NOVADog Magazine Spring 2017

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novadog Spring 2017



Dedicated to


The local chapter of Dogs Deserve Better works tirelessly to rescue chained and penned dogs

MEET KAYA: Rescued from a painful life by Dogs Deserve Better

Also Inside: Caring For Your Canine’s Teeth Cabin Creekwood: The Heart of Adventure Dogs and special-needs children


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Renewal, Exploration, and Hope


pring has returned to NOVA once again, and that refreshing feeling of excitement and renewal is here. I am definitely feeling it—I hope you are too! Our uplifting cover story about Dogs Deserve Better (NOVA Chapter) highlights the dedicated teams who help canines by devoting their lives to rescue operations. It gives us hope for our beloved pups and reminds us how much they need us. I want to send out a special thank you to these all-volunteer teams for their tireless efforts. Spring also gives us sunny days for exploring with our furry friends. This issue will offer a fresh perspective on trails close to home, as well as a Blue Ridge Destination that you’ll want to return to time and again. April, Pet First Aid Month, is a perfect chance to refresh important life-saving skills to help your pet in an emergency, should it occur at home. Even

more importantly, a first aid kit can help when you’re on vacation or out on the trail, and don’t have immediate access to a professional. I hope you all embrace this new season and enjoy a wonderful time of year. I also hope to spur you to action with a Springtime Challenge. We all have the opportunity and responsibility to help animals in need, so I challenge us all to donate time or resources to an animal in need. The reward is great—not to mention furry, warm, and full of gratitude.

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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 Angela Hazuda Meyers | MANAGING EDITOR Joseph Grammer | CREATIVE DIRECTOR Janelle Welch | CONTRUBUTORS Johna Gagnon, M.Ed., Licensed Certified PetTech Instructor; Joseph Grammer; Michaela P. Meissner, BS, LVT; Donna Pfendler-Merkle; Angela Meyers,

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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—Provide training and canine health-care tips to help dogs live long and fulfilling lives. • Inspire—Publish insightful stories about local heroes and organizations that are doing good in our community. • Collaborate—Help local animal welfare organizations to save and enrich the lives of homeless and abused animals. Northern Virginia Dog Magazine © 2017 is published quarterly by 343 Media, 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 for more information. Send change of address information to P.O. Box 239, Mount Vernon, VA 22121, 703-887-8387.

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2 Northern Virginia Dog

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Winner: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 Award of Distinction

contents Spring 2017

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


14 A Dedicated Team

Dogs Deserve Better works to rescue chained and penned dogs By Joseph Grammer

16 HPioneering eeling Animal House Assisted Interaction (AAI) into Children’s Therapy By Donna Pfendler-Merkle



News, information, and products


Tips on dog health


Cover photo BY @rgags via Twenty20


A glimpse into the lives of Northern Virginia dogs


Answers to your behavior and training questions


Dog-friendly spaces




12 PETCENTRIC PEOPLE Hanging with DC metro’s dog-crazy crowd

Hiking with your dog


Adoption success stories


Read Cubacca’s adoption success story on page 28.



N ew s , i nfo rm ati on , a n d p ro d u c ts

Tools to Help You Evaluate Your Dog’s Food

Compare Reviews for Dog Food An interactive tool launched by Consumer Affairs and VETgirl founder and celebrity veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee could help you avoid foods your furry friend shouldn’t eat . Consumer Affairs, a leading consumer news and reviews website, partnered with Dr. Lee to create this interactive guide that explains what happens when your dog when she eats 10 of the most commonly asked about foods, from chocolate and avocado to mold and even fertilizer. FIND  it: pet-food/#dangerous-foods

Make Sense of the Label The Clean Label Project had over 900 of the most popular pet food products tested for 130 industrial and environmental toxins including arsenic, once known as a primary ingredient in rat poison; cad-

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mium, the active component in battery acid; as well as pesticides and additional contaminants linked to cancer and other fatal conditions in both humans and animals. The Clean Label Project found lead in some pet food at 16 times the concentration of lead in Flint, Michigan’s tainted drinking water. And arsenic in concentrations of 555 times higher than the maximum contaminant level for human drinking water set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is the food our pets eat twice a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Clean Label Project reveals the significant disconnect between what pet product consumers believe they are paying for and the products they actually receive. Many of the claims made on product labels aren’t regulated. Terms like “human-grade,” “highest quality ingredients” and “natural” are open to interpretation by consumers and brands. In fact, Clean Label Project found that price is not even a reliable indicator of purity. “Companies may be unaware these chemicals

are in their products, as many of these tests are not routine or required—but that doesn’t make the presence of these toxins any less dangerous,” says Jackie Bowen, Clean Label Project executive director. “The real question is, now that they do know, what are they going to do about it?” The report lists the top and bottom 10 products for each category and notes overall trends. Every product tested is displayed on with a rating of one, three or five stars so consumers can look up the products they purchase, and make informed purchasing decisions based on science, rather than marketing terms and manufacturer supplied data. Clean Label Project tested the most purchased dog and cat food products—both wet and dry—and dog and cat treats as reported by Nielsen for 2016. All of the products tested were purchased online and off store shelves. FIND  it:

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Caring For Your Canine’s Teeth by Mi c h a ela P. M eissn e r, B S, LV T


t Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery, a veterinary practice that specializes in teeth and diseases of the oral cavity, we are frequently asked the same types of questions. How can I tell if my pet’s teeth are healthy? My pet had several extractions years ago, so why does she need more? Do I really need to brush my pet’s teeth? It is time to pull back the curtain and show what really goes on in the mouth.

Healthy or Not? First, how can you properly determine if a tooth is healthy or not? There are several variables, all of which are important. The tooth itself needs to be healthy and strong, but the structures around the tooth, the periodontal tissues, also need to be in good shape. The first clue to a potentially unhealthy tooth is gingivitis. The gingiva is the tissue encircling the tooth that provides the protective “fort wall” against bacterial invasion. When plaque bacteria builds up on the tooth’s surface and invades the gingival sulcus, inflammation (gingivitis) will occur. Gingivitis is the precursor to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease arises when the plaque bacteria have breached the fort wall and the inflam-

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mation/infection now involves bone loss along the root. The second clue to an unhealthy tooth is the presence of visible plaque and calculus deposits. Without daily tooth brushing to remove plaque bacteria from the tooth’s surface, layers will continue to build up and mineralize. This hardened deposit creates a prime surface for additional bacteria, food, and debris to accumulate and further threaten gingival tissues. The third clue to an unhealthy tooth is the color. After the plaque and calculus have been removed, a tooth should look bright white. If instead you notice a pink or purple-greyish coloration, the tooth has likely suffered from some form of trauma and is either in the process of dying or is already nonvital (dead). Periodontal disease and the vitality of any tooth are best confirmed by the critical evidence gained through the use of intraoral radiographs.

The Root Now that the surface of the tooth and surrounding structures have been examined, it is time to see if the root and interior of the tooth (pulp system) are truly healthy. The only way to verify this is under general anesthesia and with intraoral (dental) ra-

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Come in for a tour! diographs. Think of the tooth as an iceberg. The surface of the tooth that we can see is called the clinical crown. Tooth below the gum line (visible on x-rays) is referred to as the root. The root of a carnivore’s tooth is roughly 60% of the entire tooth. This means that when you open your dog or cat’s mouth you can only visualize 40% of each tooth. This is why radiographs are so important to thoroughly assess a tooth’s true health. How can you fully determine the status of a structure when less than half of it is visible? This is especially important for our cats, as the majority of our feline patients over the age of 6 years have Tooth Resorptive Disease of Felines (TRDF). TRDF is important because it affects so many patients. It is a progressive and unpredictable disease that begins on the roots, can be very destructive, can be extremely painful, and can only be properly assessed with intraoral radiographs.

