Life changes

Life changes just a little bit when a puppy joins your pack.

On one hand things really shouldn’t change too much when you already have two other dogs that already dictate the flow of household.  On the other hand when those two dogs are two and a half and nine years old it’s a little bit like bringing a new born home just after all your existing kids are out of diapers.

Kali, the nine year old and Kloe the two and a half year old are pretty self sufficient and respectful of the house and our belongings.   When Koda – the puppy – came home the dog gates went up, regular trips outside for house breaking began again, sleeping in became a thing of the past, and all shoes and slippers had to be put away when they weren’t on our feet.   Is it hectic?  Duh!  Is it worth the disruption to the pack?   Absolutely!

Little Koda, now five and a half months old and 36 pounds is tenacious with attitude.

This is not a great combination when we need an immediate behavior correction.  But I think in the long run it will serve her well once she learns how to pick her battles.   She is quite vocal tells us in no uncertain terms that she is not pleased to know that she cannot jump on visitors or the furniture.  A little yelp or “Roo roo roo” as she begrudgingly adheres to our request to behave is not uncommon.

For now (and hopefully not forever) Koda is binary.  She is either on or off.  When on, her energy level is 11 on a scale of 10.  During play Kloe will wrap her entire mouth around Koda’s head to demonstrate her dominence and deliver a lesson.   Koda will momentarily acquiesce to Kloe’s reminder of who is bigger and stronger before immediately striking back with her own gnashing teeth never for a moment acknowledging the 45 pound advantage Kloe has on her.  Kloe does shoulder rolls landing on Koda like a greco wrestler pinning her down only for Koda to reemerge and perform the same move on Kloe.

Much to Koda’s chagrin Kali is not interested in any type of play with her.  At nine years old and visibly much slower than she was only a year ago Kali prefers sleeping to almost all activities other than eating.  I’ve seen Koda sneak attack a sleeping Kali landing on her back and riding her like a bronco as Kali gets up trying to toss her off while she moves off to another corner of the room to sleep.  Koda used to sass back Kali just like she does to us when being told no.  “Yelp! Roo roo roo…!  Play with me…”  To Koda’s credit she now (mostly) understands that Kali is the big sister she sleeps next to when she is in the off position. Kloe, although sometimes a reluctant participant, is the big sister used for rough play when Koda is in the on position.

It’s striking how the dynamics of a family can change so dramatically when that newborn baby puppy comes home.   I think it rocked Kali and Kloe’s world a bit to have a new little sister that seems to get more attention and more treats.   I’ve been caught off guard from time to time realizing that Koda is not Kloe and training may be more challenging and that different techniques may need to be deployed.  These pups are not plug and play.  But I like it that way.  Like people, dogs are unique and don’t fit into the same mold as the previous puppy.  Life would be boring if all of your dogs had the same personality and demeanor.   It might be easier but so much less “fun”.

So is it hectic?  You bet.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

So yeah, life changes just a little bit when a puppy joins your pack.

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Left to right Kloe, Koda, and Kali

 

Leader Of Our Pack

For two and a half years Kloe was the “baby”.   The youngest of two pups in the house.  As  she grew from 16 to 80 pounds she remained the baby in the overall pecking order of the pack.  Kali welcomed and embraced Kloe from the start and played a big role in Kloe’s successful assimilation into the pack.  Kloe looked up to her big sister and would run to her when scared, cuddle with her when sleepy or cold, and was always subservient to her Kali, although Kali only showed love and never any attempt to dominate or control Kloe.

Golden’s Retriever’s are a breed that retain a puppy-like personality for a long time.  Many never totally lose the playful and whimsical demeanor that puppies exhibit.     With the recent arrival of the new “baby” Koda it’s been interesting to watch Kloe quickly evolve into a more senior member of the pack.  An adult member of the pack.  In fact Kloe has become the protector of the Golden K Pack.

Besides there being a puppy in the house there is another dynamic that is contributing to this emerging maturity in Kloe.   Kali, once very vibrant and alert, is aging.   At nine and a half she sleeps most of the day and has lost some of her vibrance.  The sparkle in her eyes is fading. She walks slower often needing to be coaxed along the way when out for our short excursions.

Although there has never been an true four-legged alpha in our pack if there was one Kloe would be it.   Kali is old and slowing.  Koda is young and immature. At 80 pounds Kloe is large for a Female Golden retriever.  She is bigger, stronger, faster, more alert, and has keener senses than Kali and Koda.  It seems to me that she instinctively realizes this especially now within the context of living with a smaller puppy and a weaker senior. This is not to say that Kloe does, or has any interest in, physically dominating either of her sisters. Although she does seem to take some pleasure of throwing Koda down on the ground or wrapping her entire jaw around Koda’s head when Koda doesn’t get “the message” that enough is enough…  But that’s another subject and post about “Kloe the Teacher” for another day.

