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novadog Summer 2017


magazine Also Inside: Barktoberfest By Day, GlowDOGGlow By Night Hit the Trail: Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail Segment 2


Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer and his wife Erica raise awareness... and four rescue pups

WAGS to RICHES: Sadie Jane Davis


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his issue is quintessential summer fun. We start off with Max Scherzer, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, and his family gracing the cover, before checking in with top-notch dog trainer Nick White. Then we explore Segment 2 of the Cross County Trail, a true hidden gem of the NOVA area. We close things out with a stellar line-up of events for you to enjoy with your pooch. As you read through this issue, you’ll feel summertime excitement sink into your skin. By the end, you’ll throw on some flip-flops and head out to a peaceful, lazy day along the waterfront, explore the sights at a lively event, hike one of our awesome local trails, or take in a Nats game. Sitting down with Max Scherzer and his wife Erica was a true highlight. Despite their busy schedules, they are dedicated to their pack of four amazing rescue dogs and have found ways to focus their energy and bring each of them a better life. They are living their mantra of Adopt, Don’t Shop and using their visibility to help the mission of Humane Rescue Alliance raise awareness for adoptable pets. I continued my journey on the Cross

County Trail, miles 10-20, and the first 6.5 were particularly awe-inspiring. As I’ve noted a few too many times already, this trail provides an incredible escape from our bustling urban jungle, even though it’s hidden in plain sight. Tucked neatly behind developments on narrow tracks of land, and running beside streambeds, this is a rugged, natural landscape, filled with wildlife. Walking there, you get the feeling of being much further away from civilization than you are. I wish you a fun and carefree summer. Take time to wander off the beaten paths, splash in a cool stream, and scamper around a dog park. Maggie and I have already relaxed at the season’s first Bark in the Park, and we plan to keep the fun rolling by taking in an outdoor movie, hiking a new trail, and fetching sticks in the Potomac. She’s looking forward to it and so am I! Angela

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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, 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. Visit us on the Web at

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

contents Summer 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 P  lay Ball!

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer and his wife Erica raise awareness ... and four rescue pups By Joseph Grammer

20 TNick op White of the Class shares his training methods, fit for celebrity pups By Joseph Grammer







Photos by Carina Thornton/ Fuzzypants Photography

A glimpse into the lives of Northern Virginia dogs

News, information, and products Tips on dog health

On the cover and above: Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, his wife Erica, and their rescue dogs



Dog-friendly spaces

Answers to your behavior and training questions



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

Hiking with your dog


Adoption success stories


Read Sadie’s adoption success story on page 28.



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


Let Them Eat Cake! Many dog owners are flocking to natural homemade food for their pups. Now you can spoil (and nourish) your pampered pooch with only the best ingredients. In the new book Doggy Desserts: 125 Homemade

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Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs by Cheryl Gianfrancesco. Dog owners can rest easy knowing they are providing their pooch with a snack made with healthy ingredients. This beautiful book presents easy-to-do, fun recipes divided into six categories: cookies, bars, drop cookies, cakes, muffins, and frozen treats. For dog owners who are concerned about controlling what’s in their dogs’ food or who are looking to find low-cal, low-fat options for their slightly plump pups, Doggy Desserts provides many tasty options. From carob peanut butter crunch balls, sweet potato biscuits and liver oatmeal bones to granola bars, apple sauce spice cake, and watermelon dog sherbet. You’ll be tempted to try each of these delectable delights before serving to your dog! FIND  it: Available on

Featured Recipe from Doggy Desserts Banana Split 4 bananas, cut into small chunks 1/2 cup carob powder 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped 1 cup natural low-fat plain yogurt Mix all ingrediends in a blender and blend well; the misture should be fairly thick. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays cover with plastic wrap, and freeze. when the cubes are frozen, place them in zipper-locking plastic storage bag. Crush the cubes with a rolling pin, and allow them to soften. Serve the crushed cubes, and freeze the remaining crushed cues in the plastic storage bag. (extra special treat: sprinkle granola pieces over the crushed cubes)


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Don’t Worry, Bee Happy This bee shaped chew toy is made from sturdy 100% cotton rope that helps keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean and is perfect for teething pups. Summertime trick: Throughly wet the toy and then freeze for a puppy play popsicle! Recommended for light chewers. FIND  it: $16 at


H E A L T H  W I S E

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

Taking the “Pet” Out of Petrified Helping dogs’ emotional well-being during vet visits by Je nn if er K or in ch a k


an you imagine telling your dog, “Let’s go to the vet!” and seeing her wag her tail, instead of high-tailing it under the bed? At Leesburg Veterinary Hospital, we’re working to make that dream a reality with the Fear Free Initiative. Over the past year, our medical and support team have undergone training to transform the entire veterinary experience for pets. Becoming Fear Free Certified encouraged us to modify procedures, handling techniques, and changes in our hospital design to help pets feel safe and comfortable during exams. A pet that is calm and happy not only makes it safer for the veterinary staff, but also leads to more effective, comprehensive exams. Here are just a few changes and recommendations we have for creating the least stressful and (dare we say) enjoyable veterinary visits for you and your canine companion.

Travel Time Sometimes the most stressful part of visiting the vet is traveling to and from the appointment. For dogs, we recommend withholding food for a few hours before the vet visit. Not only does this help decrease the chance of nausea or car sickness, but it allows us to use positive reinforcement techniques with highreward treats come exam time. Does your pet experience motion sickness during car travel? If so, we may suggest prescribing medication before the appointment to alleviate that. Prepare your vehicle before traveling with your pet. Make sure it is clean and comfortable for when your pet enters the car. Give yourself plenty of travel time before the appointment, preferably leaving ten minutes earlier than you think you’d need to get here. Not feeling rushed, you can have a less stressful trip and focus on driving safely and slowly. Less frantic starts and stops will hopefully lessen your pet’s anxiety or motion sickness.

Check-In We all know the typical veterinary check-in process: arrive at the hospital, grab your dog by her leash, check in at reception, and then wait in the lobby until appointment time. In our Fear Free training, we’ve learned that the waiting game cannot be a onesize-fits-all method for every pet. If your dog immediately becomes anxious upon entering the doors, we recommend keeping her in your climate-controlled car while you check-in, or even taking a walk on the hospital

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Cavachon brothers Beetle and Bailey wear special calming coats before their neuter procedure, as part of the Fear Free initiative

Six-month-old Cavachon brothers Bailey and Beetle visited Leesburg Veterinary Hospital recently for their neuter procedure. They were super-sweet but also prone to stress, so the team at LVH implemented several Fear Free techniques to help reduce their anxiety during their stay. While they waited for the procedures, the two were kept together in the same cage and dressed in specialized calming coats. Coats like this help relieve angst by providing a gentle, calming pressure. Their blue toy was infused with pheromone spray, which also acts as a natural calming agent. During preoperative EKG tests and IV placement, the pups were offered frozen broth pops as a distraction. Bailey and Beetle recovered well from their neuter procedures. Lower stress hormone levels are especially crucial after surgeries, as the reduction of stress helps with post-operative wound healing and a return to optimal health. Both brothers displayed less anxiety and fear due to the methods utilized, which will likely foster more excitement and less fear, when future vet visits are needed. grounds. We will be happy to come out to get you when your appointment is ready to begin. If your pet appears nervous, we likely will not greet them right away but instead let them explore and acclimate at her own pace. With its large walled-off bays and spacious benches, our lobby was designed to keep pets separated and close to you while wait-

ing. For dogs, we highly recommend using a standard six-foot leash. If you use a retractable leash, please keep it locked at no longer than six feet in length. We are also more than happy to do check-in and check-out procedures in the exam room to minimize animal-to-animal interaction as much as possible. We recently began providing pheromone-infused bandanas that speak to your pets’ sense of smell and act as natural calming agents. The pheromone bandanas can be applied to your dog’s collar or tied around their neck; she can also enjoy the bandanas on the car ride home!

