Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dog adoption in the Washington DC area

One the things I love most about the DC area it the dog friendly atmosphere that is everywhere. From the numerous dog parks to the fido friendly outdoor seating in restaurants, it is well known that people love their four-legged friends here!
Not only are pets spoiled by treats from the many gourmet dog bakeries here, but due to the common apartment-like living situations for so many people in the DC area, is not uncommon to find park/green areas all over the city designated just for the dogs!
In fact, I am pretty sure pet owners are the majority in the building we live in. Dogs treats await dogs walking in and out of the building and our front desk concierge knows them all by name!
It is so fun to live in a city where pets are really considered a part of the family!

As Brian and I have been considering adopting another four-legged member to add to our family, we have noticed more and more the high value that DC/VA residents put on their pet's well-being. The adoption process is not as easy as filling out a paper and taking your dog home the same day.
I have learned this first hand through my volunteer work with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. Not only is the adoption process thorough, but rescue organizations go the extra mile to make sure that the adoptable dogs are living comfortable lives with foster families or in doggie day care while they await their forever family.
I first volunteered with Lucky Dog at an adoption event in Alexandria. I was a handler that was responsible for walking and introducing my assigned dog to potential adopters. I was pretty sure I wanted to adopt the dog I was assigned to right away and take him home immediately! Of course, there was a lot of interest in him and I believe he was adopted soon after the adoption event. I later learned that Lucky Dog, along with many other rescue organizations, have an adoption procedure that includes an application, interview, reference check, and home visit. Additionally, most adoption fees range around $300 because all the dogs adopted are up-to-date on their vaccinations and are spayed/neutered.
This process allows Lucky Dog to do their best to find the perfect match for dog and family! There are many factors that determine if a dog is a good fit for a family. These factors can include; children in the home, other dogs, cats, fenced yard, apartment living, work schedules, breed preference, etc.

While Lucky Dog works very hard to find all their dogs a forever home, they never rush to adopt out one of their dogs and have volunteers that take their jobs very seriously. Volunteers are the backbone for many rescue organizations and Lucky Dog is no different. Volunteers come out by the dozen to help at adoption events, volunteers work to raise funding to support the important work that needs to be done rescue dogs, volunteers help to maintain the organization website and social media outreach, and many, many more duties that keep Lucky Dog so successful in finding homes for so many dogs in the DC area. One of the more important roles that Lucky Dog volunteers play is serving as a foster parent to an adoptable dog. As I mentioned earlier,  Lucky Dog works to find comfortable accommodations for their pets-in-waiting, which includes foster families. Foster families take dogs into their own home and care for them until they are adopted. I am always in awe of these people. Not only do they put much of their own resources and time into providing a home to a new dog, but they become that dog's biggest advocate for adoption and work very hard to find the perfect home! (This includes shuttling back and forth to the many adoption events in the DC/VA/MD area!!!)
And of course, in addition to volunteers that give their time and their home, there are so many gracious donors that keep this organization going by monetary donations or sponsorships.

While I am most familiar with Lucky Dog, there are many other dog rescue organizations in the DC area that do amazing things and work very hard to find their dogs the best home possible!

I am happy to announce that Brian and I put in an application for a sweet labrador mix puppy today! We are in the beginning of the adoption process and the next step will be the home visit! I will keep you posted on how that goes! 

In the mean time, here are some adorable faces that need forever homes! 


To volunteer or donate to Lucky Dog, email:  info@luckydoganimalrescue.org

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting on track

Day 1 of Spring Training-Watching what I put in my mouth. 
There is no doubt that what you put in your body can either help you or hurt you when training for any sport or endurance activity. I would love to think that the actual fact that running several miles equals burning several hundred calories which is my ticket to mindless-stuffing-my-face eating!
Oh, how I wish it was that easy. Of course you have to turn to food to fuel you through the long runs and strength training, but picking the right foods and ensuring the adequate amount of hydration can make or break any fitness goal you have set.

