TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Meet Sisu. She's an 11-year-old Labrador Retriever with a very important job.
"We study how dogs think, basically. We try to get inside dogs minds," said University of Arizona Assistant Professor and Arizona Canine Cognition Center Director, Dr. Evan Maclean.
Sisu comes to work with Maclean, her owner. Together, they've made big discoveries about dogs and their similarities and differences to humans and other species.
"One thing we're heading into next is studying cognitive aging in dogs. It turns out that dogs get forms of dementia that are very similar to what we see in Alzheimer's disease in people. There are plaque buildups in the brain that impair thinking and impair memory," said Maclean.
Understanding the bond dogs have with humans is also a big part of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center's work.
"Dogs play really important roles in the social lives of so many people. We know that social relationships broadly have lots of health benefits," said Maclean.
Maclean said loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes each day.
"Having strong social connections in general is really important. And for a lot of people. Those strong social connections likely come from their interactions with dogs," said Maclean.
Maclean recently connected with actor Jeff Goldblum and was featured in an episode of "The World According to Jeff Goldblum" on Disney+.
"I went out to California to Canine Companions where the service dogs are that we work with and hung out with Jeff for about three hours. We did lots of filming, played with puppies and talked about the science behind the human-animal bond," said Maclean.
The Arizona Canine Cognition Center is looking for local kids and their dogs to participate in a new study. To learn more, click here.
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