Photos courtesy of my friend Rob Kessel…thank you!
A declaration of drought has been made official in California – as if it were not obvious.
With a soil rich in clay, and an abundance of drought hardy perennials, the Memorial Garden has fared better than most so far.
We cannot count on that continuing…especially with temperatures in the 70’s in January. Ridiculous. So we’ll just revel in what we have today:
Signs of spring in winter,
birds in abundance,
beautiful snowy faces,
and the company of dogs.
Rain dances are, however, welcome.
Given time and the opportunity, a garden will tell you what it needs. It’s part experience and part observation. You learn not to rush to conclusions – even when all hope appears to be lost. Given a chance, most plants will make a comeback from even the harshest mistreatment.
Look for the signs, and they will tell you what they need to thrive. Wait long enough for a space to speak to you, and it will blossom right before your eyes. So it is with rescue.
Jody, our rescue’s co-founder and leader, dreams of being a garden whisperer. If she had more time to devote to it, she could get there. At present, her insight into plants is more hope than reality. When it comes to the hearts of dogs and people, however, she is rarely wrong. With years of experience, she has made countless matches by watching, waiting and listening. So when Selim began volunteering at Homeward Bound and was in the thick of that “I want every dog” phase – she kept telling him, “No, no. Not yet.”
In March 2013, Homeward Bound received a call from a valley shelter about a dog they had picked up that was in horrible shape. I don’t have to tell you the fate of most injured animals in shelters if not for rescue organizations. Thankfully, great partnerships exist to save lives. Jody left immediately to retrieve him.
This gentle creature had been attacked by dogs and torn to bits. Bite wounds covered his body; he was emaciated.
We’ll never know the true circumstances behind the assault. He had either crawled away or had been dumped to die. His wounds were covered in debris, and his ear was literally hanging by a thread. Our Dr. Codde took him directly to surgery. She sewed his ear back on, treated his injuries and cleaned his wounds. Jody brought him home and took him under her wing to heal. She named him Gatsby.
A few days into his recovery, one of our long-time volunteers, Tatia, took him out to the park to sit quietly and rest. After all he had been through he had every reason to be fearful. Yet he climbed up onto the bench, into her lap, and put his head on her shoulder.
She had a special feeling about his future, so she made sure to request photos of his “before.”
Jody says, “I knew he would be a special placement. I don’t hurry those; I need to feel it. Selim has a caring nature and a very big heart. I had plans for Selim and Gatsby.”
It was good that Selim had waited; he fell hard. Before he could get a “yes” however, his wife’s agreement was needed. This would be a big undertaking, requiring that they both be on board. A perfect match is never made out of pity, but out of love and commitment. Vicki had been through a lot herself, including two battles with leukemia. Maybe she saw some of her own journey in Gatsby; a special connection to another in need. She didn’t hesitate. With both women in accord, Selim and Vicki took Gatsby home, where he became “Stanley.”
“He looked like a little boy and his dog when they took him home that day.” ~ Jody
It took time, care and patience to heal Stanley’s wounds and rebuild his body – but his heart was unscathed thanks to the compassion that surrounded him upon his arrival. Selim’s pictures capture his transformation, which is nothing short of amazing.
Stanley’s canine companions at home are Maggie, a sweet 11-year-old girl, and one of her puppies, Mojo, a youthful 8-year-old boy. Stanley views Maggie as his personal chew toy, but – in all fairness – sometimes Maggie instigates the ruckus. Stanley and Mojo either chase each other like the wind at Folsom Lake or simply snuggle and nap. They’re all good pals, living the lives dogs should lead.
Mojo also has four biological brothers and sisters from his litter living in the neighborhood. They frequently enjoy the company of Daisy, Daphne, Buddy, Belle and their lovely humans.
While gardens bounce back, traumatic events like Stanley’s can leave more than physical scars – they often leave emotional ones that can make a dog fearful. Through loving care and kindness, Stanley put his horrible encounter behind him to find joy and comfort in canine companionship again.
Selim, Vicky and Stanley paid us a visit last week and had a chance to reunite with the team. Tatia was overjoyed to see him again.
If not for Homeward Bound, this amazing dog would surely have been lost.
