New friendly faces and fun events!

We’ve added to our team! Meet David Watson our new Development Director, and two new board members—Michael Coles and Paul Mower.


Watson moved to Jackson in 1999 to fulfill a lifelong dream of living out West. Over the past 20 years he has become a successful fundraiser, leader, and permanent fixture in the nonprofit community. Watson spent 15 years at Teton Science Schools and more than four years at Teton Raptor Center. He said he is very excited to bring his fundraising skills to PAWS and to combine his love for animals, people, and the community into his new role. Watson continues to volunteer for Boy Scouts of America (he is now in his 14th year doing so). He also coordinates the Blair Community Garden and is an accomplished artist. David and his wife Rhonda have two sons, a daughter, and a son-in-law, who all live in Jackson.


Michael Coles is a transformational leader, accomplished entrepreneur, author, education advocate, and motivational speaker. He co-founded the Great American Cookie Company and was Chairman, CEO and President of Caribou Coffee Company. In addition to boasting an extensive background in the business world, Coles is actively engaged on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards. He’s also passionate about pets and community.

Paul Mower’s caring for animals started at a young age dairy farming in the UK. He initially pursued a career in livestock husbandry with responsibility for quality assurance and animal welfare standards. A change of career path moved Mower into a role in private wealth management. Following time working at financial institutions in the Channel Island, Switzerland and New York, Mower eventually moved to Jackson Hole to set up and run a multi-family office. Paul, with his wife Amy, three children and dog Penny have called the valley home for the past three years.


We hope that you join us for our first-ever PAWSH party THIS SATURDAY from 6:30-11pm at Hatch Taqueria. Tickets are $25 per human (sorry, no pets) and include 2 specialty cocktails and a self-serve Taco Bar from 7-8pm. Tickets, silent auction, and pay to play booze bottle pull will benefit the PAWS organization.

(Click the ad below for more event info and a working list of the silent auction items.) 

Chances are, you’ve been touched by one of our programs in one way or another. Be it a spay and neuter voucher,  MedFund, or the thousands of MuttMitts that we distribute throughout the valley, we are constantly making an impact on local pets and their people. Help us continue our mission by attending this swanking soiree!

We’re celebrating 20 years!

On September 20th, 1999, a nonprofit animal welfare organization, called PAWS of Jackson Hole, was created. Founder Ann Smith, and a group of local Jacksonites, started a friend of the shelter organization that’s mission was to raise money to donate to the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter for the single purpose of spaying and neutering all of the shelter pets. At the time, the Animal Adoption Center and Lucky’s Place of Star Valley were not in operation yet, and the Teton Valley Humane Society in Driggs, Idaho (now Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter) was in the beginning years of operation. The J/TC Shelter was the only place on this side of Teton Pass for homeless animals. Ann became involved with a similar organization while spending time in Sedona, and saw the need in Jackson for a similar missioned organization. Back then, the town and county did not have a policy of altering animals at the shelter. Pets were adopted out unaltered, would reproduce, and the offspring would wind up at the shelter. It was an endless cycle and the shelter was perpetually overcrowded.

Ann Frame, PAWS Founder Ann Smith, Judy Eddy, and Kym Rupeiks at a Farmer’s Market in 2001.

2006 Home for the Holidays Adoption Drive.

Model’s lining up to walk the runway at 2008 Fur Ball’s Furry Fashion Show.

Dogs being dogs at Sophie’s Place in the winter of 2011.


Since 1999, PAWS of Jackson Hole has had significant impact on the Greater Jackson communities. We’ve grown from a grass roots group to a professionally managed organization serving as a community resource to prevent pet homelessness, to protect pets from harm and suffering, to promote responsible ownership. We now have 4 full-time staff members who help pets and their people for their entire lives through 8 programs. PAWS’ staple staff member, Executive Director, Amy Moore states, “When I joined PAWS in 2006, there were regularly 40-50 dogs at the shelter and 60-70 cats. It was overwhelming just trying to get every dog walked each week. Over the years, with the help of PAWS’ Spay/Neuter program, The Shelter Fund and volunteer engagement we’ve seen a dramatic increase in adoption rates and a huge decline in the homeless pet population. Today the norm at the shelter is to have just 6 adoptable dogs and 8 cats. It’s been so incredible to watch the evolution of this shelter over the years and to be able to say that PAWS of Jackson Hole played a part in its success.” PAWS is still the J/TC Animal Shelter’s largest supporter, but over the years PAWS has expanded outside of being just a “friends of shelter” organization to one that supports the community owned pets (and their people) as well.

