In advance of National Puppy Day on March 23, we’re showing off 25 of Washington’s adorable adoptable dogs. These pups are from the Washington Humane Society, the Washington Animal Rescue League, Friends of Homeless Animals, and the Montgomery County Humane Society. Bonus: The Washington Humane Society is offering a St. Cat-Trick’s Day deal on March 16 and 17, which gets you 50 percent off the adoption fee for all animals.
Washington Humane Society
Georgia Avenue Adoption Center
7319 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-723-5730
New York Avenue Adoption Center
1201 New York Ave., NE; 202-576-6664
Washington Animal Rescue League
71 Oglethorpe St., NW; 202-726-2556
Friends of Homeless Animals
Send an e-mail to email@example.com or call 703-385-0224 to set up a time to visit the dogs.
Montgomery County Humane Society
14645 Rothgeb Dr., Rockville; 240-773-5960.
UPDATE 04/08/2013: Our pets survey is now closed. Thanks for your help!
The Washingtonian will publish its guide to pet care in the July issue, and we need your help! The guide will include listings of the area’s best veterinarians, emergency clinics, groomers, petsitters, kennels, trainers, and more.
Please take a few minutes to tell us which area pet-care providers you trust. You can fill out our quick, easy survey here.
Photograph captured from YouTube video by the American Humane Association.
In the February issue of The Washingtonian, on stands now, you’ll find a special pets section that includes profiles of Washington’s “wonder pets.” These are animals that have survived against all odds or performed acts of bravery, or that make a difference in their communities. But we wanted to highlight one of them here. Sage, a 13-year-old border collie, is a real hero.
Sage lives in New Mexico, but she’ll forever be connected to Washington. She has been a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) search-and-rescue dog since she was 18 months old. Her first real mission was to search through the Pentagon after 9/11. Amid the rubble she sniffed out the body of the terrorist who had flown American Flight 77 into the building.
Since then, Sage has traveled to seven countries and participated in many high-profile missions. She searched for survivors following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and went to Aruba to look for the body of Natalee Holloway, who disappeared there in 2005.
Sage served in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, where she recovered human remains. Her owner and handler, Diane Whetsel, who accompanied her, says she fell into another role while living in the war zone: “Sage turned out to be the warm fur for soldiers to cry into, or just a playmate.”
The American Humane Association named Sage a 2011 Hero Dog. She mingled with members of Congress at a Veterans Day event honoring all the Hero Dogs. But her job has taken a toll. Sage is battling two rare forms of respiratory cancer, likely the result of sniffing through toxic sites. She’s getting the best care, but to help provide medical treatment to other service dogs, Whetsel started the Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve. The nonprofit’s mission is to “promote the welfare of dogs who have faithfully served (often in harm’s way) in wars, police work, crime prevention, and rescue efforts.”
Illness hasn’t dampened Sage’s spirit. While the dog was recovering from a recent surgery, Whetsel hid toys around the room for her to find: “It was like a healing thing for her—she was able to do her job.”
Look for our February 2012 issue feature on pets on Feb. 21.
We want to see photos of your pets out and about around Washington—and beyond! Did you snap the perfect shot of your pet strolling on the National Mall, or exploring Great Falls Park? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 4, 2012. Prizes will be awarded to the pets photographed in the coolest places. Washingtonian.com will post a slideshow of the finalists when our February 2012 issue—which includes our special pets section—hits stands.
Spike, with Melissa Morgan, traveled from Afghanistan to Arlington. Photograph by Paul Morse
While working as a USAID contractor in Afghanistan last September, Katherine Martin noticed something unusual outside her office: a ten-pound ball of fur covered in dust. Speaking through a translator, she asked the Afghan guards what the puppy—which was too weak to stand—was doing there. “That’s just a dog,” a guard said. “We kick it on our way in.”
