Who is Man’s Best Friend?

Man’s Best Friend – Dog Or Cat? – Can History Tell?

Usually the answer to this question is, it depends. There seem to be people who clearly define themselves as “cat” people and others who are self-proclaimed “dog” people. But the love of animals goes well beyond this particular two-way debate.

When it comes to dogs and cats, those siding with either of them come with distinctive opinions as to why their viewpoint is best. Personally, I am the proud pet parent of both a dog and a cat, so I can easily see each side of this well-discussed coin.

Cats can be aloof at times, but they still demand our immediate attention and are extremely affectionate, cute little critters. Felines have even been known to suffer from anxiety and unusual animal-related stress disorder when they are aware from their people. Dog lovers will argue their four-legged best friends are always overjoyed to see them regardless of the circumstance, citing instances of separation anxiety, when canines simply can’t be away from their owners for extended periods of time.

Both species of these cuddly critters capture our hearts with their undying love and affection. So let’s take a look at some examples of of love and devotion from cats and canines throughout the ages to see if we can determine who the winner might be in the “Man’s Best Friend” category:


Historically Speaking

Scientists report dogs as human companions dating back to the ages of cavemen, finding bones of them laying beside their masters and evidence of them being fed scraps. History also reveals that ancient egyptians worshipped and adored cats as gods. Although the timeline may be fuzzy on this concept, canines will win from a purely anthropological point of view as being the first domesticated.

But can the award of “Man’s Best Friend” be bestowed on one species purely from a time-based argument? Look at the differences between the two…canines were being thrown bones, while felines were exalted as divine gods and deities in the ancient Egyptian culture. The discussion continues and evolves throughout history.


The Lengths That They Will Go…

We’ve all heard stories about the distances some pets have travelled to be reunited with their beloved masters, but there are also some ancient tales where animals have done the extraordinary to stay with their owners, even beyond life itself.

There’s an ancient myth about a dog named Waghya, that couldn’t bear to watch his deceased master go up in flames during a traditional Indian burial ceremony. According to the legend, the dog leapt into the fires to be with his beloved companion. Less dramatic, but still endearing, if you were to research dogs laying on their master’s graves after their human’s departure, you’ll find volumes of these examples. On the other hand, Egyptian cats were mummified along with their owners to join them in the afterlife, according to ancient custom. Alternatively, if you do an online search for the most loyal cats after death, and you’ll likely only find breeds who stick by their master’s side during the life of their owner, and not after their demise.

Regardless of these myths and documented truths, our pets are our loyal companions. Whether a person has a cat or dog (or both), he has made an unbreakable bond with his loving pet, and there really is no room for debate. There’s a true connection we make with our four-legged friends whether they’re a fluffy feline or a doting dog, we can all safely agree that they’re all man – and woman’s – best friends for life

Written by Sloan McKinney

Celebrate Dogs in October

October is truly all about dogs. Two great initiatives are featured in the month of October to help raise awareness about the plight of homeless dogs.

Adopt-a-Dog Month

In 1981 the American Humane Association established an annual event to encourage people to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue organization. Each year, millions of dogs end up homeless and waiting in shelters for a hero to come and rescue them. For far, far too many of them, a hero never comes, and they are tragically euthanized.

There are many ways you can be a hero for animals in need during Adopt-a-Dog month, including these:

Adopt from a shelter or rescue group

Open your heart to a new best friend found at your local shelter. There is no reason to buy a dog from a pet store when millions of adoptable dogs are waiting for forever homes in a shelter nearby.

Spay or neuter your dog

Altering your dog prevents the possibility of unexpected and unwanted puppies that contribute to the burden of animal overpopulation. Spayed and neutered animals also may lead longer, healthier lives with fewer of certain behavioral problems exhibited by animals who have not been spayed or neutered.

ID your pet

Only 15-20 percent of lost dogs that enter a shelter find their way home. Make sure your dog is one of the fortunate few by outfitting him with proper identification in the form of I.D. tags or a microchip.

Support your local shelter 

Donating time, money or supplies to your local shelter can demonstrate how much you care.  DAWS even gives you a chance to show your support by sponsoring a dog (or cat) to make your monetary donation even more personal.

Pit Bull Awareness Month and National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NAPD)

In 2007, Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys pit bull rescue and education group established National Pit Bull Awareness Day. The goal was to provide awareness and education aimed at changing the negative and inaccurate perceptions and stereotypes about pit bulls and their responsible owners. NPBAD is an initiative dedicated to helping restore the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier by helping to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities where pit bulls and their owners live. The last Saturday of every October is designated as NPAD. This year, it will be celebrated on October 28th.

