novadog Fall 2011
T H E U LT I M AT E G U I D E T O C A N I N E - I N S P I R E D L I V I N G I N T H E D C M E T R O A R E A
Also Inside: When It’s Time to Say Goodbye Expert Advice: Finding the Perfect Pup Hit The Trail: Difficult Run
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contents Fall 2011
N O R T H E R N V I R G I N I A D O G : T H E U LT I M AT E G U I D E T O C A N I N E - I N S P I R E D L I V I N G I N T H E D C M E T R O A R E A
Pet Care For the Holidays Some tips to help you decide what is best for Fido or Fluffy when you can’t be there.
No matter how our canine companions leave us, there’s no question they leave a large dog-shaped hole in our hearts. By Juliet Farmer
D E PA RT M E N T S
3 PUBLISHER’S NOTE
12 PETCENTRIC PEOPLE
4 THE SOURCE
News, information, and products
Hanging with DC Metro’s dog-crazy crowd
24 CANINE CALENDAR
Advice and information on canine health issues
8 EXPERT ADVICE
Local walks to enjoy
27 HIT THE TRAIL
Finding the perfect pup
28 WAGS TO RICHES
Adoption success stories
Dog-friendly spaces in Northern Virginia and beyond
11 THE SCENE
A glimpse into the life of Northern Virginia dogs
holiday pet care—see the directory on page 19.
novadog T H E U LT I M AT E G U I D E T O C A N I N E - I N S P I R E D L I V I N G I N T H E D C M E T R O A R E A
PUBLISHER Janelle Welch email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Carol Brooks, Juliet Farmer, Pat Gray, Brian Kerchner, Elissa Matulis Myers, Robin Raniero Norris, Sabrina Hicks, Ingrid King ADVERTISING For rates and information, please contact: Angela Meyers Vice President, Advertising p: 703.887.8387 f: 815.301.8304 firstname.lastname@example.org
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We’re Environmentally Friendly. The pages of NOVADog are printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks. Please help us make a difference by recycling your copy or pass this issue along to a fellow dog lover. NOVADog Magazine is committed to creating and fostering an active and supportive community for local dogs and their owners to share, learn, interact, and engage. Our mission is three-fold: • Educate—Training and canine health care tips to help dogs live long and fulfilling lives. • Inspire—Insightful stories about local heroes and organizations that are doing good in our community. • Collaborate—Helping local animal welfare organizations to save and enrich the lives of homeless and abused animals.
Northern Virginia Dog Magazine © 2011 is published quarterly by 2hounds Productions, LLC. Limited complimentary copies are distributed throughout the DC Metro area, and are available in select locations. One and two year subscriptions are available. Visit the NOVADog web site for more information. Send change of address information to email@example.com or P.O. Box 30072, Alexandria, VA 22310, 703.850.6963. NOVADog Magazine neither endorses or opposes any charity, welfare organization, product, or service, dog-related or otherwise. As an independent publisher and media organization, we report on news and events happening in our local area. Events are used as an outlet to reach new readers interested in all aspects of dog ownership. We encourage all readers to make their own decisions as to which products and services to use, organizations to support, and events to attend.
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2 Northern Virginia Dog
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Who can believe it, but the holidays are coming up fast. The American Automobile Association predicts that almost 850,000 Northern Virginians will hit the beltway this season. Some lucky pets will get to ride shotgun, but what if you can’t take Fido with you? Our pet-care article on page 14 will help you find just the right solution to your holiday pet-care needs. See the handy chart of petcare providers we put together to help you in your search. Don’t miss the NOVADog Magazine must-have gift picks on page 13. You’ll want to put every one of them under your tree. I know I do!
Saying Goodbye The last moments with a treasured pet seem like they will be etched in your mind forever. Mine are like an old
photograph—getting fuzzy around the edges, but the pain still sometimes hits sharp and fast. For the most part, time is healing my grief, and I am able to remember my Beagle Basset mix “Jake,” without tears. He lived to a ripe old age, and he was loved very much. I don’t think much about his illness anymore; instead, I remember all of the happy times I had with him. In the article on page 20, I like that Sarina Lyall, licensed master social worker, explains what the literal translation is for the word euthanasia (good death). If you have had to make the hard choice of whether to euthanize your pet, you can identify with the feelings of guilt that accompany the decision. This article has many tips for overcoming the feeling and provides resources for support
groups and therapists to help you through the rough times.
Late Night Evaluations Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one in the neighboorhood venturing into the night, flashlight in hand to assess the state of my dog’s latest bowl movement. I was glad to learn when I read our Healthwise article, that good dog owners DO need to keep track of such things!
Bev Hollis Photography
connect with us: facebook.com/novadog twitter.com/2_hounds
We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we did putting it together. Have a safe and happy holiday season.
Janelle Welch, Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit us on the web at www.novadogmagazine.com or scan the QR code above
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Top 10 Most Unusual Dog Names of 2011 Although “Bella” and “Max” may lead the pack as the most popular names for pets, thousands of others are donning monikers of a less conventional form. For the fourth consecutive year, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, is celebrating the most clever, creative and quirky pet names across the country. VPI employees selected 50 unusual dog names and 50 unusual cat names from the company’s database of more than 485,000 insured pets and narrowed them down by voting for the 10 wackiest names. Following are the 10 Most Unusual Dog Names for 2011: ➊ Almost-A-Dog
➋ Franco Furter ➌ Stinkie Mcstinkerson ➍ Sir Seamus Mcpoop ➎ Audrey Shepburn ➏ Dewey Decimell ➐ Knuckles Capone ➑ Beagle Lugosi ➒ Shooter Mclovin ➓ Uzi Duzi-Du0
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Be Spooky, But Safe During the week of Halloween last year, calls to the Pet Poison Helpline concerning dogs that ingested chocolate increased by 209 percent over a typical week at the animal poison control center. Of all candy, chocolate is most poisonous to dogs—they are attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous—methylxanthines—are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, just 2-3 ounces of Baker’s chocolate can make a 50-pound dog very sick. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is less dangerous. It can take up to a pound of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same 50-pound dog. White chocolate rarely causes true chocolate poisoning because it contains very low amounts of methylxanthines; however the high fat content may result in pancreatitis. Pet Poison Helpline recently produced a video with information about chocolate poisoning titled “Kitchen Dangers” available online: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/Ask-theVet-Videos. ND
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book review by ingrid king
Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou by Steve Duno Ever since the ground-breaking Marley and Me, dog memoirs have become increasingly popular. They also tend to follow a fairly predictable pattern. I find most of them enjoyable reading, but there aren’t many that touched me as deeply as Last Dog on the Hill. Lou was one of those special, life changing dogs that some of us are blessed with only once in our lives. When Steve Duno rescued the pup he found on a hill by the side of the road in Mendicino County, he didn’t have any idea how taking in the tick-infested, emaciated pup was going to change the trajectory of his life. He wasn’t even sure he wanted the pup. “But look at him,” said Steve’s girlfriend. “Just look at those eyes.” Steve was not convinced, but eventually gave in. And so began the story of a sixteen year journey featuring Lou, the young Rottweiler mix born to guard dogs on a secret marijuana farm, and Steve Duno, who owes his career as a dog trainer and writer to Lou’s extraordinary intelligence, not to mention his huge heart. Lou won the respect of gang members, foiled an armed robbery, caught a rapist, fought coyotes and kidnappers, comforted elderly war veterans and Alzheimer patients in their final days, taught ASL to kids, learned scores of unique behaviors and tricks, amassed a vocabulary of nearly 200 words, helped rehabilitate hundreds of aggressive dogs and saved them from euthanasia. He was also a clown, consummate performer and Steve’s best friend for sixteen years.
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This book is a love story between a man and his dog, made all the more special because the man truly understands dogs in general. While his training methods may not be based on any kind of formal training, his connection with dogs, and in particular his connection with Lou, guided him to find just the right approach for each individual dog he worked with. TM
And some of these dogs were hard core cases. They were dominant, aggressive, and out of control. Reading Duno’s accounts of working with these challenging dogs, always in partnership with Lou, are fascinating.
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But it’s the relationship between Duno and Lou that dominates the book, and that dog lovers will respond to. Duno describes Lou and himself as “neither dog nor man, but family, just family.” This tribute to a wonderful dog will make you laugh and cry, often at the same time. And it will make you remember your own special dogs. ND Ingrid King is the award winning author of Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. She is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer. Her online magazine News for You and Your Pet goes out to subscribers around the world. Her blog, The Conscious Cat, has been called “educational cat nip for the cat lover” and is a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans. For more information about Ingrid, please visit www.ingridking.com.
