If you see a dog sit down and pant, are they smiling, or showing anxiety? If they roll on their back, is it submissive, or simply an ask for a belly rub? And what, possibly, do these questions have to do with how we communicate messages of greater social change?
A conversation on dog behaviour and our perception of it – namely, focused on the upsetting incident of a polar bear killing a dog around the same time a video of a polar bear touching a dog at the same location went viral – was the original purpose of this week’s Defender Radio episode. A discussion of critical thinking, dog behaviour, and perception is, of course, where we started. But in talking with Joan Weston, a dog behaviourist, owner of Fangs but No Fangs Canine Behavioural Consulting Services (K9Shrink.ca), and Animal Behaviour/Ethics instructor at Durham College, a bigger picture started to form.
Could the way we perceive behaviour in dogs, and how we start to understand what our canine companions really need, help us foster compassionate change in other arenas? Could the experiences of learning to exercise empathy in dealing with non-human animal issues show us clues into having better conversations on policy and social reform?
In this last Defender Radio episode of 2016, you’ll find out just how much we can learn from our canine friends, and how Joan helped us ask the right questions that may lead to a better 2017.