Photographs by Vincent Ricardel.
Trainer, behaviorist, positive reinforcement--the lexicon of dog training can be baffling. To complicate matters, there's debate within the training profession about which methods are most effective. Add in the fact that there are no state or federal legal requirements or agreed-upon standards for what constitutes a dog trainer or behaviorist--anybody can claim to be qualified.
When Amy Gaus and her husband, Ed, sent out save-the-date announcements for their 2009 wedding, they made sure the cards pictured Maxine, Sarah, and Charlie. After all, the three dogs were responsible for bringing the couple together.
Rabbits can be great companions, but they require special attention. "People need to know what they're getting into," says Mary Ellen Whitehouse, founder of Bunny Lu Adoptions, a rabbit-rescue facility in Haymarket.
Saône Crocker picked out a puppy at a friend's farm in 1992. She named him Tobias and later bought health insurance to guarantee he'd always have the best care. Crocker, a retired attorney in DC, says having the insurance gave her peace of mind: "You have that restful feeling that if you face a terrible diagnosis like cancer, you won't have to make a decision based on a terrible reason like money."
Kate Condon didn't think she was ready for another dog when her brother took her to the Washington Animal Rescue League in 2008. Condon's 14-year-old Welsh Pembroke corgi had recently died, but her brother insisted on the visit. It so happened that the shelter had two corgis. Condon fell in love with the female. "She was real quiet but real sweet," says Condon. "I just kind of connected with her." She adopted her and named her Lucy.