Exam Time You may notice fewer white doctor coats (since they can be scary for pets) and more soothing music in the exam rooms. The staff will interact with your pet using a considerate approach that involves gentle-control handling and minimal restraint. We attempt to get to know each pet and work with individual personalities instead of forcing her to behave for us. Since most dogs feel more comfortable with their owners, we will do our best to perform vaccines and blood work in the exam room to help reduce extra anxiety. Does your pet feel more comfortable on the floor instead of on the higher exam table? No problem! We’ll come down to them—placing mats

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or towels on the floor and performing the exam where they are most relaxed.

Conditioning Pets to Happy Visits The earlier pets have a positive association with the vet, the better. We highly recommend bringing puppies to our practice as often as possible during their younger months. Early positive experiences help build a foundation of trust and familiarity. For older pets, schedule a “fun visit” without examination or treatment. Stop in just to say hi and soak up some love with lots of hugs, belly rubs, and treats. This type of conditioning helps your pet think of the vet as a happy place, instead of a location where they’re taken to be poked and prodded. It is important to realize that these steps alone will not automatically turn a very fearful pet into a happy easy-going patient. With time and repetition, though, we hope that nervous pets will become less anxious and enjoy coming to see us. ND Jennifer Korinchak is a Marketing Consultant and blogger for Leesburg Veterinary Hospital. This article contains contributions from Dr. Jennifer Boyle. To get more advice on animal-related topics, visit LVH’s blog at For more information about The Fear Free Difference, visit

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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

Barktoberfest By Day, GlowDOGGlow By Night Loudoun County FairGrounds September 23


he 3rd Annual GlowDOGGlow is set to light up the night again this year at FOHA’s Signature Annual Barktoberfest. These two animal advocating powerhouses have teamed up to host the one pet event you’ll be howling to attend this year. For over 30 years FOHA has been perfecting the Barktoberfest festivities, so nobody, human or canine, does it better than they do. Please accept our invitation and let your pups roam free on the most fun-filled, pet-centric, altruistic day of the year. The party is taking place in a gorgeous, local

country setting, which means it’s the easiest and prettiest way to kick-off the fall season with your dog. The entire fairgrounds will be decorated with pumpkins, corn stalks, and fresh mums. So mark your calendars, your friends’ calendars, and your dogs’ calendars, too! (Dogs can have calendars.)

5 Steps for a Great Day Helping an Important Cause 1. Plan to Spend the Whole Day … And Night. There is so much



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Barktoberfest at a glance: to enjoy during the Barktoberfest Festivities: Kids’ games, pet demonstrations, the GlowDOGGlow 5K, food and drinks, music, contests, and more. This is a great event for kids, adults, and dogs of all ages. 2. Don’t Miss the Silent Auction. All proceeds help the pets of FOHA, and plus you might take home some amazing pet prizes or sports memorabilia. 3. Feel Good: Your participation in all of the day’s activities help raise much-needed funds to allow FOHA to continue its mission of rescuing and finding “forever” homes for homeless animals. 4. Come Hungry: The food truck options never disappoint. They are unique, yummy, and always filling. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a beer from the Pouring for Paws beer tent. 5. Lace up your Sneakers: The GlowDOGGlow is an amazing nighttime spectacle, and one that you and your dog can’t miss. It’s a friendly event that you and your fuzzy running partners can start training for right now. Whether you’re an avid racer or a casual walker and sightseer, you and your dog will be grateful you came out to create this memory. It’s an incredible evening of fun, complete with an illuminated course, live music, a beer tent, and a doggie Bark Bar. And of course, it helps out a great canine cause. Continued, next page September 23 By Day: 10:30AM-7PM By Night: 7:30-10:30PM • GlowDOGGlow 5K • Live Music • Fabulous Food Trucks • Pouring for Paws Beer Tent • Animal Communicator • Wine Tasting • Pet Contests and Prizes: • Best Costume, Best Kisser, Best Singer, Owner/Pet Look-a-like, Best Trick, Best Glow Outfit • Games for Dogs • Games for Kids • Kitty Corner for the FOHA Cats and Feline Vendors • Canine Demonstrations • Vendors and Artisans • Silent Auction (in Sykes Hall) • Raffle Baskets • FOHA Pets for Adoption



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More details about the GlowDOGGlow 5K You’ve never seen a 5K as bright and furry as this. At every turn, you’ll find a new reason to keep your feet (or paws) moving forward. Cool interactive glow stations will light up the night for a view that will leave you panting like a happy puppy. As you head to the finish line, you’ll pass through a 100-foot Black Night Barn and move to the grand finale: the Tunnel of Lights. Add to the enjoyment by creating a costume for you and your dog, and enter the contest for Best Glow Outfit! Each registration includes admission to the race for the number of humans and dogs you select. All registrants will receive 2 drink tickets for use during the after party. Participants over 21 will receive a wristband that will allow access to adult beverages if they choose. The afterparty includes live entertainment, a Bark Bar for the pups, and light snacks for racers. The 5K course is lapped, allowing you to choose any distance from 1 mile to a full 5K. This flexibility allows you to select the right distance for you and your dog. All participants that complete the 1-mile course will get to enjoy every part of our neon adventure. GlowDogGlow starts at 7:30PM. ND

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Register today: glowdogglow-5k-dog-race/ Angela Meyers is the owner of both NOVADog Magazine and a lovely pup named Maggie.

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Register by September 12th and SAVE! Paws for a Cause benefits Fairfax Pets on Wheels, Inc. FPOW is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to providing pet visitation to residents of nursing homes and hospitals since 1987.

Does your dog have love to give? Help us lick loneliness! You and your dog 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 to watch a video and to learn more about becoming a volunteer.

