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Interview with Dr. Mark Goldstein

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"I wanted to pull back the curtain a little bit on some of these questions... It was all centred around two things: life lessons learned as a veterinarian and the human-animal bond."


By Zazie Todd, PhD

An interview with Dr. Mark Goldstein about his book Lions and Tigers and Hamsters: What Animals Large and Small Taught Me About Life, Love, and Humanity. We talked about the human-animal bond, challenges for animal welfare, why veterinarians are at risk of depression and suicide, and favourite stories from the book.


Zazie: I really loved your book, and I’m going to ask you in a moment why you decided to write it, but I have to start with the elephant, because the book starts with an amazing story about this elephant called Donia who almost ended your veterinary career. Tell me about Donia.

Dr. Mark: Donia was an Asian elephant. She was a matriarch on an island of 8 elephants and she had a permanent impact on my life and career, in a positive way, surprisingly. She was a beautiful…

The Five Pillars of a Healthy Environment for Cats

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How to set your house up for your cat. Do you provide these five things that your cat needs?


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Every morning at about the same time, my tortoiseshell cat Melina jumps on the bed with a chirrup and comes up to sniff my nose and ask to be petted. She purrs while I pet her on the head in the places where cats like to be petted, and a very short time later my alarm goes off and it’s time to get up. This sweet morning interaction is part of her daily routine.

Cats are wonderful pets, but people don’t always understand them well. If we provide a cat with the things they need in their environment, it helps them to be happier and healthier. This applies not just to the physical environment, but also to social interactions with us and any other animals in their space. If these things are not provided, the cat may become stressed and show signs of behaviour problems.

The five pillars of a healthy feline environment are described by the International Society of Feline Medicine an…

The Healing Power of Art and Animals for Inmates: Moon Bear Has a Place

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An essay by a former inmate shows how other animals can help people move on.



On Wednesday I wrote about Dr. Marc Bekoff’s inspiring class at the Boulder County Jail, and his new website, Boulder Art for Animals, that shows the work of students in the class.

This guest post is by Kyle Warner, an accomplished writer, artist, and former student of the class.(1) 

My personal hero, teacher, and dear friend, Marc Bekoff, comes to the jail faithfully every Friday to facilitate just one of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots groups. We engage in a lot of profound, meaningful discussions and he helps us to really understand just why animals matter. He also helps us to take part in many causes and worldwide issues between nonhuman animals and humans. With Marc's help, we have had our voices heard within many discussions, court battles, online debates, and protests. Some of these include whether we should reintroduce wild wolves here in Colorado, how to stop the potential trophy hunting of griz…

Inmates Find Meaning in Class on Connections with Animals

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Boulder Art Behind Bars has been changing lives for almost 20 years.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

For almost 20 years, Dr. Marc Bekoff, scientist and author of many books including The Emotional Lives of Animals and Canine Confidential, has been teaching a class at Boulder (Colorado) County Jail. Inmates must apply to join the class, which meets once a week and allows them to express themselves via different artistic media. It focuses on topics such as conservation, animal behaviour, and the inmates’ well-being. A new website, Boulder Art Behind Bars showcases the class and the work of the inmates.

The class is part of Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program, which aims to “foster respect and compassion for all living things”. Goodall even visited the class in 2015 and has kept in contact with some of the students. The website was developed in collaboration with artisan and web designer Stephanie Wencl.

The class has a profound effect on the inmates who take part. Writing about the class in his …

The Animal Books that Changed People’s Lives: Part 2

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The books about animals that had a profound effect on people’s lives.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

This is the second post in a series on the animal books that changed people’s lives. You can read part 1, animal lovers on the books that changed their lives, here.

The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell Vanessa Mae Hajek MS CTC of Hands Full Dog training told me,

“In 2002, my dad got me a book for my 14th birthday. Patricia McConnell's The Other End of the Leash. He knew nothing about the author and nothing about the book so he took a chance. I read it in four days. McConnell introduced me to dogs as a subject of scientific study and more importantly, further introduced me to this radical idea of modifying dog behavior not with force or intimidation, but with food. During the next few years I devoured all things force-free dog training and slowly began changing how I trained which slowly began changing how I thought about training. For years I thought my dog was selectively stubborn …

Most Serious Dog Bites Happen at Home, and No Breed Group Can Be Blamed

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A study of dog bites in Calgary finds no breed group can be singled out for serious bites, and older adults may be at more risk than previously thought.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Dog bites are a serious public health problem. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.7 million Americans are bitten every year and 800,000 require medical treatment. New research from Dr. Niamh Caffrey and colleagues (University of Calgary), published in Animals, investigates all dog bites in Calgary between 2012 and 2017. What makes this study unique is the level of detail and reliability of the data compared to most studies of dog bites.

The results show that the people most at risk of dog bites are children, youth, and older adults (aged 60 or above). While the increased risk for children and youth is as expected, the higher risk for older adults may come as a surprise. As well, the research shows no difference between breed groups in terms of serious bites.

Dr. Caffrey, first author of the s…

Companion Animal Psychology News June 2019

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What pigeons teach us about home, the view from a catcam, and stunning photographs of dogs... this month's Companion Animal Psychology news.



By Zazie Todd, PhD Wag news I am very excited to share the news that my publisher, Greystone Books, has made the official announcement that my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, will be published in Spring 2020. This month I have been responding to the proof-reader’s queries and have also seen the page spreads. After all this hard work, it is finally starting to look like a real book.

Some of my favourites this month  “When they were in their homes, the cats spent a lot of time following their humans around. They liked to be in the same room. A lot of my students were surprised at how attached cats were to people.” David Grimminterviewed one of the researchers behind the recent catcam study (don't miss the video!) and Dr. Mikel Delgado wrote about Can “catcams” help us study behaviour?

“I thought that keeping pigeons might te…