“Dedicated to providing gentle, compassionate care for companion animals”



Duke is around 6 ½  years old, and is a tri-color Beagle mix.

Duke is from another state and was surrendered to a high-kill shelter with a female Beagle and a litter of puppies. Everyone in his pack was adopted except Duke, who was then rescued by Midwest Animal Rescue Services (MARS), through which we adopted him. At least one other family had adopted Duke from MARS and returned him prior to us adopting him. All this has caused Duke to have terrible separation anxiety, which Animal Wellness Center has been a lifesaver for. It is his second home and we know he feels safe and loves hanging out with everyone there.

We decided Duke would be the right dog for us because he was adorable and very loving. We didn’t realize how energetic Beagles are, but it’s good for us. He takes us on walks and we have met many of our wonderful neighbors because of him.

Duke loves adventure and hunting for critters at the park, when it’s nice out he sits by the garage door whining to go somewhere; he loves his smoked marrow bones from the butcher shop; loves to sleep in (he is not a morning guy), he yawns very loudly when he wakes up; he barks at any large vehicle; he licks the windows in the car to calm himself; he rounds everyone up for bed when he’s ready by coming to us and whining (until we’re ALL in bed). He loves his little bear toy that squeaks, he’s very social and loves people, he barks when he’s excited and he loves rolling on his back outside (on snow or grass) and loves to sleep on his back.

One of my favorite stories about Duke happened a couple years back during a Superbowl party we were hosting. Duke likes to lay in people’s warm spots when they get us, so that night, every time someone got up to go to the bathroom Duke would steal their spot. Nobody had the heart to kick him out when they came back so they would just laugh and find another (less comfortable) place to sit. It happened at least five times that night.

Duke has had many wonderful days at AWC. Of course, being a regular at daycare, he knows and loves everyone there, and everyone has been so good to him. We love getting pictures of Duke just hanging out with the other dogs during the day. The stories are great too; one of my favorites is how Duke has his spot on the bench where he naps and his friend Casper has his spot on the desk. Once summer comes, I know he’ll be sunning himself outside again, one of his favorite things. Although he’s getting better, Duke still barks while being walked past the exam rooms going back to day care. It’s great when I hear him bark and then someone yells out “Good morning Duke!

Continue reading



Dogs are not wolves. Dogs are not wolves. Dogs are not wolves.

I am repeating myself because there has been so much misinformation about domestic dog behavior implied from severely flawed studies on wolf behavior from the 1940s that must be overcome and discarded as a destructive and often brutal falsehood. I want to be very clear about this before starting a discussion about howling because it is a form of vocalization we closely associate with the wolf ancestors of our domestic dogs. But, the dogs with whom we share our homes are very different from their ancestors and their behavior should not be confused with wolf behavior even if the "studies" had been accurate.

Howling is communication. Virtually all species of canids are social creatures, that is, they live in groups. Their behaviors are designed to keep the family group together and successful enough to pass their genes on to the next generation. Resting, hunting, feeding, and reproduction are all resources which are allocated to the members in order to maintain a peaceful coalition and eliminate the need for potentially damaging fights between members.

If you somehow became separated from your family, what would you do? You would call them to check in, to let them know where you were, or to find your way back home. What if you knew there was a gang of rivals living not too far away and keeping your distance from them made it more likely that you would survive? Would you want a communication system that helped you keep far enough away that you and your family could stay safe rather than running into them by chance? That is what howling does, it communicates information over distance. Howls probably contain more information than we are able to discern since we don't speak the language.

Here's an interesting thing, domestic dogs don't howl on a frequent basis. Human-owned dogs have their territory defined by their owners, they don't need to keep a safe distance from other families of dogs because they have a defined yard, they no longer have a need to hunt as every day their food appears in a dish, reproduction is off the table since most are neutered, they aren't concerned about access to water which is in the dish next to the food, nor do they need to find a suitable resting place because it is a lovely upholstered spot next to or in the human's bed. Maybe domestic dogs just don't howl as much since they don't have that much to say. They are already safe and their basic needs are met. Maybe humans have artificially selected to breed dogs that rarely howl because they didn't want their sleep unnecessarily he disrupted. Domestic dogs don't often howl.

My Grandmother had a little Yorkie named Sampson. He occasionally howled but only in response to sounds of a certain frequency: fire alarms, police car sirens and the monthly tornado siren test. She lived in a very quiet neighborhood of St. Paul, MN so his howling was mostly a once-a-month phenomenon confined to the "tornado season" defined by the National Weather Service.

Photo credit: LivingThroughTheLens | iStock

Continue reading



As a lifelong dog owner my answer is that of course they do.

As a scientist I have to admit that it is difficult to prove because we aren't (yet) able to interview dogs and ask them.

What does the evidence say? Sleep studies of humans have shown changes in the pattern of brain waves which occur during dreaming. Most dreams occur during REM sleep. REM is a short hand way to refer to Rapid Eye Movement which is obvious in a sleeping individual even while their eyes are closed. The eyes move quickly back and forth as the individual is essentially watching their dream as though it were appearing before them on a screen. If a person is awakened during this stage of sleep they will almost invariably report having been in a dream.

Sleep studies in dogs show virtually identical alterations in brains waves as seen in dreaming humans. They also have REM sleep and you can see this for yourself. Watch your dog as they sleep. After about 20 minutes you can see a change in their breathing. Their breaths are slower and deeper and their eyes move quickly back and forth just as ours do.

