Pet’s Life

Editorial StaffMarch 4, 2021
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From the human-animal bond and a pet photo contest to hiking and fostering, the Arizona Humane Society provides ways to connect with – and even save – our furry friends.

The Human-Animal Bond

By Dr. Steven Hansen, Arizona Humane Society President and CEO

My passion is animals; more specifically the health and welfare of companion animals and their interactions with society. It’s all about the human-animal bond. 

As a Veterinarian, my commitment to saving the lives of animals started when I was quite young, when as a teenager I witnessed the true power of the human-animal bond and the incredible potential of unconditional love. One freezing Midwestern night, my Springer Spaniel, Brandy, didn’t return after I had let her outside. Suddenly, I heard barking and bundled up to see what Brandy had gotten into now. It led me to an elderly neighbor caught in the bitter cold out by her mailbox and unable to make it back up the driveway into her home. Brandy could sense the woman was in need of help, and had she not alerted me to my neighbor in trouble I hate to think what might have happened.

Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society

I will never forget that moment or the importance of the human-animal bond and how our relationship is impacted by behaviors that are critical to both of us. This relationship includes emotional, psychological, and physical interactions between people, animals, and the environment.

Dr. Hansen with his dog, Crosby; Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Dr. Hansen with his dog, Crosby; Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society

From an environmental standpoint, the Arizona Humane Society focuses heavily on our shelter pet’s environment and the experience we provide them. In 2019, we created our Animal Experience Department to ensure that our pets’ emotional needs were being met through daily enrichment activities to keep their minds engaged. We want to provide our pets with “An Excellent Experience Every Time” we interact with them.

Those experiences, coupled with the love, nutrition and medical care we provide our pets, are then returned to us tenfold in the emotional, psychological and physical benefits of pet ownership. Pets get us off of the couch, which leads to increased activity and an improved socially distanced social life. They not only fill our hearts, but can also make our hearts stronger, help reduce stress and anxiety, and give us extra meaning and purpose at a time when loneliness and social isolation has been at an all-time high during this pandemic. In fact, according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 81 percent of pet owners now feel closer to their pets due to the pandemic.

Dr. Hansen’s childhood dog, Brandy; Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Dr. Hansen’s childhood dog, Brandy; Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society

I highly encourage everyone to have at least one pet. At such an uncertain time in the world, they provide us with one constant: unconditional love.

Did You Know?
The Arizona Humane Society offers Private In-Home Lessons, as well as Virtual Pet Training Lessons. To learn more about AHS’ pet training and behavior options or to schedule a lesson, visit

Help Your Puppy Become a Social Butterfly, While Social Distancing

By Jenny Dagnino, Arizona Humane Society Behavior and Pet Training Manager

During a time when social distancing and working from home have become a way of life due to COVID-19, our pets are helping to fill a void. Animal welfare organizations across the country saw an influx in pet fostering and adoptions and many people added new puppies to their families. Socialization during a puppy’s first few months can help them develop coping skills for situations they might encounter throughout their life, so it’s important to build a good foundation. Here are some socialization games that can be played at home, or at a distance. Just be sure to have some tasty bite-size treats on hand.

New & Cool

Introduce your pet to safe household objects or appliances, like the vacuum, or oddly shaped items such as an open umbrella, by placing it on the floor and walking away from it. This allows your pup to approach and investigate it on their own. Toss treats on the floor near your puppy as they approach or sniff the item to reward them for their courage.

Happy Feet

Place some interesting materials on the floor to get your puppy used to walking on different surfaces. Make a treat-covered trail over cardboard, metal baking trays, wood, or pillows.

Go Undercover

Put on different hats and sunglasses or pull on your biggest jacket and other items that you don’t typically wear. While “undercover” offer treats or some playtime with your puppy’s favorite toy to help get them acclimated.

Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society

Become People-Watching Experts

Use the view from your window, front yard, park bench or hiking trail for some people-watching and reward your pup with treats for taking it all in from a distance.

Did You Hear That?!

Get your puppy used to different sounds and noises by playing recordings of thunderstorms and fireworks at a very low volume while playing with toys or calmly petting your puppy and giving treats.

All puppies are different, so be patient if your puppy reacts to some of these things with caution. If this happens, reward the small steps and always allow your pup to go at their own pace and make the choice to investigate.

