ASPCA teams up with Dayna Isom Johnson to create “Real-Life Room”

Louisa County native Dayna Isom Johnson, a fashion maven who works on the NBC show “Making It,” stocks shelves in a calming room for dogs in New York City. She came up with the idea to help dogs with behavioral issues to have a place to relax and play


Just in time for the holidays, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has unveiled its newly redesigned “real-life room” for dogs at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City. The new room was designed in collaboration with Dayna Isom Johnson, a Louisa County native and trend expert for Etsy, Inc. and judge on the Emmy-nominated, NBC primetime series “Making It,” who decorated the room to benefit dogs preparing for life in an adoptive home. 

The space provides dogs with a break from some of the stresses commonly encountered in a shelter setting while also allowing them to learn valuable skills that will set them up for success in a home.

“Many of the animals we support at the ASPCA Adoption Center require an individualized approach to help them blossom into someone’s perfect pet. These are animals who may otherwise be overlooked due to their medical or behavioral challenges,” said Rachel Maso, director of animal behavior at the ASPCA Adoption Center. “This room provides enrichment that would not be possible in a traditional shelter setting while allowing our staff and volunteers to learn about each dog and teach them new skills along the way.”

Designed to resemble a home environment, the real-life room at the ASPCA Adoption Center provides dogs with the opportunity to decompress while in the shelter and a quiet retreat where they can practice essential skills. To enhance the experience for dogs, the walls are painted a soothing blue, one of two colors that dogs can discern, and the space includes details such as a camera to monitor dogs being treated for separation anxiety, frosted windows to provide privacy from other animals, a washable rug, and storage for training tools. Additional elements include the ability to play relaxing music, a multifunctional crate that acts as a cozy den and illustrations on the walls celebrating former ASPCA dogs who have been adopted into loving homes.

“My dog was adopted after having a difficult start to life, so collaborating with the ASPCA Adoption Center was an exciting way to benefit other dogs in need—all while taking inspiration from design trends that are enjoyed by pets and people alike,” said Isom Johnson. “The ASPCA provides incredible support for animals who may often be overlooked, and it was only natural to work together to bring the simple joys that a cozy space can provide to dogs who are still learning their way around experiences they may encounter in the home.”

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