Catching Up

Dear Across the States Gardeners,

I am so sorry for your cold and snow. Not to rub it in, but I spent the weekend cutting back and clearing out for spring. The danger of frost is now past and the buds on the roses and trees and emerging Daffodils and Tulips signal that a new season is not far away.

The process revealed a plethora of ladybugs –

and blasted Bermuda grass run amuck.

First a final freeze, and then a huge wind blew through last week.

We lost several trees and it picked up our beautiful arbor and tossed it as if it was made of sticks.

It was the very first thing in the garden – long before there was a garden. As if Jody wanted to plant a stake in the overgrown ground and claim it. Built strong and steady by one of “Da Guys” on our facility crew – it sailed but did not break. The legs have been removed and it will be rebuilt, finding its rightful spot soon along our memorial brick-lined path.

The lower trunks of the plum tree that has been threatening failure for the past five years found the ground. Our garden friend, Joey, gave it a professional haircut and hopefully a couple more years of life.

Our baby German Shepherd puppies and their mama, Annie, have found a generous and willing foster to see them through their upraising.

The woman’s dog passed a couple of months ago and she found her home too quiet and empty. There’s nothing like a litter of puppies to fix that! Annie will be so much happier there – and my focus will shift, as planned, to Skye’s first surgery next Wednesday.

It hurts my heart to think of months of rehab for this boy who is so full of life. But it will ensure that he has a long, active and pain-free life. I will keep the end goal in mind and hope he forgives me.

It occurred to me that in my hard-to-write 2020 year, that I had not documented two of our fosters here. The list was not nearly as long as 2019, but lest they be forgotten…

Rubble was named for the place he was found – in a pile of rubble, stray at only 3-4 months of age. This adorable boy with the crooked ears needed a better start to life, so he came home to stay with us for a bit.

I met with his potential adopters when he was ready. It was a meeting unlike any other. They had recently lost their beloved companion. Usually, people instantly swoon and fall in love with puppies but they seemed reserved. I worried that they were not connecting. When they asked if they could go home and think about it, I thought: well, you already know the answer. They left and Rubble and I started packing up to return home. The phone rang. It was the couple. They were on their way back. I was skeptical until I learned the reason for their hesitation: the man thought that maybe he was being disloyal to their departed dog. The woman told him: this is exactly what he would want and what we need to fill the holes in their hearts. And so Rubble became Rebel. He visits our classes weekly and recently graduated to the big dog school! He could not be more loved.

Louie was born blind in one eye. He was raised outside with two other dogs. He was very thin and clearly had to compete for food. When he lost the second eye to trauma – likely over a food discussion – he was suddenly blind. And apparently useless to his people. They left him in a shelter with a the gaping, untreated wound.

Our Doc removed both eyes for his long term health. When he was ready, he came home with us. We quickly saw the food guarding issue – but we also worked with a trainer to get it under control. Other than that, he was a complete love. He adapted very quickly to house living – navigating steps and obstacles with ease. This blind puppy just needed a little guiding.

His potential family was hand-picked. Regan is a young 10-year-old girl who has raised and donated her birthday money each of the last several years to the dogs. Last Christmas, when she came out to deliver her gift, she fell in love with a 12-year-old Golden with terminal cancer who had been abandoned at the vet. Regan convinced her family that Monk needed to be home with them. She lovingly cared for Monk through his last five and a half months of life.

This Christmas, Regan’s parents surprised her and her siblings by bringing Louie – now Murphy – home. It is clear from reports and photos that adopting a blind dog has been a truly rewarding experience for Regan and her family. Fostering one was for us, as well.

And now…we are caught up!

Look Up

My preference for a packed garden has led to some thuggery.

I spent the day cutting back prized but overgrown California fuschias, cerinthe major (honeywort), and even California poppies to allow the verbascum, sea holly, and blazing star see the light of day.

It’s a happy garden that grows so vigorously that it needs to be edited in May!

Sometimes, gardeners get tunnel vision; all we see are the weeds and work.
The same with rescue; the sad stories and hard days can overwhelm.

To be sure, the usual culprits are there in the garden: Bermuda grass and wild morning glory in particular.
But I say ‘look up.’

In rescue, you learn that you cannot dwell on the obstacles and setbacks. You have to look forward to the good that can be done. While our hearts still ache for the loss of our little Rose to Parvo, we have been celebrating the recovery of Lilac. She stayed with us for a bit to ensure that she would go home strong and healthy –

and so she could make up some lost socialization time during her period of isolation.

