Service animals and the fair housing act

Despite a plethora of federal and state laws protecting people with service animals, there’s still confusion about rights and obligations. This often leads to discrimination, and disputes between persons with service dogs and everything from landlords to restaurant owners. When it comes to housing, service animals are covered by the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination, and covers persons with disabilities in the sale, rental, or advertising of dwellings. For questions about individual cases, contact your local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.

In order to be protected by the Fair Housing Act, a service animal must pass the following three tests:

  1. The person must have a disability.
  2. The animal must serve a function directly related to the disability.
  3. The request to accommodate the service animal must be reasonable.

A disability is defined by the Fair Housing Act as an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or has a record of an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. The disability doesn’t have to be obvious.

The act covers most types of housing, but there are limited exceptions for single family homes sold or rented by an individual owner.

To learn more about this, visit Pet Partners’ page about service animals and housing.

Fun facts about dogs

Love dogs? Here are some fun facts about dogs you might not know.

Ever wonder why you can’t outrun your dog even on the best of days? The average dog can run around 19 mph. The Greyhound is generally considered the fastest dog breed, and they can reach speeds of 45 mph over shorter distances. When it comes to long-distance running, the Saluki is the fastest. They “only” run 43 mph, but they can keep that up for miles.

Smaller, but super-quick, the Whippet is also amongst the top speeding dogs. A Whippet can run 200 yards in 12 seconds.

The Border Collie might not be a breed many associate with speed, but they have physical abilities to match the role of super-smart workaholic. These dogs can make hairpin turns, keep control and speed while throwing themselves into a new direction, and keep a pace of 30 mph. A herding Border Collie can easily run 50 miles in a day.

Dogs aren’t just fast when it comes to running – an average dog can locate the source of a sound in 6/100ths of a second. They also hear a larger range of frequencies than a human, and are estimated to hear about four times better than humans. Many dogs dislike loud noises – if it’s loud to us, it’s really loud to them.

Many dog owners claim their dogs speak to them. Dogs can indeed show emotions through their face, and have around 100 different facial expressions to accompany a long row of different vocal sounds.

Border Collie

Ideas for finding pet-friendly living

There are many health benefits to petsIn many parts of the USA it can be difficult to find a pet-friendly rental. Many landlords have lists of breeds not welcome, and some limit the number or size of pets. While arguing with centrally mandated policies is a waste of time and energy, there are other things a family can do to find a perfect rental to accommodate even the furry family members.

Plan ahead

The rules for giving notice and time-frames for finding somewhere to move will vary from state to state. Make sure you know what’s mandated and what’s considered good form where you live, and start looking for your new home ahead of time. You might have to call many landlords before you find the right one. Be polite, and ask about pet policies.

Questions to ask can include:

  • Whether they have a ban on specific breeds or sizes
  • Is there a pet security deposit? If yes, is it per pet or per rental unit, and is it refundable?
  • Is there a pet fee on the rent?

Consider a private rental

Many apartment complexes have policies the on-site crew can’t change. They might also think it’s silly you can’t bring your big dog, but it’s out of their hands and arguing won’t help. It’s often easier to find an individual homeowner who wants to rent their house, and who will welcome your pets.

Check online listings – most of the larger home-search sites like Trulia and Zillow have a rental section – and keep an eye on newspaper listings. Also tell your friends on Facebook that you’re looking. Word of mouth is powerful, and someone might just know someone looking for a tenant.

Many real estate companies manage rentals for their clients, and the real estate agents might own properties they rent out. Check their websites and give them a call. They might say no, which isn’t the end of the world, or they might say yes.

If you still can’t find something, ask for help. The local humane society might know of pet-friendly landlords. Some counties also have lists, or can give suggestions.

Have all papers in order

You might need to show proof of vaccinations and vet visits. Certifications or other documentation  can also help sway a hesitant landlord.

Ideas of documents to show to prove how good your doggie is include:

  • Canine Good Citizen Certification
  • Contest wins
  • Diploma from an obedience class
  • Letter of reference from your current landlord

When you go look at a rental, show pictures of your well-groomed and cute pets. If you find a place you really want but the landlord seems hesitant when it comes to your pets, ask if you can introduce them in your home. That’s a great opportunity to show how adorable and well behaved your dogs are, and how well you take care of your home.

