Falling In Love With Koda

I’ve always taken for granted that I love all my girls desperately and without reservation.       So I caught myself by surprise recently when I was looking at Koda and realized that I had fallen in love with her.   Not at that moment, or even on that day.   But over the months I had fallen head over heals in love with the youngest of my three girls.

That’s not to say that I don’t love my other girls with equal passion.   I do.  But I realize now that the dynamics of adding a third dog placed more demands on the pack than I had anticipated.  Like children to some degree adding numbers to your family has an exponential effect.   One dog is like having one dog.  Two is like four and three is like nine.   Or at least that’s how it feels at times.  My love is bottomless so it’s not really a problem. They put more in my tank than take out…

Koda, now 21 months, joined our pack at four months old.  From the moment I brought her home it was clear that she was going to be a force to be reckoned with a handful.  She had tenacity both physically and vocally.  In play with her big sister Kloe – who outweighed her by almost 60 pounds at the time – Koda never backed down even when Kloe tried to tell her enough was enough.   When I told her I didn’t like something she was doing she would slink her body around puffing up her cheeks and letting out a stream of profanities vocalizations that sounds like “A rooo rooo rooo!”  If I were to  translate those sounds into words they would have to be written something like, “#@%&#*!!”.

Koda’s tenacity and determination was evident from day one.   The Golden K sits on five acres and the girls have designated fenced areas for their safety.  Koda quickly found that she could slip through the bars of a wrought iron gate that leads out of one of those fenced areas.   In some ways it was endearing because the only reason she wanted to escape was to be me with who at the time was doing some work in another part of the property.   I put chicken wire on the fence the next day to keep her from slipping through the bars.  No problem for Koda – she scaled the fence, again in an effort to follow me to where I was going.  There were several iterations of this as I experimented with various methods to keep her inside the safety zone.  With each escape she would come trotting up to me smiling as if to say, “I found you. I’m here.  I figured out how to scale the fence”, or “I missed you and I was able to slip under the bottom of the railing” and so on.

Koda was destructive at times chewing on furniture and finding her way to clothes, shoes, and other personal items.   Some of that’s on me of course but still Koda seemed to set new household records for finding her way to trouble.   The drip lines in the garden?  No matter how deep I buried them Koda found them.  Sprinkler heads? No problem. Apparently she knows how to twist them off the risers and with her jaw.   Last summer was dry and brown in the garden to say the least!

Koda Koda Koda!   The typical third child who believes the rules don’t apply to them.  But over the months this tenacious pup has fallen into line (mostly).    Through maturity and a lot of time and training on our part Koda has tempered her “enthusiasm” and is learning to respect the pack.  She and I recently completed intermediate obedience training with our local AKC group.  I was so happy and proud to see how eager she has become to learn and please me as her handler and as her dad.

Throughout much of last year Kloe was injured or recovering from her bi-lateral TPLO surgery.  During much of that time Koda was challenging the status quo and finding new ways to test our patience.  Much of our energy went into “managing” Koda and nursing Kloe back to health.  Plus Kali is getting on in years (almost 11) and sometimes needs special attention and help.  Distraction was definitely a theme for 2019!

I now realize that throughout these past and sometimes tumultuous 17 months I was falling in love with Koda.  Maybe it was the aforementioned distractions.   Maybe I simply took it for granted.  Certainly I didn’t expect this deepening of love to be a journey.   I don’t believe Koda will ever lose the tenacity she displayed from the moment she arrived home.   Nor do I want her to. I believe it will serve her well over the years even if at times it is a challenge for me.  In many ways it has helped me to be a better pup-parent.

As it turns out falling in love doesn’t happen over night.   It really is a journey and I’m  blessed to have Koda as my guide.

Koda then and now

 

 

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

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Nature versus Nurture

Its that nature versus nurture discussion.  Is Kali who she is because of her  genes or past experiences? 