In 2011, NPAD was expanded to create National Pit Bull Awareness Month. Extending the celebration to the entire month of October means there is a greater opportunity for shelters, breed clubs, and rescue organizations to spotlight the breed through a variety of means, including adoptions, educational, and responsible ownership events. Learn more about this National campaign.

DAWS continues to work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of dogs (and cats) in need. We have already found homes for more than 280 dogs this year and hope to find homes for many more before the year is over. Celebrate Adopt-a-dog month with us. Come find your next canine company at DAWS today. 

Pet Spotlight: Meet Daisy Mae

Daisy Mae is a sweet and energetic girl who is looking for her forever home. She loves to meet new people and is eager to greet them with a wiggly butt and a warm embrace. She also loves to play in the yard with her doggie friends. She is great at understanding how her playmates want to play, and adjusts her level of energy to ensure that everyone has a good time. Daisy Mae is learning her manners and is receptive to learning what her handlers teach her. She will make a great companion for a family who will give her the opportunity to play and have fun and will continue to help her learn new things.

Your Dog’s Nose Knows

Your dog’s nose is more than just a cute little button at the end of his adorable little face. His nose is an amazing part of his anatomy that serves two functions—respiration and smell. While most people know that dogs have a superior sense of smell, not everyone knows just how those cute little buttons at the end of their faces have adapted over time to function much better than ours.

A dog’s nose separates the air that goes into it into two portions. One portion is dedicated to breathing, while the other portion is sent directly to the olfactory sensing area. This area has up to 300 million receptors compared to the approximately six million sensors that we humans have. Not only do dogs have far more olfactory receptors, the portion of the brain responsible for processing smells takes up many times more relative brain area in dogs than in humans. All of this means that dogs can separate and remember a staggering variety of specific scents at concentrations 100 million times smaller than what our noses can detect. That equates to a dog being able to smell 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water.

Dogs inhale through their nostrils and exhale through slits at the side of the nose. Their noses are designed so that air can move in and out at the same time, creating a continuous circulation of air. As they breathe in and out, they are also smelling in stereo. Each nostril picks up different scent profiles which allows them to determine from where the scent is coming. Within the first few moments of sniffing, a dog becomes aware of not just what kind of things are around them but also where they’re located.

In addition to being able to smell substances in their surroundings, dogs have a second scent receptor in their nose that’s dedicated solely to sniffing out pheromones. This makes it possible for your dog to identify potential mates, differentiate between friendly animals and potential predators or enemies, recognize the emotional states of their human companions, and even notice when someone is getting sick or is pregnant.

With such an amazing sense of smell, it is easy to understand why your dog spends so much time lingering on so many spots on his walk. While it might be tempting to hurry him along, pulling your dog away from smell-rich environments may actually cause his sense of smell to diminish, and with a nose as sophisticated as him, that would simply be unfair.




Happy Tails: Puppy Leo (Ranger)

How can you resist that cute little face? Puppy Leo, now named Ranger, is doing fabulously in his new home. His family is happy to report that they are head over heels in love with him, and that he brings them immeasurable amounts of happiness and joy. We are thrilled to have been able to make a perfect match for this adorable puppy and a loving family.

DAWS Honors Lynne Persan at the 2017 Fall for Animals Ball

Danbury Animal Welfare Society’s Board of Directors was thrilled to honor Lynne Persan as the 2017 Fall for Animals Ball Honoree. At the gala fundraising event held on September 30, Lynne was recognized for her vision and for her commitment to making a difference in the lives of animals.

DAWS continues to save and rehome hundreds of adorable, adoptable dogs and cats each year. We help control animal over-population by spaying and neutering hundreds of animals. We provide outstanding medical care to animals in our Clinic. We do all of this in a building that is nearly 50 years old and in need of significant repair.

We also like to dream big. We dream, about dog kennels that we don’t have to keep from freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer; about drainage that goes down, instead of up; about cat cages that allow visitors to interact with their next furry family member, and about a facility that allows visitors to learn about our animals and our mission.

