Page 1

novadog Spring 2018


senior superstars Gracefully Walking Your Dog Through the Aging Process

Also Inside: The Basics of Aging Dogs Local Rescue Paws for Seniors Destinations: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens



We have what it takes to make you and your pet happy!

Celebrating 20 years in business! Since 1998, All Friends Pet Care’s reliable, professional pet sitters have been providing in-home pet sitting, midday dog walks, and overnight stays to pets big and small— contact us today to find out how we can make YOUR best friend our best customer! SERVING ALL OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA



Bonded • Insured • References We offer several different time packages to fit your needs AND your budget!

• 703/960-PETS


Mention that you are a friend of NOVADog Magazine and get $25 your first booking with All Friends Pet Care. (first-time clients only)



Step Out with a Fresh Perspective


fter an extra-long but not-toosnowy winter, spring is finally springing open all over NOVA once again. NOVADog has already been attending fun dog events throughout the area, and it’s clear that everyone is eager to get outside and enjoy the (relatively) pleasant weather and sunshine. We’ve met all sorts of fun, furry new friends in the past few weeks! Spring also gives us some great opportunities for exploration with our canine companions. This issue takes us to a destination that thrives in the springtime: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. It deserves to be a “must-see” spot on your list this spring, mainly because of the wonderful lotuses and giant lilies. We paired this serene scene with our “Hit the Trail” segment of the Anacostia Water Trail, which connects to the Gardens, so you can make a whole day of it if you like.

Our two feature stories highlight the wonderful ways our senior pets enrich our lives. They provide ideas to deal with all those physical and mental issues related to aging, as well as insight into giving our golden oldies the special care they need and deserve. We’re also offering a special look into Paws for Seniors, an organization that fosters and adopts out elderly dogs! (Please consider adopting beautiful 14-year-old Buddy, a Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix.) Finally, we’ve asked a few experts for tips on keeping our distinguished dogs happy and healthy. Dr. Ganjei weighs in on canine cancer, and Carol Wasmucky shows us the pains (and joys) of pet rehab. There are tons of things you can do to help your senior pet, and even ways to help puppies prepare for old age! I hope you all embrace the new season and enjoy this wonderful time of year.

connect with us

Spring is about rebirth, so let’s celebrate our older pets and help them thoroughly enjoy their “second youth.” Angela


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 |

Kitty Condo Resort


Praise Obedience Training



“Kitty Condo” Cat Boarding In Home Pet Care Dog Walking Obedience Training

Behavioral Training Pet Transportation Pet Photography Open 7 Days/Week

7143 Shreve Rd. Falls Church, VA 22043 703-237-5522 • 703-241-CATS(2287)

Nose on over to the best vet in Loudoun County... 2017

New Clients Take $50 off your first appointment!

CONTRIBUTORS Laurie Duperier, Ken Foster, Justin Ganjei, DVM, DACVS-SA, Joseph Grammer, Angela Hazuda Meyers ADVERTISING For rates and information, please contact: Angela Meyers: (703) 887-8387 DISTRIBUTION MediaPoint 9708 Gunston Cove Road, Lorton, VA 22079

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 © 2018 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, 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.

A full service veterinary hospital! Wellness Examinations · Longevity Planning · Feline Friendly Practice Diagnostic Imaging Behavioral Consultations

· ·

Advanced Surgery Laser Therapy



Dental Care

Emergency Services

Full Service Grooming 19463 James Monroe Hwy Leesburg, VA 20175 (Route 15, just south of Leesburg)

2 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018



Visit us on the Web at

contents Spring 2018

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 S  enior Superstars

Gracefully walking your dog through the aging process By Laurie Duperier

18 TTips  hetoBasics of Aging Dogs help your aging pup’s golden years be as comfortable and productive as possible By Ken Foster

14 D E PA RT M E N T S


News, information, and products


Advise and information on canine health issues

20 COMMUNITY Paws for Seniors



Carol Wasmucky, owner of Pet Rehab


Hiking with your dog

28 WAGS TO RICHES Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Adoption success stories


A glimpse into the lives of Northern Virginia dogs



Read Sammy’s adoption success story on page 28.



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

Send a Hugz Hugz are greeting cards that hug and feed someone in need. Each hand-cut card comes standard, or personalized with your own selfie and packed in a box with free organic candy treats. We all know when you give love, you get love. So for every Hugz you send, Hugz will commit to provide a meal at a local food bank. 1 Hugz = 1 Meal. You can send this adorable puppy hug to any of your dog-loving friends and family for just $9.99 (US first class shipping only). FIND  it:

4 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Tame the Hair Bump It Off is a reusable silicone sleeve that fits on your hand in multiple positions, enabling you to concentrate scrubbing power in the palm of your hand or on your fingertips. With gentle silicone bristles on one side and smooth bumps on the other, use BUMP IT OFF to groom pets wet or dry and lift fur off upholstered furniture and fabrics like magic. It’s eco-friendly, anti-Bacterial, 100% silicone, easy to clean, dishwasher safe (top rack) and available in blue, green, orange, purple, pink and camo. Cost $9.99.


FIND  it: www.goddessofgadgets. com/product/bump-off-purple/









Centreville Clarendon Merrifield Rockville 703.830.5700




Caring Hands Animal Hospital D Open 7 days a week D Early morning & late evening appointments D Open & transparent environment


H E A L T H  W I S E

A d v i ce an d i n fo rm ati on o n c a n i n e h e a l th i s s u e s

Radiograph of a canine forelimb with a large, aggressive osseous lesion causing significant bone destruction. Biopsy revealed it to be osteosarcoma, a bone cancer commonly affecting large and giant breeds.

Soft tissue sarcoma on dog’s left thigh—another common skin tumor. Surgical removal was complicated by its location, but we were able to completely remove it and close it up with a skin flap.

Diagnosing and Treating Canine Cancer By Jus tin G a n jei, D V M , D A C VS -S A


aving to tell someone that their beloved pet, whom they have raised since 16 weeks of age, has been diagnosed with cancer is not an easy task. It can be even harder when the discovery comes as a surprise and you have a patient wagging their tail right in front of you while you unveil this troublesome news. Although a diagnosis of cancer is understandably frightening, it is not necessarily fatal. In fact, with current advances in veterinary medicine today, there are many cancers we can treat very effectively, and even some we can essentially cure, all while causing minimal harm to the patient. It’s important for us to start by understanding some cancer terminology and treatment options, which can make the process less daunting. Cancer is a broad term used to describe a group of diseases that involve uncontrolled cell growth, with varying potentials for spreading (metastasis) depending on the type of cancer. As with people, cancer most typically affects elderly canines, although exceptions do exist. There are many different types of cancers, some of which are very aggressive and have a high probability of metastasizing, and others that are less aggressive and less likely to metastasize. Different types of cancers can also have different effects on a patient, with some causing minimal to no clinical signs (such as a skin tumor) or some having significant clinical signs (such as a cancer of the bone). Diagnosing cancer can be a relatively straightforward process, but it can also be challenging and require many diagnostics. In general, we must obtain a sample of the cells or tissue that makes up a cancer, then have a pathologist evaluate it so we can know precisely what type of cancer we are dealing with. There are two basic ways to obtain a sample of cells or tissue from suspected cancer. The first, and least invasive, is

