News and insights from special guests—from experts to enthusiasts.
With Halloween just around the corner, you may have been thinking about creative costume ideas for both you and your dog. Why not try out these sweet DIY strawberry costumes from Shari’s Berries for a matching look that you can make all on your own?
Your heart will melt when you see your pup all decked out in comfy red felt and ready for a walk around the neighborhood. The best part about these tutorials is that they are simple to make, easy to customize for different sized dogs and don’t have any parts that will drag, get in your dog’s eyes or cause a hazard.
So, get your sewing machine and get ready to make an unforgettable ensemble for everyone in the family!
The great thing about this pattern is that it’s easy to adapt to dogs of all shapes and sizes and is a great starting point if you’re trying to make your dog a costume.
Length: Measure your dog’s length from neck to tail. Multiply this by two. This will be the length of your fabric.
Width: Measure the distance around your dog’s widest point (typically their stomach). Divide the distance around their widest point by two and add four inches. This will be the width of the fabric.
Place the costume on your dog and mark where excess fabric should be cut. Cut the excess fabric off the bottom and top, tapering the costume into a strawberry shape.
Step 1: Cut head opening.
Measure the distance around the dog’s head or neck (whichever is larger). Find the circumference by dividing this distance by 3.14, then add one inch to this measurement to make sure it fits over the dog’s head. You will use this number to determine how large the head opening needs to be. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise. On the closed end, mark the length of the circumference with tailor’s chalk in the center of the fabric. Cut a semicircle from the two anchor points.
Step 2: Try on and pin where darts should be added.
Try the costume on your dog. To avoid the fabric sticking out at the shoulders, you can add darts at the shoulders. Fold where the darts should be added and pin.
Step 3: Pin where the Velcro™ should be added.
Hold the top and bottom pieces together at the sides and pin where you’d like them to be connected with Velcro™. We used two pieces on each side, but you can use more for extra stability or use one long piece that runs the length of the side.
Step 4: Remove costume and sew darts.
Right sides facing in, sew an angled line downwards based on how much fabric you pinned. This will keep the fabric from bunching at the shoulders.
Step 5: Sew on Velcro™.
Sew Velcro™ where the pins are placed. We used the boy side on the top piece of the costume and sewed it to the wrong side (side facing the dog). We used the girl side on the bottom piece of the costume and sewed it to the side facing away from the dog.
Step 6: Add leaves and seeds.
Cut leaves out of green fabric and seeds out of black fabric. Sew or glue onto the costume.
Once you’ve made your strawberry costume, it’s time to craft the headpiece to tie it all together! Add green leaves and a stem to either elastic or a headband to complete your strawberry outfit. For instructions on the DIY Strawberry Headband go here. Plus get instructions on how to make a strawberry costume for a toddlers and adults too.
Reposted with permission from berries.com.
Highlands County, Florida Humane Society
Small rescue groups tend to be overlooked by larger rescue groups when it comes to disaster relief. After the Florida Keys, Highlands County was hit the hardest by Hurricane Irma and declared a Disaster Zone. Our staff is exhausted, our dogs are traumatized, we just got water and air-conditioning but at least our little St. Francis statue is still standing!
We are working at full capacity (75 dogs and 50 cats) and cannot intake anymore animals. Our biggest wish is to get these dogs to forever homes.
When a dog enters the shelter, our challenge is to remind them that they are good dogs and did nothing wrong. The shock of Irma hurt, and without our regular volunteers it’s difficult to tend to their emotional needs. Our solution? We have enlisted the puppies to work with the older dogs and they are doing an excellent job. Who can’t be cheered up by a wee one?
What we did not count on were the hoarders. Just last week we found a home with over a hundred cats. We did not expect the intakes from the flooded puppy mills hidden in the back roads. We are finding cages of dogs stuck in the mud. Some of these dogs had been purposely blinded so they could not run away. We worked with the Sherriff’s Office to locate the people who runs these operations and can now shut them down.
We have also found dogs tied to fences and cars, their backs and legs broken from the storm. Many people panicked could not take their animals with them and tied them up instead of letting them take their chances.
We are performing emergency triage on many animals, working hard to rescue dogs in need and find forever homes for the pets in our shelter but we can’t do it alone.
How can you help?