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Kloe and Smokey

Kloe was infatuated with Smokey from the first day she met him.  Smokey on the other hand was nonchalant and only mildly interested with Kloe who, even as a very young pup, was much larger than Smokey.  Smokey played it cool and if Kloe became a nuisance he let her know with a growl and snap from his tiny snout.  Kloe would acquiesce to Smoky’s body language and back off but only by inches, still so very interested in this smaller yet more mature and dominant being staring intently and seemingly willingly him to “play”.

Smokey is my daughters pup, an 11 pound half Maltese Terrier half Yorkshire Terrier – a Morkie!  When Kloe first met “the Smokster” as a young pup, she was not much bigger than him.  Now at 80 pounds Kloe is almost eight times Smokey’s size both in weight and stature yet the infatuation continues.

My daughter and Smokey paid a visit to The Golden K recently.   Kloe of course was all about Smokey.  It was nice to see that more often than not, maybe because Kloe is maturing and slightly calmer, Smokey seems to enjoy hanging with his step sister that I call Kloe Bowie Sugerlips.

Kloe and Smokey

 

Tolerance, Indifference, or Love?

Tolerance, indifference, or love?

I think it started out as tolerance: “Dad says I have to be nice to this puppy.”   It evolved to tolerance:  “I guess she’s not so bad and is nice to have a a pal at nap time.”  But over time, make no mistake, it turned into love.  A love that as an upright I may never fully understand but in my heart I know it is a love as strong as I have for my closest family members.

18 months ago Kloe was nine weeks old when we brought her home.   From that first day Kali consistently obliged and acquiesced to this little 15 pound whippersnapper as though it was one of her own pups and not just a step sister.   Kloe regularly sought out Kali and found a spot next to Kali that was comfortable for herself even if it was not comfortable for her big sister.

Kloe:  I want to be where you are big sis!   Kali:  Zzzz…

 

 

So it’s warming and gratifying to me that although her “little” sister Kloe is now 80 pounds and outweighs Kali by 20 pounds nothing has changed.

So tolerance, indifference, or love?   I know it’s love.

Kloe:  Hey Kali, c’mon, wake up and wrestle with me!   Kali:  Zzzzz

 

 

 

The Chopping Board

She’ been conditioned and I guess it’s my fault.   When Kali hears the sound of a knife on a chopping board she comes running from into the kitchen and alternates glances between me and chopping board.   She knows there’s a pretty good chance she’ll get a sample of what is being chopped especially if it’s a vegetable or an apple.  If I’m chopping up left over cold chicken for a salad or sandwich she will usually get a little sliver of that.   OK fine, I admit it.   Usually whatever is on the chopping board she will get a little piece so long as it’s not unhealthy.  Since I don’t eat too many unhealthy foods I guess this means she just about always get’s a little “sumpin’ sumpin” from the chopping board when I’m chopping.

Chopping boards make a distinctive sound especially when someone like me is a “hack chef” doesn’t know how to cook.   I always thought it would be cool to be like those chefs on the cooking shows where they can dice up a five pound zucchini while making hardly any sound faster than you can say Magic Bullet.  Not me.  CHOP!  KER-CHOP… CHOPPITY CHOP!

Kali sees well but not as well as she used to.  She rarely catches a tossed biscuit or treat in mid air any longer.  She’s getting on in years (8 now) and her eyes have begun to get a cloudy look to them.   Hopefully it won’t be an issue as she continues to age.

Her hearing though is still very keen especially when it is the sound of the chopping board.

There could be sirens sounding overhead, howling wind, and explosions all around and Kali would still be able to distinguish the sound of the chopping board that she loves so much.

Recently Kali was outside on the deck and I was in the kitchen, chopping.   CHOP!  KER-CHOP… CHOPPITY CHOP!  It must have been driving Kali nuts because although she could hear the sound of chopping she couldn’t see first hand what was going on.   Another aging part of Kali’s anatomy are her hips.   She is not a very good jumper and it would put her in pain if she was propped up on just her hind legs for more than a second or two.

But that sound of the chopping board sure motivated her to jump up and get a look through the kitchen door to see what was on the chopping block as evidenced by this brief video of her trying desperately to see what was being chopped while also trying to get my attention.

