All Dogs Go To Heaven

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May deluges bring?

It is the third week of May, and I am sitting in my house in a wool sweater and fleece jacket because I will be damned if I will turn on the heat at this point in the year!

Like the rest of the country, we have been hit with really bizarre weather. I cannot complain, however, because ours is in the form of cooler temperatures and significant rainfall – something we gladly accept as we head into another hot, dry summer (I think!).

It caused the cancellation of our much-anticipated annual Reunion Picnic when adopters and their dogs are reunited with the volunteers who helped them on their journeys home.

It is amazing to see so many faces spanning well over a decade in time. Some are young and wild; some sugar-faced and happy to rest in the shade. This year, however, they would have been sitting in a downpour, so we will have to look for another date.

Thankfully, the weather was beautiful for our new event two weeks ago – a memorial service in the garden: All Dogs Go to Heaven.

It was timed to match the garden’s first bloom. A heat wave the week before had me scrambling, but all survived and the garden looked magnificent—most especially the roses. There is nothing like the first bloom of the season.

People hung cards from the trees with photos and notes to the dogs they had loved and lost.

As the sun lowered in the sky, we lit candles, said a prayer, enjoyed great food and shared the company and stories of old friends and new brought together by a shared love of dogs.

I am not one for public displays of emotion, but I admit to welling up walking through the garden filled with photos of so many of our very special dogs—including our sanctuary dogs.

It was a physical manifestation of what I try to capture in this blog, thankfully documented by a professional photographer who donates his services, Mike Long. I stole a few to share with you. The full album is here.

As night fell, those that wished to placed their cards and photos in the fire pit. The ashes will be placed in the garden with a marker as a permanent reminder of the memories we shared together.

In anticipation of the rain this week, I did do some cutting back of the already over-burdened roses—particularly the Iceberg Roses in the White Garden that Ina has (once again) accused me of over-feeding and watering.

In my defense – the heat wave week was the first time I watered the garden all this wet spring – and they didn’t get any special feedings. They are, however, pruned by Ina – so guess who I blame for their exuberance!?!

I thought the rain might squash the newly planted Delta Sunflowers,

or drown the Dahlias that were just popping up.

Instead they seem to be thriving.

I’ll be curious to see how the California natives and drought-tolerants survive the pond created in the front beds.

How strange to worry about too much water for once! A small glimpse into our climate-changed future. Who knows? Maybe I will be able grow some of my east coast favorites soon.

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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.

21 thoughts on “All Dogs Go To Heaven”

  1. Love this post. Would have loved to attend this memorial celebration in honor of our HBGRR rescues (Bear, Brinkley and Max) but I would not have stopped weeping. Beautiful garden and event pictures. Thanks so much for sharing this moment.

      1. Funny you say that because one of my friends is moving to Tucson and is trying to figure out how to take her peonies. She had been researching how to put pans of ice on the plant to simulate winter conditions. I’m not picturing that working, but it might be an interesting experiment. 🙂

      2. It does work – at least in Sacramento. My neighbor has had success with them by placing them in a north-facing spot that gets sun in the morning but dappled shade in the afternoon. She opens bags of ice cubes at their base for about a month in January – usually our coldest month. Let me know how the experiment goes!

  2. Beautiful capture of a beautiful event. It was a a very special evening, and the garden was perfect. I keep forgetting to tell you what we did to provide protection for newly planted starts: Dollar Tree has plastic white waste baskets that I turned upside down over the plants. They are made to look like webbing, and provide perfect protection (for a buck each!). I had Anna running all over Sacramento to find them at various locations…

  3. What a beautiful post! I think of my ‘lost’ HB dogs (and all the others I’ve had) all the time. They are such a blessing and I’m so glad to hear about this beautiful memorial that occurred. If there’s another, I hope I can attend. ❤

    1. Absolutely! They never promise to be easy…just to love us. (Which is more than most cats will give you! Uh oh…now I’ve done it.!)

  4. What a wonderful way to remember the dogs who await their human families at the Rainbow Bridge!

    We’re entering what’s supposed to be 10 days of a heat wave here. It was warmer here in the SC upstate than it was at my brother’s house in the Florida Keys yesterday.

  5. This was very special – wonderful that you all hold such a warm and thoughtful memorial. You couldn’t ask for a better display of roses, wow!

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