Work is love made visible

Q: “What are you planting today?”
A: “Stone.”
Big weekend of work in the Memorial Garden; I am just recovering.


Jody and I began the stone walkway project on Saturday. I finished on Sunday, while she oversaw the completed clearing of the adjacent pen. Moving a half ton of stone certainly makes you sleep well at night. But the results are worth the effort, I think.

“It is better to wear out than to rust out.”
– Bishop Richard Cumberland

The curve creates obvious pockets for drifts of plants that echo the natives in Ina’s garden, coupled with some perennials to bridge the front and back of the garden. Next stop: nursery!


The garden is about to burst into spring. We’ve discovered that our flowering season is longer here; but winter leaves a little later. Things that have sprung in my home garden, are still hinting at spring in the Memorial Garden. The breeze that cools over the rice fields is welcome relief in summer, but keeps a chill on a while longer in spring.


We were joined once again today by a group of students from the University of San Francisco. They are studying Fundamentals of Organizational Management with a focus on nonprofits, and selected Homeward Bound to get some hands-on experience and information. They were attracted to us as an all-volunteer organization; and for our mission of rescue and sanctuary.


They had an opportunity to spend time with our President, and some of our newest recruits. Meet Lily…




And Lucy.


After spending time with the dogs, trainers and team leaders, Jody let them experience the manual labor side of rescue – clearing the adjacent pen. Not bad for city kids! It looks immaculate.


We return them to the metropolis a little tired, dirty, and wiser about the work of a nonprofit.

“Work is love made visible.”
– Khalil Gibran

Breaking up is hard to do

Love is in the air – at home and in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. At home, Mourning Doves on a wire signal their return to the nest they use season after season.


In the Memorial Garden, the Killdeer have returned to the same spot we marked for them last year. Can you spot the egg?


These monogamous birds pair year after year; they share parenting duties, forming strong bonds. We often receive such bonded pairs of dogs at Homeward Bound; we go to extraordinary lengths to place them together. Sometimes, it simply becomes impossible – as was the case with our Brutus and his beloved Sierra.


She was sweetness and grace; all adopters were drawn to her. Her Brutus was of a different class. He was her big, rough and ready guardian; a lovable clod who, through no fault of his own, was never taught the simple basics of civilized behavior.


At some point, we were simply holding her back. Once the decision was made to allow them to separate, she quickly found a forever home. Heartbreaking as it was to break them up, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for our friend, Brutus.


With the opportunity to devote one-on-one time to him, he has made amazing progress. Simple things that we take for granted, are giant steps forward for Brutus – like returning a ball instead of eating it…


“look at me” –


and “leave it.”


But these are the things that will help people to see the magic in our boy who just needs a little attention and love.


Breaking up is hard to do. For Brutus, we hope it pays off soon in his very own forever home. One thing we are sure of: he has proven himself both loyal and true.



In honor of Presidents Day, we threw a bit of a Homeward Bound garden party (while Penny slept!) extending our reach beyond the Memorial Garden boundary in support of the Sanctuary’s struggling trees. Seven of us gathered to free the ‘Scarlet Sprite’ (Grevillea rosmarinifolia) and Crepe Myrtles of their Morning Glory tormenters…


and clear the trees in the dog pens of their choking weeds. Before…


and after.


Capping off the day – the long-awaited Highbush Blueberries were finally installed. Regular readers will remember our battle to remove invasive blackberries from the site. Before…


and after.


Triumph was not ours alone today. I watched with delight as one of our trainers, Chris, played and worked with Lucy – one of the breeder pups who came to us just a few short weeks ago. Before…


and after.


“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.”
― George Washington

Our work outside the garden is not quite done; the day was called due to a change in weather and the fact that we ran out of room in the refuse pile. Nor is Lucy’s transformation complete, but great progress was made on all fronts. Special thanks to gardeners Randy, Vonnie, Peggy, Pat, Ina and Maria today. It makes the exhaustion so worthwhile.

Worth Waiting For

Some things are worth waiting for. Like a Robin anticipating spring…


bulbs pushing through the earth, signaling an end to winter…


0r dreams of forever homes finally come true. Our beloved Bogey was Homeward Bound’s blind, golden guest; regular readers have met him here before.


He may not see, but he has never let his blindness slow him down a bit. He goes careening through life with joyful abandon. Exuberant, playful, strong, and thoroughly adorable, Bogey has charmed all the volunteers who work with him.


