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.

Nash’s Big Day

Nash, the furless wonder, arrived almost two years ago. At the age of eight, he had been left in a local shelter. He was listed as a Black Labrador, but he looked more like an exotic hairless dog – except for the smell. He was suffering from Malassezia pachydermatis – a yeast found on the skin and ears of dogs that can get out of control leading to greasiness, loss of hair, and “malodorous discharge from legions” – in other words, stink. He had a bacteria growing in his ears that is resistant to antibiotics. It makes his ears hurt. And for good measure, his body was covered in small benign masses that hung like black icicles.

He’s the kind of hot mess that many rescues won’t take on. But Homeward Bound did.
He’s an awesome dog. A beloved dog.

A dog who never demanded much:
throw the ball,
give me a cookie.
make me a comfy bed.

It took a long time to find the right combination of food, medications, and baths to finally grow some hair back – and most importantly, get out the rank smell that kept him from going home.

He put up with his twice-weekly baths, the t-shirts and sunscreen we made him wear in the summer to protect his skin, and the sweaters in winter to keep him warm. He endured the periodic removal of those recurring masses. He moved back and forth between our Sanctuary house and the kennel – depending on where he would get more time, attention, and love. And he saw countless dogs go home and never asked “where’s mine?” He was grateful for all he received.

We all wanted so desperately for him to find his forever home. But when it was finally his turn – it was hard to say ‘goodbye.’ Our dogs get out a minimum of three times a day – usually four. But Saturday, Nash was out all day with a long line of volunteers who had to get their final hugs and play in before his big day: Sunday.

His people arrived early. Anxious they were. Awakened from his after-breakfast nap, Nash was not quite sure what to make of this photo-op.

Or maybe, it was just that we needed to remind them of his sensitive ears.

But a trip to the big park and a lesson in “chuck it” let him know that this was not your ordinary day.

And the soft bed with extra cushions in the back of a car confirmed it.

Nash has his own people. People with balls!

He will be in the best of hands. People we know and trust. People who have a proven heart for rescue.

Congratulations – and happy life to Nash – our extra special friend. We will miss you, boy.

Follow Up Friday

Do you remember this ridiculous girl from a previous post?

Shelby is only one. She was raised from a puppy in a family with other human puppies. When their third was expected, it just became too much.

She didn’t get the attention or training or time that they knew she needed and deserved. So they asked us to help her find the right home. She found that home recently, with this gentleman whose smile says it all –

except his words say more:

“Tomorrow will be the one week anniversary of me adopting this beautiful one-year-old lab girl named Shelby. It’s been one hell of a week and I must say I am extremely happy I did this- she is so amazing and smart. She has learned so much this last week and she won’t stop following me. I’m so damn proud to be a dog owner and I can’t wait to make her life even more amazing than it is now. Welcome to my life Shelby…I’m honored to be given the chance to make you the happiest dog in the world.”

And that is what makes our world go round. Happy life, Shelby!

Mac-aroni’s Going Home Day

You don’t have to look at the garden to know that winter is giving way to spring. You can sense it.

You don’t have to envision the flowers and trees in bloom. You can smell them.

You don’t have to behold the sun to know that it is shining. You can experience its warmth.

You don’t have to observe the birds to know their delight in fresh worms and tiny buds. You can hear them.

And 10-year-old blind Mac-aroni does not need to see the love of his new mom on their going home day.

He can feel it.

Congratulations and happy life, sweet boy!

And Toto Too


We prune to encourage new growth in the spring. It’s an art and a science. And while roses are pretty resilient, you still take great care because, sometimes, you can go too far.

In December, odd couple Cody and Rusty arrived. We nicknamed Rusty, Toto, for his resemblance to Dorothy’s little friend.


Rusty is 7; Cody 10.

Cody portrait graciously loaned by Rob Kessel

Surrendered when the wife developed allergies, they were inseparable. It was easy to know. On the rare occasion that they were briefly apart, Rusty let out blood-curdling screams that sent all of us running to investigate.

We work very hard to keep bonded pairs together. Like our mud-covered friends, Toby and Noel who went home together this weekend.


Still, the odds of finding one home for this mismatched pair were slim – to none? When a family fell in love with little Rusty, we reluctantly gave our OK, knowing that it would dramatically improve Cody’s odds. As it did. He was adopted very shortly after.

But then Rusty came back. He was miserable without his buddy and screeching for him incessantly. When a call was placed to Cody’s new family to inquire – might they, would they, could they be interested in adopting Rusty, too? – the response was “actually, we’re not sure Cody is such a great fit, either. Maybe they should be together.”