6 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

a fine needle aspirate (FNA). This involves collecting a small sample of cells from the cancer with a small hypodermic needle. This is an effective and easy way to provide evidence for a cancer diagnosis by differentiating it from issues like inflammation or infection. As such, it is frequently used as the first line of diagnosis by most veterinarians. However, it usually doesn’t tell us exactly what kind of cancer it is. The definitive diagnosis of cancer is ultimately made with a biopsy, which requires a tissue sample to be evaluated by a pathologist. There are many types of biopsy methods available, some of which require surgery and others that offer a minimally invasive collection method. Once a diagnosis of cancer is made, the next questions to be answered are usually “How can we treat it?”, “How do we know if it has spread?”, and “What is the overall prognosis?” Determining whether a cancer has spread is typically achieved through what is called “staging,” which is a combination of routine bloodwork and diagnostic imaging (radiography, CT, ultrasound). The prognosis depends on a combination of the results of staging, histopathologic diagnosis (i.e., microscopic examination of tissues), and treatment. Cancer treatments depend on several factors, such as the type and location of the cancer, and the general health status of the patient. In general, the treatment for cancer consists of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or some combination of the three. Chemotherapy is the use of a single drug or combination of drugs to treat cancer. In general, chemotherapy is most useful for treating microscopic disease and trying to prevent or slow down the rate of metastasis. Some cancers are very responsive to chemotherapy as a sole therapy, such as multicentric lymphoma in dogs, certain blood cancers such as leukemia, or diffuse gastrointestinal lymphoma in

cats. Chemotherapy is often used after an aggressive cancer has been removed to try and prevent further spread. There are many forms of chemotherapy, including intravenous injections and oral medications that can be administered at home. A common concern about chemotherapy is the effects of treatment on the patient and quality of life. It is important for owners to know that chemotherapy is used much differently in animals than in people. Because our patients can’t make the decision to pursue chemotherapy or not, we tend to use lower doses so that they don’t become as sick as people do. Also, there are very few cancers that we are able to cure; therefore our goals are to improve or maintain quality of life of the patient, and to prolong their survival. Because of this, our patients generally tolerate the treatment quite well. They also don’t typically lose their hair, as it grows differently from people’s. In fact, you have probably walked around on the street and seen dogs who were undergoing chemotherapy, but didn’t realize it. Surgery involves the complete resection or removal of a tumor from the body, and it is useful for treating a variety of cancers. It is the method of choice for many common cancers, such as skin cancer, since it reduces the risk of spread into the surrounding tissues. An important consideration when removing a skin tumor, or any tumor in general, is the surgical margin. I always tell my clients that a skin tumor should be thought of as an octopus. The actual gross mass of tumor that we are seeing is similar to the head of the octopus. What we do not see with our naked eye are the microscopic cancer cells (or tentacles of the octopus) surrounding the cancer. This is extremely important to consider for surgical planning, as we typically plan surgery to remove not only the gross tumor, but a margin of normal skin to account for these “tentacles,” thus resulting in the highest chances for complete removal and lowest risk for local recurrence. The location of the tumor can

make this a challenging task, as there is not much skin on certain areas of the body, and at times we must use skin grafts or skin flaps to help close the wound following removal. This is summarized in one of the mottos of a good surgical oncologist, which is “never sacrifice margins for ease of closure.” Depending on the type and grade of skin tumor present, complete surgical excision can sometimes be curative, eliminating the need for radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery is also useful for removal of tumors affecting organs such as the liver, spleen, lungs, anal sacs, and intestines. Radiation Therapy is the use of ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells. This treatment is typically used to treat residual cancer cells left over from incomplete or close surgical excision, with the aim of reducing the chances of local recurrence. It is commonly used to kill cancer cells in bone tumors to decrease the pain associated with them for those who can’t undergo surgery. Radiation therapy is also the treatment of choice for certain nasal tumors. As in people, several doses are often needed, and patients undergo brief periods of anesthesia so they stay still during the delicate positioning required for effective treatment. Being diagnosed with cancer is never an easy thing to hear, whether it involves ourselves, a fellow human, or one of our beloved furry family members. Although this is understandably a difficult time for any family or individual to go through, it is important to know that there are always options available. Please don’t be afraid to ask questions, and just remember that no matter what happens, you have given your canine companion a lifetime’s worth of love. ND Dr. Justin Ganjei is a board-certified small animal surgeon with Veterinary Surgical Centers (VSC), which has three locations that serve the DC metro region. He joined the VSC Surgical Team in July 2016. Please visit www. to see how VSC can help your pet.



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

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens A sanctuary in the city By Angela H a z u d a M ey e rs


ach time I visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, I spend the first 10 minutes wondering why I don’t come here more often. It’s a wonderful space—dogs must be kept on leash, but generally you won’t encounter many others in the park, especially back on the Marsh Trail. Each of the various areas offers something new, much like coming during the different seasons gives you a fresh and exciting perspective. There is plenty of room to roam; it’s a wonderful respite from noise and concrete, right in the middle of the city. And, the icing on the cake … a free parking lot. No circling and searching for a space to leave the car. Again I ask myself, why don’t I come here all the time? The park’s address is 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20019. It is easily accessible via 295 at either the Burroughs Ave. or Eastern Ave. exit. Alternatively, you can access the park from the Anacostia River Trail. Walking, biking, or driving there is easy and straightforward, and it’s well marked with directional signage. Be sure to see the Anacostia River Trail “Hit the Trail” article in this issue for more details.

8 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

The gardens were originally built by Walter Shaw, who first used the land to make and sell ice. He then began developing it to support his love of growing water lilies from his native state of Maine, but over time this hobby blossomed into a business to sell his cultivated flowers. In the 1920s the area opened to visitors, the most famous being President Coolidge, who often came with his wife Grace. In the ‘30s the U.S. Corps of Engineers planned to seize the land and dredge the Anacostia River, but instead Congress purchased 8 acres of the gardens as national parkland. Spring and summer are the most popular times to visit, but even during these seasons you won’t encounter many people, except during the Lotus and Waterlily Festival. The park is open every day of the year except January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25. I recommend visiting at least once each season to enjoy all the park has to offer. Going earlier in the day is generally best to view the most blooms and wildlife. Of course, Maggie loves to wander around the ponds, sniffing all the scents. The park is segmented into a few different areas, so be sure

you plan enough time to visit them all. There is a main path leading from the parking lot into the park. At the end of this path you can take a left, heading behind the visitor’s center to view the small water lily ponds. Be on the lookout for the many frogs and snakes that inhabit the area. They are a wonderful sight, but they can startle you and your pup if you spot them at the last minute. Alternately, if you turn right at the end of the trail coming in from the parking lot, you can explore the 0.7-mile Marsh Trail. It heads out to connect with the Anacostia River Trail. The 0.7

Loyalty Rewarded 100% Cotton Dog Beds with Cozy Wool and Plush Feather Stuffing All Natural Fibers Washable & Removable Covers Sourced Locally & Sustainably

Tear & Puncture Resistant Regulates Body Temperature Water Repellent


F I R E S I DE H O U N D. C O M | 8 6 6 - 6 4 3 - 6 4 2 3



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

miles that are inside the park overlook an active wetlands. Beyond the visitor’s center is a nice shaded picnic area to enjoy a bite to eat, give your dog some water, and listen to the sounds of the park. There are plenty of tables and a great view of the ponds. Straight ahead from the entrance is the main section of the park, consisting of over 45 individual ponds, all cultivated with different aquatic plants. You’ll find everything from traditional lily pads to giant lilies and lotus. If you’re quiet, you’ll find the resident turtles happily enjoying their perfect habitat. These ponds are unquestionably the main attraction here. Wander past the ponds and off to the left for a longer walk. There are two trails totaling about 1.5 miles, including a birding boardwalk where you have a good chance of spying blue herons, eagles, and nearly 200 other types of flying guests.

Seasonal Greetings Winter’s solitude at the park is wondrous. Alone with your thoughts and your pup, you can wander for hours. Springtime brings a burst of life, from the sounds of the newborn frogs and the tiny shells of baby turtles to the vivid colors of the flowers and lily pads. Summer presents the shining glory of the park: hundreds of water lily and lotus blooms (late June to mid-August) shower the park, which hosts an annual festival in their honor. Fall brings a blanket of rich colors amplified by their reflec-

tion on the water’s calm surface. Also showcased are the lotus pods, unique remnants from the summer’s beautiful blooms. The visitor center and grounds are open daily. Hours from April through October are 9AM-5PM and from November through April they are open 8AM-4PM. I hope you enjoy this park as much and Maggie and I always do. ND Angela Meyers is the owner of both NOVADog Magazine and a lovely pup named Maggie.

