When art critic Jessica Dawson took her rescue dog Rocky with her to galleries and exhibits in New York City, she noticed he had definite likes and dislikes. He lingered over some pieces and quickly sniffed and walked away from others.

The little pup wasn't swayed by art reviews or critical opinion and definitely went with his gut instincts, Dawson says. Realizing people can learn from their honest pets, Dawson decided to create an art show just for them. She unveiled Dogumenta, the first art exhibition in the U.S. made exclusively for dogs.

Jessica Dawson and Dogmenta curator, Rocky Jessica Dawson carries curator Rocky around his show. (Photo by Shane Drummond, courtesy of Arts Brookfield, Dogumenta at Brookfield Place)

The free exhibition features 10 works of art, all available for up-close and personal exploration by canine visitors. There are displays that are meant to be splashed in, eaten and even peed on. In Paul Vinet's "Fountain," below, the pigment on the minimalist sculpture changes as dogs mark it. The artist says it's this way so it becomes a collaborative, participatory artwork.

a pup is part of this interactive artwork at Dogumenta A pup is part of this interactive artwork. (Photo by Shane Drummond, courtesy of Arts Brookfield, Dogumenta at Brookfield Place)

The event is Aug. 11-13 with tickets being sold for specific admission times, so there aren't too many dogs exploring the exhibit at once. That way there will be no arguments over who gets to climb on the sofa, like "The Conclave" from Graham Caldwell. Here, dogs are allowed to interact with human furniture "on their own terms."

dog explores furniture at dog art show A visitor explores the paws-on-exhibit. (Photo by Shane Drummond, courtesy of Arts Brookfield, Dogumenta at Brookfield Place)

Dana Sherwood's "Confections of Canines and Kings" are elaborate edible creations that dogs are allowed to nibble ... or maybe not. The artist says, "The work addresses issues of control between canine and owner — will the owner allow the dog to eat the artwork or not?"

dog eats edible art A curious dog samples the exhibit. (Photo by Shane Drummond, courtesy of Arts Brookfield, Dogumenta at Brookfield Place)

Pups are encouraged to walk on a moon-like surface and even wade into a pool to cool off in Eleanna Anagnos' "Penumbra Oasis." (Though if the photo below is any indication, some dogs aren't totally convinced.)

dog and owner eye water exhibit at Dogumenta art show A curious pooch eyes an exhibit. (Photo by Shane Drummond, courtesy of Arts Brookfield, Dogumenta at Brookfield Place)

For people without pets, there will be shelter dogs on hand that need human friends to help them explore the exhibit. And who knows? Maybe they'll bond over art appreciation and go home together.

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.