In 2008 PAWS launched our free spay/neuter program to Jackson/Teton County residents and extended the program into Teton Valley, Idaho and Star Valley, Wyoming in 2011. This program has been a game changer for the shelter numbers and stray population in our areas. Before spay/neuter support was offered, our MedFund program (formally McDoc) was developed. Muffie Beck, an avid animal lover and philanthropist, sadly passed away. In 2002, Muffie’s husband, Hank, approached PAWS to provide funding for emergency or unexpected veterinary care for pets of families experiencing financial hardship. MedFund has aided over 1,100 families since its inception. MedFund was extended to our sister communities in 2019 to continue saving lives. Outside of these three pillar programs, the other 5 continue to thrive and expand. In the animal welfare world, the environment is constantly changing and growing. PAWS’ mission is aligned to be part of the positive changes for pets and their people in our communities.

We invite you to celebrate our 20th anniversary with us at our Chamber Celebration on Tuesday, September 24th on the Cutty’s lawn from 5-7pm.

Old Bill’s Fun Run, the nonprofit Super Bowl

Jackson Hole’s version of a nonprofit Super Bowl is quickly approaching! That’s right, Old Bill’s season is upon us. With thousands of attendees, this event boasts the highest participation level of any fundraiser in town!

While the Old Bill’s energy is something humans look forward to, the canine attendees may have a different outlook. If you’ve attended the event before, you know there are an abundance of sugar-fueled kids, food on every corner, loud noises, and lots of people all crammed into Town Square. This scene is not every dogs’ cat’s meow. Humans have the tools to remove ourselves from over stimulating and stressful situations. We have a voice and the ability to reason. Please be mindful of the environment you’re putting your pup in when you bring them along to OBFR. If your pup has a history of performing well in this type of environment and you bring them along, make sure they’re top priority when it comes to your focus and on leash at all times. It’s easy to get caught up in the Old Bill’s spirit and stop paying attention to your dog’s behavior. Know the signs of stress. If your dog is yawning a lot, licking his lips, and has a pin-straight or tucked tail, he is uncomfortable. One last question to ask yourself before attending the event with your dog is: “Am I bringing Fido for my enjoyment or for his?” It’s fun to bring your pup to public events but this is the ultimate event in terms of testing your dog, and he may be more comfortable at home.

We are so thankful for Old Bill’s Fun Run. Our eight programs heavily rely on donations made through Old Bill’s. Let’s take a look back on the last 12 months to see your dollars at work. Since last year’s OBFR we’ve issued over 1,150 spay/neuter vouchers. If half of those pets were females and produced one litter of 4, our community would have 2,300 more pets needing homes. PAWS has spent over $24,000 on emergency/unforeseen veterinary care, keeping those pets alive, healthy, and with their families. A new cat room was constructed at our SafePAWS facility for cats needing a safe haven from domestic violence. 208 hours of dog training was sponsored for the adoptable dogs at the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter. 150,000 mutt mitts were distributed and over 200-man hours were paid for to maintain our 23 mutt mitt stations. Our DART team has attended two training sessions ensuring they are ready to spring into action if a disaster occurs. Over 300 students participated in multiple Humane Education courses. Countless dogs enjoyed the Winter Dog Park for another season. Plus, we set up our outreach materials over 30 times promoting responsible pet ownership. Thank you for supporting us!

Meet Olive, the 702nd pet our spay/neuter voucher program has provided surgery for in 2019.


Spring 2019 Disaster Animal Response Team training.


New SAFEPAWS cat safe haven.


Humane Education participant Eli sharing a moment in class with PAWS staff dog Derby.


Kianah (pictured left) received MedFund to repair her knees as well as PAWS sponsored dog-training hours at our local shelter. She was adopted with her sister Kiska in June 2019. 

Want to help us continue our work? It’s our 20th Anniversary! We are asking every pet owner to donate $20 (or more) to keep these programs funded for another year!. See you in a few weeks!

To donate to PAWS via Old Bills:


It’s DOGUST, let’s pawty!

