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.

 

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

 

Sharing

When you’re two dogs living in the same house there are a lot of things you have to¬†share. ¬†You¬†have to share mom and dad, treats, toys, and sometimes the same bed. ¬†I’ve always been very proud of Kali, and especially of Kloe who is still a puppy, for doing very well with sharing without fighting; well sometimes tug of war but mostly with toys are rarely with¬†mom and dad.

One of the things I respect¬†is when our pups have a meal or a special treat like a bully stick. ¬†I don’t take it for granted that they will share it¬†or that I can simply walk over and take it away. ¬†I can take it away and I make a point, again especially with Kloe, ¬†to occasionally pick up her bowl in the middle of a meal and then immediately give¬†it back. ¬†Kloe trusts me and I can’t imagine she would ever become aggressive with me when taking away her bowl or a toy. ¬† But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect that she is an animal with instincts. ¬†Oh yeah and large sharp teeth.

I don’t give the pups bully sticks very often. ¬†Those are usually reserved for special occasions or what I¬†call Rainy Day Recess. ¬†Calling this Rainy Day Recess is an artifact of Holly having taught pre-school for over 20 years. ¬†It’s those days when the dogs can’t outside because it’s raining and they’ve got a lot of energy to burn of with little room to do it in – kind of like pre-schoolers on a rainy day…

So earlier this week when we had some rain I declared Rainy Day Recess and pulled out a couple of bully sticks.  The girls really love this treat and if they had more cognitive thinking skills they would probably wish every day was raining.  I handed them the sticks and Kali and Kloe went to their respective corners of the living room and began chewing.  They looked a lot like I do with a real big piece of beef jerky trying to soften it up and get it into my body as fast as possible.  Because, well because I love beef jerky.

I made a point – a couple of times – to go to each one of them individually and ask them to “leave it” and let me take the bully stick. ¬†They are clearly more reluctant to give up the bully stick than a¬†bowl of regular meal food but they do. ¬†I give it right back to them all the while praising them for “leaving it”. ¬†With a pat and sometimes a kiss on top of their heads I let them know that I approve of them giving up this treasured treat but that I will give it back. ¬†It’s a good relationship, as most good relationships are, built on trust.

So I’m accustomed to the pups not having any food aggression of any sort. ¬†But when it comes to meal time, although they eat next to one another with bowls only inches away, it would only be expected that¬†one or them to get a little testy if the other placed their mouth near her bowl. ¬†Kali and Kloe eat meals at the same time right next to each other. ¬†Although they get different size portions (Kloe gets more because she is still growing) they usually finish up about the same time. ¬†You’d think that Kloe would take longer because she get’s more food but sometimes she finishes fist. ¬†I noticed this the other night and I was a little surprised when I saw Kloe move over to Kali’s bowl while Kali was still eating. ¬†There had been one incident when Kloe was only nine weeks old and tried to take some food out of Kali’s dish while Kali was eating. ¬†With a low growl and quick nip to Kloe’s ear Kali delivered a message and lesson to Kloe that I thought¬†would last a lifetime.

So on this night when¬†Kloe put her snout into Kali’s dish I thought, “uh-oh” Kali’s not going to like this. ¬†I was waiting for Kali to take an aggressive move and put Kloe in her place. ¬†But no. ¬†Instead she kept eating and allowed Kloe to help finish off the few morsels that remained in her bowl.

Wow!  My Golden Kali set such a great example that transcends pets.  If only we as people could exhibit as much tolerance and sharing as she has this world would have to be a better place.  Right?

So thank you my Golden Kali for teaching me yet another lesson in a series of so many since you rescued me.

This is how they usually start out – side by side.

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But to finish like this was rather remarkable!

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