Scholarship Recipients' Yearlong Research on "The Relationship
Between Humans and Companion Animals" Bears Fruit!
Last year, we of the Companion Animal Information and Research
Center initiated a research scholarship program, "The Relationship Between Humans
and Companion Animals," to help young researchers explore different aspects of
that relationship. The first three scholarship recipients were chosen last May,
and this June 28, at a meeting held at the Japan Journalists' Club, in the Chiyoda-ku
area of Tokyo, they presented the results of their efforts over the previous year.
About 40 media members gathered for the presentations. Also in attendance were
the following five researchers: Ms. Yoshiko Uchida, Mr. Masaru Uechi, Ms. Tomoko
Saito, Ms. Yukiko Arakawa, and Ms. Chiyo Kitagawa.
Mr. Yoichi Shoda, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and president
of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center, opened the meeting with
a talk about the history of the relationship between people and animals and about
why companion animals have now become a topic of interest. "In the past," he said,
"people bred domestic animals mainly for utilitarian purposes, although they also
bred some animals as pets on which they lavished affection. Now they have come
to think about what should be the correct relationship between themselves and
the latter, and the idea that the animals that live with people are not merely
pets, but companions, has taken hold. People cannot live a full life merely with
other people. It has become recognized that, no matter how much industrialization
and mechanization may progress, they cannot replace contact with animals and the
benefits that animals provide people. The study of the relationship between humans
and animals has arisen from this fact, and much is expected from it as a field
that will add to the richness of our lives."
Using slides and an overhead projector, the three scholarship recipients then
made their presentations. Each presentation was followed by a spate of questions
from media, indicating the great interest in the research scholarship program
and this field of study and helping to make for a lively and successful event.
"Looking out at the hall," said Yoshiko Uchida, one of the scholarship recipients,
"I was surprised by the number of media people here. I feel relieved now that
my presentation has ended without incident," she remarked, evoking laughter from
the audience. Then, on a more serious note, she continued: "You've also seen and
heard the other two presentations. I for my part would like to take this opportunity
to say that I am extremely grateful for these scholarships that assist researchers;
I hope CAIRC will continue. I personally intend to go on with my particular research,
conducting more experiments, and build on the foundations that I've laid in the
All of the initial scholarship recipients are likely to continue to be active
in research on the relationship between humans and companion animals. We of the
Companion Animal Information and Research Center hope and expect that their research
will be diligent and extensive and contribute to the development of this field.
With Working Dogs that Pass an Aptitude Test,
It Is Possible to Participate in AAA/AAT with Peace of Mind
Research Theme : "Does AAA/AAT Put Dogs Under Stress?"
by Yoshiko Uchida , Satoko Yasumoto
Originally, the theme of this research was "On Choosing Dogs Used
in Animal-Assisted Therapy." Based on the results of the past year's research,
however, it was possible to concentrate the focus of the theme still further.
Ms. Uchida, a doctor of veterinary science, is assistant professor of veterinary
science at Rakuno Gakuen University. As a member of the Hokkaido Volunteer Dog
Association, she also conducts animal-assisted activities at senior citizens'
facilities, nursery schools, facilities for the emotionally handicapped, etc.
In her research she investigated whether working dogs used in animal-assisted
activities (AAA) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) felt stress in the process.
Regarding such dogs, previous research had been conducted on aptitude, but never
on whether the dogs underwent stress. Considering that AAA and AAT are likely
to continue to become more widely used, this research could be called important
from the standpoint of animal protection.
In this research, not only was the behavior of working dogs observed; their stress
level was also studied scientifically and objectively. That is, the amount of
cortisol in their saliva was measured as an index of acute stress. One reason
why the stress level of dogs had not been previously studied was that determining
it objectively was considered difficult. Salivary cortisol, however, can easily
be obtained without causing the dog any stress. It was thus possible to study
stress by a combination of measuring the amount of salivary cortisol before and
after activities and observing behavior.
