Kloe has never met a stick she didn’t like.

Like all puppies Kloe loved to chew and to this day is still a voracious chewer.  She was nine weeks old when she joined our pack and spent just two weeks in our home in Livermore, CA before we moved to The Golden K, our new home in the mountains.   Our Livermore home was a typical suburban home on a small suburban lot with a compliment of small suburban sticks.   Kloe had no problems finding these tiny sticks and she eagerly gnawed away at them.  We were initially concerned that being so small and young she would swallow too much of the bark and wood shavings she tore off with her razor-like puppy teeth.  But she was never interested in eating the shavings.  Instead she would chew the small sticks into pieces and spit them out in a tidy pile next to her.   She quickly gained our confidence that she wouldn’t eat an entire tree while we weren’t watching.

Being the stick lover that she is you can imagine Kloe’s excitement when we moved to The Golden K on five acres in the foothills covered with oak, cedar, and pine trees.   The amount of sticks now available to her was not simply incremental it was exponential.  It must have been like if I had moved from a home that had a modest wine rack holding six bottles of middle shelf wine to a mansion with a huge wine cellar holding hundreds of bottles of the finest wines money could buy.  Or, more likely, that’s just me projecting and in reality Kloe probably didn’t notice or comprehend the plethora of sticks now available to her and only focused on the stick “at hand” at any given moment.

These days the sticks, like Kloe, are much bigger and she still hasn’t met one she doesn’t like.

One down a million to go….




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”


Over the past (almost) two years since Kali has been in America she has had countless stuffed animals, chew toys, balls of all size, frisbees, and various and sundry other objects intended to distract, challenge, or please her.  Countless hundreds of dollars have been spent at the pet store in an effort to give her things to stimulate her, engage her, and make her happy.

The flaw in this dynamic of gift giving to express love is that Kali could give a hoot. About the gift, not the love….   Like a lot of people Kali likes the thought (smell) of a new toy and the anticipation (let me taste it) of playing with a new [insert your favorite pastime here].  But really what Kali wants most is to be with me.

“But Kali”,  I say, “I love you and want you to have things.  This is what people do; how we express love.  We give gifts and take great joy in the faces of the recipients who we love so much.

“OK Dad”, Kali seems to say.  “I’ll take that new fuzzy toy from your hand but you know that for the most part I just want to be with you, go for walks, and return home to hang out with you in the backyard.  I know you like me to be outside after our walks so that when I gulp down the quart of water I don’t slobber half of it in the house on the tile and carpet.  I’m ok with that because as long as I’m with you life is good and toys are a mere extravagance more suited for human toddlers.  Which of course I will love if your children ever give you the grand babies you long for.  See Dad, you never told me that but I can tell you really want a grandchild and I would like to see you have one or two  because I love babies and children.  Maybe they might want all the toys you’ve given me over the years that I don’t play with?  I would be totally ok with sharing.”

Random reader of this blog post:  “Ok, we get it Mike.  Kali loves you and doesn’t really care about toys”.

And then there was Christmas 2015 when I gave Kali a fluffy little Elf toy.  It was loosely wrapped so that she could open it.  Using her teeth and paws she removed the wrapping paper and the Elf emerged.  SHE LOVED IT!! She loved it like no toy she had ever had before.  After a few minutes chewing the Elf outside the reach of little brother Smokey and the rest of the clan she came back into the circle and proudly showed off her new toy.  For the rest of the day, weeks and since then still Kali favors this toy above the  others.

I’m not sure what it is about Mr. Elf, but Kali is very possessive of this toy and it is usually the first one she brings to me when she wants to engage in play.  It makes me happy to see her happy and even now that Mr. Elf has only one leg and has lost most of his stuffing Kali still loves him as much as on Christmas day when she unwrapped him.

We all have our Mr. Elfs.  As kids and as adults.  Who is your Mr. Elf?


A sampling of choices



Mr. Elf (with one leg)


Sleep tight Mr. Elf