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.

All I want for Christmas?

I wasn’t exactly looking for a puppy for Christmas, but when one arrived about a week before, how could I not bring it home to foster?

Surrendered at 14 weeks, Leo is an adorable yellow Lab puppy. His people purchased him and figured out within a week’s time that they were not cut out for puppy raising. Having a really bad feeling about the breeder, they thankfully brought him to Homeward Bound instead of returning him. He checked in on Friday morning and was loaded into my car by Friday afternoon, headed for Camp Yogi. And then the fun began!

He took to my Yogi and Jackson immediately.

He slept in his crate through the night.
He went potty where he was supposed to.
And then my husband foolishly remarked: “He must be the easiest puppy we have had yet.”
Leo had played us well.

Shortly thereafter, Leo’s true personality came bursting through. He is one of the busiest, bounciest, flying-highest puppies we have every fostered.

He turned on the gas stove; he stole things off the counter; when he couldn’t reach, he used Yogi as a ladder.
He had zoomies of epic proportion, and tantrums to match if they could not be exercised (exorcised?) out.

A tired puppy is a good puppy, and we were able to keep him tired enough to weather the hurricane –

until he went in for his neuter surgery and Doc said “no jumping or running for 10 days.”

I managed 48 hours before surrendering to his will.

Forewarned, the in-laws cancelled their Christmas visit and we prepared to spend the long holiday weekend playing, chasing, and keeping the house from burning down.
And then: a Christmas miracle…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
A creature was stirring, ‘beware’ said my spouse!
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature tornado on a barking, whirling, tear!
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
He was chubby and plump, a right crazy little elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

He cuddled and cooed, to a family he wooed,
And got himself adopted; he is truly quite shrewd!

And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas, little Leo. You tested, tormented and exhausted me – and flat out stole my heart.
Happy life, little boy!