A Wolf Called Romeo

wolf called romeo

Just a quick note: I was lucky enough to get a pre-pub copy of a book titled A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans and can't recommend it highly enough. I  just heard that it is now officially out, and I suggest that you drop what you are doing and order it right now. It's about a wolf who appeared one day outside of Juneau, and began a six-year odyssey of relationships with local dogs, curious onlookers, the predictable wolf haters and those who understood enough biology to be both riveted and worried about what might eventually happen. Nick Jans was one of the first people to spot the wolf; that's his dog on the cover, during the wolf and dog's first meeting when Jans was sure his dog was about to die. Instead, Romeo began a unique and compelling relationship with local dogs, Read More

New Thoughts about Barking

maggie barking

Have you seen the stage play, Sylvia, in which a man brings a stray dog home from the park and adopts it? The dog is always played by a woman, who often barks at appropriate (and inappropriate) moments. Except, as a person playing a dog, she doesn't say BARRR RARRR or WOOF. She says HEY! HEY! HEYHEYHEY!!! I saw the play with a girlfriend, another dog lover, and we both thought that "Hey!" was a brilliant translation of dog barks. Not to mention being hysterically funny. Every time we saw each other for months we'd bark HEY! HEY! HEY! at each other. And crack up like school girls. But what are dogs "saying" when they bark?  We don't know, but there are two primary hypotheses about what is going on when they do. 1) Barks are examples of "referential communication," in that each bark Read More

Holiday Weekend Fun

W-M tug Beechwood

True confessions: I'm just back to work, after a lovely holiday weekend with Jim, Maggie and Willie. (Tootsie got to stay home with a farm sitter and be Dog #1 all weekend. I suspect she loved it.) No time then to do research on this week's blog, but here's a scrap book of some of our fun: We stayed at a dear friend's cabin in the woods about 2 hours away from the farm. Here's our favorite road sign of the trip: I will leave it to your imagination to imagine the jokes that ensued. We did find ourselves needing to stop at a gas station soon after seeing the signs though... Maggie and Willie loved where we stayed. Forty acres of Maple-Birch-Beechwood woods, great hiking trails and our very own pond with water lilies, a resident Kingfisher, and Bullfrogs whose croaking sounded so Read More

Is “Territorial Aggression” a Useful Term?


A few years ago some CAAB colleagues and I got into a discussion with some veterinary behaviorists about who could use the term "diagnosis" in regard to canine behavioral problems. The vet behaviorists argued that "diagnosis" was a medical term and could only be used by medical professionals. Mentioning that auto mechanics use the term all the time when figuring out what is wrong with a car seemed to have no effect. Although I found the vet's arguments illogical, I don't use the term myself, (I use "evaluation") so if those individuals feel a need to scent mark on a particular word, then I'll leave them to it. However, it did bring up the point that words matter. And reminded me that I do have a problem with one popular "diagnosis" — "territorial aggression." According to the chapter Read More

It’s All About SPARCS

W and M play 6-16-14

I'm in one of those work tunnels. You know the kind. You give up on cooking and forget about doing laundry, because you are enmeshed, entangled, and submerged by something you are working on. The good news is that the work is exciting, fun and engaging. I'm giving two talks at SPARCS, or the Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science, and it's all I really want to be doing right now. And it's all that I feel like I can be doing, because I want these talks not just to be interesting, but to be intellectually stimulating. Okay, and great. Or at least, really, really good. SPARCS's mission statement says: "SPARCS was created as a platform where modern animal behavior science can be presented, discussed, and debated by the greatest minds in canine science."  You can Read More