Happiness alights

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The garden is aflutter with butterflies. The Monarchs…the White Cabbage…and Fiery Skipper…


and the Gulf fritillary or passion butterfly.


Usually these Gulf Frits can be found gorging on the Lantana and verbena…

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but this weekend, it’s all about the passion-flower.


This is where they will lay their eggs – because their larva feeds exclusively on the passion-flower vine that covers our arbor.

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Before long, there will be spiny caterpillars covering the arbor…the beginning of the transformation from larva to winged beauty.

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But more than butterfly transformations are underway here.

Abigale was picked up as a stray on the 4th of July. No one ever claimed her from the shelter, which may have been just as well. Overweight, covered in mats with a brewing infection on her underside, she was likely a neglected outdoor dog.


So frightened was she by her ordeal, we couldn’t even go near her to put on a collar. For her first week, she stayed outside in a covered yard refusing to allow anyone near her.


Gradually, our volunteers made their way to her side, and gradually, she came to trust them. Which is how we learned that she loved balls, and water, and kids, and other dogs. This weekend, Abigale found her way to her forever home…a family that could always be counted on to come looking for her if she ever got lost.

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But the most dramatic transformation was in the fortunes of Caitlyn.


Her cauliflower ear and these words in her file: “removed from her home for her own safety” – say it all. She was checked out of the shelter as a boy. But a thorough exam and bath later, we discovered their error. Thus the name Caitlyn.


This malnourished, teddy-bear-faced GIRL had obviously been through a lot. Amazingly, her disposition remained forgiving and loving.


She went home this week as a foster with one of our long-time volunteers.


By all accounts, things are going wonderfully and we are crossing our paws that she will be reclassified soon as a “foster-failure.”

Neither Abigale nor Caitlyn probably ever knew that their new-found happiness was possible.


“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

What a joy for us to be a tiny part of it.


“Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine.” ~ Jeffrey Glassberg

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Happy sunshine, Abigale and Caitlyn.

Thanks to photographer, Rob Kessel for lending some photos of Abigale and Caitlyn.

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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.

23 thoughts on “Happiness alights”

  1. It is such a joy to read about (and see pics of) dogs that are getting an opportunity to be loved, cared for, and allowed to just be themselves for the rest of their lives. I often just look at our Ray and get quite emotional over his transformation in the past 2-1/2 yrs with us. He just needed a “pack” to belong to where he was respected and treated as “one of the gang”. He really is an absolute joy to have around. 🙂

    1. There is nothing like the transformation that takes place once they get to a loving home. We’re just the start…and so grateful to those who see them through their whole journey. Thank you!

  2. How beautiful! Lovely photos, Ogee, and hooray for the sweet ladies, Abigale and Caitlyn, and those loving souls providing them with the love, homes, and hope they deserve!

  3. Your posts always touches a special spot in my heart for you and the organization. This was the most uplifting post of the day. Bless everyone of you – amazing to see the transformation of these beautiful dogs when they find their way to Gardens for Goldens.

  4. Thank God these beautiful girls found their way to HBGRR…and shame on the people who neglect and abuse helpless souls. Kudos to HBGRR again for an outstanding job!

  5. I just melt looking at those two sweet faces as they have expressions that seem to show they now know they are loved. I feel such delight when you share these stories. The Hawthorne quote is so perfect for these success stories. I think the work you do is very, very special! The dogs are rescued and given the love and care they deserve, and the people who take them into their homes and adopt them into their lives are blessed as well with a very loyal and loving companion. I love the way that works!

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