All In – Happy Gotcha Day Koda

Koda, Koda, Koda!

This week marks four years since Koda joined our pack. She was four months old when we welcomed her and she came in with guns-a-blazing! Koda very quickly made her presence known. I remember driving her home in my truck and pulling up to our property. She was just 90 minutes separated from her two litter mates who had not been adopted yet. Koda hopped out of the truck and followed me through the gate where her new sisters were “waiting”. Koda 18 pounds at the time was greatly over matched by her new sisters – Kali at 60 pounds an Kloe at 80. There was about five minutes when Koda seemed a little intimidated and she acquiesced to the “big girls”. But she quickly made herself at home and began romping around the yard chasing and being chased by Kloe. Kali went off to sleep and resent the new whippersnapper that dad had just brought into the family without her permission.

The aforementioned five minutes of being intimidated was the last time I ever saw Koda be intimidated by anybody or anything.

Koda is a tough pup who initially made up for her size with loads of attitude.

It was immediately evident how vocal Koda was. Tilting her head slightly down, butt up in the air, and a mouthed puffed up with air she exclaims, “A roo roo roo”. This was just day one/hour two and she had already established her spot in the pack. She was not be the oldest or the biggest or in charge of anything but she always made here needs, wants, and opinions known! To this day Koda speaks her mind and always gets her point across to her intended audience and anyone else who will listen. As if they have a choice… If she could speak english she’d use what might be considered “salty language”.

Early on there were some very touch and go periods.

Holly: “Get that dog out of my house. Send her back”!

Me: She is such a loving girl. She’s doing so much better. I just need a little more time to work with her.”

Koda: (Looking directly at Holly) “A roo roo roo! Roo roo rooooo….”

Me : (Turning to Koda and under my breath) “Koda – work with me here.”

Koda: (Thought bubble over her head) “Hey – where did mom go?”

And so it went.

Koda has matured and has (mostly) learned to temper her enthusiasm. She is lovingly referred by a close friend who also has Golden Retrievers, as my “wild child”. A spot on characterization! But Koda has learned to be a (mostly) respectful and responsible member of the pack. She is very smart and learns things the first time. Whether she chooses to adhere to the learning is another matter. But she does learn it and then makes her choices. I (mostly) respect that.

Did you notice all the “mostly’s” in the previous paragraph? So yeah lot’s of mostly’s. But the all-ins” far outnumber and outweigh those mostlys.

Koda is all in on Loyalty. She is all in on loving her pack members. She is all in on recall – where ever she is, if I call she comes.

Koda was all in on Kali, her Sissy Mama. During the last year or so of Kali’s life when she had a hard time getting around Koda looked after Kali. A great example was a time when Kali got stuck in a corner of the property and couldn’t get up. Koda came running up to us barking and alternating looks from us to where she wanted us to go. We followed her and found Kali OK but stuck in a small hole and unable to get up. Talk about a Lassie and a “Timmy’s stuck in the well moment”… wow!

Koda is all in on being Kloe’s wingman. Kloe, “Protector Of The Golden K” – often sees, smells, or hears potential bad guys. Bad guys like cats, deer, squirrels, someone walking along the road at the bottom of our property, and so on. If Kloe stands up and barks, Koda does too; even though she doesn’t know what she’s barking at. She looks to Kloe for her cues. If Kloe takes off running in the bad guys direction Koda follows even thought she has no idea where she’s going. To Koda, if Kloe is barking, upset, or on the prowl Koda is by her side to provide all necessary back up. Koda is definitely all in on Kloe.

I’m so happy to Koda in my life and part of our pack. My sweet “Koda Koda Koda”, my “Sugar Beats”, my “Kodachrome”, my “Kode-Red”. Oh, yeah and full disclosure of another often used nick name for Koda: “Damn it Koda!” 🙂

Happy Gotcha day sweet Koda. Dad will always be all in on you!

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

Kali and Kloe

Koda has been a great addition to our family. It’s hard to believe it’s been over three years since we adopted her at four months old. She and Kloe are almost always together and have grown to be good companions even though there is some sibling rivalry from time to time. It’s heartening to know that since only two years separate them they should have many more years together as they grow older.

But before there was Koda there was just Kali and Kloe.

Kali was seven years old when Kloe joined our pack at just nine weeks old. Kali was just the right age and had an ideal temperament for bringing a puppy into the family. She quickly accepted the new little whippersnapper and become a surrogate mother during Kloe’s formative years. They became great companions to one another. Kali was still young enough to have interest in playing. At first very gentle and then as Kloe grew larger and stronger more vigorous. It didn’t take Kloe long to become larger and stronger than Kali. By 9 months old she was 75 pounds surpassing Kali’s 60. As Kloe got older they became more of equals, never any competition or rivalry as there is at times between Koda and Kloe. Even as Kloe grew older and larger she continued to seek comfort from Kali as she did when she was a wee pup. I know that Kali enjoyed having a companion in Kloe and they were never far apart from one another.

Kali has slowed way down over the past year or so. She has wobbly legs, poor eyesight, hearing loss, and she doesn’t seem to have a good sense of smell any longer. Other than that she’s fantastic! 🙂 It’s become harder and harder for her to get around and at 12 plus years now she mostly sleeps. She’s earned it and she maintains a very special spot in my heart and in my day to day life.

Recently I pulled up some old photos of when it was just Kali and Kloe. It was fun to look back a photos of Kloe at 15 or 20 pounds laying on big sister Kali and then seeing photos from over the years with Kloe still using Kali as a pillow. And the photos of just the two of them hanging out together sometimes being a little goofy. Although the pack dynamics have changed over the past few years with the addition of Koda and with Kali aging, it continues to make me happy to know there is still a special bond between Kali and Kloe!