Carrying Her Weight: Johnnie Goes Hiking

When our Sunday opened up at the last minute this past weekend and the weather forecast was absolutely beautiful (60 degrees and sunny? yes please!), Mark and I knew we wanted to do something fun and unique for the day. We also knew it would be in our best interest to do something that would tire Johnnie out, so of course our first idea was to go for a cool hike – but where? We’ve been all over the DC and MD area and we wanted to try something new (sort of like when we ventured to Fort McHenry with Charlie).

We decided to make a big move and travel the hour and a half drive to an access point for the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Mark and I have always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail together, but have never gotten around to it. What better opportunity than an uncharacteristically warm winter day with an eager four-legged hiking buddy to join you?

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Mark had the great idea before we headed out of town to pick Johnnie up a doggy hiking backpack. We ran to Petco and picked up the perfect little pack for J!  Because we were planning on hiking for a while, we had water and snacks packed for ourselves – now Johnnie could help us carry them!  Though, as you’ll see as you read this post, we did a lot on this hike, and the bag is already breaking a little bit (it was only $15) – any hiking-with-your-dog gurus out there who have recommendations on where to get an awesome and durable doggy backpack?

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Anyway – we were surprised to show up to a very snowy Shenandoah National Park. Expecting to step out of the car to chillier temps than when we left, we were happy to realize that despite all the snow it was still extremely mild there!  Johnnie was absolutely thrilled with all the snow. It was so fun to watch her play in it.

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06During the hike we romped a little, Johnnie bounced around and found sticks, we practiced some manners, we met new friends and we completely exhausted ourselves. Having to wear the pack was definitely an added bonus in the working-Johnnie-out category! She still did her favorite bunny hops, but you could tell they took extra effort.

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Two and a half hours later, we walked back to our car dripping wet and totally worn out. Johnnie was such a great walker during the hike – she stayed on a loose leash almost the entire time, which was very appreciated by the humans because of how slippery and wet it was! Meeting new people was the only time she was a little over eager, but we expected that from her little human-loving self. Check out our loose-leash extraordinaire in action:

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It was such a fun adventure. Johnnie was asleep about three minutes after getting in the car to head home, and snoozed on and off the entire evening until bed time.

We’re so excited to head back to Shenandoah National Park again as it gets warmer (we bought a year-long pass!). We’d love to bring Johnnie back with us again, but we won’t mind if she can’t make it because she finds her forever home. Do you know anyone looking for the perfect addition to their hiking party?

22To adopt your perfect hiking buddy, Johnnie Cash, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Summary: Officially One Week Together

First weeks with a new dog are generally pretty nuts. I was making the joke before Johnnie came back that we were putting our helmets on, battening down the hatches and going into the week head first. You never know what “issues” a new dog will have adjusting to their new life in your home.

I am very happy to say that the first week with Johnnie went relatively well! I’m not saying there weren’t some bumps, but all in all Johnnie has been easy going while she adjusts to living in our home (. . . KNOCK ON WOOD PLEASE).  Here’s a bit of a rundown of the first week having her with us!

Sunday – Her first day out of the shelter. I picked her up Sunday morning, took her for a run, took her to a doggy play date and then joined some shelter friends at an adoption event. She was completely wiped out by the time I brought her home so she slept all evening and did WONDERFULLY in her crate Sunday night! I had no idea if she was going to come used to the crate, take to it quickly enough or absolutely hate it and require intensive crate training.

Monday – I worked from home Monday morning to help her adjust since we only had a whirlwind Sunday together. She slept most of the morning, but I took her for a short run when we both woke up. I left her with my dad for the afternoon while I went to work and she did really well at home (which basically means she didn’t bug him all day). She got her paws on a random piece of wood in the house – she’s got a real thing for sticks – but other than that she didn’t do anything she wasn’t supposed to.

