Fall 2014 Issue Is Here

October 17th, 2014 by 2hounds

Cooler weather…changing leaves…pumpkin spices…it must be fall! Look in your mailboxes this week for the latest edition of NOVADog Magazine, or visit your local pet retailer to pick up a copy today. The fall issue is full of great content, including the cover story explaining the full process for adopting a dog, from understanding rescue and adoption centers to preparing for all that paperwork.

Other stories in the Fall 2014 issue include:

  • Your Dog’s Other Best Friend: Everything You Need to Know about Dog Toys

  • Expert Advice: Understanding Tummy Troubles

  • Health Wise: Explaining the Canine Wellness Exam

  • Hiking the Potomac Heritage Trail

  • Petcentric Profile: Nick White from Off-Leash K9 Training

You can also read the full digital issue online now at our new website. Then go outside and enjoy this beautiful season with your pups!




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Beyond the Magazine: Potomac Heritage Trail

October 8th, 2014 by 2hounds

In the fall 2014 issue of NOVADog, our publisher Angela reviewed her hike of the Potomac Heritage Trail. The details of navigating this hike were so extensive that we moved them to the blog. Please read the article, review Angela’s directions below, and then feel free to email her with questions at ahazuda[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Hidden alongside one of the most popular trails in the DC Metro, the Mount Vernon Trail, exists an amazing trail that offers spectacular views, seclusion and serenity.  I have lived and worked within walking distance of the Mount Vernon Trail for 15 years.  In that time I have walked and biked it literally thousands of times. In all of those excursions, I have never ventured down any of the trail head markers for the Potomac Heritage Trail.  For the Hit the Trail article I spent 8 hours on this trail, hiking over 20 miles.  I am completely enamored, amazed and awe-struck.  I discovered waterfalls, 50+-foot high rock wall faces, boulder outcroppings, gorgeous water views, beautiful rocky streams, wildlife and more.  How could a path I have enjoyed countless times hold so many treasures just a few feet away from the very steps I have taken?  In the entire time I was on the trail, I encountered maybe 30 or 40 people.  I pass that many people on the Mount Vernon trail in 5 minutes. It was one of the most eye-opening 8 hours I have spent in a long time.

According to the Potomac Heritage Trail Association, the 10.8-mile segment from Theodore Roosevelt Island to the American Legion Bridge is the original segment of the much larger Potomac Heritage Trail Project, which is developing an interconnected pathways of trails (similar to that of the Appalachian Trail) that will be 804 miles long, stretching from the Chesapeake Bay to the Laurel Highlands (near Pittsburgh, Pa.) when complete.

Overall, the trail is very well marked with small, brown wooden signs with yellow lettering, as well as with green blazes. There were two confusing areas where I got lost, so I have provided extra details. When starting out at Theodore Roosevelt Island Parking Area, head north towards the Key Bridge; immediately before the bridge ramp, take the small trail to the right labeled Potomac Heritage Trail. You’ll head down along the river on a narrow dirt path. The path starts out level and easy for about 1 mile, then it becomes rocky and rugged and has significant elevation changes. You’ll pass under Key Bridge. At about Mile 1.5 there is a very nice waterfall and stream view from a wooden bridge. This is followed by two fantastic waterfalls, and then at Mile 3, if you’re feeling adventurous, there is a rope swing!

Around Mile 4 you’ll encounter Donaldson Run. This was a challenging climb for Maggie. She needed a lot of help to navigate the rock climb. But it was well worth it: at the top was a gorgeous view and a great stream to relax and cool off in after the climb. This is where it gets tricky – honestly I got lost here and took a giant loop for about an hour and finally broke out Google maps!  After the rock climb there is a sign to the right: you want to take the trail directly up over the hill. It is marked, but watch closely for the green blazes to ensure you are on the proper trail. You will travel about .5 mile and come to the Chain Bridge. Turn right as you get to the bridge and walk alongside the bridge down towards the road. Do not go straight under the bridge and out the other side. Walk under the bridge long ways, on the dirt, almost to the road at the bottom. The trail continues down towards the water, then left and under another bridge. Walk along the water for another .25-.5 miles and you’ll see a sign to Fort Marcy. Go across the stream and up the rock stairs into Fort Marcy. After about .25 miles, cross the parking lot, head to the brown sign and turn left immediately after the sign, through the park and following the blazes. Here the blazes are light blue/green for about .5 miles then they turn back to darker green. This part of the trail runs inland for about 2.5 miles. It’s well marked and pops in and out alongside the GW Parkway. At about mile 5.5/6 you will come out along the Parkway near a bridge. Do not go up over the bridge. Go down under the bridge, then cross the exit ramps two times to continue the trail back into the woods. After about another mile, you’ll find yourself back down at the Potomac. There is a large pawpaw grove along the river bank in the area. The pawpaw tree is indigenous to 26 states including Virginia, grows along rivers, and produces pawpaw fruit, which tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango.

