TrustedHousesitters is a global community of pet lovers helping each other travel the world by connecting pet owners with a network of verified pet sitters. Since its 2011 launch in the U.K., TrustedHousesitters has grown into the world’s largest house sitting business, facilitating over two million nights of house and pet sitting globally and saving its members an estimated $218 million in accommodation and pet care costs. The site’s community of nearly half a million members is spread across 140 countries.
They say a dog is a man’s best friend. We certainly treat them like it: we take our dogs to the best vets, to doggy daycare, and to holistic specialists when they are ill. We buy coats and Halloween costumes, and we set them up with their own blogs, Facebook, and Instagram feeds. But do our dogs—and other animals—feel the same way about us? And what exactly does a dog—or a bat or a dolphin for that matter—think and feel in general?
Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University and author of the New York Times bestselling book How Dogs Love Us, pondered these very questions. After viewing photographs of the capture of Osama bin Laden in which dogs were jumping from helicopters under chaotic conditions, Berns had a thought. If a dog could be trained to jump out of a helicopter, why couldn’t a dog be trained to enter an MRI machine? And if that was possible, what if one could compare the functioning of human and dog brains? Berns would be the perfect person to unwrap these mysteries of the animal mind—early in his career he pioneered the use of brain imaging technologies to understand human motivation and decision-making. Could this be a step towards figuring out how dogs think? Berns and his team endeavored to find out.
The results of this experiment is found in Gregory Berns’ groundbreaking new book WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A DOG: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience (Basic Books; September 5, 2017). Berns’ exploration of the inner minds of dogs, as well as other creatures, heralds a new world, one in which complex intelligence is all around us. As Berns explains, understanding how animals think will revolutionize the way we communicate with them and how we treat them.
“An impressive overview of modern neurology and the still-unanswered issues raised by our treatment of our fellow living creatures.”
“Groundbreaking research that shows that dog emotions are similar to people. Training dogs to voluntarily lie still in the MRI brain scanner was a brilliant way to explore the workings of their brains. Dog lovers and neuroscientists should both read this important book.”
—Temple Grandin, Author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make us Human
“Gregory Berns is a remarkable scientist, whose pioneering MRI studies of the brain across a range of species have opened up a pathway to deeper understanding of animals’ internal awareness and perspectives. He’s also an exceptional thinker, whose grasp of the ethical and practical significance of his findings for the status and treatment of animals is pervasive in this absorbing work.”
—Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO, The Humane Society of the United States
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A DOG
And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience
By Gregory Berns
Do our dogs love us? Do they really get *that* excited when we come home? Do they like the toys we have bought for them? Do they have the same undying love and affection for us that we have for them? How would we even know if they do? These questions swirled around neuroscientist Dr. Gregory Berns’ mind when his beloved pug, Newton, passed away. He began to wonder if Newton had loved him as much as he had loved him—or if all the affection and tail-wagging just an evolutionary response to gain more treats.
Determined to seek out the answer to these questions, Berns and his team did something nobody had ever attempted: they trained dogs to go into an MRI scanner—completely awake—so he could figure out what they think and feel. What they found was astonishing—dogs, like people, are individuals. They have varying abilities for self-control, how they understand language, and even whether food or companionship is more important. And all of these traits are being revealed in the brains of these MRI-dogs.
The deeper Berns dug into the dog brain, the more obsessed he became with learning about other animals. What if a dog could tell us exactly how she felt? And what would a pig say about a slaughterhouse? What did a whale think about all the noise flooding the ocean from ships and submarines? The result of these investigations would not only enrich our understanding of the inner world of animals—it would inevitably force us to rethink how we treat them.
Now, after five years of research, WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A DOG: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience (Basic Books, September 5, 2017) lays out what Berns and his team learned. Organized in the order in which Berns and his team endeavored to look at various species, WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A DOG shows us that each animal analysis conducted has a connecting aspect: the structures in the brains of animals are organized in the same way as corresponding parts of our own brains. And not only did these parts look the same, but they functioned in the same way—from dogs and cats to dolphins, sea lions, and even the extinct Tasmanian tiger.
