Meal time used to be real simple

Meal time used to be real simple.  Kali and Kloe each ate dry food for both breakfast and dinner.  Initially Kloe got high protein puppy food and was on a slightly different dry mix than Kali.   But eventually when Kloe got old enough they were on the same food.  Back in the day meal time inventory check:  two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food.  Simple! Scoop scoop wham bam thank you dad.

Meal time used to be real simple.

Over the past year Holly and I introduced raw meat into Kali and Kloe’s diet.  We’re fortunate to have good friends who own a pet shop and are quite informed and knowledgable about canine nutrition.  Owners Dee and George made suggestions for the raw meat and over the first couple of months we experimented with different types, varying portions, etc.   Wanting to still provide good grains to the girl’s diet, and after a few calculations to consider caloric content of the dry, the raw, and each dog’s weight, we landed on a regimen of dry in the morning and raw in the evening.  The raw meat is sold frozen and we buy it in quantities of 25 one pound flat pieces.   Every two days we would put two one pound portions in the refrigerator to thaw for two day’s of meals.   So, still not too bad, right?   Not as simple as two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food but definitely worth the extra meal planning and preparation to yield a healthier diet for the girls.  Plus, they absolutely love the raw meat it keeps their weight down.  And did I mention they love it?

When Koda arrived three months ago we put her on the same dry food that Kloe and Kali eat but the large breed puppy version that is high on protein.  Then about a month ago we began giving Koda a portion of raw meat with her dinner.  She too is crazy for “the raw”.  So let’s do a another meal time inventory check at this juncture: three dogs, three bowls, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, and varying portions of raw at dinner.   And as the old television commercials for kitchen gadgets used to say, “But wait – there’s more…”

Kali is slightly overweight and we wanted to reduce her caloric intake so we introduced some variations for her.  For breakfast she gets half a cup of dry food and half a cup of scrambled egg whites.  For dinner she gets a portion of raw meat and a half cup of salt free canned green beans.   It’s getting complicated isn’t it.

Real time meal time inventory check:  three dogs, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, three bowls, varying portions of raw at dinner, scrambled eggs in the morning, canned green beens in the evenings.   Based on our highly scientific caloric calculations dog size,  age, and overall weight management goals the dry food and raw portions are different for all three pups but at least the eggs whites and green beans are the same portions for Kali.  Hurray for small victories!

Meal time used to be real simple.   But are my girls healthier and happier? Yes.  Is it worth the planning and coordination and calamity amusement of three dogs squirming at your feet during preparation?  Absolutely!

The pace of the meal

Kali and Kloe used to finish their meals at almost exactly the same time even though Kloe’s portions were bigger. Now with Koda who has relatively large portions and eats a little slower (thank you puzzle bowls),  and the variation of portions and content,  they all finish their meals at different times.  Kloe is always finished first.  Koda is second, and Kali – who has the smallest portions – finishes last.  Sometimes by a good 5 minutes after the other two.   What Golden Retriever doesn’t love food, right?  But Kali takes it to the extreme.  Kali worships her food.   To watch her eat with the deliberation and devotion one might think that meal time is a spiritual experience for her.

Before Koda, when Kali and Kloe finished at the same time, it was amusing to watch them in unison like synchronized eaters move to the other’s empty bowl and lick around the edges and grooves of the puzzle bowls.  Now that finishing times are staggered Kloe typically walks off and asks to go outside having her sisters behind to finish up.  Kloe finishes next and it’s endearing to watch her watch Kali finish.  As Kali methodically addresses the meat and green beans that remain in the bowl Koda stands or lays nearby showing respect and does not try to steal any of the food.  But she’s not shy about getting her face right next to the Kali’s bowl.

And Kali just keeps eating seemingly in food bliss methodically conducting her business while her baby sister watches.

 

Conversing With Our Eyes

“The eyes are the window to your soul.”  

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It’s unclear who first said that. I know this because I waited 0.74 seconds for the Google search to return about 48,200, 000 results. I didn’t corroborate each and every 48 million results with one another.  But I did spend about 15 seconds reviewing the summary of the first article and came to my conclusion that the originator of the phrase is not certain.

