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Patricia Simonet, 1959-2010
Jan. 22 memorial for researcher who discovered dog laughter

We were saddened to learn Patricia Simonet, who “discovered” dog laughter, died in December—at only 51, three after years of being diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be missed not only for the contributions she made in our understanding of dogs’ play vocalizations and smiling but also because of her advocacy for homeless dogs in the Spokane, Wash., community.

 
Simonet, who wrote about dog laughter for Bark magazine in September 2007, not only translated the “meaning” of various grunts and breathy pants, she revealed the value of laughter in calming dogs, which could be deployed to ameliorate stress in shelter environments.
In Spokane, Simonet worked as an animal behaviorist at SCRAPS, the county animal shelter, where she helped promote pet adoptions by matching the animal’s “personality” with that of their prospective owners. She also volunteered at the Spokane Humane Society. In 2010, the Spokane County Board of Supervisors named Spokane County’s only off-leash dog park, the Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park in her honor.
 
► Patricia Simonet will be remembered and celebrated on Saturday, January 22 at 1 p.m. in the Spokane Buddhist Temple at 927 S. Perry St., Spokane.

 

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.

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