The Language of Love

Judy, from Homeward Bound, shares that we had some honored visitors in the garden, recently. I’m going to piece together the story for you, borrowing many of her own, well-written words. How wonderful that the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden could serve as a backdrop to this amazing reunion.

On Friday, September 28th, Johanna Quinn came to Homeward Bound to visit dogs she had rescued in Taiwan and sent to the Homeward Bound sanctuary. Johanna (far right) is an American living in Taiwan, and she works with shelters there, and rescue groups in the U.S., to save these dogs’ lives and find them better futures.

As every gardener knows, flowers have a language of their own. Blooms express sentiments that, sometimes, cannot be spoken.

These pups have a language of their own as well. “They come to us with names we don’t recognize like A‐Tong and Momo, GinDian and San Li,” Judy writes. “Their paperwork is green and in Chinese. When we talk to them they look confused and don’t seem to understand us. But when we scratch their ears and tummies, and when their tails wag and they melt into our hands, these differences don’t matter – because we are speaking the same language; the language of love.”

In the past few years Homeward Bound has taken in over 30 dogs from Taiwan, traveling thousands of miles in search of a better life. Thanks to dedicated volunteers of the Taichung Universal Animal Protection Agency (TUAPA) and Asians for Humans, Animals & Nature (AHAN), Golden Retrievers – and countless other breeds, from Taiwan are getting a chance to live the doggie version of the American Dream.

Their medical expenses while in Taiwan, and all of their travel expenses are paid by the Taiwan rescue groups. Homeward Bound’s responsibility is getting a driver to the airport to meet the flight, and then finding the Goldens the best possible home. Many volunteers have made the trek to SFO to meet the flights, and witness the amazing arrival of Goldens coming through customs, along with other breeds that have been rescued by TUAPA and AHAN.

Only one of the rescues Johanna sent to Homeward Bound is left, and that’s Tom (below) known as ‘A-Tong’ in Taiwan.

When Johanna saw him for the first time she spoke to him in Chinese. “His ears perked up and he jumped on her with pure joy at the recognition of not only his rescuer, as she had spent a great deal of time with him, but of his language,” says Judy. “He clearly understood Chinese better than he did English!”

Judy writes: “I took Johanna on a tour of the facility and we started – where I always start now – in the Memorial Garden. As we were walking the garden, Jeff and Nancy Rogers, and a dog that Johanna had rescued, came to visit.

Ping-Ping came to us in 2009 and it appeared that she had been hit by a car, or otherwise injured, so that a portion of her mouth was missing. Although she had some surgery in Taiwan, Homeward Bound did additional structural and cosmetic surgery on her after she got here.

I worked on the adoption. The family – along with their two twin daughters about 13 years old – were looking to adopt a younger dog. We had very few young females available, and a lot of people didn’t want their children to meet Ping-Ping because of her deformity.

But these girls didn’t care at all, and they made it very clear that they wanted to adopt a dog that needed them. Ping-Ping was their girl. I don’t remember all of my adoptions, but I remember this one because the girls were so unique for 13 year old’s. Looks didn’t matter; it was about who needed them.”

Many of the dogs have been adopted by Homeward Bound volunteers, as well as others. Because Homeward Bound does not turn away a Golden in need, no local dogs are displaced by the arrival of the Taiwan dogs; all are welcomed here.

“We are grateful that TUAPA, AHAN and Homeward Bound all speak the same language. It’s the language of rescue; the language of love,” says Judy.

For more information about AHAN and TUAPA, please visit their websites: AHAN at:, and TUAPA at:

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I am a nascent gardener, rescuer, and photographer, chronicling the journey of the dogs at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary near Sacramento, CA - and the Memorial Garden we have devoted to them.

14 thoughts on “The Language of Love”

  1. Very lovely post with sweet pictures. It’s always wonderful to see how these dogs from Taiwan thrive in their new lives here in lovely California! Thank you all for your efforts — for fostering, for adopting, for transporting, for writing…

    Just a quick correction: the official TUAPA website is at and they’re also pretty active on Facebook, usually with English translations, here:

    I’ve written a bit about Taiwan dog rescue as a personal interest, so searches sometimes end up on my blog. Here’s a little more about Taiwan-American dog rescue here:

    I’ll add a link on that entry to Homeward Bound in my ever-growing list of North American rescues with Taiwan dogs. Cheers!

  2. Because of your posts I make it a point to always go through the garden when I’m at the ranch. Last August I brought my grandchildren from MN and took pictures of them looking at the colorful plantings.

    1. Now that makes me smile! Nothing makes the gardeners happier than seeing people and dogs enjoying time in the garden. Thanks for sharing that! 🙂

  3. Beautiful post — words and photos. Such wonderful dogs from Taiwan — one of my early favorites as a volunteer at the sanctuary was Tristan. He was such a love bug, everything you could ever want in a lap dog. I was out at the sanctuary today for the first time in about a month or so, and I couldn’t believe how great the garden looks! It is a work of art! So many hours of hard work are evident in the results. Many thanks and kudos for great work to all who participated and donated to the area.

  4. This post made my heart smile. I have had the privilege of not only being a HB volunteer, but I have also met the wonderful Johanna Quinn as well as many of the goldens that she has helped to get to California. I heart Homeward Bound 🙂

    1. The gardeners heart you back, Deborah! Thanks for your support of Homeward Bound and the many, many dogs in need of fur-ever homes. 🙂

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