1. We have created an Amazon Wishlist for Highlands Animal Control: This will help all the shelters in the area.
2. There is also a Go-Fund-Me that will be used to deliver food to local residents.
When I ran a German Shepherd rescue more than 15 years ago, one of the biggest challenges was emotional blackmail. A dog owner would call me out of desperation or exasperation or they were just done. If I didn’t take the dog right now, he’d end up in the shelter or worse.
Social media didn’t yet exist and online pet adoption websites were brand new. Early on, I felt my only option was to take the dog. The longer I did rescue, I was less inclined to do so. I finally had the experience to know the rescue didn’t have the money or the foster home for it. Squeezing in another dog would affect our ability to care for and advertise the dogs we already had. But it was a horrible feeling, knowing that the owner had come to us as a last resort and we couldn’t offer another option other than the shelter.
Finally, there is a humane alternative: Adopt-A-Pet.com, a nonprofit pet adoption website, just introduced a new, free service for owners who need to rehome their pets. The owner creates an online pet profile that will be viewed by the public. Adopt-A-Pet then guides the owner through a screening process that includes adoption applications, meet and greets, and an adoption contract. The adoption fee can be submitted online and go to the rescue or shelter of the owner’s choice.
This idea is so brilliant it’s a wonder no one thought of it sooner. Perhaps the only negative is that pet owners who don’t care who gets their pet – they just want him out of the house as soon as possible – will not take the time to create an online profile. It was always heartbreaking when an owner would call me and when I asked for a photo, they said they didn’t have any. Clearly, the dog was going to be better off without them.
My hope is that services such as Adopt-A-Pet’s new rehome program will help pet owners take steps well before desperation sets in.
For more info, go to: rehome.adoptapet.com
The classic self-recognition test gets a makeover for dogs, using smell not sight
Dogs know individuals. Your dog knows I am not you and you are not me. Your dog knows that Rudy down the block is exceptional at playing, but Spot is not.
If dogs can recognize individuals, and your dog is an individual, might your dog know himself? As an individual? Does he have a sense of “me-ness”?
Alexandra Horowitz wants to know what it’s like to be a dog. Even her Twitter bio is dog-aware: “dogs sniff me; I sniff them back.” Her popular writing and research—at Barnard College’s Dog Cognition Lab in NYC—explore the unique experiences of the dog. Her recent publication in Behavioural Processes tackles the hefty question of their self-recognition.
But first, my teeth.
It was probably a good two hours post-lunch before a bathroom mirror informed me that I had a big piece of green gunk in my teeth. I was able to make this find—accompanied by “#$@&%*! Why didn’t anyone tell me?”—because I know mirrors reflect me, Julie. Faced with a mirror, we see ourselves: our constants (yup, my eyes are still brown), and our changes (#$@&%*! that pimple wasn’t there yesterday). You and I haven’t always done this. An understanding of self-in-the-mirror appears by age two.
Since the 1970s, researchers have used the mirror as a tool to investigate self-recognition in non-human animals. The main components of the mirror-self recognition test are a mirror and an individual who has covertly been marked in some way. In the original mirror test, chimpanzees—who had secretly been marked on the face with red odorless dye—were found to use the mirror to examine the mark. Something about them had changed. They would touch the mark on their face, in the same way you might touch a newly appearing pimple on your face. Not reaching toward the mirror, but instead using the mirror to refer back to themselves. Since then, the mirror test has panned out in a number of species like chimpanzees, dolphins, Asian elephants, and European magpies.
But dogs aren’t on this list. From personal experience or entertaining YouTube videos, you know that young dogs, or dogs unfamiliar with mirrors, often treat mirrors as another dog. Over time, dogs typically come to ignore mirrors. Studies find some dogs use mirrors to gather information or solve a problem—recognizing it as a tool to help see behind themselves or locate hidden food.
If dogs don’t “pass” the mirror test, is this the end of their self-recognition story? Not so fast. Maybe the traditional mirror test isn’t the most fitting medium for questions-of-the-self in dogs.
After all, dogs are beings of smell, not sight. From quivering nostrils to sizable brain regions dedicated to olfaction, dogs are equipped to take in and process smells. Humans have harnessed this skill and taught working dogs to notice smells we designate important, like the presence of cancer or narcotics.