Every dream needs a vision, and every vision needs a visionary. Lynne Persan from Building Designs, LLC, is our visionary. Lynne has been providing comprehensive architectural services from concept to completion for about 18 years in the Fairfield and Westchester County areas. Her services entail everything from designing completely new residential or commercial projects of any size to remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or even simply decorating an existing space. Lynne was a dog-program volunteer over ten years ago. At that time, she could see that our space was not ideally suited to our needs; so, she created a vision for our future. She envisioned a bright, airy building with ample room to house dogs in their own runs. She envisioned cats interacting with would-be family members in cozy spaces created just for them. She envisioned a floor plan that would allow easy flow from one area of the building to another, giving us needed storage, and a Clinic that is street-accessible to our clients. She kept her vision alive, and in 2018 we will be working toward making her vision a reality.

In addition to her work in design, Lynne operates her own animal rescue organization called Road Dawgs. Using a converted 16-foot trailer that can accommodate 40 dogs comfortably, Road Dawgs drives to Corpus Christi, TX to save dogs from shelters in the area. Over the last ten years, Road Dawgs has transported over 1000 dogs to shelters in our area, giving them a chance for a new life.

We are proud to have honored Lynne for her work in animal welfare at this year’s Ball, and we look forward to seeing her vision for a newly remodeled shelter come to life in the very near future.



Happy Tails: Precious and Socks

We featured, you listened!

We are very happy to report that last month’s featured felines, Precious and Socks, found their new forever home. This bonded pair had been together all of their lives and we needed to find them a family that was willing to take them home together. We knew it might take a while, but that is what we set out to do. Fortunately, shortly after their feature in the September newsletter, they met their new human soulmate and went to their new forever home. The pair quickly made themselves comfortable and have been living the good life ever since. We are so very happy for them.

Bad Human! Behaviors You Should Not Encourage in Your Dog

Most dog parents want a well-behaved dog, but sometimes pet parents unknowingly encourage naughty behaviors that can make life at home and in the community less then ideal. These behaviors can develop slowly over time, after years of going uncorrected. Sometimes a single episode of bad behavior that goes uncorrected can tell your dog that the behavior is ok, and it’s set in stone. Training is key to ensuring your pooch is minding his manners, but it’s also important to be aware of what bad behaviors you might be enabling. Dogs take their cues from their humans, and if you don’t help them understand how to behave, they’ll make those decisions on their own.

Here are a few bad behaviors that dog parents often encourage in their pets.


Dogs may like to show their unbridled affection by jumping up on you. You may think this is adorable and pat our dog and laugh in response to this action. Doing so, however, actually tells him that you like it when he hops all over you. While you may not mind this behavior, the fact is, jumping up is not a welcome behavior by everyone, and if you don’t discourage it right away, it gets harder to stop your dog from doing it in the future.

To prevent your furry friend from jumping, ignore the behavior—totally. Any attention, even scolding your dog when he leaps on you, could encourage the bad behavior. When your dog jumps up, either do nothing or turn your back on him. Wait for him to calm down, and only interact with him when all four paws are on the floor. If he jumps up again, repeat the process and turn your back until he stops.

Nipping and Biting

Puppies are nippy when they’re teething, but this generally ends within a few weeks if the appropriate steps are taken. When steps aren’t taken to curb nippy behavior in the teething stages, your dog may grow into an adult thinking it’s okay to communicate with teeth on skin. It’s not.

Curbing nippy behavior in an adult dog isn’t as easy to do as it is with a puppy, but the approach is the same for any dog at any age.  At the exact moment that your dog’s teeth touch you, let out a shrill “ouch!” and then walk away for thirty seconds. If your dog is mouthy while playing with him, mark the moment he mouths you with an “ouch,” drop the toy and walk away. The combination of the “ouch” cue and the withdrawal of your attention will soon help your dog understand that you don’t want to be used as his chew toy.


Dogs have a way of looking at you with their sad eyes and convincing you that they are starving. In that moment, it’s hard not to remember that you just fed him dinner and that breakfast is not that far away. Many pet parents can’t resist their dog’s pitiful stare and end up sharing what’s on their plate. How could you not? You love him so much! This form of generosity is kind, but in reality it sets you up for a lifetime of sharing your food with your dog.

Rather than putting yourself in a position of giving in to his begging, keep your dog focused on something else while you’re eating. Find a toy or bone that can be stuffed with treats and give it to your dog during your meal time.  Your dog can spend this time focused and occupied with his own treats. If he’s a master at extracting those treats from his toy and resorts to begging again, simply ignore him.