Essentials To properly assess a tooth and its supporting structures, intraoral radiographs are essential. Radiographs allow us to view the whole tooth including the roots, periodontal ligament space, and surrounding bone which lies below the gum line. These are necessary to properly assess the common, important pet oral maladies like periodontal and resorptive diseases. The only downside is that intraoral radiographs must be obtained while your pet is under general anesthesia. With the right preoperative diagnostics and anesthetic protocols, anesthesia can be performed safely. For general anesthesia, the most important organ of the body is the heart, so ensuring it can tolerate the stresses of anesthesia and oral surgery is essential. If your pet is a senior or has a history of a heart murmur, seeing a cardiologist will provide the dentist with more information to better tailor the anesthetic plan to best suit your pet’s needs. Having a full panel of preoperative blood work performed within a few weeks of the procedure will supply the veterinarian with a systemic snapshot of your pet’s health just before undergoing anesthesia. In order to provide your pet with the best quality of oral care, these preoperative diagnostics will help us provide the safest anesthesia possible. The last question we are asked is how often to brush a dog or cat’s teeth. My answer is: How often do you brush your teeth? Daily tooth brushing is the gold standard in regards to oral health care. Also, taking care of your pet’s teeth with annual cleanings will not only keep them happier, it’ll keep them healthier and living longer. ND Michaela P. Meissner, BS, LVT, is a veterinary technician with Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery in Leesburg, VA. Please visit for more information on animal dentistry, or if you would like your family veterinarian to contact us.


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D o g f r ie n d ly s p a c e s in N or t her n Vi r gi ni a and beyond

Cabin Creekwood: The Heart of Adventure By Ange la M ey er s


hen my family and I set out on our trip to Cabin Creekwood, we had plenty of ideas in mind for how we would enjoy our time. As we traveled the three-hour distance from NOVA, we talked about how spectacular the Blue Ridge Mountains would look. We told our dog Maggie how much she would love hiking the trails and trudging through the streams. We guessed how many fish we would catch at Lake Sherando. But what we didn’t know was how much we would fall in love with Cabin Creekwood, its history, and its memorable manager Julia. Cabin Creekwood felt like home from the minute we drove up to the office and received a warm greeting. Upon entering Mountainwood Cabin, we were able to settle in quickly. The kids tested the snacks in the cute welcome basket, while I was happy to see coffee on the counter, since I’d forgotten to pack some for my morning routine. Not many places make your pooch feel this pampered, but at Cabin Creekwood dogs are family. When your pup noses through the front door, she is greeted by a custom care package all her own: a basket filled with Treats “Baked by Emma,” pet towels, toys, clean-up bags, and a

water bowl. Extra amenities such as a blanket or bed are available upon request. Each step presented another pleasant surprise: paper products were fully stocked, along with all the linens, sheets, towels, salt, pepper, sugar, creamer, and dish soap I could want. Everything was there, right down to the fresh kitchen sponge! As a frequent cabin camper, I can’t express enough how nice it is to not have to haul my whole kitchen with me or remember every tiny detail for a quick weekend trip. You can call the office if you need any additional things such as a mat, pack-and-play, or other item that didn’t make the trip, like a movie from their collection. You won’t feel like a burden here; in fact, you’ll get the sense you’re somehow providing a service by using up all the gear the staff purchased to keep you comfortable. Cabin Creekwood features nine modest, cozy, and dog-friendly cabins—a rarity in the Blue Ridge—and it’s been that way pretty much since the beginning when Toby, the owners’ dog, used to roam the cabins, greeting visitors and cuddling up by the coziest fireplace he could find. The original owners, Stan and Mary Jane Shirk, opened the












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Maggie gallantly fords a brisk Virginia stream.

Dog-Friendly Adventures Just a Stone’s Throw From Cabin Creekwood:

Lake Sherando, 1 Mile: Located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Sherando Lake is the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The recreation area has a 25-acre spring-fed lake stocked with trout, sandy beach, amphitheater, easy 1 mile lake trail, and a gorgeous stone bath house. Additional hiking: 1.5 mile Upper Lake trail and 2.5 mile hike to Overlook Rock (then connecting to Torry Ridge Trail). Trail maps at the fee station, $8/vehicle. Need a boat? Ask Cabin Creekwood, they have them available for rent, and even delivery.

Cabin Logwood: You can stay in this 1860s pre-Civil War cabin, hand-built by Confederate soldier William Tolley.

original Cabin Creekwood as a means to raise money for missions for their church at the foot of the hill. In 1995, they sold the operation to their daughter and son-in-law, Debbie and Stan, who ran the operation full-time until Julia McCarthy and her family took on day-to-day operations in 2014. Each of the nine cabins have their own personality and benefits, though all have a grill, outdoor fire ring, and an armload of firewood and fire starters to get you started, and all but two (Foxwood and Edgewood) have an indoor fireplace or wood burning stove. Though it was hard to choose, here is a glance at my top five! Dogwood: Tops in dog-friendliness, Dogwood has 28 wooded acres and a great Woodpecker Hiking trail on its property. The Blueridge Parkway is a quick mile hike from the front door, but inside you’ll find a great loft area and gorgeous stone fireplace. Creekwood: Located across the street from the other cabins, this cute little abode has no immediate neighbors, save a lovely little stream that’s sure to be a pup favorite. Cozy on the inside, this twobedroom cabin has a great outdoor space including a screened-in porch. Barnwood: Situated in a row with two other cabins, this converted garage cabin boasts the most picturesque stream, complete with a bench and inside, an adorable hand-painted mural on the

Humpback Rocks, 5 miles: One of the most scenic 360 degree overlooks on the Appalachian Trail is just a short drive away. The 1 mile hike to the peak takes you quickly up 700 feet in elevation, and you are rewarded with a great view at the top. You can continue either way on the Appalachian Trail to extend your hike. Maggie did great, although she was a bit out of shape from a lazy winter. Bring water, and use the Humpback Gap parking area at Blueridge Parkway Milepost 6. www. BREW Ridge Trail, Varies: Situated along the BREW Ridge Trail, there are many pet-friendly breweries (Blue Mountain Barrel House, Blue Mountain Brewery, Devil’s Backbone & Wild Wolf. The last three all have wonderful outdoor areas and good food) distilleries (Silverback Distillery) and cideries (Blue Toad and Bold Rock) nearby. There are local drivers who are happy to drive your group along the BREW Ridge Trail. Drivers: buscat/limousine-taxi-service/ Waynesboro, 20 Miles: A lovely riverside town where you can enjoy a traditional Main Street USA, order take-out from the Green Leaf, and have a picnic by the river at Constitution Park. You can’t leave without visiting Coyner Springs Park and enjoying its 145 acres, complete with an off-leash dog park. Also, grabbing a cone from Kline’s is an absolute must. Wintergreen, 3 Miles: Get your spa fix, play a round of golf, enjoy a nice meal at the Copper Mine, or check out the Adventure Center (featuring a ropes course, zip line and more). You can also roam their 30 miles of hiking trails, which cover two mountain peaks. There is no shortage of things to do. Time it right! Plan your adventure to coincide with Petpawlooza: May 13. 10AM-2PM. Coyner Springs Park, Waynesboro. www.waynesboro.



