Month: February 2018
The Charmed Life of a Garden Cat Named Frida
The north wind that blew in mid-month stayed. Spring is nothing if predictably unpredictable. We went from t-shirts to down jackets and mittens within 24 hours. While the overnight thermometer dropped below freezing for a week, it stayed close enough – thankfully – to have little impact on our opening blueberry and apple blossoms. And now, there is much-needed rain on the horizon. But today, we all soaked up the warm spring sun.
A butterfly (Mourning Cloak?) warming its wings on the stone path and accommodating bunny –
big dogs walking (not available – just visiting)…
Golden dogs lounging (spoken for!)…
And going-home dogs (hurrah for Clooney, Chubbs, and Bear!).
Not a dog! This is the illusive and rarely seen Frida – the garden cat. I spied her in the field next door alternately basking in the sun, hiding in the mustard weed, and stalking her prey.
We have a few cats at Homeward Bound. Most have to earn their keep as mousers or – like Tory – as our loyal cat-tester. (No cats are harmed in the testing of our dogs.)
But Frida lives a charmed life. After being spayed and vaccinated, she was returned to the garden where she reigns. For the longest time, we only saw fleeting glimpses of her or heard her scurry under the garden shed.
Lately, she has become bolder. Rob and I leave her food and clean water. She has a tiny cat house with a comfy bed in the shed and an igloo outside if she prefers to crouch and watch the world go by. She is a great hunter – which is why I gave up feeding the birds. And she clearly does not want for calories. Recently, she let me get within a few feet of her.
And today, she most definitely saw me stalking her with my camera and decided to pose.
In late afternoon, you might glimpse her circling the garden waiting for all of us to leave. I can just imagine her joy in solitude with only lizards, birds, and tiny mouse meals to contemplate.
Get cozy tonight, Frida girl. The rain will come. But the warm sunshine is sure to follow.
Follow-up Friday: Rudy
No, that’s not a football play…or a six-legged dog!
It’s Rudy. Being Rudy.
Rudy came to us in December at the age of 10 months. His mom had to move back in with her mom, and Rudy – who had been a loved, inside dog – had to become an outside dog. In the winter cold. It was breaking his mom’s heart. She knew he deserved better and she asked us to find it for him.
He was quickly adopted – and then returned. It seems that Rudy – still being a big puppy – needed people around to monitor his puppiness. The other thing that Rudy needed was socialization. He had apparently led a sheltered life with few, if any, dog friends. As a result, he wasn’t sure how to properly greet or play.
Rudy was adopted again – a successful placement with people that are around to make him feel comfortable and keep him out of trouble. Best of all, they decided to bring him to Kathryn’s Golden Rule Training at Homeward Bound.
The truth about training, is that it is really for the people. If they can be taught consistency of effort and approach, the dog is sure to follow. Rudy is a fast learner. It’s not the sit, or wait, or down. It’s the lessons he needs to learn from other dogs. Dogs are – paws down – the best teachers of other dogs.
So when Rudy decided to try to have his way with Tahoe – who, by the way, is no slouch –
Hutch was quietly observing from a distance.
Until he decided: enough!
Rudy is constantly trying to see where he ranks in the social hierarchy. And Hutch and Tahoe are pretty clear: you’re at the bottom, pup!
Together, they are teaching Rudy lessons in boundaries and appropriate play.
And Rudy is taking it in stride.
It’s great to see Rudy getting the time, training, and socialization that his surrendering mom wanted for him. I think she’d be proud.
Wordless Wednesday: Stick The Landing
Nash’s Big Day
Nash, the furless wonder, arrived almost two years ago. At the age of eight, he had been left in a local shelter. He was listed as a Black Labrador, but he looked more like an exotic hairless dog – except for the smell. He was suffering from Malassezia pachydermatis – a yeast found on the skin and ears of dogs that can get out of control leading to greasiness, loss of hair, and “malodorous discharge from legions” – in other words, stink. He had a bacteria growing in his ears that is resistant to antibiotics. It makes his ears hurt. And for good measure, his body was covered in small benign masses that hung like black icicles.
He’s the kind of hot mess that many rescues won’t take on. But Homeward Bound did.
He’s an awesome dog. A beloved dog.
A dog who never demanded much:
throw the ball,
give me a cookie.
make me a comfy bed.
It took a long time to find the right combination of food, medications, and baths to finally grow some hair back – and most importantly, get out the rank smell that kept him from going home.
He put up with his twice-weekly baths, the t-shirts and sunscreen we made him wear in the summer to protect his skin, and the sweaters in winter to keep him warm. He endured the periodic removal of those recurring masses. He moved back and forth between our Sanctuary house and the kennel – depending on where he would get more time, attention, and love. And he saw countless dogs go home and never asked “where’s mine?” He was grateful for all he received.
We all wanted so desperately for him to find his forever home. But when it was finally his turn – it was hard to say ‘goodbye.’ Our dogs get out a minimum of three times a day – usually four. But Saturday, Nash was out all day with a long line of volunteers who had to get their final hugs and play in before his big day: Sunday.
His people arrived early. Anxious they were. Awakened from his after-breakfast nap, Nash was not quite sure what to make of this photo-op.
Or maybe, it was just that we needed to remind them of his sensitive ears.
But a trip to the big park and a lesson in “chuck it” let him know that this was not your ordinary day.
And the soft bed with extra cushions in the back of a car confirmed it.
Nash has his own people. People with balls!
He will be in the best of hands. People we know and trust. People who have a proven heart for rescue.
Congratulations – and happy life to Nash – our extra special friend. We will miss you, boy.
