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28th November 2011

Man(chester)’s Best Friend

University awarded funding for major study into the relationship between man and dog
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The University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) are delighted to have received a£500,000 Wellcome Trust grant to fund a pioneering new study into the history of domestic dogs in the 20th century.

Professor Michael Worboys of CHSTM and Professor Matthew Cobb, a senior lecturer in Zoology also at the University of Manchester, will be jointly directing the study entitled “Pedigree Chums: Science, Medicine and the Remaking of the Dog in the Twentieth Century”. This study aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of how humans have influenced the changing role of dogs over the past century.

The study will examine both the social and scientific consequences of the increasingly complex relationships between humans and their canine friends from a wide variety of angles, including the impact of human selection on breeding, the use of dogs in medical and scientific research, and the increased human-like treatment of dogs.

The “Pedigree Chums” study will provide an exciting and original insight into canine history as one of the largest and most innovative studies on the subject. Previously, the changing role of domestic dogs has been neglected by social scientists, despite their significant influence on modern society and everyday life. In addition, Professors Worboys and Cobb will also be investigating controversial, headline-hitting topics such as “dangerous dogs”, and the rise of the purebred dog, which resulted in the boycott of Crufts by the BBC and RSPCA three years ago.

Despite this hard-hitting subject material, there will also be a look at the lighter, more amusing side of the canine world, including the treatment of dogs in the veterinary practice, whereby many dogs are now acknowledged as “patients” and listed by their name rather than that of their owner.

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