Put everything in writing

When you’ve found the perfect place and gotten approval from your new property manager or landlord, get it in writing. Most commercial properties have a pet addendum that will be signed by both parties and added to the contract.

Last but not least, don’t give up.


Endurance in the dog world

Vizsla, a Hungarian dog breedDogs have many wonderful traits and enrich human life in many ways. While many breeds prefer to lounge on the sofa, some are workaholics and possess extraordinary endurance.

Many breeds love sports. Here are three breeds that might not immediately come to mind, but could be perfect if you seek a partner that will keep up with you all day.

Border Collie

The Border Collie is not an easy breed, or well suited for a first-time dog owner living in an apartment. However, if you’re looking for a smart and agile partner that can keep up with running, swimming, and jumping through the day every day, the Border Collie might be perfect.

This breed constantly tops lists of dog intelligence. This isn’t just because they’re trainable and eager to please; they are quite independent and able to make their own decisions. They are designed to move quickly, can turn on a pinhead, and keep a pace of around 30 mph. A herding Border Collie can run 50 miles every day and still have energy left to protect the herd.

Downsides? Border Collies get bored easily and need something to do. If they don’t have a task they tend to invent one.


The Siberian Husky, Alaskan Husky, and similar breeds are able to travel long distances while pulling or carrying a burden. They can be goofy and funny, and are bred for speed and endurance. An Alaskan Husky can, for instance, run around 28 mph. In teams they pull sleighs for hours with an average speed of 10 mph. Think marathon runners created to deliver goods and supplies to remote areas.

The Alaskan Malamute isn’t exactly a Husky, but they possess many of the same qualities – they were bred to haul heavy loads over distance.

All these breeds are intelligent, independent, and can be stubborn.


This is a powerful and versatile Hungarian hunting dog. They are easy to train, affectionate, fantastic runners, and amazing swimmers. Vizslas excel at all sports. If you want a companion for hiking, running, playing ball, or agility, this might be the perfect dog.

A Vizsla thrives as part of an active family – they’re not happy left alone. They have a can-do attitude, as long as whatever they’re asked to do involves their human. These dogs require large amounts of exercise, but are also known for being gentle and tightly bonded with their family.


Sunshine story; dog changes homeless man’s life

John Dolan’s drawings sell for around $7,000 in a London art gallery. Most of them are pictures of his dog, George. The two are inseparable, and currently prepare for an art show in Los Angeles.

It hasn’t always been like that. Not long ago, John Dolan lived on the streets of London, homeless and wondering where to get his next meal. A homeless woman traded a beer can for a puppy, and gave the dog to John who started to draw his new best friend.

After that, everything changed. People passing on the street bought the sketches, and John and George soon caught the eye of a gallery owner. Now, John is writing a book about his dog, and he’s working on a set of drawings of rock stars with their dogs.

To read more about John and George, visit


Dogs can get jealous

Many dog owners are convinced their dogs get jealous, while some people say it’s just imagination – projecting a human emotion on the dog. Scientists recently made an experiment to ascertain which is correct.

The test adapted a test used for human babies. 36 dogs and their families participated, and the owners were asked to shower a robotic stuffed dog with affection, pay attention to a plastic jack-o-lantern pail as if it were a dog, and to read a book aloud. The pail and the book were compared to the robotic dog to see if there’s a difference in behavior between something that looks and acts like a dog – the robot barked and wagged its tail – and something that’s clearly not.

To make the experiment fair, the robot would have to be lifelike enough to be accepted as an actual dog. 86 percent of the participating pooches attempted to greet it like they would a dog, and were probably surprised when the rear end held no smell…

The results were clear. The dogs were twice as likely to touch or push their owner when he or she paid attention to the robodog than when playing with pail. A full 78 percent pushed and touched in response to the impostor dog. 42 percent reacted that way with the jack-o-lantern, and 22 percent when their human read the book.