D o g f r ie n d ly s p a c e s in N or t her n Vi r gi ni a and beyond

Maggie enjoys the 360-degree view atop Humpback Rocks with Rhett (left), Charlotte (middle), and Grant (right)

bedroom door. Maggie happily laid down in the stream and considered not returning home. Rockwood: With a nice large backyard, this loft cabin also has ample roaming space for your dog. It’s a quick stroll to the pool, and your dog can join you on the deck—just not in the water. Logwood: This charming Civil War-era cabin was built in the 1860s by Confederate Soldier William Tolley for his bride before heading off to fight. He sadly never returned home. In 1976, the couple who

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lived on the current property, Sonny and Bunny, saw an ad for the free cabin, as long as they moved it. With the help of their two children, Sonny and Bunny spent two years numbering the logs, dissembling the cabin, trucking it 50 miles from Goshen Pass, and reconstructing it. Upon completion, they opened and operated Blue Mountain Crafts before selling the store, their home, and garage to Cabin Creekwood in 1995. History buffs will find ample reading materials to connect the dots of the past and no shortage of reading locations from streamside to fireside. Upon check-in, head straight for the Guest Log so you can continue the Dollar Bill game. Dogs also love the creek valley and hillside behind the cabin. This spot would have been my #1, but if your dog loves to sleep by your side, there is only a loft sleeping area accessible by open stairs, so depending on their comfort level climbing them, it may or may not be right for you. Check out the Cabin Creekwood website for photos and detailed descriptions of each cabin to choose the best one for your stay: www. Cabin Creekwood is very close to other great destinations and stop-offs, so it’s a perfect home base for your Mountain Adventure. We didn’t have time to hit any of the orchards, RVCC shops, or boats this time around, so we will definitely return soon to explore further! ND Angela Meyers is the owner of both NOVADog Magazine and a lovely pup named Maggie.

Getting Social With novadog Spring is in swing (finally), and even though our winter wasn’t the chilliest, we’re a little glad to see it go. This season we’re focusing on dogs frolicking outside, because there’s really not much better than that in life. Thanks to everybody who submitted a picture! Don’t forget to follow us on social media for event updates, and of course lots of pictures.

Twitter: @novadogmag • Instagram: novadogmagazine JUNIE




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Ryan training dogs how to walk properly.

Setting Boundaries for a Happy Household with Dogs By Josep h G r a m m er

We love sitting down with canine experts to get the story behind where they are now, such as how they landed in the animal industry, what drives them, and how their passion for pets brings out meaning in their lives. This issue we talk with Ryan Morris, owner of Ruff House Dog Training, a Virginia-based business that trains dogs of all kinds in the homes where they live. NOVADog Magazine: What’s the importance of training in the home? RM: You see the dog in his truest form. He’s comfortable in the home, so most issues lie there. This is true epecially for boundary issues, jumping on people coming in the door, messing with the furniture. People want to have comfort, too. They want to see that the dog can perform a command in their home, so I like to have the owners present when I work. We can build more confidence that way. ND: What’s your training method like? RM: A lot of it is observation. I was a drummer in the Marine Corps, so I’m used to recognizing patterns and improvising, which definitely helps with dogs. I try to be a balanced trainer, so I aim for a good mix of positive and negative reinforcement. Mainly, though, dog training is about boundaries. “If you see another dog, this is OK, this is not OK.” For instance, I have a 120-lb Doberman named Helios. We

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can go to a crowded park, and he’ll run to a specific target when I tell him to. There are soccer players, kids, other dogs around, but he won’t get distracted. When you have that trained relationship with the dog, nothing else really matters. ND: You mention on your site that dog training is about “restoring lives.” Can you give an example of that? RM: I had one client who adopted two new dogs into their home of four kids, plus two dogs already. She was literally in tears, she didn’t know what to do because they were all so wild together. She didn’t want to get rid of the dogs or separate them, but she didn’t know how to react. After the first session, she felt more comfortable. We established boundaries: what is and is not acceptable. Each week, she had something to work on. I would make contact throughout the week and make sure she’s OK. Recently, we had our last session of six. Now she can get all the dogs in their cages just by saying so. She doesn’t worry anymore about tripping over the dogs going up and down the steps.

I taught them: when I’m on the steps, you are not. Kids can walk the dogs with no problem, too. Even her neighbors were commenting, because the dogs were behaving better on their walks. In general, progression in the training is based on the week I’m not there. Then I see if we need to review or move forward. When the progress happens, it’s because the owner has done all her homework. ND: Do you see a lot of the same problem behaviors? (With humans and dogs.) RM: The toughest is when the owners have difficulty separating human emotion from what the dog needs. People say, “Well, a dog is going to be a dog.” I don’t know what that means exactly. Owners say that when their dog likes to bark, chew things, or jump. They tell me they don’t like this behavior, but they accept it. Basically, the dog trains them to change their life. There was one woman who put off knee surgery because of her dog. She thought the dog would hurt her during recovery, because he was so wild. But now she can walk him with no problem. Other people avoid buying furniture because of their dogs. “I can’t paint until my dog gets better. I can’t eat at the table.” You hear these things all the time—but it doesn’t have to be this way. ND: Is every dog trainable? RM: Absolutely. I’ve worked with older dogs, puppies, dogs who live with cats, dogs who live with children. Any dog is OK to train, if the human is willing to separate her emotion from what the dog needs. It’s not always easy, but patience is the numberone thing. Set your boundaries and practice them. Once there was this rescue Dachsund mix, Charlie. He was maybe 10 lbs, but I swear he could jump 6 feet in the air. He would just not go in his crate, and he reacted terribly to the doorbell. I think he was found on the side of the road with his siblings, so I don’t really know what he went through. At the end of training, though, we could have him off-leash and he would come right back to us if he got out of his collar. ND: What have you learned about dogs? RM: I know this through observation: dogs learn from what we do, just like babies. If you’ve ever watched that comedy show


Any dog is OK to train, if the human is willing to separate her emotion from what the dog needs. It’s not always easy, but patience is the number-one thing. Set your boundaries and practice them. about the British guy, Mr. Bean, there’s this episode where he’s in America and he’s driving, when someone flips him off. Now he’s driving around flipping people off because he thinks it’s good. That’s kids. That’s dogs. We need to observe what we do, as well as what dogs do. Our behavior may make the situation better or it may hinder it. If your dog is barking and you pick him up, or you give him a toy to make him quiet … now you’ve just told him he gets rewarded for barking. That’s a mixed message. Good dog training is all about clear lines of communication. Both the owner and the dog know what “no” means. They know what “yes” means. I can train them, but it’s up to the owner to maintain it. I’ve seen good boundaries make a difference in people’s lives, and that’s motivating. When someone says “thank you” and means it—that keeps me going. ND Ryan Morris is the proud owner of Ruff House Dog Training, an in-home dog training service for the DMV area. You can contact him at 904-5957438 or Please see for more information. Joseph Grammer is Managing Editor for NOVADog Magazine. He lives in Alexandria, VA, but grew up in New Jersey with a bunch of adopted dogs, including a mutt (Blizzard) who he found on the street.

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Beautiful Pit Bull Kaya with her adoptive family.