Leash pulling

Humans can totally be a drag! When your dog is out for a walk, he’s got things to do…he’s got to sniff the fire hydrant and pee on telephone pole and find that pesky squirrel that taunts him daily. He doesn’t have time to be slowed down by his human and he is going to do what he’s got to do to stay on task, even if that means pulling his human along behind him. Pulling is a behavior that can creep in slowly. We may unwittingly allow our dogs to pull now and then and don’t realize what that actually teaches them. Dogs can learn quickly that a tight leash means “go forward,” so a feeling of tension around their necks becomes the set point for walking.

Dogs need to learn that a loose leash is the path to forward momentum. That means you have to make sure that when he pulls, he doesn’t get to go. When your dog pulls on his leash, stop walking. It’s important to do this every single time he pulls. When he circles back to you, or even looks back at you, offer him a treat right next to your body, make him sit, give him the treat and continue walking. You can also reward your dogs with treats intermittently as he walks by your side, giving him the cue that when he’s walking next to you, he’s doing a good thing.


A dog that barks to get you to do his bidding is being bossy. When you give in to his demands, you enable his pushy behavior. While it is understandable that heeding your dog’s demands is the simplest way to get the noise to stop, reacting to demand barking teaches your dog that being obnoxious is more effective than being polite.

Your mom probably taught you to say “please” when you asked for something. Well it’s not unimaginable to think that your dog can do the same thing. Encourage a more polite behavior by having your dog sit for everything he wants. Get him to sit before you place his food bowl on the ground or toss him his favorite toy. You can even make him sit before he gets to run through the door out into the yard. Not only can you teach your dog the behavior you expect from him, you can also teach him that barking never gets him what he wants. If he barks at you while you are preparing his dinner, stop what you are doing and walk away. If he is insistent that you throw that ball right now, drop it and do something else. He’ll quickly learn that barking makes you do the opposite of what he wants.

Training your dog to be a well-behaved pooch takes time and effort. It also requires being aware of the signals we send our dogs. Recognizing our enabling behaviors is critical to ensuring good manners in our furry friends.

Mission Critical – Find Amos a Home

Amos is still on the lookout for a new family to call his own. While he waits, he is keeping up with his training and getting love and attention from his special team of people. Some of his people even donated two Silent Auction Baskets in his honor at the recent Fall for Animals Ball. The baskets offered versions Amos’ Favorite Things, a theme the team chose because they wanted to show their commitment keeping him comfortable and happy while he waits for a forever home. What are some of Amos’ favorite things, you ask? Let us tell you…

Amos loves to get training from his special team of people, especially from DAWS Head Dog Trainer, Julia Klaucke. His favorite training treats are hot dogs, which—after sitting nicely for them—he gobbles up readily. While he loves his training with Julia, he is also keen to go on hikes through the park with his people and doggie friends. When he’s not hiking, Amos also loves to go for rides in the car with his special pal, Gina. Her car is always sparkly and clean, and Amos makes it even more beautiful by adding a bit of fur to the seats and a few nose prints on the windows. His favorite destination is Burger King, where Gina treats him to a cheeseburger. He’s not allowed to eat in the car however. He has to wait until he gets back to the shelter, sit nicely, and even work on staying focused on Gina while she holds a bite of cheeseburger right next to him before he gets to eat it. It’s tough for a dog like Amos to endure such “torture,” but with his special training, he is learning how to be patient. The thing that Amos likes most, however, is getting love and pampering from his people.

Did the baskets at the Fall for Animals Ball include Burger King cheeseburgers, you ask? No. But the top bidders for the two baskets did get gift certificates to Bare Burger, Hand and Stone Spa, and Stew Leonards, among other fabulous versions of Amos’ Favorite Things.

If you’d like to be the one to shower Amos with his favorite things, he’d love to meet you. Schedule an appointment with his team, and they’ll gladly get you and Amos connected!

Pet Spotlight: Meet Julie

Julie is a one year-old Mountain Cur mix who is looking for a new home. She’s a happy and energetic dog who loves to run in the yard and play with the many toys that the volunteers bring outside for her. Her favorite toys are the squeaky kind, and she is always looking to find out exactly what makes them squeak. Julie enjoys the outdoors and is very happy when her human friends take her and her pals on long hikes in the park. She loves to walk alongside her companions and take in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. She is still learning her leash manners, and she’s learned to turn around and sit for treats when her handlers ask her to. Julie has been with us a little longer than we’d expected, and we are all anxious for her to find a family of her own. Will you open your home to Julie?