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Looking for a furry friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Tali (above) is a one-and-a-half-year-old hound mix. She loves to play, already knows how to sit on command, and is very food-motivated, so learning other manners should be a breeze. Tali thrives in the company of people and enjoys playing with some dogs, but she's not a fan of cats. She’s looking for a cat-free home with one or more active human companions who can give her the exercise and guidance she needs and the love and attention she deserves. You can meet Tali at the Washington Animal Rescue League.

Reese is a four-year-old female available for adoption through the Washington Animal Rescue League. She has medium-long hair, loves to be brushed, and is affectionate with people. She would like to be the only cat in her forever home. To arrange a meeting, contact adopt@warl.org.

As you can tell, Daisy (who met Santa last weekend) loves people. She's the perfect size for the city—about 30 pounds—and gets along well with other dogs, too. She loves kids and lights up when she sees them at adoption events. To find out more about Daisy Mae or other adoptable dogs, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Wendy is happy dog who's eager to please her new family. Though she was very timid when she first arrived to Washington, after only two weeks with Rural Dog Rescue, she's already become a more confident girl. She loves people and gets along well with cats, too. To find out more about Wendy or other adoptable dogs, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Kojack is a chow/shepherd/collie mix. He is about seven years old and weighs about 60 pounds. He is a friendly, affectionate, and low- to medium-energy dog. He's a very sweet guy who would be an excellent family dog. He gets along very well with other dogs, too. Find out how to foster or adopt him through K-9 Lifesavers.

Lima Bean is a one- to two-year-old plott hound/boxer/terrier mix. She weighs about 35 pounds and was brought to the Washington area from a rural shelter in Virginia. She's affectionate, great with other dogs, and has a lot of personality. Lima Bean loves people but would do best in a home without children younger than 12. She's fully housebroken and knows basic commands and manners. Meet her through K-9 Lifesavers.

Quinn is a five-year-old, nine-pound domestic shorthair cat. He's very friendly, but his owner moved away and left him behind. Quinn has previously lived with other cats and would likely do well with kids since he's so easygoing. He's available for adoption through the Washington Humane Society and is currently in foster care at Pet Valu in Silver Spring, where you can meet him.

Posted at 01:25 PM/ET, 12/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week's pick—a winery with live music in Purcellville. By Gwyn Donohue

There's something extra cozy about sipping a nice glass of red in a country setting, and Purcellville's Notaviva Vineyards is a great place to do exactly that with your dog by your side. The winery, situated next to a pond that overlooks rolling hills, welcomes leashed dogs at the many picnic tables spread across the large lawn, as well as at the tables on its comfortable front porch.

Named after the Italian words “nota” (music note) and “viva” (with life), the winery pairs its wines with music. For example, it suggests teaming up its Vincero Viognier—a crisp, light wine—with acoustic guitar. In keeping with the theme, the vineyard features rock, folk, bluegrass, Celtic, jazz, and classical performers on weekends.

Another thing that distinguishes Notaviva is that it doesn't accept drop-in buses or limos, and won’t take groups larger than 16 people, even with a reservation. So you and your dog can enjoy your visit without getting elbowed off a picnic table by a bachelorette party or rowdy wine tour that can ruin the mood at other spots.

The winery hosts food trucks on weekends, too, so if you don’t bring a picnic, chances are you can sample some tasty mobile-kitchen fare. The weekend I went, the Roaming Rotisserie truck was serving dry-rubbed chicken with savory sides like garlic fries and cilantro-lime rice.

Notaviva is open Thursday through Sunday. Tastings are $8. Dogs aren't allowed in the tasting room, so bundle up to enjoy the scenery outdoors with your four-legged companion.

Gwyn Donohue is the author of the blog Two Dog Tales. Head there to read about more events, activities, and news for Washington dog owners.

Posted at 09:56 AM/ET, 12/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every week, our vet expert answers your pressing pet questions.
Image via Shutterstock.

Have a question you'd like to ask a vet? Send your query to pets@washingtonian.com with the subject line "Vet Q."

Q: My cat freaks out whenever we bring her in the car—she bangs against the sides of her carrier, yowls nonstop, basically throws a fit. Do you have any suggestions of how to make car rides more tolerable for her?

Dr. Chris Miller, AtlasVet DC: The more I think about it, the more I feel like cats that fear cars are very intelligent. Dogs that just jump in a car and hang their heads out the window seem a little cavalier to blindly trust such a wild experience. They don’t know what cars are or how they work. I get nervous in planes, and I know how they work. Suddenly, a cat is plucked from its domain, jammed into a carrier, and tossed into a large metal box that hurtles along at 60 miles per hour. This must be horrifying for cats that only leave the house once a year.