And then there's pee. Dogs find certain smells, like dog urine, intrinsically interesting. Dogs both leave, and investigate, urine deposits. It is pee that leads countless dogs around the world to pull humans this way and that when out on a walk (ok fine, dropped food’s also a high priority). With this in mind, Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, proposed researchers turn to urine for questions of “self” and “other” in dogs.
Bekoff’s “yellow snow” study, published in 2001, explored the topic of “me” / “my” and “you” / “your.” His field experiment was as hands-on as it sounds. Over the course of five winters, when out walking his dog Jethro, Bekoff moved urine-soaked snow to see how Jethro behaved when encountering his own pee versus that of other dogs. Jethro performed as expected, sniffing other dogs’ urine more than his own. Jethro, Bekoff suggested, “clearly had some sense of ‘self’: a sense of ‘mine-ness’ but not necessarily of ‘I-ness’.”
Alexandra Horowitz’s new study takes into account the main features of the mirror test as well as the “yellow snow” study. She devised a test explicitly suited for dogs—an olfactory mirror test. Think about it: In the visual mirror test, individuals attend to something visually different about their appearance. An olfactory mirror test, Horowitz explains, asks whether dogs attend to something changed about their own smell when their “smell image” has been changed by the addition of a new odor. This new odor, of course, aims to be equivalent to the mark, in mirror terms.
Over two experiments, Horowitz measured how long companion dogs sniffed different odor samples simultaneously presented to them in canisters. More sniffing, you can imagine, is akin to more interest. Given my interest in dog attention to chemical information—yes, I mean pee sniffing— you can imagine I was elated to participate in this study and present canisters to 36 wonderful dogs in Experiment 1. Horowitz found that dogs spent more time investigating their own urine that had been marked (modified with the addition of an odor), compared to their urine alone. “Me different,” you might conclude from the dog’s behavior.
Olfactory investigation coded when dog nose within 10 cm of canister. Credit: Horowitz 2017. Figure 3
Or maybe there’s another explanation. Dogs are neophilic, known for their interest in new things. Could it be that dogs spent more time sniffing their marked urine because they were interested in the new smell, independent of their own smell? Dog behavior better translated as: familiar smell over here = boring, but familiar smell mixed with new smell = interesting?
With this possibility in mind, dogs also investigated their own urine marked versus the mark substance itself. These trials eliminated novelty as a factor because both canisters contained the novel odor. In these trials, dogs did not differ in the amount of time spent sniffing each sample. Ruh roh. Where does that leave us?
This is where the scientific process shines. Could it be that the selectedmark itself affected the results? In the classic mirror studies, the mark aims to be inherently neutral, not highly unique or interesting on its own—an ink mark, a piece of tape, a sticker. Ho hum. The mark in Experiment 1 of the olfactory mirror test was a cancerous tissue sample from a dog, an unfamiliar odor (adding novelty) that untrained dogs are said, anecdotally, to notice. It’s possible the cancer cells were too interesting and novel, thus deviating from the neutral mark used in classic mirror tests. In fact, a number of dogs encountering canisters with the mark had pronounced “disgust” responses, highlighting that the selected mark might not have been so neutral.
Horowitz tried a different mark. Experiment 2 tested 12 dogs with a more neutral mark—anise essential oil from the sport of Nose work. In these trials, dogs replicated the main findings, investigating their own urine that had been marked more than their urine alone. But this time, dogs were also more interested in their marked urine than the mark alone, making it less likely that the mark’s novelty explained the results. Horowitz reflects, “This suggests that the longer investigation time is not tied to an interest in the mark, per se, but rather an interest in the mark when it appears in combination with or on the dog's own odour.”
With a new olfactory approach in place, studies will surely continue to refine and tease out the meaning behind dog interest in familiar—yet modified—scents. Inquiries like the olfactory mirror test put the microphone in the paws of the dog. If they could comment, I'd imagine they'd say, “Thank you for considering our pee! After all, pee means so much to us!”
This story was originally published by Scientific American. Reprinted with permission.
EEG study suggests sleep enhances learning
A Harvard Medical School professor recently rocked the Internet: “Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you,” psychologist Deirdre Barrett told People magazine.
And then hearts everywhere exploded.
