A Promise for Life

There are no promises made to the plant members of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. We get everyone off to the right start and visit twice a week, but beyond that, they are on their own.

If they can’t cut the clay soil, low water, and valley heat and cold then we just acknowledge that it was not meant to be and part friends.

If they are bossy and bully their neighbors, they will find themselves kicked to the curb. Everyone has to place nice here or be banished.

The dogs of Homeward Bound are a completely different story.

When a dog enters our program, we make a promise to them of food, shelter, care and help in finding a forever home that is matched to their needs. For those that cannot be adopted due to special needs, we provide sanctuary. Our promise is for life. If, for any reason, the dog cannot remain in its adoptive home, we require that it be returned to Homeward Bound. None of our dogs should be passed around or, heaven forbid, left in a shelter.

And so it was that Bodie rejoined us at the age of 15. He had been adopted 14 years ago as Shadow. His human dad is also in his golden years and now needs as much help as Bodie who was unable to walk. Dad was headed to assisted living, so Bodie was welcomed back by us.

Bodie was unsure of how he got to this place again – and not too happy about it, at first. He was either unable or unwilling to stand and went to great pains to even prop himself in a sitting position. But what a smile this boy has!

A trip to the vet and a week later, Bodie is a different dog. He scored the coveted ‘office dog’ spot where he is surrounded by company all day. By the end of the week, this dog that would not move was going for walks!

He has perfected the “please take me out” look. While most dogs get one or two walks between feedings, I spotted Bodie out four times on Saturday – each time with a different walker.

He has some lumps and bumps that we will keep an eye on, but at 15, we are mainly focused on finding the perfect home where a retired boy can rest his head and be spoiled rotten. And when we do, Homeward Bound will see to his medical needs for all the days of his life.

A promise made. A promise kept.

Don’t tell the garden plants. They’ll be jealous.


The gardening is waking up. After a long, wet winter and many false starts, there are signs everywhere signaling spring’s arrival.

But the bulbs and trees are not alone in their blossoming.

Sara is an adorable little black and white hot-dog of a puppy born in a field to her Golden mom. First noticed around Thanksgiving last year, a kindly neighbor began leaving out food for mom and her dwindling litter of pups. After several months, only Sara remained. She learned to stay close to mom and to be wary of everything. Survival instincts: finely-honed.

Mom started warming up to the neighbor woman. She had been someone’s dog once, and while distrustful at first, she took a chance in hopes of finding comfort and safety. When mom and baby could finally be caught, both were brought to Homeward Bound.

Initially, both were terrified. Mom started coming around after a bit, but baby Sara would not leave mama’s side. Our volunteers did an amazing job of coaxing them out of their shells, spending time with them and making them feel safe. One even fell asleep petting them in their kennel. Human touch is an amazing healer.

Baby Sara is somewhere between 5 and 6 months old. She stayed with mom long past the point when most pups strike out on their own. Mama was beyond ready to spread her wings and find her own future with a waiting family.

So baby Sara came home with me to spend some time at Camp Yogi and begin to learn about the world through the eyes of her foster friends.

It just about ripped my heart out to separate Sara from her mom, but we all knew it was the best thing for both.

There was some crying and whining, but she attached quickly to our dogs and to my husband and me. The hardest part was not coddling her. She didn’t need protection any more, she needed to gain confidence. She got together time and alone time. She got playtime and quiet time. She took to potty training like a pro, jumped into the bed like she owned it, and leapt right into our hearts. She was blossoming: playful and joyful and growing in her independence every day.

This weekend, she met a family of adults and their 18-month-old Lab, Harper. They had all been grieving the loss of their senior dog; Harper was feeling lost. Shy at first, we left Harper and baby Sara in the yard together and watched from afar. Baby immediately started following Harper around and Harper seemed glad for her company. The match was made. Baby left with a smile on her face and didn’t even turn back to say goodbye. On the ride home, she snuggled close to Harper. And the happy updates have been flowing ever since.

A lot of effort goes into planning for spring blooms.

You watch and wait, hoping it will pay off. When it does, it makes your heart soar.

Happy life, little Sara…the brightest flower of spring.