Note to self…

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


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


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

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

Play Ball!

The regular season of Major League Baseball ends this Sunday and moves into the playoffs.  My San Francisco Giants had one of the worst seasons in the Clubs 100+ years history.  But even in the down years baseball is never very far from my heart.   And any ball is never very far from Kloe’s mouth.

I always wanted a dog that would fetch.  One that would chase the ball down with the passion of Willie Mays making an over the shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series.   A dog that would love to play ball.  Bailey had no interest in playing ball choosing instead to chase squirrels and birds.  I thought Kali might have been a ball chaser but it didn’t take her long to find out that the ball was not food and therefore why exert any energy running to it and – God forbid – pick it up and bring it back to me!

So this may fall into the category of be careful of what you wish for.

Kloe loves the ball.   Kloe is never far from a ball.   Kloe sleeps with her ball.  Kloe drinks with her ball.  Kloe can play fetch for as long as your arm can muster up another throw.  Hey she’s 18 months old, is strong as an ox, impervious to fatigue, and frankly has a little tunnel vision (the ball).

So I muse about being careful what you wish for but really I think it is pretty cool that I finally have a dog that will “Play ball”.


Somebody PLEASE throw the ball for me!







“I can do this forever Mom”

Swim Time At The Lake

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

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

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

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

But Kali was really the surprise star of the afternoon.

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

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

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

Moments In The Sun (with our girls)

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

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

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

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

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

Moments in the sun with the girls


Next time we bring the long leash for sure!

Girls at the lake


Too much of a good thing is just about right…

Having two Golden Retrievers I understand the exponential affect of more than one fur kid in and around the house.  One plus one does not always equal two but instead some greater number.  The key word in the last sentence is greater. There is a greater amount of work and a greater amount of patience required.  There is a greater amount of expense and there is a greater amount of… poop.

But mostly there is a greater amount of love.

  • “All things in moderation”.
  • “Too much of a good thing [is not always good]”.
  • “Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth”.

These quotes are all sound, logical and practical.  But they may don’t not apply to Golden Retrievers.   You cannot have too many Goldens in one place at the same time because you cannot ever have too much love.

And so it was yesterday at an event hosted by True Love Rescue.  This is the rescue group that brought both Kali and Kloe to us.  And for that I am forever indebted to them.  This group of caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable volunteers do wonderful work that has had a positive affect on hundreds of dogs and families over the years.  This annual event is “advertised” as a play day and reunion for many of the Goldens, like Kali, who came from Taiwan.  But in a large way this event is also a celebration of the great work of the rescue group.

The Pack at large

And so there we were on Saturday watching dozens of Goldens romp around on a beautiful Spring day in the sun.  They barked, wrestled, fetched, jumped in and out of the kiddie pools, rolled in the dirt and then came back around for more.  But mostly they loved.  Because this is what Goldens (all dogs really) do best:  they love.

On this sunny day the exponential impact of having forty plus Golden Retrievers in one place was palpable. The love and positive vibe wafting through the light breeze was evident in the beaming faces of the proud parents as they watched their fur kids run around amongst the pack.  I especially like seeing first time attendees smiling like little kids as they watch experience all these Golden Retrievers, all in the same place, all at the same time.  If you’re an aging Baby Boomer like me think Summer of Love without the sex and drugs…  I also get a kick out of parents struggling at times to pick their dog out of the pack because many are so similar in looks.  “OK, there he is, no wait that’s not him.  I should put a scarf on him…”.

Besides all the dogs there’s all the parents.   People who may have different political views, who may come from different walks of life, and perhaps with varying socioeconomic backgrounds.  But in spite of diversity there is one overriding factor that each has in common:  a deep love, bond, and devotion for dogs.

  • “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”  – Mae West
  • “Too much of anything is bad, but too much whiskey is barely enough.” – Mark Twain
  • “Too much of a good thing is just about right.”  – Jerry Garcia

I like these quotes better than those at the top of the post.  Especially if “too much” is a Golden Retriever.

My Girls Kloe (red scarf) and Golden Kali


Neither Snow Nor Rain….

The unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service is, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

With the seemingly endless storm systems continuing to deliver massive snow and rain to California it’s been a heck of a first winter to be a Golden Retriever puppy!   Kloe’s unbridled enthusiasm for completing her mission regardless of the elements would make her a great postal carrier.  Except in Kloe’s case the motto would be slightly amended to say completion of her appointed play time.

