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Woman’s Best Friend

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Compared to many other species, dogs as a whole are relatively privileged. Most of us don’t eat them, nor do we specifically breed them to be eaten. They are more likely to receive vet care than other companion animals, and we spend more money on dogs than, say, cats (although whether the things we’re buying dogs are necessary or in their best interest is another conversation). And we’re often trying to get at who dogs are—most recently, dogs’ “personhood” was proposed by Gregory Burns (here), and was subsequently explored by Hal Herzog (here), Jason Goldman (here) and Patricia McConnell (here).

But the main reason I suggest that dogs are “privileged” is because they are being examined at all, in their own right, and not as a stand-in for something or someone else.

We often need to “see it to believe it,” and that’s the direction dogs are headed. Researchers around the world are chipping away at every angle of what dogs “see, smell and know,” to borrow from a recent publication. The “assumed dog” is fading away.

My colleagues in the “Examined Dog” field include men, women and dogs (we couldn’t do squat without the dogs!). On Ada Lovelace Day—a day to recognize and champion women in science—I would like to highlight a few (of the many!) women investigating dogs in varied and meaningful ways.

Thank you for your hard work and inspirational contributions!

Dr. Pauleen Bennett, Australia

Dr. Nancy Dreschel, USA
physiology and dog welfare

Dr. Dorit Feddersen-Petersen, Germany
dog social behavior

Dr. Márta Gácsi, Hungary
dog social cognition

Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, USA
dog umwelt and testing anthropomorphisms

Dr. Sarah Marshall-Pescini, Italy
dog social cognition

Dr. Patricia McConnell, USA
interspecific acoustic communication and applied ethology

Dr. Katherine Miller, USA
shelter welfare and dog rehabilitation

Dr. Cindy Otto, USA
working dog welfare

Dr. Daniela Ramos, Brazil
dog word learning and clinical ethology

Dr. Nicola Rooney, UK
social signalling and dog quality of life

Dr. Monique Udell, USA
interspecific social behavior

Dr. Zsófia Virányi, Austria and Hungary
interspecific social behavior and inferential abilities

And many more!

Photo: Flickr ‘girl on a wall’ by Zoetnet via Creative commons.

Julie Hecht About the Author: Julie Hecht is a canine behavioral researcher, science writer, and PhD student at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She would really like to meet your dog. Follow on Twitter @DogSpies.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. HuaweiMobiles 6:17 am 07/5/2014

    really great contribution. very interesting
    Huawei Mobiles

    Link to this

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