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 Featured On This Week's Program

Animal Radio for September 30, 2017  

I Spent A Night At A Dog Hotel
Cathy Alter, Washingtonian Magazine

Cathy Alter Receiving PawdicureWhat's it like to be the only human staying at one of the most luxurious dog exclusive resorts in the United States? Cathy Alter finagled her way into an 8 million dollar pet hotel for the night. She reveals her experience to us.

Just like we pamper ourselves, sometimes we send our pets off to a hotel for a vacation or a spa or salon treatment just for them. It may be hard to believe, but there's a brand new hotel that's a pet resort in Rockville, Maryland, which cost 8 million dollars to build. So you know it's got to be top of the line.

Cathy Alter is a local journalist in Washington D.C. and writes for some national magazines as well. She's always looking for something fun to do and then write about. And that's exactly what she did. She went to the Old Towne Pet Resort in Rockville, Maryland, which is exclusively for animals. The Old Towne Pet Resort is a luxury pet resort. This is the third outpost that they've opened and is the most fancy.

When Cathy received a press release and read about the Presidential Suite, she wondered if she could stay there. That's how it all started.

Cathy Alter Swimming in Dog PoolCathy then called the publicist and asked them if they thought the resort would let her stay in the presidential suite. Cathy states she knew the publicist and they know she'll do anything, so they said probably!

It all then happened so quickly. Cathy writes for the Washingtonian Magazine but had never written for them before. She then pitched the editor and said, "I can spend the night in a luxury hotel. Do you want me to?" She received an e-mail back in less than a minute stating, "Yes!"

The way the resort was described made it sound like the Four Seasons, but it was really a lot less money. Cathy thought that it was probably a really good deal. She has a six year old and thought a night right away from her husband and child sounded great too! So before she knew it, she had her bags packed and was sleeping among the dogs.

If Cathy hadn't told us that she stayed at a pet resort, we would think she checked into the Golden Doors or Canyon Ranch. She claims it was really nice. It had polished stone floors and an indoor saltwater swimming pool. They also have this special air filter system so you don't smell any kind of animal smell. It's super fancy and you don't realize that there's any animal staying there until you get farther into the back, according to Cathy. Even the doors to the kennels are airtight, so you really don't hear anything or see anything.

Some of the amenities they have for the animals include a beauty parlor, an exercise studio and a lap pool. They even read bedtime stories to the animals.

The resort was really quiet and relaxing and Cathy declared it was great and that she has stayed in worse places

Cathy Alter Doing PawlatesThey put Cathy in a room with a TV and they had her favorite music playing. They even hung a Colgate University banner. They did their homework and she realized that they do that for all the animals as well. They take special care in who's staying there. They treat it very seriously, although she was fooling around.

Cathy's stay started out like any dog's stay would. She was picked up in the van with the other dogs. She thought she was going to have to go in the back, because she said she wanted to do everything the dogs do. But she got to say up in the passenger seat. She also received a little pet questionnaire. They wanted to know her likes and dislikes and what kind of food she liked and whether she played nice with others.

When she arrived at the resort, she changed and went up to the exercise studio and took a "pawlates" class, which she said was really hard. The dog she did it with was like a superior athlete. This dog did not get tired. After that she took a swim, doing the dog paddle, with a Labrador retriever who was huge. Cathy was really scared of the dog so she didn't want to put her head under the water because the dog was really big and chasing stuff, so she kept her eye on him.

After swimming, she had a "pawdicure" with a cute little puppy. Then it was time for dinner. They served her spaghetti and meatballs in a dog bowl. However, they gave her utensils and then she got a bedtime story and then it was lights out.

To see more pictures, visit

Cathy is an author, a contributing editor to Washingtonian magazine, a new mommy, an old cat owner, a frequent lecturer/speaker, a graduate school writing teacher, a reluctant blogger, a horrible texter, and a diehard antiquer.

