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New perspective

Published on 30 April 2021

Once, on a family vacation when I was in high school, I went to my aunt’s hotel room to meet her for a walk. She had just given birth to her first child, and the trip was the first time my family had met the new baby.

While she was putting her shoes on, my aunt said she couldn’t wait until her baby could talk; she said it was frustrating to spend so much time with someone so special and not know what they were thinking. Trying to relate, I said something to the effect of, “I know – I wish I could talk to my dog.” My aunt simply smiled, and we left for our walk.



Even though it was the closest comparison I could think of, me flippantly wishing I had a talking dog is really nothing like wanting to speak with your first and only child, especially since I did not take much responsibility in caring for my family dog at the time.

I am often fascinated by these small moments in my life that, for some reason or another, have stayed ingrained in my memory. For me, these types of memories usually involve some experience where, in retrospect, I understand someone else’s thoughts or experience from a new perspective.

In this issue, I spoke with three recent animal welfare graduates to discuss their Ph.D. research, which you can read (3 Ph.D. graduates discuss how their research can lead to improvements in dairy welfare). None of the graduates are from dairy farming backgrounds, yet they all now share great enthusiasm for the industry and find their role in improving dairy cattle welfare to be challenging yet fulfilling. I would imagine the graduates, all of whom are now post-doctoral fellows, bring a different perspective to dairy welfare than if they were to have grown up on a dairy farm. However, they have all developed a love for dairy cows and their well-being, an idea to which most of you can surely relate.

One thing the graduates mentioned to me during our conversations was how there is a need for collaboration with farmers during and after the research process. Their goal is to see their research findings applied in an effort to improve animal welfare. One of the graduates emphasized how her end goal is not to have more legislation put in place but rather to fulfill her responsibility to ensure dairy cows are given a good life. Another interviewee said her experience during her research had opened her up to the possibility of extension work in the future, after some of the producers she collaborated with expressed a desire for more resources. In both of their experiences, an understanding of researcher and producer perspectives played a key role.

As a recent University of Guelph graduate, and as I have begun to settle into my role as editor at Progressive Dairy, I am learning that seeing things from another perspective is a skill I must continually cultivate. Often, finding some small way to relate to the people I interview can make a big difference in how open they are with me and, in turn, with you as readers. end mark


Emma Ohirko
  • Emma Ohirko

  • Editor
  • Progressive Dairy
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