Strap line

It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

I like your basics and approve this pen pal union

Barcelona! So pretty! http://traveldk.com/barcelona
What was I doing before we sat next to each other in Barcelona? Wishing I had a pen pal. Really. I’m always looking for daily, back-and-forth, shooting the &*%$!@ banter about anything and everything dog, animal behavior, animal welfare or cute-koala-related that comes across my desk.

So about me and what comes across my desk...
While I am originally from NYC (Greenwich Village and Westchester), I often stick a “u” in the word behaviour (which is different from most people in the USA who do not know that flavor and color have another side).

I did my Masters in Applied Animal BehavioUr and Animal Welfare (10 mouthfuls) at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I recently published my first scientific article on the “guilty look” in dogs in the journal of Applied Animal BehavioUr Science so the “u” is definitely my friend!

Where I did my Masters. Weird ( ).
Reason #456 why this pen pal union is great: We have guide dogs in common. When I was in high school, I did an internship with the veterinarian at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, NY. I shaved dogs for speuters (spay/neuters), roused them post-surgery and held them for routine procedures. What I remember most was that electric razors are quite effective, hip dyspasia sucks, Labs can have stinky ears and speuters can be quick and easy! While the inside of the dog was nifty, I was more drawn to what I could see on the outside. Why did some dogs have the appropriate personalities for guide work? What were dogs communicating to one another, and what was all that sniffing about?

During senior year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, many light bulbs went off. I enrolled in Dr. Patricia McConnell’s class, The Biology and Philosophy of Human-Animal Relationships. Watching Trisha, all I could think was, “Please, can I be you!?!?!”
Trisha used Ethology, the study of animal behavior, to scientifically explore dogs and the dog-human relationship. That was a big A-HA! for me.

Since then, I’ve been all over the field of Applied Animal Behavior:

Researched for this book. Yay Research!
My life is mostly divided between dog behavior research, writing, teaching, behavior consulting and lecturing.

Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab

I manage Alexandra Horowitz’s Dog Cognition Lab here in NYC where we’re currently investigating dog olfactory experiences and anthropomorphisms. Companion dogs and their owners join us for treat-based behavior studies.

I’m not a dog. I can write!

I also write about all things canine behavior and cognition for the magazine The Bark, based out of Berkeley, CA.
Humping piece in The Bark
I cover everything from humping and crotch sniffing to attachment behavior in dogs. This blog will be an awesome place to toss around ideas!

Teaching

I teach Applied Animal Behavior for an online Masters Program in Anthrozoology at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. Each semester has 4 days up in Buffalo where it is very very cold.

Behavior consulting

My website www.dogspies.com
Organizations and owners bring me in to help with animal behavior, environmental enrichment good stuff like that. Cats like me.

Megaphone time for research!
It's awesome that one of my/our goals is to discuss all this research outside the academic arena. I hold talks for dog organizations, pet owners, the general public and student groups, and I blog about the latest canine behavior studies on Dog Spies. I know we have the education angle in common, and I particularly want kids to have the tools to appreciate and understand this unique, non-human species.

The goal is that everyone, not just academics, can join the conversation on dog behavior and cognition research. 
 
Lots of great stuff comes across my desk (sometimes even about unicorns!), and I’m looking forward to talking about it all with you!!

JULIE!

© Julie Hecht 2012