Happy Seventh – no singing please….

Kloe had a birthday this month. We don’t usually make a big deal for our girl’s birthdays. Honestly, every day is a party for them! They are quite spoiled and I’m ok with it. Especially since it is mostly me doing the spoiling… ūüôā So Kloe’s seventh came and went without much fanfare other than me singing Happy Birthday to her before dinner.

As is our usual routine the girls gather near my legs as I prepare their dinner and then follow me to the area that I put their bowls down. They sit, look adoringly at me wait patiently for the signal, and once the signal is given (a clap of my hands) they stand up and begin their meal.

It’s usually only a few seconds before I clap my hands to release them to their bowls and they are very good about waiting. They know to “watch” me, not the bowls, and once I have their full attention I clap. Kloe has always been good at “watch”. She will hold a watch with a fixed stare into my eyes forever. The longer she watches the farther back her head tilts. I’m sure if I made her watch long enough she would topple backwards! Koda is less, let’s say, focused. Before I release them to their bowls Koda’s eyes alternate between my eyes and her bowl of food. Little flickers back and forth without moving her head; just her eyes, It really delays the process much, I’m sure, to Kloe’s chagrin. With Koda, any little movement on my part that even looks like I am going to clap makes here lean towards the bowl. When she doesn’t hear the clap she pulls back. If she was a track runner her nickname would be “False Start”!

So on this seventh birthday evening I placed their bowls on the ground and they put themselves in a sit expecting a quick watch, a clap, and then delicious food entering their bellies. But instead I began singing Happy Birthday to Kloe. Very slowly I sang, “Happy birthday to you, [pause] happy birthday to you…” [pause]. Both girls sat there looking at me a little confused and hungry. By the time I got to “Kloe” as in “happy birthday dear Kloe” Koda had enough and quickly moved to her bowl and began eating. Kloe looked at me and gave me a figurative shrug of her shoulders with her eyes, and also started eating.

I feebly clapped my hands while muttering to myself, “happy birthday to you oooh…..”.

Happy Birthday Klo-Klo. My Klois Marie, my Kloe Bowie, my Sugar-lips!

Kloe The Lover (not a fighter)

Kali was the first and oldest. She had a storied history long before Kloe joined the pack. Kloe always looked up to Kali and considered Kali the alpha until the day Kali crossed the bridge. Koda, the youngest, has always been a loud mouth gregarious. From the day she joined the pack at 4 months old, Koda demanded vocally and physically the attention of everyone in the room and general vicinity. So with Koda, Kloe usually has no choice but to play second banana. And I think for the most part that’s ok with Kloe.

Kloe The Puppy

Kloe was 7 weeks old when we met her and her litter mates. There was “Green”, “Purple”, and “Red” as designated by the color of their ribbon collars. We sat on the lawn in the yard of the rescue group’s organizer watching the puppies romp around. We picked them up, sat them on our laps, and interacted with them in our effort to see which one would be right for us. OK, full disclosure: I laid on the grass and let them encouraged the puppies to crawl on top of me and smother me with golden love!

After about an hour we decided that “Red” was the one for us. We liked her her confidence and calm demeanor. At only seven weeks she seemed interested in more than just her siblings and these new human visitors as we observed her looking beyond her immediate surroundings with a serious and quizzical look. And, she had a little pouty face that I fell in love with! We decided Red’s name would be Kloe. Two weeks later we went back to pick her up and bring her home. That was almost seven years ago.

Kloe The Lover

There is a saying, “I’m a lover (not a fighter). That’s Kloe!

Approaching seven years this Spring, Kloe has been a full fledged Golden Retriever adult dog for over three years. She has always been rather serious and never displayed some of the goofy and silly attributes that make many Goldens so fun and entertaining. That’s not to say Kloe doesn’t have fun. It’s just she approaches things with purpose. Whether it’s catching a ball, engaging in play with her sister Koda, or mealtime. Kloe is also very earnest; especially when meeting new people. She tries her best not to get too excited as we remind her not to jump). She’ll place herself in a sit at her new friend’s side looking up at them the entire time while her tail wags excitedly. She lets out deep groans as if to say “I just met you but I love you so much!”

Kloe Our Protector

Kloe, even as a 6 month old puppy, has always had a very deep bark. As docile as she is Kloe’s bark is a force to be reckoned with. If Koda’s high pitched bark is the “alarm” then Kloe’s bark is the ancient battle horn calling the troops into formation and ready to charge! The alarm sounds, the battle horn blows, and she is off to defend the Golden K with little sister Koda along side as her squire. Kloe typically starts out her day by smelling most of the front and back areas of our home along the fence lines. She methodically, much to the chagrin of her less interested sister, inspects every inch assessing what critter may have been there the night before. When she finally arrives back at the kitchen door for her breakfast meal I sarcastically ask her if the perimeter is secure and she nods affirmatively looks up at me expressionless and sits and waits for breakfast.