Shirlington and Old Town Locations


SHIRLINGTON 3520 S Four Mile Run Drive Arlington, VA 22206

OLD TOWN 133 South Peyton Street Alexandria, VA 22314

Come in for a tour!

A State-Of-The-Art Home Away From Home • Day Care & Luxury Boarding • Individual Private Suites • Indoor and Outdoor Roof Top Play

• Air Conditioning and Radiant Heated Floors For Optimal Climate-Control 10 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Help us LICK LONELINESS You and your cat, dog or rabbit are needed to join other Fairfax Pets on Wheels, Inc. volunteers who make a difference in the community by visiting residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Visit: or Call: 703-324-5406



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 The Prize Pack Winner (#1) receives a NOVADog Magazine limited-edition T-shirt and a gift certificate from A Dog’s Day Out.


1. RILEY loved by Julia in


Springfield, VA


2. TRIXIE & MAESON loved


by Michael & Sharon in Burke, VA


3. BAILEY loved by Molly &

Joshua in Washington, DC

4. CASEY loved by Sarah in Centreville, VA

5. TIA loved by Susan, in Springfield, VA

6. BENTLEY loved by Lauren in Falls Church, VA

7. LINCOLN loved by St. Clair in Arlington, VA



Submit your dog’s photo on our homepage, and see the slide show of all submitted dog photos at www.






super stars

Gracefully Walking Your Dog Through the Aging Process By Laurie Dup e ri e r

12 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018


hese days, our animal companions are living longer than ever. But many of those last years can prove quite challenging given the rate of cancer, heart problems, degenerative diseases, and orthopedic ailments that our older dogs face—just like the aging human population. The tests, treatment options, and supportive therapies can seem overwhelming when your dog experiences a significant health problem. The costs can be staggering. And while we all want our animal companions to stay with us as long as possible, what most of us really want is for them to be happy and have quality of life all the days that they are here. I spent the better part of the last 12 years tending to elderly and dying dogs, both my own and others’. For eight years I ran Gunny’s Rainbow, a warm water healing facility in Bethesda, and specialized in supporting geriatric dogs and their people. While I started out swimming with all kinds of dogs, from young ones looking for exercise to surgical rehabbers to geriatrics, over time I focused exclusively on the seniors, knowing there were other swim options for the younger pups. Fundamentally, old dogs are my calling and my passion. I love them—they are my life coaches! In fact, I first built Gunny’s Rainbow for my elderly dog, Gunny, who you can probably guess I named the place after. I could write a book about all that I learned from the dogs, their humans, and some very committed and knowledgeable specialists and holistic practitioners. In fact, I am going to write that book! But for now, I want to share some of what I learned about supporting an older dog with significant spinal or orthopedic issues, which is more common among large breeds than small, although they can affect any canine.


Sometimes Less is More When your dog starts to limp or acts tired during or after playtime or retrieving, rein in the activity. This is a sign of discomfort—not just being older. Their big canine hearts sometimes want to do more than their aging bodies can handle. Consider several 15-minute walks instead of one or two 20- to 30-minute ones. After all, for most dogs, the only thing better than two walks is three! You may also need to limit retrieving the ball for extended periods, even when the drive is there and they want to go go go. Just like people who have arthritis, moderate exercise several times a day is much better than a long marathon session that over-stresses their muscles and joints. Last but not least, do not ask your elderly dog to be a “weekend warrior.” Asking them to go for a long 45-minute walk on a nice day when they are only accustomed to short ones can do more harm than good.

Water is Magic While weight-bearing exercise has its place, for an old dog with disk disease, degenerative myelopathy, or arthritis, it is weightless aerobic exercise that can really make the difference. The benefits of water exercise are well-documented and numerous. Swimming or walking on an underwater treadmill allows your dog to work his muscles and joints without the concussive impact of paws on pavement, which can be painful. The hydrostatic pressure of the water

helps with joint pain if they stay in the water long enough. If you can find a facility with water upwards of 87 degrees, your dog can get a lot of pain relief from the heat penetrating his joints. When you reduce their pain, dogs can use their muscles and joints more easily, which of course helps them walk better. Even if your dog was not a water fan earlier in life, consider giving it a try. The ability to move without pain can make almost any old dog a fan of water exercise. As important as those physical benefits are, the mental and emotional benefits are no less impressive. I cannot count the number of retrievers I saw who literally “came back to life” at being able to retrieve a ball for their mom or dad, often for the first time in years. They are proud and happy to feel like a “big young dog” again. One of the reasons for that is biochemical: just like us, when dogs get their heartrates up, they release endorphins, dopamine, seratonin, and other feel-good chemicals that lift negative feelings and improve their mood. Think about it. Your 13-year-old dog likely doesn’t run anymore or really get her heart rate up, and that means she’s not getting good aerobic exercise. Exercising in water allows a dog to do that safely (assuming they have no underlying heart condition), so it is both a physical and psychological win.

Do Not Wait to Address Aging Issues Many times I silently lamented that someone waited so long to bring their dog to swim. If only they had come 6 months or a year earlier, when their dog had more muscle, I could have helped

on nd nti g a e M ADo V NO

% 10 t ge


“Trust Your Pet to NoVa Mobile Vet” Call now for your appointment—at your home or in our hospital!

Smoked and dehydrated all natural pet treats, hand processed, with no unnatural preservatives, additives or fillers. Meat treats are made from all natural freerange livestock & poultry raised on family run farms in the United States. (703) 755-0014 Instagram: ejsmeats

Wellness Visits Sick Visits Dentistry/Surgery Digital X-Rays

8352 Terminal Rd. Suite H Lorton, VA 22079 1(866)946-PETS(7387)

14 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Laurie Duperier founded a warm water health facility to help her elderly dog, Gunny.

more. Just like your grandmother no longer builds significant muscle, your 13-year-old dog is unlikely to bulk up again once that strength is gone. The name of the game, especially for degenerative conditions like disk disease and arthritis, is to maintain muscle mass for as long as you can. You can do that in two ways: by easing their physical pain so they can comfortably exercise, and by getting the right kind of exercise. These days there are so many options, both holistic and traditional, to help your senior dog. Explore them all, and don’t be discouraged if a particular treatment doesn’t work, since medical care is not “one size fits all.” Try something else! Some options cost very little, like making Golden Paste (a natural anti-inflammatory made from turmeric). Some are relatively expensive, like regular acupuncture or chiropractic care. And there are exciting new things out there like CBD oil made from hemp or cannabis, which can help ease pain. Be aware of what’s out there!

Also, talk to your vet. Go see a neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, or rehabilitation therapist. Consult a holistic practitioner. But definitely don’t postpone the issue until your dog can no longer get up on his own, or falls down constantly. Generally, these issues will not get better with time—only worse. However, with patience and determination, my experience is that you can find a combination of therapies that helps your dog.