When dogs enter animal shelters, the staff has to guess their age by looking at their teeth, eye clarity, body composition, and coat color. Guessing their true birthday is just not possible.

Shelter dogs rejoice because TODAY is your birthday. The North Animal Shore League, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue organization, declared August 1st, known as DOGUST, as the universal birthday for all shelter dogs. Hooray and Happy Birthday to all dogs who are waiting for their forever home in an animal shelter- that’s a lot of candles on top of that pup cake! If you have extra time today stop by a shelter with treats and take a doggo for a birthday stroll (singing is optional).

Pet birthdays are a time where pet owners really let our freak flags fly. Bacon for breakfast, Big Mac’s at the top of their favorite hike, new plush toys and baskets full of tennis balls dumped on top of them for the ultimate Instagram worthy ball freak birthday experience. In a recent article, a poll showed that more than one in five humans have held or attended a birthday party for a pet, and 36 percent of pet birthday bashes cost between $20 to $49.

Ready to start planning your pet’s next birthday? We’ve compiled a list of 5 pet-perfect Birthday parties to help:

1) Start the day with a hike and swim and end it with French fries at the Fido-friendly decks of Streetfood or the Byrd.

2) Is your pet a total ham for the camera? Grab some festive props and set up a photo booth. Let their inner model glow! Make yearly albums highlighting their year for a keepsake.

3) Got a car-ride crazy canine? Turn up the tunes and take them on a drive. [We have photo shoot above]End the mini road trip with a puppucino from a local coffee shop or a birthday baked good from your favorite pet supply store.

4) Does your cat go bananas for laser pointers? Turn down the lights, sprinkle some catnip, break out your disco light, and let them rip. End their soiree with a feline-friendly birthday cake: Combine drained white albacore tuna, sweet potato puree, and a little rice flour in a bowl. Scoop into cookie cutters to create little, round cakes. If you want to get extra fancy, you can make “frosting” by piping mashed potatoes on the cakes. YUMMEOW!

5) Got a less active pet? Host a sleepover. Everyone put on their party pajamas on, make a big bed on the floor, pop some corn, cue the movie marathon, and let the snuggle fest begin! Serve pup-tails of low sodium chicken broth and peanut butter. Shaken not stirred.

Change their Future, become a Foster Parent.

Dubie, with his new family, recently adopted from the J/TC Shelter.

We are so happy to report that a recent dog we fostered, Dubie, is now happy in a home of his very own. When fostering the Dubes, we took him along to a couple of public events, bopped around town with him, he even went up Snow King! This little guy had stamina and was just so happy to be out and about, EVERYTHING was exciting to him.

While showing Dubie off around town in his sporty petite Adopt Me vest, people often stopped us to learn more about the little fella. Mid-way through our spiel, inquiring humans would chime in with, “I could never foster, I would feel so bad bringing him back.” Typically, we answer this question the same way, “we get to be the first part of a positive change for them,” or “fostering does such a service to these little guys,” but neither of these classic responses encompasses why we foster. Recently we saw a quote on Facebook that hit the nail right on the proverbial adoptable head.

Foster homes aid the adoption process by providing a plan of introduction into their new future homes, a “What to expect, when you’re adopting this dog,” if you will. Last winter we fostered a young gal from the J/TC Shelter who had been returned 3 times while out on adoption trials! We volunteered to take her home to see this Jekel and Hyde in action. One minute she was laying on the kitchen floor and then the next she was standing proudly on top of the fridge. Knowing ahead of time that she needed to be kept on leash in the house to teach appropriate house manners was an incredibly useful tool for her future home. Most people are not looking for a fridge surfing dog. We’re happy to report she has never summited a refrigerator in her new home.

Within Jackson, there are two organizations that have Foster Programs: the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter and the Animal Adoption Center. Each of these organizations will send you home with everything you need to make your doggie sleepover successful. To inquire about joining their foster programs, give them a call at 307-733-2139 (J/TC Shelter) or 307-739-1881 (AAC). Both offer foster to adopt opportunities as well if you are in the market for a new fur-clad family member.

Olivia Pollard reading to foster puppy while resident canine sister supervises. (Foster puppy is available through the Animal Adoption Center).

5 Self Indulgent Reasons to Foster:

1) Teach your kids what it takes to own and respect a pet.

