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Photo: Valeria Villarroel
Photo: Valeria Villarroel

Instagramming For a Cause: We the Dogs DC

Is there any other city besides the nation’s capital with such a thriving dog culture? The minute the temperatures reach the mid-60s and the sun beats out the clouds, all the dogs suddenly come out of hiding from hibernation and join their owners at every patio and park throughout the area. Each moment of puppy play dates, brews and bones, puppies and pints, snuggles and sunbathing, and tongue and tail wags is documented on Instagram thanks to @wethedogsdc.

We The Dogs DC was born like many modern connections: on Instagram. A DM slide here, a DM slide there, and suddenly, five local women and their beloved pups found themselves members of a brand new pack. Renee Arellano is dog mom to Kingston; Kat Calvitti hangs out with her pup Stella; Marissa Dimino enjoys yappy hours with Teddy; Shannon DiMartino snuggles up with Ruby; and Amber Duggan gets mani-pedis with Izzy.

Locals following @wethedogsdc get to catch a glimpse at a day in the life of a local pup (much in the same vein of the @wethepeopledc Instagram account), where DC area dog owners get to hold the handle for a day and take photos of their canine companions at Fido-friendly spots around the city. We The Dogs’ Insta also features local rescue pups up for adoption. The cuteness factor is off the charts, and it’s all for a good cause.

More than just an Instagram handle, We The Dogs DC connects local dog lovers to help support animal rescue organizations and local dog-friendly businesses.

“With every dog story comes a human story, and it’s a great way to connect with people,” DiMartino says. “I think by having the handle and showing people who have pit bulls and other dogs that are often times restricted from apartments and other areas, people get to see they are really sweet dogs and just want to be loved.”

Last spring, the ladies of We The Dogs had an idea to bring together people from different political and ideological backgrounds to march for a common cause: their pets. What started as an idea for a small gathering of several dozen people swiftly became the Bipawtisan March; the June 4 event raised more than $10,000 for the Humane Rescue Alliance and Rural Dog Rescue.

“People were just really excited about coming together,” says Duggan, the organization’s executive director.

Since the march, We The Dogs’ Instagram account has grown to over 6,000 followers. Over 1,600 toys, leashes, beds, food and other essential pet items have been donated to help out rescue organizations such as Rural Dog Rescue, the Puppy Rescue Mission and Worthy Dog Rescue. An additional $2,000 was raised for local dog charities at smaller events, and plans are already underway for a second Bipawtisan March in September – an impressive feat for an organization that’s only been around for less than a year.

The pack is also working on a photobook, set to come out this fall. All proceeds from the sale of book will benefit four local animal rescue organizations: OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, K-9 Lifesavers and Operation Paws for Homes. Nearly 30 charities were nominated, and the local community took a vote to whittle the list down to four. Ruby the Bulldog selected the final charity.

“Ruby has a hide-and-seek toy, so we taped the charity names underneath the little cups on the toys and put treats in all of those cups, and let her pick the fourth charity,” DiMartino says.

The book will highlight different dog breeds visiting iconic DC locations and dog-friendly neighborhood gems around the DMV, and will be available on the organization’s website, via Amazon, and at local booksellers and dog-friendly publishing sponsors.

We The Dogs also hosts dog-friendly social gatherings on a regular basis. Thanks to their Instagram community of dog lovers and their social events, dog owners throughout the area have formed local pack walk groups (you can catch Calvitti and Stella at the Meridian Hill one). Pup parents have a place to turn to for advice and support whenever a furry loved one gets sick or injured, and a sympathetic ear when they need to vent about the pitfalls of dog ownership in the DMV, such as breed restrictions in housing and the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on the Metro (take note, WMATA!)

While We The Dogs DC isn’t an advocacy organization, just by virtue of highlighting dogs of different breeds and sizes throughout the area – including those looking for their forever homes – the 501(c)(3) manages to bring visibility and awareness about maligned dog breeds by letting followers glimpse at life through literal puppy dog eyes.

