Yona. An unusual name for a dog. In Hebrew, it means “dove.”

Returned to a rural breeder with the familiar story: cute puppy becomes one-year-old dog with one-year-old dog energy and enthusiasm. The breeder was responsible and ensured that any of her pups would come back to her, if necessary. But her life had changed in unexpected ways and Yona was more than she could handle.

He is insecure and hugs a leg on walks – all 70 beefy pounds of him – until a squirrel comes along and all hell breaks loose. Unaccustomed to car, bikes, and strangers, he is anxious and on alert. He bears scars and scabs on his neck, most likely from the kind of shock collar used for electronic fences in the country. A note in his file says that he has separation anxiety. He is never more than a few feet away – clearly starved for attention.

Having given the signal that our Jackson needed company after the loss of our Bella, and that my husband and I, too, could be ready for Jackson’s sake – the call quickly followed. Bring Jackson to meet Yona.


At first blush, the age difference seemed too great; his size – too large. But Yona, the dove, surprised me. Jackson and Yona played for nearly two hours in the large park at Homeward Bound, with our eight-year-old boy more than holding his own.


So I loaded them in the car for a foster try-out. Back at the house, they crashed together.


And Yona – the country, outside dog, quickly took to the comforts of home.


Play followed in the evening. They slept – apart at first, and then together on the bed (leaving little room for humans!). And in the morning – wrestle mania exploded throughout the house. Why does boy dog play involve so much gnashing of teeth and humping?


He is just a giant puppy, really. After a couple of days, his surprisingly good house manners are showing truer colors. He hops onto the window sill to see out, he puts his paws on the counter, he brings a pillow to me as if to say: “I could. I really could!”

Testing the separation anxiety, the boys were left for first five minutes, then ten, thirty, and an hour. No issues. But when I took Jackson for a walk and left Yona behind – the crying began. We’ll keep testing and working on it, ensuring that he is well worn out first, and making no big deal of comings and goings.

Meanwhile, they are testing each others’ boundaries – and Jackson definitely knows how to draw the line. But with an advantage of nearly seven years and twenty plus pounds on our boy, we just want to be sure that Yona doesn’t squish or thoroughly exhaust Jackson. Three days in, Jackson is definitely feeling his age.



It’s not just how dogs play that makes a good match – it’s how they settle, as well.


I was feeling pretty guilty bringing such a young and handsome pup home for a tryout. By looks alone, he is the type of dog that many adopters hope for. The puppy stuff is normal. But he definitely needs training and patience to help him become a more confident boy and a far better walker. And just maybe, a more mature dog could help to show him the way.

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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.

15 thoughts on “Yona”

  1. It looks like the beginning of a beautiful relationship! Jackson needs a friend and Yona needs a patient big brother. So happy for all!

  2. Such a lovely story and a loving gift you’ve given to Yona. I have a feeling Yona will return all the love you and Jackson give him three-fold in the years to come. Yes-I’m calling it now: foster failure. 😊

  3. Heart rendering story, a wonderful gift for Jackson and you guys too! But best of all Yona knows there is love surrounding her at your home – this is a match that is sweet and special.

  4. Lovely story and some nice shots to go with it. Thanks for sharing and good luck with the youngster. I am sure he will develop in the right ways – no doubt. 😀

  5. Aw, what a beautiful and needy pup! Thank you for taking him in and helping him to feel safe and loved, like every dog should be. 🙂 He’s so lucky now! You’re the best!

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