Thanks to Selim and Vicki, he is home – happy and healthy. They gave him some time, watched for the right signs, and had a special feeling about this boy: It’s called “love.”
Selim has graciously shared a link to Stanley’s photo album. You can view it here. Thanks, as well, to photographer Rob Kessel for documenting Stanley’s earliest days with us so we would have this remarkable chronicle of his journey. His album can be found here.
The skies teased us this weekend.
Dark clouds moved in, raising our hopes for rain. But a sprinkling was all Mother Nature had in store for us.
Days like these are perfect for curling up and napping, dreaming of the warm months ahead – and that’s exactly what the garden is doing.
If you look very closely, you’ll find the tiniest treasures under the blanket of grey and brown…
including these two sweet faces…
And this wonderful pair of dogs who have been cared for by a generous neighbor in a house left vacant after the owner died.
Just four of the 10 dogs – all treasures – who found their way to us in a single day.
“Hopes are planted in friendship’s garden where dreams blossom into priceless treasures.” ~ Author Unknown.
We’ll do our best to fulfill our treasures’ hopes – and keep very busy until the cold subsides and the rains (hopefully) arrive.
Between the two-week cold blast and the lack of rain this year, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll have a garden this summer – of if we’ll just have to plant sage brush!
I know. It’s sunny California and the rest of the country is freezing. But we had our freeze in December, and we have not had any meaningful rain in a year. Actually, we’re on year three of a state-wide drought. It is worrisome.
No matter for the moment – because it is raining joy in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. Yes…the roses got pruned without the need for a new tetanus shot,
the grapes are now orderly,
and the hummingbirds are loving the winter flowers on the Grevillea.
But the best things that occurred this weekend had nothing to do with gardening and everything to do with happy-ever-afters. Cindy and George found Daisy and Bear to rescue and heal their hearts – broken by the loss of their beloved pups to age.
Darla and Louie found their people too – people who can appreciate that a snowy face accompanies a golden heart.
But the very best moment of our weekend was the Going Home of our beloved, blind Brutus.
Brutus’ journey was a long one. From married man to single guy. From sighted to blind. You can read the full story here. Suffice to say, he was one of our favorites, and he found a home that is more than we could have ever wished for.
His new “mom”, DebraLea, rescues and rehabilitates horses. She clearly has a special gift with animals. He spent his first night by her bed. She built a run for him to be safe outside today. His training has already begun. Brutus will thrive in her care. She was definitely worth the wait for our special boy.
While we wait for showers from the sky, we’ll settle for a shower of happy tears. Joy.
“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~ Sydney Eddison
This blog being a written and visual account of the life of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden, the dogs that grace it and my time spent with both, I reflect back on the first day of the new year as we look forward to the second. In backwards order…some of the most memorable moments of the year:
December: Linus and Charlie came too close to being lost, but angels were looking after them. They are happy, healthy, and adopted! Our Christmas miracle.
November: Summer – her cancer treated and forever now in Anna’s loving arms.
October: A wedding. The happiest of memories commemorated in our Memorial Garden.
September: The adoption of deaf Ollie, so long overdue – and sweet Mariposa to a family that continues to inspire us.
August: Dee Dee’s joy. A delightful dog who continues to heal the heart of her new “mom.”
July: Black Jack. Who knew that the person he had been waiting so patiently for would arrive in the form of a remarkable 10-year old boy?
June: The passing of our dear friend, Dick Brothers and the arrival of Moose. Is it possible that their souls crossed paths?
May: Rainier’s rescue. A girl turns out to be a boy and finds a future with the angel who saved his life.
April: My sweet Beatrix. A foster joy for too short a time finds a big brother and a family to love her.
March: Agatha and Anastasia. Taken too soon. We will meet them both again someday at the rainbow bridge.
February: Blind Bogey goes home on Valentine’s Day. His angels: two retired eye-doctors. You can’t script this kind of happy ending.
January: My father’s passing. I miss him still.
I posted a message from our President along with the faces of more than one hundred dogs we have been blessed to help this year. It’s wonderful to look back on them – still, just a fraction of those who have graced us in 2013. You’ll find it here.
Here’s to 2014. To gardens, friends – and all the dogs we will meet this year on their journey…homeward bound.