Post-darkness, she is a gift of sunlight and happiness.

Look up dear gardener – at the magnificent roses, the tall Verbena that towers, and the Daylilies in bloom.

Look up to the brilliant Yarrow, Matijila poppies, and Jupiter’s Beard.

Look forward to the Delta sunflowers, the Dahilias, Agastache, Penstemon, Bee Balm, Rudbeckia, Zinnias, and Salvias. They will be here before you know it.

The weeds, like troubles, will always be there. But it is the good and beauty that deserves our focus.

Happy life, sweet girl.

Among the Flowers

A virus lurked among the flowers.

Not of the pandemic kind. Or even the botanical kind. But of the completely preventable kind that ravages young puppies.

They arrived from a breeder that had been hospitalized. Seven puppies of selling age:
Heather, Iris, Lilac,

Pansy, Poppy, Tulip and Rose.

And two mama dogs. Clover and Dahlia.

Beautiful, fragile flowers. How fragile, we would quickly discover.

At four or five years of age (no one actually tracked her age), Dahlia’s body was wrecked beyond repair. What they noted as a possible thyroid issue was a bladder so enlarged it took up most of her abdominal cavity.

None of the puppies had received their first vaccinations. Unbeknown to us, they had already been exposed to the parvovirus. Within a few days, symptoms began to appear in one – and then another.

Quarantine procedures were initiated. The two were taken to the vet for intensive care. One battled and won. The littlest, dear Rose, was lost. The other five, thankfully, remained well.

It was a devastating time full of rage and grief for the destruction that did not need to be if people would only choose responsible breeders.

Cleared by the vet, Clover and five puppies have found their way home. One baby remains with us until she too receives the all-clear. But she is healthy and strong and is making her understandable displeasure with her isolation known.

In the midst of it, little Zoey arrived.

At 15 weeks, she was surrendered for being “viscous and aggressive.” We know it simply as puppy zoomies. Her first family was clearly inexperienced and unprepared. But we’re so grateful that they recognized they were not up to the task. It gave us the opportunity to get Zoey on the right path to a happy, well-adjusted life. Destruction avoided.

To keep her safe, she came to stay with us where she and our Yogi engaged in epic play. All this girl needed was someone who understands that bursts of puppy energy need to be channeled into positive play and that a tired, well-worn-out puppy is a good puppy.

Her new family with their huge yard, love of adventures, and their high-energy, Border Collie-mix boy, are a perfect fit.

Wins and losses. The work of rescue. We lean in, fortify each other, and put one foot in front of another doing all we can for those who cannot do for themselves.

And in the garden, we will plant special flowers in honor of Dahlia and little Rose so they will know that here, they were loved – and will always be remembered.

Just Set Him Loose

Just set him loose.

That’s what a local shelter told a woman who was trying to surrender a stray, six-month puppy after failing to find tags, a microchip, or its home after posting for over a week.

In the time of COVID-19, if a dog is dangerous, obviously sick, or injured, the shelter will accept – and euthanize it. If it is healthy and safe, and the person is unable to keep it, they (unbelievably) advise setting it loose. In this case, the woman already had well over the legal limit of dogs. A six-month-old, unneutered boy was one too many.

Thankfully, she could not bring herself to do this. Thankfully, we were there.

He arrived on Easter weekend. The team named him Jellybean. I have no doubt that he will be scooped up shortly after he is seen by our vet and neutered. He is absolutely adorable. Someone loved this dog once. Someone spent time housetraining him and teaching him to bring back, leave, and sit. But no one claimed him.

On their website, the shelter states that their mission is “to SAVE LIVES!” I guess the disclaimer should read “in good times.” These are the times that test our commitment and resolve. I hope they don’t ask me for a donation again.

He went from scared to joyful in the span of a half hour with the help of a kind volunteer.

Then, Jellybean and I spent most of the day in the garden.

He is an excellent helper. Attentive,

playful,

and content to be tethered close by as I work.

He does not like the kennel, and looked on as Ivan was adopted…with envy, I think.

Don’t worry little man. This will be you too…soon.

In My Dream

In my dream, I hear the sounds of thunder. Growling, gnarling, teeth gnashing in a battle to ensure each has their own. Looting and hoarding. Sounds of terror and squeals of alarm. Intimidation and threats. Bodies slammed to the ground.

Awakened. The sounds continue; the smell is unbearable.
Is this our end?
No. It is puppies at play!

Ferocious cubs. Testing out their tiny voices and might on the early path to doghood.

