Hello and Welcome to The Science Dog!
This first blog provides a short introduction of me (Linda Case), and my reasons for writing a blog entitled “The Science Dog”. I am a science writer specializing in canine health, nutrition, behavior and training . My academic training is in animal sciences, specifically in canine/feline nutrition, behavior, and training. Following graduate school, I taught companion animal science at the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine for 17 years. During my time there, I wrote 4 books and a bunch of academic journal papers. My husband and I also have spent a lot of our life together training dogs and operating AutumnGold Dog Training Center. I left university teaching a few years ago to develop my science writing business, AutumnGold Consulting and to expand our training classes at AutumnGold. Currently, my husband Mike and I live with and love four dogs; Vinny, Chip, Cooper and our newest addition, Alice (Ally).
Plus Pete, the formerly feral kitty (who does not yet know that this blog is dedicated primarily to animals of the canis genus…..let’s keep the secret for a bit).
In a nutshell, my work, my life and my happiness revolve fully and completely around dogs. I write about dogs, train dogs, teach other folks about dogs, play, run, hike and cuddle with dogs, and am fully capable of talking for hours on end about……you guessed it,,,,,,,dogs. I consider myself to be a card-carrying, lifetime, proud member of the “dog person” club.
If you are reading this blog and have gotten this far, I am reasonably certain that you too are a dog person and that you too love your dog (most probably in the plural form), have friends who love dogs, enjoy dog-related activities and/or sports, and if you are lucky, may even be able to count a dog-related profession or volunteer effort as part of your life.
So, what does all of this dog adoration have to do with science? Well, a whole lot actually. Even though I am aware that the word “science” may bring to mind this image for some:
And, for others, who may be thinking back to high school chemistry, this may be where your mind goes when you hear the word “science”:
However, the real image for science that you may want to consider if you love dogs, is this one:
We need science to make evidence-based decisions for our dogs because, well, they cannot do it for themselves. (Really, Goldens are smart, but they still suck at science). The scientific method provides us with a systematic, testable (i.e. verifiable) approach to studying dogs’ health, nutrient needs, illnesses, responses to medications and novel nutrients, behaviors, and responses to different training methods. In recent years, scientific study has also provided information that aids in our understanding of how the human mind works when we make decisions and how we are all susceptible to errors in judgment that occur expressly because we love our dogs so much.
Science is needed because without it, we are susceptible to making decisions for our dogs based upon conjecture, testimony, tradition, myth, and sometimes even based upon what Joe next door (who happens to know a lot about dogs) tells us. And even though Joe may be very sincere when he informs you that dogs eat grass because their diet is lacking in vitamin C, fiber, B-vitamins (insert any nutrient here), Joe’s recommendation is often based upon a belief rather than upon actual evidence.
In this blog, we look for the evidence. So, while I am always willing and happy to explore all new ideas about nutrition, health, behavior, and training, my mantra is and will continue to be: “SHOW ME THE DATA”
Without science, we are at increased risk of making bad decisions for our dogs; choices that may not help them and could potentially harm them. And, as we will see in future blogs, we are required in this day and age to make a LOT of decisions for our dogs. Science helps us to sort truth from fiction and evidence-based choices from fanciful myths. My hope, in this journey, is to show how science is not only necessary and helpful, but also very cool!
I hope you (and your dogs) will join me for the ride!