Kloe Our Conscience

When I look at Kloe I see honesty. I see compassion. I see a peace maker. Sure, these are human traits but why not also true for dogs? Kloe’s eyes tell the truth. Her body language adapts to the people around her. And when confronted with the choice to share or fight for what is hers (a ball, a bone, or a stick) she will usually acquiesce to the perpetrator (Koda). Admittedly I’d prefer to see her stand up for herself more but that’s Kloe; always willing to stand down to keep the peace.

Because remember, she’s a lover (not a fighter).

Life With The Red Girls

It’s been almost a year since Kali crossed over the bridge. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, reminisce, or just flat out miss her. I find myself looking at photos of her more often and for longer periods of time. I’m finding that the longer she is gone the more I miss her. I long for her smell. I miss our nightly cuddles before lights out. Full disclosure: Kali was a great “spooner” and I miss spooning with her as she lay on the floor at the foot of our bed! I miss the subtleties of her body movement. Like when I’d call her. Her eyes would fix on mine and then her head would tilt slightly down and to the left as she started walking towards me.

Even in her final days, which were spent mostly sleeping, Kali was up for spending the morning with me in my office which is located across the driveway from the house. As I headed towards the door she seemed almost puppy-like following me out and galloping towards my office sometimes skidding and slipping making a soft landing near the door. As I walked towards her she would look up from a spread eagle position seeming to say, “Oops, I slipped”. This always made me laugh out loud and my heart swelled with love to see her so animated. I have so many fond and funny memories it would be impossible to enumerate them. But this one would be towards the top of the list!

I feel the absence of Kali’s presence some days more than others. Although Holly loved her deeply I don’t think she feels the loss in the same way I do. How could she? Kali was “my dog” and was always with me. She was always at my feet. Even when I wasn’t home she was with me laying by the door that I went through when I left expecting me to return through that same door. And when I did she’d be there waiting. Kali’s level of dedication was unwavering and humbling. I wrote a post about this a year after Kali joined the pack. It spoke of a real life dog named Hachiko and how like him Kali would probably wait forever for me to come home.

When Kali passed, the sub-title of this blog became “Life At The Golden K Without Kali”. Life has gone without Kali. She will always be special and this blog will always be her legacy. She inspired this blog the day after she arrived from Taiwan in 2014 and went on to inspire me in so many ways. Our home is Tuolumne is called The Golden K for Kali initially and then later to include her two sisters Kloe and Koda. But life has also gone on with Kloe and Koda, our “Red Girls”. The Golden K torch was passed down from Kali when she crossed the bridge. Kloe and Koda are learning to be good stewards of Kali’s legacy. And like me they each learned a lot from her!

But recently I realized that after almost a year without Kali it’s time to look back less and forward more often. Posting about Kali over the past year has been cathartic. She will never ever be forgotten or have any less of my heart or mind. But it is with a nod to Kloe and Koda that the sub-title of this blog will now be, “Life With The Red Girls”. There will certainly be more posts about Kali in the future. But this is the time of the Red Girls and that will be the focus of future posts. After all, they are pretty darn special too!

One of my favorite photos of my Golden Kali!
The Red Girls, Kloe and Koda

Walking With Kali

I miss my walks with Kali. There are times when I find myself missing the days when it was just Kali and I. Kali and I and our Creek Trail.

We still lived in the Bay Area town of Livermore when Kali joined the pack. There was a trail through the neighborhood that ran along a small creek and a local 9 hole golf course. The trail head was at the end of our street. Kali and I walked that trail almost every day and it became a very special place for us.

I don’t miss the Bay Area for a second. But I do miss our Creek Trail and our daily walks along it!

Kali and I got to know each other on our Creek Trail. She was great on a leash except when other dogs passed by which made her nervous. We eventually worked through that issue. In retrospect it was one of many ways that we gained a deeper understanding of one another. The pace of our walks was great. She was a little prissy and had a cute lightness to her walk. I recall one time taking her for a walk with a friend and my friend says, “look – she prances”. So although not athletic she was very light on her feet. Like a dancer…

I think what I miss most about our walks are the long talks Kali and I had along the way. Under all circumstances Kali and I were in regular communication with each other; especially during the first several months and especially when we walked. I used words and gestures. Kali used her eyes and body language and sometimes a grunt or a small bark. We learned each other and learned from each other. Over the years I realized that I learned much more from Kali than she from me. She was a great teacher!

