Rescue Begins at Home

Homeward Bound welcomed two new dogs from a Shanghai rescue this week. Say hello to Oscar…


and Kenny.


We’re working with a new group that we had heard does a wonderful job of giving street dogs a second chance, providing healthcare, vetting, and socialization before they come over to find forever homes.


Like the Taiwan and Korea dogs before them, our rescue is happy to be in a position to assist dogs wherever there is a need.


But we never forget that rescue begins at home. This week, rescue began very close to my home.

My elderly neighbors have been through a lot. The husband has twice recovered from significant health issues, and now the wife is struggling. They have always been dog people, and Rush has been their dog for as long as we have lived across the street. He was a very young Labrador Retriever when we moved in. A hunting dog who always loved the outdoors, and he was devoted to his people. He’s made of hardy stock. But now, he is fourteen or fifteen – they have lost count. He is incontinent and arthritic, and to my great sadness, he was being left outside as the nights got colder and wetter because they were simply unable to care for him. He had an igloo outfitted with a bed under a covered awning. It was the best they knew how to do.

These are proud and private people who don’t like to impose on others or accept help. They have driven their adult children mad refusing their offers. And so, I steeled myself for my knock on their door. I didn’t know any other way to say it: “I’m worried for Rush, can I help him?” The wife put up the expected objections, but to my surprise and relief, the husband gave me an automatic “yes.” While she continued with a string of concerns, he went and got Rush’s leash and food bowl, and walked me across the street with his beloved pup.

He said “not forever.” But Rush’s future is likely counted in weeks – maybe months – not forevers.

I took him immediately to a warm shower to wash away the pee and poo he had been sleeping in, gave him a blow dry, and made him a comfy place to rest in the laundry room where he can have whatever accidents he has without worrying about a floor that is easily cleaned but not too slippery for old dog legs.


He looked a little confused at first, had his dinner, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.


“It makes me sad,” my husband said. “It lets me sleep,” said I.

Outfitted with diapers, pee pads, and a sling, his needs are manageable. Every couple of days, I walk those old dog legs across the street to say “hello.” His people are beyond grateful and now recognize that – while they will always be his people – this will be his home for the rest of his days.


It’s wonderful to be able to help dogs from afar have a second chance at life. And it’s rewarding beyond words to give an old dog a soft and warm place to lay.
Rescue begins at home.


In Its Season


I have reclaimed my refrigerator. As any West Coast gardener knows – this is not about household tips. It’s about spring bulb planting.


Daffodil bulbs can safely go into the ground in November at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. Many even return when left to “over-summer.” But tulips, hyacinths, and others require special treatment. In our warm Valley, there is no such thing as cold storage. So the bulbs are lifted in very late spring and stored in the refrigerator – much to my husband’s disgust. New additions join them for about six weeks of pre-chilling before planting (which means very little room for Thanksgiving leftovers!). Then, in December, as the nights approach freezing, they finally make their way out of the fridge and into the ground. Actually, pots above the ground.


We learned the hard way just how yummy tender tulip bulbs are to burrowing bunnies.


More than 500 Daffodils, Tulips, Iris, Hyacinth, Muscari, Iris, Chionodoxa, and Scilla – some gifted (thank you Lynn and Greg!); some saved – are now safely in their winter garden spots – leaving ample room in the fridge for Christmas cookie dough. A mission accomplished over a couple of beautiful Fall days.



As rain is (hurrah!) on the horizon, I accomplished most of the annual raising of the beds this weekend, as well.


Water is graded away from the kennels and toward the garden at Homeward Bound. Best for the dogs – but not so good for our drought tolerant plantings.


To keep them from drowning, the beds – which have been well dog-trampled throughout the season – get raised each Fall with a mixture of compost and soil before they settle into winter slumber under the untrimmed remnants of Fall blossoms and fallen leaves. Nourishment for a bountiful spring.


Fall is as busy in the garden as spring – only the chores have a deadline determined by cold and rain.


Work done. Eyes dropping. Back aching. Time for a hot bowl of soup and a snuggling dog.


“Every blade in the field, every leaf in the forest, lays down its life in its season, as beautifully as it was taken up.” ~ Henry David Thoreau