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Pet of the Week: Maxine

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Maxine, a domestic medium hair & tabby mix kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about her:

Maxine is a delightful kitten. She loves to snuggle. She will cuddle up to you and sleep on top of you.

She also loves her playtime! She would be a perfect companion.

Maxine was about 8 weeks old the first part of July.

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Maxine a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Celebrate the Summer Season at Exo Apartments’ First Annual Pool Party

Join Exo Apartments on Wednesday, August 22nd from 4-7 p.m. and dive into summer.

Enjoy summer sips from local brewery Lake Ann Brew House. Snack on fresh baked pretzels and local food truck bites. Explore all that Exo has to offer, and snag summer essential giveaways along the way.

DJ Alkimist will be supplying the sounds of summer while you relax poolside. Swimsuits not required, but highly recommended. Grab your free ticket to the first annual pool party here!

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Reno of the Month: Why Do Renovations Go Wrong?

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

Have you ever wondered why renovations go wrong? Here are some of the most common complaints we hear from homeowners:

  • The contractor said the work would be completed by the end of June. It’s August and there’s STILL no end in sight.
  • The estimate they provided at the start of the project bears no resemblance to what it’s actually costing me.
  • Why am I the one driving the project and making all the design decisions?
  • There seems to be an endless stream of people in my home but I’m not sure who’s actually in charge!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Most complaints are the result of remodelers not having a clear pathway and strong synergy between the design and construction phases of a project. They’re all too eager to get started and give you a ballpark estimate with no reality around allowances for your design choices, the complexity of your remodel or they have no project plan in place to get you to your end game.

No one wants a “I wasn’t expecting that!” moment in the middle of a remodel which inevitably adds time and cost to your project.

That’s why we created the Renovation Roadmap™ as our way to help you navigate the remodeling process. Think of our proprietary system as your ticket to an exceptional remodeling experience. We take care of every step of the process from plans and designs to providing exact costs and a detailed timeline for quality construction.

Why is this important? It eliminates change orders, unexpected bills, delays, frustration and — most importantly — it allows you to have some fun along the way!

Our Reno of the Month features a kitchen remodel in Fairfax Station. Our clients had a poor experience with a previous remodeler and had been searching for another partner to work with for 4 years!

Friends and family said there was no way we could finish on time (having not had that experience with remodels themselves) and our client took great delight in walking everyone through the completed spaces ON TIME!

Why was our client so happy? Because they felt completely taken care of from start to finish.

Learn why our approach works and sign up to receive our free Renovation Roadmap™ brochure!

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Legal Insider: Self-Reporting Duty for Security Clearance Holders

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

We represent and defend security clearance holders and applicants in security clearance investigations and appeals. One of the lessor understood aspects of holding a security clearance is the continuing duty of a government contractor or federal employee to self-report new security issues which arise.

The federal government is slowly moving towards a system of continuous evaluation for security clearance holders, but there is still a duty for a clearance holder to self-report significant security concerns that arise between investigations.

This is often a misunderstood issue. Many government contractors and federal employees understandably do not want to essentially report themselves for new issues that arise and either don’t think about reporting new issues that arise or report them in the context of later filling out a new SF-86 or e-QIP application during the next background investigation.

It is very important to understand when issues should be reported and to do so promptly in many cases.

Types of Reportable Security Concerns

There are many potential types of security concerns that should be reported to the government contractor’s / federal employee’s security office. Each federal agency that issues security clearances offers their own guidance, which can vary, but remain mostly the same.

Some issues are harder to evaluate than others when it comes to deciding whether or not to self-report them, which is why counsel is often needed. Some examples of security concerns that may need to be reported as soon as possible include:

  1. An arrest (DUI, assault, any type of criminal issue, etc)
  2. Marriage to a citizen of another country
  3. Excessive unpaid debts (or bankruptcy)
  4. Certain civil lawsuits
  5. Use of illegal drugs
  6. Contact by a foreign country
  7. A wide variety of other security concerns (too many to list)

Results of Reporting a Security Concern

The first step in self-reporting a security issue is for the individual to notify their security officer. Documentation may be needed from the security office and/or an interview may then be needed.

As a result of self-reporting, a contractor or federal employee may need to deal with ramifications of a clearance review or investigation. That is not always the case and many incidents are noted simply for the security file and nothing else occurs. However, not reporting a security issue, when it is required, can create a greater likelihood that the individual will lose their security clearance because they will have to deal with both the underlying issue and also the fact that they have not reported the incident previously.