Sometimes we walked in silence. Walks where we were just together. Words, gestures, or body language wasn’t necessary. I loved those times when our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We walked in total peace, as one, and side by side.

In 2016 we moved to Tuolumne City; a rural community in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Our walks became different. We would walk on dirt and gravel roads under majestic pine and oak trees. Homes were not side by side in this neighborhood. Instead they were set back off the road on parcels of two to three acres or more. Wildlife was much more evident. On the Creek Trail we regularly saw geese and ducks. Along our new walking venue we would encounter black tail deers, wild turkeys, and farm animals: pigs, goats and horses and cows. One would think that all the new sights, and especially the smells, would have been like a smorgasbord for Kali. But just as when Kali arrived in Livermore from Taiwan -and immediately assimilated- she seemed to do the same in Tuolumne. She pranced along our walks with a calm demeanor as if she had lived here all her life.

As the years passed Kali and I walked less and less – both in frequency and distance. Her legs were no longer very strong and her hip displaysia became more of a factor. Kali was always eager to have out and about time with me (and I with her) so she of course jumped (figuratively not literally cause remember her hips ūüôā ) at the chance to go on walks. But the pace became slower, there were more stops along the way and I often had to coax her to move along.

Eventually the walks stopped completely and Kali began sleeping much of the day. We always found time to be together just to the two of us. During those times we talked and reminisced about our Creek Trail. And sometimes we just sat in silence. And our cadence and rhythm were in total sync. We were together and at peace.

From the day Kali came into my life, whether we were walking along our Creek Trail in Livermore, navigating the rural roads around the Golden K, or just sitting in silence on the deck looking out at a warm evening sky, my Golden Kali and I were always been in sync. Same cadence and same rhythm. And same heartbeat.

KALI AND OUR CREEK TRAIL, LIVERMORE CA

Rituals

I’ve been thinking about Kali a lot since New Years Day when as her head laid in my hands she took her last breaths. There are so many great memories I have of the rituals we developed over the years. Many of those rituals are carried on by Kloe and Koda, but Kali was the driving force and reason for so many of them.

“Toasty-Time” was a favorite of Kali’s because it involved food! As I prepared my breakfast in the morning she would place herself nearby and I would give her a few pieces of bread. Before moving to the Sierra Nevada Foothills our daily walks along the Creek Trail in Livermore were hardly ever missed. That remains a favorite ritual of mine. Kloe and Koda – the “Red Girls” – joined the pack at our home in the foothills and never got to experience the Creek Trail. While many of our daily rituals are shared with all my girls it’s special to me that the Creek Trail is mine and Kali’s alone.

Meals, especially dinner, were always a big big deal for Kali. Beginning about an 45 minutes before the designated dinner time Kali would lay at a distance, usually in the kitchen close to the food. She would make sure she had a direct view of me which was usually sitting in the family room watching the news. Kali would just stare glare at me trying to will me to my feet to get up and begin the feeding process. The drama was intense! As the time grew closer to dinner time her glare became much more intense and I would begin to sweat from the laser-like energy she was directing at my neck. Ok, I’m making the sweating part up but this part I’m not. When it was time I would stand up and pronounce in a loud booming voice: “The time has come!” Kali would spring to her feet and begin prancing around because she knew this was the signal and food was coming soon. Kali loved her food almost as much as she loved me!

Cuddle Time

I think the ritual I miss the most with Kali is “Cuddle-Time“. This is right before lights out as the girls lay in their designated spots in our bedroom. I spend one on one time with each one of them laying and cuddling with them and reciting certain silly things.

For example, with Kloe I say, “tight, tight, tight.” Because when she was a puppy I used to tell her to sleep tight. Or I say, “See you in the morning Shawnee. I aways see you in the morning.” This is a reference to a John Lennon song called “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” about his son Sean. At the end of that song John whispers “I’ll see you in the morning Sean.”

When Koda first gets in her mat she positions her body in a full circle; presumably to be warm. She looks like a red doughnut with her nose covered partially by her tail which is wrapped around to complete the circle. Holly says she looks like a fox when she does this. So… my silly thing for Koda is to call her Foxy Lady. I’ll say, “Goodnight Foxy Lady, I’m coming to getcha!” A reference to the Jimmy Hendrix song Foxy Lady where one of final lyrics is, “Here I come baby, I’m coming to get ya!”

For some reason with Kali there were never any silly sayings established. Actually, I guess there is a good reason for that… Kali has always been my confidant. My sounding board. My therapist. She listened without judgement always interested in what I had to say. As I recently confided, Kali takes with her some of my deepest fears and dreams that no one else has ever heard. Full disclosure: Cuddle Time with Kali involved “spooning”. Sometimes we lay in silence and sometimes we had a conversation.

