Life With The Red Girls

It’s been almost a year since Kali crossed over the bridge. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, reminisce, or just flat out miss her. I find myself looking at photos of her more often and for longer periods of time. I’m finding that the longer she is gone the more I miss her. I long for her smell. I miss our nightly cuddles before lights out. Full disclosure: Kali was a great “spooner” and I miss spooning with her as she lay on the floor at the foot of our bed! I miss the subtleties of her body movement. Like when I’d call her. Her eyes would fix on mine and then her head would tilt slightly down and to the left as she started walking towards me.

Even in her final days, which were spent mostly sleeping, Kali was up for spending the morning with me in my office which is located across the driveway from the house. As I headed towards the door she seemed almost puppy-like following me out and galloping towards my office sometimes skidding and slipping making a soft landing near the door. As I walked towards her she would look up from a spread eagle position seeming to say, “Oops, I slipped”. This always made me laugh out loud and my heart swelled with love to see her so animated. I have so many fond and funny memories it would be impossible to enumerate them. But this one would be towards the top of the list!

I feel the absence of Kali’s presence some days more than others. Although Holly loved her deeply I don’t think she feels the loss in the same way I do. How could she? Kali was “my dog” and was always with me. She was always at my feet. Even when I wasn’t home she was with me laying by the door that I went through when I left expecting me to return through that same door. And when I did she’d be there waiting. Kali’s level of dedication was unwavering and humbling. I wrote a post about this a year after Kali joined the pack. It spoke of a real life dog named Hachiko and how like him Kali would probably wait forever for me to come home.

When Kali passed, the sub-title of this blog became “Life At The Golden K Without Kali”. Life has gone without Kali. She will always be special and this blog will always be her legacy. She inspired this blog the day after she arrived from Taiwan in 2014 and went on to inspire me in so many ways. Our home is Tuolumne is called The Golden K for Kali initially and then later to include her two sisters Kloe and Koda. But life has also gone on with Kloe and Koda, our “Red Girls”. The Golden K torch was passed down from Kali when she crossed the bridge. Kloe and Koda are learning to be good stewards of Kali’s legacy. And like me they each learned a lot from her!

But recently I realized that after almost a year without Kali it’s time to look back less and forward more often. Posting about Kali over the past year has been cathartic. She will never ever be forgotten or have any less of my heart or mind. But it is with a nod to Kloe and Koda that the sub-title of this blog will now be, “Life With The Red Girls”. There will certainly be more posts about Kali in the future. But this is the time of the Red Girls and that will be the focus of future posts. After all, they are pretty darn special too!

One of my favorite photos of my Golden Kali!
The Red Girls, Kloe and Koda

Walking With Kali

I miss my walks with Kali. There are times when I find myself missing the days when it was just Kali and I. Kali and I and our Creek Trail.

We still lived in the Bay Area town of Livermore when Kali joined the pack. There was a trail through the neighborhood that ran along a small creek and a local 9 hole golf course. The trail head was at the end of our street. Kali and I walked that trail almost every day and it became a very special place for us.

I don’t miss the Bay Area for a second. But I do miss our Creek Trail and our daily walks along it!

Kali and I got to know each other on our Creek Trail. She was great on a leash except when other dogs passed by which made her nervous. We eventually worked through that issue. In retrospect it was one of many ways that we gained a deeper understanding of one another. The pace of our walks was great. She was a little prissy and had a cute lightness to her walk. I recall one time taking her for a walk with a friend and my friend says, “look – she prances”. So although not athletic she was very light on her feet. Like a dancer…

I think what I miss most about our walks are the long talks Kali and I had along the way. Under all circumstances Kali and I were in regular communication with each other; especially during the first several months and especially when we walked. I used words and gestures. Kali used her eyes and body language and sometimes a grunt or a small bark. We learned each other and learned from each other. Over the years I realized that I learned much more from Kali than she from me. She was a great teacher!

Sometimes we walked in silence. Walks where we were just together. Words, gestures, or body language wasn’t necessary. I loved those times when our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We walked in total peace, as one, and side by side.