The Small Stuff Matters Be mindful of details when it comes to your elderly dog. Here are a few points to keep in mind. 1. K  eep your dog’s nails trimmed short so they can get all the way up on their paws and are not shifting their weight back to the weaker hind end. 2. C  ut the hair in between the paws on their feet. When they’re walking around with hair covering their paw pads, it is like


ing on ice skates on a slippery hardwood floor. Paw pad traction helps their stability. 3. I nvest in carpet squares, runners, or yoga mats and put them on stairs and on slick surfaces where your dog walks. It is easy to strain a groin muscle if they go splat with their hind legs out, and very tough to fully recover from that. 4. G  et a harness to help them off the floor and/or a sling to support them going up and down stairs. Going down stairs is very dangerous for a dog with hind end weakness because they end up descending like a runaway train and can really injure themselves. Fall prevention is obviously preferable to recovering from a fall. 5. B  e sure that your dog is eating a low to no carbohydrate diet and getting appropriate supplements like fish oil, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B if appropriate. 6. L  earn some basic massage, stretching, and passive range of motion techniques to help keep your dog limber and her muscles more supple and comfortable. Do not confuse incontinence with end of life. Many dogs with disk disease become fecal incontinent and sometimes urinary incontinent. It is a nerve conduction issue. It is not painful, nor is it a quality of life issue if you keep your dog clean, use diapers as necessary, or (even better) learn how to stimulate them to poop so they don’t have accidents when left unattended. It isn’t hard, and your vet can show you how. We think nothing of buying grandma Depends diapers at the grocery store, and we generally don’t ever talk about euthanizing her. So please learn the same caretaking skills and invest in the same types of products for your dog. He doesn’t want to poop in the house any more than you want him to. And remember that your fuzzy companion is often sensitive, so not making a fuss about an accident goes a long way to making them feel okay about what’s happening. My beloved Gunny lived for 14 years, 9 months, and 5 days. I treasure each and every one of them, even the really hard days. Unfortunately, I learned a lot of things the hard way, so I want to make it easier for you to enjoy the time with your elderly dog. It is in that spirit I hope to share what I learned from all the dogs in my life and the people who came with them! ND Laurie Plessala Duperier is an author and expert on caring for aging dogs. Living with Gunny, her soul mate, changed her life and taught her almost everything she knows about everything. Before devoting herself to dogs, she was an international lawyer. Later she ran Gunny’s Rainbow, a warm water healing facility in Bethesda, for 8 years. You can learn about The Endless Path, the book she wrote with Gunny, at It is widely available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

16 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Getting Social With

novadog Follow us on social media for event updates, and of course lots of pictures.

Twitter: @novadogmag Instagram: novadogmagazine

We asked you to show us your senior dogs! We had too many wonderful submissions to print here, so watch Facebook for our video of all the submissions.

This is Jebu. He’s a twelve year old German Shepherd/Chow mix. We adopted him from FOHA when he was a year and a half old. He still loves playing fetch and going on walks.

This is Ella. She is 17 years and 7 mos in age. Just took this photo this month. She is an amazing Terrier mix rescue from my local SPCA. She was a year and a half when I adopted her.

Izzy is a 10 year old Great Dane/Lab mix rescue.

Rocky is a 15 yr old Chow mix. Best dog with awesome temperament. Sweetest boy.

Tilly is a 15 year old Chow/Samoyed mix. She was adopted from the DC Humane Society. She is the matriarch of our family!

This is Marley Bob. He’s an 11 year old Boxer/ hound mix adopted at 10 weeks from Lost Dog & Cat Rescue. Our “once in a lifetime” dog!!

My sweet Fenway, 12 1/2 years old, Golden Retriever. He passed this past November.

Willow (L), 9 yrs young & Dobby (R) 17 yrs young... We adopted Willow from Paws For Seniors & Dobby from Jefferson County Animal Control. ❤❤ our seniors!

Addison, age 10, Chocolate Lab! My ❤❤

Momo is an 11.5 yr old American Staffordshire Terrier who was adopted from San Antonio when he was about 1. He likes long walks on the beach (or anywhere) and cuddling. People still cross the street when they see him coming, but he’s a lover, not a fighter.

Tawny aka Mr. Bear. 13ish year old Chow mix. Still has a lot of party in him! Maya Papaya, 13ish Pointer/Lab mix. Adopted from shelter in Missouri.


The Basics of Aging Dogs Tips to help your aging pup’s golden years be as comfortable and productive as possible By Ke n F o s te r


or most of history our canine friends were viewed not as friends, but as non-sentient worker animals. Nowadays, however, we regard dogs as card-carrying members of the household, who give love and receive it, are attuned to our needs, and serve the prime purpose of providing companionship and reducing our feelings of isolation. Many of us have forged stronger bonds with our pets over the years than some of the human animals around us, watching our quadrupedal friends grow from puppies into mature adults—so it is natural that we want to make their last years as comfortable as possible. Here we will give you a quick, basic overview about how to treat your elderly doggy. First of all, though, when is your pooch officially considered a senior? In truth, it depends on the individual dog. Large dog breeds tend to age faster than smaller ones. Great Danes are considered senior by the age of about 5-6 years old, whereas Chihuahuas will probably be only middle-aged by then, and not considered a true senior citizen until the age of around 10-11. Genetics, environment, lifestyle and nutrition: all of these play a crucial role in how quickly your pooch ages.

18 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

What problems and challenges can you expect as your dog gets older? He or she may get arthritis or develop other diseases that cause his or her health and mobility to deteriorate. Your dog will probably tire more easily, and won’t be able to walk or play for quite as long. She may have problems getting up, getting in or out of her basket, or out of the car, or up and down the stairs. Dental problems are also a common phenomenon in older pets. If you have not taken proper care of your dog’s oral health earlier in life, by the time he reaches true old age he may already have lost several teeth. Dental disease can result in major complications for your pet, including weight loss and unkempt coat stemming from poorer nutrition. It can also be exceptionally painful for your pet. As your dog gets older, dental disease is not the only issue you will have to deal with. Older dogs commonly suffer from liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease and various other conditions that can cause weight loss. However, some dogs may suffer from the opposite problem. As they become less active with age, their weight may bloom, leading to a risk of obesity and associated health problems like diabetes, cancer, heart disease and skin disease.

What can you do to help your elderly dog deal with the pitfalls of old age? • Check in regularly with your veterinarian: your pooch needs to be checked up at least yearly, preferably twice yearly, even if he appears healthy. Many diseases are not easy to spot and remain hidden until they are very well developed. • When you visit the vet, be sure to get an evaluation of your dog’s body condition to determine whether he is overweight or underweight. You can even ask your veterinarian to teach you how to do it yourself at home. • Feed your dog properly and maintain his nutrition: choose a diet that is appropriate for her lifestyle and age. Especially if your dog is overweight, consult your veterinarian to help you pick a diet for your dog which is appropriate and effective in helping him lose weight while still getting adequate nutrition. If your dog has a condition like heart or kidney disease, he may well have special dietary requirements, so, again, consult your veterinarian. Another thing to consider is whether your dog would benefit from supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine if he or she suffers from arthritis or some other joint disease. • Ensure your dog gets proper oral care: and, yes, this includes brushing his or her teeth! If you can’t brush your pooch’s teeth, consider purchasing dental treats or toys that will help keep his or her mouth clean.

Check in regularly with your veterinarian: your pooch needs to be checked up at least yearly, preferably twice yearly, even if he appears healthy. •E  xercise, exercise, exercise: this is especially helpful if your dog is overweight, since regular activity will keep your dog fit and maintain proper muscle and joint health. Be sure, however, to tailor your dog’s fitness regimen to his needs and abilities. For a large dog a walk around the block will be a breeze, whereas for a little Chihuahua, it will probably seem like a huge trek. If your dog is not accustomed to a fitness regimen, start out slowly and gradually build up the difficulty levels. Consider consulting your veterinarian as well, just to be safe. •K  eep your dog occupied: toys, puzzles, etc., will not only exercise your dog’s body but also his or her mind and spirit. Keep your dog’s mood elevated by giving him or her the opportunity to have plenty of fun! •P  ay attention to your dog’s accommodations and living environment: for example, older dogs with arthritis might require softer bedding than they are used to. Add extra blankets or towels to his basket, or look into finding her a special dog bed. Ramps can be installed at your house to make it easier for your dog to get up and down the stairs. If you have mostly hardwood floors at home, you can even consider placing thick rugs or carpeting over them so your pooch can find her footing more easily and walk around with less effort. There you have it, then! Be aware of the issues faced by aging dogs, and make your canine loved one’s golden years as comfortable and productive as possible by following the advice presented in this article. Given all the love, loyalty and companionship he has provided you with over the years, you owe your pooch that much at least! ND Ken Foster is a long-time pet owner and blogger. He scoured the internet to find the best and most useful information on caring for his dogs, but had a hard time digging up great resources. This is why he created, where he writes about everything from dog care tips to the best dog product reviews, all in one helpful place. For more dog care tips and tricks, please go to



L o c a l s t o r ie s a n d e v e n t s we ’ ve sni f f ed out

Mission Paws-ible: Adopt an Elderly Dog Paws for Seniors finds healthy forever homes for older canines By Josep h G r a m m er


OVADog Magazine spoke with Brenda and Jim Scamordella, two tireless canine advocates who have dedicated their lives to rescuing elderly dogs and finding them healthy, healing forever homes. This easygoing pair run Paws for Seniors, which has no formal facility but operates in the Northern Virginia area (and beyond) with a network of trained foster families.

