Getting better all the time - Science into Practice #126 Domestic dogs grief

Getting Better All the Time: Making All the Difference in the World Starts with One Thought or Idea, One Action, and One Animal

This essay by James F. Gesualdi and Sabrina Brando originally appeared in the San Diego Zoo Global Academy Newsletter and was published on the WAZA website

To keep ahead, each one of us, no matter what our task, must search for new and better methods for even that which we now do well must be done better tomorrow. – James F. Bell

In devoting our lives to working on continuously improving animal welfare—and endeavouring to do so across the caring zoological profession (in zoos and aquariums) and throughout the world—we remain mindful of the starting place for such positive change. It always starts with one person, one thought or idea, one action, or one conversation, to make a change for one or more animals at a time. It may seem small, and the process may seem frustratingly slow to some, but it works and can be highly effective at producing change that is good and lasting.

Each one of us, whatever our role, is fortunate to have the ability to act on behalf of animals and their interests and well-being. We have the opportunity to act because of the animals within our care and the care of our zoological organizations. We have the honour, delight, and responsibility to act. The more that we seize upon that responsibility and act in an enlightened manner for the benefit of each individual animal (and each affected species), the greater the positive difference we can make.

The most powerful action each one of us can undertake in any moment may be invisible at the outset. A thought itself, unseen until translated into some form of expression or manifestation, can change the world. We focus on exploring opportunities and searching for possibilities, instead of focusing on obstacles and what cannot be achieved. We ask: “What can we do?”, as there is almost always something that we can do. And that’s what we strive to do every day—to change things for the better for the animals in our care and in the wild.

It is simply beautiful to realie that we can act to choose or create our thoughts—each moment—and do so in a manner that can change the world. All that just by changing our thinking. For example, criticism may or may not be correct or constructive, and too often, it is used to undermine rather than build and better things. Yet, we can always choose to use such criticism constructively. That sort of thinking and corresponding action is transformational, and it is the way to demonstrate our overriding commitment to the animals in our care. This is one of an infinite number of ways we can lift our thoughts, develop ourselves, and better serve animals.

Choose or create a good thought. Think about one thing differently. Ask yourself, how can this be improved in a meaningful and measurable way? Start with that one thought, one action, and one animal—and the world will be a better place.

Another Science into Practice is available on the PAWS platform!

This study focused on what a pet dog may experience at the loss of a companion dog. Owners reported a range of behavioural changes and their duration in the surviving dog-in terms of activities of ‘playing’, ‘eating’, ‘sleeping’, and the emotion of ‘fearfulness’. These were correlated with the type and duration of the relationships between this dog and the deceased conspecific, with their shared item and activity; and with the owner’s self-reported construct. Accordingly, friendly and parental relationships, shared food, and the owner’s grief and anger predicted negative grief-like behavioural and emotional responses. However, further study is required for confirmation.

Links to some practical examples


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.