In 2016 we moved to Tuolumne City; a rural community in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Our walks became different. We would walk on dirt and gravel roads under majestic pine and oak trees. Homes were not side by side in this neighborhood. Instead they were set back off the road on parcels of two to three acres or more. Wildlife was much more evident. On the Creek Trail we regularly saw geese and ducks. Along our new walking venue we would encounter black tail deers, wild turkeys, and farm animals: pigs, goats and horses and cows. One would think that all the new sights, and especially the smells, would have been like a smorgasbord for Kali. But just as when Kali arrived in Livermore from Taiwan -and immediately assimilated- she seemed to do the same in Tuolumne. She pranced along our walks with a calm demeanor as if she had lived here all her life.

As the years passed Kali and I walked less and less – both in frequency and distance. Her legs were no longer very strong and her hip displaysia became more of a factor. Kali was always eager to have out and about time with me (and I with her) so she of course jumped (figuratively not literally cause remember her hips 🙂 ) at the chance to go on walks. But the pace became slower, there were more stops along the way and I often had to coax her to move along.

Eventually the walks stopped completely and Kali began sleeping much of the day. We always found time to be together just to the two of us. During those times we talked and reminisced about our Creek Trail. And sometimes we just sat in silence. And our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We were together and at peace.

From the day Kali came into my life, whether we were walking along our Creek Trail in Livermore, navigating the rural roads around the Golden K, or just sitting in silence on the deck looking out at a warm evening sky, my Golden Kali and I were always been in sync. Same cadence and same rhythm. And same heartbeat.

KALI AND OUR CREEK TRAIL, LIVERMORE CA

Sissy Mama

As Kali grew older I began referring to her, in relationship to her two sisters Kloe and Koda, as Sissy Mama. None of my girls were blood related but they were and are sisters (sissies) no less. So we would always refer to them as sissies. “Koda, where is your sissy”. Or, “Kloe, go get your sissies for dinner”. Yes we well I speak to them as though they are my kids. Because they are!

But Kali was much older and she became the Sissy Mama.

Six years shouldn’t seem so long ago. But if I think in “dog years” it is quite some time. Like six years ago when we brought Kloe home as a nine-week old puppy. That was a long time ago. Looking at her now, as she sleeps by my feet (filling in the empty space Kali left under my feet when she crossed the bridge), it’s hard to think that Kloe was ever a wee pup of 16 pounds. Green, fearless, and ripe for schooling by an older dog. Enter Kali.

Since Kali has been gone I find myself looking at pictures of her from over the years. Like today when I came across some pictures and videos of the first day we brought Kloe home. After the initial few minutes, when Kali made it very clear that Kloe was not welcome in her house, she quickly warmed up to Kloe and was every bit the surrogate mama we hoped she would be.

I had forgotten how inseparable Kali and Kloe were when Kloe was a pup. Mostly because at only weeks and months old Kloe adored Kali and followed her everywhere she went. There were so many tender moments sleeping side by side or on top of one another. And there were periods of play when Kali exhibited great patience with her new little sissy and also delivered lessons when needed.

In retrospect I now realize that Kali became the Sissy Mama the moment we brought Kloe through the front door in Livermore at 9 weeks old on May 7, 2016.

Sissy Mama In Action

Sissy Mama Gallery

Memorial Weekend Eight

Long time followers of Golden Kali may recall that she was one of 23 Golden Retrievers that arrived at San Francisco International Airport via China Airlines on Saturday evening, May 24, 2014. Holly, my daughter, and I drove to the airport that evening and waited for her crate to be unloaded from the plane along with 23 others. We took her crate to a staging area in the parking lot and I met her for the first time as I opened the crate door, leashed her, and watched her as she took her first sniffs of America. She had been in the crate for around 14 hours and was very anxious to pee. She took care of business and sniffed around some more. We took care of some formalities with the rescue organizers and volunteers and drove home to Livermore, CA would Kali would begin her New Life in America.

Since then Memorial Weekend has very been special to me. It marked the beginning of Kali’s new life in America, a new chapter in my life, and what turned out to be a seven and a half year journey Kali and I went on together.

That was Memorial Weekend One.

Kali laid by my feet in our backyard in Livermore as I started this blog. I knew during this first weekend and during the weeks to come I would need to be watchful and present to make sure Kali was successful. The rescue group cautioned me to not go to fast and to give Kali time. They said it may take time for her to be comfortable in her new surroundings and that she may have accidents and need to learn what her boundaries were. They suggested no visitors for a few days. This was of course a reasonable expectation. After all, there would be new sounds, new smells, new people, new food, new places to sleep, and on and on… It would take Kali time to adjust and we needed to respect that and give her space and time.

