A Family Complete

“You have no idea how happy they have made me.”

For those who have followed their story, I am overjoyed to tell you that Lilly and Lucy’s journey is now complete. And while they are beginning a brand new chapter in their lives, we could not have written a better ending to this one.

The family that adopted them had been waiting and searching for a bonded pair after losing their beloved pup two years ago. It took time for their hearts to heal, and then, they wanted to make sure that their children were old enough to respect and care for a dog. Connected through one of our volunteers, they came to meet the girls last weekend. Wisely believing that the entire family needed to be on board with their adoption, they took some time to think it through. Our hopes were answered when the answer came: “yes!” While the kids were under the weather, their mom, Meg, could wait no longer. This weekend, she drove back with her daughter’s friend (a future rescuer, we are sure!) to take Lilly and Lucy home.

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Their foster dad had drafted copious notes about their likes, dislikes, personalities, and behaviors. While all this great information was being relayed, a deep connection was already forming.

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Lilly, in particular, was our concern. She had a history of not connecting to people right away – while Lucy is very adaptable, easy-go-lucky, and gives her kisses freely. But there was a special bond formed between Meg and Lilly from the start, reminiscent of the one that Lilly had for Erika, the woman who rescued her from the streets of Islamabad.

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With notes in hand and the paperwork complete, Meg gently lifted each dog into new travel crates, side-by-side, with a window between them so the girls could see each other. In each crate were new toys and color-coded leashes and collars.

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The drive home was easy, and excited text messages relayed their joy.

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“Our family is complete now.”

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The joy was shared on the other side of the world by two women – their rescuers and original “moms” – relieved and at peace that their girls were safe, loved, and finally home. They did right by Lilly and Lucy, taking them into their homes, nursing them back to health, and loving them knowing the risk to their hearts. And then, they got them to us, so we could help complete another family. An act of sacrifice and selfless love that will not be forgotten.

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“If I had a single flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden.” ~ Claudia Adrienne Grandi

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The Long Way Home

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Typically, a bee will travel about two miles in search of food. When nectar or pollen is scarce, the journey can extend two to three times as far. To a tiny bee, that is a great distance flight and a long, exhausting way home to the hive.

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For the first part of their lives, “home” for Lilly and Lucy was the streets of Pakistan. Scavenging, starving, relying on the mercy of strangers and garbage scraps.

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Home for Erika and Gwen is the United States. But as Foreign Service gypsies, their current home is Pakistan. They have traveled the world to often dangerous places: Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, and more. The locals can be hostile, and, as auditors, they are not exactly welcomed by their peers, either. It’s a lonely and isolating life filled with security alerts and lockdowns, but they find the work fulfilling as their purpose is to ensure that foreign aid gets to those most in need. With frequent reassignments, they try not to make attachments. But when Lilly and Lucy crossed their paths, they simply failed to look away.

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Lilly was one at the time, half-starved and missing a back paw. Lucy was an eight-month-old bag of bones, staying by the side of her mother and her latest litter of puppies. Erika and Gwen took them in, nursed them back to health, and they found a new home together. The two became inseparable.

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When both Erika and Gwen learned they would be redeployed to new posts and tiny apartments without the benefit of yards, the panic set in. Against all good sense, they had fallen firmly in love with these dogs, now three and four, and there was no way they were abandoning them. The expat community is large and, like the military, they do their best to have each other’s backs. Erika and Gwen explored every avenue but were quickly running out of options.

A distant connection and recent adopter suggested Homeward Bound. As difficult as it would be to give the girls up, they knew that a permanent home was what they needed and deserved. They reached out to us, hoping that, if their dogs couldn’t pass for Goldens, they might find some golden hearts among us. Of course, we said “yes,” which is how Lilly and Lucy began the longest way “home.”

I wrote about them for the rescue to begin to get the word out.

On Thursday, after two days’ journey across one-third of the globe, Lilly and Lucy arrived in San Francisco where Judy, one of our transport team members, and I met them.

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Tired and confused, it took almost three hours to get them off the plane and out of customs. They still had to endure the long crawl through rush hour traffic back to the Sacramento Valley. It was nearly dark when we got back to the rescue, a twelve hour day.

We let them out of the van and took them to the Park, where they ran – and ran – and ran.

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I don’t think they had experienced that much open space since their days in the streets. Exhausted, we gave them dinner and put them to bed – together.

They have adjusted well,

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enjoying the open country space,

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their feeders and dog walkers,

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and their visitors: the couple that connected them to us.

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For Erika, Gwen, Lilly and Lucy, it has been a very long and stressful journey. There is one more to go. After we have a chance to spend some time with the dogs and gain a full understanding of their needs, we will help them to find their most important home: their forever home.

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