The Other Puppy Bowl

I know all you dog lovers are glued to the Puppy Bowl this weekend, but there is another one that goes on every weekend at Homeward Bound!

Puppy Class_DSC_4451
Belle_Class_DSC_4465

It comes complete with tackles,

Puppy Class_DSC_4479

fumbles,

Puppy Class_DSC_4768

and unsportsmanlike conduct!

Puppy Class_DSC_4704
I’ve brought you play-by-play on a couple of them. You’ll find them here and here.

Last week, I shared photos of Sybill and her sister, Kensie at our weekly puppy bowl. Our newest, and smallest additions to Kathryn’s puppy class were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the bigger dogs –

Puppy Class_DSC_4700

until this weekend! Please welcome tiny Lilu!

Puppy Class_DSC_4731

To look at her, you wouldn’t know that this little girl has a near-criminal past! Lilu came to us by way of a local veterinarian. She was brought in on an emergency basis – the result of an apparent larceny. It seems she pilfered her owner’s stash. She was in pretty bad shape. The owners wisely chose to surrender when presented with their options.

The vet named her “Felon,” and put in a call to us asking if we could take a Golden Retriever puppy.
We always find it humorous that a vet gets confused about dog breeds when they are hoping for a rescue. 🙂

Mary-Jane_IMG_7539

We renamed this adorable, pint-sized offender a non-too subtle “Mary Jane.” She was with us about two minutes before she was adopted.

MaryJane-Going-Home

Her family rightly selected a new name and enrolled her in class so she can be properly socialized and get a fresh start in her rehabilitated life!

Unlike Sybill and Kensie, she was not intimidated one bit by the big dogs…

Puppy Class_DSC_4679

she mixes things up and then makes a quick getaway, finding a proper hiding place!

Puppy Class_DSC_4696

And happily, Sybill has found someone (almost) her own size to play with.

Puppy Class_DSC_4770
Puppy Class_DSC_4771
Puppy Class_DSC_4772
Puppy Class_DSC_4769

All winners…no losers…in our puppy bowl!

Belle_Class_DSC_4496

Worked Like Dogs

As gardeners, our big game day tradition has been to ditch the guys and spend the day pruning the roses of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. All 84 of them!

Rose_Pruning_DSC_1817

However, when you start to see this…

Daffodils_DSC_1820
Rosemary_DSC_1821
Iris_Bud_DSC_1822

you know that you are already way behind. With daytime temperatures now in the 60’s…the roses just could not wait for game day this year.

Last weekend, Ina and Maria were out to do some. Anna, Lynn, our youth volunteer, Ara and I worked like dogs to finish them all off over two long days this weekend.

Rose_Pruning_DSC_1814

And we have the mountain of clippings to prove it!

Clippings_DSC_1826

I don’t know who is more tired…me, or our garden mascot puppy, Sybil.

Sybill_After Class_DSC_1774

Sybil is one of four from Lady Edith’s litter. You’ll remember their adorableness from the Puppy Pop Quiz post in late November.

Puppy Test_DSC_9323

They went home in December and are finally old enough to attend (muddy!) puppy class at the rescue.

Puppy Class_DSC_4542
Sybill_School_DSC_4579

Sybil was delighted to be reunited with her sister, Kensie.

Puppy Class_DSC_4591

As the two youngest in the class, you can imagine that this first day of raucous socialization and light training was a little overwhelming – and very taxing!

“Uh-oh! Gotta go!”

Puppy Class_DSC_4549

“OMG…He’s killing her!”

Puppy Class_DSC_4559

“No thanks. I’ll just sit this one out.”

Puppy Class_DSC_4572

Covered in mud, cute Sybil was able to sit just long enough for a couple of shots…

Sybill Mud_DSC_1736
Sybill_Mud_DSC_1747
Sybill_Mud_DSC_1763

before sinking into a deep slumber.

Sybill_After Class_DSC_1772
Sybill_After Class_DSC_1777

And without further ado…I am going to do the same!

Patience and Perseverance

A few weeks ago, Joe paid a return visit to Homeward Bound. Had he not been with his “Dad,” I would not have recognized him.

Joe_DSC_0559

His “Dad” – Russ – is a devoted Homeward Bound volunteer who has assumed responsibility for maintaining our yards, parks, and open spaces. He arrives every week to mow, rake, and groom eight acres. The property has never looked better.

Last summer, a new dog in our sanctuary yard caught his attention – and quickly captured his heart. Joe spent his four and a half years in the backyard. He was surrendered by his owners when they could no longer care for him. I don’t know if he was always a fearful dog, or if the uprooting caused him to be in leaving such a sheltered and small world. We placed him with the seniors where he could come and go to the outside yard at will. He chose outside. It’s what he knew.

Joe_DSC_2455

In June, Russ adopted him. You can see by his “going home” photo just how unsure he was about this new world (and his bath!). Russ will be the first one to tell you that he’s not an expert in helping fearful dogs, but a big heart and a willingness to learn can overcome lack of experience.

Joe_Russ_DSC_2925

Russ needed to help Joe conquer his fear and win his trust. That was the first step in helping Joe become more secure in the world around him. For fearful dogs, this process happens in small increments over long periods of time.

There is a great piece on the Best Friends website about working with former puppy mill dogs who are often fearful dogs. In their rehabilitation, they offer eight words to live by: patience, love, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, calmness, empathy and perseverance. Patience and perseverance probably test our resolve the most.

