Mind Over Miller: A tribute to a pioneer in canine behavior


Dr. Miller reflects on the passing of author Bill Campbell and how far the discipline of animal behavior has come over the years.

Bill Campbell, author of one of the first scientifically based books on canine behavior, Behavior Problems in Dogs, died in January of this year. Since I received no training in animal behavior when I was a veterinary student back in the 1950s, I found Bill's book of great value to me in my practice. I was able to pass on what I learned from the book, and from knowing Bill personally, to my clientele.

In 1989, Bill's next book, Owners Guide to Better Behavior in Dogs and Cats, was published. He sent me the manuscript before publication, and I loved it. He then asked me to profusely illustrate it with cartoons. I did so-with a couple of hundred cartoons-most of them inspired by his book, my personal experience, or both.

I am so glad that most of our veterinary schools are now offering students training in animal behavior. In some schools, the teaching is cursory. In others it is more in depth. I am grateful that there is now board certification in animal behavior for graduates who seek to specialize in that discipline. Additionally, the American Society of Animal Behavior thrives. It serves as a liaison between its members and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Happily, most major veterinary conferences now include continuing education sessions on behavior. This is especially valuable for seniors like me who received no formal training, but also for younger colleagues who have less experience.

An understanding of animal behavior, scientifically based, is so essential in order for the practicing veterinarian to optimally handle patients, to teach the owners, and to enhance the image of our profession from the standpoint of competence, finesse, and humaneness.

Most important, a real understanding of multispecies behavior helps us to understand the behavior of our own species. I know it has for me.

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at robertmmiller.com.

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