Dr. Dell works with a large and varied teams across multiple projects. They have contributed to every aspect of her work. This includes animals, the land, funders, Indigenous Elders and communities, colleagues, students, family, academic mentors and anyone really who has pushed her to ‘show them the evidence’. She works particularly close with Dr. Darlene Chalmers, Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina.
Dr. Dell deeply recognizes that humans' relationships with animals are reciprocal. The American Veterinary Medical Association defines the Human Animal Bond as: "a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and wellbeing of both. This includes, among other things, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment". The various teams Dr. Dell leads and works alongside are committed to this understanding specifically and animal welfare generally.
Dr. Dell adopts both a One Health, with a focus on zooeyia, and One Welfare approach in her work.
Dr. Dell is guided by positive welfare, generally understood as accounting for the positive experiences animals have and not not just the absence of negative ones. Dr. Dell views it as a strengths-based approach. The 2020 Five Domains Model is available here (poster summary available here).
Dr. Dell's commitment to recognizing reciprocity and the Human Animal Bond has been evident since she started in this field. Her first peer-reviewed publication that acknowledged working with dogs in an Animal Assisted Intervention capacity listed Anna-Belle the Therapy Dog as first author on their publication - Questioning ‘fluffy’: A Dog’s Eye View of Animal-assisted Interventions (AAI) in the Treatment of Substance Misuse in Substance Use & Misuse. Dr. Dell's first ever public presentation about this work was also alongside Anna-Belle. A few more recent presentations include:
Some members of our office, as part of A PAWSitive Support Project for Veterans with PTSD and Who Problematically Use Substance, attended a digital storytelling workshop. This opportunity was led by a Social Work practicum student (Catherine Guzick) and her School of Social Work supervisor (Trish Van Katwyk) from the University of Windsor. Members of the team are now trained to offer the digital storytelling workshop to others. Get to know a bit more about them through their digital stories!
Meet team member Colleen in this moving tribute to Anna-Belle, who passed in 2021 and left Colleen with some very important life lessons.
Meet team member Colleen in this touching tribute to Kisbey, a 13.5 year old Boxer. She wonders in this video letter to Kisbey what she remembers as she reflects upon her life in her dreams, and hopes it is the love and support Kisbey has both received and offered.
This digital story shares how team member Holly's relationships with animals has shaped her research journey. For more information about Holly's research visit her website.
With this digital story, team member Linzi introduces her dog Steve Irwin and talks about their relationship and bond. She also highlights the various sources of enrichment in Steve’s life and considers his potential as a service or therapy dog.
This digital story was made by team member Alexandria about Zola, who enables her feelings of mattering and helps her with health promotion while managing chronic pain.
Team member Ben shares about his dog Lola who taught him the value of perspective. Lola came from a very difficult past and couldn't be trained in the conventional sense. Ben reflects that dogs and even people don't all benefit from the same care and must be treated as the unique individuals they are.
In this digital story, team member Grace speaks to the idea that different dogs have different wellness and training needs by contrasting her two black labs, a 13 year old named Jager and a four year old named Reacher. She also discusses her online training journey with Reacher and the importance of connection for a successful training process.
In this digital story, therapy dog handler Tonya shares how Zaphod has been a connection across time in her family.
In this digital story, team member Maryellen writes a letter to her COVID adoption companion, Waffle. She shares that she knew her relationship with Waffle was important to her own health, but just not how important until she created this digital story.