"As examples of behavior indicating stress," said Ms. Uchida, "I might mention
panting, urinating or defecating in an inappropriate place, a decrease in concentration,
attempting to escape or get to an exit or entrance, abnormal barking, howling
or snorting, abnormal excitement, frequent yawning, licking the chops, and excessive
self-grooming. In this research, none of the dogs tested showed any of these behaviors
as a result of animal-assisted activities. With animal-assisted therapy, on the
other hand, there was always a decrease in the ability to concentrate after about
30 minutes. Otherwise, however, there was no stress-related behavior, which, we
believe, was largely due to the personality of the test dogs.
"As for the measured values of cortisol, they were normal prior to activities
for all the dogs. This was true regardless of the dog's age, experience with the
activities, or aptitude test results. It also showed that no stress resulted from
moving the dogs by car to the site of the activities. And most of the measured
values were also normal following the activities. However, there were two examples
of extreme stress as a result of AAA, but the cause of this is believed to be
the presence of a female dog in heat in the facilities where the activities took
place. In the future we plan to do a follow-up study on these two dogs as well
as other working dogs.
"All of the dogs used in this research passed an aptitude test for working dogs.
Thus, while it can't be said about all dogs, it can be said about working dogs
that AAA and AAT are not a source of stress for them, so that, as regards the
animal's welfare, one can take them along on activities with complete peace of
There Is a Strong Possibility that Companion Animals Have a Positive
Effect on the Health of Senior Citizens!
Research Theme : "The Relationship of Keeping a
Companion Animal to IADL
(Instrumental Activities of Daily Living)
and Blood Pressure for Elderly People Living at Home
- Research Conducted in Satomi Village, Ibaraki Prefecture"
by Masaru Uechi , Tomoko Saito
Scholarship recipient Masaru Uechi is currently an assistant in
the department of social medicine at Tsukuba University. The focus of his research
was the relationship between the health of the elderly and the keeping of companion
animals. Satomi Village, where the research was conducted, is located at the northernmost
edge of Ibaraki Prefecture; 27.4% of its population is classified as elderly.
In 2050, the proportion of elderly in Japan's population is expected to peak at
32.3%, a figure close to that for Satomi Village. In Satomi Village, moreover,
the elderly who live alone are increasing, and the burdens on regional society
from costs related to insurance, medical treatment, welfare and other matters
related to the elderly have already begun to grow. The location where this research
was conducted could thus be said to have a population structure and problems that
closely resemble what will be those of the country as a whole in the 21st century.
At the same time, with the graying of society already under way, there are not
a few elderly who are bedridden. As this fact indicates, the health of the elderly
cannot be judged by longevity alone. Thus, to make such a determination, an index,
IADL (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living), was developed. According to this
index, seven activities considered indispensable for daily living Can one
use the telephone by oneself? Can on buy food and clothing by oneself? etc.
are studied as indicators of health, and a person who is unable to perform one
or more of them is considered to have an "IADL disability." In the IADL-related
research published hitherto, a tendency for people with IADL disabilities to die
sooner rather than later has been reported.
Of the 1,345 people aged 65 or older in Satomi Village, 400 were selected at random
for this research. They were sent questionnaires to fill out, and a telephone
follow-up was then conducted. In this way, they were studied with regard to: personal
characteristics such as sex, age, and family structure; medical history, including
the names of past diseases; current state of health, including whether blood pressure
reducers were being taken; and state of daily activities. At the same time, their
relationship to companion animals was also studied: whether they were presently
keeping pets and, if so, the type of pet and the number of years it had been kept;
past pet ownership; etc. A logistic recurrence analysis was then carried out on
the correlations between the two sets of data. (A logistic recurrence analysis
is a study that seeks to explain, using a few variables, the probability, or expectation,
that a particular phenomenon will occur.) "Regarding the relationship between
keeping pets and IADL disabilities," said Mr. Uechi, "what we found was that the
proportion of people with IADL disabilities who had experience with keeping pets
was lower than the proportion who had no such experience. There was also a low
proportion of IADL disabilities among respondents who, to a question asking them
to rate their fondness for pets, answered, "To me a pet is a friend," from which
we concluded that keeping pets has psychological benefits. In other words, we
found that keeping dogs, a history of fondness for animals, and friendly feelings
towards pets in general are all factors in limiting the IADL disabilities of the
elderly. The greater the affection lavished on pets, the less blood pressure reducers
were used is another trend that was found. While we cannot prove a connection
between keeping pets and low blood pressure, we believe that is only because of
insufficient data, and plan to do follow-up research in the future."