Barrett’s sleep research focuses on humans, while an interest in evolutionary psychology helps her consider the sleep of non-human mammals. Both have similar sleep cycles, she notes, which could suggest parallels in sleep quality or experience.
But an open access study in Scientific Reports out recently moves away from extrapolation and toward hard data. Researchers in Hungary have devised a way to non-invasively peer into the sleeping dog’s brain to explore the content and function of their sleep.
Sleep in dogs is good for a number of things, including, but not limited to cuteness, cuteness, and more cuteness. But you’ve also probably heard that sleep is good for memory. Before a big test we’re often told, “Get a good night’s rest,” which is actually shorthand for—give memory consolidation a chance. “Memory consolidation” is the process where your brain pulls together pieces of information and packages them into memories that can be used in the future.
Memory is also important for dogs. Working dogs need to learn—and retain—a wide variety of job-specific skills, and companion dogs often learn basic skills to successfully live alongside humans. When a dog learns something new, can sleep help the dog perform those skills better? Should training sessions incorporate naptime?
Anna Kis of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and colleagues—including members of the well-known Family Dog Project—set out to explore the relationship between sleep and memory in companion dogs. Their study involved two experiments: the first gave dogs a learning task and then peered into their sleep via non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG)—a test that detects brain electrical activity using small electrodes attached to the scalp. The second experiment explored whether different type of post-learning activities (such as sleep) affect memory consolidation, both in the short- and long-term. All experiments were performed with consenting companion dogs and their helpful owners.
First up, the sleep study, also known as polysomnography if you want to be fancy about it. Fifteen companion dogs participated in both a learning and a non-learning condition. The experimenters taught the dogs the commands for “sit” and “lie down” in a foreign language (English). As you’d expect, no learning took place in the non-learning condition—dogs simply practiced the “sit” and “lie down” commands that they already knew in Hungarian. Nothing new. Old hat. (Most dogs don’t wear hats. Old collar?)
For the critical phase of the experiment, dogs went to sleep (gosh I love science). Dog snoozing-related brain activity was then monitored over the next three hours. Afterwards, dogs in the learning condition were retested on “sit” and “lie down” in English to determine whether sleep helped the dogs process what they had learned.
Recording setup. Credit: Anna Kis
Not only did the sleep affect dogs’ learning, the learning affected dogs’ sleep. Dogs did better responding to “sit” and “lie down” in English after taking a snooze. But even before the dogs in the learning condition were retested, two notable wave patterns stood out in the EEG spectrum in the non-REM phase (the dreamless part of sleep). There was an increase of delta power, similar to what is found in humans, and a decrease in alpha activity, which could suggest “an increase in sleep depth after learning.”
These two findings are related. Dogs learned a task, which alters their brain activity during sleep, then they performed better on the task. “This suggests that the newly acquired information is re-processed and consolidated during sleep,” Kis explained over email. More specifically, the correlation between the post-sleep improvement in performance and certain EEG patterns “is the strongest indicator that the changes in sleep EEG we see after learning are functionally related to memory consolidation,” added Kis.
Neat. Taking a snooze can improve subsequent performance (at least for this type of command learning task). But how do we make things stick? Is sleep more or less effective than other strategies for retaining information? A second behavioral experiment investigated the effect of different post-learning activities (including sleep) on subsequent memory.
Fifty-three new companion dogs learned “sit” and “lie down” to new words (again, English). Dogs were then put in one of four different post-learning groups, spending the next hour either sleeping, walking, learning more (learning new behaviors via the luring training method), or eating from and playing with a Kong dog toy. When the hour was up, dogs were retested on the English commands they’d just learned.*
The type of post-learning activity seemed to affect dog performance in the short term, but not exactly as the researchers had expected. In the short term, both sleeping and walking improved subsequent performance, while more learning and Kong play did not.
On the other hand, when dogs came back a week later, presumably after many sleeps, dogs in the sleep, walk, and Kong play conditions showed marked improvement with the English commands. Dogs who had done more learning did not improve.
Values >0 indicate a performance improvement at the given occasion, while values <0 indicate a decreased performance. Figure 3 Credit: Kis et al. 2017
Dog lovers often think about learning and obedience in terms of dogs doing it “right” or “wrong.” Factors surrounding learning, this study reminds, can affect memory consolidation and later performance.
