Spring Will Come: Red-y or Not

I am trying desperately to keep up with the advancing spring…in January! Crocuses, hyacinth, narcissus…even ceanothus and mid-season tulips are pressing up.

We only had two days of mild frost this “winter.” The roses were still blooming when we did our annual pruning.

There is no stopping the youthful march of spring now – either in the garden or in the dogs’ Senior Yard.

Affectionately referred to as Sugar Shack Acres, this is where dogs that are unable or unlikely to be adopted due to their extreme special needs live in their own little house and large shaded yard, surrounded by love. Since 2012, Red has reigned over this sanctuary section of our rescue.

At the age of seven, Red and his cohort of feral friends roaming a property in Oregon were rounded up by cowboys, put in a barn, and adopted out to an unprepared public. Turning a feral dog into a family dog is not for the faint of heart – especially a dog that has lived wild for seven years. Accounts are that most of the dogs found their way back to the wild. The woman who adopted Red quickly understood what she had gotten herself into and surrendered him to us where he would be safe.

It took a long time for Red to feel comfortable. There is still a part of him that is very much wild. If given the opportunity, he would still run. But now – at the age of 15 – he has found peace and contentment (and cookies!) in the company of like-minded dogs.

Like winter, they had settled into a gentle quiet. And then…

Over the past month, a series of boisterous youngsters sprang up like spring bulbs to disturb his tranquility. First, Brie – a one-year-old girl with an old lady problem (ectopic ureter).

Then, Laila – a ten-month-old hydrocephalus (water on the brain) girl. She is blind – but that doesn’t slow her down one bit.

And now CoCo – full of spunk and play, hanging out while she waits for her forever family to take her home.

They have recharged the visiting Ladybug….

and then exhausted her.

While Red and his fellow seniors, Violet,

Miller,

and Tana must be wondering…who let the pups in!

It’s inevitable Red;

spring will come whether you are ready or not – so embrace it and enjoy!

The One That Got Away

On Christmas Day, I returned to the garden.

It has been about a month since I have spent any real time there except to rake and do light cleanup.

That’s what happens when foster puppies come to call.

Little Daisy—now Gabby—was with us for a month. Arriving at only seven weeks, she had already been passed around and surrendered for the birth defect on her eye.

At 11 weeks, she was healthy and fat and strong enough for her surgery.

Her eye was removed as the hairy tissue had grown to cover nearly 90 percent of her cornea and was extending to her lower lid. She sees better now without the constant obstacle blocking her view. She recovered quickly and was home in time for Christmas—her new mama’s bundle of joy (and potty-obstinance!).

Happy life, little girl.

In Northern California, we don’t put the garden to bed for the winter as much as we tidy up.

There is still color and foliage to admire –

but work to be done.

When the blossoms fall, the bees finally retreat enough to find the source of the pesky Bermuda grass. The damp ground Is much more gracious about giving up the fugitives it harbors – abolishing all excuses. As the leaves shed, the structure of the garden comes into view. It’s time to start editing select trees and shrubs being careful to leave basal foliage growth protected against expected frost.

Time is measured by the passing seasons –

and the growth of foster pups.

Lily was one of this year’s foster puppies. One that I never wrote about. Not because she was not memorable – but because she was too much so.

People ask how my husband and I can foster puppies and never want to keep them. We had never been tempted. We see ourselves as a part of their journey. Their parting is bitter sweet but we are excited for their new families. Our house is full of doggie love and we know that keeping one might prevent us from helping more.

But Lily was different.

At eight weeks of age, she was found “stray” in a parking lot with a broken leg and taken to an area shelter. Thankfully, she came to us quickly in time to do surgery and save her leg. The photo I took upon her arrival is heartbreaking.

She recovered at our president’s home until she reached a point where she needed regular swim therapy to help rebuild the atrophied muscle around her still growing bones.

So she came home with us where we could swim her in our pool multiple times throughout the day.

We fell in love immediately.

She gained strength quickly. Too quickly. Before we knew it, she had been promised.

She is the one that got away.

Lily has an incredible mom and dad, and to be honest, a life more full of adventures than we could have provided. She could not be more loved and doted on. That is what we want for all of our foster babes.

