Shasta’s Long Journey Home

My human dad raised me from a puppy. He loved me and I brought joy to his golden years. He was old and old school, and believed that dogs should be kept outside. So the yard was my world. My whole world.

I didn’t know anything different. I had everything I needed – until the day he was no longer there to care for me. Before he left this world, he needed to know that I was safe. So I was sent to Homeward Bound.

My world had been turned upside down and I had no idea why. You can see the look of sadness and terror in my face those first few days.

It was the first time that I slept inside. The yards are big, but my room was small. And I shared the dorm with other dogs. I knew nothing about other dogs and they scared me. So they would not sense my fear, I went on the offense. Loudly and ferociously.

I knew nothing of leashes and walks, so I pulled and tugged. When I came upon other dogs, or birds, or bunnies – I tried desperately to chase them. They called it prey drive. Apparently, it is not a desirable trait. All I wanted was to be with my human again in the safety of my small yard.

My first evaluation read like a horror story. So I was assigned homework. I don’t know if you believe in visitations, but I swear that my dad came to me one night in my dreams. He asked me to do one thing: try.

I worked very hard at becoming calm in the kennel. I became better at walking. And I worked on being less overbearing toward by dorm mates – inside and out. I was still running the fences with the dogs in the next yard, but now it was a game, not a threat.

I was sent for overnights, then weekends, and even weeks. They called it “foster.” It means a try-out. And I did great.

I jumped a fence and found myself with two other dogs and do you know what happened? Nothing. I did nothing.

I literally looked like a different dog.

I got adopted once; and returned. I was still too much dog, they said.

I saw dogs come and go. And come and go.

What I needed were humans who understood the heart of a dog who was most comfortable in a small world. A homebody who was happy with a homebody dog. Someone who could love me as I was – not the way they wished I would be. When I found them, I would give them my heart.

It took 266 days.

My name is Shasta and I am home.

I live inside.

I have a bed, a small, comfortable yard to call my own, and a special window to watch over it when I am not playing in it.

I have people who love me. They want to try to introduce me to some dog friends, but they are not in any hurry. Maybe when some time has passed and I have my confidence back. Or maybe never. They don’t care. They like me for me.

I hope my dad can see that I am OK now.

It was a long journey, but I am safe and I am loved. All I had to do was try.

Special Delivery

Saturday was puppy going home day. While all the preparations were being made, and Chubbs received his morning massage,

another pup (of sorts) was getting ready for his arrival.
On Tuesday, Ms. London gave birth to baby Paris.

Yes – rescue animals come in all shapes and sizes at Homeward Bound. On the private side of the fence, our president provides refuge to geese and ducks and roosters – and the biggest, oldest pig I have ever seen.

Most recently, goats and Alpacas appeared.

Just a few days old, baby Paris is already taking the world by storm.

But it’s no fun being the only little one. So while she, the elders, and the goats looked on, Ms. Autumn prepared to deliver a playmate.

It’s hard to focus when you have such an audience.

But sometimes, it’s a good thing there are others standing by to lend a hand.

With a little assist, baby Gabriel entered the world on a beautiful and unseasonably warm Saturday morning…a gorgeous rose-grey Alpaca boy was born.

Welcome to the world, Gabriel.

And happy lives to all our going home puppies, too!

Of Gardens and Rescue Dogs


What a garden needs is time,










and room to grow.


What a rescue dog needs…










and room to grow.


“One of the greatest virtues of gardening is this perpetual renewal of youth and spring, of promise of flower and fruit that can always be read in the open book of the garden, by those with an eye to see, and a mind to understand.” ~ E.A. Bowles

The greatest virtues of rescue dogs are the same.


Sometimes We Cry


“I have never been at a point in life doing that which has me so fulfilled, yet so shattered at the same time.” ~ A note received from a fellow volunteer upon the loss of a dog

To My Fellow Rescuers:

This week has been a tough one at the rescue, full of unexpected loss. Some were the beloved companions of our fellow volunteers. Those, we understand, grieve, and celebrate for the time we had together.

Others, sent to us too late, were with us for too short a time. We did not even have a chance to know them. We grieve their loss equally – but we cannot understand.

Because we take dogs regardless of their age or health, we are increasingly sent very sick and frail dogs pulled from shelters by rescue organizations and then transferred to us with scant – or inaccurate – information.

