When I decided to move to Helena, Montana for college, I was asked a number of questions. The first was why are you going to Montana? The second was are you and your twin going to different places? And lastly was you’re studying what? This is the question I was asked over a hundred times, because I am studying Anthrozoology at Carroll College.
Anthrozoology is the study of the human-animal bond, focusing on the interactions and relationships between the two. Carroll College offers the only program in the country to have a major in this field. It begins with 100 level classes that look at the human-animal bond through theories derived from Konrad Lorenz and Mary Ainsworth. This class then expands to look at service animals, livestock, and even the ethical treatment of animals. The second semester of the major has a focus on animals in service, as well as people with a service to animals.
Now, you may think “Well, I wish I could take an easy class like that," but the program is anything but easy. The second year of the major allows students to take a closer look into canine and equine partnerships. After this year of working with big Icelandic horses, and the dogs in the program, begins the challenge. Junior and senior year, students train a rescue dog who will be adopted to a new home at the end of the year. In this case, the student's grade is in their hands, and in the paws of their canine. Senior year, students have a chance to train their own canines in a specialized training class.
Some may be wondering, why waste money learning about animals and training dogs when it’s not a useful major? Well, it actually is. Anthrozoology can be used in any line of work, at home, or just when you’re out with friends. For instance, some possible careers include being a Veterinarian, Vet Technician, Therapist, Wildlife Warden, high school Counselor, or Teacher. Furthermore, Anthrozoology opens the door to Search and Rescue, scent work, therapy, and service animals. It’s a degree that can help you when greeted by a strange dog, or help you understand why your dog growls at your new baby. It’s well-rounded and open for interpretation. That’s the great thing about it is that you can do anything with it.
So why am I majoring in Anthrozoology? I’ve had animals all my life. I’ve had over six cats, three dogs, and two hamsters. The animal with the most influence over my life was Sarah, a black Shar-pei. She was a sweet dog, with a muscular body and tons of wrinkles. What I remember most about Sarah is how she shouldn’t have died at an early age. She was two years old when our vet found a tumor in her intestinal tract, but it was also our vet who didn’t catch the tumor before it was too late. I want to be a Veterinarian to help animals like Sarah. I want to save them before there’s no choice but to euthanize them.
I understand that we can’t save every pet—that’s impossible. But, as my Animals in Service instructor tells the owners of animals she has euthanized, “dogs live shorter lives than humans, so that we may experience more than one pet in our lives.” It’s so that we can share the love that we had for one pet with many others. That’s why I want to become a Veterinarian, and that’s why I’m majoring in Anthrozoology.