Continuing along the river you’ll be treated to beautiful, serene views of the Potomac, which along this segment has lovely rock and grass “islands” emerging from the calm surface. You’ll see a small sign for the Parkway Headquarters at about Mile 6.5. There are restrooms here and just a bit further up at Turkey Run Park. Then you’ll travel a bit further to Turkey Run, a lovely little stream at Mile 8. At Mile 9, you’ll find big, bold Dead Run, a breathtaking stream filled with giant boulders. Just one more mile and you’ll pass under the American Legion Bridge. After the bridge you’ll come to a foot bridge; take a left after crossing it and go up the hill. You’ll come out on Live Oak Drive in a residential area. Turn left on Live Oak Drive and follow it to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, accessible at Langley Swim Club. Follow Woodland Trail, bearing right at the two junctions. Turn right onto Loop Trail and follow it to Swinks Mill Trailhead Parking Area.

The hike is isolated, so please hike with a friend, and if you do not have an entire day to hike, split it up by arranging for a pick-up and parking a car at one end. There is parking and trail access at: Theodore Roosevelt Island Parking Area (arrive early on the weekends, it fills up fast), the Gulf Branch Nature Center, intersection of N. Glebe and Chain Bridge Rd., Fort Marcy, Parkway Headquarters, Turkey Run and Swinks Mill Road. If you have to split the hike into segments, I most recommend the segment from Roosevelt Island to Fort Marcy, and the segment from just before Turkey Run to the American Legion Bridge. Most active dogs will do fine on this trail, but older and smaller dogs may need some help or to be carried.

Learn more about the trail and find detailed map at www.potomactrail.org and www.nps.gov/pohe/planyourvisit/maps.htm.

Please let us know if you plan to hike the Potomac Heritage Trail. We’d love to hear feedback from you and your dogs!

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Remember Your Pets during Fire Prevention Week

October 6th, 2014 by 2hounds

This week, October 5-11, is Fire Prevention Week. It’s a week to talk about and prepare for fire emergencies. Now is the perfect time to ensure your house is equipped with updated safety items, like working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, and to ensure your family knows the evacuation plan from your home. But beyond the safety of the people in the house, have you accounted for the safety of your pets in the event of a fire? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 40,000 pets die each year because of fires.


Petplan pet insurance* offers these important tips for making sure your four-legged family members are safe and accounted for if disaster strikes. 

Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog

Sparkles, the Fire Safety Dog

Fire Prevention Week Pet Tips 

  • Information is Everything: When disaster strikes, firefighters need information fast when they arrive at your home. Make sure to post the names and count of all pets in the home, or if your home is monitored by an alarm company, make sure they have the information to pass along to first responders. Petplan offers a customizable Pet Rescue Alert that allows you to post this important information on your front door.
  • Keep it Low: Confine pets to one room or the first floor of your home when you are away.
  • Make them Known: Have updated ID tags on all animals in the home and get them microchipped so that if they run out during a fire, they can be quickly identified should they get picked up be a neighbor or animal control.
  • Be Mindful: Things like candles, portable heaters and open fires can all be extreme fire hazards around pets and should never be left around unattended furry friends.
  • Be Ready for a Quick Exit: Have an evacuation plan in place that includes your pets and be sure to have leashes and carriers at the ready. If you’re unable to get to carriers, remember that a pillowcase can make an emergency cat carrier.
  • Know Where Help Is: Ensure that you know where your nearest emergency vet is, and have the number and address in your phone.

This week, take the time to ensure your entire household is prepared for and safe from fire emergencies.


*Tips prepared by Petplan Pet Insurance in partnership with: Dr. Jules Benson, Petplan’s Chief Veterinary Medical officer, Michael Miller, Petplan’s Director of Business Development and Haddon Fire Company Lieutenant, and Jen Leary, founder of Red Paw Emergency Relief Team.

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Keep Dogs Happy this Halloween

October 3rd, 2014 by 2hounds

As many pet-owners know, Halloween can be a stressful night for dogs and cats alike. With strangers ringing the doorbell and children running around dressed in costume, many pets are liable to feel anxious, confused, scared, or even act aggressively towards children and neighbors.