2) It’s like speed dating for dogs- not ready for a full-time commitment? Fostering gives you the doggie-fix without the 24/7, 365-day commitment.

3) A fun night for your own pet. Can only own one pup, but have a social pupper-fly on your hands? Make their night and entertain a local adoptable for a sleepover.

4) It’s the perfect volunteer opportunity for the non-people person. If crowds, customer service, and manual labor are not for you, fostering dogs is a great way to give back to your community.

5) The heart explosion YOU feel when you see past foster dogs enjoying life with their new families. There is no better feeling, we promise you that!


Buddy, J/TC Animal Shelter, with foster brother ready to be fostered for the weekend.

AAC’s Frito, learning the ropes from foster sister, Ella.

Foster kitten at Aska’s Animals getting healthy and growing while learning valuable pig climbing skills.

National Adopt a Cat Month

Ah June, FINALLY! The sunshine is here and the temps are rising, summer is on the horizon! A fun fact about June: It’s National Adopt a Cat month! Allow us to convince you why cats are king…

The All-American Cat
This may be surprising, but out of the *183.9 million pets living in American households, 94.2 million of those pets are of the feline species. This number has jumped up 20.1 million since 2012. What can we say, CATS ARE TRENDING! You’ve heard the saying once you pop you can’t stop when it comes to Pringles potato chips, and the cat keepers of America feel the same way as the average number of cats per cat owning household is 2 (the average hound count per household is 1).

The Economical Itty-Bitty-Kitty-Committee
When it comes to dollars and cents, cats are more economical than dogs. The initial purchase or adoption prices for dogs far surpass cats. Adoption fees for cats typically range from $20-$150 depending on age including their spay/neuter, microchipping, and initial vaccines- a banging (not barking) bargain. Buying a dog from a breeder is still popular and prices range from $300 -$3,000 depending on breed. Buying a cat from a breeder is much less popular than adoption and prices average between $200-$1,200 depending on breed and color. On top of the initial cost, cats eat less, their food cost less, they need less in terms of boarding, grooming, and overall supplies. Cats tend to be smaller in size, therefore, their medical treatment and medication needs are less. In 2018 the average dog owner spent $1,386 on veterinary care per year, while cat owners averaged $890.

The Low Maintenance Meower
Dog guilt is a real thing. When you work long hours, have a social life, and recreate at the Park or Resort on the weekends, usually, Fido gets jipped. Simply put, dogs require a lot more time and maintenance than cats. Cats use litter boxes and tend to graze their way through their day rather than take down a bowl of chow in minutes. There are cats that are more social and do enjoy more hands-on play time, but they can manage being left without human intervention for longer time periods than pups.

The Stress Reducing Purrer
It’s hard to get on Facebook without your feed being flooded with feline antic videos. Cat owners experience many benefits to their mental health. The presence of a cat can reduce anxiety, loneliness, depression, or even frustration. The actual “purr” that your cat makes has a soothing effect on you, immediately making you feel more relaxed.

So, what are you waiting for? Be a part of the kitty revolution and go out and get yourself a feline friend. You won’t regret it! Whatever size, make, and model you want, our shelters have what you’re looking for! Currently, shows 212 available cats and kittens within 100 miles.

* APPA National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association.

Check out a few of our staff picks of available cats in our local shelters:

This is a large adult woman. Bathe in the curves of this beautiful lady. While she weighs less than she looks, Fern looks really big because she’s a Main Coon mix which is like wrapping a burrito in cotton candy. Fern is available for adoption from the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter, 307-733-2319.

Call Miss Cleo meow for your free feline psychic reading at 307-739-1881. Her operators at the Animal Adoption Center will help you get in touch with her.

Step 1: Watch this infamous commercial
Step 2: Go to the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter in Driggs, Idaho and adopt Abigail.

He’s salty, crunchy, and addicting. Call Lucky’s Place of Star Valley at 307-887-PETS to ponder Pretzel.


The offseason, the perfect time to prepare.

May is typically a slow month in terms of natural disasters. But inevitably disasters and those affected will be in the news and on our minds in the near future. So, it is the perfect time to practice emergency plans, brainstorm and learn with other organizations, and prepare for the future.

