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Tag: offices

Interior Department may let the dogs in

zinke

The Interior Department’s new secretary (Trump appointee Ryan Zinke) has told his employees that he plans to let them bring their dogs to work on a trial basis.

Zinke announced in an email to employees Thursday morning the start of “Doggy Days at Interior,” a program that will launch with test runs at the agency’s Washington headquarters on two Fridays, one in May and one in September, the Washington Post reported.

“I’m taking action to establish a pilot program for Doggy Days at Interior!” Zinke said in the email to Washington-area employees. The email included two photographs of him with his wife, Lolita, and their 18-month-old black and white Havanese, Ragnar.

Zinke made a splash when he rode a horse to work on his first day on the job.

zinke2The new dog-friendly policy will be a first in federal government offices, not counting congressional offices, where members have long been bringing dogs to work.

Whether it ends up being an open-ended and ongoing invitation, or just a couple of days a year when employees can bring their dogs to work, the new policy would make Interior the first federal agency to go at least a little dog-friendly.

While former CIA director Leon Panetta was known to sometimes bring his dog to work, government rules prohibit it. General Services Administration Rule 102-74.425 states that: “No person may bring dogs or other animals on Federal property for other than official purposes.”

Particulars of the Interior Department pilot program remain to be worked out, such as whether there will be size or weight limits. Likely, participating dogs would have to be housebroken, be up to date on vaccinations and stay on their leashes.

Zinke, an avid hunter, former Navy SEAL and congressman representing Montana, portrays himself as both an outdoorsman and a dog lover. Earlier this this month, he arrived at his new workplace astride Tonto, a bay roan gelding who belongs to the U.S. Park Police and resides in stables on the Mall.

His email referred to his own dog, and the times they have shared.

“Opening the door each evening and seeing him running at me is one of the highlights of my day,” it reads. “I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with (Ragnar) riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy. But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”

Zinke said his dog policy’s primary goal is to boost morale at the agency, which includes the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and six other departments.

Interior ranked 11th in employee morale of the 18th largest federal agencies in last year’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey, with just 61 percent of its 70,000 employees saying they’re happy in their jobs.

(Top photo: Zinke, wife Lola, and dog Ragnar, courtesy of Department of Interior; lower photo from The Washington Post)

A dog in every doctor’s office? Why not?

With evidence both anecdotal and scientific showing dogs have the potential to sniff out diabetes — or at least detect the changes that occur when a person is about to have a hypoglycemic attack — a research center in southern England is training dogs to warn diabetic owners when their blood sugar levels fall to dangerously low levels.

As this 2007 video shows, some dogs already have the skill down, but the Cancer and Bio-Detection Dogs research center in Aylesbury, based on recent evidence suggesting a dog’s hyper-sensitive nose can detect impending attacks, is now working to train 17 dogs that will be paired up with diabetic owners.

A survey last December by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast found 65 percent of 212 people with insulin-dependent diabetes reported that their pets had reacted by whining, barking, licking or some other display when they had a hypoglycemic episode, according to Reuters.

“Dogs have been trained to detect certain odors down to parts per trillion, so we are talking tiny, tiny amounts. Their world is really very different to ours,” research center Chief Executive Claire Guest said.

The center is continuing work to perfect dogs’ ability in spotting signs of cancer. Guest said having a dog in every doctor’s office would be impractical, but the research could help lead to the invention of an electronic nose that will mimic a dog’s.

“At the moment electronic noses are not as advanced as the dogs’, they are about 15 years behind. But the work that we are doing and what we are finding out will help scientists advance quickly so that they can use electronic noses to do the same thing,” she said.

Pretty amazing stuff, but I think I’d rather be diagnosed by a dog than an electronic nose. And what’s so impractical about a dog in every doctor’s office? Seems entirely practical to me, and a good way — if shelter dogs could be trained to sniff out disease — to allow everyone to live a little longer.

Besides, it would make doctors’ offices far more inviting, and give us something to do in the waiting room.