We were pleased to provide a safe place for him to live and be loved. Resigned to his status, we made him an Angel Fund dog, and wrote on his description – “Insight is better than eyesight when it comes to seeing an angel.” ~ Eileen Elias Freeman. We said that Bogey had a special feeling his guardian angel was reading his description “right now.” Bogey was right.


On February 14th – Valentine’s Day – after three years in Sanctuary, Bogey was adopted. His adopter angels: two retired eye doctors.


We cannot begin to express our delight. A collective cheer could be heard across our ranks to read that Bogey spent his first night on the couch and his first day walking the canyons with his new forever family. Some things are definitely worth waiting for.

Happy life, Bogey friend (with special thanks and credit to our photographer friend, Rob Kessel). We will miss you!

Handle With Care

Saturday was spent continuing to clear the shrubs and trees along the drive of the pesky Morning Glories. Progress is slow, and my aches and pains are a reminder that I am not as young as I once was.

An impromptu trip to the nursery was fortuitous. The Highbush Blueberries were in stock, and going fast. I picked up 12; six for each raised bed where the blackberries were unceremoniously removed from their resting place in the Memorial Garden. There are four different varieties which will keep us in blueberries from early to late season – assuming success.


This is not a simple plop in the ground operation. The Highbush Blueberries can be grown in our area, but they still require extra care. They demand somewhat acidic soil and good drainage. Our raised bed will help with drainage; mounds running the length of the bed will assist. We’ll amend the soil to make it more acidic, incorporating compost and sand as well. I read that coffee grounds placed at the bottom of each planting hole can also help with the ph level. Guess it can’t hurt.


Finally, we are advised to mulch with a layer of pine straw – a luxury around here that has to be shipped in. These simple looking shoots should come with a difficulty label rating, like those projects you have to assemble. But we’re accustomed to handling things with extra care around here.


These sweet pups are breeder dog rescues. The come to us having spent their whole lives in the production of puppies. Unaccustomed to human interaction, building trust is a painfully slow process.


Chris and Steve dedicated a good portion of their morning to coaxing them out to sit in the sun, while learning that a human touch could be kind and comforting.


Kylo and Rose have both had recent surgeries to address long neglected issues.


“This is what you should do;
love the Earth
and sun and the animals…”
~ Walt Whitman


We will love them all at Homeward Bound.

Obsessed? Yes.

“The trouble with gardening is that it does not remain an avocation. It becomes an obsession.” ~ Phyllis McGinley


You know how you can become so accustomed to something that you don’t even see it anymore? Today, I suddenly noticed how neglected the entry way to the entire Sanctuary has become. While we did not exactly sign up for this duty, it desperately needs to be done.


Morning Glories are literally choking the Crepe Myrtles along the drive; shoots have grown out of control; and the bird-spread seeds are threatening to become full-grown trees.


I know we’re in the country, but this is not the first impression we want to make when adopting families come to meet the dogs. So out came the clippers and the under/over brush was cleared enough to see that this will take a garden clean-up day to complete. Time to put out the call for volunteers!


Obsession? Yes. But wait until I show you the ‘after!’

Scouts to the Rescue!


These are the Scouts of the Pioneer District, Miwok Chapter – members of Scouting’s National Honor Society: The Order of the Arrow. And luckily for us – they are experts at removing blackberry roots!


When Homeward Bound needs extra hands, talented builders and strong backs, these are the guys we turn to. Last summer, they built beautiful shade enclosures with seating by the pond for us, so our dog walkers would have a quiet place to work with the dogs. Today was all about digging. Within a few short hours, this crew obliterated the last of the blackberry roots from our raised beds, leaving them spotless and ready for planting Highbush Blueberries.


Meanwhile, the more senior members installed a new length of split rail fencing which now fronts the center of the garden, and creates a beautiful frame for Ina’s California Native Garden.


The Arrowmen of the Order of the Arrow are known for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, and for providing cheerful service to others. Truly. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that their efforts were powered by hot chocolate and donuts this morning! The Scouts perform service projects throughout their Miwok Chapter region. We’re so thankful it includes us.


Their generous service saves valuable resources for our organization that can be redirected to the rescue of hundreds of dogs each year. You’ve heard of Pitbulls and Parolees? Well, we have Scouts and Goldens. We think they make a wonderful combination.