Of thorns

“Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy that to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.” ~ Voltaire

We passed through more than a few thorns this weekend – literally and figuratively – beginning with the dreaded foxtails!


Foxtails are nasty pointed grass clusters that lodge themselves into pets’ eyes, ears, noses, toes and fur, among other places. In long-haired dogs (we have more than a few of these!) foxtails can be hidden by fur between the toes or on the body and, if left unattended, can poke the dog’s skin and eventually cause a large abscess requiring surgical removal.


Foxtails are barbed in such a way that they can only move in a “forward” direction. Since a dog’s body is incapable of degrading or decomposing them, they can wreck havoc. They grow in abundance in California – and on an eight acre dog sanctuary located in the country, you can imagine the threat. So this weekend we called on our dog walkers and gardeners for a “weed-a-thon” rising early to tackle the trails, benches, and other areas well traveled by the dogs. It’s not exactly my favorite kind of gardening…but it must be done.


Candy was kept company by her beautiful Shane;


and if the company of dogs is not incentive enough, donuts always do the trick!


Sundays, Kathryn holds Reactive Dog Training Class. This class is for dogs that don’t play nicely with others; some of them are our rescues, others are from community members seeking help.


A dog can’t be forced to like other dogs. But you can help them cope with their fears or anxiety by teaching them alternate behaviors. Our trainers have had amazing success with turning these thorny issues into good canine behaviors. I’ll share more on an upcoming post.


This poor pup was literally covered in thorns.


We are just beginning to write his story of true rescue; it deserves a post all its own. I will bring it to you soon. In between all, we managed to get a little gardening in!


After a week of unseasonably hot temperatures, the weather has cooled, and the garden is breathing a sigh of relief.


It weathered the heat well, and brings forth new treasures each week like this Jerusalem Sage…




Maria’s first sunflowers…


and of course, Roses – thorns and all.


With the promise of two stories to come, have a great week and I’ll hope to see you back here soon!

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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.

11 thoughts on “Of thorns”

  1. taking out thorns and weeds may not be the most fun but, if you have dogs and donuts, it sounds like a great day out to me. Fabulous work being done with the reactive dogs and looking forward to the updates.

    1. You would feel right at home, Susan! I’m on those updates…two great stories to share. I’ll try to do them justice. 🙂

  2. I enjoyed this. Thanks. Do you listen to the BBC Radio at all? I heard an interesting piece this morning about the relationship between dogs and cats and their owners. It was interesting in that it spoke to the early domestication of our pets and the benefits (on both sides) of pet ownership. Here’s the link .. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p017lrn0. Although I do not think I agree with the characterization of ‘dog’ people and ‘cat’ people … I enjoyed listening, I think you will too.. D

    1. Well that was a dark view of the relationship between dogs, cats and humans. Listening to Yi Fu Tuan, I wonder how he regards the raising of children who are also taught appropriate boundaries that keep them safe and help them to learn how to live cooperatively with others. Unequal relationship? Control through humiliation? The love of an animal is often the closest many people come to experiencing unconditional love…and when it is true, it is most definitely reciprocated.

      1. Yes … I too thought that the choice of ‘expert’ was unusual. I also didn’t like the way ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ people were characterized! Anyway … it’s always nice to hear different points of view, even when we don’t entirely agree with them. We have had Australian Cattle dogs, Anatolian Shepherds, and a Keeshond and have loved (and been loved) by them all. D

    1. That’s ok…we can’t grow Bleeding Hearts or Lilacs here. We can continue to trade our gardens in photos! Have a great week!

  3. I cant grow clematis here – I can grow roses but the wallabies eat them, thorns and all. My golden, Honey, is not very friendly with other dogs, even though we did puppy school and 3 years of obedience and agility. So plenty of socialisation. Now at 7-1/2 yrs she rarely exhibits a friendly attitude to other dogs, although she and Nutty get on well. Nutmeg on the other hand loves everybody, doggy and human. They’re so different. Both same age and are actually cousins, their respective fathers were brothers. Love your garden – looks like a lovely day. All that was missing in the photos was a cuppa 🙂 Joy

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