Photo by Sara Budisantoso

How to puppy-proof your home

Welcoming a new dog into the family can mean a lot of joy, unconditional love and adorable Instagram posts. But a big part of taking care of your fur baby is keeping the little one safe from harm. You may not realize it, but your home can hold many hidden dangers, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. These 13 precautions apply whether your dog is a mischievous pup or a full-grown adult.

And no matter what happens, just accept that there will be accidents, broken items and pet hair everywhere. When you look into your dog’s loving eyes, you’ll know it’s all worth it.

1. Dogs like to chew on things they’re not supposed to, so place tempting objects on higher shelves and cupboards. My dogs love to eat paper — mail, books, facial tissue, you name it — and I have to survey the entire home before leaving to make sure there is no paper within reach.

2. Install childproof latches on lower cabinets to prevent dogs from poking their noses into them.

3. Chewing on furniture can occur when dogs are bored or anxious. Training can go a long way in preventing this behavior, but in the meantime, you can apply some bitter spray to the furniture. These deterrent sprays are available at pet stores, or you can make your own version by searching for recipes online.

4. Use blankets and throws on sofas and chairs. They’re easier to clean than the furniture.

5. Do some research on your houseplants to see if they are toxic. You’ll be surprised at some of the plants that are poisonous for dogs — for example, ivy, aloe vera, philodendron and asparagus fern.

6. Keep toxic food out of reach. Dogs can’t eat chocolate, onions, grapes, coffee, avocados and many other common foods you have in the kitchen.

7. Childproof lids on medications are no match for a dog’s teeth. Keep all your medicine out of reach because Fido may think pills are treats.

8. If your dog likes to drink out of the toilet, keep the seat cover down at all times and avoid using automatic toilet bowl cleansers. Open toilets also are a drowning hazard for puppies. A safe bet is to keep the bathroom doors closed at all times.

9. Change open trash cans to “step on” canisters with lids to keep dogs from doing scavenger hunts through your garbage.

10. Watch out for electrical cords. If dogs chew on them, they can be electrocuted. Wrap them with cord covers and tuck them out of sight.

11. Dogs love your dirty laundry because it smells like you, but if they swallow your socks or other clothing, it can lead to serious digestive tract problems. Now you have another reason to put away your clothes. And invest in tall hampers with lids instead of using open laundry baskets that sit on the floor.

12. Drapery cords that extend to the floor can cause strangulation. Knot up excess cord so your dog doesn’t accidentally get caught in it.

13. Many dogs scratch at the door when they want to go out. Mine scratch the door when I come home and they can’t contain their excitement. To prevent scratch marks on the door, install a plastic or metal kick plate to the bottom. 

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at

Sympathy for the suffering goes to the dogs

Americans would care more about the genocide in Darfur if the victims were puppies, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof claimed in a provocative May 10 op-ed.

Is he right?

“Time and again, we’ve seen that the human conscience isn’t pricked by mass suffering, while an individual child (or puppy) in distress causes our hearts to flutter,” Kristof wrote.

He cited psychological studies that have found that people who are given a choice between helping one suffering person or helping a large number will overwhelmingly choose to help just that one.

Thirty-thousand children around the world die each day as a result of the consequences of poverty, but the American public hardly notices, according to Kristof. What really moves people is an ordeal like that of the toddler Jessica McClure, who fell into a Texas well in 1987, or Hok Get, a terrier stranded on a burned-out oil tanker in the Pacific in 2002. The public contributed some $45,000 to try to rescue the dog.

The eviction of a red-tailed hawk from its nest on a Manhattan apartment building sparked an international outcry, with actress Mary Tyler Moore and others rising up in passionate defense of the bird’s rights. Kristof’s comment: “A single homeless hawk aroused more indignation than 2 million homeless Sudanese.”

For the last several years, Kristof has done more than any other journalist to expose the Sudanese Arab militias’ massacres of blacks in Darfur. He has also been a courageous — and often lonely — voice against the failure of the United States and other governments to actively intervene against the killings.

Kristof knows that one way to change government policy is through an outraged public, but getting the American public to care about millions of nameless genocide victims in faraway Africa is no easy task. “What we need,” he proposes, “is more troubled consciences — pricked, perhaps, by a Darfur puppy with big eyes and floppy ears.”

Sadly, there is a historical precedent for Kristof’s disturbing scenario.

The Wagner-Rogers bill, which was introduced in Congress in early 1939, proposed to admit 20,000 refugee children from Nazi Germany. A number of prominent Americans, including former First Lady Grace Coolidge and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, backed the bill. But their support could not overcome the tide of public opinion, which was strongly against increasing immigration, despite the recent Kristallnacht pogrom.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to support the bill.

FDR’s cousin, Laura Delano Houghteling, who was the wife of the U.S. commissioner of immigration, articulated the sentiment of many opponents of Wagner-Rogers when she remarked at a dinner party that “20,000 charming children would all too soon grow up into 20,000 ugly adults.”

Such hateful attitudes were all too common in those days.

The following year Pets Magazine published a sympathetic photo of a British puppy, accompanied by an appeal to rescue purebreds that were endangered by the German bombing raids on England. This time, the American public’s response was swift and generous:

Several-thousand readers offered to shelter the puppies.

Our generation looks back at the defeat of Wagner-Rogers and the remark by Houghteling with shock and disapproval. We like to think that we have learned the lessons from that experience and would never again ignore mass murder.

But how will future generations judge our response to Darfur?

Los Angeles Events for Darfur

May 18

Light of HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Art Exhibit and Silent Auction. Opening reception for community Darfur Observance Day, featuring artwork incorporating Brian Steidle photo of young Darfurian siblings. 7 p.m. $20. Bradley Tower, City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles. ” target=”_blank”>

Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies,