The Rescue of Jack and Casey Lou (and fossil hunting too)

Earlier this week we took a little fossil hunting trip that resulted in Seth finding the big megalodon tooth he has been hoping to find for many years.  If it were up to Seth, this story would end right there.  But you know me, I’ve got to drag it out.

We hunt shark teeth and other fossils on a private beach, so we don’t meet many others there, but when we do there is a standard greeting that includes, “Find anything good?”  So when we passed a guy out hoping to find some good teeth, Seth ended up showing him his new found meg.  The man was really impressed and clearly a little envious.  I think what bugged him was how casual Seth acted about the tooth.  Later we passed him again and he brought it up stating that that tooth was a “five year find.”  I assured him that Seth has been hunting shark’s teeth for more than five years and understood the value of the tooth.  I explained that his apparent lack of excitement didn’t actually correlate with his actual feelings.  That made the guy feel better, knowing that Seth wasn’t just some lucky newbie.

We didn’t stay on the beach as long as we’d hoped because Beatrix got her feet wet in the first five minutes.  Despite being carried back to the van to change into dry clothes, she cried that she was cold for the rest of our time there.  It was shady and chilly and none of us complained too much about leaving.  After a quick picnic lunch we headed home.

We’re the type family that will stop our van on a country road if there is a cow standing close to the fence.  We’ll roll down the windows (only the front two roll down so everyone has to leeeeeean forwards) and “Mooooo” at the cow.  Same thing goes for wild turkeys.  Jonny rolls down the windows and the kids all make their best turkey calls.  I talk to squirrels that hop out in the road, begging them to please be more careful.  (Jonny would probably want me to add that he does not talk to squirrels.)

Driving home from our fossil hunting trip we spotted two dogs, apparently out on an unauthorized joy run.   One of the dogs, a black lab, had shimmied under a fence and into a big pasture next to the road, but his friend wasn’t joining him.  He seemed a little worried that she wasn’t following, looking back and forth between her and the pasture.  As we got closer we saw that his friend was wearing a collar that would be associated with an electric fence.  That confirmed that these two were escapees.  Naturally we slowed down to talk to them.  I rolled down my window and said something along the lines of, “You silly bad puppies, what are you guys doing?”  They both rushed the van and started jumping up at my window, teeth bared in doggy grins and claws scratching the paint.  “Better pull over, Jonny!”

We pulled off and Jonny and I got out to take a look at the dogs and check them for identification.  Both dogs had their names and a phone number inscribed on their collars.  Their names were Jack and Casey Lou.  They were clearly very friendly dogs, so we let the kids all pour out to meet them too.  I climbed back in the van to search for the cell phone, a poorly functioning ten dollar Tracphone that is rarely charged.  I found it, but it was dead.  Thankfully I was able to find the charger cord and call the dogs’ owner.  He was at work and couldn’t come meet us, but was clearly very concerned about his dogs.  We offered to throw them in the van and drive them home, but the fellow said he’d call his dad to come get them.  A few minutes later he called back to say that his dad was about ten minutes away.  When he eventually found us, the dogs recognized his truck and went running over in excitement.  “Dad” was clearly a little dumbstruck by the scene:  a 12 passenger van on the side of the road, six kids running around mostly barefoot (their socks got wet at the river), climbing fences, etc.  I guess we’re an odd bunch.  Jack jumped right in the truck, but Casey Lou just couldn’t make it.  Dad said he couldn’t lift her, so Jonny handed Silas to me, and then picked her up and placed her in the truck.  He asked Dad how far from home the dogs were.  “Right far,” he said, “A few miles.”  Evidently a man of few words, Dad climbed in his truck to drive away.  On second thought he stood back up and asked us, “What are your names?”  “Jonny and Ginny,”  I replied.  “Thank you,” he said, maintaining a look of mild confusion.  “No problem.  They’re great dogs,” I replied.  With that, Dad drove off, maybe shaking his head a bit.

We got a text message the next day.  I had no idea that our phone had texting capabilities, and neither Jonny nor I know how to send one, but we were able to read the brief thank you note that Jack and Casey Lou’s owner sent us.  Goodness, who wouldn’t have stopped for a couple of smiling dogs?

p.s.  If you are interested in fossil hunting along the shores of the Potomac River, Westmoreland State Park is a good place to start.


  1. Found your blog through a recommendation for summer things to do and stayed on to read because of the fossil posts. My mom lives in Colonial Beach and my inlaws live in Stratford Harbor. We fossil hunt everytime we come up that way. (live in Hampton Roads area now). You have a lovely family and outlook on life. Great blog!

  2. Thanks for the info about Westmoreland State Park. We are so there! 🙂 I know they say they don’t have the fossil hunting they used to b/c the cliffs are closed, but it looks like a fun park, and just to hunt would be exciting for my 6-year-old. They say you can find small shark teeth, and she would be thrilled for that. Love your blog and all the good ideas and beautiful photographs.

  3. Rebecca (Sydney, Australia) says:

    My kids and I love to mooo out the window at cows as well. We gave my poor dad such a headache one time, after half an hour of us pretty much non stop mooing from the back seat, he closed all the electric windows of the car and locked them on us so we could not mooo any more! Even in suburban Sydney, you come across the odd cow, and we madly wind down the windows and mooo. We get many strange looks from people in other cars!

  4. Those are amazing fossils. My boys had such a blast digging for trilobytes last summer — I can only imagine how they’re react to teeth! Too bad we’re on the wrong end of the country.

  5. I’m a little envious too… nowhere to hunt sharks’ teeth around here.

    I’m glad the dogs story has a happy ending.

  6. Congratulations on your Homies win!

  7. Ginny,
    I’m amazed at those fossils you found! How fun!

    Love the pictures. Glad the dogs got home safely.


    P.S. We have a tracphone too and hardly ever use it. Finally decided to get one when our truck broke down and we were without. Makes me feel more secure just knowing it’s there.

  8. Just found your blog through The Homies, and am really enjoying your beautiful photos in this post! I was so surprised to find these photos were takenright here in Virginia, and we are only an hour from that State Park. I see a day trip in our near future! You have a new follower!!

  9. I am a newbie to your blog and am very excited to begin reading your posts. The photography is amazing and I can tell that you are a thoughtful story teller! I am excited to have found you and look forward to reading about your adventures!

  10. Beautiful story about the “rescue” of those dogs, Ginny! I haven’t been around for a couple of weeks, and it seems to me that your children have grown! As always, your pictures are beautiful. Full of life and nature. I would love to visit that place, enjoy the landscape, and look for fossils and shark teeth!

  11. OOH YAY YAY YAY!!! Just was on apartment therapy and you WON WON WON!!! Woohoo, and sohappy for you.

  12. What you did not know is this was “poor dad’s” 10th attempt at getting rid of son’s pesky pack. No wonder he was confused! LOL. Great pics!

  13. I don’t usually comment on posts but had to quickly share my dog rescuing story. I stopped to help a dog along a busy county highway. I was in my husband’s new white Prius with very light tan fabric seats (you can see where this is going). The dog was running between the highway and a plowed field. As I got out of the car he ran to greet me and I was in such a hurry to get him away from the highway that I left the door open and walked him over to the other side of the car. He was very friendly and I was talking to him and trying to figure out what to do. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something, and by the time I looked another dog ran from the muddy field into the open door of the car. He ran in circles throughout the car before I could move quick enough to open the back door and shoo him out. You can imagine what my husband’s new car interior looked (and smelled) like. Another dog appeared and they all sat in front of me wagging their tails ready to play. I looked around for the hidden camera…. 😉 After a couple of hours the dogs were home and the car was cleaned and my husband and I are still together..ha! If I ever see another dog along the road…………..I’ll certainly stop and help. I’ll be sure to close the doors though.

  14. Your writing and your heart makes me feel like I come home every time I’m here. Thank you.

  15. Hi! I found your blog via apartment therapy…congratulations by the way! How exciting.
    I have been looking through your blog and just loving it. I am a homeschooling momma to four little ones and we are just “officially” starting out on our journey…my two oldest are 8 and 7. I will definitely be coming back…I love that you are a homeschooler and follower of Christ and look forward to getting to know you!

  16. Congrats on winning the Homies. Just visited your blog and loved it! xo

  17. susan in fl says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you stop for dogs. One day I was on my way to work and a dog was running on the road. He had a leash so I grabbed the leash and asked him to lead me home. Apparently he thought I meant my home. So we are walking down a back country road and I’m calling out “hello anyone here.” Eventually I heard a weak voice answering me, an elderly lady had fallen while retrieving her mail and could not get up. She was so greatful that I had stopped, her son came home as the ambulance got there (We couldn’t get her feet under her), He’d been trying to call her for about 20 minutes to check on her, she had no idea how long she had been there but we figured it must have been almost an hour. So yep I stop for dogs too. You never know who needs you.

  18. Hi lovely tooth, what a find. (by the way I came here via Apartment therapy hommies).
    In the 6th photo there is a bone like object on the left hand corner, did you collect that too?
    Are fossils able to be collected and taken home to keep in your state or do you have to deposit them at the museum?
    Just curious as a paleontologist and mother of 2 myself.
    Those dogs will be grateful for life.

    • Hi Yamila! We don’t typically pick up bone fragments, but do find and collect shark and whale vertabrae along with the shark’s teeth. Sometimes we find crocodile teeth as well. Laws regarding collecting and keeping things vary by location.

  19. You always make me giggle and smile. I can so see you chatting with a careless squirrel.

  20. Way to go, Seth! These are such nice pictures, I really enjoyed them!

  21. How funny you had to reassure that guy that Seth was actually excited. But congratulations to Seth on an exciting find!

    Those dogs are so cute, I might’ve taken them home with me instead! 🙂

  22. I cant believe I’ve been following your blog for three years and I never had really appreciated that you are jonny and ginny. Priceless. Also you are a pair.. you can homeschool 6 kids, make the most amazing blog with great pictures on a daily basis and yet texting hasn’t figured in your life. Love it. Keep up the good work. Fantastic find seth. My oldest boy is really impressed (as am I).

  23. Congratulations Seth! Awesome find!

  24. This series of photographs is beautiful,the light and depth are wonderful.many thanks for sharing

  25. So much fun while learning your kiddos are having! Love it. I am wondering if your little girls are wearing wool tights? I have a terrible time finding them, we don’t have terribly cold weather like snow but it does get chilly at times for little ones wearing dresses!

  26. Those are some awesome shark teeth & my kids would be very jealous at the size. We only find little ones here on Onslow Beach!!!

  27. My kids would love to fossil hunt like that! I wonder how far you are from us? Love your story about the dogs 🙂

  28. This post just mad me smile. What some great dogs and it was so good of you to stop. I’ve had pets run off and it’s always such a relief that others care enough to stop and get the animals home. And those fossils – AMAZING!!

  29. This is such a sweet story. I love how you painted the picture (with words and your beautiful photos) of your adventure. Jack and Casey Lou!

  30. It’s official you are now my favorite family! I think I want to come and live with you. You are an animal hero because you took the time and made the effort to rescue two lost babies. Thank you so much. You wouldn’t believe how many people would have driven on and not cared at all. Give yourselves a big pat on the back from me. 🙂

  31. We lived in Alexandria five years ago (how could it have been that long ago!) for a year while my husband worked at the natural history museum and loved getting around to see places like this. We did a little fossil hunting along the shores, too. I think that is why I enjoy reading your blog so much – you bring back a lot of great memories.

  32. Oh, thank you so much for the park suggestion! We live in Northern VA and I have been looking for a place to take my family for my birthday in June. Renting a cabin here looks like a great idea! Those fossils you guys found are awesome!