What is clear to me is that when I stare deeply into Kali’s dark eyes it’s like staring into a pool of dark water at dusk with glimmering and subtle refections of the setting sun.   I can see her emotions and wants.  Sometimes I can see her fears.  But mostly I see the unconditional love and devotion that has been present since the moment we met three years ago.

So when I talk to Kali and she answers with her eyes, and I understand the answer, am I simply projecting a logical human conclusion or is she really talking to me with her eyes?  I believe it is the latter.  Someone who has never bonded with a dog might question my position.  But that same person could be reminded of the time his  significant other gave him a glance from across the room at a social event and he instantly knew what she was telling him (“I’m bored, let’s go).   Or the time his son hit a walk off home run in little league and as the boy crossed home plate he his eyes met the eyes of his dad in the stands (“We did it Dad.  “WE did it!”).

But even when drawing upon those memories that man may still question my position pointing out that dogs aren’t people and dogs can’t think in such complex terms.   To that man I say, “adopt and love a dog and you will understand”.

So it is for Kali and I throughout the day that she answers me or she herself initiates the conversation with her eyes.

Like first thing in the morning as Kali (not so) patiently waits for me to open my eyes and then stares at me and says, “the sun is up and I’m hungry”.   Or when she is so rudely awakened from a nap when her her “little” sister Kloe sneak attacks her by jumping on her to prompt play.   Kali glances at me as she rises in defense and her eyes say, “Please save me.”  When I give Kali a Kong filled with apples and peanut butter while lying on the ground,  tongue probing the Kong for the treats, she looks up and stares directly into my eyes, “Thank you dad I love this Kong almost as much as I love you”.  And of course there are the annoyed eyes as it gets close to dinner time and I get the prolonged stare, “You can tell time, right?”

One of my favorite lyrics is from “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” performed by the Counting Crows.   Adam Duritz writes, “If you’ve never stared off in the distance, then your life is a shame”.  That lyric really resonates with me and I might take it one step further. I suggest that if you have never stared off into the distance with your dog by your side who is also staring off into the distance then your life is a shame.  There is something special about being outdoors somewhere sitting side by side with your dog and looking off into the distance.   A cloud formation may catch my eye and a bird or squirrel may catch Kali’s.   But mostly we are just together with no particular goal in mind.

And then after a while I look into Kali’s eyes and silently say, “ready to go?”.  She stares back into mine and says, “This was great but yeah, let’s go home”.   And so off we we go where we can continue our silent conversation with our eyes.

 

 

One Lovely Blog Award

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A few days ago one of our favorite bloggers, Miss Harper Lee, nominated Golden Kali for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Miss Harper Lee is a beautiful Golden Retriever who, with help from her human mom writes a fun, informative, and entertaining blog site called thek9harperlee. Click here to go to their About page and learn more about the site which at times is like a travel log for dogs as they spend lots of time traveling around New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Thank you so much Miss Harper Lee and everyone at  thek9harperlee for thinking of us and for enjoying our blog site enough to feel we merit this nomination.  OK, now onto the fine print 🙂 …

One of the guidelines is to list seven facts about yourself, or in our case about Golden Kali.  Another element is to nominate up to 15 other bloggers for this award.  We’ll start with the seven facts and then follow with our nominees.  The full list of award participation guidelines are listed at the end of this post.

Seven Facts About Golden Kali (getting to know Kali)