2021 Pet photo contest winners:

Dog category

Kristy Nicole
Fashionista Fetch Monster

Cat category

James Buchanan Barnes
Barnes showing his handsome self.

Other category

Mr. Binks
Binks always poses for the camera. No matter what he’s doing, he’ll stop and wait for the pic!

6 Things I Learned from Fostering a Homeless Pet

By Kelsey Dickerson, Arizona Humane Society Foster Hero & Pets on Parade Host

Have you ever thought to yourself, “There is no way I could ever foster a homeless pet. I’ll get too attached”? I used to think that, and then I heard their incredible stories of survival. It became clear just how much goes into saving 15,000 of the Valley’s most vulnerable pets. Not only do AHS’ Foster Heroes make it possible, but we all have the opportunity to make an impact.

Here is what I learned in my experience as an AHS Foster Hero.

Lifesaving x 2!

When fostering a pet, you are not just saving the life of the pet – you temporarily take in, but are also freeing up space to ensure another homeless pet with nowhere else to go will get the medical care they need.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

From fostering tiny kittens with little colds to dogs with broken legs, there are a variety of cases to choose from that fit all living situations and schedules. Additionally, you can also sign up to help foster an owned pet whose owners are experiencing hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every Day is Transformation Tuesday

Watching a pet go from completely down-and-out to healthy and thriving right before your eyes is one of the greatest feelings there is. While the physical transformations amaze, seeing a pet learn to trust and love others opens a part of your heart you might not have known was even there.

Just Add Love

Caring for the Valley’s homeless pets is not without significant costs, but as an AHS Foster Hero, everything from medical care to supplies is provided to you at no cost. AHS’ foster and medical teams will support you every step of the way.

Commitment Issues?

Is adopting a pet too much of a commitment? Fostering is the best way to help a homeless pet without a long-term commitment.

It’s OK to Be a Failure… a Foster Failure!

As a Foster Hero, you have the first chance to adopt the pet(s) you foster or find a home for them. So if that special friend wraps you around their paw so tightly you know you cannot let go, proudly join me in the foster failure club!

Did You Know?
AHS’ Foster Hero Program is one of the largest in the country, and last year AHS Foster Heroes helped care for 4,423 pets! Join AHS’ Foster Hero team today –!


Before Foster

After Foster

Hiking Petiquette & Safety

By Dr. Melissa Thompson, Arizona Humane Society Vice President of Medical Operations

Arizona is home to thousands of hiking trails, but doing your research ahead of time for pet-friendly hikes can save you and your furry friend from trouble on the trail.

Fit Fido or Couch Potato?

Be sure to choose a hike that is appropriate for your pet’s fitness level. Certain breeds, such as brachycephalic or short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs, may not do as well on hikes as some of our working dog breeds like Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds. Regardless of breed, extremely young or older dogs and those with health issues may also have difficulty on certain trails.

Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images

Hydration station

Never underestimate the amount of water you might need during your hike. This not only includes water for you, but plenty of water for your dog as well – and don’t forget the portable water dish. While you may encounter water on your hike, be careful of water sources that might be contaminated with bacteria or parasites. Depending on the length of the hike, you will also want to bring treats or small amounts of food for your dog to keep their energy level up.

Weather Warning

Pets don’t sweat like humans and can only cool themselves down through panting. In the summer months, it is imperative that pet owners adjust their outdoor activities with their pets accordingly. Additionally, keep in mind that hiking in 100+ degree weather is banned on Phoenix hiking trails. NEVER leave a pet unattended in a hot car.

Man’s Best Friend

Don’t assume that everyone is a dog lover. (Whaaaat?!) Keep dogs on short leashes and always within eye- and earshot when hiking. Make sure that they are properly socialized and obedient as well.

Pack out the Poo

Arm yourself with plenty of poop bags and always pick up and pack out filled poop bags.

Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images

Have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By researching trails ahead of time, you can be more aware of the dangers or wildlife threats you may encounter, as well as the various ecosystems. Additionally, always yield to other hikers and bikers.

Pet Packing List

Other items to consider packing include booties, a pet first-aid kit and carrying harnesses should your dog get injured and require carrying. Last, but not least, always ensure your pets are up-to-date on their vaccines.

Did You Know?
The Arizona Humane Society’s Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital™ cares for nearly 11,000 homeless pets each year.

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