Angel At The Bridge

There is a saying: “Wait for them at the bridge.”

It is usually refers to a dog waiting for its faithful human companion(s) at the Rainbow Bridge, where dogs go—just this side of heaven—to run free and play, restored, until they can cross the bridge together with their human again. In this case, it was reversed.

Cannela is the orphaned girl dog of an orphaned man.

Homeless, they lived under a bridge in Mexico – a home that offered some degree of shelter and access to water – but not much more. Whether the man met Cannela before or after Cannela met a car is unclear. The meeting was unfortunate and left Cannela with a broken back and leg.

The man was Cannela’s first guardian angel. He watched over the dog as her broken bones bonded together – not enough to recover the proper use of her hind legs, but enough that she could walk and run a little bit – and wiggle a lot with joy. A happier dog, you have never met.

Death stole the man from Cannela. The dog waited in vain at the bridge for the man’s return until a devastating fire stole the only home Cannela had known.

Somehow, she escaped to the streets. Rumor has it she was picked up and left at the dump. This, I cannot confirm. But the odds of her survival – much less happiness without her guardian angel – were not good.

Thankfully, a second angel stepped in. A rescuer who makes regular trips to the border to save dogs’ lives heard of Cannela’s plight and rushed to her aid. She brought Cannela to Homeward Bound. Thin, flea-covered, lethargic, worrisome. But just a few days of good food and care revealed her happy and adoring personality.

A thorough medical exam and x-rays revealed that nothing could be done about her fused bones. “Just love her,” Doc said. And this is when her third guardian angel stepped in.

Cannela was scooped up by one of our own.

As a permanent foster, all of Cannela’s medical needs will be met for life by Homeward Bound. All the love she needs will be supplied her new family.

Your first angel waits for you at the bridge, Cannela. You will see each other again someday. Just be prepared to share. You have many angels watching over you, now.

All good photos taken by Rob Kessel of Rob and Dog.

Update: Cannela begins swim therapy!

All In A Day

All in a day…

A motley duo transformed and made as beautiful on the outside as they are within.

A one year old boy is surrendered, and then reclaimed because his people could not be without him with the understanding that a dog is a member or the family and a promise is a promise. Kids (human or canine) take time to grow up. Patience, perseverance and consistency are the keys. You get out what you put in.

Three Golden girls were spared a life of puppy-making and will, instead, enjoy a life of love and play.

A good Samaritan went out of his way (and wallet) to convince a neglectful and abusive owners to sell him the dog they left chained in the yard.

Before bringing him to us, he took the unbelievably trusting and forgiving Labby boy to the river and showed him that good people do care.

Three grateful Goldens saved from the streets (or worse) traveled more than 6,000 miles to begin a new life.

Three masquerading teeny tiny tots made their way to our Golden Retriever rescue (and my foster home)

because our favorite breed is rescued.

And one hundred and twenty roses were pruned and prepped for a new season thanks to the best-ever gardening crew (only a few are captured here).

Countless little miracles – all in a day.
Find your passion and jump in. Even the muddy water is fine.

Second Chances: Look Back

Working on a special project, I have been looking back at some old photos (if you can call them that) dating back to when I first began volunteering at the rescue. They are pretty bad. I can’t believe I had the audacity to post them. Just goes to show: I’m still capable of growth and learning at my advanced age!

Two volunteers, Chris and Steve, make repeated appearances as they were fixtures at the rescue at the time.

I have always had rescue dogs – but Chris and Steve had a whole different breed of rescue dog: some of the hardest, most unpredictable, and potentially dangerous cases if not handled correctly. The kind of dogs that don’t usually get second chances.

I saw Chris and Steve’s talents with Shelby. I wrote about her here (please excuse the horrible photos). Chris, in particular, spent years earning her trust including something as basic as the ability to touch her paw. Eventually, Shelby was able to go home with them, but hemangiosarcoma stole her just one month later.

They turned their grief and talents toward two dogs in particular: Goldie and Sammie.

Goldie was a bounce-back dog. Adopted and returned, she was described by some (including me) as bi-polar. She would seem fine one minute, until something set her off. She was wary with strangers, had a strong sense of “this is mine,” and was reactive around other dogs.

Sammie was a beauty – but there was something not quite right. She too had a quick on/off switch that went from play to battle in an instant. Like Goldie, she was reactive – but more obviously so – to the point of spinning herself into exhaustion in the kennel.

Only certain people who had earned their trust were allowed to take them out. I was ended up coming to an understanding with Sammie, but Goldie never trusted me – so I kept my distance.

Neither dog was adoptable. The only way they were going home was with a volunteer who understood them, and had the training to keep themselves, the dogs, and others safe. Chris and Steve had an average-size home that was already filled to capacity with rescue dogs. Kennels are not good places for reactive dogs and, as time wore on, I admit to wondering if it would have been kinder to let them go. If we had play groups back then, we might have seen a different side of them. But Chris and Steve had a plan. Unfortunately, it involved leaving the rescue. Fortunately for Goldie and Sammie, it involved moving to Colorado where a much larger home and plenty of outdoor space could be purchased for a fraction of California prices.

Goldie went home first.

And then Steve came back for Sammie. They were simply not leaving without her.

It has taken years for the “Golden Misfits” to find some sense of peace and enjoyment with each other. (Photos courtesy of Golden Misfits)

The significant issues of Goldie and Sammie are balanced by helper dogs, Missy and Tigger (now departed),

and the newest addition: Murphy.

Pork Chop adopted himself to the family shortly after they arrived,

and the ancient but adorable Jessie stayed long enough to thoroughly enjoy the snow.

It seems like each – with the exception of young Murphy – has had a brush with death and a miraculous recovery. It’s a testament to two people who just don’t give up.