The Chopping Block in Action (wait for it…….)

 

Sleep Tight Girls

Meals for Kali and Kloe was the first thing that came to Holly’s mind.  She went to the cupboard where the dog food is stored and began dishing out meal sized portions into plastic resealable bags.   She put them all into a large paper bag and set it by the door.   This is where Holly’s mind was when, yesterday for a few hours, we thought we might have to evacuate our property due to a wildfire in our area.

As it turned out we were never at risk but there were a few hours where we weren’t sure.    So we went into action.

Car keys?  Check.  Wallets? Check?  Dog food?  Check.   OK – we’re good to go.  “Wait.  How about clothes” I said.  Holly answered:  “Don’t be silly Michael – the dogs don”t have clothes.  Me:  “They have tooth brushes, why not clothes?”  Holly:  “You’re right, with all the food I packed for them we’ll need to stay up on their brushings.  I’ll pack their tooth brushes.”

OK, maybe that wasn’t the exact dialogue but it could have been.

In times of crises or emergency everyone reacts differently.  Panic,  fear, and indecision. Jump into action, organize, and take charge.   And in our case I guess our reaction was “take care of the girls”.

My mind went to thoughts about how the night would go if we had to bug out.  We’d jump into the car with Kali and Kloe and the plethora of pre-packed food bags.  We’d drive as directed by the fire crew into safety.   But what if nearby friends also had to evacuate.   Where would we spend the night?  Could we find a motel in the area that allowed dogs?  Would we just sleep in the car cuddled up in the back with the girls?   I remembered that the fairgrounds had been a shelter for people evacuated during another recent fire.   They were accepting livestock and pets in addition to people.   I thought they probably wouldn’t allow the dogs to sleep where the people slept.  They would probably have them sequestered outside in a giant pen or crates.   I thought if that was the case then I would ask to sleep with the animals because my girls would be scared without us in a strange place with other unknown animals.

Yep, that’s where my mind went.  Take care of the girls and the rest will take care of itself.

So, thank goodness, it was a non-event and after a non-eventful evening we headed off to bed.   I thought back about how we could have been sleeping at the fairgrounds.  Holly on a cot with the humans and me sharing a crate with Kali and Kloe amongst the livestock and pets.   It made me feel good to know that I would do that if necessary (I would) and I felt the girls somehow knew too.

We got into bed and I waited for the girls to settle in on their mattresses by the sides of our bed feeling grateful to be safe and at home.  Then my bubble was burst as Kloe went back into the kitchen to sleep on the cool tile and Kali went into the bathroom to sleep on the tile there.  So much for gratitude.   But in the end I guess they were grateful.  Grateful for the cool tile after a triple digit summer day and oblivious to what could have been under less fortunate circumstances.

That’s was fine with me.  Sleep tight girls.

SIMULATION:  Me and the girls sleeping at the fairgrounds with the rest of the livestock and pets.

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Young Pups

Many canine breeds are good with children and Golden Retreivers are one of the best. The American Kennel Club places Goldens fourth after the Bulldog (1), Beagle (2), and the Newfoundland (3).  Labs at number 5 were right after Golden Retrievers.

When Kloe first joined our pack it took her a few days but she eventually engaged Kali in play.  All of 15 pounds when she came home Kloe would run full speed at Kali nipping at her ears and bouncing off Kali’s torso, hips and head.  It was warming to see Kali, at 60 pounds, play so gently with Kloe instinctively knowing that Kloe was obviously smaller but also a “baby”.  During tug-o-war Kali could have shaken the rope toy hard enough to launch Kloe into the air but she didn’t.  She would hold on lightly and allow Kloe to gain some ground.  Kloe would eventually tire, lie down on her belly,  and Kali would drag her along the carpet or kitchen tile for a ride.

A little over a year later its fun to watch Kloe, now at 80 pounds, approach her big sister much in the same way she did when she was just a bitty pup.