Four Great Pyrenees puppies to be exact.

They invaded our home when their devoted mom had finally had enough of them. When she packed their bags, they were cute little fluff balls. Now they are growing like little monsters – consuming their enclosure – desperate to get out and play.

This is Adele’s litter.

Born in a field. Found by a good Samaritan. Frighteningly, taken to a shelter where the threats that lurk are as great as the elements and predators: diseases.

We whisked them away.

Jody, our leader, kept mama and her babies isolated and closely guarded for their first fragile weeks – protected against dogs and humans with their germy cargo. Life-saving protections.

They thrived.

They exceeded mom’s patience.

And they pushed the cuteness scale off the charts – along with their weights.

They are endlessly poopy, smelly, bundles of fur – so fat, they waddle and are easily tipped by the big dogs.

They are all being treated for icky poo…leaving a trail of sticky footprints wherever they wander…and a mountain of laundry.

Chaos reigns in our home.

My husband loves them dearly but has made clear: four puppies with liquid poo – too much for future reference! (As if!)

Soon, they will be well and ready to go home – and it will be quiet again.

For now, they are a welcome if exhausting diversion from the days’ news and a reminder of all that is still sweet, joyful, and filled with hilarity and tomorrow’s hopes.

And we could all use a little of that right now.

The One That Got Away

On Christmas Day, I returned to the garden.

It has been about a month since I have spent any real time there except to rake and do light cleanup.

That’s what happens when foster puppies come to call.

Little Daisy—now Gabby—was with us for a month. Arriving at only seven weeks, she had already been passed around and surrendered for the birth defect on her eye.

At 11 weeks, she was healthy and fat and strong enough for her surgery.

Her eye was removed as the hairy tissue had grown to cover nearly 90 percent of her cornea and was extending to her lower lid. She sees better now without the constant obstacle blocking her view. She recovered quickly and was home in time for Christmas—her new mama’s bundle of joy (and potty-obstinance!).

Happy life, little girl.

In Northern California, we don’t put the garden to bed for the winter as much as we tidy up.

There is still color and foliage to admire –

but work to be done.

When the blossoms fall, the bees finally retreat enough to find the source of the pesky Bermuda grass. The damp ground Is much more gracious about giving up the fugitives it harbors – abolishing all excuses. As the leaves shed, the structure of the garden comes into view. It’s time to start editing select trees and shrubs being careful to leave basal foliage growth protected against expected frost.

Time is measured by the passing seasons –

and the growth of foster pups.

Lily was one of this year’s foster puppies. One that I never wrote about. Not because she was not memorable – but because she was too much so.

People ask how my husband and I can foster puppies and never want to keep them. We had never been tempted. We see ourselves as a part of their journey. Their parting is bitter sweet but we are excited for their new families. Our house is full of doggie love and we know that keeping one might prevent us from helping more.

But Lily was different.

At eight weeks of age, she was found “stray” in a parking lot with a broken leg and taken to an area shelter. Thankfully, she came to us quickly in time to do surgery and save her leg. The photo I took upon her arrival is heartbreaking.

She recovered at our president’s home until she reached a point where she needed regular swim therapy to help rebuild the atrophied muscle around her still growing bones.

So she came home with us where we could swim her in our pool multiple times throughout the day.

We fell in love immediately.

She gained strength quickly. Too quickly. Before we knew it, she had been promised.

She is the one that got away.

Lily has an incredible mom and dad, and to be honest, a life more full of adventures than we could have provided. She could not be more loved and doted on. That is what we want for all of our foster babes.

Still, I keep her photo on my desktop. And when she came to visit this weekend, I was filled with joy and tears.

She is where she is supposed to be. And so am I. In the garden awaiting the next foster arrival.

A Legacy of Faith and Hope

From a certain angle, you would never know there is something different about these two girls.

To me, they could not be more special. As puppies, they set me on the path to puppy fostering.

Surrendered by a breeder, they both had a congenital abnormality called Megaesophagus. The esophagus – which connects the throat to the stomach – is enlarged and lacks the elasticity or motility required to move food and liquid down to the stomach. Unless gravity is employed, puppies vomit up their food and drink, lose weight, fail to thrive and often do not survive. They were fragile and adorable.

We named them Faith and Hope.

And after a brief time at the rescue, they came to stay with us. They were the first puppies that my Bella accepted.

All previous attempts at fostering failed quickly. But somehow, Bella knew that these puppies had a special need and she overlooked their foolish puppy ways and welcomed them home.