Tuesday – This was her first day coming into the office with me. I took her for a walk first thing and then she slept pretty much all morning in her pen next to my desk. A minor issue arose when I left for two hours in the middle of the day. I completely failed her by bringing her to a new place and then leaving her, and she made a bit of a fuss to my coworkers in my absence.  She behaved really well when I came back, but I knew it didn’t set us off on the right foot. I felt so awful that I didn’t set her up for success. The evening went well though and again she fell right asleep in her crate.

Wednesday – Wednesday was a pretty uneventful day! I decided to start a routine of bringing her to work for only a half day and then letting her stay at home with dad the rest of the day (I’m so lucky I have that luxury).  I had to go to reactive dog class in the evening so she was at home without me for the evening as well and she did fine. As long as I make sure she’s had enough exercise, usually all she does is lounge around with my parents. If she doesn’t get enough exercise, you can probably find her doing zoomies around the house/in the yard.  This evening she had an accident inside though, something she hadn’t done yet while living with us. It was – sorry for the gory details – some pretty runny stool. Poor monkey had a stomach ache!

ThursdayValentine’s Day! Johnnie joined me at work for the whole day because I didn’t have any meetings or anything to pull me away from my desk. She did well, but was a little antsy because we were both too lazy to get up for a walk that morning – bad foster mom! I took her for a jog after work because I was leaving her with my parents over night. She was “good as gold” for them, except she had another runny accident in the house :-(. I knew it was just because she couldn’t hold it since her stomach hurt so bad.

Friday – The upset stomach continued. . . I came home early Friday morning to a poor pup with a very messy crate. We (finally) decided to nix any treats or food except for some bland food the shelter gave us for dogs with upset tummies.   She was at work with me in the morning and then when I finally got home that afternoon. . . it was the weekend! We went for a long run/walk in the rain and spent the evening relaxing and playing with toys. I was so relieved to finally have the ability to spend as much time together as we wanted without having to impose on my parents to watch her while I was at work.

Saturday – Freedom! We woke up early and joined the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Pit Crew on a walk along the Potomac River. It was the first time Johnnie would be in a situation with so many other dogs. She did great, considering. She had some trouble focusing when we first got there because of all the stimulation, but as the walk went on she got better. I had to keep reminding myself this is all new to her and she is still learning and I shouldn’t be too hard on either of us if she isn’t perfect! She wasn’t reactive towards any of the dogs and some other walkers commented on how well she did. I was very proud of her!

Afterwards we made a special stop to get Johnnie a new toy and then hung out at Mark’s for some R&R, and then headed out on another short hike just the three of us. At the end of the day I took her to the Foster Dog Alliance class given by Your Dog’s Friend. Again, I had to remind myself that neither of us are going to be perfect in class because it was OUR FIRST TIME. Johnnie is already a pro at sit, down and touch. We practiced “watch me” and four on the floor. Johnnie has some manners to still master when it comes to greeting people – I think that will be our biggest project. She was so wiped out from the day that she curled up in her crate on her own at about 8 and just slept there the rest of the night. A tired dog is a happy… owner :-).

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Sunday – Another early morning for us at a group dog walk with B-More Dog! It was freeeezing but Johnnie was a trooper. I wanted to make sure we still had a good experience with so many other dogs so we stayed pretty separated from the group. I brought the clicker to this walk to reinforce some of the focusing tools we’d learned at the foster dog alliance class. She seemed to really love the structure and consistent reinforcement and stayed much more focused during this walk than the Pit Crew walk. People at the inner harbor LOVED her (I mean, who wouldn’t?).  I was very happy with how well she did with so many people and other dogs.

We swung by an MCHS adoption event on the way home, but only briefly. Johnnie’s favorite place to show off is somewhere with space and places to get away from other dogs or scary things (cars, trucks). Events where we’re in a small store with narrow aisles and lots of other dogs are not exactly our favorite. Instead of pushing her into a situation where she wouldn’t happy (and therefore would be outwardly cranky – something not so nice looking to the public), we left the event early and on a good note. I had plans for Sunday evening so she spent from about 6 pm on at home with parents, mostly switching between snoozing and telling them she deserves parts of their meal.