Armchair rescuers, whose only effort is social media, feel good that these poor pups were “freed.” The stats of the shelter and other rescue organization look better for not having euthanized an animal.

Don’t get me wrong: there should be a special place in hell for people who leave their devoted, but aged and sick companions in a shelter to die.  But a note to my fellow rescuers: putting a dog that is obviously in its final days through a one or two day journey “to safety” is not the humane thing for the dog. And it takes a human toll on the volunteers on the other end who are helpless to do anything but to let the dog go peacefully – if we even get that chance. We may only have known the dog for hours or days, but we still carry the weight of that loss.

We help hundreds of dogs on their journeys home each year. There are countless canine lives saved and human lives touched. There are miracles, and, along the way, there are inevitable losses – and yes, even rare failures. We’re strong, but we’re not Teflon. Our hearts break, too. So please, fellow rescuers, act with your heads as well as your hearts – for the dogs’ sake if not for ours.

Sometimes we lose; sometimes we fail; sometimes we cry – and that is the price of trying.

Sometimes we know, sometimes we don’t
Sometimes we give, sometimes we won’t
Sometimes we’re strong, sometimes we’re wrong
Sometimes we cry

Sometimes it’s bad when the going gets tough
When we look in the mirror and we want to give up
Sometimes we don’t even think we’ll try
Sometimes we cry

Well we’re gonna have to sit down and think it right through
If we’re only human what more can we do

Sometimes we cry. ~ Van Morrison

Do The Waggle Dance


Honey bees are social insects. They live communally and depend on each other for their very existence. Everyone has a role, and when these tiny toilers pull together, amazing things get done. An entire colony is built and fed; the young are cared for; everyone has a home.


To succeed, they need to communicate. They share vital information about food sources by performing a dance when they return to the hive. The “waggle dance” indicates that food is far away, while a “round dance” signals a shorter flight and quick payoff. The more vigorous the dance, the better the food – which means success for everyone.


Rescue works like this. It’s generally not mugshots or desperate pleas posted to websites or social media that gets displaced animals to new homes. It is the communication between people and our communal network. Of course, the photos and stories are important. Great photos create that first connection. And since dogs can’t write, we have to tell their stories for them. But the exchange of information – one person reaching out to another – is how we build a strong network (our hive) and truly connect people to animals in need.

Case in point: Lilly & Lucy’s story was shared hundreds of times across social media. But it was a long-time volunteer who knew that a neighbor had been looking for a bonded pair of dogs that may have made the difference for our two Pakistani girls. This weekend, the family drove hours through thick traffic and scorching heat to meet the dogs. We are very hopeful that it is a match.


Faith and Hope’s story was also viewed extensively. But it was a connection made between friends that may spell hope for Faith. One friend knew that the other had recently lost her dog at age 18 and was looking for a pup that could fit comfortably into her menagerie. We’ll know this week when they meet.


Our paws are crossed for all three because someone made the very human connection.

Everyone can play a role in rescue – but posting sad pictures of animals in distant shelters to a rescue’s social media channels doesn’t get it done. It is in doing the dance and making very personal connections right where you live.

You don’t need to travel too far from the hive. If you can’t volunteer your physical self, familiarize yourself with a local rescue or shelter’s animals and process. Then, become the crazy dog/cat/whatever person that everyone knows at work, church, or in your neighborhood. Talk to people about responsible breeders, training, spay and neuter. Learn about their animals, companionship needs, and when their heart and home might be ready for another. And then connect the dots. Do the waggle dance. Spread the word. Extend the community. Communicate.

That is how rescue works. One person – and one animal at a time.

Bee_White Rose_DSC_8319

Not A Golden


We have a running joke at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue: “Not a Golden!” While our mission states that we help Goldens and Golden mixes, I’m sure you’ve seen in this blog, that “Not a Golden!” can include just a little bit more.


Some are what we call “Fool’s Gold” –


And some are not gold at all!

Lunas Pups_DSC_6955

Sometimes they come paired with a Golden that has been surrendered; Sometimes our volunteers just can’t bear to leave them in a shelter.


When we have the capacity, we’re happy to extend our support to others in need.


“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Our kindness occasionally extends beyond canines. These recently abandoned kittens that we are trying to find homes for certainly fit the bill. Kitten, anyone?


But these two?


Definitely, “Not a Golden!” You just never know what treasures you will come across when you open up your heart.


“Open your heart — open it wide; someone is standing outside. ~ Mary Engelbreit