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Here’s the Poop: Keep Good Track of Your Dog’s Stool By Pat G r a y
nless you walk your dog, put down new paper every day, or clean up piles on the good rug, you may not notice that your dog is constipated. However, keeping track of your dogs’ toilet habits is an important part of dog ownership, especially as they age, if they are on medication, or if they enjoy chewing things they shouldn’t. A dog can develop a minor case of constipation because of changes in diet, lack of exercise, dehydration, or consumption of real bones or dairy products, particularly cheese. In most cases, constipation is a temporary problem, but constipation can also be caused by much more serious problems including intestinal blockages, tumors, digestive problems, megacolon, prostate problems, hernia, or pelvic injury.
Symptoms Typically dogs will have one or two bowel movements a day depending on the number of times they eat, of course individual dog’s habits
vary. You should be concerned if any of the following occur: n Your dog doesn’t defecate for more than 24 to 36 hours. n Your dog strains and produces no stool, small hard stools, or stools with foreign material (cloth or bits of toys, for example). n The stool is very dark, or white, and powdery (from digesting bones) or contains blood or mucus. n Your dog cries, whines, and/or circles excessively in his or her defecating “stance.” n There’s a watery discharge, like a thin diarrhea, caused by digestive fluids leaking past the blockage, especially after an extended period of straining. n If the dog looses his or her appetite and/or begins to vomit. It’s important to speak to your veterinarian immediately if your dog is unable to pass a stool for more that 36 hours or if your dog begins to vomit.
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Diagnosis While you’re probably sure at this point that your dog is constipated, it’s vital that you consult with your vet as to why your dog is constipated—it can be a matter of life or death. A trip to the veterinary clinic is in order. Remember to take a fresh stool sample (if you have one). Your vet may be able to determine the cause of the constipation by physical examination or by examining the stool sample. An X-ray or ultrasound may also be required.
Treatment Your vet may use an enema or prescribe laxatives if the constipation is a bit more serious. Although some people advise home remedies, it is wise to talk with your vet first. It’s easy to injure a dog if the enema is not administered correctly, or if a laxative is given and the dog has a severe blockage. If the there’s a blockage close to the rectum, an enema or manual evacuation may successfully solve the problem. However, if the constipation is serious, caused by a blockage in the stomach or small intestine, or due to an injury or tumors, surgery may be required. If your dog is diagnosed with megacolon, he or she may require daily enemas.
Prevention Supplementing your dog’s regular diet with fiber, pumpkin (great for diarrhea too), or vegetables can help prevent constipation. Make sure fresh water is always available, and add a little to your pet’s food too. Taking your dog for a walk once or twice a day will not only help with digestion, it will keep your four-legged pal trim, healthy, and happy. ND
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Finding the Perfect Pup B y B ri an Ke rc h n e r, O w ne r, G o o d Do g Wo rk s h o p
By following these steps or using a trained specialist, the search for your furry soul mate should result in years of happiness for both dog and owner.
Brian Kerchner is the owner of Good Dog Workshop LLC, which specializes in behavior training and assessment, dog matching, and training boarding. Good Dog Workshop services the Greater Northern VA area. PHOTO: Brian’s pack includes Lucy, foster pup Maizy, Lucas, Henry the Lab, and Morgan.
8 Northern Virginia Dog
There are so many adoptable dogs that I want to take every one of them home. (I know that is impossible!) Do you have any tips on how to choose a rescue dog? QUESTION
Looking for your ANSWER canine soul mate? When it comes to finding the perfect dog, it’s not as simple as it looks. Would-be dog owners must consider a wide range of factors before making a final decision on which breed or mix to bring home. Dog ownership, after all, is a major commitment. As a Virginia-based dog behaviorist and dog matching specialist, I believe the most important part of finding your canine match is having a connection. It may be a “love at first sight”-type spark or perhaps just a simple feeling of kinship. A dog should be a positive addition to your household or family for years to come, and a strong initial connection is the best way to begin!
The Steps For our part, we believe in using a four-step process: First, we meet with the client or family. We observe their lifestyle, get to know them, and discover what their needs are. Those needs are diverse: Some people want a companion who | Fall 2011
will go anywhere, run long distances; while others may want a lap dog who needs relatively little outdoor activity. After meeting the would-be owners, we utilize all our resources and contacts to find potential canine candidates who could be the right match. We’ll even take clients to dog shows or performance events to view a specific breed in action. Next, we review with the client the dogs’ history, breed/s and upbringing to see which are most compatible with the client. The fourth—and most important step—is to introduce the dog to the client. By observing the interaction between client and dog, we see cues that tell us whether there is good chemistry between them, so we can guide our client to choosing the best dog for him or her. Matching the dog’s temperament and energy to that of the client is key to a successful relationship. Dogs, like humans, respond to each individual differently, depending in part on their temperament. Some dogs are outgoing, others are slow to warm up. Some are gregarious; others are shy. Some
like a lot of affection; while others are aloof. Are you in the mood to play Frisbee two hours a day, seven days a week? Then a herding breed might be a good choice. Chances are, you don’t need a dog with that much energy, and perhaps a mellow Hound or laidback Spaniel is a better fit. One of the greatest mismatches we see is people with dogs that have more energy and drive than the people can handle. In this scenario, the dog owner has a potentially destructive dog on his or her hands—one that jumps up on people, ruins furniture, or develops repetitive behaviors like fixation, “fence fighting,” or compulsive digging. These behaviors are a result of the dog’s innate need for structure and exercise not being fulfilled. Too often people choose a dog they perceive will fill their needs without carefully considering whether they can fulfill the needs of the dog. Those pretty, flowing-coated dogs take effort to maintain. Manicured Poodles, soft-coated Wheaton Terriers, and Bichon Frises require regular trips to the groomer’s. Double-coated breeds like Shepherds, Labs, and Huskies have a thick undercoat that sheds year-round and needs frequent brushing. These factors, as well as health concerns, should all be considered when searching for your canine companion. No matter what the clients’ needs may be, there are hundreds of breeds and mixes to choose from. But it’s essential to take all these factors into account. A dog may become one of the most significant relationships in a person’s life—it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. By following these steps or using a trained specialist, the search for your furry soul mate should result in years of happiness for both dog and owner. ND
D og -fri en d l y s p a c e s i n No rth e rn V i rg i n i a a n d b e y o n d
Local Area Meetup Groups Provide Friends and Fun By Jane lle Welch
hat do 30 Yorkies, 20 Bichons, and 40 King Cavalier Spaniels all have in common? Periodically they all get together with their close personal friends! If you’ve never heard of a Meetup group (www.meetup.com), rest assured they are taking the country by storm. A Meetup group is a local community of like-minded people who not only discuss their shared topic of interest virtually on the Internet but also meet face-to-face for real-life events and gatherings. With nearly 280,000 monthly Meetups occurring in 45,000 cities, Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. DC Metro area dog lovers can organize their own Meetup group, or join one of hundreds already in session. Marcea Pfarner and her family of Yorkies— Sasha, Petey, and Bree—travel monthly to meet with other members of the Meetup group NOVA Yorkies and Friends. As the current organizer of the Yorkies group, Pfarner says there are about 68 active members, which include Yorkies (of course), but they also welcome other small dogs into their fold. At an August meeting at the new Bark ’N Play Social Puppy Pad, which is housed in the Ashburn, VA, Bark ’N Bubbles dog spaw, it was Yorkies as far as the eye could see. Some were dressed in their Sunday best; others casually wore camouflage or bright colored sweaters. One thing was certain: They were all having a blast! Not all doggie Meetup events are focused on playtime. Pfarner says the NOVA Yorkies group has had seminars on holistic medicine and the importance of maintaining your dog’s dental health. In the future, they plan to hold a workshop on the raw food diet. Meetups provide not only a social environment for dogs but also for their humans. “Lots of our members are interested in the exchange of information and interested in sharing updates with other dog owners about canine health and even current events,” says Pfarner.
The NOVA Yorkies and Friends Meetup group gather once a month to socialize and play.