Invisible Beginnings. Paws for Seniors was born out of a secret group who fostered dogs from families with domestic violence issues. If there is violence in a home, and the pet parents are figuring out how to adjust and heal, someone still needs to care for the dog. That’s where this low-key team stepped in, temporarily watching four-legged family members until the couple was safe enough to take them back—or finding them a new home if needed. It was from one of these circumstances that Brenda and Jim met Daiquiri, a 19-year-old Golden Cocker Spaniel. They fostered her for a while, then gave her back to her parents, only for Daiquiri’s home to be lost through foreclosure. Daiquiri made her way back to Brenda and Jim, and the experience of finding her a new home led them to concentrate on helping senior pets. Although Daiquiri passed away in 2013, almost 22 years old, she still serves as an inspiration to the team that grew into Paws for Seniors— you can find her front and center in their brochure. Ever since then, Paws for Seniors has been making good on their mission to rescue and help aging pets. The organization became official in 2012, and in what they call their “slowest” year, they adopted out 56 dogs and 6 cats. The Clientele. At first, the organization found a lot of their dogs through foreclosure situations. If a pet parent has to move into a hotel, for example, he might not be able to bring his dog with him. Luckily, Paws for Seniors built up a reputation for being able to help. While there is plenty of diversity in the population, a “typical” rescue dog might be abandoned and found on the street. Oftentimes the owner decides he can’t care for his dog anymore and just lets him go. Other times, elderly people surrender their pets before going into nursing care, assisted living, or hospice, since the rest of family can’t always take in the dog. In one instance, an older gentleman went into hospice care, so he had Paws for Seniors take his dog. Brenda and Jim worked out an arrangement so he could keep the dog until he passed, at which point he knew that his pet would be well-taken care of. These days, the organization sees more dogs from senior citizens than foreclosures. They also have a good relationship with local shelters and rescues, who send older dogs their way when they can’t adopt them out. Jim

20 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Success Stories: The Fluvanna Fab 5 Paws for Seniors received a call from the Fluvanna County Animal Shelter when a man had just surrendered 5 Pomeranian mixes, all over 14 years old, but there was no room for them. Naturally, Brenda, Jim, and Erica agreed to take them in, so they all piled in the car and headed to the shelter. The owner signed the dogs over and helped identify who was who—then the shelter workers went to work getting rid of their fleas! There was Tiny, 16, Tippy, 14, Bean (BB), 14, Tigger, 14, and Bear, 14 (but youngest in terms of energy). Afterward, Brenda and Jim took them all on a date to the Purple Poodle Pet Salon for a much-needed spa day. Thanks to a very generous $1000 ASPCA Grant, as well as generous donations, they were also able to pay for neuter and dental surgeries. Tiny and Tippy both ended up living out their lives with Paws for Seniors, while Bean, Tigger, and Bear were adopted into wonderful forever homes. All of them, however, are memorable and outstanding elder dogs.

recognizes the importance and need of shelters, even as he empathizes with the sometimes traumatic experience of a dog being moved from his longtime home into the strange, new environment of a shelter. “I imagine if I was taken away to a new place after years at my home, I’d feel devastated.” Paws for Seniors accepts all types of dogs, but there are a few trends. “It seems like last month was Dachshund month,” says Jim. “We had an avalanche of Dachshunds. Then there was a time where all the fosters had males. Then there was a time of mostly females, then a white dog month. These are just things we notice.” Brenda and Jim tend to take in smaller dogs because of what their foster families and future adopters can handle. Since many of

the adopters are senior citizens, they often can’t handle an 80-lb dog anymore. They may prefer a smaller pooch they can pick up or care for without too much effort. In general, Paws for Seniors deals with dogs under 40 pounds, although there are exceptions. Normally, though, they use their network of rescues to help big dogs find organizations and groups that specialize in larger breeds.

How it Works. “We like our no-facility model,” says Jim. “Everyone stays in a home environment so they feel comfortable. It makes for an easier transition. We’ll keep that model open forever.” Without an official facility, all the dogs that pass through Paws for Seniors stay in a real home, whether it’s a foster’s house or Brenda and Jim’s own place. “Once we’re committed to a pet and they come into the family, they are either adopted out or they stay with us. We don’t pawn them off.” Jim also makes a point of saying that they’re “never, ever in a hurry” to get a dog adopted. It’s all about getting the dog mentally and physically healthy, and then waiting for that happy match. When they take on a new (old) dog, the first several weeks are dedicated to nursing the pet’s health and helping them regain their strength. The first stop is the Paws for Senior’s foster coordinator’s house, a woman named Erica Vernon. She has a whole section of her house devoted to intaking dogs and checking to see what their issues are. Part of the healing process means getting used to other dogs. At any given time, there might be 10-20 canines on the Paws for Seniors property (which is a private residence), including fosters and their own forever companions. Brenda and Jim have four dogs of their own, plus a fifth “permanent foster” who lives with them. The other dogs come, stay for a while, then move to the fosters, and eventually (hopefully) adoptive families.

Success Stories: Walter Paws for Seniors took in an 8-year-old Shih Tzu named Walter who had apparently been dropped off at an elderly person’s house in southern Virginia. The woman couldn’t take care of him, however, so she brought him to a veterinarian’s office to be euthanized. They refused to do it. Walter was blind, deaf, missing most of his teeth, and in the beginning stages of congestive heart failure, but everyone could see his “sparkling personality.” Regardless of his condition, he still ran around and had fun. After he found his way to Brenda and Jim, they linked him up with a loving foster, and within two weeks he was adopted out to a veterinary tech and her family. Walter is still going strong and loving life, which is a testament to the happiness and vitality of senior dogs.

Your pet is our priority. And that’s why we’re committed to delivering world-class surgery and physical rehabilitation in a facility that provides comfort to you and your furry family member when you need it most. Our renowned medical team specializes in: • Advanced orthopedic surgery • Soft tissue procedures • Plastic & reconstructive surgery • Minimally invasive surgery • Physical rehabilitation • Pain management • Conditioning, weight loss & more! Let’s work together to restore your pet’s health and quality of life. Contact us today or speak with your veterinarian about a referral. 703-242-6000 703-771-2100 540-450-0177

Instagram @VSC_Vets


Paws for Seniors can afford it. They rely on a healthy supply of donations, and—knock wood—they have never been in debt. “We pay as we go,” Jim says. They also apply for and receive grants.

Adopt Me! 14-year-old Buddy has been in rescue with Paws for Seniors since 2016. Please consider adopting Buddy: “Buddy came to us when the house he was living in was condemned and his dad had to move to a place that didn’t allow pets. He’s a 16-lb Jack Russell Terrier-Chihuahua mix. Since he’s been in foster care, Buddy has grown into a fun-loving senior who likes to play with his foster friends and take long naps in the sunshine. Just like many old men, Buddy can be a little grumpy sometimes, but he’s been neutered, microchipped, and is up to date on his shots. He also had his dental done and has lost quite a few teeth, so he eats mostly canned food. He won’t enjoy living with cats, but he’s ready to enjoy all the love you can possibly give him.”