It becomes even more interesting. One fourth of dogs snapped at the robot, and one third tried to place themselves between the robot and their owner.

Conclusion? Dogs definitely get jealous. It’s not your imagination.

Five interesting cat facts

Singapura is the world's smallest cat breed.Cats are great companions, but their behavior can be puzzling. For example, why do they love cardboard boxes so much?

In the wild, cats like to claim locations as their own, and they like to be in enclosed spaces. This is what we see today when a cat climbs into a narrow cardboard box.

Computer keyboards also hold a special allure to cats. It is a thing to claim as theirs, laptop keyboards are often warm and comfy, and humans touch keyboards all the time, which makes them special.

And why do cats always climb on the one person allergic to them?

Many cats gravitate towards people who are allergic or don’t like cats. This seems counterproductive, but cats play it safe and often choose to approach people who aren’t trying to get their attention. When a cat doesn’t know a human, gestures and calls can feel like pressure to perform, or even seem threatening. A person who doesn’t want a cat on their lap can be interpreted as safer.

Why do cats drink out of glasses or even the sink instead of the water bowl?

This too comes from their behavior in nature. Cats will avoid drinking from a water source close to something dead, because the water can be contaminated. This instinct remains. They will choose water as far away from their store-bought food as possible, to make sure it’s clean and healthy. Put the water bowl in another corner than the food bowl, and kitty will probably like it better.

How does a doggie DNA test work?

It is possible to ascertain a dog's breed through DNA analysisIt’s easy to know what breed a dog belongs to if it comes with a pedigree. Some shelter pets can show their heritage, but most are completely without papers, whether they’re purebreds or mutts. Many dog owners would still love to know what their dog is, and science has given us the doggie DNA test.

A canine DNA test starts with ordering a kit to take a cheek-swab from your dog. This sample is sent to a research-company where it is compared to a database with DNA samples from different breeds, and the answer comes back in a few weeks.

The DNA of the original dogs would have been pretty similar, but over time genetic mutations have given birth to the breeds we have today. The differences can be seen in DNA, and form the base of breed DNA testing.

The analysis is fairly accurate in mutts with a purebred parent or grandparent, but some purebred dogs can also be difficult to ascertain. Some breeds are closely related, and some breeds are derived from another still in existence.

Many DNA reports also give in-depth explanations of a dog’s unique behaviors, personality traits, and wellness needs.

Why do some dogs love to have their tummies rubbed?

Some types of doggie behavior can be puzzling to us humans. Like, what’s up with the tummy rub? And why are dogs so fascinated with sniffing each other’s butts? 

The belly scratch

Not all dogs like to have their bellies rubbed, but many of those who do really cherish it. There are several theories to why.

Dogs generally don’t show their stomach to other dogs – unless in a sign of submission – and assuming they don’t do it of fear, showing their tummies to us shows trust. The tummy rub becomes a way of bonding.

On top of this, the stomach can be difficult to reach with the paws, and the skin there is sensitive. A good tummy rub with human fingers probably feels better than their own nails.

The butt smelling

If a human was to approach from behind and smell another person’s butt we’d find it peculiar to say the least. In the doggie world, this approach avoids challenging someone by facing them head-on. The tail-end of the dog also gives off pheromones that can be read by other dogs. By sniffing the behind, a dog can learn about sex, reproductive, and social status.


Rescue dogs saves baby

There are many stories of rescue dogs repaying their families in unexpected ways. Duke was adopted six years ago, and his family says he is a perfect dog, meant to be theirs. They didn’t anticipate him becoming their hero in more ways than providing love and company.

Duke is normally calm and obedient, and looks like a cautious boy on the news video. No wonder his family was alarmed when he rushed into the bedroom and jumped up on the bed, shaking.

His behavior was so uncharacteristic that the family went to investigate, and found their baby not breathing. Thanks to Duke the child was discovered in time and could be saved.

The family hopes many will see the video and decide to adopt. You never know when the life you save may return the favor.

Five of the world’s largest dog breeds

Many like small dog breeds, because they are convenient. A small dog doesn’t require as much space as a big dog, smaller dogs eat less than big ones, and so on. But, there is something special about the gigantic dogs, like Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Mastiffs. Here is a list with five of the world’s largest dog breeds.