A Dedicated


Dogs Deserve Better (NOVA Chapter) works to rescue chained and penned dogs from the American South By Joseph G ra m m e r


ost of our dogs come from the South. Maybe 9095% from South Carolina.” So says Suzanne, the Dogs Deserve Better (NOVA Chapter) Director of Operations. Her organization focuses on rescuing chained and penned dogs, although they’ll help out any canine in need. 14 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2017

Adopted Dog Profile: Kaya In rural areas of the South, the view that dogs are just property has broader cultural acceptance than in urban areas, and many unwanted and discarded dogs often face a grim outcome. The NOVA region tends to have stricter laws and more resources to commit to animal welfare, which leads to fewer local dogs in need of rescue, but every region has its share of responsible and irresponsible owners. DDB NOVA is an all-volunteer organization that relies on a complex network of people to get its job done. “People don’t realize how many committed volunteers it takes to save one dog,” Suzanne says. “Our front-end screening and approval process is very thorough and requires time and commitment. Home visit checks are crucial, too. It takes more effort, but it’s worth it. We want to get to know our adopters to make a good fit, so we ask questions

“We saved this beautiful black Pit Bull who had been chained for over six years. When she was taken into rescue, she had skin infections and was covered in welts. She had been bred repeatedly, chained to a tree, and never cared for. Now she lives in Vienna with a family who loves her, and her life has changed so dramatically in just a few months—she’s now an indoor dog who loves stretching out on the couch for a long nap, or snuggling up with her family at night. She gets daily walks, has regular doggy play dates, and goes on family outings and hikes on the weekend. She even loves kittens. We are so thankful to her family who gave a senior, black bully girl this amazing second chance.”


What’s surprising is that Chihuahuas are the second-most common dog in need of rescue. like where will the dog sleep, what exercise will he get, will he have a dog-walker for a midday break.” The NOVA branch of DDB really began expanding and solidifying its infrastructure over the past two years. It’s just one link in the chain of a national dog rescue operation, but it’s crucial for finding forgotten dogs loving foster homes, and eventually permanent places to live. There are at least 30 active foster homes working with them in the NOVA area, and they are always looking for more as they grow. “Lots of rescues pull primarily from shelters. The majority of our dogs come from our partner team in South Carolina who are on the ground, dealing directly with chained and penned dogs, but we also partner with other wonderful groups to educate communities and change local laws.” DDB NOVA has around 30 dogs in foster care at the moment. One is a Pit Bull named Angel, who is 10 to 11 years old. She has been in foster care for almost a year, and it’s been a major challenge to find her a permanent home because she is both elderly and burdened with the stigma surrounding her breed. “Pit Bulls take longer than many dogs to adopt out,” Suzanne says. “A Lab always has more options. The same is true with low-shed dogs or allergy-friendly dogs, like Poodles, Schnauzers, and Shih Tzus. Hus-

How DDB Saves a Chained or Penned Dog •1 -2 people in the field find a dog in need. They may take videos and send them to Animal Control for evidence. These people are known throughout their local communities and act as a resource for laypeople to call if they see a dog being mistreated. •T he field team delivers the dog to a short-term foster home in South Carolina, who takes the dog in for a few weeks. 1-2 foster parents. • A driver or two transports the dog up to Northern Virginia. •A NOVA team meets the driver and delivers the dog to a long-term foster home here. •A thorough interview process is initiated when it comes time for permanent adoption, including an in-home visit with the potential adopter and veterinarian checkups. •T his equates to 8-10 people who are responsible for rescuing a single dog. All of them volunteer their time.

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kies have been popular too, and can get 20 applications for adoption in at a time.” Pit Bulls have been maligned in the media for decades as a symbol of inner-city crime, so people have come to think of them, unfairly, as dangerous, unpredictable fighting dogs. Dogs like Dobermans and German Shepherds have been through this too. Thankfully, in recent years more people have become open to adopting Pit Bulls. This is in part the result of increased visibility from television and celebrities, but also a grassroots effort by rescues, animal welfare organizations, and Pit Bull adopters to educate people at the local level. Suzanne adds that “they are active, strong dogs, so they’re not for everyone, but seeing them walking in our neighborhoods and living in our friends’ homes really goes a long way to changing minds.” Outreach is also an important part of DDB’s mission. Their partner team in South Carolina will monitor communities for chained or penned dogs, leaving flyers for free spay and neuter clinics, as well as information about local dog-care laws. In serious cases they will call Animal Control, but other times they take donated food and hay (for bedding) to these dogs, as long as the owner allows it. But this small team, no matter how energetic, can’t save every dog. There are simply too many in need of help. Once a dog makes her way to NOVA and finds a foster home, she is introduced slowly to her new environment. The foster home is where a dog learns the rules of home life and how to be part of a family. Most dogs are adaptable, but even so, they need someone with patience to help them learn. It generally takes two weeks for a dog to fully acclimate to a new home, though it does depend on the dog. “Dogs often act differently based on the energy of the home. In a foster home with kids, it’s more active and energized, so the dog may initially have more stress. We try to match a high-energy dog with an active family to provide the right environment. The same goes for calm dogs.” Chaining and penning dogs can cause numerous harmful outcomes. For one, it’s an isolated life if you’re chained up to a tree for fourteen hours a day. Dogs are pack animals; they need to socialize. This is especially important if the owner is not particularly attentive or caring. Other common issues include irregular access to fresh water, a lack of food, dirty kennels, or over-crating. A chain can also be scary or dangerous for a dog; if something comes after him, or attacks him, he can’t escape. In these problem communities, many families chain their dog in a back corner of their yard, not even near the house. “What protection does that really give?” Suzanne asks.

Albert’s life took a tragic turn when his owner passed away. Albert found himself chained to a tree, abandoned in the heat of summer, with no shelter or consistent source of food and water. Covered in ticks, fleas, and matted fur, his teeth were worn down from trying to chew his way off the chain. He was also suffering from heartworm disease, and living in constant pain from an old leg injury that had been left untreated. Despite the hardships he’s endured, Albert remains an incredibly sweet, gentle soul who just wants to be loved and have a person to call his own again.

Despite the hardships he’s endured, Albert remains an incredibly sweet, gentle soul who just wants to be loved and have a person to call his own again.

A volunteer from our SC team noticed him chained to a tree in a small, overgrown yard behind a house that looked to be abandoned. She gave him food and fresh water, and made a point to come back the next day to see if anyone

According to her, a chained unspayed female dog can yield up to 80 puppies in a lifetime. This leads to another major problem: overpopulation. Backyard breeders are often trying to make money; after all, many of these areas struggle with poverty. Others breed dogs for fighting, and there are sometimes little or no regulations regarding breeding. This can lead to a great deal of strays flooding the area. By contrast, Suzanne says reported dog abuse in NOVA is less common. “I did see a dog outside on a tether here, in the middle of winter. When he was still out there two hours later, I called Animal Control and they came out right away to explain our tethering laws.” The circumstances are often not the same in these small South Carolina towns. “Our team there says it’s overwhelming. You drive through neighborhoods and see stray dogs everywhere, and dog after dog that’s chained up in the heat.” DDB NOVA is inundated with requests to save dogs from neglectful and dangerous situations. They stream in from Facebook posts,

was around. When she returned to the house, a woman was packing some items in her car and Jennifer stopped to talk with her. She learned that Albert had belonged to the woman’s mother, and they inherited him when she passed away. The family wasn’t interested in keeping him, so when they moved out, they left Albert chained to a tree with no intention of caring for him. The woman just happened to be coming by the house to pick up some last things, and if someone hadn’t returned to check on him, he would have been left there to die.