When people first visit this unofficial Paws for Seniors headquarters, they tend to ask the same question: why isn’t there any noise? After all, there are 14 dogs on the premises at the moment, plus 10 cats, so a little ruckus might be expected. The secret, in Brenda and Jim’s view, is that the pack trains the dogs. “It’s typical basic canine behavior,” Jim says. The newcomers learn from the veterans. One of the first goals is to get the dogs playing again, to help them feel safe in the environment. This is part of a psychological wellbeing effort. They don’t really put demands on a dog for at least the first week or two after she arrives. It’s all about making sure they’re eating and drinking, and just giving them time to figure things out. “It’s okay to spoil them a little,” Brenda says. Some dogs’ psychological issues are minor, but others are more severe, so they take time (and love) to heal. Brenda mentions that breeds like Chihuahuas and Min Pins, which can be very loyal to a person, may have a harder time psychologically adjusting to a new home. This underscores the importance of socializing dogs in different environments, which can help them cope with major life changes.

Medical. In tandem with acclimatization is medical care. Many senior dogs come with medical baggage, and in some cases “there is no life left in them to be a family pet anymore,” according to Brenda. Typically, a new dog heads to the vet for an intake exam, including a full-panel bloodwork analysis, and then a dentist. This helps provide a baseline for the dog’s health. Some dogs go to the surgeon if they need an operation—there’s an organization in Richmond called Helping Hands that takes care of major surgeries and dental work. Jim will drive down there with as many as 10 dogs at a time. They’ll even take them to physical rehab if they need it. Everyone gets put on a healthy food regimen, too, so it’s safe to say all this healthcare costs a lot. It’s by the “grace of the community” that

22 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Fosters. Brenda and Jim talk about the “3 Rings of Fostering” in their organization. The first is their core group, who stay in frequent communication and handle high-level tasks including vet visits and walking families through the adoption process. “They can handle everything,” Jim says. The hardest cases go to these committed people, including the dogs who need the most intense medical care. Then there’s the inner circle, who are still close, but don’t take on quite as many tasks as the core fosters. They pick up the slack on the sometimes-bewildering amount of checkups and tasks Paws for Seniors needs to get done, and of course they watch over their foster dogs. Finally, the outer circle includes loving families who help transition dogs for shorter amounts of time. They often work for at least part of the day, so while they fully support the cause, their time commitment can’t be 100%. “We give them what we call turnkey pets,” says Brenda. “You just turn the key and go,” and they’ll be okay. Brenda and Jim stress that all fosters are an integral part of the process, especially because of their no-facility model. “We treat everyone like family,” Brenda says. Paws for Seniors has 20 fosters right now, but they’re always looking for more. “If you’re willing to learn, and you can give love, you can be a foster.” Adoptive Families. Paws for Seniors believes there is always a right family out there for every dog. In order to help find that perfect match, they respond to potential adoptive families with an “open book” policy, sharing everything they know about a dog, including every test he or she has received. Taking an information-forward approach can help a family can make a good decision, which obviously has big implications for the canine! Although many senior humans are giving up their dogs due to health issues, many adopters also come from the elderly human community. Older folks may understand the needs of older dogs better, and they can often provide the right energy levels for them. Plus, it works out for the humans, too—they get a faithful companion who already “knows the ropes” when it comes to life. That said, there are certainly young couples who become forever homes for senior dogs. Jim says it’s surprising how often younger people want to take in an older dog—but it’s a welcome surprise. The Positives of Elderly Dogs “They have more life and more joy than most people think,” says Brenda. “And energy. Some people think they just lay around not doing anything, but our dog Buddy can fetch a ball all day long. It’s almost annoying how energetic he is (but not really).” Brenda believes older dogs can be every bit as valuable a family member as a puppy—after all, senior pets still want to go for walks and car rides! “These dogs aren’t going to grow anymore (maybe wider, depending on their diet). Basically, you know their size, you know the personality you’re getting, you know their potty habits. What you see is what you get. And what you get is someone really loving.” ND Please visit for information on how to donate, how to become a foster, or how to adopt an elderly dog.


H a n g i n g wi th DC Me tro ’s d o g -c ra z y c ro wd

Mending Our Pets

Pet Rehab helps elderly dogs get back to full health By Josep h G r a m m er


e 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 Carol Wasmucky, owner of Pet Rehab, which she started in 2000 to help pets who are healing from injuries. She works with all kinds of dogs, but this time we focused on her elderly patients. What led you from helping humans to helping dogs? My Golden Retriever Rodan had mild hip dysplasia, but he wasn’t a surgical candidate. I thought there had to be something I could do, so I started him on a supplement, helped him stretch, and strengthened him using what I knew from my work as a physical therapist for humans. And honestly, it worked! His quality of life improved, and the day before Rodan died, at age 12, he was running and jumping. No surgery needed. What I say is that I do rehab on dogs. I’m not a canine physical therapist—there’s no such thing as that. Even so, dogs get hurt the same way as humans do, and the rehab principles are the same as they are for people. What is your process like? I try to make the rehab process fun. You can’t exactly tell a dog to do 10 more reps or something, so they usually work for treats. By the end, the dog’s often wagging her tail, happy. It’s a bit harder for shy dogs, and hard for me, too, because I’m not shy at all. I’ll go right up to a dog, respectfully of course, but I’ve learned to take it easier with skittish animals. The owner is always involved in recovery. If I’m going to be sitting in a room with a dog for an hour, I need to know if they can shake hands, for instance. I have to ask mom, “What word does he use?” Maybe it’s “paw,” maybe “shake hands,” maybe he responds to Spanish. I give out a lot of homework, too. There are exercises to practice, and mom and dad aren’t exempt. You need to do your homework every day to get better. I’ll often have dogs swim in pools, because it’s good exercise that’s not weight bearing. Owners can take their dogs to swim all year round, which helps keep the joints loose. As for strength-building, you can do exercises at home and make it like a gym workout, three times a week. Even outside, you can be training. Every time you cross the street, for instance, make your dog sit and get back up—it’s like a mini-squat. You can do some stretching after a walk, too. If he’s prone to hip dysplasia, do hip and hamstring stretches, which makes sure they won’t be compressing their joints. You can incorporate any of this into your daily routine.

Carol Wasmucky, owner of Pet Rehab says swimming is a non-weight bearing exercise, so it can help restore and heal joints.

There was one dog who came to me with a brain tumor. She was also ataxic in her back end, walking off-kilter a little bit, tripping over things. We did some proprioceptive work, some strengthening, balancing. Proprioceptive just means “where is your limb in space?” Is it knuckled under, turned up to the right? We made her start walking over things, which means she had to stop and think about her feet. We put her front paws on a balance disc, then moved her to a wobble board as she improved. Just having something that’s moving under her forced her to take her time and balance. Over time, though, I helped show her where her feet are. Eventually she had to get radiation treatment, but she lived 18 months of great-quality life. How are your relationships with vets? A primary doctor will send a dog to me if he thinks I can help. In order to see me at all, you need to have a referral from a vet, but I can recommend one to you if you call. I have good relationships with several doctors, including at VCA SouthPaws and Seneca Hill Animal Hospital. I might tell them, “This brace is better than that one,” and they can clarify medical issues for me. It’s a healthy back-and-forth. We were seeing a lot of shoulder surgeries at South Paws, and I helped decreased that by 95%. Dogs would come in with rotator cuff tendonitis because of agility training, flyball, or just running after squirrels in the yard. Shoulders were a big success for us, though—


these dogs were getting better without surgery by going through the rehab process. I really want to help dogs with knee injuries next. What is a common injury elderly dogs face that many owners might not know about, or forget about? Arthritis is common. It’s really a matter of when, not if. A lot of owners don’t realize it—they just see their dog slowing down. I tell patients that you can’t change the arthritis. What we do is make sure that the joint isn’t being compressed by tight muscles, so we do stretches and strength exercises in order for the muscles to take the impact again, not the joint. Arthritis starts in dogs, depending on size, maybe at age 7-8 and up. We’ll do therapy first, see if it helps, then try joint supplements (cosamine) or possibly pain medications if needed, although we need a primary vet for meds. If you want to help your dogs avoid joint trouble, don’t make them jump out of the SUV. (A ramp can help with entering and exiting vehicles.) Put carpeting on stairs, especially the bottom steps. If you have hardwood floors, use lots of rugs, because dogs can have trouble getting up on hardwood. Alternatively, you can have them use booties for traction sometimes. Veterinary office floors are often bad for dogs, so booties can help there, too. Pawz are a good brand of booties, they’re like balloons. You can’t leave them on for long, because they’re not breathable, but it’s OK for a vet trip or dinner party. Harnesses for back legs are another option. Pay attention to your pet: does he lose his balance when pooping? Maybe it’s a good solution, then. Here’s one story about Tiffany, a poodle. I started working with