Much Problem Behavior Is Due to the Breed of the Dog
The Need for Cooperation Between Groomer and Owner Is Great
Research Theme : "Research and Study of Problem
Behavior of Dogs in Grooming Parlors"
by Yukiko Arakawa , Chiyo Kitagawa
At 22, Ms. Arakawa was the youngest of the scholarship recipients.
At present she is a doctoral student in the graduate school of Azabu University.
Her research partner, Ms. Kitagawa, is a dog groomer who, at the start of the
research, was also a student at Azabu University. Their research involved a questionnaire
survey of groomers nationwide, and a questionnaire survey of pet owners conducted
through grooming parlors and pet shops. Of the questionnaires sent to groomers,
506, or 46%, were returned, while 403 completed questionnaires were received from
pet owners. Until now, there has been almost no research on breed-specific behavior
and the innate personalities of breeds. Research on the views of the people who
work at the locations where the problem behavior of dogs actually occurs has also
been lacking, and is urgently needed. As a forerunner of such research, Ms. Arakawa's
efforts provide much cause for much hope.
"In this research," she said, "we classified the problem behavior of dogs in grooming
parlors as either aggressive behavior, such as acting wildly and biting, or escapist
behavior, such as cowering and fleeing. In all, 124 breeds of dogs were brought
into the grooming parlors according to the data that we received. These included
not only long-haired breeds requiring a specialist's skills, but also short-haired
dogs, small dogs, large dogs, even mutts. Thus, different tacks are necessary
for dealing with the different types of dogs. Generally speaking, problem behavior
tended to be greater among males than among females, and adult dogs between the
ages of two and eight were the most frequent sources of problem behavior. Also,
as was expected, escapist behavior was most common among puppies, while aggressive
behavior was generally the province of older dogs. According to the survey results,
however, the biggest differences were between breeds. Within a breed, behavior
changed little with age.
"Looking at the breeds individually, the Shih Tzu is the one that stands out above
all, with a remarkably high 90% of these dogs exhibiting problem behavior. Of
this behavior, 78% was aggressive, far more than with any other breed. Of course,
what dogs dislike most in grooming is nail clipping, ear cleaning, and the removing
of hair tangles, so dogs with long hair requiring the removal of tangles are the
ones most likely to misbehave. On the other hand, a short-haired dog that often
behaved aggressively was the shiba-ken. Actually, aggressive behavior was commonly
seen in Japanese breeds in general. Japanese breeds seem to dislike grooming itself
and, when it comes to something they dislike, tend not to listen to their owners.
"In both surveys, we found that groomers tend to blame owners for the problem
behavior of dogs. In studying the problem behavior itself, however, we found that
its causes lie far more often in the personality of the breed than in the training.
On the other hand, we also found that while 20% of the dogs showed problem behavior,
their owners frequently thought, "The way things are now is fine." While the owners
viewed this behavior with the attitude that "a little mischievousness is cute,"
groomers considered it a serious problem. Owners, we believe, should try to reduce
the problem behavior of their dogs. At the same time, though, it is necessary
for owners and groomers to cooperate in determining how to deal with a particular
dog according to its personality and breed."