Except she didn’t need it!

Kali was still on Taiwan time when she arrived and it was expected she may have problems the first few nights. Except she didn’t. She slept by my bed tethered to the leg of the bed frame that first night, Saturday. She nuzzled me around two in the morning and I took her out to pee. I brought her back to bed and re-tethered her. She slept the rest of the night and every night after. Kali was respectful of the house from the very first day. She seemed to know her limits before we even had the chance to set them. She greeted visitors with a smile and love. She chewed on her toys but never furniture, shoes, or anything that wasn’t hers. With the exception of leash aggression that I found out about when we started our daily walks, Kali was a model rescue citizen from day one!

This is Memorial Weekend Eight.

The first Memorial Weekend that Kali is not physically laying by my feet as I write this Memorial Weekend post. As the weeks and months pass I miss her more and more. I long for her smell and the feel of her fur. I miss her at night when I wake up and remember she’s not there. I miss her when I’m in my office in the morning. I miss the ritual of walking with her from the back yard gate to my office when she would happily run towards the office door. Even though her physical legs were on their figurative “last legs”. Maybe it was something about going off with Dad in the morning that gave her body some spunk. Just for those few seconds, Kali was puppy-like as she pranced across the driveway.

Life at The Golden K Without Kali

That’s been the tag line of this blog since January First of this year when Kali crossed the bridge. She did so on her terms with the grace and dignity she earned. Kali was a truly special dog who I was blessed to know and love, and to have been loved by her. Kali will always hold a piece of my heart that is hers and hers alone.

So on this Memorial Day Eight, as many of us are remembering and honoring those who gave their lives in service of our country, I am also remembering and honoring my Golden Kali.

Re-Reading Golden Kali

A friend and recent follower of this Golden Kali blog told me that she read all the posts from beginning to current. She said she wanted to really know Kali’s story so she started from the beginning. Wow – that is quite a compliment that is not lost on me! It also inspired me to do the same – go back and re-read all my posts from the beginning. The beginning was the day after Kali’s arrival from Taiwan in May of 2014.

I’m currently up to July of 2016 and as I am reading these posts two things have stood out to me.

The first is how special my relationship with Kali was (and still is even though she is gone).

In my heart and soul I knew from day one that Kali was special. She was meant for me and I was meant for her! I knew it then, I know it now, and I will always know it. It was a once in a lifetime gift bestowed upon Kali and I from destiny.

Reading these posts again after so many years has reminded me in great detail of all the special moments Kali and I had together. For the first two years it was just Kali and I. We were almost always together. There were no other canine siblings and Kali had the full compliment of my attention 24/7. These early days – just her and I – established a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and love. And most importantly it established a bond that cannot be broken. I love Kloe and Koda as much as Kali but the relationships are a little different. There has never been just Kloe. There has never been just Koda. But there were two years when there was just Kali. Reading these old posts has reminded me of that special time in our lives with a renewed appreciation of what Kali meant to me and me to her.

The second thing that has stood out is the relationships and camaraderie that developed between fellow bloggers and followers of Golden Kali.

After each post I have also been reading comments made by these people many who have become friends over the years.

When my daughter was a teen-ager, in the early days of social media, she would occasionally refer to someone as her friend who she knew online from a social media site. As a parent this made me very concerned for obvious reasons. That my daughter was referring to someone as a friend who she had never met face to face or even voice to voice on the phone was a worry for me.

But later, through the Golden Kali blog, I realized that it was possible to make friends through social media. Comments resulting from blog posts created a basis for me to get to know the regular followers and vice-versa. While Kali has always been the “perfect” dog like so many rescues she had her set of challenges. I wrote about these challenges and many followers, offered empathy, advice, or simply shared a similar experience. I also followed their blogs and through ongoing dialogue and sharing of experiences – and life in general – we’ve developed friendships. For that I’m grateful.

So Kali, although physically gone, continues to very present in my life. I don’t expect that to ever change. Re-reading our story from beginning has been a great reminder (for my brain) of everything Kali means to me. This of course is something my heart always knew and will never need to be reminded of.

Except In My Dreams

My sweet Golden Kali has come to visit me several times over the past few weeks. Some of the visits have been short and some were extended stays with lots of kisses and hugs. The feel of Kali’s fur is so familiar. Her smell has been a welcome reminder that my girl is near by. I hope these special visits never end!