With empathy and humor, Gregory Bernsshows us how animal brains are similar to humans and that we can understand what it is like to be a dog, or a dolphin. His results prove that animals have many experiences and feelings in common with humans. This leads to a startling reconsideration of the rights of animals and the relationships we have with them.
As Berns explains, “All neuroscience is comparative at some level, but few neuroscientists dig deep and ask why the brains of animals look the way they do and how that relates to their mental experiences. These are hard questions. They get at the heart of what makes us human, and they raise troubling issues about the possibility that we may not be that different from many of the creatures with whom we share the planet.”
Many of the world’s species are disappearing at an alarming rate, with the WWF estimates that two-thirds of many species populations may be gone by 2020. In WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A DOG, Berns hopes to raise awareness of the mental lives of the animals with whom we share the planet—and in doing so, provide a new manifesto for animal liberation of the 21st century.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gregory Berns is a distinguished professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University, where he directs the Center for Neuropolicy and Facility for Education and Research in Neuroscience. He is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller How Dogs Love Us. He lives in Atlanta. Follow him at @gberns
ABOUT THE BOOK:
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A DOG
And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience
By Gregory Berns
Published by Basic Books
Publication date: September 5, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-465-09624-4 · $28.00 / $36.50 CAN · Hardcover · 320 pages
E-book ISBN: 978-0-465-09625-1
Advance Praise for
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A DOG
And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience
By Gregory Berns
“The author explains that his purpose in writing this book is ‘to raise awareness of the mental lives of the animals with whom we share the planet.’ In that, he succeeds. An impressive overview of modern neurology and the still-unanswered issues raised by our treatment of our fellow living creatures.”
“It’s the rare neuroscientist who has the patience and curiosity to train dogs to hop into an MRI machine, tails wagging. Or delve into the mysteries of the dolphin brain. Or venture to the far side of the globe to find the brain of an extinct, yet still fascinating species: the thylacine. Thankfully, Gregory Berns did all of these things. In this big-hearted book, he applies cutting-edge science to questions that have never been so timely: How do other animals perceive their worlds? How do they experience emotions? How does their language work? What It’s Like to Be a Dog is a delightful, illuminating look at the minds and lives of our fellow creatures.”—Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean: A Journey Into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins
“Have you ever wanted to peek inside the mind of a dog? Gregory Berns’ brain scanner does precisely that. But this book also contains many remarkable insights into the inner lives of other animals. Dolphins, sea lions, raccoons, Tasmanian devils – even the long-extinct Tasmanian tiger – they’re all here. A fascinating journey towards an understanding of what dogs – and their mammalian cousins – might be thinking about us.” —John Bradshaw, author of the New York Times bestsellers Dog Sense and Cat Sense and the forthcoming The Animals Among Us
“Berns has done it again; woven a compelling story with a scientific revolution. From building an MRI simulator in his living room to tracking down one of the four remaining brains of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, Berns takes us on an incredible journey of exploration and discovery. Marvelously written and intellectually engaging, What It’s Like to Be a Dog will establish Berns as one of the most skilled neuroscientists of our day, as well someone with the intuition that understanding other animals will lead to greater insight and knowledge about ourselves.” —Dr. Brian Hare, New York Times Bestselling author of The Genius of Dogs
“Dr. Gregory Berns’ new book is a fascinating read. Packed with personal stories, What It’s Like to Be a Dog clearly lays out just who these amazing beings are, from the inside out. We can now learn what each individual animal wants and needs to have the best life possible in a human-centered world, and what we must do to make sure they do.”—Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age and Canine Confidential: An Insider's Guide to the Best Lives for Dogs and Us
“We know a lot about the intelligence of animals and nearly nothing about their brains. Greg Berns is changing all of this by means of noninvasive techniques that respect the animals. He is boldly going where no one has gone before, offering a lively, eye-opening peek into his neuroscience kitchen.”—Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
PET OWNERS LOOK TO MAKE BIG CHANGES FOR THEIR OVERWEIGHT PETS IN MY BIG FAT PET MAKEOVER
- Pet Expert and Trainer Travis Brorsen Hosts All-New Series Premiering Saturday, September 30 -
The U.S. pet overweight and obesity rate for dogs and cats is more than 50%. In Animal Planet’s new series MY BIG FAT PET MAKEOVER, pet expert and trainer Travis Brorsen begins a four-month long weight-loss and behavior modification journey with pet owners and their overweight animals with the aim of helping each pet live a healthier and happier life. Each story ends with Brorsen returning for a final weigh-in to see just how far the pets and pet owners have come. MY BIG FAT PETMAKEOVER premieres Saturday, September 30 at 10PM ET/PT.
