Surrendering, For Love

“I feel like a grief counselor,” she said. ‘She’ is our rescue President, Jody, speaking to me about handling surrenders.

As I explained in a previous blog, surrender was the part of our effort I abhorred. I was judgmental toward the people and sad for the dogs they left behind. I came to understand that things happen beyond our control and that a second chapter is often in the dog’s best interest, long-term. But my concern was for the dog, and – except in rare circumstances – not really for the human.

Sophie’s surrender changed that for me.


“Hello. I was just wondering if you had a golden female named Sophie there as of yesterday??? We are her family and had to give her up for adoption a few days ago.”

I manage social media for the rescue – increasingly, this is how people communicate with us. She went on to explain that she was in the middle of a difficult divorce. With five children, life was changing dramatically along with their home. Sophie would no longer have a yard, much less her beloved pool. “I felt it was in Sophie’s best interest that we gave her a chance to find a loving family that would give her what we could not at this time. Our family is seriously hurting, and we miss her so much. All I am asking is if we could be notified when she finds her new family so we can be more at ease. Thank you so much.”


Over the next couple of weeks, we communicated often. I reassured her that Sophie had arrived safely, that she had seen our vet, and that our team was taking great care of her.

Sophie was a model visitor. She adapted quickly, was absolutely no trouble, and had clearly been raised well. But she always had a searching look in her eyes. I did not share that part. Sophie waited, patiently.


“Are you able to let me know when she is adopted so we can be more at peace? As you can see, we have had her since she was born, so it’s very hard for us right now,” she wrote, attaching photos of Sophie as a puppy. “A loving family, that’s all I want.”


As I suspected, our president hand-picked Sophie’s new family. One with kids, security, stability, lots of love – and a pool. The new family was beyond generous, sending photos and an update for me to relay to Sophie’s original family. They shared her enthusiasm for swimming with all the kids, and a special relationship that was blossoming for both: “My daughter and Sophie have really bonded and snuggled all day Monday and slept together on the floor. She is settling in great.”


“So happy to hear,” her first mom wrote back. “Homeward Bound was a great idea. I am glad I made the right decision.”

You can approach rescue from anger or pity, but neither contributes meaningfully to creating change. Action, empathy, and education matter. When Jody speaks to someone who is surrendering their dog with a sincere heart, she absorbs their grief and guilt and lets them know that – someday – they will be in a position to make a life-changing difference for another dog. She’s been at this long enough to see them return and do exactly that.

Certainly, there are clueless people you wish you could prevent from ever having another animal. But most are simply in a difficult and unplanned circumstance. That they have sought out a rescue instead of dumping a dog at a shelter, should be commended, not scorned.

I don’t think that dogs forget – but they can move on. Sophie lost her searching look. She found a perfect friend to help her begin a new life chapter. And a family found peace with their difficult decision.


Rescue changes us. Consider me a grief counselor – in training.

From Korea, To Love


Last week, our rescue, Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue, received a call from the San Francisco SPCA asking if we could support a very special needs boy. Talgi was one of a group of 64 dogs rescued by the Humane Society International from a South Korean dog meat “farm” in February, 2016. There have been a series of these rescues. The Humane Society contracts with the farmer to shut them down and transition them to a more humane livelihood. Sadly, their work has only begun.

When we said we would happily accept Talgi and explained our facility, they asked if we could take another…and another…and another. We, of course, said ‘yes’ to all four.


I wrote this story for our rescue. Since many involved with our effort have seen it, I will simply provide a link to it below and invite you to read it. Nothing graphic is shared, but I will say that it makes me very proud to be able to play the tiniest role.


Those on the front lines are credited in the story. And there is a devoted team here at Homeward Bound responsible for helping them complete their journey.


Before you read, watch this video of Roger – the pup – and Tag, the one year old. When you view the first photos in the story, you will be amazed at how far he has come in just a few short days.

Here is the link to the full story: From Korea, To Love

And before I close, a special thank you to my friend, Alys at Gardening Nirvana for her lovely note…


And her generous gift for the pups of Homeward Bound through our Amazon Wish List!


