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Six months ago, my fiancé and I were searching for a puppy to start our new family life together.  We had both grown up from families that encouraged rescue groups for pet adoption so we knew we had to find the right rescue group for us.

Luckythumb_Lucky_YoungWe came across Homeward Trails online after reading the great reviews and seeing their beautiful puppies.  We immediately fell in love with “Rusty” now known as Lucky.  He was about 5 months old, underweight with worms, and was rescued as a stray in South Carolina.  Once we met him we knew he was ours.

Now approaching his first birthday, we couldn’t be happier with this cute dog. He is extremely intelligent, calm, fun-loving, affectionate, and happy. He is great with the neighborhood kids and a true ladies man at the dog park. He enjoys taking hikes on the trails in Seneca Park behind our home. But who would have thought he would have grown this much fur? He truly loves the snow and we think somewhere in his “Heinz-57 varieties” pedigree he is built for it. Thank you again Homeward Trails. We couldn’t be happier.


We have always loved chow mixes and were looking on the Homeward Trails website when we discovered our little guy.  His name was Brutis at that time and he was in a shelter in Tucker County, WVa.  We adopted him from the picture/narrative and waited a few weeks for him to be delivered to the DC area… but there weren’t any drivers in WVa able to meet the Homeward Trails volunteers mid-way.  We decided to drive to Elkins on a Saturday morning and pick up our new family member.  We also brought 2 other adopted dogs to their new homes.

Mr. MagooWithin 5 minutes of meeting our new boy, we realized he was not a Brutis —- but he definitely was a Mr. Magoo.  We were told by Minnie, the wonderful animal control officer of Tucker County, that Magoo came from one of the worst homes in the county– he weighed 17 pounds on the day we brought him home.  He is our wild boy:  seems to have a few coyote mannerisms and does not have polished manners but is full of love and mischief.  His personality makes us laugh everyday, especially when he tugs at our pants!  He enjoys life with his rescue sisters.

Barb & Lou, Fairfax Station, VA


FionaIthumb_Fiona2 am the proud parent of Fiona Sassy Sauer, a former Homeward Trails Animal Rescue puppy. I am so grateful to this organization because without it I wouldn’t have my amazing pet, friend, and constant companion. A year ago this month (December) I had been contacting various rescue organizations because I wanted to adopt a dog. While I was in the process of hearing back from the various organizations I visited my friends, Jen and Matt, who were foster parents for Homeward Trails. They said that the dog was found in a high kill shelter in North Carolina and was brought to Washington DC to be adopted but the people backed out once she was in the area. When I walked into their apartment and saw Fiona anxiously wagging her tail waiting to be pet it was love at first sight. She was this adorable black ball of fluff with an amazing temperament and personality. She reminded me of my childhood pet. I instantly knew she was coming home with me.

The next day Jen and Matt had to take Fiona to an adoption event. I practically ran to the signup table to fill out my adoption application and then spent the afternoon hovering over Fiona so no one else would try and adopt her. A few short weeks later Fiona came home with me and has been a part of my family ever since. I cannot imagine my life without her and enjoy every minute with her. I would and often do recommend Homeward Trails to people who are looking for a new loving addition to their family. Thank you for finding Fiona!

-Stephanie, Williamsburg, VA
December, 2009

In March of 2009, our 17 year old cat, Fancy, had to be put to sleep.  This was one of the most difficult decisions for us to make, but we knew we had to do what was best for Fancy, even though it broke our hearts.  There was such a void in our home, that we decided to look into adopting a kitten.

Cooter & Roscoe

Jane with all her Foster Kittens

Jane with all her Foster Kittens

We looked online at kittens that needed homes, but I wanted to see a picture and just “feel” that this was the cat for us.  Finally, I got my “feeling”!  I saw this picture of a mommy cat named Jessica that was rescued when she was pregnant, and had given birth to 5 beautiful kittens.  Something about this picture just grabbed me!  I knew this was it!

We met with their foster mom, Jane.  We went every week until it was finally time to bring our kittens home.  Jane was the most wonderful foster mom EVER!!!  On the day we brought our kitties home, she made a CD for us of all the pictures and videos that she had taken of the kittens since they had been born.  What a wonderful gift for us!  On that day, we took a beautiful picture of Jane with all her foster kitties.  Roscoe and Cooter are the sweetest, most loving cats ever.  Surely, that is due to the wonderful care and love they got from Jane!  We can never thank her enough.  Our family is complete now.

