Call it puppy love, call it what you will. Three-and-a-half years ago, Jody Jones and her husband, Mike, set out with a goal to rescue man’s best friend. It seems they have nearly succeeded—they are now the co-founders of the nonprofit organization Homeward Bound, which rescues and provides sanctuary to golden retrievers in Sacramento and surrounding counties. The mission—to provide safe, loving homes to displaced, abandoned or abused golden retrievers. The procedure is similar to that of an adoption facility, with the Jones’ home acting as a half-way house before the dogs are given out to foster homes. Because of this, Homeward Bound has saved the lives of more than 300 golden retrievers.
How does the adoption process work?
All of the dogs come into my home initially, then we take them to the vet and have all of their vaccinations updated. We get them spayed or neutered, we get them tested for heartworm and get them any medical treatment they might need. Once they’re healthy and vaccinated, then they can go to a foster home. We have foster volunteers who take them in. Fostering a dog can last anywhere from a week to six months, depending on the age of the dog, the health of the dog and definitely the fosterer’s need. Many people end up adopting the dogs that they’re fostering, so then I have to look for new foster families.
How do you select the foster family?
If we have a family with children, we try to give them a dog that has been around children and that has a good demeanor with them. If we don’t know the history of the dog, we will evaluate it. Our volunteers have done a lot of temperament testing with the dogs. The dogs are suitable if we can pull on them, tug on them and not get a reaction. Others, we determine are going to be suitable for adults only, but that very rarely comes up with a golden retriever.
Are you ever so attached to a dog that giving it up for adoption is difficult?
Absolutely! When you put that amount of time into loving a dog and feel so strongly about it, we think, “Well, nobody’s going to love him enough to my liking. Nobody is going to care as much as I care.” So I think, he is going to have to stay here with us. But the bottom line gets down to what is best for the dogs. But there’s those special cases when we get so attached to the ones who have heartworm and we have them with us for three months during the treatment. You get pretty attached to a dog in three months’ time!
Do you feel that you are emotionally attached to golden retrievers?
It truly seems that they [golden retrievers] communicate in English. You can talk to them and they know what you’re talking about. They are truly a special breed.
Do you like dogs better than humans?
Absolutely! [laughs] That’s not a hard question. Sometimes the dogs that are surrendered to us come to us in such dreadful condition that it is hard for me to be civil to the people who are surrendering them. Most of the time, we get goldens whose families are devastated that they can’t keep them. But occasionally, we get that ugly situation where you can tell that the owner hadn’t put their hand on the dog; they never loved it, they never brushed it or bathed it and sometimes they forgot to feed it. So, it’s very difficult dealing with some of the people. And I’ve never met a golden I didn’t like. So, comparatively, I prefer dogs to people because they’re not judgmental, they are very loving and accepting. A lot of people ask, “Will the dog be able to love me? How will they know that I am the new owner?” But, within a week’s time, you’re going to feel like that dog has always been with you because the dog doesn’t care if you are you or me or John or Mary, they just want the love and attention. So, generally speaking, I would go with the dogs.
What is the ultimate goal of Homeward Bound?
Our goal is to be able to build a sanctuary for the dogs so we could have a facility for any or all dogs, wherever they are. If they need to be rescued, we have a place, a safe haven for them, so that we can bring them in and take care of them medically. If they are unadoptable for whatever reason—temperament, or more often health reasons—then they have a place to hang out in for their whole lives. So, as soon as we get land, hopefully donated, we’re looking for 10 to 20 acres, then we can start building.
We’re going to build this so that people can come out and spend the weekend camping at the sanctuary and spend time with the dogs, bathing, brushing, running, walking, caring for them. We have so many volunteers who are waiting to build this facility so that people can come out and help if they need to get out of the hectic, busy life that everybody is going through lately. So, the sanctuary is the ultimate goal, and when we have the sanctuary we will probably be able to house anywhere from 50 to 100 dogs. So if anybody needs a safe place, they can send their goldens to us.