“The community that we’ve built and encountered through our dogs is absolutely amazing,” Calvitti says. “My life revolves around Stella’s plans now. I don’t have a social life – my dog does.”

Don’t miss We The Dogs’ next Yappy Hour on Sunday, May 13. Learn more about We The Dogs DC at www.wethedogsdc.org and follow them on Instagram at @wethedogsdc.


DC Dog Rescues

Animal Welfare Institute
www.awionline.org
“Since its founding in 1951, AWI has sought to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people. Today, one of our greatest areas of emphasis is cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals.”

DC PAWS Rescue
www.dcpawsrescue.org
“DC PAWS Rescue is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in DC, committed to rescuing homeless animals from high-kill animal control facilities that are often under-resourced and underfunded.”

Howl to the Chief
www.howltothechief.com
“The place to pamper Capitol Hill pets: premium pet foods for all budgets, delivery, grooming, dog walking, dog wash and adoption events.”

Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation
www.lostdogrescue.org
“Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation helps homeless pets find their way to loving homes through rescue and adoption.”

Mutts Matter Rescue
www.muttsmatterrescue.org
“We work in conjunction with shelters and other organizations to help save animals on death row, the strays on the streets or ones in unsafe living conditions.”

Operation Paws for Homes
www.ophrescue.org
“Operation Paws for Homes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of dogs who have overcome great odds and deserve wonderful, caring forever homes.”

Worthy Dog Rescue
www.worthydog.org
“Worthy Dog Rescue is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs in distress, especially those living on chains, in pens, or in neglectful and abusive situations.”

Photo: Haley McKey
Photo: Haley McKey

Good Booze and Good Boys: A Dog’s View of DMV Watering Holes

Ziggy the Labrador as told (barked?) to Haley McKey

I love people. I love it when they rub my belly, I love it when they tell me I’m cute and I especially love it when they give me food. And that’s why I also love bars. I don’t quite understand why, but it seems that after a few drinks, the belly rubs, compliments and cookies are extra abundant. It’s great! So, when my friend Haley asked me to come with her to visit some dog-friendly spots around the DC area, of course I went along. And reader, I was not disappointed.


DACHA BEER GARDEN in Shaw
People Perks: Serves beer, cocktails, wine and food
Pup Perks: Open rain or shine thanks to a giant canopy and heaters for cooler days

Haley took me to Dacha on a Sunday afternoon. I liked the place right away. We got caught in the rain earlier, so Haley and I walked in looking like wet rats (though I confess, I’ve never seen one of those) and really appreciated the heat lamps. There was plenty of water and (free!) cookies for all.

It wasn’t too crowded – maybe due to the rain – so I had plenty of room to stand in the way and wag my tail at people. Haley informed me that this is not usually the case, and sure enough, after awhile things got busy and she told me to lie down under our table and quit being a fire hazard (whatever that means). I obliged, and in a moment of weakness she slipped me a few of her friend Sam’s French fries. I met another dog too! She was a puppy. I forget how exhausting children can be.

Haley ordered a fancy bourbon cocktail called a Shawny and a cup of coffee, and Sam got a beer. Sam is a talented artist and drew a picture of me. Someone looked at his drawing and told me I had beautiful eyes. I wanted to kiss her, but I settled for enthusiastic wagging. It’s more polite. 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

NORTHSIDE SOCIAL in Arlington, VA
People Perks: Serves wine, coffee, beer and food
Pup Perks: Dogs allowed on the outdoor patio

Haley took me here with her friend Courtney and Courtney’s dog Remy for a “work wine.” Haley tells me that Courtney is also a writer for On Tap, but to be honest with you, I have absolutely no clue what any of those words mean. Like, at all.

Anyway, the four of us got a table around the side of the building so Remy and I could relax in the shade. Courtney brought us some water and homemade dog treats, which are sold for 35 cents each. They were delicious, but I have been known to eat things I find in the woods, so maybe I’m not the best judge.

