|Academic Interest Grows in the Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals
Recipients of Second Annual "Scholarships for Research on the Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals" Selected
Five Recipients Selected from 44 Applicants
The five people
listed below were selected to receive the second annual "Scholarships
for Research on the Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals."
The first scholarships were given last year to three recipients,
each receiving 300,000 yen. This year's recipients will each receive
up to 500,000 yen, depending on their subject of research. Hereafter
they will conduct their research and study and, after a year, the
Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC) will report
on their findings.
(24, doctoral student, Hiroshima University Graduate School, resident
of Hiroshima Prefecture)
Research theme: "The Significance and Role of Companion Animals in
the Education of Kindergarten Children Thoughts on the Welfare
for Both Humans and Companion Animals"
(27, doctoral student, the University of Tokyo Graduate School, resident
Research theme: "Predicting the Personality of Dogs Through Genetic
(28, clinical testing technician, resident of Aichi Prefecture)
Research theme: "Physiological Research on the Relationship Between
Handicapped People and Horses in Horseback Riding"
(28, doctoral student, Waseda University Graduate School, resident
Research theme: "A Study of the Stress Relief Effects of Companion
(31, master's student, the University of Tokyo Graduate School, resident
of Kanagawa Prefecture)
Research theme: "What Do People Want from Pets? A Sociological
Inquiry into the Changing Views of Pets in Japan"
As last year, the committee for selecting scholarship
recipients was composed of the following three members: Mitsuko
Masui, professor, Azabu University; Yoshihiro Hayashi, professor,
the University of Tokyo; and Yoichi Shoda, professor emeritus, the
University of Tokyo, and CAIRC president. After extensive deliberations,
the committee made its final selections on May 17. All together
there were 44 applicants, the same number as last year, although
researchers living abroad and foreigners were among this year's
group. The research proposals that were submitted were rich in variety,
with many involving an advanced level of research.
Seeking to Foster the Development of Young Researchers;
Urgency, Importance and Originality Used as Selection Criteria
The relationship between humans and companion
animals is a growing field of study. Research is being conducted
in it throughout the world, clarifying the social, psychological
and physiological effects of companion animals on people. It is
also attracting much attention from other fields, such as social
welfare and medicine. It clearly has the potential to make significant
contributions to creating a more satisfying society. As you know,
however, it is still a new field that has not yet been fully established
as an academic discipline. Thus, to promote its establishment, as
well as to deepen knowledge and understanding of companion animals,
we of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center decided
to foster the development of exceptional young researchers in the
field by providing them with "Scholarships for Research on the Relationship
Between Humans and Companion Animals." First awarded last year,
these scholarships will continue to be given annually to talented
This year's scholarship applicants were a diverse
group. They included undergraduate and graduate students studying
zoology and veterinary medicine, people who have already made research
contributions in this field, and individuals from such fields as
sociology, psychology, medicine, education, even architecture. "Compared
to last year," said committee member Mitsuko Masui, "the level of
this year's research proposals was very high. Selecting any of them
would have been appropriate, which made the selecting that much
"So many of the proposals were excellent," said
committee member, and CAIRC president, Yoichi Shoda, "and they were
from such diverse fields that it was difficult to decide on selection
criteria appropriate for them all. Eventually, though, we have priority
to urgency, importance and originality." Even so, selecting proved
Much Is Anticipated from the
Various Research Perspectives
Not Only Zoology and Veterinary Medicine, but Also Psychology,
Sociology, and Medicine
The committee members
were asked their views about the five research proposals that were
selected. Thus, with regard to the proposal, "The Significance and
Role of Companion Animals in the Education of Kindergarten Children,"
submitted by Yuki Koba, a doctoral student studying domestic animal
behavior, Professor Masui said, "This proposal deals with keeping
companion animals as a means of emotionally educating small children
of instilling in them a feeling for the preciousness of life.
With brutal crimes by children on the rise, it is a very timely
theme. The proposal's specifics are also extremely interesting."
With regard to
"Predicting the Personality of Dogs Through Genetic Analysis," the
proposal submitted by Haruka Takakura, a doctoral student of veterinary
ethology, President Shoda said, "Until now the main method of researching
animal behavior and personality has been observation. However, this
predicting behavior through genetic analysis marks a new method.
The aim here is to elucidate the personalities of different breeds
through genetic analysis. I'm looking forward to the results."
Regarding the proposal,
"Physiological Research on the Relationship Between Handicapped
People and Horses in Horseback Riding," of Masako Tsuzuki, a clinical
testing technician at a medical and welfare research facility, Professor
Masui said, "People tend to think that feeling good from riding
a horse is merely a psychological effect. But it is now known that
horseback riding is also physically beneficial for the handicapped
for example, it can improve their sense of balance. For animal
researchers, it's not easy to study the human side of this relationship,
but that's what's going to be done here, using electrocardiograms,
electromyograms and other objective data. The results promise to
be very interesting."
Kotaro Taneichi, a doctoral student majoring
in psychology, was selected for his proposal, "A Study of the Stress
Relief Effects of Companion Animals." In particular, he will study
whether, for petowners, keeping pets actually has the effect of
relieving stress. "While researching human-animal relations from
a psychological perspective has been increasing overseas," said
Professor Hayashi, "it is something new in Japan. I'm anticipating
much from Mr. Taneichi's efforts. I'm hoping that he'll be able
to shed some scientific light on the effects of keeping companion
animals in homes."
Niijima, a doctoral student studying sociology, will study pets
from a sociological perspective in her research, entitled "What
Do People Want from Pets? A Sociological Inquiry into the Changing
Views of Pets in Japan." "In sociology," said Professor Hayashi,
"I believe that they study how the individual is formed through
interaction with others. But those others are always people. They
never include companion animals. The theme that Ms. Niijima is tackling
is a big one. She's trying to analyze whether companion animals
have a formative effect on individuals. This is an angle of inquiry
that has been almost non-existent in sociology until now. It should
prove to be very interesting."
The recipients of the latest scholarships are
mainly young researchers in their 20's. By applying such perspectives
as those of sociology and psychology to research on the interaction
between people and animals, they will be taking that research into
new and important areas. Not only the committee members, but we
at the Companion Animal Information and Research Center as well,
are anticipating much from their efforts.
Profiles of Selection Committee Members
professor of applied animal science, Department of Veterinary Medicine,
Azabu University, and director of Yokohama Zoorasia.
Doctor of veterinary medicine. Former director
of Tama Zoo and Ueno Zoo. This year became director of Zoorasia.
Main books include "How Do Animal Parents Raise Their Young?"
Veterinary Medical Science/Animal Resource Science Department, Graduate
School of the University of Tokyo.
Doctor of agricultural science. Formerly, visiting
professor at La Plata University, among other positions. Chairman
of the Society for the Study of Human-Animal Relations. Member of
the International Nature Protection Alliance, the World Nature Protection
Fund, and the International Whaling Commission. Books include "Veterinary
emeritus, the University of Tokyo; president, Companion Animal Information
and Research Center.
Doctor of agricultural science. Formerly, professor,
the University of Tokyo. Currently, director of the Tokyo Zoological
Park Society, member of the board of the Yamashina Institute of
Ornithology, supervisor of the Society for the Study of Human Animal-Relations,
etc. Main books include "Animals Created by Man."