I’ve always been a very vivid dreamer and I remember most of my dreams in great detail; places, colors, smells, etc. After Kali passed many people suggested that she would visit me in the quiet of my dreams. I didn’t put too much thought into it at the time. The first few weeks after Kali passed were uneventful and although I missed her it wasn’t emotional. My rationale side processed Kali’s memory in a logical and matter of fact manner. My brain told me, “I did the right thing, grace and dignity, on Kali’s terms, last and greatest gift”, and so on….

But more recently, especially the past few weeks, I find myself longing for Kali. I find myself whispering her name as I think of her or see something that reminds me of her. I’ve become emotional a few times and realize that my brain had been managing the loss but now that loss has made it’s way to my heart and gut. When someone misses a family member or close friend but knows they will see them again at some point they may say, “yes, I miss him”. In their head. When that person is gone forever they also say, ” I miss him”. But now it’s in their heart and gut.

As obvious as it was that I would never see Kali again, it has now just hit me. I will never see, smell, or hug my sweet girl again. Except in my dreams.

Alexandria Horowitz is an author and professor of psychology, animal behavior, and canine cognition. I’ve read many of her books on canine behavior such as “Inside A Dog, What Dogs See, Smell, and Know”. In one of her books Ms. Horowitz was describing how dogs experience time relative to missing their owner. She talked about how (I’m paraphrasing) if the owner is gone for 20 or 30 minutes upon return the behavior of the dog may be much different than if the owner was gone for several hours. When it has been several hours the “welcoming committee” will probably be much more animated and excited upon the return of their owner. I know this is the case with my girls.

Ms. Horowitz explains this dynamic in simple terms. When the owner leaves their scent at first is very prevalent. It’s easy, especially with their keen sense of smell, for the dog to smell their owner after they’ve left the area. But as more and more time passes that scent begins to diminish and the dog’s owner begins to “fade away” creating anxiety or maybe even fear in the dog. Upon return the scent is back and all is well once again. Let the celebration begin!

A few nights ago Kali was present in my dream all night long. I woke up several times, probably from the adrenaline rush. Each time I went back to sleep quickly and she was still there. Kali was always good at stay! Another night’s visit was more fleeting. Kali went running by me like a puppy only slowing down long enough to let me know she was there and having so much fun running. There have been several visits over the past few weeks and each time I wake up knowing that deep connection with Kali will never end, even in death.

I often joke that I am more like a dog than a person. Wishful thinking… But I can’t help but wondering if this emotional longing for Kali (versus rational “missing”) is because her scent is less and less in the house. I can no longer pick up her scent as hard as a try. In my mind’s eye I can see Kali but I can’t smell her.

Except in my dreams.

Sleep tight my sweet Golden Kali. I hope to see you tonight.

Golden Kali

A Dog Of Few Words…

When Kali first came to the U.S. from Taiwan she had a bit of an aversion to other dogs. Our regular walks took us on a trail along a creek that paralleled a nearby golf course. I quickly found that Kali grew anxious when we came across other dogs. As our steps brought us closer to them Kali would start barking. “Ruuuf, ruff!” Not aggressively but in a way that said, “hey – don’t come near me, I’m not comfortable around other dogs”. Over time we worked on this and she became more confident and could eventually pass by other dogs along our walks without much drama. That was over seven years ago.

Our home in the foothills sits up on a hill and although we are well off the road, the road is visible from our large wrap around deck. If any animals pass below on the road, (or – gasp – any of our neighbors have the audacity to walk their dogs down past our home), Kloe will sound the alarm and Koda will quickly chime in. Kloe’s bark is low and deep. She uses all 75 pounds of her body and big chest when she vocalizes. I would characterize it as a WOOF! “Wahooof, waahooof, wahooof”, followed by a low growl and then more woofs! Although Koda’s body size, shape, and weight (65 pounds) would suggest a lower vocalization it is actually quite high. “Bark bark bark bark, bark, bark” as it crescendos up and then back down in pitch. Koda looks at Kloe for reinforcement and to ask, “what are we barking at?”, as they both run down to the yard to see if they can get a closer look.