Haley and Courtney each had a glass of wine while they worked on their laptops, and I greatly enjoyed the buttery smell of the croissant they shared. Remy fell in love with a beautiful bloodhound we met and, being a bluetick hound himself, he had a lot to say about it. Halfway through, Haley took me to a nice grassy area across the street, which I deeply appreciated (Remy and I drank a lot of water). People walking by, patted our heads and called us good boys. I was overjoyed. 3211 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.northsidesocialarlington.com

ONE EIGHT DISTILLING in Ivy City
People Perks: Serves gin, vodka, bourbon and rye whiskey, plus a rotating menu of thoughtful cocktails; bottles of One Eight’s housemade liquors are for sale at the bar
Pup Perks: Dogs are allowed in the tasting room, but not on distillery tours

My first impression was that this was a loud place. But then I realized it was loud because the people inside were having fun! Everyone was very happy to see me – even more so than usual. Haley said this was a side effect of something called “liquor.” Whatever the cause, I had a great time. People were fawning over me all night.

The best part of this outing was that Haley brought her dad Bill along! (I love her dad so much that sometimes I whine when I see him. It’s really embarrassing.) He got a flight of three different bourbons and Haley got a gin cocktail called a Detroit Radler. It smelled like grapefruit and had what I thought was a meatball at the bottom but alas, it was only a cherry.

Again, both the staff and patrons were very nice not only to me, but to Haley and Bill too! They had such a good time meeting new friends that they got another round. Haley ordered Untitled Whiskey #3, a bourbon made in coffee barrels, and Bill ordered an Old Fashioned.

Meanwhile, I set my sights on the giant pretzel people were eating at a nearby table. I tried to get Haley to order one for me, but she told me she’s supposed to be watching my weight. I tried to explain that she could still watch my weight while I eat a soft, delicious pretzel, but she said I was missing the point.

At the end of the night, we said goodbye and the folks behind the bar gave me my very own bowl of water for one last drink before the ride home. I felt fancy and important. 1135 Okie St. NE, DC; www.oneeightdistilling.com


People here love dogs, and my adventures with Haley prove that in almost every part of town, there’s a place to get a drink with your best friend. I hope she takes me out again sometime. And if she does, I really hope she buys me a pretzel. Check out some of our other favorite pup-friendly watering holes below.

Cotton and Reed: 1330 5th St. NE, DC; www.cottonandreed.com
Just across the street from Union Market, this distillery allows dogs in the tasting room.

Liberty Tavern: 3195 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.thelibertytavern.com
This Clarendon-based bar and restaurant allows dogs in its outdoor patio area.

Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge: 101 N Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.volasdockside.com
This seafood restaurant and bar has a dog-friendly patio overlooking the Potomacin the heart of Old Town.

Doggie

Year of the Dog

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. But based on the plethora of pup-friendly happenings in the DC area, the dog days are here to stay. We’ve hunted high and low for everything you and your four-legged friend can do together now and well into the year. From events and fundraisers to parks and places to adopt a new companion, we’ve got your definitive guide to DC dog life below.

Off-Leash Areas + Summer Spots

There are lots of places around town that are dog-friendly, but not as many where pups can legally roam free from the tether of a leash. The 35-plus fenced acres of Congressional Cemetery are a favorite, but membership is required and there is a yearly waitlist. If you’re not a part of the in-crowd, try Shirlington Dog Park or Glencarlyn Park, both in Arlington with access to creek areas for canine cool-off sessions. In the District, Yards Park has a small off-leash area, which is a decent option for letting the pup run off some steam if you plan to bring him along to an outdoor concert or al fresco dinner.

While Kingman Island, Theodore Roosevelt Island and the wooded area along the Potomac from Fletcher’s Cove toward Chain Bridge are not designated as off-leash grounds, they provide new scents and stimulation for a good trail walk or run. The nearby water and tree canopy provide ways to cool off in the hot summer months, making this a great set of locations for dogs and their humans alike. The canoe, kayak and boat rentals at Fletcher’s boathouse are pet-friendly too!

If you and your pup want to skip town altogether, head to one of the dog-friendly Virginia wineries like Three Fox Vineyards or to Delaware’s Dewey Beach where dogs are welcome to bask in the sun and play in the sand year-round. Learn more about these spots below.

