Love comforteth after the rain

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping; When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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After a bone-dry February, the skies have opened up again and gifted California with a good long soak. Actually, a bit more like a deluge. But no one here is complaining.

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Just as our rivers have swollen, the pond had overflown its banks converging with the flooded rice fields next door…

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and the garden looks like a series of small islands in a large lake.

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Thank goodness we raised the beds last fall!

While there are a few drought-tolerants that are unhappy about too much of a good thing, overall, the garden is drinking it in and exploding with joyous spring color.

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“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.” – William Shakespeare

Between breaks in the downpours – and even during them – love came forth in buckets of comfort this week. There were lots of “Going Homes” to celebrate, emptying the kennels about as fast as we filled them. But one on Saturday was a double delight.

Our adoption counselor brought Rudy out to the garden for his going home photo. The family was clearly in love.

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And then Rudy whispered something to his new mom: “Someone is missing.”

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Rudy and his sister, Daisy – both nine – were surrendered together in Southern California when their family could no longer keep them. Declaring them honorary Golden Retrievers, Homeward Bound agreed to take them. Concerned that we would not be able to place two older dogs together, we made the difficult decision that we would not require them to be placed together. However, when the family learned that Rudy had a sister, they asked to meet her.

These people of good and generous hearts took only a few minute to come to the decision that Rudy and his sister must be adopted together.

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Which is how Rudy ended up with two Going Home photos – and Daisy, one. The best one.

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There was not a dry eye in the place…and we’re talking tears of joy…not rain drops!

When Every Leaf is a Flower

Gardening was called today on account of rain. Lots of rain.

Despite a couple days of dreariness, the trees and plants are deserving of a good soak after another very long California summer of endless blue skies.

All are bowed in gratitude for a refreshing bath.

With the skies temporarily parted, Jackson and I set out to enjoy the autumn leaves and color that cooler temperatures have finally delivered to us.

Here he is posing. Please don’t laugh at his pointy head. He has a complex about it.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~Albert Camus

Now he is pretending that I don’t see him eyeing the big fat duck behind him.

Our start and stop pace for photos is confusing to him. As far as he is concerned, if you’ve seen one pretty tree – you have seen them all. Unless of course, another dog has visited it – or a squirrel sits in it.

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” ~Emily Bronte

Tomorrow I will head out to the Memorial Garden to monitor its progress toward winter. Between showers and other duties, I hope to add a little more to the mulch pile. Over Thanksgiving, we plan to get spring bulbs in. Another California advantage – planting bulbs until December.

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~William Cullen Bryant

Enjoy the color while you can. Winter waits behind it.

Surrender

When a plant fails to thrive, is over-run with bugs, or becomes a thug to others, we do our best to nurture, mend or tame it in the Memorial Garden.

One of our volunteer gardeners, Ina, is famously tough on her problem plants. She literally tells them to toughen up and get it together, or they are out of here!

And they will be, if they don’t respond. But plants are not animals.

When you see so many dogs come through a rescue organization like Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary, it is easy to fall into judging those who have given up their pups. This is Sammy. He was surrendered this week.

Recently, I met a woman in the garden who made me rethink my judging. She had come to the ranch, accompanied by her young son, in hopes of learning the fate of an older Golden she had given up.

She explained to me that her family lived in a very rural area at the time. Her dog was very much a beloved member of her large family which included a foster child, and was used to having room to run in the great outdoors. Life changed on a dime, however, when her husband passed away unexpectedly. Forced to move from the country to the city and a small apartment, she became a single, working mother practically overnight.  She was beyond overwhelmed just trying to keep herself and her children together. The complication of caring for their older dog in a tiny space was beyond her capacity.

You could see that it broke her heart, and her son’s to surrender their dog.  She didn’t know what she could learn, if anything, when she visited the Sanctuary – but she was hoping for closure.

When you surrender a dog, you give up all rights to it. Still, she was able to learn that her dog was successfully adopted, and now lives in an area with the wide open spaces it was accustomed to. She was greatly relieved – and sad as well. Tears welled up in her eyes as she told me about her pup and her heartbreaking decision.

My dogs are part of my family, and I consider them a lifetime commitment. I can’t imagine a circumstance that would ever force me to give them up. But I have never been faced with difficult choice this woman faced. To seek out Homeward Bound – an organization dedicated to rescue, no matter what the dog’s age or health, gave her dog the best chance for a good home and happy ending.

Too often, people give up on their animals without a second thought.

Shelters are filled with the pets of people who regard them as an inconvenience, an expense, or too much trouble.  Worse, are those who simply drop a dog off on a road somewhere.  If you would give up your dog because “he’s un-trainable”, or “he has (name-the-ailment)”, or simply “he was a lot smaller and cuter as a puppy” – please stick with Goldfish (nothing against Goldfish!) That wasn’t the case here. And many times, surrender is the last option of people who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and more. It was an important reminder to me to count my blessings and pray that I will never have to face the decision this woman did.

Rescue. Adopt. Foster. And if you must surrender – do it with responsible care.