  1. Kali is a rescue from Taiwan who shared a commercial airline flight to America with 23 other Golden Retreiver rescues in May of 2014.  She was approximately five years old when she arrived.  No, we did not have to learn to speak Taiwanese (everyone asks when they hear about where she came from).   And we didn’t have to because Kali spoke the universal language of love (and food, see fact #2).
  2. Kali loves food.  Hey, what Golden Retriever worth their two coats of fur doesn’t?   You may have seen that video that went viral of an obedience contest where dogs are recalled at a distance by their owners.  They have to trot past lots of treats and food and go quickly and directly to the owner when called.  At the end of the video a Golden Retriever zig zags all over scooping up food as fast as possible while the song Yakety Sax plays (you may know it as the Benny Hill theme).  The Golden is eating everything in site much to the dismay of the owner, a young girl who is quite embarrassed.  This would be Kali.
  3. Kali doesn’t walk –  she prances.  It may be an artifact of her bad hips but nonetheless she prances which generates a lot of smiles and comments when we are out and about in town.  There have been countless times someone who meets Kali for the first time says, “oh look – she prances!”.   When she runs she does an exaggerated version of the prance that looks like a steam ship (slow) on stormy seas (very bouncy).  For every 60 pounds of energy exerted when running Kali goes about three feet.   It is not very efficient but it is so very cute and makes me smile and LOL each time I see her do that.  Which is usually on the way back from morning “business” as she heads to the kitchen for breakfast.   Again, see fact #2.
  4. Kali has a little sister named Kloe.  When we brought Kloe home, also a Golden, Retriever, she was just nine weeks old.  Upon meeting Kloe, Kali made it very clear that she was not in favor of this addition to the pack.  As soon as the shock wore off Kali looked to me as if to say, “oh no.  No, no, no.  You take that puppy back where you got it.” But little Kloe possessed magical powers over even this larger and older dog.  Kloe cast a love spell upon Kali and by that evening the two of them were spooning and cuddling.  Kali, who we think may have been a breeder in Taiwan before she was stray, became a loving and caring surrogate mom for this little 15 pound pup. Kloe is now 80 pounds (compared to Kali’s 60) and still likes to cuddle with big sissy Kali.
  5. The tagline of this blog site used to be “Kali’s new life in America.  Then in 2016 Kali moved from San Francisco East Bay suburbia with Kloe, Holly and I to the Sierra Nevada Foothills.   Kali now lives on five acres under the pines, oaks, and cedars.   When we moved the new tagline became “Kali’s new life in the mountains”.
  6. Kali does not play fetch.  From day one she made it very clear to me, much to my chagrin, that if I wanted the ball retreived I should go get it myself.  Initially she would run after the ball and sniff at it, look back at me, and then wonder off to smell other things.  After several weeks of effort (on my part not hers) I accepted her logical reasoning to not throw the ball if I just wanted her to bring it back.  With that logic I guess Kali would also choose not to snow ski if given the opportunity….
  7. Kali recently received the American Kennel Club’s “Good Citizen Certificate”.   To receive this distinction Kali had to perform 10 basic activities ranging from sit and stay, to recall at a distance, to remaining calm during distractions, heel while walking amongst a group of strangers, etc.  She had to receive 10 out of 10 in order to pass.   To top it off there could be no treats involved during the testing.  Yikes!   See fact # 2…    We are very proud of this certificate because of the work Kali put in over the years to be that good very good canine citizen.

Golden Kali relaxing at home

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Now for our nominees for the One Lovely Blog Award.  Click the links below to go to the sites’s “About” page.

And now finally for the full set of rules should the nominees above choose to participate:

  • Thank the person (or dog) that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Display the award on your post.
  • List seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate up to 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

 

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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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Leading The Way Around The Golden K

It’s been satisfying to see Kali get more and more comfortable around the five acres that comprises The Golden K.  For Kali’s followers that are not familiar, The Golden K is what what we call our home in the mountains where we moved to almost a year ago.     Kali now freely romps and explores as I am out and about doing various chores or just exploring and appreciating the change of seasons and the beauty of “the hill”. She never strays too far and always comes running to me if I call.

Actually, Kali has always been comfortable and her behavior has not changed. She’s always been trust worthy and attentive to my calls if she has wandered too far away or into a neighboring property.

But if I’m honest with myself I know that It’s been me – the suburban transplant and worry wort – who hasn’t wanted to loosen my purse strings and allow Kali to roam freely due to my aforementioned “worry-wortiness”.

But maybe Kali felt a bit over confident as we headed out for chores today as she settled in the tractor trailer as a passenger and spectator versus an active participant in the activities.

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She sat still long enough for the photo but it wasn’t long before Kali was back on her feet and leading the way around The Golden K.

 

Toasty Time (for four)

Kali and Kloe have guests.  Jaynee and Sadie will be here for the week while their parents and our good friends Marty and Jen vacation in Hawaii with their human kids.

Sadie and Jaynee are quick studies.  They quickly and effortlessly adapted to a morning ritual I have with Kali and Kloe.

My breakfast usually includes toast.  A long time ago, and before Kloe was born, Kali and I established a morning ritual where I give her  a corner (or two) of a piece of bread while I cook my breakfast.  I call it Toasty Time.  When Kloe joined the pack she eagerly adapted to the ritual.

This morning, the first morning that Jaynee and Sadie were with us, they didn’t miss a beat.  As I announced Toasty Time they got into position for their corner of bread as though they had been doing it for years.

Toasty Time For Four

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Sharing

When you’re two dogs living in the same house there are a lot of things you have to share.  You have to share mom and dad, treats, toys, and sometimes the same bed.  I’ve always been very proud of Kali, and especially of Kloe who is still a puppy, for doing very well with sharing without fighting; well sometimes tug of war but mostly with toys are rarely with mom and dad.

One of the things I respect is when our pups have a meal or a special treat like a bully stick.  I don’t take it for granted that they will share it or that I can simply walk over and take it away.  I can take it away and I make a point, again especially with Kloe,  to occasionally pick up her bowl in the middle of a meal and then immediately give it back.  Kloe trusts me and I can’t imagine she would ever become aggressive with me when taking away her bowl or a toy.   But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect that she is an animal with instincts.  Oh yeah and large sharp teeth.

I don’t give the pups bully sticks very often.  Those are usually reserved for special occasions or what I call Rainy Day Recess.  Calling this Rainy Day Recess is an artifact of Holly having taught pre-school for over 20 years.  It’s those days when the dogs can’t outside because it’s raining and they’ve got a lot of energy to burn of with little room to do it in – kind of like pre-schoolers on a rainy day…

So earlier this week when we had some rain I declared Rainy Day Recess and pulled out a couple of bully sticks.  The girls really love this treat and if they had more cognitive thinking skills they would probably wish every day was raining.  I handed them the sticks and Kali and Kloe went to their respective corners of the living room and began chewing.  They looked a lot like I do with a real big piece of beef jerky trying to soften it up and get it into my body as fast as possible.  Because, well because I love beef jerky.

I made a point – a couple of times – to go to each one of them individually and ask them to “leave it” and let me take the bully stick.  They are clearly more reluctant to give up the bully stick than a bowl of regular meal food but they do.  I give it right back to them all the while praising them for “leaving it”.  With a pat and sometimes a kiss on top of their heads I let them know that I approve of them giving up this treasured treat but that I will give it back.  It’s a good relationship, as most good relationships are, built on trust.

So I’m accustomed to the pups not having any food aggression of any sort.  But when it comes to meal time, although they eat next to one another with bowls only inches away, it would only be expected that one or them to get a little testy if the other placed their mouth near her bowl.  Kali and Kloe eat meals at the same time right next to each other.  Although they get different size portions (Kloe gets more because she is still growing) they usually finish up about the same time.  You’d think that Kloe would take longer because she get’s more food but sometimes she finishes fist.  I noticed this the other night and I was a little surprised when I saw Kloe move over to Kali’s bowl while Kali was still eating.  There had been one incident when Kloe was only nine weeks old and tried to take some food out of Kali’s dish while Kali was eating.  With a low growl and quick nip to Kloe’s ear Kali delivered a message and lesson to Kloe that I thought would last a lifetime.

So on this night when Kloe put her snout into Kali’s dish I thought, “uh-oh” Kali’s not going to like this.  I was waiting for Kali to take an aggressive move and put Kloe in her place.  But no.  Instead she kept eating and allowed Kloe to help finish off the few morsels that remained in her bowl.

Wow!  My Golden Kali set such a great example that transcends pets.  If only we as people could exhibit as much tolerance and sharing as she has this world would have to be a better place.  Right?

So thank you my Golden Kali for teaching me yet another lesson in a series of so many since you rescued me.

This is how they usually start out – side by side.

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But to finish like this was rather remarkable!

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