But the really fascinating part of their sleep happens when they start paddling their feet as though running. This is frequently accompanied by barking, growling or yipping. If you listen carefully you will hear differences between the sounds they make. Sometimes their vocalizations are playful, angry, protective or excited. If these dogs are not dreaming they are doing a fantastic imitation of it. Developing the ability to imitate dream behavior would serve no evolutionary advantage for dogs so we are left with the obvious answer that they are indeed dreaming. The other piece of evidence is that the other family dogs pay no attention to this behavior. They don't start barking or running around in response as they would to the same behavior from their buddy in an awake state.

I "rest" my case. Naptime anyone?

Continue reading
The German Shepherd is distinguished for loyalty, courage, and the ability to assimilate and retain training for a number of special services; he is not pugnacious, as his reputation posits him to be, but a bold and punishing fighter if need be.  Here are some other facts about the German Shepherd:

  • The German Shepherd has become one of the most popular and recognizable breeds of the AKC.
  • They are often utilized as police dogs, service dogs, agility dogs, conformation animals, obedience dogs and sentinels.
  • Their high trainability and extreme loyalty and commitment make them an excellent choice for any agenda.
  • The breed has been in the public eye and media many times, recognizable as “Rin Tin Tin” and other canine characters.
  • They are known to not give affection lightly and is known for his dignity and stature; also known as a “one-man” breed for its tendency to display serious loyalty and fidelity, especially to its owner or main caretaker.
  • Bred from old breeds of herding and farm dogs, the German Shepherd has been subject to intensive development since the late 1800s.
  • They are very loyal family pets and good guard dogs, the ideal choice for many families. They require regular exercise; and training is one of the most important responsibilities an owner of a German Shepherd can have.
Continue reading
What is Canine Influenza?
  • Canine influenza can be caused by the influenza virus, which has numerous strains. The current outbreak that started in Chicago is caused by H3N2.
  • Canine influenza cannot infect humans or other animals except possibly cats.
How could my dog be exposed?
  • The highest risk of transmission currently is for dogs traveling to the Chicago area, and for dogs participating in sports or shows in which many dogs are brought together from different areas.
  • Dog classes, the dog park, grooming, boarding and day care facilities are all places of potential exposure.
  • Transmission of influenza is by aerosol (droplets in the air) – dogs do not need to touch another dog in order to become infected.
  • The virus can be transmitted on hands and surfaces and can live up to 48 hours on hard surfaces, 24 hours on soft surfaces such as clothing and bedding. Dogs in the same area as an infected dog are highly likely to become infected.
What are the symptoms of Canine Influenza?
  • Coughing, fever over 103, nasal discharge, lethargy, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing
How long after exposure will by dog get sick?
  • About 20% of dogs will become infected by the virus but will not get sick – just as sometimes humans can overcome the flu without significant illness.
  • Generally, signs of illness will occur 2-4 days after exposure to the virus.
Could my dog die?
  • About 3 to 8 out of a hundred dogs could become sick enough to die from this disease – most dogs will recover well with appropriate medical care.
How long will my dog be contagious?
  • The contagious period is up to 10 days after exposure – dogs will be most contagious before they show any sign of illness.
  • It is safe to consider them not contagious 10 days after they first become ill, or 2 weeks after potential exposure.
Should I vaccinate my dog against this disease?
  • There is no vaccine for this specific strain of influenza. There is a vaccine for a different strain, called H3N8, which is available. Currently, we do not know if this vaccine provides any protection against H3N2, but we do recommend vaccination for dogs at high risk (currently any dog traveling to Chicago or participating in dog shows/trials)
  • We may recommend vaccination with the H3N8 vaccine for our patients at some point, but currently it is not part of our core vaccines.
  • The vaccine is given as 2 doses 2 weeks apart and can be scheduled as a technician appointment so long as the dog has had a wellness examination in the last year.

Informational Links:



What is being done right now:

Due to the contagious nature of CIV, the  Animal Humane Society is doing the following (This information is directly from their website):

  • Animal Humane Society is consulting with a leading expert in shelter medicine, Dr. Sandra Newbury, of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin.
  • AHS is having nasal swab testing done at  the University of Wisconsin to confirm canine influenza infection. A second possible case has been identified and that dog is also undergoing treatment and testing. Animal Humane Society is working with these two families to cover the cost of treatment and care.
  • Effective immediately, AHS is halting dog adoptions and surrenders at the St. Paul facility only until they have confirmed that no animals in their care are infected.
  • All dogs with Kennel Cough or similar symptoms at the St. Paul facility have been isolated and are being tested for canine influenza today. The tests are expected in by 4 p.m. tomorrow, June 19, 2015.
  • Although veterinary staff at AHS do not believe that canine influenza has made its way to the other AHS other shelters, AHS is testing all dogs with Kennel Cough and implementing enhanced protocols across all five locations.
  • Animal Humane Society is reaching out to families of dogs adopted from the St. Paul facility in the last 30 days, urging them to contact their veterinarian if symptoms develop.
  • Dogs in Animal Humane Society’s boarding facilities (Animal House and Now Boarding) do not share staff, facilities, or equipment with the population of adoptable animals.

The Animal Humane Society will be updating their website as new information becomes available. 

Continue reading