Anne Gavin, organizer of the DC Area Cavalier Spaniel Meetup group agrees: “One benefit of our group involves the online interaction/discussion on the site, which is geared only towards purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels’ health, behavior, and any other issue folks want to talk about.” The DC Cavalier group has more than 300 members and about 350 dogs. Gavin started the group in 2007, using the tools that www.meetup.com provides, with initially only three people and four dogs. Building a group takes patience. “The best publicity has been the members themselves. When they see another Cavalier, our members have been known to chase people down in parking lots—or anywhere—to tell them about the group,” says Gavin.
Join One Want to find a Meetup group you can attend in your area? Visit www.meetup.com, and click on “Find a Meetup Group” at the top of the page. Or, if you are looking for a specific type of Meetup group—like a favorite breed of dog or perhaps you are an avid knitting enthusiast—type your topic of interest into the search box and enter your zip code to find a Meetup
group near you. Next, make sure to tag your profile with an interest, and you will receive email alerts notifying you when a new group related to your searched topic is formed. Some Meetup organizers charge dues to join the group, while others are free to join. It depends on the organizer, and the type of events the group holds. To get the most out of your Meetup group, make sure to stay active and involved. Organizers can always use ideas for new venues or events to attend, so if you think of something fun to do, speak up!
Start Your Own If a Meetup group on your topic of interest doesn’t already exist, you may consider starting your own in just a matter of a few clicks. You’ll be taken through a short set of questions where you’ll enter your group’s basic information (such as your title and a short description). As the organizer, you will be responsible for paying the organizer dues (which start at $12/month), so you’ll need to choose a plan and enter your billing information. Some organizers pass the maintenance fee on to the members to help defray the cost. “Once you’ve got a great thing going, you www.novadogmagazine.com
D og -fri en d l y s p a c e s i n No rth e rn V i rg i n i a a n d b e y o n d
One of the Cavalier group’s unique outings to the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens was especially interesting. Dogs are allowed on the property (not in the buildings), so the guides adapted the group’s tour. They visited some of the historic outdoor sites. (Photo by Lee Anderson of Anderson Photography.)
want to make sure it doesn’t fizzle,” advises Avianna Perez, community specialist at Meetup headquarters. Both Pfarner and Gavin say that keeping your activities interesting will help keep the group engaged. The Yorkie group has an annual Christmas party and invites sponsors to help defer the cost. The DC Cavalier Spaniel group has rarely missed a month of getting together since it was formed. “The June Pool Party is always a very popular event for us, as well as all our trips to Barrel Oak Winery, and the Alexandria Scottish Walk Christmas Parade always brings lots of Cavies and owners out. We have walked in the parade for the past three years as an official ‘group,’ and we are in the parade program,” says Gavin. “Sometimes we piggyback on events that are already going on—like the Dog Days Peach Festival at Great Country Farm. But, usually I try to put together something that’s exclusive for Cavaliers, and people seem to like that best.” The time commitment needed to run a successful group varies. Gavin says she probably spends a couple of hours a month
arranging locations and organizing events. After four years organizing the group, she has it down to a science. She says the Meetup tools make it really easy. Pfarner says she spends about three hours a week keeping up with the online Meetup’s page and organizing the next Yorkie adventure. You can also use your group’s message board to get members to contribute fresh ideas and spark conversations about new venues or even to share tips or advice. Meetup also helps you promote your group with templates for flyers and business cards, and offers ideas on how to get your group noticed. The Meetup forum has advice from headquarters on all aspects of attending group activities and for Meetup organizers. It’s a great support network to help you get the most out of your group—whether you are an attendee or an organizer. ND Are you part of a local doggie Meetup group? We invite you to post pictures or announce upcoming events on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/novadog.
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H a n g i n g wi th DC Me tro ’s d o g -c ra z y c ro wd
Energy, Passion and a Love of Animals By El i s sa M a t u lis M y er s
est friends since they were toddlers, Beth Greenberg and Pam Ahart talked about growing up to be veterinarians, marine biologists, or naturalists. But by 1998, it became clear that their entrepreneurial ability matched their love of animals, and they launched All Friends Pet Care, a professional in-home pet-sitting and dog-walking business. “We didn’t originally plan to grow a large company,” Greenberg says. “We intended to make a little extra money while we worked at other jobs. But within six months, we had so many inquiries that we began to think about expansion.” To explore the potential, Ahart and Greenberg attended a meeting of Pet Sitters International, a for-profit network of about 7,000 professional pet sitters. “We were so excited—brimming over with questions and ideas—when a woman sitting in front of us turned around and introduced herself as Patti Moran, president of PSI. Moran was taken by their energy and passion, encouraging them to plunge ahead with the company. “There are probably more than 20,000 petsitting companies throughout the United States today,” Greenberg says, “but we are one of the largest, with 2,600 clients and 90 pet sitters. Our territory ranges from Old Town Alexandria west to Leesburg, and from Arlington south to Woodbridge. When we started, people didn’t know that pet sitting was an option, but now awareness is growing of the special role that pet sitters play.” What makes them special? “We love working with animals,” answers Greenberg, “but we never forget that we are running a business. Customers want to be treated with respect, and we always remember that the customers are the reason we are here. Our pet sitters have to be 18 years old, but most are 30 or older. We aim to hire sitters that have life experience, and lots of experience with animals.” All Friends Pet Care’s pet sitters do more than
walk and feed the pets. “They are extraordinarily observant,” Greenberg says, “noticing how a dog interacts with other dogs, making sure the dog has ample clean water, paying attention to signs of potential health issues. There have been instances where one of our sitters has suggested that the owners seek professional advice that proved to be important—on issues ranging from anxiety chewing to life-threatening medical conditions. “About half of our business comes from midday dog walks,” says Greenberg. “Clients hire us to walk their dogs Monday through Friday for a break during the workday. A lot of our clients travel, and find that their pets do better at home, surrounded by familiar scents and routines. Some clients even hire our sitters for overnight stays while they travel, providing the same kind of human presence that the pet enjoys when the owners are at home.” In addition to dogs and cats, the company cares for a wide variety of pets: fish, birds, rabbits, ferrets, and guinea pigs—even a box turtle named Eggbert that is fed fresh veggies, and night crawlers. Greenberg has a philosophy about dog care. “Dogs are wonderful, but they are not people. They are more comfortable when you understand that, and respect their nature. Dogs speak in ‘energy.’ They don’t use language, but they understand you and your motivation through your emotional energy.” “When I meet a new dog for the first time, I let him come to me. You can’t just barge into a dog’s personal space any more than you can barge into a human’s personal space. I let the dog sniff me— sniffing is polite introduction in the dog’s world, and he gets lots of information from scent. You have to respect the rules of the dog world, and you need to learn to read a dog’s body language.” ND Elissa Myers is a writer in Northern Virginia. She lives in Springfield with her tireless Black Lab Indi and writes a daily column for the on-line Examiner.
Beth Green berg and S murf Most unusual client’s pet: Two gigantic California Tortoises that hibernate under the owner’s stairwell in the winter. Unusual client requests: We have a dog that sleeps in a baby crib and several clients who ask that we only give their dog Evian or filtered water. Pet peeve: Electric fences and doggie doors are not a petsitter’s best friends. You can’t be sure the dog is secure if he can leave the house unattended, and you can never be sure if another dog will wander into the yard. Dog of her own? “Three—Smurf, a playful pit bull; Sheba, a talkative Siberian Husky; and Bear, a happy Newfoundland/Chow/ Shepherd Mix. Key message: “The reason your pet sitter got into this business is love for pets. Because of that, we bond pretty deeply with your pets. The worst part of this job is when a client moves out of the area, or a pet passes away—and suddenly the buddy I’ve seen every day for the past three years isn’t around anymore. More than anything, we appreciate being recognized as a special friend to your pets.
Join the pack. Stay informed.
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| Fall 2011
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Worried about who will care for your pets while you’re away? Here are some tips to help you decide what is best for Fido or Fluffy.
holidays for the
t’s hard to believe, but the holidays are here again. There’s a familiar crispness to the air, and the leaves will soon crackle underfoot. After a cavalcade of pumpkins, fall festivities, sweet treats, and Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and Hanukkah decorations will soon light up the night. The American Automobile Association predicts that almost 850,000 Northern Virginians will hit the beltway this season to visit with friends and family near and far—and its recent survey of pet owners found that 75 percent of Americans would take their pet with them on every vacation—if only they could. But because almost 75 percent of pet-inclusive vacations involve visiting friends or family, there’s often more at stake than just fun getaways. What if Aunt Lucy is allergic? Or—as happened during last year’s fiacso—will your uncle again get hot under the collar if Fido decides to use the punch bowl as his drinking dish? If it’s not practical to take your four-legged friend on holiday, you have plenty of readily accessible
14 Northern Virginia Dog
| Fall 2011
options for providing him or her with tender loving care in your absence.
