The Welcome Mat

When our Jackson picked Yogi out for adoption last fall, I sometimes thought our Bella had been reincarnated in him.


The way he cuddles, paws you for pets, refuses to be ignored, hogs the bed, and enjoys gardening with me were wonderfully familiar. But he was definitely his own dog and a bit of a project one at that. On our first few walks, I wondered what I had gotten myself into when he reacted very negatively to select dogs passing by. I’m not kidding. Four paws came off the ground with ferocious barking. It wasn’t aggression. It was insecurity. When he wasn’t doing that – he was hugging my leg for dear life.

Bella was not great with other dogs. As long as we kept our distance, she was OK, but bringing a dog into the house was too much for her. Which meant that fostering – of all but little puppies – was out of the question.

I began working with Yogi immediately. Working on positive association (“look Yogi, nice dog!” / sit / treat) and gradually introducing him to friendly neighbor dogs. When friends came by with dogs unannounced and marched into the house to tail-wagging welcomes, I knew we had made progress. When Rush stayed with us, and Yogi welcomed him so warmly, I knew the progress was good.


Last Sunday night, when concerns at the Oroville Dam about an hour away forced the evacuation of surrounding communities, we made a decision to move the rescue’s friendliest dogs to foster and prepared to evacuate the rest if the call came. So, when my husband and I loaded two five-month-old puppies and two 11-year old Goldens into the car, I admit to saying a little prayer that Yogi would be a good boy. And what a good boy he was.

I knew the puppies would not be a concern; he loved them instantly.


While Jackson just rolled his eyes and moved to the back room, Yogi wanted to jump into their little area and start the play!


Then my husband unloaded Felix and Max, one at a time. Jackson had met them before. In fact, I thought they would be candidates for adoption when we lost Bella. But Jackson was the odd boy out in that threesome, and he selected our young hellion instead. We did introductions on leash in the front yard with Jackson present. Neutral territory. Tails were up, butts were sniffed, and then everyone moved into the house with excitement, but ease.

I kept the big boys separated at first. But after a day, they all decided: enough of that.


And for the rest of the time that Felix and Max stayed with us, everyone was together. Have you ever tried to sleep with four snoring dogs?


Meanwhile, the puppies needed exhausting: Yogi to the rescue!


I’m so proud of this boy. Somewhere along the way, my insecure wildebeest became the kind of dog that would roll out the welcome mat to a dog in need.


We have another big storm bearing down on us and our water-logged levees.
Our emergency plan is tested and ready.
And my houseful of boys has been a lot of work – but an absolute delight.


Mirror, Mirror


Mirror, mirror on the wall…


Who’s the fairest of them all?


If these two bear a remarkable resemblance, it’s not a coincidence. I wrote about our foster, Yona, last week.


He’s soon to be a foster-failure. Having earned our Jackson’s full endorsement,


he will become an official member of our family on Tuesday, with a new name: Yogi.

The stunning beauty who looks so much like him is his sister, Lottie.


They went to separate families as puppies but came back to the breeder at roughly the same time for the same offense: cute puppy grows into adult, rambunctious, dog.


Lottie, like Yogi, has separation anxiety – although her case seems to be a bit more severe. To help her through it, she’ll have two very experienced dog people, one of whom is home most of the time, and two canine companions, Beau and Milo.


She’ll be living in Lake Tahoe with plenty of activities to wear her out. And what they say is true: a tired dog is a good dog!

We’re looking forward to mini reunions and future play dates at the lake or in the snow. Happy life, Lottie! You’re in very good hands now.




Change Comes Bearing Gifts


As Ina and I surveyed the garden this week, we both remarked on its changed appearance. Where there was light, shadows now creep.


Where there was once deep earth, roots have taken over. Both are the result of competition from maturing trees that grace us with their shade – but have changed the face and planting pockets of what was once our sun-soaked garden.


Things get rearranged; plants are re-homed – not thrown away. It is part of the life of the garden and to be expected. A gardener adapts to whatever mother nature throws her way with a different – but no less a beautiful – outcome.