  33. What a great story. I am so glad I read this. Makes me want to stop next time I see a dog near the road. Thanks for sharing an amazing day and a very happy ending for 2 sweet dogs. I would only hope someone would do this for my 3 bad dogs.

  34. What a lovely ending!
    We love to search for fossils on our lake shore- never shark teeth, but some trilobites have been discovered!

  35. *high pitched squeal* A megalodon tooth?!?!?! As a HUGE shark lover since the age of 5 or 6 I have to say that is one of the coolest things ever!! I have one that I treasure but it was given to me many years back by a friend in Georgia who found it. It was found on Cumberland island if I remember right, Have you ever been there? I miss it.
    (Yes, sharks are truly, truly my favorite animals! Ever since watching Jaws on a visit to Florida as a child I was completely fascinated and in love with them. It’s a long odd story…)

    And the dog story *sigh* So glad you guys found them. That seems to be a weekly event around here for us – finding lost dogs and getting them to their homes. We just can’t pass them by.

    Lots of love!!! Now back to working on L’s pants 😉

  36. What a find!

    And I am clearly a little jealous of you all out on a day in February dressed as you are. We are in Canada and snowed under. It is beautiful but…..I could use a little sunshine!

    We always joke about ‘the circus’ coming to town whenever we all go somewhere (and we are just 6 in total).

    Big families….represent!

  37. What an exciting day! People here just stare at the 15 passenger van because, well, it’s full of kids. 😀 They count us as we pile out.

    BTW, where did you get those adorable bunny green shoes for Beatrix?

  38. Oh, I love your pictures- our family has fossil-hunted along the James River in Surry County, where the cliffs are eroded and the water looks just the same as the Potomac- calm, expansive….

    We found a whale vertbrae. I’ll have to blog about it sometime. My brother-in-law, who was with us, and is a college professor of environmental science, thought it was about 40 million years old. Wow. I am so glad your family got to share this joy that we also had, and it brought back great memories. Thank you for sharing this!

  39. Wow, congrats to Seth, and you are so sweet for the dogs story.

  40. “a 12 passenger van on the side of the road, six kids running around mostly barefoot (their socks got wet at the river), climbing fences, etc.” Sounds like something out of a story I would want to read. Loved this post.

  41. Ginny, most people are in a bit of a hurry, have an agenda, and wouldn’t stop for dogs.

    I always talk to animals!! The cats at home, and birds and squirrels through the window. God made them – they’re important.

  42. Congrats Seth! We went hunting at Westmoreland one year and I so wanted to spy a megalodon! Great find : )

  43. What a great find Seth, congratulations. If you can ever make it to SC I would love to take you[ along with your brothers and sisters] to a special spot we go for fossil hunting, I think you will have a great time.

  44. That’s an amazing tooth. And thank you for being the sort of folks who stop for lost dogs. I know I’d be so grateful for anyone who did that for our animals. The world gets a little kinder, one small step at a time, through simple things like stopping for smiling dogs.

  45. If you ever need to sent a text…. just hand the phone to one of the boys, they will work it out in no time at all! I got taught by my 12-year old niece.

    I decided some years ago that I did not want to have another trip to the beach/river/lake spoilt by ‘I-have-got wet-feet-moaning-children’, so I try to always have loads of change with me.
    BUT here is the downside : my friend with whom we often go on that kind of expeditions doesn’t bother with any change of clothes for her kids. So now that they are 12 and 15, their girls either don’t get wet or don’t complain about their drenched legs and feet. Mine do and do.
    I think the expression for that is that I shot myself in the foot?

  46. Yay Seth! Those are some great finds! You must have quite a collection at your house Ginny! I would love to bring my kids down and fossil hunt. I know I’ve been saying that for years…someday.


  47. Oh, I almost forgot. Congrats to Seth on his amazing find. My oldest is quite impressed.

  48. Thank you so much for the recommendation of the state park. I think many of us get those looks. My kiddos (even here in VA) prefer to be barefoot and are often found running, yelling and climbing. So glad you were able to rescue the dogs. I love your description of Dad.

I love to hear from you!