In-Your-Home Care The professional pet-care field emerged on the Metro DC scene around 10 years ago. Today, you’ll find a multitude of pet-care companies ready to step in and care for your pet while you are away—with all the comforts of home. Advocates of in-home pet care say that pet sitting offers the best of both worlds—for pets and their owners. Animals get to stay in an environment familiar to them, maintain their diet and exercise routines, and be attended to by caring professionals; pet owners get piece of mind knowing that their pets will receive attentive, tender-loving care at home. Relying on family and friends to check in on your pets can produce limited options, but, if you hire an experienced pet sitter, you’ll get a trained professional who is committed to caring for your pets in the manner you have directed. Beth Greenberg, co-owner of All
Friends Pet Care in Herndon, VA, recommends that you look for pet lovers who run their pet care service as a business and not as a project they do just for fun or as a side hobby. “Professionalism is a must because the sitter will have access to your house and your beloved pets,” says Greenberg, who started the business in 1998 with Pamela Ahart, her childhood best friend. A professional pet sitter isn’t simply tasked with feeding your pet; he or she also gives your pet exercise, spends quality time with him or her, looks for any special health needs, and can help with training. Some companies have sitters specially trained in pet first aid or are CPR certified. “We want the best for your pet, as they are our family as well. We believe having the knowledge to handle your pet in a crisis is one of the most important aspects of pet care,” says Inga DaMota, owner of Tickled Paws in Manassas, VA. Most companies have lots of knowledge and resources at their fingertips and can even help you with health or nutritional
issues. “We can advise on numerous dog issues, such as food upgrades, puppy or geriatric care, and behavioral issues,” says Rosemary Emmel, owner of K9 Nirvana in Centreville, VA. “Our clients have come to rely upon us for our wellrounded, educated approach to pet care.” Services offered and fees charged can vary, depending on the company. Pet-sitting visits for one pet can range from $12-$23 per visit, with extra fees for holiday visits and administering medications. Think about what services you would like, how many times per day the sitter would need to visit, and if your dog or cat requires any special care. Most companies include taking in the mail and paper, and watering plants as part of the daily service. Next, do your research. Most pet-sitting companies have websites and are members of local or national professional pet-care organizations, so you can check their rates and services, and get other basic information before you contact them. Here are a few of our favorite sites that list pet-sitting companies by city or zip code: n www.novapetsitters.com: the Northern Virginia Professional Pet Sitters Network n www.petsitters.org: the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters n www.petsit.com: Pet Sitters International.
“Membership in a professional pet-care association is an important thing to look for when choosing a pet sitter. While most of these organizations do not do any vetting of their members and therefore should not be a tell-all to a pet-care professional’s qualifications, membership shows a commitment to the industry and their business,” says Amanda Carlson of Amanda’s Pet Care in Arlington, VA. Michele Fisher, owner of Always There Pet Care in Falls Church, VA, also recommends that you inquire about local community business association affiliations and professional memberships. “Referrals are a great resource and [you should] also ask to speak with current customers and clients,” says Fisher. Once you have decided on one or two companies, give them a call to see if they are available for the dates you will need and narrow down your choices by conducting a quick phone interview. “Evaluate the pet-care company’s experience. Just like with any other service business, make sure you are comfortable with their hiring practices, their policies, how they answer your questions, and general customer service. Choose a company that you think you can build a relationship with over time,” recommends Tammy Rosen, owner of Fur-Get Me Not
with locations in Arlington, VA, and DC. Be advised that most companies will want to set up a “meet and greet” in your home well in advance of your departure to meet you and any pets you are entrusting into their care. Take advantage of this opportunity and develop a set of questions to help you conduct a thorough interview. If the sitter does not offer references automatically, ask for them and proof of bonding and liability insurance coverage. Does he or she interact well with your pet? According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), “The best way to develop a good relationship with your pet sitter is through communication. Being open and honest with your sitter will reap positive results.”
Bed and Biscuit Service Some pet-sitting and boarding facilities offer the personal homes of their pet-care providers as a temporary home away from home for your pet. A “bed and biscuit” stay for your pet might be the best alternative for aging pets or pets with medical needs to provide them with a comfortable home environment that includes the advantage of having someone close by, especially overnight and at a moment’s notice in case of emergencies. Teresa Hogge, owner of
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Belly Rubs Pet Care, recommends you explore every pet-care solution for your pet before making a decision on who will care for your four-legged family member. “One solution does not fit every pet’s individual needs. An inyour-home option would work well for a less active, less social pet. But pets who get tons of attention and activity when their families are at home may do much better in an environment where they can get that same attention and activity, like in a day camp/boarding or familystyle boarding option,” says Hogge. Some bed and biscuit providers may have weight restrictions for their doggie visitors, and most require that your pet is current on shots, including rabies and kennel cough (Bordetella) vaccines; house-trained; and pet-friendly. Others might require that you bring your dog for a pre-visit meeting to fill out any necessary forms or paperwork and meet any other pets he or she will encounter while staying there as a guest. Colleen Flanagan, of Your Pet Smiles Pet Services in Reston, VA, offers bed and biscuit services and advises pet owners to look for a professional pet-care company that offers a personalized touch. “We do our best to make sure each client feels like they are our only client,” says Flanagan. Bed and biscuit rates range anywhere from $50-$75 per night. Packages vary, with some
Leaving your pet
for an extended period of time can be rough on both of you. Here are some tips we put together for you and your dog detailing how to handle the temporary separation.
If you are using a pet-sitting professional: • Leave a piece of clothing that you’ve recently worn near where your pet sleeps as a reminder of you. • Display the name and phone number of your vet in a prominent place. Show it to the pet sitter before departing. • Place out appropriate food and water bowls for your pet’s use. Clean them beforehand. • Put all pet supplies in a specific area, so the sitter doesn’t have to search for leashes, food, or medications. Let the sitter know where you’ve stored those items. • If the sitter will be coming in the evening, hook up a timer light so he or she won’t have
including in their fees the next day’s breakfast, walk, and playtime.
Boarding Boarding your pet in a kennel environment is the option that has been around the longest,
to walk into a dark house. It will be homier for your pet as well. •S elect a neighbor to keep an eye on your place while you’re gone, and let him or her know that a pet sitter will be coming to your home while you’re away. •P rovide a trusted friend or neighbor with a key to your house in case an emergency or inclement weather delays your pet sitter from making a scheduled visit. Make sure to give the pet sitter the name and number of your emergency contact.
If you are boarding your pet: • If possible, stop by the facility a few days before you leave to familiarize your dog with the new surroundings and to meet the staff that will be caring for him or her. •P ack any special diet or medications your dog might need during his or her stay, and
but my how things have changed! In addition to the basic kennel option, a new breed of high-end, boutique style “inns” have emerged, which offer lodging for your pet and other special features—anything from personalized tuck-in service (complete with a bedtime story
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| Fall 2011
remind staff about any allergies or phobias your pet may have. • Most dogs benefit from having familiar blankets and toys during their stay, so be sure to pack those (if the facility allows it). • Make sure the facility has your contact information and the phone number of your veterinarian on file. • Hectic packing can trigger feelings of anxiety in your dog, so go about your business as calmly and casually as possible. Gather your pet’s boarding supplies and have them in the car prior to leaving—to reduce the likelihood of unnecessary stress and anxiety. • When dropping your dog off at the kennel, keep it low key and don’t be overly affectionate or emotional, which could tip your pet off that he or she will be without you for a while. Simply hand the leash over to the staff person, who will offer up a distraction while you quietly slip out the door.
