Finally, an automobile manufacturer is paying attention to us! Honda Motor Co. has come up with a design for a minivan with the safety and comfort of our dog co-pilots in mind. The “WOW Concept,” or “Wonderful Openhearted Wagon,” developed to test consumer reaction in Japan, was exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show in late October.
The minivan features a special crate for small dogs in the glove compartment area, or for medium-sized dogs, a crate that pops up in the back seat area and can be folded into the floor when it’s not needed. It even has bigger doors and a special floor-mounted seatbelt to secure large dogs. With its paneled flooring, washable seat covers, built-in water bowls and paw-print tire treads, the minivan is Honda’s first step toward pet-friendly motor travel. “We created this vehicle from the point of view of a dog, but it turned out to be a gentler vehicle for elderly, children and other family members,” said Honda designer Katsuhito Nakamura. Though Honda hasn’t disclosed a plan for commercial sale of the minivan in the US, the company has been developing several “Travel Dog” car accessories for sale in Japan later this year.
About a fifth of Japanese households have dogs, and with the number of pet owners in Japan increasing by 3 percent each year for the last decade, it seems that Honda has identified a receptive market niche.
“Increasingly, car makers are looking to smaller runs of cars aimed at specific areas of the car-buying public,” said Paul Ormond, Honda representative. “With these kinds of accessories we are recognizing people love their dogs.”
Visiting eastern Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains this summer? If so, be on the lookout for Dollywood, the Pigeon Forge, Tenn., amusement park named for country music star Dolly Parton. It has something for everyone, even the family dog. Though only service animals are permitted inside the park, your pet can wait for you in comfort at Doggywood, a climate-controlled indoor day-care facility.
With both kennel runs (4 x 6 feet, $12) or cottages ($30, with comfortable beds and faux fireplaces) in a rustic cabin setting, Doggywood provides your dog with a place to spend a relaxing day while you enjoy the roller coasters and live entertainment. You can even take time out to exercise your dog in the dog-walking area next to the facility without leaving the park. These accommodations are daytime only (no overnights), and space is limited—call early to make a reservation.
When Appleton, Wis., resident and Alderman Richard Thompson saw a photograph of a local firefighter giving mouth-to-snout resuscitation to a cat rescued from a house fire, he thought of his own pets.
“A pet is family,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to lose Maggie, my Collie, or Lucy, my Tabby cat, to a fire, carbon monoxide poisoning or Lord lord knows what else.”
Inspired by the photograph, Thompson initiated a program in which rescuers carry oxygen masks designed for animals.
And it was just like the animal-loving community to rush to the rescue. All of the money needed to pay for each $49 the masks came from unsolicited donations, and mask sets were distributed to each of the six local fire stations and the Appleton Police Department K-9 unit. “It was something to see,” said Thompson. “There was no organized solicitation effort. People and community groups just read or heard about the program and stepped up to the plate.”
The cone-shaped masks, which, which come in sets of three sizes (sized for large canine, small canine and feline), were designed by Richard McCulloch and his crew at McCulloch Medical of New Zealand, which manufactures masks for veterinary use; they are distributed in the U.S. by SurgiVet. By and large, community campaigns such as the one in Appleton are responsible for the purchase and distribution of the masks to their local fire and rescue stations. In another example, the Wilmington Kennel Club, Inc., of Delaware just donated sets to fire stations in New Castle County and the City of Wilmington. They purchased the masks from HELP Animals, Inc., of Florida, a small nonprofit that has teamed up with SurgiVet to help spread this initiative. distributed to each of the six local fire stations and the Appleton Police Department K-9 unit.
And the movement is indeed growing; firefighters in more than 150 cities and towns nationwide are now equipped with pet masks, allowing pet “parents” to breathe a little easier.