Plant Flowers in Others’ Gardens

A daylily pops into the garden for but a single day. Collectively, they make a big impact, but individually, their time is fleeting.

Serving the bees briefly, they take their leave as the sun sets, as if to say “Hello. I’m here. My job was to be beautiful. Now, I bid you adieu..”

Brief as their stay is, it’s a valued contribution that adds to the whole.

Recently, someone who knows that I have worked and volunteered with different nonprofits asked me where she might also offer some time. With kids gone and an empty house, she felt her world getting smaller. She wanted to find an organization where she could contribute and become part of a “tribe” – forming a new, extended family – some place, people, and cause she could belong to.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~ Mohammed Ali

She wanted to do something meaningful – not menial – and to be part of a team. But the work had to fit into her life without feeling obligated. She had her job, her gym, her house, and yard. So maybe once a month – but no commitment.

I listened and smiled. There are many volunteer jobs where you can pop in here and there, including at Homeward Bound. Your contribution will be truly valued as a part of the whole – just as the daylily is. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself still searching for that depth of connection – your tribe.

It takes time to be taught – and to learn – a key role in a volunteer organization. Somehow, we have become so wrapped up in our individual lives that we have forgotten the power of showing up. Don’t expect a ‘here-and-there’ effort to have the same personal impact as things that develop over time.

Work you are invested in – and watch unfold – creates deeper ties and bonds.

Becoming part of something larger than yourself requires presence – and commitment. No matter the cause.

A coming together. Not because someone is holding you accountable. But because you have a love and passion for the work and the difference it makes.

The presence need not be physical; there are many key roles volunteers can assume from a distance or from home. But you are engaged – for the celebrations, frustrations, joys – and sorrows. You are a part of the magic that makes the impossible, possible.

When you give of yourself, you find that sense of purpose, and you discover yourself surrounded by others who share that passion. Before you know it, you have found your tribe.

“In giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands

Not everyone has time for a significant commitment. That’s OK. Give what you can. But to find what my acquaintance is missing, expect to give a little more. Trust me. You will be rewarded ten-fold.

“Plant flowers in others’ gardens and your life becomes a bouquet!” ~ Author Unknown

Because We Are Family


Lucy and Minnie came to visit recently. Lucy was a breeder dog; completely unsocialized and terrified of her own shadow – much less people.


She was helped by many, but by one person in particular: Chris spent countless hours helping Lucy learn to trust and seek out humans.


I’ve written about Chris and her husband, Steve, before. Devoted volunteers; for as long as I have been with the organization, they have commuted a great distance to stay over weekends so they can be at Homeward Bound to feed, walk, and work with the dogs.


They work with the most difficult dogs to rehabilitate them – including their beloved Shelby,




and Sammy.


When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
~Author Unknown

Chris helped to organize our dog walking teams and then took on coordination of the feeders.


Steve has been a go-to rock, quietly working behind the scenes to help maintain the facility. Both have a gift for understanding the canine mind and helping even the most troubled dogs find a future.


“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

They will be leaving us soon, moving to Colorado on a new life adventure. Today was their farewell celebration. Saying goodbye is never easy, but life happens and new adventures await. Hopefully, they will stay connected as another vital rescue link in our extended network.


“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I’ve been compiling a history of the organization as we celebrate our 15th anniversary. I’m finding countless names of founding members. Many are no longer on-site, but still play a vital role and remain connected to our mission – the work of rescuing more than 8,000 dogs since our beginning.

There will be key gaps to fill with Chris and Steve’s departure. But I have faith that others will step up to fill the void. Because we’re family. The dogs’ family. And they need us.


Best wishes to Chris and Steve. And on behalf of countless dogs like Lucy – thank you.


If only for a season

At the rescue, people and dogs pass through our lives. Some we know only for an instant; others stay on for years. Each makes a special impression – often in often unforeseen ways.


I was touched and honored this week when a woman reached out to request a copy of a “going home” day photo I took earlier this year. I remember the day so clearly. The woman was 80; the dog she chose was also in her sunset years. I will never forget the look of sheer joy on the woman’s face and devotion on the dog’s. The connection was instant; captured in the click of a shutter.

While she and the dog are both in good health, she is making her final plans so her family will be spared that responsibility when the time comes. She would like the photo to be present at her parting because it “reflects so much of my life.” I cannot share the photo here as she wants to keep her plans secret for now. But I told her I would happily provide prints – which I hope she will not need for a very, very long time. I had no idea that our simple meeting would present such a gift to each of us.

In the garden, some blossoms last but a season –


others return year after year.


Annuals fill in when perennials take a much-deserved rest.


What would this Feather Grass be without Amaranthus?


Or the purple of Barberry without the compliment of Cosmos?


Or summer without Sunflowers and Dahlias…though there stay is always too short.


With new volunteers, you’re never sure if they here for a moment, or will return season after season.


They require the same amount of initial nurturing and care – an investment of time and effort, and a bit of a leap of faith – not knowing how long someone will stay. Yet, you never know what gifts they have to share.


I have tried on lots of different volunteering opportunities in my life. In fact – I tried on Homeward Bound years ago. It was the wrong time to be the right fit. I wasn’t even an annual; I lasted about as long as a cut flower. When I returned three years ago, I found my place. And it found me. I want to continue to be a welcoming “perennial” – finding room for, and appreciating, those that come in and out of our effort – even for a short while.

“Some people come into your life for a season, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. But only for a season.” ~ Ritu Ghatourey