Time Moves Faster For Kali

The canine stages from puppyhood to adolescent to adult and finally senior is very much like us humans. I’m sure there is a more scientific and accurate manner in which to define stages of life for both canine and humans. And there are probably more than four stages. But this not a scientific blog. This is a blog about Kali, her sisters, and our collective life in the mountains. So I’m gonna stick with these four stages that serve my purposes in this post.

As a father I’ve watched all three of my children through the first three stages; baby/toddler, adolescence, and now adulthood. I observed my mother go through the last two stages: adult to senior. When she was in the senior stage she initially was quite healthy. She had her physical and mental facilities intact and was capable of caring for herself. Then, over time, her health declined and she began requiring increased help to get around. She began losing her cognitive ability. Eventually she was diagnosed with and ended up dying from dementia.

Hang in there. I’m getting to the part about dogs now… ūüôā

What stage are my girls in? Koda at two and half is my adolescent and Kloe at almost five is my adult. Kali at almost 12 is my senior. But wait a second. When Kali joined the pack seven years ago she was an adult. And so was I. I felt as though we were contemporaries. My best friend was the same age as me and we’d share a long life and grow old together. But now Kali is a senior and I’m still an adult (although my wife might argue otherwise at times…). The average life expectancy for humans in the United States is 78 years. The average life expectancy for a Golden Retriever is around 12 years. Time moves faster for Kali and at times it makes me sad.

I observe similar characteristics in Kali that I saw in my mom as her health was declining during the final stages of her life. At first walking with help, then with a walker, and eventually a wheel chair. Kali has hip dysplasia. It is increasingly hard for her to get up or lay down, she walks very slow and wobbly. Under certain circumstances I have to pick her up to get her where she needs to be. Other than for meals my mom spent her day in her chair looking at the TV and out the window. Kali spends the majority of her day sleeping and watching the world go by around her. Over time my mom forgot things, repeated herself, and eventually had limited awareness of where she was. She eventually stopped talking, only nodding her head in response to questions. Kali at times is disoriented and seems confused. She has stopped responding to commands. Her hearing is either very bad or very selective. And her eyes are clouded with cataracts that diminish her vision. My mom lost her appetite and had to be coaxed to eat. Good news here for Kali is that meal time is still her favorite time of the day and she remains very passionate about food!

My mom was 97 when she passed away far exceeding the average life expectancy. At almost 12 Kali is creeping towards the outer edge of life expectancy for Golden Retrievers. In spite of her advanced age Kali still exhibits some of the same behaviors as she did seven years ago as a much younger dog. Like the fixed stare she gives me about 30 minutes before meal time. Like head butting me as I prepare her food. And in spite of her bad legs and poor sight at times she still sits at the gate waiting for me to return home or comes looking for me in the house if I’m in another room. This is heartening and encouraging to me. It reminds me that my Kali is still in so many ways the same dog that came into my life seven years ago as an adult, as my contemporary, and as what turned out to be my best friend.

Time moves faster for Kali. I wish I could slow it down.

Adult Kali
Senior Kali

Time

When Kali first joined established our pack six years ago as a rescue from Tawain she was estimated to be five-years old. ¬†We didn’t have the pleasure of seeing her grow up from puppy-hood. We didn’t get to see her as that roly-poly ball of fur tripping over her own feet or bouncing off a ledge that was too tall to scale. ¬† There are no memories of her at that gawky teen-ager stage. ¬†We met Kali as an adult. ¬†A mature dog who already had a lifetime of stories to tell if she only could.

Kloe and Koda came to us as puppies; Kloe at nine weeks and Koda at 4 months. ¬† We have the memories (and plethora of pictures) of them going through various stages of puppy. ¬† Golden Retrievers are slow to mature and they maintain much of that playful puppy personality until around three years old. ¬†Many keep their puppish traits into old age. ¬†Kloe, now four and a half, has been a full fledged adult for well over a year. ¬†Koda at just over two is starting to outgrow some of her puppy-ness but she has a way to go… ¬†I do hope that they are true to their breed and always have some of those goofy playful traits that are so endearing.

A day, four months, a minute, six years. ¬†Just time, right? ¬†And what do dogs know about time?… ¬†I used to think that time is man-made and under our control. ¬†And I suppose the manner that we measure time is of our own doing. ¬†But really time is something we can’t control. ¬†Whether it’s measured with man-made tools like clocks and calendars. ¬† Or with nature like the cycles of the moons, colors of the seasons, or the rings of a giant sequoia tree (when measured with man-made tools) that can be over 2,500 years old. ¬†The passing of time is inevitable, the effects of that passing of time is undeniable and reflected in our bodies. ¬†And also in the bodies of our dogs.

We estimate Kali to be 11. ¬†But we really don’t know anything about her life before she was rescued in Taiwan and sent to us in the U.S. ¬† Maybe she is only eight and seems older due to a very hard life as a stray in Taiwan. ¬†Or perhaps she is 14 which would be well above average life-span for her breed.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter because what does Kali know about time anyway. ¬† She only knows “now”.

“Now” is getting harder for Kali. ¬†Time has caught up with her mind. ¬†Sometime she looks confused. ¬†Time has caught up with her senses. ¬† She has foggy eyes and is hard of hearing. ¬†Time has caught up with her legs that are no longer very steady and especially wobbly on smooth surfaces. ¬† She has always had a passionate appetite and is always ready for a meal or a snack. ¬†That’s a reassuring sign.

Kali mostly sleeps now, ¬†and is doing just that by my side as I write this post. ¬†It’s typical for a senior dog to snooze away the majority of the day. ¬†I feel that Kali has earned the right to do that. ¬† There are occasional flashes of energy. ¬†Like when she gallops (in-spite of her bad legs) across the driveway to my office in the morning. ¬†When I see that¬†goofy looking trot it fills ¬†I laugh out loud. ¬†It fills¬†my heart with joy when I see some of the puppy traits she once had. ¬†She is especially spry at meal time when she dances like Snoopy from Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts”.

So yeah, TIME.

“Lost time is never found again” ¬†– Benjamin Franklin

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend”¬†‚Äď Theophrastus¬†

“Time waits for no one” ‚Äď Folklore

However time is measured – with clocks, the phases of the moon, or a lazy summer day – I hope to have much more of it with Kali by my side.

“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us”.¬†– J.R.R. Tolkien

KALI:  YESTERDAY AND TODAY

Golden Kali – 2020

“Nala” before America