and snack) to web-enabled cameras, so you can check on your furry friend at any time of the day or night. Most facilities offer pets a confined, private space where they will reside for the duration of their stay. Some facilities may offer cage-free boarding, which allows your pet
to stay overnight in a more home-like environment without being confined. When deciding which boarding option is right for you, take into consideration your dog’s temperament and preferences. The company should welcome any questions and answer them readily, regardless of the option you choose. A highly trained, skilled team that is passionate about the health and well-being of the dogs and is open and responsive to clients questions should be on your checklist for evaluating pet-care professionals, according to Dogtopia standards. Dogtopia currently offers on-site dog daycare and boarding at all six of its Northern Virginia locations. Most lodging facilities will require your pet to be current on all vaccinations, including kennel cough. The boarding option is a good choice for a pet that requires regular monitoring because of medical or emotional issues. Dogs with severe separation anxiety might also do better in this type of environment because of the constant flow of human and canine activity during their stay. Prices widely vary depending on the level of service you desire. A basic overnight stay at a doggie inn could be anywhere from $30$85 per night. Most offer a basic rate, and their specialty services—for example webcams and extra playtimes—are a la carte. Choosing the right lodging for your pet
takes a little investigative work, time, and energy, but it’s well worth the investment to match the right facility to you and your dog’s needs. Once you compile a list of possible boarding options, check them out personally. Schedule a tour to visit all areas your pet might encounter. Leah Fried Sedwick, owner of the Olde Towne Pet Resort with locations in Springfield and Dulles, VA, offers open tours of both facilities. “Cleanliness of the whole facility and an
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openness to show you the ‘back of the house’ is important when selecting your pet lodging,” says Sedwick. And Kim Campbell, owner of The Dog Eaze Inn in Woodbridge, VA, says it’s important to pay attention to security: “Make sure the facility has adequate enclosure sizes and the appropriate gates and fencing.” When touring a facility, The Humane Society of the United Sates recommends that during your evaluation you pay particular attention to the following: n Does the facility look and smell clean? n Is there sufficient ventilation and light? n Is a comfortable temperature maintained? n Is the staff knowledgeable and caring? n Does each dog have his or her own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise? n Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow? n How often are pets fed? n Can the owner bring a pet’s special food, bedding, or toys? n What veterinary services are available? n Are services such as grooming, training, and bathing available? You may want to get your pet accustom to the lodging environment first by boarding him or her for a short visit—perhaps over a week-
end—to allow you to address any problems before boarding your pet for an extended stay, says Sedwick.
Planning is Key The holidays are a busy time for everyone, including your petcare professional. Make sure you plan well in advance and make your reservations early, especially if you are a new client. You will need sufficient time to ensure your pet receives any vaccines required by the boarding facility and to allow for an in-home consultation for staff to meet you and your pets, and for you to fill out any important paperwork they will need to keep on file. Christina Keough, owner of Time for a Walk in Arlington, VA, recommends that you plan ahead for emergencies or unexpected events like illness or natural disasters. “Ensure your pet-care provider has a backup plan if the regular walker/sitter is unavailable to care for the pets in their charge,” says Keough. Discuss how you would like to keep informed about your pet’s stay in the company’s care. Some lodging facilities offer webcams; others will text you updates or snap a photo of your happy pet. Jenna Silverstein, owner of Passionately Pets, leaves a detailed “report card” after each visit, so her clients
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18 Northern Virginia Dog
| Fall 2011
know exactly what services were performed and the mood of their pets throughout the entire service term. “We take pictures of their pets from our visits and post them on our Facebook page, so they can check in and see for themselves how happy their pets are in our care,” says Silverstein. It’s a good idea to leave contact numbers with the company you charge with the care of your pets. The staff may need to reach you for a health-related emergency, or some other problem or question about medications or feeding. In turn, it’s wise for you to have all the company contact numbers, so you are able to reach the company if you have questions while you are away. Veteran pet sitter Becky O’Neil, owner of Becky’s Pet Care, in Alexandria, VA, recommends that you confirm the company caring for your pets has regular hours where you can reach someone with questions or in case of an emergency. Lastly, the Humane Society recommends that you spend quality time playing and interacting with your pet in the days leading up to your trip, no matter which option of pet care you choose. Being separated from their owners for long periods is hard on many pets. Spending a little extra time with your pet before you leave him or her in the care of a pet professional may make you and your pet feel better. ND
Pet Care Directory
A paw print in the box indicates the service is offered by the company
Service Areas ◆ All Friends Pet Care Herndon, VA 703.716.PETS, firstname.lastname@example.org www.allfriendspetcare.com
On-Site Dog Day Care/ On-Site Boarding
Bed & Biscuit (dog stays in provider’s home)
Vacation Pet Sitting (in your own home)
◆ Insured, References Available
Mid-day Dog Walks
Overnight Fee for Holiday Stay (in your Consultation Fee own home) Visit Charged
Additional Services Offered (may be extra fee charged)
All of Northern VA
$25 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • PSI • NVPPSN
All of Northern VA
• • • •
PSI BBB APDT IACP
• • • • •
Arlington Heights, Arlington Ridge, Arlington View, Arlington Village, Aurora Highlands, Clarendon, Columbia Heights, Columbia Pike (east of Glebe Rd), Courthouse, Crystal City, Fairlington, Lyon Park, Penrose, Pentagon City, Shirlington, and Virginia Square.
$6 for holiday visit
• • • •
NAPPS PSI PUPS APSE
Arlington County, Fairfax County, Prince William County, City of Alexandria, City of Falls Church
$10 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • PSI • NVPPSN
All of Northern VA
$10 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • PSI • NVPPSN
• • • •
Most of Fairfax County, VA; Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville, Chevy Chase
$15$25 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • NVPPSN
• Training (through F.I.T.)
Tysons Corner, Vienna, McLean, Dulles, Chantilly, Manassas, Herndon, Reston, Woodbridge, and Alexandria.
• Chamber of Commerce
• Grooming (at some locations) • Nail Clip
$15 daycare, $20 pet sitting
See website for holiday fees
• • • • • •
• • • •
$20 for holiday visit
$10 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • PSI • Chamber of Commerce • BBB
SEE OUR AD ON INSIDE FRONT COVER
There Pet Care Falls Church, VA 703.237.5522, email@example.com www.alwaystherepetcare.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 4
Pet Care Arlington, VA 703.973.PETS www.amandaspetcare.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 26
Pet Care, Inc. Arlington, VA 703.822.0933, firstname.lastname@example.org www.beckyspetcare.com
Training Nail Clip Bathing Ear Cleaning Medications
SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 7
Rubs Pet Care, LLC Ashburn, VA 571.295.5516, email@example.com www.bellyrubspetcare.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 23
Fitness Reston, VA & Bethesda, MD 703.627.4462 & 301.646.7223 info@DogOnFitness.com www.DogOnFitness.com
SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 26
Dogtopia 6 Northern VA Locations
visit www.Dogdaycare.com to find one near you Insured, references available SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 24
VA 703.933.1935 and DC 202.319.7387, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.furgetmenot.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 3
Nirvana, LLC Centreville, VA 703.909.3908, email@example.com www.k9nirvana.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 24
DC: Adams Morgan, Capital Hill, Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Logan Circle, Palisades, and Woodley Park. VA: Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Falls Church, Southern McLean, Tysons Corner, Eastern Vienna ZIP CODES: 20120,20121,20122, 20124,20151,20152,20153,20155, 20169,20170,22030,22032,22033, 22039, 22151,22152,22153
◆ Karing By Kristina/Barkley Square, Alexandria, VA VA: Alexandria, West Alexandria, Del Ray, Arlington,
SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 16
Shirlington, Crystal City, Fort Belvoir, Woodbridge, Annandale, Burke, Lorton, Fairfax, Falls Church, McLean, Springfield. MD: Bethesda, Bowie, Fort Washington, Clinton, & Washington DC
Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland
703.329.1043, firstname.lastname@example.org www.karingbykristina.com
Hill Pet Resort Bealeton, VA 540.439.7297, email@example.com www.lhpaws.com ◆ Olde
Towne Pet Resort 2 Northern VA locations Springfield, VA and Dulles, VA Springfield 703.455.9000 & Dulles 571.434.3300 firstname.lastname@example.org, oldetownepetresort.com
$70, plus $1 per mile
PSI NVPPSN APDT CCPDT NAWBO SHRM
• APDT • CCPDT
Pets Alexandria, VA 240.888.1134, email@example.com www.passionatelypets.com Backyard Pack Lorton, VA 703.585.1254, firstname.lastname@example.org www.thebackyardpack.com
• Full pet spa • Gourmet dog bakery • • • • •