Congressional Cemetery: www.congressionalcemetery.org

Dewey Beach: www.townofdeweybeach.com

Fletcher’s Cove: www.boatingindc.com

Glencarlyn Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Kingman Island: www.kingmanisland.org

Shirlington Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Theodore Roosevelt Island: www.nps.gov

Three Fox Vineyards: www.threefoxvineyards.com

Yards Park: www.capitolriverfront.org

Local Rescues + Adoption Organizations

City Dogs Rescue
City Dogs (and City Kitties) is a foster- and volunteer-based organization that helps place animals from shelters with loving human companions. The organization sponsors adoption events with local businesses like Dogma Bakery and Logan Hardware, and volunteers periodically host Yappy Hours at local bars to raise funds for the puppies and kittens. www.citydogsrescuedc.org

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
Like the other great organizations in this list, Homeward Trails makes it their mission to find homes for abandoned, abused and high-kill shelter animals. Homeward Trails also wants to inspire kids to take the lead when it comes to rescue. During the organization’s Camp Waggin’ Tails summer camp in Fairfax, kids ages eight to 13 can “learn all about animal rescue, responsible pet ownership, positive dog training, hear from a variety of pet professionals, and work hands on with carefully selected adoptable dogs while engaging in fun games and projects.” www.homewardtrails.org

Humane Rescue Alliance
Two years ago, the Washington Animal Rescue League and Washington Humane Society merged to create a mega resource for bringing people and animals together. In addition to adoption services, HRA also provides affordable veterinary care, free pet food for those in need, behavior and training classes, and education and outreach opportunities.  www.humanerescuealliance.org

K-9 Lifesavers
Located in Stafford, Virginia, “K-9 Lifesavers save lives ‘Four Paws at a Time.’” With volunteer drivers and boarding partners, K-9 Lifesavers rescues dogs from low-income rural areas throughout Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Dedicated volunteers drive the pups to the DMV where boarding partners help host the pups until they can be adopted. K-9 Lifesavers also strives to be a support group for adopters and all dog owners. www.k-9lifesavers.org

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
Founded in 2009, Lucky Dog saves an average of 100-125 homeless and abandoned animals every month. And while based in DC, Lucky Dog’s outreach goes far beyond the DMV. This past January, Lucky Dog partnered with Southwest Airlines to deliver more than 14,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to animal rescuers in Puerto Rico and came home to DC with more than 60 dogs and cats who survived Hurricane Maria and were ready to be adopted. www.luckydoganimalrescue.org

Rural Dog Rescue
Rural Dog Rescue (RDR) is completely foster-based and run entirely by volunteers. The rescue works predominantly with several rural, high-kill shelters that euthanize over 70 percent of dogs, or euthanize within 72 hours in Virginia, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina. When RDR finds dogs that are ready for their forever homes, they provide each pet with up-to-date vaccinations and a microchip. Forever true to “The Underdog”, RDR is dedicated to saving the lives of high risk dogs in economically challenged high kills shelters who are often overlooked for adoption or rescue. This organization saves the dogs who are at most risk of being euthanized: the hounds, the black dogs, the seniors, the sick, the handicapped and the broken. RDR makes a commitment to reserve a minimum of 50% of the dogs they save to these underdogs.  www.ruraldogrescue.com

Dog Days of Summer: Wag-worthy Events

Congressional Cemetery’s Day of the Dog
Though the venue may seem morbid, it’s way more fun that one might think! This annual festival is a chance for all dogs, not just those who are members of the cemetery’s K-9 Corps, to join in a day of fun and games and romping around the cemetery’s 35-plus acres. Activities include contests, raffles, demonstrations, food trucks and local adoptions. Check out the Day of the Dog on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Historic Congressional Cemetery: 1801 E St. SE, DC; www.congressionalcemetery.org

