Puppy Pop Quiz

Sugar and spice…and everything nice.

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Except the poop. Puppies are adorable.

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It is hard not to fall in love with each and every one. But matching the right puppy to the right family makes all the difference for dog and human.

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Our latest brood was delivered by Lady Edith. She has gone to her new family and will have her long-awaited eye surgery this week.

Her pups are all spoken for; their anxious families wait. But before we send them home, we wanted to complete their puppy assessments using the Puppy Aptitude Test developed by Jack and Wendy Volhard.

Each litter we are graced with is assigned a human “mom” who watches over them, cleans up after them, and most importantly, socializes them – so critical in a dog’s early weeks. This time, the honors fell to Judy.


The test assesses personality and temperament, which will help their new families provide the environment and nurturing they need to be well-raised dogs. This is not a pass or fail test  – and no – you cannot cheat off the teacher, either!

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It measures social attraction to dogs and people,

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confidence, dependence or independence,

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willingness to accept commands or follow,

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retriever instincts and prey drive,

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touch, sight and sound sensitivity.

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Born during a thunderstorm, raised by a good mama dog and devoted human, our pups are pretty unfazed by loud sounds, sudden movements or being handled. But certain personalities do emerge.

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Puppies with a strong desire to lead or play very rough need experienced dog people with a commitment to training and exercise to bring out their best selves.

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Shy or frightened pups need patient people in environments that are calm and stable.

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Go-along/get-along pups are best suited to first-time dog owners, families with children, or older people.

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And when the test is over…

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everyone gets a well-earned nap!

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Want to learn more about the Puppy Aptitude Test? Visit www.volhard.com.

Giving Thanks for You

For each new morning with its light,


For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

For flowers that bloom about our feet;

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For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;

For song of bird,

and hum of bee;

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For all things fair we hear or see,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee! ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I share this poem each Thanksgiving, as a reminder of all that we have to be grateful for. I include each of you in that gratitude list, for traveling with me on this journey – and for the friendships I have made along the way. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Fall Has Its Own Flowers


Fall has its own flowers;


instead of sprouting from the ground, they fall from the sky.


Fiery and bold,


delicate and whispy,


gaudy gum drops hanging perilously


from trees disrobed,


while blanketing the ground in gold.


“Autumn, I love thy parting look to view
In cold November’s day, so bleak and bare,
When, thy life’s dwindled thread worn nearly thro’,
With ling’ring, pott’ring pace, and head bleach’d bare,
Thou, like an old man, bidd’st the world adieu.”
~John Clare,”Written in November”

Dog Tired

This is how tired I am. Dog tired.

But it’s the best kind of tired. This weekend, we put more than 200 bulbs in the ground and pots for spring –

and planted a Redbud in honor of sweet BoBo.

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BoBo found his forever home with Rob of RobandDog

and started him on his journey of rehabilitating those dogs most in need.

Six pups went home including one-up/one-down Tessa with her new friend Ringo,

And Barnaby who is being renamed “Barney” as in his new Dad’s favorite TV character, Barney Fife.

Adding to the chaos was a visit from Santa!

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Each year he makes a special trip to Homeward Bound to take pictures with all the dogs who have been adopted –

and those who wait.

Because we don’t have a chimney in the senior sanctuary, and because some of the senior dogs can’t walk all that way to Santa – his elves were enlisted to lend a hand. Look … I can fly!

All-in-all, it was an exhausting and perfect pre-Thanksgiving weekend reminding us to be thankful for the new families of our furry friends,

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and our family of devoted volunteers who make it happen.


Hope for the Monarchs


From threatened to signs of rebounding. Three to four times the number of monarch butterflies are expected to reach their wintering grounds in central Mexico this year.

The population has been in decline, as pesticides have destroyed the milkweed that they feed on, and illegal logging has reduced their pine forest canopy blanket where they over-winter.

Through education, people are reintroducing milkweed, both by planting and designating pesticide-free areas. In Mexico, illegal logging is being shut down. And the monarchs are returning.


