As the summer heat sets in, I prefer to work the garden in the early evening whenever possible.
The Delta Breeze blows lightly to cool the valley, and the setting sun saturates color and creates little jewels through the lens.
“The pale stars were sliding into their places. The whispering of the leaves was almost hushed. All about them it was still and shadowy and sweet. It was that wonderful moment when, for lack of a visible horizon, the not yet darkened world seems infinitely greater—a moment when anything can happen, anything be believed in.” ~ Olivia Howard Dunbar, The Shell of Sense
Unlike the morning which is always chaotic – the gardeners and the dogs racing against the sun and the heat of the day – the evening is productive but blessedly peaceful.
The bunnies, lazy lizards, and settling in birds keep me company as the dogs fall into an exhausted hush.
Twilight is a magical time giving rise to winged beauties and fairy tales – when “anything can be believed in.” Like Bing’s “going home.”
Bing came to us all the way from Taiwan. He’s been home before – unsuccessfully. It was all too much for him then: too much temptation, too many ways to get into trouble! He hollered at other dogs, hunted cats, and little critters best beware.
But people? He has always loved people.
He went home; he came back. He went home; he came back. But something interesting happened as Bing waited in our care: he changed. Not completely. But maybe, just enough. So much so that, last week, he even accompanied one of our volunteers to the annual reunion picnic.
He behaved like a model citizen in a venue filled with dogs and chaos, winning everyone’s attention and praise.
Bing must have felt like a prince at the ball. Transported in style; meeting friends old and new. When the clock struck midnight, he probably assumed his Cinderella moment was over. But by proving himself in a most unexpected way – he earned his “going home” papers, instead. Lorey, one of our devoted volunteers, made him her own.
Anything can happen. Anything can be believed in. That’s the magic of the garden at sunset – and this place we call Homeward Bound.
My name is Hope. Aka “Tootsie.” Otherwise known as the “Come Back Kid,” “Braveheart,” “Too-Smart-For-My-Own-Good,” and “Houdini.” The latter being how I found myself back behind bars.
I’m here with my sister, Faith. Aka “Adorable,” “Sweetness,” “Girl-With-The-Green-Eyes,” and “Tag-Along,” – meaning I’ll follow my sister’s lead wherever it takes me, which is how she, too, became incarcerated.
We spent the last week visiting with the gardener lady and her big dogs. She felt like our Aunt Jody could use a well-deserved break. We think Aunt Jody was secretly betting that we’d be back in 24 hours! LOL. It’s not that we are bad pups. It’s just that we are a lot of work.
So who better to take care of us for a while than a gardener: already a believer in what faith and hope can do when paired with effort. Where others see a blank slate of dirt, a gardener sees a landscape transformed – trusting in the potential.
While all puppies are work, we were born with this extra special thing called Megaesophagus. It means that the tube that sends food down has a tendency to return it if we don’t eat upright and stay that way for a while after each meal.
Gravity is our friend, so we eat in a Hello Kitty® chair. Humiliating, right?
Couldn’t they make a Hello Puppy chair?
But we know the drill, to the point of seating ourselves. Just watch this:
And when we get bigger, we’ll eat and rest in a real dog, specially made, Bailey Chair. There are lots of dogs like us. They make us extra adorable so people will overlook our special needs.
After we eat, we sit upright on the gardener’s lap or standing between her knees while everything makes its way to our tummies. We watch the birds and squirrels in the garden or all the moving pictures on this big black box. We have developed a fondness for The Food Network, TLC, and movie classics. I’m sure we could grow to love sports, too – but that’s not her thing.
We play hard. Really hard. With each other –
And our friends.
But when we’re done, we curl up and snuggle. Sister love.
All of this to show that we can fit into someone’s life and home without too much trouble. We hope that our special someone will see it that way.
We’re going back to Aunt Jody tomorrow. The gardener’s big dog has some medical stuff to do and would prefer to do it in “peace and quiet” – whatever that is.
And Aunt Jody will be on the lookout for special people for us. It’s easier to win your heart when our cute faces are in yours.
So do us a favor? Don’t mention the chewed wall, great toilet paper rolling contest, or how we like to dump our water bucket to make giant puddles. Let’s just say we are cute, cuddly, and endearing – and leave it at that! Oh, and if you have a spare hacksaw – send it our way??
Faith and Hope (aka Tootsie)
As they have grown, Aunt Jody has been working with the girls and figured out how to feed them differently so they can be as close to “normal” dogs as possible, now. No more special chairs! The key is in getting them to “graze” on their meals instead of wolfing them down. And they are doing great. So great, in fact, that Hope found her way home!
This means that sweet Faith is all by her lonesome. She is hoping that she, too, can find her someone special – preferably someone that either works from home, or is home often. We’re putting the word out and hoping you will share. Let’s get this adorable girl with the gorgeous green eyes a home of her own!
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” ~ Christopher Reeve
Roots are more than an anchor to keep a plant in place. They provide a lifeline – pulling in all that the plant needs to grow from the soil –
sending it up through the leaves so the plant can reach for the sky.
A plant’s seeds are its wings – transporting it to new places.
Good soil provides the underpinning that nurtures the growth and flight.