So my first step is actually tracking what I eat. I like to think I am cognizant of the nutritional value of food, but it is amazing how fast calories add up when you are just munching on snacks throughout the day. And not to focus only on calories, but more importantly, what do I need to be giving my body to perform at its best?? There are a few things that I can control when training, and one of those is definitely what I put in my mouth! So while I consider myself a "foodie" and love nothing more than good food, if I want to take this running thing seriously this year, I have to give my body what it needs, not just want my mind and stomach want!

So in order to track the calories and nutritional value of the food I eat I need something easy and convenient to use.

I have started using Calorie Count: Food Log. It is a great website that allows you to enter everything you eat, log activity, track goals and read about other users' successes and challenges.
There are many features that I just love. For example, I love the dashboard on the food log that shows you how many calories you have left for the day (based off of your weight goals) while calculating your calorie burn rate (based on some standard questions in your profile).
Opps! Looks like I went over my daily calorie allowance on my first day! But this does not include my exercise tonight, so it looks like I have some work to do in the gym!

Another great feature, and what I am most interested in, is all the great nutritional value you get from entering in everything you eat. The list of foods is endless, so I an confident that a majority of the food I eat can be found on this website.

According to my nutritional grade, I had a good amount of everything but was low on calcium and Vitamin A and a little high on fiber. So more milk tomorrow and less brown rice should get rid of that A-!
Another great thing is tracking my water intake all day which serves as a consistent remind to keep my water bottle filled up all day!

So I think this tool will be of great help to me as I start to pick up the running and require more energy. I have bookmarked it at work and on my home computer and I am preparing to download it on my blackberry tonight!
Not only will keeping track of all the foods I eat serve as great way to watch calories and nutrients, but it will be fun to track calories, activities, weight, and goals to see if things improve as the running increases!
Off to the gym!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spring Race Schedule

I am happy to report that I have committed myself, (aka pulled out the credit card), to a few races in the upcoming Spring months. My hope to prepare for a few spring races and stick to a training schedule all-year that will leave me well prepared for my first marathon this fall. Knowing myself, if I don't have something that keeps me running now, I will be struggling to get to the full 26.2 mile mark in November. 
Now that I have clicked the registration button, the hard part begins....training! While I have an half marathon under my belt, psychologically I feel like I am starting again from square one. After battling some knee pain after my last race in December and overcoming bronchitis in January, my running shoes have not hit pavement in over 3 months. Additionally, the bitter cold temperatures and blistery wind coupled with the early sunsets haven't been pushing me out the door. 
So it goes without saying that I am in need of some serious training to include getting these legs running again and pairing a weight lifting regime to my training to strengthen the muscles to support my knees. 


The Spring 2011 schedule begins with an easy 5K run in Washington DC. My friend Kerry organized a team,  "Team Java", to run in Scope It Out 5K, on March 20th. Of course, I always love the opportunity to run in the beautiful city of DC, but it doesn't get any better when you are running with great friends, for a great cause, and a yummy brunch afterward! 


Next on the list is the Marine Corp Historic Half. This race will take place in Fredericksburg, VA on May 15th. It will be great to run a half marathon again and attempt to improve upon my time from my first half marathon last year! Fredericksburg is just a short drive from here, but we have yet to make it down there for a visit. So it will be a great excuse for a short road trip down south! 


And to round out the Spring schedule, I have committed to a 10k in June. Not just any 10k, but the EX2adventures Off-Road 10K. Sounds fun, right?? Not sure what I was thinking with this one, but I signed Brian up for the half-marathon and figured I should join him by running the 10k. 
"Hit the trail and leave the road behind!" 
Good luck to me!! Hope they have an ambulance and rescue crew ready and waiting! Wait...just realized this race is in June! One of the hottest months in Washington DC! Yikes! 


So, I am hoping these races will keep me running all year and in good shape to do my first marathon in the Fall! 
So, first step tomorrow is to dust the cobwebs off the running shoes and at least get on the treadmill! 


Stay tuned for what should be an interesting training season!