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Jesse (formerly known as Bo) has been with us for 2 years now. Gone is the shy, tentative guy we carted home from DC that day. Today we have a confident, happy dog who thinks he’s made it to dog heaven!

JesseHe spends his week days lounging close by while I work from home.

BoOldWeekends he’s with us on outings, family visits and leisurely car rides. His heart is big enough that he’s “adopted” a few neighbors who recently lost their dogs. He tolerates their cuddles and coaches them on how to give doggie massage. He is very social – is wonderful with our grandchildren and accepting of visitors – human or canine.

He has a penchant for snow and mud…loves to run and then roll in what ever is nearby to cool off!

He has full run of the house when we’re not home – and is so joyful when we return. Jesse meets us at the door with a toy in his mouth and two minutes of his unique grumbling.

We can’t thank you enough for rescuing this guy. He’s a beautiful dog – inside and out!

-Claudia & Joe, Centreville, MD

See all posts about: Big Black Dogs


When we adopted Peyton, his name was Boo Boo and he was in a foster home through Homeward Trails. We first met Peyton at an adoption fair set up at a Virginia pet store. He was full of energy and so friendly! Not much has changed since then! Our entire family, including our 13 year old chocolate lab Hershey, all love Peyton!

PeytonHe has since moved with us to Connecticut where he has much more land to run around, play, and socialize with other dogs. Peyton enjoys daily hikes and walks around the lake. He is super fast! Peyton is always very loving. He will cuddle with anyone, and often nudges his way into Hershey’s bed (even though he has 3 separate beds of his own!).

PeytonOldOur family could not have been happier adopting Peyton. We had gotten our dog Hershey through a breeder, and although he has been an amazing dog, Peyton has changed our minds on shelter dogs. Sometimes they have a stigma as all being troubled, shy, or abused. However, as we have learned through Peyton, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I recommend adopting a pet to anyone and everyone — you truly are saving a life and these pets will change your life for the better!

-Laura, Connecticut


When we were looking for a dog, we came across Poncho and he broke my heart with his sad story and picture! Someone had found him wandering on the road in West Virginia – he had been shot in the head! The vets in WVA did what they could, but the infection was so bad they could only put a drain in it. Homeward Trails came in and got him, thinking he was ten years old and I would have thought he was on his way out. We told HT that we wanted to adopt him, but we needed to get another one just in case he wasn’t with us for too long.

Panchothumb_ponchoEcollarWhen we met Poncho at PetMAC, we couldn’t believe that it was the same dog. He was jumping around and appeared to be feeling happier. We got him into the vet ASAP for surgery. They were able to take out most of the shattered bone fragments and a lot of dead tissue, but the bullet is too close to his spine to risk taking it out. Poncho is also only about 6 year old now (after 2 years of living with us). He is the sweetest dog, and everyone (2 legs and 4 legs) loves him. His head is almost always cocked to the right because of the way that his bones were healing while in the shelter. He loves to cuddle, but he also loves to play.

The same day we got Poncho, we also adopted Chloe from HT. They love each other and he watches out over her. Poncho also plays very well with the foster dogs that live with us. His tail is always wagging and he loves to go for walks. We even made friends with the person who adopted Chloe’s brother, Deuce. He comes over for playdates sometimes and he and Poncho play ALLLL night!

We couldn’t have asked for a better dog. Take a chance on an older (in theory) dog- they still have lots of love to give.

-Liz and Ray, Manassas, VA

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When I decided it was time to get a dog I spent a lot of time at animal shelters and perusing the internet looking for the perfect rescue for me. About a month or so into my search I came across Fern. Her story tugged at my heart. She had been left outside of a trailer park pregnant with puppies, heartworm positive, and in such poor condition that only one puppy from her litter survived. Her story was very similar to that of the Corgi/Shepard mix that was a member of our family for many years. I knew at once I needed to inquire about this dog. After what felt like a long time, the adoption papers were in the works and I was communicating regularly with her foster family scheduling as many visits as I could to see her.

FernFernSoon everything was finalized and Fern arrived at my home the night before the blizzard of 2010. I had my dog. Fern is now well adjusted, and loves her new home. She shares the house with a 10lb miniature dachshund named Jack who has become her best friend, and she has turned into quite the running partner. She is an absolute love who is just as content to go for a 3 mile run as she is to lay at home on me; she is a 70lb lap dog. She is gentle when she needs to be, but knows the time and place for rough housing. She is a smart, wonderful, loving, mildly neu rotic dog who fits perfectly into my life. Fern has ended up being a fantastic addition to my family. And I thank Sheila, John, and Robin for helping me make her a member of the family.

 -Shannon, Olney, MD

See all posts about: Special Needs


Last summer I remember coming home from work and a strange feeling came over me–I needed a cat. You see, three years ago my cat Whiskers (also adopted) passed away age the age of 11 from cancer. Perhaps that was his way of telling me it was time for me to share my love with another furry friend.