So now Kloe is the protector.   Where Kali once took the lead in calling out perceived danger or intruders Kloe takes the lead.   I see Kloe alert and viggilent at times outside while her sisters sleep in the sun.  If there’s a need to sound the alarm she does so and leads the charge running while her muscles ripple through her body like a thoroughbred horse.  Kali hangs back offering high pitched barks of encouragement and Koda bounces along side of Kloe trying keep up not really knowing what’s happening or where they’re going.

Maybe it’s just me projecting but in Kloe I see a more mature and wiser dog.  Kloe will always have a fun and spirited side to her.  She will always go to Kloeville; that figurative place when she lies on her back and stares up at nothing in particular.  She will always throw her shoulder on the ground and wriggle her way between my legs with her butt up in the air and then roll on her back and push off with her legs doing her version of the doggie-back-stroke.  But there has been a change.

It seems to me that Kloe now realizes that her stature in the pack is different.  She realizes that there are two weaker members of the pack that make her stand out physically and in some ways mentally.  Kloe relates to Holly and I in different ways now that Koda is here.  If Kloe observes Koda doing something that is not allowed Kloe looks to Holly or I to correct her.  As much as Koda tries to engage Kali in play Kali has no interest in rough housing with her and if engaged tries to get out of the fray.  Recently I watched that dynamic unfold when Kali became annoyed after Koda ran to her and jumped on her head trying to play.  Kloe came running over put herself between Koda and Kali and wrapped her jaw around Koda’s leg to move her way from Kali as if to say, “leave it”.

In some ways it’s sad to see my “little” baby Kloe grow up into adult hood.  But it’s also warming and makes me proud to watch that 16 pound nine-week old pup we brought home two and a half years ago mature into a fine young lady.  And  lately I’m sure I see something different in Kloe’s eyes. I see less wonderment of the world around her and more of a familiarity with that world and her role in it as a leader of our pack.

 

Number Three

Why this yearning for dogs?… Maybe it’s the endless feed of Golden Retriever puppy pictures served up in a Facebook group I belong to.  Or perhaps it’s because of an Instagram account I follow that posts nothing but Golden Retriever puppy pictures.  Or maybe, and most likely, it’s a life force that pulses through my body physically, spiritually, and emotionally.   Something in me that guides me and defines me all at the same time.   I joke that if I have the chance to hang out with people or dogs I choose dogs.  I guess its not completely a joke.  I gravitate towards dogs over people if there is a pup anywhere I am.  I consider myself to be a very social person so it’s not that I shy away from people.  I enjoy people.  It’s just that if there is a dog around it usually commands my attention.  If there is more than one dog more of my attention (and joy).

So I guess it was inevitable that we would eventually add a third dog to our pack.   This morning I picked up “Koda” from True Love Rescue (TLR).  TLR is a wonderful rescue group in Northern California.  It’s the same group that brought us Kali and Kloe.  And yeah, it’s a “K” thing with the girl’s names and we call our mountain home The Golden K where it’s mostly about the pups.

As with many things in our  life Holly and I don’t hesitate once we’re ready to do something; buy a car, buy a house, move from the Bay Area to the mountains, and adopt another pup.  It was just four days ago that we decided the time was right, especially when we learned that there were two pups remaining from a rescued litter.  We called the organizer, told her we wanted to adopt “purple” (the color of the pup’s collar in the picture) and here we four days later with our new pup Koda.  The big girls, Kali and Kloe, were very welcoming and there was no drama when I introduced them to Koda.  Kali was mostly indifferent but polite and accepting.  Kloe, as she is with most new dogs she meets of any age or size, immediately engaged with Koda, with puppy poses, and sniffs of all the usual body parts.  Kloe followed Koda around as she explored her new surroundings and ultimately they engaged in some light play.  Kloe restrained herself appropriately and was instinctively aware of the 60 pound size difference between her and Koda.  I was proud of the the big girls and I know they’ll both be great role models and teachers for Koda in the weeks, months, and years to come.

So yes, number three was inevitable.  I can only ignore the aforementioned life force and pulse in me for so long.  As I end the post I reflect on some of the things I know about dogs in general and especially my girls.  They can lower my blood pressure simply by being nearby.  They can calm me after a difficult day or negative experience.  They can lick my tears away when I cry, and make me laugh when I’m sad.   Sure they can try my patience at times but their patience with me is unlimited.  And the unconditional love they have for me is humbling and consistently challenges me to be a better person.

I  look down and see that all three are now all asleep at my feet.  And for this moment in time I am harmonized with the world, The Golden K, and my girls.

KODA

 

 

 

The Master Teacher

As I helped my Golden Kali with her aging hips onto the couch I cuddled her. We were alone in the family room while Holly cleaned up after dinner. Puppy Kloe was still sleeping under the dinner table.

As Kali settled onto the couch I whispered out loud into her ear. “I love you Kali, more than you can ever comprehend”.

Kali looked at me with sleepy eyes and it hit me. I paused for a moment and then I said, again out loud, “Wait – maybe you love me more than I can ever comprehend”.

And so it was. Another moment, another day, and another lesson I’ve learned from my Golden Kali.

My Golden Kali The Master Teacher.

