Rescue Begins at Home

Homeward Bound welcomed two new dogs from a Shanghai rescue this week. Say hello to Oscar…


and Kenny.


We’re working with a new group that we had heard does a wonderful job of giving street dogs a second chance, providing healthcare, vetting, and socialization before they come over to find forever homes.


Like the Taiwan and Korea dogs before them, our rescue is happy to be in a position to assist dogs wherever there is a need.


But we never forget that rescue begins at home. This week, rescue began very close to my home.

My elderly neighbors have been through a lot. The husband has twice recovered from significant health issues, and now the wife is struggling. They have always been dog people, and Rush has been their dog for as long as we have lived across the street. He was a very young Labrador Retriever when we moved in. A hunting dog who always loved the outdoors, and he was devoted to his people. He’s made of hardy stock. But now, he is fourteen or fifteen – they have lost count. He is incontinent and arthritic, and to my great sadness, he was being left outside as the nights got colder and wetter because they were simply unable to care for him. He had an igloo outfitted with a bed under a covered awning. It was the best they knew how to do.

These are proud and private people who don’t like to impose on others or accept help. They have driven their adult children mad refusing their offers. And so, I steeled myself for my knock on their door. I didn’t know any other way to say it: “I’m worried for Rush, can I help him?” The wife put up the expected objections, but to my surprise and relief, the husband gave me an automatic “yes.” While she continued with a string of concerns, he went and got Rush’s leash and food bowl, and walked me across the street with his beloved pup.

He said “not forever.” But Rush’s future is likely counted in weeks – maybe months – not forevers.

I took him immediately to a warm shower to wash away the pee and poo he had been sleeping in, gave him a blow dry, and made him a comfy place to rest in the laundry room where he can have whatever accidents he has without worrying about a floor that is easily cleaned but not too slippery for old dog legs.


He looked a little confused at first, had his dinner, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.


“It makes me sad,” my husband said. “It lets me sleep,” said I.

Outfitted with diapers, pee pads, and a sling, his needs are manageable. Every couple of days, I walk those old dog legs across the street to say “hello.” His people are beyond grateful and now recognize that – while they will always be his people – this will be his home for the rest of his days.


It’s wonderful to be able to help dogs from afar have a second chance at life. And it’s rewarding beyond words to give an old dog a soft and warm place to lay.
Rescue begins at home.


Emmie: A Gift from the Universe

“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming.


We cannot stop the spring or the fall


or make them other than they are.


They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse.


But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.” ~ Gary Zukav

To the person who left sweet, thirteen-year-old Emmie at the shelter, emaciated, sick, and alone – in the winter of her life that she could not stop from coming;


thank you for this gift from the universe that we could not – and would not, refuse.


She brings light to our lives,


and purpose to our days. Our contribution is surrounding her with love and kindness, for whatever time is left.

Regardless of the sadness we know is coming,


this is what we choose. It is your loss that you could not do the same.

Update: Sweet Emmie passed peacefully and gently, surrounded by our volunteers the week that I wrote this post. We knew her time would be measured in days, not weeks or months. In a very short time, she touched so many hearts, not the least of whom was the woman at the shelter who alerted us to her need. Upon Emmie’s passing she writes: “I cried tears of sadness and anger when I got the call from the former owner stating she was bringing her to the shelter I work at. I am now crying tears for her passing. I am eternally grateful to Homeward Bound and for being there to show her love…she deserved nothing but the best, yet her owner was tossing her away. I will never understand that. Big hugs of thankfulness to every person at Homeward Bound! You are an awesome group of people.”

Fly free, sweet Emmie. You are our gift to heaven, now.

Thanks to Rob Kessel, of, for the beautiful photos of Emmie.

Where the Sugar Flows

In the big dog Park, the rough and tumble play.


But on the other side of the fence is where the sugar lives.

Sugar Shack Acres is home to Homeward Bound’s most senior dogs: the sugar faces –

our sanctuary dogs – like once-and-forever feral Red –

and dogs who just love being with other dogs – like Lucy, who is only five, but desperately needed to lose weight. After a couple of weeks with her Sugar Shack friends, she dropped nearly ten pounds (and was on her way home!)

Lucy Going Home_DSC_3573
These pups may be a little slow,

But they still get around.

And everyone gets along.

As they say: it takes a long time for a soul to get this sweet.

Some of our volunteers spend all their time in this sanctuary – where the dogs have their own house and a large open yard so they can come and go freely.

Some just pay a visit after walking, feeding, and cleaning up after our “dorm” dogs – only to be mobbed by smiling faces, tail wags and kisses.

And when the young dog pack leaves the Park…guess where the sugar flows?


Fall’s Grace

“For the Fall of the year is more than three months bounded by an equinox and a solstice. It is a summing up without the finality of year’s end.” ~ Hal Borland


This blank spot in the perennial bed signals the end of a season, as the Dahlias have been lifted and stored for the winter.


The weather this weekend was beautiful after a stormy start to the week, so Daylilies were divided, bulbs planted,


and giant holes filled in the yards where dogs chase bunnies. Who me?


The light is beautiful in the garden at this time of year.




Although most of the brilliant blossoms have faded away, a few remain and it is as if the sheer warmth of the sun bathes the garden in gold;


it soaks up all the magic that goes on here.


Where big dogs come to find homes,



tiny dogs are nurtured,


blind dogs see that they are surrounded by love,

Brutus-Walking-11_23_13 (2)

and old dogs can sum up their own seasons in sanctuary and peace.




“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face.” ~ John Donne


Today is a Gift


“The flower that you hold in your hands was born today and already it is as old as you are.”  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwi


I don’t know where the summer went; the time passed so quickly. We leave soon for our annual Labor Day camping trip – a week on the ocean and river where the salmon run. It seems like summer arrived just yesterday and it’s gone in the blink of an eye – or the life of a flower.


“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


We paid our dues early this year. Having survived two straight weeks of 110 degrees in June, we have been treated to much milder temps all through August. The garden is showing its gratitude now.


And so are the pups. This is Lukey.


Handsome Shane.


Sweet blind boy Brutus.


And hug-a-boo Mickey.


With a light breeze blowing, our golden oldies were treated to a group play date in the large park. So many beautiful sugar faces.


Little beasties, meanwhile, were having their own party in the Butterfly Garden.


Ocean camping is heaven, but its hard to compete with this bliss.


“For there you have been and there you will long to return.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci