Beyond The Dog Door
Building codes and designs should also keep four-legged collegues healthy and happy.
Now that we are into the new year, it is a great time to anticipate the things we want to do differently, or better, in our lives. In this time of unpredictable human behavior, combined with the remote cyberspace that many of us work in, it is especially important to value what is good, kind, and predictable. Hopefully, we are all thankful for our family members and colleagues, which, for some of us, includes a dog. (In this author’s case, it includes six family dogs!)
In 2009 there were approximately 43,000,000 U.S. families that included at least one dog, but dogs also inhabit our working world. Healthcare providers have long recognized the therapeutic benefits of dogs. In 1859, Florence Nightingale wrote that patients should be allowed to care for dogs because it would help in their recovery. Today, service dogs assist people who struggle with physical and emotional disabilities, histories of trauma, and those in prisons. Therapy dogs are frequent visitors to hospitals and nursing homes, and sit patiently in libraries, listening to children learning to read aloud. In fact, children who have close contact with dogs have fewer ear infections needing antibiotic treatment, suggesting that dogs expose us to “healthy” bacteria which strengthen our immune systems.
Humans and dogs are the only two carnivores that have co-habitated for thousands of years, yet we use few resources to design buildings to truly accommodate these devoted animals who are voiceless about their living and working conditions. Instead of focusing on increased dog hair, muddy paw prints, and our fear of allergies, we should design dog spaces based on the surface materials, sightlines, eating arrangements, indoor rh, and temperatures that they do best with.
The Civil Rights of Dogs.In my opinion, it is the civil right of domesticated dogs to have building accessibility, comfort, and care in their homes and places of work. Here are some points that relate directly or indirectly to HVAC design, loads, maintenance, and/or building IAQ.
- Glazed fenestrations (windows). These must be constructed at an appropriate height for a dog and slanted inward to minimize glare from the sun
- Down-lighting. This must be shielded for dogs looking upward.
- Elimination of waste. Make possible within 15 minutes of need for dogs over five months old, within five minutes for younger puppies.
- Body temperature control. Have radiant heat and cooling sources, and water available for swimming if possible.
- Indoor humidity. Maintain at 40 to 70% to decrease dry mucus membranes, improve respiratory health, and decrease static electricity.
- Respect for dog sensitivity to scents. Do not allow artificial perfumes in human or dog hygiene products or cleaning solutions. A central vacuum system can reduce ambient dander, and all dogs should be treated to control ticks, fleas, or other sources of itching.
- Automobile circulation must be securely separated from canine areas.
- Do not allow accessible toxic plants and no noxious off-gassing materials.
- Heating and electrical appliances should be safely barricaded.
Dogs need building codes to accommodate their needs, emphasizing features that enhance the relationship between dogs and people and respect our intrinsic differences. ES