Healing hearts


“The human heart has a way of making itself large again even after it’s been broken into a million pieces.” ― Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

There is no right or wrong way to heal from loss.
Some people need time and retreat. Others find comfort among others.
Sometimes, the best thing for heartache is to open your heart to another.

Human loss and canine loss may not be the same thing, but canines have a way of healing a human heart. And when the canine is also in need of healing – the bond is more special still.

Fancy came to Homeward Bound from another rescue because the cancer inside her was malignant and they knew we could and would help at Homeward Bound. It was removed, but it will return. When? We don’t know. And to Chuck, it doesn’t matter.


Some flowers are perennial –


they come back season after season.


Others, have but one season –


and some – just one day.


Their beauty fills us equally – maybe even more so when we know our time with them is short.


A flower no more knows how long it has to bloom that we do. Ignorance is bliss. But humans who purposefully open their hearts to animals knowing their seasons are short have a special place on this earth and beyond.


“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~ Thomas Campbell

Chuck says that Fancy will be treated like a queen. A queen doing an angel’s work here on earth.


Purple: Royalty in the Garden


The color purple is associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, and power.


Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.


The color purple is a rare occurring color in nature and as a result is often seen as having sacred meaning.


Purple, unlike violet, is not one of the colors of the visible spectrum. It is called a non-spectral color. It exists in culture and art, but not, in the same way that violet does, in optics. It is a combination of two primary colors. Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red.


Because the purple color is created by combining a strong warm with a strong cool color, the color retains both warm and cool properties.


On one hand, the color purple can boost imagination and creativity, on the other, too much purple can cause moodiness.


Purple is said to be associated with spirituality, the sacred, higher self, passion, third eye, fulfillment, and vitality.


It is said to uplift spirits, calm the mind and nerves, create feelings of spirituality, increase sensitivity, and encourage imagination and creativity.


The color purple and its lighter lavender shades introduce romance to nature; think lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers. Lavender suggests uniqueness, while purple invokes mystery.


Purple is considered a cool color in landscape design. Its appearance has a calming effect in a garden.


Purple plants visually recede in a garden, helping to make a small space feel larger.


Purple was one of the first colors used in prehistoric art. The artists of Pech Merle cave other Neolithic sites in France used sticks of manganese and hematite powder to draw and paint animals and the outlines of their own hands on the walls of their caves.


Its complimentary color is yellow.


Forever is composed of nows


Gardening requires a leap of faith. You prepare the soil, plant the seed, tuber or bulb, protect and wait. There are no guarantees about weather, water or rabbits for that matter. Loss is inevitable; an accepted exchange for the joy and beauty we are blessed with.

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.”
~ Walt Whitman

The Sunflowers and Dahlias are late and smaller this year;


the Campanula did not even show; the Salvia and Rudbeckia, on the other hand, are prolific.


There’s no point in worrying about what might be – we just enjoy what is.

I met a woman in the garden on Saturday. She was visiting with Ned and contemplating adoption.

Clearly in love, she saw huggable in pudgy; enthusiasm in wilfulness.


But she worried a little about his age of eight. We hear this a lot. People think they need a young dog despite bonding with an older dog because they believe a youngster comes with a guarantee of time.


Just like the garden – there are no guarantees.

Loving an older dog requires a certain leap of faith, I guess. But there is no promise that we have longer with a young one. Life happens. Fourteen years; four years. We don’t know. What we know is that the connection is right when we look in a dog’s eyes and understand what is in their heart.


“Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering”
~ Ida Scott Taylor

We work to make each season of the garden beautiful and memorable – no matter what mother nature hands us.


The woman was told that we opened at noon on Sunday if she wanted to return. She was there by nine. By noon, she and Ned were gone together.


“Forever is composed of nows.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Under Construction

New month; new project in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. We can’t help ourselves.

It is time for the long-awaited entry way garden. These beds will hug Memorial Garden path; the one filled with bricks commemorating all the dogs we have loved.


Planting won’t happen until fall. Common sense, patience and Ina’s (frequent) warnings win out given our July and August temps. No worries; preparations will keep us busy until then.

We killed off the weedy grasses, and for good measure, covered the section in a layer of thick cardboard.


We used the technique in other sections of the garden to good effect. The cardboard starves the weeds of light and disintegrates over time. Until then, it is simple to dig holes through it for future plantings.

A truckload of 50/50 was delivered Monday which we will supplement with compost, manure and other goodies to enrich the soil which is starved for nutrients in this section.


Rob was gracious enough to do some earth moving for us. Kind man.


Maria (along with Jody and Mike) is my Mistress of Water. I tell her where I want to plant and she makes it happen. This site involves digging new trenches and laying new PVC to get water to the dry beds.


Doesn’t she look great?


Once the beds are prepped the mason will return to install a small wall for the beautiful new plaque that will grace the garden and feature the names of its sponsors.


In this way, this acre of donated plantings (and labor!) will raise funds in support of the dogs.


It requires a little imagination at this point. But that’s precisely what got us to this place in about 18 months.


The dogs have faith.

Missing you

I’ve been scarce of late…way behind on my blog reading and writing. I hope absence really does make the heart grow fonder. My excuse…a brand new website for our rescue, Homeward Bound…done! You can see it here.