Kis recommends: “Learning a new command should be followed by an activity that does not interfere with this new memory trace (e.g. sleeping, walking, playing–but not learning other things) in order to achieve the highest subsequent performance in the long run.”
At the same time, Kis noted that dogs in the sleeping condition might have performed even better if the nap extended beyond an hour (possibly for memory consolidation to fully take place), or if, after waking up, the dogs had a few more minutes to shake off their sleepiness before performing the tasks again. Human-sleep scientists refer to this latter phenomenon of decreased cognitive performance in the few minutes after waking up as “sleep inertia.” Don’t pretend you’ve never woken up, walked to the bathroom, and tried to brush your teeth with your comb. Since no sleep inertia interval has been established for dogs, Kis says, they can’t rule out the possibility that the dogs were still sleep zombies when they were retested.
Non-invasive studies of dogs and sleep are new. We haven’t yet studied whether your dog is dreaming of your face or your glorious smell, but if you care about learning in dogs, this study suggests you give sleep a chance.
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* Maybe you’re wondering why there wasn’t a condition after learning where dogs simply rested—rather than slept—and then had their memory tested. This ‘resting’ awake condition is typically found in human memory consolidation studies because it’s the closest match to the ‘sleep’ condition. But this condition was not included for dogs, the researchers explain, “as preventing dogs from falling asleep while requested to stay in a laying position for one hour would presumably induce stress in the animals. Stress is known to have an impact on memory, and also raises animal welfare issues, thus we decided to avoid such a condition.”
This story was originally published by Scientific American. Reprinted with permission.
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that our dogs are members of our family—and your veterinarian thinks you should feed them like one. How? With a fresh diet made from whole, real foods that are good enough for any member of the family. When it comes to good nutrition, our dogs are just like us; the better they eat the better off they are. By giving your best friend the best food, you can ensure that they have a longer, healthier life.
"Fresh diets for dogs have a variety of benefits," says Dr. Justin Shmalberg, DVM, board certified veterinary nutritionist and clinical associate professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, "It's nutrition you can see. Going forward, we all need to be looking for ways to provide fresh diets to our pets." Dog food company NomNomNow is finally making it easy for every owner to do so.
Fresh dog foods have traditionally been challenging to feed, as they require expensive formulation from a veterinary nutritionist. However, NomNomNow makes it easy to purchase fresh dog food, so your pet can receive the best nutrition possible. It's formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, cooked fresh to order, and delivered free to your door. And best of all? Not only is this fresh diet healthier and easier to feed than any other dog food, but customers are amazed at how affordable such a high-quality diet can be. NomNomNow's introductory offer of 50% off your first two shipments makes it even more of a no-brainer to try.
Pet parents who have made the switch to fresh say that it's about better health, and getting more time with our four-legged best friends. NomNomNow customer Vida K. says, "A healthy lifestyle is important for our dogs. As they get older, we realize that time is short and we want to squeeze as much time out of them as we can...With a healthy diet, we are literally adding years to their life."
Recent studies have shown that the preventive power of vegetables can actually be life-saving for our pups:
In a 2005 study at Purdue University, researchers found that by simply adding fresh vegetables to dog's kibble diets, cancer cell growth was prevented and decelerated by 70- 90%. Given that half of dogs over the age of 10 succumb to cancer (the leading cause of death for dogs of this age), we can't afford not to feed our dogs vegetables.
Fresh feeders and veterinarians also report a host of other immediately visible health benefits. Because dogs can better optimize the nutritional value of the food they're eating, results show up in several ways.
"Fresh foods are indeed more bioavailable than those made with highly processed ingredients," says Dr. Catherine Lane, DMV. This translates to the vital long-term health benefits a fresh food provides, plus a range of short term benefits to the pet and owner as well.
Pet parents say that within weeks of feeding NomNomNow, they begin to notice results. "Ever since switching to NomNomNow, Taya has been completely full of energy, looks very fit/healthy, and has a constant shiny coat," says Travis D. of San Francisco, who has been feeding NomNomNow for over a year. "People even comment on her when we walk down the street!"
Dr. Shmalberg confirms that most of his patients report these benefits shortly after switching to fresh dog food, in addition to continued immune system maintenance and better overall health.