Cats do not like change, and the first sign that their routine is about to get shaken up is the carrier. Just the sight of it can cause cats to panic, so making sure it is a safe place by getting your cat used to it in advance can be incredibly helpful. Use the carrier as a place for kittens to sleep, play, or eat as they are being raised. For adult cats, get the carrier out many days in advance of a scheduled car trip and try to make it a desirable destination by placing treats or catnip inside. Using an anti-anxiety pheromone spray like Feliway can help cats distinguish the carrier as a pleasant, more familiar place.

If you are like me, you keep your carrier in the basement, where it becomes covered in cobwebs and dust. I am scared to touch some of the carriers that owners bring into the hospital, let alone crawl inside them. Making sure you have a carrier that is clean, large enough, and lined with a fresh, soft blanket is a great start to making cats less averse to it. Newer carriers that load from the side and the top give options to owners trying to find the best ways to load their cats into them. Once at the veterinarian’s office, having a carrier that is easy to disassemble can mean that the cat doesn’t have to leave the carrier for the exam and relieves stress greatly. The key to getting a cat more comfortable with travel is familiarity. The more I fly, the less I worry about every sound or bank the plane makes. I’ve been there before and it always works out.

The experience is similar for a cat in a car. Once you have your cat carrier-trained you can start moving them around to see how they do. Simply taking them to the car, giving them treats (if they will eat them) and returning back inside can help desensitize them from fear of travel. When you do finally venture off in the car, covering the carrier with a blanket can help cats feel more secure. I often recommend that owners bring their dogs or cats to the vet office on a brief dry run for them to receive treats for a good first positive experience. Using positive reinforcement and desensitizing your cat to the fears of travel can take some forethought and a decent amount of effort. Despite hard work and training, cats occasionally need anti-anxiety medications or sedatives for travel. This should only be done after discussing the situation with your veterinarian.

Find Dr. Chris Miller on Twitter at @DCVet.

Posted at 12:59 PM/ET, 12/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Looking for a fury friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Casey (above) is an approximately four-year-old redbone coonhound. He's incredibly sweet and gets along well with other dogs. Like many hounds, he would make a wonderful, loving, and loyal companion for anyone looking to add to their family. For more information on Casey, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Superman is approximately six months old and weighs around 40 pounds. He came from a high-kill shelter in very rough shape—very thin and with a bad case of (non-contagious) mange. With the right care and a lot of love, he is back on his feet and looking for a forever home. He gets along well with other dogs, but is looking for a home without cats. For more information on Superman and other adoptable dogs, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Tanner is a six-year-old Jack Russell mix living in a foster home in the DC area. He is about 40 pounds, and is an easy dog to love. He is low-energy and about as low-maintenance as dogs come—he just needs meals, some walks, and some regular love and attention. He is great with cats, he lives with other dogs without problems, and is terrific with older kids. Meet him through K-9 Lifesavers.

Maude is a beautiful shepherd mix who is approximately two or three years old. She weighs between 40 and 50 pounds. She is very friendly, eager to explore the world around her, and is great with all people. Maude has a medium-high energy level and would thrive in a home where she can go on walks and play. She is great with most dogs, but better with some than others. She has been living in boarding for quite a while and would really benefit from a loving home or foster home. Meet her through K-9 Lifesavers.

River is a one-year-old, 47-pound American Staffordshire terrier mix. He was surrendered to the Washington Humane Society after he was found as a stray in August. He has a beautiful fawn coat, goofy ears, and a big doggie smile. He's very intelligent, loves to play, and is quiet and already house-trained. He'd make a great hiking buddy and couch companion. After months at the shelter, he's ready to find a family. Meet him at the WHS New York Avenue Adoption Center.

Coco and Chanel are two loving sisters who lost the one home they had known since being kittens when a family member developed allergies. They are between three and four years old and need to find a new home together. You can meet them through Homeward Trails Animal Rescue.

Bo is a deaf border collie who was surrendered to a high-kill shelter because his owners were moving. He is two years old and 50 pounds. Bo loves people and is good with other dogs. He will watch for hand signals, and "listens" very well despite his disability. Bo is a sensitive boy who is in needs of TLC. If you are interested in learning more about him, please e-mail JennL@homewardtrails.org.

Posted at 12:16 PM/ET, 12/12/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every week, we get an expert to answer your pressing pet questions

Have a question you'd like to ask a vet? Send your query to pets@washingtonian.com with the subject line "Vet Q."