At the beginning of the month Jess Farr, PAWS’ Program Director represented Teton County’s Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (V.O.A.D.) at the Mountain West VOAD Regional Conference in Boise, Idaho. The theme of the conference was , “Together We Serve.” A conference highlight session titled, “How to prepare for everything,” presented by Crisis Clean Up, concluded that everyone’s interpretation of disaster is different, as well as one’s needs before, during, and after are diverse; therefore, how we prepare within our family unit should be unique. You can follow a general checklist to start, but that’s what a generalized checklist should be, just a start. Next year Jackson has been chosen as the conference’s location and all residents and organizations are invited to attend. For more info on 2020’s Mountain West VOAD Conference:

PAWS of Jackson Hole falls within Teton County’s Emergency Management Incident Command System to provide Emergency Sheltering for the pets of Teton County, WY and Teton County, ID. On May 11th, some of our volunteer team members got together for a full- size live exercise of shelter set up, pet intake, daily operation, and breakdown. A few cooperative community members volunteered as actresses bringing in pets, donations, and volunteer inquiries to test our Shelter Team. Live canine and feline actors were present as shelter clients. The feline actors were the least cooperative of the bunch, as you could imagine. Rich Ochs of Teton County Emergency Management observed our process and facilitated a debriefing of how our operation can (and will) improve. After a 90-minute-long session of suggestions, improvements, brainstorming and pizza eating, Rich asked our team a question, “Do you feel more prepared to set up an Emergency Shelter after this exercise?” A unanimous “YES,” chimed from all attending team members.

In order to best serve our community’s pets and people, we ask that you have an up to date copy of vaccination records for your pet on hand to bring with you when your pet needs emergency sheltering. These records will aid our team in providing the best care for your pet. Our DART team also asks that pets arrive at the Emergency Shelter on leash/ in cat carrier in order to ensure the safety of the pets, the public, and our volunteer team members. We will be updating our website soon to include a general checklist (remember what general checklists are for) to help you start planning for what your pet needs to use our Emergency Shelter if the DART team is called upon.


It’s Dog Bite Prevention Week

Do you feel like there’s always some sort of national awareness day or week? If only National Margarita Appreciation Week was every week. This week April 7th – April 14th is a week that highlights a topic a bit more serious than margaritas, National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

Over 4.5 million people, about half of which are children, are bit by dogs every year, with the states of Texas and California leading in those numbers of incidents. The good news is this number has gone down a bit year to year and the majority of these bites are preventable.

When out at the Cowboy on a rowdy Saturday night you may tell two different people to “Talk to the hand,” and get two very different reactions… this concept holds true with dogs. One particular dog may not mind you hovering over them telling them how they are the bestest boy in the whole wide world, but this action may scare and provoke another dog to fear bite.

It’s good to get kids started at a young age of respecting a dog’s space, body, and boundaries. Teach your kids to never approach a dog while its eating or a mom with puppies. Moms with puppies will act like any other mama lion with her cubs, protective. Kids should learn how to appropriately approach dogs and pet dogs – never pulling, poking, or using them as a coffee table.

We’ve all spent an evening or two falling into the abyss of cute online videos of dogs and babies, and while there are dogs who don’t mind being used as furniture, its always good to move slowly and know the signs that a dog is uncomfortable, and never allow kids to behave this way with an unknown dog. If the dog’s body is stiff, eyes are wide, they curl their lips or pant or yawn, and tails are curled or straight as an arrow, immediately stop and give them lots of space. Allow them to come to you and position themselves where they want to be. Most of the time if a dog snaps it’s because of an invasion of space and their bodies. How do you feel when someone is standing on your foot at a concert and doesn’t get the hint? If a dog growls, don’t reprimand or correct them, its basically their way of saying, “Step off, I’m not ok with what’s going on.” Always have kids ask for permission to approach a dog out in public and have them act like a tree (standing still with hands at their side) if a dog approaches them without supervision. Have kids approach dogs from the side and offer their flat hand for the dog to sniff. Once the dog has made contact with them, they can give the dog some light and slow-moving pets.