The rich vitamins that come from fresh vegetables (Vitamin A, C) and freshly-cooked meats (zinc) play an important role in immune system maintenance, which not only helps your dog feel better every day, but also means fewer trips to the vet. "The impact of fresh dog food on Bella has been significant," says pet parent Bennet M. of San Francisco, a NomNomNow feeder for a year and a half now, "She's shown many overall health improvements, and in turn reduced our vet bills. Her veterinarians say she is one of the healthiest bulldogs they have seen."
For pet parents considering making the switch, current fresh feeders all agree: NomNomNow is the best and easiest way to provide the best diet possible. Better food and better health mean more years with our four-legged best friends—and isn't that what we all want?
Say hello to real food you can feel good about feeding, and more years with your best friend.
Easy-to-Make DIY Dog Treats
Dogs are cuddly, cute and best of all, loyal! The only thing they love more than their owner is treats. But not all store-bought treats are good for them.
Personal Creations sent over 7 homemade dog treat ideas for your beloved best friend. They all contain fruit, veggies or a good source of vitamin D and protein. The next time you see a tail wag, hand over some pupcakes or doogie donuts and let them know how much you love them!
Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter gives advice on having dogs at parties
Question: Is it OK to let a dog roam around a party?
Answer: A dog may be man’s best friend, but, let’s be honest, not all humans like dogs and not all dogs like all humans. For most party hosts, this isn’t a big issue: They know their dog and will put it in a crate, the yard (weather permitting) or an area of the house where the pet will be comfortable.
Or they will let the dog wander about, knowing that it is calm and not a food thief or constantly underfoot. Most hosts also know the guests who are coming over, and most guests will know that the host has a dog. They may have already met the dog and are expecting it to be present.
Problems arise when the dog has characteristics or tendencies that distract guests or make them uncomfortable, or when a guest has fears or allergies.
I suggest that you always warn new guests that you have a dog (or other pets). That way, if they have fears or allergies, they are aware of the situation ahead of time.
I also suggest that if you have fears or allergies, it’s OK to make them known. “Sarah, I would love to come on Friday! I have a true phobia of dogs, so I have to ask: Do you and Kevin have a dog?” The conversation can then evolve into what the host and guest feel comfortable with in regard to the dog and visit.
If you haven’t talked with your host about your fear or allergy and show up to the party to find Fido free-roaming, it’s OK to speak up to your host.
Just remember that how you say something is just as important as what you say. A calm tone (as calm as you can muster if your fears are kicking in) and offering a suggestion rather than a demand will be better received.
“Beth, thank you so much for having us. I’m terribly sorry, but I didn’t realize that you have a dog. I have a very real fear of them. Would it be possible to keep him separate from the party?”
Most hosts will be accommodating. Also, you can choose to suggest that you leave the party. Not that I think it’s the best solution, but stating that your allergy or phobia is severe enough for you to have to excuse yourself is certainly an option. “Beth, I’m so sorry — I forgot to tell you that I have a very severe dog allergy, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay for the party. I would love to get together another time.”
Either way, you should feel confident in your communication, and if you aren’t able to stay for the party, suggest another time or place to get together.
The plants and flowers we keep in our homes and gardens are lovely to look at. But dozens of common house and garden plants are actually deadly to dogs.
A study found that one in 12 pets has eaten poisonous plants, with smaller dogs and puppies being particularly at risk due to their size.
It’s no secret that foxgloves are poisonous, but did you know that daffodils can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even heart problems if consumed by your dog?
Use this infographic to correctly identify which plants are poisonous to your dog so you know which ones to keep your dog away from when out on a walk or in the garden. If you have family or friends this could help, please feel free to email them or pass it on by using the share buttons.
The owners of 2 well-loved terriers give care and affection to canine visitors to prepare them for their forever homes
This household of four — a couple and their two dogs — welcomes in new faces all the time. These new faces are local foster dogs who need a temporary place to stay until they find a forever home.
Pets at a Glance
Meet Chloe: She was Drew and Jenna Kutcher’s first dog, as well as their first interaction with the foster dog system. Chloe had been staying with a foster family until the couple could pick her up. Jenna could see how well loved Chloe had been, and that positive experience made her decide to keep in touch with the rescue shelter and get on its email list.