Grooming Training Nail Clip Medications Swimming Grooming Training Nail Clip Medications
• Chamber of Commerce
• • • •
Arlington, Falls Church, Annandale and Northern Alexandria through Old Town
$5-$10 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • PSI • NVPPSN
Manassas, Woodbridge, Springfield, Lorton, Alexandria
$60 for holiday day only
Greater Northern VA Community
• Chamber of Commerce
• Grooming (bath, ears, nails only) • Nail Clip • Medications
Oakton, Vienna, Fair Lakes, Fairfax, Fairfax City, Fairfax Station, Burke, Chantilly, Centreville, Reston, Herndon, Oak Hill
$10/ day for holiday visit
• Nail Clip • Medications • Pet Taxi
All of Northern VA
$20/ day for holiday visit
• PSI • BBB
• Medications • Pet Taxi • Pooper Scooper
N. & S. Arlington, Falls Church City, and Parts of Alexandria City and McLean, VA
$15 for $20 for after busi- holiday ness hrs. & visit weekends
• NAPPS • PSI • NVPPSN
Zip Codes: 22015, 22039, 22153, 22152, 22030, 22031, 22079
$5 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • NVPPSN
• Medications • Injections • Sub Q Fluids
Most of Northern VA and Parts of Loudoun County
$10 for holiday visit
• NAPPS • PSI • NVPPSN
• Medications • Pet Taxi
SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 28
Grooming Training Nail Clip Medications
SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 7
Grooming Training Nail Clip Medications
• Training • Medications • 24/7 Staff
SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 22
Dog Eaze Inn Woodbridge, VA 703.491.1564, email@example.com www.dogeazeinn.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 10
Next Best Thing Oakton, VA 703.200.2470, TheNextBestThingPetCare@gmail. com, www.TheNextBestThingPetCare.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 6
Paws Manassas, VA 703.659.0072, firstname.lastname@example.org www.TickledPaws.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 10
For a Walk, LLC Arlington, VA 703.738.6832, email@example.com www.timeforawalk.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 5
The Dog Arlington, VA 703.473.9768, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.walkingdogsva.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 26
Dog Smiles Pet Services Reston, VA 703.962.7222, email@example.com www.YourDogSmiles.com SEE OUR AD ON PAGE 2
No matter how our canine companions leave us, there’s no question that they leave a large dogshaped hole in our hearts. By Juliet Farmer
saying goodbye A
uthor Louise Bernikow (Bark If You Love Me, Dreaming in Libro) had to make a tough decision when her beloved Boxer, Libro, declined in health. Like many, she faced the age-old question: Was he suffering, or was he still a happy dog? Bernikow worked closely with her veterinarians, exhausting all options before deciding on home euthanasia for Libro. She planned one final week to prepare herself, but Libro had other plans. “As always, Libro took care of me. Once he knew I had faced up to living without him, I am convinced he decided to spare me more grief,” she recalls. Libro died in her arms even before the veterinarian could arrive to euthanize him. The vet’s parting words to Bernikow, “Don’t be alone tonight,” went unheeded as she ventured out on foot to grieve. During that walk, she says she heard Libro-like panting and was accompanied by “the dog who wasn’t there.” “For a year after Libro died, my greatest joys were small, daily ones: the garden, the friends, the books to read,” Bernikow concludes. Today, she says, “I really feel that if I could survive that, I can survive anything.” No matter how our canine companions leave us, there’s no question that they leave a
20 Northern Virginia Dog
| Fall 2011
large dog-shaped hole in our hearts. While accidents, slipped collars, and the like claim many canine lives, just as many of our beloved dogs struggle with old age, cancer, and other deteriorating medical conditions. As a responsible dog caretaker, there will likely come a time that you will be faced with the decision—to euthanize or not to euthanize. It’s never an easy decision to make, and it’s one that is often reflected upon (and questioned) years—even decades—later. Thanks to unbiased veterinarians and honest pet experts, that decision can not only be easier to reach, but also easier to accept after the fact. In addition, constructive ways of dealing with your grief might just allow you to open up your heart and home to another four-legged friend sooner than you ever thought possible.
Deciding When It’s Time “Sometimes it can be helpful to ask yourself, is my pet living with dignity? If the answer is no, then the only important decision is what would be best for them,” observes Dr. Nick Trout, veterinarian and author of Ever By My Side: A Memoir in Eight (Acts) Pets; Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in my Life as an Animal Surgeon; and Love is the Best Medicine: What Two
Dogs Taught One Veterinarian About Hope, Humility, and Everyday Miracles. “No one said these decisions would be easy, but think of it this way: for these creatures that have given so much unconditional love, isn’t it the least you can do to take some of the pain, so that they don’t have to?” At the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center, staff social worker/veterinary social worker Sarina Lyall, says she is often called upon to speak with individuals as a pet is nearing the end of life. “This time can be particularly hard, and the experience around this time is called ‘anticipatory grief’,” she notes. “The actual loss has not happened yet, but there may be changes in what is ‘normal’ for our animal. My role is to help individuals identify what things they need to see their animal doing or not doing that may indicate that the animal no longer has a good quality of life. One thing I acknowledge is that the ‘right time’ for one person is not necessarily the ‘right time’ for another.” Some people turn to support groups even before they have parted with a cherished pet. Kathy Reiter, a psychiatric social worker with a specialty in grief and bereavement, has volunteered her time for the past 30 years with two local groups. One meets the first Wednes-
A LOSS LIKE NO OTHER
By Robin Raniero Norris
The loss of a dog can not be compared to any other loss in one’s life. Not only are these creatures our companions and family, but like no other species we allow them to seep into our hearts and space. Sometimes at our feet, other times sticking their noses and paws into free spaces beneath our bed covers, the loss of this pal will ripple in ways that can not always be explained. Each person who interacts with the loved animal may have different feelings about the loss as each person holds a special relationship with this dog. Whether the dog is a service animal or family member of a child or adult, the feelings you have about the void in your life may be similar. Sadness, anger, regret, panic, guilt, bargaining, replaying in one’s mind moments before the end are some of the many normal feelings and behaviors that can occur during this time in your life. These feelings can be extreme at first and carry on for quite a while. At times you will question, “Will this ever feel okay?” The answer is yes. You will have moments in which the hurt feels unbearable. But there will eventually be moments in which you carry on and remember fondly the wonderful times you were privileged to have with your loved one. Though you may feel alone, remember you are not. If you feel as if you are unable to function daily in the manner in which you think you should, seek assistance. Talk to “pet people”: others who understand the importance of this animal in your life. In addition to friends and family, understanding individuals who may be able to offer comfort and additional ideas for you during this time are available through the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (www.apbl.org). APLB offers free chat groups weekly for those who anticipate the loss of or have lost a loved pet. Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (540.231.8038) also offers caring veterinary students on the phone for your support as well on Tuesday and Thursday, 6:00-9:00 p.m. during the school year. If book and web resources are what you are looking for, then the link for you is the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ccab/petloss.html), which offers a comprehensive book list and links to other sites that may be of use. Ultimately, there are hundreds of ways to grieve and remember your animal. The best way is simply, your way. Just as each dog is an exceptional individual, each path of grief will be unique. Robin Raniero Norris is a marriage and family therapist in Virginia and California. Robin’s specialties include women’s issues, pet loss, animal assistants, giftedness, the autistic spectrum, and bariatric consulting. You can find out more about Norris at www.zurinstitute.com/ rnorris.html and www.thekeycenter.info/. For consultations, email your details and request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dog Training & Behavior Modification
703-574-3383 Sign up for a creative learning workshop! n Artful Dog-rrr— Color outside the lines in this fun art class for canines! n The Nose Knows— Focus on your dog’s keenest sense: smell. n K.I.S.S. Bad Habits Goodbye—Present your dog’s problem behavior.
day of each month at Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, and the other meets the third Wednesday of each month at Fairfax County Animal Shelter (both meetings are at 7:30 p.m., call 703.280.2244 for more information). “Many pet owners attend my support groups to assist them with their anticipatory grief,” Reiter says. “Knowing that their pet is declining is like being on an emotional roller coaster.” To help you reach a decision, Reiter recommends creating a “Quality of Life Assessment,” which evaluates and reviews your dog’s eating, weight loss, vomiting, hearing, sight, sleeping, vocalizations indicating pain, hiding, distancing, non-recognition, immobility, incontinence, and blank stares, all of which are assessed every few days. When you’ve reached the decision to euthanize, your veterinarian will explain the process to you.
Coping With Loss Initially, your grief may be profound, and often glossed over by friends and family who may not understand the depth of your sorrow. Reiter’s observations have led to her opinion that society is not totally accepting that grieving the
loss of an animal is legitimate grief, and many [people] feel that they must represent the loss as being human in order to take bereavement leave or be consoled. She adds that religious or spiritual beliefs can make grieving much more difficult (if one believes that their pet does not have a soul or that the soul will not be allowed to join them when they die, their grief may be more profound). “The grief for the loss of a companion animal can be as intense as the grief experienced for the loss of a human being,” adds Lyall. “I have worked with many individuals who have told me that the death of their animal produced a more intense grief experience than that of some of the human losses the person had experienced. Our grief is directly tied into how we identify the relationship; and for many, their companion animal is identified as that of a child, best friend, or loyal companion.” Guilt is a common emotion that bubbles to the surface after a pet passes. According to Lyall, guilt is a very common emotion expressed when grieving the death of a companion animal, in particular because we are the ones making decisions for the care of our animals on their behalf. “One thing I do is help to normalize this
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emotion,” Lyall says. “I often define guilt so that the person can see if that is truly the best word for how they are feeling…the definition of guilt implies ‘intent to harm’. …I may explain what the literal translation is for the word euthanasia (good death). Sometimes hearing that we were able to give our animal a good death can be helpful in reducing the amount of guilt one feels. Reframing the euthanasia decision as something that we do for our animals as opposed to our animals can also be helpful in reducing feelings of guilt.”
Memorializing Our Canine Companions Julie Klam, author of You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness and the newly-released Love at First Bark: Dogs and the People They Saved, says that when her first dog passed away, she was so grief stricken she could barely function. “A friend of mine gave a donation to a shelter in [my dog’s] name, and it made me feel worlds better,” Klam recalls. “I realized that, for me, I needed to feel he would be remembered. I ended up beginning to volunteer for rescue in tribute to him and have continued. When I had other dogs pass away, it was enormously comforting to be a part of that community where everyone understood.” In addition to attending one of her support groups, Reiter’s tips for moving through the grief include planning a memorial service; creating a photo album, memory box, scrap book, or collage; writing a goodbye letter or your pet’s life story; planting a tree, flowers, or shrub in their honor; making a donation in their name; or volunteering at an animal shelter or rescue. Once you’ve decided between burial and cremation, there are companies that can help you choose an urn, keepsake, and/or garden piece to memorialize your pet. “Our families bring us their faithful companions wrapped lovingly in
22 Northern Virginia Dog
| Fall 2011
favorite blankets or t-shirts, on favorite small rugs or bedding, and with favorite toys and treats,” Sunset Pet Services comptroller Robin W. FoltzVann says. “The final resting place of the cremated remains could be just as personal, whether displayed in an urn, scattered somewhere meaningful to the family, or in a garden setting together with all the family pets.” Other tribute ideas include a custom miniature of your dog from Designer Dog Miniatures (http://miniature-dogs-cats.com/shop/), or a pet memorial candle from Furry Angel Pet Memorial Candle (http:// furryangel.com/). “Moving on means accepting the reality of your pet’s death and realizing that you will never be able to replace them,” observes Reiter. “There are things that can be done to help move on after the acute phase of grief has subsided…Inviting another animal into your heart and home is a good way, and it is a true tribute to your pet’s life and love.” “It is important to be gentle with ourselves while we are grieving,” Lyall concludes. “There is a reason that we feel this way, and it is because our hearts are broken.” Eventually, the pain will pass, and you’ll be left with loving memories of your canine companion. ND
nd•blog A Comfortable Setting to Say Goodbye There are many reasons to choose in-home euthanasia. Dr. Sallie Hyman has 15 years of veterinary experience, and gives some advice online at the NOVADog Blog. Read her article by scanning the QR code below, or visit www.novadogmagazine. com/euthanasia. Thank you to our blog sponsor: Olde Towne Pet Resort | www.oldetownepetresort.com
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October 15 10AM-5PM— DC Walk for the Animals (Benefiting the Washington Humane Society) Marie Reed Learning Center, 2200 Champlain St. NW Washington, DC 20009. For more info: events@wash humane.org or www.washhumane.org.
October 15 10AM-6PM—Pettech Pet First Aid Class offered by WAG’N ENTERPRISES, LLC. Be sure you have the skills needed in an emergency that can help save your pet’s life. The PetSaver First Aid Course is an 8 hour hands-on class that certifies you in Pet First Aid. More info: www.wagn petsafety.com/pet_first_aid_class_ registration.html
October 17 6:30 - 8:30 PM—Baby-Ready Pets at Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Offers free preparation and assistance to help expectant families prepare their home and their pets for the arrival of the new baby. Dogs are not invited to this class. Endorsed by the ASPCA. To register, contact Jennifer Newman at jnewman@ awla.org or call 703.931.9241 x213.
October 22 12:30-3PM—SPCA of Northern Virginia Dog Adoption Days at Weber’s Pet Supermarket 11021 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA, 703.385.3766. Visit www.spcanova.org to see available dogs.
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October 27 6:30 – 8:30 PM—Low-cost Rabies Clinic at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Cost: $10. Please bring proof of a prior rabies shot (a rabies certificate, not a tag) to get a three-year rabies shot. Without it, your pet will receive a one-year shot. More info www.awla.org or call 703.931.9241.
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2-4PM—Howl-o-Ween at Morven Park. Morven Park Mansion and
Grounds 17263 Southern Planter Ln. Leesburg, VA 20176. Join Morven Park on October 29 for Howl-o-Ween! This festive event will bring together dog owners and animal lovers for a celebration of all things canine! Man’s best friend can compete in costume contests, saunter in a pooch parade, and visit vendors serving everything a dog desires. This event benefits a local animal support organization. $5 per dog to participate in the parade and costume contests. Spectators free. Half of all proceeds will benefit a local animal services organization.
October 29 10AM—GRREAT 3K Walk. Grab your sneakers and the dog and head over to Weber’s Pet Supermarket, 11201 Lee Hwy, Fairfax (Rear Parking Lot) Registration begins at 9:30am. Each participant will receive a 3K walk event shirt. Refreshments and dog treats will be provided during the event. Door prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event. Jim Poor Photography will be on hand to capture your dog in all his or her fall glory. A portion of the proceeds of every photo taken goes to support GRREAT! To register and for more information: www.grreat.org/walk.
NOVEMBER November 5 12:30-3PM—SPCA of Northern Virginia Dog Adoption Days at Weber’s Pet Supermarket 11021 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA, 703.385.3766. Visit www.spcanova.org to see available dogs.
November 5 7-11 PM—Catsino Night and Silent Auction at Reagan Washington National Airport. Come join Greta Kruez of ABC 7 and Animal Welfare League of Arlington staff and volunteers at this year’s Catsino Night and Silent Auction. Come check out the silent auction prizes and enjoy live music from the Bobcats and hors d’oeuvres from
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| Fall 2011
“ We’re more than just a walk around the block! ”
40+ all breed and purebred dog rescue organizations will onhand with adoptable dogs awaiting their holiday gift— a family for the holidays! Lebanese Taverna. For more information and to register please visit https://awla. ejoinme.org/?tabid=297200
November 5 11AM –4 PM—2010 Home 4 the Holidays Super Pet Adoption Event Sponsored by GoodDogz.org. Enjoy a fun-filled day at the Reston Town Center meeting adoptable dogs, perusing great pet products and meeting our very own Santa Paws! Perhaps you’ll meet your new four-legged best friend! For more information please visit www.home4 theholidaysdc.org/
November 7 7-8PM—“First Families and Their Pets at the White House” Dr. William B. Bushong, vice president of historical research and new media at the White House Historical Association, gives a free illustrated presentation covering 200 years of presidential pet-keeping at the Washington Animal Rescue League, 71
Oglethorpe Street, NW, DC. For information, call 202-375-7746 or visit warl.org.
November 12 11AM-3PM—Charity Dog Wash supporting Virginia German Shepherd Rescue at the Herndon Bark ‘N Bubbles. Let the Volunteers Wash your dog for the You Wash price. No appointments needed. More info: www.barknbubblesdogwash. com/herndon.
November 19 11AM-4PM—SPCA of Northern Virginia Holiday Photo Fundraiser. Professional photographer, Jim Poor (www.jimpoor. com), will photograph your dog to make attractive holiday cards at Weber’s Pet Supermarket in Chantilly 14508 Lee Rd, #G, Chantilly, VA 20151.
For more information visit www.home4theholidaysdc.org emergency that can help save your pet’s life. The PetSaver First Aid Course is an 8 hour hands-on class that certifies you in Pet First Aid. More info: www.wagn petsafety.com/pet_first_aid_class_ registration.html.
November 12 12:30-3PM—SPCA of Northern Virginia Dog Adoption Days at Weber’s Pet Supermarket 11021 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA, 703.385.3766. Visit www.spcanova.org to see available dogs.
10AM-6PM—Pettech Pet First Aid Class offered by WAG’N ENTERPRISES, LLC. Be sure you have the skills needed in an
December 10 12:30-3PM—SPCA of Northern Virginia Dog Adoption Days at Weber’s Pet Supermarket 11021 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA, 703.385.3766. Visit www.spcanova.org to see available dogs. ND
DECEMBER December 1
of a prior rabies shot (a rabies certificate, not a tag) to get a three-year rabies shot. Without it, your pet will receive a one-year shot. More info www.awla.org or call 703.931.9241.
Find more events online at www. novadogmagazine.com.
6:30 – 8:30 PM—Low-cost Rabies Clinic at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Cost: $10. Please bring proof
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HIT THE TRAIL Local walks to enjoy
Difficult Run By Carol B r ooks, C o- ow ne r, D o gO n F i tn e s s
f you live in the DC Metro Area, chances are
the left fork; after heavy rain, it’s drier than the
you’re not far from one of the many trails that
other option. Weather permitting, take the right
skirt a Potomac Tributary stream. These lush
fork closer to the stream because it’s quieter
urban trails run through shaded valleys, shielded
and offers many opportunities for dogs to cool
from nearby development and offer convenient
off. No matter which trail you take, both will
and refreshing get a ways for dogs and people.
eventually converge just before the Georgetown
One of my favorite stream valley trails is the Cross County Trail (CCT), which has about 40
Pike underpass about ¼ mile into the hike. After going under Georgetown Pike, follow
miles of linked paths leading from the Occo-
any of the paths to the left and go up a short
quan River to the Potomac River at Great Falls
hill to a wider trail where you will see a sign an-
Park. The CCT offers a feeling that approxi-
nouncing you are in Great Falls Park. This wider
mates a hike on the Appalachian Trail.
trail follows the Difficult Run stream all the
I especially like scenic CCT Section 10,
way to the Potomac River, and the turn-around
Editor’s Note: The Difficult Run trail remains closed due to flood damage from heavy rain in September, 2011. For updates visit: http://www.nps.gov/grfa/planyourvisit/ outdooractivities.htm Lesley Smith (co-owner of DogOn Fitness), Cassie, and Tina on the Difficult Run Trail.
called the Difficult Run Trail, for its dog-friend-
point for this hike. Stay on this trail until it
ly hiking appeal. For this hike, we’ll pick-up
intersects with another marked trail: the Ridge
the trail at the Difficult Run Stream Valley Park
Trail. Along the way, you’ll pass several stream
parking lot on Georgetown Pike and follow it
access areas. Note that the closer you get to
County Government website: www.fairfaxcounty.
into Great Falls Park leading to the Potomac
the Potomac River, the longer your hike will
gov/parks/cct/. If you explore the trail before
River. This out-and-back 2.5 mile hike offers
be downhill to the water of Difficult Run. Also,
noon or during the week, you will encounter
a variety of natural trail surfaces, medium-to-
the stream’s intensity will increase. The safest
surprisingly few people.
challenging grade changes, abundant water
water opportunities for your dog are within the
access, and fantastic scenery.
first and last ½ mile of the hike.
This is a destination dog-lovers in the know
At the junction of the Ridge Trail, you can
Getting There The Difficult Run Park parking lot is located
continue on to the turn-around point ahead
at 8801 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, VA.
or take an optional scenic side trip. If you’re
From I-495 (Capital Beltway) take the Rt. 193
parking lot farthest from the entrance and fol-
hiking in summer or fall, take the trail opposite
(Georgetown Pike) exit toward Great Falls. Go
lows Difficult Run downstream. Check the trail
the Ridge Trail to the right. It leads down to
approximately 3 miles to the parking lot on your
map posted at the northern end of the lot, near
Difficult Run and a steep gorge with waterfalls.
left. Traveling on Georgetown Pike from points
the entrance, to get your bearings.
The view is well worth the extra 200 yards. In
west, the parking lot is on your right, about ½
late fall or winter, when the trees are leafless,
mile past the Great Falls Park entrance at Old
the entrance, with the stream on your right,
go left on Ridge Trail and take a short uphill
Dominion Drive. ND
follow the trail as it curves to the right along
hike to the top for a picture-perfect panoramic
the stream and comes almost immediately to
view of the Potomac River.
like to keep secret. Our hike begins at the southwest end of the
Starting at the CCT Trail post farthest from
a fork with two choices. The CCT Trail follows
Continue past the Ridge Trail to the turnaround point where the trail opens to a wide
About Your Guide Carol Brooks is co-owner of DogOn Fitness, a daily exercise service for dogs. She specializes in high-energy and overweight dogs, providing them with working walks, running, adventure hikes, training reinforcement, and more. Located in Reston, DogOn Fitness has served the Northern Virginia area since 2003. Visit them on the Web at www.dogonfitness.com.
Park Hours: Year-round, sunrise to sunset.
continue on the narrower trail unless you are an
What To Bring: Be sure your dog has adequate tick protection. Wear sturdy waterproof shoes—the trail is rocky and/or muddy in areas.
ambitious rock climber. The views are just as stun-
Distance: 2.5 miles
ning from this stopping point. Bring binoculars
Time: 60 minutes or more
and you might catch a view of kayakers paddling near the Old Angler’s Inn. Expect to see Blue
Fido Friendly Features: Off-street parking, fun dogsafe trails, water access.
Herons, so have your camera ready for the photo
Use: Hikers, runners, bikers, on-leash dogs.
space and then narrows significantly. No need to
opportunity. To get back to your car, retrace your steps remembering to go downhill and under Georgetown Pike at Great Falls Park entrance sign.
Best Time to Go: Weekdays any time; weekends: mornings Rated: 2 paws (hilly in places)
You can find out more about the Cross County Trail system by visiting the Fairfax
1 paw = easy; 5 = expert
WAGS TO RICHES Adoption success stories
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I waited so long for you! Adopted from: The Washington Humane Society on July 9, 2011. Meach is 6 years old and loved by Rebecca Marr in Bethesda, MD.
How did he get his name? The Humane Society named him, and I thought that we should keep it because when I saw the picture he looked just like a “Meach.”
You picked him because... I wanted a dog that was perfect for my family. Caring, sweet, playful, healthy, happy, and that’s exactly what Meach is. It took me six years to convince my parents to finally get me a dog and I’m glad I got Meach.
Favorite treat or snack: Meach likes the Blue treats and the food that we buy him, which is Simply Nourish.
Animals Benefiting the Washington Humane Society
Saturday, October 15, 2011 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Marie Reed Learning Center 2200 Champlain St. NW Washington, DC 20009
Walk with Us or Donate Today For more information, please visit
Meach likes soccer balls. I have a mini soccer ball, and he likes to chew on that. He likes his Kong too.
Favorite activity together: Meach and I like to play with a ball. He loves chasing rabbits around our backyard, and he just really loves all people and other dogs.
You love him because... He loves our family, and he is a perfect addition to it. He loves long walks and even though he’s middle-aged he still has a lot of spunk. He’s very active and energetic and that’s Meach’s story! ND
www.dcanimalwalk.org Call or email us at 202-683-1822 Events@washhumane.org
28 Northern Virginia Dog
| Fall 2011
The Washington Humane Society (WHS), the only Congressionallychartered animal welfare agency in the United States, has been the area’s leading voice for animals since 1870. As the only open-access shelter in the Nation’s Capital, the Washington Humane Society provides comfort and care to nearly 30,000 animals each year through its broad range of programs and services. Visit WHS online at www.washhumane.org.
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The Ultimate Guide to Canine Inspired LIving in the DC Metro Area