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Johnnie is such a special dog, and she shows that more every day.  I know I made it seem like she’s perfect in the above description, and she’s close to it – but there are still things that we need to work on to make her the best dog she can be for her forever family.  I’ll talk about this later in the week, but the worst part about the past seven days has been anticipating what might still go wrong – again, bad foster mom!

Right now my family and I are just enjoying the little things like watching Johnnie pounce after a squeaky toy or gently waddle over to you all groggy after waking up from a nap.  I absolutely love her, and I know there is someone else out there who one day will too.

If you’re interested in adopting Johnnie Cash, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Our First Week in Photos

Johnnie here! My new foster mama says that pictures speak one thousand words, so here are some pictures of our first week together. We did a LOT! I have been adjusting to home life like the star student I am, but mama will update you all that next week. For now, enjoy pictures of how cute I am what we did all week!

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Pretty much sums up what we do. . . started the day sleeping, do a bunch of fun stuff, then end the day sleeping. I have a feeling that’s what we’ll do all weekend! Stay tuned to next week to see what fun adventures we get into!

If you’re interested in adopting Johnnie Cash, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


There’s More Than Fun to Adventures

How much do we love adventures? So much. We like hiking, going on road trips and exploring new places with our foster dogs.  It’s not only fun, but it’s a great way to get them out and about for adoption exposure.

Mark and I knew we just had to take Charlie somewhere fun while he was with us.   Strutting him around in his Adopt Me vest would get him tons of attention simply because of how cute he is.  Since we’ve been to all the good walking spots in our area, and we’ve already done the DC thing with Bax, we were sort of at a loss for what exciting new place to venture to. Then I remembered a fun trip our friends at Pittieful Love went on to historical Baltimore landmark Fort McHenry (where Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”). Just like Pittieful Love wrote about in their post, we tend to take for granted how close we live to National Monuments! I’d only been once a long time ago and Mark had never been, so we knew it was just the place to take little Charles on that chilly Thanksgiving weekend.

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We had a blast! Because we had a dog we couldn’t actually go into the Fort area, but we were allowed around the perimeter and by the surrounding water. It still meant for lots of exploration and good photo ops:

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That is another thing I love about taking my foster dogs on adventures: the photos. Yes it is good for adoption exposure because of the people we meet out and about, but it is also a great way to get photos showing adopters how the dog can fit into their life.  Photos from walks, out on the town, or meeting new people are all situations that adopters might imagine themselves in if they were to adopt the dog — which is all the better to help convince them this might be the dog for them!  Look at these photos. . . don’t they give you an idea of what the day would be like if you took Charlie out with you (and therefore you want to adopt him, right!)?

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Not to mention that a photo like the one below might stand out among all the other adoption photos, bringing some extra attention to your pup from potential adopters.

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(Yes, we took this photo idea directly from Pittieful Love – thanks guys!)

A fabulous outing resulting in attention-grabbing photos? Don’t mind if we do!


Combat the Cold with Charlie

It’s getting crispy cold outside, and you know what that means at the Peace, Love & Fostering household: jacket weather!  My pups rarely head out the door now without their BaxterBoo or Dover Saddlery hoodies on. Refer to my post on Baxter’s winter wardrobe for my thoughts on each jacket’s design and use.

Charlie Bear got full use of our Fall weather hoodies when he hung out with us. Because of his pemphigus foliaceus he’s got pretty thin hair, so I sometimes even put the hoody on him inside the house in addition to when we went outside. He snuggled right up!

We also went on a fun adventure by the water that definitely required the jacket. Tune in on Monday to find out what historical landmark we visited!

Stay warm this weekend!

If you want to make Charlie your very own adventure buddy or snuggle partner, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com or fill out an application on the Jasmine’s House website.


Week With Joanie in Review

Joanie has settled a LOT in the short week we’ve had her, and now it’s like she fits right in. It didn’t start off so easy – in fact it was kind of rocky, but we’ve both adjusted accordingly and have found a really great place. Joanie now just hangs out at home with my Dad all day while he works and she sleeps. When I get home from work we play and go for a nice long walk, then have a relaxing evening on the couch.  She’s showing her true self: the perfect house dog!