Humane Rescue Alliance’s Fashion for Paws Runway Show
Few things could be cuter than a poodle strutting her stuff down the catwalk. For the 11th year running, Fashion for Paws’ Annual Runway Show will couple the glitz and glam of the fashion world with a great charitable cause. “Participants are Humane Rescue Alliance ambassadors who raise a minimum of $4,000 to benefit HRA for the honor of escorting their fashionably dressed dog down the runway,” according to the HRA website. Complete with celebrity host Carson Kressley from Queer Eye, cocktail attire and a glamorous afterparty, the event sells out every year. Dogs not participating in the runway show are not permitted to attend. Don’t miss Fashion for Paws on Saturday, May 5 from 7 p.m. – 12 a.m. Omni Shoreham Hotel: 2500 Calvert St. NW, DC; fashionforpaws.org

Pups in the Park
Summer in America means baseball, and at Nats Park, that includes all-American dogs! Throughout the season, you can purchase tickets to reserve a seat for your dog in the pet-friendly outfield section of the park. As a bonus, the June 23 game will feature a special pregame pup parade around the warning track. Proceeds from dog tickets benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Check out Pups in the Park on May 19, June 23 and on multiple dates in September. Nationals Park: 1500 S Capitol St. SE, DC;
www.mlb.com/nationals

We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March
You wouldn’t be a DC dog if you didn’t participate in political activism. You and your pup can make friends across party lines while supporting a great cause at We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March on September 23, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. with 100 percent of the event’s proceeds donated to local dog rescues. Bipawtisan March: Location TBD; www.wethedogsdc.org

Home Sweet Home: DC’s Dog-Friendly Digs

Let’s face it, even in a town as dog-friendly as DC, the traditional rental market offers slim pickings when it comes to finding a place that allows four-legged friends. But the recent uptick in development has also brought an influx of property managers who see this plight as a niche market opportunity, offering amenities specifically targeted at residents with dogs – granted you can afford the perks.

2M Street

Neighborhood: NoMa
Petmenities: Private dog park, grooming station, community yappy hours and a resident bulldog, Emmy
www.2mstreet.com

City Market at O
Neighborhood: Shaw
Petmenities: Rooftop dog park, dog washing stations, pet walking and grooming referrals, and quarterly yappy hours
www.citymarketato.com

The Hepburn
Neighborhood: Kalorama
Petmenities: Onsite pet spa and a pet wash station
www.thehepburndc.com

Park Chelsea at The Collective
Neighborhood: Capitol Riverfront
Petmenities: Dog wash station, rooftop dog run, and easy access to Garfield, Canal and Yards Parks
www.thecollectivedc.com

Pro Tip: Pup-Friendly Hotels

Friends and family heading to town with Fido? There are lots of great pet-friendly lodging and hotel options, including Hotel Monaco, Hotel Palomar, Hotel Madera, Liaison Capitol Hill, The Carlyle and many others!


Illustration: Haley McKey

Illustration: Haley McKey

Telltale Tails What’s in a Wag?

When many people see a dog wagging his or her tail, they immediately think that dog is happy. But that is not always the case. Dogs use a different language to express how they’re feeling than people do, and their tails can really talk. What’s most important for humans to know is that not all wags mean the same thing. Here are five common wags and what they can indicate.

1. Broad-sweeping, loose and generally side-to-side at a moderate speed: This is the one we like to see! It means, “I’m pleased,” or that there is no sense of threat or challenge.

2. Tight, circular motion at moderate to high speed: This is generally an indicator that the dog is uncomfortable in the situation, unsure how he/she should act or may be a bit high-strung. This wag should be taken as a sign of caution, though not necessarily aggression.

3. Low, tucked and slow to moderate speed with half of the tail in motion: This wag is a classic sign of submissiveness. If your dog is using this wag, he or she isn’t necessarily having the best time, but may just be trying to signal that she “comes in peace.”

4. High, stiff, and fast-paced or vibrating: This is usually a sign of an active challenge. Pay close attention to the situation and extract your dog if necessary.

5. Half tail at a moderate speed: This one is a little vague. It means, “I’m a little tentative here, so not going to put on the full-works display.” It can be a warm up to a hello, or a show of a bit of insecurity.

Common wag facts were originally sourced from Psychology Today here.