This is Diablo on the left and Gibbs on the right. On February 20, 2018, a little over 5 weeks ago, I went to Macon County Animal Services to meet these two after seeing them here.

I have had my rescue dawg Sammie since she was around 14 weeks old. She is now pushing 13 (wow that’s 91 in dog years) and, unfortunately, her age is taking its toll. She suffers from Cushing’s disease and is quite lame. Sammie was her daddy’s girl, but she has tolerated me since my late husband passed in 2010. I say that tongue in cheek. We love each other very much. She has been my rock, my running buddy while preparing for Basic Law Enforcement Training, and my hiking partner for many years. My love and gratitude for her will never end.

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I decided this time around I wanted to rescue a male pooch to take on Sammie’s legacy … a new personal trainer and companion, per se! This dog would be an addition to my household, NOT a replacement for Sammie.

Anyone who has ever been to a dog pound knows it can be quite frazzling. The barking and yapping, the jumping, and the crying furbabies are enough to break any animal lover’s heart. I took Diablo and Gibbs out separately to walk around outside the building. They were both very strong and extremely excited to be outside. Frankly, they yanked me around, even bowled me over, and I was concerned I would not be able to handle either one of them. From what I’ve learned since that day, I would never again decide yay or nay on adopting a particular dog simply based on the behavior demonstrated in a 5-minute walk on shelter grounds.

When I woke up the next morning, the idea and name for a pet sitting/dog walking business came to life … JJ’s Pet Care (JJ stands for Joyful Jennifer’s). It was amazing how quickly it all came together, almost like my brain was on cruise control, and in just a week I designed the website, ordered business cards, and made up some flyers to hang around Macon County. The business was launched on March 1. 

I have always wanted to volunteer at an animal rescue shelter but to be perfectly honest never had the guts to do so. I went into Appalachian Animal Rescue Center, introduced myself, asked if I could leave some business cards, and expressed my desire to walk shelter dogs on the Greenway. I was greeted warmly and asked to fill out a volunteer application. It took me about a week to muster up the courage to take that first shelter dog walk, and the experience has been life changing.

Not only was I “rescued” when I took this one-eyed wonder Patch for a walk and adopted him two days later, but I’ve learned so much over the past couple of weeks. I learned that searching for a dog who will fit into your home and lifestyle takes time. It is also, in my opinion, imperative to take the pup somewhere off premises for awhile and experience first hand how he or she rides in the car and behaves AFTER releasing some of that pent-up energy. AARC is great about that; they simply make a copy of your driver’s license and send you on your way. I did go back to Macon County Animal Services and volunteer to walk some of their dogs, but they do not allow them to be taken off the property.

As far as JJ’s the business, while I’m certainly hopeful that it becomes successful, I’m much more concerned about spending as much times as possible struttin’ with shelter dogs and doing anything I can to help each and every one find a loving, safe home. This will be my priority no matter the future of JJ’s.



The shelter is closed on Sundays and Wednesdays so I won’t have the privilege of walking a dog every single day, but I wanted to chronicle this awesome time I had with a dynamic dog that I called Jack. Last year while working and staying at a KOA campground in central VA, I took advantage of the fabulous hiking trails in the area. Unfortunately, due to my dog’s ailing health, she is no longer able to hike with me, so I tackled the trails alone. This took place on Easter Sunday, and this was the first time I thought about how neat it would be to take shelter dogs outta “jail” for a few hours to hike. Jack, however, was not a shelter dog; he was truly a trail angel.

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The head of Terrapin Mountain Trail is at the end of a mile-long, gravel, residential road. About a quarter of a mile into the hike, I was met by two doggies, Jack and what looked to be more of a “house” doggie. “House doggie” was smaller and fluffier than Jack and … well … took off towards a house I could see in the distance. Jack, incredibly, stuck with me for the full 10-mile trek. The first 6 miles or so were mostly uphill, and the trail was not well marked. So I was happy and extremely relieved to hit this point cuz I knew that what went up had to come down — it was time to descend the mountain.

And, at this point, at least I knew I was on the correct trail. I realized later, despite having the trail loop “trip tik” saved on my phone, I took off from the wrong end so wasn’t meeting landmarks as I should have been. This was a bit concerning, but I grew to have faith that my boy Jack had my back. He clearly knew these woods like the back of his paw. There were times he would run way ahead outta sight — I wasn’t sure if he was still with me — but he always came back to get me. It was amazing.

There were a few creek crossings, and for each one Jack searched out the safest way for me to cross.


I felt so blessed to have this K-9 compass join me on Easter Sunday for such a beautiful hike. I worried a bit what might happen to him after we completed our journey, but this boy was clearly not a stray. He was obviously a local doggie who enjoyed the outdoors as much as I do. When we got back to the trailhead, we took a photo together and then Jack sauntered away towards the same house that “house doggie” went. I bet he had a good, long nap and a great story for his family!