What It's Like to Be a Dog
Gregory Berns, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University

Dr. Gregory Berns with Dog in MRINeuroscientist Gregory Berns managed to put several dogs into an MRI machine to scan their brains and try to understand how they think and feel. Do dogs have emotions? Do they have empathy? Do dogs have a sense of humor? You may be surprised at some of these answers, which can be found is his new book, "What It's Like To Be A Dog."

Dr. Berns didn't start out studying dogs. His career had been using MRI and brain imaging technologies to actually study the human brain and how structures in the human brain give rise to various human emotions and how we process things like reward and risk and decision making.

It was about six years ago when he actually began wondering whether his own dogs felt anything like the way he does towards them. He then came up with the idea of training dogs to go into an MRI, completely awake and completely unrestrained, to see what they're thinking.

The MRI that Dr. Berns used was exactly the same one used for humans. For those of you who haven't had an MRI, probably the biggest thing for humans is that it's very claustrophobic because it's a very tiny space and it's really loud. Kind of like a jackhammer.

Dog Stepping Into an MRISo what he did was to build simulators of an MRI. Dr. Berns still has one in his basement. Next he started just kind of working through it piecemeal and basically made it a big game for the dogs, because the dogs don't have any preconceptions about what an MRI is. By pairing it with lots of treats and lots of praise and balls and games, he made it just a big fun machine for them.

It's probably safe to say that Dr. Berns was the first and probably the only person ever to do that.

When they started, they did very simple things like teaching the dogs hand signals. For example, one hand signal meant hotdog and another hand signal meant nothing. What that did was allow them to zero in on their reward systems to confirm that it functions basically the same as human reward systems. As the dogs got better at this, and they got more and more dogs and their people volunteering for the project, they did more complicated things like look at the relative value of food versus praise to the dogs. This was kind of a key question to Dr. Berns as to whether dogs are essentially our friends just for the food or whether they have anything like love for us. What they found was that indeed their reward systems activated to things like praise, like saying good boy good girl, as much as food. In many dogs it was even more so than food.

Dr. Berns tell us that they used a lot of retrievers in the project but that's probably largely reflecting how popular that breed is. They used lots of shelter animals too, which included lots of mixes. Kalai, who is Dr. Berns own dog and came from a shelter, was the first to volunteer.

So when we ask the question what it's like to be a dog that makes almost as much sense as asking what it's like to be a person. What they are really studying now is what makes one dog the way they are relative to another dog. There's a tremendous variation from one dog to another, which is not too surprising, since there's also big differences between people.

What It's Like To Be A Dog book coverWith regard to empathy or humor, they haven't really looked at that in dogs, because it's actually quite difficult even to study in humans, as it's obviously very subjective. But one of the things that they have studied, and this actually is an element of humor, is the result of surprise. To humans, things are funny because something is surprising in a particularly novel way. It's clear that dog's brains respond to surprising things in many of the same ways as we do. It also seems to be a key part of their reward systems as well. Dr. Berns wouldn't necessarily call that humor, but he would call that expectations and surprises being quite important to them.

One of the things that surprised Dr. Berns was an experiment he did a couple of years ago looking at how dogs process faces. Prior to doing this, it had been known that there are parts of the human brain, and even other primates, that are dedicated to processing faces. This is not too surprising considering how social we are and how much information facial expressions carry for us. But it wasn't known whether any other animals cared about it like we do. So they set up an experiment where they showed pictures to the dogs while they were in the scanner and the pictures included dog faces, human faces as well as everyday objects. Just like in humans, they found that dogs have a dedicated part of the brain to process and faces. It's really incredible.

As the Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University, Dr. Berns directs the Facility for Education and Research in Neuroscience and the Center for Neuropolicy. He uses MRI to study human and canine decision-making and has written three books about his findings.

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BrilliantPadIt was almost a month ago that we gave 12 listeners the BrilliantPad, the automatic self-cleaning dog potty. We now check in with a couple of them.

Elsa tells us that she has had the BrilliantPad set up for a few weeks now. She said with the instructions, it was very easy for her to put together.

Elsa has 3 dogs; Mia (Lhasa Apso, Maltese Mix) is 15 years old, Chiquita (Chihuahua) is 5 years old and Lola (Chihuahua) is 4 years old.

