Some Assembly Required

Gardens don’t just appear. They require constant tending and editing. With lots of effort, what begins as a blank canvas of earth and weeds, takes shape over time.

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Sometimes, the progress seems imperceptible and the wait is hard to bear. There are always occasional setbacks and different approaches have to be attempted before it all comes together. Until one day – you look about you, marveling at what it has all become.

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Daisy went home today. A five-year old girl who is never without her toys or sweet disposition – but she comes with occasional seizures. The seizures can be intimidating at first – but manageable once you learn what is needed.

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She is a quiet, gentle, loving girl who just requires a little tending to. Another girl was recently returned to us. Despite our best intentions, we did not make a perfect match. It turns out that the family was really expecting a perfectly trained, well-behaved dog under two years of age. This pup is not a wild child by any means – but she does require someone who is committed to bringing out the best in her.

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We have lots of perfectly trained, well-behaved dogs – but they tend to be older and have come to us because someone – who has put great love and care into the raising of their dog – has had a life change so significant that the dog had to be surrendered. We do get young dogs – but frequently as a result of insufficient initial shaping, tending and care. Adorable puppies can become unruly dogs without guidance.

“Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration.” ~ Lou Erickson

Dogs – like gardens – or any creature/human, are a reflection of the effort we put in to them. Some assembly is definitely required. It’s hard work – with results that delight.

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As I look around the Memorial Garden – drenched in rain and then in sun – I cannot believe that we are only entering our third season.

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So transformed is it – from an unruly acre of weeds and a jungle of blackberries. The same is possible for our returned girl. Next time, maybe we’ll find her a gardener.

Something Remarkable

Have you heard this worry expressed before: “I want to do something remarkable in my life?” I take it to mean, “I want my life to matter.”

Some, in history, are remembered for a single contribution – but to those closest to them, it is the sum of their life – the tiniest things, not the most celebrated, that are most meaningful and memorable.

The best gardens are not remembered for a single flower or seasonal display.

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They are a collection of trees, shrubs and blossoms

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– quiet corners and bold displays – evidence of contributions, large and small, made over many seasons.

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“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – St. Basil

In pursuit of the “remarkable” – sometimes we overlook what is truly meaningful: a life changed by a simple gift of time and effort; friendship extended; compassion displayed.

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“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

At Homeward Bound, I am surrounded by people doing remarkable things. Each seemingly small contribution adding up to so many lives saved, enhanced and transformed – human and canine. Happiness is found through our usefulness, the melding of our accomplishments – and the difference we make together.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Robert Brault

Spring and Hope Greet the Garden

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
~ A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

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Spring has greeted the garden.

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The rains last week produced blossoms on the apple tree, and set the Wisteria, Iris and Tulips to blooming.

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Maria has been working on a new stone base and platform for the St. Francis statue that graces the garden. A mysterious message: “finish me” – appeared to urge her on.

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Between stones and mortar, she planted sunflower seeds in the Iris and annuals bed.

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Rows of sunflowers will hopefully frame a colorful center of annuals and grace us long after the Iris have faded away. I focused on replacing the Little John plants that we lost to frost last winter in the entry beds. Ina strictly forbade me to go to the nursery in springtime. She must have known that would only encourage me. A mix of drought tolerant Lavender, Ceanothus, and Artemesia will provide near year-round interest – and their performance is proven through two seasons in the garden.

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“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

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The ten dogs that arrived nearly two weeks ago are gradually coming out of their shells.

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Tails are less tucked and smiles quietly cross their faces.

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They are gaining weight and regaining their strength.

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We call them “The Reservoir Dogs” and you can read their rescue story by following this link.

Dakota is one of our latest arrivals.

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He needed emergency surgery to remove one of his eyes – a choke-related injury. We are hopeful that the other eye has been saved; it appears better each day.

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You’ll notice an unusual twist to his paw as well. While he does not let it slow him down, he will be having surgery soon to repair and restore his beautiful gait.

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These dogs have endured some long hard days – like the garden has weathered winter. But it is spring again – and hope is everywhere.

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From Darkness to Light

“Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.” ~ F.T. McKinstry

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Our Homeward Bound Memorial Garden was gifted with light, bright sunshine on Saturday…

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And dark, grey skies on Sunday.

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A blessing that means much-needed rain again tonight. Last week’s storms produced a profusion of blooms…

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and delivered a huge undertaking for our rescue – one that we gladly take on. Two van loads; ten dogs; twelve hundred miles to bring them to safety. I’ll be able to share their full story with you soon (as soon as I finish writing it!) Gorgeous all…and all in need of significant care –

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for untreated medical issues –

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and human socialization.

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From darkness to light. Like the spring unfolding around them –

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the best is yet to be.

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Rain Falling on Sunshine

There is a saying that God made rainy days so gardeners could get housework done. To heck with that.

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We had two storms move through this week. While they didn’t put a significant dent in our drought situation, the rain did bring welcome relief to our thirsty trees and gardens.

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Paired with warm temperatures, the flowers, leaves – and weeds – are exploding.

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So, a showery – sometimes rainy – day was not going to deter us from enjoying the early spring celebration, or getting a jump on weeding. Maria and I arrived early to find the daffodils, tulips and rosemary blooming, the willow tree leafing, and the lawn freshly mowed for the first time this year (thank you, Rob).

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The rainy day also brought a welcome guest. Tigger went home a month ago as a foster. We do that when a dog is being medically treated to carry the cost of care for the family, and to ensure that all will be well before an adoption is finalized.

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When Tigger went home, he was suffering from still uncontrolled diarrhea. For that transgression, he had been surrendered to a shelter where his fate would be clear. The team brought him to Homeward Bound.

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While he improved with medications, he needed to be in a stable, home environment. After a month with his amazing new family, his health is back on track, and his weight is up by six pounds.

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Clearly surrounded by love, he is a totally different – and completely doted upon – dog. His adoption was finalized.

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“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…”It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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