In many cases, self-reporting can be viewed as a mitigating factor in the clearance adjudication process.

Conclusion

When facing security clearance or employment issues it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel. If you need assistance with a clearance or employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.

Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Pet of the Week: Butch

Becky's Pet Care

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Butch, a corgi mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Butch is an adorable young dog, just over 2 years old and weighing in around 25 lbs. He loves sitting next humans and knows how to walk nicely on a leash.

Butch, who we believe is a Corgi mix, enjoys the company of other dogs and is sure to be a hit at home, on walks or at the dog park.

His size is perfect for joining you on car trips and his love of adventure is certain to make everyday life more enjoyable! The three words we use to describe him are loving, eager to please and well-behaved.

Butch is up to date on all shots and de-wormings, has been neutered and carries an adoption fee of $350 which includes his microchip.

Contact Adoption Coordinator Kendra with questions or to get in your application!

Are you and Butch a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Pet of the Week: Waylon

Becky's Pet Care

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Waylon, a pit bull terrier available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

This is Waylon and he is absolutely, without a doubt, positively, one of the best dogs I have ever known, and trust me, I have known A LOT of REALLY AMAZING dogs!!!

Waylon is an ambassador of his breed, and in mine, as well as several other “dog people’s” opinion, he would make an excellent therapy dog. Again, that is not something I say very often, but there’s truly something very special about this boy.

He has this innocence about him that is so amazing to witness and really tugs at your heart. Waylon loves ALL other creatures and honestly wants to be friends with anything or anyone he meets!

He will be an awesome companion for his human(s), as well as any other animals in the family, and with further positive training he will be the kind of dog you can take anywhere and leave everyone who meets him “awe struck” by what a remarkable dog he is.

Are you and Waylon a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reston Real Estate: Remember “Cost of Ownership” When Buying a Home

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Originally published November 30, 2013

Question: “I’m a first time buyer. I’ve been looking (online) at townhouses and condos in the Reston area.

It seems like I can buy more if I get a townhouse because there won’t be any condo fees. My father says that the condo fees pay for things that I’ll have to pay for eventually.

What do you think?”

Answer: I think your Father is a pretty smart guy. Let’s look at the question from a different perspective. For most things we own there is something called the “cost of ownership” which means simply it costs money to maintain things.

Cars need maintenance. Pets need to go to the vet. Some clothes can only be dry cleaned.

It is the same with property. It requires maintenance and repair and to maintain its value.

Hopefully part of your plan to purchase a property includes understanding what it will cost to keep it in good repair.

When you purchase a condo some parts of the property maintenance are the responsibility of the condominium association. Your condo fees include a contribution to both the day-to-day operations and something called the reserve and replacement fund.

The reserve and replacement fund is where the money for things like a new roof, replacement flooring in commonly shared hallways, maintenance of parking lots, garages and all the other things that the condo owners share in common.

What that includes will vary from condo to condo but it typically includes the entire exterior except for windows and doors.

When considering the purchase of a condo it is important to look at the condo’s financials and audit report to confirm that the reserve fund is large enough to cover anticipated repairs; an under funded reserve account is a future special assessment.

A special assessment occurs when something breaks and there’s not enough money for the repair — the condo association then has to collect extra money from the members to make the repair.

So, the short answer to your question is that your dad is right. If you buy a townhouse you’ll have to take charge of saving to replace your roof, your water heater, your furnace, etc. In a condo some of that will be saved for you through the payment of your condo fee, but you’ll want to make sure that the condo association is well run and in good financial shape.

Follow this link to a more detailed blog post about understanding condo fees.

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Legal Insider: Employment Investigations in the Workplace

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

We have represented both employees and employers in connection with employment investigations. This article talks about the issues involved when an employer conducts an investigation in the workplace. Employers conduct workplace investigations into employee complaints generally because they can face legal consequences if they do not do so.

As an example, if an individual alleges sex harassment or discrimination at work and the claims are not investigated, an employer can be more readily held liable by employees. The same type of investigation is necessary when dealing with claims of whistleblowing or other alleged inappropriate conduct at work.

What Happens During a Workplace Investigation

Usually, in most employment investigations, the employer will usually hire an outside law firm (or occasionally use internal counsel) to conduct an employment investigation and will act as the investigator.

Once the investigator is appointed, they will start their investigation. Keep in mind that the employer’s goal in these investigations is to minimize liability for the employer.