Which is why I find myself, once again, nursing this sad, little orange tree back to health!

It was planted in Shelby’s honor years ago. It succumbed to frost in the first winter; came home with me for a year to be resuscitated; was coddled with a special cover in winter #2 to no avail; was reborn again; was replanted in another, more protected area; and was set back again in a late February surprise frost! I swear it has barely grown in all these years. We have lots of apple, pear, and almond trees – but citrus trees are not found in the rescue’s open country for good reason. Still, I am determined that it will live and someday thrive. A tribute to two people who taught me a lot about patience and second chances – and their love for a very special dog.

Princess Gracie

My name is Gracie. I am the grande dame of the E. & D. household. Technically, I am the middle dog. I arrived last January. Molly was here first. Been her since she was a young pup. She had pups herself before E. found her. I guess that’s why she never entirely grew up.

While I may not have the seniority of tenure – I certainly do of age. At 14, I am top dog – even among the humans – if you count dog years.

I used to be a Princess. That’s what they called me. And that’s how they treated me. I do believe I am royalty. My people had to give me up, though they loved me very much. I got adopted – because I’m so adorable. Then my new human died. I went to live with his brother, but he had to go to a new home for seniors, which meant I had to find one, too. So I came back to Homeward Bound.

That’s when I met E. She has a thing for girls of a certain age (Molly excepted). There was Goldie aka Andi, and Bailey, and Daisy, and Bunny before me. And somewhere in the middle, there was Molly. I don’t know what spell she cast over E. to get her to believe she was one of us sugar-faces. She sure wasn’t at the time. And let me tell you, even though she is ten now, she still wreaks havoc all over the place.

I guess that’s why E. brought Lexie home. ‘Cause she’s a runner. She runs like a crazy, undignified girl with Molly.

She runs, period. That’s why she got herself surrendered at the age of 10. She just would not stay put. Lexie has been a bit of a challenge for E., let me tell you. And they are both a pain in the-you-know-what for me.

I’ve lived a rich long life. I’ve shared my love with a lot of humans. And I love life as much as anyone.

But certain things don’t work the same way when you turn 14. Like my back legs, for one.

And these girls just won’t quit!

I think I’m entitled to a little peace and quiet, don’t you?

Maybe I’ll leave the front door open and see how far Lexi and Molly will really run! Did I say that out loud? Oops.

Tucking in the Garden

Another evening visit to the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden this week. My turn this time. Hopefully it is our last day with temperatures over 100 for a while, thanks to the Delta Breeze which is just beginning to kick in.

The bunnies were too quick for me to capture…

The dragon flies would not hold still…

So you will just have to take my word for it.

Nothing profound to say; the Garden says it all.

And then it says “goodnight.”

Sunday Dogs and Gardens

Another beautiful Sunday in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.  I arrived early as the morning was cool, offering the best time for planting. It has been that way most of the week since our merciful Delta Breeze blew in, and the plants were showing their gratitude.  Everything looked refreshed and happy after our heat wave a week earlier. Maria joined me, neither of us anticipating much to do today – yet somehow it never works out that way!

I put in some more Zinnias to add color where spring blooms have faded, and started some Asters which will bloom into the fall. In a particularly dry and troublesome spot, I added Coastal Rosemary (westringia fruiticosa for those of you who are more formal). The compact shrub is native to eastern Australia and tolerates many soil types and dry growing conditions. I like its variegated leaves alongside the Russian Sage. Its size may eventually be an issue – but there are plenty of other spots for it to shine in the gardens if it becomes too unruly.

Sue has been a little overwhelmed with her new adopted puppy (you forget how much work the young ones are!) so we pitched in to make sure Grandma’s Flower Bed was well kept. Things have really filled in – with the Iceland Poppies, blooming very late into the season, producing an unexpected and rich color palette alongside the Petunias.

Thanks to lots of mulch, the weeds were few. Maria cleaned out the solar fountain that serenades us each day beginning around 11AM, and I added some Cosmos to an open spot until Sue returns.

Ina’s recent visit was evident in the perfectly coiffed white white roses…

and in the Cottage Garden where she has masterfully matched silvers, greens and muted colors with shades of grey.

Maria continued staking the monster sunflowers which just keep growing. While my back was turned, she started another project – lowering the sundial to be flush with the ground so flat stones can surround it. Luckily, two of our other volunteers came by and made the mistake of asking how they could help. They were quickly put to work digging! Thanks Peggy and Steve.

Errant tree branches were pruned and dead rose blossoms removed; Jody’s garden was weeded and the African Iris she contributed found a home in the Willow Garden. The entryway was weed whacked into some semblance of order, and the orchard trees deep-watered as we do weekly now.

But the best part of the day were the many dog walkers who visited us with Bailey…

Sonic (read about this ball-loving, part Chesapeake Bay Retriever boy here):

And Donna (a terrible name for a dog, and not a Golden at all – but she found her way here thanks to the big heart of the woman who rescued her. Read about her here.)

Sundays at Homeward Bound. Dogs. Gardens. What could be better? Thanks for stopping by.

When You Are Ready

This was recently posted on Homeward Bound’s Facebook page from the Petco Foundation. Wonderful advice to those who have lost a beloved friend and think they will never have room in their hearts for another.

We don’t know what life brings. Some are long, and some too short. But each has its own beauty, and leaves its own lasting impression.

The Homeward Bound Memorial Garden is dedicated to the golden companions we have loved. In it grow these spectacular Daylilies. Each blooms for only one day – but what a spectacular day it is.

Daylilies obviously can’t be compared to the dogs we love, but you get where this is going. Would we decide not to plant them knowing they had only one day to share with us? Or not enjoy the blooms that followed? Never.

When you are ready, there is always room to love and enjoy another.