phone calls, and emails. “You can only save those dogs you have a temporary home for, unfortunately, so finding foster homes to take them in is vital,” Suzanne says. The organization does pull dogs from shelters as well, but they tend to take puppies and smaller dogs. Suzanne says the shelters in the NOVA area are well connected with the local community, so they have a fairly high placement rate. “Growing up, my family got our dogs from the shelter, and I have two American Pit Bull Terriers now who came from rescue. After I saved my first Pit Bull, I became more aware of how many were out there. They say only 1 in 600 Pit Bulls who go into the shelter will ever get out. It’s hard to hear a number like that and not think they deserve some extra help.” What’s surprising is that Chihuahuas are the second-most common dog in need of rescue. Suzanne attributes this to the cultural popularity of Chihuahas as “accessories,” which means people adopt


When Does Your Pet Need Urgent Care? Severe Bleeding or Bleeding for over 5 min. Bleeding from Nose, Mouth, Rectum, Coughing Up Blood or Blood in Urine Difficulty Breathing Continuous Coughing or Gagging Inability to Urinate or Pass Stool Eye Injuries Hit by a Motor Vehicle Seizures - Staggering - Unconsciousness Severe Vomiting or Diarrhea Fractured Bones or Severe Lameness Signs of Pain, Discomfort and/or Anxiety that concerns you Over Exposure to Heat/Cold - Heatstroke or Hypothermia Ingestion of a Poison, Toxin or Foreign Object Refusal to Drink for 24 hours Any combination of the above signs OUR LIST DOES NOT COVER ALL EMERGENCIES Please Consult a Veterinarian Anytime You Have Concerns about Your Pet(s) Health!

the breed out of a sense of status or style, and don’t consider the commitment involved. People seem to chain bigger dogs more often than smaller ones, but there are certainly cases of small breeds being chained up, too. Suzanne recounts one story: “We saved a Terrier, Albert, after someone had chained him to a tree in their backyard and just moved away. He had a torn ACL when we found him, but they just left him there to die.” It can be difficult to imagine how people who mistreat dogs can change, but Suzanne is hopeful. “I think people can definitely change, and have changed. A lot of it is thanks to popular culture and social media. As you see more examples of healthy dog treatment and dogs portrayed as a member of a family, it becomes more the norm.” There are limitations involved with dog care, however. Some people just can’t afford to spay or neuter their pets. Others have the wrong information and believe that you shouldn’t spay and neuter, so DDB can intervene with outreach and change their minds. “We’ll use all kinds of pamphlets, materials. What to do with a dog on hot days. Don’t use a metal water bowl, for instance—it gets too hot in the sun. We also advocate for laws to protect dogs … how long a tether should be, what kind of coverage a dog needs outside. The challenge there is getting Animal Control to enforce it. Most do their jobs well, but the sheer number of mistreatment cases is overwhelming.” Here in NOVA, DDB has partnered with the Cherry Blossom Chapter of the National Charity League to make educational and care packages for dogs. They include things like fly salve to put on a dog’s ears if he’s outside a lot, plastic water bowls, and information on local spay and neuter clinics. Even a coloring book for kids about how to take care of your dog, plus print-outs or summaries of dog-care laws in the area. “Education is key to addressing the problem,” Suzanne says. If you see a dog being neglected or mistreated, please contact your local Animal Control and get it on record with the authorities. You can also reach out directly to the offender. “Sometimes, if we offer to help, the owners are receptive. If they’re not, you can still monitor the situation legally. It helps to understand the local laws so you know when they’re not being followed. Basically, if you raise enough visibility on an issue, if you’re tenacious, Animal Control should take action.” Suzanne recommends to try and educate a mistreating owner without being insulting. If a dog is being left out in the yard for long periods of time, you can say something like, “These are pack animals. They want to be near you.” She makes a point of highlighting, however, the need to follow the law. There are fines and serious legal consequences for breaking and entering another person’s home to “rescue” a dog without the owner’s permission. Suzanne has a great deal of energy for this line of work, and she credits both DDB’s mission and her teammates for that drive. “It’s a passion. Once you do it, it’s hard to stop. I used to volunteer for political campaigns, but this is definitely more rewarding. It’s tangible: you see the results of where a dog comes from to where she is now. We save these dogs from terrible situations, we see them evolve in their foster homes, and then watch them go on to their adoptive families to live a great life.” If you’d like to foster a dog, adopt a dog, or find out more about DDB’s rescue operations, please see for more information. ND Joseph Grammer is Managing Editor for NOVADog Magazine. He lives in Alexandria, VA, but grew up in New Jersey with a bunch of adopted dogs, including a mutt (Blizzard) who he found on the street.

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A gl i m ps e i n to the l i fe of No rth e rn V i rg i n i a d o g s

Cage-free daycare, boarding, grooming and more. Five great locations in Northern Virginia. Visit Winners receive a NOVADog Magazine limited-edition T-shirt and a gift certificate from A Dog’s Day Out.


1. IZZY loved by Amber in Alexandria, VA


2. TRIXIE & MAESON loved by Michael & Sharon in Burke, VA

3. MAYA ANGELIQUE loved by

Kateryna in Warrenton, VA

4. MILO & QUIGLEY loved by

Abbey in Pompton Plaines, NJ

5. BARON HENDRIX loved by


Nicole in Ashburn, VA

6. DECKER loved by Lesley in Arlington, VA





by Laura in Tokyo, Japan

8. TIA loved by Susan in Springfield, VA







Submit your dog’s photo on our home-page, and see the slide show of all submitted dog photos at




Pioneering Animal Assisted Interaction (AAI) into Children’s Therapy By Donna Pfendler-Merkle

Heeling House began as an idea between three friends at an International Therapy Dog Conference in Denver, CO three years ago. They had a vision to take animal assisted interactions to the next level. The collaborative approach allows Heeling House staff and volunteers to work together at the Center, as well as with teachers and therapists to help children to quickly reach their therapeutic/ IEP goals in a friendly, non-judgmental environment.

Tybee, a Portuguese Water Dog and therapy dog

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Dogs and special-needs children create a bond with each other in a therapy setting.

Undeniable Bond The natural bond between children and animals is undeniable. Heeling House takes the power of that human-animal bond and incorporates it in therapeutic sessions. The animals are utilized in the therapeutic sessions and classes in a variety of ways. Donna Pfendler-Merkle, a co-founder, has been working in animal assisted therapy for over 10 years. She currently works with her Portuguese Water Dog Tybee. “I have witnessed how animal assisted therapy has evolved. More and more studies are showing the benefits of adding a therapy dog to the therapeutic and learning process, and I see this in my work at Heeling House. The dogs are very attuned to the clients’ needs; I have learned to sometimes just let the interactions organically happen. Those are the most rewarding times—when you can watch this dog that you trained from a puppy go into a situation and know exactly what to do.” Sometimes the animals can serve as a motivator and a reward for a job well done. Once the child finishes a task, they can walk, play, or just cuddle with the animal. The

animals will sometimes serve as a model for good behavior: demonstrating sitting quietly, listening, good manners, completing tasks, etc. The animals are often used to facilitate improvements in fine and gross motor skills by having the children engage in games and activities with the dogs. They can also be used as an intermediate step for those children learning how to appropriately interact with their peers, and can help children with sensory processing challenges. “Tybee participates in several social skills classes modeling appropriate behavior. I have seen him be a great motivator for our clients with cerebral palsy. The children enjoy practicing their own walking while walking the dog. Tybee can be a great motivator and confidence builder.”