Q: As my dog has gotten older, he's developed little mole-like growths under his fur. He's part poodle, and I've read this is common for the breed. Our vet isn't concerned about any of them yet, but what's your opinion? Are there any telltale signs that a growth like this could be serious?

Dr. Chris Miller, AtlasVet DC: Small lumps and bumps are a certainty for most breeds. In my experience boxers, Labradors, poodles, cocker spaniels and schnauzers are the lumpiest, bumpiest breeds that come to mind. The reality is that any breed is susceptible to a variety of skin or subcutaneous (the fatty layer of connective tissue below the skin) growths. We call these growths “tumors” in the truest sense of the word, meaning “an abnormal swelling.” Most are benign or not problematic, while a few can be rapidly growing malignant tumors that could be troublesome. The trick is deciding which is which. In this specific case, if the growths are small and slow growing they are likely small cysts that are common in poodles. Below are a few things to consider when evaluating small skin masses.

Dogs that are older than seven years of age are much more prone to develop dermal tumors. Your veterinarian sees them on a daily basis and is probably skillful at eyeballing a growth and letting you know if they think one is a problem or not. As a rule of thumb, tumors that are growing rapidly, are irregular in shape, painful or are producing discharge are more likely to be a problem. The most common concern is that the tumor is caused by cancer. However, ruling out other causes like infection, inflammation, and cysts are important in deciding how, or if, to treat the mass. The problem is a veterinarian cannot simply look at a growth and tell you for certain what is causing the problem. Our guesses are usually good, but not perfect.

There are three options when it comes to diagnosing and treating skin growths. If the mass is slow growing and consistent with a benign tumor, veterinarians are quick to implement benign neglect. This basically means that if the tumor doesn’t fit the criteria of a dangerous one, we will simply monitor it. If the tumor is growing rapidly, causing problems, or more information is needed, your veterinarian may perform a fine needle aspirate. This is when a small needle is used to obtain cells from the mass. Some tumors do not give up their cells so easily, and sometimes small tumors can be missed by the needle when obtaining the sample, resulting in a false negative result. For this reason, the most accurate test is a biopsy, in which a piece of the tumor itself, or ideally, the entire tumor is removed and sent in for evaluation by a pathologist. While this is a more expensive and invasive option, the information obtained will let us know what kind of tumor is present and if the entire tumor has been removed on a microscopic level. When your veterinarian knows exactly what the mass is, better decisions can be made about treatment and prognosis.

Deciding how to manage dermal growths on a dog can be difficult, especially in a predisposed breed or an aging dog that has multiple masses. Testing each mass can be expensive, but in a predisposed breed it may be worth it. Discussing your pet’s risk factors with your veterinarian can help you make an informed decision about whether to wait and watch, or to schedule a procedure to remove a potentially dangerous skin mass.

Find Dr. Chris Miller on Twitter at @DCVet.

Posted at 01:26 PM/ET, 12/10/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, meet readers' pets Teddy, Alfie, Bindi, and Hendrix.

Opener: Want your pet to be featured on our website? E-mail your pet's name, location, a brief bio, and a photo to pets@washingtonian.com, and use the subject line "Reader Pets."

"Teddy (above) is a four-year-old English bulldog who lives in Truxton Circle. He enjoys romping through Congressional Cemetery, swimming/sinking, and chewing sticks. He hates rolling luggage and citrus. Teddy once swam with Jack Jr. of Georgetown."

"This is Alfie, a miniature Holland Lop who lives in Alexandria. He is almost three years old and weighs 3.2 pounds. Even though he's a rascally rabbit, everyone loves him at first sight. His hobbies are tapping my foot with his nose to tell me he wants some treats, running up the stairs to hide under my bed, and begging for lettuce."

"Hendrix is a two-year-old border collie ball-fiend who practices football in Manor Park. He's going to start with Major League Soccer before moving on to the English League and the big bucks. If that doesn't pan out, he'll explore his options as a tennis-ball retriever, human-behavior expert, or agility master."

"This is Bindi. She lives in Northwest DC. She is originially from an interstate of New Mexico and arrived in DC by way of Indianapolis (how she got her name) and Kentucky. Bindi loves city life. She rides in Ubers. Her first language is Spanish. She loves wearing sweaters and coats in the winter. She enjoys Wiseguy pizza and walks in John Marshall Park. She has a huge fan base and is know as 'Bindi in the City' because of her love and enjoyment of all things DC!"