Kloe still blind sides Kali at full speed, often with a toy in her mouth, daring Kali to fight back as if Kali has a choice.  The difference now is that Kloe has a 20 pound advantage over Kali who has to go full strength as a matter of self preservation.  And some games never change. Often after several minutes of tug-o-war Kloe will lie flat on her stomach, front and back legs fully extended, and Kali drags her along the carpet and Kitchen tile.

Until recently Kloe had not been around any young pups and I wondered how she would act if she was.  At only fifteen months does she possess the same instincts that seven year old Kali demonstrated with her baby sister a year ago?  Kloe has always had just one speed during play: 11 of on a scale of 10.  Through training and to some degree maturity (did I just use the word maturity in a sentence with Kloe?!?) Kloe is calmer around people when she first meets them.  It’s hard for her but she is learning what’s expected and keeps all her feet on the ground while wagging her butt feverishly.  Usually there is a thought bubble over her head that says, “Hi!  I love you!  Do you see me?  I am really really glad you are here!   Do you see me?  Did I tell you I love you?”

The young pup that Kloe met recently was not of the canine persuasion.  It was a human pup baby.  Perri is the granddaughter of our friends Marty and Jen.  We were at Marty and Jen’s for a BBQ when Perri was introduced to Kloe.  Kloe was very interested and saw that this was a person who just happened to be very small and very young.  In fact Kloe and Perri are just about the same age.   Kloe probably instinctively knew she had an advantage in most major categories:

  • Age – tie
  • Agility – Kloe major advantage
  • Intelligence – Kloe slight advantage
  • Weight – Kloe Super major advantage
  • Cute factor – Tie with the smallest of tie breakers going to Kloe  (full disclosure:   Perri’s parents and Grandparents were not consulted for the rating of this category)

Kloe laid at grandpa Marty’s feet while he held Perri in his lap.  She was fascinated and so very calm as she watched Perri’s every move.  I believe that with any dog, and I mean any dog, one must be very cautious with babies and they should not be allowed on the ground with the dog nearby until both parties – dog owner and parent/grandparent – are sure it’s safe.

So was the case with Kloe and Perri.   Perri was eventually allowed to sit on the ground near Kloe.   Our 80 pound bundle of energy 11 on scale of 10 “puppy” laid there calmly next to Perri and just hung out with “the baby” and let her do her thing.

But just for good measure, and so Perri knew that she loved her, Kloe gave Perri a little kiss on her nose, captured in the video below.

Take that Bulldog, Beagle, and Newfoundlanders!

Young Pups Kloe and Perri

 

Her Loyal Highness

We arrived at the airport’s international terminal for arriving fights and waited to meet Kali who traveled with 23 other rescued Golden Retrievers from Taiwan to SFO.  The crates were wheeled into the terminal and the adopting families found their pup, wheeled the crate outside to the designated parking area to take them out of their crates, greet them, and take them to their Forever Homes.

It was almost three years ago when I stood in the evening air of that parking lot and opened the crate and we welcomed Kali into our lives.  It was a fourteen hour flight so she needed to pee real bad.  I hooked her leash on to her collar.  She she pulled me a few feet, squatted, peed, and everything that has happened since is documented in the archives of this Golden Kali blog site.

It was remarkable how quickly Kali assimilated to her new life. We bonded instantly and for the first few days she was constantly by my side day and night and for the most part has stayed there ever since that night.

A lot has happened since then.  The tag line of this blog post changed earlier this year from Kali’s new life in America to Kali’s new life in the mountains.  The biggest events have been our relocation from the SF Bay Area to the Sierra Nevada Foothills and we adopted nine-week old Kloe in May, two weeks before we moved.  So a lot has changed for my Golden Kali and she has been there by my side, never complaining, always loving with unwavering loyalty.

