Happy Tales from the Trails

Kali is such a wonderful dog! Laurel, Caitlin and I adore and dote on her. She’s the one who always greets me with enthusiasm when I come home, bringing me one of her stinky, shredded toys to tug on.

We love her intelligence, agility, personable demeanor and her willingness to learn. Housetraining problems are a dim memory, and we have found a happy chewing solution–lots of chewy things of various textures–so virtually nothing of value has been “eaten,” though she did snitch one of the parts from the vacuum when I was repairing it. Funny, she has started to bring such things to “mom” right away, seeming to be asking if it’s OK to chew. And, oh, when give her a plastic water bottle to chomp or new cheapo stuffed animal to dismember, she’s delighted.

KaliKali has come a long way in overcoming her fearfulness. Walks are no longer an exercise in calming her, and she and Laurel are working out jogging together. She’s been to a community concert (with us sitting off to the side of the crowd) and even into Old Town Alexandria, though that was a little too much sensory input and left her quaking so much I had to carry her in my arms (thank goodness she’s no bigger than she is).

On Sunday morning we will hold off feeding her (she still gets car sick on longer rides) and take her with us out to the mountains, to buy apples and cold cider and hot donuts, and go for a hike.

Kali’s health is very good. We had trouble with itchy skin and food allergies at first, but changing her diet and–it seems most importantly–worming her, has made a huge difference. Her coat is now glossy black and she is the perfect combination of cute and beautiful, elegant and silly. Those ears! They go up and down and in and out in a most amusing manner.

She is a very agile dog, making amazing rushes around the back yard, leaping over planters, dodging under shrubs, circling the raised bed and landing with a “plop” on the chaise lounge. I’m encouraging Laurel to work with her on agility training, as I think they would both enjoy it. Kali is still learning to sit up and does a good job of it most of the time. She also does well: sit, stay, come, drop, leave and no–though sometimes you can see her little will digging in its heels. Laurel is mindful that she must be “top dog” or an underdog.

The cats still don’t think our dog is the greatest thing, but they get along well enough, especially because Kali’s learning that it’s not OK to chase them. Life with Kali isn’t perfect, but pretty darn close. She is fully integrated as an important part of our family, and we love having her around and cannot imagine life without her.

Thanks again to all Homeward Trails folks for making our doggy dream come true!

-Shay, Occoquan, VA


Growing up, we always had at least one dog in our house, all came from our local Humane Society.  My husband and step-daughter both wanted a dog…they really, really wanted a dog.  So, after a year of moving, getting married and settling in, I gave in.

Friends of ours adopted from Homeward Trails when the organization was at its infancy and other friends were foster parents with Homeward Trails, so we knew that we wanted to support this great organization and I started scanning the website.  WARNING:  DO NOT BROWSE THE HOMEWARD TRAILS WEBSITE UNLESS YOU ARE READY TO FALL IN LOVE!!!


Our biggest problem with Homeward Trails was trying to figure out which beautiful pup we wanted!   So, we sent out emails inquiring on “our favorites”.  We heard back from Valarie, a Homeward Trails Adoption Coordinator, who filled us in on the adoption process.   We were surprised that there actually was a process and not just filling out a brief application.    So, be prepared.  If you want to walk into a pet store and walk out with your new best buddy, the Homeward Trails process isn’t for you.  They want to make sure that they are providing good homes to their animals.  Valarie was a great resource for us throughout the process which included: an initial interview, home visit and the visiting the puppy at the foster home.   She had recently adopted a puppy, so she was a wealth of knowledge on even the simple things, like “What should I feed my new puppy?”

On August 29, 2009 we picked up our quirky girl, Sunshine.  She came from a high kill shelter in West Virginia with her sister who was also adopted and named Sammie.   (For a very brief moment, we thought about adopting both girls, but then sanity overcame us!)

We still scan the Homeward Trails website.  Not just for a potential playmate for Sunny, but to check out the great events that support Homeward Trails.

– Jill Zimmerman (Arlington, VA)


My absolutely fabulous Homeward Trails adoptee wasn’t supposed to make it. Slated for euthanizing on multiple occasions at her shelter for being “unadoptably shy”, a volunteer (Kathy Cogar, to whom Willow and I will always be indebted) argued for her life each time, begging her just a bit more time. Turns out it was just enough time for her to be brought in to Homeward Trails. I met Willow the day she arrived in from the shelter, shaking and drooling and glassy-eyed after 7 hours of being passed between cars at designated meeting points between Sutton, WV and Arlington, VA. The crate she was in had to be taken apart to get her out of it – she was doing her best to melt into the back of it. She seemed like a pretty hopeless case. The foster situation for another puppy that came in with her fell apart, so we did some shuffling and I left with Willow, only intending to foster her at the time.

WIllowShy Willow BeforeAt home, I had to either carry her places or “herd” her – she wouldn’t walk on a leash and would crouch down in fear if I came near her. Brayden – my other dog – spent his time outside the baby gate that blocked Willow’s bedroom doorway, rolling onto his back and begging her to come play. I sat in the doorway singing her songs and tossing her treats each morning and evening. After two weeks we wore her down – the night she came to the bedroom to nuzzle my hand as I slept, I knew she was staying.

Almost three years later, Willow is the perfect dog. On Sunday mornings when my colleagues bring their dogs over for playtime, she meet each new arrival at the front gate, excitedly escorting them do the backyard. She bonds with each foster dog through the door, no matter their past story of neglect or abuse, helping them trust and settle in to their new lives. On almost a daily basis I see something new in her that makes me feel so very lucky to have her in my life.

-Lisa, Athens, GA

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