They are not out of the woods yet. At their height, they covered more than 44 acres in their winter home. Even at their increased rate of return, they will only cover a fraction of that. But there is hope that they will reach nearly 15 acres in the Mexican reserves by 2020 – with our continued help.


The passion for saving them is far-reaching. People have been asked to help all along their migration path. Nearly every child who visited our garden this summer asked if we had planted food for them. We did!


Butterflies don’t recognize country boundaries or human differences – they depend on our help and cooperation across a continent to restore what we nearly destroyed altogether.


It’s amazing what we can accomplish when people come together.

Imagine what would happen if humankind cared for each other as we care for the monarchs.

Our Houseguest

I shared Lady Edith’s story on our rescue blog. But since many of you do not see that (and I am up to my elbows in puppy poop!) I hope you will indulge me with her story and current update.

Lady Edith was destined for a life of making puppies. Too young, too thin, and in need of eye surgery – she was surrendered, instead, to our rescue, Homeward Bound. It changed the course of her life forever.


Despite her slight stature, we could tell something was up. The vet confirmed. A week or so later, she delivered her beautiful pups in the wee hours of the morning following a rare evening of Sacramento Valley thunderstorms. Edith’s mothering instincts came naturally, despite her young age.


She has raised (with much assistance!) four beautiful pups from tiny things…


to rough and tumble troublemakers!


Each litter that we welcome has a dedicated human mom assigned to them. This time, it was Judy who ensured that they were well-socialized – so important in a dog’s proper raising. It also means countless feedings and clean-ups. What goes in … must come out!

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All of Lady Edith’s puppies have been adopted.


As has Lady Edith – who is being renamed “Lacy.” Her puppies are now fully weaned and exhausting her. Yes, you – little troublemaker!


Before she can have her eye surgery, her milk needs to dry up so we can do her spay at the same time. No more puppies for this puppy. So we are fostering her for a couple of weeks until she is ready.


At only one year of age, she is a puppy herself – with absolutely no house manners. Just like her kids – she poops on, pees on, and eats everything in sight! We will work on those things before she heads to her own forever home where her adoptive mom also waits – anxiously!

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There, Edith will enjoy a life of play and love – as every young dog should.

Peace and Results in the Garden


Yes, Gunther. You still have to go to dog school today, even in the rain!


Yes, rain. California rain. Two weekends in a row! Come on El Niño!


Just as the garden was about to succumb to winter brown after a summer of scorching drought,


the rain has brought it back to life.


As one thing falls away – another comes to life.


Fall is a gardener’s busiest time of year, I think. Even more than spring. This weekend – before the rain – we enlisted the help of three hard-working youth volunteers to cover our well-worn paths with a fresh layer of bark and shreds. It has been three years since we last did this. And El Niño threatens a season of muddy walks. Take a look back to see how much the garden has changed.

This time, the load was only half the size – as the beds are twice theirs.


But everyone pitched in to get it done in record time.

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Their reward? Dogs. We lunched with Scrappy.


got bowled over by Bailey…


And witnessed just about the sweetest “going home” ever.

Holly is one of our Taiwan rescues. She came all this way to find a forever home – but no one seemed to understand her. That is, until two adorable and smart young girls came in and spoke to Holly in her native Mandarin! They have been studying the language at school and are already quite fluent. When they sang “Happy Birthday” to Holly in Mandarin it was as if someone unlocked her world. The deal was sealed and Holly found her home.

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Awesome youth volunteers. Paths dressed. Holly’s adoption. Rain. And more tiny frogs.


“There is peace in the garden. Peace and results.” ~ Ruth Stout

Hark At The Rain


The most amazing thing happened in our parched Northern California valley: it’s called “rain.”


A gentle soaking rain with moments of sunshine peaking through the clouds…


which turned the garden electric.


“And now, hark at the rain,
Windless and light,
Half a kiss, half a tear,
Saying good-night.” ~ Edward Thomas, “Sowing”

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Goodnight from wonderful, rain-drenched California.