Still, I keep her photo on my desktop. And when she came to visit this weekend, I was filled with joy and tears.

She is where she is supposed to be. And so am I. In the garden awaiting the next foster arrival.

Noelle: Our Christmas Joy

A Good Samaritan saw her stray and shivering in the rain and mud. She was frightened, emaciated, and would not come. Animal control was called. A catch pole was used; something that can be terrifying to dogs but life-saving when there is no other option.

She was covered in mats and filth, and it was obvious that she had recently had puppies. There was no sign of them. It’s unclear if she was turned out after weaning them, or had simply wandered off. She is a Great Pyrenees mix. Working Pyrenees tend to be treated like livestock: valued for their natural instincts as protectors of their land or flock, but not valued like family. No one came looking for her.

In the shelter, she would not have stood a chance. Our area coordinator scooped her up and she was transported to Homeward Bound. It seems like every year around the holidays, we are gifted with a very special dog in need. Noelle was our Christmas blessing.

Her large mats were removed. She was bathed. She was seen by our vet. And then she received a professional shave to give her the fresh start she needed and deserved.

We expected that she would be with us for a little while. While her demeanor is affectionate, sweet, and surprisingly trusting given what she has endured, we know that it can be difficult to see through a rail-thin body and shaved coat to the dog within.

We were wrong.

Brad grew up with Homeward Bound through his mother’s work with us. He has a huge heart for dogs in need. He and his wife, Karissa, recently lost their Golden girl. They had been coming to meet dogs but had not yet made a heart-connection. They knew it would be clear when the right match came along. And it was.

They fell head-over-heals in love. She needed them. And they needed her. The first thing they told her: “Someone didn’t love you enough.” That is solved. Noelle is home, and now, she is our shared Christmas joy.

Dogs like Noelle find hope for second chances and forever homes through Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary. If you can help, please make a gift in honor or in memory of your special someone on our virtual Giving Tree. Your donation supports hundreds of dogs like Noelle on their journeys to safety and home each year. Either way, visit the tree and scroll down to read the heartfelt messages – delivered in the true spirit of the season.

Wishing you safety, health, happiness, and forever homes. Love, Ogee.

Rocket Scientist

As I turned the corner at the rescue into the front parking lot, I came upon an elderly man looking a bit lost. It was well before adoption hours. He looked frail and sad. I asked if I could help. He said he had just let his dog go. It turns out that he had lost her a week earlier; he had just returned from picking up her ashes.

She was 11-year-old Emily, a beautiful Golden Retriever. He had her from a pup. He noticed that she was not wanting to get up one morning; she turned down her favorite treat. He rushed her to the local vet; they told him to rush her to the specialist. The specialist said that Emily might be taken immediately to U.C. Davis in hopes of finding a canine heart surgeon there, but that the operation would be hard on a senior girl—and the odds not good. Her heart was enlarged; she was bleeding internally; fluid was pooling around her heart as quickly as they could drain it. It was a painful but clear decision – perhaps influenced by the man’s own battle. With cancer. A fight he believed he was losing. They let Emily go peacefully. Her ashes were in a beautiful, inscribed wooden box in his truck. Her paw print immortalized with it.

He wasn’t looking to adopt. He thought his own time on this earth was short. He was just in pain and wanting some Golden love. Someone sent him to a shelter, but he found that overwhelming and heartbreaking. A friend told him about Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary.

“I’m here as a total stranger, just hoping to be able to pet a few dogs and share a moment with them,” he said.

We don’t typically allow the public to interact with the dogs unless they have gone through our foster or adoption vetting process. But everyone understood his need; we have all been there. You feel them, still, in your heart but the absence of their physical presence is difficult to bear.

We allowed him to sit and love on some sweet Goldens – no one too rambunctious. One beautiful girl sensed his need and buried her head in his lap; that was enough to send the tears gushing. He shared photos and stories and asked about the dogs: how they come to be with us, how we find them homes, how anyone could ever give up their beloved companion.

I gave him a tour and told him our story – about our founders, their inspiration, their vision, and how it had come to life through the dedication of hundreds of volunteers. As we walked, I shared the stories of the dogs we passed; we watched the youngsters in training class; we greeted the seniors at the fence.