We’ve crammed a lot of fun into this week. After learning that exercise was the key to success, Joanie and I enjoyed many long walks together – both in the early mornings and in the evenings.  Yesterday morning we ventured out into the woods for the first time. Joanie, as you can imagine, loved all the sniffs – although she wasn’t too pleased about the extra obstacles.

When we go out at night I am always sure to deck her out in her safety vest, especially since she is a dark colored dog. Night time walks are always our most relaxing and enjoyable because there is no pressure to get home in time for work. . . again, lots of opportunities for sniff breaks!

Joanie totally won over my parents who are thrilled to have such a sweet dog in the house again. Bax and Otis were cordial and friendly, but it hasn’t really been since Zabora that we had a dog who ran to greet them at the door with an overly-wiggly butt. Joanie’s got an awesome tail wag, which she promptly turns around and sticks in your face for a good scratch. Looks pretty much like this:

Joanie never ceases to stop making us smile. Especially when she gets her bursts of energy and wants to play. She will barge into our liriope bushes and pounce around like she is deathing a bunch of jumping beans. Cutest. Thing. Ever.  She also enjoys bouncing around the living room while playing with her favorite monkey toy.  Today, the monkey finally met his demise. . .

Last but not least, Joanie continually surprises us with her uncanny ability to resemble a pig. Not only does she look like one, she sounds almost identical to one.  Here is a video of some serious piggy snorting. Listen closely: pig or Joanie?

I know I keep gushing about this dog, but I just can’t help it. She’s so happy-go-lucky and up for anything. We get to enjoy the weekend together, then she is back to her long term foster.  I don’t want to think about her leaving just yet, so you better believe we’ll find some serious trouble fun to get into this weekend!

If you’re interested in learning more about adopting Joanie, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Pittie Princess, TV star

I love my job because I get to take pretty little dogs like this, bust them out of the shelter for a few hours, and have a girls’ day out.

Yesterday’s adventure started at the studio for channel WUSA9 here in DC. Angel, the sweet pittie pictured above, was getting her time in the spotlight! Angel loves people, is easy going, and looks great in a dress, so I knew she’d be the perfect adoptable candidate to brave the cameras for a day.  Boy did she work it! Angel soaked up the attention, behaving as just that – a little angel – for our live 45 second clip on PetLine9. You can check out the video on their website. We got to chat about our upcoming gala, The Love Ball, as well as little miss Angel.  Notice that I talked about Angel as an individual, and didn’t relay assumptions based on her “breed” – only about what I’d observed myself. I was able to be honest with potential adopters, and didn’t have to use any generalizations based on what kind of dog she might be.

After winning over everyone she met at the studio, Angel took her talents to the streets. The shelter was having a fundraiser at a local boutique, so we stopped in to say hi and help do some shopping. Angel can now also add to her resume the positions “personal shopper” and “professional tail wagger.”

The adventures left Angel totally exhausted, and she passed out on the ride home. She looked like such a sleepy puppy, even though she’s closer to one year old. Her efforts to keep her eyes open as we drove home were so endearing.

Angel is a dog who doesn’t show well in the shelter because of her sometimes extreme hyperactive puppy behavior, but turns into a close-to-perfect dog in the “real world.” She walked well on her leash (using a Sensible harness – my new favorite walking gear!), she greeted strangers politely, and she picked up quickly on basic behaviors I was asking of her in just the few hours we hung out.  If the stars align in a few weeks, she is well in the running to be my next foster – though hopefully she’ll be adopted by then!

Spending the day with such an awesome dog was a great way to head into the weekend. Hopefully someone noticed her and her snazzy dress on the news and will come to the shelter to visit her! In the mean time I will continue to spend time with her every day to spoil her with treats and well-deserved attention.

Hope you all have great weekends adventuring with your pets!