A Dog’s Vacation

You and your dog are our primary focuses. We understand that it is difficult to leave a pet behind when you take off on a vacation. The guilt sets in particularly hard when you have to leave your pet in a place that does not feel good. When you look into your dog’s eyes and see disappointment, fear and sadness, it is hard to go on and fully enjoy your getaway. The Cottages understands that taking care of your pet means also taking care of you. If you know in your heart that your dog is being loved, cared for and understood by the boarding facility you choose, you will have a better vacation. And your dog will get a vacation all his own!

When I lived in a city and shared my home with one dog, I struggled to leave her. Whenever possible, I would have a caregiver stay in my home to watch her in order to avoid sending her to a kennel. But this meant a lot of extra work on my behalf to prepare the house for a guest, go over all of my dog’s needs and wants with the caregiver and have a virtual stranger staying in my home. In the end, I still had to look at the beautiful, disappointed face on my dog when I left her. Finally I found  a wonderful boarding place for her. They exercised her, cared for her and met her specific elderly lady needs. When I left her there for a second time, I knew the fit was as good for my girl as I thought it was. After checking her in and saying my goodbyes, I turned to walk towards my car. Being the uber attached human as I am, I turned back to look at her. She was trotting off with the caregivers towards the play yard. She did not even look back at me but I knew her expression was content. That vacation was one of the best I have yet to enjoy.

All dogs are different. But, like humans, they all want to be loved and feel safe. When a dog knows that a person is there to love and care for him, he can let go of the fear and begin to enjoy his new environment.  The Cottages promises to love your dog (almost) as much as you do.

Driving Force

The driving forces behind the cottages are to:

1. Provide top quality loving and fun dog boarding services in cottages style homes with lots of outdoor time

2. Use a portion of the profits from the dog boarding facility to help homeless pets find their forever homes.

In the Charlottesville and Richmond areas, we are blessed with many wonderful non profit organizations dedicated to helping homeless pets. Rather than start a new rescue The Cottages will work with existing shelters and private rescues to fill in the holes and provide needed services. The non profit will be call Adoption and Rehoming Cottages (ARC) and will provide foster type boarding for dogs who are in need of a break from the busy shelter life or in need of foster care and have not yet found a residential foster home. The nonprofit will focus on filling the gap between the services currently available to dogs, such as fostering, sheltering and rescues, and the need for temporary bandwidth so these dogs will have a home while they await their foster and or forever homes. Over the last several weeks I have been meeting with local shelters such as the Louisa Animal Shelter and the Fluvanna SPCA as well as private rescues such as the Louisa Humane Society, Green Dogs Unleashed and the HOWS Project to find out what their most urgent needs are and how the Cottages can help meet those needs. The overwhelming response has been that these organizations at times are in need of temporary foster situations for their dogs when they are either full or not able to immediately locate a foster home. The adoption or rehoming cottages will focus on providing a nurturing, safe and fun environment for homeless dogs on a temporary basis, recognizing that the best situation for these pets would be to be in a residential home surrounded by their family. However when that is not possible the cottages will be able to provide them the safe place that they need well they travel their journey to their forever home.


Two years ago I lost my best friend. She was my confidant, friend and endless source of love. I credit her with rescuing me from a terrible situation that I myself had created. She motivated me to be a better person, to be strong and to give back. When she was with me, I was at home. She brought me back to my family after twenty years of living thousands of miles away. Then she left me. How do I ever repay that. How do I thank her. The only way I know how is to use the love that she gave me to create a safe place for other dogs. And to help others in need. I will keep thinking about other ways to show her how much she meant to me. But for now, this is it.  So I plan to do it right.

When I came home to the east coast, I starting sifting through the memories of my past life, when I was younger and knew myself in a more pure way than I do today, given the distractions of the media, family expectations, and the general noise of life. Within the paperwork, I found handwritten notes from 2nd grade. At the top of each paper, the beginning of a statement is written followed by “…”so the child can finish the statement. Following is what I found that I had written:

If I had a million dollars, I would…buy a fram and save all the animals.

Funny how life comes full circle when you start back on the path of your intentions. I was at a point in my life where I was ready to do something meaningful. I wanted to start a dog boarding facility that helped financially support a non profit dog rehoming organization. I had gone back to school to get my MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. This degree gave me tools and confidence to get started. Plus I met some of the most wonderful people who have become lifelong friends. They inspire me to achieve my goals. Then I came home to find property on which to start the endeavor. While in this process, I found the above note, leaving no doubt that I was finally on the right path. At 7 years old, I knew my passion was to love and help animals. Over the years, I had willed myself in other directions. I had a sensible undergraduate degree in economics, I worked in the fun field of entertainment because it was, well, fun. Then I started to pull my life together and found that I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping people. So for many years I enjoyed working in the field of Behavioral Health. There I learned that I much prefer to fill my soul with meaning rather than superficial fun. In my quest to better myself, I read the book “One Year to Live” by Stephen Levine. I had been going to his son’s (Noah Lavine) Buddhist meditation studio in Los Angeles where I had found peace. After reading his son’s book Dharma Punx, I found out his father was extremely influential in Noah’s transformation. So I picked up the book “One Year to Live” which changed my life. I began to think about what I would do differently if I only had one year left to live. And what would I wish I had done. Family and working with animals floated to the top of my consciousness. That is when I decided to move back to the east coast to be closer to my loving family and to make the transition to working with animals. It has been a beautiful journey so far. I look forward to continuing the ride.