To engage and unite Virginians to improve our natural and scenic environment.

Going to the Dogs

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgA few months ago we did something sort of silly. We wanted a puppy so we went to our local animal shelter to have a look.

You know what happens when you go grocery shopping when you’re really hungry? An animal shelter is a horrible place to be when you want a puppy.

Anyway, things didn’t exactly work out how we had planned. One of the workers at the shelter mentioned that there were some juvenile and adult dogs in a run beside the shelter and we might find a nice hound over there. Through the garage we went, past rows of crates and kennels and barking mutts of every size and shape. In a fenced area just outside the garage was a tangle of fur and snouts with legs and paws and tails flying asunder. Labs, cockers, lap dogs, and more jumped and chased and chewed. We sat down in a corner and a beautiful brindle Pit Bull came over, had a sniff, licked a cheek, and then curled up in our lap. All 65 pounds of her. This was Sera, short for Serafina. She was 18 months old, spayed, had all of her shots, and she came home with us that day.

One of the things that attracted us to Sera (besides her obvious lovability) was watching her interact. Her history said that she’d spent most of her life in either shelters or foster care, but she seemed to really enjoy playing with other dogs and interacting with people. Over the past few months she’s gone to the river, parties, dog parks, little league games, and brewery concerts – all while on her leash and with a little container of baggies clipped to her collar.

Kenney Toms Cobb didn’t have a similar situation with Kong, her greyhound. While walking in a Richmond-area park, Cobb and Kong were accosted by another dog who was away from its owner. This mystery dog went after Kong, and when Cobb stepped in, she was bitten. She wasn’t able to make contact with the dog’s owner and determine if it was up-to-date with vaccinations, so she visited her doctor and began a painful round of rabies shots.

We have a friend with a lovable Corgi-mix, and they had their own run-in with another dog. This dog was known to them, was known to be aggressive, and was purposefully off-leash. It attacked Jasper, and little Jasper spent a few days in the vet’s office, getting stitched and shot and salved and wrapped.

Know your dog, people, and love your leash.

We’re all for sharing the great outdoors with our furry friends and especially for making a loving home for rescue dogs. We found a jewel in Sera. She’s like us and loves to visit our parks and wild spaces. She’s begun to learn about our Virginia State Parks, which happen to be dog-friendly. We have to keep her on a leash, and we have to clean up after her. If she tears something up or disrupts other visitors with joyous barking, we may be asked to leave the park. That’s okay with us. There are also some wildlife areas where we aren’t allowed to take her. Again, perfectly cool. There’s still so much left for her to see and sniff.

There are, however, a ton of places where we can let Sera off of her leash to run and play with other dogs. This site has a list of the Top Ten Dog Parks in Virginia. Again, though, know your dog. You should have plenty of experience handling your pooch around other dogs before you throw him/her in with a bunch of strangers. It’s like a kid’s first day of school, and it can be scary.

Lastly, clean up. The James River Association is reminding everyone to Scoop Your Poop. What Fido leaves behind is a mess for everyone else, and eventually finds its way into our rivers and streams. Our awesome image for this blog is Maddie, and it comes from RVA Dog Blog. They’ve written an excellent post about poop. You should read it.

And not just any bag for your poop. Do a bit of shopping, but most retailers have something like this PetCo product – Bio Bags. Made from plants, and 100% biodegradable. They’re also black, so once you’ve scooped you don’t have to look at it.

So grab your canine cohort and go see Virginia. Just don’t let Virginia go to the dogs.