Posted at 12:52 PM/ET, 12/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Looking for a fury friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Kate (above) is a ten-year-old Maine Coon who likes to be involved in whatever you're doing. Working on the computer? She'll help press the keys. Reading the paper? She'll hold down the pages down for you. Watching TV? She'll sit in your lap to join you. Kate is currently staying at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Pollyanna is a five-year-old, happy, energetic boxer/hound who greets everyone she meets with enthusiasm. She is friendly and playful and is sure to make a great family companion. Though she also loves couch time, she's active, so her adopters might think about enrolling her in a training class to go along with her daily walks. She has previously lived with an older cat, so she might do well in a home with another feline companion. However, she should be the only dog in her home. She'd do well in a home without small children. You can meet her at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Robin is an approximately two-year-old Lab mix. He's on the smaller side for a lab, but that makes him the perfect size for the city. Robin is a very affectionate and intelligent dog and would be a perfect fit for any family. He loves going for walks and exploring, but is also happy to curl up next to you for a nap or to watch a movie. He would do best in a home without cats. For more information on adopting Robin or another friend, visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Jasper is a hound mix, between two and four years old. While his ears make him look like a basset hound, he's on the larger side, at about 65 pounds. Even though he's big, like most hounds, he's a pretty laid back and easy going guy. He loves hugs and kisses from his human friends and gets along well with other dogs. He was probably used as a hunting dog in his past life, so a home without small dogs or cats is best. Check out the Rural Dog Rescue website for more information about adopting Jasper.

Tyson is a seven-year-old boxer. Although he’s a big boy, he's very calm and gentle. Tyson came to the Washington Animal Rescue League after his owner of many years passed away and the house he’d been living in was foreclosed. At the shelter, he has quickly become one of the volunteers' favorite dogs. Tyson is eligible for WARL’s “Boomers’ Buddies” program, through which the adoption fee for animals five years and older is waived for adopters 50 and older. But no matter what your age, Tyson would make a loving and loyal companion. Meet him at the Washington Animal Rescue League.

When Cloud Nine arrived at the Washington Animal Rescue League, her left eye was red and swollen from a severe infection. Antibiotics relieved the swelling and pain but could not restore the sight in that eye. She also had a leg fracture, injuries to her jaw, and serious damage to one of her kidneys. What amazed veterinary staff was that throughout her extensive treatment, Cloud Nine remained sweet, trusting, and affectionate. Today, this one-year-old cat is happy and healthy and enjoying life in a foster home while she waits for a permanent family. If you'd like to meet Cloud Nine, e-mail adopt@warl.org.

Tboz is a two-year-old, long-haired cat. He loves hanging out with other cats and would enjoy a home with a feline friend. Tboz loves to entertain. He will make you laugh with his antics and impress you with his dance moves whenever you whip out a wand toy. You can meet him at the Washington Humane Society's Georgia Avenue Adoption Center.

Sawyer is a 75-pound Aussie/husky mix, between and one- and two-years-old. He's intelligent, friendly, great with people, and would probably do very well with kids. He was rescued from a rural shelter in Georgia and brought to the DC-area in search of a loving, responsible home. He enjoys long walks and snuggling sessions. Sawyer is great with most other dogs, but can be reactive around other dominant males. Sawyer is a very smart boy who would really enjoy training classes. You can meet him through K-9 Lifesavers.

Ashton is a three-year-old Catahoula-mix who weighs about 75 pounds. Ashton has been with K-9 Lifesavers for over a year. He is a very friendly boy who loves people and other dogs, but he will not do well in a home with cats. He is very food-motivated and has a pretty laid back personality. Like a lot of Catahoulas, he can be a little stubborn, but he's very treat-motivated. Arrange to meet him through K-9 Lifesavers.

Posted at 02:19 PM/ET, 12/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Hikes and trails for every human and canine skill level, just outside the Beltway. By Gwyn Donohue
Photograph by Gwyn Donohue.

Just beyond the Beltway in McLean, you can find some great, dog-friendly hiking trails in Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. The area encompasses a couple hundred acres along the Potomac River, upstream from the American Legion Memorial Bridge.

Scott’s Run features a variety of trail types, from wide, easy-to-navigate paths, to steep, rocky routes. At each entrance there’s a map showing the specific trails you can choose, but once you’re on the trails they’re not marked. Bring a smartphone with a map app so when you reach a fork in the path, you can figure out which direction you want to head.

Both the River Trail and Woodland Trail are cleared paths, good for strolling or even running with your dog, and wide enough that you can walk side-by-side with another person. Depending on the route you take, you can follow them for a mile or two. Along the River Trail, your dog can wade in shallow parts of the creek.

At the far end of the Woodland Trail, you can even explore the ruins of what was once someone's home. All that's left are a huge stone fireplace and a crumbling chimney, but it’s cool to imagine who lived there and what their life must have been like centuries ago.