As adults we need the reminder that what we may find as a fun and social event, our dog may not think the same. Often bites occur at events like outdoor concerts and farmer’s markets. Food + zooming kids + loud music + other dogs + distracted dog owners is the perfect recipe for even the gentlest of dogs to snap a bite. Add fireworks to the mix and not only will you have a terrified dog, you may loose hold of them as well, and now have a missing and distressed dog that you need to find. Aside from stressful social events some dogs bite out of the blue due to medical reasons. Keep up on your dog’s check-ups, if a new area on their body is hurting them and someone touches it, they may bite protecting their new injury. Older dog’s who have hip problems will protect that sore part of their body from people and other approaching dogs. Think about it, when you have the flu, you may bite (with your words) those around you because they’re causing you more pain and annoyance… the same holds true for our canines.

To help dogs figure out the world and minimize the chances of biting, socialize them early using the proper techniques. Get them used to being held by new people, have them smell new smells, experience new noises, and introduce them to other dogs (once vaccinated) slowly that you know are good with pups. Never use fear or violence to reprimand them. If your toddler has a tantrum, removing them from the situation immediately is a common human mechanism for “training.” This exact removing from the fun or stressful environment works on pups too. You can’t handle the fun in an appropriate manner? The fun is taken away.

Not all dogs thrive at a dog park. If your dog cowers, curls their tail under, or is tiny and continuously gets trampled on, its time to leave the Dog Park, its not for them. This is a two-way street; some dogs can be the bullies. If your dog is constantly tackling dogs, humping the same dog, and biting at the faces of other dogs, you may have a “bully” on your hands. Again, take the fun away, and don’t bring a pup who is prone to this behavior to a dog park, have them play in smaller groups in a more controlled environment instead. To learn more about how to assist your canine kid to grow out of this behavior a local trainer is always someone that can bring some professional advice to learning the body language that is exhibited before an incident, and how to help them learn a different behavior.

If you’d like to learn more about Dog Bite Prevention there are some great free online webinars happening this week.

To learn more:

Exploring our Cat’s Comprehension

Ever wake up in the middle of the night to your cat performing a version of Cirque de Soleil, usually directly above your head? Or maybe the opposite, you awake to your cat sitting on your chest, staring intently into your snoozing face, deep in kitty thoughts (of revenge). What in the H E double hockey sticks are these cats thinking? Let’s delve into cat comprehension.

Did curiosity actually kill the cat?

According to Webster, intelligence is the ability to acquire information, retain it, and utilize it to solve problems. Like humans, cats research their surroundings. Put a cat in a new place and every nook, cranny, and water glass will be studied. Science has shown that not only does a cat investigate new territory, cats have the ability to retain this knowledge. They retain information and often life-saving environmental details so curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it gave them the notoriety of having nine lives.

The Midnight Marauder

Best day – you bring a cat home. Second-best day – you’ve gotten an uninterrupted night’s sleep with the cat in the house. Cats are nocturnal by nature and these lions of our living room still have those instincts deeply engrained in their primal brains. The spurt of wild energy that many cats get in the middle of the night, dubbed “midnight crazies,” or as we call it at my house “the kitty rave,” is their primal brains telling them that IT’S GO TIME. They often hunt their toys, or other objects, and rubber hair bands are often high on the list of household prey. Thankfully there are ways to curb this behavior. Tired dog = happy, well-rested, human, and the same concept can hold true getting your cat to chill out at night. Interactive toys, feather wands, hide and seek with treats are all great ways to get your cat’s brain and body tired. If you answer their meows and zooms by giving them food to get them to leave you alone, their hunting game is working, with rewards! To repeat this behavior night after night… who’s a smart kitty?

I snooze, the cat stares

Cats think three dimensionally, but they think in different dimensions than we do! When cats hear a noise, they can precisely locate it, while we can locate the direction the noise is coming from. Cat brains are wired to pick up on wavelengths and patterns that prey or humans generate. When you wake up with your cat sitting on your chest staring, the cat is “mapping” its territory. Its intent stare while listening to your sounds and breathing patterns, give the cat a heightened sense of other changes in its environment (your bedroom). They’re not actually plotting revenge against you for not allowing them to lick your ice cream bowl. They’re keeping watch over you and themselves in case of a drastic and scary change in your environment.