Hope was adopted by one of our volunteers with a heart for special needs dogs.

Faith stayed with me until a home could be found.

As a very young puppy, she was extremely active.

But I noticed that as she grew, she would often stop and refuse to move.

I carried her home on more than one occasion. I thought she was just being stubborn.

She was adopted by a lovely woman who had a special needs son herself. She was drawn to Faith for this reason. But Faith’s stopping continued creating a challenge that was more than the woman knew how to deal with.

By this point, my Bella’s own special needs were overwhelming. She was losing her battle with cancer.

So not long afer Faith was returned, she went to foster with her sister – now named Sophie – and her big brother, Jasper.

We all met up at puppy class,

and Cassandra and I looked at each other with alarm when – in the middle of play – both girls simply collapsed.

They said that it was normal for puppies to overdo – but we both knew it was more. It turns out that Faith and Sophie had another inherited concern: centronuclear myopathy or CNM. Muscle fibers do not grow normally. Dogs are unable to walk and exercise normally and are prone to collapse or locking up in heat or cold. It develops between six weeks and seven months; the result of poor breeding. What we were seeing was its progression.

So what did Cassandra do? She adopted them both!

Four years later, you can clearly see the muscle wasting from other angles,

but the dogs have thrived in their mom’s great care. I honestly don’t know where they would be without her.

They began their journey in Hello Kitty chairs

and now have grown up custom dog chairs that they back themselves into to eat and sit upright for an hour while gravity does its work.

Mom monitors their exercise in hot or cold – but mostly they all enjoy couch time and snuggles together. Homeward Bound ensures their medical care for life.

Once a year, when mom takes a much-needed and well-deserved break, the dogs come to stay with us. This week, I was on puppy duty anyway, so I gladly took on Faith and Sophie’s feedings as well. It is the very least I could do for a woman who opened her heart and home to these very special sisters.

Bella left us not long after Faith went to live with Cassandra. I reflect often on her unique acceptance of these two girls. I think she would be proud of the puppy-fostering legacy she began – with Jackson and Yogi giving others hope and faith that the will get the start in life they deserve.

P.S…my sincere thanks to the adoption team who managed to get Barley and Hops adopted today so I can leave on my trip to Yellowstone worry free!!

Camp Yogi: Temporary Closure

This is Yogi taking a forced break from puppy fostering.
It has been nonstop since the beginning of July. GiGi’s litter: Garrett, Gabe, Griffin and Gracie.

Beau

Dude

and Conway.

Before them, Rose, Ty, and Nutmeg,

Anna,

Sara,

Lily,

and Noah.

Fourteen puppies in eight months. No wonder Yogi is exhausted!

He’s such a great sport and expert puppy raiser, entertaining them, teaching them boundaries, watching over them, and generally allowing them to torture him.

It’s that later part that put him in the cone. Too many puppy licks in ears and eyes leading to infections; lowered immune system and allergies causing hot spots. He has more than earned a break. Camp Yogi is temporarily closed for business. So, naturally, as soon as the cone went on, these two showed up.

Adorable little Heeler mix pups that someone dumped in a field near the rescue. Thankfully picked up by a good Samaritan and brought to us. We named them Barley and Hops. It kills me to leave puppies at the rescue. Not that we have not raised hundreds. But I believe puppies need to be in a home where they can get all of the attention, care, and socialization they need to start their young lives off right. And no matter how careful we are and how separate we keep them, there is always the risk of another dog coming in carrying their own unwelcome guest before these little fur balls have developed strong immune systems.

So naturally, one of these two became unwell. When I arrived last weekend, Barley was clearly not feeling good. His temperature had skyrocketed, he wasn’t eating, and he didn’t want to get up. Emergency measures were kicked in. The fever broke quickly, and by the next day, he was eating. But his legs were not working.

While my mind races right to dark, scary places, our leader stays firmly in the light of hope and drags me along with her. His brother showed no symptoms. She said to let the medicine and rest do its thing. They remained separated, but together, and isolated from all others with only the two of us watching over them. Thirty-six hours later, he got up long enough to poo. The next day, he stood to eat. And by the time Doc set eyes on him again, he greeted her standing with tail wagging. From there, he progressed rapidly. A week later, he is running and jumping…and now…my puppy worlds have collided.

While they wait for their own adoption day, Barley and Hops are hanging out with my former foster, Conway – now named Chance.

I’m hoping we can get Yogi over his hot spots as quickly, because everyone loves a happy ending.