She seems to revel in the wet and mud.   It’s hard to keep a good pup down and in Kloe’s case that means who cares if it’s pouring rain outside. Open the barn door and let this race horse out!

Evidenced here in a photo taken by a friend on a recent rainy day when Kloe went to visit her friend Jaynee.





The nine hole golf course that runs along our creek trail has temporarily shut down operations.  The course hasn’t been in good shape in forever but it’s always been a good place for kids, seniors, and beginners of all ages to play golf in a casual atmosphere without worry of being too slow or not very good.  The course may re-open but for now it is closed down.

Kali and I thought this was a great opportunity to change up our routine and go off course and walk the fairways that parallel the creek trail.

Kali has watched the golfers over the months as we walk along the trail and apparently she has had a greater interest in the game than I was aware of.    As we walked onto the fourth hole and passed by the tee box Kali stopped and looked at the yardage sign.  She then magically pulled out a driver from thin air.  Poof!  She sized up the yardage and decided even though she was a lady she could handle the extra 10 yards from the men’s tees and casually walked towards the tee box.

I guess I'll be hitting from the red teas. After all I am a lady...

“I want to be just like dad and hit from the white tees”

Kali is a rule follower  So once she spotted the closed sign she began having second thoughts.

Aware now that I was in a magical world where dogs play golf I convinced Kali it would be ok to play the hole and that we wouldn’t get in trouble.  After all, who would think that a dog would be playing golf.  That’s ridiculous!  Anyway, this was more like fetch with graphite sticks…

“I’m a rule follower and maybe we shouldn’t do this dad”

Kali stepped into the tee box gazing down the fairway.  A  thought bubble appeared over her head:  “Grip it and rip it!”.  She hits a monster drive about 240 yards down the center of the fairway.  Her ball (a “pink lady”) comes to a stop about a hundred feet from the green

We walk the 240 yards to Kali’s ball and since we have the course to ourselves she decides to take a break.  She lies down to savor the shot and she’s now getting visions of grandeur.  Thought bubble, “a chip and putt and down in three for birdie”!

This game is easy!

This game is easy!

As I know all too well after a great shot if one gets too cocky the golf Gods have a way of knocking you down and reminding you that you’re mortal.  Golf is a humbling game indeed.  Kali stands up, approaches her ball and asks me for her pitching wedge.  I realize that an entire set of clubs is now hanging of my shoulder and I’m wearing white overalls.  Great!  I am now Kali’s daddy-caddy…  I hand her the wedge and as Kali addresses the ball another thought bubble appears over her head:  “Drop it in from 100 yards for Eagle?  No, don’t get greedy.  Just get it close for the gimme putt and walk off with the Bird”.  Kali swings and shanks her ball into the green side bunker.  She looks at me with frustration.  The golf Gods snicker.  Kali walks to the bunker and shouts out at me orders me, “Sand wedge”…

It turns out, like me, Kali is not very good at getting out of the sand.  She takes a hack and the ball shoots straight into the side of the bunker.  It’s totally plugged.  Uh-oh.  Kali growls at the sand and glares at me.  Thought bubble:  “Don’t say a word”.  If I didn’t know better I would have thought I heard a few curse words under those growls.  But Kali wouldn’t do that.  On the other hand golf has a way of bringing out the worst in casual players like Kali and I…

Dad, I don't find any humor in your comment 'Just another day at the beach'.

Dad, I don’t find any humor in your comment ‘Just another day at the beach’.

Kali takes another hack at the ball and it (amazingly) shoots straight up in the air landing on the green with back spin and rolls towards the hole resting about 6 feet from the cup.  She’s laying four with a very makeable six foot uphill putt.  I think to myself that if this was my first round of golf I’d be very happy with a bogie on this par 4.

6 foot uphill with a slight break to the left. I've got this.

Finally on the green.  OK, 6 foot uphill with a slight break to the left. I’ve got this.

Kali:  “Putter pleeeeeassse”.  Thought bubble over my head:  “I’m never caddying for her again”.

Kali lines up her putt as the gallery of birds and squirrels watch in anticipation.  She addresses the ball, takes a short back stroke and strikes the ball.  It rolls gently up the slight uphill and just like she read it the ball breaks ever so slightly to the left.  Rolling, rolling, and stopping just 6 inches short of the cup.  Kali taps in for double bogie, takes the Pink Lady out of the cup and throws it at the geese assembled near the next tee box.  Poor form.  And she didn’t even yell “fore”…

So goes the first, and probably last, one hole round of golf for my Golden Kali.  Like so many rounds I’ve played it started out great and somewhere along the way went bad.