-The Martinis Family, Frederick, MD


Toffee was adopted from Homeward Trails in January of 2005. She came from a rural shelter in North Carolina. After clearing up her initial dirt and worms, and getting through a chewing stage, Toffee grew into a well-behaved, friendly dog who sits on command and has never had an accident in the house.  She loves to run every morning in Congressional Cemetery and accompany her owners on beach vacations (shown here in Nags Head).

ToffeeShe has friends in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, including neighbor dogs, vendors at Eastern Market and kids on their walk to school.  Toffee is known by all as a lovely, gentle, confident dog and we couldn’t imagine life without her.

-Rachael, Washington, DC

On May 23, 2008, my beloved cat Emma passed from this life.  She fought a brave 20-month battle with cancer before taking her well-deserved rest.  I miss her and will never forget her.

Emma’s friendship and love made me certain that I would eventually adopt another cat; perhaps later in the fall when some of my grief had eased.  However, as Fate would have it, about a week or two following Emma’s death, I received an email from PetMAC/ Homeward Trails.  On a whim, I viewed their website of adoptable animals, and a female black and white “tuxedo” cat, a “tripod” named “Casey,” immediately caught my eye.  She was beautiful, and her personality profile described her as “affectionate and sweet.”  I was also sympathetic to her having only three legs, knowing that such a physical “challenge” might make it more difficult for her to find a home.  I wanted to meet her.

I completed an application, and Danette Cordone, Casey’s Homeward Trails “foster mom,” responded immediately and positively, suggesting that she and Casey come for a visit.  Casey was understandably shy at our first meeting, so while she cautiously explored her new surroundings, Danette shared what was known of Casey’s life story.  Casey had been surrendered once to the Prince William County (Virginia) animal shelter, then adopted, and then returned by the second adopter.  Sometime in her past, for a still unknown reason, her left rear leg was amputated mid-femur.  When Homeward Trails and Danette discovered her at the shelter, Casey was facing imminent euthanasia.  It was by the grace of God, Homeward Trails, and Danette that this sweet and beautiful little cat was saved.

In the brief six months they had spent together Casey had completely and utterly won Danette’s heart, so much so that she herself considered adopting Casey.  But, with numerous other foster animals needing her care, Danette directed her heart and love toward finding Casey the loving, permanent home she so deserved.

I had already fallen in love with Casey from her website description, and our first face-to-face meeting sealed the deal.  Casey came to live with me on July 12, 2008.  Danette wisely advised that it might take Casey time to adjust to yet another new home and new human companion.  But, if Casey was ready to give me a try, I was more that ready to welcome her into my family.

Indeed, Casey spent most of that first day under the bed, while I sat in the next room patiently waiting for her courage and curiosity to bring her out.  Every few hours I went and talked to her, offering food, toys, and reassurances.  But, this timid little cat, who had been bounced from shelter to home and back again, who had only three legs, and who had faced certain euthanasia, was understandably reluctant, fearing perhaps that she had once again been abandoned.

CaseyThen late that evening just when I wondered if Casey would ever feel safe with me, I looked under the bed again, and out she came – purring and meowing and head rubbing against me, asking for pats and attention.  Like we had been friends forever!  We two stayed up until nearly midnight, exploring her new home and each other.  She delighted in discovering her old, familiar cat condo and her new catnip and feather toys.  Finally, exhausted but very happy, I tucked Casey into my arms and took her with me to bed.  There she curled up on the pillow next to my head, one paw deliberately touching me, and purred us both to sleep.

Casey’s indomitable spirit of love won the day!

Four months later, all is wonderfully well with Casey.  She is healthy and nicely adjusted into our home and family.  She happily chases feather-wand toys, goes crazy for catnip, and has discovered the joys of grazing on her own pot of organic grasses.  She’s a happy chatter-box, talking and singing to me throughout the day.  And she greets me by flopping on her side and offering her furry white tummy for a rub.  Best of all, not one night has passed without Casey snuggled close to me in bed, purring us both to sleep.

It’s said that certain, special individuals come into our life when we most need them.  Danette was there for Casey at the shelter, to save her life and to help her trust humans once again.  There is no doubt that Casey came into my life to help ease my grief at my Emma cat’s passing.  And, I think I’m here for Casey to forever keep her safe and loved.

Casey has a unique and special place in my heart.  I now affectionately call her “angel.”  She is the beautiful little embodiment of the need we all have to love and the indomitable spirit that allows us to do so, no matter what.  Thank you, my little angel.  I will love you forever.