Outtakes

The last puppy is home! Garrett stayed with us for an extra week until his new mom came back from her vacation.

He was a joy to have. Smart. Funny. Playful. Sweet. A bit of a baby who gained some much-needed confidence with the big boys away from his littermates.

He has taken to his new family like water…forgetting all about us like yesterday’s news!

The thermometer topped out at 106 so the weeds were allowed to continue their march. Relative cool returns tomorrow and so will I to uproot the blasted Bermuda grass and free the sizzled garden.

Fifteen dogs are on their way to us, but the lull this week was lovely. After submitting my last work project on Friday, I started organizing old photo files. For the website, we look for a direct eye contact and a happy face. Looking into a dog’s eyes is where people first fall in love. But it is the outtakes that warm my heart and truly capture their personalities.

The brat…

The faker…

The “I thought I saw a kitty cat!”…

The joker…

The “I am safe” look…

And you name this one!

Somehow my teammates managed to get 11 dogs home this week before adopters passed out from the heat. All are special, but a few are especially so.

Casey lived such a sheltered life that he attached too strongly to his mom to the point of fearing all others—including her husband. The situation became impossible. His whole life was uprooted when he was surrendered to us. He gradually accepted a select few into his inner circle; their job was to expand his circle and help him learn how to adapt to new people and surroundings. His adopter has traveled two hours each way to visit him weekly and earn his trust. This week, our team will transport Casey to her so his transition to home is as smooth as possible.

Blackie is the other half of Blondie and Blackie.

These 10-year-old Shih Tzu mixes came to us through a volunteer when their human dad could no longer care for them. We thought they would be gone in a heartbeat, but two videos and one special appeal later, only Blondie had been adopted. They adapted surprisingly well as little dogs in a big dog rescue, but home is where they both belong. Another volunteer took Blackie home this week and will be flying him to his mother who has been searching high and low for a boy just like him.

Little Libby has a fan club. She was dumped in a field in Southern California mostly blind and deaf and covered in mats. She was picked up by animal control and taken to a high-kill shelter. Imagine the terror. She could not stop whimpering. A campaign was launched to secure her release and she was ultimately transported to us where she received good care and medical attention; still, she was inconsolable. Which made her the perfect candidate for our well-known dognapper who scooped her up and quickly became a foster-failure. Libby is now home.

Not a Golden Retriever in the mix and we couldn’t care less. All are deserving of a second chance and a place called home.

Dog Days of Summer: 2019

I know I have been away too long when this takes up residence in the entry arbor.

After an easy pace to the first half of the year, it has been raining dogs, lately.

My co-volunteers carry the heavy lifting of feeding, cleaning, vet trips and walking while a couple of us make sure that photos are taken, their bios get to the website, and we get the word out. It truly takes an army.

Jared has been with us since February. He arrived via another rescue that was having difficulty understanding his needs or finding a willing foster. He stayed with our foster for a bit and then came into our program. He was malnourished, anxious and acting out. Today, he is a dog transformed. Jared’s reward came this weekend when a like-hearted man saw straight into his soul.

Lola was pulled from a Southern California shelter but when their foster homes were all booked up, they told her rescuer to return her.

Her rescuer saw that this dog was extraordinary and was not having it. She took Lola to her home already overflowing with foster dogs where Lola comforted her severely autistic son and the rescuer began reaching out across the state. She found us. She had Lola flown to us.

And Lola found a family where two broken hearts – one human and one canine – were mourning the loss of their canine companion. Lola’s rescuer is now a member of our family, too.

Little Wyatt was dumped in front of a shelter at the age of only five months. He was malnourished and had a horrible skin issue but this wiggly boy wormed his way into everyone’s heart. Meds, good food, and TLC restored his health and coat – so his new family could see in him what we saw all along.

If everyone who put in an application for Mabel took home a dog, our kennels would be empty.

This girl is terrified of thunder, gunshots, fireworks, and loud noises. She lived in Utah where she was experiencing one storm after another. Mabel was transported to the safety of our Sacramento Valley where thunderstorms are extremely rare. Her new home will ensure the peace and quiet this girl needs and deserves.

And my husband and I have been hosts to these adorable puppies since the 4th of July.

The product of a Golden Retriever mom and a Dobie daddy, they inherited his looks and her heart. All are now adopted; one will stay with us for another week.

Meanwhile, the garden has been on automatic pilot where spiders are free to weave their webs across our arbor, bermuda grass runs wild, and the hot colors of summer have replaced the blues, purples and pinks of spring.