Kali quickly shook off the bad “round” of golf.  I mean literally shook off all the sand that was in her coat from the two hacks out of the bunker.  We continued along our walk both knowing that being together on a beautiful day like today was par for the course.  And par for our course is just fine for us.

Another beautiful day in a Golden Paradise.

Another beautiful day in a Golden Paradise.

Are you ready to rumble?…

Although the two week sleep-over came to and end yesterday Kali has pretty much been sleeping since Piper left.

It was great having Pipes ‘O Peace” hang out with us for the past two weeks.  Kali had a lot of fun and was far more active than she usually is.  Kali proved to us, as we knew in our hearts,  that she can be a great companion and housemate for any dog given a little time to realize that dog is not a threat but actually a friend.

[Cue Randy Newman’s ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me]

As the days passed Piper became increasingly confident and comfortable in her new temporary surroundings taking lots of time to explore the house and yard on her own.  It was great fun watching Kali and Piper wrestle even if at times Kali was a reluctant participant.  With Kali at six years old and Piper at one there is quite an energy gap especially when considering Kali’s ultra laid back temperament and Piper’s tireless demeanor typical of her Australian Shepherd breed.

Piper was ready to rumble at moments notice.  If Piper was like the late wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, then Kali was like Mohammed Ali (the greatest boxer of all time).  Ali would use his famous “rope-a-dope” technique designed to get his opponent to punch themselves out while he rested along the ropes and covered his face and body with his arms.  Sorry for the mixed analogy of wrestling and Boxing but hopefully you get the picture.  When Kali had enough she would let Piper know by using her own version of rope-a-dope leveraging her weight advantage to hold Piper down with her legs and body or let Piper run circles around her while she remained in one place watching and resting.  Eventually there would be enough hair flying around the room that Holly or I would ring the figurative bell and send them to their respective corners until the next round.  Which of course never began too soon for Piper.

Rope-a-dope with Ali covering up while he let's George Forman punch himself out

Rope-a-dope with Ali covering up while he let’s George Forman punch himself out

Kali, Holly, and I took an extra long walk this morning and as much as Kali seemed to enjoy having a canine companion the past two weeks she seemed to appreciate her time alone with us.  It reminded me of kids having a cousin or best friend over for several days and how old toys and games seemed new again and how everything that was normal was all of a sudden special because of sharing it with someone who isn’t around too often.  But then when that cousin or close friend went home it felt good to get back to “normal” and now you appreciated the routine that just a couple of weeks ago seemed boring.

It was a great two weeks and of course I took a gazillion photos of Piper and Kali.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Piper Day 1 a little shy and apprehensive ran onto the couch to get away from Kali

Hanging out along the creek trail

Hanging out along the creek trail

Temporary office staff

Temporary office staff

Are you ready to rumble?...

Are you ready to rumble?…

Nap Time

Nap Time (take your corners)

But wait there’s more…  Piper is due back this afternoon because Steph and Dillip need to pick up her crate.  And when Piper comes in the house I won’t be surprised to hear her say, “Hey Kali, ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE??….”.  And as pooped out as Kali may be I’m pretty sure she’ll be ready to answer the bell.


As expected Kali and Piper quickly established territories, roles, and generally worked things out. My prediction of kissy-face by the end of the first day fell a little short but they were co-existing nicely, mostly calm and relaxed, both seemingly comfortable with the situation.

What’s a Piper?

In my last post I wrote about our friends Stephanie and Dillip who would be on vacation for two weeks.  Holly and I offered to take care of their one year-old Australian Shepherd, Piper, while they were gone.  Even with Kali’s anxiety around other dogs I was confident that she would adjust and quickly accept – perhaps even enjoy – having Piper around for a couple of weeks.



Steph and Dillip dropped off Piper with the car seat, crib, diaper bag, doctor’s phone numbers, and blankie (their going to make great parents!…) and were off to the airport for India via Dubai.  Holly and I decided to stay a lot closer to home and went to the backyard to hang out with Kali and Piper.

The two meet and greet “play” dates for Kali and Piper we had over the past couple of weeks definately made a difference.  Even though Kali was not totally on board with things yet I could tell that she was familiar enough with Piper to know 1) she wasn’t a threat and that 2) that she wasn’t going to go away.  So after a couple of minutes of posturing and barking – much like she did at the start of their meet and greets – Kali settled down at my feet and watched as Piper began to explore the yard.  There were a few more intermittent barks especially when Piper picked up a few of Kali’s toys but overall it was pretty non-evenful as hoped and we went about our day.