The Nip Head
We’ve all seen it… drooling, rolling around meowing to the beat of reggae music (wait what music?), widened pupils as if the colors your cat is seeing are just. so. colorful. That tell-all tail twitch and erratic zoomie behavior. Your cat SMELLED catnip! When catnip enters a cat’s body through its nostrils, cats exude behaviors common to females in heat. These effects last for about 10 minutes and the guilty Nip Head is temporarily immune to catnip’s effects for the next 30 minutes. Pulled from The Cat Guide’s 2017 online article, “Cats and Catnip,” by Sean Green, “When a cat smells catnip, Nepetalactone, one of catnip’s volatile oils, enters the cat’s nasal tissue, where it is believed to bind to protein receptors that stimulate sensory neurons. Then, these cells will provoke a reaction in neurons in the cat’s olfactory bulb, which project to the amygdala and other regions of the brain. These cells also stimulate response from the brain’s hypothalamus, which helps in regulating feelings such as emotions and hunger. The amygdala then combines the flow of information from the olfactory bulb cells and sends it to the brain regions governing the cat’s behavior responses. On the other hand, the hypothalamus regulates neuroendocrine responses of the cat’s brain and body via the pituitary gland – thus creating what it seems to be a “sexual response” in cats.” In laymen’s term’s or as your cat thinks the “lame human’s terms,” your cat is blissfully turned on! If your cat decides to nibble on the nip instead of smelling it, you’ll get more of a Bob Marley effect. Eating catnip puts your cat in a more mellow irie state (mon).

Thanks for traveling the cat’s brain with us. We’re all safe for now, knowing that they’re not plotting against us every night… Or are they?!


Inside the Canine Cranium

Here at the PAWS office, we have dogs on the brain. In order for humans to excel at being dog parents we need to understand how our dog’s brains operate. Let’s explore the canine cranium!

First question, do dogs think? Dr. Jill Sackman, a clinician in behavioral medicine and senior medical director of BluePearl Veterinary Partners’ Michigan hospitals says, “Absolutely.” Dog cognition is similar to a three-year-old human, so there is some accuracy to the infamous bumper sticker, my dog is smarter than your honor student, as long as that honor student is in preschool.

Got a pup that likes to give you the cold shoulder? Do you ever wonder, does my dog even like me? Animal Cognition scientists at Emory University trained dogs to be still in an MRI machine and they measured a dog’s neural responses to different types of smells. Dogs navigate through their noses and the way they process smell offers insight into behavior. First of all, who’s a good boy!? Many of our dogs won’t stay still for more than a minute. Secondly, what did they find out? The scientists discovered that a dog owner’s scent actually sparked the most activation in the “reward center” of dog brains. Of all the smells to take in, dogs prioritized the smell of their humans over anything or anyone else. Fido prefers L’eau de YOU the most!

A Mutt’s Memory Lane
Fact, dogs do remember. Dogs who have gone through obedience training know and remember commands and hand signals. Dogs remember friend’s houses and routines. Do you always give your dog a treat after a walk? You’ll see that when you return home they’ll sit and wait for what comes next. But do dogs store memories in their brain like humans do? The short answer is no. Dogs have an associative memory which means dogs remember people, places, and experiences based on associations they have with them. They remember that you putting on shoes means WALK! But they won’t remember what the weather was like last time they walked. Have a pup that gets uneasy and scared in the waiting room at the vet? If they’ve had a negative experience, they won’t be able to remember what scared them, but they will associate the waiting room with fear.
Ever notice that your dog’s reaction to seeing you after being gone for an hour is similar to when you’ve been gone for a week? Dogs do remember people. But research shows that they don’t remember the last time they saw a particular person – they forget events within two minutes.

The Emotional Hound
Dogs are sensitive creatures, some more than others, just like people. A 2017 article in Psychology Today, says there is solid evidence from brain imaging studies that shows areas of dogs’ brains light up when they feel emotions that parallel those of humans. This means your pup feels similarly to how you feel when experiencing different emotions. While dogs have the same hormones and undergo the same chemical changes as humans when experiencing emotions, their range of emotions is different than ours. Because researchers have decided that a dog’s mind is roughly equivalent to that of a 3-year-old human, this decision holds true for mental abilities, including emotion. Like a toddler, dogs will have fewer kinds of emotions than an adult human. This chart shows a dog’s emotional range based on the human age emotions appear:


You may think that your dog is exhibiting shame when you put him in a silly costume, but actually its disgust. Sorry Pooch!


We hope you learned a little something about our tail wagger’s inner workings! We’ll be back in touch with a breakdown of the feline intellect soon.