The Seeds You Planted

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

It has been a year since you left us. Your presence is felt as strongly today as it was then. Only now we can speak of you with a smile instead of tears.

Recently, friends and volunteers gathered to dedicate the chapel you coveted – built by your siblings – housing the ashes of dogs returned to Homeward Bound. Among them, Chelsea’s ashes – the Golden girl that inspired your vision for this very special place on earth.

We learned that you wanted the chapel placed by the pond you enjoyed in solitude as the sun set and you closed out your days of toil – physical and emotional. Your spirit is strong there. You would be so pleased with the result.

One of our guests lamented so many new faces, feeling out of place. Another noted that as a good thing. I agree. It means that we are strong and welcoming a new generation of people devoted to your vision of rescue, rehabilitation, home, and sanctuary. But we need old friends as well as new to provide perspective and context. The blood, sweat and tears that went into making this vision a reality should always be shared and remembered lest it be taken for granted.

One guest walked the property remembering the bare ground of 20 years past – recounting your vision: “Here we will house the dogs, here, a vet clinic; here, a swimming pool for rehabilitation; here, a pond; here, grassy yards to run and play; here, a place to gather and train; here, a place for puppies to grow strong; here – a memorial garden.” They strained to see it and remembered playing along – pretending to believe. And yet – here it is. All of it.

Time does not stand still, and neither have we. The dogs require it. It has not been easy, but you took care to plant good seeds. They have grown strong and taken root. Things are different. But you would be proud. We persevered. The dream lives on.

“The sap of another generation
fingering through a broken tree
to push fresh branches
towards a further light,
a different identity.” ~John Montague

In loving memory or Jody Jones.

A Place You Called Home

We all know the story. When you drove out to the property for the first time, you said: “I am home.” Driving out to the rescue today, I saw again why you loved this piece of open country so.

The landscape rose from the fog and frost-bitten ground. The flooded rice fields – glass-like and still – were filled with geese, ducks and coots. The sun broke through and cleared a path through the mist.

Had I known the day would begin so beautifully, I would have left earlier and pulled over for photos. But the dogs were anxiously waiting to begin their day with breakfast and play.

Every inch of this landscape reminds me of you. Sadness comes washing over me in waves.

Your yellow roses…fittingly…were among the last hanger-ons in the winter garden.

While waiting to hold a true, post-pandemic memorial, we placed a giant heart of your favorite yellow roses in the park and sent it heaven-bound before Thanksgiving. I have not been able to find the words to write about it – or anything else.

The alpacas have been sent away; your vegetable garden wastes; your beautiful boy passed from cancer; and your plaque was placed. The reality sinks in.  

And yet, I hear your voice everywhere. In the garden; among the barking dogs; in the calls of birds overhead; and in the morning’s frosted silence. You are everywhere.

I can be relieved that you did not live to see what our world has come to. And still, I know, that in this darkness, you would have found the hope. If nowhere else, then in this little slice of country heaven. A place of hope and sanctuary to dogs.

A place you called home.

The Garden Calls For You

I arrived early that Sunday morning. Learning of her fall, I went to check on her. As she was loaded to the ambulance, I told her it would be okay. I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be – but who am I to argue with the power of prayer?

We grieve the loss of our founder, leader, mentor, and friend. Her impact was immeasurable. The outpouring of love and sorrow at the news, indescribable.

I have found it difficult to find words all this wish-to-be-forgotten year, but the words I had to write on her behalf were the hardest.

Jody’s heart has always been full to the brim with joys and sorrows. It gave and gave for more than twenty years – until today – when it finally gave way.

It is with tremendous sadness that we share the passing of Jody Jones – our founder, leader, teacher, and most of all – our dear friend. Words are incredibly hard to find at this time. None seem sufficient for the impact that this tiny, determined woman had on so many. To live a life of meaning is what we all hope for. Jody lived that and more. She literally made a difference in the lives of thousands. She taught compassion, hope, acceptance, and forgiveness – and to always say “yes, we can.”

And with equal determination, we now say “yes, we can” continue her legacy as she would wish.

Homeward Bound has always been a work in progress. Dreams are like that. You pick up where you left off and you imagine something new. The job of those of us with years of tenure is now to walk in her shoes and inspire the next generation to carry forward the vision. They will make it their own. But at its heart there will always be a bright shining star leading us down the right path following one guiding principle: It’s All About the Dogs.

It was good that our beloved Red went ahead. That way, he could greet Jody at the bridge along with Chelsea, Lucky, and countless others. There is an incredibly special place in heaven for this amazing woman. Filled with birds chirping, endless sunrises, overflowing gardens, and dogs, dogs, dogs.

Godspeed and guide us. We’ll meet you there, dear friend.