Thank you, Alys! And thanks to all involved in this thing we call rescue.

Love comforteth after the rain

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping; When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.” ~ Dr. Seuss


After a bone-dry February, the skies have opened up again and gifted California with a good long soak. Actually, a bit more like a deluge. But no one here is complaining.


Just as our rivers have swollen, the pond had overflown its banks converging with the flooded rice fields next door…


and the garden looks like a series of small islands in a large lake.


Thank goodness we raised the beds last fall!

While there are a few drought-tolerants that are unhappy about too much of a good thing, overall, the garden is drinking it in and exploding with joyous spring color.


“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.” – William Shakespeare

Between breaks in the downpours – and even during them – love came forth in buckets of comfort this week. There were lots of “Going Homes” to celebrate, emptying the kennels about as fast as we filled them. But one on Saturday was a double delight.

Our adoption counselor brought Rudy out to the garden for his going home photo. The family was clearly in love.

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And then Rudy whispered something to his new mom: “Someone is missing.”

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Rudy and his sister, Daisy – both nine – were surrendered together in Southern California when their family could no longer keep them. Declaring them honorary Golden Retrievers, Homeward Bound agreed to take them. Concerned that we would not be able to place two older dogs together, we made the difficult decision that we would not require them to be placed together. However, when the family learned that Rudy had a sister, they asked to meet her.

These people of good and generous hearts took only a few minute to come to the decision that Rudy and his sister must be adopted together.


Which is how Rudy ended up with two Going Home photos – and Daisy, one. The best one.

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There was not a dry eye in the place…and we’re talking tears of joy…not rain drops!

Ned: Of Golden Heart

His file read: “Young, male, mix. Gentle, affectionate, can be insistent when you stop petting him.”

Who wouldn’t adopt a dog like this?

“Emaciated, with multiple scars. Malnourished, neglected, possible previous animal attacks.”

This – and a horrifying photo on social media – is how Neo came to our attention. I won’t share the photo. It is in his past now.


“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person dog then.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

He is not a Golden Retriever by any stretch of the imagination. But who could leave him like that in a shelter? Not our rescuers.


We came to learn that his open wounds and scars were inflicted by the family’s other dog. Their interactions throughout Neo’s life were obviously ignored, as were his injuries. The best thing his “family” did for him was to leave him at the shelter. The best thing that ever happened to him was to be rescued by Homeward Bound’s angels.


Misreading his file, he was renamed ‘Ned’ upon his arrival. It suits him better, and leaves the past firmly behind. His wounds and skin were treated; he was fed; and walked; and cared about, quickly becoming a favorite.


What is amazing is his loving and forgiving nature. For as much scarring as he had on his body, it is not evident at all in his personality. He does not exhibit fear or anxiety. He still likes other dogs. But mostly, he wants to be with humans. Kind and loving humans…who carry cookies!


With weekly baths, his hair is beginning to grow back in and you can begin to see the dog he will be on the outside.
Inside, he is pure gold.

Some people will look at him and fear for his past.
But someone special will look at him and see only his golden heart – and future.


Ned will be waiting with us for that special someone. He’ll be the best thing that ever happened to them.


To share or adopt Ned, you can view his profile here.

Petaloso: Full of Petals

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Have you heard about the eight-year-old Italian boy who invented a new Italian word?


In a classroom assignment, Matteo unsed an unfamiliar word. He described a flower as a “petaloso” – full of petals. While “petaloso” does not officially exist in the Italian dictionary, it made sense – combining “petalo” (“petal”) and the suffix “-oso” (meaning “full of”).


It is similar to the English word, “petalous” – meaning of flowers having petals. But so much more descriptive.

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His teacher marked it as incorrect – but beautiful. And then she helped Matteo petition the instituion that oversees the use of the Italian language for their thoughts.

“The word you invented is well formed and could be used in the Italian language,” they replied. “It is beautiful and clear.”

In order for it to be accepted as an official Italian word, it would need to be used and understood by a large number of people.


Thus, the hoped-to-be word “petaloso” is being shared all over social media.


Help Matteo have his word become accepted and published in the next Italian dictionary.


How many ways can you use “petaloso?”