Olde Towne Pet Resort, the area’s premiere dog and cat boarding facility, has put together some best practices for how to keep your pets safe and stress-free on Halloween night. In addition to these tips and tricks, OTPR will be extending their Day Camp hours for those looking to keep their pets in a comfortable environment while children are out trick-or-treating. If interested, please visit the website, here, or call OTPR (703.455.9000 and 571.434.3300) for more information.

  • Don’t leave pets out in the yard. Halloween pranksters have been known to tease, taunt or injure pets that are left out in the yard. This inexcusable behavior is preventable by keeping your pets indoors at all times during the festivities.
  • Keep candy out of reach of all pets. All forms of chocolate can be dangerous, even lethal, for your pet. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures.
  • Keep pets confined and away from the door. Your door will be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, leaving opportunities for pets to dart out from behind you. Strangers dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for candy can also cause added stress for your pet.
  • Make sure to ID your pet. If your pet does manage to run out of the house, proper identification will increase the chances that they are returned. Make sure all information is up to date.
  • Be fire-conscience. Carving pumpkins is a fun way to celebrate the season, but keep jack-o-lanterns and lit candles out of reach of pets.
  • Don’t dress up your pet, unless you know they love it. If you plan to put a costume on your pet, make sure it fits properly, doesn’t have any pieces that can easily be chewed off, and doesn’t interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing, or moving.
  • Consider an extended care option at Olde Towne Pet Resort. The Halloween Pet Retreat will be held from 4 – 9 PM with a charge of $25 and will include supervised playtime with OTPR staff members. Those pets already enrolled in day camp can extend their stay until 9 PM with no additional charge.

Today’s post is sponsored by Olde Towne Pet Resort. – ND

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Dress Up your Dogs

September 28th, 2014 by 2hounds

The air is getting cooler. The leaves are changing color. The stores are full of pumpkin-spiced goodies. Which all means one thing…it’s time to think about Halloween costumes! :)

As you sort through costume racks and rummage through the craft drawer, don’t forgot to include your dog in your costume planning. Dog costumes are becoming more popular each year. In fact, BuyCostumes.com recently ranked the five most popular dog costumes this year (click each link for some hilariously wonderful images):

1.       Despicable Me Dog

2.       Star Wars Ewok Dog

3.       Star Wars Dewback Pet Rider Costume

4.       Animal Planet Lion Dog

5.       Animal Planet Raptor Pet Costume

In the spirit of the holiday, NOVADog has teamed with BuyCostumes.com to offer a free Where’s Waldo dog costume (any size) to one of our fans. To enter, comment on our Facebook page, send a tweet to @NOVADogMag, or email win-it[at]novadogmagazine[dot]com telling us why your dog should wear the Where’s Waldo costume this year. We’ll randomly select a winner and give away the costume on October 3. Good luck — and happy costuming! UPDATE 10/3: Jackie S. is our winner from a Facebook posting. Thanks for the great entries!

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Rabies Awareness Week

September 21st, 2014 by 2hounds

This week (the last full week in September) marks Rabies Awareness Week, sponsored by the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Each September, the VVMA and VDH educates our state about rabies (which occurs when a virus attacks the nervous system), promotes guidelines to prevent pets’ exposure to the disease, and encourages veterinarians to offer the same messaging to their patients.

Although rabies is most commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, any mammal—including humans—can get rabies. In Virginia, approximately 10 percent of animals diagnosed with rabies annually are domestic animals such a dogs and cats. The disease, while deadly, is also preventable when pet owners keep all pet dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock vaccinated. Pet owners can limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping animals on their property, avoiding exposure to wild animals, and keeping pet food stored indoors to avoid attracting wild animals on their land.

“Educating families on rabies is a great starting point in spreading awareness of this deadly, yet preventable, disease,” said Dr. Murphy, State Public Health Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Health. “Rabies can be avoided, but families must know how to take action beforehand. Vaccinating your pet brings you once step closer to protecting you and your family, so be sure to keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and schedule frequent visits with your veterinarian. If you suspect your pet has exposure to rabies, please contact your local health department or animal control agency for guidance right away.”

For more tips on keeping family members, furry and human alike, safe from the rabies disease and for more information on rabies control, visit the following links:





Get more info from the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association at www.vvma.org, twitter.com/VirginiaVMA and facebook.com/virginiavma.

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