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

A Squeaky Clean Pet Getaway Montrose Pet Hotel offers comfy cabins and playspaces for canines 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 Andrew Cullen, manager of Montrose Pet Hotel, a Fairfax-based business that gives dogs and cats the holidays of their lives. Dr. Teixeira and Dr. Rubin, both veterinarians at Montrose Animal Health Center, renovated and remodeled the location. NOVADog Magazine: What’s your process like? Andrew Cullen: We offer the same relaxation a pet would get at home, but we also keep that one-on-one attention. Generally, there’s no open play with other dogs unless they’re siblings who came together. An open play environment, where all the dogs are running around together, makes it difficult to give them individual treatment. Usually in those kind of set-ups, you have two or three people watching all these dogs at the same time. Dr. Teixeria and Dr. Rubin saw lots of boarding options like that, but they wanted a different model. When dogs stay with us, they get two or three hours of one-on-one time with a staff member every day. Another difference is that the pets make their own schedule. If they want to hang out in their cabin, they can hang out in their cabin. If they want to play, they can play. Every day we’re at the building at 6:30 am. We take your pet to our canine grass area, a medium-sized indoor space for walking and playing, and let them go to the bathroom. They can take as much time as they need. After that, we go back to their cabins to give them breakfast. The staff cleans up each cabin until 8:30-9, and then we go to rotations. When we do a rotation, we take the dog out of the cabin, go to the canine grass area, and then rest for 45 min after playing. All that activity is in a one-on-one situation, so it’s just the staff member and your dog. Depending on how many dogs we have at the time, rotations might end around 12, so we can get three or four rounds in. Then after 12, we repeat the process, switching between the grass area and the cabins. We feed the pups around 5 pm, then do a final rotation around 6, plus an hour to rest. Around 8 everybody goes to bed. That tends to work out really well. It’s a good schedule for the dogs, and we do that every day. We try to make sure that the dogs go out around the same time each day, because it helps them get into the groove of things. That routine makes them calmer, and even with 50 dogs, we can handle it. We don’t have to worry about pet-on-pet injuries, because there’s no open play. And we’re right next to a vet’s office, so if there is any emergency, we can handle it right away. ND: Can you tell us about the dog cabins? AC: So there are two separate rooms: a large dog room and a small dog room. We call the individual places for the dogs cabins. (There are separate rooms for cats, too.) We have 72 cabins total, including kitty condos. I tell customers that I don’t see us getting above 60, because too many pets means more

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The canine grass area offers one-onone time for dogs to get exercise

stress for everyone, including us. As a policy, we aim to reduce stress. The dogs can’t see each other when they’re in their cabins. There’s a large stainless steel door, and sturdy plastic floors for easy cleaning. Every cabin is connected to our drainage system, which makes it quick and easy to clean. Of course, we let the dogs bring belongings with them, too. Their toys can stay with them all day, every day, and we can wash all that stuff too. We want the cabins to feel like home. ND: What’s playtime like? AC: In the canine grass room, we’ve got a multitude of toys. The balls are cleaned at least twice a day. We don’t have any squeaky toys, so they won’t keep any other dogs up at night. There’s no rawhide, either, since that can be a choking hazard. You can bring anything else, though—and I do recommend bringing something from home, a toy or other object, because it will have that smell, that familiarity. We can provide cups, Sherpas, padded carpet, bedding. You can bring your own food if you want, but there’s no additional cost to feed the dogs on our end. We’ll refrigerate your meals if you have any. Of course, there are a lot of belly rubs. But if we have a pet who wants to stay in the cabin, the staff member will sit with him there. That

Honestly, I can’t ask for a better dog. She came to me perfect. I really didn’t have to train her at all, and she picks up skills quickly. I always want to have at least one dog, preferably a rescue.

Pups at the Montrose Pet Hotel stay in their own private cabins

way he’s still getting some good personalized time: our goal is to make the dog comfortable. ND: What’s a memorable dog you’ve had come through your doors? AC: The first two that come to mind are Bo and Buddy. One is a 13-year-old Black Lab, and the other is six. Buddy is older, and he amazes me, because even though he’s a little stiff, he’s still ready to get up and hang out with his brother. Bo is the happiest dog I’ve ever met; he can’t be sad or mad. He pretty much radiates happiness all the time. Then there’s Scooby-Doo, who’s really a Ridgeback mix (not a Great Dane), but he looks so much like the cartoon character. He’s got kind of a derpy personality, so you have to love him … he’s also a Packers fan. ND: Do you have a dog now? AC: Right now I have a rescue Yellow Lab mix named Bailey, but I call her Pear. She looked like a pear when I first got her: she was really chunky. Don’t worry, she’s healthier now. She’s between four and six years old, and she has one blue eye and one brown eye. Plus she’s at work all the time, so the customers all recognize her.

ND: How do you manage all this for each dog? AC: I have to give our staff all the credit. They make sure they’re following the system, and I spend the whole day checking up on everything. We have a daily care card that marks each dog’s urine and fecal elminations, water refills, playtimes, feeding, etc. Every day, we make sure the dog got enough rotations of rest and play. Working at a pet daycare boarding facility is like working in childcare; you can plan for everything, but random things will always happen. With boarding, the biggest concern is cleanliness, and making sure the dogs actually rest. Dogs need 14-16 hours of sleep a day, and if he only gets 8-10 hours, his immune system will get weak pretty quickly. That’s why we keep track of their resting times. ND: What would you tell someone who’s thinking of boarding their dog for a few days, but is nervous about it? AC: Try daycare first. Bring them in even for a couple of hours. If you’re really nervous, try the daycare a couple of weeks in advance, before your trip or whatever it is, and then try out a whole day before you intend to board. We have the ability to customize each pet stay. If one pet likes to go out a lot to the canine grass, we take him out more. If they want to sleep, we let them sleep. Dogs are truly adaptable to many situations—and so are we. Please visit to learn more about your dog or cat’s upcoming stay. N 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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PLAY BALL! Two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and his wife Erica raise awareness ... and four rescue pups By Joseph Grammer


pril 11 was National Pet Day, so NOVADog Magazine took a look at the loving pets of activist Erica Scherzer and her husband, Washington Nationals pitching star Max Scherzer. Their family includes rescue dogs Rafi, Bo, Rocco, and Gigi. NOVADOG: What was your relationship with dogs like growing up? Max Scherzer: We had three German shepherds. My first one was in 7th grade; obviously we fell in love with her. I just enjoyed having a dog around, the loyalty she showed. Erica Scherzer: My family always supported rescues, dogs with rougher backgrounds. I grew up with Huskies and Samoyeds mostly. From the time I was a baby, we always had dogs— they were protective of my sister and me. At first we just had Kodiak, but then we brought in Brandy. I saw a huge difference between having one dog and having two dogs. Sometimes it took a little while to get used to their personalities, and for them to get used to us, but it was worth it. We would watch the two of them wrestle and play; they were really close. Brandy was devastated when Kodiak passed away. Eventually we brought in Chinook, and that helped Brandy a lot. Now I always want two dogs. I feel like I have to have at least two because you see how they bond, how healthy that is for them.

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Photos by Carina Thornton/Fuzzypants Photography

Meet the tight-knit and highenergy Scherzers: Max, Erica, Rafi, Rocco, Gigi, and Bo.