The Irish Wolfhound

An Irish Wolfhound requires an extra large PlexiDor dog doorThis is a friendly giant. The breed is not currently record holder for world’s tallest dog, but if one were to take an average of individuals in a breed they would be the tallest. They are excessively friendly towards people and don’t do good jobs as guard dogs. If a burglar were to enter the house and carry off some things the Irish Wolfhound would probably consider the intruder a new best friend. However, if the family is physically attacked, an Irish Wolfhound will defend its people.

They are patient and generally good with children. While they take to urban living pretty well, they require a lot of exercise.

The Great Dane

A Great Dane needs an extra large dog door
A Great Dane currently holds the position of world’s tallest dog. They are generally very friendly and get along with people, other dogs, and other types of pets. Great Danes are strong, elegant, friendly, and energetic. The earliest drawings resembling the breed stem back to around 3,000 BC, and the oldest written description of them can be found in literature of 1121 BC.

The English Mastiff

An English Mastiff requires an extra large PlexiDor dog doorThe Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound might compete about being the tallest dogs on the planet, but the English Mastiff is definitely the heaviest. A male can weigh up to 250 lbs, and the breed is considered the oldest in the UK.

English Mastiffs make wonderful and devoted pets. They are generally very good with children and other dogs, but they tend to be lazy and needs to be activated in order to get enough exercise.

The Leonberger

A Leonberger requires an extra large PlexiDor dog door.The Leonberger is extremely popular in Europe, maybe a bit less so in the USA. They are even-tempered, unfazed by most things, and become deeply attached to their humans. They are also very agile for their size, and require lots of exercise.

Leonbergers can be very energetic when they grow up, but generally settle down around the age of three and becomes gentle giants.

The Scottish Deerhound

A Scottish Deerhound requires an extra large PlexiDor dog doorThis is the least commonly known breed on the list, and looks somewhat like a long-haired greyhound. The history of the breed has been traced back to pre-Roman times, and they are very popular in their home country.

A Scottish Deerhound is about the friendliest animal on the planet. They are eager to please, gentle, and loving. However, they get bored easily and require plenty of exercise and something to do. They are happiest in pairs, and keeping two together can alleviate many of the boredom problems.


Can a giant dog have a dog door?

Absolutely. There is a PlexiDor dog door for even very big dogs.

The extra large PlexiDor is constructed to stand up to these large and powerful dogs, even if they go through the door at a full run. The dog door handles dogs approximately up to 220 lbs. If you’re in doubt, contact customer service and they will be happy to help you pick the right solution for your needs

Hero dog rescues deaf 13-year old from fire

Ace is a 2.5 year old Indianapolis Pit Bull who recently saved his best friend – 13-year-old Nick Lamb – from a house fire. Nick is deaf since birth and was sound asleep when Ace woke him up. Naturally, Nick didn’t want to get up, but Ace persisted. As soon as Nick was properly awake, he realized the house was filled with smoke.

Both the boy and the dog made it out without injury, and firefighters were able to rescue the family’s cat as well. Kitty had to visit the vet to treat her smoke inhalation but she is expected to recover.

Without Ace, it is likely that Nick would never have woken up, and he would have perished in the blaze.

The house turned to rubble, but thanks to Ace, the family is still complete.

Adventurous dog rescued from roof

Bucky is an adventurous poodle mix who recently spent an afternoon on the roof. He climbed out through an upstairs window with town screen, and walked back and forth on the edge of the roof for at least half an hour, dangerously far above the ground.

Getting back into the house wasn’t as easy as getting out; every time he went back to the window his friend Bear – a mastiff – stuck his head out to see what was going on.

Bucky’s family was away, and the neighbors ended up calling 911. Firefighters brought a ladder-truck to rescue the daring poodle, but he didn’t want to go with them. Eventually, the treats became too tempting, and he got close enough for one of the firefighters to grab him.