She has a big house she is renovating while she is currently living in a small apartment. In the house she had wood floors, but currently has carpet in the apartment and the dogs are confused, so they started peeing on the carpet.

Elsa doesn't take her dogs outside for potty breaks, because they spend a lot of time in her bed and she doesn't want them dirty.

Elsa is currently working on training her dogs to use the BrilliantPad and we will check back with her.

Next we check in with Sherri, who also has 3 dogs; Ruby (Yorkshire Terrier); Sophie (Chihuahua); and Ivy (Chihuahua). She also claims it was super easy to set up by using a video on YouTube. She tells us that all three of her dogs used pee pads regularly before receiving the BrilliantPad, so it should be fairly easy to train them to use it.

Brilliant Pad Sophie with TreatsAll of her dogs had a chance to sniff it out. Sherri explains Sophie is her "wait until everybody else pees" and then she goes last so that she has her scent on everything.

When Sherri left to run errands one afternoon and came back, she's pretty sure Ruby had used the BrilliantPad. It also possible that Sophie may have climbed up on there and used it, but Sophie is the one that has trepidations about everything. While Sherri couldn't be sure who used it, she states it was more likely Ruby because she's the one that has spent more time on it and actually thought it was a bed for a while.

Sherri has been using the BrilliantPad for a few days now. She tells us she could always smell the used pee pads when she would come home and open the door, but noticed that there was no smell with the BrilliantPad. She actually had to go to the unit to look and see if it was used.

When Sherri gets all three trained, she says here life will be so much simpler! All she had to do was come home and push the button (to advance the roll) and she was done, all without touching anything or smelling anything.

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9th Annual Get Your Licks on Route 66
Susan Sims, Fido Friendly Magazine

Get Your Licks on Route 66 BadgeIt's time again for the Ninth Annual Get Your Licks on Route 66 Adoption Tour. Miss Susan Sims is checking in from the road.

The Get Your Licks on Route 66 Adoption Tour is an annual cross-country pet adoption tour. They start in Los Angeles and go all the way to Chicago and work their way back. The tour is to help raise money for the shelters along the way and to raise awareness for the plight of these shelter animals. Their first 8 Get Your Licks on Route 66 Tours helped place over 9,000 pets into new forever homes. Petco Foundation is their presenting sponsor with Animal Radio being their media sponsor.

Tomorrow the tour will be in St. Louis, Missouri. Look for Susan and her giant spinning filled with prizes donated by their sponsors. Attendees then donate money to spin the wheel for those prizes and at the end of the day all of those donations go to the local shelter. It's a way for the tour to give back and make it fun for everybody.

Route 66 Touring VehicleSo what do they say to the person that says I'm not going to this event because I'll end up adopting an animal? You can still come out and have fun by spinning the wheel to raise money for your local shelter.

Here are the upcoming dates for the tour:

October 1
St. Louis, Missouri
Event held 10-3
Tiles Park
K-9 Carnival
9551 Litzinger Rd.
St. Louis, MO

October 7
Spinning WheelChicago, Illinois
Event held noon-4
Paws Chicago
1997 N. Clybourn Ave.
Chicago, IL

October 8
Springfield, Illinois
Event held noon-4
Schell's Sporting Goods
3810 S. MacArthur Blvd.
Springfield, IL

October 14
Grandview, Missouri
Event held 2-6
12124 15th St.
Grandview, MO

October 15
Merriam, Kansas
Event held noon-4
Great Plains SPCA
5428 Antioch Dr.
Merriam, KS

Be sure to come on out to one of their stops along the way. Who knows, you may find your forever pet! And if not, come on out to support your local shelter.

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Pheromones In Puppy Training -Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteSo you just got a new puppy and you have all your training tools at the ready, the collar, leash and dog crate. But beyond that, do you have the one thing that can make your training tasks easier all around? Tap into your puppy's own sense of smell using canine pheromones, and ease your new pup's training and transition into the home.

