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.


Published by


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.

52 thoughts on “Rescue Begins at Home”

  1. God bless you for all you do, but I have to say I am bawling after reading about Rush. He is so blessed to be able to live out his days in comfort!! Give him some hugs from me!!!

      1. That says a lot about the love his people had for him … and so gracious of you to continue to let him say hello. They were doing the best they knew how, but I am so grateful you were there to make his last days more comfortable.

      2. You’ve got it so right, Kat. Surrendering for love is one of the hardest things – and the greatest gift you can give when you are no longer able to provide what’s best.

  2. What a beautiful face. While I do understand proud and private, I am so happy the man saw the need, not just for he and his wife, but for Rush. And right across the street? It doesn’t get any better than that. I think you are wonderful.

  3. Awww. God Bless you and and a very very wonderful Holiday from Marshall, now Buddy, another very special boy.

  4. God Bless you for all that you do. This story broke my heart and I can’t stop the tears. How wonderful that you found a solution for a horrible situation that is working out everyone, especially Rush. There is definitely a special place in Heaven for you. Thank you for helping these people and their dog.

  5. Blessings on you, Audrey, for this kindness and generosity. Sweet Rush deserves this care, and how good of you to provide it for him and so comfort his “parents,” too. Thank you for this story; the world needs them. 🙂 Rush and his family will be in my prayers.

  6. Audrey, God bless you and your husband for taking care of Rush, your elderly neighbors for accepting your help, and Rush for being Rush. Thank you for sharing your gifts of photography and writing with all of us! Like others here, I am crying after reading this heartwarming story.

  7. Doing what we see, feel and know to be the right thing is often the hardest thing to do; yet in the end reaps beautiful rewards. You having the heart to care and the nerve to ask, they finding the will to trust and to let go, the look of peace in Rush’s eyes…so beautiful. Thank you another amazing story and for all you do!

  8. The seniors of this world, and of all species are such a gift. They hold so much life experience and love, and stories yet to be told. The grace of your neighbors, their relief and sadness both, have taken hold of my heart. And you Audrey, for taking that step to support them and love Rush. You are a blessing to the dogs who are blessed themselves to enter your world.

  9. Bless you and your husband for this gift you give to Rush…a warm comfortable life. There is a special place in Heaven for people like you and HBGRR. We also would not have been able to sleep at night knowing that this sweet soul was outside and lonely. Merry Christmas and all the Blessings.

  10. If you hear bells, its because you just got your wings ahead of time. Rush’s rescue is a Christmas story, thanks to you and your husband’s good will. All dog lovers thank you!

  11. You are the kindest soul, showing such grace and compassion for both humans and their beloved dog. I’m so glad they could let him go with you. Thank you for all that care. Sending love your way. xo Alys

  12. The incredibly sensitive way you approached the people is as impressive as your compassion for the dog. You helped them all. I am beyond impressed. No stridency from you.
    Just love that walks across the street.
    Not everyone can be like you, and you don’t blame them for it. This makes you even more unusual. You don’t dislike people and love animals. You have an abundance of love for all.
    If I am widowed, my life will have to change. I will want a dog that I can take on more localized travel. If, and when this happens, I will call on you and come meet these beauties.
    You made me cry and I am sending this to all my family in hopes it gives them hope for the New Year about the goodness of human beings.
    Happy New Year to you sweet person.


    1. I learned this lesson from the rescue’s founder and president. Don’t judge, just be grateful that we are allowed to help. More good can be done for dogs and humans alike that way. And those who are in a position someday to pay it forward, may do so as a result. “If I am widowed…”? Did I miss something? Let’s hope not! But should you be ready someday for a dog to journey with you, it would be my/our honor to help you find the perfect companion. Happy New Year to you, my friend!

      1. You rock, and I am quite lucky to know you. Every New Years I choose a charity. Now I am going to figure out how to donate to Gardens. Don’t worry. I’ll figure it out.

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