Seven ways you can help a shelter or rescue

Most Afghan Hounds do well with a Large PlexiDor Dog DoorMost people want to help homeless animals, but it can be hard to know where to begin. Not everyone can send money, and money itself doesn’t solve all problems. Here are some ideas on how to help a shelter or rescue – and being able to help save animals – without breaking the bank.

Volunteering is rewarding and appreciated. Many shelters need help with caring for the animals. Some need help with cleaning, others with socializing pets. There’s usually something to do. Contact your local shelter or rescue group and see if they need help.

Another great idea is donating your skills. Maybe you’re a great photographer, good with computers, or know how to edit videos. Good photos and videos of shelter pets help them get exposure, and can make the difference between a pet finding a new home or staying in the shelter.

Donate gently used items. Most shelters and rescues always need extra supplies. Contact them first to see what they need, and clean any supplies before taking them over. Many shelters and rescues ask for towels, blanket, pet beds, water and food bowls, toys, collars and leashes, and brushes.

Many shelters and rescues also ask for household items. Common items on the wish list include cleaning supplies, old newspapers, paper towels, and office supplies. Call and ask them what they need before going over.

Foster a cat or dog. Rescues are always looking for fosters. Some pets need a place to stay overnight, others for weeks or even months. It is a rewarding experience that saves a life.

You can also donate pet food and litter. Shelters and rescue groups go through enormous amounts of pet food and cat litter. You can actually enter to win 1,000 lbs of dog food right here, and donate to your favorite rescue – the contest is open until November 30, 2014.

If you’re throwing a big party, getting married, or have an upcoming birthday, you can donate part of your event registry. It is a rewarding experience that makes everyone feel good.

And naturally, if you’re thinking of adding a new friend to your home, consider adopting a shelter pets. There are all sorts of pets waiting for new homes. lets you search for available pets in your area.

Store employees make home make wheelchair for paralyzed dog

Wally is a Tampa Bay rat terrier who recently suffered a stint of bad luck. His human, Rebecca Pierce, dropped him off at their vet’s kennel service for a quick trip out of town, and came back to find Wally’s back legs paralyzed.

The vet believes Wally has a herniated disc in his spine, and poor Wally uses his front paws to get around, dragging his legs behind him.

Clearly, Wally needed help while the vet worked on figuring out both what happened and whether the condition can be reversed. Pierce saw videos of people making their own pet wheelchairs, and brought Wally to Home Depot, hoping to find material to build something for her pup.

Little did she expect to meet guardian angels dressed in orange aprons: two of the store employees spent hours building a perfect wheelchair. To make things even better, the store management decided to cover the cost.

Wally is seeing a doggie chiropractor and he is regaining strength in his legs, but it will take a while for him to walk again.

Read more of the story here.

Five fun trivia-facts about dogs you don’t know

Most people know something about dogs, and if you have found your way to the PlexiDor page you probably know a lot about them. Besides being good company, they make excellent conversation starters. Here are five fun trivia-facts about dogs you might not know.

5. New Zealand town has buildings shaped as sheep and dogs

Tirau is a small town on New Zealand’s north island. The town was traditionally a farming community, but has started to make money as a tourist attraction. They have a tradition of using old, discarded, corrugated iron to create art, and they have a craft store shaped as a sheep along with an information center shaped like a dog.

Sheep and dog building, image from strange buildings.
Sheep and dog building, image from strange buildings.
4. Who cleans up after a seeing eye dog?

These dogs are highly trained professionals. They guide their handler through complex environments, traffic, and more. They only do their business on command, and the males are taught not to lift their leg when peeing. This makes it possible for a handler to pet the dog once it’s doing its stuff and figure out what’s going on. If the dog’s back is rounded, cleanup will be required.

3. Seeing eye dog was first dog to become a “Million Miler”

Speaking of seeing eye dogs, service dogs are allowed everywhere open to the public. That includes planes. Nesbit was a seeing eye dog who earned over one million Delta airline miles in his life. He even had his own frequent flier card.

2. Stray dogs in Afghanistan saved 50 soldiers

The troops made friends with a few stray dogs, and when a suicide bomber tried to enter the soldiers’ quarters to kill the 50 men inside, the dogs attacked. One of the dogs was killed in the incident, but the others were celebrated as heroes. It turned out to be pretty expensive and difficult to bring the dogs to the US, so a Facebook group raised $21,000 to fly the dogs to America.