Time races by.

Before I know it, the Asters will be in bloom and the cycle will begin again.

But for now – these are the dog days of summer.

The Rules of Engagement

Most of our foster puppies promise to remember us always and then quickly forget when they find their forever homes. How do I know? Many come back for class or reunions. I may get a passing hello, but they are much more interested in playtime with the dogs than visiting with me.

An exception: Baby Sara – now named Jessie. You may recall from a past post, Jessie is the offspring of a Golden mom and a dad of many colors.

She was born and reared feral in a field until a woman living nearby could win mom’s trust. Since Jessie would not leave mom’s side, she had to choice but to be caught too – but unhappily so.

Our volunteers worked hard to socialize her enough for her to come home with us where my Yogi and Jackson completed the job.

She was adopted by a wonderful family and their Lab, Harper. Jessie helped to fill an empty spot in all of their hearts after the loss of their other dog.

Harper is very protective of her new sister. So much so, that if they are in class together, Harper spends all of her time keeping the other dogs away from Jessie. It was not a good example for Jessie, and was not providing the socialization she needed, so Jessie takes her classes solo now. When she spots me…she comes running into my arms and will not settle into class until our greeting is completed with belly rubs and kisses.

She is a little dog who thinks she is a big dog – until she gets rolled a couple of times in play and then she retreats to a corner. So she was delighted to make a new friend this weekend at school: Gracie.

Gracie is a four-month old Golden who—despite towering over Jessie—is also a little leery of the bigger dogs.

They are well matched: Even with those little legs, Jessie can outrun Gracie – but Gracie uses her height…

and weight…to her advantage when she catches up.

Still, Jessie was clearly laying down the rules of engagement.

Dogs are excellent teachers.

Jessie: That’s too ruff…I’m not playing with you until you calm down.

Gracie: Ah come on….

Gracie: You can’t resist me…

Jessie: Nope. Not working.

Gracie: What if I say I’m sorry?

Gracie: What if I am adorable???

Jessie: OK, we can be friends again. Just watch yourself!

It’s so wonderful to watch her grow and blossom.

Her mama would be really proud. I sure am.

Blossoming

The gardening is waking up. After a long, wet winter and many false starts, there are signs everywhere signaling spring’s arrival.

But the bulbs and trees are not alone in their blossoming.

Sara is an adorable little black and white hot-dog of a puppy born in a field to her Golden mom. First noticed around Thanksgiving last year, a kindly neighbor began leaving out food for mom and her dwindling litter of pups. After several months, only Sara remained. She learned to stay close to mom and to be wary of everything. Survival instincts: finely-honed.

Mom started warming up to the neighbor woman. She had been someone’s dog once, and while distrustful at first, she took a chance in hopes of finding comfort and safety. When mom and baby could finally be caught, both were brought to Homeward Bound.

Initially, both were terrified. Mom started coming around after a bit, but baby Sara would not leave mama’s side. Our volunteers did an amazing job of coaxing them out of their shells, spending time with them and making them feel safe. One even fell asleep petting them in their kennel. Human touch is an amazing healer.

Baby Sara is somewhere between 5 and 6 months old. She stayed with mom long past the point when most pups strike out on their own. Mama was beyond ready to spread her wings and find her own future with a waiting family.

So baby Sara came home with me to spend some time at Camp Yogi and begin to learn about the world through the eyes of her foster friends.

It just about ripped my heart out to separate Sara from her mom, but we all knew it was the best thing for both.

There was some crying and whining, but she attached quickly to our dogs and to my husband and me. The hardest part was not coddling her. She didn’t need protection any more, she needed to gain confidence. She got together time and alone time. She got playtime and quiet time. She took to potty training like a pro, jumped into the bed like she owned it, and leapt right into our hearts. She was blossoming: playful and joyful and growing in her independence every day.

This weekend, she met a family of adults and their 18-month-old Lab, Harper. They had all been grieving the loss of their senior dog; Harper was feeling lost. Shy at first, we left Harper and baby Sara in the yard together and watched from afar. Baby immediately started following Harper around and Harper seemed glad for her company. The match was made. Baby left with a smile on her face and didn’t even turn back to say goodbye. On the ride home, she snuggled close to Harper. And the happy updates have been flowing ever since.

A lot of effort goes into planning for spring blooms.

You watch and wait, hoping it will pay off. When it does, it makes your heart soar.

Happy life, little Sara…the brightest flower of spring.