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

 

 

 

Father Time

Mother Nature cycles through the seasons and in many ways repeats her actions:  Hot, cold, wet, dry, etc.  Father Time however moves in only one constant direction – forward. When we’re young we have our entire lives ahead of us.  As we get older we begin to rationalize our age.   Middle age is when we’re in our fifties and sixties, right?   If so then I guess we live until we’re 100 or 120?  A great example comes from my favorite all time movie “On Golden Pond” with Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. Norman is turning 80 and his wife Ethel tries to convince him that he’s middle aged…  Umm yeah.

In many ways it is not different for our pups.  Kali is eight and a half years old.   Kloe is 19 months old.   By the time Kloe was six months old she was the same size as Kali in length, height and weight – 60 pounds. By the time Kloe was nine months she weighed 80 pounds and was head and shoulders taller and longer than her “big” sister Kali.  The average life span of a Golden is twelve years.   This puts Kali in the latter stages of middle age and entering her “golden” years.   Pun intended but still so true.

Kloe, the young whipper-snapper, has her entire life – God willing – ahead of her.  She’s young, strong, fast, agile, and – God help us – is still a puppy.  Kali has slowed, exhibits a bit of a struggle getting up and down, and is entering the “granny” stage of her life.

So picture Kloe as the young strong footballer on the field with an opponent (Kali) five times her age.   If the opponent is lucky and agile enough to get out of the way in time Kloe will pass by and easily score a goal.   If opponent Kali is not able to get out of the way she will be bowled over not knowing what hit her.  And this is the routine with my girls.  Kloe vs. Kali with the rope toy (weapon) of Kloe’s choice as she blind sides Kali slamming the toy into Kali’s face (even if Kali is sleeping) prompting grandma Kali to rise to the occasion and play-fight back.

But here’s the thing.  When the battle is over it’s is almost always Kali that ends up with the rope toy in her possession.   Under a paw or literally under her body as if to say, “yes Kloe you knocked me around quite a bit with your weight and age advantage but look who ended up with the prize”.  Ah, experience does count for something…

There are times when I have to step in and break up the battle.  Those times when granny has had enough and locks her eyes on mine as if to say, “help me….”.   And then sometimes just when I think Kali has had enough and will retreat she goes to the toy box, grabs a rope toy, and is now the aggressor and re-engages with Kloe on the battle field.  The battle field of the living room, family room, kitchen, or wherever my feet are at the time.

So as I consider my girls’ future, I rationalize my Golden Kali’s age and convince myself (for the moment) that she is just “middle aged”.   I look at Kloe see the future and I know that one day she too will be the granny and there will be a new whipper-snapper at her heels.  A new young buck more agile and stronger who calls out to her and invites her to wrestle and play rough even though Kloe may be more content sleeping, like her big sister Kali was back in the day.

And although Father Time moves only one direction, forward, it won’t stop me – when the time comes – from looking back.  Looking back and remembering how my Golden Kali, taught her wee little 80 pound sister Kloe how to be a great big sister.

 

 

Kloe

The inspiration for this blog has always been Kali.  The story of a boy – a very OLD boy – and his dog.  The story of Kali’s life and that “boy” since she landed at SFO from Taiwan three and a half years ago. It was and is Kali’s new life in America and subsequently after the move to the Sierra Nevada Foothills, Kali’s new life in the Mountains.

Since then Kloe joined the pack and although the blog’s name will always be Golden Kali, Kloe has also become part of the fabric of our pack.  It is Kloe who will carry the legacy of Golden Kali, who is seven years her senior, into the future.

So it is with that in mind that I post these few pictures, some of my favorites, of our 80 pound puppy we call Kloe who inspires me just as much as Kali.

Merging The K’s

As some followers of Golden Kali know I have another blog called The Golden K.  The Golden Kali blog began the day after Kali arrived from Taiwan and joined our pack.  The Golden K blog started shortly after relocating to the mountains a year ago.

The lines between the two blog sites have blurred because we wouldn’t have The Golden K without our Golden Kali and her sister Kloe.  The tag line for the Golden Kali blog used to be “Kali’s new life in America”.  When we moved to the mountains the tag line changed to, “Kali’s new life in the mountains.  The tag line (I’m a big fan of tag lines) for The Golden K is, “A romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet”.

I can’t think of Kali and Kloe without thinking about how lucky they are, we all are, to be living on five acres of paradise in the mountains.  And I can’t think of the Golden K without thinking about Kali and Kloe and how the Golden K would not be so Golden without them and it certainly would not be called the Golden K.  Maybe the Iron Ranch, or Silver Spurs, but not the Golden K.

So I now succumb to the obvious and will merge the two blogs because they are really the same.  I hope regular followers of Golden Kali will enjoy an occasional post about The Golden K located in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country town called Tuolumne.  And I hope followers of The Golden K will get to know Kali and Kloe, the inspiration for the Golden K.

Followers of Golden Kali can read the first post from a year ago for more context about The Golden K here:   https://goldenk.net/2016/06/22/the-golden-k-begins-now/.

Welcome to The Golden K

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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

 

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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