He told me about a dream he had. His legs were strong and whole again. She was by his side. They walked familiar trails. Coming to a gate that looked like Heaven, they asked for entry. He was told he could pass through, but not Emily. They turned away and walked on, realizing they were in the wrong place. They came to another gate. This time they were both welcomed. Inside were trees, rivers, fields, and blue sky. They knew where they were…together…at last. And then he woke up and saw his frail, ravaged body – and his heart sank.

Maybe Emily went ahead because she knew it would be too hard for him to leave her behind.

He cried. We hugged. He said he would like to help. He made an incredibly generous donation in Emily’s memory which is reflected on our virtual Giving Tree.

As he was departing, he asked me if I had ever met a rocket scientist. I thought it was a setup. But he said, “Well, now you have.” He had helped to design the heat shield for the space shuttle. When Congress failed to fund the development of an emergency vehicle to return our astronauts from a planned space station, he was part of a group that went to Russia to negotiate the use of their Soyuz vehicle in exchange for shared ownership of what became the International Space Station. I looked him up. It’s true.

Bonds created through the love of dogs. You never know who you will meet. Maybe even a rocket scientist with a broken, golden heart.

Time Flies on Restless Pinions

Somehow it became December. Don’t ask me how.

The garden does not seem to know, but the neighbors’ Christmas lights are up and the rain they said would not come has arrived.

Muddy dogs are a sure giveaway.

It feels like we moved seamlessly from summer to winter. I would say that it has been unseasonably warm but I think we should stop saying that with climate change now increasingly knocking on our door. The garden is still full of color and wonder. Nature snuck in the beauties of fall.

One beauty was missed here. There were plans for a guest blog to remember a very special person and devoted volunteer. The words never came—perhaps too hard to find—leaving the impression that her memory belonged to only a few. That’s not the case. She was loved and is remembered for her good and tender soul, and for her devotion to the dogs. Be among your fellow angels, Debbie, and watch over us all.

My husband and I are on foster puppy number fifteen of the year. Perhaps that is where the year went.

Her name is Daisy.

She is perfect but someone didn’t think so. Purchased too young, they must have missed her hairy eyeball. When they realized it, she was thankfully was surrendered to us. We suspect we know where she came from originally and would not want to see her back there. She is home with me and my husband at Camp Yogi in preparation for becoming a one-eyed pirate.

It suits her since she belches and snores like a drunken sailor. And she has a forever mom anxiously awaiting her arrival who, too, thinks she is absolutely perfect.

There is so much to catch you up on. I will try to be better and get there amazing stories to you in the next few weeks. We can start with Heidi.

Out of the corner of their eye, passersby saw her in a ditch as they sped by. A neighborhood alert went out and a good Samaritan went out looking for her. Spotted hiding in a huge blackberry bramble, she was too scared to come to him. She ate and drank the food and water he left. He repeated this act for five days hoping to earn her trust. It was ridiculously hot. Failing all efforts, and sensing that her time was running out, he purchased a coyote trap. Two days later (with the help of bacon) she was caught. He whisked her to Homeward Bound where we were standing by. She was transported immediately to the vet where she was stabilized and underwent surgery for a broken leg and injured pelvis. After months of rehab, emotional and physical, this is Heidi now.

Their application said they needed a mellow, trained dog – relatively young. Behind the front desk, they met mellow, trained, lovable, affectionate, hilarious, and dog-cat-bunny-people-loving, sugar-faced, Rosie – 12 years old. They fell head over heels in love and took her home. You never know where your heart will lead you.

Weston had been dumped and was roaming and foraging in a remote, rural area. People put out food, but he was scared and uncatchable until a rescue team responded. He arrived covered in mats, malnourished, with skin, eye, and ear infections.

This is Weston today. He is in foster with hopes of an adoption. Paws crossed.

Monk is also 12.

When his owners left him at the vet and moved away, this adorable boy came to us. We removed as much of his cancer as we could. It may eventually come back but the reality is that old age will likely come knocking sooner.