Yesterday was the rare day that we would leave Kali and Kloe for the day.  We would be gone to long to leave them home by themselves so we arranged to have them stay with Marty and Jen, our close friends who live nearby and who also have two dogs who are playmates with Kali and Kloe.  We arrived at Marty and Jen’s around 8:30, drove into the property and the gate closed behind us.  Kali and Kloe eagerly jumped out of the back of the Outback and began sniffing and running.  Kali mostly sniffing and Kloe mostly running; Tazing actually in anticipation of a full day of play with her her buddy Jaynee, our friend’s three year old Queensland Shepard mix. We chatted briefly but needed to get on the road.  I gave the girls a kiss and we began to drive off.

I’ve never observed any separation anxiety in Kali. We’ve been fortunate that I work mostly from home and Holly has worked off and on part time so there is almost always someone home.  But there have been many times that we have left Kali, and now Kali and Kloe alone for a four or five hour stretch.  Although they’re both very happy to see us arrive back home there is never any signs of distress or evidence of acting out in the house or the yard.

Holly tells me that when I leave the house for whatever reason Kali will lie down next to the door I left through.  She’ll stay there for a long time (presumably waiting for my return) until finally moving to her bed or onto some other area of the house or yard.  So there is clearly still that bond and desire from Kali to be next to me if she has the choice.  Truth be told it’s the same for me with for her… So yesterday as Holly and I got in the car I told Kali to stay and she watched us drive down the gravel path towards the gate.  She stayed back where I left her as I punched in the key code and the gate slowly opened.  I looked back through the rear view mirror and Kali’s body language told me she realized I was leaving.   She began trotting towards the car as we headed out the gate.

Kali looked beautiful and regal trotting after me.  She was earnest and determined.

The gate is on a timer and I realized it wouldn’t have closed in time to keep Kali inside so I stopped the car and got out.  I placed  her a few feet back from the gate and again told her to stay.  She knew what I wanted, and she really really tried to stay, but as I walked back to the car she followed.  I started walking back up to the house.  “Come on Kali” I called.  “Let’s Go”. Kali eagerly followed me back to the front porch where Marty was holding onto Kloe.  The irony here s that Kloe was not inclined to follow the car because a full day of Tazing with Jaynee is way better than just about anything else.  Kali was the one who needed be held in order stay back.  Marty grabbed her collar and she reluctantly watched as I jogged back to the car, open the gate, and drive off.

Kali has spent the day at Marty and Jen’s before.  Both her and Kloe have stayed overnight there.  So I know she is fine and I know she doesn’t have any anxiety.  She just wants to be with me.  It’s a very special bond we’ve had since that evening almost three years ago that I opened her crate at SFO brought Her Loyal Highness Kali home and into my life.

HER LOYAL HIGHNESS, GOLDEN KALI

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Still a Puppy

At seven months Kloe is now bigger than her big sister Kali.  Kali has more girth and more fur which makes her seem even bigger than she is but Kloe is taller and weighs as much – about 60 pounds.  It would be easy to think the she was no longer a puppy being so big and so smart and so independent.

But at the end of the day she is still a puppy.

There was a time when we used a “Pet Corrector”; those air cans that make a loud hissing sound that gets your “pet’s” attention and “corrects” their behavior.  We used it for a time with Kloe to “correct” her behavior of jumping on us (and guests) when she was excited.  It was very effective.  Almost too effective.  When she heard it she would, with tail between legs, come running to my feet,  even if it was me who had the Pet Corrector in my hand, and press her body into my legs as if to say, “save me from that scary and forbidding sound”.

We havn’t used the Pet Corrector for some time.   Partly because it ran out of hiss but mostly because Kloe has matured and though conditioning and training was much better about jumping when she became excited.  Recently however we noticed that when we sneezed Kloe had a similar reaction to our sneezes as to the Pet Corrector.

The picture below is the end result of Holly having sneezed and Kloe running to me as I sat in my recliner and pressing her body against my legs so that I would save her.  As she sat there, tail between her legs, like a snake she began slithering up into my body and I didn’t stop her because, well, it was so darn cute. She ended up in my lap and that was ok with me because, after all, she is still a puppy.

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Kloe: “Be my hero dad and save me”.  Me:  I will always be your hero Kloe and I will always there to save you (even if it’s just a sneeze from mom).