Most people working in research understand that the work often includes hours spent behind a desktop, with your head stuck in books or staring at excel worksheets. It is incredibly rewarding when you can get away from the desk and actually spend time with the animals you are studying. This is especially rewarding when you start to recognise individuals, how they interact with each other and you see their characters coming out! STRAYS has now begun a project in Italy where we will be studying the community dogs over the next year. Over the last few days, the team have found some charming dogs within the Pescara Province of Abruzzo. The community dogs here are under the responsibility of the town mayor and after the dogs have been neutered and vaccinated by the local veterinary health unit, they are released back to their territory. The team have been conducting surveys of these dogs in the early mornings, at a time when the town is most peaceful. During our surveys, we have seen the dogs travelling around the town, using pedestrian crossings(!), sniffing and interacting with the other community dogs along their way. One particular dog which has charmed us, is this hairy sleepy boy (photograph below). He was very relaxed and mostly slept as we observed him. We have seen this dog in a couple of surveys now and it will be interesting to see if he is still here when we return in a few months!
The STRAYS team will also be studying the street dogs of Ukraine in a few weeks, so watch this space for more updates as the study progresses!