Obese animals can experience health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart failure, thus leading to a shorter life. In MY BIG FAT PET MAKEOVER, Brorsen creates individual exercise and diet plans in addition to implementing positive reinforcement training methods. He also uses creative techniques as wake-up calls for owners, using visual experiments that let them experience what their pets are going through. As an example, one individual is forced to wear a weighted vest to experience the extra weight the dog is living with each day.
“My goal for this series is to raises awareness of the pet obesity problem while educating and empowering pet owners to make big changes for their furry family members. I’m thrilled to be sharing health, wellness and training tips to the Animal Planet audiences that will help owners find new ways to love their pets and add years to their life,” said Brorsen.
“We are thrilled to welcome Travis to the Animal Planet family,” said Patrice Andrews, General Manager of Animal Planet. “Travis will bring forward important issues to the animal community with a focus on providing pet owners with simple changes anyone can make to help their pets.”
Can Brorsen help families realize how dire the situations are with their overweight pets? Will the animal owners learn how to properly feed and exercise their pets? While every animal’s challenge is unique and their results may be different, Brorsen’s goal is to help everyone keep up with their new-found routines.
MY BIG FAT PET MAKEOVER is produced for Animal Planet by Castleview Productions. For Castleview Productions, Ted Barnhill and Jessica E. Reynolds are executive producers. For Animal Planet, Keith Hoffman is executive producer and Sarah Russell is producer.
It's only natural to want to take your best friend with you everywhere you go, especially if your best friend stands on four legs instead of two. While bringing your pets along while you travel is fun for both you and your pet, there are a few things to consider when taking your furry friend away from the comforts of home. At the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), we get a lot of calls concerning curious pets who have gotten into some potentially dangerous situations while out and about with their families. So to ensure that you and your pets can travel together comfortably, here are a few tips to help keep them safe, happy and healthy while you’re on the road:
Before you leave:
- Be prepared. Pets who are away from home are more likely to have an accident or get into something that they shouldn't. Before you leave home, make sure you program two numbers into your phone: a local veterinary emergency hospital at your destination and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). Also, make sure to pack a proper pet first aid kit.
- Tag your friends. Make sure your pets have proper identification visible on their collar, and consider getting them microchipped in case they get out of their collars. Pets who get loose are less likely to find their way back to an unfamiliar location, so identification is key to enabling happy reunions.
- Contact your veterinarian. If your pet has a complicated or extensive medical history, you might want to take a copy of his medical records with you in the event that you have to take him to an unknown vet during your travels. Also, if you are traveling between states, you may need an interstate health certificate for your pet before hitting the road. It's never a bad idea for your pet to get a clean bill of health before a big trip as well.
- Do your research. Is there anything at your destination or along your route that you should be aware of? In some areas, there may be poisonous plants or venomous animals that you will want to be careful to avoid. While you're on the road:
- Never leave your pet in a parked car. This goes for warm days as well as the hot ones. Even when it doesn’t seem very hot outside, the temperature in a car can quickly rise to dangerous levels and put your pet at risk of developing heat stroke or worse.
- Travel safely. When you are in the car with your pets, the best way ensure that they don’t have access to anything they shouldn't (such as food and medicine) is to buckle them up. Securing pets with harness-style seatbelts (or in crates/carriers) will also help protect them in the event of an accident and keep the driver less distracted.
- Scout out your hotel room. Always have a quick look around before letting your pet into a hotel room. APCC receives numerous calls about pets finding a pill or two left on the floor by a previous occupant. Also, if you are traveling with a cat or kitten, ensure that there isn't any way for them to crawl up into the bathroom vanity or into the mattress. (We are speaking from experience here as well).
