We live in the lightning capital of the country and where there's lightning, there's thunder. That can mean major meltdowns for dogs.
That's why a new company hopes to build the calm during the storm at a new South Florida facility. Because the dog-days of summer can be anything but for a dog scared of the wild weather the season brings.
The creators of the ZenCrate shows off what they call the first ever "smart" anti-anxiety dog crate.
The inspiration for this noise-muting, "smart crate" is Charger, a beautiful, laid back, yellow lab you'd never guess got skittish. He was head of his class to become a seeing eye dog until he was derailed by a fear of thunder and adopted as a pet by his trainer, Jonathan Azevedo.
"He or she can walk in. The sensor knows the dog is now present and automatically turns all on the remedies- ventilation, soothing music," Azevedo said. "My heart just broke seeing how much anxiety he had. He physically was shaking in the corner, panting, drooling."
From Thundershirts and Storm Defender capes, to Mutt Muffs, herbal chewies and pheromone collars, even anti-anxiety drugs - there are certainly cheaper options than the $500 ZenCrate.
But none of those worked for Charger, so his owner assembled a team and they used their robotics engineering backgrounds to design a "den," with soothing elements activated by the dog itself.
They call the computer panel on the top of the crate the "zen brain" - the smarts of the smart crate. The smarts include a sensor, as cofounder Chris Lightcap demonstrates.
"So if we put it into auto mode, it uses proximity sensors," he described. "Put your hand under. See the blue light turn on?"
The motion sensors activate a speaker which plays soothing music the inventors say comforts dogs. They're working with researchers to find music that soothes specific breeds. And crate owners will be able to get music updates sent right to the crate.
Remember, you always want to consult with your veterinarian about how to treat your dog's anxiety.
The crate has a camera and WiFi connectivity so owners can get live updates.
"You get an email your dog is in the ZenCrate. He's chilling out, zenning out in the ZenCrate and he's comfortable," Lightcap says.
If the crate doesn't cure your dog's anxiety you can't return it, because of what the makers call the personal nature of the crate. But it seems like a $500 gamble concerned pet owners will be willing to take. They're already cranking out 30 crates a day to catch up to 700 pre orders made before the product was even ready.
"It really took us by storm," Azevedo says, with Charger leading the way through their factory. "That's why we are working around the clock, the lights are on almost 18 hours a day, seven days a week."
For more information about ZenCrate, visit https://zendogcrate.com/.