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The four-day event benefits the Lab Rescue volunteer group. By Paulina Kosturos
See 1,200 nationally ranked dogs compete at the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac Specialty Show. Image via Shutterstock.

Attention, Labrador lovers: The largest Lab show in the world—the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac Specialty Show—starts Tuesday in Frederick. The event runs through April 11 at the Francis Key Holiday Inn (5400 Holiday Dr., Frederick). Around 1,200 nationally ranked dogs will compete in the four-day sporting event, which is sanctioned by the American Kennel Club. In addition to competitions in obedience and appearance, the show also features seminars on Lab behavior, health exams for dogs conducted by canine cardiologists, and a silent auction. All proceeds will go to Lab Rescue of the LRCP, a volunteer group that has rescued and placed more than 1,000 dogs in new homes. Says Vicky Creamer, president of the LRCP: “In the Lab world, this annual show is our Super Bowl.” All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Labrador Retriever Club’s website.

Posted at 02:51 PM/ET, 04/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
An animal behaviorist is concerned by a new DC apartment building's unique amenity. By Benjamin Freed
This place has everything: gym, rooftop pool, shared dog. No, it's not a "Stefon" sketch. Rendering courtesy W.C. Smith.

With so many new, high-end apartment buildings dotting Washington, prospective tenants have plenty of options to choose from. And building owners are responding by upping their amenities. Twenty-four-hour gyms, heated bike rooms, and rooftop pools are so standard that new developments need too get creative.

W.C. Smith’s 2M, a 314-unit building opening this summer in the NoMa neighborhood, features all that, and is possibly inventing a brand-new amenity in Emmy, a six-month-old English bulldog that will be shared by tenants. Yes, really. A communal dog for residents to borrow in chunks of time like a Zipcar.

“I was sitting at a cafe one day, and we saw a puppy come in and everyone just stopped in their tracks and came alive,” W.C. Smith vice president Holli Beckman tells the Washington Post. “And it just dawned on me that everyone loves doggies and babies, right?”

But as much as a cute, playful creature like Emmy—who has a dedicated Instagram account (obviously)—can melt hearts, experts on dog care are concerned for the pup.

“It’s a cute idea, but oh, no,” says Mary Huntsberry, an animal behavior specialist in Montgomery County. “Not a good idea at all.”

Huntsberry says that offering up a dog like a time-share could have severe effects on its mental and physical health as Emmy is moved from apartment to apartment and cared for by so many different people.

“Certain people think you need to be harsh, that’s not true with another person,” she says. “Dogs can be easily traumatized.”

W.C. Smith’s advertising for 2M says the building is pet-friendly for people who actually own their own dogs, but Huntsberry worries that Emmy is being dumped into a uncertain situation.

“They’re animals, they’re not purses you just lend out to people,” she says. “That’s just nutty.”

Editor’s Note (added 4/4/2014): In response to this article, Anne Marie Bairstow, vice president of marketing and communications at W.C. Smith, writes: “We appreciate Washingtonian’s interest in our 2M Street pet ambassador, Emmy. However, the story had several inaccuracies. The article says that Emmy will be rented out like ‘Zipcar for dogs or like a ‘purse,’ which is, of course, not the case. Emmy will live with the 2M property manager and come to work with him in the leasing office. Residents will be allowed to walk Emmy in the building’s private dog park, but all visits will be closely monitored." Washingtonian thanks WC Smith for this clarification.

Posted at 03:42 PM/ET, 03/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
DC hosts its annual Doggie Day Swim at three area pools. By Michelle Thomas
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Because your furry friend deserves a last-ditch chance at summer fun, too: For the fifth year, Washington’s Parks and Recreation department teams up with the health department and the Washington Humane Society for its Doggie Day Swim, scheduled for next Saturday. Pet parents can bring their dogs to one of the three designated pools for the one-day shot at summer splashing. Health Department officials will be on hand to check for the safety of the animals and humans involved and offer info on vaccinations and licenses.

