Holding On To The Things You Love

Somewhere between work, volunteering, and changes to how WordPress manages the Reader and sharing, I ran out of blogging steam. Or maybe just words.

Fresh inspiration abounds, but not everyone wants to read the stories I might share. The self-imposed push for happy stories feels less authentic and gradually, probably less relevant to readers, as well. Blogs are time-consuming beasts, and when you feel like no one is listening, it is easy to become discouraged.

Along the way, I also absorbed the duty of dog photography for the rescue. Not the storytelling kind; photos for inclusion in their bios to help them on their way home. It’s a joy that can start to feel like a grind, turning something I love doing into something that feels more like work. But I was reminded this week of why I started this blog in the first place, and the importance of documenting the dogs’ faces and stories – regardless of who might be visiting.

A friend had taken home a dog five years ago. Bentley developed seizures and cancer and was lost to her too soon. The only photo she had of him was taken on the day they said goodbye.

This was before we photographed every single dog at the rescue. Many go home before they ever make the website where photos are required. Now, a photo accompanies each dog’s electronic file. Not the kind of mugshots you get at a shelter. A portrait. Or the best portrait possible.

There was nothing of Bentley in our archives but I found him easily in my blog. Then I went back to my original photo files and was able to provide my friend with more captures from a much happier time. It was the way she wanted to remember him.

I began this blog to document the restoration of a rescued garden and the rescued dogs who travel through it. The garden is grown,

but the dogs keep coming. Each face and story is unique and worth knowing.

This blog is my way of saying: You were here. You were loved. And you were helped on your journey to the best of our ability. Most importantly, you are remembered. Even on weeks when I cannot find words.

In keeping with this thought, I bring you Napoleon.

He went home last fall as a permanent foster dog. That means that Homeward Bound will ensure his medical care for life. Important, because he has inoperable masses in bad places. As far as he and his people are concerned, he is adopted. It is amazing what their TLC has done giving him fresh life always marked by a goofy smile.

And while he still looks amazing, I saw changes in him this weekend when he visited. So I thought I should capture him and place a current photo here where he can always be found and remembered.

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you never want to lose.” ~ From the television show, The Wonder Years

And that is all the motivation I need.

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.

65 thoughts on “Holding On To The Things You Love”

    1. I really wasn’t attention seeking – just sharing the reason for my recent absence. But it is nice to hear that the posts still have impact. Thank you, Judy.

  1. I rarely comment (like a lot of others, I am sure), but I love every single post in your blog, even when they make me cry. I send many blessings your way for the wonderful work that you do! xo

    1. Thank you, Julee. Sorry that I sometimes make you cry. I can’t promise it won’t happen again. But it will always be from the heart. I appreciate all of your blessings and share them with our great team.

  2. I always love reading your blogs I look forward to it when ever I see it pop up in my emails. You have a great way of expressing words for every picture you include.

  3. I look forward to your posts every week although I don’t reply often. Your post brightened this rainy Sacramento day that postponed the HB reunion picnic, a day I look forward to every year!

    1. Who would have ever thought we would be rained out in May?? Usually we are worried about bringing enough pools for the pups in the heat. We’re looking for a date. Cross your paws that we can reschedule soon!

      1. Thank you Audrey. Your thoughts and pictures are so beautiful and poignant!

  4. The sorrow here in unmistakable. Life is so full of sorrow and loss, for everyone eventually, but at differing and unfair times. I have my own serious sorrow and grief. I try and remember to focus on the things that keep me going. I am grateful, my recently picked camera allows me to focus like this. Your amazing creatures do the same for you. Life will be heartbreakingly sad, but it is often so infused with love and beauty.

    1. You bring joy to so many, Cindy – your posts so full of life and color. I don’t comment enough, but I look forward to them always.

  5. I would truly miss not being able to read an occasional Garden for Goldens post. Probably as mush as I miss The Wonder Years and I really miss that show.

  6. I just want to add to these previous words of support from you silent fans – I also look forward each week to your entries about the garden, and of course about the dogs. You not only provide additional information about various dogs, you touch our hearts and so well put words to what so many of us feel but don’t articulate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed my phone to my husband and said, “You have to read this one”, or “this is the dog I told you about.” You have an exceptional gift of words that has value to many that you should always know how much you are appreciated.
    Thank you. Joan M.

    1. What a lovely note, Joan. Thank you. What a great way to share your work with the dogs with your husband. I had not thought of that.

  7. Oh Audrey, I don’t know what I would do without your keen insight and artistic talent. You are a rare gem and you have done so much to make that garden a reflection of your love. Than you, thank you…

  8. I may not always comment but I am always thrilled to see a blog post from you. They never disappoint.

  9. These photographs, this post, and your blog are wonderful, Ogee. You let us join you in honoring, recognizing, and remembering… ❤️

  10. Audrey, I too get great inspiration and comfort from your blog – you hit so many of the right notes with your insights with the dogs and the beauty of the garden. Yes, there are times when blogging becomes overwhelming – I am just back from a hiatus of several months and was surprised by so many responses when I finally did post. So give yourself a break every once in a while; we’ll still be here every time you feel inspired to share with us again. 🙂

  11. I love your blog Audrey but blogs aren’t meant to be a tyranny in your life. It’s okay to take breaks and respect the seasons in your life as you respect the seasons in nature and life. I always read and appreciate your perspective on dogs, gardens, nature, life. Be well!

  12. Love it and that you found the pictures if Bentley! Napoleon is such a beautiful senior boy. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Thank you for all the pictures of Goldens and gardens over these many years. Know that your dedication to this pictorial journal is something that we, and many others, cherish. The faces are many times stamped in our memory. The stories embed deep into our hearts. Thank you for not giving up for your job is such a labor of love…that that is never an easy one. We have been past adopters and supporters since 2011. Bless you and all at HBGRR.

    1. Thank you, Corie! You have been a part of our family for a long while. When you feel ready to add to yours again – just let us know. 🙂 Thank you for the kind words and encouragement.

      1. Thank you. In a couple of years we will be ready for another senior Golden. Right now we are raising Poe – a young very, very active Golden and we are exhausted at our old age!

  14. Another faithful reader who rarely responds, but is delighted each time I see an Ogee post. You’ve made me laugh, cry, be angry at the world and in awe of the world’s wonders. No matter what, your words touch my heart, and the hearts of the people I show them to. Don’t worry about taking breaks. We’ll still be here whenever you do share your awesome talents with us. xo

  15. Oh I’ve missed your blog posts and so glad to see a new one. I share them with a raft of friends. Don’t every think no one reads you!

  16. I became a volunteer 5 years ago and Bentley was the first dog I ever fell head over heels in love with. I credit him with my fondness for the senior dogs that pass through our gates, their sweet souls and sugary faces that make you want to scoop them up and love them for whatever time you are blessed with. Seeing his face here was such a wonderful reminder, and your blog allowed us to find the faces of so many others that hung on cards in the garden for our memorial event. Never forgotten, always with us. We are here, always listening and more appreciative of all you share then you will ever know.

    1. 1. You fall head over heels in love with every dog. You’re not fooling anyone. 2. Has it only been five years? It seems like you have always been with us – and I know we are better for you being here. 3. The appreciation is mutual. More than you will ever know. ❤

  17. Please know that no matter when I come to a gardensforgoldens blog, I open it right on the spot. Your writing is food for the soul as you craftily blend together loving, living thoughts, photos and quotations so meaningfully to the living, loving pups, mostly Goldens who are on their ways! I treasure those writings, and always, when finished reading, have thoughts to carry me through my day. Thanks for sharing your time and talents with us.

  18. Ina Tompkins shared your blog and website with me a couple of years ago. I’ve enjoyed following all the love and commitment you provide these beautiful animals!, Thank you for your efforts.

  19. I enjoy every word you write. I enjoy every photo you share. I admire your efforts on behalf of dogs and people. And, I can’t thank you enough.

  20. Oh Audrey, I’m glad you’ve gotten your mojo back! I look forward to each and every one of your posts! Especially since my beloved Shadow joined our beloved Callie in Heaven. Seeing all the sweet pups getting a new chance at love and family does my broken heart more good than you’ll ever know.

  21. I’m sorry this is going to be wordy so forgive me. 🙂 Most importantly, your blog posts are the only ones I am assured will give me goosebumps and moisture to my eyes as I read and smile.:-) This comment is based upon my ‘mature’ age, but I’m pretty sure (as in positive) WordPress is targeting those between 20-50 (at the very high end) and their emphasis is using a phone not a computer of any sort. My latest disappointment was the elimination of the spell/grammar check and when I inquired the response was everyone was using an app on their phone. Hmm. I am also responsible for maintaining a volunteer blog where no one, and I mean no one, except for two blogging friends (Laurie and Maureen) ever like or comment. You work, you try, and it seems like no one is reading because you have no idea if they are. I have never cared about stats and still don’t, but if readers only understood how important clicking ‘like’ every once in a while would allow the blogger to continue with a positive attitude. There, I told you it would be wordy, but please keep blogging and telling the pup and garden stories because you brighten our days with your writing, photography, and happy ever after endings.

    1. I share your frustration. The updates they made are designed for short posts with few photos…more akin to Instagram than thoughtful sharing. And I cannot tell you how many times people who have signed up to receive posts by emails say they have stopped receiving them. I have experienced this myself. It’s maddening. I really did not intend to put out a cry for a “hug” but the response I received is a reminder to me that the people are out there – regardless of how “views” are measured and that I need to be part of keeping everyone else motivated as well. Thank you for your kind words, Judy. I always look forward to your posts…even if I have to go searching for them!!

  22. I don’t comment but I read your blog religiously. I appreciate their thoughtful content and can imagine no better combination than dogs and gardens. Thank you for sharing your photos and your heart.

  23. You brought tears to my eyes and so easily with this post Audrey and I fully understand about blogging, it’s a difficult beast to keep going – whether it’s posting or reading what others have posted. Sometimes you have to walk away and take a break, and maybe you’ll come back refreshed. And then life has a way of forcing a break, as in my recent case and now it’s time for me to get back at it – just not 4 hours a day as sometimes it has been. The work that you and others do at Gardens for Goldens is unmatched and is truly a godsend for the dogs and their prior owners, and it goes without say, their new owners. Napoleon is a special one, you captured this beautiful dog in the best light possible – but one can see the pain that creeps around the edges, his eyes and ears show this. Your gift, especially these documented photographs, will be a recorded memory that will go on for a very long time and give people immense joy when they least expect it. The gardens are gorgeous – you know exactly how to capture them. Take care my friend and when needed, give yourself to take the break – it’s what comes back to you that you’ll appreciate.

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