Taking therapy dogs into hospitals, animal assisted intervention research, the human-animal bond, animal obituaries, and leaving no stone unturned with interspecies communication research, with Dr. Colleen Dell

Animals & Us - Voices of a New Paradigm

01-02-2023 • 1 hr

In this episode, we sit down and chat with Dr. Colleen Dell, an award winning researcher who focuses on animal assisted therapy and mental health research. Colleen and her animal companions have gone into hospitals, prisons, COVID vaccination clinics and many other places to help humans with their health and well-being. The therapy dogs seem to know just what we humans need, and are able to comfort us, love us, and support us in so many ways. Colleen shares some beautiful stories about the impact that dogs have made on the lives of prisoners, people who were scared of getting vaccine injections, etc. She shares how emotionally intelligent and sentient these dogs can be, knowing exactly what people need, how to connect with them, and how to give them love and comfort.
We talk about how she got started in the field of animal assisted intervention research, some of the work that her and the dogs have done together, animal consciousness, the human-animal bond and relationship, and interspecies communication.

She also tells us about a randomized control trial (the first of its kind!) where they took dogs into the ER of a hospital and observed the outcomes. This study has been downloaded over 10,000 times!


Colleen Anne Dell (PhD) was appointed the Centennial Enhancement Chair in One Health and Wellness at the University of Saskatchewan in 2016 for a five year term, with a focus on addiction and mental health. Her position was renewed for a second five year term in 2021.

Dr. Dell has a Google Scholar h-index of 30. She has been awarded $5.4 million as a Principal Investigator in CIHR grants alone, and an additional $20.3 million as a co-Investigator and Supervisor. As a Professor, she has published over 85 innovative peer-reviewed journal articles, with lead authorship in over half, contributed over two dozen book chapters, and 57 technical reports.

Dr. Dell is a public sociologist and Professor in the Department of Sociology, with an Associate appointment in the School of Public Health. She is also a Senior Research Associate with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Canada’s national non-governmental addictions agency. Dr. Dell is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University and a past Research Associate with the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre. She is a 2013 graduate of the Canine Behaviour Psychology Academy, Extreme K-9 Professional Dog Training school, in Illinois, USA and completed a certificate course in animal assisted therapy and activities at Harcum College in 2014. In 2020 she completed the Nonhuman Nature Research Methods course at the Kerulos Centre for Nonviolence. She has thousands of hours of practice providing community-based animal assisted intervention (AAI) services since 2013, and has been a committed community volunteer in the areas of social justice, inclusion and equity since 1993.

Find out more about Colleen at https://colleendell.com/