Here’s what you need to know:
• All dogs must have a valid DC dog license, which can be issued on site by the DOH officials, but dog owners must have the necessary documents and a checkbook for the required fee.
• Dog handlers must be at least 16 years old, and they can’t swim or enter the pool with their pets.
• Dogs must be up to date on vaccinations.
• Dogs must be sociable, and need to remain leashed while on the pool deck.
• There’s a cap on the number of dogs allowed at each pool: 75 at both Upshur and Randall, and 150 at Francis.

Doggie Day Swim. September 7 noon to 4. Upshur pool, 4300 Arkansas Ave., NW; Francis Pool, 25th and N sts., NW; and Randall Pool, S. Capitol and I sts., SW.

Posted at 11:26 AM/ET, 08/29/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
A local vet shares tips to keep your furry friend safe and cool in the warm weather this summer. By Marisa M. Kashino
Excessive panting is a sign your dog may be too hot. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Summer doesn’t officially start until Friday, but Washington is already getting plenty of humid, swampy weather. Though many pet owners understandably want to play outside with their pups as temperatures warm, the summer heat can be extremely dangerous—even lethal—for dogs. We spoke with Dr. Jennifer Stafford, a veterinarian at VCA Veterinary Referral Associates in Gaithersburg, about signs of heat stroke in dogs and precautions owners should take this summer.

Are you already seeing patients with heat stroke?

Yes. We actually had a dog that died [last] week. The most common time we see it is early in the summer when dogs haven’t had time to adjust to the extreme heat.

What are the symptoms owners should watch for?

Look for dogs that are excessively panting. Dogs can’t sweat like people. The way they get rid of heat is by panting. On days that are very hot and humid, the panting has no effect because they’re exhaling warm, humid air into warm, humid air. They can’t cool down on those days. Dogs that are acting lethargic is another early sign. Late signs are dogs that are vomiting, that have a very weak gait, that are kind of stumbling. These are signs you don’t want to see. They’re very affected at that point.

What precautions should owners take on hot days?

For dogs that have long hair coats, shaving them during the summer can help with the heat. If you want to walk your dog, do it early in the morning or late in the evening after the sun is down. For owners with pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs, the kinds of dogs with smushed faces—those dogs’ ability to get rid of heat is even worse. I don’t recommend too much exercise at all for them in the summer. Even in cooler environments, those dogs are more susceptible. Overweight dogs are also more susceptible to heat stroke.

I would not take any dog out on a hike in the middle of the summer—any dog. Some of the cases that we’ve had in the past involved dogs who went hiking with their owners, and they were doing great, having a blast, then all of a sudden they were weak and wanting to stop. With heat stroke, the cells in the body get overheated and stop functioning. Everything, including the ability to clot blood, goes to the wayside.

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Posted at 02:10 PM/ET, 06/17/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus: Get 50 percent off adoption fees March 16 and 17. By Marisa M. Kashino

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 doginfo@foha.org 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.

Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 03/15/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Nominate your favorite veterinarians, groomers, trainers, and more for “Washingtonian’s” pet-care guide. By Marisa M. Kashino
Share your favorite pet-care providers with us! Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

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.

Posted at 02:35 PM/ET, 02/21/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
This 13-year-old border collie, one of Washington’s “wonder pets,” has been saving lives since she was just a puppy. By Marisa M. Kashino

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.

Posted at 05:57 PM/ET, 01/26/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Submit your pictures to our Out and About photo contest, and they could be featured in our February 2012 issue.

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 petphoto@washingtonian.com 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.

Posted at 11:19 AM/ET, 12/16/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
British charity Nowzad Dogs has rescued more than 200 animals that soldiers or contractors want to take home By Kris Coronado

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.

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Posted at 02:19 PM/ET, 09/13/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
A germaphobic Washingtonian staffer wants to keep her pet's paws clean By Marisa M. Kashino

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.

Knight said it was good that I wipe off Bexley’s paws because dogs can get intestinal parasites, such as hookworms and roundworms, by stepping in poop from an infected animal or walking on contaminated soil or grass. Knight says she treats more dogs with parasites now than she did when she practiced in McLean because city dogs are more likely to spend time in public parks.

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. 

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Posted at 02:10 PM/ET, 08/12/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()