04/26/2010 at 10:00 AM EDT
Michele McGuire, a pilot living in Maryland, often takes to the friendly skies
with her pooch, Cooper. The Lab mix loves being airborne
, and eagerly leaps into his owner's four-seater Cessna Skyhawk. But all this traveling got McGuire thinking: She wouldn't fly without her aviation headset, which allows her to communicate with passengers and ground crew and also protects her hearing from dangerous noise. So what about her dog?
Long-term pilots often suffer from hearing loss or ringing ears. If the noise level in a small aircraft is high for a human, "you just know it has to be painful for a dog," McGuire tells PEOPLEPets.com. "You cannot in good conscience put your dog in that noise."
McGuire couldn't find any kind of protective device for dogs. So she asked a friend – a retired engineer who is also a pilot – for help in making something. "I thought he wouldn't laugh at me too bad," she explains.
He did laugh, but he also helped her create decibel-defying doggie earmuffs with the proper curvature for a canine skull, called Mutt Muffs. They aren't just for canine aviators, says McGuire, but for police dogs, hunting dogs, service dogs, dogs attending loud sporting events – even dogs fearful of fireworks or thunder.
McGuire had only to look to her own pup to see the difference protection makes. Cooper, who would huddle in a ball to comfort himself on the plane, now happily gazes out the window. (Other dogs, assaulted by noise, seem to sleep.) Of course, at first a dog will usually paw the muffs off. But on the second try, the dog, realizing the muffs mute the unpleasant noise, will keep them on. "That is all the doggy evidence required," she says.
Available in five sizes, Mutt Muffs ($52-$65, at safeandsoundpets.com
and the earplugstore.com
) come in standard gray, but can be customized with color because, as McGuire says, sometimes "you just gotta have pink."See more innovative pet products on PEOPLEPets.com:REVIEW: Hugx Pet Bowl Gives Your Pets Manners at MealtimeREVIEW: ModKat Litter Box Keeps the Little Pieces in Place