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Do Dogs Know Themselves?
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.

Memory Wins When Dogs Sleep
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 cutenesscuteness, 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.

-- -- -- 

* 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.

The Benefits of Fresh Dog Food
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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?

To try fresh dog food and see real health benefits, start your dog's profile today and enjoy 50% off your first two deliveries of fresh dog food (free shipping included).

Say hello to real food you can feel good about feeding, and more years with your best friend.

7 Homemade Dog Treat Ideas in Under 30 Minutes
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!

If (and When) It's OK to Invite Your Pup to the Party
Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter gives advice on having dogs at parties
Is it OK to let a dog roam around a party?

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.

22 Plants You Didn't Know Could Poison Your Dog

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.

Plants that are poisonous to dogs

 

 

Safe Passage for Foster Dogs
The owners of 2 well-loved terriers give care and affection to canine visitors to prepare them for their forever homes
The joys of dog fostering

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
Pets: Chloe, a Jack Russell terrier; Tucker, a toy fox terrier; and their foster roommates
Ages: 6 (Chloe) and 5 (Tucker)
Location: Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 
Owners: Drew and Jenna Kutcher

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. 

8 Revamped Laundry Rooms That Make Room for Fido
Canine amenities include pet beds, crates, bowls, washing stations, doors and even a designated pet water bowl filler

As our lives revolve around our beloved critters more, we need to make space for them. If you have at least a medium-size laundry room, or a combined laundry room-mudroom, it’s prime real estate for dog needs. Pet-washing stations can also double as a place to rinse off muddy boots and rinse out laundry. And if well-planned, these rooms can also provide space for pet beds and crates, food and treats, toys and leashes. See how some people are outfitting their laundry rooms to work for their dogs too.

Grooming. Pet washing stations can be quite handy, and the laundry is an ideal place for them. A dirty dog doesn’t make it past the mudroom before cleaning up, and they are also a good place to clean off muddy cleats and let snowy boots drip dry.

An elevated dog bath is a good option for those with bad backs and knees who have small to medium-sized dogs. It can also double as a utility sink. But the main reason I absolutely had to include this photo is because the dogs in the photo match the dogs on the wallpaper. 

Wallpaper: Thibaut

Beds and crates. Rather than lower cabinets, these built-ins incorporate a dog bed. Yellow and white stripes and beadboard make it a cheerful design asset as well.

The designers did a great job of maximizing this laundry room wall to fit in a pet washing station and bed.

These clever Murphy dog beds fit right in with the rest of the cabinetry, then flip down for nap time. Though narrowness doesn’t appear to be a problem in this laundry room, this is a clever solution for a tighter space. You can flip the dog bed up if you need the room to access a front-loading washer or dryer.

Built-in dog crates are another good option. Cabinetmakers can trick out cabinets to serve as dog crates for a seamless look.

Pet food. Keeping pet food close to where the pets eat makes mealtime easy. Laundry-mudrooms are often a convenient place to set this up.

The space under a utility sink is prime for a domesticated version of a trough. Pet bowls slip right into custom holes for easy filling. They stay in place rather than sliding all over the floor when a hungry dog is going to town on them.

Easy entering and exiting. This laundry room has a motorized pet door. The door opens when the pets wearing their power door collars want to go in and out, thanks to directional ultrasonic detection circuitry.

Electronic pet door: High Tech Pet

AZ Bill Aims to Protect Dogs in Hot Cars
Photo by Rusty Clark

A metro Phoenix community college teacher’s civics assignment wound up helping create a law to aid dogs trapped in hot cars.

Debra Nolen, who teaches ethics, suggested her students find ways to help dogs left behind in locked vehicles.

 “I wanted to find a topic for them to learn about civic engagement and social responsibility and this seemed perfect,’’ she said.

Complete newcomers to politics, students and teacher contacted Nolen’s state legislator, John Kavanagh, who had previously supported other animal-welfare laws. He agreed to sponsor their bill and other Arizona animal-rights groups got behind it.

Under the new law, someone who uses “reasonable force” to break into an unattended motor vehicle is not subject to civil damages if there’s a “good faith belief” a child or animal “is in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death.”

Would-be rescuers must first notify police, medical personnel or, if needed, animal control officers. Then, after entering the vehicle, they must remain until responders arrive.

Previously, Arizona laws weren’t clear if a Good Samaritan could be sued for damaging property while rescuing a trapped animal.

Now, 29 states have some type of a “hot car” law on the books, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Laws vary; some make distinctions between domesticated animals versus livestock; some differentiate between law-enforcement personnel and citizen rescuers.

“In the last few years, there has been an explosion in the number of hot-car laws,’’ said Lora Dunn, director of the criminal justice program for the fund. “There’s greater awareness, people are getting involved and pushing their lawmakers.’’

But it’s not always easy.

Some Arizona legislators questioned why animals warranted the same expectation of protection as humans.

 “I actually had one legislator describe pets as ‘chattel’,’’ Nolen said. “I had to tell him how so many people have sacrificed their own well-being on behalf of their pets.’’

Having Arizona’s governor talk up the legislation in his State of the State address helped push it past those ideological obstacles, Kavanagh said. Nolen’s participation too was key, he said. “She was a like a bulldog on this.’’

All part of the learning process, says Nolen. “My kids learned so much from this, how to be active in their communities for good. I look at them and think ‘these are tomorrow’s leaders’.’’

Working to End Dog Breed Ban in Public Housing
Ernie, the pit bull mix who inspired Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski to sponsor a bill to disallow breed-specific bans by landlords.

New legislation being introduced in New York could change the lives of dog loving low income New Yorkers dogs, and very likely the thousands of dogs in NYC area shelters and rescue organizations. New York State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, himself a rescued Pit Bull owner is spearheading legislation that would prevent landlords in public housing from discriminating against any specific breed of dog.

Currently, the New York City Housing Authority or NYCHA which manages the nations oldest and largest public housing program providing low income apartments to over 400,000 New Yorkers has had a breed specific ban in place since 2009. When that ban took effect 115 dogs, mostly Pit Bulls were surrendered to Animal Control, 49 of whom were euthanized. NYCHA housing as explained by the Mayor’s Alliance For NYC Animals “restricts specific breeds, including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, either pure- or mixed-breed.” The breed ban actually impacts over twenty breeds (including some fairly rare ones) and dogs mixed of any of those breeds

Breeds and Breed Mixes Currently banned from NYCHA Housing: Akita Inu, Alangu Mastiff, Alano Español, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Argentine Dogo, Bedington Terrier, Boston Terrier, Bull and Terrier Bull Terrier, Bully Kutta, Cane Corso, Dogue de Bordeaux, Dogo Sardesco, English Mastiff, Fila Brasileiro, Gull Dong, GullTerr, Irish Staffordshire Bull, Korea Jindo Dog, Lottatore Brindisino, Neapolitan Mastiff, Perro de Presa Canario (Canary dog), Perro de Presa Mallorquin (Cade Bou), Shar Pei, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Tosa Inu

Assemblyman Zebrowski’s proposal will be discussed by the New York State Assembly’s Housing Committee in the coming weeks, and then will go before the full Assembly followed by the Senate. In an interview with ABC news Assemblyman Zebrowski said: “You can have no dogs, you can have a restriction on the number of dogs, you can have some sort of subjective criteria to evaluate the dog, make sure they are not dangerous…. You just can't banish all of one type of breed.”

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