Follow Up Friday: Just Add Love
Taylor was the eighth dog of 2018. You may remember his arrival. At three years of age, this Golden Retriever weighed just 40.8 pounds. He was emaciated and scared, but he instantly clung to our people.
Within minutes a tiny grin appeared. That was his true heart shining through.
There was nothing medically wrong with Taylor. Why he was so thin is still a mystery to us. We know he was kept in a kennel during the day – which we understand was long. But the surrendering reason was that he had killed a chicken. Perhaps he was hungry.
The line on the surrender form says: What would be the ideal home for this dog? The answer: “Someone that will love him.” Maybe that was a clue to his past – or perhaps, just a genuine wish for his future. Either way, it was fulfilled in the form of one of our volunteers. Taylor had seen enough of a kennel, and it wouldn’t be the best place for an obviously nervous dog that desperately needed to gain weight. So he went home with Jessica as a foster. As if.
A month later, he has gained ten pounds and is well on his way to full health. All he needed was love.
Most importantly, that tiny hint of a grin has turned into a full-blown smile.
Taylor is now Roo – named for the adorable, bouncy, baby kangaroo featured in Winnie the Pooh.
He’s goofy and playful like a puppy instead of a three-year-old.
From the moment Jessica and Taylor met, he was destined to be a foster failure. Taylor has indeed found “someone that will love him” – forever.
“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
Wordless Wednesday: Killdeer – You Talkin’ To Me?
A Change In The Wind
“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” ~ Mark Twain
Friday, I played hooky for a few hours and snuck out to the garden. Within minutes, I was peeling off layers like an onion and thinking it was time to move the winter clothes into storage. A week of mid-70’s in early February gets me dreaming about planting spring annuals, but I have wised up a bit through the years.
The city gardens – tucked in and protected from the elements creating their own micro-climate – scream “spring!”
But the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden knows otherwise. A few brave bulbs, the rosemary, and the Ceanothus have appeared,
but the rest of the garden felt a change was in the wind – literally.
It blew in from the north on Saturday – 25 mph of cold in our faces and dropping our reality down a more seasonable twenty degrees. I know. Quit whining. You’re California-spoiled.
Truth be told, none of us are quite ready for spring yet. Spring means summer – and those 100+ degree days will be here soon enough.
So stay tucked under the covers little bulbs, and don’t quite unwrap yet tiny buds –
We’ll take a few more weeks of sweatshirts and Golden blankets.
And some rain would be lovely, too.
“The course of the seasons is a piece of clock-work, with a cuckoo to call when it is springtime.” ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Follow-Up Friday: Journey Now Charli
My Yogi had a play date recently with our former foster and his protégé, Journey. Her name is now Charli – and it suits her, but I have a hard time re-training myself. She is forever Journey to me.
She has grown, but not too much.
She is loved (that can never be too much).
But in one way, she has returned to her old self.
It seems that our
Journey Charli has fallen back into her old habits: greeting her friends with tugs and pinches and take-downs.
We spent a good amount of time working that out of her, and I thought that her much larger visiting canine cousin would keep her in line.
But it seems that even he has given up delivering the kind of correction that Charli needs.
I suggested that she come back to class with her mom, and I hope she does. Her mom is completely smitten with Charli – I’m so glad for that. But her last dog was extremely reactive and she desperately wants to have a dog that can play with other pups. I could tell that she was a little embarrassed by Charli’s behavior. Not that Yogi is any angel. Set loose in the house, he immediately jumped up and helped himself to the human treats on the counter! Way to humiliate your mom, boy!
In school, Charli and her mom would be surrounded by people who know all about her play style and how to administer a time out when needed. Mom would get reassurance, as well. Everyone in class has been through something that made them shrink at some point.
What Charli needs is practice with dogs that are happy to issue corrections in a safe environment – and consistency until a more socially-acceptable play style truly becomes second nature to her.
I hope to see them in school. Charli has shown us that she has it in her.
“Believing takes practice.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle
Wordless Wednesday: Casie
Saturday was puppy going home day. While all the preparations were being made, and Chubbs received his morning massage,
another pup (of sorts) was getting ready for his arrival.
On Tuesday, Ms. London gave birth to baby Paris.
Yes – rescue animals come in all shapes and sizes at Homeward Bound. On the private side of the fence, our president provides refuge to geese and ducks and roosters – and the biggest, oldest pig I have ever seen.
Most recently, goats and Alpacas appeared.
Just a few days old, baby Paris is already taking the world by storm.
But it’s no fun being the only little one. So while she, the elders, and the goats looked on, Ms. Autumn prepared to deliver a playmate.
It’s hard to focus when you have such an audience.
But sometimes, it’s a good thing there are others standing by to lend a hand.
With a little assist, baby Gabriel entered the world on a beautiful and unseasonably warm Saturday morning…a gorgeous rose-grey Alpaca boy was born.
Welcome to the world, Gabriel.
And happy lives to all our going home puppies, too!
Follow Up Friday
Do you remember this ridiculous girl from a previous post?
Shelby is only one. She was raised from a puppy in a family with other human puppies. When their third was expected, it just became too much.
She didn’t get the attention or training or time that they knew she needed and deserved. So they asked us to help her find the right home. She found that home recently, with this gentleman whose smile says it all –
except his words say more:
“Tomorrow will be the one week anniversary of me adopting this beautiful one-year-old lab girl named Shelby. It’s been one hell of a week and I must say I am extremely happy I did this- she is so amazing and smart. She has learned so much this last week and she won’t stop following me. I’m so damn proud to be a dog owner and I can’t wait to make her life even more amazing than it is now. Welcome to my life Shelby…I’m honored to be given the chance to make you the happiest dog in the world.”
And that is what makes our world go round. Happy life, Shelby!