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” ~Author Unknown


Life has thrown a few curveballs to the dogs in our care, as well.




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and left behind. Most are here with us through no fault of their own, just waiting for the right someone to reimagine a life with them in it.

Nearly identical brothers Max and Felix could not be bigger loves.

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Their human parents were tragically lost together. Now these adorable lugs are looking for a forever home. Their only demand: endless belly rubs.

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Diesel was expertly trained and well-loved but lost his home when his humans moved to a new country.

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Today, he is the new love of another family who counts him among their many blessings.


“Change always comes bearing gifts.” ~ Price Pritchett

The trees in the garden have gifted us with cooling shade for the doggies


and a place for other less sun-thirsty plants.

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My hope is that, out of tragedy, Max and Felix will soon be gifted with the comfort and love of ‘home.’



More to Love

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and Peggy’s got to take home a senior tub-o-love.


Peggy – one of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden volunteers – was out last weekend. She is an excellent gardener, and a long-time member of our rescue family. She also has a well-earned reputation for working miracles with the senior dogs that have either been loved or neglected into obesity.


“All we ever get are the old and fat ones,” says her husband, Steve. (Excuse me?!)


Not exactly correct. Rumor has it that all Peggy picks are the old and fat plump ones. Just more to love.

A week ago, a parade of svelte, fresh arrivals paraded past Peggy as she worked in the garden. Nothing.


Then Mary came waddling through, and from across the adjacent yard where Peggy had moved to prune the roses we heard: “Hey, who’s that?” Peggy has an eye for our butterballs like our dogs have sniffers for cookies! (Did someone say ‘cookies?’)


So guess who returned this weekend to bring Mary home to foster? You guessed it…


with Steve issuing his pretend protests all the while. You can’t take that man seriously…unless you happen to be a tree that needs to be removed. Then watch out!


Mary was one of seven dogs that went home this weekend. Happy life as well to Buffy…


Max and Libby (a twofer!)


Tabby, now Annie – another foster failure we hope!(You rename ’em…you keep ’em!)



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And our favorite “Not-a-Golden”, Nigel!

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Dogs going home…time in the garden…

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Makes Monday almost bearable.

If only for a season

At the rescue, people and dogs pass through our lives. Some we know only for an instant; others stay on for years. Each makes a special impression – often in often unforeseen ways.


I was touched and honored this week when a woman reached out to request a copy of a “going home” day photo I took earlier this year. I remember the day so clearly. The woman was 80; the dog she chose was also in her sunset years. I will never forget the look of sheer joy on the woman’s face and devotion on the dog’s. The connection was instant; captured in the click of a shutter.

While she and the dog are both in good health, she is making her final plans so her family will be spared that responsibility when the time comes. She would like the photo to be present at her parting because it “reflects so much of my life.” I cannot share the photo here as she wants to keep her plans secret for now. But I told her I would happily provide prints – which I hope she will not need for a very, very long time. I had no idea that our simple meeting would present such a gift to each of us.

In the garden, some blossoms last but a season –


others return year after year.


Annuals fill in when perennials take a much-deserved rest.


What would this Feather Grass be without Amaranthus?


Or the purple of Barberry without the compliment of Cosmos?


Or summer without Sunflowers and Dahlias…though there stay is always too short.


With new volunteers, you’re never sure if they here for a moment, or will return season after season.


They require the same amount of initial nurturing and care – an investment of time and effort, and a bit of a leap of faith – not knowing how long someone will stay. Yet, you never know what gifts they have to share.


I have tried on lots of different volunteering opportunities in my life. In fact – I tried on Homeward Bound years ago. It was the wrong time to be the right fit. I wasn’t even an annual; I lasted about as long as a cut flower. When I returned three years ago, I found my place. And it found me. I want to continue to be a welcoming “perennial” – finding room for, and appreciating, those that come in and out of our effort – even for a short while.

“Some people come into your life for a season, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. But only for a season.” ~ Ritu Ghatourey