Every Dog Has Its Day: Dogs in Human History and Culture

This is an 8-week seminar, starting March 13, 2017

Moderator:                 Margaret Manson
Co-moderator:          Sandy Sladen
Day and Time:          Monday, 1:30-3:30 PM
Location:                    Applewood Meeting Room, Amherst
                                         (free parking on site)

To explore the evolutionary, historical, psychological and cultural connection between humans and what has come to be known as their best friend, dogs.

Ever wonder what makes a dog tick? Or bark? Or understand what you say? Why did dogs become domesticated and not wooly mammoths? Are dogs really man’s best friend and if so why? And most importantly, who is really in charge – us or them? Estimates show there are almost 80 million dogs in the US and about 47% of households own at least one dog. It is hard to argue that dogs haven’t played a significant role in human history or culture.

This seminar is for people who really like dogs, those who don’t, and those who may not know much about them. It will explore the evolution of dogs (spoiler alert: they didn’t evolve from wolves), the history of domestication, dogs’ relationship with humans and the psychological and physical benefits of those relationships, dogs in our culture including everyday language, literature, art, TV and film among other topics.

Possible presentation topics include but are not limited to: canine evolution, canine domestication, human/dog psychology, dog breeding, dogs in art, dogs in literature, famous dogs, presidential dogs, dogs in TV and film, dog idioms, dogs in sport, working dogs, training dogs, service/therapy dogs, growth of the pet industry and cross cultural views about dogs.

Role of participants:
Each participant will select a topic either from a list provided by the moderators or of their own choosing in consultation with the moderators. They will make a 1/2 hour presentation on their topic, answer questions, develop 2-3 discussion questions and facilitate a group discussion. Participants will be encouraged to be as creative as possible with their presentation.


About the Moderators:
Margaret Manson is a retired academic administrator and English/Women’s Studies faculty member. She has been a member of LIR for 7 years, served on the Curriculum Committee, and co-moderated a seminar. Margaret has owned and loved dogs all of her life. Sandy Sladen is a retired social worker. Sandy has participated in LIR seminars for 6 years; this is her first time moderating. Sandy and Margaret are the proud owners of two miniature schnauzers.