For many years, I helped her form her communications. She said I expressed what she felt in ways she could not. It was a collaboration I treasured; seeing through her eyes and sharing what was in her heart. I will miss that – and so much more.

I am exhausted from a week of fielding reporter calls and answering hundreds of emails and posts while juggling work and family needs. When I finally had a moment to just “be” in my sadness, I returned to the neglected garden.

The creatures had been waiting on her return. I had to tell them she would not be back.

At least, not in the way we remember.

Early Sunday mornings were our time. She would come out with her coffee and just wander. We would listen to the chimes and agreed that this was our Sunday church service.

I hung another pair donated in her memory in her garden bed. They are smaller and lighter, and ring freely in the breeze reminding me and the creatures that she is still with us there.

The garden is where I will remember her most. In its own time, it will tell me what to plant or place in her honor.

It was designed at her request. A place of joy. Peace. And remembrance.

She left us years too soon. I know the timing was not her wish. And yet something inside her had been telling her to prepare us for this. In recent years, she tried to step back and let others lead. It was not her nature, though. When she felt it slipping away, she would grab it back. Saving lives was her passion; her reason for being.

Peace and joy be with you my friend.

We should all have such a lasting impact from our brief time on this earth.

The Power of Love

At ten years of age, Napoleon was surrendered to a shelter with inoperable masses and a limited life expectancy. After months of doting on him at the rescue, he went home as a permanent foster with Elaine and Justin in October 2018 expecting that his was truly hospice care.

Elaine and Justin are no ordinary humans. For years, they have been showing up every Saturday morning to feed, clean and care for the dogs. They showered Napoleon with the same devotion. Before he went home with them, they would bring him to the garden or a yard after their exhausting work and spend quiet time with him. After he became a part of their family, they brought him with them on Saturday mornings – hovering, waiting, staying close by them in the kitchen and laundry as they came in and out of the kennel.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~ A.A. Milne

Napoleon went on to live another two years with Elaine and Justin – probably the best, most spoiled years of his life. The power of love.

Fly free sweet boy. Wait for them at the bridge.

When Bad Things Happen

California is on fire…again. Each occurrence seems to set a new record for destruction and loss of life. The entire town of Paradise is gone and with it, 23 lives and countless animals, domestic and wild.

The thick smoke has drifted and settled in our valley turning the landscape an eerie orange –

blocking out the sun and delivering an early cold that caused a premature freezing of tender fall blooms.

It is tempting to complain about the suffocating air – until you remember that the smoke carries with it the lives, memories, and homes of others.

How do you reconcile the weight of tragedy against our day-to-day lives? When the world seems so full of hate and hurt? When the homeless still sleep in our streets? When our very planet is under assault? Or an entire town is reduced to ash?

And yet – dogs still need to get out to run,

play,

learn

and be comforted.

The garden still needs tending and planting if we are to celebrate spring.

I left my smoke-filled home this morning and arrived at the rescue which was miraculously nearly clear – blue sky rising above a layer of smoke.

As the flowers of late fall replace fallen dahlias,


and new pups take the place of those adopted,



I am reminded of life’s cycles and the beauty –

and hope –

that still surround.

When you cannot stop horrors from happening, find a way to help. Provide a roof to someone who lost theirs. Foster an animal to bring peace of mind to humans as they struggle to cope. Send money or donate items.
In times of bad, demonstrate good.

Here is a list of ways you can help in Northern California, provided by the Camp Fire’s local paper.

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

Life is Fragile


“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This is how our friend B lived his life…each day to the fullest.
He passed suddenly – unexpectedly – a few weeks ago.
‘Have a good day’ turned into ‘goodbye’ in an instant.

He did not mean or want to leave. Departing a wife, two children, and countless friends with broken hearts. He touched so many lives.

If you saw a Super Bowl, Olympics or even a PGA golf tournament in the past 15 years, you saw his work –
his eye for drama, courage, and pursuit of excellence witnessed through the lens of his video camera.

B got to live his dream – on the field and slopes of some of the world’s greatest sporting events.
He had a rare gift: the ability to anticipate exactly where the action would end up.
Every action but his own.

“Life is fragile, like the dew hanging delicately on the grass, crystal drops that will be carried away on the first morning breeze.” ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

In life, you’re lucky if you have one or two really good friends; B was one of my husband’s two best.
Everyone knew him for his love of life, his laughter, his ability to light up a room.
My husband knew this about his friend, and more. He knew his struggles, his pains…his darkest days.
Through adversity, the strongest bonds are forged.

It pains me to watch him struggle with the loss of his dear friend. It will take time and tears until he remembers what B would tell him now…

“Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall.

Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.” ~ Author Unknown