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Our Daisy (formerly Miss Muffet) adopted us January 25, 2006. She came to us on a home visit and never left. Although my husband was in favor of the adoption, he wasn’t sure he really wanted a beagle. No one told Daisy that. She walked in, looked around, sniffed a little and promptly peed on my husband’s favorite rug! He burst out laughing and she’s been with us ever since.

DaisyDaisy was incredibly shy and we weren’t sure of her age–our vet guessed her to be 6 or 7. She had been used as a breeder and we later found out that she had actually been shot at (she still had the buckshot in her back). Her foster dad told us she had been put out on the streets and was nearly run over (like her brother) when she was found. So, we were facing several hurtles in getting her used to us.

The biggest thing in our favor was her amazing nature. After all she had been thru, she only every showed love and appreciation. She quickly took over our home (and our hearts) and became our constant companion. She loved car rides and belly scratches and fireplaces and snow and shrimp. She gave love freely and brought warmth into a room every time she entered it. She had the ability to sense emotions and respond to them. If I was sad, she was warm and affectionate. If I was upset or angry, she became a three-ring circus. She never met a hand she couldn’t love. She made us realize that a hand not scratching a dog, was a hand wasted.

As you can tell, I’m speaking in the past tense. Daisy went over the rainbow on Saturday, October 23, 2010 after a valiant struggle with cancer. She only had us for three short years, but we will have her forever in our hearts. Thank you Homeward Trails for bringing me the happiest three years of my life.

God bless you all.

-Claudette White, Bowie, MD

See all posts about: Older Dogs | Shy Dogs | Special Needs


In September, 2008 we adopted Joy as a companion for our aging American Eskimo. She was shy and skittish, but since he was so calm, she soon learned to be more easy going. When we lost him in February, we soon knew we needed to fill the hole in all our lives. Enter Eli, a fun and lovable beagle!

Joy & EliWhen Joy came to us, she didn’t know how to play and was never fond of the dog park. However, Eli has changed all that. Now she frequently starts the tug-o-war and is first into the car for the frequent trips to the park. We can’t thank Homeward Trails enough for bringing these wonderful dogs into our life!

-The Rauscher Family, Gaithersburg, MD

See all posts about: Shy Dogs


My name is Nelly.

NellyI was adopted a year ago and I thought it would be a good time to take stock of the situation. I include a few pictures, one where I don’t look my best and another which I like much better. This is what happened between.

I was dumped in a rural shelter by a lady who lived in a domestic violence situation. I was already 9 by then, and was not too hopeful about any improvements in my life. But Homeward Trails changed everything! They picked me up, brought me back to DC, cleaned me up, spayed me and pulled 9 rotten teeth out of my mouth!

Nelly_beforeNelly before

After about two weeks in a wonderful foster home, a couple (not too young, like me) came to visit and liked me so much they came back and took me home with them! I was nervous at first… When they extended a hand to pet me, I ran to hide under furniture and was afraid the leash was not meant to take me for a walk. Loud noises still scare me, but all in all, I’m pretty satisfied with my situation..

My dad works at home, so I’m rarely alone. I may be only 12 pounds, but I’m a fantastic guard dog as I hear absolutely everything. Actually, I don’t know how they managed without me; they miss everything, the UPS guy, the door bell, you name it.

I’ve heard some people BUY dogs! Can you imagine that? When there are hundreds, no, thousands of dogs, as good and as wonderful as I am waiting for a better life. So think about it.

Gotta go, I distinctly hear some interesting noises in the kitchen!


-Nelly (via Laetitia & Robert), Bethesda, MD

See all posts about: Older Dogs | Shy Dogs


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

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

See all posts about: Shy Dogs