While an investigator may find an individual employee at fault, the investigator ultimately wants to find and document that no fault on the part of an employer occurred.

The following steps usually take place in an employer investigation:

  1. The investigator reviews the complaint and plans for a thorough investigation;
  2. The investigator interviews the complainant or complainants;
  3. The investigator interviews the employees with knowledge of the issues in the complaint;
  4. The investigator interviews the accused employee or employees;
  5. The investigator conducts follow-up interviews of any witnesses as needed;
  6. The investigator reviews any relevant documentation, emails or other evidence involving the complaint;
  7. The investigator issues a final report with recommendations to an employer.

Results of Workplace Investigation

Once the employer’s investigation is over, the results can vary. A report is usually prepared, along with recommendations on actions to be potentially taken.

The investigation can result in the termination or other discipline for an accused employee. The investigation can also vindicate the accused employee.

An employer must be careful in avoiding retaliation against a complaining employee, even when their complaint is found to not be justified.

Each investigation is different, and different employers vary in how they handle workplace investigations. The proper handling of an employment investigation can protect employees in the workplace and also reduce employer liability.

Conclusion

If an employee or employer needs assistance with an employment investigation or other issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at our website to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or connect with us on Twitter.

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Pet of the Week: Oshie

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Oshie, a domestic short hair & tabby kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about her:

Oshie, like T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals, is full of energy and fun.

She loves to play. She is bigger than her brother, Ovi, and loves to show off what a skilled athlete she is. But she also has a sweet side and loves to sit in laps and cuddle.

Oshie was about 7 weeks old the first part of July.

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Oshie a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reston Real Estate: Is Condo Living Right For You?

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

I’ve lived on Lake Anne Plaza for about 16 years now. Rick and I originally purchased our first condo, a 1 bedroom in the high rise, to help out one of our kids who needed a stable place to live while struggling with the transition into fully launched adulthood.

As we painted and prepared the condo for our daughter we were smitten with the property. Later, as we watched the community embrace and support and care about our daughter, our infatuation grew and we knew we’d found a place where we wanted to connect.

It wasn’t long before we sold our single family home and moved into a townhouse in Washington Plaza Cluster — a few years after that we moved into a large condo in the high rise on Lake Anne Plaza.

Throughout our time on Lake Anne we’ve been active in the community. I served for years on the condo board, the landscaping committee, ran the Saturday Craft Market and was active in the Merchant’s Committee. Rick has served on the condo board of directors for the past 10 years.

Whenever I work with clients that are considering condo living I try to explain the unique environment that is created when people live in such close proximity to one another. It puts a little more demand on one’s ability to interact with others in a civil manner.

It’s not that there aren’t all kinds of disagreements and even out and out feelings of hostility — but to give in to those ignoble feelings has much deeper consequences when one lives in community. It’s hard to pass someone in the hall way that you’ve publicly demonized; it divides and tears down the community.

I used to joke that living in the Lake Anne Village Center has taught me a lot about forgiveness — because when you live this close to people your only real choice is to forgive them — otherwise at the end of your first year or so you’d have to lock yourself in your condo.

I think often of hearing Bob Simon saying he wished everyone knew “how nice it was to live in close contact with your fellow humans.” I don’t think Bob was being saccharine when he said that — he was a realist about people’s short-comings, but he understood the great richness that living in community brings into one’s own life; certainly for me a great gift.

Current Market Conditions in Reston

  • 203 Active Listings
  • 139 Pending Listings
  • 144 Sold in the past 30 days

Average Days on Market = 31

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Pet of the Week: Eddie

Becky's Pet Care

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Eddie, a Terrier mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

This handsome little devil is approximately 3 years young and has the sweetest disposition ever! He’s a small guy, around 13 pounds and is just a joy to be around.

Eddie has done well with all the other canine friends he’s met and just wants to be loved. He is going to make a terrific companion to any human or other canine.

Eddie is fully vetted, including his microchip, vaccinations, neutered and dewormed.

Are you and Eddie a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Legal Insider: Tips for Social Media and Employment

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

For the last few years, we have been advising employees on the proper use of social media in connection with their employment. Social media is one of the most unique and changing areas of employment law today. This article provides some basic tips for employees and a summary of their current rights in Virginia.