Meet Tucker: Soon, Jenna found herself signed up to foster a dog. “I committed us to our first foster experience, which ended up being a failure in that we kept him — that’s our dog Tucker,” she says.
Foster family: A year and a half later, a friend of Jenna’s started her own pet rescue. Jenna got involved and that’s when she started actually fostering dogs on a regular basis. Together, Drew, Jenna, Chloe and Tucker have become a temporary family to many young pups.
Welcome home: The Kutchers’ goal is to make every foster feel comfortable and safe in their home. To do this, Drew and Jenna carry around the pup in what they call a puppy sling. “We literally wear the dog on our bodies so they learn to trust us first, and it gives our two territorial pups a chance to adjust to the new family member,” Jenna says. They also keep the foster dog separate from Chloe and Tucker initially to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the new situation.
Short but sweet: Each foster dog stays with the Kutchers for anywhere from a week to a month. This foster dog, Frito, stayed for two weeks.
Office space: The foster dogs, such as Emma here, call Jenna’s office home. “It’s a warm, sunny spot in the house, and it’s more removed from our bedroom where our two dogs sleep,” she says. “Our dogs are pretty feisty and used to ruling the home, so it’s always a shock to them when a new dog arrives. Keeping the fosters in my warm office with the French doors closed allows us to bond with the new pup and give our dogs time to adjust to the new friend.”
Plus, the room has hardwood floors, which makes it easier to clean up any accidents.
On the job: Both Jenna and Drew work from home. She’s a photographer, podcaster and educator and he’s a personal health coach. Because they work from home, the dogs spend almost every minute with them and not much time in a crate. The dogs get to explore the couple’s 105-year-old Craftsman home; for Miguel, that meant climbing up on a chair.
“Most of the time we will spoil the fosters and let them snuggle in our laps while we type at our computers, but we try to make sure our two dogs don’t feel left out,” Jenna says. Here, Max rests a paw on the laptop, which might be more distracting than helpful, but that’s OK.
Favorite part of the workday:Walk (or run) time! Both the humans and the dogs eagerly step outside to stretch their legs. Jenna and Drew also love to listen to podcasts while they walk the dogs around the neighborhood.
Break time: “You’d be amazed at how much puppies sleep,” Jenna says. Emma takes a snooze in the middle of the carpet; she needs a long nap after her jog with Drew.
Jenna says they also have lots of little beds around the house for the dogs to sleep in.
Occasionally, the foster dogs hop into the couple’s bed and snuggle under the covers.
Off-limits: To keep everyone safe and the carpet clean, the Kutchers use child gates to block off stairs and any carpeted rooms. This also means that big puppy eyes are never too far out of sight.
Picture-perfect: Jenna captures these cute pet moments by making the dogs comfortable and offering lots of treats and love. Catching the puppies, such as Finn and Belvedere here, when they’re sleepy also helps.
Payment method: Treats, and especially rawhides, occupy the pups while they’re being photographed. Puppies have sharp teeth, and rawhides also help keep them away from furniture and shoes. “Luckily we haven’t lost any items,” Jenna says.
Sharing photos: Whenever a foster dog stays with the Kutchers, Jenna takes lots of photos and posts them online. “It helps them get adopted faster, which sometimes makes us sad,” she says. Jenna shed a few tears when this pup named Ruby left, but she knew she was going to a great family.
The joys of fostering: “It’s so fun to get to love on a pup and wait until they find their forever home,” Jenna says. “So many dogs are saved through fostering because it gives them that in-between space between getting rescued and being adopted. It also gives them the chance to live a normal life and get acclimated to what life with their forever family might be like! It’s always a zoo and a little crazy at first but it’s always, always worth it.”
Home, sweet temporary home: People often tell Jenna that they could never foster dogs because they would want to keep every one. Which Jenna understands, because she also wants to keep every one. “But when you foster you start to recognize the role that you play as a temporary mom or dad to the pup and you can love on them until they find the right family,” Jenna says. Watching that gratifying transition over and over has made it possible to keep fostering without keeping every pup that walks into the house. The couple enjoy the dogs while they can and then send them off to their next loving family.
Your turn: Have you fostered a pet? Did you make any special accommodations in your house for it? Share your story with us in the Comments.
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