Tatia is one of our dog whisperers…she has a very special way with fearful dogs including our feral friend, Red. Russ expressed concern to her that Joe had not made greater progress. You can see it in this series of photos:

Joe rushed to Russ when he entered the yard – but then stopped and still approached with caution.

Russ_Joe_Tatia_DSC_0584

Russ moved down to Joe’s level and waited for Joe to come to him –

Russ_Joe_Tatia_DSC_0591

And then the face begins to change.

Russ_Joe_Tatia_DSC_0593

Because Russ sees Joe every day, the progress probably seems imperceptible. But for those of us who have not seen him in months –

Joe_DSC_0595

the difference is clear.

Joe_Tatia_DSC_0601

Joe still has a way to go. A fearful dog’s behavior changes when their emotions change. Tatia’s wise words to Russ: adjust your expectations and let him progress at his own pace.

Joe_DSC_0607

The joy is in the journey and seeing Joe come into his own thanks to patience, love, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, calmness, empathy and perseverance.

Joe_DSC_0603

The change is underway. You just have to trust.

A Day of Solitude

Rusty_DSC_0965

“You need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it.” ~ Casare Paves

The rescue is my village – and often my haven. But between my day job and my volunteer work for the rescue evenings and weekends, I was reminded that it I have been working seven day weeks for a very long time. We’ve had some joyous times recently – and some very difficult ones. I woke up very much feeling under the weather: mentally- more than physically.

So I slept in very late … and then went where I am always happiest: the garden. My own this time.

Garden_DSC_1282
Fountain_DSC_1286
Lemon Tree_DSC_1274
Rose_DSC_1239

“Home is a shelter from storms — all sorts of storms.” ~ William J. Bennett

If you look on the USDA map, the city of Sacramento where I live, and the rescue – which is in open country only 20 miles away – are both supposed to be in the same Zone 9. But any good gardening site will show you that the city has its own micro-climate which is much more Mediterranean. Protected by trees, houses and buildings, it can rise all the way to Zone 14. It is evident in my home garden, where things are still – or already – blooming.

Sage_DSC_1205
Azalea_DSC_1295
Fuschia_DSC_1250
Narcissus_DSC_1232

It has been sorely neglected. So today – the roses were pruned, the last of the leaves were raked, and the soggy messes cleaned up as the next wave of rain settled in. In solitude.

Buddha_DSC_1270
Rose_Snail_DSC_1204

Well … near solitude. The hummingbirds kept me company.

Hummingbird_DSC_1277

And when the work was done – there was, of course, a (wet) dog or two to return to.

Bella_DSC_3743

“A village means that you are not alone, knowing that in the people, the trees, the earth, there is something that belongs to you, waiting for you when you are not there.” ~Casare Pavese

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day and a work holiday. I’ll likely return to “the village” and get my fix of dogs and memorial garden – with a more restored sense of self. Solitude is sometimes good for the soul.

“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up.” ~ Pearl Buck

Foster Failure

Kate_Maggie_George_DSC_0700_2

“I’m a failure!” she exclaimed. “The very best kind,” said we.
On an earlier post, I shared that Kate and her family were fostering Maggie, to give her a soft place to land while she recovered from recent medical procedures.

Maggie_DSC_0706

I am pleased to share this updated capture of our board clearly showing Maggie moving from the Foster to Adopted column.

Adoption-Board

Which makes Kate an official “Foster Failure!”
Congratulations to all…and happy life, sweet Maggie. We were kind of hoping it would go that way.

Maggie_George_KateFamily_DSC_0707

Who’s Your (Foster) Daddy?

When Marshall first arrived, he was so frightened, he literally slid his body low to the ground under his kennel bed and hid.
In hindsight, we’re pretty sure it was a ploy. The dogs talk, you know. And word has been passed from yard to yard that there is an awesome Foster Daddy who lives next door to Homeward Bound. Getting picked to go with him for “rehabilitation” is like winning the dog lottery. Marshall was determined to be selected, so he made himself look as pathetic as possible. And Marshall can do pathetic pretty well!

Marshall_DSC_1018

It worked, of course. Once there – his true colors came out. Marshall treated humans just like puppies treat each other. He probably never learned any better (yeah…we’re going to go with that!).

Marshall_DSC_8384

Instead of gratitude, Marshall tried to turn his Foster Daddy into a chew toy with tugging, tackling, and flat out conquering.

Marshall_DSC_8386

“There’s not much to like about this guy,” black and blue Foster Daddy muttered in utter frustration. Foster Daddy is pretty darn patient – but this one was a true test.

Marshall_DSC_8397

Good news for Marshall…Foster Daddy does not give up. He exhausted his playbook of training methods: rewards and ignoring, yelps and silence, time together and time outs. It was probably not one single thing, but the cumulative effect of all that turned the tide. Or maybe Marshall finally came to the realization that no matter what he did, Foster Daddy was not ditching him. And then – he was a different dog.

Marshall_DSC_0990

“I’m going to miss that guy,” Foster Daddy wrote. Marshall had hit his second jackpot: a home. And not just any home…a home with one of Homeward Bound’s dog walkers.

_marshall-adopt_750_3938Photo Credit: Rob Kessel

Marshall take note: Foster Daddy and your new Daddy have traded notes. They are both wise to you! So be a good boy…and visit us often.

Marshall_DSC_1025

And don’t forget to say “thank you” to your Foster Daddy.

Marshall_Rob_DSC_0992

Note: Foster Daddy is kind of shy…so I haven’t mentioned his name. But if you look closely, you’ll find it. Just sayin’.

Update: Foster Daddy has outed himself. For his post about Marshall and a gallery of photos, visit here.