Margaret Dubkoff and her sister and roommate, Linda, were driving by the Sonoma County Animal Shelter and feeling blue.

Both aged in their early 60s, they'd days before lost their sister, Marie. The thought occurred to drop into the shelter and perhaps restore a bit of joy to their lives by adopting a dog.

They agreed on a skittish but adorable cream-colored, one-eared Chihuahua. They named her Angel.

They'd had her two days and she was warming to them when they took her last Saturday to Devotion Animal Hospital for a check-up.

A vet technician took Angel into a back room to take her weight and temperature. A second tech then appeared and announced emotionally, "There's a problem."

But not a medical problem. She said Angel was her dog and that she'd run off more than three weeks ago.

It was clear she told the truth. Angel couldn't get close enough to her.

It was bittersweet, but Margaret and Linda said good-bye to Angel and without a second thought relinquished her.

Since then, a notion came to them. Margaret said, maybe it wasn't just coincidence that they pulled into the shelter while mourning Marie.

"I concluded that my sister helped the dog find its home," she said.

"Strange things happen."

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A ROUGH PATCH behind her as Vicki Siefer, a hard-working sort who excels at caring for frail seniors and hopes to return to the work, drove through the fog on Stony Point Road the morning of last Dec. 11.

A young Sebastopol man is suspected of being high on drugs when his pickup crossed over the centerlines and smashed into Siefer's little car.

She was so horribly injured that a helicopter flew her to Stanford Medical Center, where trauma doctors saved her life and scheduled the first of many surgeries.

Friends of Siefer, who's 47, are rallying help for her because the crash happened just as she was pulling herself up from the loss of her home, her previous job and her health insurance.

Anyone interested can go to giveforward.com and search her name. She's come a long ways but still has miles to go.

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THE PERFECT BBQ to wrap up summer would boast a horseshoe tournament, lawn volleyball and Frisbee, a pool for kids, live music and dancing, and a potluck feast of abalone, oysters, salmon and organic chicken.

And we'd all be invited.

Lee and Carolyn Gooding will play host to just such a gathering Saturday at their country home near Forestville's El Molino High. They ask for $25 from horseshoe players, $15 from everybody else.

And they'll give the money to Helping American Veterans Endure (HAVE). Its good works include local classes and workshops for struggling vets, and the Veterans Organic Peace Garden.

If you'd like to go, give the Goodings a courtesy call. They're in the book.

A note: No dogs are allowed but the musical Bench Doggs, who'll power up and get down at about 7 p.m.