Pheromones are scent signals emitted by all animal species, including humans. Various pheromones work under the radar to influence the perceptions and behaviors of others within a species.

Shortly after whelping, a pheromone is emitted from the bitch's sebaceous (oil) glands located between the mammary glands. The pheromone, dubbed the canine appeasing pheromone, reassures the puppies, calms them and facilitates nursing. The bitch stops emitting this pheromone as the pups mature, but all dogs retain the ability to "read" this pheromone. Not only do older dogs recognize this pheromone, but it continues to have a natural calming effect on canines of all ages.

In veterinary behavior cases, the dog appeasing pheromone is used for dogs with noise phobias, car travel anxiety, separation anxiety, and other fearful situations. Various forms are available including pheromone collars, plug in diffusers and sprays. The canine appeasing pheromone doesn't sedate the dog; rather it decreases fear and excitability.

The dog appeasing pheromone is also helpful for newly adopted puppies. Those first few days to weeks in a new home are full of changes for the pup faced with novel environments far from the comfort of mother and siblings. The dog appeasing pheromone has been shown to ease the transition of the pup into new home and improve sociability and training during a pup's critical socialization period.

Pheromone Research
For skeptics that need to see the proof in the studies, veterinary behavior studies have examined the positive influence of the dog appeasing pheromone. When comparing treatment responses for dogs with separation anxiety, the use of the dog appeasing pheromone equaled the benefit of the anti-anxiety medication, amitriptyline.

One study looked at 66 puppies as they settled into new homes after adoption. Approximately half of the puppies wore a pheromone collar and half wore a placebo. The study found that puppies wearing a pheromone collar displayed significantly fewer nuisance behaviors like vocalizations or scratching within 3 days of adoption. Pups wearing the pheromone collar woke their owner's less during the night and displayed fewer signs of distress and vocalizations throughout the course of the study.

The researchers concluded that pheromone collars helped both the pup and family. Pups were less stressed and adapted easier. By decreasing the pup's stress and fearful behaviors, the pet owners found a more enjoyable bonding experience with the new pup and faced less frustration through the training process.

In another study, puppies 8 to 15 weeks were enrolled in an eight-week long puppy socialization and training class. Half wore a pheromone collar and the other half wore a placebo collar. The pups wearing the collar were calmer in the face of novel experiences and displayed less fear, anxiety, and aggression. In the end, the pups with pheromone collar not only were less nervous, but had fewer behavioral problems and learned better. And a long-term effect on sociability was recognized in dogs up to one year after the class and study was completed.

Pheromones and My Pup
NikkiAs the new owner of a nine-week old Bouvier puppy named Nikki, I used both the pheromone collar and diffuser upon welcoming my new pup home. One day before bringing Nikki home, I placed a pheromone diffuser close to the puppy crate, where it would have maximum benefit during her first nights in the kennel away from mother and siblings. Immediately upon leaving the breeder's home, Nikki was fitted with a pheromone collar to serve as a source of reassuring pheromones that went everywhere she did. The pheromone collar has become a tool in Nikki's socialization. It's on her when she meets new people or animals, when she explores new environments, and during puppy kindergarten class.

Did pheromones help in my pup's transition and training? The four hour drive home from the breeders was a dream, no crying or whining the entire trip. Now three weeks later from acquiring my pup, and Nikki never soiled in her kennel during the day or night. I'll admit I had my share of interrupted sleep in the first two weeks, but most of Nikki's night time wakes were for genuine elimination needs. Overall her transition into the home was smooth and lacked the wailing, inconsolable cries of a stressed pup.

The canine appeasing pheromone isn't a magic bullet though. Nothing matches a quality pup obtained from a reputable breeder who focuses on health, genetics, and early socialization. Likewise pheromones do not replace the hard work and consistent training efforts that any new pet owner must provide. However, by adding the the canine appeasing pheromone to your new puppy training, you can help your pup become the best he or she possibly can.

For more information on the DAP products, visit CEVA.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend."

