Growing Through Dirt

Sometimes you just have to tackle unpleasant challenges head on.


Since I began volunteering with Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue, I have successfully managed to avoid being directly involved in an owner surrender. Until this morning. Arriving early to garden before the temperature got too warm, I found two women waiting – and a dog. From the look on their faces, I knew the reason for their visit. With no one else available, I drew the short straw. Serves me right for arriving too early!

“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” ~ Duke Ellington

While every fiber in me wanted to say “what are you thinking?” as the dog clung to her owner, I listened to the “why” and comforted the tears. I tried to gently extract as much information as I could – knowing that the more we knew, the better we would be able to help the dog. I told the owners and Emma, the dog, that everything would be okay. Sitting with Emma afterward to help her settle in, I knew – for her – it would be.


The owners did the best they knew how to do. But Emma deserves so much more. She doesn’t know it yet, but this is probably the beginning of her best chapter. Sweet and affectionate, we will get her the medical attention that has been neglected, and find her a home where she will have what she needs to be safe, secure and loved.


“Every flower must grow through dirt.” ~ Proverb

Blanket Flower_DSC_2388

Emma’s dirt is the uncertainty of being left for reasons she does not understand. But this little flower will blossom quickly with care. This photo was taken just a half day later, courtesy of my friend Rob Kessel:


Today is the beginning of Emma’s new ‘happily ever after.’ Hard as it was, I’m so glad to have played a small role in making that happen.


That said…maybe I’ll arrive to the rescue just a little later in the future!

Of Diamonds and Pebbles

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore


For anyone who has every passed up a dog of eight or nine, or even ten years of age out of concern that their days or years are numbered, I’d like you to meet Hunter…age 16!


He’s one of a boatload of dogs who recently arrived – and despite the snowy face and slower gait, he’s got a lot of life and love to give.


For anyone who thought that dogs needed to see to deliver love and companionship, I’d like you to meet Bilos.


Born without developed eyes, he’s never known any life but a sightless one, and it doesn’t stop his rush to greet you with big sloppy kisses.

And for anyone who has ever passed up a dog for an imperfection that seemed like too great an investment…please meet Weezer.


He has esophageal paralysis – which simply means that he will need to eat his food as slurry for the rest of his life. He’ll be going home too…to people who understand that the effort bestowed will be returned tenfold in joy.

Sometimes, guarding your heart from hurt, or holding out for everything, simply leaves you with nothing.

Every garden has some weeds.


Every living creature has imperfections.


All of these little flaws only make the best parts shine brighter.


“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” ~ Confucius

And P.S…two other “Going Homes” you missed…Nala and Lizzie.


Life is good.

Because We Are Family


Lucy and Minnie came to visit recently. Lucy was a breeder dog; completely unsocialized and terrified of her own shadow – much less people.


She was helped by many, but by one person in particular: Chris spent countless hours helping Lucy learn to trust and seek out humans.


I’ve written about Chris and her husband, Steve, before. Devoted volunteers; for as long as I have been with the organization, they have commuted a great distance to stay over weekends so they can be at Homeward Bound to feed, walk, and work with the dogs.


They work with the most difficult dogs to rehabilitate them – including their beloved Shelby,




and Sammy.


When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
~Author Unknown

Chris helped to organize our dog walking teams and then took on coordination of the feeders.


Steve has been a go-to rock, quietly working behind the scenes to help maintain the facility. Both have a gift for understanding the canine mind and helping even the most troubled dogs find a future.


“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

They will be leaving us soon, moving to Colorado on a new life adventure. Today was their farewell celebration. Saying goodbye is never easy, but life happens and new adventures await. Hopefully, they will stay connected as another vital rescue link in our extended network.


“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I’ve been compiling a history of the organization as we celebrate our 15th anniversary. I’m finding countless names of founding members. Many are no longer on-site, but still play a vital role and remain connected to our mission – the work of rescuing more than 8,000 dogs since our beginning.

There will be key gaps to fill with Chris and Steve’s departure. But I have faith that others will step up to fill the void. Because we’re family. The dogs’ family. And they need us.


Best wishes to Chris and Steve. And on behalf of countless dogs like Lucy – thank you.


What Matters

A previous adopter wrote:


“Today was a sad day. We lost our beloved Buddy…he was 15 years old. We knew when we adopted him almost two years ago that he wouldn’t live long because at that time he was 13. We moved a month ago to the ocean…we wanted him to have a place where he could enjoy himself. He did. Buddy was my golden-oldie, through and through. We fell in love with him when we first met him at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue. We will always treasure the short time we had with him. Would we adopt a senior again…you bet. Thanks for allowing us to have our ‘Golden Oldie’…Miss him.” ~ Karen A.


“We do not know how long we’ve got here.


We don’t know when fate will intervene.


We cannot discern God’s plan.


What we do know is that with every minute that we’ve got, we can live our lives in a way that takes nothing for granted.


We can love deeply.


We can help people those who need help.


We can teach our children what matters,


and pass on empathy and compassion and selflessness.” ~ Barack Obama, Eulogy for Beau Biden