As part of the project, I started a dedicated blog for our rescue dedicated solely to the dogs. You can find it here.


While I’ll be splitting my time between blogs, I will still bring you my favorite dog stories and photos along with updates on the progress of the Memorial Garden. It will just be a little clearer that this is a personal blog about my own volunteering experiences with the organization.


The garden, this blog, and the community and friends that gather here are so special to me.


I have a long list of posts to get caught up on – beginning with reading yours. See you back here soon.

A study in yellow


In color psychology, yellow is supposed to be uplifting, illuminating – full of hope, happiness and cheer.


It is said to inspire original thought.


It is a color of the left or logical side of the brain; a practical thinker/creator, not a dreamer.
It does this by creating enthusiasm; awakening confidence and optimism.


“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” ~ Pablo Picasso


Within the meaning of colors, yellow is the great communicator; it practically demands that you look at it. It is the most visible of colors in the spectrum.


It depends on itself, preferring to not get emotionally involved. It is a color of the head, not the heart.


Yellow can make people anxious and babies cry. A little goes a long way.


I was never much of a fan of yellow. My garden beds were always a study in pinks, blues, purples, greens and the occasional orange. But this garden has changed my mind. Yellow brings spots of energy and light to the garden; it adds warmth and depth at the same time.


“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh


Maybe it is the range of yellows here…from the slightest hint of color…


to the deepest gold.


Or maybe it the fact that it is worn so beautifully by the wonderful creatures here.




Uplifting. Illuminating. Full of hope.

A study in yellow from the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.

Wild and Beautiful

I ordered Rudbeckia for a drift with grasses, variegated iris, purple aster, and ‘Purple Emperor’ sedum.
It was supposed to be a deep gold with full petals and a deep black center.


As I watch it unfold, it looks more like a wild child –


all gawky and skinny and twitchy.


And then it settles into this. Not the perfect flower I envisioned – but beautiful in its own right.


So it is with Jack – a dog that has been with us a very long time.


I featured him on a post a year ago. In a place full of golden retrievers, Jack was definitely not one. He’s a bit of a wild child himself around other dogs and while he has benefited greatly from training and the dedication of everyone here, he’s still pretty gawky and skinny and twitchy.


What Jack lacks in classic looks and dog-to-dog skills, he makes up for in people charm. And this weekend, he was finally recognized for his own special beauty.

I can’t bring you the pictures because the parents have not given permission to share, but I can tell you the story…so get out the tissues.

A young boy, adopted himself, picked Jack from all the other dogs on the website. He and his parents – former adopters – came out together to meet him. Flaws in all, the boy fell in love. He had been working and saving for his dog and had a hard-earned $10 in his pocket for the adoption fee. Now, Jack is a senior dog in need of a very special home. He’s been with us for almost three years waiting for that right opportunity. We would, of course, waive the fee for his chance at a fur-ever home. But this young man has been instilled with great values. He and his parents insisted. So the fee was reduced to $1.00. And do you know what he did? He paid the $1.00 for Jack – and donated the other $9.00 in support of the waiting dogs.

Jack is finally home. The family sent pictures of him playing with his very own boy in his very own backyard. I wish I could show them to you here, but parents’ privacy concerns for their children have to be respected. Suffice to say, there was not a dry eye in the rescue.


It was a very good weekend. (Thanks to my friend Rob for his wonderful photos of Jack.)

Welcome Relief


9:09 PM. 94-degrees.

Today is supposed to mark the end of a seven-day stretch of 100+ temperatures in the Sacramento Valley. By some miracle, we are supposed to get to a high of only 95 tomorrow. Someone, please grab my parka!

The flowers in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden are more than ready for some relief.


Pups too. This is Bailey. She’s hot.


This lucky dog has found his relief; not just a shady spot, but a long-awaited home.


Tom came all the way from Taiwan and has been with us awhile. He’s another dog with sight impairments,


but he has no problem following his ball, does he?


He is going home with Kevin next week. A former adopter, a veteran, a man with an obvious passion for this well-deserving dog.


Kevin says he knew the minute he saw Tom that he was the one. He has visited with him constantly while waiting for a family commitment to conclude before Tom can go home.


They both obviously look forward to that day. We look forward to a breeze,


and a much-needed break from this sweltering heat!


Here’s hoping for our promised 95-degrees and a 12 mph breeze. Wind chill of 92 anyone? We’ll take it!

Heat Wave


In case you missed the news, we’re having a heat wave out west. No wait…a heat storm. A solid week (at least) of triple digit temperatures is more than a wave.


The Dahlias are loving it…and now outpacing Maria’s sunflowers (ha!)


And while everything else in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden has survived so far, everybody is looking as tired of this as we are!


The doggies get regular runs in the sprinklers or splashes in the pool…including this little boy that you may have seen on my post yesterday.


His “best” name is still being determined; in the meantime, we call him “Monster”.


What I didn’t mention is that he is blind. We’re hoping that his sight is fixable. We’ll certainly do our best to change it. But he has adapted very well so far as you can see…


and he certainly has no problem finding the treat pocket!


Think good thoughts for our power grid, and more importantly, prayers for our firefighter heroes please. It’s too hot for man or beast.


Stay cool.