The First Fourth…

…without Kali.

It was the evening of May 24, 2014 when I met that special girl from Taiwan. The door opened, our eyes met, and we instantly fell in love. Well, at least I was immediately taken back and infatuated with her. It took only minutes for that infatuation to turn to love. And we rode off into the sunset to Livermore, CA. and the rest as they say…. well you know.

That girl was Kali.

Long time followers of Golden Kali know that Kali is a rescue from Taiwan. Holly, my daughter Jessi, and I drove to the airport in San Francisco in great anticipation of meeting Kali, then known as Nala. We had only seen pictures and read her bio as we waited for about two months until her Taiwanese caregivers had her in perfect condition to come to America and join our family. Health, happy, and full of love.

I’ve written often about that evening at the airport when Kali and I met. How fate seemed to bring us together. If there really are matches made in heaven this would have been one! There was one special moment that stood out that I am reminded of every Fourth of July.

Kali arrived from Taiwan wearing a brown scarf with markings that were similar to mandarin characters. Once she was uncrated, leashed, and had time to get her land legs we prepared to drive home. A volunteer from the local rescue group, True Love Rescue, stopped us and took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf that bore images of Stars and Stripes and the America Flag. It was a symbolic gesture of Kali’s transition from Taiwan to American where she became a true American Girl.

Kali wore the scarf for the first day home and then I took it off and stored it. I brought the scarf out several weeks later on the Fourth of July. That was 2014. Kali wore the scarf for the day and I again put it away. Since that time the scarf only comes out on the Fourth of July and Kali wears it for the day.

Except this year. This is the first Fourth without Kali.

There will always be two holidays that are special for me and Kali. I will always miss her just a little more on those days than others. One is Memorial Weekend. It was Memorial weekend in 2014 that we picked up Kali from SFO. That will forever be her gotcha day. The other is Fourth of July. The Fourth because of our ritual of taking out the scarf with stars and stripes, adorning it around my beautiful girls golden neck, and seeing her wear it for the day and evening.

So on this first Fourth without Kali, and for the Fourth’s to follow, the stars and stripes scarf will be worn by Kloe. This morning I pulled out the scarf and put it on Kloe, second in line of succession after Kali at the Golden K. Like Kali, she’ll wear it for the day and evening and in the morning it will be put away for another year.

Kloe may never know or appreciate the symbolism of wearing the scarf annually on the Fourth. Certainly she will never know the practical aspect of being a stray in Taiwan, going through rehab with the Taiwanese rescue group angels, or getting on a plane with 23 other Goldens and traveling across the world into the unknown. But I know that Kloe’s Sissy-Mama Kali would appreciate knowing the symbolism of the scarf and her transition from Taiwan to America will live on through her sister Kloe.

Happy Fourth Kali. For the first time in eight years as I write this Fourth of July post you are not laying at my feet. You can no longer warm my feet but will always warm my heart as I sit and write about you, for you, and with you close by in spirit.

Kloe sporting the special stars and stripes scarf handed down to her by Kali.

Golden Kali, July 4, 2015.

Memorial Weekend Eight

Long time followers of Golden Kali may recall that she was one of 23 Golden Retrievers that arrived at San Francisco International Airport via China Airlines on Saturday evening, May 24, 2014. Holly, my daughter, and I drove to the airport that evening and waited for her crate to be unloaded from the plane along with 23 others. We took her crate to a staging area in the parking lot and I met her for the first time as I opened the crate door, leashed her, and watched her as she took her first sniffs of America. She had been in the crate for around 14 hours and was very anxious to pee. She took care of business and sniffed around some more. We took care of some formalities with the rescue organizers and volunteers and drove home to Livermore, CA would Kali would begin her New Life in America.

Since then Memorial Weekend has very been special to me. It marked the beginning of Kali’s new life in America, a new chapter in my life, and what turned out to be a seven and a half year journey Kali and I went on together.

That was Memorial Weekend One.

