Paid in Smiles

My sister, Debra, is involved in rescue of the feline sort. She is part of a group with a well-earned reputation for its effective trap, neuter and release (TNR) program to reduce the feral cat population in her town back East. A much better writer, she blogs about her work with this all-volunteer community effort, and the joy of living and working with animals in general. (Stealing one of her images…I’m pretty sure she’ll forgive me).


Her program had a tough week – the kind where you find the limits of what you can and cannot accomplish or cure.


Every couple of weeks, we put new recruits through a volunteer orientation.

Volunteer Orientation_DSC_2102

The long-term “stick-around” rate is in the low double digits because they encounter the kind of realities my sister faced this week. Hard work – this rescue stuff. It takes a giant heart that you have to be willing to leave open – while simultaneously protecting, knowing that the work makes an important difference as it did for our Kobe, here.

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.” ~ Victor Hugo


I am in awe of the people who remain committed to difficult efforts despite the emotional risk. When I look at these faces, I am so grateful for the humans who return – week after week – to ours. Meet Mary, 12:


And Libby, also 12:


“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~ Edward Everett Hale

I nearly forgot to update you … sweet Emma, my first surrender intake, went home just two weeks after she arrived. From fear and trepidation…


to happy and excited to begin her new life – you would not recognize her as the same dog.

Emma Going HOme

“Volunteers are paid in six figures…S-M-I-L-E-S.” ~ Gayla LeMaire

Kasey…all 14 years of him. 🙂 Payment made.


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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.

6 thoughts on “Paid in Smiles”

  1. Emma has remembered that she’s a completely lovable golden, and thanks to you all. The transformation from wariness to confidence is beautiful. Now she has trust that a new chapter is opening for her: PURE HB magic . . i.e., consistency, constancy, hard work behind the scenes. and tons of love!

  2. Bless you and your sister and all your volunteers…I encountered this in hospice work as well. When you do find a volunteer who can enter the suffering and learn boundaries and love the work…they’re golden.

    Thank you so much!

  3. Hooray for Emma! I’m so glad she had such a short wait for her forever home. And thanks for sharing my blog.

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