1. The average dog knows math

Most dog owners think their pooches are smart, but few people know exactly how smart. One Border Collie understands a vocabulary of over 1,000 words, and has shown a grasp of grammar. The average dog can understand up to 250 words and gestures, can count at least up to five, and perform simple mathematical calculations.

Bonus trivia: 

While pet “holes” have existed almost as long as cats and dogs have accompanied humans, Sir Isaac Newton is credited with inventing the modern pet door.

Secondhand smoke harmful to pets

While no one has measured exactly how many pets die from secondhand smoke each year, vets know from lab tests and office visits that inhaling smoke causes cancers, allergic reactions, and inflammations in pets.

Several schools, including Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts and Colorado State University have studied the connection between secondhand smoke and cancer in pets. The results are discouraging; breathing in smoke can cause malignant lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, and various respiratory problems in both species.

Dogs are susceptible to smoke, but cats even more so, and it is important to make pet homes smoke free. Lymphoma is one of the leading causes of death in cats. Repeated exposure to smoke doubles a cat’s risk of getting cancer. Living with a smoker for five years or more quadruples the risk.

Symptoms of cancer include coughing, problems breathing or eating, excessive drooling, weight loss, nasal discharge, vomiting, and bleeding and sneezing. Cancer kills more dogs and cats than any other disease.

If you’re trying to quit smoking and turn to e-cigarettes, be careful how you store your cigarettes and accessories. Dogs are attracted to nicotine cartridges from e-cigarettes and can take them out of the trash. Make sure to store all parts of the cigarette along with any fluids used out of reach of pets and children.

The Majestic Pallas Cat

Pallas cat image from WikipediaThe Pallas cat isn’t your average house cat; these furry felines are native to the steppe regions of Central Asia where they live on high altitudes. They are solitary and spend their days in caves or rock crevices, coming out to hunt in the late afternoon. The Pallas cat is rare and doesn’t do well in captivity.

No one knew there were Pallas cats in Nepal until researchers stumbled over them when looking for snow leopards high in the Himalayan mountains. They saw something scurry away that looked like half house cat and half snow leopard.

Now they’ve been recorded in the wild for the first time, by camera traps 14,000 feet above sea level. Turns out they’re smarter than we gave them credit for. At least one Pallas cat discovered the camera trap and went to investigate.

Police officer shows the danger of hot cars

Every year, children and pets die in hot cars. Regardless of information campaigns, people keep leaving babies and dogs in cars, and Texas has topped the number of fatalities around the USA for the past twenty years. 

Texas Corporal Jessie Peterson made an experiment, and posted a video to YouTube of himself staying inside his parked patrol car in the sun. He held out for 30 minutes, and had to leave the car to recover. When the temperature outside nears 100 degrees, the temperature inside the car quickly jumps up to as high as 170 degrees.

Heat-related injuries can cause organ failures, seizures, and hallucinations, and if the exposure to heat remains, death.

Peterson is a trained officer in good shape, and did his experiment in a safe environment with help nearby. This is not something that should be tried at home. And please, do not leave your children or your pets in the car.

To read more about the experiment, follow this link.

Police dog sniffing out computer hardware

Dogs help law enforcement in many different ways, but few would have predicted the talent golden labrador Thoreau uses in his service to the Rhode Island state police. Thoreau has been taught to sniff out hard drives, flash drives, and other computer components.

This is of value to the police in the fight against child pornography. Storage devices with evidence are small enough to be hidden in places where the officers can’t find them, which allows child pornographer to go free. Thoreau can join in on a search warrant and find object impossible for a human to detect.

Thoreau is new on the job after five months of specialized training, and has already helped secure an arrest warrant. He found a flash drive with child porn stashed deep inside a metal filing cabinet.

The four-legged crime fighter was trained in Connecticut at a program that currently trains over 60 dogs in different types of detection work.

Thoreau is a computer hardware detector dog
Image from providence