When a plant fails to thrive, is over-run with bugs, or becomes a thug to others, we do our best to nurture, mend or tame it in the Memorial Garden.

One of our volunteer gardeners, Ina, is famously tough on her problem plants. She literally tells them to toughen up and get it together, or they are out of here!

And they will be, if they don’t respond. But plants are not animals.

When you see so many dogs come through a rescue organization like Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary, it is easy to fall into judging those who have given up their pups. This is Sammy. He was surrendered this week.

Recently, I met a woman in the garden who made me rethink my judging. She had come to the ranch, accompanied by her young son, in hopes of learning the fate of an older Golden she had given up.

She explained to me that her family lived in a very rural area at the time. Her dog was very much a beloved member of her large family which included a foster child, and was used to having room to run in the great outdoors. Life changed on a dime, however, when her husband passed away unexpectedly. Forced to move from the country to the city and a small apartment, she became a single, working mother practically overnight.  She was beyond overwhelmed just trying to keep herself and her children together. The complication of caring for their older dog in a tiny space was beyond her capacity.

You could see that it broke her heart, and her son’s to surrender their dog.  She didn’t know what she could learn, if anything, when she visited the Sanctuary – but she was hoping for closure.

When you surrender a dog, you give up all rights to it. Still, she was able to learn that her dog was successfully adopted, and now lives in an area with the wide open spaces it was accustomed to. She was greatly relieved – and sad as well. Tears welled up in her eyes as she told me about her pup and her heartbreaking decision.

My dogs are part of my family, and I consider them a lifetime commitment. I can’t imagine a circumstance that would ever force me to give them up. But I have never been faced with difficult choice this woman faced. To seek out Homeward Bound – an organization dedicated to rescue, no matter what the dog’s age or health, gave her dog the best chance for a good home and happy ending.

Too often, people give up on their animals without a second thought.

Shelters are filled with the pets of people who regard them as an inconvenience, an expense, or too much trouble.  Worse, are those who simply drop a dog off on a road somewhere.  If you would give up your dog because “he’s un-trainable”, or “he has (name-the-ailment)”, or simply “he was a lot smaller and cuter as a puppy” – please stick with Goldfish (nothing against Goldfish!) That wasn’t the case here. And many times, surrender is the last option of people who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and more. It was an important reminder to me to count my blessings and pray that I will never have to face the decision this woman did.

Rescue. Adopt. Foster. And if you must surrender – do it with responsible care.

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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 “Surrender”

  1. Oh, yes, sooo true. 2 -1/2 years ago my husband and I were introduced to our Lucy, who had been surrendered for reasons unknown to us. Lucy has become our cherished pet – thanks to Homeward Bound and Carla her previous foster mom.

  2. Such a sad story. I agree with you. Working in a shelter environment, it is easy to be judgmental of the people who surrender, however, I had a similar experience, when a cat came in who had, quite obviously been loved and spoiled in large doses. Collar covered in bling (only the best) and a personality that showed utter faith in human nature. The economy had rendered the woman homeless. A terrifying thought. She was on the streets and surrender her only option. I, too, had to rethink a lot of things. The cat, by the way, even as an adult, got adopted within days – she was just such a Big personality!

  3. When we made a three generational move from the Midwest to the Northeast, we had to give up our pets. It was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do, but the first move was into furnished rental units that did not allow pets. We have, of course, moved on with life, but the reality is you never forget.

  4. What a sad, but true story. I can’t imagine having to make such decision, but at least there are wonderful organization such as Homeward Bound that will be able to give a loved pet a second chance with another loving and caring family. We really do need to count our blessing.

  5. What a heartbreaking story, made me cry. I, too, pray that I never find myself in such a predicament. Thank God for rescue organizations. Thanks and God Bless to each and everyone of you involved in rescue.

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