Missing the Sense, Scent of the Missing

mom with stuffed A's

Part of the fun of preparing for the seminar I did in Orlando was working on the canine olfaction section. The overall topic of the day was Canine Communication (often compared to primates like us), and most discussions in this vein emphasize visual communication. That's all well and good, I'm a visual signal groupie from way back, but I loved beginning the day talking about scent, and imagining what it would be like to be able to use one's nose like a dog. We all know, intellectually anyway, how important smell is to dogs, but because we tend to be so oblivious to it, it is hard for us to imagine (Example of our obliviousness: What's the common word used to described people who can't smell?  Yup, there isn't one.) Hard to imagine what it's like to be a dog (okay, impossible), but here Read More

Therapy Dogs – Born or Made?

sunrise 1-12

As many of you know I recently presented a seminar on animal assisted therapy in Naples Florida. (Yes, it'll be out as a DVD later this winter. Happy Dance!) One of the motivations for doing the seminar was the number of clients I had who wanted me to help them prepare their dog for therapy work. Sometimes it was like swimming downstream on a warm, cozy river. Their dog was a perfect fit and ended up doing wonderful work in the community. Other times... well,  it was reminiscent of trying to paddle up a cold, frothy waterfall. The fact is, therapy work can be hard work, and it takes a special kind of dog to be both good at it and to enjoy it. The directors of AAA and AAT (AAActivities and AATherapy) will tell you that one of their greatest challenges is working with people who want to Read More

Cotton Top Tamarins-The World’s Cutest Monkey

CTs from lab

Well, they're not dogs. Or cats. Or domestic animals of any kind. But I spent two years working with Cotton Top Tamarins and hearing my university BFF describe how she is continuing her work with them was one of the highlights of my trip to Florida. Anne Savage, Senior Conservation Biologist at Disney World, has been studying Cotton Top Tamarins in the wild since graduate school at UW-Madison. She and I worked together with the squirrel-sized monkeys in the lab of Charles Snowdon, who did non-intrusive behavioral research on their vocalizations and reproductive behavior. The lab was committed to letting them live in family groups (rare at the time) in enriched environments (also rare at the time) and Anne and I spent many a night planning how to improve their environment, help young Read More

Tree of Life

tree of life

Home Sweet Home!! Florida was great is so many ways (thank you everyone!), but I have to admit I am sooo happy to be home. Willie and Tootsie are great, Sushi and the sheep too, the snow (finally!) didn't delay our planes and it is heaven to be back in Wisconsin. I'm planning on 2 blogs next week on 1) the results of our survey in Orlando about the emotional state of the dog in Michelle Wan's video and 2) what kind of dog is most qualified to do AAA and AAT work. And then there's so much I want to talk about from Kathy  Sdao's seminar on Sunday on Orlando... And then there's talking about my BFF from graduate school, Disney World's Sr Conservation Biologist Anne Savage, who is doing kick ass research/economic enrichment in Columbia as well as other places... so many topics, so little Read More

It’s the Little Things (Beh’l Regressions Part 2)

willie and elephant

Earlier I wrote about Willie's extreme and fearful reaction to a visiting man about a month ago, speculated about its causes and discussed how to respond. Here's an update, and a few things I that might be helpful for anyone dealing with a behavior problem. The good news (yeah good news) is that Willie is doing much, much better. He's responded well to the last 5 unfamiliar men he's met, running up to them immediately, getting close, asking for petting. There are no overt signs of fear anymore, (but keep reading), which makes me very happy. To quickly review, I've changed his diet back to avoid chicken and lamb, put his Hobbles back on when meeting strangers, gotten him acupuncture, and managed his interactions with unfamiliar men, such that he met them first outside or in the office Read More