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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearCounterfeit Flea Meds
There's a new break in the big money international scam that targeted flea and tick medication for pets. The latest break in the counterfeit investigation came after a California man admitted in federal court that he had been selling unregistered and smuggled animal pesticides online for 15 years. The phony products were sold at pet shops in every state, but it's more than just the US that's been duped. He sold the anti-flea and tick products all over Europe, the Caribbean and Africa as well. It paid him well, providing him $2.5 million in profit. Currently, a total of seven men have pleaded guilty in the scam with one more to go. An alleged major supplier is still an international fugitive and believed to be in the Cayman Islands. Authorities say the phony products were labeled with well-known brand names, such as Frontline and Advantix, and entered the legitimate pet pharmaceutical marketplace without any detection whatsoever. The counterfeit medication even ended up in some big name chain stores.

Dog In BreweryDog-Friendly Breweries
The website has unveiled its brand new list of dog-friendly breweries across America. It joins their lists of dog-friendly restaurants, beaches and other attractions, along with airline and car rental policies for pets and pet friendly vacation activities. For example, did you know there are whale-watching trips, excursions mining for gems, wine tastings and apple picking activities for you and your pet? Named "Best Pet Travel Site" by Consumer Reports, started back in 2003 but has grown by leaps and bounds, now partnering with Expedia for pet friendly hotels and lodging even some bed-and-breakfasts as well as vacation rentals.

SpamThe Hunt Is On For Spam - And It's Not What You Think!
Cleveland police are looking for Spam. No, not the stuff that comes in a can or bothersome emails, but a little 15-pound pet pig who was stolen from her home during a recent break-in. The owner is terribly worried saying the burglars can keep the electronics and jewelry, just give Spam back. Apparently the tiny pig captivated the thief, because Spam's siblings, a dog and a cat, were still there when the owner got home.

Bill Forces Pet Stores To Only Sell Shelter Pets
California is looking to take a stand against puppy mills. If Assembly bill A.B. 485 is passed, the bill would enact a statewide ban on the sale of puppy mill pets in pet stores, allowing only adoptable pets from legitimate shelters and nonprofit rescues groups. And, it's not just about puppies; it also includes cats and rabbits. Thirty-five cities and towns in California already have similar local ordinances, but the passage of A.B. 485 would make it the very first time an entire state has enacted such a law. It is expected that it will pass easily, since the state senate has already unanimously approved it. The bill now heads back to the Assembly for a procedural vote. Animal advocates say by passing the bill, it will enable California to cut off the supply of inhumanely bred puppies and prevent consumers from unwittingly supporting puppy mills. Many state lawmakers say they see cutting off the puppy mills as an important first step to putting unethical pet breeders out of business in the state.

Dog Tied To PolePeople Who Tied Up Animals During Hurricane Irma Will Be Prosecuted
During Hurricane Irma, dozens of pets were left tied up outside to telephone poles, trees and road signs to weather the storm alone, or possibly the owners were hoping someone else would come along and take responsibility for animals. They did. Animal Control in Palm Beach County rescued at least 49 dogs and two cats who had been abandoned and tethered that way. Regardless, the Florida State Attorney's Office is hunting down those people who abandoned their pets before Irma, because leaving any animal tied up alone is already illegal in the region, but authorities say the added danger of the hurricane makes it animal cruelty and a felony. The state prosecutor for Palm Beach County says, "We will find you and we will prosecute you!"

Marlon BundoVice-President's Rabbit Has Book Deal
Marlon Bundo, the Vice-President's Rabbit, has his own Instagram account, but apparently social media is not enough. The rabbit has signed a book deal for "Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President," which is due out in March. He posted on Instagram, "In the book, I follow Grampa around all day, as a BOTUS (bunny of the United States) should, while he goes about his duties as Vice President!" The vice-president's daughter, Charlotte, will actually write the book with watercolor illustrations by his wife Karen, who is an award-winning artist. Still, no word yet on whether the Bundo will go on a book tour.

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NEWS UPDATE brought to you by Fear Free. "Take the 'pet' out of 'petrified'" and get pets back for veterinary visits by promoting considerate approach and gentle control techniques used in calming environments.

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