Inside the house Kali would give Piper an occasional face-woof if Piper got too close.  So Piper was very reserved at first and found safe haven underneath the dining room table.  Then she discovered the toy box.

It was fun to watch Kali watching Piper pulling out toy after toy and taking them to her new den underneath the table.  At one point Kali had enough, got up and took a toy from Piper, which prompted Piper to try to get it back from Kali, which led to running and barking in the house, which led to me  pushing them out into the yard, which led to more running and – wait for it – Kali playing with Piper.

I finally got my kid to go under the Gymboree parachute!   I realized I had a BIG smile on my face as I watched Kali chase after Piper with a playful bark. It was a “I’m bigger than you and and older and I’m gonna prove it to you” bark. Then Piper would stop, hunker down, pop up and begin chasing (herding?) Kali barking, “Yeah, but I’m way faster than you are, and I’m younger, and I can do this for hours.”  When Kali got tired and seemed to lose interest in the game Piper would go nip her in the butt and the game would start over again.  Very cool for this Dad to see his girl having fun whether she wanted to or not.  🙂    Yes, I realize this is normal behavior for most dogs so what’s the big deal, right?

Well, this IS a big deal for Kali.  OK…this is a big deal for ME.  And while I know it’s not supposed to be about me, this time it is.

So after almost 24 hours so far so good.  I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks with these Aussie and Taiwanese “Gal-Pals”.

Gal Pals

The Aussie and Taiwaneese  “Gal-Pals”

Waiting For Spring Training

Summer has left us.  Seemingly overnight.  The mornings are now cold, damp, and dark.  It is November so I shouldn’t be surprised but it catches me off guard every year.  It’s just that I enjoy Summer, the hot weather, and long days.  I love the warm nights on the patio listening to music with Holly and sharing a bottle of wine.  I enjoy the early morning walks with Kali – me in shorts and flip-flops and Kali with just one of her two beautiful golden coats.  I enjoy the street fairs, festivals, and wine events that go on during summer in our town.  I love seeing my garden explode in color during spring and staying vibrant throughout the long hot summer days.  I embrace major league baseball with a passion beginning with spring training, into the dog days of summer, and ending during the warm days of October.

And there it is – baseball.  The major league baseball season starts the cycle and ends the cycle of warm days that I love so much.  The SF Giants flags in the backyard convey this cycle to friends and family.  If the flags are up  – life is warm.  If the flags are down – it’s time to hunker down, put another log on the fire, and wait for the beginning of the next cycle.  In other words the countdown to spring training…

Throughout the baseball season my wife and I watch just about every SF Giants game.  I can’t say that Kali “watches” with us but she is a very loyal fan.  This I know because she sleeps at my feet through every inning of those games rarely getting up even during commercials to get a snack or beer from the fridge…     She did, however, seem a little put off by some of the start times of the playoffs.

Kali’s afternoon playtime is usually around 4:30 or 5:00 when I’ve begun winding down my day. Many of the baseball playoff games overlapped with our afternoon play time.  Kali was not real happy about this.   As loyal a fan as she professes to be (as evidenced but he aforementioned sleeping at my feet during all games) I believe she would have forgone the first couple of innings of these games and not have had them preempt afternoon play time.

Kali’s internal clock is amazing.   At 3:30 she comes into my office and pokes me with her nose.  Tail wagging she looks at me as if to say, “I’m bored.  You’ve been working all day and it’s really time to stop that and give me some attention.”  I tell Kali that it’s not time, that I have work to do, and she’ll have to be patient.  She’ll make that low grunting sound in her throat that Goldens do and reluctantly lie down to wait.  Admittedly, there are many days when her big brown compelling eyes combined with a willingness to wait for me are too strong a statement for me to ignore.  “OK”, I tell her.  Let’s fill up that Kong of your’s to keep you busy until I’m done.  Kali loves her Kong!

Kali is a bit of a paradox:  creature of habit but yet so flexible.  So it will be interesting, Kali’s first winter here in America.  Shorter days may mean walks  later in the day or a wet walk or (gasp!) no walk at all.  As Kali sees the sun setting earlier and earlier each day she must be thinking, “What will happen to afternoon playtime? Maybe I should poke him earlier in the day. Can Dad be as flexible as I am?”

Probably not.  But like Kali I’ll have to adjust, make the best of the change, embrace Fall and Winter, and wait for Spring Training.


World Champs Again in 2014

It’s a warm day when they flags are flying