Although Kali was never too interested when her sister’s sounded the alarm she would get up (usually from a nap in the warm sun) look around, and add her two cents (barely!). Kali’s bark, especially in her senior years, turned into a bit of a “Yip”. As she was woken up by Kloe’s WOOFs and Koda’s bark-bark-bark Kali would seem a bit confused and offer a brief “Yip” or two. “Yip? Yip?” she would say as her sisters ran off to the yard below. By the time they returned Kali had usually returned to her spot in the sun and was once again fast asleep. It’s easy to sleep, even during Red Alerts, when one’s two younger sisters are on patrol!

About a year or so ago I realized I hadn’t heard Kali bark for many months or maybe even longer. For a while I used to be able to get her to vocalize before I began preparing meals for her and her sisters. As it got closer to meal time Kali would find a spot somewhere between where I was sitting and where her food was stored. She would fix a sustained stare on me as she tried to will me to my feet and over to the food bowls. When she finally wore me down I would get up and tease her a bit by telling her she had to “speak” for her food. I would put my fingers and thumb together like a puppet, and say, “Ruff, ruff!”, in a high pitch. Kali would respond, “yip, yip”, and begin dancing and prancing around the room and looking towards the food bowls and then back to me.

At some point Kali stopped vocalizing in any manner at all. I don’t remember exactly when. But she was always a good listener and never much of a talker. Other than her early time with me when we walked along the creek trail Kali was never a dog of many “words”. I can’t recall a time I ever heard her growl. If she chased birds or squirrels, which she did on occasion, she did it in silence. Before we had fencing up in the back of the house she once took off after a black tail deer. She ran after it is silence, quickly gave up, and returned to me.

Kali has been gone now for three months. I wish I could say I miss the sound of her barking but she didn’t bark much so how could I? But I do so miss her silent presence. I miss my therapy sessions with her when I would talk and she would listen. And yes I even, and perhaps mostly, miss that laser snake-eyed stare 30 minutes before dinner-time as she laid somewhere between me and the food bowls and willed me to my feet to feed her.

Kali sleeping on the deck. Kloe and Koda ready to sound the alarm at any time…

Rituals

I’ve been thinking about Kali a lot since New Years Day when as her head laid in my hands she took her last breaths. There are so many great memories I have of the rituals we developed over the years. Many of those rituals are carried on by Kloe and Koda, but Kali was the driving force and reason for so many of them.

“Toasty-Time” was a favorite of Kali’s because it involved food! As I prepared my breakfast in the morning she would place herself nearby and I would give her a few pieces of bread. Before moving to the Sierra Nevada Foothills our daily walks along the Creek Trail in Livermore were hardly ever missed. That remains a favorite ritual of mine. Kloe and Koda – the “Red Girls” – joined the pack at our home in the foothills and never got to experience the Creek Trail. While many of our daily rituals are shared with all my girls it’s special to me that the Creek Trail is mine and Kali’s alone.

Meals, especially dinner, were always a big big deal for Kali. Beginning about an 45 minutes before the designated dinner time Kali would lay at a distance, usually in the kitchen close to the food. She would make sure she had a direct view of me which was usually sitting in the family room watching the news. Kali would just stare glare at me trying to will me to my feet to get up and begin the feeding process. The drama was intense! As the time grew closer to dinner time her glare became much more intense and I would begin to sweat from the laser-like energy she was directing at my neck. Ok, I’m making the sweating part up but this part I’m not. When it was time I would stand up and pronounce in a loud booming voice: “The time has come!” Kali would spring to her feet and begin prancing around because she knew this was the signal and food was coming soon. Kali loved her food almost as much as she loved me!

Cuddle Time

I think the ritual I miss the most with Kali is “Cuddle-Time“. This is right before lights out as the girls lay in their designated spots in our bedroom. I spend one on one time with each one of them laying and cuddling with them and reciting certain silly things.

For example, with Kloe I say, “tight, tight, tight.” Because when she was a puppy I used to tell her to sleep tight. Or I say, “See you in the morning Shawnee. I aways see you in the morning.” This is a reference to a John Lennon song called “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” about his son Sean. At the end of that song John whispers “I’ll see you in the morning Sean.”

When Koda first gets in her mat she positions her body in a full circle; presumably to be warm. She looks like a red doughnut with her nose covered partially by her tail which is wrapped around to complete the circle. Holly says she looks like a fox when she does this. So… my silly thing for Koda is to call her Foxy Lady. I’ll say, “Goodnight Foxy Lady, I’m coming to getcha!” A reference to the Jimmy Hendrix song Foxy Lady where one of final lyrics is, “Here I come baby, I’m coming to get ya!”

