Letter from CAIRC
June 1998 Vol.2 No.4

Academic Interest Grows in the Relationship
Between Humans and Companion Animals

-Recipients of First "Scholarships for Research on the Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals" Selected

Three Scholarship Recipients Selected from 44 Applicants

At the end of last year, the Companion Animal Information and Research Center offered the first of its "Scholarships for Research on the Interrelationship Between Humans and Companion Animals." Three people have now been chosen as scholarship recipients. They and their research themes are as follows.

Yoshiko Uchida (36, assistant professor, Rakuno Gakuen University, resides in Ebetsu City, Hokkaido)
Research theme: "On Choosing Dogs Used in Animal-Assisted Therapy"

Yukiko Arakawa (21, student, Azabu University, resides in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture)
Research theme: "Research and Study of the Problem Behavior of Dogs in Grooming Parlors"

Masaru Uechi (28, doctoral student, Tsukuba University Graduate School, resides in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture)
Research theme: "The Effects of Companion Animals on the Health of Elderly People Living at Home - Using IADL (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living) and Biological Indicators as Criteria"

The selection committee for the first "Scholarships for Research on the Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals," which was composed of three members — Mitsuko Masui, professor, Azabu University; Yoshihiro Hayashi, professor, the University of Tokyo; and Yoichi Shoda, professor emeritus, the University of Tokyo and president of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center — met on May 19 and, from 44 applicants (15 times the number of available scholarships), painstakingly made its selections.


The Need for Research on "The Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals" Is Growing

The scholarships of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center are given for research on "The Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals." Why has such research become necessary? This question was also vigorously discussed by the committee members.

"I was extremely surprised by the large number of applicants," said Ms. Masui. "This kind of fierce competition for zoological scholarships is rare. It made me feel keenly that, given current trends in the world, there's a great need for research on the relationship between humans and companion animals, and that this is indeed an important field of study."

"The number of applicants was extremely large," said Mr. Hayashi. "And as was clear from their resumes, they came from diverse fields. That so many people want to do research in this field is heartening to me as chairman of the Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations. It also made me recognize anew the social need for such research. And I also think that this scholarship system can be highly evaluated, not just in terms of its bringing latent research needs to light, but also in that it covers research subjects not covered by other customary systems. I feel that it's going change the way that research is done in the future."

At present, interest in research on the interaction between humans and companion animals is increasing. Such research is progressing in countries throughout the world, clarifying the social, psychological and biological effects of companion animals on people. As you know, however, the study of the relationship between humans and companion animals is an extremely new field in the science of zoology. While it is indispensable for achieving a more satisfying society, it has not yet been firmly established as an academic field. There are also not many researchers in it. The Companion Animal Information and Research Center believes that, in order to deepen knowledge and understanding about companion animals, it is urgently important to establish the study of the relationship between humans and companion animals as a full-fledged academic field and, towards that end, to assist excellent young researchers. Hence the "Scholarships for Research on the Relationship Between People and Companion Animals" were created.


Evaluations Based on Urgency, Importance and Originality,
Not Just Past Accomplishments


The applicants for the latest scholarships comprised a diverse group. They included undergraduate students, graduate students, people who already had research achievements to their name, people in the field of children's education, freelance writers, and more. Their ages ranged from 20 to 39. "These scholarships," said Mr. Hayashi, "are also excellent in that they are open to a wide range of people, not just people with achievements in research." Given the large number of applicants and the fact that they wanted to do such different, incomparable types of research, the judging and selection were extremely difficult. "The majority of the research plans were solid, and of a very high level," said Mr. Shoda. "In choosing, however, priority was given to plans that exhibited a high degree of urgency, importance and originality, to themes that cannot be researched except in this field, and to people who might otherwise have no other forum for presenting their work.

The committee members were asked about the criteria by which they evaluated the research plans of the three scholarship recipients. Yoshiko Uchida, who was selected to research the subject, "On Choosing Dogs Used in Animal-Assisted Therapy," is a doctor of veterinary medicine. "Ms. Uchida's research is on the stress experienced by animals used in animal-assisted therapy," said Ms. Masui. "I think this research is important because of its focus on the well-being of animals — on preventing them from becoming overworked. Its methodology is also clearly spelled out, and it can be expected to produce important results."

Ms. Yukiko Arakawa, who will receive a scholarship for "Research and Study of the Problem Behavior of Dogs in Grooming Parlors," is an undergraduate student majoring in the study of the relationship between humans and animals. "The target of Ms. Arakawa's research is clear," said Mr. Hayashi. "She will be conducting the research together with trimmer, and it can be expected to produce clear results. When young people do research, it's important that, like Ms. Arakawa, they do one thing at a time, rather than trying to do a lot of things all at once."

Masaru Uechi, whose research will be on "The Effects of Companion Animals on the Health of Elderly People Living at Home — Using IADL and Biological Indicators as Criteria," is a doctoral student studying medical information science. "With the graying of society," said Ms. Masui, "there is a growing need to conduct research, including research related to animals, on how the elderly can lead fuller lives. Mr. Uechi's project is thus, I believe, of considerable urgency and importance."

As an overall evaluation, Mr. Shoda said, "Most of the research plans submitted were in two fields: animal-assisted therapy and animal behavior. Of the three selected, two were from the field of animal-assisted therapy; the other was from the field of animal behavior. Of the two from animal-assisted therapy, one involves a veterinarian studying the effects of animal-assisted therapy on animals, while the other involves a medical researcher studying the effects of companion animals on the elderly. All three have originality. The results should be very interesting. I'm looking forward to them."


Scholarship Recipients Will Be Sent to "8th International IAHAIO Conference" in Prague

The three scholarship recipients will each be paid 300,000 yen to conduct their research. In addition, they will be provided with funds to attend the international conference of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO), which will be held in Prague in September. The IAHAIO is an international organization comprised of associations interested in the relationship between animals and people, and of related organizations. Held every three years, IAHAIO international conferences attract animal researchers and other interested parties from throughout the world.

Upon their return, the scholarship recipients will report on the international conference. At the end of the research period, they will also report on the course and results of their research. (Interviews of the scholarship recipients will be presented in the next newsletter.)


Profiles of Selection Committee Members

- Mitsuko Masui, professor of applied animal science, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University
Doctor of veterinary medicine. Was formerly director of the Tama Zoo and director of the Ueno Zoo. Main books include "How Do Animal Parents Raise Their Young?" and "Animals in the City."

- Yoshihiro Hayashi, professor, the Faculty of Agriculture, the University of Tokyo
Doctor of agricultural science. Was formerly visiting professor at La Plata University, etc. Chairman of the Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations'. A member of the International Nature Protection Alliance, the World Nature Protection Fund, and the International Whaling Commission. Books include "Veterinary Anatomy."

- Yoichi Shoda, professor emeritus, the University of Tokyo, president of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center.
Doctor of agricultural science. Formerly a professor at the University of Tokyo. Is currently director of the Tokyo Zoological Park Society, councilor of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology and auditor of Society for the Study of Human Animal Relations. Books include "Animals Created by Man."

copyright