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Today Luke Skywalker [formerly Barrett] celebrates his first adoption anniversary! He came to us a skinny, timid young dog with no training and diagnosed with worms and heartworm. A year later, Luke is confident, playful and extremely intelligent–he loves dogs, cats, children and adults–in short, his great big heart has love for all. He is the most beloved dog in our entire apartment complex, and even inspired a Christmas drive for donations for Homeward Trails this past winter. We are incredibly proud dog parents, and love the way people respond to him.


A special shout out to Robin who helped Luke find his way home, and to everyone at Homeward Trails, thank you for all your support that you provided from his rescue to his treatment, and for all the wonderful work you do to save lives. Here’s a collage of Luke’s photos–on the first day we met him, his first day in his furever home, and what he looks today.

– Tazreena and Anders


daytonI adopted Dayton to be a buddy for my cat Shiloh. Little did I know he would be on of the best things that ever happened to me. Dayton is a clown and lights up the room whenever he is in it, he LOVES to play and give kitty kisses and chats up a storm. I love this boy and am blessed every day having found him Thanks Homeward Trails Rescue and Petfinder!

–  Emily Steenhout


Jasmine and McGuffeyI adopted Jasmine, a sweet little dachshund/spaniel mix puppy last December.  I wanted to give you an update on how she is doing.

In a word – WONDERFUL!

She is the happiest, funniest little dog!   She has settled in so nicely and now seems to fully understand how loved and safe she is.  She has really blossomed!

Jasmy is very popular with all of the children and dogs in the neighborhood and she is a favorite playdate.   She loves being outside, digging holes, playing fetch and stretching out in the sun.  She gets along really well with her older brother, McGuffey – they play and wrestle until they’re exhausted.  She’s a big kisser and loves getting cuddles.

I am absolutely delighted with my precious puppy.  Thank you SO much for helping her find her way to me!

-Stephanie Jones



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


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


We were beyond ecstatic when we received an application for Bunny’s adoption, a feline leukemia (FeLV) positive Manx kitty.  Upon notifying our partner shelter in Wetzel County, West Virginia of this news, we learned that Bunny had a best friend and cage-mate, Freda, a lovely FeLV+ tuxedo kitty.  The thought of Freda alone in her cage was painful to fathom so we decided to bring her up to DC with Bunny to find a foster home for her.  Our initial excitement was quickly topped when Bunny’s potential adopters suggested that they would consider adopting Freda as well!!  Freda, a fluffy purring machine, quickly won their hearts just as Bunny had, and these kind people were the proud parents of a two new FeLV+ cats.  These two kitties are now living in New Jersey, snuggling with two small canine friends and another resident FeLV+ cat named Brandy as well!

Bunny & FredaWith Bunny and Freda adopted, this brings the number of FeLV+ kitties living at Wetzel County Animal Shelter down to 4.  Please consider fostering or adopting a FeLV+ kitty.  Remember, feline leukemia cannot be transmitted between species, so humans, dogs, rabbits, and any other non-feline animal are completely safe from infection.  Please help us spread the word about feline leukemia positive cats; ask your friends and coworkers to open their hearts to one or two of these special cats.  Together we can help all of these deserving kitties find a loving family and a home to call their own!

Stay tuned for out next featured cat, Tommy 2 Toes, who is living with both FELV and FIV.

See all posts about: Bonded Pairs


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

See all posts about: Special Needs


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


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

The day after my birthday last year, my very-much-loved 17 year-old cat, Calypso, succumbed to kidney failure and had to be put to sleep. I’d gotten her, my first-ever cat, just a few months after I moved out on my own as a young adult, and home didn’t feel like home without her. My remaining cat, Tiki, was thirteen years old and had never been alone, either. No matter how much we cuddled, we both felt lost.

One night, so sad I hardly knew what to do with myself, I logged into Petfinder to look at pictures of kittens. Seeing so many images of adorable kittens, all without owners, made me remember the first night I’d brought Calypso home, when she spun around the apartment like a tiny black bouncing ball and then collapsed at my feet while I was doing dishes. Somehow, looking at all the kittens, I began to feel a little better. I became captivated by the photo of a calico kitten and her brother, who had been rescued by Homeward Trails from a high-kill shelter and were now in a foster home. Tiki needed a friend; and “Mango’s kittens” needed a new home. No matter how much I was grieving for Calypso, it seemed selfish to wait till I healed to adopt.

The first time all three napped together

The first time all three napped together

Tiki was healthy and strong for his age, but I knew a pair of kittens would be best for him because they could play with each other when he wanted to be left alone. When I went to visit the calico and her brother, I can’t say it was love at first sight: the calico was busy playing with her foster friends, and Ziggy, her brother, ran up the stairs and hid from me at first. Nevertheless, I somehow couldn’t walk away. I played with the calico, and I picked up Ziggy. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him purr,” his foster mom told me. I rubbed his ears, stroked under his chin, and pulled him close to my chest, and after a while felt a low rumble coming from his belly.

Needless to say, I took them home. I changed the calico’s name to Stardust, which turned out to be prescient when she grew a feather-duster plume of a tail. With the exception of a little hissing, the introductions went beautifully. Tiki’s eyes brightened and he followed the little ones around, hovering over all their antics. Within a few weeks, he was joining in their games and letting them sleep next to him; and within a few months, he and Stardust were play-wrestling and grooming each other. He’d never had that close a relationship with Calypso, and I’d never seen him so happy. Stardust’s joie-de-vivre and Ziggy’s sweetness – and their kitten acrobatics – were just what I needed to get through the painful first months without Calypso. This past summer, I was thrilled when the vet told us Tiki’s blood work was perfect and pronounced him in perfect health. Seeing him roughhouse with Stardust several times a day, I was so grateful he had found such happiness in his senior years that sometimes, watching them, I wept.

On Halloween morning a month ago, the cats had breakfast and had started chasing each other and wrestling as usual, when suddenly I heard loud breathing. Tiki was on his side, his lips blue – probably, I was told later, hidden heart failure he’d been masking. Before I could even finish my panicked call to the vet, he had died, Stardust anxiously sniffing his ears. I am told that for Tiki it would have been like suddenly disappearing while he was playing – and while he was still strong, beautiful, and powerful. For me, it has been harder. Losing two much-loved cats in less than a year, I don’t know what I would have done without Ziggy and Stardust. But there is nothing that happens at home now that is not interrupted and investigated by Stardust’s wet nose, and no sadness that can’t be salved by Ziggy’s gentle expression and now-rumbling purr. I miss Calypso and Tiki terribly, but not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the two new friends I adopted to honor my love for my old ones.

-Jill Kronstadt

See all posts about: Bonded Pairs