Sushi & SakeSo I started my search on last Thanksgiving with no particular type of cat in mind. I immediately fell in love with four month old brother and sister Siamese/Snowshoe mix kittens who were named Raccoon and Smudgi at the time. I knew immediately that they were the furry friends that I needed and that needed me.

Raccoon and SmudgiSushi and Sake as kittens

I was scheduled to pick them up the weekend before Christmas which was the same time that mother nature decided the DC area was to have its first snow storm. I begged and a friend with a truck took me to pick up my new babies. By Christmas morning, four days later, the kittens and I had bonded. I believe that my sweet Whiskers played a small part in helping me find this perfect pair.

-The Murray Home, Fort Washington, MD


We adopted Ahby, then Meg, as a puppy in September 2008. She is the most lovable dog we have ever known!

AhbyShe greets everyone she meets and isn’t afraid of anything. She will even lay with you when you are sick. Ahby loves playing ball, giving kisses and eating ice cubes.

We are grateful to Homeward Trails for providing us with our best friend.


Arnold, MD

See all posts about: Big Black Dogs


It’s been just over a year since we adopted Nahla and it has been quite an adventure with our happy girl — one that my husband and I wouldn’t trade for anything. Upon adoption, we learned that Nahla had been thrown from a moving vehicle shortly after giving birth to puppies. A good Samaritan found her and nursed her back to health but was unable to keep her as she had many of her own dogs to care for. After bouncing back from injuries related to her car toss — alopecia and mange, just to name a few — we knew our Nahla was a trooper. And, if those health problems weren’t enough, Nahla also tested positive for heartworm.

NahlaFrom the moment we saw Nahla’s picture on Homeward Trail’s website, we knew she was meant to be with our family. We have a seven year-old Husky who she absolutely adores! Nahla has even picked up on some of the classic Husky traits and we often find both dogs standing on the steps “talking” (howling) to us. I feel like Nahla’s rough beginning is an example of how dogs can truly endure some of the worst conditions possible and remain so full of love.

Today, Nahla is doing wonderfully. Like many Pits, she needs to be the center of attention at all times. Nahla thinks that she’s a lap dog and shows no signs of hesitation as she backs her behind into the lap of anyone happening to sit nearby, showering them with wet kisses. Sunbathing in our deck is one of her favorite things. She’ll bask in the sun for hours. Nahla is so loving and affectionate and has become a favorite among the dogs in our extended family. My husband and I can’t picture life without our happy girl.

Thank you, Homeward Trails, for the work you do.

Joanna and Matt
Columbia, MD

See all posts about: Pit Bulls | Special Needs


Bixby is a 1-year-old lab/chow/??? mix. We adopted him in July of 2009, as Kelso, when he was 6 months old. We told Homeward Trails what we wanted in a dog, and they matched us up perfectly and quickly.

BixbyEverything is going great. He is well behaved and has a special relationship with every member of the family, especially with our daughter, age 10. We love him. Thank you, Homeward Trails!

The Liu-Glasheen Family
Alexandria, VA

See all posts about: Big Black Dogs


I had wanted a cat for years, but my roommate was a bit allergic to them and had resisted the idea.  One day she came home and announced that she really wanted a pet to come home to.  We talked it over and decided if we kept a cat out of her room and vacuumed frequently to minimize the effects, she could deal with the allergies for a few weeks until her body adjusted.  We also knew that at some point in the future, we wouldn’t be living together anymore, so we agreed that it would be “my” cat, but that we would both be mommies.  So we got online and started looking for cats and adoption fairs.  We inquired about a few different ones but one little furry orange and white one definitely stuck out for us, and we were thrilled when his foster mom, who worked with Homeward Trails, said she could bring him by for a home visit the very next day.

GideonWhen his foster mom opened his carrier in our apartment, he immediately shot out and started exploring, but was sure to keep low to the ground so he “wouldn’t be spotted.”  He was the most adorable little kitty at about six months old.  We loved how he shot out to explore instead of hiding in the carrier, and we was (and still is) a BIG talker.  We played with him for a little bit, expecting to have to give him back at least until arrangements could be made, but to our delight, his foster mom said we could keep him that day!  We had to run out quickly to buy supplies, and when we got back he was a little timid and hid under the bed for a while before coming out to get to know us.  We decided to leave him alone (hard as it was!) to let him get used to his new home.  At first he was a little timid – I would find him lounging on my bed, or the couch and he would immediately jump down, thinking he was going to be yelled at.  We reassured him that it was his home too and he could go wherever he wanted (in retrospect, allowing him to lounge on the dining room table was a bad idea and has led to a bad habit, but he was too cute and we were powerless to resist him).

