After finishing my Bachelor of Science at Dalhousie University (Canada) in 2016, I moved to Germany to pursue a Master’s degree. I finished my Master’s in 2018, having completed the thesis project portion at Lund University in the Mammalian Rhinarium group. Though my time at Lund for my thesis project was coming to an end, the project I was working on was still far from done! Luckily, I was given the opportunity to continue as a project assistant, and gladly jumped on it!
The group is interested in varying aspects of the mammalian rhinarium: the cold, wet and hairless nose-tip. The project I am involved in focusses on the rhinaria of dogs. Using adorable, volunteered dogs, I conduct behavioural trials to demonstrate the dog’s ability to detect heat-radiating bodies. We have an indoor setup where a dog makes a ‘forced’ choice between two stimuli (one heated and the other unheated). The current focus is on data collection for several dogs, and future experiments will involve looking at whether the ability differs in relation to the color of the rhinarium, as well as manipulating the temperature contrast (between room temperature and stimulus temperature) to test if they can still detect the heat stimulus when the contrast is lower (currently, the contrast is at approximately 13.0oC).
So far, the work has been incredibly enjoyable. On top of that, having cuddly, loveable dogs as experimental subjects certainly makes the work even better! I’m excited to see how to dogs do in the upcoming months, and look forward to continuing on learning about their heat-detection abilities.