Martin lured the dog inside and gave her a bath. Within weeks, Spike—whose name is derived from the Pashto word for a female dog—was a familiar face at the heavily fortified compound where Martin stayed. The pair made a game of chasing each other around a fountain. “She really saved my sanity while I was there,” says Martin, who often heard explosions outside her windows.
The author wipes Bexley’s paws after walks and gives him filtered water. Photograph by Erik Uecke
When I first met my dog, Bexley, at the Washington Humane Society, his hair was matted and he smelled terrible. He had fresh sutures from getting neutered at the shelter, which meant I couldn’t bathe him for two weeks.
That none of this fazed me is how I knew I was in love. Germs usually freak me out—I could teach a seminar on how to use a public bathroom without touching anything—but Bexley still got lots of snuggles.
Once I was able to have him bathed and groomed, my type-A instincts kicked in. Two years later, Bexley, a miniature-poodle mix, dutifully raises his paws when we return from a walk, in anticipation of the baby wipe I’ll use to rub them down.
I had assumed I was just neurotic, until a recent trip to the vet. During Bexley’s check-up at CityPaws in DC, Dr. Wendy Knight explained that even though parasites are a concern for pets year-round, summer is peak season for contracting them. Parasites, parasite eggs, and bacteria thrive in humidity.
Suburban dogs—particularly ones that go to daycare, play in parks, and stay in boarding facilities—are also at risk. Ashley Hughes, a veterinarian at Friendship Hospital for Animals in DC’s Tenleytown, says that even dogs that hang out in their own back yards can get parasites from neighborhood cats or other animals wandering through.
I was feeling like a star parent at Bexley’s appointment after Knight praised my use of baby wipes. Then she mentioned that water bowls at parks or those left out by well-meaning businesses can also be a hazard. A sick dog might drink from a bowl and spread the parasite to the next thirsty dog. On hot days, I had always let Bex drink out of the bowls we passed on 14th Street in Northwest DC.
Hughes says one of the most common diseases dogs get from communal water bowls is canine papilloma virus. Dogs that like to swim in lakes, streams, or ponds are at greater risk of getting giardia. Vets say they see giardia relatively frequently and the only way to prevent it is to keep dogs away from the water.
Another threat to dogs is leptospirosis, a bacterium that comes from animal urine. Possums, raccoons, rats, and other rodents can carry the disease and pass it on to dogs that drink from contaminated rain puddles. Leptospirosis often goes undiagnosed—symptoms include fever as well as excessive urinating and drinking—and can lead to liver and kidney failure. There’s a vaccine, though vets don’t always include it as one of the core vaccines, such as rabies or distemper, so dog owners should ask about it.
For dogs such as Bexley that take monthly heartworm preventatives—the medications, such as Interceptor Flavor Tabs and Heartgard Plus, also help protect against hookworms and roundworms—Knight recommends annual stool tests to check for parasites. Dogs not on preventatives should get tested every six months.
Bexley had his parasite test earlier this summer. He aced it—meaning he’s healthy—and Mommy is very proud.
This article appears in the August 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.
“The doctor said he is a highly intelligent cat and part of his problem is he’s bored,” says Carr, a lawyer who lived in Arlington before moving away this spring. “He needs something to focus his energy on.”
Carr hadn’t considered training a cat. But experts say it’s possible—it just requires time and patience. While dogs are pack animals and thus often eager to work with people, cats are more independent, tend to have shorter attention spans, and sometimes show more attitude. Animal Planet recently debuted a reality show called My Cat From Hell, about a Los Angeles–based behaviorist who counsels families ready to give up on their problem cats.
Friends Leslie Zucker and David Swaney take turns caring for Roscoe, who divides his time between their homes. Photo-illustration by Jesse Lenz
When David Swaney and Leslie Zucker decided to get a dog seven years ago, they headed to the Washington Humane Society, fell for a seven-month-old rottweiler/chow mix, and worked through a list of names until they agreed on Roscoe.