Applied Behavior Analysis The Heeling House Center is taking Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to a whole new level through a unique program that integrates therapy animals into the ABA sessions. Based on ABA principles, they also offer a unique type of Social Skills Group that incorporates

therapy animals. “Tybee has been working with a child who was extremely afraid of dogs. She was not able to be in the same room without becoming very nervous and visibly showing signs of stress. The child and I worked on basic dog commands, building her confidence in situations with a dog. We started Tybee on the opposite side of the room, and as she saw how calm he was and that she had control of the situation, we were able to get him closer to her and build on additional commands. We then played games together like rolling a ball back and forth and Go Fish (yes, Tybee likes to play Go Fish!). As of today, the child is walking with, petting and even giving treats to Tybee!” In addition, Heeling House Center will offer a “Read With Me” Literacy Program where students read to an animal, plus a “Paws for STEM” afterschool program where “science is going to the dogs!” A certified therapy dog team from Heeling House will join the students in this very unique STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program. Together, the therapy dog and child explore the world in fun and playful ways that foster the


development of collaborative teamwork. Heeling House also offers a 2500-square-foot training facility for a variety of courses to meet your dog’s training needs, from puppy obedience to advanced animal assisted therapy classes. This year the group is excited to offer several summer camps at the center. The Junior Dog Trainer Camp is a unique chance for children to work hands-on with a professional dog trainer and spend the week training shelter dogs in basic obedience, which will help them have a successful journey to their new home. The All Animals Camp explores the world of animals. Children learn about the habits and biology of the therapy animals including ponies, rabbits, turtles, and of course dogs. A Book a Day Camp introduces young campers to how fun reading a story can be; each day will feature a different book. After reading the book, campers will spend the day exploring the story through dra-

matic play, games, movies, and art projects. The STEM summer camp will explore the world in fun and playful ways that foster the development of collaborative teamwork.

A Growing Team With 16 handler/dog teams, Heeling House has almost doubled in size and in its ability to help the DMV area. “It is important to us that as we grow we stay connected to the community,” says Benner. “In addition to our variety of programs at the center, we continue to support our local schools and libraries. Our volunteer Paws for READ dog program at the local libraries continue to be very popular. Volunteer dog teams go to various libraries in Loudoun County on the last Sunday of every month, and children read to the dogs. This past week we participated in ‘stress less week’ supporting Mental Health Awareness Week at Marshall

High School in Leesburg, VA. The kids love these outreach programs.” Last year, Heeling House provided over 400 hours of animal assisted therapy for children in need. They have assisted over 700 children with tasks such as improving speech, motor function, executive planning, and social skills, as well as math, reading, and writing skills. ND Heeling House, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children with special needs through the use of Animal Assisted Interactions (AAI) and Animal Assisted Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). HHI has been providing AAI for children with special needs in local schools and therapeutic centers in the Northern Virginia area since 2013. For more information, go to about Heeling House and its programs go to and follow their adventures on Facebook or Twitter.



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E X P E R T  A D V I C E

An s w e rs to y ou r b e h a v i o r a n d tra i n i n g q u e s ti o n s

What Happens When Your Dog Has an Emergency? by Johna G a g n on , M .E d . , L i c e ns e d C e rti fi e d Pe tTe c h I n s tru c to r


pril is Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Pet owners, including parents of dogs, aren’t always knowledgeable about what to do if their loved one needs medical intervention right away. As with humans, first aid for pets is the immediate care given after an injury or sudden illness. What you do, or don’t do, in the first moments can often be the difference between life and death. “1 of 4 pets would survive if just 1 pet first aid technique was used prior to seeking emergency care,” according to the American Animal Hospital Association. This is a good time to check your home and yard, or wherever you walk your dog, for hazards. Pets are surrounded by potential objects that can cause harm or injury. Pet proof your dog’s living space if you can; preventing accidents for your pup is just as crucial as it is for humans. As Thom Somes, The Pet Safety Guy™, says, “Preventable accidents are the leading cause of death and disability among pre-senior dogs and cats.” This is a good time to make sure you have the knowledge and skills you need to care for your furry friend, should an accident or illness occur. Commit to learning about pet first aid as soon as possible. For many people, it’s not an interesting topic, but that changes when their dog or cat suddenly chokes on a toy, is hit by a car, suffers a near-drowning accident, or ingests one of the many pet toxins found in the average home. Thankfully, the odds are that these things won’t happen. But anybody whose dog or cat has suffered a life-threatening accident no longer cares about odds. Learning first aid not only can save your companion’s life in an emergency, but also will make you a more relaxed and confident pet parent or pet guardian. Sign up for a local first aid training course with private companies offering PetTech or PetPrep. You’ll want to take a class that offers hands-on training in bleeding protocol, choking management, CPR, rescue breathing, as well as education on fractures, shock, seizures, poisoning, insect bites/stings, heat/cold injuries, and assessing pet vitals. Have a plan and a first aid kit. Preparing yourself for an emergency is a lot less daunting than it may seem. Set aside a day in your life for your pet’s sake. We don’t like to think about needing this until a scary incident comes up. Keep important phone numbers easily available, like on the refrigerator and in your cell phone, so you can find them quickly in an emergency. You’ll need the business number and after-hours emergency number for your veterinarian. Also, the number of a reliable friend who can help in a pet emergency. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center hotline (there may be a $65 fee) is a great 24-hour resource. You can buy a pet first aid kit or you can easily make one. Putting together a pet first aid kit is similar to the human version. Include gauze pads and rolls, tweezers, eyedropper, plastic syringe, clean towels, blanket,

This pup is running to make her pet first aid kit— you should do that, too. splint supplies, and anything else that might help the wellbeing of your furry friend. Put everything in individual plastic bags that could be used to collect samples needed for the veterinarian. Include a muzzle (store bought or makeshift from a necktie, strip of cloth, etc.) in case your pet lashes out in fear and pain. This will keep you safe while handling the emergency. Keep your pet’s first aid kit in your home and take it with you when you travel with your pet. Do you know what to do during a pet emergency? Can you determine what needs immediate action? Do you know what the common pet emergencies are and the signs or symptoms? Accidents occur at unlikely and random times, so it is important to always be ready. Pets are important to our families. April, Pet First Aid Awareness Month, is a perfect time to ensure you have the knowledge and skills to take care of your furry family member. ND Johna Gagnon is a certified PetTech Instructor with Becky’s Pet Care, where she teaches courses such as PetSaver™ and Pet CPR & First Aid. You can learn more about pet first aid classes at



Special thanks to our calendar sponsor Fur-Get Me Not.

For more events check out our Canine Calendar online at:


April 23-24

Dog Days Bloom Festival - 10:00 to 4:00. This weekend the farm goes to the dogs! Enjoy the spring bloom season and a good romp on the farm with your family’s canine companions! We will have an impressive dog agility training course with new obstacles, Doggie Olympic Games, vendors and demonstrations that will keep tails a-waggin’! Bring your retriever’s favorite item to enjoy a dip in the pond. The first hundred pups to visit the farm will receive a doggie bag of goodies. festivals-events/dog-days-bloom-festival

the release of dogs and other animals and give them a chance at a normal home life after years as test subjects in public and private laboratories. Join us as we set our sights on Washington, D.C. and help craft new public policy to protect more animals. tickets

Pups in the Park. Nats @ Mets, Sat. 1:05 PM EDT. http://m.