At Homeward Bound, we give our dogs roots and wings, as well. For dogs that need extra help, we try to lay a strong foundation of trust, training, and understanding to make the best match possible.
For some, this takes no time at all (Gracie girl!).
Those with greater needs might be with us for weeks, months – and in rare cases – years (Red, feral dog).
This groundwork gives them wings, enabling them to fly away – a sometimes bittersweet joy.
But the roots we provide are permanent – an invisible lifeline. In a perfect world, a “forever home” means just that. But the world is not perfect, and unforeseen things happen. If for any reason, and at any point in the dog’s life, it can no longer stay in its home – the dog returns to us.
Winter came back not long after she went home: she decided she liked her new sibling, but not sharing. While all the dogs are tested and spend time with their potential dog mates, sometimes casual play in a neutral space is one thing but sharing a home is another. This weekend, she was matched, instead, to a human who needs but one canine love.
Finnean was home much longer. He’s a special needs boy who arrived emaciated and with a sparse coat.
He found love and success in quiet, calm, and watchful care.
When his dad became ill and could no longer look after him, Finnean came back to us, looking like a different dog. It is in cases like this when that lifetime commitment provides much-needed comfort to both the dog and the adopter. And thanks to the foundation laid by his dad, we know exactly what Finnean needs to fly home again.
Roots and wings. How we find our way to “home.”
Some said we could never tame this once-wild acre of thistle and weeds into a garden.
Apparently, we like a challenge.
Some things are their own reward.
But when the gauntlet is thrown down, and the impossible is achieved – victory is that much more gratifying.
So it was this week with some of our “Going Homes.” Jet (now Jasper) had a file as thick as an encyclopedia. He had been bounced around like a ping-pong ball for his one failing: he leaked. And not pee!
They said it was impossible, but our Doc proved otherwise. He’ll be on a strict diet for the rest of his life, but treats are easy to forgo when you exchange them for love and a forever home. Saturday, his foster mom joined our “Failed Foster Club” and made it official.
Myra celebrated Mother’s Day by adopting her own human “mom” (and dad!).
She is one of our dogs rescued from the South Korea dog meat market (I wrote about it here). What a journey they have had. Rescued by the Humane Society International, and brought to us by their partner in the effort, the San Francisco SPCA, she was part of a group of four with emotional and behavioral needs so extreme that they needed lots of TLC to be adoptable. This was Myra shortly after her arrival.
So fearful were they, that they were transported directly from crate to kennel when they first arrived. Sunday, Myra – now Kono – departed with her new humans,
just as Tag (now Max) did a couple weeks ago.
And – if you can keep a secret for a day – Roger, too. He went home as foster-to-adopt…adopt being the operative word!
That leaves only Lena, who still needs a little more support.
But she has found a confidence-building playmate in Cooper who is helping her come out of her shell.
And this week, we received two new puppies (my little man, Beau, packed his bags and headed for home). Both have Megaesophagus – or expansion of the esophagus. In their case, likely hereditary.
Dogs with Megaesophagus will suddenly start regurgitating undigested food soon after eating. As they lose weight, they are at risk. So I will hope that, once again, we can do the impossible.
“The difference between the difficult and the impossible is that the impossible takes a little longer time.” ~Lady Aberdeen
I double dog dare you to tell us we can’t.
“Whatcha in for, little man?”
“Being a puppy,” says Beau.
It’s a familiar story: people purchase a puppy expecting the adult characteristics of a dog in the canine version of a human toddler – only with super sharp teeth and without diapers!
Too many dogs are relinquished to shelters because someone took home an adorable furball that grew and grew into a holy terror. Beau is lucky. His humans recognized early on that this was too much for them. And while it is no doubt a very difficult decision to surrender him to us, they did him a great service my doing it sooner rather than later. At only three months of age, Beau is still impressionable, but the timing of our work with him is critical.
In a garden, two identical plants – even side by side – can grow at dissimilar rates and bloom differently. Is it nature? Or nurture? Maybe a little of both.
The soil may be slightly different; surrounding plants may throw just a touch more shade or shelter creating a tiny micro-climate. Or an unruly tree root may be creating competition for one’s growth.
Why do some puppies thrive, and others turn “terrible?” Between three and seven weeks, puppies learn the difference between canine and human ways. The critical human socialization period is between seven and 12 weeks of age. It overlaps with a “fear impact age” somewhere between eight and 12 weeks where negative interactions can lead to permanent associations. Positive human socialization and avoidance of fear-inducing experiences can shape an adult dog’s temperament and behaviors for life.
So there are certain facts about a dog’s nature and development, but they can be very much influenced by proper nurturing.
Beau is quick with his teeth. He jumps up. He has all the traits of a Lab: energetic, busy, chewing, and expressive when he does not get his way.
It can be off-putting to someone who is not used to the ways of puppies whose energy has to be expended before the cuddle bug can come out.
We found the perfect way to expend Beau’s energy: her name is Daphne. She is hanging out with us until she is old enough to have cataract surgery to restore her sight.
And lest you think that Beau has one up on our sightless little girl…
Daphne is schooling Beau in dog manners –
While we work on his people ones.
There is a cuddle bug in there.
Just as the bloom is in that plant.
You just have to put in a little extra effort and wait for it.