|Recipients Selected for the Third Annual Scholarship for Research on
the Relationship Between Humans and Companion Animals
Five Recipients Selected from
Among 42 Applicants
The following five researchers were selected
to receive the third annual Scholarship for Research on the Relationship
Between Humans and Companion Animals.
||Masahiko Motooka (35, medical department assistant, Gunma University;
resident of Isezaki City, Gunma Prefecture)
Research theme: "A Trial of Animal Assisted Therapy With Dogs Designed to
Improve Patients' Quality Of Life (QOL) and Depression Conditions Following Cardiac
||Takayoshi Yamaguchi (25, doctoral student, Kyoto University Graduate
School; resident of Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture)
Research theme: "The Position of Dogs in Tibetan Society in Yunnan - A Structural
Anthropological Inquiry into the Relationship between Pastoralists and Dogs"
||Michiko Saito (26, doctoral student, Azabu University Graduate School;
resident of Mitaka City, Tokyo)
Research theme: "A Study of Canine
Numerical Ability Using Discrimination Learning"
||Yoko Niimi (23, doctoral student, Gifu University Graduate School;
resident of Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture)
Research theme: "A Trial of Prediction of Aptitude in Service
Dogs - Using Genes Related to Personality as an Indicator"
||Ryoko Ueoka (29, researcher, Research Center for
Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo; resident
Research theme: "A Study of Relational
Expansion Between Humans and Companion Animals Using Telecommunications
for selecting scholarship recipients was composed of the following
three members: Mitsuaki Ohta, professor, Azabu University; Yuji Mori,
professor, University of Tokyo; and CAIRC president Yoichi Shoda,
professor emeritus, University of Tokyo. The committee made its final
selections on May 18 of the above five recipients, who will each receive
Applicants From Various Fields Such as IT,
In the hope
of promoting the establishment of the formal study of the relationship
between humans and companion animals and to deepen understanding of
companion animals, we of the Companion Animal Information and Research
Center have been providing support for the development of exceptional
young researchers in the field. The scholarship program for research
on the relationship between humans and companion animals is part of
that effort. This year's group of scholarship applicants was more
diverse then ever. In addition to students of zoology and veterinary
medicine, candidates included researchers from such fields as sociology,
medicine, cultural anthropology, psychology, nursing science, pharmacology
with the last two application years, there were far more applicants
specializing in humanities fields this time," said CAIRC President
Shoda, who served as selection committee chairman. "We also had
applicants from the information technology field. We tried to select
from the widest range of fields possible, while keeping priority on
research excellence." Even those who were not selected had intriguing
ideas, and selection committee members seem to have felt much hope
that a great many young researchers are appearing in this new field.
Selection Criteria: Uniqueness of Viewpoint,
Concrete and Clear Purpose, Thorough Planning
members were asked their views about the five research proposals selected.
to Mr. Motooka's proposal on improving quality of life and relieving
depression in heart patients through animal assisted therapy, Professor
there is very little scientific data on animal assisted therapy. But
without a scientific approach, the effectiveness of these therapies
can not be known. There were other research proposals about improving
QOL, but Mr. Motooka's proposal was the clearest with respect to its
purpose and planning. That heightened its appeal. Another reason for
the selection was that we believe it is necessary for those in the
medical field to actively take on this area of research."
to Mr. Yamaguchi's study of the position of dogs in Tibet, Professor
"This study delves into the actual conditions of Tibetans' dog breeding practices.
It includes a lexicon of everyday vocabulary items relating to dogs, and thus
constitutes a systematic study of the relationship between humans and animals.
We saw several applications this time on studies of dog breeding by nation, region
and ethnic group from cultural anthropological perspectives. Indeed, there are
differences in dog breeding from one region and culture to another. It is important
to research these differences. This research proposal is expected to produce results
that have never been seen before, as it is the study of a minority people who,
also as pastoralists, earnestly follow unique traditions and customs. The work
on dog-related vocabulary is especially intriguing."
On Ms. Saito's
proposal on canine numerical ability, Professor Ohta said:
studies of dogs so far have focused on their behavioral traits or
on their senses such as smell or hearing. Not many have included the
objective study of canine intelligence. When dogs are said to recognize
numbers, they are usually simply recognizing and reacting to subtle
incidental cues such as changes in people's facial expressions and
attitudes. I believe that by objectively studying and collecting data
on whether they really understand numbers, we will be able to understand
dogs more correctly. I also think this research will prove useful
in other fields, such as dog training."
to Ms. Niimi's proposal on using genetic technology in predicting
aptitude in service dogs, Professor Mori said:
the ongoing discovery of polymorphism in genes thought to contribute
to human personality formation began several years ago, studies searching
for genes upon which disposition or individual character are based
that is, genes relating to personality have been in the spotlight.
Ms. Niimi is in the limelight for already issuing several interesting
studies in this area, including her path-breaking world-class study
of a dog gene relating to personality (dopamine receptor D4).
studies attempting to link behavior and genetics, which at first glance
seem to be vastly different, are highly important. This is an urgent
subject from the biological viewpoint. Thus, the entire selection
committee was unanimous in selecting her proposal. We anticipate that
the results of basic research will develop into applied research that
leads to improving the efficiency of training service dogs."
to Ms. Ueoka's proposal on relational expansion between humans and
companion animals, Professor Mori said:
to the IT revolution, family members have become able to contact each
other through new channels such as the Internet or on cellular phones.
Communication with pets, who should also be considered family members,
however, has not benefited in the same way. In fact, more than a few
pet owners say they cannot leave their pets when they go out because
they are too worried.
Ueoka's research concept involves using sensors to allow people to
check on a pet's activities and position within the home at any given
time, and to provide food and care, all from remote terminal devices.
While the rapid development of remote telecommunications technology
can, on the one hand, give rise to a cold an impersonal environment,
this field represents its ability to create new channels for meaningful
communication. This project represents research with vision."
President Shoda said, "I think we were able to select high quality,
diverse research proposals in a well-balanced manner." The recipients
of the latest scholarships represent the perspectives of advanced
science and technology such as information technology and genetics,
as well as cultural anthropology and archeology. Research on the relationship
between humans and companion animals is making steady, certain progress
thanks to such pioneering studies by young researchers. We at the
Companion Animal Information and Research Center anticipate that much
will come from their efforts.
Profiles of Selection Committee Members:
- Mitsuaki Ohta,
professor, Animal and Human Bonds, School of Veterinary Medicine,
professor of agriculture at Osaka Prefecture University. Research
focuses on the "healing effects" of animals. Publications
include "Physiology for Physical Therapists and Occupational
Therapists" and "Animal Rescue in the Great Hanshin Earthquake."
- Yuji Mori, professor
of veterinary ethology, veterinary medical science/animal resource
science, University of Tokyo.
professor at the University of Tokyo. Current chairman of the editorial
board for the Japanese Journal of Human Animal Relations. Chairman
of the editorial board for the journal of the Japanese Society of
Animal Reproduction. Translations include "The Behavior of Domestic
Animals," authored by Benjamin L. Hart.
- Yoichi Shoda,
professor emeritus, University of Tokyo; president, Companion Animal
Information and Research Center.
agricultural science. Former professor at the University of Tokyo.
Current director of the Tokyo Zoological Park Society, councilor of
the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology. Published books include "Animal
Created by Man."