Cody was returned Saturday morning – rejoined with his beloved Rusty to squeals of joy. We had pruned too far.

Nature knows what is needed. You just have to use care and have faith. Which is why, not a half hour after Cody was returned, a wonderful couple arrived in search of a pair; a Golden, and a lap dog. What are the odds? They said ‘yes’ to Cody…and Toto, too!


While their new family grew larger, our roses grew smaller.


Six gardeners with clippers and one relentless man with a wheelbarrow managed to prune over 100 roses in the Memorial Garden.


And just in the nick of time. The Daffodils, Hyacinth, Narcissus and Rosemary signal: spring is near.


But Cody and Rusty could have told you that. Their new season has already arrived. Happy lives, you two!

Foxy’s New Reality


“How do we know that the sky is not green and we are all colour-blind?” ~ Author Unknown

Reality can be deceiving – and when it comes to dogs – changing, especially in response to the environment they are in. When she arrived last February, Foxy’s reality was that of a talker. A persistent, incessant, completely annoying and very loud talker. Correction. Barker. TALK. TALK. TALK. BARK. BARK. BARK!


Foxy had things to say and she was going to make darn sure that you heard them. Between her terrible leash skills and her rattling on, she turned away potential adopters faster than you can yell “quiet!”

Time went on. We worked with her on leash skills. She got better.


We wanted her to relate better to people. Not a problem.


But when it came to matchmaking, our perception of her barking reality probably led us to put others before her. Everyone except Lisa.


As is so often the case, the people who are both feeders and walkers notice things that other do not. They spend the most time with the dogs, and see their reactions in different settings and situations. Lisa noticed the change in Foxy. While other dogs came and went, Foxy had turned into a well-behaved, proper-walking pooch with a much more controlled mouth.

The challenge was to prove it to others. With a house already overflowing with dogs, foster was out of the question. The plan: field trips.


Lisa sprang Foxy for trips to the lake, play dates with other dogs, and even the drive-through where Foxy dined on In-And-Out burgers (extra cheese please!). Lisa shared all of Foxy’s adventures until people started to see a new reality that we had been blind to.


A new story was written; a video produced; social media was launched.


Her post was shared widely and her YouTube video was viewed nearly 1,000 times. But most importantly, our perception of Foxy changed. Getting her home became everyone’s mission. Thus, when one of our placement team members was interviewing a prospective adopter, our transformed Foxy was top of mind. She shared the video and an immediate and heartfelt connection was made.

Lisa arranged to meet the woman and her two eight-year-old Labs at the lake. They hit it off. Foxy started playing with a toy, chewing on a stick, and mimicking the Labs. “I was amazed. It was like she was remembering how to be a carefree dog again,” Lisa told us.


Last weekend, Foxy’s long wait came to a storybook end.


Her new mom takes the dogs to the lake weekly. In the summer, they travel with her to Tahoe for long hikes and swims in cooler waters. And best of all, Foxy’s new home is just a stone’s throw from Lisa’s.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein

Welcome to your new reality, Foxy. Happy life, sweet girl.


Here Comes Santa Claus


Santa paid his annual visit to the rescue this weekend to hear the wishes of our waiting pups, and to celebrate those who have gone home. It always leads to happy reunions.


Some have grown (other have shrunk!) – but the thing that is most noticeable is the change in their faces. You can see the contentment.

Faith and Sophie (formerly Hope) – our Megaesophagus/CNM pups were there. Look how they have grown!


Max and Felix: orphaned brothers now together forever. Their people could not love them more.


Annie – who was Billie – one of this summer’s twelve Giants litter puppies getting all grown up.


Roger – now Buddy – one of dogs rescued from the Korean meat market now living a charmed life.


and Bilos: blind, beloved, and so full of confidence now. His mom has done an amazing job with him.


Most are easily recognizable, but not this one.


When Mary arrived in July of 2015, she was so obese that she could not walk more than a short distance before stopping.


Those little legs just could not support her giant body.


Lucky for Mary, she was spotted by our gardener, Peggy. I wrote about it here. Peggy had a well-earned reputation for turning butterballs into lean machines.


And she has worked her magic again on Mary who – through a combination of diet and exercise – has dropped more pounds than Santa drops presents!


Maintaining a proper weight can be life-extending for any dog. Just look at her canine sibling Ginger – at an unbelievable 14!


I don’t know what they put in the water in Peggy’s house – but pass the pitcher, please!

Thanks to Santa, our photographer Eric Schuman, and all of the happy elves for squeezing our waiting and adopted furry friends in a busy holiday schedule!