“One goal is to help raise awareness for shelter pets. And two: if we can do anything at all to raise adoption numbers and have an impact, that would be great.” —Max Scherzer

When he’s not pitching no-hitters or 20-strikeout games, Nats star Max Scherzer bonds with his rescue pups, including Bo.

NOVADOG: Can you tell us about the dogs you have now? MS: It started with two of them, Bo and Rafi. They’re both rescues. At first it was pretty difficult—they were these shy females. It was a challenge to socialize them, get them used to the new environment, but honestly it’s amazing how much they’ve warmed up to us. They’ll nap on my shoulder now without any nervousness, so they’re definitely more comfortable here. That never would’ve happened on Day One. At first we were looking for Huskies. A lot of people gave us recommendations based on the two different-colored eyes [Max has heterochromia iridum, which means each iris is a different hue], so they’d show us a lot of those dogs. Eventually we found Bo, whose eyes were different colors. We knew we wanted to have two dogs, and then it turned out that to get Bo, we had to get Rafi, because they’re a bonded pair. So we kind of accomplished both goals. At some point we decided we needed an alpha, which is when we got Rocco. He loves people, he wants to give everyone kisses. He can just get attention all day and be happy. Rocco is great because he brings out the personalities of the other dogs, and he also has the differentcolored eyes. ES: For our fourth, we ended up taking in a rescue named Gigi that Max’s aunt had. She’d suffered a hip injury, so she couldn’t give the dog as much exercise as she needed to. We met Gigi over this past holiday season, and she was very similar to Rocco. She had all this pent-up energy just waiting to get out. Max’s aunt ended up having a full hip replacement, so we fostered Gigi for few months. She thrived with our other dogs: we watched them all wrestle as a pack, and it was amazing. Eventually Max’s aunt thought it would be better for Gigi to live with us fulltime.

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MS: We got a pack. laughs ES: These days it’s like a dog park in and out of the house. Bo and Rafi are less shy for sure, and they’re better around strangers. And Gigi for example has a pretty strong personality. She’s not afraid to fight a bit more for what she wants. Basically, they all work out the alpha thing with themselves. Gigi used to be alpha, but she gets bumped a little bit in the order sometimes. I’d say Rafi is an alpha in her own way. She’s an instigator, very sassy, but also a mother hen who keeps an eye on everyone. Even Bo tries to challenge Gigi sometimes. But really, they all have their pack order in different ways. Like on runs they’ll have one arrangement, hanging out it’s another order, and when they’re playing with toys it’s another. They figure it out for each activity. As for breeds, our best guess is that Bo and Rafi are a Husky-Cattledog mix. Rocco and Gigi are mixed breeds as well, but we really can’t know about any of them. They’re all mutts, and we love them.”

NOVADOG: Are they trained? MS: Honestly the best part is we have them Off-Leash trained. Nick and Joe [from Off-Leash] are great, and their work was unbelievable. Even the basic training parts helped out a lot. The dogs can all heel to me while I’m on a bike, so I can be 7 miles out on a trail, and the dogs are right there with me the whole time. Sometimes it’s like, “What do I have to do to get them tired?” because of all their energy. But at the end when they’re lying on the floor panting, it’s great. ES: When you bring them their leashes and say, “Do you want to go for a walk?” you can see the smiles on their faces. Their confidence has grown. We’ll do 11 miles, just hiking in the woods. At first we were doing a lot of leash walks, but we weren’t using up enough of their energy as we needed to. Then we figured out biking with them, and their anxiety really went down after that. Luckily, we’ve kept up with the training, so Nick and Joe were happy. Those two are definitely lifesavers. MS: We have the six basics commands down: sit, down, heel, come, place, and free. It’s nice now because I know they’re not going to run away outdoors. ES: Because of the training I can handle them on my own—and that’s four 45-lb dogs. Max handles them better than I can, but I’m definitely still able to take them around. I feel more confident now. And they’re all good with other dogs now, too, so I can have all four walking down the street and not worry about it. That helps because Max travels a lot, so I have to be with them alone.

NOVADOG: How do you make sure you get some good family and dog time with your busy schedules?

NOVADOG: What has taking care of dogs taught you about your own professional work?

ES: Time on the couch together, for sure. There aren’t a lot of rules with the furniture in our house. MS: We’ll give them a walk—they love walking. It doesn’t matter if I have to correct them, or if I don’t let them do everything. They’re still happy. ES: Offseason it’s nice, because we’re on the beach. We’ll give them baths. And they love getting brushed, getting their bellies rubbed. The dogs are not lacking for attention; they’re very spoiled. Other times, we’ll hop in the pool; they all love swimming now. In the beginning, Bo and Rafi were deathly afraid of water. Rocco was hesitant for a while, too. So we started off with having them cross a creek, and at first they didn’t even want to touch it. But we slowly did that, got them acclimated to going paws-deep, and worked our way up from there. Now, all of them love the ocean. Rocco goes around chasing ducks. This one time we found a shark, like a three-four footer just a few feet away from them, and they were not bothered at all. When they saw it, they all went right after it. They’re fearless. Really, they’ll chase anything: squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, deer, possums. They don’t usually catch whatever they’re after, but they love trying. Bo and Rafi even chase coyotes. When we’re out in Arizona, they’ll both go straight after them. Rafi kind of looks like a coyote, too—she’d fit right in with their pack.

MS: It’s a stress release. I like to walk, just relax and enjoy being with the dogs. I get away from baseball for a bit. Plus they’re great training. It keeps you in shape more, biking around with these guys—a lot of cardio. ES: Our dogs have gotten me back into animal welfare. Over a decade ago I was into it heavily, but I stepped away for a while because it became really intense. I lost a foster, for example, and I couldn’t remove my feelings from the situation. But after rescuing Bo and Rafi, and especially after Rocco, we found this amazing, caring side in both of us.

NOVADOG: What do you hope to accomplish with the HRA? MS: One goal is to help raise awareness for shelter pets. And two: if we can do anything at all to raise adoption numbers and have an impact, that would be great. ES: I’d like to raise awareness for how exercising with your pet can help, but we also want to show the benefits of shelter pets. Rescue is always a wonderful option, and there are lots of ways to find a rescue who fits with you. Adopting the right pet is important because he or she will be part of your family. They’re not just an afterthought. You wouldn’t leave a kid alone for eight hours; dogs are the same way. They need a good environment, and they need engagement.

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Of course, there are challenges. Chewing things in the house, fright issues sometimes. But you can look at the root of those problems and how to resolve them, instead of just giving up the pet and not trying anymore. Most things you can improve with simple training—that’s important to know.

NOVADOG: Do you ever want your dogs to compete professionally? MS: We’ve always thought they could do that, but it gets tough to dedicate that time. Honestly, they’re happy just being little marathon runners in the woods. ES: I talked to Nick [from Off-Leash] a bit recently at a game. We mentioned maybe doing some tracking work with some of them. They’re all really good with scent, especially Rafi. It could boost their confidence even more, we’re thinking. Bo in particular would be amazing at agility work if we can find the time. I don’t know if we would ever compete, but she has that skill naturally.