Social Media Tips — Things to Avoid

  1. Friends & Supervisors: Avoid (where possible) becoming friends or connected with supervisors (and sometimes co-workers). It has often been the case that we have had employees face discipline resulting from Tweets, Facebook or Instagram posts that even well-meaning individuals forward to the employer. For instance, we have seen posts ridiculing a supervisor eventually make it to the supervisor. It tends to create an atmosphere ripe for retaliation and discipline.
  2. Avoid Workplace Criticism: Avoid mentioning problems or other issues that arise at work. We have usually found that even a well-meaning friend can pass on information to a supervisor or company official that can lead to discipline or, at minimum, a less comfortable work environment.
  3. Don’t Discuss Company Clients or Projects: Avoid mentioning clients or other work specific information from your employer in your social media posts. Sometimes these clients get word of the post, see it online, or it makes the news. As a result, the employer often then takes disciplinary action against the employee.
  4. Avoid Social Media During Work Hours: While this may or may not be feasible for everyone, it is a good idea to avoid social media posting while at work. We have seen employees written up for social media posting during work hours or when using employer computers. In some cases, employers have argued, where social media posts include the time and date posted, that they have not been working their duties while getting paid.

Social Media Employee Protections in Virginia

Some states have begun to legislate initial protections for social media accounts held by employees. This is the case in Virginia. While the relatively new law in Virginia doesn’t protect an employee from the content that they post online, it offers some protection for employees. Specifically, it bars employers from demanding or requiring access to an employee’s social media information as part of their employment.

Virginia Code § 40.1-28.7:5 protects employees from employers (1) requesting their sign on information to media accounts; and (2) requiring an employee to add a company manager or representative as a friend or contact on the social media account. I suspect that we are only at the initial stages of the laws that will define employee social media protections in the workplace with more to come.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that not all companies take offense to social media posting and can have lax policies. The best idea is to find out company policy from the employer as early as possible. When facing employment issues it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel.

If you need assistance with an employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.

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Pet of the Week: Bolt

Becky's Pet Care

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Bolt, a Corgi & Husky mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

This great little guy is a nice blend of friendly affection and normal puppy playfulness and will be great company.

This extremely friendly fella is going to bring lots of joy to some lucky adopters.

Are you and Bolt a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reno of the Month: Who is in Your Home?

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

Many homeowners make assumptions about the general contractor or remodeling firm they pick for their remodel. You get a great first impression from the initial sales meeting, but, odds are those aren’t the same people who’ll actually be in your home doing the work every day.

Carpenters and construction crews will be in your life, around your kids and overseeing your investment each day of the project, so don’t forget to ask questions during the selection of a remodeling partner about the people actually doing the work:

  • Are your carpenters in-house employees or subcontractors?
  • Do I have a dedicated lead for my project?
  • What training or certifications do workers have?
  • What standards will the staff follow while they’re in my home?
  • Who will have access to keys while work is being completed?

So much of a home remodel depends on labor, so it’s important you’re comfortable with the field expertise of your team.

While all of our carpenters are in-house team members, and one will be assigned a specifically oversee your project’s quality, safety and security protocols, not every company operates that way.

It takes a lot of trust to invite people into your home and we don’t take that lightly. Although many of our clients live in the home while we’re remodeling, others schedule their remodel while they’re out-of-town, or even relocating from outside of the area!

Regardless of who you choose to remodel your home, the point is to go beyond the initial sales call and find out who will actually be doing the work and overseeing your project.

Our Reno of the Month features a client who was living in Massachusetts during both the design and construction phases of their project.

We took all the necessary measures to ensure we delivered a perfect renovation while respecting safety and cleanliness, leaving nothing behind but a gorgeous, transformed home. Their neighbor even commented, “Thanks again for the neighborly way the crew handled everything. It’s really like we never knew you were there!”

Want to learn more about our team? Find out Who We Are!

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Pet of the Week: Penelope

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Penelope, a domestic short hair & tortoiseshell kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about her:

Hi!

You won’t believe the week I have had. I had lived in the same place my whole life. I was not feeling very good, was itchy, and I was really pretty hungry.

The next thing I know, ROAD TRIP!

Out of West Virginia and now I am here! Internet famous. I got some medicine, and had a spa day and now I feel GREAT.

I may be smaller than my brothers, but I am not afraid of anything. I love to play ball. I also am crazy about getting my back rubbed… and my tummy.. and my head.. OK, I just love to be loved.

I am a very good girl. I am so excited to find my forever home. Things just get better and better. Please come see me Saturday!

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Penelope a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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