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ANNOUNCEMENT: Canine Behavioral Genetics Project and Yahoo! list


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Hey folks,


The Canine Behavioral Genetics Project (http://psych.ucsf.edu/K9BehavioralGenetics/) is a joint effort between Dr. Steven Hamilton, MD, PhD, at UCSF, and Dr. Karen Overall, VMD, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania. I?m writing to introduce the project (for those of you who haven't heard about it yet), and to invite everyone to join an email list related to the project.


Defined narrowly, the main goal of the Canine Behavioral Genetics Project is to explore the biological basis of behavioral problems in dogs, particularly those behaviors associated with panic and anxiety. We hope that a better understanding of the genetic background behind problem behaviors will help design better treatments and lead to better outcomes for dogs. Broader goals include an understanding of the relationship between genes and normal (including breed specific or working behaviors) as well as pathological behavior, an assessment of genetic diversity within domestic dogs as a whole.


We are currently collecting data to add to our sample (at last count, around 1000 dogs of about 20 different breeds, and also mixes). In particular, we are looking for are dogs who either appear or are known to be (diagnosed as) behaviorally affected -- dogs who suffer from panic, anxiety, and fear issues (i.e., but not limited to, separation anxiety, noise phobias, fear aggression), and also (if available) dogs related to affected dogs (relatives need not be fearful themselves). Because it would be so valuable to have data from families as well as individuals, the ideal subjects for the project are purebred dogs with known pedigrees (mixed-breed dogs are also valuable if both parents are of known breeding, or at least of known breed).


If you have a dog who might be a good candidate for this study, or know dogs who might be good candidates for this study, please consider participating -- the process is very simple. Sample kits can be requested for free online, at the study website (http://psych.ucsf.edu/K9BehavioralGenetics/kits.html). They consist of cheek swabs for taking DNA samples (totally non-invasive) and a very short questionnaire. If a pedigree is available, we also request a copy of that. ALL DATA SUBMITTED TO THE STUDY ARE STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. And if you know people who might be interested, spread the word. More data is better than less data!


I have set up a Yahoo! email list dedicated to the project: at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/K9BehavioralGenetics/. On this list, we will host discussions related to the project, post announcements, and let interested folks keep up with the latest news. Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding the project are very welcome. Unfortunately, we will not be able to address questions about specific behaviors or specific dogs, but luckily there are other resources for that purpose. More resources can be found in the ?links? section of the K9BehavioralGenetics Yahoo! page.


A little bit about me, the list owner: I am a postdoctoral fellow devoted to this project in Dr. Hamilton's lab at UCSF. I became personally interested in canine behavior when I adopted a behaviorally-challenged adolescent Border Collie in September 2000, and got to know Dr. Overall rather well as a result. Solo forced me to learn, fast, about behavior, and training, and management; he became my soulmate, my greatest teacher, and the reason I got into agility, flyball, and sheepdog trialing. This project is meaningful to me not only in an academic, but also in a personal sense.


If you have questions you may email me directly at the address in my .sig. Please feel free to forward this message to other folks or email lists. Thanks very much!


Project website: http://psych.ucsf.edu/K9BehavioralGenetics

To join the Yahoo! list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/K9BehavioralGenetics/join

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