Regan (in teal) is an amazing young girl who collects and delivers gifts for the dogs on her birthdays. This year, she left with a gift of her own and, in the process, gave a very special one to our deserving boy. Regan fell instantly in love; mom and dad said ‘yes,’ and Monk now has a forever home.

The seasons seem to pass so quickly now.

Maybe it is my age, or the time marked by so many memorable rescues.

“Time flies on restless pinions — constant never.” ~Friedrich Schiller

I will work to get caught up. There are stories to share, much-needed inspiring tales (and tails), and they should be remembered here.

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!!

Camp Yogi: Temporary Closure

This is Yogi taking a forced break from puppy fostering.
It has been nonstop since the beginning of July. GiGi’s litter: Garrett, Gabe, Griffin and Gracie.

Beau

Dude

and Conway.

Before them, Rose, Ty, and Nutmeg,

Anna,

Sara,

Lily,

and Noah.

Fourteen puppies in eight months. No wonder Yogi is exhausted!

He’s such a great sport and expert puppy raiser, entertaining them, teaching them boundaries, watching over them, and generally allowing them to torture him.

It’s that later part that put him in the cone. Too many puppy licks in ears and eyes leading to infections; lowered immune system and allergies causing hot spots. He has more than earned a break. Camp Yogi is temporarily closed for business. So, naturally, as soon as the cone went on, these two showed up.

Adorable little Heeler mix pups that someone dumped in a field near the rescue. Thankfully picked up by a good Samaritan and brought to us. We named them Barley and Hops. It kills me to leave puppies at the rescue. Not that we have not raised hundreds. But I believe puppies need to be in a home where they can get all of the attention, care, and socialization they need to start their young lives off right. And no matter how careful we are and how separate we keep them, there is always the risk of another dog coming in carrying their own unwelcome guest before these little fur balls have developed strong immune systems.

So naturally, one of these two became unwell. When I arrived last weekend, Barley was clearly not feeling good. His temperature had skyrocketed, he wasn’t eating, and he didn’t want to get up. Emergency measures were kicked in. The fever broke quickly, and by the next day, he was eating. But his legs were not working.

While my mind races right to dark, scary places, our leader stays firmly in the light of hope and drags me along with her. His brother showed no symptoms. She said to let the medicine and rest do its thing. They remained separated, but together, and isolated from all others with only the two of us watching over them. Thirty-six hours later, he got up long enough to poo. The next day, he stood to eat. And by the time Doc set eyes on him again, he greeted her standing with tail wagging. From there, he progressed rapidly. A week later, he is running and jumping…and now…my puppy worlds have collided.

While they wait for their own adoption day, Barley and Hops are hanging out with my former foster, Conway – now named Chance.

I’m hoping we can get Yogi over his hot spots as quickly, because everyone loves a happy ending.

Justice for Justice

She spent her life in an outdoor yard. So terrified of indoor enclosures was she that she broke through a window to avoid being confined.

Emaciated. Sick. She had to fight to protect what little food scraps she was given. A Great Pyrenees mix weighing in at only 58 pounds.

Her mouth partly paralyzed; who knows how many litters of puppies she had produced and what damage that had inflicted.

Used up, she was dumped. Two others were “coincidentally” found not far away; we suspect they were her offspring. Younger, they were spared from years of similar harsh treatment. The shelter staff named her Justice.

While the instinct was to surround her with love, she first had to be quarantined to ensure the safety of others. And then, the work of restoring her sense of self, safety, and trust would begin. Inside, was a surprisingly resilient and social girl.

That human beings can treat helpless animals with such callous disregard is a reminder of our capacity for evil.

That human beings can dedicate their lives and hearts to helping those abused and neglected find a path to a new and better life is a reminder of our potential for good.

We have seen both in the ways that humans treat each other these past weeks.

Justice would be to steal the freedom and dignity of her abusers as they stole hers. That is unlikely to happen. But renewal is found with the family who took her home today. With a huge yard where she can make herself at home, walks in the woods, and time at a family cabin and beach – Justice will be eased into the life of a loved family dog.

Today, the world was made right for Justice.

What Rescue Is

“Hi. We are interested in rescuing a Golden Retriever. Any suggestions?”