Dogs don’t often like heat when treating pain—they already have a fur coat, so in general ice is better. Make sure you pay attention: does your canine seek out cool spots? Using a 0-10 pain scale, heat is good for stiffness and tightness (1-3), but it can hurt with a 4 and above. Ice rarely hurts, however: it numbs the area and decreases pain. A rule of thumb is if it’s too cold for your hand, it’s too cold for them. Please note that ice can be harmful when dealing with blood-clotting problems or an open wound.

her when she was 19, and she had hind leg weakness. She was getting laser treatment for pain relief, but that wasn’t working. She leaned and fell over to the side when walking. When she tried to run, she hopped because her back legs were weak. When they put their feet together and use them at the same time, it helps them offset the weak or hurt legs, so you can tell something’s wrong that way. Tiffany’s back was tight since she couldn’t use her legs properly. I saw her until she was 21, and she definitely improved. She worked on the wobble board, she had good balance. She used to be an agility dog, after all. Do you see any older police dogs? I see arthritis in older police dogs, which makes sense. They’ve been running and jumping and tackling, so their job involves frequent pounding on their joints. Some have CCL tears, too. There was one dog named Koal who lived with his handler, so his dad had to sneak out of the house, because if he saw him with his uniform on, he’d be like, “Let’s go to work!” We did some outdoor training with him, had him jumping into cars.

Visit O Websitur to Learne More! BENEFITING THE



Ice packs for your dog pack

Connecting you to local professional pet sitters and dog walkers since 1998.




WWW.FASHIONFORPAWS.ORG 24 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Use our Zip Code Locator to find dedicated, insured and bonded pet care companies in your neighborhood. Network Members service the entire Metro DC area, including VA, DC & MD.

What about older dogs who compete in agility training? I see a lot of retired agility dogs. They’ll do the sport maybe until they’re 8 or 9. Sometimes as they age they move to 10-inch jump heights instead of 22 inches. We help them modify the exercises they do, so we don’t push them as hard. If he loves to run, then we’ll make it work and help him run in a healthy way. With retired agility dogs, you see shoulder injuries and groin pulls; maybe a CCL tear, but that would usually be during, not after. Is there an elderly dog you helped who really sticks out in your mind? There’s a dog named Logan who I treated a few years ago. He’s a 16-year-old Golden Retriever, big and tall and white. Really just a beautiful, great dog who loves people. I started seeing him in 2014, when he was about 12. He had hind leg weakness, plus a degenerative disc disease in his back, so he would stumble. He lost muscle mass in his back legs, which made him miss out on a lot of walks, and he stopped going up the stairs by himself. I did some swimming with him, which helped. Now, after rehab, he goes to craft shows and walks for an hour around the fair, and of course he goes on walks. In 2016 he was walking 2 miles with no problems. He does use a harness and booties, and he knuckles under some, but he’s old, and at some point that’s expected. The booties don’t let him knuckle under too much, though. Then there’s Oscar, an older German Shepherd mix who came to me with a diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy, which means the myelin protein around his nerves was coming off. It’s not painful, but gradually a dog loses the use of his back legs. He was probably 13-14 when I started treating him, and he had lot of arthritis everywhere, too. He was on glucosamine and all these medications, including antiinflammatories, but he was getting worse. Eventually we had to get him into a cart because he had severe trouble walking. As a last-ditch

effort we talked to a doctor and gave him adequan shots (a kind of super-glucosamine), and suddenly he became really energetic. That doesn’t work for every dog, but it did for him, and eventually Oscar didn’t even need his cart. He stayed cart-free until he passed away. What’s most challenging about working in pet rehab? Dogs can’t tell me what hurts. However, I’ve used my hands to work for 30 years, so I can feel a tight muscle or a flinch or twitch when I find a sore spot. It depends on your skills, and it takes practice to know how hard you can push a dog during recovery. I’ll discuss that with my vets when I need to. If you wanted pet parents of elderly dogs to remember one thing, what would that be? Don’t let your dog become a weekend athlete, which is when you do nothing all week and then cram in activity with your pooch on the weekend. That’s not healthy. Provide regular exercise, and vary things: long walks and short walks, hill walks, flat terrain. Maybe most importantly, keep them active and lean. That’s lean, not skinny. If they’re overweight, that won’t help anything, because it just puts more pressure on the joints. But you don’t want them scrawny, either. ND Carol started Pet Rehab in 2000 and has since worked on dogs and cats with such diagnoses as ACL/CCL (knee) tears and repairs, hip dysplasia, hernias, brain tumors, obesity, elbow dysplasia, fractures, seizures, disc disease, rotator cuff injuries, Achilles tendon tears and repairs, sprains and strains. Please find out more at

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


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

Deer along the trail.

Anacostia RiverwalkTrail (Northern Segment) By Angela Hazuda Meyers


long with other recent developments along the Anacostia River, the outdoor trail system was improved, which bodes well for us springtime hikers. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is now over 20 miles, and these new segments connect the trail to other hiking paths, creating hundreds of miles of contiguous routes through MD, DC, and VA. For the next two issues we will explore the DC sections of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART). Since we’re featuring the beautiful

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

26 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in our “Destinations” article, we’ll explore the northern segment of the ART. The parking lot for the Gardens is a convenient starting spot for trail access, and it also offers restrooms and dog water bowls, which is important because there are no other facilities from here on. After parking, enter the Aquatic Gardens via the main trail. Once inside the park, take the well-marked 0.7-mile-long Marsh Trail to the ART and turn left. Here it’s paved, and you’ll be walking with the river on your right and a great view of the Kenilworth marshlands on your left. This pleasantly green scene extends for over ½ mile. The marshlands then give way to woods, and the river starts moving a bit further away. After ¾ mile, look across the river to spot the boat dock for the Arboretum. Continue another ¼ mile around the bend and up a short incline, bringing you to the Kenilworth Athletic Fields.

At this point the ART splits: one path is more paved and urban, the second a secluded dirt path. The two trails converge a bit further south. If you take the paved option, it is well marked and 1 mile longer than the dirt trail. You’ll continue past the athletic fields, turn right to cross the bridge, then right again to follow the divided road (stay right on the walking/biking lane). You’ll walk along an apartment building complex, then into some neighborhood streets. At the second street (Anacostia Avenue), turn right. At the end of the road, turn right again, back onto the paved trail. If you take the unpaved way, turn right onto the dirt path just as you are starting up the incline, though the two concrete barriers. You’ll cross the Athletic Fields, veer slightly right, staying on the gravel road, and head

View of Marshlands from ART.

Access to dirt trail to cut across Kenilworth Athletic Fields.

Did you hike it? Please send us pictures of you hiking the trail with your dogs! (Include your name, your dog’s name, and your dog’s breed/age.) Or share with us on Facebook, Twitter (@NOVADogMag), or Instagram (novadogmagazine). toward two other concrete barriers at the far edge of the fields, on the lower right. This option is great for dogs as it is quite isolated, and while I couldn’t find any signage, it seems to be an off-leash dog park. The few people there were letting their pups run around, so if you have a well-trained dog, you can let them off-leash here to run ‘til their heart’s content. When your pup has had his fill of running, head through those concrete barriers and across a meadow. At the end of that path you’ll reconnect with the paved ART. Turn right onto the ART, where you’ll start traveling along the river again. You can take this path another ½ mile to the Benning Road underpass. This is where we will pick up in the next issue. Side Note: When first approaching the ART from the Aquatic Gardens, you can turn right and find another lovely trail that passes over the water. If you follow this for ¼ mile, you’ll reach the Maryland border. The trail returns to solid ground at this point, heading into a wooded area that hugs the river and gives you some lovely views. I only went about 1 mile in this direction, but the part I walked was enjoyable and 100% worth the side trip. ND

Selfie on the trail.