- Pet proof your new space. Take a “pet's eye view” and look for any potential issues. Are indoor plants safely out of reach? Can your pet reach that bottle of medication? Does a child's toy on the floor look just like her dog toys at home?
Ensure that counters are cleaned off, and consider bringing a baby gate and/or a crate with you to help prevent access to any areas that you are unable to make safe for your pets.
Festival to benefit L.A. nonprofit, Michelson Found Animals Foundation
Bennington, Vermont (TBD, 2017) – Following overwhelming success last year in Los Angeles, and a national tour to 10 cities in 2016, the 2nd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™ will be returning to the City of Angels on August 5th, 2017.
WHAT:Perfect for dog lovers of all ages, the 2nd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™ will feature two programs each with a different medley of documentary, animated and live-action short canine-themed films from around the world. The films illuminate human-canine love and are uplifting, with happy outcomes. Each program runs approximately 75 minutes.
WHEN: Saturday, August 5th
5 p.m. “Outdoors and Adventures with Dogs”
7 p.m. “Who Rescued Whom?”
WHERE: Writer’s Guild Theater at 135 So. Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills
WHO: NY Dog Film Festival™ Founder/ Director Tracie Hotchner, a well-known pet wellness advocate and author of The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know,willbring local dog aficionados together to share a communal experience of watching short films that celebrate the remarkable bond between people and dogs.
WHY: The NY Dog Film Festival™ shares Founder/Director Tracie Hotchner’s appreciation of the love between dogs and their people, while giving a portion of every ticket to local animal welfare group, Michelson Found Animals, to help support their life-saving animal efforts.
COST: Tickets are $15 per program, with a portion of every ticket going to Michelson Found Animals.
“I’m delighted to bring together animal lovers in the community to experience the many ways that people love and need their dogs, while recognizing Michelson Found Animals’ great work in keeping pets and their people together,” said Hotchner, who is also the host/producer of 10 pet talk radio shows on her Radio Pet Lady Network (including her award-winning NPR show DOG TALK).
“We’ve seen firsthand what a passionate community of pet lovers we have here in Los Angeles,” said Aimee Gilbreath, Executive Director Michelson Found Animals. “We’re so excited to have the festival return to Los Angeles and thrilled to be a part of this entertaining celebration of the human-animal bond.”
-# # #-
About the NY Dog Film Festival
In 2015 the first NY Dog Film Festival™ premiered in New York City, which grew out of Tracie Hotchner’s desire as a pet wellness advocate to expand her Radio Pet Lady Network’s outreach to educate the public about adoption, health issues and philosophical aspects of pets in our lives. Hotchner created the Festival as a unique way of honoring dogs as true family members by bringing together like-minded people to experience the remarkable human-canine bond on film. The NY Dog Film Festival™ shares proceeds from its ticket sales with local shelters wherever it travels.
About Michelson Found Animals
The Michelson Found Animals Foundation is a nonprofit supporting pet owners and animal welfare organizations with the mission of Saving Pets, Enriching Lives. After celebrating a decade of service to animals, they continue to grow and find innovative ways to help pets and the people who care for them. In addition to creating the first free microchip registry, they now have their own adoption centers, research next generation spay/neuter technology and sell affordable high quality products – all in the service of pets. Their unique perspective into all aspects of animal welfare allows them to better support pet owners and pet professionals alike. All of this possible thanks to the generous funding from Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.
See how they’re using their brains and expertise to obtain real, sustainable, results at foundanimals.org. To learn more about their free microchip registry, and the many innovative tools that are making it easier to connect lost pets to their people, check out found.org. The spay/neuter technology research is at michelsonprizeandgrants.org. And to find out more about Michelson Found Animals Adopt & Shop locations, where all profits go back to caring for our adoptable pets, visit adoptandshop.org.