I have to bite my tongue when I get these messages. What this well-intentioned person means is that they want to adopt a rescued dog. Hurrah for them! The world needs more good people willing to give an abandoned, surrendered or rescued dog a home. They are a critical part of the effort. Rescue does not work without them. So I keep my thoughts to myself – except here, of course.

There’s a saying that rescue is not a verb; it’s a promise. I have quoted it. But the truth is that rescue is both a verb and a promise.

Rescue is the person who waits three days in a field for a dumped dog that she does not know and is twice her size to come close enough to leash. That dog needs to feel her intention and trust. It’s a risky leap of faith for both.

Rescue is the man who sees two chained dogs in the freezing mud of winter without shelter or clean water and knocks on the person’s door to persuade them to surrender the dogs ensuring that they both have a real chance at life.

Rescue is the person who convinces an addict who cannot help himself to allow help for his dog before it falls prey to the threats and ill intentions of others.

Rescue is the people who walk into a shelter to bring dogs to safety knowing they can’t save them all.

Rescue is the people who report the horrors of puppy mills, hoarding, abused animals, and overseas dog meat markets – and those that follow to shut them down and bring the animals to safety. What they witness can never be forgotten.

Rescue is the heartbreak of losing a hard-fought battle and coming back again – because you have to try.

Rescue is the people who show up without pay to transport, feed, bathe, heal, comfort, care for and help prepare a dog for the family interested in adopting a rescued dog.

And rescue IS the adopter who brings home a rescued dog that others have passed over time and again because they are too old or too sick or too much of a special need.

Like the woman who took home 13-year-old Holmes this weekend (right) because she learned he had been waiting since February. He was not the dog she came looking for, but he was the dog she felt needed her most.

Rescue is hard work. It is sometimes heartbreaking. It changes you. And it could not be more rewarding.

Rescue is a verb. And a promise.

Dog Days of Summer: 2019

I know I have been away too long when this takes up residence in the entry arbor.

After an easy pace to the first half of the year, it has been raining dogs, lately.

My co-volunteers carry the heavy lifting of feeding, cleaning, vet trips and walking while a couple of us make sure that photos are taken, their bios get to the website, and we get the word out. It truly takes an army.

Jared has been with us since February. He arrived via another rescue that was having difficulty understanding his needs or finding a willing foster. He stayed with our foster for a bit and then came into our program. He was malnourished, anxious and acting out. Today, he is a dog transformed. Jared’s reward came this weekend when a like-hearted man saw straight into his soul.

Lola was pulled from a Southern California shelter but when their foster homes were all booked up, they told her rescuer to return her.

Her rescuer saw that this dog was extraordinary and was not having it. She took Lola to her home already overflowing with foster dogs where Lola comforted her severely autistic son and the rescuer began reaching out across the state. She found us. She had Lola flown to us.

And Lola found a family where two broken hearts – one human and one canine – were mourning the loss of their canine companion. Lola’s rescuer is now a member of our family, too.

Little Wyatt was dumped in front of a shelter at the age of only five months. He was malnourished and had a horrible skin issue but this wiggly boy wormed his way into everyone’s heart. Meds, good food, and TLC restored his health and coat – so his new family could see in him what we saw all along.

If everyone who put in an application for Mabel took home a dog, our kennels would be empty.

This girl is terrified of thunder, gunshots, fireworks, and loud noises. She lived in Utah where she was experiencing one storm after another. Mabel was transported to the safety of our Sacramento Valley where thunderstorms are extremely rare. Her new home will ensure the peace and quiet this girl needs and deserves.

And my husband and I have been hosts to these adorable puppies since the 4th of July.

The product of a Golden Retriever mom and a Dobie daddy, they inherited his looks and her heart. All are now adopted; one will stay with us for another week.

Meanwhile, the garden has been on automatic pilot where spiders are free to weave their webs across our arbor, bermuda grass runs wild, and the hot colors of summer have replaced the blues, purples and pinks of spring.

Time races by.

Before I know it, the Asters will be in bloom and the cycle will begin again.

But for now – these are the dog days of summer.

From Feral to Family: River

I first met him on an early spring morning. Arriving before the feeders to tend to Daisy and her puppies, I happened to look down the shoot that runs between two large dog yards. In the walkway was a pacing, nervous black dog who looked ready to bolt.

