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!

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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.

12 thoughts on “Growing Through Dirt”

  1. Whether you arrive early or late will, sadly, not make a difference to the circumstances ……… only whether you get involved in them. Dogs will still arrive and, for whatever reason, will be left there. Acknowledging the difficulties in such a “front line” situation, one must also acknowledge the experience and resulting ongoing education. We all know that dogs are abandoned all too frequently, and we all know that the dogs (and often the owners) have a difficult time with it ……. but you have gone beyond just “knowing” it. You have felt it personally which gives you experience and an understanding that we do not have.

    Most people know that there are people who live on the streets of our large cities. Most people know that there are many people who consider their lives pointless and will attempt suicide. Knowing this is just basic education however, working in an environment where one is confronted with these types of circumstances takes the education to a whole new level of understanding.

    While there are many unpleasant experiences awaiting us on our path of life, never underestimate the value of getting directly involved and helping out wherever you can. Give consideration to getting in the “front line” again. If the person that next abandoned dog sees after its owners have left is you ……………….. what a privilege that would be knowing that you can make an impact on that dog’s adjustment to his/her new life.

  2. Aw, what a pretty girl Emma is too! Difficult situation, I’m sure; but you rose to the challenge! Be proud of yourself! And be thankful the women did not leave sweet Emma to fend for herself on the streets or to face an uncertain — at best — fate in a county or city animal shelter.

    1. Absolutely. We all learn early on…be nice. We want people to feel welcome no matter what so we can do the best for the dog.

  3. Emma has found her heaven – a very rich dirt indeed. What you do is a gift that is unmatched – from sad eyes to bright and happy knowing eyes.

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