Another tip: The first parking lot for Scott's Run (you'll find it after getting of the Beltway, heading west on Georgetown Pike, and passing the entrance to a neighborhood) only has room for about a dozen cars. If it's full, keep going, and you'll find another lot—also on the right—which is much larger.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is located at 7400 Georgetown Pike in McLean. For more information, call 703-759-9018.

Gwyn Donohue is the author of the blog Two Dog Tales. Head there to read about more events, activities, and news for Washington dog owners.

Posted at 10:33 AM/ET, 12/04/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every week, we get an expert to answer your pressing pet questions.

Have a question you'd like to ask a vet? Send your query to pets@washingtonian.com with the subject line "Vet Q."

Q: I have a 12-year-old male cat, who's healthy and indoors only. Every night when I go to bed I put a glass of water on my nightstand. The other day, I happened to wake up to find my cat drinking out of my glass of water. I don't know how many times he's done this, but I'm wondering what concerns there are, and if I can get sick.

Dr. Chris Miller, AtlasVet DC: The good news is that drinking after your cat is very unlikely to cause any significant health concerns. Cats can be finicky drinkers, but the amount one cat drinks compared to another can be highly variable. Seeing cats drink water can often be a rare occurrence, especially if the cat is eating wet food. Wet food has such a high water content that their desire to drink additional water may be decreased. A common theme you may find in my “Ask-a-Vet” answers is that if your pet has any new or unusual behaviors, they are worth taking note of and, often, discussing with a veterinarian. If you notice your cat is drinking more or from abnormal locations, it could be because your cat has increased thirst (often accompanied by increased urination), which could be a sign of illness.

There are many possible causes of increased thirst, but with an older cat the three most common are hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and kidney disease. Hyperthyroidism and diabetes are both endocrine diseases that share some similar symptoms and can occur in cats later in life. Drinking and urinating more is the hallmark of both, but you may also notice ravenous eating in the face of weight loss. Kidney disease has many forms and varies in severity, but is extremely common in older cats and is usually accompanied by decreased appetite and weight loss. All of these diseases can vary in severity, but the most common complaint by owners is that their cats are strangely thirsty. Performing routine blood and urine testing at your veterinarian’s office is a good way to screen for these diseases, so if you notice changes in your cat’s drinking habits, make an appointment.

On a personal note, my cat Downey (below) is inquisitive and always getting into trouble. He loves to examine things we have left lying around the house and has a particular affinity for water glasses. In the middle of the night, if I catch him lapping up water with his head buried deep in a glass, my first instinct is to yell out and stop him. I’ve learned not to do this because this usually ends with him running off wearing the glass like a helmet leaking water, and then the glass ends up broken on the floor. Obviously, this is not a safe situation at all! For this reason, I have switched to plastic, spill-proof containers.


Find Dr. Chris Miller on Twitter at @DCVet.

Posted at 09:34 AM/ET, 12/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, meet readers' pets Fergie, Max, Briscoe, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Kylie.

Want your pet to be featured on our website? E-mail your pet's name, location, a brief bio, and a photo to pets@washingtonian.com and use the subject line "Reader Pets."

"We live in Adams Morgan with our dog, Fergie, and her cat brother, Max (above). Their favorite activity is nap time."

"This is Detective Lennie Briscoe, NYPD (ret.), also known as Briscoe. He's a five-year-old, 72-pound greyhound who retired from dog racing in 2013 and currently resides in the U Street Corridor. He's shy at first, but incredibly sweet and loyal. Since he was rescued last year, he's slowly learned how to be a real dog. His favorite activities include chasing tennis balls in Meridian Hill Park, sitting on couches, belly rubs, and stealing Mom's tacos. Besides tacos, he also likes to eat bananas, tomatoes, and Greek yogurt."

"Our 1.5-year-old Siberian furbaby, Kylie 'Kitty' Thor Knauer, is one of the brightest personalities we've ever encountered in an animal. She talks more than most people, responds every time we address her, and loves to cuddle. She's incredibly intuitive and always knows how to cheer up, amuse and comfort her humans. She loves playing hide and seek and likes to commandeer water glasses left on tables. Kylie lives in Chevy Chase, MD with her parents."

"This is Ebenezer Scrooge. He and his humans live in NoMa. At one and a half years old, he still hasn’t quite figured out how to run with his spider legs. Gracefully walking down stairs also still evades him. His favorite activities include making loud noises while chewing on plastic bottles and sticking his big ol’ droopy lips on the countertops (and your food)."

Posted at 02:08 PM/ET, 12/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()