Saving America’s Vets and America’s Pets
New National Initiative by American Humane Seeks to Help Stem Tide of Veteran Suicide and Euthanasia of Shelter Animals
First Class of Highly Trained Service Animals Graduates, Helps Give Veterans and Veterans’ Families Their Lives Back, While Providing a Second Chance to Abandoned Dogs
American Humane’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs has launched a new initiative to harness the healing powers of the human-animal bond to help our brave veterans and more of America’s beautiful, adoptable animals. Every day, 20 veterans struggling with the invisible wounds of war take their own lives, and 670,000 dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. Vast anecdotal evidence and a growing body of scientific research show that specialized PTS and TBI service dogs can offer life-changing—and often lifesaving—support to affected veterans. However, there are obstacles standing in the way for veterans in need of service dogs: Waiting lists are long and the training process is time-consuming and expensive, costing upwards of $30,000 per dog.
To help begin turning the tide of veteran suicide and save the lives of more adoptable animals facing an uncertain future, American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, is announcing the first graduating class of service dogs and retired warriors in its new national “Shelter to Service” program. The initiative rescues shelter dogs and specially trains them to become lifesaving service animals for military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). American Humane’s new canine training center provides specialized PTS and TBI service dogs to veterans in need, at no cost to the recipient.
American Humane is introducing the first class of service dog graduates at the Hamptons, Long Island home of philanthropists Jewel and Robert Morris amid a sea of some 200 humanitarian and celebrity advocates for America’s veterans and animals, including country star and longtime supporter of the military Naomi Judd, NHL star Matt Martin, former PepsiCo Restaurants International CEO Tim Lane, Hallmark Channels President and CEO Bill Abbott, New York City socialite Jean Shafiroff, and many others.
Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, said: “As an organization that has worked for more than a century to help both these groups, American Humane was compelled to provide help and healing, and created a nationwide model based on our development of the country’s first national training standards to help ensure veterans an adequate quantity as well as quality of lifesaving service dogs.” Veterans now face wait times of a dangerously unacceptable 18- to 24-months.
“With 20 veterans committing suicide each day and PTSD cases continuing to increase at alarming rates in the veterans community, it is unconscionable that we have not been taking advantage of every possible mechanism to reverse this horrific tragedy,” said internationally renowned philanthropist and American Humane board member Lois Pope. “It is equally tragic that hundreds of thousands of dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. Given that it is well-known that dogs have an indelible connection with humans and have served as therapy and service companions for people with physical and emotional afflictions for so many years, the Shelter to Service initiative is a perfect solution to both problems. That is why I’m pleased that through the Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs, American Humane has pioneered and is taking the national lead on partnering veterans with shelter canines in order to help them heal from the invisible wounds of war.”
American Humane began working with the U.S. military more than 100 years ago when they deployed to the battlefields of World War I Europe to rescue more than 68,000 wounded war horses every month. Following World War II they advanced the field of animal-assisted therapy to help returning veterans cope with the invisible wounds of war, and aided children of military families during their parents’ deployments. Recently, they helped change the law to make sure we bring our military hero dogs home to U.S. soil when their service to our country is finished. They also work to reunite these four-footed warriors with their former handlers, and provide them with free specialized healthcare so they can enjoy the happy and healthy retirement they deserve. This newest initiative seeks to save the lives of more veterans, as well as those of abandoned, adoptable animals.
Program Made Possible by Committed Friends and Generous Sponsors
American Humane’s Shelter to Service program has been made possible thanks to a wide range of committed supporters and generous sponsors, including, among many others, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Zoetis, Hallmark Channel, NCR Foundation, Banfield Foundation, Adtalem Foundation, Kriser’s Natural Pet, Matt Martin Foundation, Door Automation Corp., Kyrus Charities, Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, The Philly Pack, Monster Energy, Marta Heflin Foundation, Red River Charitable Foundation, Nora Roberts Family Foundation, All About Dogs, LLC, and Merck Animal Health. American Humane is grateful to all of them. Without their support, this program would not be possible.
“I am so pleased to be supporting their newest effort to save America’s vets and America’s pets by pairing our retired warriors with trained service dogs who are themselves rescues from shelters,” said country singer, longtime military supporter, and American Humane board member Naomi Judd. “In this way, we can save lives on both ends of one healing leash.”
About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.AmericanHumane.org.