He had been living feral on the river for who knows how long. It took animal control a month to catch him. When lures failed, they resorted to a catch pole. It ensures safe handling for the human, but it is certainly traumatic for the dog.

He would have been impossible to keep at a shelter. Teeth bared in utter terror, he would not let anyone near. Thankfully, he came to us. He was having nothing to do with a collar or leash after the catch pole. So he was lured into an outside enclosure within a large yard for the night. Or so we thought. He had worked the door clasp until he found his way out of the enclosure and leapt over the eight-foot fence. Clever one. Fortunately, he picked the wrong side of the yard and landed in the shoot instead of onto the fenced property where he certainly would have repeated his dash to freedom. In the narrow passage, he couldn’t get enough distance and speed to hoist himself over. He was waiting for someone to come along, not notice him there, and open the gate so he could shoot past them to make his escape. Instead, we cornered him with x-pens and walked him back into the enclosure. This time, with a lock. I don’t think he ever forgot or forgave me.

We named him River. You could see the fear in his face.

It took weeks to get a collar and leash on him and many more to get him into the kennels.

Thankfully, the weather was fine. During this time, he made a tight group of human friends who very gradually earned his trust. He never counted me among them. But it doesn’t stop my appreciation for this magnificent boy.

He made dog friends. That too, took a little time but he craved canine companionship – and one in particular: another of our rescues, a dog named Roo.


One look…and the games were on!

If there was water and mud, so much the better!

With gnashed teeth and snorts, it sounded like warriors doing battle. But they delighted in each other’s play while Roo and others showed River, by example, that humans were OK.

Had he ever been in a home? Would he feel comfortable or claustrophobic? Would he escape when given the first chance? We knew nothing about him.

So a group of foster friends took him out for day trips and sleepovers. It helped us to see that River was finally ready to accept love and find happiness living the life of a beloved family dog.

And so, after a year, it was finally River’s day. While we were preparing to post him to the website, one of our volunteers scooped him up instead.

The best part? This very special dog will visit often and stay connected to our Homeward Bound family – not to mention, Roo.

From feral to family. Made possible by an incredible group of volunteers and supporters without whose help we would not be able to give a dog like River all the time he needed to be ready for home.

Happy life, sweet boy. Well done, team!

Additional photo contributions courtesy of Rob Kessel.

A Promise for Life

There are no promises made to the plant members of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. We get everyone off to the right start and visit twice a week, but beyond that, they are on their own.

If they can’t cut the clay soil, low water, and valley heat and cold then we just acknowledge that it was not meant to be and part friends.

If they are bossy and bully their neighbors, they will find themselves kicked to the curb. Everyone has to place nice here or be banished.

The dogs of Homeward Bound are a completely different story.

When a dog enters our program, we make a promise to them of food, shelter, care and help in finding a forever home that is matched to their needs. For those that cannot be adopted due to special needs, we provide sanctuary. Our promise is for life. If, for any reason, the dog cannot remain in its adoptive home, we require that it be returned to Homeward Bound. None of our dogs should be passed around or, heaven forbid, left in a shelter.

And so it was that Bodie rejoined us at the age of 15. He had been adopted 14 years ago as Shadow. His human dad is also in his golden years and now needs as much help as Bodie who was unable to walk. Dad was headed to assisted living, so Bodie was welcomed back by us.

Bodie was unsure of how he got to this place again – and not too happy about it, at first. He was either unable or unwilling to stand and went to great pains to even prop himself in a sitting position. But what a smile this boy has!

A trip to the vet and a week later, Bodie is a different dog. He scored the coveted ‘office dog’ spot where he is surrounded by company all day. By the end of the week, this dog that would not move was going for walks!

He has perfected the “please take me out” look. While most dogs get one or two walks between feedings, I spotted Bodie out four times on Saturday – each time with a different walker.

He has some lumps and bumps that we will keep an eye on, but at 15, we are mainly focused on finding the perfect home where a retired boy can rest his head and be spoiled rotten. And when we do, Homeward Bound will see to his medical needs for all the days of his life.

A promise made. A promise kept.

Don’t tell the garden plants. They’ll be jealous.