Pups running in the meadow.


Distance: 4 miles. Fido Friendly Features: Shaded, streamside, stream access, off-leash area. Best time to go: During Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens hours. Access: Parking available at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington, DC 20019. Note the gardens closing time so your car doesn’t get locked up. Rated: 1 Paw. The trail is very easy, no hills, 80% paved surface.

1 paw = easy; 5 = expert


WAGS TO RICHES Adoption success stories

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.

Sammy Loved by Tom, Trish, Katie, James, and Philip

Adopted in: February 2008 Adopted from: A Forever Home, Chantilly, VA How did he get his name? I wish there was more of a story, but after several names (which we don’t remember), we all just agreed on Sammy. Exciting! Background info:

We had two dogs, both rescues, who we had adopted several years earlier as adults. The kids had always wanted a puppy, though, so we visited A Forever Home adoption event and fell in love with this incredibly furry and energetic Collie/Shepherd mix. We love him because he is a constant in our family. He greets us with barks and wags when we get home, he’s always ready for petting, and he tolerates (and often plays with) his younger dog siblings. We can’t imagine our home without him.

We picked him because: He was the runt of the litter, but the loudest and wiggliest.

Favorite activity together: Sammy likes to bring toy ropes

and socks to play tug of war. Even at 10 years old, Sammy is quite playful and plays frequently with our two female dogs. He’s never been that cuddly, but he loves to be petted, and he will take his nose and stick it under your arm to get you to pet him. Again. And again. And again.

Favorite treat or snack: Food! (Everything.) Favorite toy: Socks!

Meet our dogs and cats at our shelter in Aldie.

Go to for details or email

Sue at

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

28 Northern Virginia Dog

| Spring 2018


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

3:30PM Coolest Trick ***All dogs must be both dog and people friendly, as well as on a leash at all times*** This is a free event!

May 19 M AY May 5

Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Event! LCAS will offer FREE Adoptions from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 39820 Charles Town Pike, Waterford, VA 20197

The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) will hold a pet care fair on Saturday, May 5, to provide free rabies vaccinations and other services to the pets of Alexandria’s underserved community. The fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the courtyard in front of the Ruby Tucker Family Center at 322 Tancil Court in Old Town, Alexandria, and will also offer basic grooming and nail trims, pet food, toys and behavioral advice, as part of the AWLA’s continued efforts to support animals and citizens across the city. Dogs who attend must be on leash, and cats must be transported in carriers; both items will be available to those who don’t have them.

Pups in the Park – Saturday, May 19 @ 7:05 PM. Proceeds from your ticket benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Purchase your tickets at tickets/promotions/themes/pups-park

Fashion for Paws 12th Annual Runway Show, 7pm - 12am at Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St, NW, Washington, DC 20008.TICKETS AND TABLES ON SALE NOW!

TASTE OF ARLINGTON, 12PM to 6PM. The Largest Festival Showcasing Arlington’s Food Scene and Benefiting Local Arlington Charities. More info at http://www.ballstonbid. com/taste/

Pet Fiesta from 10 am – 4 pm at the Reston Towne Center. Gather the kids and join us at Pet Fiesta for a day of pets and fun for the whole family! Get your tickets today at Felines and Wines, from 7pm – 10pm at Twin Oaks Tavern Winery, 18035 Ravens Rock Road, Bluemont, VA 20135. A casual cocktail affair for the benefit of the Feline Foundation of Greater Washington. Reserve your tickets at Casino Night 2018, 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm. This year, we’ll be in a more centrally-located venue, the Country Club of Fairfax, located at 5100 Ox Road in Fairfax. Ticket sales and silent auction are live! Check out the exciting items you can bid on (yes, you can bid online starting NOW!) and purchase your tickets at!

May 12 Walk for the Animals at Animal Welfare League of Arlington at 2650 S Arlington Mill Drive from 10am. Join more than 600 local animal lovers and their canine companions for a walk to benefit the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, the animals they care for, and the services they provide to the community. More details at https://www. Dog Day at Breaux Vineyards Bring your 4-legged friends for a day of fun at Breaux Vineyards this Spring. Live music, wine tastings, dog rescue organizations, doggie based vendors, and delicious food. Don’t miss out on the fun! There will be treats and watering stations for the pups, as well as a contest for all of your beautiful and talented pooches. Categories include: Largest dog, smallest dog, and coolest trick. Be sure to register at our welcome pergola– judging will take place in the afternoon, along with the awarding of prizes for our winners! 2:30PM Largest Dog 3:00PM Smallest Dog

June 10 Wine, Whiskers and Wags by Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Paradise Springs Winery, 13219 Yates Ford Rd., Clifton, Va. 20124. Annual fundraising event to feature silent auction, adoptable pets and training demonstrations. Purchase tickets in advance at For more details contact Celia Flye at 703.855.6201.

June 23 Pups in the Park - Saturday, June 23 @ 4:05 PM. Proceeds from your ticket benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Purchase your tickets at tickets/promotions/themes/pups-park

May 20 Pups N’ Pints day, starting with HART’s second annual 5k at 10 am, immediately followed by a daylong celebration at Dogfish Head Alehouse, where the restaurant will give HART a generous portion of sales for the day. Race starts and ends at the Greenbriar Shopping Center, Chantilly, VA, and Dogfish Head Alehouse is in the same shopping center. Check for details.

AUGUST August 25 Wags n Whiskers. Wags n’ Whiskers brings a quality, pet-loving crowd to the Village at Shirlington’s street for a Saturday afternoon in August. More details to follow at Visit the NOVADog calendar online at ND

May 26-28 The Annual ViVa! Vienna! event, produced by the Rotary Club, celebrates the unity and strength of the Vienna community and honors Memorial Day. This family and dog-friendly fun event serves as a major fund raising opportunity for the Rotary Club so it may provide support for charitable, educational, and community groups throughout the following year.





JUNE June 2 BOWIEFEST, low-cost rabies and micro chipping available by PGSPCA. Come celebrate spring with PGSPCA at BowieFest. Please check the website, for more details. Springfield Days connects the business and residential communities through a community wide celebration that harkens back to the good old days. The business community, Park Authority and various service organizations team up to offer the very best in family fun and entertainment. This year the event kicks off with a dog-friendly fun run Saturday AM, then moves into day-long festivities including Dog Days and continues through a traditional handcrafted small boat Regatta on Sunday at Lake Accotink.

June 8-10 Celebrate Fairfax! Is Northern Virginia’s largest, annual community-wide celebration hosting tens of thousands of visitors during the three-day run. Completely dog-friendly, the 25-acre site is filled with fascinating sights and sounds of more than 300 exhibitors, food vendors, and interactive activities. Celebrate Fairfax! showcases live concerts, the dog zone features the Dock Diving Championships, a petting zoo, carnival rides, and great festival foods. Nightly fireworks are a highlight of the festival, and one of many great family programs.

BARKTOBERFEST BY DAY… Bands · Pet Contests & Prizes · Games for Dogs · Games for Kids · Kitty Corner · Animal Communicator · Canine Demos · Training Classes · Vendors · Artisans · Online Auction · Raffle Baskets · Food Trucks · Pouring for Paws · FOHA Pets for Adoption and much more!

…GLOW DOG GLOW BY NIGHT! 1-MILE AND 5K RACE FOR YOU AND YOUR PUP! After Party Race with Bands · Glow Swag Bag · Prize for Best Glow/Best Dressed · Glow Photo Booth · Run with your 4-Legged Best Friend and more!

Join the pack. Stay informed.


magazine subscribe

Profile for 343 Media, LLC

NOVADog Magazine Spring 2018  

The Ultimate Guide for Canine-Inspired Living in the DC Metro

NOVADog Magazine Spring 2018  

The Ultimate Guide for Canine-Inspired Living in the DC Metro

Profile for 2hounds

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded