp In The Snow