Kali laid by my feet in our backyard in Livermore as I started this blog. I knew during this first weekend and during the weeks to come I would need to be watchful and present to make sure Kali was successful. The rescue group cautioned me to not go to fast and to give Kali time. They said it may take time for her to be comfortable in her new surroundings and that she may have accidents and need to learn what her boundaries were. They suggested no visitors for a few days. This was of course a reasonable expectation. After all, there would be new sounds, new smells, new people, new food, new places to sleep, and on and on… It would take Kali time to adjust and we needed to respect that and give her space and time.

Except she didn’t need it!

Kali was still on Taiwan time when she arrived and it was expected she may have problems the first few nights. Except she didn’t. She slept by my bed tethered to the leg of the bed frame that first night, Saturday. She nuzzled me around two in the morning and I took her out to pee. I brought her back to bed and re-tethered her. She slept the rest of the night and every night after. Kali was respectful of the house from the very first day. She seemed to know her limits before we even had the chance to set them. She greeted visitors with a smile and love. She chewed on her toys but never furniture, shoes, or anything that wasn’t hers. With the exception of leash aggression that I found out about when we started our daily walks, Kali was a model rescue citizen from day one!

This is Memorial Weekend Eight.

The first Memorial Weekend that Kali is not physically laying by my feet as I write this Memorial Weekend post. As the weeks and months pass I miss her more and more. I long for her smell and the feel of her fur. I miss her at night when I wake up and remember she’s not there. I miss her when I’m in my office in the morning. I miss the ritual of walking with her from the back yard gate to my office when she would happily run towards the office door. Even though her physical legs were on their figurative “last legs”. Maybe it was something about going off with Dad in the morning that gave her body some spunk. Just for those few seconds, Kali was puppy-like as she pranced across the driveway.

Life at The Golden K Without Kali

That’s been the tag line of this blog since January First of this year when Kali crossed the bridge. She did so on her terms with the grace and dignity she earned. Kali was a truly special dog who I was blessed to know and love, and to have been loved by her. Kali will always hold a piece of my heart that is hers and hers alone.

So on this Memorial Day Eight, as many of us are remembering and honoring those who gave their lives in service of our country, I am also remembering and honoring my Golden Kali.

Memorial Weekend Seven

Memorial Weekend has always been a favorite holiday of mine. This weekend marks the unofficial start of Summer, warmer and more predictable weather (at last in Northern CA), and BBQs, beaches, and pool parties.

It’s easy to forget the meaning of this holiday which is to honor those who have died while serving in the US military and more recently anyone who has served. So before launching into the underlying subject of this post I’d like to say thank you to all who have served. My dad in WWII, uncles and older cousins who served during the Korean conflict, friends and who served in Vietnam, and sons and daughters of friends and family who have, or are serving in the middle east and around the world.

Flashback: Memorial Weekend 2014. It was Saturday and we drove to the San Francisco International Airport to pick some very special cargo from Taiwan. That special cargo was my sweet and precious Golden Kali.

As long time followers of Golden Kali know, Kali was a rescue from Taiwan. I didn’t really know what kind of life she had before being taken in by the rescue group in Taiwan who lovingly cared for her while she became healthy enough to travel to the US. But I did know what kind of life Kali would have now that she was in America – only the best!

Since that weekend seven years ago Kali and I have traveled many miles together – both figuratively and literally. Never far from my side Kali has been, other than my wife Holly, my best and closest companion. Our daily walks (until about a year ago when her legs became too weak) we’re like therapy sessions. Sometimes we engaged in deep conversation and other times we walked in silence enjoying the scenery and solitude of being alone. For seven years Kali has been my trusty confidant with whom I can share my deepest secrets. She listens, never judges, and aways offers compassion and reassurance. So who rescued who, right?

