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Canine Science Summer Camp

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


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I always loved summer camp — the forced rituals and the chaos and buzz of lots of people doing similar activities.

Even though the age of summer camp is far behind me, I still find myself thrown into grown-up versions of “summer camp.” Earlier this year, I joined up with Academia Film Olomouc (Twitter, Facebook) in the Czech Republic to give a public talk on Canine Science. AFO could easily come with the byline: Summer Camp for Documentary Film People, Science Communicators and People Who Like Science. Check out this 1 minute video of AFO festival highlights to see what I mean.

Last week, SPARCS continued this trend and fulfilled the intensity, rituals and togetherness of summer camp. This 3-day canine science conference (that I’ve mentioned here, here and here) was held in Newport, RI–where I co-hosted the event with my Do You Believe in Dog? colleague, Mia Cobb– while it was simultaneously broadcast for free to an international audience. I don’t have the exact stats yet, but many thousands of people from all over the globe took in the 3-day canine science event that featured talks on Aggression and Conflict; Personality & temperament, and Science in Training.

The excitement and exuberance from the live audience in Newport was palpable, and we were not alone. As conference hosts, Mia and I interacted with the online audience via the hashtag #SPARCS2014. We found that those watching from all corners of the earth were as into the event as those attending live. Which is to say, many many people around the world now have a better understanding of the distinction between personality and temperament, why breed-specific legislation is a crummy idea, and why dominance can be discussed in relation to dogs, but probably not in the way that you’re using it.

I am being vague because I could effectively write a 600+ page book discussing the topics covered at #SPARCS2014, and our job at the conference was more mediator to the content than scribe of it.

Here’s how you can access the information that was covered at #SPARCS2014:

1) SPARCS membership gives you access to all the videos produced at the event. For more details on when videos will be made available, follow the Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science on Facebook and Twitter.

2) A number of people have already posted summaries of #SPARCS2014, and as I hear about them, I will continue to post links below:

Of course, images from the event in Newport, RI:

Find many more photos from the event on the SPARCS Facebook page.

And from the #SPARCS2014 online audience:

Finally, a number of people have asked where Mia and I got our ‘dog and wolf’ t-shirts (the shirts featured in the first photo of this post). More on how you can order anything with that print here!

Till #SPARCS2015!

Images: SPARCS; Permission granted from @DogueShop, @CharlottEtholog and @NDreschel for companion animals watching SPARCS.

Julie Hecht About the Author: Julie Hecht is a canine behavioral researcher and science writer in New York City. 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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