NOVADOG: Do you ever want more dogs?

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MS: No. We thought three was the max, but then we got our fourth. It’s crazy now with four. ES: I can’t imagine biking with five. MS: I can … laughs You really need to be aware of your surroundings biking with this many dogs. A lot of mental awareness. ES: I mean, maybe when it’s settled to where it’s not chaos. Never say never, but four’s a lot. A lot of mouths to feed, a lot to track. A lot of dogs to get to the vet.

NOVADOG:: What’s your favorite thing to do with your dogs? MS: Honestly, exploring the hiking trails here in DC. That’s when they’re at their best. ES: They love Donaldson Run. We’re so happy when they get down there. You see them just going into streams, running through stuff.

NOVADOG: Do you play catch with your dogs? MS: They don’t fetch, actually. It’s crazy—if I throw the ball, they don’t bring it back.

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ES: I’ve only ever had rescue pets, except for fish (although I’ve rescued fish, too). “Adopt Don’t Shop” is definitely a mantra for us. Every pet out there you buy, that’s one who could’ve been rescued. You’re saving not only the life of the dog you rescue, but now a new dog can go into the shelter in his or her place. That issue is very important to me. There’s a stigma with rescue dogs, and a lot of inaccuracies. Some people think you need a purebred dog or a dog from a breeder to have a “good pet.” I really want to use my platform for that: just expressing how wonderful shelters are. Shelter dogs are amazing. You can even find purebreds in a shelter if you want; it just takes a bit of work. Bo and Rafi had basically been put on the e-list [euthanasia list] in their shelter, and without us they wouldn’t be here today. So many people passed them up; they’d been there a long time. That process of adopting them re-dedicated me to animal welfare with a greater passion. MS: You can adopt the type of dog you want. With Bo and Rafi, we knew it would be a lot of work, but we wanted that. If you want a high-energy dog, you can choose that, like we have with Rocco. You can always adopt a dog on your terms and find someone who fits with you—like a family member. ES: I like the challenge. I used to foster feral cats, for example, so I like helping animals that might otherwise be euthanized or overlooked. We have the time and the resources to do something, so we have a unique chance to take on animals who might be passed over. It’s a really cool, rewarding experience. MS: We knew what they needed, we knew we could make this work. I was like, “If you give these guys some exercise, they’ll be OK.” And, hey—they are.

The Scherzer family is dedicated to helping rescue dogs of all kinds.

“I’ve only ever had rescue pets, except for fish (although I’ve rescued fish, too). Adopt Don’t Shop is definitely a mantra for us.” —Erica Scherzer

came in wanting to be the alpha dog and take control, but now she gets along with everyone, especially Rocco. Gigi and Rocco are in love—it’s really sweet to see how they play together. And that’s the best part of adopting dogs, because you see their transformation. Now they’re these happy, healthy, and well-trained dogs who love everyone. MS: They even like our cats. ES: Bo and Rafi lived their first year with little interaction and no stable environment. But sure enough, a year and a half into having them with us, they turned a corner. They came out of their shells more. You just have to be patient, and we were willing to do that. Of course there are issues. Potty-training took a long time. When an animal has been roaming the desert, like Bo and Rafi did before they entered the shelter, they don’t have any structure. So that can be tough. In the beginning Gigi was aggressive sometimes, but she shows much less of that now. She was alone a lot before we took her in. She


Please visit the Humane Rescue Alliance to see what you can do for rescue dogs in need You can also visit to follow the Washington Nationals and find an upcoming game! 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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TOP of the Class

Nick White shares his training methods, fit for celebrity pups B y Jo s e p h G r a m m e r

Nick White started Off-Leash K9 in Woodbridge, VA, in March 2010. Now he

has over 80 locations and 250 trainers all across the country. He is also part of the Prince William Humane Society. NOVADog Magazine checked in with Nick to see how he achieved his high-level expertise. Why is it important to train without a leash? You see these dog owners with three or four kids. Their dogs pop their collars off, slide them over their heads, and then take off. We hear about scenarios like this so many times. Maybe you see a 140-lb Rottweiler or Pitbull with a 110-lb woman walking him, and she can’t hold on. The dog can take off if he really wants to. Training without a leash is 100% about the dog’s survival. It’s more about that than about obedience and chewing and stuff. It helps prevent dogs from getting killed or lost or taking off into the woods. For example, Max Scherxer is gone on the road a lot, and he has four dogs. If one takes off, she could end up all over downtown DC. I always hear, “How do we get dogs out of shelters?” The answer is

20 Northern Virginia Dog

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training. That’s what keeps people from giving up and taking their dog to a shelter. The level of training helps survival in this way—and it helps make happy homes.

Why do you specialize in e-collar training? It’s the most reliable. Our first day, the dog will be running around like a madman. After three days with an e-collar, I can have him Off-Leash heeling on Santa Monica Pier. When it comes to treat training, a dog is going to want that squirrel he sees in the tree more than your treat. Treats are great for teaching dogs, but not as good for reliabiltiy and consistency, or emergency situations. Every day we hear messages like, “My dog can sit, but I can’t bring

LEFT to RIGHT: Off-Leash K9 helped train Max and Erica Scherzer’s rescue dogs Bo (left) and Rafi (right) to be calmer and more confident. Both dogs are presumably Nats fans. Picture 2: Nick trained outfielder Jayson Werth’s dog Gunner (a German Shorthaired Pointer). Nats pitcher Gio González enlisted Nick White for help with his French Bulldog Stitch.

him around a lot of people. He’d be gone in a second.” The e-collar is the way to go for correcting things like this.

What was it like for you growing up with dogs? We had a stereotypical dog, a Sherpherd mix. His name was Deputy. He was my responsibility: my parents actually stuck to that, since my dad was in law enforcement. That was unfortunate for me at the time, but now it’s really helpful. I took on the role of caretaker for the dog—there was no way out of it. So I figured, I’ll make the best out of this. I would get home from school and then work on stuff with him, teach him tricks. Funny thing is, knowing what I know now, I did a horrible job training him back then as a 12-year-old kid. But still, I could get him to come, sit down, shake. I could have him fetch different things by name: a blanket, a football. I’d train with him so much, I’d go through a huge pack of treats in a few days. All the time I’d be saying, “Deputy needs more treats!” Now I have a Belgian Malinois, a stereotypical police dog named Duke.

What are common issues people have with their dogs when you’re training them? Obedience in general: maybe the dog won’t come. Heeling is one of the biggest things, dogs pulling on their leashes. Sometimes it’s aggression issues, so I make them less reactive. Other dogs get overexcited and don’t listen. I end up doing a lot of distraction work. Door manners are huge, too, if the dog tries to run out every time you leave or come home. By the end of three days, I can have the dog stay in an open doorway while I drive three miles away. When I come back, he’s still waiting there in the door until I release him.