May 3

Red, White & Beagle. The third annual celebration will be held at Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. on May 3, 2017. The fundraiser will benefit the Beagle Freedom Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to secure

Pints & Puppies. This dog-friendly event will be held from 1:00-4:00 PM at American Ice Company in Washington, DC, US. Admission is $10 - $15. https://www.facebook. com/pintsandpuppies

May 13

May 5

Fund Run/Walk. Please join Team Rescue Tails, the official athletic club supporting the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, for the Healthy Pet 5K Fund Run/Walk on Friday, May 5 at New District Brewing Company. Check-in begins at 6 pm and the run/walk begins at 6:30 PM. Hang out at New District Brewing Company after the run/walk for extended happy hour specials until 8:30 PM just for participants!

May 6

April 29

May 7

Reston Pet Fiesta at the Reston Town Center, 10 AM-4 PM. This outdoor festival brings together local businesses, animal rescue groups and pet owners for an exciting day of activities, demonstrations and animals galore. Meet wonderful animals looking for their forever homes and check out the latest in pet products. Enjoy onstage entertainment, face painting and caricature artists. Gather the kids and join us for a day of pets and fun for the whole family!

Pups in the Park. Nats @ Phillies, Sat. 7:05 PM EDT. http://m.

May 21

BarkPark at Taste of Arlington. Lap up the excitement with your dog, friends and family at The Largest Festival Showcasing Arlington’s Food Scene and Benefiting the Arlington Food Assistance Center. The BarkPark includes a variety of tents with products and services for your special four-legged friend.

May 21

Pups N Pints 5K - 9:00 am - 10:00 am. The 5k Race / Fun Run winds through the Greenbriar Community in Fairfax, VA. With a Start and Finish behind the Total Wine & More in the Greenbriar Shopping Center followed by a post-race party at Dogfish Head Ale House. Each participant will receive a super-soft race t-shirt, a FREE BEER after the race (for participants over 21), and access to post race party including live music by the School of Rock. For details visit


Tools and Knowledge for Exceptional Pet Parents

Our Courses Help You Get Prepared, Save Money, and Even Save a Life. – Pet CPR & First Aid – PetPREP: Healthy Ages & Stages

– PetPREP Dental Care – Emergency PET PREParedness – And More!



Courses Offered at Becky’s Pet Care SPRINGFIELD • 7200 Fullerton Rd • # B-200 HERNDON • 33-B Carlisle Drive

30th Annual

BARK BALL Masquerade Saturday, June 17, 2017

Washington Hilton 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Reception, Silent Auction & Bark Bar 24 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2017

7:00 PM – 10:00 PM Dinner, Live Auction & Program

NOVADOG Magazine

May 27

Pups in the Park. Nats @ Cardinals, Fri. 7:05 PM EDT.

Animal Portrait Artist BETS capture your wonderful pet on canvas oil and acrylic starting at $275.00


June 1-June 30

AWLA Calendar contest: The calendar contest is one of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria’s biggest fundraisers of the year! During the month of friendly online competition, AWLA hosts a few voting socials in the City where competitors can meet the public. Winners of the contest will be featured in AWLA’s 2018 calendar (launched in October), and the grand prize winner is also recognized as Alexandria’s 2018 Animal of the Year. With this honor comes invitations to AWLA’s special events as the City’s animal ambassador. Visit for details.

(856) 776-6138 301-908-8317 Is your dog getting enough exercise?

The Farm Goes to the Dogs! April 29 & 30, 10am-5pm $8/child & $10/adult Bring the whole family, including your leashed dog!

June 2

Fund Run/Walk. Please join Team Rescue Tails, the official athletic club supporting the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. For the Healthy Pet 5K Fund Run/Walk on Friday, June 2 at New District Brewing Company. Check-in begins at 6 pm and the run/walk begins at 6:30 PM. Hang out at New District Brewing Company after the run/walk for extended happy hour specials until 8:30 PM just for participants!

Healthy intelligent working-line German Shepherd puppies and dogs for the best in protection, companionship and service.

Serving NOVA & MD

703 627 4462

“ We’re more than just a walk around the block! ”

• Agility & Training Courses first 100 pups • Canine Wellness Education get a goodie bag! • 1 Mile Orchard Walk with your Pup • Wagon Ride Farm Tours • Retriever Fun in the Farm Pond

Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA

June 3

Springfield Day PetFest. Join us and bring your leashed pet along for this fun-filled, pet-focused day from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at SouthRun RECenter, 7550 Reservation Drive, Springfield, VA 22153. Event features a blessing of the pets, pet focused vendors, rescue pet adoptions, pet photos, food vendors, entertainment and much more. There will be fun activities for all ages.

A full day of fido- and familyfriendly fun!



June 9-11

Fairfax County DockDogs Championship at the 36th Annual Celebrate Fairfax! Festival. Northern Virginia’s largest community-wide celebration, will take place June 9-11, 2017 at the Fairfax County Government Center. The world’s premier canine aquatics competition, DockDogs, is a national dog jumping competition that will feature four-legged athletes from around the region. http://

Sep. 23


June 10

Pups in the Park. Nats @ Rangers, Sat. 12:05 PM EDT.

June 25

Pups in the Park. Nats @ Reds, Sun. 1:35 PM EDT.


Barktoberfest & GlowDogGlow 5K: NOVADog Magazine has partnered with Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) to celebrate Barktoberfest, a full day of fido- and family-friendly fun that offers live music, games, pet contests, demonstrations, and much more. We are also thrilled to include the annual GlowDogGlow run in the festivities! Barktoberfest starts at 10:30 a.m., and the 5K begins at 7:30 p.m. Hosted at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds (17558 Dry Mill Road, Leesburg, VA). #glowdogglow on Twitter and Instagram. Please see for updates.

Quincy St. Arlington, VA. events/upcoming-events/wags-n-whiskers/

Aug 18

Bark in the Park. Winston-Salem Dash. Bring your favorite 4-legged Nats fan out to the ballpark! All dogs are welcome to enjoy the game with their owners! Dogs (and owners) are also welcome to participate in a pre-game dog parade. jsp?sid=t436

August 27

Wags n’ Whiskers. Wags n’ Whiskers is a community-oriented event for all ages in The Village at Shirlington, 2700 S


Sept. 7

Pups in the Park. Nats @ Phillies, Thurs. 7:05 PM EDT.

Sept. 30

Pups in the Park. Nats @ Pirates, Sat. 7:05 PM EDT.



Did you hike it? Please stop by our Facebook page to leave some of your own feedback,

L o c a l wa l k s t o e n j o y

Difficult Run, picturesque and peaceful, also makes a great cool-off area for dogs.

Gerry Connolly Cross County Connector Trail (CCT) Intro & Segment 1 by Angela Meyers


here is a little-known trail in Fairfax County that does an amazing thing; it connects the county from north to south, 40 miles in length. That trail is the Gerry Connolly Cross County Connector Trail (CCT). I heard about it a few years ago and put it on my list of things to do, but forgot all about it until a few months ago, when I was reminded of it while hiking at Lake Accotink. Thus began my quest to hike the trail end to end. It was my desire to complete the whole trail in a single

About Your Guide Angela Meyers is the owner of both NOVADog Magazine and a lovely pup named Maggie.

26 Northern Virginia Dog

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weekend, but alas, I could not find enough free days in a row, so I hiked it in 10-15 mile segments. The next 4 issues will detail segments of the trail North to South and give you a guide to exploring Fairfax County in a new way. Trail Overview: The great thing about the CCT is that it provides access to many of Fairfax Country’s parks and sticks close to the streambeds and waterways that you often don’t see hidden away behind all the houses and developments. It is truly a unique way to enjoy the county. I reference the Start and End of trails and segments, but really the connectivity of the trail allows you to link literally hundreds of miles of trails in many directions by taking offshoots to access parks, which lead to the many other trail systems in the area. I will focus specifically on the CCT, however. Access some great trail maps here (http://www. ) and

use your phone’s GPS. Overall the trail is well-marked: mostly dirt, some gravel, with other small segments that are paved. Due to proximity to the waterways, it is often very wet and flooded, particularly after rains or snowmelts. Segment 1: Great Falls Park to Reston Train/Lawyers Road Intersection (about 10 miles, plus 2 miles inside Great Falls Park) The CCT officially starts at the end of Ridge Trail, just inside Great Falls Park (see NOVADog Spring 2014). Difficult Run is a fantastic segment of this trail, roughly 2.5 miles long where you will hug the stream (see NOVADog Fall 2011). There are ample locations for your dog to take a swim in the stream or fetch a stick. Leash laws apply on the entire trail; however, in this entire segment of nearly 11 miles, I encountered only about a dozen people, minus the time I spent in Great Falls and on the W&OD trail. The

scenery along Difficult Run is wonderful, rocky, picturesque, and mostly forested, so it makes a great summer trail as well. There is a boulder stream crossing at mile 1.7: smaller dogs can be carried, and larger dogs will do fine walking as long as they are not fearful. This segment has very little elevation change. As you continue along Difficult Run, at about mile 2.5 you will cross Leigh Mill Road Head up through the field on the lefthand side, where there is a trail marker. You’ll loop around the backside of the field and take a left into the woods; again, there is a trail marker. At this point you’ll see the stream again. At mile 2.8 you will head up a hill, then come out in a development on Brian Jac Lane. You’ll cross the street, turn left, and in less than 100 feet you’ll see the trail marker pointing you back onto the trail. After about 1 more mile you will encounter a bit of construction and then come out at Route 7, Leesburg Pike. (Side trip: just a few hundred feet N on Route 7 is the entrance to Colvin Run Mill Park). There is not a great place to cross here, so be careful. After you cross Rt. 7 the entrance to the trail is on your left, just 50 feet past the intersection. At this point you are now traveling along Colvin Run briefly until it merges back with Difficult Run again. This segment runs a bit closer to houses. You will often be walking past backyards and houses, but it also provides many sections of solitude. The true treasure of this trail is how it provides an amazing feeling of being in the wild, while you are often only a few hundred feet from hundreds of homes in one of the most densely populated counties in the country. The fact that the trail isn’t groomed adds to this wonderfully wild feeling. Be on the lookout for wildlife. I saw deer, birds of prey, a fox, and many other creatures. You’ll encounter another stone crossing around mile 4, then head onto a short paved segment before veering off to the right under the Dulles Toll Road. After the underpass crossing, you will pop out in an area where you will continue along Difficult Run. Minus the occasional construction area, this is another one of my favorite parts of this segment. It winds down through Tamarack Park before open-

Adorable pups and their owners love to hike through Great Falls.

ing onto the W&OD Trail. As I wandered, there were so many times I continued to feel like there was no way I could be this close to shopping centers and huge housing developments. Around mile 8.5 you’ll come out onto the W&OD (see NOVADog Fall 2011). There is a side trail that is not paved. It’s a great option so that your dog can wander a bit more without you being worried about passing bikers. You follow W&OD for less than a mile. At the CCT concrete pillar, to your left across the W&OD, you will see a sign for the Reston Trail. Turn left onto this trail. Follow it for about ¼ mile. To your right, you will find a bridge with the letters “CCT” spray-painted on it. Cross this bridge, turn left, and continue on the trail. You’ll be in a wooded area. About 0.3 miles after the bridge, you will come to a flooded area with yellow caution tape. Take the trail to the right; it runs higher along the ridge so you can stay dry, but feel free to choose the low trail if it is a clear day. After close to ½ mile you’ll come to a drainage pond. Here you can head to the left, back into the woods. This is the Twin Branches segment, and though it’s short, I really enjoyed walking through this deep valley. After the bridge, you’ll head up a paved trail. At the top you will cross Twin Branches Road, then bear left a bit into The Glade, taking the trail down the hill a ways before turn-

ing right onto the trail. This segment is all paved and is part of a Reston Association trail. It’s a great segment, so be sure to keep an eye out for the beaver dam and hut shortly past the small wooden overlook that is only about ¼ mile after you cross the street. You will continue on this trail, then take a left at the T of Turquoise Trail and CCT. Go over the bridge and take another left to stay on the CCT. You will make a right just before the small green swingset, which will take you to the intersection of Lawyers Road. This concludes Segment 1 of the CCT, but I hope you have the chance to explore all 10 miles before the Summer issue, when we follow the next 10 miles from Lawyers Road to Pickett Road. ND TRAIL SPECIFICS

Distance: Create your own length, up to 12 miles. Fido-Friendly Features: Unpaved surfaces, streams, wildlife, very few people. Use: Hikers, bikers, joggers. Best Time to Go: During daylight hours. Avoid right after a heavy rain. Access: Park at Great Falls Park ($10 per car) and hike 2 miles down to the “start” or Park at the Difficult Run parking lot and begin there, either hiking back “up” the trail to get to the beginning or starting off right in the parking lot (located on Georgetown Pike, 0.3 miles south of the Great Falls Park Entrance, free). Rated: 2 paws. The trail is not too challenging in terms of terrain, but the whole segment is decently long.

1 paw = easy; 5 = expert


WAGS TO RICHES Adoption success stories

Cubacca Sarah and Luke in Haymarket, VA

Adopted on: September 14th, 2014 Meet our dogs and cats at

Adopted from: A Forever Home, Chantilly, VA

our shelter in Aldie.

Go to

How did he get his name? He looks like a Wookie from Star

for details or email

Sue at

Wars. Instead of naming him Chewbacca, we called him Cubacca because cú is the Irish word for hound, and we thought he was part Irish Wolfhound. When we did his DNA test, we found out that he is a quarter Rotweiller and a quarter Boston Terrier. The rest is a mix, with a high likelihood of Irish Terrier. No Irish Wolfhound. Oops!

Background info: Cubacca is our first dog. He was younger than

we wanted, but he turned out to be perfect for us. His previous family had given him up because he had gotten too big (80 pounds), but we wanted a big dog. He has the best happy-go-lucky personality and loves everything: even going to the vet!

Rescued Dogs Are Waiting for Their Forever Homes Looking to add a family member? A Forever Home Rescue has big dogs, little dogs, gentle dogs and playful dogs ready to be adopted! Can't adopt? Save a life by fostering, volunteering or donating. 28 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2017

We picked him because: He was listed as an Irish Wolfhound

mix, which was one of the breeds we were interested in. He looked so cute in his picture. When we met him at the adoption event, he was very calm and sweet.

Favorite activity together: Cuddling on the couch. Favorite treat or snack: Anything edible. He loves food. Favorite toy: Stuffed trout toy with a squeaker. It’s the one toy he will not share.

We love him because: He’s a very unique-looking dog with a

great easygoing personality. He makes us very proud by being a volunteer canine blood donor with the Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank. He loves everybody he meets. He’s such a happy dog, and he shares that happiness with us. ND

A Forever-Home Rescue Foundation is a non-profit dog rescue group that operates in the Northern Virginia / Washington Metropolitan area., @aforeverhome.

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