Almost two years later, Gideon (as we named him) is a full-grown, happy cat who still loves to talk (and on occasions where he really wants canned food, or just feels like it, scream).  In some ways, he’s like a dog – very loyal to me and follows me everywhere, even lounging on the kitchen floor while I do dishes, or screaming outside the bathroom door while I take a shower.  His greatest joy in life is when we bring home new paper bags from the grocery store, and he loves giving us “headbutts” – which we love too!  My roommate and I have each moved in with our significant others now, so Gideon has gained a great daddy, but luckily his “other mommy” lives just a few floors down and visits him frequently, too.  I am so blessed to have Gideon in my life and so thankful to Homeward Trails for introducing me to him.  I’m now in law school and he is a great little study buddy, always hanging out with me while I’m doing my schoolwork, even though he could be playing with his daddy instead.  My boyfriend and I love having him as part of our family, and hope to get him a canine brother or sister in a few years.

-Meagan Fassinger


Rudy is a lab/shepherd/something else mix. About 5 years old, I’m told.

When I saw Rudy on the Homeward Trails site (via, the description repeatedly said, “Poor Rudy.” Not any more! Yes, according to HT, he had been in an outdoor pen at a rural shelter for nearly four years, with no contact with other dogs and minimal contact with humans. He was described as extremely timid, with the addition that “He wants to love and trust” but obviously, hadn’t had much experience in that in his previous life. (Although the Homeward Trails foster homes obviously had done a very good job getting him started.)

RudyHe needed a fairly quiet home, no kids or other dogs, because sudden movements or noises spooked him. Me, I’m the quiet type. Sounded like it was worth a shot.

His foster mom warned me that he might be very timid, so when she brought him over for the home visit, I didn’t try to approach or coax him. But I did have treats in my pocket, in case he came to me. Once she settled in on the couch, Rudy did lie down in my living room, and eventually came over to sniff me and take a treat. Done deal. Good boy.

After I adopted Rudy, I started learning lots of things about him. He is perfectly house-trained. He hardly ever barks, and only for a reason. Yes, he was timid, but really more bewildered than frightened. He just hadn’t had much of a chance to learn about the world. His foster mom, who had two other dogs, said he needed a “safe” place, so I got him a kennel,to put in “his” room, but I always leave the door open so he can come and go. He went into the kennel with no coaxing, and obviously liked having his safe place, but after a few days, he started to come out and lie down on a doggie bed that I had strategically placed by my TV-watching chair. He definitely likes to hang out with me. Good boy.

His foster mom said he would “play bow” but didn’t really seem to know how to play, and definitely didn’t know how to fetch. Ha! Once he wasn’t competing with other dogs, he loves to chase toys and even occasionally brings them back. Even more fun is that he invented a game of running from one toy to another in the back yard, racing like a maniac, or maybe a quarter horse, touching each one and hurtling on to the next, while I cheer, “Run, Rudy, Run!”  He is full of joy, and it makes me happy to see him so happy. No more “Poor Rudy.” Good boy.

We walk every day. I give kudos to HT for the wonderful work they already did in rehabilitating him, because according to the paperwork, walking was not one of his skills, and he was especially afraid of traffic. He still gets a little startled by the sudden noise of a bus or truck changing gears, but it is momentary. Mostly, he likes to sniff every inch of the ground, and I let him because I think he is making up for lost time. But he walks really well on the leash and has learned to sit and stay before we leave the house, and even to walk very slowly down the front steps, no matter how much he wants to get out and “see” the world. Good boy.

Because I knew I needed to board him for a week over the holidays, I took him in to Dog Paws and Cat Claws University, which is literally within walking distance of my house, for their “entrance exam” well in advance. The owner, Ryan, did a wonderful thing. Although Rudy was said to have been (and in my limited experience at that time, was and still is) more wary of men than women, Ryan quietly gained his trust and slowly introduced him to one dog, then another, then another, until Rudy was part of a group of about eight dogs. He gets along great with other dogs that aren’t too rambunctious, and on our walks, he wants to meet other dogs that are nice. Dogs that are charging the fence or barking fiercely, he ignores. Good boy.

He doesn’t beg for food when I am eating, although I’ll confess that when I’m done, that last corner of the sandwich often ends up in his dish. But even if I’m eating something wonderful, he will leave me alone — sometimes, three feet away, but facing away from me, or he’ll leave the room. I didn’t teach him that, but maybe someone else did. Good boy.

Rudy is such a good dog, it is hard to imagine that someone didn’t want him before. I feel lucky that I got him. He’s such a good boy.

Do we still have challenges? Sure. Going to the vet, sudden noises, strange people — but he’s really adapting well. The Homeward Trails volunteers said he wanted to learn to love and trust, and you know, I think he’s learning that. Good boy, Rudy. Good boy.
See all posts about: Shy Dogs