What’s your process like? I start off just playing with the dog. That way he sees that I’m fun. Consider the dog’s point of view: this stranger just shows up in his house,

so he’s not sure about me. Playing helps make that inroad. When you have that relationship, when they like you, they want to listen. Imagine you’ve been chilling at your house for three or four years, and then a drill instructor comes in and yells at you. Would you want that? No. So I play with them. Of course, I always give 100%. Most times it’s 10 hours a day. I also research and read and study at night, so I’m always learning. When I’m training in a private session, I usually have 80 hours with the dog, which is six days. I’ll stay with the dog the whole time, too. If I’m traveling to one of those private sessions, I can bring the dog to an Airbnb, or if the person is local I can bring the dog to my house. I’ve traveled to train Ryan Reynolds’ and Jake Gyllenhaal’s dogs. I have an obsessive work ethic, so I’ll be Off-Leash heeling through downtown Hollywood Boulevard on Day 3. Then if I notice the dog is too far away from me while we’re doing it, I go work on that. We go over commands literally hundreds of times. Right now I’m in LA training Nancy Cartwright’s English Golden Retriever Finn. [Nancy was the voice of Bart Simpson on The Simpsons.] So Day 1 with Finn, the pedometer said we did over 7.4 miles. On Day 5, we covered 6.4 miles. By Day 7, the dog is 98% solid. He’s very rarely messing up or getting up before I release. I feel confident at this point that the owner can Off-Leash heel him in her neighborhood. The dogs are always so done at the end of a day with me. I send the owner a picture at like 5 pm, and the dog is passed out, literally snoring. Before the owner would tell me, “He’s got so much energy!” With me, though, the training is twofold: the dogs are getting mental and physical stimulation. He’ll walk 7+ miles a day while also learning, processing, taking new stuff in. If you give your dog a job to do, he won’t use his pent-up energy to eat the couch. I tell owners to try and do 45 minutes a day of mental and physical stimulation. Obedience training combines these two, and so does detection and tracking work. Detection is more mental, though. You’re searching vehicles, running around buildings looking for suitcases. When the dog smells drugs, or a


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bomb, he drops into a sit. Or he walks way if there’s nothing. People don’t realize that when a dog is sniffing for cocaine or marijuana, he’s also smelling plastic, rubber, oil, fabric, that Red Bull can, cigarettes, ashes—all that. You might walk into a room and smell stew, and you think, “That smells good.” A dog walks in and thinks, “This chicken smells good, and so does the paprika, onion, oregano, sea salt.” He smells every element of it. With detection work, we train dogs on 9-14 odors at once. They’re all in one little box, and the dog has to learn them all and then drop into a sit at the right one. Tracking is the most fun when you’re in the middle of woods searching for a “bad guy.” It’s cool to see the dog processing and learning out there. The dog is discounting thousands of odors and focusing on one specific one. I tell the dog search and he runs off, and it looks easy. But to focus on one scent from three hours ago is so hard—people don’t appreciate it. Sometimes training is tough. For Finn I flew from VA to CA, and I was jetlagged the first couple of days. I slept badly, had a headache. But the dog doesn’t care. I don’t give the dog any less just because I’m tired. The biggest thing to remember is that you chose to train that dog; that dog did not choose to train you.

How is it dealing with humans and changing their behavior? It’s easier to fix a dog than a person. The great thing is that I’m direct. I’ll say, “No, that’s wrong.” Even with Nancy Cartwright and Ryan Reynolds, I’m direct at the beginning. I tell them, “You’re paying money for this, so I don’t want to waste your time.” And with my two-week program, I ofter free refreshers for life, so if your dog’s leash heeling goes down, you can meet with a trainer for an hour and go over it. And how that hour generally breaks down is that I spend 10 minutes fixing the dog, and 50 minutes fixing the human and showing him what he did wrong. It’s never the dog’s fault. The best thank you I can get is for an owner to keep up the training with his or her dog.

What was it like working with some of the Nationals players? My trainer Joe and I each handled two of Max Scherzer’s dogs. In the begnning they were su-

22 Northern Virginia Dog

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per skittish, super nervous. You watch the before and after, and you see me go to pet them and they run away. But after five days I’m heeling them, no problem. They’re all really good dogs. They took to the training really quickly, even the fire hydrant place, which is when they go to the hydrant and put their paws on it and stay there until release. But Max has made them even better than when we finished training them. I respect that a lot because I know he’s so busy. Jayson Werth has this German Shorthair Pointer named Gunner, who’s really good as well. By the end we had him OffLeash heeling in Dulles Airport. And Gio González’s dog Stitch is a French Bulldog. I was working with him in the middle of July, so he couldn’t be outside for very long without gasping and getting tired out. We had to adapt and do things indoors. Each dog is different, so I’ll work with him to do what’s best.

Who do you hope to work with in the future? Any President’s dog, any First Family dog. That’s when you’re like, “You’ve made it.”

What’s the coolest skill you’ve taught a dog? I did a private training with one of the Gracies in California [one of the world’s top Brazilian jiu-jitsu families]. We worked with the dog on all these different punches and blocks. We had him jump on my back. He was the first dog in the world to learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Honestly, a dog is smart enough to do anything that you’re smart enough to teach him. If you can break it down so the dog understands it, he can do it. I mean, I’ve taught shelter dogs to drive a car and press down on the gas pedal. ND Nick White is the founder of Off-Leash K9 Training. 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.



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

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August 3 J U LY

July 17

Cantina Marina Yappy Hour—5:00 PM - 8:00 PM 600 Water St. SW, Washington, DC 20024 Join us at Cantina Marina on the 3rd Monday night from May through September for a yappy hour benefiting the Humane Rescue Alliance. See or the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Facebook page for more details.

Dog Days of Summer Yappy Hour—4:00 PM - 7:00 PM Sudhouse DC, 1340 U St. NW Nardi Media is hosting a yappy hour and silent auction at Sudhouse DC to benefit the HRA. There will be a silent auction and plenty of food and drink specials available. Silent auction items are from all across the area, helping bidders explore DC and experience all our area has to offer this summer. 10% off the alcohol tab and 100% of the silent auction proceeds benefit the HRA.

Aug 5:

July 29

Canine Cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company—11 AM Join us aboard our dog-friendly sightseeing cruise around Alexandria’s Seaport. This howling experience is a local favorite. All are invited, with or without a four legged friend. Dogs ride free! Alexandria City Marina 105 North Union Street. Adults (12+): from $18 Children (2-11): from $12 Dogs & Infants (under 2): free

July 30

Canine Cruise at Lake Accotink Park—6pm Treat your canine companion to a special cruise aboard Lake Accotink Park’s pontoon tour boat. Watch for waterfowl such as ducks, geese and herons. Look up and you might spot one of the parks resident eagles. Limit one dog per person. Register under the person’s name. All dogs

Narmada Winery—Enjoy a lovely day at Narmada, a wonderfully dog-friendly winery and live music by Dan and Chuck from 2-5pm.

August 12

Canine Cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company, 11 AM (see July 29 post for more)

August 12

Narmada Winery—Enjoy a lovely day at Narmada, a wonderfully dog-friendly winery and live music by Thom Feucht from 2-5pm.

