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!!

Finally Fall


The rain came – and with it fall. Finally, fall.


Signaled by merry frogs,


and colored by asters,




and Maria’s festive decorations.



We caught the tail end of the horrible storm wrecking havoc in the Pacific Northwest. The best part. Even the poppies are reborn with cooler weather and a fresh drink.


I’ve been hard at work on the creation of a new bed: an extension of our entry way gardens to replace a section of weedy grass and surround Jody’s beautiful metal tree – adorned with the dog tags of those who have come this way on their journeys home.


What is now:


What will be:


In the wind and rain, we even managed a few adoptions – including Sara – now renamed Breezy, and aptly so! She got lost – and no one found her. That won’t happen again.


I also had a visit from the one who got away – actually, the one that my Jackson passed up in favor of his new brother Yogi: Faith.


We have learned that her Megaesophagus (her inability to eat normally, which I wrote about here) is the result of a larger issue: Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM) – an inherited disease in Labrador Retrievers which causes loss of muscle tone and control, exercise intolerance, and an awkward gait. It generally appears between two and five months. We noticed it in Faith and her sister as they approached six months on walks – and then at play. Their legs began to shake and then simply gave way. With a rest, they are soon back at it. But their bodies won’t develop the muscle tone of a typical dog – thus her very elongated look and goofy movements.

It has been prevalent since the 1970’s – and frustratingly, is 100% preventable by simply testing the breeding parents to determine if they carry the gene. As usual, education is the key – so spread the word. Thankfully, she and her sister have the best care with Cassandra, the world’s best mom.


Fall is magnificent – too long in coming,


and too short in staying.


Maybe that is what makes it my favorite season.