But Swaney and Zucker weren’t a couple. They didn’t even live together. The two friends simply shared a love of dogs, geographic proximity, and work schedules that prevented them from adopting a pet separately.
“She was working at home at the time and going out a lot at night. I was at work during the day and home a lot at night,” says Swaney, who teaches government at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. “We thought: Between the two of us, someone is usually around.”
Lacey entered our family’s life as Dog #204 at the Montgomery County Humane Society in Rockville. Estimated age: one to two. Breed: miniature poodle. Weight: a skinny 17 pounds. She had been dropped off there with a broken leg and no identification, but she left this life wrapped in love and an Egyptian-cotton towel.
For 16 years, my husband, Chuck, and I coddled her to a pleasingly plump 30 pounds. She waited by her bowl for extras dropped from above: cheese, peas, chicken.
Lacey didn’t mind expending some effort in pursuit of food, foraging in every corner of the house. She scored cookies, fried chicken, and once tipped over a tray of Valentine’s candy, leaving behind a pile of pleated paper cups. She had other clever moves: When my father-in-law commented on her good behavior, she walked across the room and sat at his feet.
Our commitment to her was total. Back then, a question on the county application for a pet license asked what dollar amount we’d authorize for her medical care in our absence. We agreed there was only one box to check: unlimited.
It wasn’t a shock to realize the end was approaching when Lacey had a seizure at age 18. Both the emergency clinic and her regular vet, Dr. Alice Sartain, diagnosed a brain tumor. We learned Lacey could have one more severe and final seizure or—with or without medicine—a series of them until her quality of life diminished beyond repair.
Life with Lacey continued, with extra tenderness. Once banned from sleeping in our bed, she was back, stretched out between Chuck and me. The freezer was stocked with Frosty Paws ice-cream cups.
I rushed to find her each time I came home. My worst fear was that she’d die alone. My second-worst fear was that I’d be alone with her when the time came.
On a night when she’d had a burst of energy, running laps around the sofa, Chuck said, “This dog doesn’t have a tumor—it’s a ploy for attention.” An hour later, when he called out, “Lacey is having a seizure!” I thought he was kidding.
The staff at DC’s Friendship Hospital for Animals gave us privacy, the time we needed, and scissors to cut locks of Lacey’s white curls. We stroked her head, saying “We love you” and “Thank you for giving us so much joy.” She whimpered, and it was time.
When the vet asked what we wanted to do with Lacey’s remains, our instincts were in sync: We wanted something to hold onto.
The next morning, a representative from Heavenly Days Animal Crematory in Urbana asked if we’d like to come see Lacey one last time “before.” I was tempted because I regretted not having held her longer on that final night. I procrastinated until Friendship called to say I could come for her ashes.
I remembered that I’d held her for many years, in many ways. There could be no satisfying death, but we had a wonderful life together. Flowers, her stuffed rabbit, and a photo album surround her ashes, which came in a wooden box painted as blue as our mood, carved with stars dashing for the heavens.
Photo-illustration by Sean McCabe.
This article first appeared in the April 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.
“Someone may have found Chloe.” When Cheryl Caponiti relayed that message to her four daughters in December, the news seemed improbable at best. Nearly a year had passed since the family’s then-12-year-old Yorkshire terrier disappeared from the yard of Caponiti’s home in Clarksburg.
The family had gotten together that night—December 18, 2009—for their annual Christmas photo. When Cheryl’s son-in-law arrived, Chloe ran to greet him.
“She was standing by the door, so I just let her out like I always did,” says Cheryl’s eldest daughter, Kristen, 27, who had a newborn and toddler in tow.
It was Kristen who, at age 13, had convinced her parents to get a dog by combing the classifieds for puppies and posting photos on the refrigerator. She’d helped pay for Chloe herself—as a puppy, the dog could fit in the palm of her hand. But 45 minutes after opening the door that December night, Kristen realized she’d forgotten to let Chloe back in. Snow had started falling, and the four-pound Yorkie was nowhere to be found.