August 13

Canine Cruise at Lake Accotink Park (see July 30 post for more)

August 14

Baby-Ready Pets—6:00 pm - 8:30 pm, Animal Welfare League of Arlington, 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. Every year, thousands of animals are turned into shelters by parents concerned about how their pet may affect the health and safety of their new baby. Any pet can have undesirable, although natural reactions to a new baby. New sounds, smells, and activities surrounding an infant may cause a pet to see the baby as competition, prey, or even a toy. Baby-Ready Pets offers preparation and assistance to help expectant families prepare their home and their pets for the arrival … Free, but donations are appreciated! Learn more at

August 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.

August 19

AgoldPhoto Pet Photography Fundraiser—1:00 PM - 4:00 1135 Okie St, NE, Washington, DC. One Eight Distilling and AGoldPhoto Pet Photography are teaming up to raise money for the Humane Rescue Alliance. Book a photo shoot for your pet for $150 and 50% of proceeds will be donated to Humane Rescue Alliance. Reserve your spot now at

August 19

Narmada Winery—Enjoy a lovely day at Narmada, a wonderfully dog-friendly winery and live music by Aubrey Driggers from 2-5pm.

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24 Northern Virginia Dog

| Summer 2017

NOVADOG Magazine August 20

Canine Cruise at Lake Accotink Park (see July 30 post for more)

August 21

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August 24

Low-cost Rabies & Microchip Clinic—6:30 pm - 8:30 pm Animal Welfare League of Arlington, 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. Please bring proof of a prior rabies shot (a rabies certificate, not a tag) to get a three-year rabies shot. Without it, your pet will receive a one-year shot. Waiting is outdoors, so please dress for the weather. All dogs must be on leash and cats must be in carriers. Learn more at

August 26

Canine Cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company, 11 AM (see July 29 post for more) 301-908-8317 Is your dog getting enough exercise?


August 26

Narmada Winery—Enjoy a lovely day at Narmada, a wonderfully dog-friendly winery and live music by Davis Bradley from 2-5pm.


Serving NOVA & MD

August 26

Wags n’ Whiskers—A community-oriented event for all ages in The Village at Shirlington, 2700 S Quincy St. Arlington, VA. upcoming-events/wags-n-whiskers/

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A full day of fido- and familyfriendly fun!

September 7

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


September 10

Corks & Canines—10:30 AM - 3:00 PM Canal Park 200 M Street SE Washington, DC. Grab your pooch, a few friends, and come on out for a pop-up wine garden + brunch experience. Don’t have a pup of your own? The Humane Rescue Alliance will be on hand with adoptable dogs you can rescue and give a fur-ever home to - grab your tickets today! See www. for more details.

September 16


Sep. 23


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.

Canine Cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company— 11 AM (see July 29 post for more)

September 18

Cantina Marina Yappy Hour (see July 17 post for more)

September 23

Barktoberfest by Day; GlowDogGlow by Night (see above for details)

September 28

Low-cost Rabies & Microchip Clinic—6:30 pm - 8:30 pm Animal Welfare League of Arlington, 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. Arlington. Please bring proof of a prior rabies shot (a rabies certificate, not a tag) to get a three-year rabies shot. Without it, your pet will receive a one-year shot. Waiting is outdoors, so please dress for the weather. All dogs must be on leash and cats must be in carriers. Learn more at

September 30

Canine Cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company, 11 AM (see July 29 post for more)

September 30

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


October 14:

Petoberfest —11 am - 4pm. Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge. Enjoy a fun day of FREE Pet and Family Friendly Activities, including Pet Adoptions, Pet Parade & Costume Contest, Children’s Entertainment, Prizes and more!

October 27

Canine Cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company, 6PM and 7PM

October 1

Fairfax Pets on Wheels—Noon. Bring your family, friends and pets for this 3K walk through the shady streets of Fairfax. Benefits Fairfax Pets on Wheels, Inc, an allvolunteer organization dedicated to providing pet visitation to residents of nursing homes and hospitals since 1987.


E X P E R T  A D V I C E

A n 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

Protecting man’s best friend from rabies by Brya n t B u llock


five-year-old brown Daschund-Terrier mix was in the backyard of his Herndon-area home recently when he chased a fox out of sight of his owners. When the dog came back into view, he had blood in his mouth but no visible injuries. The incident prompted a visit to the vet and a call to Animal Protective Services, but the fox could not be found. A day later, a two-year-old male Pointer mix was in the backyard of his owner’s Burke-area home when he got into a fight with a racoon. The raccoon ran off, but not before biting the dog in the leg, also leading to a visit to the vet and a call to Animal Protective Services. That same week, a six-year-old female Brindle Pitbull Terrier had a similar encounter in Clifton when a racoon bit the dog and ran up a tree. Three different days, three different dogs. The episodes were similar, and so were the outcomes: Since none of the wild animals could be captured for testing, each dog was considered potentially exposed to rabies and was given a rabies booster vaccination. The dogs also had to be isolated and observed for 45 days, a process known as confinement, to make sure they did not exhibit signs of rabies. While there isn’t much dog owners can do to control rabies within wild animals, there are steps that each of us should take to limit our exposure—and that of our pets—to potentially infected animals.

It starts with awareness. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it, and it is endemic in Northern Virginia, which means it occurs naturally in wild animals throughout the region. Rabies is most commonly found in racoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Luckily, it is rare in dogs in Virginia and even rarer in humans. From 2006 through 2016, an average of four rabid dogs per year were identified in the Commonwealth. No rabid dogs have been identified in Fairfax County since 2010, when a Maltese puppy was diagnosed with the disease. That dog had never been vaccinated against rabies, and unfortunately was not under supervision when it was exposed through a wound to its muzzle. There have been only two confirmed human cases in Virginia in the last eight years. Why is rabies so rare in Virginia’s dogs? Chiefly because of the state’s rabies vaccination requirement and the dedicated work of Animal Protection officers and public health agencies. All dogs in Virginia must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age. The rabies vaccine is safe and well tolerated, and it is the most important step a dog owner can take to prevent rabies. But a dog is not considered current until 30 days after receiving the first rabies vaccination. In addition to vaccinating, you can reduce the likelihood of rabies exposure by always walking your dog on a leash and never leaving it unattended while outside, where it may come into contact with wildlife. Anytime a dog is observed near a high-risk rabies species and there is

26 Northern Virginia Dog

| Summer 2017

no owner present to recount the events, the dog is considered potentially exposed to rabies. It should be given a rabies booster shot, and the owner should observe the dog for any signs of illness, such as confusion, agitation, aggressiveness, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. When a dog is suspected of having rabies, a veterinarian should also evaluate it immediately and begin working with the Health Department and Animal Protection Services to determine how to proceed. If after consulting with the authorities the veterinarian decides the illness may be rabies, the dog should be euthanized and tested for rabies. Dogs that have symptoms consistent with rabies are often very ill, and they are recommended for euthanasia due to the severity of the illness and the inability to treat it. If the dog is rabid, the local health department investigates to identify all potential humans and animals that may have been exposed and makes recommendations to prevent transmission of the disease. It’s important to remember that rabies is a preventable disease. By vaccinating your dogs and not letting them go off-leash or unattended, you not only protect your pet from rabies, you protect your family as well. For more information on rabies prevention, visit www.fairfaxcounty. gov/hd/rabies. For a schedule of reduced-cost vaccination clinics in Fairfax County, visit / ReducedCostRabiesClinics ND Bryant Bullock is the Rabies Program Manager for the Fairfax County Health Department.

