Letter from CAIRC
May 1999 Vol.3 No.2

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.

-Yuki Koba (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"

-Haruka Takakura (27, doctoral student, the University of Tokyo Graduate School, resident of Tokyo)
Research theme: "Predicting the Personality of Dogs Through Genetic Analysis"

-Masako Tsuzuki (28, clinical testing technician, resident of Aichi Prefecture)
Research theme: "Physiological Research on the Relationship Between Handicapped People and Horses in Horseback Riding"

-Kotaro Taneichi (28, doctoral student, Waseda University Graduate School, resident of Tokyo)
Research theme: "A Study of the Stress Relief Effects of Companion Animals"

-Noriko Niijima (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 young researchers.

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 more difficult."

"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 extremely difficult.


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."

Finally, Noriko 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

-Mitsuko Masui, 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?"

-Yoshihiro Hayashi,professor, 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 Anatomy."

-Yoichi Shoda,professor 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."

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