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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...


13 October 2013

Working Dog Conference: bridging the gap between science and industry

Hi Julie,

how great was Dr Brad Smith's guest post to us about his research investigating dingo cognition? Responsiveness to humans, tool use and conspecific reaction to death - just all kinds of awesome! 

I'm so glad the editors at Science Seeker noticed it and flagged it to their followers, because this kind of stuff should be known by EVERYONE. 


(Science Seeker)

Reading about new areas of scientific research that advance our understanding of canids, how we relate to them - and them to us, and each - other always gives me a buzz! It's a good thing, because I'm so flat out right now, I need to harness all the buzzes around me to stay awake and productive! 

We're just three weeks out from the Working Dog Conference 2013 now and let me tell you, it is seriously shaping up to be one amazing event for anyone related to working and sporting dogs in any way. Breeders, trainers, handlers, facility managers, geneticists, veterinarians, representatives from government and animal advocacy groups, research scientists and pretty much anyone and everyone with an interest in this industry seem to planning on attending. It's exciting and insanely busy - all at once! 

I can't wait to see the opportunities to network, share ideas and learn in action and the concept of improvement through collaboration being embraced by all these different stakeholders. I think Victor Hugo has been credited with once saying something along the lines of "there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come" and this really feels like the time for this idea!

Let me give you a sneaky preview of some of the things our international guest speakers have been saying:

"The rest of the world doesn’t know it yet, but because of the Australian Working Dog Alliance’s efforts, Australia stands ready to set the new standard for working dog welfare and effectiveness. There will come a day when we who attend this inaugural Working Dog Alliance conference will have the distinct privilege of being able to say, ‘I was there when it all started.’  I am humbled to be a small part of what will surely be a big thing." Steve White

"There is obvious and substantial  value to be gained by sharing knowledge and expertise surrounding their training, welfare  and use. However, I believe that it is vital that  such knowledge is evidence-based, to ensure  we derive proven best practises which truly optimise productivity as well as dog welfare. This inaugural conference will provide an ideal forum for discussion amongst the Australian working dog stakeholders  and I am delighted to be able to share some of my ideas and research findings with the working and sporting dog community." Nicola Rooney

Oh Julie, I really wish you could come and be here for this. Actually, it's not too late - you can still register here (winkwink!)

It's going to be our kind of event, mixing up the applied practical stuff with the theoretical scientific stuff - and all the other stuffs too! Hey, speaking of our kind of event, I was pretty excited last week when I saw the website for Canine Science Forum 2014 and the associated Facebook page (including first Feline Science Forum - tell Josh!) have launched. That's going to be one kicking reunion for us, milady! Start thinking about which abstracts you're going to submit by March 14th...

(image thanks to AWDRI)

Ahhhh - abstracts, I think I can actually hear them calling me. I'm currently compiling all the presentation summaries for the Working Dog Conference ahead of sending the proceedings book off to the printers tomorrow. 

Here are just a few (amongst many!) of the snapshot summaries I am really looking forward to see presented:
  • Presentation about breaking down the inter-disciplinary barriers that have for too been a drag on the working dog community's progress toward maximizing effectiveness, efficiency, and the dogs' well-being.
  • Every year thousands of greyhounds are bred in Australia for one thing only: speed, with the ongoing challenge being how to care for those that are not fast enough. Re-homing programs are a commendable initiative, however the current approach is plagued with inefficiencies, prolonged waiting times and often put the needs of the dog ahead of the adopter, making it a public safety issue as well.
  • Australia has a long and successful history of producing champion (human) athletes. In this presentation the scientific and research support for Australian sport will be explored and parallels drawn with the working dog industry.
  • Otway Conservation Dogs is a unique conservation project developing detection dog teams utilising community volunteers to help protect the endangered Tiger Quolls. 

If you want to get more of an idea, the preliminary program is now up on the Working Dog Alliance website.

What have you been up to lately, anyway?


© 2013 Mia Cobb | Do You Believe in Dog?

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