Tips for avoiding rabies: • Be sure to vaccinate your pet as soon as possible and make sure to keep vaccinations up-to-date • Leash your dog when it is outside; don’t let pets roam free • If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, report it to the Animal Protection Services at 703-691-2131; also contact Animal Protection Services to remove stray animals in the neighborhood that may be ill or unvaccinated • Do not keep wildlife as pets and never feed wildlife or stray pets; remember, if the animal is not your own, leave it alone • Discourage wildlife from frequenting your property by securing trash cans and not leaving pet food out • Seal openings in your house so that wildlife can’t enter

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

Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail Segment 2: Lawyers Road in Reston to Thaiss Park in Fairfax by Angela Meyers


elcome to the second segment of the Cross County Trail! This part of the hike takes us from Reston to the City of Fairfax. Exploring this trail has been a great experience, and I am very pleased that I took on this challenge so I could share it with you. I hope you all get out and investigate parts of the trail, even if you don’t tackle it all. To get a trail overview please refer back to the NOVADog Spring 2017 Issue or review the Fairfax County trail map: cct/. Bring your fully charged phone (with a GPS) and zoom in until you can see the trail. Technology is very helpful in ensuring you stay on track! We concluded Segment 1 at Lawyers Rd in Reston, so we’ll pick up the trail on the other side of Lawyers Rd for Segment 2. After crossing Lawyers Rd, the trail turns rustic again. It is no longer paved and very few houses are visible. The trail runs along small creeks and then along Little Difficult Run. I saw a deer in my first minute, which set the pace for a great day of wildlife viewing that included a half dozen deer (one with her nursing fawn), a hummingbird, various dragonflies, spring peepers, and a chipmunk. Although I was hiking on a 95 degree day, the stream bed and tree canopy kept things relatively cool. As mentioned before, there are places where it’s unclear where to turn, but in general the trail is well marked. Leave time for wrong turns, and if you travel more than a few hundred feet after making a choice and you don’t see a trail marker, turn around. You’ve likely gone off trail and

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

you can quickly get back on the right track. Though these annoyances exist, the trail’s beauty and surprising remoteness within our densely populated county make it well worth it. This segment starts right after Mile Marker 10. At Marker 10.5 you’ll cross Little Difficult Run on well-placed stones. The trail is multi-use, and while I only encountered a few bikers and a few other dog-lovers, I saw indications of horses—if you have a skittish dog, be aware. For most of the next 4 miles you’ll be fairly close to the water’s edge, with plenty of access points for dogs who love to swim and fetch sticks. The water on the day I was there was very low and safe. At Mile 15, you come out on Miller Heights Rd. Turn right, follow the road for 0.2 miles, cross the street and turn left back into the woods at the crosswalk. It’s nicely wooded with wider paths and slightly rolling hills. While it isn’t streamside, house sightings are still rare and you’ll cross just a few roads before you eventually parallel the Oak Marr Golf and Rec Center at Mile Marker 16.5. It’s a great rest stop for this segment (water, restrooms, and a place to put your feet up). This concludes the most scenic part of Segment 2. The next 4 miles follow roads and neighborhood trails. Access the Rec Center by turning right on Jermantown Rd. To continue, turn left onto Jermantown Rd cross at the light, staying on Jermantown. At the second light it turns into Blake Ln where you’ll pass the Blake Lane Park Dog Park. You’ll walk over Rt. 66 on a pedestrian bridge. Shortly after turn left onto Five Oaks Rd, which becomes Saintsbury Dr. Then turn right onto the bike trail on Vaden Dr, it veers off to the right after just 0.1 miles. Stay on the bike trail until it intersects with Rt. 29. If you need provisions, there is a 7/11 and a little restaurant with outdoor seating (ABC Cantina) at the Corner of Lee Hwy and Pickett Rd just a short distance to the right. You

are almost at the end of the segment. Cross Rt. 29 at the light, turn left, and pick up the bike trail again. Follow it through the park and you’ll come out at the intersection of Pickett Rd and Arlington Blvd. Turn left to cross the street, stay on Pickett Rd, and continue about ½ mile down Pickett to Thaiss Park, which is where we conclude Segment 2. That’s 20 miles down, 20 to go! ND

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

Distance: Create your own length from the 10 miles featured. Fido-Friendly Features: Shaded, streamside, unpaved surfaces, lots of wildlife, and very few people. Best Time to Go: During daylight hours. Avoid after a heavy rain. Access: Off Lawyer Road on Birdfoot Lane, there are 2 small pull-offs for parking. There is a parking lot at Oak Marr Rec Center and Thaiss Park. Rated: 2 paws. The trail is not hard. Very easy, no hills, but I give it a 2 for the distance.

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.

Sadie Jane Davis Loved by Erika Davis

Adopted on: January 28, 2013 Adopted from: A Forever Home, Chantilly, VA How did she get her name? I’m from the South, so I chose a Southern double name, of course! Plus, she looks like a Sadie Background info: Sadie, her mom, and her brothers and sisters

were all dropped off at a high-kill shelter before being rescued by A Forever Home.

We picked her because: The first time I looked at her face, I knew she was meant to be mine. When I emailed AFH to inquire about her, I learned she already had an application. I was crushed. A few days later, I got notification that the application had fallen through and that I could come see her. Sadie was being fostered with a loving family and her foster dad spoke of how shy, smart and sweet she was. This family had given her so much love and I was so appreciative of all they had done for her. I never looked back, and she’s been my best friend ever since! Favorite activity together: Sadie and I love to hike together. She

runs off-leash through the water and tears through the trails. She also loves to do agility and Rally classes.

Favorite treat or snack: She loves cheese, chicken, and hotdogs. She’s a very picky eater and much prefers human food!

Favorite toy: She loves any toy that squeaks. Her current favorite is a hedgehog that squeaks and “honks.” Her favorite thing to do is rip the toy apart in search of the squeaker.

We love her because: She gives unconditional love. She has a doggie smile that will melt your heart. She and I have been through so much together. We truly lean on the other when one of us is feeling down. I’m not sure what I’d do without her. Recently there was a fire in our home and she was rescued. We lost almost everything, but we still have each other and that’s ALL I need! ND 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

| Summer 2017

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14 11AM – 4 PM FREE Pet & Family Friendly Activities: Pet Parade & Petting Zoo Pet Oriented Exhibitors Pet Rescues Children’s Entertainment Prizes & Store Discounts

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NOVADog Magazine Summer 2017  

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

NOVADog Magazine Summer 2017  

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

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