Out of the fog

The world gets smaller in winter.
As the mist clears, tiny details emerge.

For a dog with seizures, the world can feel very small, indeed.
Scary, uncontrollable moments followed by a fog.
Most humans find them hard to handle.
It is easy to withdraw.
New diets and medications can make a world of difference –
but the most important ingredient is love.

Daisy is a seizure dog. To look at her you would never know.

Her person is drawn to these special dogs and has become quite the mentoring expert to others.

Rocky and Nalah were recently surrendered for their seizures.

We found them people who understand and accept these episodes as merely details of their special souls.

Among the muted greys and browns of winter –

Startling colors emerge.

Out of the fog –
A whole new life appears.

New Beginnings

The first time I saw Spice, she was cowering under her Kuranda dog bed in the tiny space between it and the floor. Her leash was attached, and would remain that way for some time as she was impossibly shy and would bolt when approached.

She was part of a group of dogs surrendered from a breeder. At one year of age, she had no idea what it meant to live inside or with people. All she knew were other dogs and the safety of a single pen. Her evaluation said “frightened; shy; no idea what to do with a toy; has had no socialization to people; best to go to a home with other dogs.”

She made tiny baby steps forward with select human friends going ever so slowly in the hopes that she would learn to trust.

It can happen, but in the kennel environment, it takes much longer.

Lisa is one of team leads. She has a very special way with the dogs; part dog whisperer, part “let’s go!-er.”

Where others coddle, Lisa confidently expects. She sizes up a dog and when she believes it can do more, somehow, it starts believing it too. She was the first to get a collar on our once feral, River.

At one year of age, he had been living along the river’s edge for who knows how long. Finally captured with a Ketchall, the animal control pole, he wanted nothing to do with anything going over his head or around his neck. A collar and leash were his ticket out of the outside enclosure to indoor comfort. Thankfully, he arrived in the late spring when the weather was good.

Lisa earned his trust enough to allow his face to be pet, starting from the nose. When she sat with him to do this, he would close his eyes. One day, during this session, she waited for his eyes to close and just slipped on the collar. He could have backed out as he had done with so many others, but he allowed it. Perhaps it was the fluidness of her gesture or her sheer determination that caught River off guard, but on the collar went and so began his rehabilitation.

So it was no surprise that Lisa packed up our shy girl and brought her home. There, big Golden teddy bear Dakota could guide her

and little Kiki could help her to be brave.

They were joined by Mamacita and Babycakes—two Chihuahuas that were dumped in the fields near the rescue and wormed their way into Lisa’s heart (and car) as pretend fosters

—and Forrest, a very special needs boy.

This unlikely pack was obviously exactly what Spice needed because the next time I saw her – she looked like this.

Inside every winter lies the beginnings of spring just waiting for its right time and opportunity to blossom.

One year later, Spice’s whole life and happiness have changed for the better because someone believed that she was capable of more.

She’s rolling in the new year as a completely different dog.

There is no telling what a fresh start, love and companionship will bring to our rescued dogs in 2019 –

and I can’t wait to see. Here is to a year full of new beginnings.

A Winter Rose

It doesn’t happen often—but often enough to wonder. Dogs that are long-time residents of the rescue—the ones with special behavioral or medical needs who wait for angel adopters—find their way home only to pass unexpectedly just as they have found love. Not that they aren’t loved by us. But there is a difference between being loved and cared for by volunteers and being a chosen special someone and finally being home. It is if—wrapped in that security—that they finally fully relax and let their guard completely down. And in that vulnerability, cancer strikes or hearts fail.

Our hearts go out to their adopters who opened their hearts and homes only to be robbed of precious golden years. And yet, they keep coming back to us to risk it all again. “How lucky that they finally got to experience home,” they—and we say…and believe.

It sometimes happens in reverse. At 10 years of age, Bear survived the Camp Fire and the stress of makeshift accommodations before being surrendered to us.

Without a home, the family had no way to keep him. It wasn’t that his body didn’t show his age: his hind legs were weak and strange lumps and bumps hung off him everywhere. But his demeanor was happy and his old soul was sweet.

One of those lumps concerned our Doc more than the others. Bear took a happy ride to the vet “talking” all the way there as his mom had told us he was wont to do. It’s a German Shepherd thing. Under a gentle, anesthesia-induced sleep, she discovered that that we were too late. The invader had already burst. Bear had given us no clue.

This time, we are the ones feeling robbed. We did not know him long, but you could not love him if you met him.

The first roses of the season are bright and fresh and last and last. But the short-lived last roses of the season—in their frailty—are some of the most beautiful.

Here’s to you, sweet Bear. A winter rose beyond its bloom.

And all of the others we have loved and lost too soon.

Love in a Mist

There are near daily tests for the rescuer woman: her will to heal against theirs to surrender.
Most battles are won, but not all; the rescuer does not always get to be the savior.
The beloved dog who so kindly shared his home, heart, and rescuer mom has gone.

Sometimes, it feels like the universe conspires against us –
When it is simply saying, “I’m calling you home.”
It is not compelled to explain its timing or purpose –
Any more than the flower defends when it sets and seeds.
Like the Love in a Mist – our physical presence appears protected –
shielded –

But, in the end, it is as fleeting as dew.
You soak up the bloom for as long as you are able –
And come to learn that even in its passing – it sows the seeds of more.
More beauty.

More seasons.

More ways to meet – differently – in whispers and shadows and mist – but again.

Carried with us – always.

“If I had a single flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden.” ~ Claudia Adrienne Grandi

Cooper at Camp Yogi

Our most recent houseguest was a repeat caller named Cooper. He is one of Daisy’s litter. He stayed with us about a month ago while his people were away – right after his sister, Colleen’s stay until her people were ready to bring her home. This is a photo of the two of them before they found their furever homes.

My husband mocks me for taking the puppy pen down…he thinks it might as well just stay up permanently. He’s probably right. (Cooper at three months.)

Cooper’s people had a family reunion to attend, and since he got along so well during his first visit – and is still young and impressionable – it seemed like the best place for him to hang out for a week or so. His people call it Camp Yogi – named for our three-year-old, puppy-loving Yogi. (Cooper at four months.)

Camp Yogi is full of play, adventure, swimming, and a few lessons as well.

He has his Golden mom’s coloring (and heart) – and his German Shepherd/Dobie dad’s size! Shy and quiet as a puppy, Cooper’s playfulness is growing almost as quickly as his size! At three months:

At four months:

Cooper was Yogi’s shadow – following him everywhere.

He dispensed cauliflower ears and slobber to Yogi – and Yogi wore that puppy into exhaustion. Or was it the other way around?

Puppies are good for Yogi.
Yogi is good for puppies.
And Camp Yogi is fun for everyone!

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