ASPCA Adoption Center Unveils New “Real-Life Room” for Dogs in Collaboration with Celebrity Designer Dayna Isom Johnson

December 15, 2021

Just in time for the holidays, we have unveiled a 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 trend expert and judge on the 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.

Dayna Isom Johnson puts some finishing touches on the real-life room and spends some time with a current ASPCA adoptable pup.

“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 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. We are grateful to Dayna and her creative vision for revamping our real-life room to benefit vulnerable dogs this holiday season and into the future.”

Above: Before the redesign.
Below: After Dayna worked her magic!

Designed to resemble a home environment, the real-life room 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 Dayna. “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.”

Thousands of homeless animals across the country and in New York City require specialized care, and in some cases, continued support after they have been adopted, due to their medical or behavioral needs. Many of the animals who find homes through our Adoption Center in New York City are learning to trust again after enduring cruelty and neglect—which has prevented them from enjoying even the most basic comforts and experiences—or are often passed over by adopters and may spend more time in the shelter. 

We focus on assisting these vulnerable animals and support our longstanding partner Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) by welcoming animals who require additional resources to alleviate pressure on their shelter operations. The new real-life room will be an essential step for the many dogs helped by us on their journeys in New York City. We are so thankful to Dayna for making this new space come to life to further help the animals we serve!

We encourage everyone to keep an open mind when adopting, as each animal is seeking the right match for their unique personality, and you may go home with a dog you hadn’t previously considered. If you’re interested in adoption and want to learn more, you can meet our available dogs in New York City or North Carolina or find a shelter or rescue near you