Christine, November, 2008


Or how 2/3rds of The Three Stooges came to live with us.

Moe & LarryIn the late 1990’s we purchased two standard poodle puppies (same mother and father-one litter apart) in San Antonio Texas.  The oldest was named Curly Joe (hmm let’s see two kids and a dog named Curly Joe-it took the kids years to figure this one out) and the youngest BB.  Those two boyz saw the growing up of our two children, flying on an airplane to move to England (and had to spend six months in quarantine-a program now since gone and rightly so), flying back to Washington DC and our oldest going off to college.

It was while the oldest was in college; we had to make the awful decision to put Curly Joe asleep.  It broke our hearts and still does to this day, but it was the correct decision to make.  We even had to tell our oldest while we were driving home from the animal hospital what we had done.  While we were away making that fateful decision, BB began to howl (as told to us by our neighbors) and upon our return and for days afterwards, he would wander about aimlessly looking for his friend and brother.  It was then we made a decision to bring another standard poodle into our lives.

LarryWe happened upon Moe thru Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and upon meeting him I asked one simple question “Would you like to come home with us?” and his response (as shown in the photograph), one simple lick.  Little did we know we were adopting what would become an 80-pound bundle of love that is convinced he is part lap dog, part horse and part cat dog (he rubs up against one like a cat).  He bonded with BB from the start and likes to make Larry sit when being trimmed or if he is about to leap over a gate.  He is the conscience of all three. We were a little concerned that Moe, who gallops like a racehorse and is fast/quick on his feet was a bit much for BB, who is now 12 years old.  We had talked about a younger poodle to be Moe’s companion and allow BB to be that adult leadership.

Moe & LarryWe talked and talked but took no action until out of the clear blue sky we got a call, “Are you still thinking about adopting another poodle?”  I said we had discussed it, but had not made a decision.  I was then told about this wonderful 7-month-old standard puppy up for adoption and after some discussion asked to see more about him.  I kept wondering what if anything was wrong.  We found out he was in an animal control center in West Virginia, and had worn down part of his front teeth gnawing on the cage bars.  He had one week to live before he was put down.  I knew if I showed that picture to the Commander in Chief House, or wife for the rest of you, it was all over and he would be our third standard.  So I wrote “Hello Larry” in the upper left hand corner of the announcement and handed it to her.  Shortly thereafter we were meeting Larry and taking him home.  Larry is a good match for Moe, he thinks he is a steeplechase horse (leaping) or Tigger and is as goofy as Larry was in the Three Stooges movies.  Sometimes we hear him purring just like a lion in that low guttural sound.  He is a little rough around the edges, but what a sweetheart he is.

Larry just celebrated his second birthday and Moe will be four in October. We will always be grateful for the opportunity to have these wonderful dogs from Homeward Trails Animal Rescue.

Ken & Liz Caligiuri


We first saw Norbert (originally Jonah) on a Craig’s List ad from HT, and we went straight away to meet him at the next Adoption Event. He was as friendly, gentle and well-mannered as described.  His foster-mom (who turned out to be a neighbor) spent lots of time answering our questions, and we all took turns walking him and watching him interact with other dogs.It was love at first sight for us parents, but our kids were somewhat nervous at his size.  We’d had cats for 14 years, but he would be our first dog.

Jonah had been returned to Homeward Trails by his previous family, where a variety of stresses and lack of consistent leadership had caused him to start marking inside their house.  This wayward behavior stopped as soon as he had moved in with his foster mom, and we were convinced that stable environment and a consistent diet of exercise, discipline, and affection (in that order – we are big Cesar Millan fans) would keep him on the straight and narrow.  You could tell from just the first meeting that he had a sweet and ready-to-please nature; all he wanted to do was make you happy.  We were ready to adopt him on the spot.

NorbertI was frustrated with the length of time it took me to get approved to have Jonah placed with us, but I was equally impressed with HT’s concern for his welfare, and making the right choice for him.  They urged us to get a walker who could take him out mid-day while we are away, and we did so, finding a wonderful new friend in the process.  His walker created a blog named for him “The Norbert Report,”, as she has also fallen in love with our “big old pumpkin-headed” dog.

We are Norbert’s second (and final) family, and I still cannot imagine that he was ever like the dog his first family turned in.  With us he is extremely quiet, calm, and patient.  We go for long walks every morning and evening, and he loves making new friends. We find we get
out more in the neighborhood as a family and meet a lot of folks we haven’t met before. Norbert is big and strong enough that he will sometimes tow the kids on the their scooters while wearing his harness, and my wife and I have lost weight now that we’re in the habit of taking vigorous daily walks with him.  We always tell the kids that Norbert is spoiling them for dogs.  He is the best dog ever!

The Melnyks, Washington, DC


Pit bulls have it tough these days. They’re mistreated by some, feared by many. It’s my personal opinion that mixed pits may even have it worse…not purebed to be prized by some aficionados but still, the obvious muscular body, large triangle shaped head solicits fear and makes adoption difficult. So, when I saw Pit bull/Beagle mix Dazey’s picture on, those scared sweet eyes, spoke to me. She was in a rural shelter without much time left.

Dazey, Our Tigger-Dog

Dazey (formerly Daisey) at the shelter

Dazey (formerly Daisey) at the shelter

We had owned a Pit bull for 12 years. We had known how affectionate, loving, and kind they can be. I had first-hand experience watching as a two year old climbed on top of my pit bull multiple times, reaching into that mouth– those large muscular jaws, and sharp teeth– to take her prized toy and each time, my beautiful Maggie just let that toy go and licked the child’s face.

I could not let Dazey be put down without trying. We already had two dogs though, rescues as well, plus a busy five year old. It could be complicated. I spoke with the family and my son was just thrilled. His thought on the matter was that Dazey would be his dog. That way each of us in the family would have one. He was right – Dazey has indeed become his,….well….sister, playmate, friend, dog. She has been such a joy.

It was a little scary to pick up a dog unseen, untested with our family, our other pets. The description said she was quiet, medium energy, shouldn’t be more than 30 lbs full grown…”We should be able to handle that,” I thought. She came out of the transport full of energy. This emaciated, beautiful little Pit mix was ready to go. They handed us the leash and she just started walking, almost running….away from whatever her bad situation was.

As the weeks went by, the anxiety passed and she became a natural extension of our family. Her joy and vigor for life is contagious. She’s just always happy. She’s our own little Tigger. She has become best pals with our other Lab/Pit mix as well. Hisstory is a sad one prior to coming home with us. He didn’t even know how to play before Dazey came into his life.Her companionship enabled him to lower his defense. She’s taught him how to just be a happy playful dog!

My son adores her. They play tug of war, and wrestle. She’s never shown aggression towards him even when he’s not being the most gentle or considerate playmate. In a nutshell, Dazey is one fantastic little girl and we’re a very happy and blessed three dog-three person family.


Rescues will often tell you that kittens need to be adopted in pairs and I found that is so very true.  I rescued a young kitten on his way to be abandoned in a village in Armenia and brought him back to the US with me.  Marco Polo was the perfect name for my little traveler.  After having romped with dogs and having constant companions, Marco was lonely as an only animal and very vocal in letting me know.  I knew he needed a pal and went in search of a playmate.  Lucky for us we stumbled upon Homeward Trails and Cosmo.

Cosmo was one of several kittens rescued with their mother by HT from a local shelter.  An all-black kitten with a tiny tuft of white at his chest, he was the last in the litter to find a home.  Cosmo’s foster brought him to my apartment as I insisted the cats meet before committing.  He was brave as can be and happy to meet the resident cat.  There were no hisses from either, just a healthy dose of curiosity and plenty of purrs.  Needless to say, he never left that day, and Marco and I adopted him.

CosmoLittle did Cosmo know what life would be like with us.  We moved to Moscow, Russia for two years and most recently to Almaty, Kazakhstan.  With pet passports in hand, Cosmo and Marco have traveled more than many Americans.  When people come to visit, they always compliment the shiny coat of my little panther and his adorable golden eyes.  Cosmo is a lover and total lap cat.  He’s calm, quiet and easy going.  He enjoys our clicker training sessions but is not a fan of the human toilet training – he likes his litter.  Cosmo’s favorite playtime is to chase the string on the wand without any attachments!

I sincerely thank Homeward Trials for having brought Cosmo into our lives.  I’ve since learned that black cats are the last to be adopted and the first to be put to sleep in shelters. Soon to be four wonderful years with my little Cosmo, I simply can’t understand it.  He is a dream kitty, napping on my lap as I type this, and I can’t imagine a home without him.”

-Shana, Marco and Cosmo

Almaty, Kazakhstan

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