Photo:

Anne Seawright

Favourite Thing: Discovering something new that can be used practically to help animals and their owners.

Me and my work

I do research into veterinary behaviour.

I am a vet who does research into clinical behaviour problems in dogs and cats. My research at the moment involves developing new ways to measure the emotional state of dogs, so whether they see things positively or negatively. This can be very difficult to recognise in animals, because obviously unlike with people you can’t ask an animal how it feels! But whether an animal is feeling positive or negative is very important when assessing their welfare and how different situations might affect them. I am also looking at how different personality types might react to situations differently and how we can best go about treating animals with fear responses, for example to fireworks. The dogs are all patients at the behaviour clinic and we ask them to do different tasks such as seeing how they react in a room they haven’t been in before, seeing how they react to being taught a new command and seeing how they respond to treatment. My research in the past has included looking at urinary tract disease in cats and how stressful events, such as going to the vet practice, or a cattery, might have an impact on these cats. I also teach veterinary students and veterinary nursing students and I see dogs and cats at the University of Bristol’s behaviour clinic who have behaviour problems, such as aggression in dogs, or spraying in cats.

My Typical Day

Video animal’s behaviours, collate data, plan more projects.

My typical day might include me seeing owners with their animals who have a behaviour problem, taking a full history of the problem and how it has developed, and then giving them practical and written advice on how to treat the problem. I might then do some training sessions with dogs and video how they respond for my research, look at these videos using a computer programme to measure what behaviours they use and then input this data into a statistical programme to analyse. My day also tends to involve lots of tea, chocolate and gossip!

What I'd do with the money

An education programme in schools promoting good pet ownership, especially concentrating on behavioural needs of pets.

Lots of behaviour problems in dogs and cats can be prevented through good training and advice when the animals are young, but unfortunately many owners aren’t aware of how problems can be prevented. therefore I would like to be able to go into schools and give advice on how people can help give pets the best life they can so that welfare of animals can be improved and people can have a good relationship with their pets.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic, happy, inquisitive

Who is your favourite singer or band?

At the moment Mumford and Sons

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Get my motorbike license

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To be fulfilled, to be happy and to be able to eat lots of chocolate without getting really fat!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A vet

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I used to fall asleep a lot in classes!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Surgery on animals

Tell us a joke.

Very bad taste given my career….. How do you make a dog drink? – Put it in the liquidiser.