So this weekend is special to me and always will be. It’s so much more than a “Gotcha Day”. I will always remember that weekend in 2014. I also remember to take a few minutes each year to toast Kali’s caregivers in Taiwan for all they did for her and, over the years through Kali, for me. But I mostly remember this special girl who was given the name Nala in Taiwan and became Kali when she landed at SFO that Saturday evening of Memorial Weekend 2014. She got into our SUV at the airport and entered our hearts forever. This blog was started Sunday morning after she arrived and Kali’s journey is documented here: Kali’s new life in America and later Kali’s new life in the mountains.

SFO Saturday, May 24, 2014. Holly, my daughter Jessi, Kali, and me
“Nala” in Taiwan

The Fifth 4th

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Not because of any great traditions or specific memories but because its been one of those holidays where I feel ok not doing much and not feeling guilty about it.  As a kid the long July days made it hard to wait for fireworks.  It seemed as though it would never get dark.  I have many fond memories of when our kids were young.  There was the annual neighborhood bike parade where the kids would decorate their bikes in red and blue streamers, flags, and whatever else they could come up with.  Usually a block party took place later in the day and was followed by volleyball and later fireworks.  But more recently, as in the past five years, the 4th has a much more special meaning for me.

Kali arrived from Taiwan on May 24, 2014.   She quickly assimilated into our family as in almost instantly.   The morning after she arrived I began this Golden Kali blog which at the time had the tag line, “Kali’s New Life in America”.  Kali arrived wearing a brown scarf that was put on her at some point before boarding the plane in Taiwan for the trip to America.  After greeting her at the airport, taking care of a few formalities, and letting her get her land legs back we headed home to Livermore.  But before we did one of the rescue group volunteers took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf that had red, white, and blue stars and strips.  It was quite symbolic and a touching gesture that Kali was now an American.

So back to the 4th…   Although Kali arrived on a Memorial Day weekend because of this scarf it’s been the 4th of July that marks another year of her life in America.   Much of Kali’s life, and mine, has been chronicled in this blog over the past five years.  In a 2015 post called Tradition I wrote about how a new tradition began where on the 4th I put that red white and blue scarf on Kali and she wears it for the day.   This scarf for Kali and I stands for her journey from Taiwan to America and her her new chance at a good life in a furever home.  As important, when I hang the scarf around Kali’s neck, I do it as a tribute to all the rescue groups volunteers in both Taiwan and the US who have done so much good for so many Golden Retrievers like Kali.  For them I will always be grateful!

So on this fifth 4th the tradition continues.  This morning I took out the scarf and placed it around Kali’s neck and we went for a brief walk.  She’s twice as old (ten) as she was when she arrived and the tradition of the scarf becomes more meaningful with each year.  She doesn’t want to walk as far, uphill is not her friend, and there are may signs of her slowing and aging.  I don’t like to think about it but there will be a 4th of July when Kali is no longer with me.  Not physically.  But in spirit I know she will never leave my side.  And this scarf, her journey, and her time in America will be with her and I forever.

Happy fifth 4th Kali.  Thank you Rescued Love From Taiwan and True Love Rescue for brining Kali into our lives.

Cheers from The Golden K!

Left: Kali on her second 4th.   Center:  Kali, cousin Ben, and sister Kloe last year, her fourth 4th.  Right:  Kali this year, her fifth 4th.

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe

Three years ago today the sweetest girl I could ever imagine came into our lives forever.   At nine weeks old this pouty faced Golden Retriever stole our hearts and has held them close to her own since then.  Born in Bakersfield, rescued by True Love Rescue in Lodi, Kloe made her way into our arms and home to Livermore, CA.  Three weeks later we moved to the mountains to our home we call the Golden K. Kloe of course is one of those three Golden K’s our home is named after. Kloe weighs almost 80 pounds and I am convinced that the majority of that weight is from a very large heart of gold.

We are blessed that Kloe found her way into our lives and grateful to True Love Rescue for making that a possibility.

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe!  You are forever my Klois Marie, Klo-Klo, Kloe Bowie, Sugar Lips, Sweetness, and all the other silly names I have for you.   But at the end of the day as you lay on your mat when I kiss you goodnight and I tell you to sleep tight, you are simply my beautiful girl Kloe.

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