More recently, and as I began to realize that Kali’s days with me would be ending soon, we would reminisce about the old days. We would talk about all the fun times we had together. I told her how much I loved her and that she would always be with me. As always she was patient if I got too windy. Only occasionally would she shake her head or snort to tell me she was tired and ready for sleep. And when she did I would quickly wrap Cuddle Time up, give her one last smooch on her snout and tell her, “Goodnight sweet girl; sleep well.”

Goodnight sweet girl, sleep well.

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

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.

Nature versus Nurture

Its that nature versus nurture discussion.  Is Kali who she is because of her  genes or past experiences? 

Read more ›

Birthday Girl

Kloe turned two years old today.  This sweet little puppy that we brought home almost two years ago has turned into a, well, a much bigger puppy.   She leveled off at 80 pounds at about a year old but has become stronger, faster, and has so much more endurance as a more mature pup.  Fortunately she has also learned a little more constraint and seems to be aware of her size and can be polite and gentle with fewer and few reminders.

Just as before Kali joined our pack I cannot imagine life without my sweet little girl Kloe.  She never ceases to amaze me, entertain me, and love me unconditionally.

But there will be no parties, ¬†no special celebrattions because Kloe celebrates life each day and every day with unbridled enthusiasm and love. There will be no special gifts or meals because when you have it great – and Kloe does – how does it get better than that. ¬†Just like Jack Johnson said in his song Banana Pancakes, “We got everything we need right here¬†and everything we need is enough”. ¬†And so we do.

So happy birthday little sweetie girl Kloe.  Happy birthday my Klois Marie.  Happy birthday Kloe Bowie.  And happy birthday Sugerlips!  Which ever name I call you by you always come running with a smile and usually a ball in your mouth.  Thanks for being you Kloe and for all the joy you bring into our lives!

Kloe Time

From Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge, truth, wisdom.  And all for free).

Time is the indefinite continued progress¬†of existence¬†and events¬†that occur in apparently irreversible¬†succession from the past¬†through the present¬†to the future. ¬†Blah blah blababdy blah…

OK , I added the blababdy blah part but whatever….

I mean after all, isn’t time somewhat arbitrary? ¬† I imagine, and can only imagine -because my ADD impatience keeps me from reading more than the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article and even then only some of the words – that there are scientific and logical arguments that prove time to be something other than arbitrary. ¬†If I force myself to look farther down the Wiki page I see words like “physical qualities” and “temporal measurement”. ¬†Huh?…

The article began to catch my interest and as I read further I saw that J.M. E. McTaggart’s¬†1908¬†The Unreality of Time¬†argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea. ¬†Apparently old J.M.E. was a deep thinker and something called an Idealist Metaphysician. ¬†Cool title but how much could that job pay, right??

“But wait Mike”, you might say. ¬†“I follow this blog to read¬†about Golden Kali, and her little sister Kloe, and to see all those cute pictures of their antics and sweetness. ¬†If I want to read science and hear fact-based philosophical arguments I’ll get that info like¬†everyone else does by¬†turning to social media and¬†reviewing the seemingly endless stream of memes¬†that monopolizes my feed”.

OK, fair point.  So on to the real purpose of this post.

One year ago today we brought a nine-week 15 pound puppy home¬†that we named¬†Kloe. ¬†Kloe doesn’t¬†give a woof¬†about¬†time except if¬†it’s time to eat, or time to walk, or time to play, or time to cuddle. ¬†Those are concepts of time Kloe can relate to. ¬† Kloe time. ¬†But, in “the continued progress of¬†existence and events” it is has been a year, and now at one¬†year and nine-weeks old, Kloe is still very much the same exactly the same pup she was one year ago. ¬†Except now she is 65 pounds heavier and a few feet¬†¬†longer.

One year, one pup, and one heck of a lot of love and fun this sweet girl has brought into our life.  I might have remembered anyway but in the spirit of full disclosure here is the real reason I knew that it was one year ago today that we brought Kloe home:

Yep – it was in my Facebook feed: “One Year Ago ¬†– see your memories”. ¬†And there were two¬†pictures of Kloe the day she came home. ¬†I smiled, paused for a few moments to reflect, and then scrolled down through¬†the endless stream of memes looking for fake news.

Thank you Facebook for bringing a very special piece of the time continuum to my news feed. 

(1) On This Day 2017-05-07 09-32-59

Thank you Kloe for all the licks, laughs, and love during the past year.