For some reason with Kali there were never any silly sayings established. Actually, I guess there is a good reason for that… Kali has always been my confidant. My sounding board. My therapist. She listened without judgement always interested in what I had to say. As I recently confided, Kali takes with her some of my deepest fears and dreams that no one else has ever heard. Full disclosure: Cuddle Time with Kali involved “spooning”. Sometimes we lay in silence and sometimes we had a conversation.

More recently, and as I began to realize that Kali’s days with me would be ending soon, we would reminisce about the old days. We would talk about all the fun times we had together. I told her how much I loved her and that she would always be with me. As always she was patient if I got too windy. Only occasionally would she shake her head or snort to tell me she was tired and ready for sleep. And when she did I would quickly wrap Cuddle Time up, give her one last smooch on her snout and tell her, “Goodnight sweet girl; sleep well.”

Goodnight sweet girl, sleep well.

Life Goes On…

…without Kali.

Life does go on. It’s a trite saying. A phrase, usually well intentioned, thats used when something bad has happened to remind the person feeling bad that their life can’t stop because of the bad thing or event. And it can’t.

In the case of Kali it is true that life has gone on for the rest of the pack. But I would not characterize the fact that Kali is gone as a bad thing, per se. I do miss her. I still consciously look for her when I enter the room or am handing out treats. I wake up at night and remember that she won’t be there in the morning. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two plus weeks reminiscing about her. I’ve looked at hundreds of photos of her. But in the grand scheme of life (and death) while it wasn’t a bad thing, it wasn’t good either. But, it was the right thing to do. And once I began listening to Kali with my heart, instead of my ego that told me I could be her superman and savior forever, I knew it was right.

The days since Kali has been gone have been mostly normal. The out pouring of love, empathy, and well wishes from friends, fellow bloggers that follow The Golden Kali Blog, and social media connections has been heartwarming to say the least! There were a lot of special messages that meant so much to me. There was even one very special blogger friend (you know who you are!) that did some super sleuthing to find my home address and sent a beautiful hand painted card with a loving message inside.

I didn’t know how the Red Girls (Kloe and Koda) would react to Kali’s absence from the pack.

Neither Kloe or Koda have had a life without Kali. Kloe was 9 weeks old when we brought her home and Kali was a great surrogate mama for her. When Kloe was down for almost a year with her CCL injuries and surgery she was often sequestered from Koda and Kali. During that time Koda and Kali bonded quite a bit. In recent months Koda seemed to know Kali was struggling and in need of help. She watched over Kali. Several months ago Koda came running up to us barking and doing that Lassie “Timmy’s in the well” kinda of thing. She coaxed us to come to another part of the yard and sure enough there was Kali stuck and unable to get up. So I expected Kali’s absence might have an effect on Koda.

But it’s been Kloe who seems to notice a difference in the Pack. There were a few meals early on when given the release to go to her bowl Kloe hesitated. She looked around as if to say “where’s Kali? We can’t start without Kali…” Or perhaps I’m just projecting.

I thought I might have some moments but really didn’t until…

There was just one time I became outwardly emotional. I went to pick up Kali’s ashes at the vet. The receptionist looked a little uncomfortable when I told here why I was there. Her voice became tentative and here eyes looked sad, or maybe scared that I was going to break down. But I was upbeat and told her it was all fine. I think I put her at ease. She came back with a beautiful dark brown wooden case with a gold plaque on the front with Kali’s name and a card.

I went to my truck and with Kali’s ashes sitting beside me I opened the card. The card told he story about the Rainbow Bridge and how all the animals are once again healthy, play and run together, enjpy warm sunshine, lots of food, and are happy. I’ve always enjoyed the imagery of the Rainbow Bridge. But as I sat reading the card the last part got the best of me. It says:

The day comes when [during play] one [of the pets] suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent. Her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together…

Sitting in my truck with Kali’s ashes in my hands I lost it. I was overcome by the imagery and I weeped and cried out loud. It felt so good to have an emotional release for my special girl. A moment of retrospection and gratitude for all Kali gave me especially in the end when she gave me the courage to let her go and know that life does go on.

Until we meet again on the bridge sweet girl, my Kalimazoo, my Kalis Marie, my Golden Kali.

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